[Hrmm...] with crossed arms, Garfin grunted. In front of him, on a table, was several ingots in varying hues. His eyes moved from one ingot to another and said, [Which one should I use?]
While he remained in wonder, footsteps came from behind.
[What’s wrong?] a voice asked.
Garfin recognized the voice, but he didn’t give a glance. [Which one do you think we should use for the prototype?] he asked. [Of course, anything lower than mithril is out of the question. But what comes to mind is my specialty, quicksilver alloy.]
After Garfin finished, Sylvar stood beside him and checked the ingots himself. [I’m not sure myself. But since it’s a horn we’re making, I suggest using different metals for the different parts of the horn.]
Sylvar then took a paper from his side and flattened it open on the table beside the line of ingots. On the paper was a design of a J-shaped horn.
[Here,] said Sylvar, pointing to the mouthpiece portion of the design. [Maybe use Mana Forging to shape the crystal into a mouthpiece? Then use manatite ore to conduct the mana from the mouthpiece to the body of the horn.]
[What?] puzzled, Garfin took a sidelong glance at Sylvar. [You want to pour mana with your mouth? You do know it’s normal to pour mana through your fingers don’t you?]
[Of course,] he answered with a smile. [If it functions differently from the norm, then, when an unknowing and uninformed person plays it, we can subject that person to punishment. It is also possible to make that person think that it’s a fake.]
Garfin combed his beard in thought. [For once, you have a point.]
[...] Sylvar smiled wryly. He was used to Garfin’s attitude.
[Then how about we mix crushed crystalline manatite with quicksilver and use that for the body?] Garfin suggested.
Sylvar knitted his brows in response. [Isn’t that overdoing it? Quicksilver itself is a better mana conductor than ordinary manatite ores.]
[Which is why we’ll make it even more conductive. That in itself might make the body structure weaker than that of a plain quicksilver alloy, but it’ll make a space enough for spirit enchantment at the same time.]
From that moment on, Garfin and Sylvar had discussed which materials to use for the body, and the mouthpiece. The first horn to be made is supposed to be a prototype. It would be using a fourth of what Amelia gave them. Be that as it may, both Sylvar and Garfin couldn’t help but go all out in the creation of the prototype.
Days have passed and Garfin and Sylvar have finally finished the final design of the horn. The final design wasn’t that far off from the initial J shaped tubing. However, the paper was now topped with several scribbles that pointed to different parts of the horn and the materials to be used.
Currently, Kan and Ran were tasked to take command of the unusual movements of the goblins coming from the east, thus having little to no intervention to the testing phase of the horn.
Arkand and Dresbon on the other hand, have been busy in processing the orichalcum they’ve obtained. They were trying out various techniques in order to make a different alloy by mixing with what they have. After all, they can’t immediately process a metal they’ve only handled for the first time in their life.
And so the making of the horn started. First, Garfin placed an ingot of steel into a crucible and brought it inside a furnace. Then with a flick of a lever, the double-action piston bellows moved.
At each press of the waterwheel operated bellows, the bellows beside the furnace moved up and down, blowing a rush of wind underneath the furnace. Each time the wind rushes in, the coal burned brighter. It pulsed from red to orange, then orange to white. At the same time, speckles of ashes blew outside the furnace, creating a spectacle red particles dancing in the air.
Then, with a pull of the lever, the bellows stopped heaving. However, the clacking of the wooden gears of the waterwheel continued loudly. With calm steps, Garfin fetched a long black tong and clamped it around the crucible filled with melted steel. As he moved it out of the furnace, the liquid gleamed in a whitish orange hue while whipping a haze of smoke.
Carefully, the crucible, large enough to fit an average human’s waist, was brought over to a flask, or also called as mold boxes. Garfin then twisted his hold on the tongs and poured the contents of the crucible into a steel funnel. The liquid steel freely slid into the funnel and into the flask. As it slid down the funnel, small amounts of smoke left the openings near the throat of the funnel. The liquid steel has replaced the air contained inside the flask and settled itself in the mold.
