Lino was currently inspecting the tools on the third floor as the army of variety of people gathered up, standing near the edges of the vast smithy and observing him while also passing some comments over. They entered one and left the other ear peacefully, as Lino was far too immersed in his inspection.

After all, the tools here were far and above better than anything he ever encountered on the Western Continent, especially hammers, tongs, a variety of hardies, and even a couple of bellows that Lino rarely encountered on the Western Continent -- at least ones capable of being used with the Mythical Flames.

He grabbed the hammer first and held it tightly; it was much heavier than the ones he encountered before, yet also fit his hand far better as well. He swung it a few times, getting a feel for it, before similarly checking out other tools. The forge rested as the centerpiece, and was beyond massive Lino even lamented the waste of the precious stone that went into building it.

It was large enough that it was split into four sections, each capable of providing a single smith with more than enough room to operate freely. He didn’t comment, though, as this was a commercial smithy after all; they had more than just a couple of blacksmiths employed who worked around the clock to provide weapons to the shop on the first floor.

After ensuring that everything was there and that he could work with it, Lino turned toward the audience which had grown quite considerably, extending past fifty according to his quick estimates. Though slightly surprised, he merely smiled at the variety of gazes coming his way.

Edward suddenly huddled his way through the crowd and arrived next to Lino, huffing and puffing, while holding a head-sized chunk of [Frosted Steel] and a few pieces of [Hardening Stone]. The former had a brilliant, cyan sheen glistening across it surface and was shaped almost like a perfect rectangular. This was actually Lino’s first time ever seeing [Frosted Steel] as he knew about it purely in theory.

“Is it enough?” Edward asked after he recovered his breath.

“Aye,” Lino nodded, taking the chunk and playing with it for a moment to get a feel for the weight, sturdiness, age and purity. Rather durable... about six times the ordinary steel? Not bad... “Is it free crafting?” he then asked as he glanced at Edward.

“Hmm... I suppose,” Edward nodded as he battled to reach the table and put the [Hardening Stones] onto it. “But, the main rule is that it needs to be marketable, that is that it needs to sell. So, no creating some weird weapon that not even Dhralls can wield, alright?”

“What are the requirements for passing?” Lino inquired.

“Item cannot be below Level 150 and it has to be at least of [Rare] quality. Naturally, we don’t expect you to forge such items on consistent basis, but as this is a one-off test, we at least need to see that you’re capable of doing it. There are no time restrictions, but the longer your take the less favorable your grade will be.”

“Oh? There are grades?” Lino mumbled, smiling faintly. “That’s cool. I’ve never been to school so this should be exciting.”

“So, what are you gonna craft?” Edward asked.

“... a spear,” Lino said in a low voice as he glanced at the [Frosted Steel] yet again. “No, perhaps it’s better if I forge a lance. Though there’s some flexibility, the spear would be too rigid. Is there a demand for lances?”

“Ha ha, but of course!” Edward laughed as other people in the room chuckled and looked at him strangely. “You really ain’t around here, are you?”

“Nope.” Lino replied honestly.

“The Empire’s second-strongest Legion is composed entirely of cavalry. Half of them are archers, while others are lancers. So, yeah, there’s quite a bit of demand for lances.”

“Not bad.” Lino’s lips curled up in a smile as he put the chunk down. “Can I use my own flame?”

“It can’t be a Void Flame.” Edward cautioned.

“It’s not.”

“It’s alright then,” he nodded. “Anything else?”

“You don’t happen to have some ink and paper?”

“Oh! Right! The design,” Edward exclaimed. “I forgot you might be such type. Hey, any one of you here carry any?”

“Here.” a rough voice quickly sounded out from the crowd as a rather old man stepped out. His face bore wrinkles of at least seventy years, yet his body was remarkably sturdy and bulky. He gave Lino a quick glance before handing over a parchment and some ink over and withdrawing back into the crowd.

“Alright, here it is.” Edward then hobbled over to Lino and gave them to him. “Anything else?”

“Nah, I think this is enough.” he smiled. “Just sit back and enjoy the show.”

“Ho ho, quite confident, are ya’? Alright, show us what you got kiddo!”

Edward withdrew back and joined the rest of the people present as Lino slowly sat down and began scribbling the design onto the paper. The crowd -- led mainly by Edward -- quickly broke off into chatter, almost as though they were commentators, despite the fact that Lino had done practically nothing so far.

He was, however, already in a completely different world, one where voices and noises of the outside one didn’t exist. It would be his first time crafting a lance, but he was fairly confident. In his eyes it was simply a denser, sturdier and less flexible spear, and as he was crafting it without any leather, he would have to waste at least one [Hardening Stone] on the handle before inscribing an array that would make it harder for hand grabbing at it to slip.

Designing itself didn’t take him long; breaking down components, he decided to go with duality; lance head and the guard would be a single part, with the other being the handle. As lances were generally considered less of a battling weapon and more as an anti-cavalry ‘de-mounters’, he decided to experiment a bit and add a projectile array at the top which would convert injected Qi into sort of metallic-like needles with freezing properties due to the base component.

He quickly finished up and picked the [Frosted Steel] chunk before bringing it over to the forge. Due to the material’s nature, one had to be really careful during the melting process as one mistake would lead to defrosting, which would ruin the whole chunk irreversibly. The flames could not be too hot and they could not ever reach the core area of the chunk.

