Roland was looking at a piece of steel that had a round shape. This was the old pommel that he had removed from the previously created sword.

He was planning to replace this section of the sword. There were a few other places he could push the gem into but they would be troublesome. The blade had already gone through the process of hardening so heating it up again to insert a grove might ruin it.

He could also try filing a fitting hole into the hardened blade in the hilt or slightly above it. But only filing a fitting hole wouldn’t really work that well, he actually needed the gem to be held in place. He didn’t have any magical techniques or materials on him that would hold it in place while allowing the mana to flow through.

Having something he could just weld the thing on would probably be a good idea. For now, he chose to use one of the techniques jewelers used. The technique he would be using was called a bezel setting. This was a setting method that would hold the stone in place. It would use a raised surrounding for the stone with a lip encircling and overlapping the edges of the stone, thus holding it in place.

He would craft a new pommel with a hole for the stone and some of those raised ‘lips’. After the stone was in place he would need to push that thinner part of the metal down against the stone. This would wedge the mana crystal into the socket and keep it in there.

This was one of the easiest ways for him to do this with his current skill set. Thanks to his high dexterity stat he was quite good with his hands. Later he would have to research if there were other ways to keep those magic stones steady. He could even make the hilt wider at the end and punch a fitting hole, then hammer it shut.

This would keep the gem fully on the inside but could damage it as well. There was also the problem with the mana stone being fully encased in metal. This in theory would lower its mana gathering properties by how much he would need to test it.

Roland really wanted to make power tools now that would help him craft things. Due to his increased strength and endurance, he didn’t really need a power hammer. He could use something like a drill to make more precise holes. With it, he could just make a screw-on pommel instead of wedging it in then hammering the part that was poking out at the end.

He could really use tools like a belt grinder to help him with things like stock removal, profiling, polishing to a mirror finish. An angle grinder to cut metal would also save him a lot of time. The problem was always that such tools needed him to use up mana. This was valuable energy that he needed for runecrafting though and couldn’t be wasted.

Now on the other hand there was light outside the tunnel. With the help of these mana stones, he could probably lower the mana usage significantly, maybe even so much that his mana regeneration and the mana usage on the tools canceled themselves out.

First, he needed to make his first item though. Luckily the pommel was large enough to house this mana stone that he received from that hobgoblin he killed. After removing the old one he would need to make it a bit smaller than the original. As he wanted some stock to be poking out at the end to hammer it in place.

He got to work right in the morning. He was someone that was consumed by his job, there was almost no day that he spent not crafting something. He wasn’t such a productive person back in his old world, this was probably due to many things a person could do to procrastinate back there. Movies, games, books, and the internet, there were just so many activities that were more fun.

This wasn’t true in this world. When he stopped working and relaxed he found himself just sitting there with nothing to do. Roland had no friends or family to talk to, there was also no internet to surf around and spend his time. He was just left with himself and his own thoughts, thus he found himself thinking about new runes or new items he could make instead.

It was time to get it done, he picked out a piece of steel that was closest in size. He would create a pommel from it. It would be similar to the previous one and in the middle, it would have a groove and a flange.

This flange was just a somewhat projecting lip that would then be bent inwards to hold the mana stone in place. The mana stone would be placed into the groove and maybe polished down slightly. Though it would be better to not alter the mana stone as with a decrease in size it would lose some of its mana filtering and storing properties.

The workshop soon filled with sounds of metal colliding against one another and the sound of a fast-moving grindstone. This process took some time but in the end, he had something workable.

Roland needed to fit the stone into the groove of this socket. He started placing it inside and filing it further down to get the correct shape. This was probably the most annoying process as he didn’t want to make the opening too large.

After finally getting it into the correct shape the time to insert the runic components came. This would be another grueling process to get through. This was a smaller piece of metal than the sword’s blade and he couldn’t just hammer it with force. If he did that he could break it. He would need to use the harder process of forcefully inserting this by hand.

There was one thing he could do to hasten the process slightly. For this, he took out a simple engraving tool made from steel. It had a wooden handle and more or less looked like a pointy nail or smaller chisel.

He would engrave some of the larger runic structures into the metal on the hardened steel structure. He just had to be careful not to remove too much of the metal. If he did it correctly he would save mana and time as otherwise, his runerfacting skill that used up MP would have to construct all the pathways and components forcefully. With a thin enough engraving the technique would not have that much steel to push against.

