[Magdala V6] Act 4

“Never thought there would actually be one…”

The book left behind at Kazan had an ominous vibe due to its colors, but this secret journal seemed to be just an old parchment under the morning sun.

Once Irine learned of the contents from Kusla, she looked hesitant, like a stray dog seeing a piece of meat on the road.

“I heard that with this, you can manipulate feelings however you wish.”

Kusla deliberately taunted, and saw Irine gulp.

Next to her, Fenesis was obviously looking conflicted.

“Manipulating the hearts of men is against God’s Will.”

Truly these were words befitting her.

“And wine does the same. Is drinking wine okay then?”

He tried to stump Fenesis like he did to Roze, who reeled her chin in, refuting,

“…If inducing others into a stupor is to eavesdrop, I suppose that is inappropriate.”

I meant that the matter of right and wrong would depend on the user’s mentality. While an aphrodisiac is meant to steal someone else’s heart, there are people who were righteous thieves.

Roze’s request lingered in Kusla’s mind, and so he was nodding away. He recovered to find Fenesis staring back at himself, seemingly dumbfounded there.

“But aren’t there lots of elixirs with such effects? What are they like actually~?”

The sex maniac Weyland interrupted at this moment.

“Who knows? The contents inside are all faded, and in codes. Seems like the glassmakers have the key to solve it, but it looks like we can do it too. Want to give it a go?”

Kusla suggested, and Fenesis looked displeased, while Irine looked a little conflicted.

“This is a medicine of much sin~.”

On the other hand, Weyland looked really gleeful, probably imagining how to use it.

If only I can be an imbecile like him now, so Kusla thought.

“But I lost some interest.”

Kusla said, as though saying it to himself, unwilling to recall the events of the previous night.

“Hm? Ahh, unexpectedly, you’re talking about true love there, Kusla~.”

Such words were too close to the truth, that they were not teasing in any way.

And Kusla really had no interest.

“I sought out the boss because I thought there would be knowledge left behind by the Ancients. This aphrodisiac isn’t one.”

“The glassmakers haven’t given the feeling that they’re hiding anything else~”

“In some way, their poverty showed their innocence. If they really found the legendary ash, logically, they would be using it already. The main reason for their conflict with the town is money, so if they could have raised money without destroying too much of the forest, this wouldn’t be much of an issue.”

“That’s true~..”

Weyland answered, and leaned on the wall with his arms folded.

“So, what do you intend to do next~?”

The conversation with Roze the previous night flashed by Kusla’s mind, but he tried his best to remain calm, answering,

“Continue investigating the legendary ash. Hand this over to the glassmakers, and hear from them again. Maybe there might be some hints they haven’t figured out.”

He never mentioned what Roze requested from him.

“Also, the spy asked to make a copy of the secret journal. Help me out here.”

Fenesis, who had been watching the secret journal like it was some evil book, looked back to Kusla when he called out to her.

“Write out a copy of the book.”

“Eh, ah, yes…but.”

“It’s to be handed to Alzen.”

Once he told her that, she obviously looked relieved. Once he realized the reason for this change, Kusla himself felt awkward, a rarity from him, and he then asked to shake off the feeling,

“What about you?”

“I want to investigate more about this town’s legends. Agree with what you said. We’ll lose interest~.”

“Ah! Th-then I’ll do so too…”

Irine agreed in a panic, muttering,

“If I see the medical book, I might turn weird…”

Irine’s world would seemingly be twisted. Kusla understood that feeling well.

He nodded, looked out of the window, and let out a little sigh.

Weyland and Irine went out, Fenesis prepared her writing materials, and at this moment, a spy visited him. He came to ask about the investigations of the secret journal. When Kusla informed him that they had successfully procured it, and would be writing a copy, he looked a little excited.

Also, what Kusla heard from the drug merchant Roze about when the people at the town council intended to attack the glassmakers was similar to what the spy had heard. There were divided opinions, and there were some major guilds opposed to the blacksmith guild, some who hoped to maintain the high fuel prices.

But if the prices continued to inflate, the town, which mainly ran on trade, would see its inns and taverns affected, their survivals in question

When would the breaking point happen? Honestly told, nobody knew.

All they knew well was that if the prices kept inflating, there would be no reconciliation.

“We have to finish by today. Ready?”

“Yes.”

On the desk were parchments, ink, quill pens, a shaver to erase wrong words, and nails to fasten and straighten the parchments on the table, pumice to soften the parchments, and spare scripts for test writing.

They were lined up neatly. Surely Fenesis might have been trained rigorously at the monastery.

“Guess the blacksmith attire doesn’t make you serious enough.”

Fenesis, seated on the chair as a craftsman, was dressed like a boy. Anyone looking at her would feel uneasy.

“Want to wear a habit instead?”

But Fenesis looked down at her own attire, before looking at Kusla, asking,

“Do you prefer…that I wear that instead?”

Kusla realized that he said too much.

“Just that I have a different feeling, nothing about whether I like it or not.”

He bluffed his way through, but inside, he was really thinking that he did not dislike anything she wore.

“Since you did copying work before, I guess there shouldn’t be any problems. Any picture however, don’t write down based on your own interpretation. If you end up encountering something different from your own impression, ask me. If there are words you can’t read well, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask. The most important thing about copying is–”

“Accuracy? I know that..”

Fenesis indicated without any pretentious arrogance.

She, always with the serious personality to begin with, probably was confident in such work.

“…Yes.”

Fenesis beamed, and nodded.

Kusla sat next to her, put the book in the middle, and flipped it open. After being locked in the warehouse for years, the book had the scent of poison and ferment.

The contents involved the recipe of a love potion, which would captivate the heart of a person immediately.

But there was something more to it.

“What is it?”

As he wondered about it, Fenesis looked up in surprise at him. It seemed Kusla had been staring at her for far too long.

Ah, so she blurted out in confusion, and tried rubbing her face. She had mis-assumed that there was something on her face, or that the mischievous Kusla had stuck something on her face

“I’ve been thinking. Even though we’re talking about a love potion, you’re really calm.”

A brief explanation later, Fenesis looked skeptical, but sighed in bewilderment.

“It is just a knowledge. And I will not be captivated by such medicine..”

Kusla knew this self-confidence was completely baseless, and in fact, a little prank would leave her scampering like a headless mosquito.

But he did not want to make a slight dig at her.

For her words brought him relief.

“I guess so..”

This medicine could change certain important things to a person.

Perhaps the ones so obsessed with the ash never ruined their family business because of this medicine.

“Let’s begin.”

So both of them began to work.

Simply put, the code was like the mesh of a sieve.

Depending on the size of the mesh, one could infer to whom the secrets were to be conveyed to, and whom not to be conveyed to.

From this particular explanation, it seemed the mesh of the secret journal was really big.

The codes used were written with constellation signs in place of medicine and effects, and the symbolic numbers listed in the Bible. Such codes were not truly intending to hide from the world, and it did not matter whether an observant one would notice. Those who had the basic knowledge could somewhat imagine what the ingredients, while anything they knew not of could be written as codes.

Ever since she arrived at Kusla’s workshop, the number of alchemy books Fenesis read had increased, so even she could understand the coded contents.

“It’s not like they intended to hide the contents huh?”

They were somehow halfway done before noon. In that case, there was no need to resist the pain on the hands and the concentration. If they had forced the issue too much, they would end up making many mistakes.

Fenesis rubbed her right hand with her left, and Kusla silently grabbed the right hand, holding it down as he answered.

“It might be related to the times.”

“…Times?”

Fenesis asked staring at Kusla’s hand that was grabbing hers, feeling as though it was completely unbelievable.

“When they were making this medicine, this town was still completely involved with pagan beliefs. If the war was going back then, maybe the correct God’s teachings will lose to the pagans the next day. There’s such danger around, so what do you think will happen next? A love potion isn’t worth much in such moments.”

“…That is true.”

“And also…”

Kusla held down Fenesis’ soft, tender hand that was colder than he thought, quipping,

“In times of danger, love can burn more intensely. So much so that a potion isn’t needed.”

Most epics were like this, and love between people of different backgrounds mostly started with a last minute rescue, or a rescue by someone else. It was probably because most had their hearts greatly rattled, unable to make the right decisions.

“…I feel the same.”

But strangely, it sounded bittersweet coming from Fenesis.

Ever since he met Fenesis there were times of him making the wrong decisions, and it was to be expected that they nearly died many times. In such times, there were moments of him reaching out to Fenesis, and some moments of her reaching out to him.

“And that’s why the little lady is really happy.”

Kusla diverted from the topic, and hinted that they were not the case.

