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Triple Orb Academy V1 – Ch 1, Bad Start for a Board Quest
“Not only did the High Council banned Quilic tongues, they even want to cut the stocks of Feldra petals? This calls for a revolution I say!”
“Um… I don’t need those – ”
“What about Antwerp seeds? If you are talking about a conjuration potion, you definitely need that as an illusion base.”
“Like I said, what I need is – ”
“What about Harpfler Talons? Those birds are about to go extinct if the Philharmadeon guild does not watch what it is doing.”
He had entered the Alchemy shop looking for a crucial ingredient, but he ended up getting caught in the Alchemist’s woes. Ever since the High Council updated the present list of restrictions banning certain Alchemical ingredients, many of the Adults became frustrated.
Well, it honestly did not have that much of an effect on Cadeus since he was not even an Alchemist. Although Cadeus did not pay much attention to the details, all he knew was that the updated ban list was clearly not helping the mood of the Alchemist in front of him.
“Look… I know you are frustrated at the High Council for it’s new restrictions. Many mages I know also shared the same perspective – “
“Yes definitely! This is an outrage! Outrageous!!! Someone needs to tell the High Council that if they do not watch their actions, it’s going to be revolution! Revolution!”
Cadeus closed his eyes to the outbursts. The previous Alchemists he had interacted with had been projecting a similar rage, to the point where Cadeus was no longer a stranger towards such outwardly behaviour.
Now, under normal circumstances, Cadeus would have comforted the Alchemist on the basis that the High Council made changes for better reasons, and that the ban on some ingredients will be lifted in due time. But now was not the time for such talk.
As he lost his patience, Cadeus cut the alchemist short.
“Look, I am in a rush. Could you please help me with an ingredient?”
“Huh? Oh sorry, how can I help you?”
The Alchemist, returned to his senses, realized that Cadeus was a customer.
Even though the Alchemist was one of many with problems recently, a customer was still a customer. Now as the shopkeeper, the Alchemist had a responsibility to attend to his customers as an ingredient salesman. If he failed to serve and satisfy his customer, it would speak badly for business in various ways.
“I need an ingredient. Do you have something called Procona powder?” Cadeus asked.
“Procona? Sounds something that I might have… Say, aren’t you a student?”
Now that the Alchemist paid more attention to his customer, his eyes fell onto Cadeus’s attire.
Even though Cadeus was wearing his black outdoor coat, it did not conceal the single strand of black robe slash falling from his belt buckle to his knees.
The robe slash only had a golden line weaved at the edges but there were no distinctive patterns of the like at the very centre, marking Cadeus of his lowest standing within the hierarchy of magi.
“Yes.” Cadeus replied.
“Alchemical classes will not start until you become an Acolyte, so why are you buying ingredients?”
“It’s for a board quest.”
“A board quest?”
The Alchemist snorted.
“We’ll see about that. How do I know that claim to be real?”
It was as if Cadeus had expected to be asked with that question, for he instantly showed the Alchemist a crumpled piece of paper before placing it in front of the Alchemist on his desk.
Looking closely, on the top centre of the paper, there’s an emblem of the three orbs, identifying the Academy that Cadeus belonged to.
“OH! Triple Orb Academy! It’s been decades since I graduated from there.” The Alchemist exclaimed.
The contents of the single piece of document were as follows:
Quest title: Ingredient request, Procona Powder
Request: I need a substantial amount of Procona Powder for my research. 800 g worth would do the trick.
Quest deadline: As soon as possible, no more than the next five days, submit powder to Academy authorities.
Quest reward: 300 Duches
At the bottom of the paper, there were two signatures.
The first at the left was signed properly with a mark of the Academy’s insignia, indicating that this signature belonged to one of the Academy’s departmental heads that approved the broad quest. The other was signed on the right on its own at the corner of the paper that belonged to the quest commissioner.
“Oh I see, so the ingredient is for this board quest eh?”
“The commissioner must be an alchemist like myself!”
“I’m not too sure about that. He sounds like some other Specialist to me.”
“An Alchemical Specialist then!”
“No. A Specialist of a different sort.” Cadeus took his time to pace up with the Alchemist’s thoughts.
Dealing with eccentric mages really takes patience. For many who had dived into the research occupations, it was no surprise to come across a maniac. Countless Magi had spawned interest in advancing their knowledge of magic into the unknown realms of countless possibilities. Many who verified in the occupation often experienced many periods of… ‘Enlightenments’, causing them to be unpredictably enthusiastic and egoistic in many aspects.
Cadeus honestly had nothing against such a working mindset. However, it should not develop to the extent of it affecting your own social skills. But ego won’t be ego if social skills were affected. That’s the very sad thing about ego.
This Alchemist was one of many others in this world of Zeffernon, and encountering such mages could be said to be rather common. If you want to put it in statistics, about 65% you might come across were egoistic, 34% psychopaths, and the last 1% pure genius.
Of course, Cadeus only knew this partly from his own observation and also from the feed back of his own close friends.
But it would be best if Cadeus kept this opinion to himself; he wouldn’t want trouble anywhere right?
The Alchemist returned to work, going through a book that likely contains the lists of the ingredients that he had.
“Just give me a moment, now where is the P - P section?”
Cadeus took back the quest note.
“P – B, P – C, P… P…”
It looks like this would take a while…
Cadeus took his attention off the Alchemist and took a moment to observe the surrounding items within this shop.
Like most shops in Zeffernon, this one was a classic two-leveled shophouse. The first floor was mainly the shop itself. All items and things displayed were entirely related to alchemy; ingredients, equipments, books and even formula scrolls. Every item was organized according to label and classification.
Although he did not go up the stairs, Cadeus knew that the second floor would be the shop owner’s personal space. Perhaps the second level also displayed items for sale, perhaps not. Shops like these had the tendency to have less space than they needed. Displaying items for sale on the upper level was entirely part of the norm due to the lack of space. It’s either that, or certain items were purposely displayed on the second floor as a market strategy to target specific kinds of customers...
The first level in particular was big enough for the first to house everything this Achemist needs to sell, but Cadeus knew that whatever was displayed here was but a mere faction of what the major shopping districts had.
Normally, he would even be at those shopping districts right now. But in considering how Procona powder had been on low stock in pretty much everywhere, looking for it in those major shopping districts was a very bad idea.
The Alchemist suddenly resumed talking, but his eyes were still on the book.
“The educators approved in allowing students to collect alchemical ingredients?”
“Yes. They do.”
“Why? In my days in Triple Orb Academy, only acolytes are allowed to do this kind of board quest.”
Cadeus shook his head.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the Archmage about that. The academy’s curriculum system changed a year prior before I joined.”
“Changed one year ago? Just what is the Archmage thinking? Changing the system out of the sudden like that?”
“Like I said, I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” The Alchemist continued flipping the pages.
“Can’t think of a reason boy?”
“Even if I think I know something, it’s nothing but speculation, not truth.”
“What do you think?”
“Maybe the old cirriculum is too taxing.”
“Too taxing? I’m eight years your senior and I don’t call my cirriculum taxing.”
“Think of another reason boy.”
“I don’t know.”
“Think boy, think. Do you know what happens if I say ‘I don’t know’ to my Alchemist master?”
No, and I don’t really care. Cadeus thought.
“My master, banished me from his sight for ten days just for saying that. Ten, Days!”
“That must have been terrible.”
“You’re telling me. There is no ‘I don’t know’ in Alchemy, he used to tell me. Alchemy is an art of infinite possibilities. There is just so much to discover and explore, so never take ‘I don’t know’ for an answer. An Alchemist who doesn’t know is not an Alchemist.”
“But I’m not an Alchemist…”
“Don’t interrupt! Never interrupt an Alchemist’s thoughts! When I interrupted my master’s thoughts, he made me clean his dirty boots for four days!”
Sigh… here we go again…
This was Cadeus’s seventh encounter with such a mage.
He had already faced such a conversation six times already today.
Even if he could bear with it, the repetition of such egoistic comments really puts his patience to the absolute test.
Can’t he just give me the frigging ingredient already? He thought.
Like all previous attempts to talk to an Alchemist, this conversation was starting to drift off at an egoistic direction.
Cadeus might had been interested if he had some interest in Alchemy, but not at this particular moment. In fact, at this present rate it would only serve to discourage Cadeus to take Alchemy as an Academic choice. Who in their right mind would want to stomach such ego during their apprenticeship? The only ones who would do so, would be egoist maniac themselves, who would not even register such egoistic actions…
“I’m sorry, but can you make this quick? I’m running out of time.”
“Academy curfew eh? It’s still 4:30. You have plenty of time. Say boy, if you want to start on Alchemy, the best is to approach an Alchemical Educator. There is one such fellow in Triple Orb Academy. If I recall his name is… “
And there further goes the ego.
Cadeus could not really say much. Alchemists… they really love to tell you what they know.
It’s either they were stuck in their own world all the time, or –
“Say, I lost track! What’s the ingredient again?”
Cadeus gave the ninth sigh of the day.
…Egoistic mages, what else is there to expect? Cadeus cursed.
That Alchemist wasted at most thirthy minutes of his life, and he did not even have what he sought.
Although the Alchemist did sell the desired item, the stock ran out most recently. This was another classic example of missing the boat when it came to buying certain items. It will take another month’s worth of patience before the next stock arrives from the domain’s outskirts, but unfortunately the client did not have the luxury of time.
Cadeus would have to look for the ingredient elsewhere.
Talk about tough luck…
Walking out of the shop with a dissatisfied look, Cadeus took out a notebook from his side pocket and flipped to the page that contained all the list of Alchemist shops. Using a pencil, he marked the name of the shop he just entered with an X.
In consolidating what had just transpired, Cadeus saw that he now had seven Xs in total.
This is the seventh Alchemist shop that did not have Procona powder. There were only three more known Alchemist shops left on the list. Even if today was the second day since the quest was initiated, it could get quite demoralizing facing seven shops straight that failed to have the desired ingredient.
There were three more shops to go at the moment, and the deadline was three days away. Even if the next three shops did not have Procona powder, there could still be countless more Alchemical shops in this city to check.
“There should still be Procona powder in stock somewhere. We’ll just have to look harder.”
Looking at the list now, there might still be time to go through the remaining three shops.
But the time now should be…
Cadeus took out his pocket watch. With a click at the button, the cover flipped to the side.
It’s already 4:54 pm.
Damn that Alchemist… it was 4:28 when I came in and he deliberately starts ranting for almost half an hour.
Cadeus closed the cover and kept the pocket watch.
Academy curfew was at 6 pm sharp.
It would be wise to conclude the day, or else they won’t make it back to the Academy in time.
Cadeus kept the book and pencil.
Now then… where should he proceed to return to their meeting point?
Cadeus searched within his sling bag and tooked out a rolled piece of parchment. As he opened it, he took a good look at the map of the district he’s currently in.
This map was magically enchanted to track the user’s location with a singular mark. While the size was small, the linings on the map would automatically adjust itself in presicion to the user’s present location, as long as the user was within the mapping grounds. It was procured at a steep price of 70 Duches, but the pay was worth it for the Thuranian district was one of the larger districts within this city. Getting around it was not easy without a map.
From the map, he’s at the far edge of the Thuranian district.
As Cadeus traced his finger across the grids, he soon learned that the meeting point was about 600 meters away. In memorizing the fastest route, Cadeus rolled back the map and kept it back into his sling bag. Once he made sure he had everything ready, he stepped onto the stone paved road in the middle of the shopping district and started tracking back to the meeting point.
If he walks fast, he would reach there by 5:15 pm.
If the others were there by the time Cadeus reached the Café, they would be back in Academy grounds by around 5:50 pm.
Not only would they be able to reach curfew, they would be just in time for dinner.
Good and convenient, just like how Cadeus liked to settle things.
