Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis, Orang
Author’s notes: Three chapters of CotE left. Editing is more hands on for me from this chapter onwards, could be up to an hour release between each one. Actually, make that up to two hours, there is a bit there.
A small tidbit of information you may find interesting, The second Mutant Stone Beast was originally called Lorde, which was similar to the first, Lande. I had to change this to Lore however due to when their names were too close together it kept sounding like “Landlord”.
Chapter 5: Compounding Preparations
The day after crafting all the villa’s basic furnishings, Regal wakes up to the morning sunlight filtering in through the wooden window. The hazy light banishes the nighttime chill and replaces it with a stagnant warmth.
Veronica is sleeping alongside Regal again, her head burrowed in his chest to escape the nighttime chill. Her eyes flutter open when she detects Regal shifting around, her eyes slowly coming into focus as her mind becomes more attentive.
“It’s time for breakfast. Is there anything in particular you want?” Regal asks lovingly, replacing his arm around her and holding her close.
Veronica allows herself to be pulled into Regal’s embrace, calmly replying to him, “Anything you want.”
“You know, it’s fine to be more assertive.”
“All options are equal for me, so I will leave it to your decision.”
Regal feels conflicted inside. He understands how she thinks and that she is doing what she believes to be the most beneficial for him in allowing him to choose what he prefers. At the same time, Regal does sincerely hope Veronica can have more desires even if she is a Soulless.
Regal thinks back to the time in the Temple of Life where he experienced the ground shaking change of gaining a “soul”. He wonders if there is a way to emulate that change for her as well. If there was, Regal knows Veronica would change considerably and have a wider range of thoughts and opinions on all matters. He may not have the means to do it now, but at least he knows it is possible for a Soulless to gain a “soul”.
Astore, Kilde, Piora, and Aqua convene with Regal and Veronica in the kitchen downstairs, everyone impatiently waiting for food. They can all cook or prepare food to a certain extent, but everyone still adamantly wants Regal’s cooking and so they wait for him to prepare breakfast.
After a short meal of barley bread with a fruit cream topping, everyone exhales in satisfaction. Piora speaks up at the same time and asks, “Regal, when do you start work for the community? I want to go to the dungeon nearby and see what it’s like.”
Regal nods his head and immediately replies, “I have also been wanting to go have a look at the dungeon. I will start working for Lord Solace tomorrow and our team works for three or four days a week so I won’t be able to go during those days. I was planning to bring up the idea of going to the dungeon today.”
Piora smiles contently, but her eyes reveal her true excitement. She had spent four years going to only a single dungeon, so this completely new and unknown dungeon makes her tremble with barely hidden anticipation.
Aqua finishes her meal and adds to the conversation, “I also want to look at the local notice board. There may be a few requests from the Hunter’s Association there. We should try completing a few bronze rank quests if we get the chance.”
“But there isn’t a Hunter’s Association in this community. How can there be requests from them here?” Regal furrows his brow and asks in confusion.
“Hmph!” Aqua snorts before pridefully stating, “Father told me that even though there is no Hunter’s Association in these small communities, there are still a few requests from them when the area the community in is related to the request. The local lord will act as the connection for the Association and post requests on their behalf.”
Hearing Aqua say that it was her father King Tanner who told her, he nods his head in understanding. As the king of one of the grand cities and a doting father, it is only natural he would tell Aqua as much information as he could. Regal had learned a lot of information on communities in the academy, but this was unfortunately one of the few things he had never been taught much about.
“It’s decided then! We will go have a look at this request board on our way to the dungeon,” Regal states loudly before standing up and proceeding to collect everyone’s dishes.
Just as Regal was about to take everything to the kitchen to wash the dishes, Piora moves beside him and takes them from his hands before saying, “I will clean up, you join everyone else and help them make preparations.”
Piora’s true intention is simply that she wants to depart as soon as possible. Rather than Regal casually cleaning up, she plans to quickly complete the task so they can leave sooner. Regal is able to see Piora’s excitement towards going to the dungeon so he doesn’t refute her and leaves with the others to get everything ready for the trip.
