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A note from kosnik4

If you want to read ahead, Patron goes up to Ch: 53.

“See you tonight, mom.” I give mom a hug goodbye and walk outside our house.

For once there aren’t any dark clouds looming overhead. It’s rare to get a clear sky this early in winter. The sun rays of early dawn bounce across the snow-covered ground making everything shine with a new brightness to it.

I adjust the sword at my side and make my way over to Del’s place. When I reach the path leading to master’s home, I notice the tracks in the snow circling the village. Ronald and the other senior hunters must have already started their patrols hours ago.

I make my way down the forest path using my mana sense to scan the trees. Now that a chameleon spider was spotted right outside our village, I need to keep an extra eye on master’s clearing. I’ll have to swing by his place even on my days off to make sure nothing is stalking our work area.

I pass by a particularly large pile of snow that perfectly bounces the sun's rays directly into my eyes. Mana Skin and my enhanced senses help mitigate the damage but my vision still gets covered in sunspots for a second. I stop in place and use Sense Mana to keep an eye on my surroundings while my vision is impaired.

I rub my eyes with my right hand trying to lessen the blinding effect. My eyes quickly clear but a pounding headache takes its place.

“I might have overdone it last night,” I complain and use my fingers to rub my forehead.

I spent a long time in my soul last night gathering all of Kervin’s Contract skill pieces. It took what felt like days to find every sliver of his skill hidden in my soul. Unlike Camden’s, Kervin’s skill was shredded into over a thousand pieces that I had to individually look for. Sadly, all that work wasn’t enough to get Sense Soul to level 31.

I may be complaining but at least now I have his skill waiting for me in the clearing I normally appear in. It would take less than an hour for me to remove his Contract skill if I need to.

I smile through the headache and continue towards Del’s house. When I finally make it to Del’s clearing I’m astonished at what I find.

I move into the clearing and shout at master. “Are you sick or something? Since when do you get up before me?”

Master turns to me and gives me a complicated smile. “I couldn’t sleep and I knew you would be coming here early today.”

“How’d you guess that?” I cock an eyebrow at master.

“You’re not hard to figure out. Let me see the materials that merchant brought you.” Master holds his hand out towards me.

I reluctantly hand master the box containing the materials. I was hoping I could surprise him with the magic materials but I guess master knew I wouldn’t be here this early if I didn’t get them from Kervin.

I anxiously watch master open the box and stare at the materials. First, master pulls out the mithril and surprisingly bites the small ingot. Placing the mithril back into the box, his face doesn’t betray any emotion after examining the expensive metal. He pulls out the uncut gem and holds it up to the light before bringing it close to his eye.

Master doesn’t say anything as he places the gem back in the box and places everything on his nearby anvil. I wait for him to tell me what he thinks about the materials but he turns around and starts heading over to one of our sheds.

I can’t take it anymore! “Aren’t you going to say anything?!” I shout at master’s back.

“What?” Master pauses and turns back to me. “Why are you shouting?”

“What about the gem and Mithril?”

“What about them?” Master looks puzzled at my outburst.

“Will they work for an engraving pen or not?” I nervously ask.

“Oh, yeah. They will work for a basic pen. You’ll need better mithril and different gems in the future but these should be good enough for your first pen.” Master shrugs and moves back to gathering something from the inside of the shed.

I move over to the resting materials on the anvil. “Did Kervin buy the wrong materials? I asked for the exact same materials master told me to.” I immediately regret not listening to Kervin about bringing the materials to master for inspection.

Master walks out of the shed with his arms full of magicite. “What’s wrong with you?” Master asks when he sees my downtrodden look.

“I spent two and a half gold on these and you're telling me they will only make a basic engraving pen. Do you think I would be happy right now?” I scowl at master.

“No need to be so dramatic.” Master places the magicite next to the forge. “You got your money’s worth. I’m actually surprised the merchant didn’t bring you lesser specimens and pocket the extra coin.”

“Kervin didn’t cheat me?” I hopefully ask master.

“Nope, for once a merchant didn’t screw over a crafter. If you were wondering, If I tried to buy these materials myself it would cost me around three gold coins. He must’ve worked hard getting you these materials with your limited budget.”

“Could you please explain to me what’s wrong with these materials that makes them lesser subjects and what I should keep an eye out for in the future?” I plead.

Master rubs the back of his head. “The first thing you need to know is how to judge mithril.” Master moves over to the shed where we keep the different logs while explaining about the magical metal. “Mithril is the most common metal used to make tier 3 swords. It mixes with metal really well and lays the foundation for magic weapons. A tier 3 sword will usually be 75% steel, 15% mithril, and mixed with 10% other magical substances.”

