༺ Correct, Alchemist ༻
Today’s class was good as well. I was about to head out the door after stretching my body when the vampire’s voice stopped me in my tracks.
｢Is there nothing today?｣
｢I’m asking you if there is something interesting planned for today.｣
「The story yesterday about the needle and the clothes was quite interesting. He has quite the talent in storytelling. Does he have any other stories, I wonder…」
It seemed as though the ancient vampire, who had shut herself from the world inside her coffin, had been very touched by my story yesterday. She was holding on to me like a lonely grandma.
No, even if you are looking forward to my stories, it’s not like they’re all as interesting as the last one. I don’t even have good stories in the first place.
I scratched my head as I spoke.
“Something interesting… Well then, do you want to learn some magic?”
It was just a thoughtless idea, but both the vampire and the Regressor seemed interested in it.
Huh, I’m feeling the pressure all of a sudden.
“Don’t expect too much. The only magic I know are the standard spells that were taught to me when I was in military school.”
「Tsk. I thought it was some high-level magic.」
The Regressor lost interest straight away. Her head was so high up in the clouds that none of my normal skills could possibly interest her.
‘Hey, if you were around them, you’d be sentenced for the crime of “abusing your talents”. Hmph. Ms. zero-skill-all-items Regressor, I would like to see you even try.’
On the other hand, the vampire’s response was much more exaggerated.
｢Y-You can use magic?!｣
Since their inception, humans would look at beings above themselves and gain inspiration from them. Conversely, they would look at those below and gain a sense of security.
The one below me right now was the curious old vampire.
‘Ahhh, my self-esteem is really building up. The modern genius theory is real after all. The ancient vampire is proving it to me right in front of my eyes.’
Feeling the rising confidence in my heart, I started speaking.
“Yes. I can indeed use magic.”
Then, the Regressor scoffed at me.
「It’s just some basic State magic that even cows and dogs can use. Thinking he’s got something going just by knowing those useless magic spells…」
‘You couldn’t even compare to cows or dogs in your first life. Does dying under a cow’s feet make you a rat? Just leave already. Why are you still hanging around and listening to me? If you’re going to stay and listen, you should at least follow the vampire’s example. It’s better to teach people when they are curious to learn.’
｢Magic can be called the fruit of the mystics that only sages with profound knowledge can hope to obtain! Someone like you can use the magic I could only dream of using?｣
“Someone like me? Hey, I was a hard worker even with these looks.”
‘Even though I had been just a criminal to the State barely making it through, I was the military middle school’s number one student. There were none who didn’t know the back alley magician.’
Although, my fame was more that of an entertainer than a great sage…
“And I’m not even that special. There are so many others who can use magic. You use magic whenever you want from the time you get into middle school.”
I had only told her some common knowledge, but the vampire was completely shocked as if the world itself had ended.
｢You can use magic… whenever you want?｣
｢How many of them are there?｣
“The one I went to had around two hundred people in a single year, and there are ten schools like that in total… So that’s at least two thousand people who can use magic.”
The vampire was shocked to the point where her tongue was sticking out.
｢Two thousand magicians. That is greater than the population of some cities.｣
“Nowadays, two thousand isn’t even that much compared to most cities. The human population has exploded. Only the most remote areas have a population of two thousand. And there seems to be a misunderstanding.”
Two thousand in one year.
Oh, wait. The concept of schools and years didn’t exist back then. I should clear up that misunderstanding.
“Two thousand isn’t the entire population of magic users. It’s only the number of thirteen-year-old kids who go to military middle school. There are just as many fourteen-year-olds in the year above and just as many in the year above them…”
｢Impossible! If that is the case, do you mean to tell me that there are a hundred thousand magicians in the world?!｣
“Well, they aren’t really magicians. It’s more like they’re just people who can use magic. Also, there aren’t many who specialize in magic among them.”
｢Even so, a hundred thousand…｣
Back in the day there were many countries that didn’t have even close to a hundred thousand people living in them, so this would definitely be a surprise to her. I felt quite prideful.
“What, that’s what surprised you? There really is a big gap of knowledge in a thousand years.”
I sincerely thank you civilization. And the precious history of man that has placed me a thousand years after the vampire.
