“You going to stare at that thing for the rest of the day?” Master criticizes me while I’m sitting on one of the stone benches.
“I can’t believe I did it.” I mumble over the weapon.
“So, I’ve heard five times now.” I can hear him rolling his eyes behind me. “Are you going to finish it today or wait until you’re allowed to come back?”
I spring to my feet. “Yeah, I should probably finish it.”
I move over to the anvil and gently place my masterpiece down. I then make my way over to the materials shed. We keep a few trees branches inside that I’ve scavenged from my trips with father.
I quickly skip over the branches that can’t handle the heat the metal will produce. I need wood for the handle that can take the heat as well as act as a decent conductor for my mana. Only three samples of wood can match the specifications for what I’m looking for. All three samples are branches from a ‘Bone Larch’ tree.
‘Bone Larch’ trees are thin bone grey trees that have many branching limbs with no bark that look like a malformed skeletal hand reaching out of the ground. The trunk of the tree is thin and only goes seven feet before it splits into its multiple twisting branches that form its canopy. The wood doesn’t burn well and is hard to carve, with its awkward joints everywhere. The only saving grace the tree has is its sparce brown leaves that the jelen consider a delicacy.
Well it does have one more redeeming feature. The ‘Bone Larch’ tree is one of the trees that store the majority of its mana in its branches. I harvested these three branches because I noticed a slightly higher magic density within them, even compared to the rest of the tree’s branches.
Only two of the pieces of wood are long enough for me to properly work with. I examine the remaining two with Sense Mana and pick the one with the straightest mana flow.
Before I sit down to carve my handles, I search for the fittings I need. We have all shapes and sizes of fittings for knives and other weapons but there’s one type I’m looking for.
There it is.
I reach out and grab two of the ‘Gods Copper’ fittings. The name might be a little flamboyant but it’s definitely the strongest copper around. The copper is mixed with sediments found around gemstones and used to produce a copper alloy that rivals steel with its durability. With it being a copper alloy, it also has a decent conductive quality. An item being electrically conductive doesn’t necessarily equate to magic conductivity but is generally a good indicator when it comes to metals. Copper, silver, and to a lesser extent gold, all conduct magic better than other basic metals.
Master showed me how to make them during my training but we’ve never made something that required these better fittings, especially when we had steel readily available.
With the materials in hand I move towards the anvil and carefully split the log in half. Ready for some carving, I get comfortable on one of the benches. I never stop using my mana sense as I shave away the excess wood. Everything has a unique mana flow. Every piece of wood, metal, bone, meat, everything in this world contains an individual structure of mana depending on the material. Metals and other dead materials circulate their mana incredibly slow but circulate nonetheless.
I worked hard to make sure the mana flow in my sword meshed perfectly. Now I need to do the same for my sword’s handle. The mana I inject into the wood will be directed to the fittings, that will then help me transport the mana into the blade itself.
Crap! I forgot about the guard!
I pause in my wood carving. I could make it without a guard but I’m not experienced with a sword. Plus, the material needs to be strong enough to withstand the flames and magic running through the sword. I still need to finish the handle components and then I still need time to stain and polish everything let alone sharpening this beast. I’m not sure I’ll have enough time.
I look over to master who’s still watching me work. I thought he would be back trying to sleep by now. “Master, can you do me a favor?”
“What do you need?” He looks questioningly at me.
“I forgot the guard. Could you please make me one while I work on the handle pieces?” I anxiously await his answer.
“Let me check the sword.” He moves over to my waiting blade resting on the anvil.
He examines the point where the blade reaches the handle. Wrapping his fingers firmly around the tang, he gives the sword two good swings.
“You have an idea of what you want?” I’ll take that as a yes.
I jump up and sketch him a design in the dirt that loosely resembles a katana guard. “I can do that.” He confidently states and sets my sword back down.
While master places more wood on the forge I move back over to the bench. At least I can still claim I made most of the sword. I delicately continue my carving.
Two hours later and I’m watching Master Del finish my guard. It’s a combination of regular steel mixed with a little more gem snail steel. Master’s finishing touches are embellishing the guard with a flame pattern. I rarely get to see master make such detailed work. He’s only using a hammer with a fine point to make the design.
