The cold winter breeze was blowing and a bone-piercing chill permeated the air.
On a small field, Leylin was practising his cross-blade techniques while half-naked.
The muscles on his chest had become more defined. Although not very prominent, they were very robust, exuding a sense of vitality.
Forward! Uppercut! Pierce! Every move was a flawless, textbook-perfect execution.
After Leylin finished his training, Anna– who was observing from the side– hurriedly ran forward and handed him a white towel.
Leylin dried his sweat and called his stats onto his visual field.
“A.I. Chip, what is the progress from today’s training?”
“This day has finally arrived!” Leylin exclaimed, “Being able to maximize these stats was already good enough. Even if I were to spend more time, I will not necessarily gain anything more. From now on his Knight training could be put on hold. After all, I just need to practice my blade skills in the future, so they don’t get rusty. With the A.I. Chip, this is no challenge at all.”
After the early morning Knight training ended, Leylin took a brief respite and waited until he was fully recovered before burying his head in more experiments.
Within the lab, Leylin placed a violet leaf into a beaker and added to it one spatula of a green-black, ink-like solution. He then lit a flame underneath the beaker.
The bright yellow fire continuously licked the bottom of the beaker, and purple bubbles began to froth.
“A.I. Chip! Record this down. Test 145, items of substitution: Hove Violet Leaves, Ninuo Root.”
In this span of time, Leylin had already conducted more than a hundred experiments and made use of the A.I. Chip’s simulation feature over tens of thousands of times.
“This is the moment! I have a very strong premonition that it’ll be successful this time.”
As he murmured to himself, Leylin glanced at the volatile, green- and purple-coloured mixture.
Using normal human herbs as ingredients to synthesize the medicinal properties of magic herbs just seemed to be a fantasy, besides there were countless hurdles to overcome.
Although these experiments required ingredients that could be bought with gold coins, some magic ingredients were still needed to catalyse certain aspects of the experiment.
These were all magic ingredients that Leylin had acquired from the Magus Market. He had now almost used up all of them all.
Without the A.I. Chip simulating a large proportion of his experiments, Leylin’s rate of consumption would far outstrip his current rate.
Synthesizing a few important ingredients could already dry up Leylin’s resources.
* Crash! *
The violet leaf in the beaker completely dissolved and the green coloured liquid became more translucent.
“This is it!” Leylin eyes widened. He picked up a glass rod and stirred in a counterclockwise direction at the same time extending a thread of spiritual force carefully into the contents of the beaker through the glass rod.
As the seconds became minutes, Leylin’s face grew more and more solemn. A few beads of sweat even began to form on his forehead.
* Ding Ling Ling! * A crisp ringing sounded from the beaker. At the heart of the faint green liquid, many black wormlike dots appeared and began continuously extending themselves in all directions.
Leylin’s expression did not change and his hands were as quick as a phantom, as he took a red-coloured pearl– lying on a petri dish nearby– and added it to the ongoing reaction.
* Pi Pa! * As the pearl was tossed inside, the black dots in the beaker quickly retreated and the faint green liquid became fainter and fainter, completely turning transparent.
This prompt was extremely pleasing to Leylin’s ears.
“After combining several conjectures into tens of thousands of the A.I. Chip’s simulations, I have finally succeeded!” A corner of Leylin’s lips quirked up into a smile and he clenched his fist tightly.
At the same time, Leylin deeply lamented about the fact even though he was a Potioneering Master, it was difficult to modify formulas.
He had the original formula, and the A.I. Chip to run simulations for him. This saved a lot of time and ingredients. Even so, he took this long to successfully modify the formula. Instead, if it was his Senior Merlin, he might not even be able to afford the cost of the ingredients, and that also true for the powerful family that supported him behind the scenes.
Squandering precious ingredients for a gamble with a chance of less than one in ten thousand was simply illogical to the typical Magus.
Moreover, during the process of experimentation, each failure would be an agonizing psychological burn that would singe the psyche of a Potioneering Master, day and night. If one could actually change the formula, then that would be out of pure luck, even for Potioneering Grandmasters who had abundant experiences and skill.
However, once the formula was changed, it would lead to huge profits, especially for a potion that could raise spiritual force.
“A.I. Chip! If I were to substitute the original ingredients, how much will the retained effect be?”
“This is on the low side, but I have no choice. The substituted ingredients are mainly normal ones even commoners can obtain. Quantity can compensate whatever is lacking in quality.”
