“Is this trouble caused by an unauthorized pharmacist?”
Within the medicinal herb department of the merchant guild, Elmera Seal sighed. She was a lady sporting a thin pair of glasses in her early 30s with brown hair that had been gathered in a tight bun. She wore a deep-blue long-skirted dress that covered from the base of her neck to just above her knees. She also wore knee-high boots and gloves. The only skin she showed was her face.
Besides her lipstick, the rest of her makeup was hardly noticeable. Due to the colour of her hair and subdued clothing, she lacked a certain feminine elegance.
Many people avoided her due to the strict atmosphere she exuded and that she became head of the medicinal herb department at such a young age. Some claimed that as the eldest daughter of a large company that dealt in medicinal herbs within the labyrinth city, the ‘Seal Family,’ she had been given the position of department head in order to attract suitors as she had been unable to find a suitable husband.
“After all, the exam really is too difficult, Elmera. Let’s lower the difficulty so we can increase the number of pharmacists.”
“What are you saying, Riendro? That would do nothing to help the situation in the city. How do you think increasing the number of low-quality pharmacists would help? If we do not improve the quality of medicine, the mortality rate will not decrease. The exam is of appropriate difficulty. Any competent pharmacist with the ability to make intermediate potions can pass with ease.”
“Intermediate-rank pharmacists are equivalent to B-rank adventurers. Adventurers start at F-rank. What kind of demon would prohibit someone from becoming a pharmacist just because they don’t have B-rank knowledge? There might not be any actual alchemists, but I do know of some people that possess alchemical skills. Their ability to dry and grind herbs can still be useful even if their skill level is low. It would be nice to have people like that become pharmacists and gradually improve their abilities through studying.”
“If they wish to study, they can do so without becoming a pharmacist. Within the merchant guild’s library, there is a great resource called “The Dictionary of Herbal Medicine.” This book, as well as many others, were painstakingly curated by the medicinal herb department and are available to any and all free of charge. For young people aiming to become a pharmacist, there are even regular seminars open to the public. If they wish to find work, they can become an apprentice at a medicinal herbal shop approved by the merchant guild and work while acquiring knowledge of medicinal herbs.”
“In the ‘Medicine Herbs Dictionary,’ herbal medicinal herbs, medicine herbs extracting methods, and so on are scribbled in tiny letters crammed into each page. If I read such a thing, I would fall asleep within three minutes. By the way, my record for minimum time to sleep was 30 seconds. There’s no way young people feeling like becoming a pharmacist on a whim would be willing to read that. It’s not like everyone has a good head like Elmera, they need to be nurtured slowly.”
A man in his late thirties called Riendro was one of Elmera’s men. His boss was a woman younger than herself, but he did not complain about Elmera in the personnel in the herbal department. He knew that her abilities weren’t just for show. Her wwell-manneredspeech and uptight appearance suggested a hard to approach personality, but if one tried to hang out with her she could be rather sociable. She could be excessively serious sometimes, and would say her opinion bluntly, but she would still listen to other people’s views as well. It was hard to come by a boss that wanted to make everyone work together like that.
“First of all, Mr. Riendro, grow up. Otherwise, I will never be able to retire. I might miss the cute phases of my children.”
There were many rumours about her being unable to find a husband, but she had a husband and two sons. When Elmera got married, she wanted to retire from the merchant guild, but the other departments refused to see this happen. The department wouldn’t be able to work without Elmera, so they wanted her to wait until her subordinates grew a little more.
“Please let us give up, Elmera-san. It is impossible for us to substitute for you.”
Riendro understood that it was shameful for an organization to depend on a single person for the daily activities to be successful. Although the organization was also growing up and even if Ermera quit, they could increase their numbers by about ten people and somehow manage, it was quite rewarding and interesting to work with Elmera who toiled to improve the medicinal situation of labyrinth city.
“In any case, it is necessary to improve the quality of pharmacists. Let’s plan a workshop. ‘How to make medicine to heal wounds’ or some other simple thing. Elmera can be the instructor, can’t she?”