Considering the group will only be going for a day, there isn’t much preparation to be made. Regal also has food already prepared for everyone to last the day.
Veronica follows Regal into a stone room at the back of the house where several long tables are prepared. There are no windows in this room, as it was originally a storage room, but Regal has cut out a thin slit window near the ceiling which lets in ample light and still prevents anyone outside from seeing in. The window slit also has another purpose, which is the reason why Regal created the window in the first place; ventilation.
Regal operates a translucent screen in front of him and one by one begins to take out various pieces of equipment. It is mostly cast iron stands and glass beakers of various shapes and sizes, but there are also a few other strange pieces of equipment which Regal places in auspicious spots around the table.
“What is this?” Veronica asks emotionlessly, but her interest in what Regal is doing shows she is not completely emotionless.
“This is ‘Compounding’,” Regal says with a smile as he finishes setting up the various equipment, “I don’t know what will be waiting for us inside the dungeon, so I’m going to prepare a few antidotes for poison and paralysis. Actually, I want to prepare more items just in case, but I only have a few items that can be used in compounding so this is all I can create.”
Regal sighs in dejection. He is lacking in herbs and alchemical ingredients that can be used in alchemy. When he trained in the skill, his teacher painstakingly provided everything. Even though they were mostly the worst quality, the sum of money they were worth was terrifying to Regal.
Regal first takes out half a dozen emerald colored ‘Fragrant Serpent Pearl (Low)’ which are commonly known to be poisonous. They are a small stone often dropped by Wasteland Serpents, a type of weak mutant beast which flourishes in the north, and are extremely valuable as a base for making antidotes. Fortunately, there are simply too many hunters killing the mutant beasts to harvest these pearls so the number of them available are always astronomically high. This means they are sold relatively cheap despite their usefulness and is precisely the reason why Regal, who is quite poor, was still able to afford to purchase six of them.
Veronica looks on curiously as Regal places one of the pearls in a reasonably wide glass beaker before using his ‘Flame Forge Alchemy’, Tier 1 Divine Art ‘Radiant Flame’ to create a small fire beneath the beaker. Regal’s concentration tightens as he restrains the heat of the flame as much as possible to avoid burning the pearl.
“Isn’t that poisonous?” Veronica asks as she only understands where the pearl came from and not its uses in ‘Compounding’.
Regal chuckles lightly, his concentration still focused on the beaker and keeping the reaction under his complete control and replies, “It is indeed poisonous. However, the antidotes to the poisons of the world are actually made from the poisons themselves. I only have to extract the core part of the poison first.”
“So that is ‘Compounding’? I will remember it. What else can you do with the skill other than take away the poison of this pearl to make an antidote?” Veronica stands close to Regal, but not so close that she disturbs him in extracting the poison from the ‘Fragrant Serpent Pearl (Low)’ in the beaker before him.
“Hmm, you’re interested in this? I can tell you what I know. I have only mastered ‘Compounding – Beginner’ which is only the most basic of the crafting skills. As the beginner level of ‘Compounding’, it focuses mainly on learning the four base techniques: extracting, refining, combining, and strengthening.”
“The skill manipulates the hidden qualities of items to create potions, poisons, tinctures, pills, or even a combination of them into a single product. The crafter using the skill needs to learn the hidden qualities of items in order to be able to manipulate them as they wish. Any crafter can use a recipe someone has created or taught, but to understand the nature of the items is the truest height a crafter can aim for.”
“Let me show you. Watch as I create the antidote.”
Veronica moves a little closer to Regal in order to see his actions more clearly. At the same time, Regal continues explaining to Veronica what he is doing and how he is doing it.
First he extracts the core of the poison from the Pearl with the heat of the ‘Radiant Flame.’ A dark green liquid emitting a sinister looking vapor seeps out of the Pearl. He then siphons the liquid out of the beaker and into a separate narrow vial. All the while, Regal continues talking to Veronica and describes the nature of the pearl and poison to her so she can understand.