Unhappiness appeared on Fenesis’ face, but she was a little curious about Helena too.

“It is…a love letter with her life on the line, right?”

Even Fenesis realized how reckless that letter was.

“Yes.”

Though her father Roze was worried about the glassmakers, he considered his own safety, and did not risk sending the letter over the walls, and reported to him. Kusla could understand why Roze did not do so. The latter was not heartless, but simply reacted as expected.

It was Helena who made the unexpected move, and delivered the letter to Kusla who so happened to wander into the shop.

It was not that she lacked a sense of danger because of her age, but that for her, there was nothing more important than delivering the letter. The world might say she was being tunnel-visioned due to her innocence, but from this viewpoint, alchemists could be described as utterly immature.

“Erm.”

Fenesis spoke.

“What is it?”

“How is the craftsman, the one she likes?”

Kusla was taken aback, for he was surprised. Fenesis, like Irine, was unexpected interested in such things.

Of course, he knew that she would chat about love with when together with Irine, but it was strange hearing this from her directly. It was as though a toddler who knew not of left and right had just aged a few years.

Also, she was asking not just anyone, but himself, with the moniker of ‘interest’. It was too refreshing an experience, and he was unable to act pouty.

“Seems like an honest craftsman.”

He simply answered.

Fenesis’ eyes looked afar, as though trying to imagine such a person.

“So how did they meet?”

There was a maiden presence emitting in the air, and Kusla hissed,

“…Is this how you ask why God came upon this land?”

Fenesis shrugged proudly.

“To spread the Gospel, so the Bible says.”

She was a quick thinker to begin with, and this trait was obvious whenever she calmed down.

Kusla answered her seriously,

“I heard from the glassmakers that they needed to procure necessities through the drug store. One encounter after another probably resulted in that love blossoming. Of course, the main tkey is the eyeglass.”

“…”

Fenesis closed her eyes silently.

“Sounds like a calming story.”

Her lips showed a faint smile. A clumsy craftsman had met a similarly clumsy girl. The girl loved to read, but had bad eyesight, so the craftsman made an eyeglass for her.

The ending of such stories would typically have hares and squirrels blessing them with bouqeuts of flowers.

“Well unfortunately, we’re often involved in murders or curses.”

Kusla intentionally dampened the mood, as though scattering poisonous mercury on the bright grassy plains of Spring.

But Fenesis did not look disgusted.

“Even in such moments, you showed a kind side. It is in crisis that people showed their true personalities.”

“…”

Spare me already. Kusla turned his face aside. Fenesis giggled, and slowly turned her eyes towards their hands.

“But if that is so, those two should be getting along well.”

It seemed the clothes she wore never concealed her goody-goody personality well. She smiled tenderly, looking happily, as though thinking there was nothing to worry of both of them were truly in love.

In contrast, Kusla maintained the stoic look, not even shrugging,

“No.”

Fenesis’ hand froze.

“One is within the walls, and one is outside. The glassmakers have to migrate elsewhere once every few years. They have different identities, and that craftsman’s carelessness caused his boss to throw quite a tantrum. You’re not listening, right?”

Those with dreams would never become good craftsmen.

“And even worse, the glassmakers are hated by the towsnpeople. There’s no way this will end with a happy ending.”

Kusla calmly rubbed Fenesis’ hand.

And upon contact, he could sense her disappointment.

Yes, there was no way there could be a happy ending.

Thus, Roze’s thoughts were not completely illogical.

He experienced the pain of losing a loved one, and Helena, in a rare act of gutsiness, handed the letter over to Kusla. She would feel uneasy thinking about how Rihito and the other glassmakers would leave this land. Kusla could understand her feelings, since this little girl before him too possessed much reckless courage in her little body. If the medicine really showed any effects, the request might have been expected. This was a moment when anything that happened would be a point of no return, and the last thing anyone would want would be to regret over their inaction. At the very least, they could give the excuse that they did try to fight against fate.

In that case, why don’t I try making one as an experiment? A dark bubble floated in Kusla’s heart.

“You feel hopeless to be requested for such a thing, I suppose…”

Fenesis continued,

“I feel a little disappointed.”

Nothing would come out of Helena and Rihito’s love, but to her, what did it mean?

Those were nauseating words, yet at the same time, it was the truth. Not everyone could be happy. Happiness could only be earned when it occurred. After obtaining it, one had to grab onto it tightly, and not let go.

He had a little understanding of her guilt.

He understood, but he did not want to agree.

“Is it because you’re often teased by me?”

Once Kusla interrupted, Fenesis looked up at him, dumbfounded, before smiling and said,

“Teasing or sarcasm requires a person to be next to me.”

“…”

Kusla was speechless.

Fenesis lowered her eyes. Kusla’s hand remained on hers, and she put her left hand over it.

“You taught me to think for myself, to be decisive. Such is the effective medicine to cure one’s conscience.”

Thus, she would not let go.

She would not let go of this hardship that could forgotten, one called tender love.

Kusla sensed a little part that was cold as ice, like honey poured into the temple, causing the mind to numb.

On this unpredictable world, after he nearly lost Fenesis, he understood he should have been clear before he had any regrets, and this was the one thing he wanted to avoid.

A stubborn girl she was. It was all too easy to imagine that no matter what happened, there would be a situation which she could have left him behind, yet she would stay by his side without hesitation.

An aphrodisiac was like a double-edged sword.

But if his body could extend her lifespan instead.

So right as Kusla was thinking about this.

“It seems I too have been poisoned by you.”

Fenesis said, and smiled bashfully.

For Kusla, it was a pure smile way too dazzling, one he dared not to stare directly at.

He dared not believe that such feelings could easily be affected by the medicine.

However, the desire to not lose overcome his disbelief.

“The bitterness in my mouth is your poison then.”

Whenever she smiled at him, his facial muscles would stiffen on their own, twisting, as though he was the one poisoned.

“Fufu.”

She had a boyish attire, but there was no disguising the smile only an earnest girl would show. The charm was like a potent wine, one he knew the effects of, but could not eschew. Surely it was because he knew that, he held her hand tighter. In that case, he was certain on what he had to do.

He felt the rock pressing near his heart throbbing.

“What is it?”

Kusla suddenly withdrew his hand, and Fenesis, shocked, asked,

“Played for too long.”

Fenesis earnestly interpreted the words as they were, and impishly snickered.

“I’ll be going out for a little while.”

“Eh?”

“I have some things to check regarding the concoction.”

He had somewhat decoded the contents, and wanted to be sure if he could assemble the ingredients. He wanted to find out about those herbs and their effects, from the catalogue the drug store would surely have. By knowing these, he could make minor adjustments to the effects.

“Keep copying. I’ll be back immediately.”

“Understood.”

Fenesis answered obediently, and held the pen in her hand.

Kusla stood up, put on his coat, and left the room without looking back.

The sky remained as cloudy as the previous night, and in the harsh cold, he teetered towards the drug store.

He opened the door, and the scent of the herbs was richer than when he arrived the previous night.

And once he saw Helena seated at the counter, he quietly clicked his tongue.

“Your father?”

“At the, town council.”

It seemed the meeting would last the whole day.

I should look for him at the meeting then. So Kusla thought,

“…Erm”

Helena finally spoke up, as though she had enough of waiting.

“How…did it go?”

“Didn’t you eavesdrop last night?”

It seemed she did not hear the important points, but she did have a grasp of what was going on.

“I’ll deliver the knowledge they need for their privileges, and they’ll probably pack up before moving elsewhere. As long as the town situation doesn’t change too much, they should be able to make it in time.”

“…”

“Nobody’s going to die from the town attacks.”

Kusla said, and Helena nodded.

However, she was looking down, never lifting her face.

“It will be as you wish.”

He said these words so callously. He could not show any pity to the one he was going to experiment on.

And if she was feeling pain, he could assume that he was helping her a little.

He tried to reduce her suffering.

“Really…?”

Helena muttered as hoarsely and feebly as her appearance implied.

Kusla had a mutual benefit with Roze. The latter had requested for the girl’s confusion, her pain, to be erased. Kusla himself wanted to experiment with the aphrodisiac.

But, right after.

Helena looked to be on the verge of tears. He was not mistaken.

But this overly uneasy expression clearly broke into a smile.

“In that case, you’ll probably be able to meet one day.”

Kusla retreated. He was too careless. He should have known of this possibility.

As long as the important person was still alive, he could be her pillar of support. She could endure no matter how hard it would be.

It was so similar to what the snowy white girl would say.

“I feel it is God’s blessing that I can entrust the letter to you.”

Helena smiled, as though she truly believed in those words.

