Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 254: Music Mantis

Seth ’s break ended that day and he started to seriously work on the development of Minas Mar and his own skills. The first step was leaving everything concerning the store to Mary and Jane! The two wanted to be the administrative personal? Then they should take care of finding a good location, registering a business and everything else needed.

Seth took care of connecting the tower to the college. It was easier than expected. The demon district had its own interference field and with his student ID, he already had the permit to access the teleport formation.

Now he could enter the college from Minas Mar whenever he wanted. Before anything, he went to visit Trith after breakfast. They had some things to work out.

The store was still closed but Seth simply banged at the door until a drowsy Trith opened the door. A shove, a step, and a turned key later Seth stood inside the locked store with the demon. His sleepy head slowly started heating the engines and got the idea, that maybe he was in danger.

”Seth! You are pretty early. Good work yesterday during the flyting. I heard about it, very impressive. ”

Seeth took a step closer to Trith.

”You know, you should have told me about it. You left before explaining anything. What about helping me in every way possible, hmm? ”

”I- I just thought it would be a fun surprise. My promise is valid, I will help you in every way I can. ”

”Good, very good. ”

The next two hours proceeded like an interrogation. While Seth sat on the store ’s counter and asked questions, Trith sat before him on the ground in a seiza position and answered.

”Let ’s start with demonic runes. I sat in a lesson about them yesterday but didn ’t really get what they are used for. ”

”We use them to etch ballads and epics onto weapons and armor to have the great demons bestow them with power. ” This was even news for Al ’Zalsa.

”Wait, aren ’t you using ballads for that? ”

”It ’s different. It ’s like how you are using a ballad and engraving to enchant something. ”

It was a difference in the manifestation of power. Ballads were used to directly ask a request from a demon and the effects often came at a price. Their effects depended not just on the ballad but also on the quality of the recitation.

Etching runes was slightly more complicated. A demon bard would use a special acidic ink to etch a poem, an ode, or even the text of a whole ballad onto an item. The ink would contain a catalyst like dissolved beast cores.

There was a lot bigger margin for variation when using etching instead of carving circuits. While circuits had effects that depended on the route of magic power, etchings would store the bestowed power of a demon as an activated or permanent effect.

There were many ancient and standard texts for etching that called upon some of the oldest and strongest demon lords in hell. Similar to elemental lords, they had almost lost their entire ego by fusing with the world. These texts were guaranteed to work, and their strength was only limited by the execution of the etching and the materials used.

But one could also write their own works, and these were a free for all. One could write something original or praise a specific lord to maybe gain their attention. One could even spite a demon to gain their opponent ’s blessings.

The results varied drastically. And etching could have no effect at all, or a very weak one. But when a strong demon lord liked your work, it might end up stronger than the used materials justified.

Ballads were also like this. Some standard ballads were guaranteed to work, but original ones could also exert a tremendous effect.

For these reasons, the Bard College was founded. Here, one would not only learn the basic skills, but also the characteristics of the different demon overlords. How something had to be written or sung to increase the chance of a specific effect.

Also, how to use these skills in battle. In the end, they were also Bards. The power of demons could be borrowed in battles to attack or support. Demon Bards could pursue many paths, not just the one of a pseudo-blacksmith.

It was this complexity that led to people specializing in specific kinds of ballads. Some only wrote to one or two demons besides using the standard texts. This also led to the blacksmith-kind splitting in defensive and offensive gears.

Seth didn ’t really care about the use in battle, he was especially interested in etching. He had already thought about learning how to etch, to embellish his products. It sounded interesting, even though he had no high hopes for original texts.

Now that he had a rough understanding of what he needed he returned to the Bard College. He wanted to see how etching worked with his own eyes and checked the lesson plan. There was an etching practice twice a day, every day of the week.

The next one was two hours later. Using this time productively he entered the library. The big door opened automatically after stepping before them and gave way into a gigantic room. It seemed much bigger inside than from the outside.

Bookshelves several tens of meters in height with galleries and reading alcoves. Seth was a little lost, but the bored librarian was happy to explain things to him.

The most convenient feature was the inventory search. He could write down the themes he was looking for and get an assortment of fitting books to choose from. It didn ’t take long to get the books on the ancient runes.

Originally, he did not have much motivation to learn a new alphabet, but this kind of enchantment could open unknown possibilities. On top of that, the ancient demon runes were not that hard to learn. There were about 100 characters and they more or less corresponded to the current demon language he could translate with his skill.

He also found some books on the ancient poems and odes Trith had mentioned. When it was time for the etching practice, he lent the best books he could find and left the library.

The classroom for etching practice was long with many rows of tables. The students already present had not sat down yet and were collected at the entrance. There were three kinds of reactions. Some shrunk back, most didn ’t care, and one person approached him.

It was a familiar face. Ember his new frenemy greeted him with a smile.

”Wow, I didn ’t think you would be back so fast after causing such a commotion yesterday. Don ’t challenge me if you can ’t stand and making the whole audience kneel. So overbearing! ” she teased him with his own line.

It wasn ’t his fault. The whole flyting thing was a cheesy duel, to begin with!

”Why is everyone just standing here? ” he changed the topic.

”We are waiting for the teacher. Students are only allowed to work with the ink with a teacher ’s supervision. The ink we use for practice may be common rated, it ’s still volatile and dangerous. ”

They couldn ’t talk for long as soon and a burly female teacher arrived. She looked like the female version of the burly teacher for the ancient runes. She ushered the student to take a seat.

On every table were ink and a steel plate prepared like a piece of paper. There was also a brush

”Okay, here is today ’s task, ” she said, and sheets of paper flew to every table. They depicted the runes they were supposed to copy today. Seth was still looking at the paper when she approached him.

”You are Seth, right? The new student. Let me explain how it works. ”

And she really took her time to explain to Seth how the ink and brush were to be used and the most important safety rules when handling the acidic ink. She also helped him with the first few strokes.

This etching was different from the one Seth knew. For decorative etching, one would normally need something like wax to seal the parts of metal the acid was not supposed to attack. Then the area would be submerged in acid for as long as need.

This kind of inscribing runes was very different. The characters were directly drawn on the metal with the acid that ate away at the steel at a visible speed. It was not just an act of dissolving as normal acid would work, but it was almost like soldering.

After eating into the metal the acid would harden into a kind of dark enamel that was fused to the workpiece. It was a very interesting process to work with and watch. Seth could also feel a very weak but peculiar aura from the ink and enamel.

It reminded him of the Ivicer energy he had found in the and the . The energy was similar to the soul energy of infused souls. Was it because the ink used materials like monster cores as ingredients?

The reason was not important. It planted a persistent idea in his mind which only became more prominent after being shared with and confirmed by Al ’Zalsar. If he could create an ink that worked on the soul armament, it might be possible to layer the etchings on the soul with the circuits on the physical armor.

He might have found a way to circumvent the ”bleeding through ” effect he had come across before. His motivation to learn this craft had made another leap.

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