Time passed and Roland was busy with his work. He had moved past his rudimentary understanding of runes. He didn’t need to rely on copying his pre-drawn schematics to get his runic spells to work. He was even able to partially affect the spells, changing small things like their output, area of effect and even some of the elemental variations
He had managed to single out some of the basic elements that were the easiest to work with. Fire, water, wind and earth. He had compiled them into his notes and could now tell them apart from the others.
This was still just a surface-level understanding as he wasn’t able to change the internal algorithm. What he could do now for instance was to change a water spell into a fire one while working within some restrictions.
He was mostly working with the basic types of spells like the mana arrow, mana bolt, and mana shield variations of them. He could now successfully create the lesser versions and with them as a base add elemental values that boosted their power output.
His mana arrow could change into one from wind, fire, or water. The same with his shield spells that could transform from a semi-transparent blue sphere into a tightly formed wall of earth. This wasn’t something he had achieved in a couple of days, no. He had already been working for another six months which added up. He had already been in this city for over a year and his research was showing some promise.
‘Wish I wasn’t limited to only cherry-picking these parts.’
Roland leaned back in his chair that had improved over this time frame. He had a new quill above his nose and he was balancing it, the magic ink didn’t really leave stains like the normal kind and it also didn’t leak.
He had gone through his entire stash of runic spell scrolls that he could find in the city. They were mostly similar in the way that they created a magical force that rammed itself into its target. There wasn’t much variation, he wanted some that could levitate objects or ones that affected your body in some way. These were buffing spells and debuffing spells, he had managed to procure a limited variety of them.
There was also a plethora of runes that were used on equipment. This would be the next stage of his research. The runesmith territory, he had one worry though. He still needed to get his blacksmith class and without the runecraft skill he wouldn’t be able to further his research. This skill supposedly only became learnable in the later stages of the blacksmith class.
The scrolls he was working with were far too fragile. After the runic spell activated it would burn away at the magic ink. The ink would then seep into the scroll and finally make it crumble into dust. He needed to constantly rescribe everything onto new spell scrolls wasting precious time and resources. He had already tried scribing on some metal but the magic ink had an adverse reaction to it and he wasn’t able to progress with it.
He had runes like the impact rune that when activated while a warrior was swinging their weapon increased the weapon’s weight. He couldn’t really experiment much with a spell-like this. The paper scrolls weight increase was very meager and he wasn’t sure what good adding weight to an attack spell would do.
‘Maybe you can make the magic arrows increase the weight while flying down at the monsters?’
‘But there is no human element to activate the spell at the right moment, I’d have to somehow pre determinate the arrow's trajectory and make it heavier during the descent.’
‘Otherwise, the added weight might make it fly slower, could just make it heavier at the beginning and just add more mana… call it a Heavy Magic Arrow?, or Heavy Impact Arrow?’
It was fine to speculate, but the scrolls that he was using did cost him some coins. He could make fifty iterations and see if one stuck and burn through his whole stock in the process.
The best way would be if he could create some kind of reusable item that could fire off these spells. Like a magic staff, the problem was that he would only be able to do that after he achieved the runesmith class.
He took his time to look at his status screen, he had progressed through the levels and was now on the 20th. This all while scribing many runic spells and crafting various schematics that pushed him forward.
Roland Arden L 45
T1 Mage L25 [ Secondary ]
T1 Runic Mana Scribe L 20 [ Main ]
He felt that in another half a year he would reach the threshold and become a blacksmith. The problem with that was, that he would need to go through a drastic change in professions. Scribing runes and making horseshoes didn’t really vibe so well together.
He took another glance at his skills. His Rune Mastery Skill that was L4 at the moment. It stood out like a sore thumb, it wasn’t useful for crafting runes, its role lied in combat. It decreased his mana expenditure while using runic equipment. It also lowered the mana requirements for boosting his scroll spells. He had a sneaking suspicion that he would regret it if he didn’t get this skill up to l 9 before trying to switch classes.
He was inclined to believe that there might be some kind of special class waiting for him if he maxed this skill out. The biggest problem with this skill was that it required him to kill monsters. Also using spells out of combat didn’t level it up as he tried casting the shield spell on himself and on some animals to no avail.