He flips the guard around in his hand before tossing it in my direction. I flinch but manage to snag the round piece of metal without letting it drop.
“Thank you master.” So many words are conveyed with his head nod.
I gather all my materials over on the anvil and start to assemble my katana. I check the guard first, sliding it up the tang and testing to make sure it's secure. Next, I line up my two pieces of ‘Bone Larch’ handles and apply an alchemical solution to help bond everything tighter. Then, I pound the two fasteners through holes I carved in the wood and the holes I prepped in the steel when it was still hot. I now have a workable handle.
I seal the handle with two clamps and prepare a staining solution to guard the wood.
I remove the clamps after I’m sure the sealant is dry and put a double coating of the lacquer solution on my handle. The stain turns the wood a darker grey but it almost perfectly matches the grey in the blade.
The solution dries quickly, so I move over to polish the blade.
“Hold up.” Master’s words cause me to freeze. Did I mess up something? I turn to face him. “You’re not done yet.” My eyes go wide. What did I forget?
“You need to put your maker’s mark on the sword.”
I’m confused by his words. “You’ve never had me mark anything before, why now?”
“You’ve only done basic work up until now. You don’t need to check your skills right now but I’m positive you passed the test in Blacksmithing. Masters only have apprentices create their maker’s mark after they pass level 50 in Blacksmithing. Your mark is proof your skills have reached a certain point.”
I smile at the sword in my hands. “What do I use for my mark?” I question master.
“Use whatever you want. Even if your mark is close to someone else’s, any blacksmith should be able tell the difference if they’re good enough. Keep it simple and add details to it when you level further.”
Master hands me the small hammer he used to detail my guard. I think I know what I want to do.
I move over to the anvil and focus on the base of the blade close to the guard. I slowly etch a simple thor’s hammer design on the blade and add a basic flower on the face of the hammer.
“Why’d you choose that?” Master asks to the side of me.
“Blacksmith’s use hammers and I’m a female blacksmith. I thought a flower motif would symbolize that and look cool at the same time.”
“There’s plenty of female stone kin blacksmiths but I guess you do stand out by human standers, nice choice.”
My smile goes from ear to ear as I grab the polishing solution and six different sanding blocks. I start with a low grit block first and take my time going with the grain on the surface. I test the metal with my finger tip and decide to move on to a higher grit block when I think it’s perfect. Over and over I slowly move the blocks along the sword blade. Each time I change the block the sword becomes smoother.
I finally finish with the highest grit block we have and move on to the final polishing. Using a rag, I wipe off the last remaining remnants of my polishing. I’m left with a beautiful blade in my hand.
The blade has a simple squiggly line down the middle of blade. I was worried the steel wouldn’t produce a pattern because it wasn’t layered like Japanese steels are. The orange and grey blade looks just as magical in my hands as I hoped.
Lastly, I need to give it a sharp edge. Unlike other swords which have a smaller angle for the blade, katanas have a larger angle because the metal forming the spine of the blade is thicker, allowing the sword to gradually form its edge.
I use the same grit blocks again but this time I only focus on the edge of the blade. One of the first things master taught me was how to properly sharpen a blade. Usually I only sharpen the common weapons I make with two different grit blocks. This time I use all six blocks to produce the best edge I can for my magic blade. The only other weapon I’ve sharpened like this is father’s axe.
With my steady hands, each pass brings the sword closer to completion. I could almost meditate while sharpening this sword.
When I finish the sword, I grip the handle in one hand and raise it towards the sky. The sun catches the edge of the blade casting a beautiful orange glow across its surface.
“Finished?” I almost don’t hear master’s question as I continue to stare at my work.
“Yes,” is all I can say to answer him.
“May I?” Master stretches out his hand. I’m reluctant to release the sword but gradually pass it over to master.
He examines every inch of the blade and handle. “I solid tier 3 sword. I expected nothing less from my apprentice. The techniques you tried were strange but effective none the less.” He hands me the blade back after complimenting my work.
“Tier 3 master? You grade weapons like magic and skills?”