Cadeus looked up.
“… Dark clouds, it’s definitely going to rain heavily soon.”
Cadeus felt a drop of rain land on his head.
“Shit! It’s raining?”
“What? I did not see any dark clouds.”
“Mommy it’s raining.”
“Come here dear, don’t stand in the rain.”
“Honey! Get the goods inside!”
“Don’t worry, I’m getting the shades!”
Cadeus brought his hands to the back of his head and pulled his hood over.
A slight drizzle soon poured into a waterfall.
As Cadeus ran, his outer coat gained weight, and Cadeus knew how wet his coat is going to be. He also began to feel the heavy weight of the puddles of water splashing all around his feet.
The nearest shelter was just a few feet away. Once he had a brief escape from the rain, Cadeus paused and had a good look around.
Shop owners were rushing to hide their goods back into their shops, or putting up extensive shades to protect them from the rain. The rest of the people all around him are either running, waiting under shelter or finding ways to use magic to their advantage.
Some tried to use fire spells as a means to counter the rain, but the opposing natural elements resulted in steam that ended up disrupting eye vision. Others tried using magic to create a layer of Earth above them, but from moment they tried to take a piece of the concrete stones off the paved roads they got yelled at by the shop owners who spotted them in time.
So far, the most successful mage he had seen to deal with the rain is for him to use magic to project a paranormal layer of water above head to replace an umbrella. It’s convenient, very convenient, but Cadeus knew he would never be able to replicate that effort. Due of the colour of magic he had in his blood, he could not manipulate water.
Looking up again, it looks like it would be heavy downpour for at least half an hour.
Sighing, Cadeus took a deep breath.
This is going to be very wet. He thought.
He focused on the route he memorized and started running.
Cadeus had to be careful though. Glancing to check his twelve and his six, Cadeus made sure that he kept to the main road. The reason why he had to be very careful was because of the location. Cadeus was currently at the edge of a major district that’s considered far from the city center. The buildings around here had the tendency to look similar due to architectural similarities. If he did not constantly check his bearings, it was very easy to get lost, especially when Cadeus had no room to take out the map.
Zeffernon was not as convenient as Earth when it came to finding your way.
On Earth, there were various landmarks that were easy to note due to the diversity of buildings that shared unique designs and colour differences. Also, confirmation of your present location was made easy with numerous signboards dictating directions and locations of roads, buildings and sites. All you need were the names of the buildings and the roads around you.
But in Zeffernon, it was the total opposite. Although both worlds are presently in the 21st century, the architectural intergrity of this world was not so modern. Everything around looks exactly like Europe in the early 1800s. The only skyscraper in this city was the High Tower, and the various buildings lacked colour and design that it’s relatively easy to mix up one block of buildings with another. There was beauty in the old architecture, and there were quite a number of unique landmarks. But one annoying thing about this city was that there were no signboards to indicate which road or district you were on. Districts were easily identifiable based on their various functionalities and lifestyles, but the only signboards you’ll ever get would be the shop signages. It will only help with the geography if you remember places purely by memory, or by buying or making a map out for yourself. But of course, things would get easier once you get closer to the city center.
Many things in Zeffernon might seem old and sophisticated, but it’s merely an issue of familiarity. Zeffernon was well advanced in its own way, but not what Cadeus initially had in mind.
“Thank you! Please come back again!”
As Cadeus entered the café, he was greeted with the rather familiar scene of Felkor patting the back of a leaving customer. The mage forever had a smile on his face whenever he did that.
Like Cadeus, Felkor was a mage originally from Earth, initially ignorant of both Magic and the existence of Zeffernon. He was born in Iceland and by the age of eight, he had shown signs of the ability to use Magic. Like all children who had magical talents, he was sought by the mages residing in Iceland and was given a place in Triple Orb Academy.
For someone who was born on Earth before migrating to Zeffernon, Felkor understood and often sympathized with other Earth-born mages who had troubles accepting the existence of magic at the very beginning. Even after graduation, he was nice to his junior students and never hesitated to give hints when they were in need of something. He was someone Cadeus could get along with from the moment they first met.
Felkor noticed the new customer.
“Well if it isn’t Cadeus, where are your friends?”
“We splited up, we are meeting here. You got a seat?”
“Over there, try the four-seater by the window. I’ll come with the menu shortly, and Cadeus?”
“I forgot to light up the fireplace, and people are complaining that it is getting rather cold due to the rain so... Do me a favour would you?”
“Yeah… sure thing.”
Cadeus went to one of the tables near the fireplace. He pulled out one of the seats and left his coat there to indicate that the spot had been taken. With the coat removed, he proceded to the fireplace a few steps away.
Looking at the fireplace now, Cadeus could see the newly placed chopped wood blocks all piled up neatly at the centre, covering the ashen remains of the preceding wooden blocks.
Focusing his attention at the newly chopped wood blocks, Cadeus first closed his eyes and took a moment to concentrate.
He imagined nothing but a vast black empty space.
There was nothing, no sound, no objects, just nothing but a pure black mass of energy.
Then, as Cadeus felt the flow of an unexplainable energy gathering within his right palm, he slowly raised his right hand, palm facing upwards, and imagined a spark.
It was a small, singular spark in the middle of nowhere.
The spark gave birth to a small fire.
With further focusing, Cadeus imagined the fire to be controlled, and grew it to an acceptable size.
Soon, he felt the heat.
This was when he opened his eyes.
A small ball of fire danced at the palm of his right hand.
Like what he envisioned, it’s small and stable. The flames danced around a blazing core, and it’s starting to feel very hot.
Now then… time to light the fireplace.
Cadeus looked up. The fireplace was right in front of him.
All he need was simple thought. Then with a flick, he directed the ball of fire away from his hand and shot it towards the fireplace. It was not that difficult to contain the shape as it flew. The fireball landed on the newly chopped wooden blocks and started Felkor’s desired fire. Cadeus then clasped his hands together, rubbing off the after effects.
“Not bad Cadeus, the last time I saw you cast that spell, you were struggling just to keep the fire in the right shape.”
Cadeus smiled. It’s a feminine voice, one that he was long familiar with.
“Well, I have been practising, Sing.” he said.
The female gave him a humorous smile.
That natural gentle smile, which was accompanied by that graceful pair of brown eyes and her russet brown short hair, only helps to make her exceptionally charming.
Sing was dressed in the same student robes that Cadeus wore.
But instead of black, it was white.
Her full name was Sirena Delnarius, but Cadeus habitually called her Sing, mostly due to childhood memories of her singing in classes back on Earth.
In comparison to Cadeus's late entry into the world of magic, Sing was well aware of her special gifts since she was very young. She had a family with magical background, which gave her a good head start on magic in her childhood. She knew of Zeffernon's existence and even made several visits to the world before. Cadeus always had to ask her for help when he first started on magic, and she would guide him from time to time. However, failing to understand what she counts as 'elementary' did often made him flush with embarrassement.
Sing was quite popular amongst the students of Cadeus's badge, and she’s already the favourite of several Educators.
There were three main reasons for her well-off reputation.
First, she had the looks.
No matter how much Cadeus usually avoids the subject, Sing was prettier than most girls he ever came across. Cadeus had even witnessed several male students asking her out in all sorts of ways, but Sing naturally manages to decline every single one of them, for unknown reasons.
Second, Sing’s a White Mage, and any Mage that specialized in White Magic was welcomed everywhere.
In addition to having White Magic, Sing was also well reputed for using healing spells, one of the most sought after and convenient types of White Magic spells. White Mages were uncommon, but White Mages who could use healing spells were even harder to come across.
You have to remember, this world of Zeffernon was not like what people expect from those games, stories and fantasies.
In Zeffernon, the power to heal was an extremely uncommon rarity.
Although there were healing potions, such concoctions rarely work instantly and were treated more like herbal brews meant to provide long term benefits. Not to mention, scientific medicine was something lacking in a world surrounded by superstition.
Once you’re wounded, you were wounded just like any wounded person on Earth. Whether the damage could be controlled, was just a matter of resources.
In considering how science was something lacking in this world, a single wound anywhere could cause severe infection and detah, just like how Earth was before medications, drugs and anti-biotics were created.
Above all, Sing's rare gift of healing was already considered as miraculous healing. It's a rare gift where wounds were sealed almost instantly, sickness removed as if they were never there to begin with. Like the healing saints of Christianity, it really puts her popularity off at a whole different level.
As for the third reason, Sing was a top scoring student.
Sing was academically talented and gifted. She picks up lessons easily, and while Cadeus was still clumsily trying to learn how to cast his first spell, she already mastered the basic concepts on how to cast a spell, both theoretical and practical. There were often times where Cadeus spent hours just to get something newly taught right, only to find out that Sing had already gotten the gist of it in a couple of minutes.
She’s a fine example of what a perfect student would be, attractive, smart, social and above all, humble.
You could see why she’s so popular now.
“Want to sit?”
“Sure. Thanks for the fire, it's getting warmer.”
“It’s nothing much. I’m just doing Felkor a small favour.”
“Your sense of control is improving, well done. You can even hurl the fireball without letting its shape disintegrate, just compare that to three weeks ago.”
“All thanks to you. I did have a good teacher. Recently, it is much easier for me to cast spells with the idea of blood flow in my head.”
“I told you, you’ll get used it in time.”
“I hope so, but it really feels funny… Was it like this for you when you also started?”
“More or less.”
“Sure must be really nice to start learning about magic at such a young age. Ah… this is so irritating… Is there a way where I can really cast spells without the need to feel the blood flow?”
“Nope. You have to feel the blood flow or else you will never get to cast the spell.”
“Sigh… I wish there is a way to cast magic without all the blood flow hassle.”
“Cadeus, what’s the first absolute rule of magic?”
“… Magic begins from the blood.”
“That’s right. If you don’t feel any bloodflow within you how do you know you are utilizing magic?”
“… Can’t argue against that one.”
The first absolute rule of magic in Zeffernon – Magic begins from the blood
For centuries, countless magi had frequently used the art of drawing supernatural powers from the closest source ever, themselves.
According to the Magical Truth, the usage of Magic refers to the act of using paranormal energy and imagination to shape reality before your very eyes. The evidence of using such methods to draw out supernatural forces went back to the earliest Mages who ever existed, both on Earth and on Zeffernon. Mages and Witches gathered in circles to perform powerful rituals, Shamans enter trances after entering a supernatural state of transcendence, Clerics using unexplainable powers to heal the masses, and the list goes on.
The main source for magic by far, was the blood.
There were other sources for drawing out magic, but blood was by far the most effective medium throughout the entire history of Magic.
Now if you were from Earth, you would know that the blood was a living being’s life stream.
It’s very obvious for without blood, we cannot survive.
Without blood, we would not have haemoglobins to deliver oxygen from our lungs to the body for respiration and regulate body metabolism. Without blood, our body cannot utilize leukocytes to counter react against foreign substances, pathogens and disease, which hereby limits our immunity capacities. Without blood, our body also cannot use platelets to clot wounds and heal lacerations to prevent further infiltration of harmful substances into the human body. So on, and so on.
There were other important functions of blood that you could get coming from the sciences.
But for Magic, its relationship to blood requires a different form of explanation.
For Magic, blood was a concentrative source of paranormal energies since it’s a vital component of the human body. Supernatural energy concentrates and resides within blood. It was nothing but an insensate, indispensable power, which cannot be drawn or detected through ordinary means.
So how could one utilize such a mystical power?
The answer was simple; you have to be born with it. You must have the talent in your blood, or you cannot use magic at all. Unfortunately, being born with this talent was not something of a common occurance.
It all came down to probability. People were born with all sorts of talents that marked them for their individuality, whether it’s being born an Academic genius, a Music prodigy, an Athelete with the right physical genes, etc, etc.
