"I always fucking hated it when people said stuff like that in the movies," she said. "Like does it really take all that much extra breath to actually say what's going on rather than hitting me with a cryptic but grammatically appropriate line?"
I held up a finger. For a wonder she went quiet. She made a good point, I loathed that trope too, but I needed to concentrate. There was something going on here, and I was fairly certain it truly was something wonderful.
I just wasn't sure how wonderful. That would take some experimentation. Was this the sort of Spellcrafting that would let me break the game, or had the devs gone with something lame that was only there to provide minor bonuses and raid enhancement rather than limitless game breaking potential?
If it was raid assistance then it’d be next to useless. If it was potentially limitless gamebreaking potential then I could think of a certain guild funded by a certain soulless heartless multinational entertainment conglomerate that was in line for a good ass kicking.
At least it looked like this time around I had what I needed to get started: those supposedly useless gems rattling around in my inventory.
Something else popped up on my heads up display. Something that made me want to whoop with joy.
You have unlocked Spellcrafting!
Spell Infusion: Add spell abilities to items.
Disenchant: Destroy items for a chance to learn their Spell Infusions.
Spell Insight: Learn spell abilities from creatures, players, or the environment and apply to your Spell Infusion.
Congratulations! Go forth and make awesome shit. Try not to blow yourself up along the way.
That tingling that told me I’d found something wonderful was threatening to overwhelm me now. Like I was on the verge of a really bitching case of the shakes.
"So do you want to tell me what's going on?" Keia asked.
"Did you throw away all of your Horizon gear?" I asked. “Like do you have anything that has stats on it you wouldn’t mind parting with? It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it has stats of some sort.”
"I threw it all away," she said. "Why?"
"Never mind," I said. "Kristoph is going to be pissed off about this, but this will have to do."
I pulled up my inventory and pulled out Kristoph’s Horizon blade he got off that noob he’d killed. It made my skin crawl to even have the thing in my inventory in the first place, it was a reminder of those assholes who killed Diana, and honestly I was sort of glad to be rid of it.
Especially if getting rid of it helped me figure out a new game breaking toy.
Assuming this even worked.
I looked at the blade. Looked at the red faintly glowing runes running up and down the thing. Only now there was something different about it. Their glow pulsed in time with my hand running up and down the sword’s length, and I felt a pulsing coming from deep within the sword as well.
"What are you doing?" Keia asked. “Do you and the sword need some alone time?”
"I have no idea," I said. "I was hoping that…"
A new tooltip popped up.
"Yes," I said, licking my lips.
"Yes what?" Keia asked. “Yes you want some alone time with the sword? Because that’s a little… What the ever loving fuck?”
That pulsing grew more intense. It seemed to pulse in time with my own pulse. That strange resonance moved up my hand as it was surrounded by a red mist the same color as the runes that sparkled and crackled with the pure raw energy of the spell infusion I was pulling from the sword.
A moment later a notification popped up that my Disenchanting skill had gone up by one, and my overall Spellcraft skill had also raised by one. Which meant that both of them had gone from zero to one.
I’d take it.
A tooltip also popped up. This time I really did get a small case of the shakes as my eyes darted across the text.
You have learned the Spell Infusion Lesser Fire.
Adds the potential to deal a small amount of fire damage with every swing.
Hey, you! Watch where you’re swinging that magic!
Requirements: A weapon with an Elemental: Fire slot. A gem that can accept an Elemental:Fire Spell Infusion.
"Can I see your sword please?" I asked.
Only there was no response from Keia. I turned to look at her. Her eyes were wide and her mouth hung open.
"What?" I asked.
"How did you do that?" she asked.
"It's the Spellcraft ability," I said.
“The what?” she asked.
“Spellcrafting,” I said. “It’s usually called something like enchanting in other games?”
“Never heard of it,” she said.
“You seriously mean to tell me no one has bothered to learn this in all the time you’ve been playing? This sort of thing is a game changer!"
"I mean a lot of people have grabbed those gems and touched that table before, but I haven't heard of anyone discovering some special crafting ability,” she said. “No one figured out how to suck the magic out of swords after feeling them up. That’s for damn sure!”
"Are you sure it's not because someone just hasn't bothered to pay attention to their tooltips when they touched the crafting table?” I asked.
"No way," she said. "Watch."
She walked over. Put her hand down on the table. Looked at me blankly.
"Am I supposed to be seeing something here?" she asked. “Because I’m coming up with a big fat blank.”
"There should be a tooltip that pops up," I said. "A menu that gives you the Spellcraft option? You're not getting anything like that?"
