Epilogue One: Rebuilding
"Honestly, Milo, you should be revising for History of Magic," Hermione chided as Milo stumbled into the Great Hall for breakfast. The exam was less than a fortnight away, but he'd hardly even glanced at his notes. The Hall was full of students, with the usual comforting white noise of hundreds of conversations going on in the background. For a time, the only topic of conversation was Professor Quirrell's sudden absence, which continued well after Dumbledore's announcement that he had suffered a nervous breakdown and was recuperating at St. Mungo's-which, as far as Milo could tell, was true. Dumbledore had been as close-mouthed and mysterious about it as he was about everything, however. Eventually, the Hogwarts students had found other topics to amuse themselves-Quidditch (Gryffindor had surprised everyone as the clear leader, with Ravenclaw and Slytherin competing neck-to-neck for second), the upcoming exams, Fred and George's latest hijinks (Hogwarts had awoken to find one of the legs of every chair in every classroom was shortened by a quarter of an inch; nobody could figure out how they'd done it), various Ministry scandals, the illustrious deeds of Gilderoy Lockhart, and, most recently, the death of some Death Eater bigshot at Azkaban. In short, as far as Milo was concerned, nothing of relevance.
"No time," Milo said sleepily. "It's almost done." He'd barely slept for weeks. There was too much to do: spell research, item crafting, and-most recently-a major feat of munchkinry. He'd discovered that there simply wasn't enough time in a day to do everything that had to be done, and that the only way for him to carry on without keeling over dead was with some magical assistance by way of a Dedicated Wright. These creatures, a form of Homunculus, were cat-sized magical automata created by spellcasters to help them craft items, both magical and mundane. Milo still had to provide the spells, and raw materials worth half the value of the finished product, but the Wright would do the actual crafting. This would free up eight hours a day from Milo's packed schedule for frivolous luxuries, such as sleep and adventuring. However, Milo lacked some of the prerequisites for creating the Wright, and so had to, through convoluted means, retrain a number of his class levels to Artificer from Wizard, then back again. While he was at it, he made a few modifications to his current build. Many of his abilities had been chosen under duress and with very specific needs in mind-needs that no longer existed-and he was in dire need of some streamlining.
"What is?" Neville asked, pouring an (un)healthy amount of salt onto his dinner. He seemed distracted, even by his usual standards.
"Careful with that!" Milo said. "Do you have any idea what that's worth?"
Neville stared at him blankly, utter incomprehension evident on his round face.
"Uh... sorry? What what's worth?"
"The salt! It's worth its weight in silver!" Milo was aghast that anyone would just pour it onto their food like some sort of condiment.
"I'm pretty sure you're wrong about that," Neville said, giving him a look that Hogwarts students reserved for Milo when he exclaimed 'Natural Twenty!' after a Chaser made a particularly impressive goal. "Salt's just... well, it's salt. You can get it anywhere, it's on everything, they give it out for free in tiny paper packages at restaurants. It's salt."
"Wait, you're serious?" Milo asked. "They just give it away?"
"'Course. It's just salt."
Milo blinked. Crafting magic items required a specific value of unspecified materials, so, really, anything valuable could work as long as Milo 'used it up' in the production of his gear. However, this price was measured as a gold piece value, not a galleon or Muggle currency value. Salt had a fixed price of five gold pieces per pound as far as his magic was concerned, but if the local conditions meant that he could get it for a small fraction of that...
Epilogue Two: Charms Final
"Abbot, Hannah!" Flitwick called from the front of the room. Hannah shot Milo, Harry, Ron, and Hermione a nervous look and walked to the front of the room, wand clenched with white knuckles. Harry and Ron, on Milo's left, looked somewhat pale and shaky, while Hermione, on his right, was rocking back and forth in her chair, her mouth moving soundlessly at a tremendous speed.
Of them, only Milo was unconcerned. Pretty much the only spell that they'd actually learned in Charms was the Hover Charm, which was, fortunately, one of the few spells that he could actually mimic. More or less. More pressing was the debate of which, if any, prestige classes Milo should adopt.
Up at the front of the room, Hannah stuttered slightly but managed, in the end, to lift the heavy textbook from the desk and hover it in the air for a few seconds before lowering it to the table. Flitwick, at the front, looked pleased, and Hannah scurried off through one of the side doors. Milo hardly noticed.
Paragnostic Apostle has dead easy requirements, Milo mused, but the benefits are so-so.
I'd have to be a member of the 'Paragnostic Assembly,' which doesn't exist here-or back in Azel, for that matter-but, when it comes down to it, I could probably just paint a sign on the door of my dorm that says 'WELCOME TO THE PARAGNOSTIC ASSEMBLY, NEW MEMBERS WELCOME' and ordain Mordy as the 'Exalted Philosopher of Paragnostic Truths'... fluff requirements are so irritating...