However, so long one knew what they were doing, it was easier to work with than ordinary steel as Lino didn’t need to melt it all too much -- merely enough to roughly fix its shape as [Frosted Steel] can easily be further refined with hammers and chisels. He first experimented a bit with the free hand and the flame’s force before reaching the satisfactory point and bringing it back toward the chunk.

The melting process lasted less than ten seconds before Lino was satisfied; using tongs to clasp at the chunk carefully without applying too much force, he brought it over to the anvil and rather than use the hammer, he used a wide chisel to mould the chunk roughly into a lance-like shape. As he didn’t want it to be merely a ceremonial weapon, he limited its length to roughly 3 meters. While still much larger than other weapons of thrusting type, it was somehow manageable especially for elite, cavalry unit.

After getting the rough shape in order, he extinguished his flames and began to slowly chisel and hammer the edges to define its shape further. He first extruded the guard portion at the bottom into a half-dome shape -- similar to the [Lunar Beheader] with the main difference being that he left far more room for maneuverability within this one.

“Hah, what do you think Jack?” Edward asked with a certain tone of pride a man standing next to him; the man was roughly Edward’s height and size, though appeared slightly older.

“He’s good.” Jack replied, nodding. “His control of the flame was crucial. The flame should be near the very edge of the Void Flames, yet he showcased a complete mastery of it. His speed is also nothing to scoff at. He’s only slightly slower than the two of us, but pretty much on par or even better than the rest.”

“I told ya’ I had eye for this sort of a thing,” Edward bragged. “Now... I only hope he knows some of more advanced arrays. Otherwise... nobody’s gonna buy it, no matter how good it is at base.”

“I’m just wondering why’s he making the guard part of the head,” Jack mumbled, stroking his brownish beard. “It would disrupt the balance of the weapon... unless...!”

“Unless?” Edward glanced at him with curiosity.

“... unless he’s aiming to craft a General’s weapon.”

“... he’s not that insane, is he?”


Lino, meanwhile, was still hammering and chiseling away at the large chunk of the [Frosted Steel] which was slowly beginning to take a proper shape. I’m lucky that dwarf gave me a good quality one, he mused inwardly. Otherwise I’d have to section it off into at least four parts...

He was hammering and chiseling almost mechanically as he portioned off a large part of his concentration on trying to figure out which arrays to use. Unlike swords or even spears, lances were generally a one-job sorts of weapons, but he was unsatisfied with that. While he couldn’t really change the core nature of lances no matter how many or even which arrays he inscribed, he would be able to slightly skew it and make it more applicable.

Shortly after he seemingly connected the dots in his head, he let go of the hammer and the chisel and rushed over to the table where the paper still lay; he quickly began scribbling arrays like mad in fear he might forget them, then looking over potential mistakes and fixing them -- doing so for nearly two hours in total. After finally being satisfied, he raced back to the lance and began finishing up the final details.

Leaving the rueful trail of patterns for the arrays, he went on to quickly craft the handle from the remaining piece of the [Frosted Steel] before slowly melting the [Hardening Stones] and applying them onto the handle, guard, and the center-most point of the lance. He appeared relatively satisfied before taking a deep breath and settling his mind and excitement.

Rather than using his finger, he used a gouge to be even more precise in the array inscription -- a custom-crafted gouge that was a direct Qi conduit at that. He inscribed bit by bit, forgetting the minutes and hours he was spending on a single item. Rather, he even forgot about the test; the only thing on his mind was crafting the best item he could from what he had, leaving behind no regrets to eat away at him.

This was largely his principle whenever he crafted something. It nearly wounded his pride permanently when he had to hold back for Ava’s shop, swearing inwardly that he would never do it again even if he had to starve.

After finishing up with the arrays, his lips curled up in a magnificent, brilliant smile. He quickly added his own sigil onto the lance -- just above the guard -- which shone in brilliant gold against the chilly blue of the lance. Wings each had three curved lines, connected with a straight, sword-like line in-between. Finally done, he exhaled a deep breath that he seemed to have been holding in for years and picked up the lance, inspecting its stats, causing his smile to grown even more brilliant.

[Heaven Piercer - Epic]

Level: 240

Damage: 60% of Wielder’s Strength

Requirements: 20,000 Strength

+10,000 to Strength when Thrusting

-90% to Hand Speed

-50% to Agility

Durability: 2,000,000

Special Effect [Boulder] -- each straight Thrust has 100% chance to increase the weight behind the impact by as much as 100% of wielder’s Strength

Special Effect [Piercer] -- chance to pierce through any equipment that has less durability than the weapon increased by 10-60% (depends on the difference)

Special Effect [Whirlstorm] -- swinging the lance in a full circle creates an outwardly explosive shockwave of wind, effect based on 60% of wielder’s Strength

Special Effect [Cannon] -- injecting Qi into the handle allows wielder to shoot [Frozen Needles] from the topmost point of the lance, up to 100 within 30s, with recharge time being 10 minutes. Each needle deals 10% of wielder’s Strength as damage with a chance to freeze the target

Note: A marvelous creation that has re-shaped the original purpose of a weapon into a multi-dimensional one, offering the wielder a flexibility ordinary lances do not posses.


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About the author


Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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