Killing monsters didn’t give him much experience and was also dangerous. He didn’t really want to wander into the woods alone as he knew the risks. Even if the monsters didn’t get him, he could very well be attacked by some bandits or someone from an opposing business trying to get his secrets.
He turned his thoughts towards the adventurer’s guild. There was no dungeon here but that didn’t mean that the guild members didn’t hunt any monsters. They did sometimes organize expeditions into monster-infested lands for various reasons. He could join one of such undertakings as a support mage. He even managed to improve on his scroll design through this time period. Which would increase his utility in a party.
The more his scribing skill increased the more he could compact the runic components. With time he managed to limit the scroll surface. Which let him create more scrolls with fewer materials, the difficulty of the crafting process increased several-fold though. He needed to fit the complete rune diagram on something that was half the size of the scroll paper that he had been using.
His aim was to fit a common grade spell onto a surface that was the size of a regular playing card. He could then just flip through them and spam his spells. The most he could manage now is fitting them on something the size of an envelope. This was already much smaller than the scrolls he was using.
Surprisingly even though he was using less magic ink on the smaller scrolls the runic spells didn’t drop in power. It was like creating a smaller processor that even if smaller than the original one didn’t have to be worse.
There was a little drawback though, the smaller scrolls couldn’t be overloaded as much as the larger ones. The user had the option to insert their mana to make the spell stronger but the smaller scrolls just couldn’t handle the increase in mana that well. This was more a problem in the materials not being able to handle it and not the rune diagram itself.
‘Should I take a break?’
He had implemented a vacation period that he could begin any time and had it placed in the contract as a clause. He was allowed to take the weekends off. He also had 25 days to pick as non-working ones throughout the entire year. He could also prepare the minimum number of scrolls a few weeks early if he really needed a longer break.
His aim was not to level himself up but to level his rune mastery skill. He needed to get it up to level 9 before hitting his cap. He wasn’t sure if that was achievable but he was even willing to wait before he got it there. Luckily he had already prepared by scribing some scrolls in his free time. His social life became even more non-existent due to this, he didn’t even know what was happening outside anymore. The time to walk among the people had come.
He was still a steel grade adventurer even though he didn’t do any work for a year. He would probably be able to find a spot in an expedition but it would take him away from here for at least a week. Thanks to the increase in both his mage and scribing skills he was a lot faster now. His high int stats showed its worth at times like this.
A year ago when he first started he could barely produce a runic fire arrow scroll in a day. Now he could make five or six of them and even compact them onto smaller paper. This wasn’t his only spell that he had. He had bought out all the possible spell scrolls in Edelgard and also asked the manager to procure him ones that were common grade or below.
His scrolls were quite popular with the adventurers and were even getting shipped to other cities along with his signature. The people came up with some nicknames for his crafting persona. Due to the red comet looking mark that he stamped every scroll with. They gave him names like ‘Crimson Comet’, ‘Red Star’, or the ‘Scarlet Runesmith’. Some others just called him an idiot for making so many rune spell scrolls and not making any runic weapons instead.
He was known for only making ‘high’ or ‘highest’ grade spell scrolls. The biggest factor to his popularity was that these scrolls were actually worth the coin that was spent on them. After taking into account the price of crafting materials and craftsmanship they were deemed affordable.
They were quite loved by support type classes that had higher levels of mana compared to the warrior classes. Acolytes and priests could use them for protection and even add to the firepower against boss level monsters. The superiority of runic scrolls against the regular spell scrolls once again came to light as finally some affordable ones were finally being made.
Roland moved down from his chair and got his coat. His workroom looked kind of messy, there were piles of research material, sketches, and his scribbles everywhere. He still kept the most important stuff on himself though, as the rune schematics. He had asked the elf girl how much a schematic of a rune spell could go for. The answer made his eyes pop out, he could use them as a last-ditch effort if he really needed money but for now, it was better to keep them to himself.
He walked out, he had improved his gear slightly. He was wearing a set of fine gambeson under his robe. He spent most of his money on the spell scrolls so he couldn’t really get anything fancy like magical armor. This was quite good for a mage as it was quite light while offering a lot of protection against regular attacks.
