Nie Yan leapt off the ledge, descending the rock face, and proceeded to collect his spoils of war.
From the Leader class Kobolds, he obtained five pieces of Silver-grade equipment, each one for a different profession, Warrior, Thief, Mage, Paladin, and Priest, but they were only for Level 20s. By the time he reached that level, how could mere Silver-grade equipment possibly catch his eye?
He threw the equipment into his bag, before beginning to collect the money that dropped from the Kobolds. Confirming that he hadn’t missed anything, he began tallying his profits—twelve silver, which was a considerable sum.
Nonetheless, the main purpose of this trip had been to quickly increase his level. With that accomplished, he put his normal equipment back on and threw the Intelligence increasing equipment into his bag, then retrieved a Return Scroll.
Twenty seconds later, a brilliant radiance enveloped him as he was transferred back to the city. Before doing anything else, he checked the leaderboard rankings. Currently, the rank one player was also no higher than Level 9, the same as him.
The vast majority of players had yet to surpass Level 5. Seeing this, Nie Yan no longer felt the need to rush and raise his level. At least at the moment, his main priority was retrieving the second chapter from the Book of Order.
Suddenly, he received a call…
「What? Speak up.」
「The materials you gave me, I ended up using them all for concocting, only…」Bird stammered nervously.
「Oh? So what were the results?」
「You can probably make back three silver… I’m really sorry… it’s just that my success rate is really low…」Bird responded in a rather embarrassed tone. He understood full well that the alchemy ingredients Nie Yan had provided were worth at least ten silver. After diligently practicing, he had managed to burn through this supply in less than a day. Yet despite his earnest efforts, he couldn’t even recoup a third of the costs. No matter how rich his boss might be, Bird feared that such incompetence wouldn’t be tolerated by anyone.
「Head to the Alchemist Guild. I’ll meet you by the entrance.」Nie Yan sucked in a cold breath of air after hearing Bird’s results. Even incompetence should have its limits… Wasn’t this guy’s success rate a bit too low? If he had given the same amount of materials to any other Alchemist, although it would be unlikely to earn a large profit, at least he wouldn’t be making a loss! Just why were most of these materials going to waste when they entered Bird’s hands?
「Alright…」Uneasiness had long crept upon Bird, as he even bordered on complete despair. It seemed this time around Nie Yan was probably going to fire him.
Bird impatiently paced back and forth in front of the Alchemist Guild’s entrance. Nie Yan had only just asked him to meet up, but he was already jumping to conclusions. He was definitely going to be given the boot.
Various Alchemists entered and exited the Alchemist Guild. Although their attires were varied, the vast majority had silver moon badges on their chests, a symbol of an Apprentice Alchemist. Occasionally, one or two Junior Alchemists wearing a gold moon badge could be seen as well. When one of these players passed by, an expression of envy could be seen on Bird’s face.
At this point in time, the gold badge on their chest represented a noble status. Within a guild, these Alchemists were highly valued because the pills, potions, tonics, and other concoctions they could prepare were extremely vital for the guild’s growth!
Generally, a large quantity of alchemy materials would be provided to an Apprentice Alchemist upon joining a guild, but in exchange, they received none of the profits from their concoctions. In essence, they would serve as nothing more than free labour. On the other hand, when they were able to increase their proficiency in Alchemy and ascend to the rank of a Junior Alchemist, their status would soar by leaps and bounds. Once such a talent worthy of being nurtured was discovered, they would receive generous benefits, and from receiving no profit whatsoever, their income would suddenly become comparable to a white collar worker’s.
It wasn’t long ago that Bird also dreamed of such a leisurely position as a valued guild Alchemist. Though at present, he had already given up on such an extravagant hope.
Dark Hero, the guild Bird formerly belonged to, was a well-known name. Prior to Conviction’s release, they had long secured a strong presence in several other games. Although they weren’t big players in Conviction, they were nonetheless much more united than the average guild. The only reason they had made an exception and allowed Bird to enter their prestigious ranks was because he obtained a hidden skill. Though, after only several days, he was expelled because of his abysmal success rate. They quickly realized that if they wished to nurture such an incompetent Alchemist, who was devoid of any skill, it would take an unimaginable toll on their resources. Even though they were by no means poor, money didn’t simply rain from the sky into their pockets.
Why was he unable to accomplish anything, while there were many others who had already struck it rich in the game?
Since he only had enough money left to get by for a couple more months in real life, Bird felt an indescribable sense of urgency. Just as his circumstances were taking a turn for the better, after finding another backer who was willing to help him grow, he ended up messing up yet again. Reasonably speaking, every Apprentice Alchemist should have roughly the same success rates while concocting, yet why was his so low?
