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Chapter 376: Money Making Time.
"Congratulations, Boss. It was a long time coming, I was starting to feel bad for the missus."
"I suppose it was. I can't quite explain why I delayed it for so long…"
"Hehe... but, um..."
"Hm? Is something on your mind? You do appear a bit pale. Are you sure you're getting enough sleep?"
"I'm okay, I do get sufficient sleep... It's just that my wife now wants one too..."
Merely a day had elapsed since Roland presented the ring to Elodia, and here he was, back to diligent work. This world had a similar engagement system before marriage. Only after going through a ceremony performed by a priest would it be regarded as complete. Bernir had followed this tradition with Dyana, holding a small ceremony at a nearby church, and Roland had even attended as a witness. Now, it seemed it was his turn to step into the spotlight.
He didn't personally witness the culmination of the criminals' sentences. As per tradition, their severed heads would be exhibited in the city. While somewhat barbaric, it was a measure favored by n.o.bles to deter acts of violence. Thieves sometimes faced the amputation of digits for stealing, or injuries inflicted upon their tendons to impair their ability to flee. The world was still a cruel place, yet after addressing the recent challenges, it seemed a bit less bleak.
“Yes that shiny thing.”
“The engagement ring?”
“Yes, that thing! It’s the only thing she's been blabbering about! The missus has been showing it of around the whole city since she got it.”
“Oh, has she?”
Roland found himself somewhat taken aback upon learning that Elodia, who typically exuded order and restraint, had made such a decision. It was likely there were nuances to the situation that Bernir hadn't fully disclosed, yet Roland didn't dwell on it too much. Given his influential reputation and the recent high-profile execution, it was improbable that anyone would dare attempt to pilfer the ring from his fiancée's possession.
“So, did your wife want one too?”
“Of course she did! Now I have to make one… so uh…”
“I’m not giving you a raise, maybe if you didn’t spend so much on wine you’d have some saved up.”Bernir's expression contorted with disappointment, his midsection wobbling a touch as he did so. Since finding prosperity at the smithy, the half-dwarf had developed a taste for indulging in alcohol. His active routine at the smithy helped counteract most of the caloric excesses but it couldn’t handle it all. Despite his robustly muscular arms and legs, a sizeable paunch was ama.s.sing in the region of his belly. A testament to his fondness for drink, this rotund bulge seemed to expand in proportion to his drinking.
“Engagement rings are usually used by n.o.bility or rich merchants… isn’t it already a bit late, you already have a child and all?”
“That’s what I said! But then she just gave me that look…”
His a.s.sistant appeared visibly disheartened, possibly due to his wife feeling excluded. It seemed her close friends had received something she hadn't. Both Dyana and Elidia lacked an extensive friend circle. Their lives were often consumed by work, carried seamlessly from one task to the next. Elodia shouldered the responsibility of overseeing the orphanage, while Dyana managed her independent smithy within the city. Her smithy's operations remained separate from his magic shop, allowing her to retain the entirety of her earnings from sales.
“How about we do this… There are probably some precious metals that we didn’t really use. You don’t need that much for a ring, just make one yourself and I’ll help you with the enchantment and the gem?”
“You would do that boss?”
“Sure, if it just gets you to start working normally.”
“You’re the best boss in the whole world! I’ll never forget this!”
The ring Roland had bestowed upon Elodia held a unique quality: a runic enchantment imbued within its design. Roland had a tendency to worry, so he decided to put a spell on the ring that was sort of like a tracking charm. Elodia was aware of this and didn't mind. The ring could measure her stress levels and heart rate, and if something happened, Roland would be alerted quickly.
There was also a fun feature: the ring could take a few still pictures. When activated, a light would shine from the gem, creating a holographic image of the stored pictures. Accompanied by a sweet tune, it was a gift Elodia really liked, and it was something that other women might enjoy too. Maybe Bernir's wife just wanted something like that to show off, and maybe it could even become a product that could be sold later on.
“Yeah, sure… Now don’t drop the prototype, this thing costs more than a gold ring. Those union dwarves will also complain if they even see one scratch.”
“Aye, I got it.”
The pair was managing an upgraded variant of a spider golem, a creation enhanced beyond the norm. Some of the parts were actually produced with the help of the Union. Despite the dwarve’s renowned stubbornness, their mastery in crafting metallic parts surpa.s.sed all. Roland's task primarily involved drafting schematics and the rest was executed by them with remarkable exactness. Following a comprehensive review of every detail, the measurements deviated by less than a mere millimeter from his specifications.
This would actually be their first real joint endeavor. Finally, after having to perform his knightly duties it was time to work as a craftsman again. Roland was hoping to gain manufacturing insights by studying his former adversaries and perhaps enriching his underground workshop in the process. Brylvia, a Runesmith herself, presented an opportunity for learning. She would be helping him with this new prototype he had desiccated a few nights too.
