Book 1, Side Chapter: Birth of a Terrorist
James closed the chat window and stared at the items in front of him. Sunblossom petals, stoneroot, and yellowgrass. Grabbing his mortar and pestle, he grinded the stoneroot to powder as he turned up the heat of the Bunsen Burner-like item in front of him. His mortar eventually filled with the liquid that dwelled within the stoneroot. Furrowing his brow in concentration, he picked up the sunblossom petals and let his mana flow into them, watching as they withered at the visible rate. Suddenly, he threw them in the mortar and began to grind once again, the pieces of the petals soaking up the liquid and mixing with the stoneroot to turn into an orange colored mixture.
As he did this, he took a moment to toss the yellowgrass into the boiling water in the flask above the burner, taking a glance to confirm that it was melting into the water before resuming his incessant grinding. Watching the water carefully, James poured the mixture of stoneroot and sunblossom into the vial, before drastically lowering the temperature of the burner.
He sighed and wiped the sweat off his brow, watching as the water in the vial eventually turned into a bright red color.
Turning off the flame, James took the health potion and walked up to his mentor, a traveling alchemist named Crux. The man looked at the red potion, inspecting it for a moment before giving it back to James.
“You forgot to put the yellowgrass into the water as the stoneroot began to ooze out its liquid, and now, the potion will heal for less than it should. The temperature of the flame when you lowered it was also 2 degrees too hot. Though it is an improvement from the poison you unfortunately created by accident the first time, it isn’t enough to sell with the rest of my stock. Keep practicing.”
James scratched his head in frustration. “If I put in the yellowgrass that early, it would’ve left the water by the time I finished mixing the stoneroot and sunblossoms! And how am I supposed to adjust the temperature properly when I there aren’t any gauges on the burner’s fucking temperature!?”
“You aren’t maximizing your efficiency, that is why you are still considered too slow. As for the flame, either learn to adjust it by feel, or learn how to manipulate your mana properly,” Crux calmly said, tending to four different potions at once as he manipulated his materials with the motions of a master. He took one of the potions off of the burner, imbuing his mana into it and making it shine with a bright blue light before tossing it at James. “Drink this and replenish your mana. I want to see thirteen more health potions by the end of tonight. For the rest of that time, I’ll give you some spare materials to experiment. An alchemist creates his own potions.”
James caught the potion and drank, sighing exasperatedly as he moved back to the corner of his camp fire.
Crux smiled as he glanced at his student who was despondently creating potions. He’d managed to pick up an unexpected talent, and from a group of new arrivals no less. If he handled this correctly, it could turn into something he didn’t just do because it was common courtesy. The first time he’d met this young man named James, they had run into each other on the road to Ateila, a village he frequented in this country. The young man was eating some listwort as he walked, a mushroom that was poisonous enough to kill a grown man that hadn’t passed his first mana threshold within a matter of hours.
He called out to the young man and offered to sell him an antidote after talking about the effects of the item he was eating, but noticed something peculiar about the mushroom. The pimple-like worts that protruded out of its cap was gone, and the color of the shroom had changed from the original sickly brown to a mellow beige color.
The only reason he was able to identify the shroom in the first place was the unique blade-like protrusion of its roots, which the plant used to keep itself stuck to the brisled trees that populated the nearby woods.
Later on, Crux had learned a few things from the young man. One, he was part of another group of the many people that the gods sent to this world on a yearly basis, and that this young man’s use of mana was very unique. Most of the magic in this world was different, dependent on the person using them. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that every magic user was different from the rest, himself and his fellow alchemists included.
James could use his mana to either enhance the properties of an item, or bring out an effect that was hidden within the item itself. In the case of the listwort, he was astonished to find that the young man’s mana had somehow suppressed the poison, and had made it into an effective meal. It was packed full of nutrients, and a single handful could easily substitute for a day’s worth of meals. The taste was bland and tasteless, but that was the only drawback he was able to observe. He’d taken the young man in as a disciple because of this. If this power could be used properly, this young man would have the potential to send the alchemist community into a frenzy. That, along with the common knowledge of helping any new arrivals cope with the world they had been sent in, had resulted in him gaining a student to teach.
After nearly a week of travel, he’d managed to teach the young man basic techniques like refining and grinding, which both required a good amount of control in mana, and were one of the many universal techniques that could be learnt by anyone, regardless of how they manipulated their magic.
His student even had a good affinity for it, quickly learning the technique and beginning the creation of potions a whole week ahead of what he had planned.
Crux smiled. If James rocked the community in the future, he would have the honor of claiming to be the young man’s mentor. As he was thinking this in the middle of creating a potion, an explosion suddenly shook the area to his left, causing him to spill the potion in surprise. Turning off the burners, he angrily walked to his disciple’s area. What was that fool doing?
He eventually found James staring at a small tree with his mouth agape. The trunk, which was the side of his bicep, had been blown clean off, exposing a small area covered in scorch marks. Frowning, he turned to James.
“What did you do?”
“I wondered if I could find an easy way to use the burner, so I took the fire crystal off from the slot and uh… fiddled with it.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to use your technique unless you were experimenting? And to only use it in front of me so I could make sure you didn’t piss off some beast in the forest!? What happened!?”
James laughed. “I messed around with it trying to make it easier to use, when it suddenly just started glowing and heating up. It burnt my hand a little, so I pretty much just tossed it to the side. I didn’t expect it to do this. That was awesome,” James pointed at the tree and grinned.
Crux gritted his teeth at the wasted fire crystal and tossed a new one at James from his backpack. He turned and coldly left. “Since you have the time to mess around with the burner, you should probably have enough to make twenty more vials by the end of tonight. Get to work. If I see you doing something like this again, I’ll throw some real alchemist bombs at you.”
James groaned in complaint and got to work after slotting the crystal back into the burner. If he’d learned anything from the past week, this teacher-student relationship was somewhat compulsory, and Crux was not afraid to use force when it came to telling him off.
He sighed and finished a potion. He was still too slow to accomplish what Crux was telling him about. James sped up his work though, glancing at the tree that had snapped in half and grinning. When he had time to experiment, he was definitely asking for more of those crystals. When he got good at what he was doing, he was going to blow shit up.
He was going to 9/11 the fuck out of this fantasy world.