Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis
Author’s notes: I am excited to bring you a new chapter of Chronicle of the Eternal. We are finally getting into the story and I have explained most of what needs to be said by this chapter. I’ve tried to space it all out and incorporate it into the story to avoid the situation of an ‘info dump’, so hopefully you will enjoy! ^.^
The chapter plan for this chapter is now posted my Patreon page, visible to everyone who supports me by donating at least $1 a month. The plan is short as these chapters are shorter, but there are plenty of differences between the planned and written as usual. I have also formed a pseudo company relating to my drawings I am now calling Cr@ppy Artworks Inc.
Chapter 3 – Alchemy
When Regal awakens on the morning of the third day of school, the sky in Grand City Theore is much dimmer than usual as water showers down from above. The rain outside the city follows various pipe networks and other crevices, creating a light shower on all the floors of the city.
Outside the city the winds howl, carrying a biting cold rain as lighting snakes down from the sky. The storm is so violent that no one would willingly endure the elements. But, despite knowing when the storm is coming, there are still people every month who inevitably get caught in the tempests and return to Theore with colds and other status afflicting illnesses.
Regal leaves his house, umbrella in hand and a thick coat over his school uniform that hangs all the way down to his knees. Several saturated young kids are playing in shallow puddles of water that have pooled on the side of the cobblestone road outside of his house. Adjusting the brass buckles on his coat sleeves to pull the fabric tighter and ward off the cold, Regal quietly leaves the street.
The streets are much less busy than usual due to the weather, but several street stands selling hot food are set up under large umbrellas. The steaming snacks are extremely popular this time of the month as they warm the body from the inside. Regal passes by several of these food stands nonchalantly, not feeling any desire to eat, as he ate prior to leaving his house.
At one point he witnesses a man being hauled off by guards for using ice alchemy to turn the rain into hail and harass a group of people, and an angry couple chasing down a thief. Nether of these impacts his journey so Regal’s walk to school is without incident.
The classroom interior is conditioned by ducted heating to maintain the optimal temperature, so all the students who wore coats to school fold them over the back of their chairs. The only students who didn’t bring coats to school are those whose parents sent them to school in carriages.
Julius River is late to class, arriving ten minutes after the bell. Despite this, he acts as if he is arriving just on time.
“Okay, students,” Mr. River drones with a lazy voice, “Today is the day we cover all the basics of alchemy.”
The teacher raises a hand and a crimson ring of light materializes in the air. Within this ring, countless intricate patterns, symbols and equations form from the glowing luminescence.
Mr. River doesn’t even bother quieting the class, who excitably chatter among themselves. He silently waits for everyone to fall silent before continuing to speak.
“Alchemy is the use of using archaic formulae to create change in the world. When compared to martial skills it is completely different in every way.”
“To break through a bottleneck or speed up the levelling progress in a martial skill, you must focus on the skill itself, the movements, the passive bonuses, and understand how your body is changed by the skill. This not only allows you to advance to the next tier, but makes you more proficient in using the skill.”
“Alchemy skills are different. These require you to focus on your mana flowing through the formulae to decipher and comprehend how it causes the phenomena in the world known as alchemy. Most of you will find yourself more talented in either martial or alchemical skills as your skills grow. Although there are sometimes exceptions with people good at either both or none.”
One of the male students in class, Quaz Rimuris, sticks his hand into the air and asks, “Excuse me, Mr. River, but is there a way to test what type of skills you are more proficient in?”
“No, you will only be able to find out once you try and learn different skills. You may also be better at using a particular type of gun, or element of alchemy,” Mr. River promptly ignores the student after replying to avoid any followup questions.
“Alchemy can be used for attack and defence. It can also summon spirits and creatures from other worlds, create supplementary effects for your weapons, and be used for support abilities. You will be learning two different alchemy skills today: ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’ and ‘Vigorous Earth Alchemy’. They are both ranked as ordinary alchemy skills so are relatively easy to level up and will help you all form a good foundation.”
“I have both the skill books here for you,” Mr. River withdraws two stacks of thin skill books, one ice blue while the other an earthen brown, from his personal inventory and stacks them on his desk.
“I can’t be bothered handing them out so come up one at a time, starting from Piora sitting in the front. The student on the right of the previous student, going from the front row to the rear, will then come up. Same deal as yesterday, if you already have the skill, no need to come up.”
Following the teacher’s directions, Piora Flameheart stands up from her seat and collects one of both skill books before returning to her spot. The student on her right then repeats this process, followed by the subsequent person.
This continues until everyone has approached the teachers table to pick up the skill books. Out of the entire class, three students had one of the skills already and only one had both.