Master walks back to me with a bundle of wood we don’t usually use in his arms. “Calculating how much mithril you need to use in anything depends on the purity of the ingot. The one you paid for is around 91% pure.”

I know from working with master that’s a pretty low purity when you’re talking about metals. “How bad is 91% when it comes to mithril?”

“Anything over 90% is good enough to forge into tier 3 weapons. Tier 4 requires the mithril to be at least 95% pure and higher depending on how good of weapon you’re making.”

“If 90% is good enough for a tier 3 weapon then why will it make a basic engraving pen?” I glance down at the ingot I bought.

“Enchanting requires the best tools to engrave runes properly. The purity of mithril mixed with other metals may work for weapons and other things but engraving pens are different. An engraving pen needs to best channel a person’s mana when enchanting, requiring a much higher concentration of mithril. Engraving pens aren’t categized by tiers like everything else because an enchanting specialist will have multiple different pens to enchant different runes. The only way to distinguish how well an engraving pen is made is based off of the mithril and gem used to construct it. The ratios of metal are different in an engraving pen. 80% of an engraving pen is mithril while the rest is steel. The more impurities in the mithril the less it will able to channel mana.”

“Then can’t we reforge the mithril? It will be smaller but at least the impurities will be gone.” I can make do with a smaller pen if it channels my mana better.

“If it was that easy why wouldn’t all mithril be sold in a purer state? Mithril is a tricky metal to purify because of its ability to channel mana tightly bonds it with the other rocks naturally found with it. Unlike other metals you can’t separate mithril from, say steel, once it’s combined even if you melt it back down it won’t separate again. When mithril is mined it takes a special alchemist to use potions to separate the mithril from the surrounding rock and impurities. The purer the alchemist makes the metal the more they need to spend to purify it. Most mithril is purified to 90% and then sold as is. The purer ingots of mithril are much more expensive. If the bar you have was 99% pure it would cost around 70 gold coins and that isn’t even the purest mithril you can get. The master enchanters back where I grew up were known to demand four-nine mithril, that’s 99.99% pure mithril.”

“But how do you tell the purity of mithril? Did you use a skill or something, master?” I pull the small ingot of mithril out of its box and examine it for any markings it might have.

“There are skills that help blacksmiths judge the purity of metals but I’ve never gained one. Noticing the difference in purity takes practice just like blacksmithing. You’ve practiced differentiating metals using your senses and mithril is the same thing. You can judge mithril with your sight, touch and even taste.”

“You tasted the metal?” Is that what he did when he bit it?

“It isn’t common practice but some metals have different tastes. You have to be careful though, as you know some metals are poisonous. Tasting a sample of a metal should be your last resort. When I bit into the metal, I was testing to see how soft it was. The higher the purity the mithril is the easier it bends under pressure. You can use a hammer to test the metal but if you have the physical ability it’s quicker to give it a quick bite-test.”

Looking closely, I see very faint marks left behind by master’s teeth.

“When I bit it, I also tasted the metal. Mithril has the common metallic taste to it but it has an underlined sweet taste that becomes more pronounced with higher purity. But the easiest way to identify mithril’s purity is by judging the bluish sheen on its surface. Even with a sword being 15% mithril the metal will take on a slightly bluish glow. Once you start dealing with tier 3 gear, you’ll be able to tell how much mithril is in the piece depending on its color. The darker the blue the purer the mithril you have.”

“What about my sword, master? I never used mithril in it and you said it was a tier 3 weapon.”

“That’s true, you didn’t use mithril when you forged your sword. I told you mithril was the most common component in magical swords not that it was needed every time. Though I have to say, if you included mithril when you forged your sword the flames it generates would be slightly bigger and the mana cost to ignite your weapon would be much lower. If you forged another sword with enough mithril you might even make a low tier 4 sword.”

“It’s that easy to make a tier 4 sword, you made it sound incredibly difficult a few months ago? Turns out you just need mithril.” I give master a questioning glare.

“Mithril is more of a building block for magic weapons. It works well with almost everything you combine with it that’s why it’s used so much in enchanting. A steel and mithril sword may be tier 3 but it’s the enchantments that determine how strong it really is. The steel and mithril combination in magic swords creates a strong base for enchanters to work with. You can take a tier 3 sword and enchant the blade to be stronger or maybe have it secrete an acid, anything is possible. Depending on the person, a mithril and steel sword can be enchanted to suit anybody’s needs. But once you mix other magical materials in there your enchanting options become slimmer.”