"Nada,” she said.
"Weird," I said. “It popped up for me the moment I touched the thing.”
“Yeah well I got nothing here,” she said. “I’m not doubting you since I saw that light show you just pulled, but it’s not working for me.”
Outwardly I was trying to play it cool, but inside I was ecstatic. Not only was this an ability nobody else had discovered, but there was a possibility I might be the only person who was able to use the ability. Assuming the reason no one had discovered this was because that Spellcraft table didn’t activate for them.
Maybe it was like that Writ of Nobility. There were requirements that had to be fulfilled in order to use the Spellcraft ability, and somehow I’d done it. Somehow I’d unlocked it when no one else had. Or anyone who had unlocked it was keeping their fucking mouth shut.
"So you're like, seeing a menu to add stats to my sword or something?" Keia asked.
"I have no idea what I can do yet,” I said. "I need to see your sword to see if it even has the slots I need to add a Spell Infusion.”
“You mean an enchantment?”
“The game’s calling it a Spell Infusion,” I said. “I guess they wanted to have their own impressive name for the same old same old.”
“Sounds like it,” Keia said. Her eyes went glassy as she read something in her heads up display. “I’m not seeing anything about Spell Infusions or slots on my sword.”
“Yeah, that’s why I need to take a look at it,” I said. “I’m the one who has the ability, so it might not show up for you. Same as the Spellcrafting ability didn’t show up when you touched the table.”
"Well far be it for me to stop you from figuring this out," she said. “This could be fucking amazing.”
She grinned, and for the first time since we’d started our little sometimes flirtatious and sometimes snarky back and forth the shield of sarcasm and snark she wore so close seemed to drop as she lit up.
I couldn’t help but smile right back at her. It was nice seeing the real her, even if it was only for a moment.
"You and me both," I said. "You and me both."
She pulled out her sword and held it up. It looked like a pretty nice sword, but nothing fancy. Nothing special like some of the Horizon Dawn Syndicate gear, that was for sure. There were no stats, for example.
Though I couldn’t look too far down my nose at the thing. It was a hell of a lot better than the starter sword I still carried. A starter sword I still hadn’t even used in combat. Though a quick glance at the thing sitting in my inventory didn’t show any Spellcraft slots.
Either starter gear wasn’t meant for Spellcrafting, or I hadn’t unlocked something I needed to do spell infusions. I held out my hand for Keia’s sword. It was nice enough that it should have slots.
Only Keia stopped just before my fingers brushed the hilt. Her eyes narrowed.
“What?” I asked.
"How do I know this isn't some plot to get my sword from me so you can kill me while I’m defenseless?” she asked.
"Seriously?" I asked. "You know I don't have crap for combat abilities."
“Do I know that?” she asked. "All I know is you showed up in my forest acting like a complete and total noob, but what if that was all an act? What if you’re one of Torian’s agents in noob clothing sent out there to lull me into a false sense of security so you can kill me when I let my guard down?”
I shrugged. “You're going to have to trust me at some point. The same as I trusted you not to kill me when we got out here.”
"Trust is hard won in this game,” she said.
I grinned. “Maybe so, but you gotta start somewhere. Or do you want to spend all your game time slinking around in the woods picking off Horizon Dawn people here and there until they finally get tired of it and hunt your cute ass down?”
Her eyes narrowed as she looked into that dark future, but it must’ve worked because she handed over her sword. I took it hilt first, but she held onto it for a moment. Her grip was surprisingly strong.
"Don't make me regret this," she said. “It’s kinda hard for me to trust anyone considering what Horizon Dawn put me through, and I’d hate for you to give me a reason to never trust again.”
"I wouldn't dream of it," I said, suddenly not wanting to know what might happen if I did have it in my mind to double cross her.
I got a hint of what might happen when I took her sword. Immediately another one appeared and she put the tip down on the ground and leaned against it as though it was the most casual pose in the world.
Though, of course, as with all things she did there was the underlying promise of violence waiting to be unleashed. I got the feeling that violence would only be unleashed if I did something bad to her sword, and I suddenly hoped I didn’t screw this up.
"That's my favorite sword," she said. "So you'd better make this good."
“But it looks exactly the same as the one you have there,” I said.
“This is my favorite sword too,” she said with a shrug. “Now get to it!”
I looked down at the sword and ran my hands over it. The tooltip said something about slots, which was a pretty typical crafting arrangement for adding stats to an item. Find the slot. Add a Spell Infusion.
Unless, of course, this sword didn't have any of those critical slots that were needed to infuse a spell.
