“Are you sure you don’t want to stop by the village before you go?” I offer Reel the chance to rest before he returns to Drey.
“I have to get back to Kervin,” Reel quickly shoots down my offer. “Have you recovered?”
I stretch my arms across my chest. “I’m still a little sore, but I should be back to full strength by tomorrow.”
“Good,” Reel nods his head and turns around to start heading back the way we came.
"Thanks for running with me," I call out to his retreating figure. I can't see his face, but I bet he's smiling… probably not, I laugh to myself.
Reel quickly disappears down the trail, and I turn back towards the village. I’m standing where Kervin usually camps, and though I’ve only been gone about ten days, it feels like it’s been much longer than that.
Mr. Grey saved me some time having the materials ready for me to be inspected, but I lost a day in the woods after the bandit attack. All in all, I made it back on schedule; meaning, mother, father, and Master Del are probably expecting me to arrive home soon.
I stand in place, looking at the village from a distance. The midday sun overhead is pushing back the remaining winter chill, causing the snow on the ground to glisten like everything is covered in crystals.
Dilemmas are never fun, and yet I've come across so many this month. Now I have another one I need to rack my brain over, and it’s by far the most daunting one yet.
Who do I visit first?
On the one hand, master needs to be prepared for tomorrow, and he's closer. Plus, I can drop off the materials while I'm there.
On the other hand, when mother finds out I'm home but didn't immediately go to see her… a chill runs up the base of my spine.
Both mother and master will insist on hearing about my journey, and both of them will need to hear about what happened.
I guess I’ll have to drag Master Del out of his house and bring him home with me.
I cut through the forest and make a bee-line for master’s clearing. I wonder what master spent the last week and a half doing, probably napping most of the time.
Getting closer to the clearing, I'm surprised to hear the melody of ringing steel. When I finally make it through the trees, I see master working at the anvil. Instead of announcing my return, I silently watch Master Del move the steel ingot. It's always a joy to watch master work.
Del shapes a corner of the ingot into a perfect nail with only a handful of strikes with his expert hands. Master switches his hammer for an axe and severs the nail from the rest of the material. Master checks to ensure the nail falls into a bucket of water waiting below before starting to form the next one.
It doesn’t take long for Master Del to turn the ingot into a pile of nails.
“You just going to stand there and watch me, or are you going to greet your master?” Master sets down his hammer and lifts his head, looking directly at me.
“It’s rare to see you up and forging all by yourself; I wasn't sure if I was seeing things." I leave the tree line and head towards master. "Did you miss me?" I ask with a grin.
“I did, until I remembered how cheeky you are,” Master feigns displeasure.
“I missed you, master,” I tell him with a sincere smile on my face.
Master's expression turns into a soft smile, "Me too." I lean in and give master a hug, which he returns.
As we part, master eyes the sack attached to my back. "Managed to get everything you need? I need to hear all about it." He sounds like a parent who just had a child come back from their first day at school.
I ignore his question and move over to our supply shed. Carefully lowering my bag and putting it inside, I leave everything but my travel pack I started my journey with. "You come back from your first trip, and now you ignore your master?" Del huffs in disapproval.
“Sorry, but I wasted too much time watching you work,” I throw my travel pack over my shoulder and move to grab master’s hand. I start dragging the stunned Stone Kin towards the path that leads to the village.
“What’s with the rush?” Master complains.
“I need to tell my parents that I’m home,” I usher master to move faster.
"You haven't gone to them yet?" Master asks in disbelief. "Are you trying to get us both in trouble?" Del matches my speed, now understanding why I'm rushing us. If someone happened to see me outside the village and reported back to the headman that I was back, he would immediately head for my house to find me. I can't have word get back to mother that I'm home and didn't see her first.
“I wanted you to be with me when I explained my trip to my parents, so I stopped by to pick you up first.” I quickly explain to Master Del.
We both start jogging towards my house. On the way, I ask master why he was forging nails instead of napping as usual.
“Salus started on the village armory, now that the snow isn’t falling as much. After I helped him lay down the stone foundation, he started building the frame but was out of nails, and you weren't here to make him more.”
"Wait, you actually helped him lay the foundation? You didn't just give him the stone?" I ask, surprised.
"Well, he came to me asking for the stone and started complaining about how much he missed his apprentice. I felt bad and offered to help him." Master says it like he had no other choice but to help the poor man.
I look at master like he’s grown another head.