The ‘Fragrant Serpent Pearl’ is the most basic ingredient for all poisons and antidotes, so there is no way Regal wouldn’t know its nature and hidden qualities. Nearly every crafter with ‘Compounding’ would have the exact same knowledge he did. It could even be found on the first floor library at the Hunter’s Association that Regal could access after just becoming a bronze rank member.
Regal places a stopper in the vial to prevent the poison from spreading out into the room and affecting both himself and Veronica. The ‘Fragrant Serpent Pearl (Low)’ that is left in the earlier beaker is no longer a poisonous green, but instead a milky white color.
Regal takes the beaker away from the flame, rolling the pearl out of it and into a wide stone bowl, allowing it to rest in the center. The ‘Radiant Flame’ is then moved to the stone bowl, directly enveloping the pearl and melting it into liquid.
In another beaker, Regal has a tincture created from a ‘Medicinal Herb (Low)’ soaking in a vial of water. The ‘Medicinal Herb’ is another base ingredient that a large number of mutant beasts can drop on death or be harvested from the wild in certain locations. Regal had enough foresight to have kept the ones he earned in the Theore Substructure dungeon, so he has a quite a few of them. He can also continually keep them in his inventory due to their near non-existent weight.
Piora, Aqua, Kilde, and Astore enter the room and join Veronica as Regal continues explaining ‘Compounding’ and the nature of items.
“This ‘Fragrant Serpent Pearl (Low)’ has the hidden quality of poison. While it isn’t very strong in comparison to the poison some mutant beasts have, it is extremely pure and has no other hidden qualities mixed in to dilute it. Placing it in the flame will further refine it and remove impurities. Of course, the quality of the flame will result in varying effectiveness.”
While talking, Regal removes the flame and reveals the pure white liquid which was once a pearl. He picks up the stone bowl, which is moderately hot due to Regal’s control over the fire, and moves it casually out of the way after pouring the melted pearl into another beaker much like the earlier one but of a medium size. He then brings over the watery tincture with the ‘Medicinal Herb (Low)’ soaking in it and pours that in too.
Veronica and the others watch in surprise as a strange change takes place. The herb flows with the water into the small beaker with the melted pearl. As the two mixtures combine, the medicinal herb begins to disintegrate, turning into small green wisps that float around the mixture like small green snakes.
“It’s done,” Regal says happily, taking the antidote potion and pouring it into two vials before sealing them with a small cork, “The hidden qualities of poison and life come together to create this antidote. It is only a basic potion, but it will cure the poison of most mutant beasts below level 20 and even some below level 30.”
Regal picks up the complete potion and examines it, an opaque window appearing in front of him revealing its status.
General Antidote A single dose potion that will cure all basic poisons. Item Grade: Ordinary Effect: ~ Cure ‘Poisoned’ status
Regal closes the item status screen in front of him with a smile of satisfaction and places the vial antidote on a wide rack prepared for exactly this. He then returns to work as he employs his entire concentration and begins to create more antidotes. The only difference this time is that he is creating several potions in separate beakers at once, instead of just one. Despite the amount of work and concentration needed increasing drastically, Regal doesn’t make a single mistake.
Ten more antidotes exactly the same as before are made from the five remaining serpent pearls. Regal distributes them so that everyone has two each in case of an emergency.
“You should have prepared these earlier!” Piora complains in a sour voice, irritated that they can’t leave for the dungeon immediately.
Regal only smiles back with a helpless shrug, inwardly acknowledging that they are still getting accustomed to living with each other. Despite being apologetic, he doesn’t stop crafting potions. He takes out a new batch of alchemical items and quickly creates six vials of paralysis antidote.
Regal was tempted to use some ‘Rockdust Fragments (Low)’ to enhance the paralysis antidotes through the strengthening process of ‘Compounding’, but eventually decided against it. Strengthening the potions would only give a temporary resistance against paralysis as well as curing it, but the chances of running into a mutant beast that would require that is too low. Instead, he uses the ingredients which have the hidden quality of hardness to create six more potions which will temporarily increase defense.
