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Chapter 198 – Traces from the Age of Mythology (1)
The investigation team disappeared from the tunnel and appeared again in a strange room. There was a white floor with a lattice pattern, and lighting fixtures floating in the air.
The investigation team, including Theodore, responded swiftly. It was a s.p.a.ce transfer which Theodore, Veronica, and the injured Mujak hadn't been able to resist. The five people quickly backed up against each other and looked around.
This was a ruin from the Age of Mythology. If it was a trap, not one of them could afford to be careless. However, that tension was scattered.
The girl, Paragranum approached them with a calm expression. "I'm sorry for the delay, Captain. It took some time to gain control of the laboratory."
"…Please give a detailed explanation."
Theodore was aware of her intentions, and Para used the prepared excuse.
He couldn't help smiling bitterly as the grimoire explained, "Immediately after the engagement with the empire's Seven Swords finished, I was transferred to this lab by the power of this ring. According to Master's words, this is like a key to this set of ruins."
"It is the power of the ring that moved us here?"
"That's not it." Para hid the ring on her index finger and shook her head.
After all, an artifact which allowed 9th Circle magic to be used freely would've been designated as a national treasure.
"The carriage that we rode relied on the power of the magic crystals, and it isn't really a carriage. Likewise, this ring is just a vehicle to deal with the power of this laboratory. It is useless sc.r.a.p metal outside this ruin." Para gave a contrived sigh. "Unfortunately, the authority given to this ring can't control Mercurius, and it is impossible to access some areas. However, I am able to open up the warehouse district."
"Okay, I got it."
Then Veronica, the head of the party, stepped forward and looked down at Para. Veronica was quite tall for a woman. Para. whose body was smaller than average, had to look up to see Veronica's face.
Although Para was a highly intelligent grimoire who wouldn't slip up, Theodore felt an unknown tension.
"But Yellow Tower kid, don't you think there is a more important problem than this boring explanation?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are you sure you don't know?" Veronica looked at Para's emotionless face and brought up a topic which no one else had mentioned. "Lloyd Pollan. Did you get rid of that rat?"
The rest of the party were suddenly reminded of Lloyd's presence. Maybe it was because they were dizzy from the sudden s.p.a.ce shift that Sylvia, William, and even Mujak, who had been injured by Lloyd, had forgotten about him.
Of course, it was good to obtain the ruins, but there was a bitter taste from having missed one of the empire's Seven Swords. As Veronica was quick-witted, she noticed this. However, Para just smiled effortlessly. "Oh, that rude person."
She raised her thumb, and there was a loud sound. Simultaneously, an image appeared on the black wall. The party reflexively looked over, and their faces stiffened at the sight.
"…One of the empire's Seven Swords."
It was Lloyd Pollan. He was scowling until he met Para's eyes. Unlike his brave stance, his eyes were tinted with fear. The unstable shaking of his eyes was enough to make the viewers feel an eerie chill.
Veronica was the only one who remained unshaken as she asked Para, "What is going on?"
"He seems to have triggered a trap while wandering around."
"Trap? Is that what this is?"
"Yes, it is a trap which freezes that s.p.a.ce. Perhaps even a grandmaster can't get out."
"…9th Circle magic is popping up like household items," Veronica grumbled, and the others couldn't help nodding in agreement.
s.p.a.ce freeze was the peak of s.p.a.ce magic which even White Tower Master Orta couldn't reproduce. In fact, it was only mentioned in old records. However, such a spell had been used as a trap? Did the creator think a dragon was going to invade or something?
"Can you turn it off?"
"I don't have the authority."
"Tch. It can't be helped then. Anyway, it was an unofficial battle, and he is like a prisoner of war." Veronica gave up.
Then Para erased the image on the wall and said, "There seems to be an accommodation area. Shall I guide you to it?"
Veronica wasn't the only one enticed by it. Theodore was tired from the fight in the sandstorm, while the remaining party members also wanted to rest. There was sand in their clothing, and their dry skin hurt. Furthermore, n.o.body wanted to keep looking dirty.
Sylvia raised a hand in agreement, and the rest soon followed.
Through the unanimous decision, the next move of the investigation team was decided. Veronica, Mujak, William, and Sylvia were moved through s.p.a.ce magic, leaving only Theodore and Para behind in the room.
Theodore wanted to go as well and looked at Para, who whispered to him, "Wait for my call at night."
Then her fingers moved.
* * *
The laboratory of Paragranum's creator, Paracelsus, was a place worthy of being called a new world. Its principles were simple, but the unfamiliar facilities, plumbing, and food which was made with one b.u.t.ton seemed like miracles, not alchemy.
Then shortly after Theodore washed in the unfamiliar facility and finished a satisfactory meal…
The grimoire, Paragranum, kept her words.
「Confirmed the sub-master's call, I will guide you from area D-1 to area L-21. 」
It was in the same unknown language as Theodore had heard in the tunnel. As soon as the voice finished speaking, Theodore's surrounding landscape changed.
This was compulsory s.p.a.ce movement. Despite having experienced it once before, Theodore felt uncomfortable from the forced transfer. After all, it completely ignored the resistance of a 7th Circle magician!
If Paragranum had been harboring malice, Theodore wouldn't have been able to respond and would be stuck in a s.p.a.ce gap.
"Why are you so tense?"
Theodore was surprised by the voice he heard come from behind him.
"…Paragranum," he uttered.
"In this laboratory, I am equal to a grandmaster. You shouldn't be surprised by this."
Grandmaster…! A grandmaster was a person who was closer to a G.o.d than a human, someone beyond the boundaries of mortals and transcendents. Theodore had already guessed this, but he couldn't help feeling wonder at Para's words.
While Theodore was feeling surprised, he soon realized that it was oddly dark. With his excellent vision, he was only able to see what was right before him. Yet, ordinary people wouldn't be able to see anything at all.
"It is too dark, can't you brighten it a little bit?"
"This is an area where light isn't supposed to enter. Well, it doesn't matter now."
Soon afterward, a dim light came on. Then the shapes before Theodore and Para soon became clear. When the lights came on in full, Theodore didn't even look at Para.
"…W-What is this?"
His surprise was natural. There were green water tanks surrounding the two people, and horrible monsters and people sleeping in them. A six-headed snake, a three-headed dog, a centaur with wings on its back… There were dozens of water tanks containing disgusting things.
