Jake had so far wondered one thing during this lesson so far. How the hell was it worth 420,000 AC? Like, sure, it sounded like it was an interesting viewpoint and application of Willpower merged with the Alchemical Flame, but it didn’t seem that special. It was basically just a trick most would probably figure out at some point themselves and definitely not worth paying that much for. It was also possible that those at higher grades just got a shitload of AC.
Luckily, after the first hour and the introduction was complete, his answer was given.
”To achieve this oscillation and resonance between your Willpower and Alchemical Flame, I have set up a number of methods and training exercises. It will primarily be done within the Soulspace and will depend on if you possess a Soulflame or not. The first parts can be done either way,” the A-grade dragon said.
He waved his hand as crystals appeared on each pavilion at once. Jake inspected it for a moment as he walked over and held it in his hand after a brief scan.
”This information crystal will hold several exercises to be done as well as my own insights during the time of enlightenment, as well as even experimental reports of prior testing I have performed. There are certain magic scripts within I would highly recommend looking into as well as a formation I would advise either making yourself or commissioning. The formation will allow you to practice controlling the flame without using mana but only Willpower. Most potent anti-mana formation will make do, but the one included in the crystal is specifically targeted towards mana control without limiting Perception-based detection skills.”
Finally, it was getting somewhere. Jake had not expected to be handed an information crystal, and from the looks of it, the thing was filled to the brim with insights, blueprints, and exercises. His brief scan did reveal it obviously required a very solid foundation, and Jake had a strong feeling practicing anything within would be a dead-end instantly for him simply due to how damn weak he was.
The practice in the real world, at least. Because a large part took place within the Soulspace where Jake had far more confidence in competing with near-anyone. Some of the scripts and magic circles were even to be placed within the Soulspace for practice and looked complicated as fuck, and as they existed within the Soulspace, Jake saw no way of getting help for those.
”As mentioned earlier, this state of harnessing your flame as an extension of your will is suited, if not made, for a Soulflame. Due to the Soulbound nature of a Soulflame, there are few other ways of establishing the metaphysical conceptual connection between your will and the flame regardless of all other circumstances. There are methods within the crystal to mimic a Soulflame, and while this may seem like a waste of time compared to simply just waiting till you acquire a Soulflame yourself, it is most definitely not.”
This seemed to instantly pique the interest of everyone once more, making it quite obvious many of them didn’t have a Soulflame yet. It also made Jake pay more attention as he, of course, didn’t have one either.
The dragon down on the platform smirked at the interest displayed by everyone.
”In fact, this may be the most valuable aspect of this lesson. Through practicing with my disciples and juniors, I learned that simply learning this method will result in a significantly improved ability to integrate a Soulflame as it touches on many of the same concepts as the integration process. I would go as far as to say it will almost double the chance compared to attempting it before fully comprehending my method.”
Now that got a response as a wave of disbelief and skepticism went through the mountain peak. Jake himself didn’t know if getting a Soulflame or whatever was hard to begin with, so he didn’t even react but just sat back and listened to why this was the case.
To paraphrase, it was down to similarities of methods and the fact that a Soulflame in itself was apparently very dependent and heavily impacted by Willpower, so if one began learning this method, one kind of began learning to better control a Soulflame too.
The lesson continued as hours slowly passed, and the dragon teacher summoned magic circles and began displaying different examples of how one could create certain arrays to ease the initial process. He even spoke about certain flasks or potions one could brew to speed up the process and some poisons with what sounded like psychedelic properties. Those seemed to be a big hit in the Order when it came to comprehending high-level concepts.
Jake also quickly learned this knowledge had not come cheap. Well, it was cheap for the dragon but not his assistants, disciples, and even slaves. This is also where Jake learned that this entire technique and many of the formations and practices could also be dangerous and lead to adverse effects, perhaps even making the Alchemical Flame worse.
A Soulflame was also dangerous to integrate, it seemed. Like, the dragon said the chance of the Soulspace being burned down and the soul destroyed was far lower after learning his technique, and that sure sounded dangerous. Jake was seriously going to look up what a Soulflame was after this lesson.
