“Yo, Dharkiss, you want to get creative again?” I called out as soon as I entered his shop.
“Angus, I thought you and Djarleen had some important alchemy stuff to do today?”
“Finished already, and now I’m 24 hours without the use of any mana.” I replied. “But I do have an idea for a newish weapon or a trap, kinda a mix of both to be honest.”
“Well, let’s get to it! What manner of beastie are we killing today?”
“Ever heard of a stormlord toad?”
“Sounds like a variant of those thunder ram toads you’ve been fightin’ recently.”
“That’s exactly what it is, though it is a bit higher level than the normal toads.”
“Gotcha. So, what do you have in mind?”
“Well, I need a few things. My plan is to send a giant pot of potion right down his throat, but I can’t get too close because they like to blast out lightning. I was thinking of getting a shield, but instead of a smooth surface, I want it rough. As many small bumps as you can get in there.”
“Now why in the hells would I make a shield like that? You want it smooth to deflect blows easier.”
“Whoever said I was deflecting a blow? I want the toad to stick the shield with his tongue and bring it back to his mouth for a chomp. I’m going to put either a large potion pot on the back, or possibly two slightly smaller ones.”
“Hmmmm, that might work. You’ll need it strong enough to withstand that initial impact, so even reinforced wood is right out. I think we could just use iron, to make it a bit cheaper. Even if it gets deformed a bit, that’ll be fine, right?” At my nod, he kept pondering. “Since you’ll wanna be lettin’ it go fairly quick I’ll only put one handle on the back, you’ll have to brace it with your off hand. I think a few leather straps threaded through a clay handle jug should do for your potion, but one big one wouldn’t do. Can you do three slightly smaller ones? Maybe a quart of liquid each?”
“Yep, I’m heading out after this to gather the reagents I need.”
“Ok, then how does this sound. A square shield, with a handle in the top left of the back. Each of the other quadrants has a leather strap with a pot on it.”
“Perfect. How much for this?”
“Well, I’ll be lettin’ the apprentice get his hands dirty with the shield portion of it. I’ll make sure the durability is high enough to take that first hit though, don’t worry about that. We can call it his first commission, and can you do three silver?”
“Easily. Can he have it done by tomorrow?”
“For an extra silver, sure he can.”
“Done deal. I’ll make it a little easier on him, and pick it up at noon tomorrow, sound good?”
“Yep, that’s right about perfect. It’ll push him just a bit. Now get on out of here, I don’t want him to see who his first commission is from.”
Nodding, I headed out the door. For the rest of the day I headed out and hunted mycofiends and harvested reagents from that area. I did find out some of the limitations of my new vision thanks to the thickness of the caps of the mycofiends. It seems I could see through about four to six inches of flesh, which was just enough to find their embedded mana cores. Unsurprisingly, the water element mana was a dark blue. Once I had all my experiments done and made it back to the inn for the night, I logged out.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The next morning I got up and headed to see Djarleen right away. “Morning Djarleen, have you had your tea yet?”
“Hmmmm, trying to gauge my mood so soon?” She asked as she set her teacup down gently.
“Partially. I also need to brew a few potions, and need your expertise on something.”
“Questions about alchemy? I suppose I could try and help out. What’cha got?”
“I’m thinking of my pyrophoria potion. Right now, it is, I don’t know how to say this. Quite liquidy? Runny? Anyway, I want to know if there are any alchemically neutral thickeners.”
“Yeah. I really want to make it more like a gel. Have it cling to what I get it splashed on.”
“Hmmmm. There’s a few things I could try, but if you want the best answers you would probably have to check with Master Faraldo. He specializes in mixtures like that. Luckily we are heading out to headquarters today, so we can ask him. We have what, an hour until our mana returns? Do you have any other things you want to try?”
“Not really. Would you mind teaching me how to make that tea while we wait?”
“Not a fan of the upset stomach? No worries, come over here and watch.” The tea wasn’t anything super special, I just needed to lightly crack some seeds in a mortar and pestle and let them steep with whatever brew I had ready. Eventually I felt a tingle, almost like a subdued version of those pinpricks you get when a limb that has fallen asleep wakes up. Sure enough, my mana bar was now unblocked and slowly filling back up. I looked up to see Djarleen drinking a mana potion, so I assumed she was free as well and drank my own potion.
“Blegh, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that taste.” She grimaced. “Let’s get this done.” Heading back to the transport circle, I was noticeably less nauseous after the transport.
“That tea is fantastic.” I said, happy to not feel sick.
“You do realize that I’m going to have to find something else to pester you with, right?” She asked.
“Probably not much longer. You keep finding new and interesting things.”