What he was left with were precise inscriptions that almost looked like finished runes. A normal person would even think this was the finished product. Only a Runesmith or someone with specialized skill would notice the missing traces.

Now while concentrating with all his might the runecrafting process started. It was a lot harder to do this on a non-heated up piece of metal but within a day's time, he was finished.

This wasn’t quite over yet, now the mana stone needed to be inserted into the pommel’s socket. He had done a good job while making this groove so the gem fit in nicely.

He didn’t own any bezel setting tools yet, so he had to make do with some of his regular smithing tools. The bending process wasn’t hard as he did have enhanced strength by now.

Soon the new Pommel made its way back onto the sword hilt. Thanks to his ethereal pathway skill he was now able to connect separate item parts with each other. This type of pathway was more similar to something like a wireless router.

It was like a point in the rune circuit that would just connect to another similar one in it. One just acted as a receiver while the other was sending out the signal, so you had to plan it out in the right way as they wouldn’t work otherwise.

After some final touches, the new sword was complete.

Roland took it into his hand and started examining it with the help of his identification skill, a little smirk appeared on his face.

Steel Arming Sword of Mana [ Mana Slash Rune, Mana Thrust Rune] [ Slot: Common Mana Stone(+3 Strength ) ]

He looked at the additional static that the mana stone was giving. Each slotted mana stone had some kind of bonus to it. This one came from a hobgoblin berserker and as it was a physical type of monster it added to strength. It did also add the mana reducing properties to it but apparently, his identification skill wasn’t high enough to see just by how much.

He wanted to test it out so he walked outside. This new workshop had a bit of land around it that was walled off. He had a large thick tree log out in his back yard that would probably be good as target practice.

Roland grasped his newly produced sword with one hand and did a few practice swings with it. His skill had improved since a couple of years ago. This took him back as he remembered the times that he sparred with his half gnome assistant in this backyard. She was quite nimble and good at evading. This increased his skills and accuracy of blows.

After looking back to old times he took on a thrusting stance. This sword wasn’t as long as a longsword which mostly ranged from 100 cm up to 130 cm. It was about 90 cm long, hilt included and was considered a one-handed sword. It was something between a longsword and a shortsword.

Before activating the skill he was sure to look at his current mana. He knew how much MP the mana thrust required so with some math it would be easy to tell how much energy he saved.

He plunged his sword forward with one hand while injecting the minimal amount of mana. He could feel his energies flowing into the hilt and activating the runic structure inside. It felt slightly different than when he used weapons without a mana stone in them. The infused mana started getting sucked into the embedded gem. It glowed with a bright light before the whole skill activated.

The whole blade glowed in a deep blue light. The energies moved towards the tip and it looked as if a current of water was traveling to the sword point. The sword tip shone brighter before a bolt of energy shot forward.

This attack looked similar to a mage’s mana bolt spell but it was a bit more concentrated. It had the same blue hue. The power of it depended not only on the user's intelligence but also on their sword skills.

The moment it connected with the large piece of wood Roland could see it shatter into many smaller pieces. The stump just exploded as the mana thrust technique punched right through it. On the other end it collided with the ground and left a small hole in it while kicking up some dust.

Roland whistled a bit while holding up the sword and looking at the whole runic structure. He had previously created swords with these runes and tested them. This one had clearly more penetrating power than the previous ones. The embedded mana stone was probably the cause of that.

“Hm, about 40% is it? Not bad...”

He said to himself while examining the glowing gem he inserted into this sword. Previously he only saw these monster cores absorbing ambient mana from the surrounding and thought they were just rechargeable batteries. Now he understood them better.

They were more mana regulators than batteries. They purified the sword wielder’s mana and siphoned it into the runic structure. He missed this fact previously as didn’t have a premade product to test nor any research materials concerning it.

Roland was also a bit of a scrooge. He could have bought the cheapest weapon using this sort of mana stone and would have probably saved himself some time. He would have lost some gold coins while doing that though. He was thinking that maybe in the future it would be better to spend more on research materials. If other people weren’t willing to sell skill books or research logs then he would need to reverse engineer things himself.

There was also one other peculiarity about this sword he was using. He could clearly see the skills for ‘mana slash’ and ‘mana thrust’ with the ‘temporary’ prefix in his status when he was holding this sword.

When he placed it somewhere else these two skills would vanish as if they never existed. He even had a skill level attached to it and would even somehow know how to perform this skill. From what he could tell it mostly depended on the runes quality and maybe some other side factors. Like sword related skills that a person using it had.

