Shouji, who grew up in the town, Errorknife, was originally a diligent child.
Ever since he was little, he worked in a sewing factory cutting fabrics during the day, and he was the young boy who served food to customers in a local bar by night.
At the time he started growing into a more masculine body, he hated his mother, who constantly indulged in alcohol and used violence after getting drunk. As if Shouji was trying to escape from that, he went to a school for swordsmanship, and asked to be made a pupil.
It wasn’t like he had a special interest in swordsmanship.
The reason he chose a swordsmanship school was just because he heard that he will be able to eat full meals being in an army’s infrastructure.
However, he had talent.
He was blessed with a robust body with high physical capabilities.
On top of that, he was a hungry hard worker.
He quickly distinguished himself from the rest of the pupils enrolled at that school. His fighting techniques, whether they were used towards humans, or demons, had earned him high grades.
Additionally, a title was bestowed upon Shouji by the priest there who served the gods- The title given to him that was determined by his own individual ability was『Yuusha [i]of Inspiration』.Thus, taking on everyone’s expectations around him.
The title of 『Yuusha』is given to one in tens of thousands of people.
It was usually decided at birth for the ones who were chosen.
His origin of birth from the slums did not even matter because of the extent of the honor he proved.
The seniors of the school were already no match for him. Even the experienced knights, Shouji made nothing of them, as he was endowed with great talents. He was on cloud nine.
He followed by winning numerous martial arts competitions and he was even capable of defeating superior demons that normally require a whole troop to defeat on his own.
At the end, he was appointed as a dragoon in the imperial guard unit that was directly under the king’s command.
Then, he entered the territory acquisition war campaign as a knight’s apprentice. Even in a situation like that, his battle achievements were stacked high.
His name was honored on official bulletins, and he was fully revered by the populace with thundering applauses.
Although he was living in the dorm, as he had no one supporting him from behind the scenes, he still received fancy letters sealed with beewax from high-class looking people.
They were invitations to the upper society. There were no other ways for someone with the background of a commoner’s birth to enter the gentleman-class other than having established meritorious war services or by having big success as civil officers.
Shouji was a young man enveloped by the lights of the glamorous world. When his eyes met with the stunningly beautiful women who glanced at him, his heart almost stopped.
That’s why– As someone with a mindset like any ordinary person in the world, it would be strange if he did not become conceited from all that.
I am loved by destiny.
The gods and spirits are on my side.
Therefore, I should act a little more freely.
Then, the devil fell at the zenith of his life.
At some point during the war, he unintentionally got a commanding officer killed. On top of that, the other party had ties with royal blood.
As a commoner, it was an unforgivable act he has committed.
But, considering the circumstances at a time of war, and the nation’s good will, he was done after serving 3 years in the royal prison.
However, Shouji has lost the path to climb in ranks.
He was shown signs of dislike from every authority; he couldn’t even join a decent union to work as a simple laborer.
There were no merchants who would not care about the feelings of the nobles.
Especially the big time merchants who lead the unions.
The ex-convict, Shouji, was like a sewer rat hoping to live his life while avoiding people’s eyes.
He really wanted to cross over to the enemy’s country where they speak a language he doesn’t understand, but as if he wasn’t miserable enough, he was stuck with the strong sense of patriotism he developed from serving in the army. Moreover, he was confident that he was loved by the god of violence, but he was not confident that he was loved by the god of wisdom.[iv]
In the end, he returned to his hometown, living in obscurity as a broken man defeated in life.
There is a huge cauldron inside the alchemist’s workshop of Percibell’s Atelier.
Its purpose is for the mass production of medicine such as potions and the sort. It exists for the same reason as a pizza oven in a pizza house.
While humming a song, Shouji got on the top of a scaffolding platform, and round and round he spun the stirring rod inside the bubbling cauldron.
In that cauldron is where the corpses of the beastmen who were killed are being boiled, with the remains of blood and oil floating on the surface; the impression given by this scene was truly a gruesome one.
「Nn… nnnuu… 」
Meanwhile, on the dirt floor, inside the workshop, Percibell, who was left on the reddish-brown floor was starting to regain her consciousness after fainting.
Putting one hand on her head that’s buzzing, she tries to raise her upper body while groaning.