As I was in the midst of feeling real good about myself, the voice of someone who couldn’t read the room at all came through.
“Stop giving her such misleading information. The people who actually have magical aptitude are extremely rare.”
The Regressor left after some petty nitpicking on my explanation.
‘Unbelievable. Why is she even attacking me when she has learnt magic as well? She’s telling me off as if she can’t stand not harassing me for even a second.’
“If you ask people to use magic on the spot, most of them wouldn’t be able to do it properly because a large part of magic is talent. There are many people who just learn the basics and leave it at that because they think learning battle tactics would be a better use of their time.”
Looks like the Regressor was just trying to depreciate my explanation. Unfortunately for her, the vampire still seems quite intrigued.
｢To give up at the prospect of mastering magic… Is that even acceptable…?｣
“Ah, that. It’s a long story, but, hmm…”
This time, I cut in.
“When knowledge becomes as common as pebbles on a road, it is to be expected that people would treat knowledge the same as pebbles.”
｢Even if it is certain that they would gain power?｣
“Power is definitely one of the rewards of educational knowledge. If it wasn’t precious, no one would seek to gain it after all.”
｢Huh. These are quite strange times…｣
“Well, isn’t that what a changed world is?”
｢Hm. Then, perhaps you’re right.｣
Since I had glossed over it like it had been nothing, the vampire just mumbled in her coffin.
Like a greedy man who wanted something he should never wish for. No… like a little girl who scolded herself for being greedy just at the thought of wanting something.
｢If someone like me asked to learn… would you teach it to me?｣
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, surely you do not want to pick up magic, do you?”
｢It is not that I want to use it. I just want to try and learn. In that place called ‘school’, as others have…｣
“Ah, you want to become a late learner.”
People who had never had an education had this lingering feeling inside them. Even if it didn’t look like much in the modern era, this lingering feeling was something that built up as time passed. I scratched my head.
“If you want to attend school, you would have to solve the problem of residential registration…”
‘That would be difficult because the State’s residential registration was quite strict. Well, as a vampire, it shouldn’t be a problem to get a standing even in the strict State.’
“If you just want to learn, school isn’t the only option. If you have the money for it, you could learn at a private institution.”
Knowledge definitely had become common, but it still held more value than mere pebbles. The State had a tight grip on 3rd level strategy magic, but any other institute could teach up to 2nd level battle magic.
As I was feeling proud of myself—
｢If that’s the case, could you teach me some magic?｣
｢Yes. As you and Shei are the only ones who have been in contact with the outside world.｣
A thousand-year-old vampire whose every move has been recorded in legend… And I’m supposed to teach her magic? Me?
‘Nonsense. My theory might have been perfect, but my practical skills were absolutely trash. In fact, I had to drop out because I couldn’t even use 0 level illusionary magic even after searching topic by topic through the teacher’s mind.
‘I’m not being humble. Although my talent isn’t in magic, if I reveal that I am barely able to cast 0 level magic, she would definitely doubt my abilities. I had to avoid that at all costs.’
As I was about to refuse her request—
「‘Have the money’, you say? That wouldn’t be an issue. There’s gold to spare…」
It had always been like that. The metal that blinded people—gold.
A detestable spoil of war that sat atop a man’s head, made him spill his blood and then moved onto another’s so that the cycle could continue.
Even a righteous man who despised fortune kept money close to him.
Even for one as dignified and considerate as I.
Changing my attitude in an instant, I put my fist on my chest and spoke.
“I could teach you, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka.”
I then held my index finger and thumb into a circle and slightly shook it.
“Ah, but you see. Even as a teacher, it’s a bit too much to give away this information for nothing. And as we get to a higher level, the security level starts to rise as well. So maybe some kind of payment can be offered?”
｢Do you want me to give you gold?｣
“Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be gold. It should just be enough to give me some motivation.”
I was saying my thoughts out loud. The Regressor clicked her tongue at me. An officer of the State would surely scold me for thinking about filling a different pocket than the State’s.
But you know what?
A few hundred years ago, bribery was common sense.
｢So gold is enough. I understand.｣
The lid of the coffin slightly slid open. From its dark interior emerged a pitch-black hand with something on it and floated towards me.