"Biological manipulation, chimera," Paragranum answered the question as she stroked the gla.s.s wall of a tank.
Did she remember the days of studying with her creator, Paracelsus? Para looked through several tanks and shook her head. "It can’t be helped. The corpses are all rotting and can't be recycled. How could Creator's chimera endure for thousands of years?"
"Thousands of years…"
"If they were alive, we could've unified the Northern continent with them. It is regretful as Meltor's tower master. No one would be left alive."
They were terrible words. He might've laughed it off as a bluff if someone else had said it, but there was no reason for Paragranum to bluff.
'…Indeed, she is dangerous.'
Theodore shook away the creepy sensation of power and hastily followed behind Para. Even though he knew they were already dead, the monsters still seemed like they were alive. After moving past dozens of tanks, the landscape around them suddenly changed.
It was an application of s.p.a.ce magic which Theodore couldn't even guess. However, he wasn't surprised by the change. Despite the fact that thousands of years had pa.s.sed, items were neatly arranged on shelves.
"Let's see… What do I have to take…" Paragranum started to sweep up the things she needed from the shelves.
Her hands moved incessantly until she reached some oddly colored reagents and metals which Theodore had never seen before. It was a large warehouse, and she had filled about half her s.p.a.ce bag.
"Oh." Para suddenly stopped moving her hand and looked back at Theodore. "Here is the thing I promised you. The rest will be given a little later."
She threw him a slab. Theodore hurriedly accepted the slab and asked, "This…?"
"As I told you before, it is the Fairy's Book."
This piece of stone was a book? He touched it with his left hand and whispered. There was a clearer way of finding out than asking Paragranum.
Gluttony's tongue proved its effectiveness as always.
[-This book explains the deepening knowledge of the elemental world, including the four major elementals and their utilization. The great alchemist and author of this book, Paracelsus, was the first to distinguish and name the four elemental spirits. He also tried to create artificial elementals based on the ancient elementals. However, the results of that experiment aren't recorded in this book.
* This magic book is rated 'Treasure.'
* When consumed, your proficiency with 'elementals' will increase greatly.
* When consumed, your understanding of the 'four elementals' will increase greatly.
* The soul of the great alchemist Paracelsus inhabits it. You must be at least the 7th Circle to eat this book. Even if the conditions are met, contact activities such as Synchro might not be possible unless Paracelsus is interested.]
It had a 'Treasure' rating which exceeded the antic.i.p.ated 'Precious' rating. Theodore's eyes widened in shock. The stone slab didn't seem like a real book, and the value of it was higher than he had expected.
'Maybe I really can unlock the 5th seal…'
Every time a seal was released, Gluttony revealed a great ability. From Memorize which could store magic in advance, Another which allowed parallel casting, and to Override which called the author of an eaten book, Gluttony's abilities were almost a foul.
What would be the function of the 5th seal? He shouldn't just depend on Gluttony's power, but he couldn't help feeling expectant. At that time, Para finished her work and called out to Theodore, "Theodore Miller! Take a look over here for a moment."
"Can you lend me the Azoth Sword?"
Theodore handed the Azoth Sword to her without any doubts. If Paragranum wanted to seize it, he wouldn't be able to stop her. However, he also wanted to know why she needed it. Paragranum received the Azoth Sword, took a deep breath, and shouted softly, "「Ars Magna! Open the door to your master!」"
Then she pointed the blade at a spot in the air.
It was an unrealistic sight. The s.p.a.ce in front of the Azoth Blade split in two. There was an emerald gleam in the cleaved s.p.a.ce, and Para grabbed it with her left arm. Then Paragranum rummaged in the pocket before exclaiming, "I found it!"
The moment the grimoire pulled out her hand with blissful eyes, the cleaved s.p.a.ce was covered up again. Theodore could understand because he had a better understanding of dimensions due to Umbra. The s.p.a.ce which Paragranum had approached was impossible to open without the Azoth Sword.
'Then this means that jewel…?'
Paragranum was holding an emerald in her left hand. Unlike jewels, this emerald cube had a perfect symmetry and didn't refract light.
–Yes, it is as you guessed, the invisible Gluttony whispered. –That is the Emerald Tablet, the treasure from the Age of Mythology that all alchemists praised as the 'Gate of Truth.'
Current schedule: 6 chapters a week to match the author's release rate.
Chapter 199 – Traces from the Age of Mythology (2)
As Gluttony talked to Theodore, Paragranum's hands were moving while she held the Emerald Tablet. This thing had been a treasure even in the Age of Mythology. The value of it couldn't be determined in this age.
Even Theodore, who wasn't interested in alchemy, was briefly attracted to the glitter, but it was literally just for a moment.
Para stared at the Emerald Tablet in her arms.
"…I have accomplished my first purpose," she muttered with a loud voice which was rare for her.
However, Theodore had a question as he looked at her back.
According to Para's actions, the key to this research facility and the dimension containing the Emerald Tablet was clearly the Azoth Sword. However, she had handed over such an essential item as a down payment? Not even a dumb human would make that mistake. A grimoire had an intellect surpa.s.sing humans, so she wouldn't make such an obvious mistake.
Theodore faced Paragranum and spoke in a more rigid voice, "Paragranum, I have something I want to ask."
He was already 70% certain, and the remaining 30% wasn't really him being doubtful. However, he couldn't leave here without checking. After all, it was easier to deal with someone who was cla.s.sified as an enemy, than someone who wasn't.
In any case, Para's dominance in this set of ruins was absolute. Unsurprisingly, Para acted like she knew his question. "I can already guess your question. Well, just speak."
"It wasn't a mistake." The remaining 30% disappeared as Theodore became convinced. "Why did you hand me the Azoth Sword? It isn't just the key to obtaining the Emerald Tablet. If this dagger is Paracelsus' favorite, it must be worth more than that. It can be used in several ways in this set of ruins."
"It is the key to controlling Mercurius."
This part was purely Theodore's speculation. It might be possible, but it wouldn't go toward a level beyond speculation. If Paragranum denied it, his speculation would end here. He had no evidence to back up his hypothesis.
