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A note from kosnik4

New month, another chance to join my patron. Read ahead 3 chapters, and stay up to date as I release extra chapters each week.

Why did mother insist that I scrub the floor? Our floors are made of stone, just because there was a little grime from the night before doesn’t mean I should have had to get on my hands and knees to scrub my bedroom floor.

Using Double Step combined with my status points, I’ll reach Del’s clearing in only a few minutes. The day I’m most excited to work and I get held up cleaning by mother. I shouldn’t complain. I didn’t realize how much filth was trapped in my bed. I heard the rumors, back on Earth, about how a mattress gains weight as you sleep on it. Mother makes sure I wash my sheet once a week, but magic cleaning was much more effective than I thought it would be.

Speeding down the small forest path, I can’t wait to test myself today. I put off working with Del so I could take care of my mental problems. Now that I can sleep properly again, I want to try forging with my new stats.

Breaking into Del’s clearing, I almost slip on the forests underbrush as I try to stop myself too quickly. Catching myself while waving my arms around, I look around for Del’s stocky form. Good, he didn’t see me almost eat it. He must still be asleep.

Making my way towards the hut’s door, I knock as hard as I can. I feel the strong wood vibrate with each of my strikes. Giving it a few seconds, I open the door when there is no response. Sleeping like a baby, Master Del looks like he didn’t even flinch at the loud banging on his door.

Glancing around his hut, I’m happy that there are only a few dishes laying around. He’s gotten used to straightening up every morning, or in his case every afternoon. He probably wasn’t even aware I would be coming today. I’ll properly apologize when he wakes up later.

Moving to the corner he keeps his mining supplies in, I ruffle through the gear, picking out what I need. Pushing aside the light-hats, I grab a normal hard hat I forged years ago. Grabbing my normal pickaxe, I almost tumble again due to overcompensating my stance. The pickaxe doesn’t feel as strong in my arms as it used to. Placing my pickaxe down again, I grab its neighbor. The pickaxe next to mine is normally used by Del.

Heaving the axe into my arms, I marvel at the weight. Del’s pickaxe is only ten percent bigger than mine, but while mine weighs twentyish pounds, the one in my arms has to weigh almost 80 pounds. The pickaxe appears to be one solid piece of metal, and looking closely, I can’t find any seams that indicate welding.

The finish looks the same as steel and has a wavy pattern that adds a greenish tint to the metal. Wonder what would happen if I poured some mana into it? Injecting the smallest stream of mana I could manage, I watch as the pickaxe devours my mana. Once I nearly channeled fifty mana, the pickaxe erupts in copper colored lines. I can see the mana circulating an extremely detailed network across the surface of the axe.

“Wow!” Trying to study every line I can see; I marvel at the beauty in my hands.

“It is beautiful, isn’t it?” Flinching from the voice, I turn to see Del over my shoulder. He’s looking at the pickaxe like he’s remembering a distant memory.

“I’m sorry for touching your pickaxe Del. Mine feels too light now. The metal looked interesting, so I wanted to see how my mana would interact with it. I didn’t know it was a magic item.” Del just looks at me with a distant smile. If I knew it was a magic item I would have asked for permission before I touched it.

“It’s ok. You’re fine holding it.” Del’s reassurance calms my nerves. I’m happy he’s not mad about me holding his pickaxe. “It’s made from an alloy we Stone Kin call Miner’s Steel. It’s heavy and very durable, but doesn’t hold an edge well. We use it in our pickaxes and mining equipment.”

Looking down at the pickaxe again, I get sucked into the copper lines adorning the surface of the pick. I want to ask Del about the enchantment but I’m afraid he’ll get mad at me.

“I can’t activate it myself. It has been a while since I’ve seen the enchantment activated. You curious what it does?” Meeting Del’s eyes, I can’t keep the confusion from my face. “Don’t act so surprised. It’s not like it’s a piece of legendary equipment. The pickaxe is covered in a basic strengthening enchantment. You pour mana in and it pierces tougher rock.”

“Master, should you be telling me this? I thought you weren’t going to teach me Stone Kin secrets?”