A human could be born with one or several talents, but the probability of being born with the singular talent to use magic was rather slim. Either you are born with the ability to use magic, or... you have something else. This was perhaps the reason why people who could utilize magic were a huge minority on Earth, and it’s also the reason why Mages were persecuted on Earth. Since the majority did not have this talent, the many people back on Earth had scoffed and condemn all Mages, as their actions were deemed as unnatural and dubiously superstitious. Some people took that perspective to the extreme, often calling and commanding crusades to exterminate these Magi vermin from the face of the Earth. They were so against magic, they even defined it as the Devil’s instrument and practices of evil.
Mages were so heavily discriminated that they never dared to mention of their gifts in broad daylight. But ever since the 'Great Pilgramage' to Zeffernon, people freely practised magic without the fear of discrimination.
Gradually, the population of mages increased as more mages settled down on Zeffernon.
But even if the mages were free from the anti-magic extremists, no one was free from discrimination.
Even amongst mages, discrimination was something that’s still ongoing and existing.
“Oh? Someone lighted the fire?”
“Nice, who did it?”
“Probably the kid right next to the fireplace.”
“Which kid? The girl?”
“No it’s the guy. The Girl’s a White, she can't cast fire.”
“Oh that... Wait… he’s wearing black.”
With that single comment, the whole café went silent and the grateful customers soon went back to their own respective business.
“Don’t stare too much. Don’t get involved.”
“He’ll cast a curse if you stare too much.”
“Hey mama! That student just lighted the fire with his hand!”
“Yes darling he is. Stop pointing!”
“I want to talk to him. I want to ask him what is it like studying in the Academy!”
“That’s enough darling. That mage is a dangerous one. Don’t get involved with the likes of him.”
The same old sentiments…
At first they were always grateful. But once they registered the colour of Cadeus's robes, people always started treating him differently, and even the tone of their comments changed instantly. They might have said something hurtful to Cadeus's ears, but Cadeus had grown to accustom to such treatment to the point where he could just remove those harmful words from his head.
“Why don’t we just sit down.” Sing said.
“Very good idea.”
Anything to get rid of the current atmosphere…
As they sat down Felkor came with the menu.
“Hey guys, don’t leave so soon yet. I’ve got something for you.”
“Oh wow, thanks Felkor.”
“No worries Sirena. Meanwhile just browse through the simple ones. I’ll get Jasper to attend to you if you need anything.”
After that, Felkor turned and left to address the other customers.
Sing turned back to Cadeus, Cadeus looked back. There was a moment when neither said anything. There is nothing to talk about at the moment. After a while the other customers went back to their inward conversations and the mood became normal again. It was here when Sing broke the silence.
“Want any drinks? I’m getting tea.”
“I’ll take hot chocolate.”
“What? No it’s ok. Here, I’ll pay for my share.”
“Your call. But are you ok?”
“Yes. I’ve grown quite accustom to this sort of treatment.”
Sing looked at him for several seconds, then she took his money and went to Felkor.
As Cadeus relaxed, he closed his eyes and sigh.
Truth to be told, Cadeus couldn't really blame them. In a perspective, one could say that they had a right to be discriminative and cautious. Afterall, in wearing the black robes, Cadeus was identifying himself as a Dark Mage.
From the second absolute rule of magic in Zeffernon, there were only three colours types of magic.
White, Grey and Dark.
Throughout the entire course of Zeffernon’s history, magic had been cultivated and carefully categorized (with tiresome debates) within these three colour types.
The first and most common kind of magic found anywhere on Zeffernon was Grey magic. Grey Magic was the colour of rudimentary magic. It’s also the colour of neutrality, balance, and nature. All spells that fall under the category of Grey Magic were always basic, direct, and easy to control. In addition, Grey Magic had strong alignments to the seven elements of Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Lightning, Light and Darkness.
The second colour type of magic, was perhaps the type of magic that was most welcomed by the majority, White magic.
White magic was refered to as uncommon magic. It was seen as the colour of irregularity, benevolence and enchancement. You will find that there were fewer mages around who could utilize White Magic compared to Grey Magic. It was said to be Magic in one of its purest forms, because the nature of White magic was to be protective and beneficial with very few demerits, like healing spells, aura shields and interference spells. It was strong, unique, and its spells could be used in a large variety of tactics. However, the spells under its category all demands strong and acute mental stability. The average White Mage must be resolved, disciplined, technically acute, and above all, be confident in order to use White Magic to it’s fullest.
Last but not least, we have the rarerest and the most dangerous colour type of magic, Dark Magic.
Dark Magic was the colour of destruction. It represents corruption, decadence and the void. It specializes in two primary things, Death and the End. The very nature Dark Magic was to be the end of all things, be it organic or inorganic. Due to these negative qualities, Dark Magic spells often had a reputation to go against the natural way of order. Dark Magic spells were generally volatile, and it’s the hardest amongst the three colours to control. Its usage sometimes came with risks not just to the surroundings, but also to the Dark Mages themselves. If a Dark Mage did not watch his steps, he could easily trigger a series of paranormal events that was way beyond his control. Should that happen, he could kill himself if he does not take extra precaution, and he could be responsible for inflicting severe traumatic experiences to many others within the vincity of the spell. This highly intensified form of magic had been the reason why the general public often regarded Dark Mages with fear. People generally fear Dark Mages because of their magic, even more so when they did not know what the Dark Mages could do with their magic. Because of the high intensity of Dark Magic and their dangerous consequences, Dark Mages had often used Dark Magic with the tragic consequence of hurting people more than actually helping. As such, people generally avoid Dark Mages, and Cadeus sometimes felt that they would be right to do so.
“Here you go.” Sing said.
She dropped a mug of hot chocolate in front of Cadeus.
“So... any luck Sing?”
Sing shook her head.
“Not one, you?”
“All seven Xs on my book.”
“Is Procona powder something so hard to find?”
Cadeus took a sip. Sing was more informed about various ingredients, whenever something about ingredients popped up, she would know something about it.
“Well… I don't know. I'm not too familiar with ingredients. Maybe it is.”
“I've always had the impression that Procona Powder is something very common. My father used to get some from time to time, and they always seem like plenty whenever he is in need of it.”
Sing looked up and brought her right index finger to her chin in deep thought.
“If all goes wrong, I think we will have to start asking the Educators for some advice.”
“On where to search? We know where to search, but the markets are always on the down now.”
“I don't mean just the shops and merchants. We might need to get from the direct source.”
Thinking out of the box again, that's Sing for you.
“You mean where the merchants get all these powder to began with?”
“That would mean traveling beyond the Capital borders Sing. The Academy would not allow us, at least not yet.”
“Not necessarily. There could be some places in Infinitas that produces such second hand ingredients.”
“Which means more searching.”
“Well, there are three of us, we can split the work load. The only other option i can think of is that we may even have to make some ourselves.”
“Make our own Procona Powder? Are you seriously considering that? We have three days. I doubt three days is enough to produce 800 g worth of powder.”
“I'm considering alternatives. It's doable actually. All we need is the recipe, the right equipment and ingredients.”
“...The ingredient part does not sound very convincing. Procona powder is already lacking so people might have also thought of that idea to make more Procona on their own. Meaning to say, the very ingredients needed to make Procona Powder would be dropping as we speak.”
“Which is why we might want to consider starting.”
“Besides, even if we are able to get the right ingredients, the Academy would not allow us to use the equipment. We're not Acolytes, not yet.”
“Ah... true, but who says we have to do it within Academy grounds?”
“You want to approach Alchemists outside to borrow their equipment? You go ahead with that plan, I don't want to have another conversation. All the Alchemists I have spoken so far all have their egos. I hate to start another conversation with them.”
Sing was about to comment against that reply when another voice intruded upon their conversation.
“Yo! How's everything folks?”
Upon hearing the voice, Cadeus frowned instantly.
As usual, that guy was forever carefree.
Cadeus seriously thought that he is too carefree, even in the most critical of situations.
Dressed in the overly common Grey student robes, with black hair with separate bangs, Nadav was the last of the trio to show up.
Unlike Cadeus and Sing who were originally from Earth, Nadav was born on Zeffernon. However, Nadav did live on Earth with his parents during his younger years. That was how he first met Cadeus and Sing.
But his grandmother stayed behind on Zeffernon, looking after the family's local cottage at the outskirt regions.
Out of the three, Nadav can be considered to be the voluntary clown.
He's carefree, always cracking jokes and always lifting up the mood when the situation got bad. It's a nice character, but his jokes put Cadeus off at times, depending on the situation.
While Cadeus frowned towards the carefree presence of the new guy, Sing on the other hand, welcomed the third and last party of their group.
“Not good Nadav, both Cadeus and I got all Xs.”
“That's not good for starters.”
“How about you?”
“No good on my end too~.”
“You sound too carefree.” Cadeus commented.
“Relax Cadeus, this is still the second day.”
“And we have three days remaining.”
“True, this may be the second day, but what if we cannot find the ingredient by the third day?”
“Guys, cut it out.” Sing butted in warmly.
Nadav gave the two a reassuring smile.
“Well, good news. While I was going through my shops, the Alchemists stationed there were kind enough to provide me with a few more places we can look into.”
“Wow... that's a nice start.”
“You got names, both shops and Alchemists?”
“How many?” Cadeus asked.
Nabah took out his notebook and started flipping.
“Eight huh?” Cadeus compared notes.
“I still have three more shops. How about you Sing?”
“So that makes thirteen in total. If we are still counting on the shops, we may have to split up again tomorrow.” Cadeus said.
“Still counting on shops? Did you guys start a meeting without me?”
“Sing is thinking of alternatives.”
“Like what? Oh let me guess. We have to find another way to get Procona Powder rather than the traditional searching shops and merchants, which means going on an extensive quest to find the source of Procona Powder right?”
“Something along those lines, we may even have to make the powder on our own.”
“Make the powder on our own?” Nadav scratched his head.
“I've never made powder before... only grandma knows how to do stuff like that.”
“Nadav, do you have the location of all eight shops?” Sing asked.
“Let's give it another day then. If we can't find the powder by then, we'll try the alternatives. In the worst case scenario, we will just have to ask for deadline extension, which also means less reward.”
“Fine. Nadav, share the names and we'll split them amongst ourselves according to the districts.” Cadeus stated.
“Sweet! Sing and I will take four each. Cadeus take five.”
“Since when do you make all the decisions?”
Felkor came to their table.
“Any more orders? I know you guys have the curfew, but at least have some of these.”
He dropped three mini Ice cream deluxes in front of them, each of different flavours.
Since humans originate from Earth, it was no surprise to find some Earth food in Zeffernon.
Mages who migrated to Zeffernon brought along their favourite tastes, and soon those who were locally born in Zeffernon got the wind of it. Food was what everyone loved after all, why deny the variety of taste?
“Woah... this is something new. What's the commotion?” Sing asked.
“One, you guys looked like you had a rough day. Two, this something experimental because I am thinking of putting this up for the menu. I would like some feedback.”
The three tried their respective deluxes. They are all good, and so no one complained.
“Felkor, if you can give us this free treatment everytime we come tired from a quest, I gladly comeby everyday.” Nadav joked.
“Haha, if I do that, I'll be broke within the month, and then you three will have no more future special treatements. What’s the board quest this time?”
“We are helping a client to get some Procona powder.”
“Procona?” Felkor frowned.
Now that Cadeus thought of it, Felkor was a former Alchemist apprentice before he started his own Café.
Perhaps he can share some light in what kind of ingredient Procona is.
“Do you know what Procona powder is?”
“It is a universal ingredient, a rather common flexible stuff that can be mixed with various other Alchemical mediums.”
“Is it dangerous?” Sing asked.
