Episode 135 – Replicating
“You may begin whenever you are ready.” Just as the grandma’s words fell, the youngest looking man of the trio, appearing to be in his fifties, pressed the button on the stopwatch he was holding.
The clicking noise of the button made Kiel’s heart skip a beat. However, he was able to quickly regain his calm and return his full concentration on the enchanted artifact before him.
He tried to remember everything on it so he could replicate it to the best of his abilities. The pressure of the ticking clock making his entire being reach peak performance.
Soon enough, Kiel approached the second cog, the first one of the eight that weren’t enchanted. As soon as his mana touched the cog, he heard the click of a button press again, followed by the sounds of pen writing on paper. (The middle-aged man was writing down the previously measured time.)
Kiel didn’t let that disturb him and continued imbuing the cog with his mana until there was enough of it to weave the spell. Since the enchantment was mystified he didn’t know which parts of the spell pattern were critical to the function of the spell and which weren’t, so Kiel did his best to recreate the shape of the spell as he saw it, keeping the deviations to a minimum.
After a while of weaving, a magic pulse spread out, signaling the successful activation of the spell. What followed was another click of the stopwatch button and some more scribbling noises.
As soon as the spell was activated, Kiel released it from his control, turning it from an extension of himself to a foreign entity, a self-sustained spell, an enchantment. Once the mage released control of a spell, they could no longer regain it. The released spell would remain in the state it was in when the control was released.
Although the creator could no longer dispel or control such a released spell in any way, the spell would still need to be powered by the mana of its creator. Luckily, the enchantment could absorb such mana by itself when needed, as long as it existed in the vicinity of the spell. This allowed enchanters to recharge their enchantments when the mana they had initially imbued them with started running out.
Enchanters could personally re-imbue their mana, or they could just place a mana crystal filled with their mana in the vicinity of the enchantment.
Of course, there were also other, supplementary, ways to power enchantments, such as including a light absorbing spell fragment into the enchantment to power it through light or include a devouring spell fragment to feed on free mana.
Since Kiel didn’t know what method of powering the enchantment used due to it being mystified, and he didn’t want to waste time trying to figure it out, he ensured that he left a similar amount of mana inside his cogwheel as was left in the original magical artifact, before moving to the next cog.
Kiel kept repeating the same process of the enchanting on the following cogs, trying to weave each one more efficiently than the previous.
Each time he started or finished enchanting a new artifact, the middle-aged man would click his stopwatch and write down the measured time.
The trio of examiners smiled approvingly, or perhaps encouragingly but said nothing. Kiel had the impression that they thought his spell replicating was quite good, but since that wasn’t what they were testing, they weren’t really moved by it.
By the time Kiel was done with the last cog, his bangs were sticking to his damp forehead.
Only when he was done with the last one did the hunchbacked grandma confirm his thoughts: “Young man, your spell replicating is rather good.”
“Thank you.” Kiel gave her a sincere smile that made the woman pause.
The old man next to the grandma which had been silent so far was the first one to recover. He grabbed the stack of papers that were in front of him and offered them to Kiel. “How about you look through these papers while we test the artifacts you just enchanted? The papers depict the next enchantment you will be required to cast.”
Kiel accepted the papers with another one of his gentle, heart stopping smiles that looked even more alluring than usual. Due to his exertion, his skin glistened softly with sweat and his cheeks had a rosy tinge. A natural allure boxed in a lovely masculine package.
The grandma coughed awkwardly several times, but Kiel ignored it and averted his gaze to the spell pattern drawn on the papers. He didn’t inspect it thoroughly, his attention still captured by the actions of the examiners.
The unremarkable man pulled out a medium sized apparatus out of the cart and placed it in front of the old man who gave Kiel his papers. The device looked like a glass water tank with a bronze lid but the liquid inside was pale blue instead of clear.
The old man pulled out a small leather pouch from his robes and shook it upside down. Several small pearls made out of a purple crystal rolled onto his palm. With his other hand, he grabbed the first cog that wasn’t enchanted by Kiel and placed it upside down on the lid, so that the spell roots were directed towards the blue liquid. The cog effortlessly slid into an indentation located on the top of the bronze lid.
The man then picked up a single crystal pearl and placed it in the small circle in the middle of the cog.
The old grandma, who was paying attention to Kiel, must have noticed his lack of attention towards his papers because she spoke up: “When we activate the enchantment on the cogwheel, it will use the mana contained in this small mana pearl to heat up the liquid through its spell roots.”
The old lady tapped the glass tank, which was marked with numbers and thin horizontal lines.
