“What do ye know of Metal Glass?” Haireth asked, inclining his chin up as he did when he wanted to test her.
“Uhh, that… it’s… a glass made from metal?” Jennifer replied, shuffling her hands as she looked at Haireth’s face.
“Don’t be dumb now. You think glass can be made from metal?” Haireth said, snorting.
“Well I don’t know! Maybe it can? I’ve never heard of metal glass before. Is it an alloy of some kind? Maybe, mix metal in sand before sending it to a [Glass Smith]?”
“Was testing ya lass. Trying to see if ye would pretend to know something you didn’t. Ye do that a lot,” Haireth said, shaking his head with a slight smile before continuing. “Aye, glass can be made from metal. Not all metals. But there are some. There is a place down south, in the very centre of the deserts, where no man lives lest the very land leech their soul. In the centre of that place lies the Eye of the Sun. It’s a land covered in glass. And within is a metal that turns into glass under the right conditions. It’s called Miraina by the locals. Metal glass or Sky Mithril, by those who don’t speak the tongue.”
Jennifer took in a breath, reliving her younger days when she was often taught things like this, as she continued to listen to Haireth speak.
“Miraina, or Mir is a peculiar metal to work. Quirky and difficult to mold. Kinda like a certain apprentice. If not treated right it'd turn brittle and coarse, with dark impurities coloring the metal from inside. Pure Mir is completely transparent, with a slight tinge of blue to it. It’s hard as Mithril, though a bit less flexible. But it soaks and emits magic like nothin else. It’s what we’ll try to get ye to form.”
“But, can I? I’m not sure how I would make something like that? Maybe with metal affinity? Even then, I’ve never heard of someone just forming Mythril, or any other rare metal, outside their affinity like that,” Jennifer said, frowning.
“Let me ask ye something. What’s yer glass made of?” Haireth asked, folding his arms.
Jennifer paused at the question. What’s my glass made of? It’s… made of my magic? She frowned, concentrating on her affinity core, as she formed a glass shard. The process was intuitive, as it had been from the very day she gained the ability. And she'd never questioned how she'd done so.
She focused on the mana flowing through her. It went through her body, guided to the place she wanted the shard to form. Jennifer frowned as she sensed changes in her mana taking place. A fundamental shift in what the mana was before, and when it turned into the floating shard in her hand.
She dissolved her shard, sharpening her [Enhanced Mana Sense] as she focused all her attention on the process and tried again. The glass mana flowed through her hand, extending from her core as it poured out of her palm and into the expanse of her aura.
The mana twirled onto itself, collecting and bunching up together in a tight ball of energy. Then, like water turning to ice, the mana expanded, taking on the shape of a shard as it turned into glass.
Jennifer frowned, as she watched the process happen a few more times, before she looked to her master, who simply raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
“I don’t know. It just… becomes glass. It’s mana, glass mana. I can feel that. But then, suddenly it’s not just mana, but something physical,” Jennifer admitted, dissipating the shard in frustration.
“What about your other glasses? I can sense them.”
“You can?” she asked, staring at him.
“I’m a [Runesmith] ye dumb brick. Magic is my specialisation, right after smithing that is. And yer aura is exceptionally easy to see through. We’ll have to train that as well.”
Jennifer nodded, shifting her attention back to her core. She called on the dagger of blood in her hand. The blood-glass formed quickly. There was something different about the blood-glass compared to her normal glass shards. She couldn't form any more unless she destroyed the existing blood-glass first. Not unless she added blood to it. And even then, she could keenly feel the limit to which it would grow and then stop. Almost as if it were a living thing.
“Do ye think that glass can be made from blood?” Haireth asked.
Jennifer looked up at her master, before she shook her head.
“Then what about the thing in your hand?” he asked, and she looked down at the blood red glass shard, the edge of its crude blade reflecting the sunlight into her eyes.
“It’s mana. The glass is mana. I knew that. But there is something more in my blood glass. Something that’s not present in my glass otherwise.” Jennifer summoned the blue crystalline glass in her left hand, small chunks forming.
“Similar to this as well. The crystal affinity I absorbed. It’s not mine. But I can use it. It just mixes in on its own when I form the glass but I can’t see how. I can’t sense it.”
