Before the goblin shaman could go any further, Marcello was surprised to see a different kind of notification pop up in his peripheral vision. This one was different from anything he’d seen before.
Carpenter of the Ages has synthesized a crafting menu based on what has been encountered.
[Empty Bronze Treasure Chest]– An empty bronze treasure chest that will not degrade over time.
Required Materials: Bronze Ingot, Fragmented Wood of the World Tree (low-grade)
[Empty Silver Treasure Chest]– A lustrous empty silver treasure chest that will not degrade over time.
Required Materials: Silver Ingot, Fragmented Wood of the World Tree (mid-grade)
[Empty Gold Treasure Chest]– A glistening empty golden treasure chest that will not degrade over time.
Required Materials: Gold Ingot, Fragmented Wood of the World Tree (high-grade)
[Mimic Treasure Chest]– An empty treasure chest fused with the body of a mimic through a dark magic ritual. Preys upon unlucky travelers that attempt to approach it for its treasure. Highly dangerous dark magic creature. Caution is advised while handling a mimic.
Required Material: Empty Treasure Chest (must be crafted), Essence Orb, Ritual Components, Dark Magic Ritual
Additional crafting menu items may be synthesized over time. You may find crafting blueprints in the world.
Marcello’s eyes lit up. Up to this point, he had been crafting blindly, and now he was finally being given some guidance as to what to craft and knowledge about how to craft it, provided that he had enough ingredients to start the crafting process.
He could see a lot of applications for being able to craft a treasure chest that would not fade over time. Primarily, to use as bait against other humans. It was very hard for humans to resist the allure of a treasure chest, after all, himself included. But that theory was elevated to the extreme with the final crafting option, the mimic treasure chest.
At first, Marcello was confused about why there was such an option when he had never seen a mimic in this world thus far, but a quick look at the familiar ingredients list revealed why.
Marcello glanced at his own inventory, all the while keeping a hand pinched on the goblin shaman’s ear so that it would not run away.
[Banshee’s essence (uncommon)] – A desirable item that is the ingredient of many dark magic rituals, a banshee’s essence may be harvested from the corpse of a fallen banshee. The essence is normally orb shaped, and its size varies based on the age of the banshee when killed.
He no longer had the information on the imp’s tail now that it was gone from his inventory, but he could search it up using the system’s glossary.
[Imp’s tail (common)] – A common crafting item that is the ingredient of some low level dark magic rituals or even some exotic elixirs, imp tails are an all-around solid conductor of mana and a binding reagent for other exotic materials.
Suddenly, the descriptions that appeared to be far-fetched and inapplicable to him a while ago became a whole lot more significant. Marcello realized that the more exotic crafting materials he collected, the more chances there were to unlock crafting blueprints.
This was also perfect timing, because Marcello had no idea how to conduct dark magic rituals, but he had just stumbled upon a goblin shaman who knew how to do exactly that. Maybe the reason why he unlocked that blueprint was directly correlated with the system recognizing a source of dark magic ritual expertise right beside him.
He had to thank his inheritance intuition for all of this. If he had just walked away from that bronze treasure chest, he would never have unlocked the crafting menu.
As for who to thank about capturing and enslaving the goblin shaman… he could only thank his own depraved mind. Which other human would possibly think of actually capturing an injured monster, rather than just killing it for experience?
Marcello could think of just a few, and all of them were batshit insane. He wasn’t very comfortable about the implications of that on his own psyche, especially coupled with the whole hearing voices thing, but he decided to let it go for now.
“Hey goblin,” he said nonchalantly. “What was your name again?”
“Is Grute!” the goblin shaman said forcefully.
The goblin’s name sounded a lot like the name of a tree-like thing from a movie franchise back in his home world, but Marcello noticed the difference in spelling that was now visible in the goblin’s identify information.
“Alright Grute. You’re familiar with dark magic rituals, right?”
The goblin shaman nodded. “Yes! Human not know dark power!”
“After you teach me how to use those black orb things, then show me how you conduct a dark magic ritual. I want you to walk me through every step on what you usually do here on this island.”
The goblin shaman seemed rather excited about this change of pace, as dark magic rituals were its area of expertise and interest after all. It did a bit of a happy jig dance, before receiving another slap to the back of the head by Marcello, who was getting a bit annoyed at its weird dance and intermittent screeching.
“Orbs,” the goblin shaman said while rubbing the sore spot on the back of its head, pointing out the bone sceptre.
The goblin shaman has instructed you to take the bone sceptre.
Marcello took the bone sceptre in his hand and held in up in front of him, waving it around like a flagpole. Nothing happened.
You have failed to cast dark orbs.
The goblin shaman snickers internally at your incompetence.
Marcello whipped over and stared daggers into the goblin shaman, who was keeping a composed face. He saw the goblin’s lip tremble just the slightest bit, betraying its inner thoughts.
He wasn’t about to take shade from his own captive. A few smacks here or there ought to keep the goblin shaman in its place, he thought to himself.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“Mana wrong! Mana stinky!” the goblin shaman shouted in a shrill voice.
The goblin shaman explains that the neutral affinity of your mana is insufficient for a dark magic spell, and that your understanding of dark mana is nonexistent. Dark mana is sourced from a connection to a spirit or god that provides a fixed mana channel to the entity’s mana pool. All dark magic creatures must have a suitable link in order to utilize dark mana from their own capacity.