Regal places his hand on one of the skill books and a translucent window appears in front of him.
Minimum requirements to learn the skill ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’: ~ Level 1 ~ Int 10 Would you like to learn ‘Ice Heart Alchemy'? Yes / No
Immediately selecting yes, Regal repeats this process with the skill book for ‘Vigorous Earth Alchemy’. Once the skills are learned, he opens the skills to select his first Divine Art. Both skills have four branches and four Divine Arts for him to select from.
Ice Heart Alchemy: (Tier 1) Chilling Wind - Creates an icy wind with the range of in front of the caster to slow down the enemy. Be wary of friendly fire. Chilling Wind Cost: 20 mana Range: 10 Yards ~ Slows down enemy by 5% for 2 minutes. (Tier 1) Ice Gauntlet - Summons a single gauntlet made from compressed ice. Physical attacks deal ice damage. Ice Gauntlets Cost: 40 mana Damage: 6-7(Ice) Defence: 5 Duration: 15 minutes (Tier 1) Ice Bullet - Summons a single bullet of ice to suit the current equipped gun. Deals ice damage in addition to weapon damage. Does not work for large calibre guns or energy weapons. Ice Bullet Cost: 5 mana Damage: 4-6(Ice) (Tier 1) Frozen Spear - Fires a single spear of ice at the designated target. Frozen Spear Cost: 15 mana Range: 50 yards Damage: 18-20(Ice)
Vigorous Earth Alchemy: (Tier 1) Earth Shield - Creates a thin wall of earth in front of the caster. This wall has a short duration and can be easily broken through. Earth Shield Cost: 25 mana Damage absorption: 40 Duration: 20 seconds (Tier 1) Rock Cannon - Fires a stone bullet at the designated target. Rock Cannon Cost: 15 mana Range: 50 yards Damage: 18-20 (Tier 1) Quagmire - Causes the ground in front of the caster to become sticky and slow down the enemy. Does not work on flying targets. Target must be on natural earth. Quagmire Cost: 20 mana Range: 10 yards ~ Slows down enemy by 10% for 3 minutes. (Tier 1) Stone Skin - The skin of the caster takes on the properties of stone and increases defence. Stone Skin Cost: 40 mana Defence: 10 Duration: 10 minutes ~ +5% damage resistance against melee weapons.
From ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’, Regal chooses the Divine Art ‘Ice Bullet’ as that will allow whatever gun he has to have unlimited ammo as long as he has mana. It also deals additional damage on top of his weapon damage. This Divine Art is just a popular with the rest of the class for the same reason and nearly half of the students choose it.
He also chooses the most popular Divine Art from ‘Vigorous Earth Alchemy’, ‘Stone Skin’. More than half the class choose this skill which will actively increase their body’s defence even if they are wearing armour.
“Good,” Mr. River slaps the teacher’s desk noisily to reclaim the students’ attention. “Now that you have all chosen your first divine art, we will be going to the gym to practice them. Class 1 will be joining us today.”
Unlike the usual excitement, the class is full of depressed expressions as the students remember the pain of the yesterday’s duels. Regardless, they follow the teacher to the gym where class 1 is already waiting.
The teacher for class 1 is an intimidating looking man standing six and a half feet tall and wearing tight clothes that cling to his every muscle. Many students shrink back in fear upon seeing him.
“Students, this is the teacher for class 1, Mr. Razor. He is kind enough to guide you all in practice for today. I will be attending to other matters.” Mr. River lazily nods his head toward Mr. Razor before turning around and wandering off with a weary step.
Mr. Razor looks down on class 4 and nods his head sternly, “Welcome, Class 4. Unfortunately, you’re teacher is a disgraceful slacker and has gone off to sleep in some dark corner. I will properly guide you for today and help you get to know your new alchemy. I don’t know who is who, so I will go over your roll call. Let me know who you are when your name is called.”
Despite his intimidating appearance, many of the students find the teacher from class 1 to be quite friendly. Mr. Razor’s expression covers the fact that he is actually feeling incredibly nervous due to this being only his third day of directing and teaching others.
Once Mr. Razor has finished learning the names of all the students of class 4, he combines the classes together and separates them into groups depending on what Divine Art they chose from ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’.
The largest group are those that selected ‘Ice Bullet’ with a total of 31 students. The other three groups are significantly less, especially the group who chose ‘Chilling Wind’ which only has four people.
“Students, now that you are in your respective groups, you will each practice your Divine Arts. Those who chose ‘Ice Bullet’ will shoot the targets against the wall from ninety feet. The ‘Frozen Spear’ group will attack the targets on the other wall from forty feet away. ‘Chilling Wind’ and ‘Ice Gauntlets’ will do some friendly sparing amongst your group to get used to the Divine Arts.”