Theodore's heart was hoping that Paragranum would laugh at his words. He didn't want to become hostile toward a monster who was equal to a grandmaster in this set of ruins. However, Para clapped and exclaimed, "Correct! As expected of Gluttony's host, you have a good head."
"You…!" Theodore was about to curse, but he barely stopped himself and lowered his voice, "Answer me. Why did you hand me the Azoth Sword?"
"Why do you mean? It was your choice."
That was true. Theodore was the one who had chosen the sword when presented with the option of the Azoth Sword or the Philosopher’s Stone. Even if Paragranum had induced it, there had been no compulsion which forced him to choose it.
Para looked at the temporarily speechless Theodore and opened her mouth again, "The Philosopher's Stone or the Azoth Sword. At that time, I only respected your free will. As a result of your choice, you fought Mercurius. Life is continuously climbing the ladder, so I can't have a companion who can't endure it."
Theodore immediately recognized the meaning of what had happened. "… Did you test me?"
"In a sense."
"What if I had been killed by Mercurius?"
"Unfortunately, I would then have to do it alone. It isn't a big deal for me to retrieve the Azoth Sword after securing this laboratory."
Theodore heard up to here and gave up on understanding his opponent. Even if she looked like a person, she was still a grimoire. It would be fatal if he thought of her actions as those of a human.
Above all, he didn't gain anything from this stand-off. After confirming that Paragranum had no intention to fight, Theodore stepped back and changed the topic. As it happened, the excuse was in his hand.
"Do you have anything to say about this Fairy's Book?"
It was a slab with a dark shine and made of an unknown material. The Fairy's Book had been handed over to him as promised, but he didn't know how to read it. Paragranum understood belatedly and scratched her head. "Whoops, I forgot there are no more in this age."
"How do I use this?"
"Grab any part and inject it with magic power. At your level… Yes, can you use 3rd Circle magic once?"
Theodore made an uncertain expression and poured the proper amount of magic power in the Fairy's Book. Simultaneously, a dim light spread from the slab and eventually formed the shape of a letter. It was a strange and mysterious letter which Theodore had never seen before.
Then at that moment…
A light suddenly shot up from the slab. No, the trajectory was too exact. The ray of light flew accurately toward the middle of Theodore's forehead. It exceeded the speed of light, and the light from the slab couldn't be avoided or blocked.
「Checking the user's magic power pattern. I will start. 」 As before, Theodore heard an unknown voice. 「From page 1 to page 50. Introducing the concept of the elemental world and the four elementals to the user.」
Knowledge from the Age of Mythology was forcibly entered into Theodore's brain.
As soon as 50 pages of knowledge were transferred over, Theodore held his temple due to the terrible headache. He had been prepared, so the sudden rush of information wasn't enough to make him unconscious.
However, this was several times stronger than what he had previously experienced. It was the pain he had felt when he consumed a large amount of books in a short period of time and the processing power of his brain had reached its limit.
Para saw it and grinned at him. "Ahahaha! As expected of Gluttony's owner, you have a really good head. This is a primitive character used in the Age of Mythology which can compress dozens of letters into one character. Most people won't be able to read the character and will have their brain fried."
"So. how many characters are there in this book?" Theodore asked through the headache and she answered without hesitation.
"36 characters. Creator had a habit of storing 50 pages in one character, for a total of 1,800 pages."
"… You should give me a warning beforehand next time."
"If it makes you feel better."
…She didn't say she would. Theodore turned his gaze away anyway. Then Paragranum pointed to a shelf that was still half full and said, "Now, shall we handle the balance?"
She had promised to give him everything except for the Emerald Table and a few materials.
There were 33 kilograms of platinum, 65 kilograms of gold, and 300 kilograms of precious materials, as well as 182 bottles of various potions ranging from recovery to attribute resistance. There were also five 8th Circle magic scrolls and twelve 7th Circle magic scrolls, along with special items including two bottles of elixir and one Philosopher’s Stone.
Lastly, there was a golem in the corner. Para pointed to the knight in full body armor and suddenly paused. She made a strange expression before looking like she got a good idea. Then Para turned toward Theodore with sparkling eyes and asked, "Hey, can I take that golem?"
"Is something the matter?"
"It's not like that. The ego has died a long time ago. I just recently got a decent material. I want to try remodeling it."
"Decent material? What… Ah." Theodore reflected on the answer and closed his mouth.
It was Lloyd Pollan, the enemy whom the grimoire had captured. Para planned to use him for her experiments. Even though he was an enemy, Theodore couldn't help feeling sympathetic. However, Theodore had no intention of going against the grimoire, so he turned his eyes away with a disgruntled look.
'It isn't worth quibbling over.'
Didn't Theo have to fight Mercurius because of him?
"Go ahead. I hope it isn't too late."
"Okay, I finally have something to do in the tower after a long time."
Para didn't hide her cruel joy as she laughed and pointed her finger at the items. This was just the remaining balance, but it was a huge amount. It wasn't an amount which could be put in a box.
"How will you take all this? Ah, will you put them in your dimensional pocket?"
"There's no need," Theodore answered bluntly and held out his left hand. It was safer and bigger than the dimensional pocket, so the entry to the inventory opened in the palm of his left hand. The tongue was attracted by the pleasant smell and emerged, then Theodore gave it permission, "Swallow everything and put it all in the inventory."
After thousands of years, the warehouse of Paracelsus' laboratory was emptied.
* * *
After completing the secret deal, Theodore was returned to his room. The fluffy bed and books he had been waiting for looked exactly the same. There was only one thing which had changed. It was the new presence of the Fairy's Book in the books in his inventory.
Theodore sat on the bed instead of the chair and sighed,"Hoo… My head still hurts. Gluttony, do you know about this slab beforehand?"
–I thought that it wouldn't be a big burden for you.
"Then why didn't you say anythin- No, forget it. You are a grimoire. I had forgotten."
It was meaningless to blame it for something which had already pa.s.sed, and grimoires didn't feel sorry or apologize for anything. The grimoire would just be more careful next time and focus on the road ahead.
'This is a primitive character? It is quite efficient.'
The Fairy's Book had dozens of pages were stamped into one character, and the 50 pages of knowledge naturally became Theodore's. He had done it once, and the understanding of this book increased to 2.7%. In other words, he had acquired understanding just by reading.