“It depends on how you use it. Since it is a very flexible ingredient, it can be used for a lot of things”
“It can be used to make a diffusional paste that helps separate vital ingredients from a fixed source, or it can be used in conjuration as a Divert Base for - “
“Ok, we get it. Enough with all the terminology.” Nadav cut in.
“What's the matter? The three of you will eventually become acolytes. No harm in knowing something about basic alchemy in advance.”
“We'll worry about it once we hit that level. Right guys?”
“I don't mind hearing it now, it all sounds interesting.”
“Sing, this is not the time for academic passion.”
“What academic passion? We will all learn this soon enough. What harm is there being slightly ahead than the others?”
“Oh no there she goes again. Cadeus, please help?”
“Can it be used for anything dangerous?” Cadeus asked.
Nadav gave Cadeus the look.
“Well…” Felkor gave a thought.
“The worst I can think of whenever I think of Procona is that it is quite an effective medium for a ritual.”
“A ritual? What kind of ritual?” Sing asked.
“Oh all kinds of rituals, from fixed rituals to wide range rituals. The ritual can be anything. From healing to crafting to unleashing something horrible, your pick.”
“Crafting? Procona can be used to craft?”
“The crafting result comes from the ritual, procona is just a medium for such a ritual if you get what I am saying. This is why Procona powder is the number one common ingredient any Alchemist desire. Flexible and multi-useful, it's one of the best you can get, so…”
Nadav grabbed Cadeus by the sleeve and brought him closer.
“Hey aren’t you supposed to be helping me?”
“There’s no harm in finding out more about Procona.”
“There are other chances to find out so why now? Now Sing will never stop. Did you forget about curfew?”
“In considering the deadline we have this is perhaps the only chance we get to learn more about Procona. We still got thirteen shops to go through tomorrow so it’s going to get very busy. Now is the time.”
“Ok fine. But seriously Cadeus, stop asking all the extreme questions. You always love to spoil the mood.”
“I am not spoiling the mood. I am just asking so that I know what is the worst to expect. Who knows what danger this powder might be. Did you forget about the Mystical box quest?”
“Hey please, don't bring that up.”
Meanwhile, Sing continued her questions with Felkore.
“Is it really a rare ingredient? The three of us visited sixteen Alchemist shops today, none of them had Procona.” Sing continued.
Felkor gave a hard look, as if trying to dig out untouched information long buried in his head.
“Mm… I won't say it is rare, but I also won't say it is common. The problem is that Procona Powder is something always in high demand. You know about macro economics, higher demand, harder for supply to keep up.”
“But to the extent of every shop we come across to lack it? Is there some Procona carnival we are unaware of?” Cadeus ask.
“I don't know, but I can only think of one reason.” Felkor said.
“It can only be this. Currently, there is a shit load of Alchemists researching on subjects that demand large quantities of Procona Powder at the same time. It happens rather frequently actually, there are certain periods where a large number of Alchemists are conducting researches that demanded similar ingredients. When that happens, the usual quantity would drop drastically. That is why the richer alchemists always stock up.”
“So there are such high peaks and low peaks. Sure sucks if you're in need of an ingredient desperately.” Cadeus said.
“Which is why I am now a cafe manager instead of an irritated alchemist. If you three need Procona Powder at such a period of time, you either find the right resources, or you are just unlucky. Your client must be one of those who miscalculated the quantity of ingredients and is now desperate for more.”
Cadeus took out the note and reread it.
“Seems like it. The commisioner writes as though he is desperate for more Procona Powder.”
“Oh? You have the quest note? Let me see that.”
Cadeus passed it over.
“Hm… yup, the situation seems pretty much what I said.”
“Sigh...” Nadav fell chin flat in the table.
“So we got the wrong quest at the wrong time...”
“Come now Nadav. Then again, 300 Duches for such quantity is not so bad. If you think about the usual prices, 800g of Procona powder usually goes up to around 140 Duches. You three gain 160 Duches in profit, a huge profit at that.”
Wow, life returned to Nadav's eyes. Well, Cadeus could understand. For students like them, 160 Duches worth of profit was a very nice figure indeed.
Cadeus got up, enough ice cream and talk.
“Thanks for the tip Felkor, but it's time for us to get back.”
“Ah Academy curfew... how nostalgic.”
“Plenty more memories where you left them Felkor.” Sing winked.
“Plenty you three will make.” he replied.
“We'll drop by again.” Nadav said.
“Sure. Need anymore tips just let me know.”
With this new information, the trio thought that they had overcome a milestone. However, when they left the shop, they hit another crisis.
“Well, that took longer than expected.” Cadeus said.
“Well, we did learn a few good things.” Sing replied.
“But now we have a new problem. It's already 5:42 pm, and it’s still raining.”
“What? No way… How are we going to reach back on time?”
“All thanks to who Sing?”
It looks like they over shot their timing.
The original plan was to leave by 5:30 pm. If they walk right now, they might not reach curfew in time.
Failure to reach the Academy before curfew will only result in them staying outside Academy premise. But the three of them do not have the money to accommodate themselves for an inn, at least not yet.
However, it seems there is no more need to worry.
As Cadeus slowly observed the sky, spots of bright light can be seen amongst the dark clouds.
For some reason, the rain does not look as heavy as compared to just now. It can only mean one thing, the rain is lifting. But Cadeus wouldn’t get his hopes up yet, it’s still quite heavy.
Cadeus put on his coat again, realizing how wet and heavy it felt.
It looks like he will need to dry it well back in the dormitory.
“Any ideas on how we going to get back in time?” Sing asked.
“We could try drawing a teleportation circle like the one in the Academy.”
“Really? And where’s the end point Nadav?”
“… Good point. I forgot we need the end point circle.”
“Well, I only have one umbrella guys, and it’s small enough for one person.”
“Damn it… well Cadeus, it looks like we’re going to be soaked wet.”
“We might not be, the rain is stopping.”
“Oh? How can you tell Mr Einstein?”
“Look up for once please…”
The rain gradually ceased, from raining cats and dogs to a slight drizzle.
“It’s stopping but it has not stopped. Sun’s still not up, which means that it might drizzle for some time.”
“Whatever the case, it will not stop us.”
Putting on the hood, Cadeus started proving his point by walking away from the café, letting his already-soaked traveing coat do its job.
The other two soon followed his example.
“So... are we still going to walk?” Nadav asked.
“No. Walking takes too long. I want to change before dinner.” Sing said.
“Well, there is the option of carriage or boat.” Cadeus said.
Nadav started calculating.
“Carriage costs around 30 Duches each while boat is 24 Duches each. We can’t get a fast ship off the harbour. Even if we each could spare 48 Duches for the ship, we won’t make it to the harbour in time.”
“…I can only spare 30 Duches.” Cadeus said.
“So... boat?” Nadav confirmed.
Sing gave an unhappy look.
“The boat is so slow, and even if we take it, it’s going to be wet. The Carriage is dry and faster.”
Cadeus and Nadav looked at each other.
“Best listen to the lady.” Nadav said.
Cadeus sighed, they all start to walk towards the Carriage Compund.
“I wish there are cars.” he said.
“Wait another half a century then, perhaps we may see cars.” Nadav said.
Cadeus sighed again.
What a bad start for a board quest.
The next day better be better.
“All right, final check, anyone left anything behind?” Nadav asked.
Nadav closed the carriage door and bid the driver farewell.
The carriage driver smiled and nodded.
With a flick of his short whip, the carriage about turned and left the Academy.
Turning around, Cadeus came to view the current place he called home.
Triple Orb Academy was one of various magical educational institutions established throughout Otium. It’s an intellectual campus situated on two artificially crafted islands, whereby one island was larger than the other. Both of the islands were interconnected, and they were both linked to the mainland by a single bridge.
Despite the name, the campus was more like a university. Multiple buildings were allocated to suit various purposes and functionsthat were tied to either research or education. There’s the main hall, an eatery hall, an arena stadium, three colour sectors, three research laboratories, several large dormitories, a local high tower, the library, along with various others. These various large and small buildings made the Academy seem like a minimature town on it’s own.
To be a student of the Academy was to recognize that you were a Mage in training. It means to identify you as one of the small minority of humans who were born with the special gift to manipulate the physical world. As a student, one had to face the duty to learn how to hone his or her gift, for every Mage had to be responsible for the powers he or she could command.
The education was centered on two main curriculums, the elementary curriculum, and the tertiary curriculum. Cadeus and his friends were currently studying under the elementary curriculum on the main island. Once they managed to pass the trials, the three of them would soon progress to the tertiary curriculum, which was situated on the smaller island. But that was something for the future.
“Time check Cadeus?” Sing ask.
Cadeus took out his pocket watch.
“Just nice~! Look, the gate's still opened.” Nadav said.
“Then we better get moving before it closes.” Cadeus said.
The trio passed the gate and entered the open ground beyond it. They barely just met the dead line. Any later than 5:58, and the gate will start closing. Once that happens, the three of them will have to spend a long time to travel back to the city and pay for their own rooms in one the city inns. That is obviously not something good as students like them had very little money to begin with.
“Ah~. Finally the day is over~.” Sing stretched herself.
“Since dinner is about to start, do you want to ask the Educators about Procona?” Cadeus confirmed.
Sing and Nadav looked at each other.
“Well, no harm in confirming.”
“I think we have enough of Procona Powder for the day.” Sing added.
“Yeah, let's just enjoy the night. What do you want to do? And Sing, please don't say homework.”
“Why not? It's just a couple of left over assignments.”
“We could always do it tomorrow during the breaks.”
“If you don't finish today's portion, tomorrow is just going to add up to the burden. Besides, what can you do now besides homework?”
“...Rejected. We'll do homework.”
“NNNOOOOO! Cadeus! Help me here!”
“I'm siding with Sing this time.”
“WWWHHHYYYY? You helped her just now at Felkor’s, side with me for once!”
“Give it up Nadav, not everyone is as easy going as you.” Sing said.
Nadav gave a dejected face.
“Why homework… you guys know I hate doing homework.”
“Then all the more reason to finish it. If you procrastinate, the unfinished homework is just going to haunt you later.” Cadeus followed.
“Guu… damn you two, ganging up on me like this.”
“It’s called putting you on the right track and making sure you don’t become lazy.”
“But I’m not lazy! I did my part today!”
“Cadeus.” Sing gave Cadeus the look.
“I don’t think you did not give Nadav enough credit.”
“Ah… thank you Sing.”
“You should not have said lazy.”
“That’s right! Heard that Cadeus?”
“You should have said ‘you don’t work hard enough, so we are here to pull you back on your feet’.”
“NNNOOOO! Sing why are you helping him?!”
“Sigh… Sing you are too nice. ‘Don’t work hard enough’ is just the nice phrase for the lazy.”
“Are you two ignoring me? Are the two of you deliberately ignoring me?”
It was here that Cadeus suddenly remembered something he has to do.
“You guys head for dinner first. I need to finish a small task.”
“No problem, where are you heading?” Sing asked.
“Back to the dormitory.”
“Oh, then we might as well eat dinner there.”
“We're not going to Corals?”
“Nah, Sing wants to bath right?” Nadav interjected.
“Yes, I hate it when I feel sticky, and no naughty thoughts the two of you. A girl loves to be clean.”
“No problem with me, but the person who would have such naughty thoughts will be Cadeus.”
“Say that again, and you'll be electrocuted.”
Cadeus checked his pocket watch again.
“Let's get going quick. I'm late.”
“Late for what? You meeting someone?” Nadav said.
“Yes, another Dark Mage.”
“Colour class related?”
“Yes, I promised to get her something.”
Nadav took a step back.
“The mage is a she? You're seeing her out?”
“As if. Stop acting.”
“Nadav, stop teasing Cadeus. It's a small favour right?”
“Yes. She helped me out before, I'm just repaying the favour.”
“And she said she'll meet you at the dormitory?”
