Chapter 68:

Introduction to Alchemy

Mad God


When daybreak came, at Teardrop Island, Boursat was standing in the air with a calm expression as five others slowly approached from the other side of the river. The leading figure was Kaipan, scanning the buildings and their placement on the island, giving him a strange feeling.

"Is this a formation? No… that would not be possible. I never heard anyone doing something like this…." He thought, furrowing his brows, not knowing that his instincts were right; as all the summoned buildings were set up in a way, they formed a formation, giving the first line of defense for the Sect if it ever gets attacked. "Greetings." He said, stopping not far away from Boursat, who just nodded.

"Mm. I am called Elder Boursat. May I ask the purpose of your visit to our Sect?"

"Elder Boursat?" He murmured to himself, not familiar with the name at all, "I am King Kaipan, leader of the Elroth family. We came because our men disappeared here."

"King? I thought only one family dared to call themselves that." He smiled a little, gently slapping his belly that had grown back since long ago; it was even bigger when he fought with Ren and her group.

The first response was Werebor's snort, but his father retained his calmness.

"We are called the Kingdom of Ten for a reason. If you think only one line is deserving to be called a king, it just shows your superficial knowledge."

"Ahaha, yeah, tell yourself that!" Boursat laughed but did not press on anymore and changed the topic. "So, King Kaipan. I presume you are here to retrieve those who trespassed on our territory. I am greatly saddened to tell you the bad news; they are all dead." he sighed, shaking his head.

"Are you trying to provoke us?" Werebor stepped next to his father, challenging Boursat's gaze.

"I could ask the same. We are willing to forget it as it was nothing major, but if you are here for an explanation, there is only one. Aggression against our Sect will not be tolerated."

"I see." Kaipan nodded, and by his body language, Werebor knew his father was waiting for him to play out his role as the harsh son.

"Are you sure you can back up those words?" His question just landed when another voice immediately answered. Werebor asked as he and the rest of the warriors tensed up.

"Yes, we are." Xendar and Dermitos arrived, standing side by side with Boursat.

Unlike the old blood general from generations ago, they immediately recognized the new arrivals, and Kaipan quickly spoke up as he knew the two of them could mean trouble. He only wanted to see how deep their strength went and not send his son to his own death.

"My son is slightly inexperienced yet; I'll discipline him later. Of course, I understand if they rushed into their deaths now! They were sent here only to look and not to engage; the responsibility falls onto the Qun royal family's shoulders, giving the wrong orders. Now that we cleared this up, I have another thing."

"We are listening." Dermitos smiled.

"We'd like to continue this at a more private place if possible." Kaipan returned the smile with a friendly expression, and soon they were led down to the Sect's main hall as they disappeared into the building.

Hours later, the door opened, and the group left the island. Kaipan didn't stop at the Qun's palace, going straight back towards their territory with haste.

"This is big…." The Elroth's King said while flying at full speed, "We need to gather the resources as fast as possible before others arrive and strike a deal with them!"

"Yes, Father! I'll focus on it." Werebor nodded, looking at a pill that was an early payment for them.

They never expected that the so-called "Sect Head," who they did not recognize yet, would be so marvelous as being able to produce a wonder medicine like this! A pill that, when consumed, could restore the cultivator's spent energy to at least 10-15%. In a battle, it would be a potent trump card. In exchange for a long resource list that contained materials from even the most eastern part of the Kingdom, only found at the Storm Coast, they could get such excellent medicine; it was a steal!

"Find all our merchant contacts and friends, and make them collect everything on that list as covertly as possible! Send out guards disguised as merchants to guard them and also do dummy runs so we can distract possible spies. Also, organize the military; I want the bandit camps cleaned out or bribed to raid the others' territories. I want nothing to stand in our way of making this deal! Who knows what other pills they could produce? This is a chance to rise above the rest!"

They never thought this meeting would go so smoothly and even presented with such an opportunity, and by now, Kaipan was happy that their people had gone ahead and fought with them.

"Also, get the families of those mercenaries we lost. Pay them well; they brought us a great deal, and they ought to be rewarded!" Kaipan laughed as his son followed him, grinning to himself too.


….
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"When did you make those pills?" Xendar asked, watching the five left, standing beside Dermitos.

