A Monster Who Levels Up

Chapter 16

"What are you talking about, out of the blue…? First, please calm down, take a deep breath, and then talk to me. I’m not going anywhere."

Hazeline carefully admonished him. She wasn’t sure of what happened, but the alchemist seemed to be in a lot of hurry and was thirsty for something, unlike last time they met.

Fortunately, Sae-Jin was able to follow her advice. Hoo-woo. For about a minute, the sound of deep breathing came out of the receiver, and his relatively calmer voice followed soon after.

– "An item I must procure right away has become available. I’m well aware that the proceeds from the sale of the potions haven’t come in yet. However, right now, I have 10 bottles of potions finished and in stock. I won’t ask money for them, but can you help m…"

"Huh? You already have 10 in stock?!"

Sae-Jin was in a serious hurry but Hazeline’s thoughts were focused elsewhere.

How long has it been since he was here beforelast, but he already brewed 10 more?

Of course, she didn’t expect every single one of them to be a High grade potion like before. If that was the case, then he’d be The Alchemy Personified. But, to have created 10 potions in less than a month - if they were around Mid rank in grade or lower, then well, it was comparable to the level of an alchemy workshop. It was an utter nonsensical joke no one would believe if a lone alchemist, a human at that, managed to match a workshop’s output.

– "Yes, I have 10 bottles. I can guarantee their efficacy. One potion can greatly increase the constitution, another is an inferior version of 'A Goblin’s Kindness' that has recovery effects, while the other one increases resistance towards elements…"

"Eh, eh? Hold on, what did you say just now?!"

Hazeline shot up from her seat in shock. Now, it was her turn to feel restless. Not only she couldn’t figure out how he had brewed 10 potions so quickly, but she also heard the "increases resistance towards elements" bit. THAT, was a serious problem. Because, that kind of potion no longer existed. Or more correctly, the recipes for those potions were all long forgotten.

Around 60 years ago, among the "first alchemists" to cross the World’s Rift and settle down on Earth was a certain household named Rodes.

Often referred to as the Rodes Family, their alchemy skills were truly peerless, and it was not wrong to say their alchemic legacy became the forefather of the modern alchemy.

And just like the modern day alchemists, the Rodes Family was very secretive and never shared their formula with anyone. As a consequence, there were numerous potions only they could make, and amongst those, one of them happened to be the "Element Resistance" potion.

But around 30 years ago, the Rodes Family suddenly disappeared without a trace - as if they didn’t exist in the first place. So, all the recipes and formulas for the Rodes Family potions also vanished along with them.

Not only the Rodes Family left behind an indelible mark on the world of alchemy, they also left behind a mystery that could not be solved by the current level of modern day alchemists.

They were seen as a source of inspiration, as idols for adulation, and a great motivational factor for many alchemists, thus becoming a legend in the process.

And now, this one guy was busy saying that he had created a potion that only a Rodes could have made…

"W, w, wait a minute. What potion did you say it was? Elemental resistance?"

&#

8211; "…..Yes, I did."

At his composed reply, Hazeline nearly fainted on the spot. She so badly wanted to go to where he was and confirm the truth of this potion for herself.

"B, but how? No, wait - where are you now? I’ll come and see you….!!"

– "No, that’s a little inconvenient for me."

Sae-Jin replied carefully at her strangely excited reactions.

But Hazeline was feeling really, madly frustrated right now. This conversation was now at a level well past the realm of strange and into something completely crazy.

So, so many, countless alchemists, including Hazeline, formed research groups in order to challenge the mystery of element resistance. The reasoning for the "Great Alchemy Conference" that occurred 5 years ago was precisely that - to recreate all the potions that had vanished along with the disappearance of the Rodes Family. They focused on 5 items back then, and one of them was this Element Resistance potion.

But this gathering, organised by the Knights Orders and led by them instead of alchemists, dissolved after not only failing to discover the recipes, they couldn’t even figure out the ingredients used for the potions. Deep mistrust ended up developing between each alchemist that had participated, and towards the Knights, as a result.

"….Ah, no. Well… if Sir Sae-Jin really brewed a Resistance potion…. we need to meet first. We should talk about this only after we meet personally! I, I will go to you. Where are you?"

*

That very same day, two of them met in the Yoseon Alchemy House.

"A Mid grade. It should be around the Mid grade."

Hazeline spoke while examining the scarlet-coloured liquid contained in a potion bottle.

Her breathing was rising up rapidly. Using her 17 years of alchemy experience, she confirmed it. This looked exactly the same as the illustrations of "Rodes' Element Resistance" potion she had seen. It was really the Element Resistance potion.

Even though it was rated at a rather lowly Mid grade, there was little doubt Knights Orders would go mad with desire for this potion. The elemental attacks of the Monsters rated upper Mid Tier or higher were very difficult to deal with, after all.

The physical damage could be negated with armours, but these armours couldn’t protect the body underneath against the attacks of flames and ice spewed out by, say, a Dragon Turtle or a Wyvern, so the Knights had to defend using only the Mana Barriers.

But unless one was a High Tier Knight, it was difficult to endure the incredibly high Mana expenditure. Even those amazing Highest Tier Knights didn’t dare to casually engage Monsters that used innate elemental attacks without a recovery potion.

However, the story changed a great deal with the Element Resistance potion in the picture. This was a potion used exclusively for the subjugation of the top ranked Monsters. Following the standards set by the Rodes Family, a Mid grade could negate as much as half of the damage from the innate element attacks. That meant a High Tier Knight would have a far easier time fighting the Monster as the amount of Mana devoted to maintaining the Barrier would decrease.

"This potion…. did you make it alone?"

"Yes. It was difficult to brew them so I could only brew two bottles’ worth."