Noticing the uncomfortable feeling surging from between her legs, she timidly put her hand under her skirt. A pair of panties that is drying after getting soaked in her holy-water. It was badly wet when she touched it with her fingers. She smelled her fingers casually, made a face of embarrassment after making an ugeeee~ sound, and took a deep breath.
「You’re finally awake」
「Fuwa?! W, What are you doing?!」
She was suddenly called out to. Then, her shoulders shook as she realized the voice came from Shouji.
While blushing, Percibell raised her voice as if she was trying to hide her shame.
Shouji gave her a suspicious look, wondered if she witnessed the silly series of acts that he acted out a second ago, but without even turning around, Shouji gave a simple explanation.
「I’m melting the corpses, then dumping them in the sewers to destroy the evidence of murder」
「Ah…. I..I see… T..These kinds of things, don’t they bother you? Not thinking about the future, it looked like you impulsively killed them… 」
「At that moment, that was the only thing that could be done. I’m going to make use of the materials here」
Next to the feet of Shouji are vials laying all around in a disordered manner.
After giving a glance to those items, Percibell raised her finger.
「Ah, if..if that’s the case… the silver-chromate acid that onii-san dropped in certainly has the effect of melting human bones… but the bottom of the cauldron will also melt. At..at this rate, the cauldron will break apart before you finish melting 」
Shouji suddenly stopped his hands.
He had used his half-baked knowledge of dealing with corpses to deal with this; it would be bad if this was handled poorly.
「You can use other chemicals to neutralize and disassemble them…. Would you like me to give you a hand? 」
「You know how to handle corpses? 」
「If it’s just melting them… I can do it」
Percibell stood up and took a one-liter round-bottomed flask from the storage shelf, turned the lever of a distilled water tank and filled the flask up exactly with running water.
Using a stand to hold the flask in place, she put an alcohol lamp under it. Then, from the racks underneath the table, she took out materials such as bottled powders and bottled plant roots from a bag, and placed them on a scale.
After she finished measuring the materials, she used a mortar and grinded them up finely.
Then, she mixed up various powders, and put the finished materials into the flask.
A series of operations was performed without a hint of clouded judgement.
Shouji was feeling impressed with his arms crossed, and kept on observing Percibell.
She is a small girl, but she can’t be just a salesclerk.
When she put a star-shaped tablet into the flask, it made a popping sound and smoke came out.
Percibell avoided the suspicious-looking purple-colored steam with a frown.
She observed the chemical solution that came out, and then nodded as if she’s satisfied with the result.
She approached Shouji while cowering, and then handed the flask over to Shouji hesitantly.
Shouji’s look of being half in doubt can be seen through from the transparent glass while he was receiving it. Then, he threw it into the cauldron with a glugging sound.
In a moment- the number of bubbles that had been floating on the water’s surface increased severely. It wasn’t from boiling. It was some kind of chemical reaction.
Sparks scattered as new sparks formed, so Shouji jumped back a step.
In a few minutes, the bubbles settled down. When he peeped into the water’s surface that still had sparks flying out, he saw the insides of the cauldron had turned into something resembling a black and white marble pattern.
「Looks like milk coffee」
「Ah, you’ll die if you drink it, so don’t you dare」
A light cautionary warning came out.
The joke didn’t get through, but the bones that were floating have all disappeared.
As one would expect, every man knows his own business best.
「You’ve really helped me out」
「Er..Ah. I…etto… You’ve saved me as well」
Percibell was surprised to receive those straight forward words of gratitude; she put her hand behind her head and was like “heheh” while embarrassed.
However, she immediately woke up with a “hah” startle. She quickly remembered that she was going to be sold.
As if she wanted to say “I’m scared”, her eyes got teary as she cowered.
Shouji walked by the frightened Percibell, and went to take a break at the veranda down the corridor.
While putting on airs, he looked around as if Percibell, who’s still standing still, isn’t even there.
Shouji thought to himself about why she isn’t running away, but he stopped.
He was able to make a prediction after thinking about it. If she hasn’t decided to run from this gangster looking man in front of her eyes, perhaps she is a good-natured person who’s still thinking of paying back her debt in some way or another.
Shouji was going to take all the money she had– but he felt it would have been too pitiful for this little girl.