I look at my katana hanging at my side. “Like using fire-related ore and wind attribute monster parts?” I guess where master is going with this.

“That’s right. Your sword would be destroyed if an enchanter tried to put a water enchantment on your blade. Tier 4 swords may be stronger but they have their own drawbacks. If you come across a fire type magical beast your sword will have very little effect against it. Do you understand?” Master stops his explanation to give me a chance to go over everything in my head.

“I think I do master, but what about the magic gem? It looks incredibly strong to me.” I Use Sense Mana to observe the mana storm contained in the small gem.

“I already explained to you about how mana crystals are crystalized elemental mana that form naturally in nature. Magic Gems are different. While you can find a water crystal inside a lake, you won’t find a water attuned magic gem in the same place. Gems are always formed underground. Your average gemstone will always be attuned to earth mana no matter the color of the gem. That is why earth attuned magic gems are the most plentiful and the cheapest similar to magicite. Of course, just like everything in our world mana can change everything. When a gem is being formed there can be a shift in the flow of mana around it and the gem can form with a different attribute other than earth. Fire and water magic gems are common in places magma was once present or where underground lakes are respectively. Wind attuned magic gems are the hardest to find given the sporadic nature of wind mana making them the rarest and most expensive magic gems.”

“Why did you have me get a wind attuned magic gem then?”

“Wind is a very neutral element. Magic gems with the wind element affect enchanting different runes the least. For your first engraving pen, a wind attuned magic gem was the only choice you have while taking into account your need to figure enchanting out by yourself. In the future, if you decide to become serious about enchanting, you’ll have multiple different engraving pens with different elemental gems in each of them.”

My eyes go wide when I realize how much gold it would take to make that many engraving pens and the better one’s cost way more than two and a half gold. “I’ll need to save up my money for the materials for you to make me a better pen then?”

“Sorry, but that isn’t going to happen.” Master quickly rejects my idea.

“Why?” My voice comes out whinier than I was expecting.

“Have I ever bragged about being a jeweler before?” Master continues after he notices my uncomprehending expression. “Making engraving pens is done by jewelers not blacksmiths. I know how they’re made but my skills won’t do these materials justice.”

“But you have made one before, right?”

…..

When master doesn’t answer me, I become nervous. “You’ve never made an engraving pen before!? What if you ruin it?!” I accuse master.

“I know how it works… in theory. By all means, you can go to Drey and spend another gold and a half having a professional craft you one. I’m only making you one for free.” Master Del sends me a challenging look.

If I went to Drey and commissioned an engraving pen people would take notice and master knows that. Del looks at me like he wants an apology.

“I know, I know. Thank you for helping me master. I know you can do it!” That last part held a little bit of sarcasm but I am praying he doesn’t ruin what amounts to my lifetime of savings so far.

“You don’t have to worry my dear apprentice; it might not look pretty but I’ll make you a workable engraving pen.” Master puffs out his chest looking confident about his claim.

“Ok, what do we do first?” I ask.

“Hand me the gem.” I hand master the small magical gem and follow him over to our workbench.

“Come over here and look at this.” Master motions me over to his side. “It’s a good thing the sun is out today.” Master holds the lumpy stone up to the light. “Your merchant friend brought you a small but good gem. I’ve only cut a few stones back when I lived in Truset but I can show you the basics. The hardest part with gems is spotting the inclusions either on its surface or on the inside of the gem itself. Just like microfractures in our work, these imperfections can destroy the gem if you aren’t careful.”

I stare at the gem in the sunlight and look for any imperfections in its structure. Hold on, if it’s the same concept as microfractures then couldn’t I use Sense Mana to check its structure just like I do when I forge something?

I focus on using Sense Mana on the small gem. The storm of mana is as beautiful as I saw it yesterday but the constantly shifting mass of mana makes inspecting the gem’s structure hard.

Master lowers the gem and starts walking over to our grinder. “Wait, master.” Master freezes and looks back at me. “Can I see the gem for a second? I’m trying to use my skills to see if there are any imperfections in the gem.”

“Oh? I didn’t consider that.” Master hands me the gem.

I intently study the unpolished gem in my hand. If we make a mistake with this magic gem, I’ll have to beg Kervin to procure me another one before he leaves tomorrow and it won’t be cheap.

I watch the storm inside the gem shift around and study the structure in the small gaps that naturally form in the mana. I work my way up from the bottom of the gem stopping the longest at the center of the gem where the mana naturally accumulates the most.