But that would be impossible. By God’s grace, she was able to notify the glassmakers, and she should be satisfied with that. It was clear that she was trying to convince herself. She had the exact same thought process as Fenesis. Kusla was truly astonished by her naivete. Also, she resembled him in certain ways, and this was one major reason why he could not ignore her.

Thus, Kusla would be perturbed if Helena simply accepted it for what it was.

“I don’t want God watching me, so I’ll be honest.”

Kusla beckoned the voice of ‘interest’. The voice of a cunning one, cruel, unscrupulous, only doing things for his own objectives.

“You’ll be the only one who’ll remember. He’ll forget soon.”

The mask of thin mist could have been blown aside with this little breeze.

Helena looked towards Kusla, her eyes clearly showing that she did not want to listen.

“He’s always focused on his work. He’ll become a good craftsman, will destroy all thoughts that will cause his colleagues trouble, and act like nothing happened. A few years later, he’ll follow through with the long standing tradition of those craftsman, and marry a woman suited for that lifestyle.”

These words were fine for Kusla, but very cruel to Helena, for they were not all lies, and would most likely end up happening.

“Otherwise, if I had left the place, he would have entrusted me with a few words to you, or a letter. You know, don’t you? It’s his job to write the letters, since the boss can’t read. He had chances to write to you.”

Helena feebly shook her head, not that she was denying that, but that she refused to listen

Kusla slowly reeled his chin back in.

“Hurry and forget what is most important to you. You heard our conversation yesterday, right? I’m an alchemist. If not…”

The poison fangs were reaching for Helena’s tender heart.

“Shall I erase that suffering from you?”

Gulp, Helena held down her chest, as though her heart was being crushed. Her breathing was frantic, her agony as though she was suffering from malaria. How pitiful, so Kusla thought, yet somewhere inside his heart, he was cold as ice.

No ordinary person could pass the wall, nor could one expend his entire life seeking the legendary ash. The only ones capable of doing so would have authority they could abuse, or a fanatical self-consciousness of recklessness. Most people would gie up before they were emotionally and socially crushed, or they would be like the young craftsman Rihito, who chose the proper life.

By making that decision, Rihito would end up being the first one to be swept away by the world, and left behind would be the girl doted by her father, remaining in the shop filled with pixie fragrance, reading the epics.

This contained a medicine that could wake people up from their dreams.

She might fall into another dream, but if that dream could allow her to understand that the prior one was a fake, it would allow her to face reality clearly.

This would also apply to himself.

Besides, they were all medicine.

As long as he was able to protect Fenesis’ existence, feelings, it did not mattered.

“Love, romance, these are all fleeting dreams. No way can you go along with what you see in the epics. Miracles never happen.”

Kusla himself had warned Fenesis this a few times, and——

Right on point, his thoughts were interrupted by a sound.

Klank! Bam! Suddenly, a loud boom, causing Kusla to be taken aback. Something seemed to have crashed into the door. Did a carriage horse go berserk?

Kusla turned back to look, and the doors opened.

“I-it’s you…”

Kusla blurted out, but the intruder never paid heed to him, and instead focused on one point.

His clothes were covered in dirt, and one had to wonder if he was beaten up, and tripped over. He had a cloth wrapped around his face to conceal it, and as he removed it, one could see the nosebleed.

Following that was the sound of a chair knocked down.

The blond pixie drifted by before Kusla’s eyes.

“Rihito!”

Helena exclaimed as she ran to Rihito, kneeling down on both knees, embracing him while he was in agony.

Kusla was taken aback as he saw the two of them collapsed on the floor. He started to doubt if this was an illusion caused by the thousands of herbs. However, Rihito was clearly before him, and Helena was embracing him.

Of course, beyond the door, a few people were looking in, giving curious looks

It was reality.

Kusla was in disbelief, for Rihito’s actions were utterly foolish, like fish falling from the heavens.

“Damn!”

Kusla cursed, yanked the duo by the back of their napes into the shop, and slammed the door hard.

He then observed the situation outside the wooden window, shut them after he was sure nobody was looking and locked the door

“Helena, sorry…I…”

“Don’t say it…please, don’t say anything…”

An uncreative epic? The world isn’t as smooth sailing as a story. Kusla had warned the slack mouthed Fenesis countless times.

And then——

He could not forget that until the very end, she persisted.

“I had to…had to, see you for the last time.”

Rihito said anxiously, so anxious they were that they never stood up. Helena shook her head, and grabbed onto him, not letting go.

Kusla watched them, and he was unable to him. His mind was yelling away, wanting him to leave this place.

The lovestruck glassmaker came to meet his lover without any care for the consequences. Kusla could already imagine the ending, that once the townspeople found them, their fates would be similar to burning iron tossed into the hay.

Of course, he knew that he had a shield called the Knights. Even with his involvement, he could retreat without harm. Despite that, the shield was not cost-free. It was something that wears out after every use. The trust of those in authority could support his defenses after all.

He was thinking that if he was involved with those two, and revealed his own identity, necessitating the Knights’ rescue, what would Alzen think? Surely the trust would be lost, while Kusla and the others would lose their freedom. Political capital could not be wasted on this. This was an iron will the alchemists abided to after wandering from ruler to ruler. Alzen’s trust in him was too great, that it was only to be used when he was completely cornered.

But his legs could not move.

It was unbelievable, but there was an inexplicable sense of delight.

Can human feelings be changed by something simple like an aphrodisiac? Even the conviction to head to the Land of Magdala?

Kusla was shocked to the point that he shook his head side to side.

Looking at them, he recalled the words a past companion once brilliantly said. While copying the secret journal, did Fenesis not boast with confidence?

No way would she fall to the medicine.

In other words,

No medicine would work on imbeciles.

“Hey, I want to ask.”

Kusla kicked at the limp Rihito without mercy. Helena widened her eyes, glaring at Kusla while looking like she wanted to protect Rihito. She was no meek girl.

“How did you get through the town walls?”

Depending on the answer, Kusla would act differently.

“…I had a permit.”

Rihito’s mind regained some soberness, answering as he pulled Helena, who looked as though she was going to bite Kusla.

“Didn’t they remember your appearance?”

Even with a permit, the townspeople knew the permit was one the glassmakers used.

“Yes. But the guard duty was divided between the townspeople and the Knights.”

Upon careful observation, he chose to sneak in while the Knights were stationed, while they were oblivious to what was going on.

Kusla and the spy did the same when the entered the town.

Rihito’s guts and luck were the real deal. Of course, the same could be said for his folly.

“Then what’s with that nosebleed?”

“This…”

Rihito hurriedly wiped it off with his sleeve, and Helena, having realized it, stood up in a panic, and hastily opened the drawer of ointments. It was not difficult finding medication for his wound.

“I tripped…on the road…”

He was serious, capable, and it seemed he was not lacking in mobility.

However, such clumsy aspects might be understood as to why a girl like Helena would fall in love with him.

“Did anyone discover you?”

“…Probably not.”

He tripped over as he was too excited, looked like he was escaping for his life when he barged into this shop, and was spotted. Once the rumors spread of a weird intruder, the wall guards would be summoned. News of a glassmaker slipping in might be revealed. In any case, this might be the first possibility the townspeople would think of.

“…”

Once again, Kusla began to think. Should he continue to investigate the legendary ash of this town, or should be pretend to be uninvolved with those two for his own sake? He had the secret journal containing the aphrodisiac recipe. He should be handing it over to the glassmakers, but if he returned to the inn and asked the spy, he should be able to deliver the secret journal over.

He had no reason to help the duo, practically none.

He could have dragged the duo off to the guards, threw them into the cell, and ask the council. He would ask if he could use the prisoners as his test subjects.

But he knew all too well that he could no longer do this.

Their folly was exactly the same as him and Fenesis.

As long as there was charm, he was fine with her being a cursed, deformed girl. Having felt this way, Kusla went through various obstacles, and like him, Rihito passed the walls.

It was only recently that Kusla learned of the word cooperation, but he had to add another word here.

Resonance.

Once he felt Rihito was similar, had to stop thinking.

He saw a teary Helena half-kneeling on the floor, wiping Rihito’s facial wound with a balm, and Rihito was enduring the torturous pain worse than the wound.

Kusla felt this all too well, so well that his face naturally contorted.

Such feelings could not be changed by medicine.

“You have two options.”

Kusla said,

“One is to keep hiding until you’re speared through.”

Helena and Rihito looked towards Kusla in unison.

“And the other is…damn!”

Midway through, Kusla cursed. He sensed that light was blocked from the crease of the sealed wooden window for half a second.

Again, and again.

There should be a few men approached the front door from the wall. The shop was typically run by a girl reading her epics, and it was impossible to have so many visitors so suddenly.