The 'primitive characters' on this slab was a technique which could change the concept of studying. However, it was a big risk to the user.
–Your reasoning is correct.
–The computing ability of humans in the Age of Mythology is superior to current humans. Therefore, learning using the 'primitive characters' was easier. However, as time pa.s.sed, the functions of the brain deteriorated, and the 'primitive characters' were banned.
'Humans have fallen behind technology… How scary.'
The technology from the Age of Mythology was tantalizing to present humans, but they couldn't endure it. Theodore looked down at the slab in his hand. The stinging headache was still annoying, but he could ignore it if he focused.
As long as the act of reading was straightforward, he could have Gluttony eat the book before the next morning. Theodore could decide to not overdo it, or he could endure the pain.
He hesitated for a moment before pouring magic power into the slab. Although he didn't want to be in pain, he didn't like this situation either. Theodore was drawn in by Para's intentions and had no power to resist.
However, no matter how great Para was, that wasn't an excuse for powerlessness. Such an excuse wasn't suitable for the owner of a Seven Sins grimoire.
Just like before, a ray of light struck his forehead and knowledge flowed in from the Fairy's Book. The great alchemist, Paracelsus…
Theodore would see his face before the sun came up tomorrow.
Current schedule: 6 chapters a week to match the author's release rate.
Chapter 200 – Traces from the Age of Mythology (3)
Despite being prepared, Theodore's reading of the Fairy's Book was never smooth.
Of course, the act of imprinting knowledge directly into his brain was familiar due to Gluttony. The 'Primordial characters' helped with comprehension while 'predation' increased proficiency, so the process of reaching the result wasn't much different.
The simple problem was the amount of information.
Theodore throbbed with pain. His head had become cluttered and fuzzy several times, but he gritted his teeth and accepted the knowledge. There were 36 characters, for a total of 1,800 pages.
This was a treasure written by an alchemist of the Age of Mythology, so the difficulty of the contents was a given. In addition to that, there was another variable which Theodore hadn't expected.
'The more difficult the contents, the worse the headache is…?'
Gluttony realized what Theodore meant and replied, –Of course. The more difficult the knowledge, the more burden is placed on User's brain. It is possible that you wouldn't be able to read half of this book if you didn't have Myrdal's knowledge.
'Myrdal? Ah, since the elemental techniques is a common denominator?'
–No, because that guy is □□□□□ □□□… Gluttony's voice became broken. –Hrmm, it still isn't possible? It seems I can't reveal the information at stage 4.
'Does another lock need to be released?'
-That's right. I thought it would be possible after you became a master, but it seems another seal needs to be released.
Theodore recalled some old memories. The first time he met Pride, it was Gluttony's choice which had saved him. Theodore wasn't qualified to argue with its choice. He would be able to find out about Myrdal once he unlocked the next seal.
Then Theodore focused on the next character. If he counted correctly, he had 15 characters remaining. Shortly after that, Theodore realized what that meant and couldn't help letting out an admiring sound.
"I have already read 1,050 pages…"
It was common to take a few days to read theories properly, even if it wasn't a different magic. Additionally, it was common for alchemy to require knowledge from various fields. When thinking about the difficulty of the book written by Paracelsus, it would've taken at least two months to read 1,800 pages. It might take a year for a complete understanding.
Yet Theodore had read more than half of the Fairy's Book in just two hours. This absurd efficiency was due to the 'primitive characters.'
Theodore once again started reading the Fairy's Book. At this time, he didn't know that Gluttony was watching his greed for magic.
It observed Theodore and spoke to itself, –Yes, this is a quality suitable for my user.
This was the reason why Gluttony had chosen Theodore as its master.
With cold eyes, Gluttony continued to talk, –Your brain will continue developing in the long run. Repeatedly doing the same task and learning difficult information will cause you to develop. This luck that keeps on bringing adversity… Theodore Miller, you are the right user to be responsible for my last…
I hope that you will be consistent like this until the end.
* * *
By the time that the moon and stars started to tilt toward the horizon, Theodore achieved the goal he desired.
[* Your understanding is very high. (99.9%)]
Theodore lay down and could barely confirm the information window. Apart from the headache piercing his skull, his body was burning up. It was the price for reading Paracelsus' Fairy's Book overnight.
'I-I feel like I'm dying…'
It wasn't physical fatigue but mental fatigue. Wasn't this a common expression in books? He didn't have the strength to even lift a finger. Theodore was a protagonist, so he didn't have time to relax.
He barely stretched out his left hand toward the slab which was on the bed. If he didn't have something to do right now, he would be falling asleep.
–I understand, Gluttony replied calmly and stretched out its tongue.
['Fairy's Book' has been consumed. Your understanding is very high.]
[Your proficiency with 'elementals' will increase greatly.]
[Your understanding of the 'four elementals' will increase greatly.]
[An original book has been consumed. Checking synchro rate with object name Paracelsus… Blocked. Paracelsus has refused to sync with the user. User can't force synchronization with the target without permission. The other side holds a divinity.]
It was impossible to force synchronization! However, it wasn't surprising that Paracelsus was a divinity holder. The creature he had created, Mercurius, possessed a divinity. This meant that Paracelsus, the creator, wasn't a normal human being.
Theodore had known it would happen like this. He waited with a strained expression for the next message.
[Object name Paracelsus is interested in User. Would you like to accept the request for conversation?]
As always, the system asked for his permission.
[After confirming the user's intention, object name 'Paracelsus' will be called. Checking the communication connection… Success, object name 'Paracelsus' has approved the two-way communication.]
[He will temporarily be synchronized with the user's consciousness.]
Simultaneously, the whole area became covered with a familiar darkness. It was the same as that incident with Abe no Seimei. This was a place where only Theodore and the author were allowed.
The familiar light particles gathered before him. Then the brilliant yet contradictory ma.s.s of light soon turned into a human figure.
'The physique is similar to mine.'
The human figure's height was around 180 centimeters, and the body's build was quite good. There were no bulging ma.s.ses of muscle like Blundell had, but functional muscles could be seen through the robe.
The man had a white beard and white hair. His robe was made of an unknown material, and the hanging ornaments were gorgeous. Magic power was clearly moving around him, but Theodore couldn't figure out its meaning.