“Oh, it’s time to play with the kids.”
Elmera’s shoulders dropped loosely, even though she normally stood upright like a stick.
Sorry to put such a heavy burden on you. We should divide Elmera’s work to several other people. While Riendro thought about what to do with the schedule, someone knocked on the door of the herbal department’s headquarters.
“Someones who wishes to register as a pharmacist came. He will be able to take the exam soon. I came to pick up the exam papers.”
“I will administer the exam. Come with me to the conference room on the first floor.”
The woman who came to pick up the problem paper, upon receiving instructions from the rejuvenated Elmera, quickly stood up.
(Woah, that’s really bad luck. Elmera’s passion really starts boiling in situations like these.)
Riendro followed Elmera as back-up.
“I’m Mariela. Thank you.”
Following Vice Captain Marlowe’s advice, Mariela was rather surprised upon arriving at the merchant guild. It was a colossal building. After announcing that she was a resident of the city and wanted to register as a pharmacist at the reception center, Mariela was told to go to the ‘medicinal herb department’. It seemed necessary to take a test to become a pharmacist. This was her first attempt at the exam, but they accepted unlimited retries, so she figured she’d just give it a try.
After a while, Mariela came to a back room. Soon, a strict-looking woman and a man that gave off a flabby feeling entered the room.
“I’m the examiner. My name is Elmera Seal.”
“My name is Riendro Cappa. Even if you don’t pass, there are workshops and other things for you to improve with, so don’t stress too much.”
Since pen and ink had been prepared on the desk, Mariela had thought that she would need to write down her answers, but it seemed she only needed to orally answer Elmera’s questions.
“Elmera, that won’t lower the test’s difficulty. It’ll only make it even harder!”
Riendro warned with a troubled face, but Elmera asked questions without paying him any mind.
“Please describe the treatment method of auro leaves to achieve their greatest medicinal efficacy.”
“ After peeling the shell, pull out with Torana ore powder melted in hot water. The amount of Trona ore …………”
Then another question: Benden blossom, Jibkey’s Leaf, Tamamushi Seeds, Demon Jujubes, Urol’s Flower Bud, unsurprisingly all these medicinal herbs had rather common processing methods and were all familiar to Mariela. While she smoothly answered, the questions around halfway through the test continued to higher-ranking material handling methods such as extracting Luna Magia, poisonous root and leaf processing, parasitic leech venom glands treatment methods, etc. However, Mariela answered without any worries.
It was fun to talk about her specialty. Nodding along, Elmera listened while Mariela answered in a blur, yet still calmly running through each methodical step as if it were ingrained in her mind.
“Great! I wonder who you studied from… No, I shouldn’t pry into stuff like that. You’ve passed!”
She had successfully become a pharmacist. Mariela wondered if the test had been too easy; the questions had covered materials of higher rank, but the content had been extremely basic.
“Well, can I sell my medicine now as a pharmacist? Is there some sort of pharmacist rank, or a limit on the types that can be made?”
“No. Within labyrinth city, there are no restrictions. Do you have any other questions?”
“This test only entailed questions about the basics, right?”
“Well! Did you hear that, Riendro? See, there are some who are studying properly!”
Hearing the question, Elmera was excited. However, Riendro felt troubled since the conversation had been deflected toward him.
(Mariela is in a similar league to Elmera. They don’t know what difficult means.)
“Sigh. You said your name was Mariela? You know, you really know your stuff, especially considering your age. Even a former Alchemist who came from outside was not able to answer this much.”
“Huh? Why do mean when you say ‘coming from the outside?,’ do you mean someone who made potions elsewhere?”
“There are ‘libraries’ for alchemists, right? Most alchemists rely on ‘libraries’ for their knowledge and don’t memorize anything.” Riendro explained.
‘Library’ was an information repository skill that allowed you to register and view information on things that could be created with alchemic skills: from processing practice materials to creating various potions. It was said that information could not be read after leaving a ley line because the information was bound to it. It was possible to bond a “line of alchemy” to a key line, but only information from the same ‘school’ could be viewed.