“Stand up. The cat’s out of the bag.”

Kusla said, and Rihito immediately exhibited the mannerism one in a risky profession should have.

He stood up without hestiation, but it was a different matter whether they could get up and leave.

“Helena, you…”

He stammered, probably wondering if he should take Helena away. If he did, the people in town would have deemed her an accomplice. If she was left alone, they could have pretended to be strangers.

“Can you insist on your own innocence?”

Kusla asked Helena.

Just moments ago, she was glaring at Kusla, but that was due to Rihito being next to her. Once she realized she could have been left behind, the determination she had vanished without a trace. If someone pointed a spear at her and asked who came by, she would probably blurt out.

“Take her away. Nothing good will happen if you stay.”

Rihito nodded, and carried Helena. His arms, legs and waist were thicker than Kusla’s. Suddenly, there were frantic footsteps at the door.

“We’re the guards! Heard someone weird had entered the shop! Are you fine!?”

Someone made a report, but as it was too sudden, perhaps the intruder was mistaken for a drunk, or a rowdy rascal, or worse, a bandit.

Kusla shot a look, and led them to the back door.

“Hey! Anyone inside? Damn! The door’s locked!”

The shop door was rattling away.

At this moment, Kusla and the others had opened the back door, and strode off quickly.

While running, Kusla had a thought. The last time this happened, he jumped into the water.

“How is the investigation?”

Kusla returned to the inn room, and Fenesis asked. He ignored her question, grabbed a handkerchief on the table, draped it messily on her head, and covered her ears.

“Hm? Wh-what are you doing?”

“I brought visitors.”

He quietly explained, before opening the door and letting the duo in. There was the panting Rihito, and Helena, who ended up running on her own legs.

“The glassmaker Rihito, and you know the girl at the medicine shop. The name’s Helena. Right, you done copying?”

Kusla went on a spiel of questions to prevent Fenesis from asking anything.

“So-sorry…just a little more…”

Accuracy was more important than anything else. Kusla withstood the impulse to click his tongue, thinking that he should have discussed with the spies on what he should do. So he grabbed the door handle.

“Erm!”

Fenesis yelled at him.

“Did something happen?”

How could there not?

“Bring them into the inside room, get a closet, and block the door..”

Kusla said, and opened the door, intending to find the spies and brief them on what happened. The spy who accompanied him to the glassmakers den was at the door, probably sensing that something was amiss.

“Did something happen?”

“We got imbeciles as foolish as alchemists.”

The spy looked inside, saw Rihito, and could not disguise his shock at all.

“What…did he cross the wall?”

“He said he wanted to see her for the last time.”

“…”

The spy seemed hesitant to speak, but ultimately never said anything.

“He did pass the walls successfully, but it seemed he was spotted entering the drug store. Looks like he can’t play dumb like you and me.”

The spy nodded vaguely, and it seemed he already had a rough grasp of what was going on.

“We managed to escape the shop at the last moment. I can’t cover our tracks completely in a foreign town. If the guards are to pursue, they’ll find us here.”

“Understood. I can handle this matter. But, why…?”

The spy showed a cold look befitting his identity.

Why bring them here?

“Why, you ask?”

Kusla stared back at the spy, and gave an undaunted smile.

He understood the spy’s question. All too well.-

But just as he could not resist pranking a girl, he could not understand himself.

“…You have to know that once the dyes are mixed together, it is impossible to regain the original colors.”

As long as he was affected by this thing called emotions, he could no longer be as sharp as the fine knife.

“I do.”

He held Fenesis’ hand. Back then, he held her hand with the realization that there was no turning back.

He was really ashamed to be panicking in the face of an aphrodisiac. Thus, it was the same rationale as being unable to remain calm whenever Fenesis was with Weyland.

Helena and Rihito’s immaturity caused him to remember who alchemists truly were.

“Anyway, let’s get through this crisis. This will affect our future journey.”

The spy was absolutely spot on.

Kusla closed the door, and looked back.

Three pairs of eyes were on him.

“First, get into the inner room.”

Kusla crudely waved his hand, sending Rihito and Helena into the room. The one left was the stubborn fellow who never budged no matter how he tried to shoo her. At this point, he had no intention of chasing her away.

“You-you saved them?”

Fenesis herself was in peril countless times. Her hiding place was raided before, not once nor twice. She probably had a grasp on the situation, and a little thought into it, she probably realized it was a situation Kusla could have escaped by himself.

And thus, when Fenesis showed the utter look of disbelief, Kusla frowned.

“Is it that surprising?”

He asked in a pouting manner, and Fenesis hurriedly shook her head.

She then stammered,

“Just a little…stupefied…

So you mean you’re surprised. So Kusla thought, but he did not try to correct her.

There was something more important. Kusla held down his bridge, trying to think. He caused the problem, and he had to find a way to resolve this problem.

If he relied on the Knights, Alzen would be displeased. Even if he handed the secret journal of the aphrodisiac over, there was a possibility that it would be pointless. The spies knew he obtained the secret journal without obstruction. Kusla implicating the Knights into Helena and Rihito’s problem would seem so irrational. The situation clearly looked this way, that they had obtained precious knowledge, that it was his choice whether his should save the two unfortunate young fellows, nothing to do with them, no?

Alzen and the spies’ opinion of Kusla would probably deteriorate greatly. This would have great effect on their journey, and would implicate Weyland and Irine who were travelling along.

“So…we just need to depart safely.”

The two lovebirds, already separated by the wall, finally got to meet. After that, the matter would be resolved once they could escape the clutches of the evil ones.

It would be so wonderful if the world would be so simple.

“If only what happens thereafter can be ignored by them.”

“Eh?”

“News of the glassmaker’s entry will spread, just a matter of time. Since Helena’s not at home, no matter how foolish they are, they’ll figure out who led him away. If they elope, her family will be implicated, and the townspeople get their perfect excuse to attack the glassmakers.”

Of the council, Roze seemed to be on the opinion that they should spare the glassmakers. Most probably, he was trying to coax the blacksmith guild and the church priest who had been advocating violence on the glassmakers. Once the guild knew of this, they would question Roze, if he knew of Helena’s discrete communications, and thus why he was speaking up for the glassmakers. Naturally, he would be branded a traitor, and the outcome would either be that he would be excluded from the council, or brought to the gallows, but it was all the same.

In retaliation, those wanting to eradicate the glassmakers would surely declare, that just as the glassmakers had did to Helena, they were a group of abductors who lured their daughters away. Thus, all involved had to follow, for the order of the town had been disturbed, and if they were to remain silent, their authority in the town would be doubted.

At this point, the glassmakers would never be able to return to this land.

Could those two ignore everything and escape the walls?

More importantly, was there a better way to resolve this? In the face of the logic of this world, were people destined to remain silent? Would Rihito’s recklessness as he barged into that shop be dismissed as reckless? Were human emotional just this much? Kusla glanced upon the secret journal opened on the table, and the copy. If that was the case, the aphrodisiac really fit him well. He should not be pinning his hopes on the ridiculous legendary ash that could grow gold and silver. Such a fact truly agitated the naivety in his heart.

He was peeved.

The Orichalcum sword was merely a daydream of all daydreams.

“Do not worry.”

Fenesis’s slightly cold little hand grabbed Kusla’s.

“At the very least, you are doing the right thing. Please do not show such a face.”

The green eyes were staring at Kusla adamantly.

He was more intoxicated than he had assumed.

If not, there would be no way he would have thought of helping Helena and Rihito.

And at the same time, he really did not want to accept Fenesis’ words.

“Think about it. We are not soaked rats, nor surrounded by hostile, murderous people. There is still time for us to calm down and think.”

Calm down and think. Such were the words Kusla nagged at Fenesis countless times.

Unexpectedly, he would be the one being nagged at.

“And, I heard.”

“…What?”

Kusla asked, and Fenesis answered,

“I heard you learned the word cooperation.”

“…”

In retaliation, those wanting to eradicate the glassmakers would surely declare, that just as the glassmakers had did to Helena, they were a group of abductors who lured their daughters away. Thus, all involved had to follow, for the order of the town had been disturbed, and if they were to remain silent, their authority in the town would be doubted.

At this point, the glassmakers would never be able to return to this land.

Could those two ignore everything and escape the walls?

More importantly, was there a better way to resolve this? In the face of the logic of this world, were people destined to remain silent? Would Rihito’s recklessness as he barged into that shop be dismissed as reckless? Were human emotional just this much? Kusla glanced upon the secret journal opened on the table, and the copy. If that was the case, the aphrodisiac really fit him well. He should not be pinning his hopes on the ridiculous legendary ash that could grow gold and silver. Such a fact truly agitated the naivety in his heart.

