Sailing down the river on the barge was a rather boring affair. There was nothing to do at all. To pass the time after catching up on his sleep, Thomas used his Transmutation to create a simple fishing rod from some wood in his inventory. He used a bit of meat for the bait and dangled the line in the water to relax. He didn't really want to catch anything, it was just something to do. Funnily enough, it did earn him the Fishing skill.
The day passed with most of the guards and drivers playing card and dice games while the crew of the barge did all of the work to get them down the river. It took the entire day for them to move down the river and arrive at a large port town called Grinvika. It would be the last bit of civilization that they would visit until they arrived at their destination. As long as there were no major issues on the way, they would arrive at Bilri within three days.
Once all the barges were docked and unloaded the drivers and guards were all guided to the inns within the town. Due to the size of the town, inn space was minimal meaning that several people had to bunk within the same room. It also meant there was no place for Thomas to go off and rent a room on his own. He was forced to share a room with two other men. The cot he was stuck with was small, uncomfortable, and jammed into one corner of the small room. If he could have he would have just gone outside the town walls and camped out for the night. There was safety in numbers though and being inside of an inn was safer still. Sleeping inside of an inn full of hired guards was worth a little discomfort.
Still, he slept with the Peace Maker under his pillow for a little extra protection.
The next morning, Thomas was once again riding in the back of the covered wagon with Lexiana, Snowlily, and the cargo that Volcrag was transporting. The day was bright and warm with a gentle cooling breeze every now and then. Honestly, it was such a nice day that Thomas just wanted to lie down under a tree and take a nap. Sadly, he had to stay awake to do his job and guard the wagon.
Lexiana continuously glanced at Thomas while the wagon trundled along the road heading south-east. Ever since she had offered her apology to him he hadn't spoken a word to her. She wanted to try and strike up a conversation with him and get a little closer to him but the atmosphere was just so... awkward. What really confused her is that every male otherworlder that she had met had approached her with lascivious thoughts in mind. Yet Thomas seemed perfectly content to ignore her. Normally that would be just fine with her but right now it was annoying her to no end.
She spent hours trying to think of a way to strike up a conversation with him. During lunch, she wanted to try talking about food but he joined a group of male guards and struck up a random conversation with them. He seemed more than willing to chat with everyone but her and that annoyed her even more. Even after the lunch break was over and they were riding in the wagon together she still couldn't figure out a way to start a conversation with him.
Thomas kept an eye on Lexiana. He could tell from the glances she kept sending him and the way she would fidget that she wanted to talk to him. He ignored her and didn't even consider initiating a conversation himself. Though he said he forgave her that didn't mean he had to be nice to her or become a friend of hers. His intention was to never see her again once he was done with his work in Bilri.
Throughout the day he spent most of his time working inside of the blueprint system for his Magitech Engineering. He had many different ideas that he wanted to get written down and refined. He had hoped to be able to perform an experiment yesterday on the barge but the environment was too unstable to do any delicate work like Enchanting. Riding in the back of a wagon was even worse. Today he was fully rested though and could prepare some materials for working with later.
Thomas pulled a fresh iron ingot out of his inventory to examine. It had some impurities but that wouldn't matter. What he had planned was simply an experiment and would be discarded after he was done. He had no reason to go through the effort of purifying the ingot. With the image he had in mind, he activated his Transmutation innate ability and began to reform a portion of the ingot. Lexiana watched in shock as the ingot began to morph in his hand reshaping into a flat square plate. He broke it off of the ingot and smoothed the side before proceeding to make another identical piece.
Once he had two flat plates of iron that were five centimeters on each side he started to form a new piece. This piece was shaped like a T and would fit between the two square iron plates to make one full piece. He made four copies of the T shaped plate in total. Once the plates were made he took out some paper, a quill, and some ink to trace the shapes of the iron plates. Once the shaped plates were stored inside of his inventory he once again used his Transmutation ability to reshape the remained of the ingot into a flat plate to act as a flat surface to write on.
Thomas pondered for a while before he began to slowly draw out a design on the paper. He'd never planned ahead for enchanting anything before. He'd simply carved the designs while picturing the effect he desired. This time though, he was planning far ahead for the enchantment and what he wanted it to be capable of. The design he drew was similar to all of his other designs for enchanting taking on the look of circuitry. The biggest difference was that he drew a complex 'core' within the section that represented the T portion of the enchantment. From the core, various lines spread out to connect to other smaller 'nodes' to complete the enchantment design.
Because he was using and ink and paper instead of proper enchanting materials it was really just an odd-looking picture. There was no intent, no magic, within it. Thomas repeated the process three more times drawing four nearly identical images on the sheet of paper. The only difference between each image lay within the T shaped section at the very center of the 'core'. Within each of those 'cores' was a slightly different image each of which represented one of the four elements of 'life'. Earth, Fire, Water, and Air were all represented with small symbols.