“Different blacksmiths use different systems but stone kin like to rate everything using the same scale. Tier 1 and 2 are used to describe forged items that only use basic metals. Tier 3 and 4 are only achieved with magic metals and tier 5 is considered a piece of pinnacle smithing.” I don’t need to ask about tier 6, I can only imagine a sword capable of splitting the heavens.
“So, you said my sword was a solid three?”
“Yes. Just like magic and everything else there’s a great variety in each tier. You can get specific if you want but stone kin use low tier, solid tier, and high tier to describe where the piece ranks in the tier as a whole. Your work has moved through tier 1 and into the solid tier 2 area since you started your apprenticeship. Though just because you managed to make a good blade in tier 3 doesn’t mean you can now make high tier two works yet. Materials play a big part in how a sword is classified. If you use magic materials and only forge a high tier 2 weapon it means you wasted the materials.” Master tries to explain the grading system to me.
“That means anyone using tier 5 materials to craft should technically be able to make a tier 5 weapon. However, if they don’t have the skill it will drop tiers. Is it possible for say a steel sword to make it into tier 3?” I ask master.
“It’s theoretically possible but not even the best stone kin blacksmiths can easily accomplish such a feat. A perfect steel sword would still be classified as a high tier 2 sword but adding an enchantment can push it into tier 3. But when you think about it, even an enchanted high tier 2 sword can only match, say a weapon like yours.” I contemplate master’s teachings.
“Why did you wait to teach me something like this?” Shouldn’t a grading system be one of the first things you teach to an apprentice?
“I taught you how to judge basic metals. Up until now, nothing you or I’ve made has broken tier 2. 90% of smithing is forging low tier items. Think about everything we’ve made over the years, was a tier 3 pan ever needed? What about getting ahold of the materials you used in your sword, would a blacksmith try to gather such things unless commissioned to make a blade like that?” Master points at my sword.
“You still have your whole life ahead of you. With your talent I’m sure you’ll eventually reach the point you’ll only have to deal with magic ingredients. But until that day comes everyone will look for quality steel from you. Just because you broke through your blacksmithing test doesn’t mean you’re a master blacksmith now. You’re qualified to open a store but nowhere near a master’s level yet.” He’s probably trying to keep me from getting a big head.
I decide to show him how grateful I am. I straighten my posture and look Master Del-Razen directly in the eyes. “Thank you Master Del-Razen. It’s thanks to you I’ve reached this point and hope you continue to teach me.”
Master looks taken back by my thanks and actually starts to blush a little. Coughing into his hand, he awkwardly responds. “It’s been a joy to teach you… I look forward to showing you more.” Master’s blush deepens. “Enough of this. Go check your status page, I’m sure you leveled a few skills.”
Master said stone kin don’t bow but I decide to give him one anyways while still retaining eye contact for respect.
Master shoes me away with his hand and moves to flop down on his favorite bench.
I try not to giggle as I find my own space to sit.
Carefully placing the sword in my lap, I pull up my status page.
LV: 60 Experience: 196,606/ 420,152
Status Points: 0
Meditation (LV77), Running (LV69), Axe Skills (LV55), Blacksmithing (LV54), Cleaning (LV50), Hammer Skills (LV48), Chanting (LV44), Mining (LV42), Drawing (LV37), Cooking (LV36), Dagger Skills (LV31), Acting (LV30), Trading (LV26), Sewing (LV24), Wood Carving (LV21), Pugilist Skills (LV4), Spear Skills (LV2)
Sense Mana (LV77), Double Step (LV51), Charm (LV50), Measurement (LV38), Axe Arts (LV36), Hammer Arts (LV36), Writing (LV32), Mathematics (LV30), Intimidating Shout (LV29), Dagger Arts (LV12), Increase price (LV7), Marching (LV5), Lower Price (LV4), Gourmet (LV2)
Expel Mana (LV54), Mana Manipulation (LV44), Precise Strike (LV25), Double Strike (LV23), Weighted Strike (LV8), Flash Step (LV4),
Inject mana (LV40), Mana Skin (LV37), Mental Resistance (LV34), Magic Blacksmithing (LV2)
Sense Soul (LV25)
Increased Skill Levels
Running (LV69) 3,450exp
Blacksmithing (LV51-54) 10,500exp
Hammer Skills (LV46-48) 7,050exp
Cooking (LV32-36) 8,500exp
Wood Carving (LV20-21) 2,050exp
Sense Mana (LV77) 7,700exp
Measurement (LV38) 3,800exp
Hammer Arts (LV35-36) 7,100exp
Expel Mana (LV54) 8,100exp
Mana Manipulation (LV43-44) 13,050
Precise Strike (LV25) 3,750exp
Double Strike (LV22-23) 6,750exp
Flash Step (LV4) 600exp
Weighted Strike (LV3-8) 4,950
Mana Skin (LV37) 9,250exp
Magic Blacksmithing (LV1-2) 750exp
A lot of my lower tier skills saw a significant jump and I even gained another tier 4 skill. Magic Blacksmithing, I wonder if I gained the skill because I focused on the mana aspect for the whole build?