He was peeved.

The Orichalcum sword was merely a daydream of all daydreams.

“Do not worry.”

Fenesis’s slightly cold little hand grabbed Kusla’s.

“At the very least, you are doing the right thing. Please do not show such a face.”

The green eyes were staring at Kusla adamantly.

He was more intoxicated than he had assumed.

If not, there would be no way he would have thought of helping Helena and Rihito.

And at the same time, he really did not want to accept Fenesis’ words.

“Think about it. We are not soaked rats, nor surrounded by hostile, murderous people. There is still time for us to calm down and think.”

Calm down and think. Such were the words Kusla nagged at Fenesis countless times.

Unexpectedly, he would be the one being nagged at.

“And, I heard.”

“…What?”

Kusla asked, and Fenesis answered,

“I heard you learned the word cooperation.”

“…”

Fenesis beamed happily, and even through the fabric covering her head, one could see her ears twitching happily.

Kusla had involved himself with the problem. This was a fact that could not be erased.

In this case, what he should do was to obtain the best outcome. This should be of utmost priority in an alchemist’s workshop

“I might hear you out if you’re an old hag full of wrinkles.”

Stop treating me like a child, so Fenesis puffed her cheeks, only to show a reluctant smile thereafter.

“I just learned something. People should not be mesmerized by appearances.”

“Too accurate for me to refute.”

Kusla shook his head slightly.

However, logic was no magic. Simply talking about it would not solve any problems.

Right at this moment, the door to the inner room opened slightly.

“I have a suggestion.”

Rihito looked grim, and Kusla gave a slight smile as he saw that, for he could see the determination he once had. No matter how appealing Fenesis’ words were, black could not simply turn white like that.

And behind Rihito, Helena seemed to have made up her mind too as she said,

“Th-that is a bad idea! You can’t do that!”

“But this is the only way. Me entering this town itself was a mistake”

“Well, you’re right.”

Kusla tersely expressed his opinion, and Rihito looked relieved.

His personality was such that he felt comfort to be blamed.

Why is it that I end up meeting such people? So Kusla thought.

“That’s the secret journal they mentioned, right?”

Atop the table was the secret journal and its copy

Kusla nodded.

“So what about that?”

Rihito answered,

“Please say that I came to steal that secret journal. I was discovered, so I took Helena as a hostage and brought her here.”

This excuse could save Helena.

“But how are you going to tell your boss? This sounds like it’s giving an excuse to those who hate you glassmakers.”

“I risked my life to steal the secret journal the noble asked for. Now I can insist that I’m devoted myself for the country of Ariel. The nobles might take that into consideration.”

“So, if a nobel lets his obedient servant be killed by the townspeople, his reputation will be affected, no? Well, if it goes as well as you say, maybe the townspeople might not attack the glassmakers, and the lady down there is a victim. But…”

Kusla shrugged.

“Who’s going to believe you when she looks like that now?”

Kusla looked towards Helena.

She was bursting into tears, unable to speak well. It was wise not to leave her at the drug shop. Surely she would not be able to think of an act to clarify their relationship. Henceforth, she might not be able to do so.

“The council will prepare a script, decrying that you two are secretly working together. I don’t think there’s anything you can say. Forget about it. Look at her.”

Aiming for the weak spots is a basic for hunting.

“Are you two intending to die together?”

“No. I should be responsible for my own actions.”

Rihito stared right towards Kusla.

“I heard you’re an alchemist. Please help me.”

“…”

Kusla’s smile was so intriguing, for he already expected it to happen.

“I used the secret journal to make an aphrodisiac, and had Helena drink it as my hostage. Helena…yeah, it’s just out of confusion.”

It was similar to Roze’s suggestion.

The decisive difference was that Rihito was using it to create his own fate.

“Hm, I guess you’re right about being confused.”

Helena slammed her fists on Rihito’s chest to explain her unbearable pain.

Seeing her like this, Fenesis too endured with an anguished look.

Kusla stared intently at Rihito.

There was none of the doubt which the youth showed at the hideout.

“But you’ll die instead, you know?”

The nobles supporting the glassmakers might falter, and lament his obedience. However, that would have to wait while he and the nobles spend some unbearable time together.

Also, breaking into a town to save someone was completely different from protecting a craftsman who had impetuously snuck through the wall. The latter would be become a battle to suppress the land and seize the authority. Obviously, to do that would result in a war against the Knights

Also, for the townspeople, what the young man did was akin to spitting on the Gods protecting them. There was no reason to let him leave. He would be hanged on the gallows, all to maintain their order.

“…I came here to meet her the last time, and I’km willing to die. No, I’m wrong…I feel that if I leave this place, I’ll be no different from dead.”

Young and lively, so Kusla thought. However, he felt much nostalgia in such a notion.

People would ultimately die, and continued to compromise as they tried to live on. Is there something awaiting them down the road? Living on with one’s own convictions is living a complete life.

Rihito faced Helena once again, and embraced her gently.

Right on point.

“But that’s still weird!”

Helena shoved Rihito aside, shouting,

“Weird! Why must you…!”

Rihito shook his head sadly, silently implying this was the only thing he could do.

But Helena stubbornly shook her head.

“That, that…and anyway, the townspeople are all doing it for money…that little thing, that little thing…”

“It’s no little thing. We can’t live in the forest just on honey alone. This world has fairy tales because everyone knows reality isn’t the case.”

It’s a pity, but this was the truth.

“Th-then…try making the legendary ash again…as-as long as they have money, the blacksmith guild, even the priest will…”

“Helena…”

Rihito groaned painfully.

Kusla found that Helena was particularly interested in the legendary ash when he received the letter. This was the reason.

She seemed an intelligent girl, well aware of the conflict between the town and the gglassmakers, and understood how powerless she was in the structure of this world. Thus, she was pinning her hopes on a miracle that could surpass it all.

In that case, Helena’s obsession with reading heroic epics took a different twist.

Perhaps she was not trying to run from reality, but to find hints on the legendary ash. Furthermore, the legendary ash was something the glassmakers spent generations seeking without success.

In that case, they should try looking from a different perspective. Method-wise, this was extremely correct.

“The legend’s just a legend. There’s no angel descending upon us.”

It would be one thing if they could state that so calmly. However, Rihito wept as he said so.

He then wiped away his tears immediately, and faced Kusla,

“Can you make an aphrodisiac for me? It might cause misfortune on you, but I want to take it all.”

“…”

Kusla warned himself not to be too hasty to conclude. He had personally witnessed their immaturity, and was calmly thinking if there was any other way out.

Was there any chance of himself falling into a trap of tunnel vision.

At this moment, Fenesis tugged at Kusla’s shirt, pleading,

“Can you not lend your power to help them?”

Prudently put, rather than his own efforts, it was due to the contributions of Weyland, Irine, and Fenesis that he had such a power.

In this sense, Fenesis should have the right to involve the Knights. Her playing up the role of jumping into the furnace was to exhibit a miracle.

However, she probably knew very well that Kusla had his own reasons for not suggesting this method.

Despite that, she asked for Kusla’s view, as though it was a last resort.

 

Kusla shrugged.

While Fenesis was the type of person who would gladly save someone as long as she knew the person could be saved, she knew this would affect others adversely, and learned how to stop and reconsider. In any case, she was relatively cautious.

The relationship between humans is like a spider web. The more one struggles, the more ensnared one would get. There was no knife to cut the knots.

“Without an angel, this town and us won’t be here.”

For the first time, Rihito sounded like he was grumbling. Without the angel, there would be no ash, and without ash, Rihito’s ancestors would not be rich enough to establish this town.

“…But I don’t want a world where I never met you, Rihito…”

Helena buried her face into Rihito’s chest, who closed his eyes in agony.

“Why is God always like this? Why is He always showing a little miracle? Does that not cause more suffering for us?”

Kusla sensed Fenesis freezing up upon hearing that.

What Rihito said was undoubtedly a curse, the origin of one she bore till this point.

“The grandfathers of my grandfathers must have suffered, trying so hard to find the ash that changed their destitute state completely. I heard they gathered plants all over the world, but never found the ash. The futility must have shocked them. If the angel’s really an angel, why did it not teach us the method to create the ash? The miracle that came in the spur of a moment…”

Rihito embraced Helena tightly.

“Well, it will only cause suffering.”

Kusla gently patted Fenesis on the shoulder, who immediately nodded, indicating she was fine. However, it seemed she was still dejected.

But if the legend of the angel was real, and the real identity of the angel was an Ancient, Kusla could not say that the hatred was completely on the glassmakers’ volition.

