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Rockbeard looked at Thomas and then the mess of dust floating around the smithy. Whatever Thomas had made was strange and made a goddamn mess, "Damnit kid! What in the bloody hells are you doing to my shop?!"

Thomas gave a cheeky smile in reply, "Sorry about that. I was just making something to make my work easier. I'll show you."

He moved over to the small forge he intended to use and replaced the bellows attached to it with his shiny new blower. The forge was already lit so all he needed to do was channel a small amount of mana into the blower. Instantly the dull flickering flames roared to life practically turning the coal forge into a blast furnace. Rockbeard and all of the other blacksmiths stared in fascination at the sight.

Thomas let them watch as he pulled out an ingot and tossed it into the roaring flames. While the ingot heated up he borrowed a pair of tongs from the shop and pulled his blacksmithing hammer from his inventory. The other blacksmiths observed the blower in action, Thomas had to provide it with a bit of mana every few minutes to keep it running but it was still far less work than pumping a bellows. Seeing that the enchantment needed to constantly be recharged, Rockbeard pulled Thomas to the side, "Why didn't ya embed a mana crystal to store some mana for yur little wind thing? Would save ya the effort of havin' to recharge it so often."

Thomas stared blankly for a minute then laughed, "Because I didn't think to do that!"

Though thinking about it, he shook his head, "I don't think I would want to do that unless I could turn it on and off as well as control the amount of mana it's using to control the temperature of the flames."

As Thomas talked he thought about ways he might be able to achieve that. If he could make something that complex it would allow him to create a better forge that could have excellent temperature control. That would have to be something he worried about later though. Right now upgrading his gear was a top priority for him. Rockbeard looked Thomas over then sighed, "Kid, just don't cause any more of a commotion got it?"

Thomas nodded and went back to work while Rockbeard did the same. Thomas checked his ingot and continued to feed mana into the blower until the ingot was ready to be hammered. Once it was up to temperature, he got to work. It was a simple job meant for him to be able to test one of his ideas. Time passed as he turned the ingot into a simple hammer.

System Notice: You have created a Normal grade Warhammer. Quality: Below Average. You have gained 35 Magitech Engineering experience.

It was far from a work of art. It was just a simple basic weapon to use in his experiments and would be melted down and reforged into something useful later. After all, if he was going to make a perfect weapon he would use 'heart' materials to make Origin Steel.

He didn't bother to even harden and temper the hammer properly. It would never see actual combat. He just needed something simple to test his enchanting theory on. With the hammer roughly done, he set it down and pulled out the iron plates he made on the journey here. He took the two plain square parts and one of the T shaped sections and set them on the top of the hammer. A little 'Transmutation' fused the two square pieces onto the hammer while holding the T shaped piece tightly in place. He'd need to make the final product more secure.

With the plates in place, he made some normal enchanting medium. He wasn't going to go through the effort to make a purified mana crystal for something he would be destroying. With all the tools prepared, he pulled out the drawings he made during the caravan trip and carefully looked them over. He took a breath to steady himself then began to slowly start carving the enchantment into the metal plates. The intent behind the enchantment was simple, surround the hammer with fire without burning the hammer or the user.

He slowly and very carefully worked on the enchantment. He was especially careful carving the lines that crossed between the square plates and the T shaped plate. He maintained a slow and deliberate pace to make sure that nothing would go wrong. When he put the final touch on the enchantment he got an expected system notice.

System Notice: You have completed an enchantment. Quality: Above Average. You have gained 196 Magitech Engineering experience.

Lifting up the hammer and channeling mana into it caused the head of the hammer to burst into flames. This was only to be expected as it was still the same single enchantment. The real experiment was to come. He took a deep breath and pulled the T shaped plate out from between the two square-shaped plates. Officially breaking the enchantment as the flames immediately died out. No amount of mana channeled into the hammer would bring the flames back. He set the engraved T plate off to the side and pulled out a fresh blank one.

After slotting it into the freed up space, he takes a deep breath to steady himself. This would be the real test. If this could work it would open up a world of possibilities to what he could accomplish. He picked up his carving tools and slowly began his work. The new engraving matched the previous one in every aspect except for the very center. There he drew a symbol for the Earth element. The intent behind the enchantment was to create a sharp protruding spike of hardened rock on the face of the hammer. He was exceptionally careful at the areas where the T shaped plate met the edges of the square-shaped plates.

System Notice: You have completed an enchantment. Quality: Above Average. You have gained 198 Magitech Engineering experience.

Thomas let out a sigh and examined the finished work. The system said the enchantment was successful. Next... he lifted the hammer and channeled his mana into it. The mana gathered at the face of the hammer and quickly transformed into a sharp spike made of hardened stone. Thomas threw his hands up in the air in excitement, "YES! IT WORKS!"

Rockbeard shouted back, "Shut up kid! You're bothering everyone again! One more outburst and I don't care if your a friend of Volcrag or not, I'll kick yer ass out of here!"

Thomas sheepishly nodded and set the hammer down. Carving the earth enchantment and using it had worked. Next, he pulled the earth plate out and swapped in the fire plate again. When he channeled mana into it the hammer once again burst into flames. Thomas felt giddy at the success of the experiment. Thanks to this he could make just a single weapon and swap out elements at will to use the element that's best for the situation. He set the hammer down and started to pull materials out of his inventory and arrange them on the workbench.