‘I’ll get a good idea of how the other Runesmiths stand if I observe her…’
The completed prototype was carefully placed inside a st.u.r.dy box, marking the end of their work in the underground workshop. With their task complete, the two individuals finally departed from the underground. The span of a few weeks had brought substantial changes, a testament to their dedication and progress. To no surprise, a waiting carriage stood nearby, ready to transport the package to the dwarven union. In the past, they would have had to personally deliver such items to cut costs, but now their efforts were recognized and supported.
As they ventured further, Roland admired the ongoing expansion of his compound, with Agni, now a tier 3 monster, diligently keeping watch over the area. With this upgrade in security, there was little cause for concern. Additionally, the turrets were being upgraded, ensuring that threats like anti-magic powder would soon be rendered insignificant.
“Ah this is the life, I still remember having to use that old handcart in the beginning.”
“I made you that runic cart later though…”
“Hehe, aye that thing saved me a lot of time and effort.”
Bernir observed as the two dwarves diligently packed the large box containing the golem. It was a sign that they had finally earned the respect they deserved. However, both men understood that maintaining this newfound recognition required continuous hard work. They were well aware of their relationship with the union - as long as they consistently produced high-quality products, they would retain their contract and receive the necessary a.s.sistance.
While they were adequately compensated for their work, their expenses were increasing. The costs of constructing new walls and upgrading the turrets were not insignificant. Roland found himself caught in a perpetual cycle of expansion and improvement. It would likely take several more years to establish a secure foothold, and the successful transportation of this prototype marked the first significant step towards achieving financial stability.
If the prototype performed as intended, obtaining funding would no longer be a concern. It held the potential to revolutionize their business and secure a steady income stream. Although Roland and Bernir were capable of creating the product on their own, the a.s.sistance of the union's facilities and skilled workers significantly streamlined the process. It made their work much easier and more efficient.
Looking ahead, if everything went according to plan, the demand for these golems would skyrocket, necessitating ma.s.s production. They foresaw the need to create these golems in bulk, potentially reaching hundreds, or even thousands, in quant.i.ty. This realization brought a mix of excitement, as they understood the scale of the undertaking that lay ahead. Perhaps if everything went well, this would be the breakthrough this magical smithy needed to become a household name.
“We should probably go, better if we are there to explain everything.”
“Aye, can’t trust those union b.a.s.t.a.r.ds! It wouldn’t be strange if some of them still had a grudge against us.”
Roland exchanged a nod with Bernir before they set off towards the city. Unlike Brylvia, not all the other workers shared the same enthusiasm. Bamur and Dunan, although their reputation had taken a hit, still held some influence within those circles. Roland didn't want to jump to conclusions about his new crafting partners, but he couldn't afford to take any risks. The outcome of what they were creating had to be reliable, as people's lives were on the line.
‘Most of them have at least a lot of integrity when it comes to their craft and their fondness for gold coins can’t be ignored either… It should be fine, if this project fails they will also suffer the consequences.’
As they journeyed, Roland's thoughts remained consumed by the matter at hand. At least he had faith in Brylvia's capability. If the prototype golems were to falter in their task, she would face even greater scrutiny than he would. Being a human Runesmith already put him at a disadvantage in the eyes of some dwarves, who didn't view him as an equal. With an esteemed Master Runesmith by his side, someone who had been accepted by the union leaders and possessed formal training, the majority of the blame would inevitably be directed towards her.
“Ah, there is nothing better than the sound of hammers on metal!”
The ma.s.sive doors swung open, revealing a billowing cloud of steam as Roland and Bernir stepped inside the bustling dwarven smithy. The workshop was a hive of activity, with every member engrossed in their tasks and the resounding clinks of hammers echoing throughout the s.p.a.ce. While Roland had visited this place on a few occasions, it was Bernir's first time. Even before they entered, Roland noticed the curious gazes of some of the workers directed towards them. It was evident that Bernir, not being a pure dwarf, faced prejudice from those who still harbored ill feelings towards his roots.
“Ay, what ya staring at? Never seen an a.s.sistant of a Master Runesmith? How about you learn how to hammer a straight piece of iron before you stare at me like that!”
Roland couldn't help but notice how much his a.s.sistant had grown since joining him. No longer did the judgmental glances bother him; instead, he stared right back, unafraid. In truth, Bernir's skills surpa.s.sed those of the tier 2 workers at the smithy. With a crafting level well over a hundred and having already achieved his second tier 2 crafting cla.s.s, he was well on his way to becoming a tier 3 master blacksmith. It would take most of the workers here twice as long to reach that level of expertise. There was nothing these individuals could say or do to bring down this half-dwarf, for he had already achieved something that most could only dream of.
