Randidly’s process of creating Bloodsteel hadn’t changed much since returning to Earth. The few changes that he had to make were only because the processing facilities available to him were so… lackluster. Basically, assembling a full-scale forge wasn’t possible in a short amount of time without quite a bit of money.
Money that Randidly didn’t currently have.
Perhaps if Randidly had monetized his ability to create engravings and spent a day or two adding stats to the equipment of Donnyton’s Squads, he could have managed to gather quite a bit of capital. But Randidly was already torn between time training and refining his images that it felt like a waste to pursue money.
Besides, what he lost in lower tiered metal processing equipment, Randidly was more than happy to compensate for with an increasingly exact image for Refine and Extract.
With his powerful Willpower, Randidly whipped the molten metal into something akin to a froth and then methodically Refined away the air bubbles that had been injected into the mixture. The result was a metal that was more dense and muted than then typical iron ore that Randidly used, but it seemed to possess an internal strength that far surpassed the original metal.
What followed was the careful experiments to determine what was the best mixture of blood and molten ore to make Bloodsteel. At first, Randidly was worried that this new refined ore was, in fact, weaker, because it couldn’t handle as much of his blood as it could previously, but then he realized with a start that the problem was probably that his blood had grown much more potent during his time on Tellus.
His images were now imprinted physically into his body in the form of his Soulskill. It would be strange if there were no new develops regarding his blood. But it did make the mixing process relatively volatile.
When his blood began to simply devour the metal, Randidly used Extract to remove the Ignition of the Emerald Essence and Ashen Image portions that were physically present within the blood. That did make the process easier, but Randidly knew in his heart that the result wouldn’t be as dependable as it would have been.
So, after perfecting a weakened formula, Randidly rubbed his eyes and flared Ignition of the Emerald Essence to increase the heat in the forge. Then he began again, working this time to make an alloy that included the full complement of his blood.
In the middle of the process, his blood once more began reacting negatively to the presence of the ore. In the small crucible, the two liquids hissed and spat as they touched. Frowning, Randidly called on his Crown.
Instantly, the light in the room shifted. Even the emerald glow from the conjured flames faded somewhat. With methodical strokes, Randidly shaped the metal, using his consciousness to calm the two opposed forces. And when they didn’t comply willingly, Randidly smashed down with the Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil.
As the air in the forge warped, Randidly sensed small imperfections forming within his metal. The mental torture twisted in his cerebellum like a thin, buzzing drill. But he ignored that and allowed the Skill to slowly grind away at the reality of the mixture.
Beads of sweat ran down Randidly’s temples. He swore quietly, a headache brewing behind his eyes. The two liquids sputtered and trembled, overwhelmed by the combined force of the Crown and the Indignation. Seconds ticked by as they teetered toward an equilibrium.
Finally, the two liquids calmed. Immediately, Randidly used Refine to remove the imperfections that had been added in the process.
Strangely, this was one of the more difficult Refine uses that he had done. Frowning, Randidly focused on the metal. It wasn’t just physical there were still… slight Aether flaws from the exposure to the Skill. But Randidly Refined completely until his product was absolutely pristine. The metal turned strangely lustrous, shining even as a liquid. That made Randidly’s eyebrows slide upward, but he did his best to ignore it as he continued to treat the metal.
At the end of an extremely arduous session at the forge, Randidly had three shimmering bars of metal for his trouble. Rather than the usual red, these ingots were a silvery grey with crimson and emerald speckles scattered through the metal. Even simply hefting it, Randidly could feel the difference between his prior Bloodsteel.
This… this would be a bitch to work with.
Grinning, Randidly looked around the mess of his forge. Then he threw his hands up in the area. Probably just fucking fifty or so more ingots before he would feel confident attempting the forging of the arm.
Randidly sent a message to Sam, asking for his help with the forging of something, then returned to his Soulskill.
This time, a bloodshot-eyed Wendy handled over the plans without a word. She barely looked up from the desk. Her one hand appeared to have been dipped in ink… and then dried, gluing it to the desk. Even though he was annoyed at her for wasting his time, Randidly couldn’t deny that she seemed… completely wrung out.
But before he felt sorry for her, he examined the plans. Instantly, his gaze intensified. This design… was far from her previous two attempts.