"Don't look at me like that! I was bored and decided to help, that's all." Master comes up with an excuse. Del must have gotten used to helping me every day and got restless after I left.
“I’m sure Mr. Salus was grateful,” I say with a grin.
I cut my teasing short when we enter the village, and people start noticing us.
“Did you have a nice trip?!”
I'm shocked how many people call out to me as we jog through the village. I didn't think people would notice that I left, let alone be this happy to see me return. As more people call out to me, I start to blush and slightly pick up the pace.
I stop when I spot Arash, one of the senior hunters that worked with me during the goblin extermination quest, walking by. “Hey, Arash!” I call out to him.
“Aaliyah, good to see you’re back.”
“Thanks, it’s good to be back. Are you on patrol right now?” I ask him.
“My shift just ended. Is there something you need?” Arash asks me.
“Did you see where my father was while on your patrol?”
"I did; he's helping clear trees along the northern side of the village. Did you want me to let him know you're back home?" Arash gives me a friendly smile.
“Please?” I give him a pleading look. “I was heading home to tell mother I was back, and I don't want to leave father out."
“Sure,” Arash agrees to help me. He changes the direction he was walking and heads to where he said father was working today. Now I just need to get home.
"Aaliyah!" I take five steps before I'm forced to stop again when I hear Camden's voice calling out to me. The headman comes running up to me. "I was told you were back; how was your trip to Drey? Did you see Sandra there?"
"Sorry I didn't. Look, I really got to go." I try to inch my way towards my house.
“Was the city everything you thought it would be? I bet you realized life in the village is better.” Camden doesn’t appear to realize I’m in a hurry.
"Listen, Camden, my family, is…" I start, but I'm interrupted again.
"It's a good thing everything was quiet while you were gone. Did you run into any beasts on the road?" He eagerly asks. A frown crosses my face as I'm reminded of the bandits. "Everything ok?" Camden notices my displeased look.
I quickly change my expression and reassure the headman, "Nothing I couldn't handle," I explain. Camden gives me a concerned look, but now that he's quiet, I can tell him I need to leave. "I'll try to find some time to meet with you, but I'm on a tight schedule for the rest of the week. I only have the rest of the day to spend quality time with my family, and I haven't even seen them yet. We'll talk later, all right?"
The headman gives me a smile, “Of course, go be with your family. Whenever you have time to talk, visit me at my house.”
I wave goodbye, and master and I start making our way back towards my house, and we're soon at the front door. I open the old wooden door and smile when I hear the familiar creek as it swings open.
“Mom, I’m home!” I call out as soon as I step in the entryway.
“Aaliyah!” I don’t have much time to prepare myself before mom springs up from her sewing station and rushes to embrace me. I have just enough time to brace myself before she tackles me, so neither of us gets hurt.
While she’s holding on tight to me, I pick her up and shift us to the side so Del can come inside too.
“I’m so happy you’re back… and with Del.” I feel her arms tighten around me. “Did you wait to come home?” Mother asks in my ear.
“No, no,” I hastily reassure mother. “I had to drop the materials I bought off at Del’s place. I figured he would want to hear about my journey as much as you or father would, so I brought him with me.”
“That’s fine, but one of us will need to go to get your father." Mother lets go of me and looks me up and down. "Sweety, why are you so dirty? I thought your skills and magic protect you?"
I do my best not to flinch at her question. "I saw Arash on the way here and asked him to let father know I'm back home, so he should be here soon."
“That’s good, but what why are you so messy?” Like a bloodhound, mother zeros in on the information I don’t want to share.
"I tried something new with my magic on the way home and overdid it. I'm already almost back to 100%, so you don't need to worry." I smile and lean in to give mother another quick hug.
She pulls apart quicker this time and continues to glance over me, looking for anything that might be wrong. There's only one way I can reassure her. "Now that I think about it, my mana has recovered more than enough to clean myself."
“Ahyt ls weem appiss!”
I chant my cleaning spell and finish with a grin on my face.
Mother watches almost three days of dirt and grime peel away from me. While mom is happy to watch me look as good as new, I’m gritting my teeth through the pain I’m feeling. The gaps in my mana network haven't fully closed just yet, and even though it was a small spell, it aggravated my earlier injuries.
“Alright then, come and sit down. I’m sure you’re tired from all that running. Mom gives me little time to change my shoes for slippers before she’s dragging me to sit at the table. "Are you hungry at all? I have some dried fruits if you want a snack?"
“I’m fine, mom. I bought some fresh jerky in Drey and had that on the way home.”