If the Ancients truly existed, and were living, Kusla could not imagine why they would help in such a half-hearted reason. The only reason he could think of was providence from the strong to the weak, but strangely, he just felt that the Ancients of all people were not like this.

In fact, the dragon-shaped flamethrowers of Kazan were personally sealed by the citizens of Kazan. It seemed it was due to the weapons being overly powerful, that it was a matter of time until they would beckon calamity, and they pretended not to have have such weapons to begin with.

Thus, the actions of the Ancients in this town was all the more inscrutinable. Did they stop at this settlement on their journey, and left the ash behind as a token of thanks? Even so, there was no way they did not know what miracle their technology would bring. It was due to the cruelty enacted upon them that they trekked all the way from the Far East, and escaped here.

Something seemed amiss.

Also, one could not forget about Korad Abria’s signature.

Was the legend real, or fake.

No, even if the ash was real, the angel was surely no angel.

The angel was one simply because people believed so.

Even if the legend was real, what they brought was no miracle, just a skill. The dragon-shaped flamethrowers were deemed a miracle because the gullible people thought so in their ignorance.

People were often presumptuous.

Anyone that could create a miracle was deemed an angel; anyone wearing craftsmen clothes were deemed as one.

Once he realized this, Kusla suddenly stopped thinking.

If a person bringing miracles was an angel, and someone wearing craftsmen clothes was a craftsman.

Then, in that case…

“But, it is a pity. Doubting God won’t solve any issues here.”

Rihito said, as though he had some realization..

Kusla remained silent, staring intently at Rihito, so much that he did not blink

Yes.

This really was the ‘wall’ dividing the craftsmen from the alchemists.

“Hey, I want to ask.”

Kusla clearly spoke up.

“…What is it?”

“Did you try all the ash?”

It seemed that for a moment, Rihito could not comprehend the meaning of this question.

The first to respond was Helena, who so yearned a miracle.

“We-we tried…all the records…left in…the shop. I too…”

She snivelled as she answered. However, it was clear she had the defiant attitude to fight until the very end.

Kusla did not hate such a girl.

“Really?”

“…Fu, eh…?”

“Really?”

Kusla asked once again.

Rihito seemed to have gotten the implied message as he asked,

“What do you mean? Are there other special herbs we know not of…”

“No, this isn’t what I mean. In that case, the angel’s rather kind. I guess that’s why there’s the legend, right?”

Next to him, Fenesis quickly lifted her head like a shot.

“The people rejoicing because of the miracle firmly believed it was a miracle, but at the same time, they doubted.”

“I don’t understand what you mean…”

So Kusla explained to Rihito, who remained perplexed,

“It’s a miracle. It’s something that surpasses human understanding. So while people really believed in it, they cursed the angel, and were unwilling to believe the mysterious parts.”

As he continued talking, Kusla’s mind was starting to focus on a thought he could not deny.

If the angel was no angel, and was an Ancient who left the ash behind out of goodwill.

“The angel’s words were no metaphor, no hint. It’s the truth.”

“Eh…but, that…I don’t understand…”

“It’s an ash that gave rise to gold and silver. Because of that, people later took the ash as a miracle, and the angel’s words as a command from the Heavens, so the later people edited it as such. No, this is the only thing that makes sense. It’s for this reason that the inquisitor signed on the genesis story of this town. That’s the reason why there are some differencess from what the boss said and what the town’s legend was. This should be the exact message.”

Kusla slowly inhaled.

“The legendary ash was ash produced from creating gold and silver.”

One would have to wonder, would the knowledge of a certain incident affect the discernment of the difference between those words.

Just as an aphrodisiac could be deemed a medicine to force someone to fall in love, it could also be a medicine to twist the original meaning of love.

“You don’t know? Surely you don’t!”

Kusla snickered. There was nothing more delightful than one discovering the secret for himself. Also, the secret itself was something very unimpressive.

It seemed people would often think of how they should survive in the framework of this world, and would keep thinking within this confined, narrow space.

He would know, thinking back to the boss’ words.

No matter where the glassmakers went, they were on bad terms with the townspeople.

The moment Kusla heard those words, he sensed the glassmakers never tested all the ash.

The glassmakers merely cared about toiling in the forest for long hours, their only contact being the drug store.

“It’s not the ash created from burning herbs.”

“W-what? The ash isn’t?”

Common sense. A presumptuous mindet. A subjective assumption. Vague terms whenever a person tried to convey something. For example, a blacksmith would call melting iron as hot soup. By the same logic, so was ash. Once Kusla realized it, it all made sense.

“I saw the legendary ash.”

“Eh!?”

Kusla heard three voices.

“Putting together all we know, we can create even dragons. This is what it means to apply skills.”

However, those that never thought of such a combination would have viewed it as a miracle, deeming it the arrival of God. Ignorance would give rise to blind trust, and blind trust would easily become a curse..

“Just to note, you saw it too.”

Fenesis’ shocked expression once again agitated his juvenile urge to bully.

“With this legendary ash, we can just blow by all the foolish structure of the world. This…can shut up the council..”

In the past, this was used to create massive revenues to build the town.

Of course, blindly believing in a miracle had its own risks, but once in a while, it could be forgiven.

What led to Kusla discovering the legendary ash were the two lovestruck ones before him.

“Th-that ash is?”

Fenesis seemed to have lost her patience as she started to ask.

At this moment, he could hear hasty footsteps coming from the corridor, and the door was shoved aside hard.

“Heard you got into trouble~!”

Weyland stormed into the room, looking all amused, giving a completely different vibe from the rest of the room. However, he was shoved aside by an excited, red-faced Irine.

“Leave that for later! More importantly, we discovered something big on the blacksmith street!”

A completely upbeat Irine finished, before noticing the presences of Helena and Rihito.

“Eh? Uh, huh? And you two are?”

“The glassmaker and the daughter of the drug merchant. Didn’t you hear from the spy?”

“Eh? Eh? Ahh…what?”

Irine turned around, seemingly pleading Weyland for assistance.

“You’re too excited, little Irine. You were shouting on the blacksmith street, and it embarrassed me. The spy called me back then, so you never heard what he said.”

“Wh-why mention this!? Also, stop adding the ‘little’!”

Irine retorted at Weyland, before seemingly remembering something important as she turned towards Kusla again.

“M-more important! Hear what I found out. You’ll be shocked too.”

She loves metallurgy more than eating.

Irine’s discovery might have been a tad too late.

“It’s about the legendary ash?”

“Eh?”

Irine looked surprised, and behind her, Weyland looked completely interested.

“Oh, you realized~?”

“Just now.”

He was no longer being presumptuous. If these two smelting fanatics realized it, there would be no doubt.

Those equipped with the relevant knowledge would immediately understand what it was.

“So, I guess that’s it.”

Kusla’s mind had constructed a plan to quickly resolve this problem.

“Your problem, simply put, is down to a money dispute. The legendary ash your ancestors obtained wrought unbelievable amounts of wealth. So I guess the problem isn’t too hard.”

Kusla said.

“Get ready. The great o’ alchemist show revive an ancient miracle!”

Such showiness was not a bad thing.

Weyland burst out laughing, and Irine too was excited like a bull.

Rihito and Helena, the two parties involved, were completely flabbergasted, and for some reason, it was Fenesis lowering her head to apologize to them.

The spies scurried around because of the troubles Kusla brought about, and the final conclusion was that for the time being, they would deport Rihito and Helena out of time. Whatever happened to Roze and the glassmakers thereafter would be beyond their control. Furthermore, the war situation remained ambiguous, and it would be utterly foolish to involve the Knights during such unstable times.

This proposal appropriately fulfilled their current considerations, but the sensation of kicking aside reality remained unforgottable. Kusla explained the discovery of the ash to the spies, who then widened their eyes. What, are you for real?

Even the people who witnessed the dragon flamethrowers would think such.

Ash that would grow gold and silver was a form of alchemy anyone would frown at.

“But the dragon flamerthrowers won’t fly in the sky. It’s best to treat its effects as half of the legend. Also, I got something ask..”

While excited, Kusla remained sane, and at the very least, he did not overestimate the technique as an omnipotent miracle. Even alchemy could not create magic.

“I want you to hear out the situation at the council. Hear out how much money is needed, and who to give to if we can resolve the glassmakers’ issue.”

“…Mind asking the reason?”

The spy’s eyes were clearly warning Kusla not to get involved in the town politics, but Kusla’s innate impishness was clearly shown on his face.

“What if I say it’s for the sake of the romance between a clumsy girl and a clumsy boy?”