“Satisfied?” She asked, tilting her head up from the desk over which she was draped.
Randidly chuckled. “It’s certainly better than the previous two. So the idea is just to make a series of slanted hoops and fit them all together? But how will the whole thing fit together.”
Wendy gestured at Randidly’s stump irritably. “Just install a base. Then slide each piece on top of the next. There is some slots for them to slide together, but they will be small so as not to restrict movement overmuch. If that doesn’t’ work, magnetize the different metals and stick them together. I just hope you have a good blacksmith.”
Randidly grinned. “That won’t be a problem.”
When he returned to Earth, Randidly was delighted to see that Sam had responded in the affirmative, so he sent a time in six hours and began to work in earnest to forge more of these improved metal.
It was a rather optimistic estimation of the time it would take him to work, but Randidly wanted to push himself. Already, the time until the challenge against Donnyton’s Squads had fallen to nine days. His arm needed to be made as soon as possible so he could begin to try and master the use of it.
In addition, once Randidly had his new arm, Randidly wanted to head down to visit Neveah. Both to see what was keeping her, and to rapidly Level himself to Level 49. He would take some time to consider his approach before he formed his Fate, but he saw no reason why he shouldn’t rise to 49 like most of Donnyton’s other elites.
Those extra Levels would give him some extra Stats, which would give him an edge. Plus, Randidly would probably earn a Skill from the more dangerous aspects of his Class at Level 45. If he obtained something completely ridiculous, Randidly wanted to have some time to Level it to a useful state.
At exactly six hours and twenty-three minutes, Randidly felt Sam’s tread walking up the path toward his hut. Likely the older man was already impatient to know why Randidly had called him out and headed over to investigate. Randidly rolled his eyes, sympathizing somewhat with Regina Northwind.
Outside of armor and forging, Sam was something of a willful child. Randidly and he would end up walking back over toward Sam’s work area anyway, to come over here now…
Well, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was focusing on this last ingot…
Randidly allowed Cruel Indignation of Yggdrasil to fall and began to use Refine repeatedly to purify the mixture. Very quickly, the color shifted to the now very familiar silver with crimson and emerald speckles. Breathing through his teeth, Randidly poured the molten metal into the mold and settled back to the ground with a sigh.
When he allowed his plant arm to fall limp, it collapsed into the ground and began to slowly smolder toward ash. He looked at the gleaming stack of ingots and smirked, in spite of himself.
This metal… even if it’s just an arm, this will be the most powerful equipment that I could ask for…
There was a knock at the door. Randidly got up and brushed himself off. With a wave of his hand, he gathered all of the ingots into his ring. Then he wondered whether he should try selling Sam some of the metal to make his equipment.
It was a good idea. Because of the methods used to make the metal, anything made with it would be innately sympathetic to Randidly’s images; after all, those images infested every inch of the metal.
Yet Randidly had sensed that although Sam was amused by Randidly’s earlier rejection of his creation, it had now shifted to a personal challenge for Sam. To offer him such an easy way to achieve what Randidly wanted now…
Randidly pressed his eyes closed. Would it not also inhibit Sam’s growth? Part of the reason Randidly had rejected was to warn Sam away from relying on the Darksteel to create powerful armor. It was ultimately a dead end, forging wise. By the same token, simply providing an easy answer to Sam was not ideal.
After all, the ingots were likely just as strong as Darksteel, and possessed none of the drawbacks. They had it now, but such a perfect solution wouldn’t be available in the future. Forcing Sam to find his own Path was probably Randidly’s best course of action right now.
Besides, Sam would see the material when they worked on Randidly’s arm. If he thought that was the best bet, if his pride wasn’t an issue, he would simply inquire about it. At that point, Randidly would need to make a decision. But not quite yet.
Is this truly what will happen the longer I wear the Crown?
Randidly wondered as he opened the door to speak to Sam.
I will be slowly consumed by worries about preparing others for what is to come…?
But I suppose it’s better that I be consumed than I let my sense of urgency slack,
Randidly thought, his determination that had dispersed somewhat at the lack of sighting of the Creature firming once more.
The foes we face are not just the ones we can see, and the ones the System has promised us. And I need to be ready. We all do.