“Remember to focus and study how your mana forms and flows through the alchemy formulae. Comprehending these profundities will help you level it up faster and grow stronger.”
“I also have rations that you can eat to boost mana recovery when you run out of mana for your Divine Arts.”
The students completely forget about the teacher in the next moment and move to each area to practice their skills. Lining up along with all the other students facing the east wall of the gym, Regal takes his gun out from his personal inventory and equips it. He currently doesn’t have a gun holster that will suit the revolver so he is forced to store it in his inventory whenever he isn’t using it.
With the weapon in one hand, Regal upturns the palm of his other hand and focuses on the knowledge in his brain imparted by the skill and activates ‘Ice Bullet’.
A small circular alchemical formulae materializes over his hand, not any larger than his palm, with a dim, icy-blue radiance. A few patterns and equations form within the ring that is the alchemical formulae. As this is only a Tier 1 Divine Art, the formulae is relatively simple. Every subsequent tier of Divine Arts along the same skill branch will have the same base Formulae, only with an additional layer per tier added to it.
Having four skill branches, the ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’ has four different base formulae for its alchemy. The Over-Tier Divine Art of each base formulae is when it is at its most advanced with eleven layers of patterns, symbols and equations. Despite the skill being ranked as an ordinary alchemy skill that beginners will learn, these Over-Tier Divine Arts are all incredibly powerful.
Regal focuses on the link between his mana and the single layer alchemy formulae over the palm of his hand. Despite ice crystallizing over the formulae and creating a .38 bullet for the ‘M3 Simple Revolver’, he can’t gain any comprehension of the Divine Art and skill at all. To Regal, the formulae isn’t a puzzle to solve, but something completely incomprehensible.
Being unable to understand even the first step in the skill is not uncommon, but Regal never had this problem when comprehending ‘Future Sight’. When he focused on his inherent skill, Regal could see through the skill and slowly start to learn its mysteries right from the start.
Creating five more ‘Ice Bullets’ and loading them into the revolver, Regal’s mana drops to seventy points left. Despite staring at the alchemical formulae five more times, he is still left not being able to comprehend the logic behind the phenomena.
Regal is currently unaware of it, but the difference between comprehending ‘Future Sight’ and ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’ is simply the difference of talent.
The other three Soulless students, Astore, Kilde and Veronica, also have some difficulties in understanding the new skill and their Divine Arts. Despite this, they still have more progress than Regal. To them, the first step of comprehending the Divine art is very similar to an itch tugging at the corner of their minds.
Temporarily setting aside his attempts to understand his Divine Art, Regal fires all six ‘Ice Bullets’ at the target ahead of him. Rather than the sound of gunpowder exploding, the bullets are fired off with the noise of ice cracking. Three of six bullets hit the target, leaving a small frosted section around each bullet penetration point.
Repeating the process of creating ‘Ice Bullets’ and firing them at the target, Regal constantly tries to analyse the alchemy formulae used to create the bullets until he is out of mana. Despite his efforts, he still lacks the slightest understanding of the skill.
Regal approaches the teacher and is given a small blue bar called a ‘Mana Ration’. It is only a low quality supplement, but it is the perfect supplement for beginners to recover mana.
Mr. Razor also gives a few words of advice to Regal before attending to the next student approaching.
“Regal, use the time that you’re mana is regenerating to study the formulae. The higher your comprehension, the faster it will level up.”
Regal returns to his position in the largest group of people and sits on the ground while chewing the ‘Mana Ration’. After finishing the small bar of food, his mana regeneration increases from one point every two minutes, to ten points every minute. This effect will last for ten minutes before his mana regeneration returns to the normal speed.
With no current insights into his alchemy skill, Regal turns his gaze to look at the other Soulless students, who he considers to be friends. Astore Jone is one of the few who learned ‘Ice Gauntlet’. He is currently sparring with another student as they clash their gauntlets together to not only train the skill, but also become more accustomed to wielding the gauntlets.
Kilde Fen chose the ‘Frozen Spear’ Divine Art, a considerably strong attack that has caused half the wall on the other side of the gym to become covered in frost. He is currently sitting down while recovering mana but Regal witnesses the formidability of the Divine Art from the student next to him, who fires an ice spear at one of the practice dummies.
Veronica Hayfare chose the fourth Divine Art from the ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’ skill, ‘Chilling Wind’. As the Divine Art has no attack power and is simply a control skill, she and the seven other students are currently casting the skill on one another. Even those sitting down to recover mana are no exception to being targeted.