I got 97,350 experience from leveling my skills, that means I got 11,327 experience from making my sword. Would I get the same amount of experience if I made another one, or was the amount I gained because I tried new methods while forging it?
Despite all my improvements and after sitting for a bit, the excitement from completing my sword has vanished and left me feeling how exhausted my body is. My stamina is recharging slowly and my mana is below my usual safety limit.
I wonder if it’s a good or bad sign that I no longer pass out when my mana drops this low. I can feel how tired my body is but I can still function for the rest of the day.
Looking up at the sky, I can tell we still have three more hours of good sunlight left before I would normally leave for home. I wonder if I would have had enough strength to forge that guard and finish this project. No use wondering about what might have been. I still earned a little over 11 thousand experience for making the sword.
I glance down at the katana in my lap. Dad has all the tools to make a scabbard at home, though I’ll have to go into the woods with him to find some good ‘Bone Larch’ wood to make it.
I slowly get up, leaving my sword on the bench. I make my way over to the forge and start straightening everything up.
“What are you doing?” Master cracks an eye at me from his bench.
“I’m going to clean up and go home,” I say as I organize the tools master and I used.
“You ok?” He sounds a little concerned for me.
“Yeah, making the sword took a lot out of me. I could sit here for the next couple of hours but I think I’d rather spend some time with my mom. I’ve made her worry a lot over the last week and I’m actually looking forward to spending some time with her and father.”
“I hope you enjoy it.” Master closes his eyes again.
“I think I will.” I continue to clean everything up.
It only takes me 15 minutes to have everything back in its place and any metal scraps placed in a pile off to the side.
“I’m heading back now. Try not to lay around the whole time I’m gone, master.” I say to the sleeping stone kin while I grab my katana from the bench.
He raises one hand for a quick wave as I turn to leave. I’m almost to the trees when remember the chameleon spiders. My mana sense doesn’t detect anything but I can’t help but look back at master.
“Master!” I shout back towards the center of the clearing.
I see him turn his head in my direction. “If you’re going to sleep, do it inside. Don’t forget about the possibility of spiders.”
I can see him jump a little and slowly get to his feet. “Thanks for ruining my favorite spot!” He shouts back at me.
As long as he’s safe that’s all that matters. I walk into the trees and follow the path back to the village. I hope we don’t find any signs that the beasts are moving closer to the village.
Magic katana resting on my shoulder, I walk home wary of every tree.
Standing in front of our house, I feel like a badass right now. Cool sword on my shoulder and a bunch of villagers staring at me as I made my way home.
I kick my shoes off as soon as I make it through the door. I look up and see mother and father in a tight embrace, swaying to a tune only they can hear.
Father notices me first and freezes making mother lift her face out of his chest to see what caused him stop.
“I can leave if you want?” I lightly tease the loving couple.
“Yes… I mean no! We weren’t expecting you back so early.” Dad quickly spits his response out.
“Don’t mind me. I’ll be in my room cleaning myself up.” I grab a bucket of water by the door with my left hand and walk to my room.
As I pass dad, I nudge him with my right elbow. “Didn’t know you were so smooth.” I don’t need to see his face to know he’s blushing down at mom right now.
I close my door behind me and place my dagger on my night stand and carefully lay my new sword on top of my bed. Removing my clothes, I can’t remember the last time I had to clean myself like this.
Even I’m not crazy enough to use the small amount of mana I have left to try and clean myself.
