About an hour later Alex and Jeod were both standing Jeod’s workshop staring at a pile of miscellaneous items scattered over the table. Swords, boots, gloves, shields and more - and as far as Alex could tell, it was just a pile of random gear.
Jeod was smiling widely as he saw the confused look on Alex’s face. “Judging by the expression on your face I assume you don’t recognize any of these objects.” Jeod began. Alex shook his head and Jeod continued. “Each and every item I have gathered here has been recovered from the dungeons and is enchanted.”
Alex’s eyes widened as he looked at the items with new appreciation. The enchanted gear was not rare per-say but it was far from common as well. Any of the higher level adventurers had at least one piece of enchanted gear but the riff-raff of the lower levels was rarely strong enough to enter the deeper parts of the dungeons often enough to stumble upon some.
“But what is it that you hope to do with it?” Alex asked in confusion, but then it dawned on him. Humans had never managed to figure out the secrets of how enchanted items work but humans had also never been able to properly use mana! “I get it! You want to try and use our new abilities to study them and figure out how to replicate it?”
“Exactly!” Exclaimed Jeod, happy that Alex had caught on without an explanation. “The only information I have currently to go off of as I try to learn to use my powers is what you told me of your own experiences, so for now you pick something and see if you can figure anything out about it.” He said with a thin line on his mouth, slightly miffed that he couldn’t help with this groundbreaking moment until he learned more about his mana.
‘Hmm,’ Alex thought as he studied the items spread across the table and tried to decide what to work with first. ‘Well, I had wanted to be a swordsman so why don’t I start with the sword?’ He decided as he took it in his hands.
It was a fine sword, around the proper length for a standard longsword and weighted perfectly for balance, as expected from a dungeon item. It was made of slightly tarnished steel, showing that it was likely one of the earlier acquisitions in years past, but as Alex held it in his hand he felt the power it contained within.
Without even trying to do anything in particular, just by holding it, Alex was instinctually aware of what the sword's enchantment was capable of. ‘Wow, these items are quite something huh.’ He thought to himself as he looked up and down the length of the blade, inspecting it for issues.
After finding none Alex channeled a slight amount of mana into the blade and watched in awe as a thin current of electricity began circulating along its length. It wasn’t much compared to lightning, but he knew in a sword fight it was plenty. Even a small hit would channel the energy through your foe and cause their muscles to lock up for a moment. At that point, even an inexperienced swordsman should be able to end the fight in short order.
Simply channeling his mana into the blade however gave Alex no insights on how it actually functioned, despite being an Archon and Arcanist. “Hmm” He stood there in thought for a moment before an idea came to him.
Alex sat down cross-legged on the floor of the workshop and laid the bare sword across his lap before closing his eyes and concentrating. ‘I hope this works.’ He thought to himself as he began drawing upon his vast reserves of raw mana.
Over the course of several minutes, he slowly but steadily permeated the surrounding area in a loose fog of his mana. ‘I can feel everything…’ He thought in wonder. Whatever his mana touched it was if he knew everything about it. The dust floating in the air, the scuffs on the floor and so much more.
It was beginning to quickly give him a headache trying to process so much information at once and the pain reminded him to focus on the task at hand. Concentrating, Alex commanded all of the mana in the air around him to gather around the blade in a tight blanket covering every inch of it.
As the mana got more and more compact around the blade, Alex felt as if he knew the blade better than his own body even. Smiling to himself at his success, he simultaneously pushed mana into the sword and activated the enchantment.
Lightning crackled down the length of the blade and Alex FELT how it functioned, how the blade pulled in the ambient mana to fuel the phenomenon that it caused and how the runes invisible to the naked eye carefully controlled the effect.
Alex felt confident that he could attempt to replicate such an effect if he studied the rest of the items that Jeod and supplied and quickly set about this task. It took the entire morning, nearly until lunch, but Alex managed to examine all of the enchanted items on the table.
The sword that created lightning along its length, gloves that made it easier to climb a sheer cliff by sticking to most natural surfaces somewhat, boots that increased your speed by a decent amount but only within dungeons, a shield capable of absorbing the force of an impact up to an astronomical amount, a dagger that caught fire once stabbed into a living being, as well as several other items.
Alex studied all of them and did his best to figure out what made each one work, what made them different, how they drew mana from the environment and above all how he might be able to replicate the effects into his own original works.
While Alex was working on this all morning Jeod was out in the back yard meditating and working on sensing his mana as Alex had instructed him on. Having researched mana and classes for so many years his progress was coming along quite quickly and he was nearly Alex’s equal at this point in control, although nothing could make up for his small mana pool. Not that he knew yet that his mana pool was much smaller than usual for an Archon or even a human…
“Fire!” Screamed Mark, the current commanding officer of the archers on duty along the northern wall. The arrows of his 30 or so odd men launched into the air before arcing down upon the fodder forces the goblins had been sending at them.
‘When will they send the real troops?’ He thought wearily. Ever since the failed “negotiations” if you could call them that, between the town’s representatives and the goblin shaman the enemy had sent a fairly regular force of weak goblins at them.
The goblins sent did not seem to be meant to actually do any real damage but to simply keep the humans on their toes and deny them sleep. “Bastards!” Mark muttered under his breath as he watched yet another group of them die under his troop's relentless rain of arrows.
The hob-goblins might be able to march with several arrows in their hide but the normal rank and file goblins fell even easier than a human due to their diminutive size. The real fight would be determined by how many hob-goblins that shaman had under his control.
As Mark watched on with a grim face, the defenders at the base of the walls ran forward and put the injured and dying goblins out of their misery with a variety of swords, axes, spears and more. ‘Everyone seems to have their own fighting style these days, but whatever works.’ Mark thought to himself as he watched the brutal executions take place.
The goblins were monsters for sure and would show humans no mercy when encountered, but Mark still wondered when the bloodshed might end. 'Specially since they were proven to now be capable of human speed and higher thought, could they not come to some sort of agreement?’ He thought to himself as he knocked another arrow in preparation for the inevitable next wave.
Justin, the elder, was in his office listening to another report on the current situation. It seemed that despite their new intelligence the goblins were only coming from two directions for some reason, but this made things much easier on Pine Bluff’s strained forces.
A full mobilization order was not an easy thing to keep in effect for very long. Essential businesses shut down due to a lack of employees, patrols against petty crimes ceased and an endless number of small annoyances cropped up as a result.
‘It’s been two days.’ The elder thought to himself. ‘It’s not much, but maybe it’s time I visit Alex and Jeod to see how things are coming along. We could use a miracle in this fight and Alex just might be able to supply us with one.’
As the young man currently reporting to him finished up he decided that he would pay a visit to Alex and Jeod in the morning and see if there was anything they could do to help. If nothing else, Alex could throw his fireballs from the wall and still take out a few hob-goblins if the power he described wasn’t an exaggeration.
“You are dismissed,” Jason said to the young man at the end of his report, and went back to his paperwork and planning, Always more work….