“Oh, Felix? You’re finally here.” a familiar voice jolted Felix out of his thoughts. Just a moment ago he had walked into a rather strange and odd scene. In the back end room of the smithy, lit up by orange sapphire stones, two men stood side by side next to an anvil. Both were topless, and despite the fact that their statures were different in terms of volume, both sported muscles that appeared as though they were chiseled by hands.
“Ah, y-yes. Why did you call for me, Master?” Felix asked, looking away yet also looking back at them, unsure as to what exactly to look at.
“Well, you’ve been my disciple for a while,” Lino said, smiling lightly as he glanced at him. “But I’ve never gifted you anything. So I figured I’d craft you a weapon today.”
“Yeah.” Lino nodded. “I was thinking gauntlets.”
“You know? Gauntlets? Like gloves, except bigger and made out of metal.”
“Do I look like someone who punches things to death?” Felix asked, seeming somewhat dispirited all of a sudden.
“Ah? Ha ha ha, you misunderstood me,” Lino laughed lightly. “They’re not going to be dueling gauntlets. Anyway, just trust me on this one, ‘kay?”
“Where’s your ink and paper?” Lino asked Chwek.
“... don’t tell me you’re just designing it?” Chwek asked, looking somewhat stumped.
“Nah, not really,” Lino shook his head. “I’ve had the design mapped out for a while, I just want to jot it down to see whether there are any screw-ups. I could also use an unbiased party’s opinion.”
“... here.” Chwek took out a few pieces of paper and handed it over alongside a granite pencil, surprising Lino.
The latter nodded softly before sitting down near a window, focusing entirely onto the paper in front of him. It has been so long since he’d designed anything that he was unable to entirely calm his hand, causing him to draw quite a few... interesting lines. With every stroke his happiness seemed to spike, and by the end he found himself subconsciously tapping his feet against the floor.
Proudly lifting the paper, he examined the design closely; though he called them gauntlets, it really was simply for the ease of reference. The weapon he had in mind for Felix was more of a mix between a gauntlet and a glove; after all, as mostly external-user, Felix relied heavily on channeling Qi and shaping it while also switching its property to ice. Because of it, his close-quarter defenses were rather shabby, which is why Lino hadn’t simply designed a pair of gloves.
“What do you think?” after ascertaining there was nothing too amiss with the design, he handed the paper over to Chwek and waited the latter’s assessment.
“... huh.” Chwek drew in a cold breath as he closely examined the designs; while the so-called ‘caster gauntlets’ weren’t exactly extremely rare, Lino’s design was especially ambitious. “Are you sure [Mithren Glue] can hold the inner layers together?”
“Eh, it probably could. But as I don’t want to risk it, I’ll inject the <Chained> array through them as well.”
“Wouldn’t that make it a bit too rigid?” Chwek asked, frowning.
“That’s the point,” Lino explained. “The main purpose is to establish circulatory tubes that will work as filters. As Felix’s Qi is frost-based, flexibility would really only increase the chances of the weapon rusting quicker. In addition, it will help bolster the barrier as it’s a fixed material.”
“If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to use [Black Steel Ingot] rather than [Sapphire Steel]?”
“I thought about it,” Lino nodded. “But black steel isn’t the greatest conduit. While [Sapphire Steel] is a bit less resilient, it’s far more conductive and flexible in terms of modifications and arrays.”
“Ah! That’s true...” Chwek nodded, stroking his beard. “The outer rings are quite a neat idea. You think you can pull it off?”
“Eeh... honestly I’m still not that confident. I was kind of hoping you could help me with them.”
“... let me think for a second. Ah! I’ve some [Elastic Matter] stored. Ah, but its level is fairly low...”
“Oh, that’s great!” Lino exclaimed. “I can mix it with a drop of [Basilisk Blood].”
“Yup, that should do it! Ha ha ha, you’re pretty good at designing things! I’ve always had trouble with coming up with original designs...”
“Right, and those Chakrams are definitely just another completely unoriginal design, eh?”
“Hmm... I baited you right into it!”
“It really is true...” Lino sighed, seemingly lamenting over something. “The larger the man is, the smaller his brain..:”
“Suck a dick.”
“Anyway, my best flame’s Level 85.”