Master Specialist isn't bad, but the benefits don't really help me all that much. Besides, it takes Spell Focus (Conjuration). Milo had been planning to swap that out. The locals almost never failed to fail a save as it stood-it was almost as if they didn't even have Will save bonuses!
Flitwick coughed expectantly.
"Oh, right!" Milo said absentmindedly, and tried to walk out of the aisle of students.
I might just stay as a full Wizard, then, Milo decided. Mordy would chew me out if I dipped into a PrC that didn't advance Familiars, anyway. He could swap some of his bonus feats for the Domain Granted Power ability.
"Just hover the textbook," Flitwick urged gently.
"Sure, yeah, whatever." Milo lazily drew his wand and waved it around more-or-less at random. Not that the feats wouldn't come in handy, what with all the item crafting I've been doing. He still couldn't believe that he was willingly sacrificing his experience points for anything. "Wing Guardian Levitate-iosa," he said.
With all the close-quarters combat that's been happening, maybe I should take some levels of Eldritch Knight...
Milo fought down a chuckle. Theoretically, Eldritch Knight only held back spellcasting by one level-not including the level in a martial class needed to meet the prerequisites. However, this remained strictly in the hypothetical, as nobody had yet taken two levels in Eldritch Knight and lived to talk about it. The last adventurer who came close was slain by a kitten in a fair fight.
"That," Flitwick said sternly, "was the worst Hover Charm I have ever seen. Your wandwork-and footwork!-was sloppy in the extreme. Your incantation was thoroughly botched, and...and...put me down this instant!"
On the other hand... there really has been a lot of fighting. He'd have to see if there were any magic items he could make, or spells to research, to increase his combat skills without sacrificing magic.
"Right, sorry," Milo said, and dismissed Levitate. Professor Flitwick, who Milo had inadvertently lifted eight feet off the ground, fell with a crash. The textbook remained on the table, completely unmoved.
"In all my years teaching at Hogwarts, I've only twice seen such... such..." Milo winced as Flitwick drew himself up to his full (but still tiny) height, brushing dust off of his shoulders. "such an audacious display of magic from a first year student at Hogwarts!" Flitwick stretched up to Milo's ear and whispered in a conspiratorial manner, "I shouldn't be surprised, if I were you, to find that you'd received an Outstanding mark, if you catch my drift."
For those interested, here's how Milo made the Dedicated Wright (ECS 285):
The Dedicated Wright requires five things to create: the Craft Construct feat, Arcane Eye, Fabricate, a DC 14 Craft (Pottery) check, and a body composed of "clay, glazed with a mixture of arcane unguents and the creator's blood, and fired in a kiln."
The Craft (Pottery) check was easy, seeing as how it was DC 14 and Milo already possesses a +6 modifier to Craft from Intelligence (not even including a bonus from tools and the various spells he could have used)
The materials for the body are easy: much of anything found at Hogwarts and Diagon Alley can count as "arcane unguents." Milo used powdered mistletoe berry, belladonna, and garlic, with the reasoning that there was no reason why his Homunculus shouldn't be a remedy for Lycanthropy, a Divine Spell Focus for Druids, and immune to vampires. To make up the 100 gp cost requirement, he used Craft (Engraving) to carve a the homunculus into a work of art, resembling tiny little dwarf with the eye of Boccob on his forehead (incidentally making the Homunculus into a holy symbol-just in case). The Wright is, obviously, riddled in invisible Arcane Marks.
The tricky bit comes from the Craft Construct feat and Fabricate. The only way to get around this is retraining. Using the Philosopher's Stone dungeon as his Rebuild quest (see PHBII, 197-199), Milo swaps out his 7 of his 8 Wizard levels for Artificer. However, each dungeon run only allows him to swap 1/5 of his levels, so he simply goes back to Fluffy's room and does it again three times. He needs one level of Wizard-I'm not sure what would happen to Mordenkainen if Milo ceased being a Wizard altogether, and neither is Milo. Nothing good, to be sure. Completing the dungeon run again is no problem, as he knows which potion to drink, knows the weakness of the Devil's Snare, and can use the same set of moves as Ron did to beat the chess game every time.
As an Artificer, Milo can craft magic items without knowing the requisite spells. Fabricate is a mere third-level spell for the Trapsmith class (from Dungeonscape), so it can be easily copied. Arcane Eye, likewise.
Milo can likewise retrain one of his feats for Craft Construct
After the Wright is finished, Milo can rebuild his character back to Wizard. This all has to be finished in a short timeframe, as the Philosopher's Stone run will presumably be dismantled and lose its dungeon-status after the Stone is moved.