「The Wazzu・Brothers – is a beastman organization that hunts in this dirty town, Errorknife. From such a company that is familiar with the concept of making dirty money, it makes me really curious to why you chose to borrow money from them」
「Y, Yes… Well, I was borrowing from various places, and before I knew it..it had snowballed on me」
「Now then, as I also took a quest from the underground guild, I must get them the 200 thousand iidols[v]」
Two hundred thousand iidols is approximately the amount an adult man makes in a month of work.
It really wasn’t a big deal. It’s just petty change. The fact that Shouji buried those two men over such a petty amount of money made Percibell even more afraid, to the point she could chatter her teeth in fear.
「Can you pay me back the two hundred thousand iidols? I’ll let you go if you do」
「About that….. I…I…. have a debt of 5 million iidols…..Money is very…. 」
「How much do you have on your hands? 」
「About three hundred iidols….it’s nothing more than a child’s allowance…I have already sold all the potions and magic tools I can sell from the store… To be honest, I think I’ll be a homeless girl tomorrow 」
「You.. Are you going to lose both your job and home at the same time? That’s seriously hilarious」
「Uuuu…. a heartless reality」
Feeling depressed, Percibell dropped her shoulders, and she looked gloomy as if there were dark clouds over her.
Shouji lightly hit her knees.
「I understand the circumstances. I am not demonic to the extent of those beastmen. I won’t tell you to do anything inhuman like to work in a whorehouse」
「The..Then… is it okay for me to not sell my body? 」
Putting both her hands together, she forces out a smile as if she’s trying to get on Shouji’s good side, and tilted her body slightly sideways. It’s something girls do when they try to win a man’s favor.
Shouji also broke into a bright smile.
「I also just learned of this recently, that there is something called “life insurance” in this world. It’s an efficient and convenient product. I don’t know the details, but if I make it look like an accident when a horse-carriage runs you over, I get a lot of money」
「That’s much worse than selling my bodyyyyy!!!! 」
All that was needed from her was to sign the documents. Shouji pulled out bunch of folded up papers from his pocket, but she refused by shaking her head intensely.
It became a scenario for her to choose from either to become a prostitute- or die.
The former choice would be obviously better for anyone unless they are advocates of chastity.
「Then, let’s think about this in another direction. There is an easy job of licking assholes of perverted bastards that pay loads. Well, it’s something that I never done before, but it’s probably something like licking a toilet. If you try hard and harden your mind for some time, it shouldn’t take that long」
「Wa, Waa….. That, that’s not easy at all! That’s like not even being treated as a human at all! 」
Percibell was gasping deep breaths from receiving too much stress after getting too worked up.
Then, she folded her arms and looked the other way with a dissatisfied pout on her face.
It’s a behaviour of a selfish spoiled child who is trying to get the other party to compromise with her.
Understanding that this little girl is getting carried away, Shouji warned her in a monotonous voice.
「It’d be best for you to remember what happened to the guys that get in the way of my business. I don’t mind if the milk coffee in the cauldron increases」
「Wauuu! J, Judging from the rest of the things in the shop… if it’s ten thousand…probably, I can still get that much…I think 」
「Lend me a communication stone. I’d like to call a consignment shop nearby– Just to be sure that I heard it right, are there any strings attached? 」
「Etto…..g..go ahead… and do you mean like strings with price tags with them? 」
“Strings attached” points to stolen goods in street slang.
It’s meaningless for him to worry about it since she had no idea what he meant.
Percibell takes out a communication stone from her pocket, and nervously handed it to Shouji.
A communication stone is one of many types of magic stones that have been circulating around the world.
Shouji rubbed the cross-section of the communication stone, and connected with a force field that reached to the outside.
If you tap the stone with your finger just like that, various colors will flicker in response to the refined magic power born from the person using it.
By choosing the unique combination of colors, it will connect you to the other party you want to get in contact with.
There are flaws to such a product as well. When the distance is too far between users, or if the flow of magic was disrupted, the line will not connect.