Haireth nodded. “The glass you have lass, is a product of yer affinity. The metal affinity that people have? The metal they form is not always the same as real metal. It tends to follow most general properties, but iron formed from magic isn't real iron. I know a [Glass Sculptor] in the empire. His glass glows with fire from the inside, and takes on vivid colors. The glass ye’ll form will be your own. And if ye wishes to, then ye can change that form as well.”
Jennifer stared at her master, the idea had never crossed her mind that she could alter what her glass was.
“This brings me back to Miraina. It’s the closest metal to glass there is. I don’t have it of course. The metal is rare. Rarer than mithril. But I do have mithril, and it can replicate most mana affinities itself. We’ll use that to work on teaching ye how to turn yer glass to metal.”
While Jennifer was still nodding, her master stood up.
“Let’s head to the forge. I’ll show ye,” he said. Jenn scrambled off her stool and followed behind him. The two made their way into the forge. She stood to the side as her master lit up the forge, taking out a Mithril ingot.
“I’ll meld this ingot of Mithril here lass. I’ll let ye know when it’s ready. Pour yer mana through it when I tell ye to, and try to watch the mana flow,” Haireth said as the flames blazed behind him.
Jennifer watched her master take out some gloves, glowing with strong enchantments. Something she'd rarely seen him do before, with his high resistance to heat.
“Stay back for this one lass. I can’t say you won’t burn if ye get close.”
Jennifer hurriedly moved away as her master started to rouse the flames. A wave of heat passed over her, sweat already dripping down her forehead.
As he stepped toward the forge, took another step back, still watching. Her master set the mithril bar into the fire, an enchantment glowing along the bricks of the forge as the fire grew even stronger, now burning a bright white glow where the Mithril lay within. With swift movements her master pulled the metal out, setting it on the Anvil as he took his hammer to it. The heavy clang of metal echoed through the smithy as he struck the burning hot mithril.
“Focus. And try to sense the mana flow change in the Mithril,” Haireth bellowed over his own ringing strike as another powerful blow slammed against the metal. Each strike sent a reverberation through the ground, shaking her where she stood as sparks danced around her master’s arm.
Jennifer ignored the shaking, trying to feel the mana flow as it changed within the mithril. The metal ingot was burning bright, with waves of heat pouring off of it. Yet the ingot was nowhere near close to melting, still a solid block.
She frowned as she sensed her master pouring his mana through the metal. Something tinged at the edge of her perception but it was hidden in the blur of mana rebounding all over inside the metal.
“Don’t look, listen. The mithril sings, all you have to do is listen. [Song of Mithril]” her master intoned as the hammer struck the metal, causing a powerful wave to emanate outward. She felt her master’s aura spread, covering her and everything else in the smithy. It was an all encompassing thing, spreading through the whole forge as if he were a part of the building itself. The ground beneath her shuddered as he struck the mithril ingot with another powerful blow. And the heat increased again, forcing Jennifer to take a step back.
Jennifer squinted at the bright burning bar of Mithril, radiant with magic. She stared, trying to feel it’s flow. Lines and patterns of the mana started to become visible, yet the dizzying array of mana kept blurring things, overshadowing her senses.
“Yer doing it all wrong lass. Ye don’t stare at the sun, ye feel it’s heat on yer skin instead. Feel the mana, listen to what it says,” Haireth bellowed as the ringing of his hammer rose.
Jennifer felt the heat start to burn her. Her skin prickled with sweat as itching sensation began to build up. She pushed through the heat, and then taking one last look at the metal, she closed her eyes.
The ringing of her Master’s hammer was a powerful sound, each blow resonating. The skill he'd used seemed to have changed something, as each ring was carried through mana waves travelling across the room while his aura thrummed with power.
Jennifer listened to the ringing, to the flow of the waves, and the curves and barriers. The way it bounced off the walls and the way the ground under her shuddered and vibrated.
The metal rang out loud. It was a powerful melody. But there was more to it that she couldn't hear yet. Jennifer felt the mana, and tried to listen for the song hidden in the melody.
The metal spoke and Jennifer felt a dizzying sensation hit her all at once. There were waves in the mythril, circular loops of mana that spread through it. And each hit spread mana through these patterns, enhancing the waves, changing them, moulding them.