“…”

And there was nothing more delightful than seeing serious people looking really displeased.

“If the glassmakers don’t exist, the legend of the ash won’t last till now. The legend itself has to involve glass. Also, if we want to recreate the legendary ash, we need their help. With this knowledge, even we can mass produce glass, and there’ll be massive profits to be made.”

The spies exchanged looks.

“A little gift isn’t going to earn you punishment.”

The spies seemed to understand, or not, as they silently exchanged views, before reaching common understanding as they nodded with grim looks. It probably seemed so surreal to them.

“U-understood…also. About the medicine we talked about…”

“We made the copy and the interpretation. You can get such a boring medicine book anywhere.”

The aphrodisiac could not resolve the issue Helena, Rihito and Kusla would face. Kusla had no interest in a worthless tool.

So Kusla nonchalantly answered, and the spies shrugged in unison, as though they had come to a common agreement beforehand..

Kusla then arrived in the stable, where the preparations seemed to be done.

“Bought it?”

“We were asked why we bought so much. I answered that it’s for makeup, and little Irine beat me up~~~~~.”

“Weyland, you’re really rude! My skin’s all rough and ugly because of the furnace fire!”

The duo, bickering on the carriage, bought the ingredient.

The ingredient was originally the byproduct of a certain work, and the most common use was makeup, which had nothing to do with metallurgy. One would ask, how much intrinstic value did it have? The answer, none. It was like waste.

“…Did you really get the ash?”

There was a haystack on the other carriage, and Rihito, hidden within, finally lost patience as he began to ask.

“It’s said that God sometimes walk by your side.”

Such ash was non-toxic, and had no value, so some workshops would just dump it by the side.

Fenesis received the bag from Weyland, looking somewhat skeptical.

“But we can’t think of any other possibility. If I’m wrong, you can just laugh.”

Kusla was absolutely confident.

Rihito seemed hesitation to speak, and finally chose not to talk. I’ll leave it to you, so he implied with his eyes, and hid inside the haystack along with Helena.

“Then let’s add a new page to the legend~!”

Weyland yelled, and they left the inn.

As they left, they glanced behind at the town guards, who were planning to search the inn the Knights often visited, with the reason of a thief having entered. As they had hidden Helena and Rihito in the haystack, they passed through the gates suddenly. They brought Helena along to avoid her being caught accidentally, to be used in the council.

Another simple reason was that Helena appeared to have no intention of leaving Rihito. While Irine and Weyland were bickering away on the carriage, they had hidden the former two into the haystack nobody could see clearly into.

Midway through, they got off the carriage, and walked into the forest.

Rihito smiled to cheer up the clumsy Helena. Kusla in turn leered whenever Fenesis slipped.

And when they arrived at that strange area again, the glassmakers widened their eyes in unison.

Some were so anxious, they had deemed Kusla’s group as the attacking townspeople.

Kusla called for the boss, and saw that the latter was already holding a saw, black faced as he stormed towards them.

“What’s going on!?”

This question was probably about why Rihito left on his own, why Helena was standing next to him, and if he had some sense left, why Kusla and the spies were around.

“Boss, I’m sorry.”

“What’s the point of saying this now! You got all of us in danger here!”

Seeing how livid the boss was, it seemed any shrub would have snapped upon his bellow.

And Fenesis, who was really startled, grabbed onto Kusla firmly.

“I’ll accept my punishment. However, I didn’t come back from the hill empty handed.”

Such words seemed to be terms only they could understand. Hearing that, the boss turned towards Kusla’s group.

“What’s going on?”

Based on what you say, I’ll decide if you’ll be thrown into the furnace.

“I might be able to improve your relationship with the town. No, I’m here to improve it..”

“What?”

The boss asked, and Weyland, standing at the back, held the bag full of ash,

“This is probably the legendary ash~”

“What…impossible! A legend’s just a legend! You want to swindle us!?”

The boss twitched the hand holding the saw, but Kusla remained unmoved.

“If I’m wrong, you can run. You’re intending to do so anyway, right?”

While it seemed there was not much change at the workplace, clearly they had been prepared to pack up and leave anytime soon. At this point, they were just waiting for Rihito, who suddenly left their headout.

“Since you’re cornered, why not bet on a miracle as entertainment.”

The boss’ face tilted completely.

“…Leaving that aside, what about the secret journal?”

He hissed.

“It’s here.”

Kusla said, and patted Fenesis on the shoulder, the latter cringing. She then pulled out the secret journal hidden within her clothes. Even when dressed as a craftsman, her appearance made it difficult for her to resemble one.

The boss accepted it with a scowl, and sighed hard, as though a load had been unladen off him.

“…This thing might be able to satisfy the nobles now…but what’s why you gathered in a bunch? You say this is the legendary ash? What kind of ash is it? You want me to believe it’s real? Our ancestors didn’t find it even after searching half the world.”

Kusla merely shrugged.

“You’re searching the wrong places.”

“What?”

Kusla too felt he was rude, but it was the style of an alchemist he had just forgotten.

“Just to ask, I have something to confirm.

Once Weyland handed the ash over to the boss, Kusla asked,

“Did you hear of the name Korad Abria?”

“Uu…!”

There was no need for a proper response.

“You heard of it, right? So the legend really exists.”

“Wh-who…are you people…”

The boss took a step back, and Kusla answered,

“Just some wandering blacksmiths.”

Then, he put his hand on the boss’ sturdy shoulder.

“Mind hurrying with the experiment? This is the part we can’t do.”

“…”

No matter how reviled they were by the townspeople, the glassmakers would continue to fulfill their tasks wholeheartedly in the forest far from the crowd. At this point, there were many things that could not be stopped or changed, and this was one of them,

However, there were times when miracles would fall from the heavens, appearing before them.

There was fortune in this world, for things exceeded their imaginations.

The boss continued to stare at Kusla wordlessly.

The dream he had buried deep in his heart, hoping for the descent of the angel again, was flickering deep in his eyes from time to time.

“…Won’t the townspeople attack immediately?”

This was the question he asked.

“I don’t know much about glassmaking. How much time will it take? At the very least, when we left, they weren’t done preparing for battle. It’ll take about two, three days to gather weapons and announce their casus belli at the plaza.”

The boss slowly nodded. He might have thought that since they were in a pinch, it was harmless to continue with the charade.

“Hey everyone! The mad alchemist want us to see an angel’s act! Set the fire!”

The craftsmen were often hated, despised, and on the run.

With hearty expressions, they responded to the boss, as thought abandoning all worries.

“Is there anything I can help with?”

Irine stood up to offer help, but the actual implication was basically, she wanted to play before the furnace.

Weyland’s eyes too were glittering, for he could witness a miracle up close and personal.

“Fine by me. But if you get in our way, I’ll dump you into the furnace.”

“I’m used to that.”

Irine answered fearlessly, and went towards the furnace with Weyland.

“What about you?”

The boss sounded like he really wanted to shoo them all away at this moment.

“It’s a rare chance. Since it’s the moment a legend will be reborn, why not have a look?”

Kusla sought Fenesis’s opinion, and the boss raised his eyebrows at such callousness, while Fenesis looked a little hesitant.

 

“Huh, alchemist!”

In a certain sense, it was praise.

If the legendary ash was something different, that would make things interesting.

“E-erm…”

As she continued on, Fenesis asked,

“Are you not scared?”

“Of what? Failure’s failure.”

“…”

Fenesis shrugged slightly.

“You are really weird after all.”

“How?”

Fenesis stared at him without blinking.

“In that case, why do you fear my smile?”

Unexpectedly, she sounded as though she was reproaching him.

Fenesis was no doll. Perhaps whenever Kusla reacted clumsily, the gaudiness left her hurt.

Kusla glanced aside at Fenesis, and said with frustration,

“Why do I feel that when dressed up like this, you’re acting like how you look?”

The brat in male clothing looked down at her attire, before turning to Kusla again.

“I am used to my new clothes. Should you…not accept your change too?”

Her eyes were basically pleading for him to accept it.

As for why she became so bold, it was probably because she witnessed the relationship between Helena and Rihito.

People were often affected by why they saw.

However, Fenesis’ opinion was also correct.

“Just like poison.”

“…Eh?”

“Once you swallow, the you till this point will vanish..”

The poison he referred to was not about the blacksmith clothes, but more pertaining to the aphrodisiac. There was the fear that the ego he thought would not succumb to anything would easily change just because.

However, the craftsmen seeking the legendary ash were just looking into places they were familiar with, and never discovered the miracle. Sometimes, they needed courage to change their viewpoint, and their destination.

Fenesis lowered her head to ponder, and suddenly looked up at him.