While waiting for the steel to solidify, Garfin took a different crucible. It had a height twice than that of the previous. Promptly, he placed an ingot of quicksilver inside the crucible. He then re-filled the furnace with coal. Then again, he pushed the lever, and the wooden gears locked with the ones connected to the piston bellows. Soon, the continuous rush of wind restarted.
While coals burned, Garfin brought a ceramic cup of powdered crystalline manatite. He poured its contents into the crucible. Then nimbly, he brought a heavy looking cover and placed it atop the crucible. Garfin then clamped the cover to the body, locking it in place.
He then took a mithril pole and hooked it into the cover. Then with his hands grasped on the wooden handle laced with mithril, he pushed up and down a cylindrical object at the center of the cover. All the while pouring mana into the rod, mixing mana and crystalline manatite into the melted quicksilver. At the same time, he retained the pressure inside the crucible.
It took some time before the process was finished, but after it was done, Garfin removed and the crucible from the furnace and have let it cool for a few minutes. Then, with haste, he removed the cover and poured its contents onto a rectangular table with raised edges. Soon, the liquid took the form of the table with the help of a rectangular rule that spread the liquid evenly.
[This is good enough,] said Garfin with a nod. He then brushed the sweat from his forehead with his arm.
Garfin left the mix of quicksilver to solidify on its own and then moved back to the flask. He took some rope and latched at the sides of the upper portion of the flask. Then with a pull on the rope wounded around a pulley, the flask was lifted, leaving trickles of sand in place. It then revealed a long cone-shaped mandrel embedded in sand. It was a process called sand casting.
After he considered his options, Garfin called for dwarf helpers. He had one dwarf do the polishing of the mandrel for him. Then another dwarf to bring the sheet of quicksilver into a nearby waterwheel operated roller for further flattening.
[Now that’s done, it’s time to make the mouthpiece.]
Currently, Sylvar had no hand in making the horn itself. Sylvar himself knew that it’d be best left to the dwarfs, but the final furnish of the horn would be done by him.
Cranking his arms around, Garfin approached a stack of shards and crystals. His eyes darted from one crystal to another, scrutinizing the purity of each crystal. The shards, on the other hand, did not receive any attention from him.
Primarily, shards and crystals are the same. They both sourced from crystalline manatite. However, there’s a glaring difference between the two. In terms of purity, crystals outclass shards by far. The reason behind this is the structure of the crystal itself.
Once crystalline manatite forms, it is usually subjected to immediate exposure to open air. This in itself alters the purity of the crystal starting from its surface. However, as it grows, the inner portion of the crystal is barred from exposure. Due to this, the crystal, like it had a mind of its own, cleanses its own impurity from the inside.
Basically, the structure of a crystalline manatite from inside and out is different.
In practice, when a manatite was taken, it is broken down into shards and crystals. The shards are made by chipping off the outer portion of the manatite, while the inner portion becomes the crystal. But a problem arises. Again, the crystal is exposed to open air. As a solution to this, humans usually dip the crystals into melted sand, forming a coat of glass around the crystal.
On the other hand, dwarfs use mana to alter the surface of the crystal. A technique under Mana Forging called Mana Alteration.
Crystals, known to be sensitive to mana, change its own structure once exposed to mana. However, in Alteration, rather than use it to embed magic circles within the crystals, it changes its surface to that of a mana infused structure. On another side, since the Alteration does not form any recognizable magic circle, it ends up dispersing the mana directly poured onto its surface. And to bypass this mana sink, the user needs to string mana directly into the crystal’s center.
Later on, Garfin had already piled crystals on a nearby table. He sifted through on crystal and another with his thick hands. Every time he found a crystal that met his criteria, he placed it on top of the stack of shards. Although he already found crystals with top class purity, he adamantly refused to settle with those.
Garfin is one dwarf that refuses to use mediocre materials once he gets serious. His blacksmith pride would never allow it.