Even after I’m clean, I still feel dirty. Have I gotten too used to deep cleaning myself with magic?
With some clean clothes on I make my way out of my room. Mother and father are no longer embracing one another but rather sitting at the table.
“I said you didn’t need to stop on my account.” I try teasing them again. Father gets a little red and mother looks confused.
“Why are you home so early, sweety? And why didn’t you use your cleaning magic?” It’s funny how mother looks just as worried as Del did when I said I was going home early.
“I used up too much of my magic crafting my sword, so I decided to come home early and spend some time with you. I wasn’t expecting father to be home already. I’m sorry for interrupting your moment.” I seriously apologize to them. They must have had a rough time while I was gone.
“I was planning to go into the woods today but only four groups of hunters were willing to travel into the woods and none of them wanted to take me along.” Father explains looking dejected.
“I already told Del that I would spend the next five days with you guys, so I can go with you tomorrow if you want?” The smile that breaks across his face makes me happy.
“I would love for you to go with me.”
“Sounds fun.” I look from father over to mother. “Want to make dinner together?” I offer her with a smile.
She doesn’t answer and instead walks over to me. For a second, I’m afraid she’s about to question me again like last night.
Instead of a question she wraps he arms around me in a gentile hug and whispers in my ear, “I’d love that.”
“Did you sleep well?” Father greets me in the morning.
“I passed out as soon as my head hit my pillow.” After dinner last night we sat and chatted like we used to. No talk of giant spiders or broken promises, just a family enjoying their time together. I was so tired that when we all went to bed; I didn’t need any help falling asleep.
“You bringing that with you?” Dad motions to the katana I’m carrying in my right hand.
“I was hoping you could help me find a good ‘Bone Larch’ tree to make a proper scabbard for it tomorrow.” I probably look like I’m ready for a war. Katana resting on my right shoulder, axe in my left hand, and a knife attached to my belt I’m ready for anything… mostly anything.
“I think I know a good tree. We can stop by it after we collect enough firewood.” In all the chaos I forgot winter is around the corner. The village needs more firewood and dad spent over a week on the expedition with us.
“Hey dad, you need to remind the headman that the village needs more firewood. The hunters should be volunteering to escort you, not denying you after you asked to join them.”
“She’s right, honey. I’ll swing by the headman’s house and talk to him while the two of you are out in the forest. Promise you’ll be safe though!” Mothers accusing eyes drill into the two of us.
“Of course!” We both echo each other.
“Don’t worry mom, dad is with the one person in the village that can see the spiders properly.” I reassure her while puffing out my chest.
“Ok, but if you see one you better run home right away.” She eyes me carefully.
“I promise.” She only looks more sternly after I say that. “I promise to keep my promise.” I try again.
“See that you do.” She moves in and gives me a hug, being careful of my new sword.
The three of us leave the house together. Mother walks by our side and only breaks off after giving father a hug and a kiss when we reach the headman’s house.
We quickly reach the woods and stand side by side. Dad leads us to his trees and I keep a special eye on them.
“Why do you want to use ‘Bone Larch’ for a scabbard? Do you want it to match the handle?” Dad questions me.
“I don’t care if the wood matches but my sword is magic and the blade becomes covered in flames when I put mana into it. I’m worried how well I’ll be able to adjust the flames on the sword, so I need something that will withstand the heat.”
“Does the wood need to have any special qualities or just be flame resistant?” Dad looks like he has an idea.
“No, I just need the scabbard to be able to handle the heat. Do you have a better idea, dad?”
“I do. It’s out of the way but should only take us 30 minutes to get there from here.”
“Aren’t we supposed to get the firewood first?” I don’t want father to change his whole schedule for this.
“Don’t worry, I know some good firewood close to the tree I’m thinking of. It’s been a while since I went this way, I wonder if any of the trees have grown bigger?” We take a hard left.
After 10 minutes we’re out of the normal area dad usually takes me in. The forest looks the same but I start to see fallen logs that look a little charred. I’m still checking for chameleon spiders but I can’t help but notice the mana around here is redder than the other parts of the forest.
I bend down and pick up an old twig that has a burnt end. “Was there a fire here?” The more I look the more I spot signs of a previous forest fire.