He didn't know if what he wanted to do was possible, but he was trying to design a variable enchantment. The T section would be removable and allow him to slot in various different elements on the fly. If this could work he could design one weapon that can use all of the elements instead of a different weapon for each element! The utility of such a weapon would be off the charts. No matter the situation, as long as he had a proper element pre-enchanted he could just swap it out.
The T shaped section would act as a hot-swap core while the lines and nodes it connects too would be carved into the weapon. As far as he was aware enchantments needed to be directly carved into the item being enchanted. The lines and nodes on the square plates would be directly carved into the item while the T section could be pulled out and changed. Hopefully, this would work.
Shortly after he finished working on his designs the caravan came to a stop for the night. The whole caravan pulled off of the road. Campfires were set up and food was being cooked for everyone. Thomas and Snowlily joined a group of guards to chat and enjoy their dinner. Snowlily was far more popular with the guards than Thomas. Every guard nearby would give her pieces of meat from their meals just to see her little tail wag happily.
Like the first night when they camped out the guards were broken into the same groups for the same shifts. In the middle of the night while he was on shift, Lexiana approached him with an awkward smile on her face. Thomas glanced at her but immediately looked away and continued to do his job. Like the previous time, he was on the midnight shift he was sending out pulses of mana using his Mana Field skill to detect if anything was approaching them.
Lexiana observed Thomas for a few moments as she tried to decide what to use to strike up a conversation with him. She had realized that in order to get closer to Snowlily she had to get closer to this man in front of her. He might simply not care about her but Snowlily outright refused to acknowledge her existence. Snowlily would happily take food from anyone else but when she tried to give something to Snowlily, Snowlily had turned away from it. Being refused like that was devastating and depressing to Lexiana. Of all the people here she was the only one with the blood of the Garou flowing through her veins. Yet the only known living Garou hated her.
Thomas sat in silence for twenty minutes while Lexiana paced in a circle trying to think of a topic to talk to him about. Finally, he couldn't take it anymore and glared at her while asking, "Did you need something?"
Lexiana jumped as he spoke unexpectedly and surprised her. She turned to face him and gave a sheepish smile, "I was just hoping we could talk a little."
Thomas's eyes flashed and began to glow blue in the darkness as he activated his 'All Seeing Eyes' to use his night vision, "Why?"
Lexiana began to fidget, her ears and tail drooping a little as she lost confidence and couldn't think of anything to say in response. Thomas had to try hard not to smile at the cute look of her pouting. As much as he disliked her personality, she was a young vibrant woman that could stir the desires of most men. If he had twenty or thirty years less experience with women he likely would have been flustered and want to do something to comfort her. Just him wanting to smile at her cute look was evidence enough of how beautiful she looked while pouting in the moonlight.
Lexiana glanced up at Thomas as he sat on top of one of the wagons, her golden eyes flashing as they reflected the moonlight. She decided to be a little honest or she would never get closer to either Thomas or Snowlily. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she spoke in a somewhat meek voice, "I... I just want to get to know you and Snowlily better. Mostly Snowlily. But she's so attached to you that unless I can get closer to you, she won't even look at me."
Thomas crossed his arms over his chest as he looked down at Lexiana and pondered for a moment. He knew she was being at least a little honest. It was plain as day that she didn't care for him at all and only cared about his little ball of floof. He smiled, just a little bit as he said, "Well well well. It looks like you actually can be honest. I wasn't sure that was even possible."
Lexiana's fur bristled as she listened to Thomas. She stamped her foot on the ground in frustration. The only reason she didn't leap at him and try to rip his throat out with her teeth was because of Snowlily. Him being immortal didn't even enter her mind. She knew, without a doubt, that she could kill him faster than he could blink. Probably even faster than he could pull out that weird weapon of his and fire it. But she knew that if she did, Snowlily would run away from her. If she was unscrupulous she would have just killed him and kidnapped Snowlily long ago.
Thomas couldn't stop himself from smiling as he watched Lexiana go from contrite to royally pissed off. She really was rather adorable. He had no idea how strong she was but he was pretty certain that she could kill him without breaking a sweat. He wasn't worried about it though. She would never risk alienating Snowlily further. Thomas watched as Lexiana spun on her heels and stomped back to whatever area she was supposed to be guarding at.
When she was gone he let out a sigh and shook his head. Tomorrow was probably going to be another long day of her stealing glances at him and Snowlily. He tilted his head back and looked up at the stars, "I can't wait until I can ditch her for good."