“Are you sure?” She presses me again.
“I’m sure,” I flatly tell her. “Do you think dad will be able to make it home soon?” I try to change the subject. I watch master take an empty seat at the table.
“If I know your father, he’ll be flying through that door any minute now.” Mother gives me a knowing look.
“Really? I can’t picture dad running home, you maybe.”
Mom brings her hand up to her mouth and giggles. “Out of the two of us, your father has been the one constantly worrying about you while you were gone. Tossing around in bed, asking when you were due back; it’s been fun teasing, I mean reassuring him you’d be fine.”
"Aaliyah, honey, are you finally home!?" I hear dad's voice coming from outside our door. "Silvia, if this is another prank, I'm going to…" The door is flung open, and dad stops mid threat when he sees me sitting at the table.
Dad kicks off his shoes and runs at me with a smile brimming with happiness. I can’t even stand up before dad lifts me into a princess carry up against his chest. Neither of us says anything as I feel the warmth of his love wash away the feeling of pain from my mana network.
At least for a few seconds.
Our loving moment has a bucket of cold water splashed over us with mom’s ominous voice. “What were you just saying, Darrius?”
Dad carefully sets me back into my chair before turning to address the vindictive banshee in the room. "I was merely joking. You know I could never be mad with the most beautiful woman in the world." Dad immediately tries to lay it on thick.
Dad moves around the table, ignoring Master Del, and proceeds to embrace mother from behind. When dad is out of mom's view, she sends me a mischievous wink before returning to her previous expression of rage. “Is that so,” She huffs after dad wraps his arms around her. "Is this how you treat me after I held you every night, comforting you, telling you Aalyiah will be fine on her own?"
"You don't need to mention that in front of company." Father hisses, while his tanned cheeks start to redden.
“Fine,” mother appears to relax in his arms. “But you’ll have to make up for it later.” Mother turns around in his arms and deeply kisses father leaving him no chance to refute her claim.
Master Del and I share awkward looks.
When my parent’s faces finally separate for air, mother tells father to take his seat. “Aaliyah was waiting for you to come home before she told us about her trip to Drey.”
“Only if you two are done,” I roll my eyes at mom.
"Don't be like that, dear. You'll be the same way when you find someone special; you're about that age now. Your brother ran away with Sandra the first chance he got.” Father’s eyes widen when mother brings up my potential love life. “Did you meet any handsome boys in Drey?” Mother teases me, but father looks at me with fire in his eyes.
"Stop! I didn't have time to meet anybody on my trip; I was too busy." Mother nods in understanding, and dad looks relieved.
"So, tell us what did happen during your trip," Mother asks, leaning forward.
I clear my throat, “After we left the village….”
I start recalling everything that happened on the trip.
The annoying cart ride to Drey that took too long, the part about Mr. Grey being ready for us, the fantastic dinner, and our game of questions, I went into detail about everything. The only thing I didn't cover was the knowledge they had on master, that I planned to tell him tomorrow when it was just the two of us.
I talked about the deal we made for the materials and passed around my new amulet for everyone to look at. Dad almost dropped the magical item when I told him how much it was worth.
Mother praised my merchant skills, and master was impressed with how I handled picking out the materials.
I left out what happened on the way home, only mentioning Reel escorted me back, finishing up my story.
“What do you guys think?” I ask for everybody’s opinion after I finished explaining everything.
“It sounds like Silver Herd values you a lot,” Mother offers her opinion.
“As they should,” Father and Del say the same thing, making mother and I laugh.
Mother takes control of the conversation, "Did anything seem odd to you, sweetie?" Mom gives me a curious look.
“There was one thing that seemed odd at the time,” I tell her.
“Mr. Grey asked me if I knew the Panetta family. He wouldn’t explain to me who they were and said it was a question from their headquarters. Do you think it’s code for something?” I speculate.
“Maybe people you need to look out for?” Dad hypothesizes.
“I can’t recall ever hearing the name before,” Master doesn’t know anything either.
“You don’t need to worry,” Mother draws everyone’s attention to her. “They asked you about the Panetta family because I threatened I'd contact them if anything happened to you." Mother casually tells the table.
All of us look at her with dumbfounded expressions. “Who is the Panetta family?” I ask.
“They are one of the prominent households in the Twin Serpent Trading company, one of the big trading companies of Olebert.” Mother explains like it’s no big deal.