He still had the heavy rapier that he received after the battle with that fencer. Besides that, his shoes were made from leather and he was wearing matching gloves. He wished that he could get himself some spell sliding gloves but they cost far too much. There was also a problem with those items as they broke down after some uses.
Just like the scrolls, the mana would corrode the materials, which meant that if he wanted a reusable resource, he would need ones that were at least made from mithril. This silvery metal was one of the best around when it came to runic gear. It came at a huge cost, he wouldn’t be able to get anything below a large golden coin made with it.
The sliding doors opened up and he could see the sun being still up. Even though people were giving him nicknames involving the color red he was still wearing black clothes. If he switched to red he felt like he would be sticking out like a sore thumb.
He walked towards the adventurer house while looking at his old adventurer card. He hadn’t really been using it since coming here. He had wandered into the goblin-infested forests from time to time to grind his skills though. The goblins proved to not be the best training as they were far too weak. This is also the reason why he decided to take up a request from the guild, he wanted to join a larger expedition where he could kill monsters that were stronger and offered more experience.
He pushed the doors of the guild open and was greeted to a familiar sight. The arrangements in this building were similar to the one in Carwen. This also made him remember his old party of misfits. He wondered what those three girls were up to after over a year had passed.
He frowned slightly as thinking about the past wasn’t very productive. He moved towards the notice board and started looking. There were a large plethora of quests being hung up there. Some of them even to subjugate goblins, he did always bring back the ears with him as they were worth a couple of coins.
‘Is there anything worthwhile?’
There weren’t many nearby monsters around the city so the goblin forest was as far as he could go without getting into too much trouble. There were more ferocious monsters living in the uninhabited lands further into the kingdom. He reasoned that there should be some jobs that he could take and that wouldn’t keep him away from his work for longer than two weeks.
‘Let me see…’
*Protect convoy from bandits while traveling to the city of Stegend.*
‘That one is a bit too far it would take a whole week and I bet the caravan would stop between the other towns.’
He rejected that one, the possibility of meeting monsters or bandits was questionable and he wanted to use up his spell scrolls to level up his skill.
He started going through listings, they were all mostly protection missions placed by the merchants. They were always happy to hire some extra muscle to be extra safe. There were also some jobs asking for exploration or for finding missing people or caravans. His eyes finally stopped at one job in particular.
“Investigate and clear out Manstos Grotto from the monster infestation.*
He started reading through this one. The description stated that this Grotto was in fact an iron ore mine which also has some rarer metals in the deeper parts. The miners had broken through a wall and tunneled right into some kind insectoid monster nest. There had already been some casualties and the mine was now closed off.
Roland rubbed his chin, there were monsters he could kill there. The only problem was that it was in some kind of mine shaft. How wide the corridors were was unknown and if the whole thing collapsed onto him he didn’t think a rescue party would be coming.
He wouldn’t be going in alone though, this was a large scale operation with more than one small team involved. He was also a mage so he would be allowed to hang out in the back while the warriors took all the hits. The risk might have been worth the rewards and he would get bonuses by killing more monsters.
He went through the other listings again but didn’t find anything worthwhile. This mine wasn’t that far, they could get there in a day or two. He didn’t think that killing the monsters would take that long either. He nodded and went over to the guild receptionist, he presented his card and told the person that he wanted to sign up for this expedition. The mission didn’t seem to have any rank requirements though.
His steel rank allowed him to be accepted but being a mage also added to his worth. He left soon afterward as they would be heading out in two days, he could use this time to prepare and scribe some more spell scrolls. Having more ammo was also advantageous. He was also interested in testing some of his altered spells on the monsters.
The two days of preparation passed in a flash. He had gathered what he could, besides his spell scrolls he had some healing potions and some rations all nicely packed into his storage bag.
When he arrived he saw a group of tough-looking adventurers already gathering up. There were about twenty people here and they would be probably splitting into five or four parties. There was also someone he knew here, a certain small half gnome girl that was apparently coming with them on this adventure.
Before he could ask about why they allowed a low-level adventurer like her to come with them, he was spotted. The girl’s eyes went wide, then they narrowed. She zoned in on him probably recognizing him by the black robe that he was wearing. This would probably be quite an interesting expedition, he hoped that the girl could at least keep herself safe this time around.