“Ha-ha, you think that’s a secret?” Master points one of his thick digits at the pickaxe in my arms. “It’s the same thing as the three spells I taught you. The runic lines you see are some of the most basic enchantments Stone kin use. This runic structure has long been spread across the continent.”

“Then why is everything not enchanted like this pickaxe? I would think farm tools could benefit from this enchantment at the very least.” Del just laughs harder at my question.

“In Stone Kin cities, almost every basic tool is enchanted like my pickaxe. The reason that humans don’t copy us is that you need to be able to use basic magic before you can activate the enchantments. Your average human farmer couldn’t use a magic plow even if he could afford one. Also, don’t think enchantments are always a good thing. Different woods, bones, and metals can’t handle enchantments. The magic inscribed on the wrong material could weaken or outright break whatever you’re trying to inscribe.  Even if you know a few runes, enchanting takes years of practice to inscribe a tier 1 enchantment like that.”

“Tier 1? You classify enchantments like skills? Is that how everybody classifies magic? What tier are the spells you taught me in?”

Rubbing the back of his bald head, “I forgot to explain the magic tiers… Sorry. I’m not your magic teacher, if you don’t ask me questions, I’m not sure what to tell you. Listen, all magic, whether it’s a celestial spell or runic magic can be organized into tiers like skills. Mages decided to follow the example of skills and divide spells into six tiers. You have basic celestial spells like the ones I taught you in tier 1 alongside basic runes like you see on my pickaxe. Then as the magic becomes grander and more complicated as it increases to tier 2 and 3.”

“What about tier 4, 5, and 6, master?”

“It’s the same as skills. When you reach the higher tiers, everything becomes much more secretive. They say a tier 4 attack spell could kill a group of level 40 soldiers, while tier 5 magic is believed to be able to kill a whole platoon of soldiers. Over 500 years ago during the warring periods it was said tier 6 attack magic could kill hundreds of people in an instant.”

“And runic magic is classified the same way? Wouldn’t people focus on runic magic if they could just trace over the higher tiered runes?”

“If only it was that easy. I’m sure with your skills you can see that the runes on my pickaxe are only on the surface. Tier 1 and 2 runes are two dimensional while tier 3 and 4 runes are three dimensional. You can trace the most basic of runes, but the higher tiered runes are impossible to copy. All of that is just the challenge of the runes themselves. The inscribing process is an artform upon itself. I don’t mind telling you the basics that I know but because I can’t use mana, I only have knowledge of the most rudimentary steps to engraving runes.”

I’m torn between the excitement of learning crafting magic and the knowledge that I’ll most likely fail. “I would appreciate any knowledge of runes you can teach me Master Del, no matter how basic they are. Is there anything else I should know?”

“Yeah, there is one more thing I forgot to mention. Money! Enchanting is considered the most expensive crafting profession ever. You need good materials to enchant, you need good materials to make the enchantments, and you’ll destroy most of your materials upon your first try enchanting anything. I know you’ve been saving your coin these last few years but we’re talking silver coins for the most basic materials. And once you start asking for those kinds of materials people will take notice. You need to prepare yourself if you want to go down this path.”

“I want to learn enchanting, but I don’t plan on wasting materials just yet. I plan on practicing smithing with my new stats first. That’s the reason I was grabbing your pickaxe. I want to try mining with my increased stats and collect enough iron to try forging something new.”

Master Del looks interested at the prospect of something new. “That’s very smart of you, I can teach you when the weather takes a turn for the worst. But I’m more interested in this new design you have. You need a lot of steel?”

“I have a few ideas I’ve been saving for when I turned fifteen and now that I have higher stats, I plan on forging a lot more. Can I use your pickaxe? I want to see what I can do with my new strength.” 

“Speaking of Strength, how did you distribute your points? You passed out and stayed home before you could tell me your new status values.”

Grinning, I use his curiosity to my advantage. “I’ll tell you if you help me push the cart through the mine.”

“I thought you wanted to test your new strength? Shouldn’t you be pushing your own cart?”