“Mine’s only 70.”
“Alright we’ll use mine then,” Lino nodded. “Can you prepare materials while I start the flame and prepare the arrays?”
“Want me to invite Sena? She’s the best in the city when it comes to modules, especially motion-related ones.”
“Oh? That kid? Sure. I’m still not too confident in crafting rotatory rings.”
“Mind if I invite some of my colleagues? We’ve never seen how outsiders craft before. It could help them break past the barriers.”
“I don’t mind so long as they shut up.”
“You shut up, you bastard!” Chwek spat out as he slowly left, leaving Lino alone. The latter immediately went over to the forge and started throwing in pieces of reinforced coal before stoking flames.
Felix still stood in the corner, yet could only do exactly that. To the two, he seemed to have vanished from the existence, as they only seemed to have crafts on their mind. It was the first time he’d seen his Master like that; while Lino always appeared to be carefree and aloof, Felix realized that he was actually always on guard and especially alert. That’s why it was almost impossible to actually surprise-attack him no matter the circumstances. Yet, here and now, he was completely open. Felix was certain that if he attacked, his Master wouldn’t actually be able to defend in time.
“Your first time seeing him craft something?” Lucky’s voice brought him back to reality. When’d she get here?!
“Yeah...” he replied, nodding lightly.
“If he always looked like he does while crafting,” Lucky said, sighing. “His dream of having a platoon of mature women chasing after him all day every day might even come true. What a waste...”
“See these?” a pair of exquisite daggers suddenly flashed before Felix’s eyes, leaving him utterly stunned - especially so when he saw their stats. “He crafted them for me ten years ago. Till this day, I’ve yet to see a better weapon. It’s on par with Evelyn’s treasured sword.”
“... he’s... he’s really that good?!” Felix exclaimed softly.
“You might not believe this,” she said, smiling lightly. “But crafting is what he really wants to do. Any time he’d start talking about it... his eyes would light up like lanterns. He’d be like a kid who’d start talking about his favorite toy. Ah, they’re back. Let’s retreat a bit and just watch.”
Chwek returned rather quickly with Sena - and around ten other people, eight of whom were men and two women, all similarly built to him - and a ring full of materials. He quickly shoved the ten smiths into the corner and dragged Sena over to where Lino was. She still seemed rather grumpy over what happened yesterday and refused to even look at Lino. The latter, though, seemed to not have noticed it.
“You got everything?” he asked Chwek.
“Yeah. What do you want to do first?” Chwek asked back.
“I’ll do the main frame,” Lino replied, stroking his chin. “You should focus on supporting beams for the time being. We can leave the connectors to be the last.”
“Should Sena start right away with the modules?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Lino nodded, turning towards her. “Can you craft 8 in one go? Possibly with as little differences as possible. Ah, here’s the design.” he handed the paper over to Sena who, despite her grumpiness, couldn’t help herself and took it, quickly inspecting it. “Hoho, the eyes of the craftsman. You raised her well!” he gave Chwek thumbs up who nodded quickly, seeming rather proud of the fact.
“T-this is amazing!!” Sena exclaimed. “I’ve never thought you could do circulatory motion this way!! Inserting arrays through the connectors that control gear spin through Qi while also being able to expand and contract depending on which outer ring is active... hah! This is a gold mine!!”
“Can you do it?” Chwek asked as well.
“Yes, yes! Principle is similar to what I usually do,” Sena nodded quickly. “It’s just applied a bit differently. It’s just... the arrays...”
”Ah, leave those to me.” Lino said, smiling lightly. “Just make sure that sizes go around 1,5 as large as the previous two.”
“Alright! Leave this to me!”
“Shall we, then?” Lino asked.
“Let’s do it!” Chwek replied, both grinning like little kids.
[Sapphire Steel] was rather easy to melt which is why Lino didn’t keep it over the flames for too long. He’d prepared three averagely-sized ingots altogether which should result in a slight excess, but he figured it’s better than lacking in the end. He immediately began fashioning the main frame of the ‘caster gauntlet’. The weapon was closed in, opening only around the palm area, and its main frame was really only one layer of conduits as well as being the backbone of the whole structure.