The lesson slowly passed as Jake sat there and took it all in. Towards the end, he had to admit he failed to understand about ninety percent of what was said, and all the nitty-gritty stuff about formations, magic circles, and whatnot just flew over his head.
As the lesson was soon coming to an end, the dragon appeared to have one final demonstration in the pipeline.
”Now, to finish off this lesson, let me show you the fruit of my labor.”
A flame appeared all around him as it hung in the air and spread out to surround the entire mountain. It covered an area of dozens of square kilometers as the dragon spoke again.
”A bit of mana to summon the flame,” he said as the anti-magic array he had just erected before this final demonstration activated. ”Now, usually with mana cut off, my connection would fade… but my flame has already transcended the need for such a feeble bond. However, do not think that means it is any less potent.”
The flame began closing in on all the pavilions one by one. It began burning into the stone that formed the pavilions like it was nothing as the destructive flame turned the solid enchanted stone to nothing. On every single platform, the flame closed in on those sitting there as some reacted by making barriers or shrinking away from it, while others just frowned, clearly unsure what the hell the dragon was up to.
Everyone except for one.
Jake stood up as he curiously touched the deep red Alchemical Flame of the A-grade dragon. His hand sunk into it easily, and he felt like it was slightly warm to the touch, and it felt a bit weird. It wasn’t solid, but he did feel like he touched… something. He waved his hand around a bit inside the flame before he pulled it out again, not a single mark upon his skin. Jake did not wear gloves currently, but based on how it didn’t harm his sleeves, those would have been fine too.
He hadn’t really been thinking as Jake became aware of the attention of everyone present now being focused squarely on him. Even the dragon teacher looked at Jake a bit curiously, with a hint of surprise also there. It was understandable why. The flame had been shown to destroy the powerful enchanted stone Jake knew he wouldn’t even be able to leave a mark upon with his full power, yet Jake had touched it so nonchalantly, clearly aware it would do him no harm.
As for why Jake touched the flame… well, because he knew it wasn’t harmful to him in the least. His danger sense was silent even as it closed in, and all his senses indicated it was harmless.
”Oh, you saw through my flame?” the teacher said, clearly asking Jake. Jake then felt Identify upon him and naturally blocked it, but not before leaking through a bit of his own aura and presence. The dragon reacted as he smiled and bowed slightly.
”May I know what senior thinks of my technique and how he saw through it?”
Jake was a bit surprised but didn’t let it show. He did feel the pressure, though, as everyone now focused on him even more, and with the teacher showing such respect, it indicated Jake was stronger than him… did the dragon think Jake was a high-tier A-grade or an S-grade or something?
Put on the spot, Jake felt like he had to answer as he tried to actually act way smarter and more powerful than he was. Also… he had a feeling he was right, and even if he made himself look like an idiot, he could just leave and hopefully never see anyone present again ever in his life.
”No matter how much you control it, it is still an Alchemical Flame and bound by its fundamental concepts. Additionally, with only Willpower, it will naturally act according to your will, and your will was clearly not to harm anyone. Both consciously and unconsciously. The flame is destructive, yes, but only to objects without souls. Naturally, this includes items bound to an individual with a soul, such as equipment,” Jake said, faking being as confident as he could.
”So simple deduction based on intent?” the dragon asked curiously. ”The Soulflame I possess is one with inherent combat potential; would it not be risky to bet on an assumption? Not that I believe senior would have been harmed either way.”
”There are no issues if my ability to deduct and detect intent are good enough,” Jake answered back. ”Additionally, this flame is only powered by Willpower. It isn’t made for a fight but to destroy objects that put up no inherent resistance. It is a conceptual flame, didn’t you say so yourself? So it can only act within the confines of its concept.”
”What if my intent and will was to cause harm when the flame is conceptually able to damage living entities?” the dragon asked again. It didn’t seem like a questioning, but more like the dragon was legitimately looking for input on how to improve his technique.
Jake had to be honest; he was a bit out of his depth by now. However, he did still have one answer. Something he himself felt was obvious.
