Jake had asked for alchemical ingredients with hemotoxin properties as well as those with blood affinity. Most blood affinity ingredients were easily translated into products with hemotoxin properties, making it an ideal material to use. The other function of the blood affinity was in Blood Potions which vampires very much enjoyed. As well as quite a lot of beasts that could actually use them as natural treasures to gain experience and levels.

This led to the vampire clans cultivating these herbs in spades. Hemotoxin was also a preferred poison of the vampires as it synergized with many of their skills. An ability that thinned the blood of a foe and made it more difficult to control one’s vital energies just worked incredibly well with blood magic for rather obvious reasons.

So Jake had high expectations. He had asked for the good stuff but had not been overly specific besides mentioning a few herbs he knew he wanted. Jake was not foolish enough to believe Fairleigh wouldn’t know better than himself, and Jake was also confident in the vampire not wanting to scam him too much. Even if he scammed Jake a little, it would be fine as Jake already felt like a scammer after pawning off so much useless shit from his spatial storage.

However, when he peeked into the gem, he realized he had indeed miscalculated: those damn vampires valued their old antiques more than he had believed. There were fifteen different kinds of herbs and natural treasures, with six of them at rare rarity or above. All of them were exactly the kinds he had hoped, and more surprisingly, Jake actually knew about all of them from prior research and the classes he had taken on hemotoxins. Well, it probably shouldn’t be that surprising, considering the vampires were a major supplier of hemotoxin materials for the Order.

Looking at these six high-value items, Jake was very pleased as he quickly scanned through them.

[Crimsonwood Ash (Rare] – Ash of a burned Crimsonwood. Even if much of the potency has been lost, the ash still contains some qualities of the Crimsonwood. If the ash is inhaled, it will enter the bloodstream and cause internal damage as it binds with the blood of its victim, making it incredibly difficult to dispel. If too much is inhaled, the individual will combust, spreading even more ash.

Jake had read a lot about Crimsonwood Trees. They were an entire categorization of trees, but this one came from one of the more valuable types. The Blood-Combusting Crimsonwood was a tree that quite literally set itself on fire to spread its deadly ash and kill everything within huge areas around it. The weaker ones could level entire ecosystems, while the more powerful Blood-Combusting Crimsonwoods were known to wipe out all vitality-based life in whole solar systems. Of course, the materials of such a tree would be used by A or maybe even S-grades.

The ash that was left over and found close to the trunk of the tree was rare by itself, and as far as Jake knew, any part of the actual tree would be ancient or maybe even legendary rarity. However, it made no sense to kill these trees, as the ash itself was valuable. Jake assumed the vampires had a few of these stashed away and fed them beasts or something like that to make them self-combust and leave behind ash. It was good stuff.

The next three were all also good stuff but considered relatively commonplace. Yet they did still stand out due to the high quality and rarity of the specimen Jake had been provided.

[Spikestalk Root (Rare)] – The root of a Spikestalk. Spikestalks are plants that hide under the earth and strike any that get too close with blood-draining spikes. This blood energy is then deposited into the roots, where it is further refined into a liquid containing large amounts of life affinity. Has many alchemical uses.

[Bloodshade Flower (Rare)] – A flower growing in the soil of the freshly slain. This flower has absorbed large amounts of blood from vitality-based lifeforms and has evolved to what it is today. To better feed, it exude pollen that will make any vitality-based lifeform it comes into contact with bleed from any orifice. Has many alchemical uses and has a potent hemotoxin nature.

[Red Moss (Rare)] – Mutated moss that has become red due to being in an environment with potent blood affinity mana. The energy within has potent hemotoxin qualities but can also be used in restorative potions. Consuming the Red Moss in small quantities will temporarily grant resistance to hemotoxins, while large amounts will lead to an overload causing hemorrhage.

They all more or less did as their descriptions said but had no interesting qualities over that. The only reason these were even rare rarity was due to how old they were and the amount of energy each of them contained. Red Moss, as an example, was just mutated Green Moss and was relatively simple to make if one had a cave with arrays to constantly pump in blood mist or placed it among many Bloodshade Flowers. The stalk was just one of many carnivorous plants that liked to eat people. This one just did it by draining all their blood, a bit like the Indigo Fungus Jake had fought so long ago.

These were all the rare herbs Jake had gained. Next up was an item that wasn’t a herb but was nevertheless extremely valuable.

[Crystalized Blood Essence (Epic)] – The crystalized Blood Essence of a powerful C-grade vampire. Contains an incredibly potent blood affinity energy. Consuming the Crystalized Blood Essence as a vampire will restore Blood Energy, while if any other race consumes it, it will act as a hemotoxin. Has many alchemical uses.

One thing that was common for all living creatures was that natural treasures would often be condensed when they died. For vampires, it was often their heart and their blood, and for someone like Jake, it would probably be his eyes that would be infused with his Records. The Crystalized Blood Essence was one such treasure as it had come from a dead C-grade vampire.