“I heard that poison and medicine are the same.”

“…And so?”

“Why not try it?”

If she had said so with a taunting face, she might have been a demonic, vicious woman.

However, her long eyebrows were quivering, and she averted her eyes when he tried looking at her intently, probably due to embarrassment.

Kusla was speechless about his own incompetency. When they were on death’s door, Fenesis might not run away alone, and Kusla would have seriously considered an aphrodisiac to get her to escape. For this girl, she would choose to sacrifice herself so that Kusla’s life could be extended meaninglessly.

Since he tasted the poison, he might as well finish it up. Since he hurt someone, he might as well go all the way.

Luckily, the place was chaotic, and nobody paid heed to them.

“Those drunkards would always start with this.”

Kusla said, and reached his fingers at Fenesis’ chin, lifting it as he tasted this poisonous apple.

“…It tastes like a nun.”

“…”

Fenesis looked up at Kusla, and unexpectedly gave a reluctant smile.

“What do you mean?”

Kusla looked at Fenesis, and for some reason, he smiled.

It was probably out of self-deprecation, but it was still a smile.

And he suddenly felt that something clicked, that something was aligned.

“I feel this dressup looks good.”

He said it naturally.

Fenesis was shocked, and she reeled her neck in, smiling really happily,

“How sly you are.”

Kusla shrugged, and Fenesis cleared her throat, looking towards the furnace, saying,

“I shall go and help.”

“I’ll watch from afar then.”

Fenesis turned back to look, and did not look terribly forlorn. She smiled, nodded, and teetered off to the furnace. Kusla watched her leave, sat by a tree stump, and observed the craftsmen actions from afar

They were hastily creating fire in the furnace, chuffing the bellows hard. Irine and Weyland had completely blended with them, and it was unknown where they were. In an instant, Fenesis was the same. Kusla leisurely watched on.

In terms of the methods, the creation of glass was rather simple.

First, they would shatter bauxite rocks, and each piece had to be of similar size. Then, they would dump the ash along with it into the fiery furnace. It was said using grass ash could create glass at the same melting point as bronze, and greatly helped in the usage of fuel. By the standard process, the actual temperature had to be of the melting point of iron.

The glassmakers grabbed the ash brought to them in their hands, huddled around as they discussed.

Finally, they seemed to have made up their minds, to abide by their true nature of experimenting and adjusting, to try and see. They dumped the ash and the rock fragments in. It was a grand sight.

The boss then watched the color of the flame with a grim look, and at the same time, gave instructions to the craftsmen blowing air into the shaft. A skilled craftsman could determine the temperature required through the color of the flame.

At this moment, the sun began setting beyond the hills, and the furnace lights were the only ones lighting the place.

The moonless night meant that the forest was completely dark, like a bowl covering the head. The craftsmen were gathered together, watching the furnace silently as though a ritual was going on.

Initially, there was a voiceless reaction.

Then, their shock resonated, forming a huge wave that came from their mouths.

“Ohhh!”

“No way…!”

“It melted…at such a temperature…impossible!”

Flabbergasted exclamations echoed as the older craftsmen, Irine and Weyland never looked away from the furnace.

They had to observe the true appearance of the pixie clearly.

One could even sense the determination from them.

“This is temperature low enough to melt lead…”

Someone uttered in disbelief. After this, the craftsmen cautiously raised the temperature of the furnace, and there was clearly a sticky fluid inside. The tense atmosphere might have caused them to forget how much time had elapsed.

“Get the blowrod!”

The boss straightened his body, and gave the instruction. The craftsmen quickly got into action, picking up metal rods as tall as they. They were cylinders with openings on both ends, allowing for air to flow through.

“Rihito!”

The boss then called this name.

Rihito was an outstanding craftsman who knew his position and often did things in an obedient manner. This action might be the first and last folly from him. He crossed the wall he should not have, and brought back a miracle

He was standing at the edge of the onlookers, but in the darkness, one could see how messy his clothes were. It appeared he did not participate in this work, and the vibe he had was different from the other craftsmen. Perhaps it was due to Helena standing next to him, for his face was showing the poised confidence of someone who obtained his dreams, and would observe the real important things to him in the future, heading forth from there.

The boss said nothing else, and merely handed the rod over.

Rihito lowered his head, as though enduring some emotion as he received it.

“I’ll begin.”

He cautiously reached the rod into the furnace, and in a familiar motion, he appeared to be digging for something.

He controlled the rod skillfully, and there was a red in the furnace different from metal. Something soft like dough was being pulled out.

Everyone present said nothing.

All that could be heard was the rumbling of the flames.

It seemed even the creatures living in the forest were peeking at the furnace from the darkness.

“…”

Rihito never stopped working as he continued to spin the metal rod, churning the reddened surface at the tip into a beautiful ball.

He then slowly brought the tip of rod to his mouth, slowly exhaling on it.

The hand spinning the rod never stopped.

The melted glass was being injected with life. Or maybe, hope.

The glass quickly expanded, and Rihito put the rod down onto the desk next to him.

The dough attached to the tip was larger than the surface. Someone handed a leather glove over to Rihito, who used it to stroke the expanding dough in a gentle, loving manner, twirling the rod, shaping as though polishing it.

Then, with both hands, he grabbed the rod, puffing air into it.

He repeated the same motion twice, thrice, and there appeared an expanding object that was shockingly big.

A few craftsmen wielding shears immediately stood forth.

Rihito too took one shears, hurrying with his work before it hardened, his actions fluid like a dance.

The dough was severed from the edge, and the ball shaped object was cut.

A glossy, slightly red glass bloomed like flower, and it was laid out on the desk.

For a moment.

Was it over?

Those with no related knowledge would probably feel this way.

Nobody said anything.

All the things on the desk slowly lost the red luster, like creatures being suffocated.

Atop it was not the carcass of a pixie, nor was it the shrapnel of a dream. It was a block of glass, commonly seen, within reach, and clearly existing on this world.

“…”

Rihito looked towards the boss, who in turn was staring at the glass.

“It’s a miracle.”

He muttered to himself.

Then, he approached the work station, picking up the glass that was no longer red, but should be pretty hot. He ignored the dangerous sizzling sound as he raised the glass block.

“It’s a miracle! A miracle has happened! We’re saved! So little fuel! Look! This is real glass!”

The glassmakers’ cheers were like water gushing out of a collapsing dam.

“A miracle! It’s a miracle!!”

“The angel finally blessed us!”

They slapped Rihito’s shoulder violently. Weyland and Irine too were asked to hug and shak hands. Kusla was a little far away from time as he merely observed this scene.

There was only one person approaching him.

“It really is that ash.”

Kusla turned his eyes towards Fenesis.

She looked a little regretful.

“Why show that face?”

“…I do find it a pity not to see you flustered.”

You sure can talk. Kusla chuckled, and so did Fenesis.

The incredible miracle had him forgetting why he was unable to smile at Fenesis until this point.

“But it truly is unbelievable. That ash has such a use too. I never thought…it would be lead oxide. I saw it lots while learning about cupellation.”

Whenever one mentioned about ash, the common association would be wood and grass. However, there were many other things called ash. People however were often limited to their own worlds when thinking, only observing from where they stood. Such logic sounded so stinging to Kusla’s ears.

The craftsmen cheered once again.

It seemed someone brought out the wine.

“Lots of lead oxide is formed when smelting. If the glassmakers and blacksmiths never fought over the firewood, they would have discovered it a long time ago.”.”

“…This is why communication is very important.”

Kusla raised his lips mockingly as he heard her reproaching tone.

The other craftsmen were before the furnace, fighting over the right to create that miracle glass.

The boss continued to hold onto that piece of glass with one hand, the other embracing Rihito, and Helena too.

“That’s the legendary glass.”

It was clear like ice, a thoroughly beautiful block of glass.

It really resembled–

“It’s almost like a crystal. I think we should call it…a glass crystal.”

“That is too casual a name to call it…maybe the Annals might have named it such.”

“An aphrodisiac is called one after all. That’s how future generations end up calling it too.”

“…You care much for the appearance, yet act callous regarding the important matters. Unbelievable…you are a little weird after all.”

“Because I’m an alchemist.”

 

Kusla chuckled in response, and Fenesis shrugged like a girl who emphasized heavily on reality.

“Alright. The legend is revived  let’s talk about the reality now.”

Kusla said, and went over to the spies. They were standing at the furthest point from where the furnace light could shine upon them.

Finding the skills themselves was a pointless act.

Applying the skill would make it meaningful.

This might also apply to relationships between people, so Kusla thought as he held onto Fenesis’ hand, not remembering when he did.

 

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