”How can anyone believe a flame based solely on Willpower is meant to cause harm when not a shred of killing intent or bloodlust enters it? It is driven by your will, and as said before, that is both your conscious and unconscious will. A bit of killing intent would leak in, even if it is only the most minute trace.”
The dragon seemed to frown a bit as he asked. ”I feel uncertain such a level of killing intent would even be detectable. If I even purposefully willed for it to be hidden, it will be undetectable either way, will it not?”
”Not to my senses. And without any killing intent,” Jake smirked as he touched it again, ”this flame couldn’t even harm a D-grade.”
A few seconds passed as the dragon nodded and smiled as he chuckled a bit at what he no-doubt assumed was a joke. Hey, the best jokes were rooted in reality, right? The dragon finally bowed as he gracefully thanked Jake. ”You have my gratitude for your insights; I shall take it up for consideration as I work on improving my technique.”
He said those words and waited for Jake to nod in acknowledgment before the dragon continued.
”Let us return to the demonstration. I hope none of you had a fright as the flame of destruction closed in, but as shown by the senior, the flame was indeed harmless. However, this is only one of its aspects. For after destruction follows creation!”
The flames that had been mostly spread out during Jake and the dragon’s conversation closed in again, and in a wonderous display, it touched upon the broken edges of the platforms as new stone seemed to grow out. It did not have the same color as the old pavilion, nor did it seem to retain the enchanted nature, but it was still actual stone that appeared out of nothing.
No… it appeared from the flame. A flame of creation.
”While it may look like the stone appears out of nothing, we all know it isn’t so. The environmental mana alone is enough to construct this stone as it responds to my flame. Once more, this does not consume my own mana, but the flame functions as a tool imposing my will upon the environment to amplify the concept of creation,” the dragon said as he finished reconstructing all the platforms.
All of the red flame then just disappeared like it had never been there, and the dragon teacher dispelled the anti-magic formation he was standing in.
”Now for questions.”
What followed was three hours of Jake just sitting there listening to questions he didn’t understand with equally if not more complicated answers. Most were related to the formations and magical scrips, with a few being about complimentary alchemical creations.
Jake got none of it but felt too awkward to be the first one to leave. Clearly, those present had spent a lot and didn’t want to waste even a second of it. He at least had this time to truly consider all those present.
There were only about two hundred present, far less than the prior lesson. Most also stayed in their beast forms or true forms without anyone batting an eye. Jake did not know if he should be surprised or not, but he did not detect a single Bloodline anywhere yet. Not in this lesson or anywhere in the Order so far. It appeared they were pretty rare, though Jake was certain he would meet some eventually.
When the lesson finally ended, and Jake was prepared to go, a figure suddenly teleported onto his platform. He didn’t even need to look as he saw it was the teacher.
”I want to thank senior for attending this lesson of mine. Would it be of interest to exchange contact information? In that case, you can personally ask me if you encounter any points you want further elaborated,” the A-grade dragon said.
Jake felt damn weird as it couldn’t be more obvious the dragon thought Jake was some powerful hidden master who had graced the lesson with his presence.
By now, everyone else had already left, and it was just Jake and the dragon who remained. He considered for a while before Jake answered a bit truthfully. ”I am not the ideal person to ask for advice from if that is what you are looking for, and I am certain you have a better use for your time than giving individual free counseling to strangers.”
It was a polite rejection that the dragon accepted with grace. ”I understand. May I at least know senior’s name or title?”
He was put on the spot again as Jake considered making up some weird title or name on the spot. Maybe just a normal fake name? No, it would be weird to act like a super-powerful entity and then introduce himself as Bob.
In the end, he didn’t quickly get on anything as he shook his head. ”Who I am does not matter.”
Jake opened his gate as he prepared to step through before saying one last thing. ”Your lesson was very informative. Keep up the good work.”
With those words, Jake stepped through the gate and appeared back in the mansion. Suddenly he felt exhausted as everything hit him, and he promptly went towards the bedroom where he flopped down on the bed, feeling exhausted from getting so much damn complex information jammed into his head in one day.
He had learned more complicated magic theory today than Jake had encountered on his entire path of alchemy so far.
And the worst part was…
He still didn’t know what the fuck a Soulflame was.