After everything is prepared, Regal then hands everyone a single vial of each potion. There is a single defense potion that has a stronger effect than the others due to using a ‘Rockdust Fragment(Medium)’, which he decides to hand to Kilde who fights in close combat more than the others.
Basic Paralysis Antidote A single dose potion that will revitalize the body and remove standard paralysing effects. Item Grade: Ordinary Effect: ~ Cure ‘Paralysis’ status
Stone Skin Elixir A single dose potion that hardens the skin to help resist enemy attacks. Effect does not stack with similar potions. Item Grade: Ordinary Effect: ~ Increase defense by 8 points for 30 minutes
Stone Skin Elixir A single dose potion that hardens the skin to help resist enemy attacks. Effect does not stack with similar potions. Item Grade: Uncommon Effect: ~ Increase defense by 12 points for 40 minutes
Satisfied with everyone’s preparations now, Regal organizes his equipment and lines them up on the back of the bench. He needs to wipe away traces of the potions from the equipment he used to avoid contamination of future potions, but strangely none of the vials and beakers have a single trace of soot on them. This goes to show just how pure the ‘Radiant Flame’ Regal uses truly is.
Regal also takes the opportunity to take out all his equipment, placing them throughout the room while leaving a space to install a furnace in the future when he has enough gold to buy one. With all the equipment removed from his inventory, he now has room to store any items or treasures collected in the dungeon.
“Hurry up!” Piora angrily shouts, her patience clearly at an end. “I’m leaving! Are you coming or not?!”
Piora snorts heavily and turns around, leaving the room.
“Let’s go,” Regal calmly says, leading everyone out of his crafting room after Piora.
“So this is the local request board,” Regal says, his eyes affixed to the wooden post board in a house near the lord’s mansion.
Astore analyzes the board and is the first to respond with, “There don’t seem to be a lot of requests, and even less that are appropriate for our levels.”
“Hmph! We are strong, we could do at least half of them!” Piora boasts pridefully and ignores the disbelieving gazes of the rest of the squad focused on her.
“Anyway, let’s try find one we can do in the dungeon today.”
Regal stands in front of the request board with the rest of his squad. His two Mutant Stone Beasts, Lore and Lande, are currently waiting outside. The request board has nearly a hundred requests, but when matching it to the number of requests in Theore’s Hunter’s Association it truly pales in comparison.
Twenty of the requests have color borders, signifying they are commissions sent from the Hunter’s Association. The remainder have no border, and are simply a note with the written details from the person commissioning the local request. They also don’t have any level requirements, but any capable hunter should be able to tell if one is above their capability.
Of the association requests, most of them are silver grade, but several are for bronze card members. The squad ends up pulling one off the board that they decide is possible to accomplish today and takes it to a man in a bowler hat sitting behind the counter toward the back of the room.
“Collect at least 100 ‘Amber Flints’ from the Lost Water Caverns dungeon in the west. Are you sure you want to accept this request?” The bowler hat man politely asks Regal and the others as he looks over the request.
“Yes,” Regal confirms, the decision already having been unanimously accepted by everyone in the group before choosing the request.
“Good, there is a deadline of seven days for this request. You need to bring all the items back before then. You will be paid five bronze coins for every ‘Amber Flint’ you hand over, up to a maximum of a thousand, the client has requested no more than that.”
Nodding his head and accepting, Regal then turns around and leads his squad out of the small house that is responsible for managing the community’s requests. Since the commission they accepted is one from Theore Hunter’s Association and is also a bronze ranked request, it will be added to their association cards upon completion. Fortunately they do not need to deliver the goods back to Theore, as the client who commissioned it has arranged transportation themselves to save paying a significantly higher commission for the request.
The ‘Amber Flints’ are an uncommon drop from monsters in the first floor of the Lost Water Caverns, which coincides with Regal’s squad’s current destination.