"Yesterday night. Sect Head is a harsh teacher." He moaned, rubbing his neck. "It is the most basic pills; he called them worse than bird droppings." He laughed, "But at least it was good for amazing those five."

"Well, it did amaze me too." Xendar nodded.

"It's just an energy recovery pill. If it can be called a pill." Aerthus's voice came as he walked up to them. "It's the easiest to produce and doesn't require many materials. What they will bring us willingly, worth way more." he laughed with a satisfied grin. "Lucky us! Alchemy here is still nonexistent."

"I read the recipes for the other pills… honestly, I don't understand half of them…." Dermitos groaned.

"Welcome to the party. I have trouble reading through the manuals on how to craft artifacts. Anya is still sleeping; she was up until dawn, trying to help me organize it." Xendar yawned.

"Stop complaining, you two, and work harder!" Aerthus rolled his eyes. "Come, I'll give you two a demonstration."

He led them to the so-called Pill Hall, also functioning as Dermitos's new home. It was a big, three-story building with a golden cauldron as an emblem at the top of the door, the same symbol decorating Dermitos's shoulder cape.

The first floor was spacious, where a bulletin board took up most space, still empty but soon filled with requests by disciples and even elders alike. Next to it was a counter, ready for the time when people would flood this place, exchanging for pills to help their cultivation. When they climbed to the second floor, it was another exchange area, the shelves here were packed with different ingredients that were going to be on sale, and everyone, part of the Sect, could come up and purchase or exchange for them if they wanted to concoct their own pills.

"We will need a lot of people running this place," Xendar commented as his own place was built in the same way, only it was focused on artifacts and different materials, promptly called the Artifact Hall, having a sprawling blacksmithing area too.

"Yes. I plan to accept everyone who comes to the first opening. Of course, those who have lower talent can only be outer disciples. They will be tasked with running everything here. After they are taught what they need to do. I expect some bumps but nothing major." Aerthus commented as he walked up the third floor that it was only accessible with permission from Dermitos or the Department as the refinement would take place there.

"Well, you already set up an Empire once." Dermitos joked.

"Yes, this is essentially the same, only on a smaller, more focused scale." Aerthus agreed, walking into the main chamber.

The top floor had 9 different rooms, all with the same equipment for pill concoctions, while in the middle stood a giant, golden cauldron floating above the floor that was decorated with a complex formation. When asked about it, Aerthus only said the formation is something he does not understand. They should ask his son later on about it. The primary function was to help the cultivator focus on pill formation. At the same time, it supplied the cauldron with the necessary energy by itself, taking off a great deal of pressure from the one performing the concoction. The rest of the rooms had a way smaller cauldron and also missed the formation, but for disciples and, later on, elders would be the perfect place to train and perfect their techniques.

"This is a pretty good copy of the Sect's pill formation hall where Levictus is now. Their elders can work together to produce top-tier pills. We can't do that with this, but… well, not like we could something like that yet." He looked at Dermitos with a smile.

"Yet." He answered with a smiling face, accepting the subtle challenge.

"What kind of pills are there, Sect Head?"

"If it would be a list, I could be standing here, describing it for years. There are no actual numbers." He explained, shaking his head, "Recipes are being developed all the time, modified, and improved, so giving an exact number is impossible. There is a great variety in types as well; some work on mortals, or only on cultivators; maybe they affect the body, the soul, the mind, and affinity, there are endless combinations, and different effects could be born from different ingredients. But there is a definitive ranking system that was developed and universally accepted. First, there are ointments. These are the easiest to make. Most of the failed concoctions could also be categorized here. Let's say the alchemist wanted to form a healing pill but made mistakes, resulting in the pill's failure, leaving behind only a paste with healing properties. The second kind is the right pills. It has five different tiers." He stretched out his hand, holding two small, round pills about 22mm in diameter. "Can you spot the difference? Both are the same pill; both are for energy recovery."

As they looked on, the white pills at first glance were the same, but soon they discovered one had a faint glow. It could be easily missed, especially if one only glanced at them.

"The one on the left seems like it's pulsing," Dermitos said.

"Yes." He nodded approvingly. "The one without a glow is a Tier 0 pill. It is made by alchemy apprentices, it restores around 20% energy, and its effect does not stack. Quite the opposite, consuming one after another decreases the efficiency, and you need time to let your system clear it so they can take effect once again."