There were some discussions to be had about using the blood of a brethren to do alchemy, but the vampires had no qualms. In fact, they viewed it as respectful to make use of the corpse of someone who died. Across the multiverse, many who closed in on their deaths made wills concerning what they wanted to be done with their bodies. Thinking about it, it was a bit like organ donation before the system.

Anyway, this Crystalized Blood Essence was a great material and could be mixed into most hemotoxins to make them better. Each Crystalized Blood Essence could also be used dozens of times in crafts before it would run out of energy, making it suitable for alchemy.

The final item was the most interesting one and the one Jake knew the least about.

[Crimson Dawn Lotus (Epic)] – The Lotus spawned after a Crimson Dawn. Contains incredibly potent blood affinity energy mixed with time affinity mana. Has many alchemical uses but is incredibly volatile.

Blood and time. An incredibly potent combo, and Jake was a bit surprised this had even been included considering he hadn’t asked for it. He had briefly come across the mention of Crimson Dawn Lotuses during one of the lessons, but it was only related to how they only spawned during a Crimson Dawn. Jake had no idea what a Crimson Dawn was.

Luckily, he had a vampire right there with him.

“What is the Crimson Dawn?” Jake asked Fairleigh.

The old vampire smiled a bit as he pointed upwards to the huge red celestial object hanging above.

“What you see above is an ancient artifact crafted by the True Ancestor of the Nalkar Clan many Eras ago. It allows vampires to not feed as much and empowers us in every way while under its crimson light. However, as with most objects, it does not hold infinite energy. Every millennium there is a single month where the Blood Moon is down, and we have to perform a ritual to reawaken it. Once the ritual has been performed, it will rise again, bringing about a Crimson Dawn as its light washes over our lands. These lotuses only bloom during a Crimson Dawn, so they are quite valuable. The ones you have are from three hundred years ago but have been fully preserved,” Fairleigh explained, giving Jake some more interesting vampire lore.

Jake nodded in understanding. “Thank you for the trade.”

“No, thank you. I am not blind to us taking advantage of you by having a young talent use your necklace as an opportunity to complete her Evolution Quest even after you have given us so much. I hope the alchemical ingredients are at least acceptable, and please, do not hesitate to visit again. I have permanently unlocked your token to allow you access,” Fairleigh said with a smile. “Now, if there isn’t anything more, I sadly have other responsibilities to attend to.”

“Alright. I may stop by again at some point,” Jake nodded as the vampire disappeared in a puff of red mist.

Only a few seconds passed before the other vampire in the room asked in a rather odd tone. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?” Jake asked, confused.

“Speak to the Patriarch so casually. You show such little care and – no offense – lack decorum and grace. Is it truly to do with your Bloodline? Something about being a hunter?” Alcor asked. He seemed genuinely interested.

“Something like that. It allows me to ignore the suppression caused by their presence,” Jake answered, telling the truth while not wanting to explain further.

“Even so,” Alcor protested. “Do you not realize your way of acting could be viewed as disrespectful? That if you cause someone of such a higher status even the mildest level of annoyance, they could end your life with a touch… no, a single thought?”

“Sure I do,” Jake just shrugged.

“Then why act with such… arrogance?”

“Why not?” Jake just smiled. “What’s the worst they can do, kill me? Man, you really think too little of those more powerful. Just don’t be an outright dick, and things should be fine, and if they kill you due to being some butthurt cry-babies, well, it is what it is, and I will at least go out like a champ.”

Alcor just stared at Jake in disbelief as Jake just grinned without elaborating. What he said was once more the truth with some tiny modifications. Jake didn’t solely rely on being lucky to not meet a powerhouse that would kill others just for looking them in the eyes. He relied nearly solely on his intuition and sense of danger.

If he did meet someone who would go apeshit if Jake treated them as an equal, Jake would probably get a sense for it and just keep his damn mouth shut. Of course, if the person began acting like a pompous asshole, then Jake could potentially risk failing to hold himself back and get swatted into the river of reincarnation – or, more accurately, the Truesoul Recycling Center, if Jake’s understanding of life after death was correct.

Anyway, considering Alcor just sat back, Jake decided to inspect the Memory Crystal for some advice and tips on how to use his newly-obtained ingredients. Once he infused energy into it, he felt a wave of information enter his head, and Jake quickly became aware that Fairleigh had heavily downplayed it. The one who had infused knowledge into the crystal was an A-grade alchemist who specialized in hemotoxins and had not held back at all with including tips relevant for a D-grade.

Jake dove right in and began devouring the information. At some point, he felt a small poke on his soul, and knowing it was Rubylake needing his approval to improve the necklace, he just accepted and kept studying. Before going to the vampires, Jake had planned on taking a few more lessons on hemotoxins and some other minor subjects, but as he sat there going through it, he realized that wasn’t necessary. At least not for now.

The knowledge within focused on utilizing only the fifteen alchemical ingredients Jake had received. It was a hyper-specialized course on making basic hemotoxic potions with a whiff of an improved version Jake was very interested in attempting.