Whoa, really? You’re actually giving this to me?
There really is opportunity in danger. The danger of living with a vampire who’s slept away for a thousand years allowed me an opportunity to get gold from a senior who does not know anything about today’s exchange rates!
I controlled my agitated emotions and peered at the object that the black hand had brought out. It was… an extremely precious-looking crown.
I coughed to cover my excessive joy before I spoke.
“They look like tomb relics coming out of the coffin like that. Ouch!”
｢Stop with the nonsense.｣
‘Yeah, but you didn’t have to throw it at me. What if something as precious as this got a scratch?
I received it with my sleeves to try and not get any fingerprints on it.
‘Oh, damn. This feeling… An authentic crown? If all of this was real gold, even if the price dropped because of alchemy, it would be worth—
‘…Wait. Alchemy… a thousand years ago… the gap in technology and that strangely negligent attitude… There’s no way.’
I scanned the crown with a slight doubt in my mind.
‘Ah, how is it that my bad hunches are always right.’
“This is fake!”
“Now that I think about it, this gold is from before the Alchemic Revolution. It’s fake gold! Damn it, how could this be?!”
The vampire was sincerely surprised.
｢Gold is gold. How can there be fake and real gold?｣
“We defined that a hundred years ago.”
｢Wh-What? It can’t be…｣
「Is it perhaps… Was there another significant change in the world that I am not aware of? Another one?」
I was thinking of letting my anger out at the feeling of being scammed, but after reading her mind, I only felt bad for her. Sure, I had lost some possible payments, but the vampire had lost everything.
This was one of the instances where mind reading was not so great. If I hadn’t known anything at all, I would have lit her up to the moon and back.
Just my luck.
Just as I was thinking I could get some money out of this—
“You’d be arrested for counterfeit gold. But back when Trainee Tyrkanzyaka lived, knowledge about alchemy was nonexistent, so I’ll let this one go. Now, look at this.”
I drew a star on the gold with my finger. If it were real gold, there wouldn’t be any residue. However, for some reason, it rose up and turned red, as if it had been touched by fire.
“A real gold crown is recognizable by its shine and weight. It’s probably the third and fourth corners. Hmm, it’s definitely a result of old alchemy techniques since its alchemy level is very low. Even I could undo it.”
I tapped the third and fourth corners of the crown and then traced around the front and back of the crown with my fingernail.
As I pushed some mana into the last line, the gold on the crown flowed off as if it was melting. Soon after, the crown started to change color, revealing a dull and dark metal.
It was a material that was more useful than gold, more frequently used, and an excellent mana conductor—mithril. It was definitely better than gold, but… it was unfortunately not a precious metal because of it as well.
I placed it on the lectern.
“Mithril is an amazing metal with high mana conductivity. It was so much that you could have it mimic any other metal in the world through alchemy. And obviously, it was mostly made to mimic gold. But mithril itself was just as rare at the time, so you could get away with mixing it into real gold. That was how back then, the infamous fake gold—mithril—was released onto the world.
“Then one day, a money-hungry alchemist had a brilliant idea. As making real gold was difficult, he thought of making mithril and turning it into gold before selling it. However, since mithril was just as difficult to make, it looked like his efforts were in vain.”
Unfortunately, my efforts succeeded.
The alchemic pattern was revealed.
It was approximately a 3rd level alchemic construction. Any semi-competent alchemist sought out mithril. Although it was at the level of a cottage industry, the steady supply eventually dropped the prices of the ore.
Anyone who possessed gold feared this change. They hadn’t even done anything, but their net worth started plummeting incredibly quickly. Those who received the news early were enraged and tried to analyze the situation to the best of their abilities.
“And as soon as they realized the truth, they shut their mouths and started to sell all the gold they had.”
｢Why did they do that instead of condemning the alchemists who were creating the fake gold?｣
“Because they had to get rid of all the fake gold before everyone else found out. If they condemned them, everyone else would know as well.”
｢The gold they possessed was fake. They sold it despite knowing that?｣
“They sold it because they knew.”