The figure of the peak alchemist, Paracelsus, was revealed.
As an elderly man, he had taut skin covered in wrinkles and was weathered like a tree. The specimen of a wonderfully aged magician stood before Theodore. Theodore tried to speak but felt his mouth being blocked by an unknown pressure.
Paracelsus' golden brown eyes were looking at him. His eyes seemed to reach into Theodore's bones and organs underneath the skin. No, it wouldn't be hard for an alchemist from the Age of Mythology to know everything about the human body.
After a few minutes, Paracelsus shook his head and muttered, "I don't know who you are, but you have good skills."
"For your age. You should keep applying yourself."
If Theodore's peers had heard this advice, they would be foaming at the mouth. Theodore Miller had become a master in his mid-20s, and those with his growth rate could be counted on three fingers in the history of Meltor, regardless of his original talent.
Yet Theodore was just good 'for his age?' His peers would bite their tongues and die.
However, Paracelsus' rant had only just begun. "You aren't yet qualified to receive teachings from me."
Theodore was resolute, so he tried hard to listen to Paracelsus' words.
"You haven't developed your own magic, and you don't have a great interest in alchemy despite coming to my lab. No, based on the Azoth Sword, you must've accompanied Paragranum. You are the owner of Gluttony. I thought they were c.o.c.kily designed, but they are more advanced than I expected."
"The Fairy's Book is used as a medium. If it isn't for alchemy, then it must be because it is related to elementals? I can feel a connection with the elemental world… Is it an ancient elemental? The attribute is a land or forest."
Theodore listened to Paracelsus' words and felt an eerie feeling.
Unlike Synchro, which allowed the other person to look at his memories and thoughts, this was a meeting s.p.a.ce. In other words, Paracelsus had determined these things by observing Theodore for several minutes.
Theodore felt like he was stripped naked in the middle of a snowy winter. He barely suppressed the tiny spasms he felt and conceded to the mysterious reasoning, "…It is as Paracelsus says."
"Call it out."
After Paracelsus spoke, Theodore whispered a name, "Mitra."
There was no need to talk loudly or use magic. This wasn't the material world but a spiritual world. Mitra was connected to his soul, so he could bring her here whenever he wanted. There was a flash of light and a little girl appeared on Theodore's palm.
[Huuuuong… Deo?] The cute little girl with the flower bud on her head looked at Theodore.
However, Paracelsus reacted violently, "Demeter?!"
It was another name for Dmitra, the prototype of Mitra.
"Do you know her?" Theodore asked.
"It is impossible for me to not know! A G.o.d of Olympus and related to Hermes! The great and magnificent Mother Earth, to think I would see you again like this…" Paracelsus spoke with excitement before his voice sank, then he was looking at Mitra with a sad expression.
Theodore heard she had been an ancient G.o.d in the past. As such, Paracelsus remembered and mourned her. After waiting quietly until Paracelsus calmed down, Theodore then asked his question about Mitra. It was about the bud that was sprouting on her head.
"The seed of the world tree?"
"Yes, that's right."
"That seed germinated and made a bud…"
Be it because he had overcome his sorrow or if it was because of his curiosity as a researcher, Paracelsus observed Mitra from various angles. The fragment of Mother Earth, the seed of the world tree, and the ecology of an ancient elemental…
These three things were hard to determine, even for the best magicians. Nevertheless, Paracelsus opened his mouth after a ridiculously short period of time. He calmly came up with an answer about Mitra's condition, "The divinity is differentiating."
"The reason why she is Mother Earth is simple. She possesses the divinity of the earth. The G.o.d of the forest, the G.o.d of rocks, and so on… They are all just subordinate G.o.ds of Mother Earth. The only G.o.d beyond Mother Earth would be the G.o.d of the sea or the sky," Paracelsus explained. Then he tapped the bud on Mitra's head and continued, "In other words, the material world is divided into three upper G.o.ds. Can this small body endure such a divinity? An ancient elemental that isn't a complete G.o.d but just a fragment?"
"Excessive power can destroy the owner. It is the same for this ancient elemental. A more powerful divinity will destroy the body of the ancient elemental and her ego. Therefore, the ancient elemental found a way to differentiate the divinity."
In order to remain as Mitra, instead of Mother Earth Dmitra, the seed of the world tree sprouted the divinity in different directions. At the end of Paracelsus' explanation, Theodore looked at MItra.
She was gazing at him with clear and innocent eyes, without being aware of what Theodore and Paracelsus were talking about.
Subsequently, Paracelsus put an end to this topic. "An ancient elemental can change their appearance in response to the contractor's growth. Since you have reached the 7th Circle, she will break away from the divinity of the earth and grow another divinity."
"Then what will happen to Mitra?" Theodore asked.
Paracelsus replied, "The answer to that isn't something you can get from me."
Then the great alchemist, Paracelsus, declared, "When you have reached the boundary of a mortal, go once again to the world tree. At that time, there will be an answer waiting!"
Current schedule: 6 chapters a week to match the author's release rate.
Chapter 201 – Sand Dragon Desertio (1)
Unfortunately, that was the only knowledge which could be obtained from the encounter with Paracelsus. Despite Theodore having read the Fairy's Book, Paracelsus didn't recognize Theodore's qualifications. As Paracelsus was a famous alchemist from the Age of Mythology, a 7th Circle magician wasn't even present in his eyes.
However, Theodore ended his conversation with Paracelsus without any fuss. Anyway, his goal was to find out what was happening with Mitra. Knowledge from the Age of Mythology was like a pearl necklace worn around a pig's throat.
There would be another chance to talk to Paracelsus.
'… In the end, night is over. It is already morning.'
Sun was shining through the window, and Theodore flopped onto the bed with a weary expression. His reaction was natural. He had spent quite a lot of time reading the Fairy's Book, and his encounter with Paracelsus had also contributed to his fatigue.
Theodore wanted to fall asleep, but he needed to have breakfast with his party.
Even if he was tired, Theodore had to move. He left the bed and grabbed the doork.n.o.b, and the door opened easily. It was made of an unknown material, just like everything else. As the door opened, Theodore stumbled across William, who was just leaving his room.
"Good morning, William."
"Oh, Captain! Good morning…" William's voice gradually decreased in volume as he looked at Theodore's complexion.