“Good job spotting it. Nine years ago, a storm blew through here and started a forest fire. Luckily it was raining at the time so it never reached the village. The trees are already reclaiming the land but the forest takes longer to recover after a fire.”
“It’s the mana.” I absently say while looking across our surroundings.
“Is it now?” Father looks curiously at me and I realize I said that out loud.
“Sorry dad, I was talking to myself. I was looking at the surrounding mana and answered without thinking.”
“That’s ok, tell me what you think is keeping the forest from growing back as fast as usual.”
“I can still see wisps of fire mana around here. It’s clashing with the nature magic and I was thinking that’s why the forest is recovering slower here.”
Father doesn’t respond to my hypothesis, he’s too busy smiling at me. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Can't a father be proud of his daughter? My father always told me that fire scars the land for 10 years before the forest comes back twice as strong. You telling me about the mana reminded me I still don’t know everything about the forest.” I smile alongside dad.
I thought forests recovered faster than that from fire back on earth. The lingering fire mana must be the cause. Even with the wisps of fire mana floating around a few trees and shrubs are stubbornly growing. They all have trace amounts of fire mana in them that their bodies are trying to purify. Once the fire mana is gone these plants will probably shoot-up in size.
“Almost there.” I follow alongside father, excited about what he’s going to show me.
I can see the roots of the tree through the ground before we reach our destination. A root filled with dark brown mana, almost black, snakes itself close to the surface. The other tree roots avoid the brown mana root at all costs, because of that the already sparce trees give way to a small clearing with a single tree in the middle.
This tree looks like it was split right down the middle and has burn scars all across the wood. Anyone would say the tree is dead but my Sense Mana skill is showing me a very much active mana flow.
“Is this where the lightning struck?” I ask dad.
“Yep. Usually a tree hit by lightning immediately dies or dies soon after from infection. In rare cases the tree absorbs the lightning and survives the fire that engulfs the surroundings. It’s called an ‘Arc’ tree after it absorbs the lightning. The wood is soft and most importantly… fire proof.”
“Isn’t this a rare tree? Why haven’t you harvested and sold the wood?” I can’t understand why he would leave it here.
“The wood isn’t that prized by people. I tried selling a piece a few years ago and it’s only used as a rare wood for furniture.”
“But the mana inside the tree is incredible. Are you sure Kervin wasn’t trying to lowball you?”
“Ha-ha, of course I brought your mother. He explained the wood doesn’t work well with magic.” How can that be? The tree easily has triple the amount of magic it should.
I follow dad closer to the tree and place my hand up against the trunk of the tree.
“Aaaa!” I pull my numb hand back from the tree.
“Are you ok, sweety?” Dad’s smiling face doesn’t look worried.
“Yeah, the tree shocked me! Did you know that was going to happen?” His smile says it all.
That explains why it’s considered useless. There’s plenty of other trees that have the same property’s that don’t shock people when you touch it. A very thin soot is left on my fingertips. I wonder how it reacts to mana?
I move my hand over the tree again without touching it and expel a little bit of mana.
As soon as my mana touches the tree my body becomes paralyzed and I get knocked off my feet. I couldn’t even scream!
“Aaliyah!” Dad is quickly by my side.
Thankfully the paralysis quickly fades. As soon as my jaw unclenches, I’m able to say, “Ouch!”
I just got knocked on my ass by a tree.
“Are you ok, Aaliyah!” Dad’s good-natured smile is gone as he looks worriedly over me.
“I’m fine, now.” I try to stand up with dad’s help. “Mana doesn’t mix well with the tree. Does the wood do that after it’s cut?”
Father lets out a sigh of relief when I start asking questions. “No, after the wood is cut from the tree it loses most of the shock.”
Shaking out my limbs, I smile at father. “I like it.”
“Of course, you do. Give me a minute to cut a piece off for you.”
“Won’t it shock you?” Is it safe to use a steel axe on this tree?
“Only a small zap. I don’t know why you got fired so bad?”
“I think it did something to my mana when I tried using some of it on the tree. If the effect lessens after you cut a piece off it shouldn’t be that bad again.”
“Alright, I want you to sit down while I cut a piece off though.”