As I travel up the structure of the gem, I think the gem might be a piece of white quartz. When I asked for a magic gem, I pictured a diamond in my head. I hope this will be strong enough to engrave with?

I’m almost finished inspecting the white quartz when I stop near the top of the gem. It’s less than half a millimeter long and thin enough even master couldn’t see it with his stats but that’s definitely a microfracture in the gem.

“Master, I found a microfracture in the gem. Does that make the gem unusable?” I look worriedly at Del.

“Where’s the fracture located, is it in the center of the gem?”

“No, the fracture is at the top of the gem and goes down half a millimeter.” I point out the area where the imperfection lies.

“Oh, that’s good. You had me worried there. Come over here and watch me polish it.” I walk with master over to our grinder we use to sharpen blades.

“Grab a bucket of water for me with a ladle.” I follow master’s orders and grab the supplies he needs.

When I have everything ready and come back to master, I see him changing the grinding stone to a rougher grit.

“Where exactly does the imperfection stop?” I point master to the area directly below the microfracture.

“In the future, you’ll need to make a connection with a jeweler to supply you with the magic gems you’ll need, but for now I’ll show you the basics. First, you need to splash a little water on the grinding stone as it’s moving. You want to keep it damp but not covered in water. Before you grind anything away you need to have a firm idea of the shape you're trying to work the gem into.”

“Luckily for us, we only need one end of the gem to be a fine point the rest doesn’t matter much. The bottom half of the gem will be used for engraving while the rest of the gem will be hidden inside the pen. Watch how I grind it.” Master pumps away on the grinder's foot-peddle and gently rubs the area the fracture starts against the grinder.

“We can grind away the part of the gem that has the imperfection. We’ll turn its diamond shape into more of a triangle. Then we’ll sharpen the bottom point.” Master carefully grinds away the excess material while I silently stand off to the side.

Watching master work is always a treat but I have questions I need answered. “Master?” I softly call out to him to avoid making him mess up.

“Yes?” He asks without looking away from the grinder.

“Are you able to answer some of my questions or do you want me to wait until you’re finished?”

“This isn’t all that difficult so you don’t have to worry. What are you curious about?”

“You said that I would need to make a connection with a jeweler in the future. I know your mining hats don’t use a magic gem but is it different for weapons? Am I going to need a lot of magic gems when I practice enchanting?”

Master flips the gem around in his hands, examining his work. Once content, he starts grinding again and answers my question. “You don’t need to use magic gems in your enchantments when you start off, but eventually you’ll need to work with them. Magic gems help hold and regulate mana injected into an enchantment. Most enchanted weapons have a magic gem and a basic rune embedded in the handle of the weapon. Like the small onyx in the handle of my pickaxe though the way you push your mana into my pickaxe disregards the need for the gem. Normally, a magic gem and what is known as a magic conducting rune are used together to absorb the mana from people using the Expel Mana skill. The magic conducting rune can technically work with the Expel Mana skill without a magic gem but it will make using the enchanted weapon harder to use and less desirable.” Master explains while grinding down the quartz into the shape he wants.

“I see. I assume I’ll need to match the gems with the correct type of enchantment as well.” I can probably cut cheaper stones in the future but I’ll need to find an expert jeweler if I ever want to make something truly amazing.

I watch as the magic gem in master’s hands is slowly whittled down. As the gem gets smaller the storm inside is compressed. “Master, how is something you can grind away like that suitable for engraving?” I can’t imagine this little piece of quartz being able to scratch steel.

“As is, it wouldn’t be,” Master adds a little bit more water onto his grinding stone. “As they are, gems and their magical siblings don’t make great cutting tools unless you're dealing with diamonds or a few other rarer specimens. If you use your engraving pen wrong you could break it with little strength.”

“Then how do I use it properly?” I question master.

“Magic gems have a unique property to them when they channel excess mana. The gems coat themselves with the excess mana making them incredibly durable depending on the quantity of mana they’re channeling. The harder the surface you’re trying to enchant the more mana you’ll need to use as to not destroy your engraving pen.” Master gets up from his seat and moves over to our workbench.

Master Del grabs one of the higher grit sanding blocks and moves over to his favorite bench. A little water on the block and he’s back to polishing the gem. What once was an uncut rock now looks like a gem you might see in a wedding ring just a little lumpier.

Master takes his time until he finishes working with the magic gem. Master carefully places the finished gem back in the box it came in and swaps it with the ingot of mithril.

“What’s next, master?” I ask as I follow him over to our forge.

“The hard part.” Master boldly claims. “We need to work this mithril with some steel to make the body of your pen.”