As Bird nervously paced back and forth near the entrance, he happened to raise his head and notice Nie Yan walking toward the building.
“B-boss…!” Bird awkwardly exclaimed, not knowing what else to say.
“Save it for later, let’s head inside first. Do you have your own workshop yet?” Nie Yan asked. The Alchemist Guild had many private workshops that players could rent for thirty copper a day, enabling them to work freely without being distracted by any outside disturbances. As for those who couldn’t afford to rent a private workshop, they would have no choice but to endeavour in the bustling halls of the Alchemist Guild, where the noise and clamour was likely to negatively influence their concocting.
“No, I don’t. Renting one is too expensive…” Bird responded. He was unwilling to part with so much money just for the sake of a quiet workplace.
Nie Yan headed over to the receptionist. The pine wood desk she worked behind was patterned with a rippling wood grain, giving it a sense of antiqueness and succinctness. The beautiful NPC who was wearing a blue flower dress went by the name Salania. Her eyebrows resembled crescents while her eyes were as blue as sapphires. She had a straight nose, and two locks of hair hung down from her shoulders with a ruby at each end. In every sense possible, she perfectly captured the essence of Viridian grace, and the game’s technology was able to present this fluidly, interpreting the word “perfection” with flawless accuracy.
“Hello, how can I help you today?” Salania asked. Her voice was akin to a nightingale, exceedingly pleasant to listen to.
Such a beauty would inevitably cause any man’s heart to start racing.
Though for Nie Yan, he had long become accustomed to these NPCs. Not affected in the slightest, he said, “I’d like to rent a private workshop.”
“What grade of workshop would you like to rent? There are common, fine, and luxurious workshops available to rent at thirty copper a day, five silver a day, and sixty silver a day respectively,” Salania responded.
“A common workshop please,” Nie Yan said. At this point in the game, a common grade workshop was already enough for any Alchemist.
“Isn’t this too much of a waste?” Bird cried out in alarm. This was another thirty copper going down the drain every day! Nie Yan had already spent so much money on him, yet he failed to produce any results, a fact which made him feel deeply ashamed.
“It’s only thirty coppers.” Nie Yan selected a workshop and paid the deposit, before turning to Bird and saying, “Alright, let’s go.”
Bird followed Nie Yan from behind as they entered the private workshop.
Nie Yan scanned the area with his eyes. The workshop wasn’t large, only a five by five meter space. However, since early stage materials were still relatively sparse, it was more than large enough for preparing concoctions. Two glass cabinets filled with various potions flanked the left side of the room. The delicate crystal bottles contained red, blue, green, and every colour of liquid under the sun. Each bottle had a white label plastered on the side that stated its respective name and price. They were all provided by the Alchemist Guild, but they weren’t free of charge. Upon exiting the workshop, they would have to be paid for along with the rental fee.
In the center of the room was a large rectangular work table with various alchemy wares arranged on top of it.
“When you’re concocting, do you have a hard time focusing?” Nie Yan shot a glance at Bird and asked.
Bird recalled the previous times when he had been concocting. He realized there really was a dark cloud shrouding his mind, causing him to grow increasingly restless. His eagerness to accomplish at least something in Alchemy had negatively influenced his state of mind, which negatively affected his concocting to such an extent that his average success rate was only a mere three tenths of an average Alchemist’s.
“Yes, I think so.”
“It’s best to have a tranquil state of mind before you begin concocting. Shut everything else out and devote your heart to Alchemy. Only then will your success rate reach sixty percent, the standard for the average Alchemist. At the same time, the quality of your tools and wares also influence the success rate of your concoctions, where the highest quality ones will even increase it up to ninety percent. Starting from now, erase any distracting thoughts from your mind and focus solely on concocting. Go ahead and give it a try,” Nie Yan instructed. Although there were no high-level Alchemists yet who could impart their experiences upon Bird, Nie Yan had the benefit of coming from the future. His advice was the accumulated experiences of the Alchemists from his timeline, and he wouldn’t be shy in using this knowledge.
Nie Yan placed several portions of alchemy materials on the table.
“Yes!” Bird nodded his head, picked up a portion, and began processing the materials while taking Nie Yan’s advice to heart.
Perhaps it was because Nie Yan was standing right beside him, but Bird felt a little nervous as his handling of the materials became clumsy.
This is the Alchemy King from my past life…? Nie Yan wrinkled his brows. This doesn’t make sense! There’s no doubt the Alchemy King was named Bird Leaves No Eggs! On second thought… I guess this should be normal. No one becomes the Alchemy King overnight. He probably put in a lot of effort to reach that level.
