Level 46 Alchemy
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After the party reassured Ausch that they would return the next day to take care of the demon, they left the mayor's home. Audra wanted to tag along while they were in town, but Amos dissuaded her along with Ausch.

Rydr was eager to get to the alchemist's shop to find which ingredients he could buy and which he needed to make from scratch. The mass of ore in the giant's inventory practically burned a hole through his pocket.

Sure, Rydr could go ahead and forge weapons and armor from his supply, but he had something more special in mind. 

Since a more immediate timer, Audra's abduction was placed on the team; they hurried through Grotto quickly. Amos led the party to the West side of the city, near the church graveyard where the Travelers revived once in a while. 

On the way there, Hermes asked an important question. 

"Did anyone get a quest from the mayor?" The teen was confused that he never received a quest notice about the demon and Audra. 

His question made Rydr blank out for a moment before Syrna spoke up.

"I got the quest from her, but it can't be shared because I'm the one getting adopted and sacrificed." Syrna tossed out the information defensively, expecting the boys to get angry.

"Can't, or won't?" Urginok teased the blonde.

Syrna spun around to confront the tank, only to find him grinning at her. Rydr chuckled at the exchange while Hermes looked genuinely concerned for his new party.

"We believe you, dude. It sucks that we can't share the quest, but does it say anything about us fighting the demon and getting that EXP?" Urginok held his hands up to show he really meant no harm with his previous comment. 

Syrna pointed at him, narrowing her eyes before she answered, "No, it doesn't mention that. You guys should be able to fight the demon, no problem." 

"What's the quest rarity?" Rydr questioned once the tension eased away.


Rydr pursed his lips and nodded. One way or another, this fight won't be easy. It's a warm-up compared to the Hobgoblin Warlord waiting for me in the Wellspring, though.

One of the many things Rydr felt he lacked at the moment was combat experience. He was successful so far, but all the stats in the world wouldn't mean a thing if his opponent was incredibly skillful.

Spectre's defeat at the Titan's hands was due to an over-reliance on his new ability. If the guild leader were less cocky, he'd have avoided the giant's strategy.

The Titan needed to test himself more and figure out his avatar's fighting style. I can't just be the strongest. I have to be the best at what I do in a way that no one else can copy.

"Anyone care to guess the demon's level?" Hermes joked.

Urginok grunted, "Hopefully low enough for us to hurt it." Rydr wasn't the only party member whose mind was on the Hobgoblin Warlord. The tank never fought the beast, and he had flashbacks to the fight. He'd never felt so physically helpless.

The quakes caused by Rydr and the Warlord made it impossible for the tank even to stand up. Ever since he died in the mine, Urginok began to focus on his build and the core concept he wanted to chase.

To do that, Urginok needed some downtime to ask Rydr for a favor.


Amos left the party behind once they reached the alchemist's shop. The guard was long due back at his post. Even as the man walked away from them, he wondered how to explain the long absence to his men.

Which left Rydr and his teammates to stare at the wooden door in front of them. The outside of the shop was nondescript, almost like the proprietor tried to avoid business rather than attract it.

Syrna and the other two hesitated before they entered the shop, leaving just Rydr outside.

Rydr sighed, looking at the shop's door and roof. It's too short. The Titan lamented his height as he bent down to enter the alchemy shop.

Once inside, Rydr straightened until his head and upper back pressed against the ceiling. Although it wasn't the most comfortable pose to hold for a long period of time, the ceiling was blessedly taller than the giant thought from outside. 

Dank air, filled with all kinds of strange scents, filtered through the shop's interior. A skylight in the center of the room illuminated the space. Rows of ingredients lined the walls on wooden shelves stacked to the ceiling. 

The back of the room sported an impressively dated chemistry set. Gentle flames burned beneath a series of beakers, with what looked like sheep's guts used as tubes. A woman, who Rydr assumed was the owner, stood next to the worktable.

However, the party wasn't alone in the shop. Another woman browsed the shelves, tracing her finger on product labels. 

From Rydr's perspective, the young woman seemed frustrated as she crossed back and forth between multiples shelves, making motions in the air with her free hand.

Ah, a diver. Which means she passed the shopkeep's test. 

Urginok, Syrna, and Hermes were gathered around the owner, listening to an explanation the Titan couldn't hear. Rydr carefully threaded his way through the shelves until he reached his party. 

Only as he passed the other diver, she realized a Titan was in the room with her. It took her a second to remember where she'd seen him but quickly realized the Titan, Rydr, was in the shop with her.

The sudden appearance of the game's premier barbarian in an alchemy shop distracted her from shopping as she sidled closer to the party to observe.

