Ulrike was waiting at Yagu’s Bridge Inn.
“Big brother Lynx, are you trying to avoid cleaning the carriage?”
“I’m not shirking my responsibilities. It’s about time for lunch.”
“Do you think I want to deal with your smelly breath after we eat?”
Lynx tried to postpone cleaning the armored carriage, but his attempts were in vain. He was dragged away despite his paltry resistance.
(Didn’t he just eat skewers a little while ago?)
Smiling, Mariela kept silent, waving her hand as Lynx passed by her.
One of the necessary materials for Sieg’s potion could be found behind the inn’s counter. She walked to the counter and asked the bartender for a bottle of Volka.
Volka was a cheap, hard alcohol that nearly scorched one’s throat with every swig… The bartender was confused. Why would a young girl like Mariela want a liquor that went down like fire?
Seeing his puzzlement, she told him she wanted to ‘disinfect a wound’ with it.
Now, Mariela had everything she needed to make the medicinal potion for Sieg.
She dusted off the junk box and carried it to her and Sieg’s room.
After entering the room, Mariela took out the necessary equipment from the junk box and told Sieg to wash them in the bathroom. She used life magic to provide him with the necessary water to wash the dust off the equipment while she processed the materials.
The main ingredient of this advanced potion was Luna Magia. Luna Magia was a herb that grew along the shores of underground lakes that failed to freeze even in the dead of winter. While a wide variety of Luna Magia grew under these conditions, only those that grew under the light provided by a certain type of devil stone called the Moonlight Stone could be used in this potion.
The first step in the process was drying the luna magia at a temperature between ten and eleven Centigrade. This temperature had to be exact. If it was even a couple degrees lower or higher than this, the medicinal effects would exponentially diminish.
<<Create Refining Space, Adjust Temperature to 10 ℃, Vacuum, Crush, Dry>>
Mariela used her alchemy skill to create an invisible container called ‘refining space’ and adjusted the temperature to 10°C. To quickly dry herbs at a low temperature like 10°C, the internal pressure of the refining space was lowered and the air inside dried even further. Mariela then circulated the dried air in a spiral motion while crushing the luna magia to suck the moisture out of the herb.
Mariela was trying to work efficiently; nevertheless, simultaneously performing five separate operations was challenging. She was maintaining the refining space, controlling the temperature, drying the air, reducing the air pressure, and manipulating the air flow in the invisible container. If her skill increased, she’d be able to simultaneously control more alchemy skills, but temperature control was tricky, and those who could easily raise or lower the temperature to an exact degree were limited to a handful of experts. Even if she claimed to use ‘10°C,’ there was no thermometer for her to use; instead, she relied on her own senses. The temperature also fluctuate based on how the air circulated when drying the materials. Those with enough skill and experience could make minute adjustments to the process and obtain their desired outcome based solely on the appearance of the material.
Mariela was proud of her ability to accurately control the temperature. She could easily set a specific temperature and maintain it, avoiding any inconsistencies while drying the herb. Of course, this was all due to the excellent training she received from her master. Her master used a plant called the ‘Rainbow Flower’ to train Mariela in controlling the temperature in alchemical potions. This flower would change colour based on the temperature it was dried at.
Depending on the number of petals, the optimum drying temperature of the ‘Rainbow Flower’ changed. If dried perfectly at the optimum temperature, it would become a beautiful dried flower that emitted a rainbow color just as its name suggested.
If she failed, she wouldn’t be fed, and if she succeeded, she would gain more side dishes. The desire to be fed motivated the young Mariela to master temperature control, but even more than that, her desire to see the Rainbow Flower in all its beauty was all the motivation she needed. After spending day after day using all of her mana to dry medicinal herbs and weeds found in the Demon Forest, she had, without noticing it, perfected her technique.
Mariela remembered the beautiful rainbow-colored flowers filling her room.
Mariela never truly understood how advanced her skills had become due to her never working as an alchemist within the outer defensive city.
She received the instruments that Sieg had washed.