“Female dormitory, base level. I won't take long.”
“Ok, Nadav, take our orders.”
Nadav pointed to himself.
“Because Cadeus is on an errand, I'm going back to bath, so you'll do the honors.”
“Urgh... Ok what do you want?”
“... Can you be more specific?”
““What I ate yesterday.””
Nadav turned, dejected, and left.
Cadeus turned to Sing.
“So I guess I'm walking you back.”
Cadeus let Sing lead the way.
“So... who are you meeting?” she asked.
“A girl called Susan. We were under the same Educator.”
“Do you know her well?”
“Hmm… well enough to call her a simple friend. I don't really know that much about her.”
“Did you approach her or did she approach you?”
“Both. We sort of knew each other in the same group.”
“How did you get to know her?”
“You know that I'm terrible when it comes to basics. Susan helped me out before.”
“What did she help you with?”
“Spell casting, a little bit on History. Searching for weird ingredients in the forests. Ingredients that are so not like anything I've seen on Earth.”
“I thought I’ve done plenty of that already…”
Cadeus turned back to Sing. Her head is tilted downwards, as if pondering about something.
“Sorry Sing, did you say something?”
Sing quickly shook her head and recomposed herself.
“Nothing. When you say ingredients you meant that they are for the Educators right?”
“So… what is she like?”
“Hm? What are you talking about now?”
I thought she’s more interested in the ingredients… why ask about Susan? Cadeus thought.
“She's a nice person. She was wary of me at the start. I don't know what happened, but she started opening up to me.”
“…Was it because of something you did?”
“I don't know. I just went with the flow.”
They were a few more meters from the female dormitory when he saw her.
From the way she was pacing around, she must have been waiting for him, or her mind was in deep thought.
It was only until Cadeus was a few feet away when she noticed him.
Susan’s face brightens from the moment she saw Cadeus waving to her. But from the moment she saw Sing, her face changed from excitement to wariness.
“Ah yes… this should be the first time you two are meeting. Susan, this is Sirena. We grew up in the same town before coming to Triple Orb Academy.”
“…A White Mage?”
“It's ok Susan, Sirena's all right. She's a friend.”
Susan was not taking it. She's still looking at Sing with wary eyes.
“Susuan, about your request – ”
“Not here Cadeus, come.”
She took Cadeus by the arm and led him to a corner, still within the sights of Sing, but not close enough for her to hear out their conversation in detail.
Susan turned to Cadeus.
“Did you get what I asked?”
Cadeus reached for his pack, he took out a book.
“Ferral Reaches, by Levian Bresar. This is the one right?”
“YES! Thank you so much! Where did you get it?”
“I found it off an item store in the city.”
“Really? It's that simple? I don’t believe you.”
“Not when it comes to the store itself. Most stores as you have pointed out, ran out of copies. However, the store where I got this book from is not very accesible. It's isloated in one of the smaller alleys, very easy to miss. I happen to see the book there on display because I was using that alley for a short cut.”
“Wow that’s... smart, really smart. I learned something new again. Next time I will check the smaller alleys if I can’t find anything in the major shopping districts.”
“I have to tell you this first though, the shops in the smaller alleys are not very specific as the common shopping districts. The items they sell there can come at a very wide range. If I have to put it simply, it depends on your luck. Also, don’t go alone.”
Susuan held the book up and rest it on her torso, arms crossed.
“This will help me in my own research greatly. If I managed to have a break through, I’ll let you know what I learn first.”
“Oh... thank you.”
“If you need anything else, let me know.”
“Thanks. No wait... If that’s the case, I could use some information right now.”
“Oh? What kind?”
“Ever heard of Procona Powder?”
“That alchemical ingredient? From what I know it's a very popular medium for all kinds of recipes, very flexible stuff.”
“That's the one. We are currently in need of it for a board quest, but we had no success anywhere around the alchemical shops, both in the major shopping districts and the isolated alleys. Any idea if there are other sources?”
“Procona usually comes from the outskirts... I think I remember reading about it before.”
“From what I know, you can either buy it, make it, or even harvest it.”
“Ok I know about the making part, but harvest? You can harvest Procona powder?”
“Not the powder directly, but a concentrated fluid that gives you Procona if you dry it up.”
“A concentrated fluid? What kind of fluid?”
“I don’t know, the rest is written in the book, but I did not bother reading the rest at that time.”
“What’s the book called?”
Susan tightened her hold on the book.
“I was holding two books at that point of time. It’s either called ‘Glamarious, Spores and Fluids’ or ‘The swamp comes alive’.”
“…Just what have you been researching?”
“Anyways, it’s either one of these books. I’ve returned them back two weeks ago.”
“The library right? Which floor?”
“Third, at the left side from the stairs. There should be a section for environmental books. I think I found them at the left bookshelves.”
“I’ll look it up. Thanks.”
“Sure no problem. Oh but Cadeus.”
“You should stop mixing with the likes of her.”
She motioned to Sing with her eyes.
“I don't see anything wrong, I've already said, she's a childhood friend.”
“I know, but Cadeus, even though she does not mind you, you have to understand, no matter how nice they seem, there's always a hidden layer of warriness, distrust and even disgust. Especially Whites.”
And there it is again, the usual discriminatory distrust among Mages. Everyone had a thing or two to be cautious against Dark Mages and the same could be said vice versa. Some Mages were even outright spoken against Dark Mages. Sadly most of said mages are usually White Mages, but the opposite could happen as well. Cadues rather play at the middle ground.
“I already know that Susan, what's your other real point?”
“I'm saying, there will be a time where her obvious dislike for you will show itself, don't let it affect you.”
“Thanks for the advice, it means a lot.”
Cadeus stared down at his pocket watch.
“Look, I got to go, thanks for the help.”
“No, thanks for yours Cadeus.”
Susan stole another look at Sing. She looks like she want to say something further, but in the end she decide to let it go.
“Well I've preoccupied you long enough. I'll see you tomorrow.”
“Sure. See you.”
Cadeus turned and walked back to Sing. The funny thing is, Sing does not seem to be irritated or feel left out. She’s just there, waiting and smiling. Totally not the distrustful White Mages Susan normally sees.
“How did it go?” she said.
“It went well, sorry about Susan's behaviour.”
“Why are you apologising? You're not the one at fault.”
“I'm apologising for her.”
“Why? Don't apologise for people who don't mean it.”
“… I give up. You want to go back to bath right? I'll see you later.”
“Ok, remind Nadav we are eating here.”
Although the female dormitory was off limits to males, that unspoken rule only applies beyond the first level. The first level was still accerssible to the males since it's nothing but a lounge to begin with.
Mages of both genders were allowed to meet up and converse whenever they want to.
The same applied to the Male dormitory, of course. There were always seats and tables available around, especially at such a time where most would be at the main hall for dinner.
“What’s this? In a minute we see Cadeus alone with no one but us. In the next minute we see him running to meet up with someone we don’t even know. So Cadeus, who's the fine lady?”
Nadav gave Cadeus a nudge while his mouth was half full. Cadeus sighed.
“I already told you Nadav, I'm not seeing anybody out.”
“Not believing that. Sing, what did he meet her for?”
“He was doing her a favour, getting something.”
“What? Come on Cadeus, we don’t see this kind of special treatment before.”
“I’m only helping her out because I don’t want to own people favours.”
“What did you pass her just now? It’s a book right?”
“Yes. I told her I would keep a look out for a book when I went to the capital. It seems she needs it rather badly at the time.”
“Keeping an eye out for two things in the Capital eh? Sing, if Cadeus did not search enough shops, we know the reason now.”
“That reasoning is no longer valid Nadav, I’ve finished her job anyway.”
“So she helped you out before eh? What did she help you out with?”
“The same, all elementary information.”
Nadav gave a look of mischieve.
“Elementary? I though Sing gave you all the attention you need.”
Nadav gave Sing a wink, but he immediately ceased whatever plans he had left when Sing have him the warning glare.
“Sing’s not there all the time Nadav. I don’t have the luxury of the two of you during Colour Classes.”
“That’s a shame, but at least you had someone.”
“For the last time, she’s just a friend.”
“Oh, your only ‘girl’ friend, in the whole colour class right?”
“… The way you put it sounds so wrong.”
“How did the two of you met?” Sing asked.
“Well… it’s kind of complicated.”
“Oh? How so?”
“Well… I sort of saved her before.”
Nadav made a childish posture.
“Cadeus the knight in shining armour, here to save the day!”
Cadeus gave him a very light punch to the cheek
“So how did it happen?” Sing asked again.
“Well… have you heard of the Armugorus?”
“Large mammal creature, standing up to 1.9 meters. Herbivore, graze in packs. They have a large head shell with muscular back legs, smaller frontal arms for digging up roots.”
“That's the one. The Academy housed a few of those in the forested areas of Tenebris Vacuum. There was a time where we had to search for some flower called Eleifweiss.”
“Eleifweiss? That flower that produces remedies for specific poisons?”
“…Not too sure if that’s what the flower is for but yes. Susan came across a few of them, but the problem was… that they were under the feet of one Armugorus.”
“Susan tried all means to get the flower without angering the beast. But for some reason the beast did not take her presence kindly.”
“Shouldn’t she just left?”
“She tried, but before she could, several others of the Armugorus breed began gathering around threatening her.”
“Then what happened?”
“What Susan could have done is to avoid their attention by staying put and back off slowly. But she did the mistake of showing hostility.”
“She panicked and threw a fireball at the Armugorus nearest to her. That’s when things start to get very hot.”
“And that's when you came in.”
“I just happened to be at the same area when I heard her scream.”
“But you fought a group of those… how? They are at least 1.9 meters tall, not to mention big.”
“Well… they are subservient to lightning… I managed to scare one off with that. But they are more afraid of fire.”
“Fire? I thought you said Susan threw a fire ball.”
“Then why didn’t they run away?”
“The fireball startled them and made things worst. They retaliated because of that fear.”
“So what did you do?”
“I just threw fire all around and sustained it, like a flame thrower. Although the spell was unrefined at that point in time, it was still enough to scare them off.”
“And it worked?”
“Yes, thankfully. If there are some of the more resilient ones, I would have been in deep trouble.”
“Hmm… but if they are all herbivores? Why would they be hostile?”
“They are also fiercely territorial. Susan just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“Oh… I see. So you two became friends from there right?”
“Yes. She has been asking me for favours from time to time. Such as the one today.”
“So… she needed a book right? What book is it Cadeus?” Sing asked.
“It's a book called Ferral Reaches. It talks about animals living outside the ferral regions at the outskirts of Otium.”
“Why does she need something like that?”
“She's aspiring to be a Dark Mutator. That book contains animal features, animal traits... anything she can use for her chimera alterations.”
A Dark Mutator was a mage who specializes in Dark Mutation. It was one of many specializations a mage could learn after graduating as a legitimate Mage. Specializations were advanced magic studies meant for different arcane fields. It’s a career as well as an educational degree in Zeffernon. Choosing which specialization would determine your lifestyle and career when you reach adulthood.
There were all kinds of specializations out there. Cadeus only knew of some, but there were still many others he was unaware off. Since he was still a student, Cadeus have no idea what does he want to do after graduation, at least not yet.
“A Dark Mutator eh? That sounds rather dark.” Nadav said.
“…” Sing did not say anything.
They both looked like they had reserved thoughts but from the looks of it, Cadeus could feel that they had something against such a specialization. It’s always the same. Whenever Cadeus brought up something Dark Magic related, the two of them would have reserved thoughts. Thoughts that are obviously negative, but they will always never bring it up out of Cadeus’s consideration.
“Sigh… what is it this time?”
The two of them look mystified for some reason.
“I said, what is it this time.”
“There’s nothing.” “Nope, nothing.”
Cadeus clicked his tongue inside his mouth.