Which might almost be a relief, because then I wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally blowing up her sword and maybe killing myself in the process. Or accidentally blowing her sword up and surviving only to get killed after the fact when she killed my ass for blowing up her sword.
I fully intended to follow the tooltip’s advice against blowing shit up, thank you very much.
A new window popped up as I felt along the sword, and I didn’t know if I should be relieved or excited. More the latter than the former.
The window showed me a diagram of the sword, and there were two slots where I could drop Spell Infused gems in. I grinned even as I felt my stomach twist, because I now had the opportunity to screw this up.
"I think I've got something," I said.
I took one of the gems I’d grabbed off of the Spellcrafting table. It was nice and orange which reminded me of flames, and that seemed appropriate for a fire infusion.
I wasn't quite sure why I chose one of those table gems. Maybe I was feeling a little contrarian after Keia told me they were useless. I wanted to show her that they could be used if someone with the proper skill came along.
I selected the Lesser Fire infusion. At least it wasn’t all that difficult to decide what spell infusion I was going to use considering I only had one spell to infuse at the moment.
As soon as I started the infusion a new bar popped up at one hundred percent, but it rapidly went down. It was the familiar blue of a mana bar, even though I hadn't shown any interest in spellcasting up to this point.
It would appear that infusing a spell into a gem used up mana rather than reagents. That was interesting. The gem started to glow in my hand, and Keia gasped.
I stared at the thing for a moment. Then a tooltip popped up telling me the spell infusion was successful.
“Hold onto your butts,” I muttered as I dropped the infused gem into one of the slots on Keia’s sword.
Glowing runes appeared running up and down the sword, but they weren't quite the same color as the runes on the Horizon sword. They were reminiscent of flames and slightly orange, and the glow faded until they seemed to be a part of the metal. Not etched on. Just part of the metal.
I held the sword up and it glowed with a faint orange hue.
"Damn,” I said.
"Forget damn,” Keia breathed. "That's worth a holy shit!”
"Okay then," I said. “Holy shit!”
“Can I have a look?” she asked, almost hesitant now where she’d been aggressive and potentially dangerous before.
“The sword is yours,” I said.
I held it out and she took it reverently by the hilt. Her mouth hung open as she stared at it.
"This thing will do a few points of fire damage every time I hit someone? That's amazing! I've only ever seen Horizon blades do that."
"Well I can do it now," I said. “And that means you can do it too!”
"Can you do another one?" she asked.
I shrugged. "I suppose I could try. That sword has two slots on it that can take spell infused gems. I only have a Lesser Fire infusion, but maybe it doubles the fire damage you do or something.”
“Worth a shot, at least,” Keia said, handing the sword back over.
I pulled out another stone. This one was blue, but I saw other orange gems in my inventory that were listed as flame stones that could be used for elemental flame infusions. It would seem that I only had to figure out what a gem’s use was through trial and error once.
I had no idea if this new one could be used for a similar elemental ability, but experimenting and seeing what happened was the first step to figuring out how to exploit a system. I only had the one infusion, and didn’t know what would happen if I got the wrong infusion with the wrong gem. Or if it was even possible to put an infusion in the wrong sort of gem.
All I had to go on was past experience in other games when crafting went wrong, and the results usually weren’t good for the person doing the crafting. And there was still that warning about blowing shit up to keep in mind.
Not that it was going to stop me from experimenting.
I sighed. Trial and error could be a bitch, but it was all I had right now.
I did the same process all over again, only this time tooltips didn't show up. Not that it mattered. I knew what I was doing this time. It was almost as though the game only held my hand until I got the hang of doing something and it knew I didn’t need the help.
Which was a little unsettling for a game that was plugged directly into my head.
I held up the gem I’d chosen. I channeled mana into it for the Lesser Fire spell infusion.
Only this time something different happened. Different wasn’t necessarily good. The thing started to glow with a fitful light from inside. Not at all like the strong light that’d come from the first infusion. On top of that the gem started to get hot in my hands. Really hot.
Hi! I'm a working writer who's been doing this full time since early 2015. I got my start in the Kindle romance boom, and I'm finally getting around to publishing stories under my own name!
I live in the Midwest with my wife, kids, and cats. Most days find me sitting in front of my computer typing out stories for your enjoyment!
I'm currently releasing Spellcraft. The tale of Conlan, a gamer who loves finding ways to exploit game systems, and how he uses those unique skills to battle a soulless multinational entertainment conglomerate who killed his sister and is trying to take over the gaming world!
Spellcraft is currently released on a chapter a day schedule.
I hope you enjoy my work. Thanks for reading!