<<< Purification, Washing, Drainage, Drying, Sterilization>>>
She finished preparing the pre-washed instruments using her alchemy skill.
She wanted him to wash the other glassware, but he seemed interested in the process so Mariela allowed him to sit on the bed out of the way and observe.
Next was extracting the medicinal properties of Luna Magia. She setup a tall, cleaned cylindrical beaker on a metal tripod. The diameter of the beaker was between 2 or 3 inches.
The lower part of the cylinder was funnel-shaped and could be opened and closed using a valve to remove the liquid inside. Mariela set a wide-mouthed beaker beneath the tripod and closed the valve.
The upper part of the cylinder was also narrow, with a hole that could be closed with a valve in the centre, and an air vent with another valve open at the end. This valve could be equipped with a nozzle, and it was possible to connect a tank and ventilator in order to spray vapour in from the top.
It seemed that the cylindrical beaker and the tank were equipped with magic tools for temperature adjustment, but they weren’t necessary. There was no ventilator, but temperature control and ventilation were both things she could do using her alchemy skills. Her alchemy skills allowed her to ignore modern gadgets that lesser pharmacists relied on as crutches. If all she had was a container, it would suffice.
Mariela started the process without herbs. She changed the temperature of the cylindrical container to slightly below the freezing point, and then decreased the temperature of the water in the tank as well as the tank itself to as low as possible without freezing the water. This temperature was important in order to avoid icing the nozzle. The vapor shot out into the centre of the container before turning into fine snow crystals. She controlled the gas inside the container to make a pulsating vortex at the center, the snow crystals gently spinning in the vortex.
“It looks like this will work,” Mariela muttered to herself.
The medicinal properties of Luna Magia dissolved in water at just below the freezing point. To extract it, one added salt to water to lower its freezing point or cooled the herb with ice. Since Mariela planned to extract the medicinal effects by contacting the herb with solid ice, she sprayed water vapour that froze and glazed the container. This allowed the maximum ice on the inside of the beaker. By doing this, when the herbs were added, there would be a higher chance of contacting the ice due to there being a greater surface area.
Inside the cylindrical container, the ice crystals looked beautiful, but Mariela focused in order to properly control the temperature within the container, spray the water from the tank, monitor the nozzle temperature, control the vapor she was spraying, monitor the pressure within the container, and circulate the air flow. Most alchemists used magical tools to monitor the three separate temperatures and control the vapor sprayed into the container; they’d only manually control the air flow and pressure. However, Mariela’s alchemy skills far exceeded theirs, and this just showed how much potential she had.
For less-skilled ‘pharmacists,’ if an extraction vessel were unavailable, herbal effects had to be extracted using salt water. With salt water, the extracted medicinal properties lost some of their potency.
Mariela put the Luna Magia in the container and added one drop of life to the water in the tank. After adding enough of the herb to make a single potion, she concentrated on controlling the temperature and the airflow inside the container.
This process was the optimal way to create advanced potions. Mariela could not skip it.
Apparently, she had succeeded. The white snow crystals emitted a yellow-tinged light that resembled the moonlight stone.
She stopped everything in the container, opened the lower valve, and collected the extract in the lower container.
Normally, she would allow the extract to equilibrise with room temperature, but this time she sought a specialized type potion to regrow the missing part of Sieg’s leg. She peeled the frozen Nagiru sprout.
When Nagirus thawed, they broke through the snow overnight and budded. When one took out the sprout section just under that bud, crushed it between one’s fingertips and added it to the extract of the cooled Luna Magia, the Nagiru sprout would then dissolve into the potion as it rose to room temperature without ruining the potion.
The most difficult process was over but there were still some troublesome steps ahead.
Intermediate and advanced potions have powerful effects that brought about a sharp recovery in the user.
For this reason, another material was needed for intermediate potions in order to control the medicine’s effects as it circulated throughout the body. ‘Demon Jujubes’ were used in intermediate potions and ‘Ento Fruits’ were used in advanced potions. ‘Demon Jujubes’ were commonplace and often found being sold as dried fruits. The ‘Ento Fruit’ was much rarer. Although stocked by Gark’s herbs shop, it was a well-known ingredient for advanced potions. Even if Mariela were to use the excuse that she was purely interested in learning about its medicinal effects, it would still seem strange for a simple ‘pharmacist’ to be buying it.