Liars… they were so obvious.
“Nothing? Don’t say nothing when I can clearly see you guys have something against Dark Mutators.”
“Well…” Nadav gave the obvious look of being found out.
Sing however, gave Cadeus a concerned look. From the moment she gave him that look, Cadeus felt disturbed deep down inside.
Damn it… she’s giving me that same look again.
It’s that same look. Though her face did not show it, her eyes would go sad. Sad, as if she feared that he would become something. Damn it, Cadeus always hated it when she looks at him like that. It’s not like he’s going to become some terrible person.
“Cadeus, you know what a Dark Mutator is right?”
“Yes. I know.”
“Do you really know?”
“Basically Dark Mutators are people who study mutation. They study animal traits and experiment blending desirable traits into one singular organism. Am I right?”
“Yes. Do you know what that implies?”
“Nothing. Other than the fact that it sounds like science.”
“It’s the same on the surface. But the difference is that Dark Mutators study magic traits. For an example, creatures that are immune to certain magic spells. There was this case where a creature called Skycorpus had resistance to illusion spells. All attempts to fool its senses with magic failed. The Dark Mutators had to study the animal, find out what allowed it to be resistant to that supernatural effect. If they are successful, they will try to see if other animals are able to receive the same trait, and they will try all sorts of methods with different animals to see if any hypothesis works.”
“And the resulting creation is a Chimera.”
“And so? I don’t see any implications.”
“Cadeus, what they are doing is wrong.”
“Wrong? How so? I don’t see anything wrong.”
From the instance Cadeus said that, he immediately regretted it.
Sing’s face changed to a sad one for real. Her eyes went withdrawn and she started looking down. Oh wait, she really looked down? She did look down!
Cadeus soon felt a nudge, it came from Nadav. Nadav motioned Cadeus closer, and then they began their own little private conversation.
“…You made her sad.”
“What am I? The bad guy now?”
“It’s your fault she became sad.”
“I merely expressed my honest opinion!”
“Honest or not, you forget she’s White.”
“What does colour got to do with this?”
“You know Sing, she thinks. The problem is not the colour of magic but the ethics behind it.”
“Ethics? Oh my gosh she can’t be this serious? What does ethics got to do with Dark Mutators?”
“…Why don’t you ask her?”
Cadeus stole a glance towards Sing, she’s still having that same look. When he looked back towards Nadav, Nadav motioned Cadeus to Sing with his eyes. When he saw Cadeus hesitate, he frowned and began using his head to motion Cadeus forward.
No choice then…
Cadeus took a silent deep breath.
“What’s wrong with Dark Mutators Sing?”
Sing looked back at Cadeus. It took a while before she opened her mouth. Cadeus braced himself for a lecture, but she just spoke normally, merely sharing her own perspective.
“What they are doing is unnatural. Not only are they altering the natural genome of these animals, they also mutate them, changing their physical appearances permanently.”
“Isn’t that ok? What if there are animals that need certain traits to survive and these Dark Mutators are able to give them that?”
“And what are the chances of such successes? Even if they managed to succeed in granting these animals better traits, then what about the failures? Usually the failures outweight the successes, so what happens to the animals who are mutauted badly? Do the Dark Mutators change the animals back to the way they originally are?”
“Well… they – “
“No Cadeus they did not, don’t try to justify what they do. They just disposed their experimental failures on the side of the road and treated them like trash.”
“Sing… that’s not entirely true.”
“Not entirely true? Name me one Dark Mutator who treated his experimental subjects with respect and change them back when things are not right.”
Due to his own ignorance, Cadeus could not think of any example.
“It also sickens me how they regard such changes likely. Think of the poor animals that have to be subjected to their experiments. When an animal goes into their experimental lab, they come out almost entirely different. It is fine if they are just studying animal traits. But what they are also doing is experiment on all kinds of different animals to see if they can have certain desired traits. Do you know what that means? They are treating all kinds of animals as lab experiments, experimenting on their bodies and have complete disregard for the after effects if the experiment goes wrong. What happens if the poor animal can’t survive alone after the changes?”
What Sing said about Dark Mutators treating experimental failures was true and her argument was sound. But truth to be told, Cadeus was not that concerned about all these moral implications. To him, and surprisingly to most Dark Mages, the experimental animals served their purpose in allowing Dark Mutators to explore the possibilities of organic mutation. If an experiment failed, it’s just too bad. It’s not like the Dark Mutators were experimenting on the animals for the sake of animal abuse.
Does this make him evil for having such thoughts? Does this make all Dark Mutators evil? Cadeus begged to differ. If anything, the countless experimentations conducted by the Dark Mutators only served to help Mages better understand the unknown.
Cadeus was not entirely sure Sing would understand this perspective, but he won't say all his thoughts out. At least, not in front of her. In not wanting to make the mood even more sour, Cadeus took another mouthful.
“But Sing, if you look at it this way, Chimeras have their uses. If you get the right traits, they can be very good familiars or watchdogs.”
“But the failures always outweight the successes.”
“Well… true. But still, think of the success.”
“Fine… but even if it was a success, if you alter the body, won’t that create some sort of side effect?” Sing asked.
“Of course. If you gain something, you lose something. But if the side effects are minimum, then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
“… I still don’t like the sound of it, altering an animal’s anatomy.”
“What do you expect Sing? It’s Dark magic.”
Sing gave Cadeus a considering look, and what Susan said earlier appeared in his mind.
There are often times like this where Cadeus had to watch what he says. Sing and Nadav had a trust in him that has been around since childhood. They may be fine with Cadeus as a person, but when it comes to Dark Magic there were times where there’s a line. Cadeus had better make sure that he did not ever cross that line.
In an attempt to break off this serious conversation, Nadav tried to strike a joke in his gleeful manner.
“So… long story short, she want’s to mutate a man eating beast. Better watch your actions in future Cadeus.” Nadav said.
“What are you trying to imply?”
“Don’t piss off the wrong girl. Or put your thing in crazy.”
“Why would I… wait what was that last part you said?”
Sing coughed, causing the two boys to cease talking. She still has that considering look. But whatever seems to remain on her mind, she eventually decided to let it drop. There are more pressing issues at the moment.
“Well, I’m not going to debate any longer. Let’s finish our homework for the day.”
“NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Nadav cried.
“Come on Nadav, it’s just a couple of pages.”
Nadav proceeded to grit his teeth.
“NO. WE. ARE. NOT. DOING. HOMEWORK!”
“Sigh come on Nadav, we even got Sing here. If we don’t know anything, she can answer the rest for us.”
“Come on Nadav. We’ll finish it within the next hour.”
Everyone reached for their sling bags and took out a distinctive folder.
They then took out pieces of paper that reflects their unfinished homework. When they finally finished their homework, almost an hour had past, just as Cadeus estimated.
After finishing what remains of their homework, the trio decided to rest by spending some time in silence. Nadav is already asleep. He’s leaning backwards, snoring up towards the ceiling. Sing is also leaning back resting her eyes. The only one still consciously active is Cadeus. Though he feels tired, his eyes don’t feel like closing.
In thinkng about what to do, Cadeus thought of reading, so he went to his sling bag.
Cadeus was about to reach for a book in his sling bag when he saw something extending out of Sing’s bag.
It’s a book. From the looks of it, it is a very old book. The pages of that book were mostly made of parchments. They are crumbled at the edges, making them look as if they were flipped across continuously. The binding of the book appears to be discoloured too.
It does not seem to be a library book. The Academy will not allow such a used book to be borrowed for they will usually place it under references.
This is a book that Sing owns personally.
Ho… now that is a rare sight.
Cadeus rarely see Sing own a book. He usually sees her using the class textbooks. In curious about its contents, he reached out to Sing’s bag. But from the instance he was about to get the book out, he woke her up.
Sing look at Cadeus, and Cadeus felt as if he was caugt red handed in a small crime scene.
“Sorry, just wanted to take a look.”
“Can I glance through?”
Cadeus took the book. It’s a book called ‘Parental Conjuration’. At first glance Cadeus tought it’s an instructive book lectureing on new kinds of spells. But the moment he opened the book, he saw a long paragraph stating nothing but a theoretical thesis.
Wow, Sing must be really smart to start reading this kind of thing.
“Hey Cadeus, I’ve always wanted to ask you this.” Sing broke the silence.
Cadeus looked up. She’s still in the same resting position, but her eyes are on him again.
“What do you want to be in the future?”
“…I don’t know. I still had not decided on my choice of specialization. What do you want to be Sing? Oh wait, let me guess. You’re going to be an Intellectual.”
“I’m thinking of doing that, but not as a major.”
“Double specialization, wow. So what’s the main one?”
“… I can guess what that means, but I never heard of that one before.”
“If you want to put it in Earth’s terminology, a medical doctor.”
Cadeus nearly dropped her book he was half reading.
“Ah ha ha…”
There is just no way Cadeus can become something like that. He can’t even past his biology tests back on Earth. Well, knowing Sing, there is no doubt that she will pull something off like a double specialization.
“I can never be that. Good for you.”
“Thank you. But you still have not answered my question.”
“I thought I said I don’t know.”
“Any rough ideas? There’s no harm in thinking about it now.”
“If I fail my theories and academics, I’ll go for something more physical and practical, like the Arcane Warrior or the Magi Guardian, now those make more sense to me.”
“You love to think realistic, for someone who is so logical.”
“I thought you are the logical one.”
“Well, you are always the one who uses logic to control our funny friend here.”
“Ah ha ha, yes. If it’s you, he’ll probably pull your leg until you can’t do anything about it.”
Sing laughed, Cadeus smiled. It’s times like this that really made Cadeus feel that there is no discrimination against Dark Mages lurking around.
“Can I ask you something else?”
“You might get angry.”
“I won’t get angry or anything.”
“Well, I think you might in regards to this question.”
“Well, try me.”
“What are you going to do about your family name?”
Now that, Cadeus frowned.
“Nothing. I thought I said I did not give a damn about the rumours.”
“You see, you’re angry.”
“No, I’m not angry, I’m just very annoyed.”
“Annoyed that many people kept enquiring about your family?”
“You don’t know what it’s like Sing, the students who are born nobility, they kept pestering me about it, calling me imposter when I already told them that it’s pure coincidence.”
“But aren’t you going to find out?”
“No. It’s pure coincidence, nothing more, nothing less.”
“You’re not even going to try?”
Cadeus could not focus reading. Since it’s going to be like this, he closed her book.
“But let’s say you are a direct descendant, won't that make you a noble?”
“How can I prove that I’m a descendant? My family has no affiliation with Magic. My mother’s a businesswoman who also works part time in a fashion magazine. She’s a normal human being, and her parents were likely the same as well. This family name thing is pure coincidence. But the annoying thing is that every noble in Tenebris Vacuum all stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that because some certain influencial nobles who could not stomach the coincidence.”
“That’s because they already judged you the instance they know your name before knowing anything more about you.”
“But there’s no point in talking about this. Mr Morrison is already investigating. If it did turn out to be pure coincidence, I’ll just change my family name to something else to avoid further scrutiny. That’ll shut the nobles up for good.”
“Yes it would… but isn’t it sad to change your family name just like that?”
“What’s there to be sad about? If anything I want to smash the face of the idiot who gave my family such a name.”
“Don’t say that, you don’t really mean it.”
“Maybe I do, maybe I don’t.”
Sing could only give him a smile filled with sympathy. As a common born Mage, Sing did not pay too much attention to the noble houses. Sure, there were a couple of nobles she paid attention to, but that was only out of necessity. There were a couple of important nobles in her colour class, and Sing had to know them in order to avoid uneccesary trouble.
Sing was even on good terms with some of the nobles. But in the end of the day, they were still nobles. They live in a completely different world. As such, Sing would prefer having as little to do with them if possible. Cadeus was of the same mind, which all the more made her feel sorry for him having to deal with the drama with the Dark nobles.