“I could push the cart, but then I would exhaust myself mining and pushing the cart out of the mine. I need to save my strength to work the bloomery later, so we have enough steel for tomorrow. All you have to do is push the cart out. With your strength it should be no problem.”

Master Del’s flat look doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Our staring matches never last long. With my best smile across my face, coupled with my Charm skill, we both know how this staring match will end.

 


 

“This isn’t how apprentices are supposed to work. The apprentice, that’s you, should be doing all the menial labor while I sit back and take a nap.”

“I was planning to let you sleep. You were the one who woke up and gave me an impromptu magic lesson. Thanks for that by the way.” Walking next to Del, we pass the time by poking at each other. I may have longer legs and higher movement skills but master’s ridiculous strength keeps pace with me even though he’s pushing the metal car in front of us.

“We would have had this finished days ago if you came to work on time and didn’t pass out so easily.” I’m about to retort his remark when I remember I haven’t apologized yet.

Dropping my challenging look, I turn my head towards Del. “I’m sorry master.” My sorrowful tone causes Del to almost trip. We were joking just a minute ago and the sudden serious confession was too much even for his reflexes to handle.

Watching him catch himself on the cart, I continue my apology. “I’m sorry I caused you trouble again. I caused you to worry again. Mother told me how often you came by to check up on me.”

“It’s ok. You stopped by after you got used to your new stats and let me know you might need some time off due to your new *Cough* skill. I understand why you took so long.”

“That’s another thing, master. I told you I would only need a day and I forgot to stop by later when it became apparent, I needed longer to overcome my new skill.”
“Once you told me the nature of your… new skill. I had a feeling you would take longer than a day. I’m honestly surprised it only took you five days to get a handle on your new skill. I was more worried that your parents would be mad at me for bringing you home unconscious again.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. I made sure to tell them this was all my fault. It took me years to convince dad he doesn’t need to escort me to your house every day.”

We both share a smile at our awkward memories of Del trying to greet father every morning. Father hasn’t forgiven Del but he’s become much more civil in their encounters. It was awkward being their go-between whenever they had business, and with dad supplying Del’s lumber needs, interactions between the two were quite common.

Reminiscing about our time together, the trip to Del’s quarry passed by quickly.

Stopping at the caves entrance, I chant the light spell Del taught me. 

“Cicsh het ploetts lages!”

After I chant the spell, a ball of light forms in the palm of my hand and floats up a foot over my head. Once the ball of light is floating in a small circle above my head, the two of us enter the mine.

When I first learned the spell, it cost me 90 mana to cast the spell once. When my skills increased, I could cast the spell for only 37.4 mana. Each ball of light will last 30 minutes, so with my enlarged mana pool I can keep the spell going for hours.

In fact, I always tried to conserve my mana when we were down here. Let’s see what happens when I cast the spell multiple times.

“Cicsh het ploetts lages!” 
“Cicsh het ploetts lages!”

Each time I chant the spell again, another orb of light materializes and hovers with the others above my head. The light has definitely become brighter; with my stronger senses I can see the walls of the cave much clearer than the previous expeditions I took down here with Del.

“Why did you cast the spell three times?” Del is obviously confused.

“I wanted to see what would happen to the light when I cast the spell multiple times in a row. With my higher mana pool, I can afford to be a little wasteful. Doesn’t the extra light make it easier for you too, Master Del?”

“Not really. I have a decent senses level and I have a skill for seeing in low light areas. Your magic makes little difference to me.”

An awkward silence falls between the two of us, before Del looks like he remembered something. “You still haven’t told me how you distributed your points.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot let me pull up my status page.”

