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186. Alchemy

 

[Alchemist] Raymond was rather high-leveled, even compared to the other professors and lecturers in Mavos Academy. Professor Lisbenon was a Level 83 [Enchanter], while the space mage instructor was Level 95. Raymond was Level 124.

That put him at around the same level as Veronica Adash. Meanwhile, Nolan, Gallus, and I were all around Level 110. I was the lowest-leveled of the class, somehow. Not that it mattered! I bet I could’ve beat most of them in a fight!

However, I was curious why there was such a stark difference in level between Raymon and Lisbenon. I soon found out when he began his lecture.

“As you can see from the distillation process of the zorth mushroom from last week, an extract of what is called the zorth gel is left behind here. It may not seem like much, but it is necessary for the catalytic reaction for the creation of the Potion of Greater Fire Resistance from a Potion of Lesser Fire Resistance.”

I blinked. Wait, Potion of Greater Fire Resistance? Wasn’t that supposed to be something rare or expensive? Why was he talking about that in a basic alchemy class? Unless—

“Yes, yes, Salvos. I can see that you’re confused. Worry not: I have prepared the necessary ingredients for you so that you will not fall behind in the class. The practical nature of our lab sessions makes it necessary, although you will have to study up on the textbook on your own.”

Hesitating, I nodded along as if I knew what he was talking about.

“R-right. And just remind me, where can I purchase the textbook from?”

“You’ll want to go to Central Square and find Beaker Building, next to the House of Amber. It is made of glass, so it should be quite obvious. There, you’ll want to purchase the textbook on ‘Advanced Alchemical Composition.’ Make sure you get the second edition, and not the first edition. There have been major rewrites to the portions of the text on a few key reactive ingredients used for the potion upgrades. It’s just far more cost-effective in ingredients now, see?”

I smiled nervously, scribbling on my notebook.

“Yes… the book on ‘Advanced Alchemical Composition,’ and not ‘Basic,’ right?”

“That is correct.”

“Huh.”

I lowered my pen, and screamed internally. I took the wrong class! The class name didn’t tell me that this would be about advanced alchemy! Its name was just… Alchemy 1531: Alchemical Synthesis. Nothing in its name implied that it’d be complex things!

I didn’t say anything, even as I followed along with the class and [Alchemist] Raymond’s directions. He had us bring ingredients to a bunch of equipment— there were vials and syringes and various other tools used to measure the volume of different liquids. I eyed the labels of the different, glowing liquids. Some of them were solid. They had names tagged onto the glass surface.

Manticore blood. Powdered faded grass. Shadelight moss. Kzoth weed extract (DO NOT TOUCH.)

I narrowed my eyes as I spotted the kzoth weed extract. Wasn’t that the extremely rare ingredient Gabriel was gathering in Motharis for the Valiant Dreamers Company? I was pretty sure it was— it had been abundantly growing near Ghostlight too.

I was given a Potion of Lesser Fire Resistance alongside a few other ingredients such as the zorth mushroom extract and something he called the ‘diluted base.’

“Um, and what is this diluted base, exactly?”

I couldn’t help but ask, as I stared at the glowing liquid. The liquid itself was clear, but a dim light seemed to wisp off the flask. Threads of mana gathered around it, almost physical, like a seamstress had woven a thick blanket over the diluted base. It was brimming with pure mana.

Gallus was the only one who heard my question. He leaned forward as Veronica and Nolan proceeded to get to work with their own potions.

“It’s created from mixing multiple ingredients rich in mana in water or another low mana base. Through the process of magical conformation— which typically takes a year— the residual mana from the ingredients will seep into the low mana base, thus creating the diluted base.”

“Huh. But doesn't that take a long time?”

I cocked my head, and he nodded.

“For us layfolks, it does. However, [Alchemists] often have Skills to speed up the process. And they sell the diluted base in abundance— you can find it in any [Alchemist] shop in any city. Although this is a rather simple theory, Ms Salvos. Is something the matter?”

He had a genuinely perplexed look on his face; I didn’t give him an answer, instead turning my attention to [Alchemist] Raymond as the elderly man began to speak.

“Look, he’s showing us something.”

I spoke in a whisper. Raymond was demonstrating something over a rune of fire. He held up the Potion of Lesser Fire Resistance over the open flame, smiling.