Regal’s mana completely recovers after a ten minute rest and he resumes creating ‘Ice Bullets’ and firing them at the targets. Half the morning is spent in this cycle of using his Divine Art and then replenishing his mana with ‘Mana Rations’. Despite all his effort, he still has no comprehension of the skill.
Mid-morning, Mr Razor stops everyone using their Divine Arts so as to have them start practicing the second alchemy skill they learned, ‘Vigorous Earth Alchemy’.
He also says a few words to encourage the less proficient students, “Everyone who had difficulty comprehending the profoundness of ‘Ice Heart Alchemy’, do not let it get you down. Some people who aren’t skilled in ice alchemy are skilled in other elements. There has never been a person who had no skill in all of the alchemy elements.”
“Next we will practice the ‘Vigorous Earth Alchemy’. It will be a little different this time however. Those who learned ‘Stone Wall’ will pair up with someone with ‘Rock Cannon’. ‘Quagmire’ and ‘Stone Skin’ students will also form groups of two and move into the yard for practice. Any students who are left can join an already formed group or self-study.”
All the students move about in an incoherent mess. They hurry to find someone with the opposite skill for them to pair up with. The four Soulless students gather together and are surprised that all four of them chose separate Divine Arts. This also makes it incredibly easy for the students who others avoid to form pairs.
“Regal, big sis Veronica will take care of you today,” Veronica pulls on Regal’s cuff as they head outside the gym to practice in the yard.
The reason these groups are practicing outside the gym is due to ‘Quagmire’ requiring natural earth to be the target. The metallic floor in the gym is too hard and would cause the skill to fail.
Despite it raining outside, the students cheerfully run across the wet and muddy ground. The wind has a slight chill to it that makes a few shiver, but exercise quickly warms their bodies.
Veronica has long amber hair that has a slightly wild appearance as it flows down her back. She wears a couple of clips in attempt to keep it under control, but it has little effect. Her eyes are amber like her hair, only more vibrant. While not being as beautiful as Piora Flameheart or Hazel Marquis, her impeccable face has a charm of its own. If she was not already labelled as a Soulless, most of the class would have already approached her to make friends.
Veronica’s school uniform is kept in pristine condition, but at the moment the rain is causing it to stick to her body, revealing the still developing womanly curves. Two mounds have formed on her chest that will attract the eyes of many men in a few years. She is 4 foot 7 inches tall, two inches above Regal and one of the taller girls in class.
“Veronica, didn’t you also have ‘Chilling Wind’? Why did you pick two control Divine Arts when one would have worked?” Regal asks her in puzzlement, thinking her choice of Divine Arts doesn’t make sense.
“So I can respond to any situation. I am going to focus my alchemy on control Divine Arts to be prepared for any situation. Also, I can use both skills on one enemy to have an increased effect.”
“I understand now. Sorry, I didn’t see it before.”
“It’s fine. We’re friends so we will have to form a squad when we get the chance. I will hold back the enemy while you quickly kill them.”
“I look forward to it.”
As the conversation between the two finishes, they both prepare to use their Divine Arts. Regal uses ‘Stone Skin’ first, feeling his skin tighten and become more robust. Moving the body with ‘Stone Skin’ on is actually more difficult compared to without. This makes Regal’s actions seem stiff and uncoordinated. His speed has also dropped by a fraction as well.
Veronica casts ‘Quagmire’ in the area Regal is currently in, causing the earth to become boggy and have a suctioning effect. Due to the wet weather and ground already saturated, the effect of the Divine Art is increased. Regal’s feet would normally sink about an inch into the ground to slow him down, but he has currently sunk all the way to his ankles.
With the restraint from both ‘Quagmire’ and ‘Stone Skin’, Regal drags his feet as he walks in circles around the inner perimeter of Veronica’s Divine Art. She finds his helpless struggle to be a sign of his weakness and decides that in the future, she will be there to protect him. Being a Soulless, there is no questioning the decision or second thought; it is a logical choice that instantly becomes a part of her.
Regal is unaware of Veronica’s decision and simply continues trudging through the mud.
Mr. Razor comes out of the gym several times to check on the progress of the students in the yard and ensure there is no bullying occurring. He hands out ‘Mana Rations’ to the students when outside, but otherwise Regal and the others are forced to go back inside to get the supplement. While their mana is regenerating, the students sit beneath a covered area, protecting them from the rain.
During the lunch break, every student plays in the open field while casting their new alchemy upon one another. Of course, those with offensive alchemy Divine Arts fire then at the ground or the school wall, which fortunately doesn’t break, to show off.