Roland would need to test things out with these. It would be nice to get free skills from powerful classes. Though these were active skills and not passive ones, if he could get passive ones was a mystery. He put his sword away and looked at the scene of destruction.

The tree stump wouldn’t be usable for chopping wood anymore. Even a lesser skill as the mana thrust with his stats and the help of the mana stone had a lot of power behind it. This skill belonged originally to a mana warrior class and it increased power with intelligence and strength.

Roland rubbed his chin and looked at his sword design. He thought that he could probably insert a second mana stone into the hilt if he really wanted to. He could also place one on the other side of the pommel. With another one, he would be able to lower the MP usage by 80%!

That was only in theory though, adding multiple mana stones could have a cap. Maybe adding another one only reduced the mana usage by half of that.

“Monster cores are really something I should heavily invest in…”

He headed back into his workshop while contemplating new products. He would probably be able to make a magic staff with many mana stones that would lower the mana usage drastically, maybe he could even spam spells without stopping. That is till the materials gave out as the steel he was working with wasn’t something that could take the increased mana usage. He needed to get his hands on some deep steel or mithril.

Mithril was a magical metal, it was as strong as steel but much lighter. You could also combine it with other various metallic ores without a problem. This wasn’t the main reason it was so sought after though. It was mostly so popular thanks to its magic-related properties.

It would exponentially boost the number of uses for enchanted and runic spells. Lesser spells wouldn’t even deteriorate the runecrafted structures at all if mirthil was involved. There were other various alloys and metals that could even handle greater and grand runes. Those were not even close to something that he could afford.

There were so many new items he could craft now. He had some old mana stones that he didn’t sell yet. He could test them on his refrigerator first, maybe if he inserted enough of them and lowered the mana usage to 100%, it would just work without him having to inject his own mana into it!

If that worked he could start modernizing his whole smithy. Making a drill and better grinder, maybe an electric saw and something for polishing. If that was possible it would drastically reduce the crafting times and net him more experience in the long run.

So he went back into his workshop, crafting diagrams in his head. He still had some time left on his contract and he would use it well. Maybe after it was up he would be able to set out on his own.

He was thinking of leaving for a city for one with a newer dungeon that wasn’t that highly populated. Cities like that sprung up from time to time. The dungeons formed randomly and would be used as a source of income.

A dungeon always brought adventurers with them. These adventurers needed facilities like inns, pubs and weapon shops. He could provide the latter and maybe even establish himself as a runesmith there. In new cities the grasp of wealthy companies like the one he was working for wasn’t that strong. He might be able to get a small market share without getting strong-armed by the competition.

‘Hm, going to a city with a dungeon that has some rare ores would be nice…’

Dungeons were magical places, depending on the dungeon core various monsters or materials could spawn. There were even some used as mines and due to being magical dungeons, the ores would also be mystical in nature. The possibility of mirthil appearing there was quite high.

Roland finally returned to his workshop, he still had to make some items for the company. He had used up a lot of time by making things for himself lately. He quickly got back to his usual work while thinking about some useful utensils he could make to help him out.

While Roland was hammering away the manager that he was working for was sitting back in his own office. His lovely elven assistant was looking at him while standing at the door.

“So, we aren’t going to the meeting this time?”

The elf asked while the alchemist gnome was looking at a vial with some blue liquid.

“No, this is a very delicate process. If I leave now, a week's worth of work will go down the drain!”

The elf just shrugged and left, she was actually happy about this so she didn’t really mind. She could just relax and eat some pastry while her boss did his experiments.

While she was stuffing her face with some cookies some other people were moving through the night.

There were two of them and they were jumping between roofs while not making a sound. The place that they were heading to looked to be somewhere in Hightown. They arrived unnoticed and looked from afar at a large mansion. Some carriages had gathered there and some people were slowly walking into the building.

“Hey, hey! Are we there yet?”

A woman’s voice called out.

The other person didn’t look at the woman and just gave out an annoyed groan.

“Heyyyyy… don’t ignore me!”

The woman moved her hood down and started waving her hands in front of the other person’s face while making odd faces.

“Stop fooling around!”

The man replied in a hushed tone while the woman sniggered and looked at the people coming out of the carriages.

“We will wait till all of them are gathered, then we will strike.”

The man said while sinking back into the shadows, in his hand a strange red looking double helix-shaped object. His body and the woman’s started flickering in and out of existence before they faded away, the people in the mansion unaware of what was waiting for them on this cold gloomy night.


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