“There is a certain delicacy required in enhancing a ‘lesser’-tiered potion. For this Potion of Lesser Fire Resistance, it needs to be bathed in flames equal to what it’s meant to resist. However, watch— too little heat, and nothing happens. But too much…”

Raymond tapped a finger on the side of the rune. It glowed brightly as the concentrated flame grew more and more wild. I narrowed my eyes as the reserved flame became a corybantic dancer. It was very hot. If someone below Level 70 was in this room, they’d be reeling from the heat. But since everyone was above Level 100, we simply watched.

The brown liquid in the vial began to bubble. The glass— enchanted to withstand the heat— cracked. But before it could shatter, the liquid itself sizzled and combusted, lit ablaze. The vial exploded, glass flying in every direction. I caught a piece of shard as an ear-piercing sound echoed in the room.

Gallus dusted himself off, uncaring of the bits of glass bouncing off his chest. Veronica lowered her minor barrier, uncaring, while Nolan shook his head, somehow not a single glass shard flew in his direction.

[Alchemist] Raymond laughed.

“As you can see, an incredibly violent reaction happens. But if you find the right heat—”

He activated the rune once more. But instead of playing with the intensity of the flame using the rune itself, he pointed at the fire.

“[Heat Control].”

The size of the flame didn’t change. He lowered a second vial of Lesser Fire Resistance next to the stable candle-like flame. But it burned with an intensity that almost rivalled the previous fire.

The [Alchemist] tipped the solution slightly, circling it as it bubbled, discoloring, and seemingly absorbing specks and motes of the fire into it. Then it turned to a more ruddy color. Like if a rose had melted into a glass. He drew it back, smiling.

“Now, now, I’m sure this is not a Skill most of you have. But at your levels, I am sure you are more than capable of finding an alternative to achieve the same effect. Once you’ve overcome this obstacle, you simply have to follow the formula I have provided for you. Do not forget that the zorth mushroom extract should be added exactly a minute after it cools down, lest it will not work.”

He shook his head, placing the burning hot vial down on a rack for potions. The wood sizzled as it came in contact with the glass, but just like everything else in the laboratory, it was all enchanted. Raymond continued.

“Beyond just Skills— and trust me, us [Alchemists] have a lot of Skills to aid our concoctions— there are a lot of other skills and abilities required to be an alchemist. You see, alchemy is something anyone can do to a certain extent because of its formulaic nature. The greatest benefit of being an [Alchemist] is the speed of our creation. After all, without my help, you’d have to wait half a decade for the zorth mushroom to decompose. But as a non-[Alchemist], as long as you have sufficient control over magic, you’ll be able to replicate what we do with enough time, or enough money to gather all the necessary ingredients in their final states.”

I nodded slowly, sort of understanding what he was saying. So, that meant that one of the advantages of actually going to Mavos Academy was gaining access to the different formulae for potion-making— since knowledge was concentrated at institutions of learning such as this.

If that’s the case, can I make my own healing potions? Mana potions? Or even— I had a thought, but Raymond’s voice interrupted it.

“Now, for today’s lab session, you’ll want to finish the concoction of a Potion of Greater Fire Resistance. Once you’re finished, you may leave at any point in time. You can use anything you have at your disposal, including the fire runes. But even these Advanced Burners are difficult to control at a higher intensity. I do not recommend this method as it will take far more trial and error than utilizing other resources. And that’s the job of an [Alchemist]: to be resourceful.”

That was all Raymond said before he drew away from the table. Returning to his own seat by the chalkboard, he began to read from a rather old tome. I blinked.

Was that it? We just had to act on our own?

I glanced around at Veronica, and sure enough, she was already getting to work. She raised a hand, pulling out a piece of parchment out of thin air. I recognized the artifact she was using immediately. A Dimensional Storage Unit. Just like Daniel’s.

She etched symbols on the surface of the parchment before pouring mana into it. The air above the paper vanished. There was a vacuum there in a small box area. She placed the vial in the center, and pointed.

A stream of fire shot out, but it didn’t burn at the paper of the table. She continued burning it, uncaring of what was happening in the background behind her. Gallus had drawn his sword and raised it to the ceiling.

“Hah!”

He grunted. The blade was overcome with white flames, searing hot. He dipped the blade into the liquid, and it began to bubble.

