It was a peculiar thing. Seeing a man who looked worlds apart from the words ‘diligence and perfection’ preparing each ingredient so naturally. Sungchul carefully placed the pruned Blindman’s Grass and the other prepared ingredients into the Alchemic cauldron and diligently stirred it with a wooden spoon. Soon, a neutralizing agent with a green tint began to form.
“Do I have to pour this into the mortar?”
“Y-Yes! Use about three Alchemic spoons worth.”
Sungchul added the neutralizing agent into the mortar, and he began to carefully crush the Firecracker Tree seed extracts softened by the neutralizing agent with a pestle. After five minutes had passed since the process began, the moisture from the neutralizing agent evaporated away leaving only the red-colored powder within the mortar.
“Is this enough?”
Bertelgia shook once in reply to Sungchul’s question.
“Yep. It’s enough. Next, we’ll be using the scales.”
Sungchul looked at the scales with a blank expression. It wasn’t a tool he was familiar with.
“Alchemic bombs are a type of tool that requires very specific amounts of materials. That’s why it won’t do without a very precise scale capable of detailed measurements, you know?”
Bertelgia had a few more thoughts that she kept to herself.
‘He couldn’t possibly do something crazy like succeeding in one go, right? I don’t know about the other tools, but the scale isn’t a tool that’s easily handled with beginner’s luck!’
The process of measuring with the scale began. Sungchul gently poured the red powder onto one arm of the scale, then judged the weight by hanging the counterweight on the other arm. It went slowly as it was his first time, but he approached it with focus and precision.
Bertelgia stared intensely at the swaying scale. It was a perfect measurement with no real flaws. She didn’t want to admit it, but she could see that Sungchul had the dedication to detail that was the core virtue of all Alchemists.
However, the final step of synthesizing the Alchemic Bomb (Dark) resulted in failure despite his innate talent.
While he was stirring the mixture, Sungchul detected large quantities of his mana draining away and drank Mana Drink to replenish it, but his focus wavered during the most critical moment, causing the entire process to fail.
A groan escaped from Sungchul’s lips. He had not blinked at most situations, but it took an unexpectedly heavy toll to expend so much mana and concentration to synthesize a high-level Alchemic item.
‘For someone on my level to struggle this much…Alchemy isn’t something to take lightly.’
The students that were enjoying their booze besides the storage began to look over his direction. They pointed at the Alchemic cauldron with black smoke trailing out and started laughing out loud.
“Whew…those idiots. Why do they choose to live that way?”
Bertelgia muttered angrily, but Sungchul was different.
‘I don’t know why, but it feels as though my Intuition has increased. This fatigue reminds me of a sense of fulfillment after a drawn-out battle.’
He immediately pulled up his status screen to check his stats.
Strength 999+ Dexterity 853
Vitality 801 Magic Power 132
Intuition 103 Magic Resist 621
Resilience 502 Charisma 18
It was a negligible amount, but his Magic Power and Intuition had increased. He had failed the synthesis, but it wasn’t a complete failure. He felt a second wind reinvigorating him once again. Sungchul chugged down a few bottles of Mana Drink, then went to butt heads with synthesizing the Alchemic Bomb (Dark) again. When he began setting up for his next attempt, Bertelgia spoke against it.
“It might be better to take a breather. It’s too much to repeatedly try making a fifth-level item at your level.”
“You think so?”
“People often think Alchemy and Magic are separate things, but at its core, it is an undeniable branch of Magic that transforms something through techniques and sheer force of will. Also, the Magical fingerprint sitting on your body could be ruined by excessively overusing your Magic Power. You should at least know that you can’t use Magic anymore if the Magical fingerprint gets destroyed, right?”
Bertelgia’s warnings were not something to ignore. Sungchul immediately understood her sentiments and quietly asked a question.
“How many attempts a day would be safe?”
He asked regarding the maximum amount he could handle. Bertelgia took a moment, then answered in a soft voice.
“Three times. Anything more than that would be trouble.”
“Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Sungchul tried synthesizing two more times and failed at them. He became depleted of mana at the last moment each time and failed pitifully at the last second as his concentration wavered. However, Sungchul was not downtrodden. He was only getting a feel for the process, and his stats increased marginally with each failed attempt at creating a high-level product.
‘Okay. With the way things are going, I should be able to succeed in at least three days’ time.’
The Alchemy students, who were not able to understand Sungchul’s condition, used the freak newcomer that was consecutively creating explosions in the distance to fuel their alcohol binge.
“Ah! That idiot. He made such a ruckus about creating a fifth-level Alchemic item, and what’s he doing now? Is he planning on blowing up the entire school?”
“That’s what I’m sayin’. He’s all show. Look at the way he’s using that scale.”
At that moment, a single figure walked in their direction. The students who had been drinking or smoking weed froze at the sight of him.
“Whew. The stench of trash. Truly repulsive, isn’t it?”
The identity of the man wearing a robe dyed in the crimson color of the School of Pyromancy was Leonard Sanctum. He looked at the Alchemy students like insects as he stepped over to them then smiled brightly as he saw Sungchul standing beside his Alchemic cauldron emitting black smoke.
His figure vanished instantly along with the Magic circle he created and soon appeared before Sungchul.
“Hey, Mr. Unwelcomed-Guest-of-the-School-of-Cosmomancy. How are you doing?”
He pulled his face closer to the Alchemic cauldron then formed an expression of shock as he looked at the failed synthesis product.
“Oh, my. Are you perhaps in charge of presenting a product for the School of Alchemy?”
“It’s as you can see.”
“It looks as if you’ve failed, though.”
When Sungchul shut his mouth, Leonard let out a sharp laugh through his nose then walked past him.