LV: 59 Experience: 30,387/ 385,461
Health: 2,000.00/2,000
Stamina: 918.34/1,250 
Mana: 649.88/1,000
Vitality: 200.00
Endurance: 75.00
Strength: 100.00
Dexterity: 100.03
Senses: 60.11
Mind: 61.94
Magic: 100.09
Clarity: 75.04
Status Points: 31
Skills:
Tier 1:
Meditation (LV77), Running (LV66), Cleaning (LV50), Axe Skills (LV50), Blacksmithing (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV45), Chanting (LV42), Mining (LV37), Drawing (LV37), Dagger Skills (LV31),  Acting (LV30), Cooking (LV29), Trading (LV26), Sewing (LV24), Wood Carving (LV19), Spear Skills (LV2)
Tier 2:
Sense Mana (LV76), Charm (LV50), Double Step (LV39), Measurement (LV36) Hammer Arts (LV34), Writing (LV32), Mathematics (LV30), Axe Arts (LV29), Intimidating Shout (LV26), Dagger Arts (LV12), Increase price (LV7), Lower Price (LV4)
Tier 3:
Expel mana (LV53), Mana Manipulation (LV41), Double Strike (LV21), Precise Strike (LV18)
Tier 4:
Inject mana (LV40), Mana Skin (LV29), Mental Resistance (LV24)
Tier 5:
Sense Soul (LV17)

A small headache accompanies my detailed status page, but thanks to the extra information I can tell Chanting went up a level without even reading my whole status page.

I spend the next fifteen minutes explaining to Del why I had chosen a more spread out status page.

“You chose a hard path, you know that right?” Entering the branch of the tunnel that leads to the iron ore, I have to agree with Del.

“Yes, I know. I have a physical job but choose to practice magic. I plan on focusing on my physical stats here on out. My magic stats are growing slowly thanks to my hard training, so even if I don’t invest any points into them in the future, they will slowly level.”

I grab the smaller cart we keep in the mine and start pushing it towards the deposit.

“Are you sure that’s what you want to do? It’s hard to raise your status through training, you never know if you’re making any progress.”

“I think I’ll be fine. It’s getting harder to level and my physical stats seem to grow slower than my mental ones. I’ll see how hard it is to level after level 60 and go from there.”

“I can’t believe you’re already level 59. At the rate you gain levels, you’ll pass me in only a few decades.”

“With my new status points, I plan on pushing myself even harder. I want to finally pass some of the skill tests that I’ve been stuck on. You said Blacksmithing only truly begins once you pass the first test, so I want to try pushing my crafting limits tomorrow.”

Turning the corner, we enter the first cavern of iron ore. “Then we better get as much quality iron as we can. How do you want to do this?”

I reach into the cart and carefully hoist up Del’s pickaxe. “If it’s ok with you, I would like to do the mining. You usually handle most of it, but I want to level my skill higher. Can I use your pickaxe?”

“You can try. You’ll be swinging an axe over three times heavier than you’re used to. If you want you can swing till you get tired and then we’ll switch.”

“Sounds good.” I walk over to the wall and take my stance. Imbuing the axe with some more of my magic, I wait for it to start to glow. Once the copper lines become visible again, I swing with everything I have. The pickaxe lands right where I want it and… the pickaxe doesn’t stop!

The feeling of striking stone is nowhere to be found. The pickaxe continues its arc through the stone till it comes out below me. I put so much strength into my swing, and it went through the stone so easily. I start to panic as I see the axe head get dangerously close to my leg. Before the pickaxe penetrates my leg, Master Del moves beside me and stops my out of control swing.

“Thank you master, I didn’t think I could swing that hard.” With my leg saved, I look back at the wall. A large gash is in the side of the cavern wall. Small chunks of pulverized iron litter the rocky floor.

“It wasn’t that you used too much force. It was the pickaxe’s enchantment. I told you it was for harder rock. This area has already been loosened due to our previous mining. The force of my swings travels deep into the walls. If you were starting a new tunnel by yourself the enchantment could be useful but here it’s just overkill. Try again, but be careful while the enchantment is still activated. Once the pickaxe runs out of mana, you’ll feel the difference.”

With the enchantment still in effect, I take my stance again. This time I focus on controlling the pickaxe instead of raw power. Each blow easily cuts through the black stone, allowing me to clear three feet of stone in only ten minutes.

I’m about to swing again, as the copper lines fade from the pick. Channeling 50 mana only kept the enchantment active for ten minutes. Master thinks I should try without the enchantment but using it made excavating really easy.