Nearly every student is forced to sit on their knees in the school hallway as they are saturated and covered in mud from ‘Quagmires’. A few who ended up being the targets of ‘Chilling Wind’ are shivering with running noses. These students receive a small and round anti-cold pill to prevent them getting a negative status effect.
The afternoon followed the same procedure as yesterday with the students duelling one another. Guns were permitted as not every student had an offensive Divine Art, but Martial Skills are banned.
Yesterday’s first match included Piora, one of the two geniuses recognized by the other students in class four. Today, Hazel is in the first duel. Her opponent was another girl by the name of Gertrude, a student who had shown some talent in both ice and earth element alchemy.
In contrast to Piora’s fiery red hair and equally explosive temper, Hazel has light blue hair, braided and hanging down over her shoulder. Her personality is also much more docile compared to the former. When placed together, they are like the opposite sides of a coin.
The duel begins and Gertrude begins by casting ‘Chilling Wind’ and ‘Rock Cannon’ at Hazel. The control Divine Art is unavoidable and Hazel’s entire movement is slowed down accordingly. With a sluggish wave of her arm, the formulae for an alchemy skill that no other student has learned materializes. This is her inherent skill ‘Mountain Pond Alchemy’.
In front of Hazel, the Tier 2 Divine Art activates and creates a waterfall. The ‘Rock cannon collides with the heavily flowing water and without enough power to penetrate it, is swept away by the current. Frustrated, Gertrude draws her training revolver and shoots at the waterfall. The bullets have much less power than the ‘Rock Cannon’ and are obviously too weak to penetrate the defence.
Had she focused all six bullets on a single point, she would have been able to create an accumulative effect and break through the defence. She is simply too young and inexperienced to be able to think of such a plan.
A small hole two inches thick opens in the curtain of water and a ‘Frozen Spear’ flies out and stabs Gertrude through the chest, causing her to bite her lip in pain as tears form in the corner of her eyes. Despite the miserable expression, she forces herself to keep fighting in the duel hoping to hit Hazel at least once or twice.
The waterfall eventually ends and so does Hazel’s indomitable defence. She also uses her revolver to fire several rounds at Gertrude, but the other girl effectively dodges, and is only hit by a single bullet.
Firing several rounds at each other, even Hazel is hit twice, putting her performance below Piora who effortlessly won yesterday.
This entire time, Hazel is monitoring Gertrude’s movements, building up knowledge on how she dodges and attacks. Once she has enough information, she suddenly stops moving and Gertrude’s next bullet misses her by a hairs width.
An alchemy formulae for the Divine Art ‘Frozen Spear’ appears before Hazel and ice coalesces in front of her to form the ice spear. Hoping she will run out of mana soon, Gertrude happily dodges to the side a second after the ‘Frozen Spear’ is launched. To her utter surprise and shock, the spear of ice pierces through her shoulder as if it changed trajectory to follow her. She bites her lip in pain and hastily jumps back to the other side as Hazel uses the same Divine Art again.
Hazel has already predicted where Gertrude will dodge to, and aims her spear for the centre if that point. The ‘Frozen Spear’ causes the air to emit a frostbiting chill as it seems to already know where Gertrude will be and pierces through her abdomen. A third spear quickly appears while the girl struggling against the pain looks up in shock and hastily announces her defeat.
Using so much alchemy as a level 1 student would normally be impossible, especially after using the Tier 2 Divine Art. Hazel was only able to do this because she had reached the third tier of her inherent skill ‘Mountain Pond Alchemy’. The Tier 3 Divine Art of the alchemy path she decided to follow is a Passive Divine Art that increased her maximum mana by thirty points.
Passive Divine Arts can increase all stats, and there is no limit to the amount that can be accumulated. Tier 3 Divine Arts are usually these passive bonuses with only a few exceptions. Regal’s ‘Future Sight’ skill is one of these strange exceptions and doesn’t have any passive bonuses.
The entire afternoon consists of different students duelling one another and getting used to their new skills. The duels also help some of the students understand their skills more, and further their insights into the alchemical formulae. Regal wins two duels thanks to the assistance of ‘Foresight’, but loses one against Hazel Marquis herself, which was predicted by all the other students.
Despite this, he still has no greater understanding of the two alchemy skill than when he first learned them.
The school day ends and the rain outside also stops. A few dregs drip from above, and the roads are still covered in small puddles, but the warm yellow glow of the evening sun is reflected through Grand City Theore and fills everything with a peaceful atmosphere. Many residents come out of their homes to sit in the sun, bathing in the warmth that reaches their bones and fills them with the feeling of life.
Regal walks home by himself and is captivated by the golden light reflecting off the water along the cobblestone streets. The occasional drips of water and jubilant chatter fills the city he walks through.