“I’m fine dad, you don’t have to worry.”
“Try saying that again after your hair stops standing straight up.” He moves over to a lower branch while I sit down and run my fingers through my hair. It’s not straight up at least.
Dad takes a stance and activates his skills. In a flash his axe cuts the air and the tree limb I need. Dad picks up the three-and-a-half-foot log and starts securing it to his back harness.
“I can carry it,” I offer. Maybe I can examine it while dad cuts some firewood.
“Not going to happen.” He quickly strikes my offer down. He knows me too well.
“Is the firewood close?” I ask as we put the ‘Arc’ tree behind us.
“It isn’t too far from here. I remember a decent sized tree on the other end of charred part of the forest.”
“How far is that?” I want to have an accurate distance in my mind in case we come back this way again.
“Maybe 20 minutes if we…” Dad goes silent and I hear the something approaching in the distance.
Dad readies his axe and I grip my sword in my right hand while also wielding my axe in my left. The two of us have seen a lot during the expedition. No matter what comes our way I’m sure we can handle it.
Then they come into our view.
A handful of goblins.
I relax when I notice they’re only the smaller types of goblins. After facing a horde along with a horned hob these little goblins are almost cute.
“Can you leave them to me?” I take a step ahead of father.
“You sure?” He questions behind me.
“I want to try out my new sword.”
“Do you even have a sword skill?”
“I plan on getting one right now.” I’m brimming with confidence.
The goblins notice us and charge in their unruly way. I may be confident but I’m still cautious. I activate Mana Skin and start pouring mana into my sword. Unlike enchanted weapons, Expel Mana doesn’t charge the sword. I need to use Inject Mana to summon the red flames along the blade. I set my axe on the ground and firmly grip my sword with two hands.
I don’t know if it’s the flaming sword or my look of confidence but the goblins falter when reach 10 feet away from me.
If you won’t come to me, I’ll come to you.
Flash Step puts me right next to far-left goblin. When I swing my sword, I can feel the difference between a sword and an axe. The feeling may be awkward for me but the blade still splits the goblin in half horizontally.
The goblin died so quick it didn’t even make a sound as its body hits the ground. I take a step forward and overhead slash the closest goblin. It turns to face me just in time for my blade to cleave it in two.
Double Step puts me close enough to stab the face of the third goblin. The sword easily pierces the small skull. How would the fight with the horned hob have turned out if I had this sword?
The last two goblins see the other three dead and turn to run. I take a step forward but hesitate. Before the horde I would’ve never attack a fleeing goblin. Will letting these two goblins go endanger the village later? Am I too eager to kill them?
As I contemplate my change in morality they get farther away. I have to decide now!
The two goblins disappear amongst the trees.
“You decided to let them go.” Dad thankfully doesn’t sound accusing.
The three goblin corpses at my feet are barely bleeding. The sword cauterized most of the flesh it cut. The familiar scent of burning goblins enters my nose again.
“Yeah. Let’s go.” I mumble and grab my axe from the forest floor. I then start walking in the direction we were taking earlier, deactivating my Mana Skin.
I only pumped 30 mana into my sword but it’s still covered in flames. Not a speck of blood is on the blade.
Do I need to use most of my mana to extinguish it again?
I can see my mana combining with the mana in the sword, fueling the flames. What if I tried to take my mana back somehow?
I can’t reach in and pull it out, so I inject another small amount of mana into the sword but use Mana Manipulation to hold control over the mana as it enters the sword.
I move the controlled mana over to the lump of mana being converted into flames. Once my two sources of mana touch each other I can better feel my mana being burned in sword.
In one quick motion I rip the mana out of the sword into my hand and directly back into my body. I did it so quick a part of my mana was still burning as it entered my body. It feels like my mana veins are on fire for a second before my mana pool snuffs the heat out.
The katana in my hand is no longer on fire but my body feels a little hotter than usual. I think it’s worth it. I’ll have to try doing that with Mana Skin when I get home.
Dad moves up towards my side and looks concerned. “I don’t want to talk about it.” I say before he asks me a question.
Did I do the right thing, letting those goblins go?
Whether right or wrong I get the sense I need to be stronger to deal with the consequences of my actions.