“Doing any activity requires an absolutely calm mind. Don’t let outside matters distract you. If you’re going to be this clumsy every time you concoct in front of me, then you might as well beat it. Stop making a fool of yourself,” Nie Yan harshly chided, not holding back in the least. He had given Bird a chance; it was now up to him to firmly grasp it. If Bird still didn’t show signs of improvement, there was nothing left for him to do but boot him out of the door. No matter how much money he had in excess, he wasn’t willing to waste it on a useless Alchemist.
Bird felt like his heart was being stabbed upon hearing these words. Did Nie Yan have any reason to keep providing him materials to practice Alchemy? Definitely not! If he really did continue on this path of incompetence, just like the Dark Hero guild, Nie Yan would kick him to the curb without the slightest hesitation. Even if Nie Yan didn’t shoo him away, he wouldn’t have the face to stay. In fact, these sort of opportunities were exceedingly rare and he wasn’t about to let it go to waste!
Taking in a deep breath, Bird slowly calmed his mind and focused all of his attention on the potion bottle in his hands. As the medicinal liquid inside the bottle gently swayed back and forth, a rich colour began to emerge. Seeing this, he tensed up while proceeding to the next step, which caused the colour to immediately fade.
「System: Concocting has failed…」
I still failed… Bird didn’t raise his head to gauge Nie Yan’s reaction. Instead, he absentmindedly stared at the work table that had ten more portions of alchemy materials set on top of it. There were only ten more chances left… If he didn’t manage to improve his success rate while concocting, then after using up these ten portions of materials, he would probably beat it even if he wasn’t being forced to leave.
If I fail this time around, then I’m probably just not meant to be an Alchemist. Maybe I should delete this character and start over and pick a combat profession.
Upon reaching this line of thought, Bird picked up the next portion of alchemy materials. He had nothing to lose and only everything to gain.
“Hold the neck of the bottle and rotate at a uniform speed. You don’t need to exert too much strength…” Nie Yan had never practiced Alchemy, so he could only rely on the information he had obtained from his previous timeline.
Bird understood that this was his last chance and finally managed to solely focus on concocting. He was completely absorbed in swaying the bottle in his hand back and forth.
「System: You have successfully concocted a Basic Anti-Paralysis Potion!」
I actually succeeded! Bird trembled in excitement as he breathed a sigh of relief. The immense pressure he had felt was somewhat alleviated by this timely success, and he confidently proceeded with the next portion.
He seemed to tune out every extraneous thought from his mind, including Nie Yan’s presence. Staring fixedly at the potion bottle in front of him, he gradually completed each successive step. The focused expression on Bird’s face even surprised Nie Yan, whereupon he was finally convinced that this individual was indeed the famous Alchemy King from his previous timeline.
Bird produced several more potions, his success rate improving to about fifty percent. Although this was still slightly lower than the average Alchemist, it was still a large step forward for him.
It seemed he had finally found his path in Alchemy.
After finally getting a foothold on his path, becoming the Alchemy King was only a question of time. Nie Yan quietly left the workshop as he allowed Bird to focus on his concocting. Naturally, the he was too immersed to notice his departure.
After there were no more Alchemy materials left for him to use, he proudly looked at the five potions he had concocted. This accomplishment left him wild with joy. When he turned around to seek Nie Yan’s reaction, he found that the Nie Yan had already left his workshop.
「Boss, I produced five potions!」Bird excitedly messaged Nie Yan. He already desired to master the state of mind his benefactor had taught him. His previous failures had caused him to be on the brink of despair, but right now, he was finally able to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel.
「Alright, not bad. It’s still only fifty percent though. You’ve still got much more room for improvement, so keep practicing,」Nie Yan replied. Regardless of what profession, after one was given a foothold on the right path, the heights they reached would solely depend on their effort and talent.
「Yes, I understand!」Bird said in a happy tone. His latest improvements had already exceeded his wildest imaginations. Previously, he would be content if he was able to succeed at least twice out of eleven tries. So long as Nie Yan didn’t fire him prematurely, he firmly believed that he could gradually improve his concoction rate.
「I’m heading to the auction house to purchase some more Alchemy materials. I’ll send them over to you through the mail. Hurry up and rank up to a Junior Alchemist. As for the higher quality concoctions, don’t sell them just yet. I’m planning to open up a potion shop. When the time comes, you’ll be acting as the manager.」Nie Yan said. Now that he owned so many properties, opening one or two shops would only be the next logical step. Moreover, since his plots were currently located in undesirable locations, the price of opening and upgrading them would be relatively cheap. He estimated that it would only take two or three gold to upgrade one of them to a first class shop. If he was to wait for these slums to turn into a flourishing commercial hub, then the upgrade expenses would have already risen to an astronomical degree. For now, his objective was to turn one of these plots into a first class potion shop.
