The sound of a metal hammer against metal was heard. It echoed throughout this closed room while the magical sparks illuminated it.

Roland that didn’t seem to have grown into his body was hammering away on a shield. Each time he delivered a blow with his hammer a strange runic pattern appeared on this tear-shaped piece of metal.

This process of hammering continued for a few minutes before the youth had enough. The shield that he was working on was examined before being put away to the side to lean against one of the cellar walls.

‘I really need a furnace…’

Roland looked around his ‘workshop’. It didn’t have much, he had a tool rack hanging on the wall along with a thick wooden crafting table. He also possessed his old anvil that was in the middle of it all but he was lacking a few key elements of this workshop. He was missing a forge without which he couldn’t really do much. There was also room for a smelter but that was a bit less important than the forge.

Without a proper forge, he couldn’t heat up the metal, without softening the metal shaping it was difficult. His strength did increase but bending steel and iron into shape was above his abilities. Also doing such things to unhardened steel wasn’t such a smart idea.

Roland had some leftover gear from the bandits and from some older creations. With how the rune structures burned through the steel he wouldn’t have much left after prolonged use. Even now, his steel arming sword was already eroding.

Swords like this weren’t that thick, with prolonged rune usage the internal structure could crumble. This could lead the blade to snap eventually, it could prove deadly in the midst of battle.

While thinking about the future failure of his sword he looked at the mace he received from his bandit encounter. This item was made from deep iron which was better than hardened steel. Be it durability, hardness, and the most important mana resistance.

There was quite a difference between this metal and regular iron. While regular iron could sustain a couple of charges of his magical runes, deep iron could manage at least ten times that amount. Repairing it also removed less material which would let the weapon survive for longer.

He looked at the mace and gave it a couple of practice swings. He could see some cracks here and there in this iron mace. This was all thanks to his Runic Blacksmith’s Eyes that let him see all impurities and blemishes of this weapon. The way it was made was also quite crude which was also why it was ranked low.

Even he with only a few years of blacksmithing under his belt would be able to make an intermediate version of this weapon if he had the right materials. Though it wasn’t really the fault of the craftsman that made this weapon, it was just old and overused. It was normal for weapons and armor to drop in rating when identified after some time. Only masterwork items made from the most resistant metals could last for generations without degrading.

“I could probably wedge a stone into the handle and give it an impact rune. The durability is only at 64% but it shouldn’t break until it goes below 30%... I hope...”

The impact rune was one of the first runes that he came across. He could place a common version on this item and not worry about the metal deteriorating too fast. This magic rune worked by increasing the weight of the item it was inscribed on.

When swinging this mace he could make it several times heavier. Force was just the multiplication of acceleration and mass, he was only increasing the mass in this equation to deliver devastating blows. This rune was strong but hard to work with. Activating it too soon or too late would just mess up a person’s momentum.

“Better to also place a hardening rune on it. It Will cost more mana but it won’t break that easily.”

He continued talking aloud, a hardening rune that was sometimes also called the strengthening rune made items more resistant to physical attacks. It worked by coating the weapon in a thin layer of mana that helped in absorbing physical shocks. It was an active type of rune so placing it on armor would drain the user of their mana quite fast.

Roland had already fiddled around with the deep iron metal. He had the three slave collars to the side and already knew that inscribing on them would be troublesome. Without softening the metal with some magical fire this metal was hard to work with. He would be able to manage it somehow on unsoftened resources but it would significantly increase the crafting time.

He didn’t really have any other options at the moment. He could try making his own forge but he wasn’t really good at building those. He also didn’t swipe the old bellows from his old workshop as he was in a rush and also lacked space.

Roland could also attempt to make a new version of the forge that utilized his magical runes. He could replace the bellows with a wind rune. The forge itself didn’t need to have some kind of special design, it only needed to spit fire, the more condensed the better.

The problem as always were the materials, for a magical forge he would need a lot of deep steel or iron. One from regular metals wouldn’t last him long. He also needed something to fuel this forge. Runecrafting while also inserting mana into the forge would strain his mana reserves even if they were abundant for his level.