Cadeus, feeling the effects of time, stole a peek at his pocket watch.
Time now was approaching 8:25 pm.
“It’s coming to 8:30. We better go.”
“Oh yes. you better.”
“Oi, Nadav. Get up.”
“…Does this count as normal?”
“…Definitely not normal.”
The two had reached the male dormitory. The night lights were already on, in about two to three hours time, the Educators will cross over the make sure everyone went to bed.
But before they could even retire to their rooms, Cadeus and Nadav found themselves looking at a crowd. It’s not just any regular crowd, it’s quite a mass of students gathering, something highly unusual at this point of time. It might easily pass off as an announcement, but the crowd is gathering at a place that Cadeus and Nadav could not ignore, the Quest Board.
The Quest Board was the place whereby the Academy authorities will put up Board Quests. This was where the students will participate in requests commissioned by Mages all around Otium to gain real life experiences. The higher your mage rank, the tougher and more rewarding the Board Quests were. For a large group of students to gather, it could only be that something big just happened. In cases like this, its either there’s a request that sparks rumours, or that the requests have high rewards.
“Woah… what’s with the crowd?”
“It dosen’t usually get as rowdy as this.”
“I don’t assume too much. What we need right now is information, information… See anyone you recognize Nadav?”
“Er… wait I think I see someone.”
“Claudis! Over here!”
Nadav was waving to another Grey Mage like himself, must be someone from his colour class, definitely someone Cadeus never met before. He looks rather lively, standing at around 1.7 meters tall, and from his robe slash Cadeus can tell that he’s also a student like himself.
Based on his rugged robes, he must have been out to the capital recently, probably on a Board Quest similar to him and Nadav.
The grey mage greeted Nadav like friends, but once he saw Cadeus right next to him, the grey mage gave him a considering look. Cadeus sigh inwardly, yes, yes, the same usual treatment that other people always have towards Dark Mages. Always the precaution… it’s really starting to get irritating.
Just give me a break already.
“It’s ok Claudis, Cadeus here is friendly. Cadeus, this is Claudis from my colour class. Claudis this is Cadeus, we grew up from the same town.”
“Hi.” “Nice to meet you.”
The usual greetings sure mask a level of discreteness, but Cadeus did not really mind it. He has gotten used to it already.
“So Claudis what do you see and what do you hear?”
“I’ve heard that you are looking for Procona Powder right?”
“Yeah, why? You got some?”
“No. But I got bad news.”
“What? Is it Educator Brian again? What did he do this time? Does he need Procona Powder too?”
“Relax it’s got nothing to with Educator Brian, but it’s something related to your board quest.”
“Well, the number of requests for Procona Powder has shot up. Just now I saw Educator Meniel put up around five to seven more quest requests, all Procona powder related.”
“That’s not all, the rewards are also very promising. The Alchemists are giving high cashes around 500 – 700 Duches for a specific amount.”
“5-500 – 700?!”
Cadeus also could not believe what he just heard, 500 – 700 is definitely a lot more than their amount… It really feels that the demand for Procona shot skyhigh overnight. Cadeus guessed that this must be the ingredient rush period that Felkor hated, to the point where it caused him to quit Alchemy.
“… Looks like we really got a taste of what Felkor hated right Nadav?”
For some reason, Nadav looked pale. It’s as if he’s going to suffer from a stroke soon.
“D-Did… you say 500 – 700 Duches?”
“T-Then… all the students that are gathering there now are…”
“Yes, there are already groups of students who took up the quests. I can only see more lining up right now. Things have got so bad that students are even challenging each other for the right to take up the Board Quest.”
Cadeus could have sworn that Nadav is going to collapse any minute.
Oh no please don’t, I don’t want to drag him to the infirmary.
“Hey Nadav are you okay – ”
All of a sudden, Nadav grabbed his shoulders and started to shake them hard.
“We have to prioritize Procona now!”
“Yes I know.”
“Forget about lady favours! We need that money!”
“I know I know! Stop shaking me!”
“160 profit! 160 profit!”
“I said! ENOUGH!”
Without hesitation, Cadeus knocked his arms away and electrocuted him.
After several seconds of electircution, Nadav began shaking unnaturally, and it looks like there’s a line of gas escaping his mouth.
Nadav sank to his knees.
“Oh great, now you are depressed.” Cadeus sighed.
“Get up, this level of electricity is not enough to kill you.”
“Get up please.”
“…I give up.”
Cadeus turned to Claudis.
“Anything else we ought to know?”
“Well… if you are getting Procona, get it fast. The alchemists in the capital went nuts because of the recent banned list. Not to mention stock shortage on Procona Powder is something very common, best don’t expect to get the powder off the shops anymore. The other students who took up the new quests already started talking about making their own powder.”
Upon hearing that, Nadav sent his head to the ground.
“Why? Why do they all have to think like Sing? This is just means more work… no…”
“It’s just called thinking out of the box Nadav. Look at the obvious situation. If you can’t buy it, the only option left is to make the powder yourself.” Cadeus said.
“Is there anything else Claudis? Anything we ought to take note?” Cadeus asked.
“Well… if there is anything else… oh yes. The students who are successful in taking the Procona Powder quests so far are mostly Dark Mages.”
Dark Mages… Cadeus sighed. This was going to make things even more difficult.
Upon hearing the words ‘Dark Mages’, Nadav immediately shot his head up.
He tilted his neck until he looked up to Cadeus.
“Any chance anyone you would have recognized?”
“Maybe you could – ”
“Even so, you could –”
“But you know, you can still – ”
“Well… Just thought I’d ask.”
“I am not going to ask them for any favours.”
“But if they do get the powder before we do then – “
“Then we’d better work triple hard tomorrow.”
Nadav only gave a dejected face in response.
“Any idea what’s the deadline for the other quests Claudis?” Cadeus asked.
“None that I know so far, but they all seem very urgent.”
Nadav gave another look of disbelief.
Cadeus looked down to Nadav.
“Make that quadruple hard tomorrow then.”
“Get up already, do you want me and Claudis to step all over you?”
Nadav finally got up.
“Bloody hell. That client of ours better increase the reward.”
“Now that one I agree. Thanks for your help Claudis.”
“Sure… you’re awfully nice for a Dark Mage.”
“Not every Dark Mage is a bad person. Count me as one of the nicer ones.”
Claudis still gave Cadeus the considering look, then he looked back to Nadav.
“Well Nadav I got nothing else for you, got anything else for me?”
“Nope. I’ll see you tomorrow again.”
“Sure. Don’t knock yourself out.”
“Of course not. See you.”
Cadeus waited until Claudis is out of hearing reach, then he turned to Nadav.
“Is he born on Zeffernon?”
“Yup, he’s from the northern areas.”
“Funny, I thought he’s from Earth, he sounds Scottish.”
“It’s the family I guess, you got to look at where he comes from. Claudis is descendend from a line of Celtic mages.”
“They are one of those European folkish types.”
“I know what Celtic means Nadav, is he a Shaman?”
“What can he do?”
“Hm? Rain making, becoming invisible and shape shifting… that’s the gist of it.”
“He can become invisible?”
“Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know so much.”
It’s not that uncommon to see Mages born from different ethnic groups. Zeffernon was crawling with such Mages all around. Look at thirty Mages and one can easily point out around that twelve of those Mages came from ethnic groups that had historical relationship with Magic.
“Aaarrrggghhh.” Nadav scratched his hair.
“What exactly wrong with the powder, seriously this is madness.”
“Well, you can see why Felkor quit being an alchemist. I can imagine him complaining about the lack of ingredients during his younger days.”
“Really? The usually nice Felkor suddenly flaring up just because of some ingredients? I would really pay to see that.”
“Don’t please… don’t even suggest that. Nice individuals who suddenly become very angry are really a sight you don’t want to see.”
“Why not? It’s can be something to laugh about.”
“Do you want to see Sing when she gets very mad?”
“… I retake all that I just said.”
“And make sure you don’t mention something like that again. I don’t want you to jinx it.”
“Jinx it? Cadeus do you really believe in something like that?”
“Just saying it.”
The two finally walked to the fourth level where they stayed. From the looks of it the others are also starting to retire as well. Various students are either already returning to their rooms, or remaining in the corridor in their night gear to talk.
“Well, my room’s that way then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, see you. Don’t oversleep.”
“Wake me up tomorrow then, I have a feeling I’ll sleep long tonight.”
Nadav turned to his own door, and Cadeus waited until Nadav closed the door behind him.
From that moment, Cadeus wasted no time. He took a dash to his own room to the other side of the corridor. Ever since that conversation with Claudis, Cadeus could not help but imagine that Procona will be a huge source of conflict starting tomorrow.
Because once they do get the powder, they’d better be prepared to guard it with their lives. 500 – 700 Duches? That’s really no joke, anyone would really use any means to earn such easy money off.
Thinking of the situation they were in right now Cadeus did want to retire for the day, but there was one last thing he has to do. He got back to his own room, got a different sling bag and headed to the Academy’s library.
Cadeus wanted to see if those two books were available. If the situation regarding the powder were as bad as it could be, there would definitely be students hunting for books in instructions to make Procona Powder. In fact Cadeus would not be so surprised if he saw many students in the Library now.
If Cadeus went to the library to find the two books gone, then Cadeus and his group would be in very serious trouble.
Those two books Susan recommended might contain the very answer they need for their board quest. It could even be a direct short cut to the problem if there was really no hope of getting Procona Powder off the markets.
The Library was located a few dozen meters behind the dormitories. It would take around fifteen minutes of walking in order to reach it. It’s the second largest building in the entire Academy, in order to accommodate all the books every student might need in the long run.
Just bypass the Educator’s dormitory, and the library was in sight.
The library was huge, designed with the architecture that exists during British Victoria Era. It was said to be the third largest Library in all of Otium, having at least thirty copies for each popular book, fifteen copies for each book needed for every specializations, and at most five copies of the rare books only used for references.
It’s a very popular place for those who love books. If you were hungry for such indepth of knowledge, the library was where you want to be. Cadeus smiled, he loved to be there again. The Academy's library was a sanctuary for Cadeus. He loved the place. Whenever he was not in class or not with his friends, he would be here.
When he entered, the first thing that somewhat met his expectancy was how empty the building felt. At first he thought many would turn up to hunt for books rgarding Procona, but the library still looks generally empty.
Well of course it would be empty, not at this hour.
Usually at this time there would not be many people wandering around, since by now most people would be back in their dormitories.
Cadeus ascended the stairs.
As directed by Susan, he went the third level.
“Third, at the left side from the stairs. There should be a section for environmental books. I think I found them at the left bookshelves.”
That was what Susan said.
After climbing the last step from the second level, he’s now facing the third level’s receptionist counter. Turning to his left, all he could see are a vast number of bookshelves neatly aligned in multiple rows.
It took him a while before he found the label dangling from the ceiling.
Environmental studies AL304 - AL679
304 – 679… that mean that there are more than three hundred books organized in this section. Cadeus sighed. Of all the things he forgot to ask Susan, he forgot to ask what was the book number.
Well, there’s always a way to find out. He turned to the receptionist. He was about to interrupt her thoughts when he suddenly stopped.
Of all people, why her? Cadeus cursed inwardly.
Cadeus instantly recognized the individual sitting at the reception. How couldn’t he? With that long blonde hair, confident purple eyes, and a face possessing a cold illustrious beauty, Cadeus could easily identify her anywhere.
Claire Rrogust ve Chroma
She was a Dark Mage from Cadeus’s colour classes. She’s an extremely intelligent individual. But that was not all. Claire was born Pure Blooded. She was one of the very few children to be born with Pure Dark Magic in their blood. She was also a descendant of the Greater Noble house Rrogust ve Chroma, one of the highest ruling elite families of Magi in Zeffernon. These two upbringing conditions gave Claire a high aptitude for Magic, which granted her a special gifting to use magic without much difficulty.