As the use of dark mana warps its users to a certain extent, it is inadvisable to attempt a connection with a dark spirit or god without further consultation about the implications.
The contrast between what the goblin was saying and how the system was explaining it was kind of amusing, Marcello had to admit.
“What if I borrow mana from a source that already has dark mana?”
The goblin shaman’s nostrils flared up in annoyance at the question.
Several scholars have discovered another means of sourcing dark mana secondhand from a being or object that already contains dark mana from its link with a higher being. Using dark mana this way is dangerous, and may have unintended consequences. Not enough is known about this particular technique.
“I see,” Marcello said while pondering the new information. “So what you’re saying is that this goblin shaman here can be used as a dark mana battery?”
“Great,” he said with a smile.
“C’mere, little battery.”
The goblin shaman yelped back in fear as the knight pounced on it, grabbing its thin arm with a vice grip with just one hand, as his other hand held up the sceptre.
“Cast dark orbs!”
Marcello felt an unfamiliar source of mana course through his veins, as a cold chill swept across his body and down his spine. It was not a pleasant sensation, but he could feel that the dark mana was beginning to be used to fuel the dark orb spell.
A singular dark orb began to coalesce in front of the bone sceptre, and it shot forward feebly before sizzling out of existence after a brief moment, like a small fiery meteorite burning up into a bright streak across the night sky after entering the earth’s atmosphere.
You have successfully channeled a goblin shaman’s dark mana through your own body. Your understanding of dark mana has increased.
You have taken damage from the use of dark mana through this method.
Marcello felt a slight zapping sensation as the system took its health penalty for the use of dark mana in this particular fashion. Because his mastery over the use of mana was very poor, he was only able to siphon a small amount of dark mana from the goblin shaman’s pool, and that amount was further reduced through inefficient conversion as it traveled through his own body.
Marcello thought of it kind of like how the sun’s energy was woefully inefficiently captured through plants via photosynthesis, and then those plants were further eaten by herbivore animals in another energy inefficient exchange, and then those herbivore animals were finally eaten by carnivorous animals, which left lots of scraps.
By the time the energy reached that final stage in the carnivore’s belly, it was a mere shadow of its former self. Each stage could only support a fraction of what the previous stage could support due to this energy inefficiency.
In this particular example, the goblin shaman was already the herbivore, a second-hand if not third-hand recipient of mana, depending on whether the spirit that the goblin shaman drew from was also a recipient or not. And by siphoning mana through the goblin shaman, Marcello presented himself as a third-hand or even fourth-hand user.
If Marcello wanted enough power to cast spells or conduct rituals through this roundabout way, he either needed to increase his energy efficiency, or he needed more batteries.
More batteries equalled more goblins. Marcello had a quick, amusing thought about having an entire workshop full of little goblin minions chained together having their dark energy siphoned by him into a ritual magic circle.
But that was wishful thinking.
In the end, as much as Marcello wanted to add some kind of dark mage capabilities into his repertoire, it was very hard for him due to the innate conflict with his class’s poor magic capabilities making his energy conversion very inefficient.
It could still work, as nothing in this world was fixed to only happen in a certain way, but making dark magic work probably required a bit of ingenuity… or goblin brutality… from him rather than trying to brute force it as if he was a magic proficient class in the first place.
“Alright. I kind of get it now,” Marcello said to the goblin shaman. “Before you teach me how you do that dark magic ritual thing or whatever, first I need to know more about the Old Ones, the blood moon, and why you perform that ritual in the first place. Fill me in, Grute.”
“Human not understand!” the goblin shaman said defiantly, earning him another smack on his bald head and a painful tug on his pointed ears.
The goblin shaman rejects your question.
“Try me,” Marcello replied in a cold tone. He had had his fun playing around with the magic, and frankly it was too complicated and overwhelming for him right now, especially with how debuffed magic was for him.
It was time to get back on track to the main scenario so to speak. The more he learned about the main scenario, the more he realized that his own survival and the survival of all humans in the forest would depend on how this particular chain of events played out.
“Humans just prey to masters! Humans weak!” the goblin shaman repeated.
The goblin shaman is answering your question in a roundabout way.
Marcello sighed. “Let’s start from the beginning. I’ll be more specific this time. Who are your masters?”
He summoned his dagger of bleeding and held it up to the goblin’s throat.
“Masters are Old Ones! Ancient ones! Look like humans, but not humans! Stronger than humans!”
The goblin shaman has answered your question truthfully.
Marcello’s right eyebrow raised in surprise. He was expecting for the masters to be gods or something of that sort, but that was sounding a bit off course now. “So they look like us, huh?”
“So why do they hunt us? Why do they make us prey, if they’re so similar to us?”
“Masters need blood!”
Right as the goblin said that, Marcello felt his skin crawl. The smoldering bonfire near them roared and crackled with renewed energy, and a voice spoke out from within the flames.
“A human…. How interesting.”
The voice was sinister and imbued with dark energies, much like the castle lord that he had fought before.
“Master!” the goblin shaman shrieked, throwing its body onto the ground in a prostrated position. “Please forgive Grute!”