It was due to the dark circles under Theodore's eyes. He hadn't had that face the previous night. William looked at him with concern. "Excuse me, was your bed okay?"
"It was fine. Why do you ask?"
"Somehow, it seems like you were unable to sleep."
Theodore laughed bitterly at the words. Hearing such worried words as soon as he encountered someone, his condition seemed to be worse than he thought.
"I had to do something last night. It wasn't a matter of not sleeping."
"I see. I won't say anything…"
The two men talked and arrived at the dining room, where the other party members were already seated. Veronica, who was chewing bread, raised one hand and greeted Theodore, "You woke up, Kid? You look tired. If you are lacking sleep, then you can go rest some more."
"It's okay. Besides, I'm very hungry."
"Well, if you say so."
The two men sat down and started eating.
「Activated the restaurant. Please mention the name of the dish you want, or select from the catalog. 」
It was different from yesterday when they hadn't been able to understand the words. Paragranum must've done something as the voice had switched to the language of the continent. The catalog also had the correct p.r.o.nunciation kindly written.
Theodore had tried it once yesterday, but it was still strange. The party was surprised as they chose their dishes. There were many unfamiliar dishes, but they were up for the challenge.
"Fried chicken? Ah, this is fried chicken."
"Curry rice. It is hard to guess what it is from the name, but the rich flavor is quite good."
"Raw fish and… rice? It is a strange combination, but the taste is okay."
"Ack! Why is this noodle dish so spicy?"
However, some failed the challenge. William had to pour a few cups of water to cool his swollen lips.
Theodore picked a safe choice and ate pork cutlet. The dish of pork covered in breadcrumbs and then fried was something he had eaten during his childhood, but the taste was like the difference between heaven and earth.
'Even the expensive restaurants in the capital will taste bad compared to this. Is there a way to transfer this cooking facility to the magic tower?'
Theodore thought about it. Delicious food would pop out as soon as a person chose. This convenience couldn't be found, even in Meltor which was the center of magical civilization. No, if this cooking facility became popular, then the chefs of Meltor might lose their jobs.
Theodore thought so and c.o.c.ked his head.
'If I look at it in this way, it might not be good to take it..?'
After all, he wouldn't want to increase the unemployment rate. Theodore smiled slightly as he set down an empty plate. A relic from the Age of Mythology was certainly excellent, but it could cause trouble if civilization wasn't ready for it.
Then at that moment…
There was a sharp sound, and the lights in the restaurant started flashing. It was a red light which alarmed the people present, signaling that something wasn't good.
Unsurprisingly, the lab's urgent voice sounded in Theodore's head, 「Warning! Confirmed the approach of an existence which can threaten the current laboratory. Transferring the entire group, including the sub-master, to the situation control room. You will be guided from area D-8 to area S-1.」
Simultaneously, the investigation team disappeared from the dining room. They couldn't speculate about the existence that could threaten the lab, which even sword masters couldn't damage.
* * *
As always, the s.p.a.ce movement was instant.
"Eh? What, where has all my food gone?" William was hungry after only drinking water for breakfast, but he couldn't return to the dining room in this situation.
They were in the situation control room. This was the first time the six people had stepped foot in this place, so naturally they looked around. However, before they could say anything, Paragranum moved forward.
She shouted in an urgent voice, "「Identification code PRGRN3681214! Open the omnidirectional monitor!」"
Para's order was quick. Then suddenly, lights lit up on the black walls on all sides, and the exterior of the site was revealed. They didn't compare to windows. The view wasn't filtered with opaque gla.s.s, but the group couldn't help understanding the situation.
A tremendous sandstorm was swirling in front of them.
"Ack!" William took a few steps back with surprise, but the storm before him didn't scratch at his skin.
Perfect illusion magic was showing off its grandeur. Mujak saw the scale of the sandstorm and murmured with dry lips, "Khamsin…!"
As everyone gazed at him, he explained, "Sometimes in the desert, a storm with unknown limits is born. Typical storms grow until they disappear after reaching their limit, but Khamsin doesn't have a limit. The nomads of the desert fear Khamshin as the wrath of G.o.d, and according to Austen's history, it once destroyed a castle."
"So?" Veronica didn't listen to him and stepped forward to ask Para, "This sandstorm can threaten the facility that even a sword master couldn't damage?"
It didn't make sense. Theodore remembered something Paragranum had said. The outer walls of the ruin wouldn't fall in one or two blows, even if it was. .h.i.t by a dragon's breath. This was a fortress built by Paracelsus, the peak alchemist from the Age of Mythology.
However, Paragranum raised a finger instead of answering. Then she said, "That isn't a Khamsin. Take a look at beyond it."
The five pairs of eyes followed her index finger. Visibility was poor due to the storm. However, Mujak's eyes were accustomed to it, so he saw it without much difficulty. "… The Andras' excavation team?"
"Yes, watch closely. You will soon find out."
"What are you say-" Mujak suddenly closed his mouth. His remarkable vision had seen the 'phenomenon.' Soon after, the members of the investigation team could see it as well. The barracks left behind by the Andras excavation team were destroyed without a trace. The sight of solid metal scattering like sand obviously wasn't natural.
It was something more transcendent than mere destruction.
"The power of weathering." It was a hard and stiff voice. Paragranum murmured with a rarely serious expression, "Why did Desertio come to the outskirts of the desert? That old man should be staying at the center of the desert…"
"Yellow Tower Kid, don't be serious alone and explain yourself."
"Ah, that’s right. You don’t know yet," Paragranum belatedly replied to Veronica. "The Meuse Desert isn't a natural desert. It is a terrain made by a sand dragon."
"Yes, his name is Desertio. He is a dragon who has lived for many years and whose death is close. n.o.body in this age can afford to go against him… Ah, that reminds me."
Paragranum might not be supposed to know it, but she could give as much information as possible, using her alter ego of the Yellow Tower Master as a shield. The Yellow Tower Master was, after all, the most mysterious person in Meltor.
However, Para added a few words that stirred Mujak up, "The disaster of the Central Continent, the cause of the drought."
"What?!" Mujak shouted, while his thick mustache shook. "Young girl from Meltor, can you take responsibility for those words? Swear that it is true!"
The overpowering influence of a sword master… Mujak's overwhelming momentum made the others step back, but Para just nodded calmly.
