Cornea of the Mind’s Eye

(This story operates on a few assumptions, notably that Olivia is hand-delivering the party’s artifacts. Such details can be retconned as needed. I don’t know what our schedule for repairing the ship and getting moving again might be, but I assume that we are moving by the end.)

Olivia barely had time to pick up Chelsea’s crate and hand it to her before it was already being yanked out of her hands. Wood shavings spilled everywhere as Chelsea inspected the contents: a few components of an orichalcum tiara and some spools of blue jade wire in varying thicknesses. The tiara was conspicuously missing any kind of jewel in the front, though there was clearly a place for one to be set.

“Everything’s in order?” Olivia asked, fighting a sneeze from the sawdust.

For a few moments, Chelsea didn’t quite give a proper answer:

“eeeeeeeheeheeheeheeeheeeheeee–”

…Very suddenly she seemed to realize she was being watched, by everybody, with varying degrees of concern. All the pieces and some nearby wood-shavings chunks suddenly flew back into the crate, and the lid slammed on. “Yes, everything looks great, thank you,” she said hastily. “I’ll be in my cabin.” This last pronouncement was immediately fulfilled, but a moment later she stuck her head back out of the door. “No one’s going to need me for a while, right? Like, for days. I’m going to need to focus.”

Everyone else shook their heads, and she disappeared back into the cabin with a grin.

* * *

Even with Chelsea’s skill of crafting things quickly, the construction process took a few days, due to its experimental nature.

The first step was to get a few very thin lengths of wire and clip them across her forehead, then focus on exerting force at a distant point for a while. The wires showed some slight deformations after such treatment, and after about an hour the shapes were distinct enough to determine a clearer pattern, which would resonate with the power running through them and amplify it. Some wires for the final assembly were thicker; thick enough that they could channel the necessary forces instead of being bent themselves. These and some thinner ones were sandwiched between the orichalcum layers of the tiara, and another was filigreed onto the outer surface, forming its main ornamentation.

She went through the patterns over and over again, adding systematic sets of bends to each straight section from the last iteration: the same bends in each pass, but smaller and smaller, until the changes were so tiny she had to feel them with her mind instead of seeing them.

In a perfect world, she mused, I ought to be able to just state the rule for making the pattern, and it would be so. She tried doing this on the last pass for each wire, focusing on the equation and visualizing looking at the curve, witnessing the details as they emerged rather than really forging them. It wasn’t clear, for the moment, if it had caused any greater effect.

Next, a similar process with the lens: one of the thicker slices of quartz saved from her laboratory, shaped and polished for the purpose. She painted a thin layer of vitriol on one side, then set it into the tiara and sent telekinetic force through it as she had with the wires, letting the vitriol etch a pattern into it.

Once that was finished she rinsed the lens off and carefully poured the rest of a quarter-cup of vitriol over the metal parts. This stained the metal, giving the orichalcum a dark copper-green patina and turning the blue jade dark silver-grey. Depending on the light, other colors seemed to shift across the jade, as if it were covered with an oil slick.

This last step alone took over a day of leaving the tiara suspended in a wash of vitriol, holding them together, not letting the acid touch anything else in the room. Her crewmates had to bring her food to the door and let her pull it in herself.

Once the artifact was tainted, it was finished. All that remained was to test it.

It accepted attunement as she put it on, allowing her Infernal Essence to resonate, but without any of the whispering needs of a demon-forged artifact, nor the presence of one of Creation’s least gods that might have inhabited such a thing. If it did have any will of its own, it was so completely shaped by the patterns of the artifact that it was only an extension of hers.

She tested a few objects and found them seemingly lighter, and once outside, a rock thrown off the side of the ship went a lot farther than she’d managed before. All it needed now was a proper combat test.

…but first, sleep.

In-game effects: Chelsea’s reward from Olivia is equivalent to an Elemental Lens (Wonders of the Lost Age, p. 77) except that it enhances attacks made with Mind-Hand Manipulation rather than any of Creation’s elements.