“You want me to prepare the crucible then?” I offer to help master.

“If only working with mithril was that easy. Remember when I told you mithril binds with other substances really easy? What do you think will happen if we put the mithril inside the crucible and heat it up?”

I shrug my shoulders and master snickers at me. “The mithril will bond with the ceramic.” I can’t believe what I just heard. “Don’t underestimate mithril, using different methods people have bonded mithril with clothes, bone, and even paper. To get the mithril to bond with the steel we’ll have to do it a different way.”

Master moves over to the forge which already has a small fire going from before I got here this morning.

“To get mithril to bond properly with any metal you need heat it up in a forge that’s at a very specific temperature and mana concentration.” Master starts putting logs we don’t usually use into the forge. The wood master is using doesn’t burn that hot.

“The fire can’t be so hot that the mithril melts.” In a circle around the logs, master starts putting chunks of magicite into the forge. “We use the wood to heat up the mithril and the magicite to charge the mana in the forge so the mithril bonds with the steel properly.”

Master uses his tongs to place the ingot of mithril in the flames. Instead of the metal turning its usual red color the mithril turns a light shade of blue as the metal gets hotter and hotter. Master grabs a small chunk of steel that was left over from my previous work and places it alongside the mithril.

“How are you supposed to weld the two metals together properly if the steel won’t get hot enough with the temperature this low?” I stare into the forge while questioning master.

“Magic,” Master states in a matter of fact tone.

Master Del grabs the two chunks of metal and moves them over to his anvil. The soft mithril is easily pounded around the chunk of steel just like you would stick something in clay. “How is that supposed to…?”

“Wait and see.” Master cuts me off before I can finish my question.

The abomination of metal is placed back into the fire. “I haven’t seen this in a long time.” Master smiles into his forge.

I’m about to ask him what he means by that when my mouth falls open. Inside the forge, the mithril covered steel is moving! The hotter the metal becomes the more the metal comes alive!

The steel slowly absorbs the mithril and grows in size. My mana sense shows me that the mana in the mithril is being sucked into the steel and then being rearranged into a new structure. What was once two mashed together metals are now a single lump of magic steel. The mithril has lost some of its bluish tint now that’s it's diluted with the steel.

“What was that!?” I yell at master.

Master laughs at my shocked expression and ignores my outburst in favor to put the rest of the magicite into the forge. Master leaves the new metal in the forge to heat up and turns to me.

“That’s how mithril bonds with other metals. You need to be careful when you try this in the future. Once it’s fused with something, you’ll need to make sure your forge has enough mana in its flames to work your new metal. For example, now that the mithril has fused with the steel the fire needs to be hot enough to work steel but also have enough mana in the forge like you are working mithril. You also need to remember though the mithril has taken on the heat requirements of steel it’s much weaker. That’s why you should never use more than 15% mithril in any weapon you make.” I nod my head in understanding.

“Alright, let's finish this pen.” Master focuses back on his forge. It’s hard for me to judge whether the bluish metal is ready to be pulled out now that I can’t recognize the color anymore.

I take note of the hue of blue the metal has when master moves it over to his anvil. As master said the metal is much softer than steel making it easy for him to work the metal very quickly. First, master gets the lump of fused metal into a familiar ingot shape before he cuts a little piece off the end.

Next, master flattens the metal into a rectangle which he then proceeds to curl into a shape of a pipe. “Grab the magic gem.” Master orders as he moves the new 10-inch blue pen back into the forge.

I fetch the gem and hand it to master. He once again removes the metal from the forge and over to his anvil. Master switches to a smaller and more precise hammer and sets the gem into one of the pen’s sides.

Master isn’t finished yet, though. He threads the other side of the new pen and sets the whole thing aside. Then master puts the smaller piece he cut off earlier into the forge and waits for it to heat up.

When the metal is ready, he beautifully shapes it into a cap that can screw onto the top of the pen.

Master waits for everything to cool and picks both of the pieces up. The cap perfectly fits onto the pen without a hitch.

“Take a look.” Master hands me my new engraving pen. The pen is an inch in diameter making it pretty big by pen standards. I loosen and tighten the cap double-checking everything. I turn the pen over and inspect the area the gem is secured only to see two small holes on either side of the gem for whatever is supposed to be used as an ink while engraving the runes.

It may look simple and not all that impressive but I can't help but feel excited with the engraving pen in my hands.

I can’t wait to get started!

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A note from kosnik4

5,050 words.

 

I hoped you enjoyed it, as always, stay safe.


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kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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