After he finished searching through the piles of crystals, he returned the pile back into the stack. It produced clattering sounds as it was returned. Then, at the moment he shifted his sight towards the line of crystals atop the shards, they entered another round of scrutiny.
While he was at it, the dwarf helper approached. The helper told him that the polishing of the mandrel is finished. In response, Garfin turned around and checked the mandrel clamped on a steel table. After observing it for a few seconds, Garfin made another order.
[There’s a design made by Sylvar near the workshop’s entrance. Use that and cut a steel template for the horn.]
Just as Garfin ordered, the helper took off to the design plan pinned on the wall. He nodded several times as he took the measurements into mind. Afterward, he moved to one side of the workshop where metal sheets of varying sizes leaned on a rack. Then with a pull, he took one of the steel sheets and slid it on a table. Then again, the helper took off and returned with a brush, a ruler, and ink. He then started marking the metal sheet as the design depicted.
In the meantime, Garfin has finished selecting the crystal he needed. He picked the second best among the crystals. The rest of the crystals were placed inside a pouch and was hung on a hook above the stack of crystals.
Then with crystals in hand, Garfin moved towards the entrance of the workshop and passed by the dwarf working on the template. [I’ll be leaving now,] he said. [Close the workshop once you leave.]
When Garfin closed the door behind him, he was welcomed by a street dotted by dome-shaped structures. Lanterns hanged tightly on metal posts. Light filtered from the windows of the dome structures. And above, the moon and stars glittered.
[Hrmm… That took quite some time,] he said, fixing his gave in the moonlit sky. [I guess I’ll continue tomorrow then.]
He then tucked the crystal into his pocket. Then with a destination in mind, he moved his legs to the street at his right. Soon, a large lodge entered his sight. It was where the humans dwelled inside the Tribe’s residence area.
Without hesitation, his legs brought him to the lodge’s door. He knocked on the door and promptly entered. Once he took a step inside, two figures of children turned their heads to Garfin’s direction. It was Rick and Fae.
[How are you doing?] Garfin’s lips rose into a smile. He then removed his boots, left it near the door, and approached Rick and Fae. Between the two was a fluffy bird at the height of Rick’s waist.
[Pikyaa! Pikyaa!] The infant White-tail cried. It tried pecking the balls of water floating above its head. It flapped its wings repeatedly as Fae held a shard in her hand. For some unknown fate, the name of the White-tail was Birby II.
Watching nearby was Camille and an Enarf. They both looked at Rick and Fae with obvious amusement painted on their faces.
“Oh! Grandpa Fin!” Fae called just as Amelia instructed.
Rick replied the same. He had gotten used to copying Fae in calling the surrounding people.
“Good evening, sir Garfin,” Camille greeted with a curtsy. Some time had passed since Garfin started visiting Rick and Fae and thus her getting accustomed to Garfin’s presence.“I’ll prepare the table. Please take your time and play with Rick and Fae,” Camille said before leaving towards the kitchen.
Garfin gladly accepted the offer. Old as he is, Garfin never had a family. He was a dwarf that solely focused on improving his craft in hopes of reaching the peak. However, it took a toll on him and had started to wonder what it was like to have his own family. In the end, it led to him having a sweet spot for children.
Later that night, even without the help of alcohol, Garfin was filled with inexpressible joy. Although he’s been through this several times, he couldn’t get enough. It never tired him. And in fact, it was another reason for Garfin to continue striving.
Garfin played all night long with Rick, Fae, and Birby II. He did so under the surveillance of Camille who’ve at times, joined their games.
Ark too appeared from the room on the second floor of the lodge. He promptly greeted Garfin and had discussed a few things regarding the availability of the crystal threads. To which Garfin happily answered.
It had been a week since Amelia left the Tribe. The servants she left were slowly getting used to the culture of the Tribe and the resident’s antics. It seemed that it wasn’t that far off for the day that more humans will be able to freely converse with another race aside from the Lynxes.