Syrna was speaking as Rydr walked up, "My giant friend, now that he's here, and myself would like to buy materials from you. Is it possible for us both to take the test?"

The Titan stood behind his team, forced to loom over everyone because of the short ceiling. He nodded at the shopkeeper to show he agreed with the archer.

The woman's eyes traveled up and up until she saw the bottom half of his face exposed from his nose down. Although it was unusual for someone to wear secretive headgear, it wasn't unheard of, so she shrugged away the giant's quirks.

"'Tis no problem, but you can only go one at a time- only one testing set, you see." The lady directed her words at the giant, worried he might get huffy over being slighted.

Rydr nodded at her to show he understood. 

Hermes chose to abandon the group and poke around the shop at that point, with Urginok joining him. Both boys waved hello at the female diver in the shop.

The girl tried to look like she wasn't blatantly listening but failed miserably. Neither of the boys minded, and it was a small shop, so they kept to themselves. 

Hermes began reading the product labels only to realize he didn't recognize a single one. Quicklime was easy to identify on the bottom shelf since it was called that, but everything else sported antiquated names.

In the meantime, the shopkeep, whose name was Shae, led Rydr and Syrna to a second, smaller chemistry set in the corner of the shop. 

In Rydr's opinion, it was less of a chemistry set and more of a small collection of bottles and beakers with a mortar and pestle. Just looking at it, the giant guessed the test was more about identifying substances than making anything.

It turned out to be less precise than that.

"Show me what you can do," Shae ordered them, standing back and observing. 

Syrna grunted, "Vague."

Shae shrugged at the blonde, unrepentant.

With a bit of trepidation, Syrna stepped up to the table and began to uncork bottles, briefly smelling the contents and moving on.

A couple of the vials seemed to be filled with a powdery substance instead of liquid. The rest of the table was filled with strange objects like an egg, tweezers, bits of string, and a few sticks.

After a moment, Syrna stepped back and pointed at the bottles from right to left, naming the items she could identify.

"Ammonia, hydrochloric acid, aluminum powder, sulfuric acid, and some form of ethanol." 

Shae shook her head, "All wrong, except for one that was kind of correct." 

Syrna frowned at the shopkeep, about to speak when Rydr stepped forward, forcing her to make space.

Rydr performed the same series of actions, sniffing substances until he turned around to face Shae.

"Spirit of Hartshorn, Spirit of Salt, aluminium powder, Spirit of Vitriol, and Spirit of Wine." Even though Rydr could, he abstained from listing the other minerals and chemicals on the table.

Shae began to nod, a smile on her face, but Rydr spoke before she could, "Nothing Syrna said was wrong. In our world, we have different names for these substances."

Because of compulsory education, basically, any Traveler over the age of fifteen should name those items from smell alone. Rydr was lucky because he anticipated something like this. The Titan spent time while researching forging techniques to memorize entire lists of archaic names.

Spirit of...something was a popular name archetype by IRL alchemists centuries ago. It made the system relatively simple to understand, if inaccurate.

"Oh, really?" In the face of what felt like a challenge, Shae threw some attitude in Rydr's face.

Unphased, Rydr nodded, "Really. I'll prove it." 

The Titan spun around and grabbed two bottles, the muriatic acid, and the ammonia, before he tied two pieces of string to some sticks and dipped them. 

Rydr turned back around while the strings soaked, explaining what he was doing, "Soaking two pieces of string in hydrochloric acid and ammonia allows us to form ammonium chloride in its gaseous form."

"The experiment is a simple one that children can do, but it will serve to prove my point. A few more steps, and we could covert the gas into its crystalline, solid form."

Rydr gestured at Syrna, "Do you have a copper coin I can borrow?"

Syrna stepped away from the Titan defensively, "Why? You aren't going to melt it, right?" 

"I will return your money, unharmed. I swear," The giant laughed at his teammate as she summoned a coin and tossed it at him.

The Titan held up the coin to Shae and said, "While you probably know about the reaction between Spirit of Salt and Spirit of Hartshorn, and could say that I also knew that and am making things up..."

Rydr spun around to face the table again, still talking, "In our world, we're also aware of ammonia's unique reaction with copper." The giant picked up the bottle of ammonia, with its string still soaking, and poured some of the liquid into a separate vial.

He set the bottle down, picked up a small saucer from the table, and placed the coin in it. Then Rydr turned around and displayed both items to the shopkeep.

"In the presence of copper, the purer, the better, ammonia will form aqueous copper(II) ions which appear as a beautiful, blue color." Rydr then poured the small vial of ammonia over the coin and handed the saucer to Shae.

Syrna crowded the shopkeeper to watch the reaction. Inside the saucer, a diaphanous blue tint began to form around the copper coin, darkening the longer they watched.