Sae-Jin nodded his head. This Element Resistance potion had a painstakingly exacting compounding requirements. Not only did it require over 20 different types of ingredients, it also required him to be very careful when combining the said ingredients. Hell, even with the Goblin’s Craftsmanship skill, he ended up failing numerous times.

Actually, the reason why he made this potion was to increase his proficiency with that very skill. The thing was, he received more skill proficiency points when he failed making potions, compared to when he was successful.

"…."

At this very moment in time, the two people gazing at this potion were thinking two very different things.

Hazeline was momentarily speechless after hearing him say "could only brew two bottles."

She became hopelessly curious to the identity of the man in front of her. How could he drag the recipe of a potion now long forgotten back out of the abyss all alone? Just how could he….

‘Maybe, it was his master?’

That was when a lightbulb went off in Hazeline’s head.

The Rodes Family hid away from the view. Some said they were murdered by other jealous alchemists, some said they simply had returned to their original world. But they were all just theories. The only real fact remaining, was that they just vanished into thin air like blowing dust.

What if, the reason why they disappeared was because they felt sick and tired of alchemy…

It made a certain amount of sense. Great things were expected of the Rodes Family and thus they received huge product orders compared to other alchemists, and the burden and the enormous pressure created by those demands would be like an axe hanging over their heads.

When a famous alchemist had enough of all things alchemy, there were two avenues left to tread for this person.

Either he or she start raising a successor, or like Hazeline here, become a Manager of an Alchemy House.

But a Rodes would never, ever choose the latter!!

"….Hmm. Never mind that, what is this favour you want to ask me?"

Hazeline worked hard to maintain a poker face while asking him, as things began falling into their logical - her logic - place rather quickly. Alchemists highly valued the master and apprentice relationship above all else. There was no need to ask about an uncertain matter and potentially sour their current relationship, after all.

"By any chance, have you already heard of the Werewolf’s Mana Stone? The story came out this morning."

Sae-Jin too did his best to maintain his poker face. The minimum expected price may have been $1.76 million, but it was expected to be sold at the max amount of $3.5 million. Even if he used up the remaining half of the Sabre-tooth Tiger’s fang and concoct more High grade potions to sell immediately, the proceeds from the sale would only come in after at least a month’s time.

So, Hazeline’s assistance was a necessity if he wanted to buy the Werewolf’s Mana Stone.

Although this was only their third time meeting like this, Sae-Jin didn’t really have anyone else to rely on besides her. Plus, he was feeling confident, as well. He could create potions on the same level of Goblins, so who can refuse him outright?

"Ah, that. Yes, I saw it. But why would you… Perhaps?"

"Yes. I truly wish to purchase that Mana Stone. But the problem is…"

…I don’t have the money. Sae-Jin just couldn’t say that out loud. So, he pushed forward the potions that were as good as money towards her.

Hazeline was busy punching the numbers on the calculator in her head as she gazed at those potions.

The Element Resistance potion. Nominally, since it was rated a Mid grade it’d be priced around $45 thousand US at most on the market, but through a sales commission, she should be able to extract as much as $350 thousand US. It was a shocking amount of money considering that only one person could drink this potion.

The other potions were also quite useful as well. But taking into account the sales tax, the total would not go over $530 thousand US. Adding the proceeds from the sales of A Goblin’s Kindness potions, $2.47 million after tax. The Mana Stone of the Werewolf was expected to go for $3.5 million. So, there was a shortage of another $1 million or so.

However - there was something far more valuable than a million dollars to consider here.

It was the future relationship between these two people, Hazeline and Kim Sae-Jin.

If this man was indeed the successor to the Rodes Family legacy, or… even if he wasn’t, there was a need to maintain a good relationship with the talent of the century like him.

‘I can’t afford to let him go.’

She was already half convinced anyways. This man had to be the God of Alchemy, Rodes’ apprentice.

Without that explanation, there was just no freaking way he’d be able to perfectly replicate a potion that had been lost to the world for almost 30 years!

"Hmm…"

Hazeline was feeling relieved that she had met this man only recently. If it was in the past, when she was still full of pride in her own alchemy skills - if she met him then, who knows what kind of mess she’d have created out of jealousy and pettiness.

"I will definitely procure it, that much I can promise you. Please be rest assured. I’ve earned quite a bit of money up until now. Even though I look like this, I was quite a famous alchemist and a Wizard in the past, I’ll have you know."

Hazeline smiled brightly as she spoke, and that caused Sae-Jin to break out into a deep grin of his own as well.

In the empty Manager’s office, after Sae-Jin had left. Hazeline logged onto the Alchemists’ Cafe after 3 years of absence. It was a type of specific job-related forum where only the current or former alchemists could join. She stayed away due to various reasons but today, she became curious if there was any new information regarding Rodes Family and so, here she was.

"…It sure is lively here."

She muttered to herself. Even though it had been 30 years since the disappearance of the Rodes Family, it seemed that there was still a lot to talk about. There was a dedicated thread for all topics Rodes-related, and the last message was posted only about 10 minutes ago.

Out of all the stuff that piled up during the last 3 years, she compiled only the posts that required a "VVIP" clearance to read and carefully went through them. But, very little contained anything useful to her, if any.

"….Tsk, my eyes rotted for no reason. "

Hazeline logged off, after finding nothing useful.

< 06. The Mana Stone of a Beast (2) > Fin.

(I’ve had to change a bit with the Element Resistance potion’s name. The raw kept on saying "속성저항" which literally means innate/natural resistance and I was planning to go with that, then I read a bit further and there was the mention of fire/ice based attacks and this potion raises resistance towards those, so I figured calling it "Element Resistance" sounded a bit better, a bit more game-y, if you will.)

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