Nolan stood next to him, playing with the fire rune. When a small flame burst out, he smiled and pointed.

“[Replicate Skill: Heat Control].”

Everyone else was already getting to work, except for me. I bit my lower lip. Surely this had to be an easy task for me, right?

I specialized in fire magic. I could do this— I had to do this. All I had to do was do what Raymond did, before proceeding with the instructions listed in the piece of paper handed to me.

I proceeded to burn the bottom of the vial. Taking a deep breath, I recalled the fire Raymond used. The heat it emitted. The way the threads of mana seemed to form a mesh around it. I copied it, and my eyes widened as I saw the same discoloration happening to the liquid.

I did it? I did it!

I hurriedly looked over at the instructions to figure out what to do next— and paused when I realized that it was mostly symbols, rather than written words. I scratched the side of my head.

Come on, [Universal Language Comprehension], do your thing! And it did.

I took a step back.

“Um, so I want to...”

And I realized a minute had passed.

I quickly grabbed another Potion of Lesser Fire Resistance— Raymond had kindly provided quite a few to the side— and got back to work. As I did, however, I watched as Nolan walked away from the table with a smirk.

“I have finished.”

He declared.

That fast? [Alchemist] Raymond was approving. They held a short conversation, and he was out of the door. I pursed my lips, finishing the heating process of the potion once more. I waited a minute to add the zorth mushroom, and Veronica walked out of the room, finished with her own potion.

I looked through the instructions once again. Alright, first thing I want to do is

Then Gallus left the room too!

And it was just me. I stood alone at the center of the alchemy lab. For once, the slowest in a group. Even if it wasn’t physical speed. [Alchemist] Raymond looked up, curious.

“Are you having trouble, Ms Salvos?”

I worked my jaw. Then I sighed.

“I thought this was… a basic alchemy class.”

I finally admitted. He quirked a brow. Pushing himself to his feet, he hobbled over to me.

“I see, I see. You’ve accidentally chosen the wrong class. It happens from time to time. Here, tell me, what are you unsure of?”

“I, um, am not really sure what to do?”

I gestured at the instructions.

“It’s telling me to… wait for the zorth mushroom extract to fizzle? But it’s not fizzling.”

“Hm, that would do it.”

He chuckled, shaking his head.

“You added too much of the extract, Ms Salvos. You’d like to add a single drop, else it will not react with the solution. And once you’re finished with that, you’ll have to add this new solution to the diluted base—”

[Alchemist] Raymond led me through the entire process, explaining each step. And when I was finished, I held up a Potion of Greater Fire Resistance. I stared at it. Then I turned to him.

“Thank you.”

“It is no issue. However, regarding your enrollment in this class…”

He trailed off, and I scowled.

“I’ll probably have to change classes, won't I?”

It would be a second day of having a first day of class. That’d be incredibly annoying! But Raymond tapped a finger on his chin.

“Theoretically speaking, you should be able to complete most of the assignments in this class without taking any basic alchemy theory.”

I blinked.

“I can?”

“Yes. Your biggest shortcoming of today was joining late in the academic term. However, since these lab classes tend to teach by example, as long as you pay careful attention and do your own studying, you’ll be fine— if not for the final assignment.”

“The final assignment?”

I raised a brow. Raymond nodded.

“For the final assignment, you’ll want to complete the creation of a potion in the ‘greater’ tier that is not what’s covered in class. For example, a Potion of Greater Cold Resistance. Or a Potion of Greater Protection. Maybe even a Potion of Invisibility or a Potion of Haste. As long as it falls within this list.”

He showed me a piece of paper with the names of a few dozen different potions. I paused as I caught sight of a certain potion. One I recognized the name of.

“It’d be too difficult for you to concoct such a potion all on your own—”

“I’ll do it.”

I stated simply. This time, Raymond was the one to blink.

“Are you certain, Ms Salvos?”

“Yep.”

I handed him the piece of paper, smiling.

“You said it yourself. To be an [Alchemist], I just have to be resourceful, right? There’s no point in giving up before I even try! So, I won’t drop this class.”

He was slightly dubious, but he didn’t press me. Instead, he simply ask a single question.

“I see. If that is the case, I will need to know what you will do for your final assignment.”