Regarding the ‘schools’ of alchemists, although there was no set definition, most saw it as a system related to how close a teacher and student were, so Mariela would be able to see the recipes of her master and fellow apprentices.
“If you haven’t memorized everything in the ‘library’ completely, you can’t see new recipes, right?”
“Such a <Setting> is really unusual you know…”
Riendro looked weary. In contrast, Elmera’s face shone as if she was thinking ‘Such a wonderful teacher!’
The information disclosure ‘setting’ of the ‘library’ could be changed by whoever was considered the ‘Master of the School’. For example, a recipe for making potions could be disclosed to only students with the ability to make them, or in some cases, might be disclosed to anyone, even beginners. Conversely, dangerous recipes, recipes that you want to monopolize, etc. could be set to ‘only viewable by the successor’.
There were also cases where the number of medicinal effects and adjustment methods for materials was extremely large. Many of these cases were disclosed from the start for novices to start thinking about how to develop their craft.
(Sh*t Master. Stingy Master. Uncivilized Man.)
In Mariela’s case, she hadn’t seen recipes for creating new potions until she had created all the available potions using only her alchemist skills and no other tools. Thus, she had to memorize all the ingredients and how to treat them; otherwise, further information would not be disclosed. Although Riendro did not know the full details, from his behavior, it was clear that Mariela’s settings were quite harsh.
Because Mariela had thought that it was normal, she had memorized it without particularly worrying, but had she actually thought about it, she would have realised there was a lot of information unrelated to potions that had been available from the beginning such as ‘a delicious recipe applying alchemic skills’, ‘a product for making life convenient’, and ‘household techniques for an alchemist wife’. What kind of person would register all that stuff?
Still, the ‘cooking recipe’ had ended up coming in handy for her. Since her teacher could not cook anything, Mariela’s job from a young age was processing ingredients brought by her teacher. Cuisine made with alchemy like the ‘cooking recipe’ was wonderfully delicious, and both her master and Mariela had always been very satisfied. Allured by delicious food, Mariela had never even considered why such a weird recipe was registered.
“Mariela, you’re planning on opening a medicine shop in labyrinth city, right?? Do you have a place in mind already? If you want to sell medicine inside the adventurer’s guild store, I could recommend you.”
“Well, I still don’t know where I’m going to live. While I was registering as a resident, I was told to come here so you could refer me to a house where I could live and open my shop…”
As soon as her master had become the topic, her thoughts had derailed. When Elmera asked, Mariela finally remembered her original purpose.
“Well! Riendro, take her to the residential management department. Please be sure to introduce her to a good property. Do not forget the pharmacist’s letter of authorization and arrange for resident registration. Mariela, once you settle down, please come around and bring some medicine too. Oh yeah, I will give this to commemorate your approval on the test. Although you may already know much of it, it’s the ‘Medicinal Herbal Tomography Dictionary’ that summarizes pretty much all the medicinal herbs confirmed to be within labyrinth city.”
Was Elmera actually a passionate person despite her appearance? Mariela felt really welcomed.
‘The Dictionary of Herbal Medicine’ that Mariela received when she left was a thick book with fine bindings and seemed very expensive. After asking if it was really alright to take such an expensive thing, Mariela was told that “the copies issued to newcomers at the herbal department are manuscripts, so do not hold back!” When she turned over the page, there were tear marks in some places. Since Riendro had said, “Because purification magic was applied, it is not dirty.” It probably wasn’t a tear but might be saliva.
‘The Dictionary of Herbal Medicine’ also contained medicinal herbs unknown to Mariela. Even for medicinal herbs she recognized, it was useful to have information on the floors and collection times in the labyrinth. She felt grateful.
After thanking Elmera, Mariela left the room. Elmera sent Mariela away with a wide smile.
Riendro escorted her out, joining Sieg who had waited in the corridor. Then, they headed to the housing management department.
“You really are amazing…”
After splitting up with Elmera, Riendro complimented her. Why though?
Sieg heard this and proudly puffed out his chest. But why?