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223. Portals!

Saffron Merryster watched from the side— wary and with an array of protective spells around her— as I prepared my concoction. I was working on the Potion of Regeneration. Well, not the Potion of Regeneration itself, but one of the base ingredients that’d create Potion of Regeneration.

There were still a lot of steps I had to take to finish creating it. Right now, I was working with the tempest-fused blood to enhance a simple healing potion into a more potent form. Saffron crossed her arms as I poured the blood slowly into another vial. The second vial was full of healing potion, burning under a soft fire. Flames I conjured, weak and cold.

Then I saw the bubbling. The fire increased in intensity. I grabbed a tube of effervescent liquid, pouring it into the soluble potion. I waited, staring intently as the mixture changed. I poured the effervescent liquid into the potion drip by drip/

“You’re using your fire manipulation to speed up the process.”

Saffron observed. I nodded.

“Yep! I read about this in the textbook. [Alchemists] would have to use heat control, not fire control, to achieve this. But I have [Advanced Fire Creation]. I can make my flames cold or hot if I wanted to.”

“Impressive. But I do suggest you be a little more gentle in your handling of the potion. Otherwise something could go wrong.”

“What could possibly go wrong—”

Just as I spoke those words, I saw a sizzling rise up from the potion. I blinked. Then I instantly let my flames dissipate. However, it was too late. The liquid burst out— a scalding, molten mess that spilled all over my Lair. I leapt back, creating a Nebular Shield to protect me from it. A thin layer of smoke filled the room as I let the glass vial clink to the ground.

“Oops.”

I turned to Saffron who gave me a flat stare. She was safe behind her barriers. I shrugged.

“At least I have more tempest-infused blood, right?”

“You idiot…”

 

—--

 

It wasn’t a lie that I still had quite a lot of tempest-infused blood to spare. The problem was that I didn’t have as much to spare for my other ingredients— for example, sagetree sap. While I’d been given quite a lot by Ivonne— the [Trader] who’d held the auction a month or two ago— the amount of sagetree sap necessary to create a Potion of Regeneration was substantial.

Each failed attempt would be a big waste.

And especially with my Enigmatic Heart shard…

I only had one chance with it. It was the most vital ingredient— one of the final few steps that came in making the Potion of Regeneration something that actually restored your missing limbs and body parts. Otherwise, it’d have just been a High Grade healing potion.

A voice drew my attention from the side. Saffron stepped out of her barrier of protections.

“You made quite a mess, Salvos. You need to be more careful. You can’t rush the process when it comes to alchemy.”

“Aw. But I don’t have much time left, Saffron. Our midterms and breaks are over. I can’t just waste time taking things slowly.”

“And you can’t waste your resources either.”

She shook her head.

“It’s counterintuitive. Either way, you’ll fail your class. But at least if you take your time, you increase your chances of passing.”

“I won’t fail. I’m a genius!”

I scowled. Saffron rolled her eyes.

“You also need to stop hanging around Valda. Your head is getting too big, Salvos. Seriously, you need someone to keep you in check.”

“Hey!”

I crossed my arms, defiantly staring at her.

“I’ve always had a big head! That’s why I’m a genius!”

“...you know what I meant.”

The Vampire huffed, letting her spells vanish. I watched as she started for the exit of my Lair, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“Regardless, I will ask you to take your time with what you’re doing, Salvos. Not to rush the process. I will write a letter to Matthew— hopefully he has procured additional Enigmatic Heart shards. It is not a guarantee. I cannot promise you that he’ll be successful.”

“Aw, you’re going? Already?”

“Indeed I am, Salvos.”

I felt my shoulders sagging as she headed out of the cavern entrance. She glanced back at me, stopping.

“I also need to prepare some runes— spells that would help you maintain your Lair’s secrecy better. I do not want you getting into trouble over your… well, your lack of conspicuousness.”

“But Princesses aren’t meant to be inconspicuous!”

“And you’re not a Princess. You’re a Demon.”

Saffron snorted, spinning on her heels and leaving the Lair. I called out one last time before she finally left.

“Did you at least like my Lair?”

SHe glanced back at me and responded without missing a beat.

“No. I can’t say I did.”

“Aw.”

And I tried to make it look nice, too.

 

—--

 

With Saffron gone, I continued my own studies on my own. I decided to halt my brewing attempts for today— partially because some of my tools for alchemy were damaged thanks to my earlier failure.

I immersed myself in books. In space magic. I had been… carrying out tests. Experiments.

I’d bought a bunch of Bag of Holdings and deconstructed them. They were fascinating. Each Bag of Holding varied in price— the cheapest one was roughly 50 gold, I found. And yet, they were all complex.

The reason, however, why they were so mass produced— or relatively so to their complexities— was purely due to the nature of their creation. One could replicate their formula with ease. A [Space Mage] just needed to create the spell for a distortion in space once, before using the exact same spell each time to create a Bag of Holding. Or at least, the same kind of Bag of Holding. So, when [Crafters] commissioned Bags of Holdings, [Space Mages] simply sent the formula to the [Crafters], and they’d be able to make the Bag of Holding themself.

As such, they could be bought in pretty much any city.

I’d spent a few hundred gold on just Bags of Holdings. Which was apparently a lot. If Daniel were here, he’d criticize me for my reckless spending. But he wasn’t here. I’d spend as much as I wanted!

I tried replicating the spells— in the exact same way I studied the Runic Scroll of Starfall. Of course, I couldn’t make an identical Bag of Holding. But I found that my own Bags of Holdings I created were comparable in quality to the ones I'd bought.