“How do you know them?” I question mother. “Does it have to do with your side of the family? You mentioned grandpa was in charge of getting expensive materials for enchanters. Are we related to the Panetta family?" I practically vibrate in excitement. Mother had always left out details when she talked about her family; is this why?
Mother smirks, drawing astonished faces from everyone at the table, including dad. "No, I just lied to that shady looking bodyguard." The three of us nearly fall out of our seats at mother's sudden reveal.
Mom holds her sides, laughing. "That wasn't funny, mom," I complain. "What happens when silver heard finds out you lied to them?"
Mother wipes underneath her eyes like she was about to cry from laughing too hard. “It wasn’t technically a lie,” Mother cryptically tells us.
“What does that mean? You said we weren’t related to the Panetta family.” I ask.
“The Twin Serpent Trading Company is incredibly large like all the major trading companies are. There are quite a few families that make up its structure. Different families manage different assets of the company. The Panetta family is one of those families, and they were the patrons of my father's business." Mother explains.
"So, technically, we are connected to the Panetta family?” I try to clarify.
"Vaguely," mother smiles at me. "If I decided to send my father a letter asking for help, it might make it into the Panetta family’s hands, but it’s more likely to end up in his fireplace. I wouldn't know; I haven't talked to my family since I ran away with your father."
Dad leans over and sportingly takes mom's hand into his own.
“If Silver Herd can track down my family, they would realize my threat is possible. It was the best thing I could think of to give them pause and not try anything underhanded with you." Mother explains why she lied to Reel.
No wonder Reel looked scared after she talked to him before we left the village. If I learned anything from my trip to Drey, it's that Silver Herd is worried about outside interference, especially from the major trading companies. And mom threw a grenade at them, claiming she's on speaking terms with one of their major competitors. I can’t help but give mom props for being the evil genius that she is.
“Wow,” father exclaims.
“Damn, mom,” I give her a thumbs up. It’s a good thing I taught my family what the gesture meant as a kid.
"Language," Mother scolds me. "It worked out more or less as I planned," she tells the table. "Was there anything else you noticed about your meeting?" Mother questions me further.
“Not really,” I answer. “I got the feeling they were honestly trying really hard to wow me and draw me in. Mr. Grey seemed like a nice man and was very upfront with my questions."
“As far as you know,” Mother reminds me.
“I’m not a fool, mom. I know I can't take everything he said to be the truth, but honestly, I found dealing with Mr. Grey even easier than Kervin." I give her my honest opinion.
“I understand, as long as you’re careful, honey.” Mom gives me a supportive smile. “Now that you are back, what are your plans?”
I look around the table at everyone before focusing on master. "Master Del and I will be busy the next few days forging the arrow. That's what I'm focusing on for now. Hopefully, Silver Herd comes through with the hint to make engraving ink, but that only matters after completing the general's order. I'll apologize in advance, but I'll be spending most of my time at Del's place." Mom nods in understanding while dad slightly frowns.
"In that case," Mom stands up and claps her hands. "We better make the time we have together count. Aaliyah, sweetie, why don't you help me start an early dinner?"
"Of course, mom." I look forward to cooking with mom and put aside everything that happened on the trip home.
“I should go,” Del pushes out his chair to stand up.
“Don’t you dare,” Mother picks up her kitchen knife and points it at master. “Aaliyah brought you here to hear her story with us. She invited you into our house, so we’re obligated to have you stay for dinner.”
“That’s really not necessary,” Master tries to excuse himself again.
“If he doesn’t want to stay, we shouldn’t…” Dad isn’t subtle when it comes to Del, but he stops himself when mom glares at him.
She turns her gaze back to master and points her knife at his chair, “Sit.”
Master Del gives up and silently sits back down. Mother is amazing; it doesn't matter who she's dealing with or their levels; she's not afraid to speak her mind.
The rest of the day passes quickly with me helping mom with dinner, and us all sitting down and enjoying it together with friendly conversation.
Mother asked me multiple questions about Drey and whether or not I liked the city. Master asked me questions about Mr. Grey's materials, and dad asked me three times if I met any boys. He nearly had a heart attack when I faked interest in our handsome server at Alizio’s.
An average family dinner at our house, and yet, the food and company were more appreciated than ever.
Master left, reassuring me he would be up early tomorrow morning, waiting for me at the forge.
Mother and father sandwiched me with a group hug before we turned in for the night. And I collapsed face-first onto my bed and told my furniture how much I missed it as soon as I walked into my room.