The metal sounded once more. And heat blazed all around her. The mithril’s mana was vast, and hidden in the waves of mana were links of sights she’d never seen before. This wasn’t a spell matrix. Neither were these rigid motes of spell-skills. Instead, waves of patterns of mana travelled universally and infinitely across, repeating over and over as they became smaller, all resonating at the same pitch with her master’s magic flowing through them.
“Aye lass. Now you hear it. That's the Mithril singing its song. It’s what makes it so special. Now reach out, and twist it. Turn it into something of your own.”
Jennifer felt her aura thrumming at the rhythm of her Master’s hammer, an unseen hand guiding her through the dark. She extended her aura, sending a pulse of her magic, as she let her mana mimic the Mithril.
The glass mana moved lazily, dense and heavy and unwilling to shift. It would rather crack and splinter than bend even the slightest. Jennifer frowned as she focused on her glass. There were mana lines in her glass as well. Spread through their core, arrays of snow-like structures spread out. A single core of mana sat at the centre, from which threads of mana waves ran, like an ever extending snowflake.
For a moment Jennifer didn’t understand why this would make her glass change. At first glance, they were nothing alike.
But there was a similarity there, the longer she looked. The mithril was tightly bonded, mana flowing in tiny loops while the more open structure of glass had a similar looping flow, just wider and less regular. While glass fluctuated through bigger and smaller loops in a complex beautiful pattern, Mithril remained unchanged, every loop the same as the last.
Jennifer felt the resonant flow of its structure, and pulled it apart. It resisted, every part of it connected to every other. She’d started in the center, which was a mistake. Instead, she toyed with the very edge of the block, pressing mana into it, teasing the resonance out into the wider loops of glass.
A pressure built up in her glass, its nature refusing to change. Jennifer let her mana dominate, as [Enhanced Mana Sense] whispered vague promises. A pattern, something in between. Neither glass nor mithril. But both.
She pushed, and her magic gave way to a new path. The barrier shattered, the glass shard she'd formed in her hand shattering, its structure coming apart all at once, and she squeaked involuntarily as it dissolved into mana.
Yet in her hand a single bead remained.
Jennifer opened her eyes, to see the shining transparent glass bead. Yet it wasn't glass, but something far denser. And it was packed with magic.
Her heart thundered in her chest as her master stopped hammering walking closer. Cradling the bead in her hand, she turned to look at him.
“They’re the same,” she breathed, awestruck. “I did it. This… is something new.”
Her master smiled, staring at her palm as he picked the small bead up. “Aye lass, this is something new. Something of yer own. Yer very own metal glass.”
Jennifer stared at the beautiful bead that shone with magic and mesmerising patterns of mana. And a voice whispered in her mind. This was new, a new path for her to explore. She could feel the changes in her understanding of mana.
“You’ll level tonight. That or gain a skill,” Haireth said, handing her the bead.
Jennifer couldn't take her eyes off the small metal bead, making it float above her hand. It was a part of her magic, similar to her glass. Yet here was something more. The song of her master was etched across the Mythril-glass, given shape by her mana.
“This is incredible.”
“Aye. Now head home and take a nap. We've much work to do on your aura, and not enough time. I've a lot to think over as well,” Haireth said, putting away his tools as the room's temperature plummeted back to normal.
“I think I’ll take a nap in my workshop,” Jennifer replied, to which her master nodded as he stored the mythril. She walked away in a daze, magic buzzing in her chest, mixing with excitement. She'd felt something while she'd been forming the metal-glass. A new way for her to grow and explore.
I’ll need to show Nathaniel!
She clutched the mithril glass to her chest as she headed to her workshop, and sat on the small cot that served as her bed on the nights she needed to remain at her master's. Jennifer laid down, tossing and turning as her thoughts buzzed with energy, her mind refusing to sleep as she considered the possibilities.
But eventually, the resonant hum of her glass lulled her into a comforting sleep. Her mind drifted away, dreams of monsters skewered by swaths of metal and glass as she flew around filled her head. A veritable force of nature.
A smile decorated her face, as she dreamt. And the system whispered at last, presenting her the fruits of her labor.
‘[Skill: Enchanted Glass Creation → Affinity Glass Creation!]’
‘[Skill: Resonant Mana Runes] obtained!’