"Yes, I will swear by my name, as well as my master's name."
"… Dammit! For the great sun! The disaster Austen has been struggling with for centuries is due to a dragon lizard!'
Mujak's anger was natural. The Janissaries valued patriotism and loyalty more than their own lives. How many people had died directly and indirectly from the drought until now? 100,000 people? 1,000,000 people? It had lasted for centuries, so the sum might exceed 10 million. He wouldn't be angry if it was just the tyranny of Mother Nature, but now he learned it was because of a dragon.
Mujak's eyes filled with fury as he growled, "I swear to the Sultan and the Sun G.o.d, I will cut out his heart, even if I have to sacrifice my life!"
He didn't care about any injuries! The sword master's roar burst out with full sincerity. If the sand dragon were in front of him, he would've run forward without any hesitation. However, there was one person who put a stop to his courage. That was Veronica who had once fought a dragon.
"Stop. It will be a useless death," she said.
Unfortunately, the cold advice was counterproductive.
"How can you say that, Veronica?!"
"I am a dragon slayer, desert man. A dragon is a species that grows stronger over time. Not to mention one that is almost a million years old. The dragon might die if all the masters on the continent ally together… if we are lucky."
"T-That…" Mujak could tell that she was serious. They had never fought properly, but it was clear that Veronica was more powerful than other masters. She also had combat experience with a dragon, so there was no logical reason to dispute her words.
Veronica shut Mujak's mouth, then asked Para, "Does this ruin have any defense mechanisms?"
"It does, but it won't last long if the dragon attacks seriously."
"Tch, I thought so. He is an ancient dragon in this day and age. It looks like we are caught in a checkmate, but… what does that lizard want?"
Then at that moment…
[Aren't those some harsh words?] A majestic voice rang out through the ruins.
It was like an echo in a deep valley… Or thunder which burst from the far heavens. The voice caused Theodore's blood to boil.
[Oh, there you are.]
'Who is he referring to?' Theodore gulped involuntarily.
The atmosphere sharpened. This was an ancient dragon from the Age of Mythology, the source of the Meuse Desert. Then at the next moment, the sand dragon spoke to Theodore, [Magician with the blood of a sea dragon, I have found you.]
Current schedule: 6 chapters a week to match the author's release rate.
Chapter 202 – Sand Dragon Desertio (2)
Theodore was taken aback by the sand dragon's sudden words. "No way. You came because of me?"
[That's right.] The a.s.sertion of the sand dragon, Desertio, was surprising.
However, that was natural. This dragon was from the other side of history, since the beginning of the Age of Mythology. So, what did it want with Theodore? It was different from Aquilo, who had become interested in Theodore due to the circ.u.mstances. Living for millennia had created a manner of thinking which mortals couldn't understand.
Theodore's eyes trembled nervously. Maybe it was because of the danger the sand dragon's presence brought to the investigation team. So, Theodore couldn't help feeling guilty.
However, Desertio spoke in a gentle voice, [Don't be too nervous, young magician. I didn't come with the intention of harming you.]
As if to prove his sincerity, Theodore's senses were extremely calm. Regardless of whether Desertio was speaking the truth, Theodore was forced to put hope in that moderate atmosphere. This conversation was the last lifeline before a death penalty was pa.s.sed on.
"…Can I ask what your business is?"
It was good to know that the conversation could go in both directions. So, Theodore raised his courage and carefully asked why.
[Hmmm, I have to explain it,] Desertio replied calmly. [I will ask you one thing before I explain. Have you heard anything about the reduction of dragons?]
[It is what happens when a dragon reaches their end or is near the end.]
Theodore finally realized the intent of Desertio's question. He recalled the conversation he had with Gluttony while crossing the wilderness.
–The sand dragon Desertio, who lives in the center of the Meuse Desert, is at the epicenter of the drought.
–Don't misunderstand. Desertio might not be causing the drought maliciously. The dragon, who has survived for nearly a million years, is already closer to a spirit than a creature. Therefore, he changes the environment around him.
A dragon's instincts were to return to nature. Gluttony a.s.serted that due to this, Dracomachia had started and the dragon's decline had begun. All the strong people of the other species, including the human race, had joined forces to hunt the dragons.
In some ways, the phenomenon called 'Reduction' might be nothing to Desertio, who had suffered through Dracomachia. Theodore thought up to there and carefully replied, "Are you trying to tell me about the drought?"
[Oh, I suppose it isn't hard to guess. It is correct,] Desertio said. Then it added a few more words, [If you are already aware of this, the story will be quicker. The creation of the Meuse Desert and the drought was caused by the aging of this body. It is proof that this body is approaching death. I want to see you help with the post-processing.]
[Uhh, to be precise, I would like you to deliver my message to the sea dragon that is linked to you.]
Theodore briefly recalled Aquilo's face. He hadn't seen her face for a while, but his impression of her was clear in his mind. Theodore couldn't help remembering her beauty, which was more striking than many women. His relationship with Aquilo was one of the most powerful trump cards he had, so he would prefer not to use it. Additionally, he had no confidence to deal with her a second time.
'She isn't the type to be dragged around.'
It might be possible if Theodore was much stronger than Aquilo, but that possibility wasn't worth discussing when he was only at the 7th Circle. He couldn't help feeling worried.
As Theodore remained silent, Desertio continued speaking, [This is a request based on the discipline of the dragons. If you listen to my favor, this body will give you something that is equivalent to the favor.]
"Then please explain this to me."
[It is very simple. In the past, a dragon would use 'Reduction' in destroying the territory of other species. This discipline was made by the leaders when looking at the bitter past. It is the Ritual of Reduction.]
The Ritual of Reduction…
It didn't seem to be a secret, so Desertio continued talking in a voice that the others could hear.
It was a type of pledge. The storm of power which burst out when a dragon died couldn't be compared to the output before it. In Desertio's case, it would generate a hot wind which would sweep through the entire Central Continent.
Therefore, the dragon leaders created a reduction ceremony. It was a discipline which allowed a dragon with the opposite property to calm down the aftermath. For a dragon with the power of weathering, the dragon that controlled water was the right choice for the ritual.
[It is a ritual that has become unknown now, but this body wants to maintain the wishes of the leaders. Please let me finish my life by using your link.]