Leylin analysed the pros and cons of the new Azure Potion, “Based on this, the price could be in excess of 100,000 magic crystals. A pity, this formula was achieved with my current stats. For other people, the effect would be extremely hard to predict. Moreover, the procedures are extremely complicated and some steps are impossible to do without the A.I. Chip. Other Potioneering Masters, will definitely fail many times when brewing this potion.”
In fact, it was clear to Leylin that even if he became an official Magus, once others became aware of this formula, he would not be able to hold onto it. After all, the ingredients for this new spiritual force formula could be bought in mass amounts. It would be game-changing for the lower levels of the various academies and factions. None of them would willingly let go of such an opportunity.
After making up his mind, he burned the formula completely into his memory. The potions he would brew would only be for personal consumption. Leylin then tidied up all traces of his experiments, before stepping through the door of the experiment lab.
“Young Master.” Anna, who was dozing on a chair nearby, got up in a hurry.
“Housekeeper Welker has been looking for you for two hours. There appears to be some crisis at the medicine shop!”
“Oh? Let him come to my study after dinner!” Leylin took off the soiled, sterile robe designed especially for his experiments and changed into more casual soft clothing.
“Apart from Welker, are there any other recent incidents?”
Leylin lounged on a nearby sofa. On the table beside it were purple grape-like fruits and some red berries, which Leylin usually liked to eat.
“Knight Fraser came over earlier and said that the reward mission you commissioned has some developments!”
Although Leylin did not give a high priority to the academy’s mission, some superficial work still had to be done. He, thus, issued a mission notice to the mercenaries and adventurers of Extreme Night City to scout the situation within the depths of the Dark Night Woods, the reward being 1000 gold pieces. It seems that the mission notice was beginning to bear fruit.
After dinner, Leylin received Old Welker and Fraser in his study.
Fraser wore leather armour and was as robust as ever. As for Old Welker, he looked careworn and his body had hunched over.
Old Welker bowed towards Leylin, “Respected Young Master, our earnings from the medicine shop this month is….”
“No need for that!” Leylin leaned against the study table behind him and waved his hands interrupting Old Welker’s speech, “Pass down instructions to buy all Hove Violet Leaves, Ninuo Roots, and Three Flowered Snake Fruits….”
“Then Young Master, how many of them are we buying?”
“All?” Old Welker raised his head and looked at Leylin in astonishment.
“That’s right. The three ingredients that I’ve stated, you must buy all of them in the market, and store them at the villa.” Leylin remained indifferent as he said this.
“But…may I remind the Young Master, the medicine shop business is not doing well, together with the herbs that Young Master purchased from time to time, our balance books right now are already in a precarious state….” If not for the villa forking out gold coins all the time, the shop would have been bankrupt by now– this was something, though, that Old Welker did not dare to voice out so he kept it to himself.
“I know that, but you must remember this. If the gold coins are not sufficient, you may take more from Anna. These purchases must not be discontinued. These are my standing orders.” Leylin steepled his fingers. Although he was approximately 15 years old, he could apparently impose his will.
“Al….Alright! I got it.” A layer of cold sweat beaded Old Welker’s forehead. He immediately bowed then left.
He was not the same as Anna and the three men who were aware of Leylin’s identity. It was only natural that he was a little apprehensive about the way Leylin handled financial matters.
However, for Leylin, the only reason he set up a household was to serve his own purposes and to help him with miscellaneous tasks such as the collection of ingredients. So the loss of some gold coins was no big deal.
Anything and everything was to pave the way for his progress to become a Magus. Everything else was a nuisance.
“Although I have walked the path of a Magus, it is just to obtain freedom and a worry-free life. It is a pity, though, that my current strength is far from enough.”
Leylin sighed deeply. He appeared to have become a person of consequence within Extreme Night City, largely owing to his having a villa and servants. However, for Magi, such things were illusory soap bubbles that could completely vanish with a gentle tap.
The collateral damage of a battle between any two official Magi would definitely be a deadly situation for the current Leylin.
What was the point of fleeting comfort when life or death was not entirely guaranteed?
“More importantly, if the Abyssal Bone Forest Academy was totally defeated, then Sage Gotham’s Hut would perhaps classify all of the faculty and students of the academy as fugitives. I would have to abandon everything and flee.”
“In this chaotic era, only one’s own strength can ensure freedom.”