“Thanks, I guess.” By this time we had reached the front desk, this time manned by Marcus, the nice man we met on our first trip over. Surprisingly, Guildmaster Willow was also there.
“Welcome back you two!” The guildmaster smiled.
“Guildmaster, Marcus, I hope we haven’t kept you waiting too long.” Djarleen and I both nodded to them.
“Not at all, not at all. Let’s head to the conference room over here, and we can discuss those final vials, okay?”
“Sure.” I replied, smiling inside at the guildmaster’s enthusiasm. He lead us to a small conference room, just a few chairs and a round table in the middle. Sitting down, he slid two rounded flasks towards me, one brown and one whitish.
“Here you go Angus, your two potions for the tunneling worm blood.”
“Thanks.” I said, picking them up and examining them. Both had shimmering flecks floating in them, and I activated [Mystic vision] to inspect them. Suddenly the flecks were more than small slivers floating in solution, they became incredibly complex knots of colored lights. I was mesmerized watching them slowly rotate through the solutions, but started when the guildmaster whispered.
“Fascinating. Can you actually see the magic in the bottles?”
Damn ancient elves and their damned perception. I was mentally smacking the back of my head before deciding that he had seen enough, and would probably never let it go. “Can I trust you that this won’t leave the room?”
“I didn’t get just mystic vision. I got an enhanced version that lets me see mana flows in precise detail. Normal vision just reveals shimmering flecks in the solution. My mystic vision changed those into three dimensional loops of different kinds of mana. I’ve never seen anything so complex before.”
“Fascinating. Have you determined the limits of this yet?”
“Some. I can see through about six inches of flesh.”
“Would you. . .” His eyes got incredibly wide. “Would you be willing to help map mana flows? This is unprecedented.”
“Possibly, but it will have to be a while. I have far too much on my plate right now.”
“That’s fine, elves can be patient.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
“No worries. Now, let’s get on to some of these offers.” He pulled out a packet of papers, and handed them over. I took my time going over them, not wanting to miss any possible exploits in the potions.
Potion of Holy Strike
Permanently enhance a weapon to deliver a percentage of damage as holy damage
Potion of Necrotic Rebuke
Damage inflicted by undead creatures reduced by 15%, permanently
Potion of Spiritual Devouring
Permanently enhance a weapon to drain mana from any spiritual creatures upon damage. After enough mana has been accumulated, the next strike will unleash a mana shockwave upon impact
Potion of Lightning Attunement
Permanently increase affinity for lightning magics by 50%
Oh now these were fantastic potions. Permanent enhancements were always great, and since my weapon was scaling it would hopefully be relevant for a long time. While the damage reduction was tempting, and I mean very tempting, I opted to go with the potion of holy strike. Added damage was always good, and my playstyle was evolving into a ‘do max damage while taking none.’
“I have a quick question before I decide. Would the holy damage work on specters without an ethereal shift potion?”
“I don’t think so. Well, not how I think you are hoping it would work. Say you do 100 damage every strike, and the holy strike potion would add 20 damage to that. If you were to strike a specter, you are hoping for the weapon to do 5 damage but still do 20 holy, correct?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly.”
“I’m sorry, it does a percentage damage based on what you actually do. So you would do 5 damage from the weapon and get 1 bonus holy damage.”
“Say I use ethereal shift, would that change the damage to 50 normal and 10 holy?”
“Yes, there are no limitations to that. I also believe you can combine it with an ethereal flame potion to get added fire damage if you wish.”
“Ok, I’ll go with that then. Here’s the vials for the trade, do you know if they have the potion ready?”
“Excellent, and I do. Several of the master’s had their offered potions on hand, it makes negotiating easier. I’m sure Master Hersch will be very happy you ended up choosing him.” At the mention of which master’s potion I had picked, Djarleen grimaced.
“Now that that’s done, I’ll tell you a bit of my new ability that you can share with the masters. I can see mana within thirty feet, and can tell people’s auras. Monster auras don’t extend nearly as far, but that might be due to lack of mana capacity. The only people I have studied under this so far have been yourself and Djarleen.”
“I think that should pacify them for now, especially since I can describe how it looks to them in detail. Oh, you might want this before you go.” Reaching into a bag next to him, he slid over a golden yellow potion that seemed to be glowing. “And with that, I do believe our business is concluded. Thank you for your time, Angus and Djarleen.” With that, he stood and shook our hands before ushering us out the door. We walked by the front desk, simply nodding at Marcus as he moved at an insane speed filing papers. Once we made it back to the store, I headed over to the workbench and cleared an area.
