Thomas observed the finished grenade for a bit after he read the notices. It didn't look any different from the first grenade he made way back when he first learned Magitech Engineering. He found the fact that the grenade looked just like any other minorly annoying. If he had several grenades of various elements in his inventory it would be hard to tell them apart if he didn't do something beforehand to differentiate them. He could do that rather easily, but it was still a minor inconvenience.
When he was done observing the grenade he extended his hand out and offered it to Hekrin. Hekrin took the offered grenade and looked it over before giving Thomas a wide smile, "Not bad kid. You completed the grenade and didn't blow us up. I'd call that a success!"
Hekrin let out a boisterous laugh as the grenade vanished from his hand, likely stored in his inventory. Thomas watched Hekrin and waited for his next set of instructions. When Hekrin finished laughing he gave Thomas an amused look, "That's it kid. From this point on you can follow blueprints others have made to learn more, or spend time making your own items and learning from your mistakes."
Thomas frowned, "That's it?"
Hekrin nodded, "Yeah, that's it."
Thomas frowned deeply, "Then why did I have to go all the way to the capital and spend so much time learning at the academy? Couldn't you have just taught me the basics of magic?!"
Hekrin looked serious as he shook his head, "No kid. I'm no magic instructor. Only a fully trained magic instructor can teach other people how to use magic. Just like the trainers in the city or the teachers in the academy. Only qualified people can teach. I'm a Magitech Engineer and only know the magic I need to know and I can only teach about Magitech."
Thomas continued to frown, but as he thought about it what Hekrin said made some sense. He'd tried his best to teach Janice how to use magic like he did but no matter what he tried, Janice just couldn't convert her mana into any elements. He'd even said, nearly word for word, what Fulin had told him and still, she failed. The best way he could rationalize it is, if he wanted to teach someone magic he was required to have the prerequisite teaching skill or ability. Games loved to have requirements before you could do anything, so why not a requirement for teaching?
Thomas sighed then nodded his head. He decided to change the subject, "There's something else I actually wanted to ask you about."
Hekrin looked inquisitively at Thomas while Thomas pulled out the 'heart of iron' he'd made back in the academy a few days ago. Hekrin saw the lump of practically glowing iron and got curious. He reached out and touched it. The moment he realized what it was, Hekrin's beady black eyes widened in shock. His gaze immediately turned to Thomas with a fervent look, "Where did you get this?!"
Thomas was surprised by Hekrin's reaction but answered honestly, "I made it."
Hekrin was immediately infuriated as he roared, "Don't lie to me kid! This is the heart of a mountain! You can't make something like this! It takes thousands of years and can only form in the heart of massive iron veins deep beneath the ground! The heart of a mountain can only form in a massive iron vein near an active volcano. The heat and the pressure push only the purest of iron together to create the heart of a mountain. They are impossible to create any other way!"
Hekrin continued to glare at Thomas as he once again said, "Tell me where you got this!"
Thomas had never actually seen Hekrin angry in person before and felt a large amount of pressure radiating off of the short dwarf. He kept his calm though and instead of answering with words, he pulled an iron ingot from his inventory. Seeing the ingot Hekrin's frown grew deeper but before he could yell again, Thomas held up his hand in a 'wait' gesture.
Hekrin huffed but remained silent and watched Thomas like a hawk glaring at prey. Thomas ignored Hekrin and summoned up his mana to use his 'Transmutation'. He'd decided it would be better to show Hekrin rather than just try to explain to the irate dwarf. His mana turned into a blue mist and sank into the ingot on his palm. He willed it to extract and combine the purest iron within the ingot as he had done previously. It had only been a couple of days since he last did this so Thomas still recalled the feeling clearly.
After a short amount of time, the ingot slowly began to turn to dust that dribbled onto the floor. Hekrin continued to watch in silence, but as more of the ingot turned to dust his anger slowly began to fade and was replaced by intrigue. After a few minutes, all that remained sitting on Thomas's palm was another chunk of absolutely pure iron that seemed to glow. This piece was less than half the size of the first one but still had a mirror-like surface.
Though the new 'heart of the mountain' was smaller, it was still the real deal and that fact completely flabbergasted Hekrin. Hekrin reached out and gingerly touched the small piece of pure iron. After he confirmed what it was he let out a long sigh as his whole body seemed to deflate a little. He started to mutter to himself, "Impossible. Simply impossible."
Thomas watched Hekrin for a bit and wondered if he'd accidentally broken the dwarf. It took a little time but Hekrin seemed to come back to himself. When he looked at Thomas again there was almost a look of reverence on his face, "How did you do it kid?"
Thomas asked a question in return, "What do you know about otherworlders."
Hekrin looked slightly confused but answered, "Something went wrong with the summoning ceremonies so hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions, of people were called into our world. Every one of you is immortal, no matter how gruesome your death you come back after some time passes. Each of you also came with a special ability..."
A lightbulb seemed to go off in Hekrin's mind, "Your special ability!"
Thomas grinned as he nodded, "Yes. I got a special ability called Transmutation."
Hekrin frowned again, "Transmutation? As in the transmutation formations used for Alchemy? There's no way any of those could turn an iron ingot into a 'Heart of the Mountain'. If they could it wouldn't be so rare!"
Thomas wasn't entirely surprised that his 'Transmutation' was stronger or better than the transmutation formation plates used in alchemy. It was an A grade ability after all! He smiled as he said, "My ability is just better than the formation plates. Though I took inspiration and knowledge from those plates, my ability seems more adept than them."