“There isn’t much time left, so try your best. You’ll be processed for expulsion otherwise.”
Sungchul surmised that Leonard was behind the sudden decision to disband the School of Alchemy.
‘Mages have always been like this. They like their cloaks and daggers.’
However, it didn’t make much difference to Sungchul regardless of what Leonard chose to do. Sungchul was confident that he could synthesize a fifth-level Alchemic item at this juncture. That result came to him a day later than he had expected, on the 4th day. What Sungchul had tried wasn’t the Alchemic Bomb (Dark) nor Buoyant Crystal, but Elfir’s Medicine.
The process of making Elfir’s Medicine was similar enough to the method of a favorite recipe of his that it was almost indistinguishable. He had to decoct precious medicinal ingredients to milk their juices, then mix it with even more precious medicinal ingredients to create a medicinal soup. He had to use a ladle to carefully mix several Alchemic ingredients containing Magic Power with the medicinal soup, which is where it differed from his cooking recipe. Thankfully the experience he accumulated during his previous attempts to create Alchemical items was proving to be beneficial.
He replenished his missing mana with Mana Drink and learned to cope with the draining mental focus thanks to his practices. And it finally happened on his second attempt at synthesis; he was able to witness the spectacle of blinding brilliance flooding out of his Alchemic cauldron.
Bertelgia passionately shook her body. It must have become a habit. Sungchul didn’t appreciate her making a ruckus but happily accepted her gesture just this one time. He could feel the long-forgotten feeling of accomplishment whet his thirsty heart as he filled the fifth-level alchemic item of his creation into a glass bottle. He headed towards Basil Philrus afterward.
“This is the promised fifth-level alchemic item.”
The judging proceeded efficiently. Professor Robert Danton, from the School of Cryomancy, and Fregius, from the School of Pyromancy, were expected to attend the judging, but Fregius could not be reached, so his second-in-line Professor Maloouf attended in his stead.
There was a face Sungchul recognized sitting beside Armin Maloouf. Leonard Sanctum. He made a gesture to pretend to show friendliness as Sungchul entered the meeting room of the Emergency Management Committee with Basil Philrus.
“We’ll begin the judgment.”
The Professors in charge of judging each utilized a different method to examine the item created by Sungchul. The examination methods were used to determine the Alchemic item’s type and properties, along with the authenticity of the item. The proceeding didn’t take long.
“This is a fifth-level Alchemic item.”
Robert Danton made his acknowledgement first, followed by Armin with the same opinion. Leonard’s face began to become twisted as it took an ugly shape.
“This can’t be. How could this be…?!”
Sungchul lightly tossed the remainder of Elfir’s Medicine towards him and firmly made a suggestion with his characteristic tone of voice.
“Why don’t you see it for yourself, then.”
Leonard did as Sungchul asked. There could only be one result. Sungchul had created the real thing.
As his superiors finished making their judgements and were prepared to announce the result, Leonard shouted with sheer arrogance in the face of the situation at hand.
Robert Danton looked at Leonard who had lost his composure with cold eyes and mumbled.
“Fucking cocky bastard. If it weren’t for Fregius, I would’ve already dealt with such a fucker.”
Armin’s attitude wasn’t much different, but he didn’t express it as such. The result was announced in the midst of Leonard’s disruptive muttering.
“The decision of disbandment is null as we accept that the assigned task has been completed satisfactorily by the School of Alchemy. However, the duration of the annulment is a year; the School of Alchemy will have to provide another reason to continue their existence within the Academy within a year from now.”
It was a triumphant moment. Basil and his students, who had been holding their breaths with their hands clenched while eavesdropping on every movement within the meeting room, let out a cheer together. Sungchul returned as roaring cheers slowly filled the hallway. At that moment, Leonard suddenly jumped up from his seat.
Leonard was losing his sense of reasoning.
“You piece of shit! Sungchul! Come over here! I can’t just let you go.”
Sungchul quietly turned and looked directly at Leonard.
Leonard felt a suffocating terror engulf him in that instant, but brushed it off as a moment of insanity and continued to shout.
“It’s a duel! Let’s settle this with a Gauntlet! You can’t refuse if you’re a man, right?”
Robert stood from his seat with an unpleasant expression on his face as Armin also rose from his seat. In that same moment, the shut door of the Emergency Management Committee’s meeting room flew open, and the desperate face of a student wearing the robe of the School of Pyromancy appeared.
“I-it’s a disaster!”
Robert paused and looked over at the student.
“What is it?”
The Pyromancy student replied tearfully at the question.
“P-Professor Fregius…has been murdered!”
That single sentence was enough to drive everyone listening into a shock. The most traumatized by the news was the quick-tempered Leonard Sanctum. Fregius was the one whose protection allowed him to return to the school, and the one with authority to fight back against the head of the School of Cryomancy.
He had lost both his protector and his backer in a single moment.
Robert’s chilling gaze fell onto Leonard.
“You, get out of my face. You fucking garbage.”
Leonard’s face burned bright enough to be visibly seen, but he couldn’t say anything in return as he left the meeting room with his head down as though he was escaping. The landscape of power within Airfruit had suddenly changed. Sungchul, who had been in the center of the whole spectacle, looked out the window with his closed mouth.
‘I can feel a storm brewing.’
The premonition was predictably accurate. When Sungchul returned to the House of Recollections, a familiar rodent leaped in his direction.
It was the Sky Squirrel, but its condition was strange. The creature, with no letter or message attached to it, had its front paw stained red with blood. Sungchul could smell it. It wasn’t from the Sky Squirrel. It was the scent of human blood.
Told ya the plot thickens! Discuss discuss in the comment section!