The wealth they had been collecting was evaporating in front of their eyes. They would be stupid if they did nothing about it. Selling it all was an obvious choice for them.
｢What about the people who bought the fake gold thinking it was real? They surely wouldn’t have stayed idle about it.｣
‘Her ambition to learn is overflowing. She is definitely worth teaching.’
I had a broad smile on my face and opened my arms wide.
“It’s hard to explain exactly what happened after this. The buyers were enraged, the sellers tried to back out, the two sides fought and war ensued. Apparently, it was no small one either. One historian recounted that the amount of blood that was spilled was as much as the weight of the gold that went around.”
I played around with the mithril crown and continued.
“In short, mithril nowadays is dirt cheap. If you can bargain well enough, you could sell it for the same price as a pile of wood.”
Which meant that most of the vampire’s wealth was now worth jackshit.
I lamented at the unfortunate conclusion and looked at the vampire with sad eyes at the same time.
Items such as wine, pickled foods, or antiques could rise in price if enough time passed. However, just like providence, should too much time pass, it would all rot. A thousand years was too long.
After delaying for quite a while, the vampire spoke.
｢From history to alchemy… How do you know all these things? Is it…?｣
“Yes. I also learnt these at ‘school’.”
“It’s not just alchemy. Mathematics, biology, natural science, languages, magic, mechanical engineering, ballistics, etc. They teach you all of this in middle school.”
｢What is this ‘school’ place? Is it a place where all the talented children from around the world come to learn? Like a sage’s tower?｣
“No? From fourteen years old to seventeen, anyone who’s graduated from primary school with good grades can choose to go.”
｢Th-That is… insane.｣
The shock was so big that the voice from the coffin had become slightly quieter.
Maybe the culture shock was too much.
‘I guess she lived in an era where being able to learn something was only available to the upper class. The road of education was thin, rough, and steep. And alongside that, it was short and closed. Even while reaching the end, most lamented at the tightly shut door. I wonder how much better it’s gotten now compared to then.’
“Anyway, do you understand now? It’s quite unfortunate. Phew, that was tiring. I’ll also have today as a rest day.”
As if the vampire couldn’t accept the changed world, she also asked the Regressor to try and get confirmation.
｢Shei, is that all… true?｣
“…It is all true. But…”
「Even if they do get an education, there aren’t many who can learn as proficiently as that man. The State seeks specialization. They discover those who have the aptitude in a certain field of study and make them dig deep into it. It’s abnormal that he can deflect my sword while also knowing alchemy and magic at the same time…」
‘She’s over-evaluating me just because I deflected her sword. Damn. Imagine if I hadn’t. I would’ve been treated like an insect. Oh wait, no. My arm would’ve been gone. I would have actually turned into a crawling insect.’
“…It’s not as great as he makes it out to be. You would be very disappointed if you actually went there.”
The Regressor made everything I had said sound trivial.
Well, some places really weren’t that special, so I didn’t refute it.
The amazed vampire suddenly thought of something and asked.
｢Shei, did you also come out of this ‘military middle school’? Are you perhaps acquaintances?｣
“No, I only graduated from a local primary school.”
｢Ah, is that so…｣
「Hmm… There is a definite difference in the way they talk. There does seem to be an educational gap between them…」
As if being sympathetic, the vampire dragged on the conversation. As the Regressor realized the pity behind the vampire’s words, she quickly protested.
“I only graduated from a local primary school because I was an orphan and couldn’t afford further education!”
“NO! I mean—I didn’t have to go to middle school! My education was good enough without it!”
｢I understand. Do not worry. I will teach you bloodcraft to the best of my abilities.｣
“I’m telling you that’s not what I mean!”
‘I wasn’t trying to show off, but it just turned out like this.’
I slid my thumb across my nose.
“Technically speaking, I, too, was an orphan. But I had earned a scholarship. After all, I was number one in the entire year.”
“You just shut up!”
“As grains ripen, they bend down, and full pockets stay silent even as they sway… If you really want, I’ll be quiet.”
“What part of ‘shut up’ do you not understand?!”
I let out a quiet sigh and didn’t speak just like she instructed, but the Regressor didn’t seem to like even that. She huffed and puffed in anger before pulling out something from an invisible space.