「Hello. Yo, it’s me, Quik. Ah, partner. That’s right. No, it’s not a big deal. That’s it. A debt management. No, I did not do that kind of thing. I didn’t kill someone like that, it wasn’t a bloody story. Haha, don’t say stupid things. I have always done a clean job. Because having trust credibility is the most important thing. When conflicts occur, it’s my belief to solve it by discussion first. I believe in the power of peace and love. I got it. The address is… 」
Percibell had half opened eyes during the hypocritical conversation of Shouji, but she made an offer to Shouji after he had finished his conversation.
「Ano.. Would you like me to clean up the workshop? 」
「The laborers are coming, you don’t have to do anything. Soon, you’ll be selling everything. Then, we’re going to break off. It’s good enough if I can get the share I wanted」
In order to identify and choose the items with the most monetary value, Shouji looks around Percibell’s workshop in great detail.
The glass made experiment tools have been polished well, but the flasks and test tubes have traces of cracks which have been reinforced, and the metal fittings of the measuring scales were rusted.
Close to the service-doors, the most demanded potions’ material bags were placed on the ground empty, with nothing in there but dark, discolored soil.
They should have been there until recently–probably weren’t composed properly.
The store front is all neat and tidy, except Shouji knows that the internal condition of this place is in very bad shape.
「As for you being an alchemist, looks like that’s it for you」
Percibell hung her head down, as she was shocked from those sharp words.
「I know that….But, this is grandma’s precious store… It became like this from my lack of abilities. Even if everything is completely sold to someone else, I want to keep it neat and in good order」
Do I have no choice but to move?
Percibell talked about her own past while cleaning the dirty floor with a broom. It was probably to prepare her mentally before she has to leave.
Originally, this store belonged to her grandma, who is an alchemist from the previous generation.
While helping out with the store, Percibell developed her own interests in alchemy, and became the store’s heir.
Her late grandma was an alchemist who was skilled enough to have received a patent.
Needless to say, potions are mysterious miracle drugs.
There is a wide variety of methods to manufacture potions and there are many various types of potions as well.
If you are able to create new miracle drugs that get approved by the Alchemist association, and spread its compounding formula for the world, you can have various kinds of rights. However, there were only a limited few who had those rights among all the alchemists.
In that sense, Percibell’s grandma was very lucky.
The special potion which repaired the small tears in nerves showed such strong sales, even if the store was managed sloppily, there was enough income to get by.
Percibell’s grandma was enthusiastic about her granddaughter’s education, but she never taught her how to run a good business.
If the patent expires, their source of income will collapse with it as well.
In the first place, it would be crazy to do business in a deserted area outside of the business districts.
The likes of a no name alchemist who used up all of her inheritance money from the previous generation, is nothing but a smelly bum.
「Nowadays, alchemy workshops are progressing in chains, every place isn’t old fashioned like this one. It’s easy to open the doors and get in, and a brisk clerk will be tending to the customers enthusiastically」
Shouji, who is seated cross-legged on the veranda down the corridor, agreed.
It’s a common story of a second generation business owner who failed in management and goes bankrupt.
Percibell, who has been continuously receiving blows, wiped her tears with two of her fingers.
「Uwaaa! Even though our confidence in the quality of our product was all we had!」
「As long as you have the recipe and materials, anyone can put it together. If you have the time to complain, you could service the customers half-naked and they would be happy」
「If I could do that somehow, I would have done that long ago! 」
「You have motivation that doesn’t go anywhere」
Shouji got up from the spot he was sitting at, approached the cold-room that is in the corner of the workshop, and opened the door.
He thought that if she was so confident in the quality to insist, he would want to see it for himself with the remaining products.
The cold air generated from the rocks of ice set up on the wall’s surface inside the cold-room rushed by his cheeks. Shouji quickly squinted his eyes. The products seemed to be preserved in good condition. The proof of that is no matter which bottle, they were all shiny. Goods coming from alchemy workshops that have no idea how to preserve them would have a dull color to them.
Even if Percibell had no talent for managing a business, her alchemy skills were not rusty.
It’s common sense to properly refrigerate the finished products. Potions are made with herbal medicines where freshness is the core.
Although they can be stored in room temperature as well, they will deteriorate as they age.
The fluids inside did not contain any impurities; it shows that there were no precipitations during the compounding process.
Shouji scans over the different types of potions with different colors.
The color white indicates that it’s the recovery-type that heals the damage of the body.