“As the temperature increases, the volume of the liquid will also increase. Once the mana in the crystal runs out, we will note down the final volume increase.”
The old man proceeded to do just that – he cast a trigger spell on the cog and the level of the pale blue liquid inside the tank slowly started moving up.
While liquid inside the tank grew in volume, the mana crystal on top of the cog kept melting down.
It took less than ten seconds for the mana crystal to completely disappear, following which the liquid stopped moving. While the old man removed the cog from the cap, the old lady read the result out loud and the third man wrote it down.
The old man picked up the first cog Kiel had enchanted and placed it inside the cap, adding another mana crystal in the middle.
“These mana pearls have all been measured to be exactly the same, providing exactly the same amount of mana. This allows us to see how much more or less efficient your enchantments are compared to the original enchantment. Since all of them will be powered with an exact same mana pearl, the enchantment which manages to increase the volume of the liquid more is more efficient.”
The examiners waited for the pale blue liquid to constrict back to its original volume, which wasn’t long. It must have been some kind of cold attributed magical liquid because it cooled down abnormally quickly.
When it finally did cool down to its original temperature, the examiners repeated the same actions as before. Since the process was repetitive, Kiel lost interest and instead, concentrated on the papers in his hands.
The papers depicted another mystified spell, which was supposed to be used on a small hollow object in the shape of a star which was made out from a metal mesh.
Instead of providing him with an actual enchanted artifact, the examiners provided him with the spell design. The dimensions of the spell would be so small that the mana sense of most people wouldn’t be able to accurately see the details, which was probably why they decided to give him a clear spell design.
Kiel absorbed himself in the design, eventually forgetting everything around himself.
He didn’t notice that the examiners had finished trying out all his cogs, nor did he notice the strange looks and quiet whispers they were sharing between themselves. He didn’t notice the frown pasted on the face of the middle-aged man, nor the unreadable flash in the old lady’s eyes.
By the time the three old men were done with their performance Elaru had been sitting at the desk prepared for her long enough for her arms, which were supporting her head, to turn stiff.
She had wanted to interrupt their monologue several times, asking them to get on with the exam already, but thought better of it. Interrupting them would earn her no extra points.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Beard produced a pair of black leather gauntlets enchanted with a simple reinforcement spell which increased their defense and durability.
One glance was enough for Elaru to conclude that the enchantment was done by someone who had no idea what they were doing. The problem was not the mana density of the enchantment, which was mediocre, but rather the convoluted shape that could barely be recognized as a reinforcement enchantment.
The performance of such an enchantment would be horrid, which was most likely the reason why the trio of spell breakers was given the gauntlets in the first place. Someone had to remove the enchantment so that the gauntlets could be enchanted again.
To avoid spell interference, Eyebrows quickly cast an Acceleration on the air inside the gauntlets and made them float slowly towards Elaru.
Are you not going to measure the mana density of the enchantment? Elaru cocked her head to the side but did not speak up. She would break everything regardless of its mana density anyway and measuring it would only take extra time. Considering how much time these three old fogies were wasting as it is, she was better off not asking.
“These gauntlets are enchanted with a simple, poorly done reinforcement enchantment,” Moustache spoke in a light tone. “Young one, you are free to try breaking it.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll show you where the critical points are.” Eyebrows added magnanimously.
“It’s alright child. We aren’t testing you on spell breaking knowledge.” Beard nodded his head, his beard jumping like a flag. “We just want to test the density of mana you can achieve without mana solidification.”
The gauntlets landed softly in Elaru’s outstretched hands. Eyebrows waved his arm, producing a pointing stick from his long sleeves. “Here, let me show you where the critical points…”
Eyebrows never finished his sentence, for, at that moment, the reinforcement spell on the gauntlets lost its shape, particles of mana sliding like granules of sand through the openings between Elaru’s slim fingers.
The faces of the three old men froze. What just happened…?
Only when the melodic voice of “What’s next?” reached their ears did they wake up from their stupor. They directed their gaze towards the redhead, unable to conceal the sparkle that had appeared in their previously peaceful eyes.
“So, you do know a thing or two about spell breaking!” Beard exclaimed, his voice revealing pleasant surprise.
Yeah… a thing or two… Elaru’s mouth twitched. More like 12 years of hard work…
“It is quite impressive for a young lass of your age to be able to compress your mana to this state.” Eyebrows looked towards Elaru’s hand, as if looking at her fingers would be able to tell him how she managed to break the enchantment. The three were not paying attention and her actions were too fast, so they didn’t see it at all.