Debating whether or not to recharge the enchantment, darkness creeps around me. Looking up, the balls of lights above my head are slowly dying out.

“Cicsh het ploetts lages!”

Recasting my light spell, a new orb of light floats above my head as my original three spells disappear. Checking my mana pool, I can feel it’s only a little above halfway full now. Though using the pickaxe’s enchantment is fun, it uses too much mana. I need to save the rest of my mana so I can continue to summon light, as well as use magic to light the bloomery when we return.

With the light replenished, I try hitting the wall again. The pickaxe no longer travels straight through the stone, but now delivers the force directly into the wall. Larger chunks are ripped off the wall, as I change positions, giving Del room to gather the fallen stone.

Now that my strength and dexterity are higher my finesse with the pickaxe has increased dramatically. Observing the wall, I can make out subtle differences in the stones structure and adjust my pickaxe to break apart the most stone with each strike.

After my latest few swings, a large protrusion is left hanging on the wall. Determining the best place to strike, I swing hitting my intended mark the first time.

As my pickaxe connects with the stone two things shatter. The part of the stone connected to the wall breaks apart and my Axe skills finally breaks through the barrier and increases to level 51. 

The pickaxe in my hands feels more natural. Swinging the pickaxe against the face of the wall, I can feel the qualitative change of each strike. After four strikes, with the last strike using my Double strike skill, I bend over breathing heavily.

“Congratulations on breaking past the first barrier in axe skills. Let’s dump the ore into the big cart and then we’ll switch places.”

Still breathing deeply, I follow Del down the tunnel as he pushes the smaller cart back towards the main tunnel. Half way back, I can steady my breathing enough to talk to Del. “You can tell that I passed the test in Axe Skills? How?”

“Your whole demeanor changed suddenly and you could see your improvement with each swing. You obviously had a breakthrough.” 

Reaching the main tunnel, we start shifting the ore into the large cart. “Master, why don’t we enlarge the side tunnel so we don’t have to switch carts?”

“We could take the time to do that this winter if you want? I’ll warn you though, moving that much stone could take weeks even if we’re working together. We’ll also need the help from your father, with larger tunnels we will need to shore the walls with larger beams. This winter is going to be busy for us.”

“You won’t have enough extra time to sleep, master. Hope you don’t get too grouchy over the winter.”

“You know I don’t actually sleep that much right? High level sleeping problems are something everybody has to deal with.”

“What!?” I stop hauling a chunk of iron and stare at Del. “What do you mean high leveled sleeping problems?”

“Huh, did your parents never tell you about the insomnia that plagues high leveled people?” I can only shake my head sideways at Del. I just managed to regain a proper sleeping schedule, is he saying that I won’t be able to sleep as my level grows higher?

“Sorry, I forgot we’re in a small village again. Your parents probably don’t even know about level insomnia. You see, as people level, whether they place their stat points in physical or mental stats it becomes harder for people to sleep. The body and mind have so much energy they could go days without rest. You probably aren’t feeling the effects yet because you distributed your points evenly and push yourself with your daily training. The alcoholic brew I drink is to help me relax and fall asleep. Usually by level 80 people need an external aid to help themselves get a proper night’s rest. The reason I’m always trying to nap is because I don’t fall asleep till a few hours before sunrise. You shouldn’t have to worry about it for another ten or so years. Let’s get back to mining, as you said earlier, we have a lot to do.”

Sulking back to the iron cavern with Del, I can’t help but think about my status page again. I enjoy my sleep as much as I enjoy leveling. I had plans to try and power level myself this winter but having to drink myself asleep every night sounds horrible.

My Sense Soul skill can make me pass out but that too provides horrible sleep. I might have to hold off placing my status points till I find a solution.

“You’re falling behind Aaliyah, I thought you wanted to make some steel today?”

I can’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet. “Coming Del!” Jogging up to Del, I do what I do best, and focus on the task at hand. I’ll prepare enough steel to forge all day tomorrow.

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A note from kosnik4

Hope you enjoyed the chapter.

And as always, be safe.


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kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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