“I better get to work then…”

He decided to work on the mace first. The mana stone would be attached in a crude way for the time being. There would be a lot of hammering and bending involved but without any alchemical glue, he could only wedge it in by force.

He did this by forcing a small opening at the base of the handle with one of his hardy tools. The opening was slightly larger than the mana stone in question. He then gently hammered the opening shut while trying not to damage the hilt along with the stone.

Following this a lengthy process of runesmithing took place. The unsoftened deep iron proved to be quite hard to work with. This forced him to run out of mana several times before he was done with the runic structure. In the end, he had a half baked weapon with a dual runic structure.

Deep Iron Mace [ Low ] [ Impact Rune (High), Hardening Rune (Intermediate) ]

Both of those runes were common runes. They were hard to perfect even for him who had spent years training his craft. The difficulty was also increased by the fact that this weapon was made off deep iron. This all without the forge which made the whole process tedious.

He was more familiar with the impact rune so it came out better. The materials he was working with were also hard to work with so it would take him some time to perfect everything even with the available highest quality schematics.

“This will do.”

He took the mace into his hand and gently inserted mana into the runes. The moment the impact rune was activated he could feel the weapon getting heavier. The more mana he infused the more his arm started to shake from the added weight. The other rune was also activating along with the impact one, he had set it up so that the two operated together.

Roland looked at the heavy mace that was glowing in a faint blue light. It was given a poke with his hammer to test the hardening rune. It did indeed absorb some of the shocks, the gentle taps were fully defended against. He could see the ‘shield’ struggling only after he smacked it harder.

The new weapon would be more of a backup against stronger monsters. First, he wanted to train his swordsmanship skill to its fullest potential. It was the one that he was most experienced with skipping over to blunt weapons at this point could impede his progress.

He wanted to at least max one of his weapon skills to the 9th level before trying his class change. It could aid him in getting a new battle class. Getting more than one up would be nice but he would probably reach the level limit before his skill limit in that situation. Getting a tier 2 class and profiting from the added stat bonus was something that he wanted to get as fast as possible. In this world of unknown dangers, strength was paramount and he was now very aware of that.

Roland dropped the mace to the ground after inserting too much mana into it. It had taken him two days to create this item and he was now quite hungry. He had gone through some old rations but he was now in the mood for a cooked meal. His kitchen didn’t have a stove yet but he could probably craft himself a runic pan to fry things on it. He just lacked the oil to use it as a deep fryer.

It was time to go into the growing city. He had been here for a week now and had gotten the house in a condition that he could live in it. The hinges on the doors were replaced but the windows were still nailed shut.

Luckily for him, this was an island with a warm climate. The nights were slightly chilly but with a blanket, the windy house didn’t bother him that much. The workers that would be coming in a few weeks would need to fix some things. The rat-infested attic was riddled with holes but he had cleaned it with some pressurized water. Some of the wooden floors would need replacing but that was a problem for the future.

“I should head out.”

He grabbed his clothes from the side. He would be going lighter this time around he didn’t expect any trouble while in town. Roland moved his hands to his helmet and looked at it.

“Do I really need this?”

The steel helmet wasn’t that comfortable but it did aid him in gaining experience in heavy armor proficiency. This wasn’t the dungeon though and he would only be going to the city. Did he really need to hide his face? It had been some time since the events in Edelgard.

Did that strange cultist lady and the warlock really take a good look at him? He also remembered that she stabbed him through the shoulder with some kind of cursed blade. If he didn’t down his potions while going down the stairs he would be dead from the poison. Then there was the curse that he was lucky enough to have enough money to cure.

The cult might think that he was already dead. Not like they would be stupid enough to go right back into Edelgard after that night to check. Without that spire relic that produced the illusion, they wouldn’t be able to have the element of surprise. They might have been more concerned with the two tier 3 dark elves that were their match. Both of them were healthy the last time he saw them.

Roland could only think of one way that they could find him here and it was by ways of magic. His trail was cold by now, no lower-level trackers would be able to follow him plus they would need a personal possession to start.