Then all of a sudden, Mujak interrupted, "Wait! Desert dragon, I have something to say to you!"
[This body has nothing to say to you.]
"d.a.m.n, listen to me first!" Mujak called out.
Maybe it was due to Desertio's modest att.i.tude, or perhaps the anger simmering inside Mujak finally exploded…
However, Mujak forgot who his opponent was as he hollered with a red face, "Take some responsibility for being the cause of the drought! You should apologize to the people of our kingdom rather than ask that young man! Do you know how many people have died because of you?"
The dragons' 'Reduction' was a sacred ceremony for them, but it was a national disaster for others. The fury of the Austen guardians, who had acc.u.mulated damage for hundreds of years, was reasonable in many ways.
However, unlike when Desertio conversed with Theodore, it replied in an emotionless voice, [That is human logic.]
Desertio had the gaze of a transcendent being who looked down on all things.
[Do you remember and mourn the number of ants you have stepped on during your life?]
Everyone froze for a moment. The att.i.tude of comparing humans to ants, it clearly showed the gap between a human and dragon. Theodore tensed up again. Desertio wasn't concerned about humans. He wanted to preserve the leader's wishes, but he didn't care about those who had already died.
'd.a.m.n, I'm not in a situation to worry about whether I should accept it!'
Despite Desertio's modest att.i.tude, Theodore had no other option. Realizing this, Theodore hurriedly opened his mouth. He had to finish this before Mujak made things worse.
"Desertio! I will accept that request."
* * *
After that, they made swift progress. The catalysts needed for the summoning magic were stacked in a pile in the laboratory. Additionally, after receiving Satomer's knowledge, Theodore could be called the best summoner in modern times.
With Aquamarine, sapphire, a blue drake's heart, and a magic circle written for elementals, this was literally the best performance. Theodore finished his work and sighed, 'Sigh, I've roughly prepared it.'
A blue magic circle flashed under his feet, and the perfection was at a level which anyone who studied magic would admire. Right now, there were only a few researchers in the field of summoning magic.
"Wow, isn't this magic circle really amazing? It is on a different dimension from the basic principles shown in magic books. How can he do this?"
"Theo is amazing. This is new summoning magic…"
Unlike Sylvia and William, Veronica didn't look very impressed. It wasn't hard to guess why, so Theodore smiled bitterly and walked toward her. "Tower Master."
"I know it can't be helped, but I don't like it," Veronica grumbled angrily.
The red dragon blood flowing through her body refused to meet with a sea dragon. Veronica was irritated despite never meeting Aquilo before. It wouldn't be strange if they fought when meeting face-to-face.
"Well, I'll look at your face and try to endure it."
"But you should keep one thing in mind." Veronica pointed an index finger and touched the tip of Theodore's nose. "I will blow away all enemies in front of me."
"… Please be lenient." That was the only thing he could say.
Theodore stood inside the summoning circle again and took in a deep breath. "Then let's get started."
It was fairly difficult to summon a dragon, but Theodore didn't have much trouble. The biggest problem with summoning was compromising with the invited being. However, Aquilo had already agreed to be summoned.
Moreover, she had said she would help him once unconditionally, so she wouldn't refuse his summons. Theodore rotated his seven circles and recited a spell.
A large-scale ritual was normally required, but he just needed to look deeply in his connection with Aquilo.
"Ruler of the ocean, master of the waves. I use your name and blood to be reunited in this place."
As the spell was chanted, the magic circle scattered a blue light. The blood flowing inside Theodore's body slowly cooled as resonance.
Then as the blood of the Sea Dragon Aquilo strengthened, Theodore's body temperature was lowered to a point which couldn't be human. Theodore's face was turning white when he finally heard the voice.
「What? You called me after a long time, Boy.」 The drowsy voice mixed with charm was truly strange.
Theodore was glad to hear the voice and replied, 'Aquilo.'
「You didn't call me just to speak my name, did you? Huh?」
'Of course not. It is something more troublesome…'
「There is a lot of time, so explain it to me.」
As Aquilo stated, there was a lot of time. It was usually a significant burden to use summoning magic, but Aquilo and Theodore were able to hold a long conversation because of the connection with each other. After talking for 30 minutes, Aquilo readily accepted his summons.
「Okay, I understand that this is caused by my link with you.」
'Then you will come when called?'
「No, it is annoying, so I'll just come now.」
Theodore stepped aside hurriedly as the magic circle flashed.
Her sapphire-like blue hair and her two fluorescent eyes which shone with playfulness soon appeared. As always, Aquilo was wearing an outfit which made it hard to look at her. It was a thin piece of cloth covering the important parts, just enough to shake a man's heart. However, it was strange that it didn't look crude on her.
"… Why are you always so naked?" Theodore said, turning his eyes away.
Meanwhile, Aquilo fluttered her clothing with a naughty smile. His eyes couldn't help being drawn to her exposed flesh.
"Boy, aren't you enjoying it? Men are all the same."
Aquilo teased Theodore as she stepped out of the magic circle. After looking around, she grumbled, "Ah, I don't like the desert because the air is too dirty. I never would've come if this wasn't happening."
Then she suddenly stopped and stepped toward Veronica. Clearly, it wasn't a one-sided rivalry. The red dragon and blue dragon… The hostility engraved in their blood was the same. As the red and the blue stared at each other, it was Aquilo who opened her mouth first.
"Who is this, the red clan famous for their brutality?" She said with a bright smile which almost made Theodore misunderstand it as a greeting.
Veronica frowned and countered. Her bright smile was impressive as well. "Aren't you the one famous for pirating?"
This time, it was Aquilo's eyebrows which twitched. "You, a quarter dragon… Do you intend to go against a pureblood dragon?"
"I'm sorry, but I've already killed one. Aren't sea dragons more incompetent when out of water?"
"Ah, did I hit the bullseye? I'm sorry."
Veronica made an expression that showed she wasn't sorry at all, while Aquilo's lips twitched. Killing intent rose between the two beauties. It was an atmosphere which seemed like a fight would occur at any moment.
The gazes of the group naturally rested on one man, Theodore.
Theodore had already thought it would be like this, so he eventually sighed and walked in between them.
Current schedule: 6 chapters a week to match the author's release rate.