“Want to see me apply the potions?” I asked Djarleen.
“Yeah, this should be interesting.”
I placed my weapon on its side, and popped the cork of the glowing potion. “Here goes nothing.” I said, and slowly started pouring the potion onto the crystal heart embedded in the weapon. Contrary to my expectations, the liquid never splattered. Instead the crystal heart shimmered as if it were a liquid, immediately absorbing everything. The golden glow flowed through the crystal veins in the weapon, moving further and further with each beat of the heart. As the last of the potion dropped, the heart gave a deep thrum that I felt in my chest, and glowed brightly before settling back down.
Bloodsteel Hammerscythe (Soulbound, Scalable)
This weapon was specially commissioned for a neophyte of Thanatos. Infusing the steel with his blood and certain herbs, along with the heart of a creature slain by his own hand has inexorably linked the two. It will grow with its owner, and has branching potential trees that can be unlocked depending on its usage.
Living Weapon: Durability can be repaired by sacrificing the life force of either the wielder or enemies.
Souldbound: Can’t be stolen or dropped upon death
Scalable: Stats dependent upon the level of the wielder
Executioner: +10% increased chance for decapitation when striking the neck of an enemy.
Holy Strike: 20% of damage done will be added as holy damage
Damage: 260-295 Crushing, 235-255 Slashing
Thankfully the glow died down, so it wouldn’t be giving me away when I was sneaking up on an enemy.
“Well that was quite the sight.” Djarleen said. “You going to down your other potions now?”
“Yeah, it makes no sense to wait.” I said, pulling out each potion and drinking them. I wonder if the permanent potions were supposed to taste that much different, as the ice potion felt like I was drinking supercooled water and the earth potion tasted like the smell of fresh turned soil. Oddly enough, it was a pleasant taste, and made me think of walking through a garden in spring.
“Ok, ready for some experimenting?” I asked Djarleen.
“What are you experimenting with?”
“Well, I was going to make a few of those acidic potions and one of the pyrophoria potions. Shit! We forgot to ask Master Faraldo about the thickening agents!”
“Damn, I’m sorry Angus. I guess we will have to go with my ideas and hope for the best. As an apology, I’ll let you use my reagents for free until we determine the best reagent.”
“Oh, and for experiments like this I highly suggest these vials.” She said, pulling out a few racks of clay jars the size of the additions I had put on the special bolts. “Split the potion among these, one should fill up five of them. Then we will get a lot less damage when something goes wrong.”
“Don’t you mean ‘if’ something goes wrong?” I asked, slightly worried.
“Nope!” She happily chirped. “Something will inevitably go wrong, better to prepare for it right now.”
We spent the next few hours trying several options. Flour caused the potions to geyser up like dropping a stream of water into hot oil. Several types of powdered soil only lessened the potions strength and did nothing to make it thicker. We had several powdered bones from low level creatures as well, and although they did thicken the mixture they reduced the flame aspect to nearly nothing.
“Damnit, I was hoping for some better results.” I cursed, smacking my fist in the table.
“Relax, this is part of the process. I do have one last thing to check, but saved it since it was the most expensive one. Here, try this, don’t use the acidic potion.” She handed me a green vial, and under [Mystic vision] glowed a vibrant green.
“What is this?” I asked, not quite willing to use an unknown reagent.
“Slime from an acid slime. It does minor acid damage, but I think it’ll be a nice substitute for a potion base and it is already gelatinous.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I dropped in the mycofiend spores and watched as the top started slowly bubbling before stopping. I quickly capped it and looked, only to see about a quarter inch of orange gel on the top.
“Try shaking, but remember to vent so the bottle doesn’t explode.”
Following Djarleen’s advice, I gently shook the vial, and when it started bubbling again I would remove the cap until the bubbles stopped. Five stop and starts later and it was completely orange.
Gelatinous pyrophoria potion
The base of this unstable potion has been substituted for gel from an acid slime. This has caused the potion to be far more clingy, thus increasing its efficacy.
Causes 130 fire damage over 10 seconds
35% chance to inflict minor burn status (stackable x5)
“Ha! We did it!” I cried out, ecstatic. I might have even hugged Djarleen and twirled her around for a second.
“Put me down! Angus!” She yelled at me, but was smiling the whole time. “Thank you. Now, I can honestly say I’m proud of you for not blowing us up with the repeated venting.”
“Thanks Djarleen. I need to go see a few people, but I’ll be back for a bit. I’m going to need quite a bit of that acid slime.”
“I’ll keep it, just hurry back, okay?”
“Sure thing.” I said, then headed out to see what Dharkiss’ apprentice had whipped up.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.