While the two women witnessed the reaction, Rydr retrieved the two soaking strings from their bottles, holding them by the sticks he tied them to.

Rydr cleared his throat to get their attention again. Once they looked up at him, Rydr held up the two strings demonstratively and brought them close together. 

As they watched, a white, snake-like, thin line of smoke formed between the two strings, trailing into the air.

"To iterate. Syrna knows what she is talking about. She just calls them the names from our world." It was then that Rydr noticed that Urginok and Hermes, along with the brunette diver, were all watching shamelessly. 

Urginok burst out, "You're a huge dork!"


A short while later, Rydr was eagerly browsing the shelves as he pulled up the list of ingredients he'd saved in his lobby. If everything he needed was here, his final step before forging anything was to return to the mines.

A particular pink mineral Rydr saw formations of haunted him. If it was really what he thought it was, then his first bit of true good luck might have happened already.

Fortunately, when the Titan was in Lynn's shop, he managed to spy what looked like a container of powdered limestone. Rydr suspected he could trade for the flux with his store of ore. 

Unless he needed more of it, which might happen, the giant saw no need to spend money on the powder right that moment.

Aluminum powder was what he needed the most of, aside from the ore in his possession and the mineral he hoped to find down in the mines. 

Originally, Rydr had the idea to go diving in the river delta's silt to find the ingredients for borax. For now, the giant decided to risk using powdered limestone and see how it turned out. 

After he browsed for a while, Rydr bit the bullet and approached Shae to ask her a question.

"How much aluminium powder do you have in stock?" The Titan intended to produce enough material to outfit his entire team, and he needed crazy amounts of the powder to fire the regulus.

"Twenty kilograms, at the moment. Normally that would run you eight silver, but if you actually buy it all, I'll give it to you for five instead." Despite the brief clash of pride the two of them had earlier, she didn't hold it against the giant.

From what she saw, this barbarian was intimately familiar with alchemy. Maybe even more so than her. The air of confidence, without a shred of doubt as he began playing with her little test, convinced her to get on his good side. 

Rydr nearly bit his tongue when he heard the price. Even with the bulk discount, that was nearly every penny to his avatar's name!

The giant took a deep breath before he summoned the coins and placed them on the counter.

"I'll take it all."

Shae stared at the coins in silence for a moment before she slid one of them back over to Rydr, "Teach me something I don't know, and this is yours."

The Titan stared at the coin, thinking of all the materials he could buy before he swallowed and accepted the coin.

"Do you have any parchment?" Rydr asked.

Almost before he finished asking, Shae had a piece of parchment and a quill on the counter. A moment later, she produced a small jar of ink.

Rydr hesitated for a moment before asking, "Do you want to make your experiments cheaper for yourself, or do you want an explosive powder?"

Behind the Titan, the brunette diver snapped her head around at the mention of explosive powder. A moment later and she sped past Rydr's team to stand behind him.

Shae couldn't see the other girl and answered Rydr's question, "As much as the explosive powder tickles my curiosity...how do I make my experiments cheaper?"

The Titan gave a little sigh of relief and knelt in front of the counter. I really didn't want to give an NPC the formula for black gunpowder. 

He had no way of knowing if it existed in this world yet. His imagination was filled with images of gun-wielding armies suppressing their neighboring kingdoms. 

Rydr quickly jotted down the method to make ethanol out of sugar, water, a barrel, and yeast, "This should cut out the need to rely on distilled wine for Spirit of Wine. We call that stuff ethanol, by the way. This is a quick way to make it in bulk with simple ingredients."

Shae watched the giant fill out a few lines of text before he stood up. As soon as he finished, the shopkeeper snatched up the paper and ran away.

"I'll get your powder ready!" Shae shouted over her shoulder as she ran into the backroom.

Rydr turned away to find out if Syrna was ready to go, only to find himself standing over the brunette diver.

She started talking as soon as he looked at her, "Hi, sorry to bother you. I know you're Rydr. My name is Niko. This is completely out of the blue, but could I ask you a question?"

Unsure how else to respond, Rydr nodded quietly.

"What are you planning to make with the aluminum powder? I know you don't have any reason to tell me, but I might need to buy some of it..." The girl trailed off awkwardly. She knew she was overstepping, big time. 

Whatever Rydr was doing with the powder was probably a secret concerning his build. 

The Titan shrugged, knocking the dust from the ceiling. He intended to one day sell his wares at a premium, so telling her didn't hurt.

"Wootz steel." 



Thank you for reading the latest chapter! Let me know ASAP if you see a typo~

Next chapter, Rydr forces his way back into the mines!

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