「A shop manager, me…!?」Bird emotionally asked. Owning his own shop had always been a dream of his, but he had never had the funds to realize this. Therefore, it was never more than a fleeting dream. He would no longer have to worry about money as the manager of a potion shop, because his daily wages would surely not be low.
「Right, so keep practicing. I won’t mistreat those who are under me.」
「Yes, I’ll definitely give it my all!」Presently, Bird was in a indescribable mood. Just recently, he was all too ready to abandon everything and give up. Who knew that the answer to his problems would come to him in such a timely manner. As if the dark clouds had parted to reveal the evening moon in all its splendor, everything had suddenly become crystal clear. He took a deep breath and tried to suppress his excitement, but he couldn’t prevent his hands from shaking.
「System: Concocting has failed…」
Nie Yan pondered for a moment. Since he decided to open up a potion shop, he was no longer in a rush to get rid of his Black Phenol. Instead, he would use it to increase the popularity of his soon to be opened shop!
If he sold the Black Phenol that everyone was going crazy over in his shop, just how much would its popularity increase?
One could only imagine the popularity his shop would garner by selling Black Phenol, an item that everyone was frantically fighting over in the marketplace.
Thinking to this point, Nie Yan had drawn up a plan. He headed over to the auction house and bought ten silvers worth of alchemy materials before sending them to Bird over the mail, alleviating his possible worries of running out of his supply and allowing him to solely concentrate on his Alchemy. He then sold off some of his Black Phenol and the materials required to craft Black Phenol, earning him three gold. Afterwards, he headed to the eastern region of the city to inspect the several properties that he had purchased.
Presently, Calore’s eastern district was still a slum. The NPCs that roamed this area all wore tattered and worn-out clothing, while on either side of the street the shabby wooden homes seemed to be teetering on collapse.
From its current appearance, it seemed like a bad joke to think that such a ghetto would transform into the largest area of commerce in Calore.
Nie Yan had purchased every property in this vicinity that was in a prime location for the sake of helping his father’s future business. In his original timeline, these properties were supposed to belong to Cao Xu, but this time around, with Nie Yan’s intervention, that ‘business legend’ would simply have to scram and look elsewhere!
According to his knowledge of the future, the best place to open up the potion shop was near a certain intersection. He quickly approached the most suitable property out of the twelve he owned.
「System: Are you certain you wish to upgrade the property? The current upgrade will cost 2 gold.」
「System: The property has been successfully upgraded.」
A building arose from the ground on the plot Nie Yan selected. It was a one-story building constructed out of white marble bricks, which made for a detailed and aesthetically pleasing view. Inside, there was a countertop and rows upon rows of shelves. There were even exquisite runic carvings on the corners, bringing about a strong feeling of the Viridian Empire into the atmosphere.
「System: Do you wish to hire an assistant?」
Nie Yan glimpsed at the list of possible employees. Rows upon rows of names were spread over numerous pages, and on every single page was the information of the NPC, the cost of hire, and other related things, all available for reference.
NPC employees could represent the player to manage the store and could be entrusted with selling goods. However, they could only sell merchandise by the preset prices given by the owner of the store. They could not make their own decisions, as their intelligence was not programmed to do as such.
Ability: Quick Run
Employment Cost: 20 silver/month
Ability: Increased Strength
Employment Costt: 18 silver/month
Nie Yan kept on flipping through the list as he continued his search for someone suitable. All of them varied in their odd abilities: some had Speed-related abilities, some had Intelligence-related abilities, some had Power-related abilities… With the difference in ability also came a difference in price.
What was the name of that employee at the Golden Age Potion Shop again? Hmm… Nie Yan’s impression of that NPC was a bit hazy. It was a cripple, I remember that. His name was… Rais?
Nie Yan continued scrolling down the list, and finally, when he flipped to the latter parts of the list, he noticed a familiar name.
|Name: Insei Rais the Cripple
Employment Cost: 50 silver/month
I remember! It’s him! Although the cost leaned on the expensive side, there was no hesitation in his mind as he confirmed his decision.
An NPC employee that possessed an unknown ability—and was even a cripple!—costed fifty silvers a month. There was clearly something odd going on. From his previous timeline, he remembered that the Golden Age Potion Shop had always kept an air of mysteriousness around this cripple. However, someone still managed to dig out his ability: it was the Diplomacy ability, something which was very rarely found. It was an ability that allowed him to hold smooth communications with all NPCs and even made them build up favourable impressions towards him!