“I know that you feel enthusiastic but try not to make more enemies.”
“Oops, sorry about that boss.”
“It’s fine, now come. Master Brylvia should be somewhere in the back.”
When going around these parts it was better to keep everything professional. If the dwarves heard him talking to their leader in a casual tone, it could spoil their relationship. After acting like a Knight Commander for a few long weeks he was already getting a knack when speaking formally. Soon both of them made their way through the stuffy room and arrived at the union’s testing facility.
"The a.s.sociate o' Master Brylvia's arrived, open up the gate lads!"
They reached a colossal gate situated at the far end of this immense smithy. On either side, they could sense the intense heat emanating from enormous cauldrons br.i.m.m.i.n.g with molten metal. Beyond this gate lay the enchanting section, where skilled runesmiths and enchantsmiths resided. Since the new mistress had taken over, this area had become the primary source of income and investments. High-level adventurers demanded the best of magical equipment and here it would be a.s.sembled.
“Well, well, ye've finally brought yer a.r.s.e here, Master Wayland."
“Good day, Master Brylvia.”
"Wha's that there? Don’t reckon I've laid eyes on him afore."
“This is my personal a.s.sistant, Berninr.”
Although Bernir had displayed a hint of arrogance when interacting with his fellow tier 2 craftsmen, the atmosphere here was somewhat distinct. He stood before a revered Master Runesmith, someone who was on par with Roland, if not even superior in the eyes of the dwarves. The others were also skilled tier 2 Runesmiths with extensive training behind them. It was only natural for Bernir to feel a bit more hesitant this time. The only issue was that they soon discovered he did not belong to the same magical domain as the rest, making his presence in this chamber meant for enchanting highly unusual.
“Yes, is there a problem? He has been a.s.sisting me for years, I trust him more than any of your people.”
“Nay, it’s all good. Every craftsman worth a d.a.m.n has at least yin a.s.sistant like dat!”
The dwarven woman let out a chuckle as she spun around, playfully smacking the ear of a regular Runesmith who had been gawking at Bernir. As the group began to move, Roland took the opportunity to observe their surroundings. In contrast to his own secretive underground cave, this place appeared more organized. It became evident that things were different here, as the magical craftsmen did not personally craft the base items at all. Instead, their a.s.sistants would bring them high or highest-rated items to be enchanted with runes.
"Eh, quit yer starin' at everythin'."
“I’m not staring…”
Roland, accustomed to donning his bulky armor and helmet that obscured his face, found himself exposed and free to gaze at everything around him. His eyes couldn't help but be drawn to the peculiar tools being utilized in the enchanting process. Some of the hammers were connected to unfamiliar cylinders adorned with intricate runes. Upon closer examination, Roland discovered that these were mana canisters, enabling the smiths to compensate for their limited mana capacity. Unlike him with his enhanced stats, regular Runesmiths and Enchantsmiths couldn't sustain the same level of productivity at their current skill level.
Further ahead, Roland stumbled upon a distinct section dedicated to intricate runic engravings on smaller objects. Skilled artisans meticulously worked on delicate jewelry pieces like bracelets, rings, and pendants. He noticed that they wore ornate monocles, which were connected to peculiar glowing enchanted helmets. Roland deduced that these tools enhanced their vision and likely aided in focusing and channeling mana with greater precision. Such enhancements were unnecessary for him now, given his superior physique of an overlord.
Above them, Roland's gaze was drawn to a series of crucibles containing enigmatic liquids that differed from the usual scorching hot metals. These substances emitted a mesmerizing magical glow, leaving him curious about their purpose. Consulting the newfound knowledge he had acquired from reading dwarven literature, he speculated that these might be a variation of liquid mana stones. It seemed possible that these craftsmen had discovered a method to bypa.s.s the traditional smelting process altogether. Roland decided to further explore this intriguing prospect once he had established a stronger relationship with the craftsmen and gained their trust.
‘Brylvia promised to cooperate with me after we are done with this project, I need to ask about those liquids later.’
While walking into another room he continued to make mental notes about the technology he didn’t recognise. While his full armor wasn’t there anymore it didn’t mean that he wasn’t wearing something that could record everything. His ordinary work attire still bore intricate runes, and a complex runic structure adorned his chest plate. This enabled him to gather diverse mana patterns, which he planned to study further at a later time.
“Ah, so this be yer clever magical contraption, Aye? Ye'll need to break it down fer me, how is it gonna bring in more coin than our usual goods?”
Upon entering the testing facility, he observed the a.s.sistants unpacking the box and carefully handling the golem unit. However, it wasn't the sole item contained within; numerous...o...b.. adorned with intricate runes and other objects were also present. Now, his task was to showcase the functionality of his creation and ill.u.s.trate how it could lead them to wealth by utilizing the dungeon and the adventurers within.