Blue is the spirit-type that replenishes mana.
Green is the strengthening-type that improves sensory organs and muscular strength.
Yellow is the transmutation-type that changes the disposition of something.
Red is the attack-type that is used to deal damage to enemies.
Potions are roughly classified into those five colored categories.
And what captured Shouji’s eyes inside this rich and colorful chamber is a potion that had a beautiful color just like fresh snow. Perhaps it was still in the experimental stage, as it had a marking on the round-bottom flask, with a wide difference in the intensity of light to the other potions.
Tilting the round flask sideways, a track of liquid can be seen inside the glass. It was wet with a rich density.
It clearly says on the label.
There are three basic classifications of potions for the white colored series of potions, the lesser-potions, middle-class potions, and greater potions. This should be one of the unique recovery types of potions that had not been released to the public, but he had not seen anything that emitted such a sacred white glow before.
Shouji took the potion with curiosity, and removed the cork.
First, he put a drop on his finger and tried licking it.
Up until this point, Shouji was careless.
He thought it was going to be no big deal, all bark and no bite.
He was just going to do a taste test with a small amount.
However- his tongue burned.
A destructive shock penetrated his brain. His hands started shaking. His eyes went against his will. His body was burning up. It was as if he was caught in a hallucination of being wrapped in flames.
His visions were shaking violently. He could not even stand up from the pleasure, he felt so high like he could fly.
「Uoo……ooooooooOOOOO, Ki, Ki, Kiku ja nee ka! 」
His heart was as noisy as getting hit by a hammer. His veins pulsed violently. His nerves awoke.
He could feel a large amount of energy born from somewhere and it circulated inside his body.
Hot breaths came out from his mouth.
He tried to analyze the composition of the potion while pacing back and forth without meaning, but it was no use. It was the taste of a profound miracle drug. Even one type of it cannot be fathomed.
At the end, he couldn’t control his urges, and looked up at the sky.
「This is goood shit. God damn! Amazing..Shit! Holy shit! This is the first time I have encountered such an amazing thing! This is so good! The guy who made it is a completely fucking amazing bastard! He must be much crazier than I am….! I’ve never drank a recovery type potion that had such ultra high degree of purity! 」
「Ah….Ah, er, t..thank you…..t…that was made by me…. 」
Percibell gave an unexpected answer, but as if it didn’t get through to Shouji, he was wildly staring at the perfect potion without batting an eye.
If you can see the beauty of it, you can see that it’s a fascinatingly beautiful color.
A recovery type of potion with high purity that has the color of pure white.
This pure, untainted miracle drug; it wouldn’t be weird if this is what the goddess in heaven drinks.
「OoooOhh! So good… Wonderful… Oii!! 」
Suddenly, the astonished Shouji stood in front of Percibell.
He placed both his hands on the small shoulders of hers.
Hot breaths of excitement from Shouji ran past the cheeks of Percibell. There was a feeling of weirdness from being stared at by Shouji’s sparkling eyes in silence. The young girl staggered as she tightened her body.
「Why didn’t you sell this?! Mass produce this! It definitely will make you money! 」
「N…Noo, it’s not like that.. Th, that story is an embarrassing one.. That potion was a bit too strong compared to the rest of the recovery type potions… so the Alchemist association did not approve… 」
「Who is it that I need to kill? Give me a name. I will kill that person for you」
「S..Sorry…. but without the association… and to be frank, without the materials also… it would just be an illegal thing. Aha… if we go too far to pursue alchemy it will be bad in the end… that was also one of the reasons I have this debt.. I did something like that after all, yup… 」
「The law. That’s the word I hate the most. That makes me sick. No, wait… We just have to work around that. That’s it. Actually, that will work even better. My head has become clear. This can be done as a business」
Shouji took his hand off Percibell, and went into thought while stroking his chin.
A powerful potion that is illegal. Certainly, it has an effect to it that shouldn’t be going to waste.
This taste. This potency. This purity. A product of miracles.
There is no doubt that the potion addicts on the street will have a different look in their eyes as they yearn for it.
In order to calm down, Shouji put his hands into an herb bag that contains the materials of the potions from the cupboard.