He even considered if he shou-

“Hunter, I believe the mistress is done,” the voice of Alcor suddenly said. However, even before Jake heard him, he was thrown out of his state of concentration. Something had changed.

He felt a connection to something just on the other side of a few walls and down in a cellar. At the same time, he felt like he had just leveled up many times as he experienced an influx of stats through that same connection. Rubylake had succeeded.

Without even thinking, Jake held out his hand, and on his palm, the necklace appeared, looking just like before. It was still made of platinum-like metal with the green gem faceted on a beautiful chain. The design was relatively simple, but Jake felt it practically humming with power. He had even somehow managed to summon it to himself through its innate space magic and his Soulbound connection.

Jake saw Rubylake rush out of the cellar through his sphere, and before she had even made it to the waiting room, Jake had inspected his new necklace.

[Heart of the Alchemist (Legendary)] – Once merely proof you were a prodigy, now even more as you have shown you have the heart of an alchemist. An ornate creation of high craftsmanship made of metal attuned to the space-affinity, holding a Space Heart Gem in place. Innate power still dwells within the Records of the necklace yet to be uncovered. Allows the user to store items in a medium-sized pocket dimension found within the gem. Due to the nature of the gemstone used, living, non-sentient entities can be stored without harmful side effects in temporal suspension. Allows the user to directly deposit beneficial products into their own bodies with a slightly improved effect (can only be used once an hour). Enchantments: Alchemist’s Spatial Storage. Innate Consumption. +500 Wisdom, +450 Willpower, +400 Intelligence.
Requirements: Soulbound

Jake carefully studied every word of the improved description. There were a few changes, but the overall item was the same. The storage no longer said it was small but was now medium-sized, it had thrown in some more cryptic stuff about more Records within, and it had even added a new ability of sorts to directly consume things like potions through it for improved effects. Moreover, it gave an absolutely massive 1350 total stats from one item. It felt utterly insane, especially considering it also had all the other effects. He had thought the Altmar Signet was amazing for giving 1000 total, but that was also all it did.

Then again, this was an item he had gained at a far higher level. And as Rubylake stormed into the waiting room and saw Jake hold the necklace, she also shed some more light on the upgrade.

“I did not expect you to be able to summon it! Such a strong connection despite your still young age. I am impressed,” Rubylake nodded in approval, a huge smile on her face. “I was actually afraid it would become too potent, but I felt no resistance or like it burdened your soul at any point. Hard to imagine anyone not already peak D-tier being able to use it.”

Jake just returned her smile. His level was still hidden, so she thought he was level 183, making it even better than she imagined. “I can see the craft succeeded. Did your quest too?”

Rubylake’s grin grew even more. “I am evolving just after this.”

Alcor, who had been silent after Jake had summoned the necklace, also seemed happy. “Congratulations, mistress! What are your expectations?”

“High, but time shall tell if they are met,” she said, returning her attention to Jake.

“Some things do still confuse me… the time it took was not as I expected,” she said, and Jake also checked how long had passed as he frowned.

Only a bit over five hours had passed while she had said it would take at least a day.

“How come?”

“I… everything just felt right? The materials resonated with the necklace nearly right away, the energy was effortlessly absorbed, and the Records and energy within the necklace seemed almost primed to be awakened. Have you had it attempted before?” Rubylake asked.

“No,” Jake shook his head. “You are the second person ever to lay a hand on it besides me.”

“Any idea who originally made it? Or if it was used by someone before it was transformed into what it is today?” she inquired further.

Jake just kept shaking his head. “I got it as a reward from the system.”

Rubylake frowned a bit but eventually just sighed in resignation. “Oh well, it doesn’t matter. Just… take care of it, okay? That necklace is no simple item.”

“Of course,” Jake said. “And thanks for your help.”

“I should be the one thanking you for giving me the opportunity. There is no way I would have succeeded this easily without you bringing such a wonderous item,” Rubylake bowed as she took out her token, and Jake felt his own within the necklace in his hand resonate. She had put her contact information into it.

“Simply call me if you ever need a jeweler,” she said.

“Sure thing,” Jake said as he returned the favor and also gave her his contact information. Mainly because if he wanted to contact her, it would be a bit awkward if she couldn’t answer. Wait, maybe she could answer? He wasn’t entirely sure how the call feature of the token actually worked now that he thought about it

“Anyway, good luck with the evolution,” Jake finally said as he felt like he had gotten all he had come for.

After a few more pleasantries, Jake put on his necklace and fused it with his body once more. He then promptly headed back to the mansion, and after a brief exchange with Meira, he dove into the laboratory.

He had no plans of exiting anytime soon. Because if there was any question if Jake had been scammed, the answer was a resounding no. Because the true value of the ingredients didn’t lie in their rarity alone but in the sheer quantity of what he had received.

That’s right, Jake was about to waste an absolute shitload of expensive materials.

A note from Zogarth

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