Now I'm staring up at the ceiling in my dark room, smiling at the crudely drawn clouds up above. This is the first time I’ve genuinely felt comfortable in days, but I can't fall asleep for some reason.
I've already absorbed enough extra ambient mana to heal my mana network, and I was hoping to get a good night's sleep in preparation for tomorrow. I try to quiet my mind, but it doesn't help.
Plan B, if I can’t fall asleep naturally, I’ll enter my soul and let my body rest on its own.
A quick glance at the center of my soul, and the next time I open my eyes, I'm in the familiar forest clearing.
“What the hell!” I scramble to my feet when I notice I’m not alone in the clearing.
Surrounding me in a circle are eleven men. Each has their own horrible expression directed at me, but my focus is drawn to the one I immediately recognize. The bandit's leader has the same cruel smile he had on his face when he stood over me before I activated my spell. Looking closer at the other men, I notice they're the same ones I killed.
Is this a dream? Did I fall asleep without realizing it?
I’ve been inside my soul hundreds of times, and I know what it feels like; this is definitely the outer part of my soul that I always appear in.
Realizing where I am, my emotions calm, and I look closer at the men standing around me.
They aren’t real.
Each of their bodies looks faded and transparent. I see now; they're made up of the experience I got from killing them. A piece of their souls is now a part of my own.
The forest around me represents the outer part of my soul, and everything is a manifestation of my experience. The more experience I gain, the more detailed the forest becomes and the wider it expands.
I've watched what happens when a living creature dies, the central part of the soul is taken away, and their experience diffuses into the surroundings. These figures are not them. "You are nothing but ghosts my mind conjured up," I say aloud to the specters. Not one of them moves.
I close my eyes and center myself.
When I feel myself enter a state of tranquility, I once again open my eyes. "Begone!" I wave my hand, and the specters dissipate into specks of light that assimilate into my surroundings.
A single tear runs down my cheek, which I quickly wipe away. As I lower my hand, I notice it isn't wet, and it doesn't feel like I ever cried in the first place. I still don't fully understand this place, and maybe I never will.
I sit down on the forest floor and enter a meditative state, pushing the bandits' memories to the back of my mind. I know I’ll need to spend quite a bit of time here before my body gets a proper rest, and I don't plan to use the time thinking about those men.
With time almost meaningless here, I alternate between meditating and hunting for the pieces of the Contract skill that formed between Mr. Grey and me. It doesn't take long; the contract was obscure, making it smaller and quicker to piece together than the one I made with Kervin.
Trying to keep track of time while I'm in here doesn't help me, so I only head for the memory sea when my gut tells me I’ve been here long enough.
Just like time, distance is also tricky to measure, but I can tell the forest has grown in size since I was last here. I slowly walk through the trees and the mountainous region until I reach the shimmering sea of memories.
I don't hesitate to jump over the edge and plummet into my past. A memory forms around me, and I frown at the familiar clearing. It's not the clearing I'm used to seeing when I enter my soul, but I'm quite familiar with it none the less.
I look at the fallen tree blocking the road and turn to watch myself from three days ago run into the clearing just like I remembered it.
“You got to be shitting me,” I complain out loud. Is this all a coincidence, or is my mind purposely trying to fuck with me?
“You can get me out now!” I yell up at the simulated sky, waiting for the eyes to blast me out of my soul.
Only this time, nothing happens. The one time I don’t want to stay here, the eyes decide not to show up.
I'm forced to relive that moment once again and watch myself cut down three people before blowing the rest to hell. I expect the memory to fade once the explosion happens, but the memory continues for some reason.
How can I relive something that I never witnessed?
I get my answer when Reel runs into the clearing, looking distraught. I'd never thought I'd see such a look of panic on his face.
I cringe when I hear coughing from the crater and watch, amazed as Reel rushes towards the noise. I watch Reel force a potion down my throat and pull me away from the blast site. I was awake!
I have to cover my face in embarrassment as loopy me talks to Reel. I end up trying to kick memory me as I start spilling my secrets to Reel. I wasn't even cryptic with what I said; I straight up told Reel how I overclocked the spell with a skill.
Stomping around the memory in frustration, I finally feel the eyes focusing on me. "About time, get me out of here!" I shout like a lunatic up at the eyes, watching them force their way through the memory.
The next thing I know, I’m sitting up in my bed covered in sweat, with the morning sun beaming through the gaps in my window.
Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, I’m waking up pissed at someone I can’t even confront.
I pace around my room until the anger I feel starts to subside. I’m forced to get ready with the playback of the bandit attack repeating through my mind.
