Etching the runes became quite fun once he got into the rhythm. His high dexterity and experience in engraving were a big help in guiding the brush.
If he kept going like this, he would be able to gain the corresponding skill in a matter of hours. He could have gone on until then, but the exercise ended after two hours.
Seth had the books on runes and ballads and a rough idea about how etching worked. It was time to leave for the day. He wanted to get some ink from Trith and keep practicing until he got the skill.
On his way to leave the college, he heard someone call from behind.
”Hey wait! Where are you going? ” Ember came running from behind.
”I ’m leaving. Isn ’t that obvious? ”
”But you only visited one lesson and you are already leaving again? Singing practice is next. How about joining? ”
Singing…the black mark in his life as a blacksmith. He still vividly remembered the weird effects when he tried to use smithing ballads.
”No, I.. ” he was about to decline when he realized something.
He had a talent for demon ballads. Trith had mentioned that the execution of his ballads was lacking. He was too reliant on
”Okay, where is the practice? ”
Seth still didn ’t know what exactly to think of Ember, but no matter what she planned he now had his own interest in the singing exercise. The demon girl led the way and they arrived at the music hall.
Instruments for practice were stacked to one side and a small group of students were already present.
”You are late. ” a strict-looking teacher with a taut bun said. With her sharp glasses and thin face, she resembled a mantis. Maybe an insect demon?
”Get your lyrics and get in position. We start with choir and change to single practice later. ”
”Ah, Miss Tang. This is the new guy. ” Ember said and pointed at Seth.
”The human who caused a commotion yesterday? ” the mantis lady asked interested.
”Then let ’s start with you. Show me your skills. ”
”I ’m sorry, but I only know some forging ballads and I never sang outside the smithy… ”
”Hmm, follow me. ”
The teacher brought him to a side door behind which was actually a small smithy.
”Take some of the steel here and start forging. ”
The rest of the students were huddling at the door to see the show. Seth simply shrugged. With a snap of his finger, the coal forge was ignited. He didn ’t intend to show off, but under the influence of his skill, the metal was ready for forging within record time.
The teacher had told him to forge, so he forged and started singing the blood ballad. The teacher ’s expression didn ’t change, but the students looked very confused. As he sang dak notes and runes exited his mouth and fused into the steel he kept folding on itself.
The smithy shuddered under the deep vibrations of his voice and the students looked even more confused seeing the dark runes. What they heard and saw was a weird dissonance between the song. the impression it gave and its effect. The overall song seemed impressive and beautiful. But they could hear the weird skips and mistakes in the vocals. Despite those the effect was exemplary.
On the anvil lay an almost black blade of a dagger when the last verse of the ballad ended. The students were whispering among themself, but the teacher nodded understandingly.
”You have a skill that helps with singing, right? Can you do another one but turn off that skill? ”
Seth had an inkling where this was going but did as he was asked. He toggled off
The difference between the two attempts was most prominent to Seth as he felt that the effects were much weaker, and it was harder to hit the right notes. Still, he had used the ballad so often, at this point, he knew it by heart and still succeeded in it.
”Do you think, you could turn off your translation skill, too? ” the teacher asked after the second attempt. Seth was unsure. Without the skill, he could only try to imitate the song. Seeing him hesitate Miss Tang closed the door to the smithy so other students could no longer watch.
”I am not doing this to disgrace you. You are a student, and I am here to help. I need to know your baseline to help you. Please try without the skill. ”
Seth nodded. He really had nothing to lose here. On the contrary, if he could not just gain more ballads but improve his overall skill, it would be a huge gain.
Once again, he took a piece of steel and started the ballad. He knew the meaning of the word and imitated the sound. The result was… not good. There were many mistakes and the string of notes was disrupted and sparse.
The effect on the blade was a weak increase of the wearer ’s toenail growth. He had failed miserably.
There was no need to feel disheartened though. Seth already knew this would be the outcome. Without the skill, there was no chance he could succeed in singing a forging ballad in a foreign language. He reactivated
Contrary to his expectation, the teacher confirmed what Al had said to him back then.
”You have a great talent. The fact that you even managed to contact an ancestor, just by imitating the sound and rhythm, is outstanding. What you need to do now, is seriously learning the demon language. The translation skill is a disruptive element that gets in the way of the music ’s effects. ”
Seth remembered that Al
’Zalsar had mentioned something similar at one point.
”Did you hear me? Have you reactivated the translation skill? ”
”Yes, sorry, teacher. I was just lost in thought. When I manage to learn the demon language, will it increase the effect of the ballads? ”
”Not necessarily. The effect of a ballad is based on the text and the quality of recitation. With your skills, you are already able to make the most of a ballad like this. What will increase is the efficiency. Leaving it to your skills to mend your mistakes puts a huge strain on the ballad ’s operation leading to increased consumption of mana and even mental energy.
When it comes to longer and more complicated ballads, this will be a huge disadvantage. It may even lead to a catastrophic failure. ”
”Thank you for your advice. ”
Seth had a lot to think about. The workload kept increasing more and more. Looking for the texts of new ballads had led him to learn ancient runes and etching, and now he was even contemplating learning a whole new language.
The thing was, that he felt confident that he could actually do it. Although INT was one of his lower attributes, he still had three times more than the normal human limit. Intelligence increased the memory and speed at which information could be processed.
Learning a new language posed no great hurdle at this point. Especially if he could increase his INT with some items to boost the learning speed. It was the same for the ancient runes and ballads. As long as it was simply memorizing information, he felt confident.
Miss Tang allowed him to leave through the back door after organizing his thoughts. It didn ’t make much sense to stay in the lessons when the first thing he needed to improve was learning the language.
To his surprise, Ember followed him a few minutes later.
”I saw that you didn ’t return, so I ditched the lesson and came. Was Miss Tang hard on you? I can help you exercise if you want to. I ’m pretty good at singing. ”
”Singing will have to wait a little longer until I mastered the demon language. But do you know a shop where I can get more of the ink for etching? ”
Her face fell a little when he switched the topic from music to crafting.
”Ah, sure. There are a few alchemist shops that sell common ink in the city. The is one that people keep talking about. ”
”Wait, alchemist shops? ”
”Yeah? Who do you think makes the ink? It ’s not like this stuff is just bubbling out of wells. ” she said sarcastically. She didn ’t know that Seth ’s thoughts were already back at Minas Mar. He had an aspiring alchemist and a witch. Wouldn ’t they be able to make ink for him, if he got some recipes?
The two, the blacksmith and the demon girl, got on their way into the city.
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