“Shouldn’t we buy a map of the dungeon?” Aqua asks curiously as they walk toward the western gate.
“No, I have had a look at a few, and none of them are cheap. Not only that, but their quality isn’t very good so I would rather make a better one for us.”
“I can’t wait to see it!”
Lande and Lore stroll beside Regal while walking, taking up half the street in the process. Regal brings them not only because they will be great assets in fighting mutant beasts in the dungeon, but because they can also level up and become stronger just like Regal. The only downside is that any experience they get from killing other beasts will not be shared with the party.
It is already mid morning due to Regal’s delays preparing potions and deciding to find a request to accept. The sun shines behind the squad as they walk through the streets of Greyhorn Townsend, burning the rear of their necks under its ferocious heat.
As the squad are about to reach the western gate, a small group of three Greyhorn Guards walk up and greet them.
“Regal, a pleasure to meet you,” The foremost guard, a skinny man with thick leather armor and a face as pretty as a woman’s, says with a friendly smile that makes others instantly have a good impression of him. “I heard you are the latest promising crafter to join the lord’s service. My name is Jerule.”
“Hi, a pleasure to meet you,” Regal politely replies with sincerity. “I am just someone talented in crafting skills rather than martial or alchemy. I don’t believe I am that promising.”
“Hahaha, nonsense. I have heard Lord Solace and even our guard leader look favorably on you and are expecting good things. This must be your squad, it is a pleasure to meet you all. New members of our community are always welcome.”
“Thank you,” Veronica replies with a light smile, greatly surprising everyone with her sudden friendliness toward this Jerule.
The others of the squad also greet the guard and have a positive impression of him, but they are still shocked with Veronica being so friendly.
“I’m sure you will all get accustomed to our community and the area quickly. Where are you all headed today by chance?”
“We are going to the Lost Water Caverns,” Piora states proudly while sticking out her near non-existent chest. “We have a request there to collect ‘Amber Flints’ that we will complete today.”
“Oh, those are dropped by Rock Lizards on the first floor if I recall, but I’m sure you already knew that. Do you know the way there?”
Regal is the leader of the squad, so this is a part of his responsibility. He is still a new leader compared to most hunter standards but he confidently replies, “I have a map of the area around the community so getting there isn’t a problem.”
Jerule nods his head in understanding, as if this isn’t unusual for new hunters to purchase maps. He still seems to think before proposing, “How about us three guards go with you? We are actually off duty today and don’t have any plans, so we can help introduce you to the dungeon.”
Regal glances across his squad to see their opinion before pleasantly nodding his head and saying, “Thank you, that would be greatly appreciated.”
Jerule introduces the other two guards with him as Miner and Lanore, two close friends who are like brothers to him. The three of them are above level 40 and often go to the lower levels of the dungeon together when they are off-duty.
The group of now nine hunters and two mutant beasts leave the west gate in a bright mood, the guards stationed there even seeing them off with a smile. Jerule takes the lead of Regal’s squad, explaining to them the areas around the community while at the same time getting to know the members better.
“Oh, so you are in a relationship with Veronica, Regal?” Lanore, a man who seems to be deeply interested in romance, asks in surprise when the conversation leads toward how they know each other and their relationships.
“Yeah, we are,” Regal half closes his eyes and smiles to himself, inciting a short laugh from Jerule watching from the side.
“What about the rest of you four? There are still the two stunning young hunters Aqua and Piora, as well as the bachelors Kilde and Astore. Could it be there is more romance in this squad?”
“N-no, it’s nothing like that!” Aqua stammers, turning her head to hide her flustered expression.
Piora looks toward Regal and Veronica with a mischievous grin before saying, “I have no one I like. I am just the advisor for these two idiots.”
The conversation continues between the guards and Regal’s squad as they continue walking west toward Lost Water Cavern. Everyone is in a bright and cheerful mood, but Regal and his squad don’t seem to notice the cold and calculating expression that crosses Jerule’s handsome face from time to time.