Hekrin crossed his arms over his chest and stroked his beard with one as he said very seriously, "This is dangerous kid." Hekrin looked at the two pieces of iron in each other Thomas's hands, "Those hearts are priceless treasures. Entire Dwarven armies have been mobilized just to claim pieces smaller than those two. If it were to get out that you could make them at will, I fear that unscrupulous individuals would attempt to capture you and exploit you."
For a brief moment, he worried Hekrin might do something, but that worry immediately faded. His reputation with Hekrin was permanently locked at the maximum, the odds of Hekrin doing something were minimal. Thomas stored the two hearts of the mountain and looked serious as he said, "Don't worry. Now that I know, I'll keep this a secret from people I can't trust."
Hekrin nodded in approval, "Good thinking kid."
Thomas rolled his shoulders to get rid of some tension he'd been feeling for a bit now. Now he had two things he had to keep secret for different reasons. He didn't like that, but he had little choice in the matter if he wanted to stay free and not be hunted down by everyone. With his decision made, he asked Hekrin, "So what can you tell me about the 'Heart of the Mountain'?"
Hekrin continued to stroke his beard while he spoke, "The hearts are the absolute best material that can be used to make anything of iron. It is impervious to rust and when hardened is much harder than regular iron. Sword made from the 'Heart of a Mountain' can easily slice through a regular iron sword without receiving so much as a scratch. Though it's not as good as higher tier metals like Mithril, Orichalcum, and Adamantine, it is rarer than all of them and retains value through its rarity. Though it's less valuable to the non-dwarven races, it's still worth more than hundreds of times its weight in gold."
Thomas was shocked at the value of the iron he'd made. Then he was immediately disappointed. He was certain that if he made any attempt to sell it, he would only come to tragedy. He was weak both physically and politically so anyone would easily be able to take advantage of him or do what Hekrin said and capture him for exploitation. He now had a goldmine that he couldn't do anything with. At least, not until he was much stronger.
Thomas asked his next question, "What if I turned it into steel?"
He was wondering if he could pull out a 'heart of carbon' and make the purest steel possible. Hearing the question, Hekrin looked offended as he exclaimed, "Don't even think about it kid! That would be an absolute insult to the iron and blasphemy in the eyes of any dwarf who saw it!"
Thomas nodded as he thought, 'note to self, don't make it into steel in front of Hekrin'.
Hekrin took a deep breath and slowly let it out before asking, "Any other surprises for me kid?"
Thomas laughed to himself. He had one more, but he didn't feel comfortable telling Hekrin about it so he shook his head, "No, that's all. I had plans to make a few things and work on a different version of your Magitech Tube. After that I was going to see about starting my own shop."
Hekrin looked happy when he heard Thomas wanted to work on his inheritance but frowned as he said, "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news kid but shortly after you otherworlders arrived the King made some changes. Otherworlders have to earn rank with the kingdom before they're allowed to buy or rent a place. No one will break that law."
Thomas frowned as well, "That's not good. How am I going to get any work done if I have to keep borrowing peoples shops and can't have my own equipment and tools?"
Hekrin brightened up and adopted a mischevious look, "I got something that you might find helpful. But if you want one, it's gunna cost you that bigger 'Heart of the Mountain'."
There was a bit of a greedy gleam in Hekrin's eyes, though it didn't bother Thomas much at all. Though the hearts were worth a fortune and greatly desired by other people, he could make one out of any iron ingot he picked up. Thomas pulled the heart of his inventory but held onto it, "Show me what you got old man."
Hekrin laughed and gestured for Thomas to follow him. Together they made their way out of the back of his shop. Thomas was surprised to see the size of the backyard to Hekrin's shop. It was at least twice as big as the shop itself! Hekrin walked to the middle of the yard and pulled a box made of iron from his inventory. The box looked like solid iron with no seams. Thomas observed it closely as Hekrin set it down, "This is something my Master came up with. He liked to travel but obviously couldn't take his entire shop with him. He spent years to come up with this."
Hearing Hekrin, Thomas became excited. Hekrin placed his hand on the top of the iron cube, which was quite a sight since the cube was nearly as tall as Hekrin himself. Shortly after touching the top of the cube, Hekrin walked away with a big grin. Thomas watched as the cube began to unfold like an origami puzzle. There were loud whirs, clicks from clockwork gears, and squeals of metal rubbing against metal as the box unfolded becoming bigger on every dimension. Thomas watched, fascinated, as the cube unfolded until it was a square building that was thirty times larger than the original.
The large structure took up almost every last millimeter of Hekrin's back yard. The only seam in it that Thomas could see was a very obvious door in the center of the wall facing him. Hekrin walked over and opened the door to show Thomas the interior. After stepping inside Thomas was shocked. The whole space was filled with all the tools he could possibly want for his work. Tables lined the walls, a forge sat in one corner, shelves were dispersed throughout, and chests sat around for storage.
Thomas immediately tossed the iron heart to Hekrin. Hekrin scrambled to catch it and keep it from falling onto the floor as Thoms said, "I'll take it!"
Hekrin quickly stored the heart away as he grinned, "Don't get ahead of yourself kid, I never said I was sellin' ya this one."
Thomas was immediately pissed but before he could yell at the dwarf, Hekrin continued, "I'll tell you where ta get one. You just gotta head to the dwarven city of Laureyda and speak with my Master. He can either make one for ya or teach ya how ta make one."
Thomas let out a deep sigh. He could only blame himself. Though Hekrin's wording implied that he could buy the unfolding shop, Hekrin didn't actually explicitly say he would sell it. Just that Thomas could get one for the price of the heart. It really wasn't a big deal though. The iron ingot he made the heart from only cost him a few gold. If he thought of it that way he'd gotten himself a decent deal. At least, that's how he comforted himself.