The entire principle of the weapon revolved around the circulatory rings that expand from the main frame outwardly when infused with Qi. There were four main stages, each responsible for different sorts of casts; quick, long, small and large, as well as the possible mixtures of them. The main frame is also where the gears responsible for the rotatory movement of the gauntlet would be stored, guided through the intricate series of arrays.
The entire structure is three-layered in essence; the main body, which is directly connected to the arm. The supporting layer which connects the main body and the external rings, which are the third layer. The three work in concert to properly filter Qi and guide it, condensing it completely through repeated bashing of gravitational force produced by the circulatory motions of the rings before expelling the purified and condensed version through the open palm.
Because of the materials Lino chose to use, the pair of gauntlets would be rather light, unlike the traditional, full-sized martial-arts-oriented gauntlets.
Lino quickly finished shaping up the main frame and immediately began inscribing the basic arrays while waiting for Chwek to give him the first batch of support beams, connectors and conduit-tubes. He’d barely finished inscribing the first layer of arrays before they arrived, forcing him to speed the inscription somewhat.
Unlike before, however, Lino’s Qi reserves were massive now. He was fairly confident in being able to work for at least three-four days without any breaks without ever running out of Qi, which is why he wasn’t exactly cautious in his expenditure. Quickly finishing up the arrays, he took the first batch of the gear and slowly began melding it into the main frame.
Sena also arrived shortly after with the first pair of rings and gears, causing Lino to nod happily as they were actually far better than what he himself could craft. Not only were they scaled perfectly, she even clearly outlined the area where the inscriptions would go, making his job much easier.
The trio worked tirelessly while everyone else observed. Unlike Felix and Lucky who could at best appreciate the hard work, the ten smiths that Chwek brought over were repeatedly stunned. While they knew very well of Chwek’s and Sena’s skills as they were locals, the unknown, rather hairy youth shocked them.
Any time there was a group of people crafting a single item, there would be a clear leader, while everyone else would merely play the role of supporting cast. It was usually up to the latter to ensure the coordination goes smoothly, but this strange youth flipped that tradition upside down; he clearly observed both Chwek and Sena’s progress, matching his own with theirs as to ensure he never got too ahead or behind the two.
This was in addition to the seemingly inhumane speed of array inscription he displayed as well as master-level control of flames. There was no wasted movement in his actions, and he seemed to always be aware of the exact progress, of where everything was and how long will it take for the next set of components to be ready.
His overall crafting also gave them a bit of a start; while they all preferred to work with double-faced hammers, his was a straight-peen. He used the flat end to hammer in the general shape and the other to define it further before completing the details with a set of chisels. Strokes with hammer were also different; while their style leaned more toward strength and precision, he seemed to prefer speed.
In the end, it took nearly eight hours in total for the weapons to be finished. When Felix looked at the final product, he had to do a double take just in case he’d seen it wrongly. However, it was indeed simply a pair of gloves; while they were a bit thicker than the usual gloves, and were made out of steel, nothing about them resembled a weapon. It was only when he looked at the stats that he’d finally understood.
[Northern Frost - Legendary Unique]
Damage: <Wearer’s Intelligence>*13
+25% to Intelligence
+10% to ‘Ice’-related Arts
+50% resistance to Ice
+10 to Hand-eye Coordination
-10 to Hand Speed
Special Effect: Form-type weapon. Changing forms consumes Qi and takes 1 second. Lowers changing speed by 0,1 second per 800 intelligence. Can’t go below 0,5 seconds.
<First Form: Blizzard>
Increases cast speed of small-arts by 100%
Increases damage of small-arts by 25%
Lowers Qi consumption by 50%
<Second Form: Iceberg>
Increases cast speed of large-arts by 25%
Increases damage of large-arts by 100%
Lowers Qi consumption by 25%
<Third Form: Frost>
Increase cast speed of all Arts by 50%
Increases damage of all arts by 50%
Increases Qi consumption by 20%
<Fourth Form: Winter>
Decreases cast speed of all arts by 20%
Decreases damage of all arts by 20%
Decreases Qi consumption by 95%
Increases proficiency of defensive arts by 300%
Note: Crafted by three incredibly talented smiths, the weapon is the utmost pinnacle of continental crafts, unmatched in make and creation.