Each could hold multiple times the volume they appeared to be able to hold!

“Is this thanks to [Partial Phasing]?”

I tapped a finger on my chin. I had that Skill— I learned the Skill for my Class. But I didn’t add it to my available Skills, because I had a limited number I could choose from. Plus, as Saffron and Edithe and Lily kept saying, it was better for me to learn magic the proper way, rather than relying on Skills.

The problem with using Skills and only Skills to learn was how it’d be harmful for me at higher levels. Granted, I was already quite high-leveled. But I leveled too quickly or whatever, as they always said.

I was taking things slower now, which upset me a little bit, but I understood the logic. I was trying to get to the Netherworld, and that required teleporting through the planes, something which I had to learn. And I’d learned a lot in Mavos Academy.

The theories— the idea behind the folds in space. I’d even been reading through the various books I stole from the dead [Cultists].

They, themselves, weren’t so sure how Demon summonings worked. Most of them had no clue. They just followed the instructions and killed some people. But there was one book I found that piqued my interest. It was written by a [Cultist] named Kenneth Cyr.

He’d been fascinated by the way Demon summonings worked. He became a [Cultist] solely to study and understand the power behind it. Everyone knew that it was the Demon’s collar that made them adhere to the Human’s commands. But how exactly did it pull them through space?

I remembered Lucerna’s Lair. He had an area there that was reserved as a portal. And Kenneth Cyr’s findings seemed to align with what I knew. Portals were created, linked to these specific spots.

Demons couldn’t just come to the Mortal Realm from any random location in the Netherworld. They had specific gates and portals to go through— now, whether these gates were abundant or numerous wasn’t something Kenneth knew. But judging by what I saw with Lucerna, I assumed they were more common than not.

So, the magic that was cast was mostly from the side of the Netherworld. The [Cultists] here simply cast a spell from the Mortal Realm that activated the portal.

If someone like Lucerna could have his own personal portal in his Lair, surely I could too.

Which was what I decided to test today. I set up a spot— I activated [Temporal Distortion] over a small area. It was about the size of a bag. I couldn’t manipulate the size of the Skill after it was cast, but I could set it at a certain size and shape before.

And now, I began weaving mana.

I was like a seamstress, working the strands of magic that made up space itself. It was the same formula I’d use to create a Bag of Holding. Except, I overlaid it on top of my [Temporal Distortion].

The reason was simple. Teleportation magic was simply creating a fold in space and pushing through it. These two spells created their own fold in space— well, more like pushing into space to create a separate pocket. But if added together, it’d be like a fold. A deep fold. One that, if my theorizing was correct, when pierced through, would let me teleport straight through to another plane.

Kenneth Cyr himself had been an amateur in space magic. And whenever he saw a Demon summoning, he observed, with his specialized eyes, how space itself seemed to warp and fold multiple times into itself, like a receding flower, before collapsing into a portal.

As such, I was confident enough to test my theory. I focused on this single spot I’d chosen out, before focusing my magic into it. I wanted to teleport into it— I wanted to puncture a hole that was strong enough to make it fall into itself.

A regular [Temporal Distortion] field barely looked different to a normal place in space. It was slightly discolored, but otherwise not something easily distinguishable. But this space… it glowed. It shone, glittering like a jewel. But transparent, with a fractal surface around its sides.

I closed my eyes, even as its iridescent light glowed brighter and brighter with each passing moment that I tried to force my way through it.

“Come on…”

I knew how to teleport. I’d teleported through my own [Temporal Distortion] field before. This was just a bit harder, right?

The more I’d exerted pressure onto it, the brighter it shone. Then pieces began to crack off. Emptiness— a dark black void of nothing stared at me. I narrowed my eyes as even more pieces of this gem-like portal began to break off.

“Um, is this supposed to be happening?”

It was nothing like all the other portals I’d seen. There was always an image on the other side. Either the Spirit Plane or the Netherworld. This— it was like looking into the darkness of a wicked mouth. Its shadows threatened to swallow me as chipped pieces of glass-like space, reminiscent of broken teeth, fell into it.

“This isn’t—”

I tried to deactivate the spell. I tried to remove my enchantment. Nothing worked. It was slowly breaking apart, like a broken windowpane.

“This isn’t supposed to be happening!”

I was no longer trying to teleport through this ‘portal,’ and yet I still found myself slowly being dragged in. Panic settled in as I realized I couldn’t control it. The light that shone from it turned dark— the last pieces of the gem-like shape collapsed. And the force that tugged me grew stronger.

I gritted my teeth, spreading my wings out. I began flapping it as I tried to get away. Yet, I was still pulled closer, unable to fight back. I glanced over as I saw my artifacts, standing still, unaffected by this strong pull.

“What is going on?!”

I screamed as my hand was sucked into the darkness. I tried to pull it out—

Then a hand grabbed me. It definitely felt like a hand. I looked down and saw the red arm opposing mine. A face appeared in the darkness— a smirk spread across it. I recognized him immediately. And he pulled himself out of the shadows. The black hole vanished as he came out, one horse-like feet at a time.

My eyes widened as he spoke, still holding onto my hand.

“And here I was, wondering who was the idiot who tried to crush themself between space. My, my, it was you. My favorite Demon. Hm. What was your name again?”

I tried to take a step back, but his grip on my forearm was unbreakable. I gaped at him, trying to work my mouth.

“W-what are you doing here?”

“And here I thought you’d be happy to see me again. Don’t you remember me? It’s me.”

He spread his arms wide.

“The Devil.”

[???- Lvl. ???]

 

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