That dagger did draw his blood so there could be some occult magic that could home in on his location. But he wasn’t sure that long-range tracking magic like that would be pinpoint accurate. Maybe they would get a general location, maybe only pointing to this island and not even the town he was in. Roland was tired of looking over his shoulder; it wasn’t a healthy way of living. It was time to give it a rest and move on with his life, he would tackle that trouble when it came.

After deliberating for a moment he decided to not put his helmet on and go with some regular looking clothes. He wouldn’t be able to hide that he lived here anyway. Roland was planning to place one forge closer to the log cabin. He was going to act as a regular blacksmith which meant that he couldn’t hide his face forever. At least not in town, while out adventuring he would keep the helmet for added protection.

He finally left his house after locking up. The way to the real workshop down below was hidden behind an illusion spell. Only people tier 2 and above with high detection skills would be able to see through the spell. There were also some detection spells that worked but not like anyone had reasons to believe that there was treasure in this house to bother with something like that.

After a long walk to town, he was there again. It looked busy as always and he could even see another caravan arriving just like the one he was part of. There were more young adventurers amongst them, hope for riches and fame clearly visible in their eyes.

There were many people coming in and going, he had already seen some of the youngsters getting injured. Not everyone had extensive battle training against monsters when they were young as he did thanks to his noble upbringing. Most people thought that weak monsters like goblins or those slimes didn’t pose much of a threat.

They were dumb, slow, and weak but their attacks hurt like hell when they landed. Roland already witnessed some people getting burn marks from the slime lava-like spit or the fire skeletons.

One on one they weren’t much of a problem but there were certain areas in the labyrinth where a group of them could lurk. The slimes sometimes stuck to the ceiling and tried to land on a person’s head. To the inexperienced thrill seekers, even a little monster like that could prove deadly.

He could kind of tell which ones of these would not be having a good time in the coming days here. He himself was taking a slow approach to the dungeon and slowly fighting the unfamiliar monsters to see how they acted. Only after getting accustomed to their attack patterns would he move on to the lower levels.

Just like with the other dungeon that he was in, the difficulty steadily increased. The lower levels started getting bigger and more monsters in larger groups appeared. There was also a possibility of an irregular monster that was stronger than the rest showing up, a person had to be careful.

He had enough maturity to see this fact but the regular youngsters had their heads in the clouds. They probably just wanted to get their treasures and hit it off, most of them were poor, daughters and sons of farmers or fallen nobles trying to reclaim some of that lost honor. Taking the fast route was hard and there were many bumps along the way, Roland had also learned that during his travels.

‘This place doesn’t look that packed.’

While walking he finally arrived at one of the town restaurants. This one was named the ‘Happy Rooster’ and like its name, it mostly served poultry-related dishes. He would love it if there were something like a chicken nugget in this world. He would have to settle for unseasoned chicken breasts or legs instead.

The seasoning was mostly something rich merchants or nobles could only afford. Restaurants that were serving to commoners didn’t even bother with stocking anything besides sugar, pepper, and salt. Even that heightened the cost of the meal by a large margin.

He was already used to the bland food but it was still better than what he could make himself. Without a high cooking skill in his repertoire, he wouldn’t be able to make anything tasty even if he tried. He had some points in the lower version of it but without a class that used it, he wouldn’t be able to level it up further.

Roland looked around at the new faces. The town was growing, it would probably take a couple of months or even years before everything settled. He had arrived here sooner than he had anticipated and the city wasn’t in a good state yet. Even the auction house that he wanted to use as a means of selling his wares was still being renovated.

The other adventurers were also waiting for it to show up. Selling everything at the guild wasn’t the most lucrative thing a person could do. With time the facilities would be set up but this would take some time. Roland wasn’t in a hurry though, unless his old enemies came to his doorstep he could relax and wait.

Training in the dungeon during the day and making repairs to his runic items during the night was his new schedule. His aim was to get to tier 2 within a year. Bringing his home into working condition was a second priority but that could be done with just money and time.


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