Clenching his teeth, he thought in his mind to relax. Then, by consuming a kind of leaf that has another type of magical power, he thinned out the purity of the perfect potion.
「Ah, dear customer」
Ring ring, the bells at the entrance rang.
Shouji grabbed the hands of Percibell, who was honestly going out to welcome the guest, and walked towards the entrance through the corridor.
Opening the door, they see five subordinates accompanying a merchant in his prime of life.
Behind them was a horse carriage that was covered up.
It was Bodhi and his goons from the consignment store that Shouji called earlier.
「Yo, partner. I came to collect the goods. Is there anything that’s worth some money? 」
Bodhi showed his familiar business face, and showed a familiar fake smile.
Despite that, Shouji, who is taller, looked down with a cool-headed expression.
「What are you talking about? 」
「No, you are the one who called me out. It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, please put the goods inside」
「I have no idea what you are talking about. Come back another time」
Shouji tried to play dumb with a face feigning ignorance in an attempt to drive them away.
If he could get a hold on the perfect potion, there was no need to do this bean sprout type of business.
Naturally, the unsatisfied Bodhi canceled his smile and went into a fit of rage.
「Huh? Don’t fuck around! I was told there was work to do here, and went through all the trouble of getting my men together. You want me to go back empty-handed? 」
「Sssssshut it! You want me to kill you all? Huhhh?! You want your whole crew dead here? 」
At the same time Shouji shot out those threats, he threw a fist right at Bodhi’s nose. He didn’t do that because he was high from the potion, and it was no act either. Shouji was serious.
Bodhi’s front teeth were crushed, and his nose broke with a cracking sound.
Drool and blood splattered out onto the ground as he fell with his arms and legs stretched out like the letter 大.
Bodhi already lost consciousness with the first hit, but Shouji kept on kicking his flank and went after him one kick after another. The man’s back was floating in the air.
「Why, why do you annoy me to this extent?! I told you to leave! Why didn’t you listen to what I say! I don’t get it! 」
「O, oi, stop it! 」
「You’re a terrible bastard! A Sick bastard! You are no partner of mine! 」(Shouji)
As if he’s trying to deal the finishing blow, Shouji stepped on Bodhi’s face with the bottom of his shoe.
In this downright heartless scene, the rest of the goons tried to recourse to force.
Shouji noticed the signs from the men around, and glared at them with vicious eyes.
「Shut up and die!! 」
The goon who stretched out his hands around Shouji had arm muscles like armor. However, Shouji hit his hard abdomen with a tornado-like kick as he spun around.
The goon’s feet lifted off the ground and he was blown off flying by the vigorous force of the kick- he crashed into the soil wall next to Percibell at the doorway with a strong impact. The man, who is covered in a cloud of yellow dust and blood coming out from his head, reached out to Percibell for help with a trembling hand before his head sank.
It was pretty obvious, but the other four people were suddenly terrified from the violence.
They understood that this was different from the usual opponents they faced, and they stayed distanced while being apprehensive.
It was violence of overwhelming power. It was like they saw the aspect of an evil spirit, like an Asura.[vi]
They did not understand— more than anything else, as to why he was so angry.
They only came here because he called them.
「Clean up this garbage quickly and get lost! You hear me! Do not call me your partner a second time so easily! Unless you want to be dead! 」
Frightened from Shouji’s roars of anger, the four goons turned their backs and left with pale faces.
Shouji was staring at their backs as they left. When he confirmed that they have completely left, he found Percibell by the doorway, who had fainted with bubbles coming out of her mouth.
She is someone with a frail heart who had wet her pants again, but Shouji did not mind. He carried her by grabbing the neckline of her dress with one hand, without paying any attention as she dragged on the ground.
[i] a brave, a man of valor, a hero
[ii] a swaggering swordsman, soldier, or adventurer; daredevil.
[iii] A Bard is defined as a professional poet and singer, as among the ancient Celts, whose occupation was to compose and sing verses in honor of the heroic achievements of princes and brave men.
[iv] This could be metaphorical as if he’s saying he was unsure if he was smart enough to learn a new language, will find out as we go on.
[v] iidol – dollars in that world
[vi] a member of a class of divine beings in the Vedic period, which in Indian mythology tend to be evil and in Zoroastrianism are benevolent