Although Mariela never referred to herself as a ‘pharmacist,’ Gark seemed to be under the assumption that she was, and she maintained this misunderstanding out of convenience.
So, this time, since she was unable to buy the Ento Fruit, she used Demonic Jujube.
The usual process of making a specialized potion like this was to prepare a total of thirteen separate ingredients in a certain way. Three different types of mandragora and its respective subspecies, three different leaves, two types of stems, one flower petal, one seed of any type, two types of mushrooms, and one type of bark would all be grinded into a fine powder. This powder would the be mixed with fresh olive oil. The potion would only be finished after being sealed in a dark room for over a year. It was an extremely time consuming and difficult method.
If an alchemist had a regular customer that ordered high-rank potions, they’d typically buy a surplus of Ento Fruit. However, Mariela would not use such a troublesome method. Mariela did not yet have such a rich customer, and she could not afford to buy an expensive material like the ‘Ento fruit’ for advanced potions if she wasn’t sure they would sell. All the materials needed for this alternative method were available for free in Mariela’s herb garden.
Mariela already had the thirteen necessary ingredients and the olives needed to make the oil. She had everything she needed to make about 30 high-ranking potions.
<<Create Refining Space, Pressure Control, Measuring: Mandragora, Measuring……>>
The inside of the ‘refining space’ was filled with inert gas to prevent a dust explosion after mixing dried herbs with the fine powder. After combining the herbs and the powder, she crushed the mixture, and added olive oil.
<<Strengthen Refining Space, Temperature control 40 °C (104 ° F), Increase Pressure>>
Nevertheless, Mariela needed the potion now and could not afford to wait, so she increased the pressure to shorten the time. Increasing the pressure also increased the temperature, but if the potion exceeded 40 ° C (104°F) some ingredients would be damaged, so she had to keep the temperature at 40 ° C (104°F) while raising the pressure.
<<<Temperature Fixation, Pressure Fixation>>>
Mariela could control the process with great finesse. She predicted that the potion would finish within an hour.
After setting aside the medicine extract, she began the final preparations; however, she still needed to maintain the refining space’s high pressure. Her mana was quickly being consumed, making her feel a bit lightheaded, so she needed to focus in order to not become confused.
First, she treated the Araune. Its roots produced analgesic ingredients, and its leaves contained anti-inflammatory ingredients. These could be extracted without being dried, but Araune brimmed with potent poisons that decomposed at 80 ° C(176°F). Thus, she needed to boil it in hot water at 100 ° C (212 °F). After allowing the water to cool, she added a drop of oil that had emulsified the venom gland from the parasitic leech. Even though it was a non-polar oil, it successfully mixed with the solution of Araune soaked in boiling water.
She then added the universal ingredient used in most potions, Kyuruke Grass. She combined this with the Demon Jujube and the Mandragora before extracting them all together. Mandragora dissolved in oil, but here the water-soluble ingredients were dissolved into purified water prepared by mixing in drops of life in preparation for extraction.
Distilling the Volka from the bar, she boiled the alcohol at 175 Fahrenheit, using a cooling to collect only the more-concentrated alcohol in the bottle.
She also completed the intermediate potions and the detoxification potions while waiting for the advanced potion to finish up. Finally, she wrapped the processed herbs in oiled paper. Like this, they would keep fresh for about a month.
The advanced potion’s process concluded. She gradually lowered the pressure while monitoring the temperature to assure that it remained above room temperature. She could tell that the potion finished based on the oil’s altered amber colour. She scooped out a spoonful of the liquid and mixed it with the distilled alcohol.
After extracting the four separate liquids, she glanced over them to reassure herself that they were satisfactory. She carefully added them together; they had to be mixed in a specific order, so she was afraid of all her work going to waste.
The specialized advanced potion was finally complete.