"Eh.. so they are even more potent than what we gave out, huh? Am I not even at an apprentice level yet…?" Dermitos twitched his mouth.

"You will get there, relax. I'll guide you personally every day." Aerthus chuckled. "This second one is called a Tier 1 pill. It can restore 30 to 40 percent of the spent energy. Still. Stacking it won't work." He said while producing two more pills. "This is a Tier 2 pill. You can recognize it because the glow can easily be seen, and it isn't pulsating. This pill restores at least 50% of energy. If the maker was an experienced alchemist, it could go up to 70%." He smiled proudly. "I can make these consistently if I have the materials. Sadly, these are also pills whose efficiency is decreased with repeated use simultaneously. The fourth is what we call a Tier 3 pill. The glow is the same, the shape and the effects are the same."

"Huh? Then what makes the difference?" Xendar blinked his eyes, but Dermitos immediately caught on.

"Its effects can stack!"

"Precisely! A Tier 3 pill, in all honesty, a perfected Tier 2 pill without the drawbacks. This is where most people get swindled and why alchemists are respected. Without an experienced alchemist to help you buy things, you could be screwed over easily. Of course, the big places wouldn't play with their reputation but still… Money is everything, and a lot of people would do anything for it to hoard more and more. I'm still not there yet, to produce them consistently, but if my luck holds, I can make Tier 3 pills once in a while. Of course, from only those recipes I am really familiar with."

"What about the rest?" Dermitos asked.

"Tier 4 are rare ones. I saw some, if we stay with energy pills, a Tier 4 will replenish somewhere between 80-90% energy, and it can be used quickly. They can be identified easily as when a Tier 4 appears, it always has a strong and distinct but appealing scent and some kind of visual phenomena around it. I saw a Tier 4 fire resistance pill at an auction. It smelled like grass after a spring rain with small clouds rising from it. It looked beautiful, perfectly round and jade green in color, shining by itself. Tier 5… I never saw one, but I know it has sentience when a pill at that level appears."

"Wait… it is… alive?" both of them asked at the same time.

"Not precisely." he shook his head. "What I tell you is what I was told. A Tier 5 pill, after being made, will try to get free. It is in tune with nature, it is drawn to places where natural energy is strong, so it would try to escape as soon as it is formed and find a place to… well, settle down. We call it sentient as it acts on its own, yet it is not a living being or something like a demon that thinks for itself."

"Could we cultivate one? Into a demon…? A pill demon?"

"I asked the same question when I heard about it, Xendar." Aerthus laughed. "But I got no answer, so I don't know." He shook his head, putting away everything. "A pill at that level would not just restore all of your energy; it would expand on it. If you were a jug in terms of how much energy you can store, then after consuming it, you would become a bucket." He laughed happily while they listened with awe. "Also, there is a third class. Drinks."

"What?"

"Yup. Some drinks can have different effects. It's… a controversial topic, to be honest with you. I don't see a problem with it, yet others don't acknowledge it as part of alchemy. Well, it's not a discussion we must concern ourselves with." He shook his head, then floated up, "I'll craft a batch of energy pills." He said while summoning six different ingredients the formation below them lit up, and soon, a bluish flame appeared in the cauldron, swirling around like a cyclone.

As he started to put in the ingredients, he slowly explained what they were, why and which to put in first, what to look out for and how to control the flame, melting them and creating a swirling, hot soup-like concoction inside the cauldron.

The process took only an hour, and in the end, the creamy mass inside the cauldron separated and slowly formed five round shapes, as the fire, under Aerthus's control, died down, and the pills started to harden.

When finished, he gently lifted up the five tiers 2 energy pills with his powers, handing them to Dermitos.

"Go and reflect on it and study the pills and the recipe. Every day I'll supply you with ingredients I brought back enough until you can create Tier 1 pills yourself." He put the pill formula into his hands before leaving.

"You are lucky." Xendar sighed.

"Why?" Dermitos blinked his eyes, just now returning from the intense concentration

"You have someone who teaches you… me? I need to fumble in the dark." he sighed again with a smile as it was a challenge he welcomed, making Dermitos laugh as they left the Pill Hall, which slowly fell into silence again.