I try to forget about the attack by focusing on getting ready for the day. After changing my clothes, I brush out my hair and marvel at how long it has gotten. My red locks travel all the way down my back; I'll have to ask mom to help me trim it later. The dark red color of my hair has become bolder the more points I put into Vitality; the shade itself hasn't changed but looks healthier in general.
Looking over my body, it's hard to think I was in an explosion a few days ago. Other than my rough hands from blacksmithing, I can't find a single mark on my skin. What will it be like when I reach even higher levels?
"Are you up, sweetie?" I recoil when I hear mom's voice through my door. "You said you needed to get up early; I was just checking to make sure you rolled out of bed already."
A smile creeps across my face. “Yeah, I’m already up. I’m almost ready to leave for a morning run.” I walk over to my door and open it.
“Are you sure you have time?” Mother asks.
“I’m sure I can spare thirty minutes; I promised myself to start running again.”
"Mind if I join you? I missed our runs together." I'm surprised mom is still interested in running with me.
“I would love for you to join me,” I tell her with a smile.
The two of us head to the door and change into our outdoor shoes. Once outside, we go through a quick stretching routine, and I notice mom has improved a lot since the last time we ran.
She notices my surprised looks. “I don’t run that often, but I do your stretching routine at least once a day. Your father enjoys how flexible I’ve become without wasting any of my stat points.”
“Gross, mom,” she laughs at the sour face I make.
“I even leveled my running skill, which hasn’t happened since I was a kid.” Mother boasts about her success. “Ready, let’s go.” Mother takes off before I can say anything, laughing as she goes.
I quickly catch up to her, and we share in each other’s laughter.
We loop around the village three times before deciding I need to head to Del's place finally. "I'll see you tonight, mom." I lean in and give mom a quick hug.
"Good luck with your forging," Mother tells me as we separate.
"Thanks," I tell her and start walking down the trail to Del's house. The running helped immensely with clearing my head, and now I'm confident I'm ready to forge at my best.
When I'm out of sight of the village, I activate Mana Skin for the first time in days. I tested my mana network during our run by filling the mana obscuring amulet. I didn't feel discomfort when using my mana, so I know I can activate my skill without worry.
A part of me I didn’t know was tense finally relaxes as my skill activates. Feeling my familiar barriers surround my body and protect me from the remaining winter winds feels like I stepped into a room with perfect air conditioning.
But though the barriers feel similar, I can tell immediately they're stronger than the last time I used Mana Skin. After I survived my explosive magic, I gained two levels, making it my highest-leveled tier 4 skill, passing Inject Mana. I can’t wait to get the skill to level 60 and figure out how to improve it further. Who knows, maybe if I can safely protect myself enough with the skill, blowing myself up in the future might become a viable combat strategy.
I could already imagine the looks of horror on master’s and Ronald’s faces if I tried that spell against a chameleon spider. Let the beast try to eat me then, boom! I chuckle at the absurd idea as I make my way to master's house.
Stepping into master's clearing, I take note that Master Del already has the forge going, and he's inspecting the materials I brought back with me. “I brought back some good stuff, didn’t I,” I call out to master.
“You brought back a pain in the ass,” Master calls out, without looking up from the materials. “Kaglese is hard to work with by itself, and I've never heard or seen anything about this black rock before."
“Mr. Grey showed me a small sample they managed to forge from it, and I can say without a doubt it's the best material we've ever worked with," I reassure master.
"Do you have a plan, then?" Master looks at me, unsure about the whole thing.
“I think we need to spend today and tomorrow testing everything.”
“Oh?” Master gives me a look to continue explaining.
"We break up the black rock and turn a small amount of it into its metal form. Once we have a good sample to work with, we start testing how much mithril we add into the solution by starting small and adding more as we go. That way, we figure out a good alloy to work with for the final product. Then, we do the same thing with the Kaglese. Once we know their perfect alloy composition, we have one day to process the rest of the material and then two days to make the arrow itself.” I lay out the details of my plan.
Master nods his head, “That could work. Does that mean you want to spend the whole day only working with the black rock?”
“That’s right,” I answer master. “The black rock is the biggest unknown for us, so I figure we start with the most difficult part first.” I grin at master.
“It’s never boring with you.” Master huffs and moves to throw more fuel into the forge.
“I missed you too, master.” I smile and prepare myself for a long day.
This will be the start of the hardest thing I've ever tried to forge, and it begins now.