Iron, coal, mana crystals, leather, firestone, and various tools. With everything set out he opened his blueprint system and picked a special file. The weapon had started life as a single shot breach loading pistol with a wide bore barrel that would have significantly upped his stopping power. However, the original design had slowly changed here and there as he came up with various thoughts and ideas on the journey to Bilri. Now that he knew he could swap out enchantments his idea would prove fruitful. Even better, his discovery of the efficiency of purified mana crystals would allow him to take it up to a whole different level.

He got to work by picking up a mana crystal and activating his Transmutation ability to purify it into a clear mana crystal. He did this over and over until he had purified a dozen of the crystals. As he was finishing the last one Rockbeard approached him, "Hey kid, you should take a break for... WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE?!"

Before Thomas could even reply, Rockbeard had snatched up one of the mana crystals and was staring at it with his mouth agape. Thomas decided not to say anything and just watched as Rockbeard studied the first mana crystal for a bit then stared at the other clear mana crystals on the workbench. Finally, he turned to Thomas and stared sternly at him with his beady black eyes, "Store the mana crystals away and follow me."

Hearing his deadly serious tone, Thomas did as instructed and stored every mana crystal he had purified. Rockbeard led Thomas out of the smithy and up a flight of stairs to the second floor. They entered a room that looked like a small personal office. When Rockbeard closed the door he activated an enchantment that sealed off all sound inside of the room. They could hear nothing from outside, not even the loud banging of the hammers from just below them. Rockbeard walked over to a comfortable looking leather chair and sat down. He pointed to a similar chair not too far away, "Sit."

Thomas wasn't afraid, he was only mostly curious. When he sat down Snowlily leaped up and made herself comfortable on his lap. Rockbeard glanced at her but dismissed her as a spoiled pet, "Tell me about those mana crystals."

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and answered dismissively, "They're just mana crystals that I purified."

"Using your Transmutation ability?"

Thomas nodded, "That's right."

Rockbeard placed his hand over his eyes and let out a long deep sigh, "You have no idea what you've done do you?"

Thomas tilted his head and answered in a rather deliberate airheaded manner, "Purified mana crystals?"

Rockbeard groaned loudly, "You're so... I don't know if you're an idiot or a genius." He lowered his hand from his eyes and collapsed against the back of the chair, "Mana crystals that pure should only come from ridiculously powerful monsters such as elder dragons! Great Demons! Or any other monster above the Emperor rank that can decimate entire countries with a sneeze! Pure mana crystals are national treasures that power the most important national defenses and weapons. Even just a fragment of one is priceless! And here you are in the middle of my workshop churning them out like their pebbles found on the side of the road! Do you have any idea how severe this is?!"

Thomas couldn't help smiling at the very familiar speech. When he'd purified iron back in Hekrin's shop he'd said some rather similar things about countries going to war over the hearts of iron. Thomas reached into his inventory and pulled out a piece of heart iron that he hadn't used yet. He knew it was a risk to show it to anyone but Rockbeard seemed like a good guy. Even seeing the purified mana crystals, he hadn't shown signs of greed and was even warning him in a private soundproofed area. He placed the heart iron on the table near his chair and smiled.

Rockbeard was going to continue his ranting until he saw the heart iron sitting on the table. He swallowed loudly as he tried to fight his dwarvish instinct to reach out, snatch the heart iron, and treat even better than he treated Darla. Seeing Rockbeard staring at the hunk of 'priceless' iron like it was his long lost love was a little offputting to Thomas. He slid the heart iron closer to Rockbeard and smiled, "Take it. Consider it payment for letting me use your facilities and an apology for the disturbances I've caused."

The moment that the words 'take it' left Thomas's lips, Rockbeard had already snatched the heart iron and was caressing it lovingly. Rockbeard smiled like a man in love and looked at Thomas, "It's decided. You can have Darla. Then you will be my son-in-law! I gratefully accept this dowry gift!"

Thomas was shocked but quickly shook his head, "No no, that's quite alright. No need for any of that."

Rockbeard glared at Thomas, "What? Is my precious Darla not good enough for you?"

Thomas waved his hands to deny that, "No no, nothing like that. It's just... she should be the one to choose who she marries don't you think?"

Rockbeard eyed Thomas with suspicion for a bit before slowly nodding, "Fine then. Just know I won't be standin' in yur way while you woo her. So go for it!" He gave Thomas a big thumbs up.

Thomas was pretty certain that Rockbeard just wanted him for his heart iron. Still, the dwarf was pretty entertaining. The way his mood dictated how he spoke seemed to be a dwarven trait. Rockbeard continued to fondle the hunk of heart iron for a bit before storing it away with a bright smile, "You can use any of my facilities for as long as you want kid!"

He turned a bit serious, "But any of the things you've made like the heart iron or pure mana crystals need to be hidden from the other workers. If they see things like these there's no telling how they would react. Even worse, if word was to get out you could be captured and forced to make these things for the rest of your life."

Thomas smiled and nodded, "I understand. My master told me much the same. I'll keep things hidden so that no one notices... Though that means I should probably make sure no one else uses the blower."

"What about it?"

Thomas shrugged while grinning sheepishly, "I made the enchantment with a purified mana crystal."

"..."

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thomasdarkrose

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Bio: Just your average self-employed American with some spare time that enjoys reading, and now writing.

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