In acknowledgement to her lineage, Claire was granted the priviledge to wear a customized uniform; a priviledge reserved for only a selected few nobles. Her uniform was made of dyed silk of the highest quality, with luxurious patterns of Fandango and Tyrian purple. In addition, her empty purple robe slash also had the emblem symbol of Crystal shards, marking her ties to one of Zeffernon's most influential families.
With her highborn potential to use Magic and her noble status, Cadeus had overheard how various Masters had taken an interest to take her in as an apprentice, both within and outside the Academy.
With these prestigious establishments, Cadeus had always felt that Claire was an individual who could easily rival Sing in terms of reputation. Unfortunately, she did not share the same popularity Sing had. In being a Dark Mage, students of different colour alignments would generally avoid her. Although she had some sort of popularity amongst fellow Dark Mages, it was only something that was enjoyed amongst her fellow Dark colleagues. But even so, it was hard for anyone to approach Claire, given her highborn status.
As for Cadeus, well, let’s just say that Claire was someone he’d rather avoid. Ever since he met her on day one, their relationship has been a rocky one by far. When he first encountered her, Cadeus immediately sensed a natural affinity given how they were both Pure Blooded equals. The same could be said for Claire, for she soon found herself speaking to him more frequently than any other student in their class.
However, when sharing identities came into question, things started turning for the worst.
Given Cadeus’s background as Pure Blood, Claire had high expectations from him, only to find out that he was someone incapable and vastly ignorant in using Magic. Cadeus could understand her surprise. After all, he did come from a background where he had little to no exposure to Magic.
However, this was something Claire failed to understand, and her surprise would soon turned to disgust. Eventually she would begin attacking Cadeus verbally out of contempt. She would occasionally insult him and criticize him for what he was, and to Cadeus’s regret, he retaliated. Their relationship developed into one of constant bickering. Claire would insult him first and he would insult her back. While Cadeus knew he was partially to blame for retaliating, he just could not bring himself to like her.
Interestingly enough, the adults of the Academy did little to resolve their little conflict. They must really not want to be involved with this small matter, seeing two Pure Blooded children at odds with each other.
As time progressed, Cadeus would soon come to see Claire for what she really was, haughty and self-centered.
In addition to Claire’s haughty character, Cadeus noticed that she had this unusual perception of favours. There was a point in time where he needed her assistance. This was done purely out of necessity, and it was something that was done at the very last resort.
Regardless, her assistance was needed, and Claire surprisngly agreed to help him if you minus all the insults. But of course, there was a catch. In return for helping him, Claire demanded compensation in the form of personal favours. Cadeus’s initial perception of these favours was that they one of mutual benefit. But after owing her one favour or two, it felt like she was extorting him for being ‘indebted’ to her.
She would use these ‘favours’ as a means for him work for her or to comply with certain requests. Examples include teaming up momentarily or helping her collect certain items or ingredients. Thankfully, homework was not one of them. If there is one thing Cadeus could find good about her, Claire was serious in her studies, she does all her work and studies independently.
Now, this person was sitting at the library’s reception table. She has information that Cadeus needed, and there were no other staff members in sight. Even though this might result in owing her another ‘favour’, he had a deadline to follow. This was definitely not the time for personal pride to get in the way.
With all these in mind, Cadeus thought that he best might as well start the conversation politely.
Claire shot up as if she got startled. She immediately closed her book and looked at whoever interrupted her. From the way she immediately put down her book, she must have thought that Cadeus might have been an adult staff. But once she saw Cadeus, her expression changed.
“Oh… it’s you.”
Claire resumed reading her book, paying little heed to Cadeus.
So much for what people call public service… Cadeus silently thought.
If she was expecting him to bow couteously, it isn’t happening either.
Realizing that Cadeus was not going to leave her alone, Claire sighed and opened her mouth.
“What do you want?”
Her view of his presence as pure annoyance could instantly be heard with the lack of hospitality in her voice. But having grown used to her unfriendly treatment, Cadeus was able to take her words in kindly without yelling back in the process.
“I’m looking for two books. One of them is ‘Glamarious, Spores and Fluids’, the second is ‘The swamp comes alive’.”
Without even looking at him, Claire made a small gesture to the side.
“The Envrionmental section is over there.”
“Yes I can see that, but I don’t know the book numbers.”
“Why didn’t you find out before coming here?”
“…I forgot to ask.”
“I see, I guess Susan was not being thourough when she introduced the books to you.”
What the… how did she know?
“Interesting assumption. I’m not going to deny that I found out about these books from an external source, but what makes you think that the person must be Susan?”
“If you are really asking me that question, it only shows how pitiful and pathetic you are.”
Ah… of course.
Look around you and make a deduction Cadeus.
That was the implication Claire sent him. Given her current station, it should be relatively easy to deduce that she in some point of time would know that Susan borrowed those two books. Even if Claire may not be present when Susan borrowed them, she might also be around when she returned them. Or, Claire might have seen Susan carrying the two books in or out at some point of time.
Also, given the recent issue with the Procona Board Quests, Claire must have heard that he was looking for Procona Powder as well. It would be natural for her to be aware of the type of books Cadeus would need to gain knowledge in regards to making Procona Powder.
“Fine. I got the book references from Susan.”
“That means you have given up searching for the powder in the city. You are either trying to find native sources, or you are attempting to make a bunch yourself. But the thing is, you don’t know the proper procedures, so you need the two books. Am I right?”
Although it was no surprise that Claire knew about Susan, deducing his current situation and his current needs was something Cadeus did not expect
Damn… she’s good. He thought.
“That’s some sound assumption you came up with.”
“It does make a fine assumption, but you get along well with Susan. Given her recent activities, it would not be surprising that you managed to find out about these books from her.”
“Point taken. Are you going to help me or not?”
Eyes still on her book, Claire pretended to be in deep thought.
Cadeus already knew that she knew what she wanted to say, and her act to stall some form of time was obviously an act of provocation.
“If I help you, what’s in it for me?” She said.
“Sigh… You are really making me think twice about approaching you.”
“Then what? Night curfew is one hour away, good luck finding those two books in the thousands packed in 34 bookshelves.”
Cadeus sigh inwardly. It looks like he had no choice.
“Do you need any favours?”
Claire closed her book and look up in deep thought.
“I may need some of your combat skills. Are you good in Arcane Warfare?”
“That will depend on who I am fighting.”
“Not humans idiot. Against the forest beasts.”
“In Tenebris Vacuum?”
“Yes. I’ll give you the specifics tomorrow. Will you help me?”
“How big are the beasts?”
“Hmph, you can’t refuse. Your average size.”
“I’m not as exposed to these beasts as you. How big are they?”
“The biggest of them so far is about 2.3 meters tall.”
“… That is big. What kind of breed? Is it the Armugorus?”
“I said I’ll give you the specifics tomorrow. So will you help?”
“… Well, it’s not like I’m always busy during Colour Class. Sure.”
“Of course you are free. Since when has Educator Garth given us any major work to do?”
Cadeus sighed again.
“Ok, then it is settled. Come find me at the forest entrance tomorrow once you are done with whatever you need to do.”
“Ok, now the books.”
“Right, forget about ‘Glamarious, Spores and Fluids’, there’s nothing about Procona there. What you want is ‘The swamp comes alive’.”
“You read them already?”
“Yeah. But if you want me to give you the answer forget it. I was not focusing much on Procona powder at that point of time. The book number is AL 421, fourth bookshelf at the left side.”
“Got it, thanks.”
“You can take the book with if you want, I’ll write it off under your name.”
“You don’t sound very grateful.”
Grateful for what? Cadeus thought.
“And if you dare forget to meet me tomorrow, I’ll make you my slave.”
“Oh don’t worry my ‘lady.”
Cadeus gave a hyprocrytical bow.
“I’m not someone who makes empty promises, unlike some others.”
Claire gave him a glare, but Cadeus’s back was already facing her.
Turning back to her book, Claire could only let out a voice of disgust.
He found it.
Black leather cover, it’s very easy to miss, ‘The swamp comes alive’ that’s the one.
Cadeus took the book out of the bookshelve. He took a good look at the cover, thick and smooth, just like any other book published by the intellectuals. From first glance Cadeus could already assume that the book would consist of many terminologies unfamiliar to him. The scholars love to use extreme vocabulary that was sometimes hard to follow, well unless you are one of the scholars themselves.
Cadeus flipped through to the content page.
He took a few seconds to glance through when he found it.
Harmonious Procona – page 324
Flipping to the designated page, all he saw was more academic appendix to the author’s research thesis. Not wanting to read the huge chunk of words that did not really make sense, Cadeus flipped several pages more where he finally found the first paragraph that had the word Procona.
'Now Procona, as we all know, is a very important medium in Alchemy. It’s a highgrade catalyst serving multiple functions. It’s used to make a diffusional paste that helps separate vital ingredients from a fixed source, or it can be used in conjuration as a Divert Base for the most hideous and complex spell casting processes. Procona can be also used for rituals of any type, which makes it a very desireable substance that is pretty considerable in demand.'
Cadeus scanned through the rest of the page, nothing but further introductions on Procona Powder and their usages. It seems to last until the next couple of pages. So far the book still has not what he is looking for. Cadeus flipped a couple of pages more.
'Now it is commonly known that Procona can be made from combining a few alchemical ingredients. The most common recipie by far is the combination of three ingredients, a solvent and two solutes. The most popular choices by far, are the blue powder called Dreman’s Cure, and the liquids Sacorhenous Melock and Drogavous Cream.'
Now it was about how procona can be made… this might be good in the case where they might need to make Procona on our own. Oh! Better take down the page number. This would definitely come in handy.
Glancing further down, Cadeus could see up to around two or three more other methods that Procona could be made, and several of those ingredients could be harvested from a swamp. This was good, good, and good. There was really a lot to follow, but still nothing about harvesting Procona directly.
Cadeus continued flipping.
'It has long been accepted that Procona Powder can only be made by combining several alchemical ingredients. However, years of my research has also led me to believe that there is another method, which allows you not only to get the Powder directly, but also save effort in finding the alchemical resources. The raw Procona in fluid form can be harvested first before being placed in its powder state. The process is extremely complex at first glance though it is actually rather simple, as I will mention in detail here.'
Yes! Cadeus finally found it, finally some progress.
'First, the fluid form of Procona can only be harvested from a plant creature that is known to grow only in swamps. I believe it’s the first of its kind to be encountered by man, so I have taken the liberty to name it Draborg, for its swelling head that looks as if it is going to explode.'
Draborg? That’s a very weird name indeed.
'The fluid Procona can only be harvested from the head. The head of the plant has three to four layers of membrane that coats the fluid. One must be careful not to use any spell that could damage the head. Once the head is damaged, the contents of the fluid will be contaminated and thus, lose you the Procona fluid.'
That sounds rather troublesome.
'The only method you can use to get the fluid is not to sever the head off, but to use a knife to slice the edge of the head. Slice thinly, just enough to let the fluid leak out.'
Cadeus closed the book. That’s more than enough.
Though he was not too familiar with it, he knows that there’s a swamp in the Academy.
Not only did he know the location, he even had the chance to visit it tomorrow. If he were in luck, he would be able to find this Draborg plant and get the fluid. Then all that’s left should be to contimue reading and find the right means to bring the fluid to its powder state.
What he needs right now, was a container of some sort to hold the fluid. He could always ask Sing for one of those.
Cadeus took the book and place them into his sling bag. He won’t tell his friends about this, not yet. Perhaps tomorrow after he had his visit to the swamps. He dosen’t want to give any false hope until he confirms this.