“I’ll make…”

I tilted my head back. This was an advanced class: I had no basic knowledge on alchemy— not yet. But as he said, I could possibly keep up with what was going on as long as I studied and followed his instructions. The issue was the final assignment.

What would I make? There were many different potions that piqued my interest. For one, a Potion of Waking was something I wanted. But there was something else in the list that I found more enticing— especially if I learned to make it on my own.

“A Potion of Regeneration.”

It was a potion that could restore lost limbs and cure curses. Only the most deadly of wounds was irreversible by the Potion of Regeneration. It was not going to be easy to make. And even Raymond seemed surprised by my choice. But I needed it.

I lost an arm in my [Demonic Essence] transformation. It couldn’t be recovered without a Potion of Regeneration.

“If I may recommend an easier potion for someone like you to create—”

“Nope! You may not recommend it to me.”

I grinned. He hesitated.

“But a Potion of Regeneration is considered complex, even for a greater-tier of potion, Ms Salvos.”

“I know. But—”

I was stubborn. All my companions and friends knew that. I wasn’t going to fold over just because my first day of class was a little difficult. I’d welcome this challenge with open arms and bared teeth.

“I’d like to learn how to make one. I came to Mavos Academy to learn useful things. Not boring things I didn’t care about. And this is something I can learn from this class. So, why would I leave this class or choose to learn something else?”

I was the last one today. But that was because I had been confused. I was trying to catch up where I was behind. And I especially struggled since I was under the wrong impression of the class. Now, however, I knew what was going on.

I was fully prepared to work hard to get what I wanted.

“Very well.”

[Alchemist] Raymond acquiesced.

“If you insist, then your final assignment shall be the creation of a Potion of Regeneration. As much as I’d advise against it.”

“I’ll do it. Don’t worry about me.”

It was a declaration. Was it even something I could do? I didn’t know But that was the point of me enrolling in this academy. I wasn’t going to wallow, lost and confused, like some kind of stupid child!

I was Salvos. I had survived the Netherworld where many others didn’t. I saved Silvergrove and liberated the Plaguelands! I killed Zix the High Zealot and the Lich of Zacharius!

I wasn’t going to lose to some class in some academy!

 

—--

 

The last class was on dimensional displacement theory. Specifically, how objects move through space when teleported by spells such as my [Banish] Skill. I took notes of everything professor Isais said, even things I didn’t know the meaning of. I would search up what it meant later.

This class was mostly filled with fourth year students of the College of Aspirations, and some third years. But there were two others from the School of Aspiring Elites like me. Surprisingly, Gallus was one of them. I didn’t get the name of the other, as I was too engrossed in learning.

There were far less stares and whispers because of their presence. And when the class was finished, I immediately left and headed around Mavos Academy to purchase all the necessary textbooks.

When I returned to Saffron’s room, it was only to tell her that I’d be spending the night out.

“Where are you going?”

The pink-haired woman frowned. I waved a hand off, gesturing at my textbooks and notebooks.

“To the library— to study!”

“Don’t stay out too late. And don't get caught by the hall director when you return!”

“I won’t!”

I waved at her before hurriedly heading out of the dorm, past the various libraries located throughout the campus, and out of Mavos Academy. I headed deep into the forest dozens of miles away from the school before I finally transformed out of [Partial Mortality].

I found myself a nice alcove by the side of a hill to settle into, and placed the various textbooks down in front of me. I had a lot of studying to do— a lot of catching up with the different curriculums of my classes. As such, I needed to spend as much time as I could trying to achieve this. And there was a problem with Humans— the need to sleep— which wasted a lot of time in a day.

I wasn’t a Human. I was a Demon. Even if I was in a Human academy, I wasn’t going to use my natural advantages to, well, my advantage. I was going to stay up all night, studying, rather than sleeping and dreaming about stupid things like eating bugs!

Lighting a single blue candle, I grabbed my pen and got to work. Studying, reading, learning. It didn’t feel like a lot of time passed until the sun was rising again. Only then did I gather my things and prepare to leave. Before I did, I glanced back at the alcove. It was a small cave in a nice secluded spot. I’d like to return to it again to continue doing this.

Maybe this could be my own personal place: away from Humans, all for myself—

 

Created [Lair: Study Spot of Salvos]!

Experience is awarded for the creation of a Lair!

 

“What the— I can do that?!”

I took a step back, grinning.

"That's so cool!"

 

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