The Sigil Of Chaos 21 Chapter 21: Batch Refinemen/
The Sigil Of Chaos 21 Chapter 21: Batch Refinemen
Nadran sat down in his room in front of a newly acquired pill cauldron, setting an open book down next to him. The cauldron was of the high-slate rank, the same as the ones used during the alchemy entrance examination. Between the cauldron, alchemy book he was borrowing from the library, and large quant.i.ties of herbs, he had spent quite a few contribution points. Despite the fact that he had recently received a large windfall of 4,000 contribution points thanks to his performance in the challenge room, he still had to use over a quarter of his points to acquire all of these materials. [Alchemy really isn't cheap,] Nadran wryly thought.His objective was to create a large number of mid-slate grade pills known as the Body Purification Pill. This was a very useful pill in the realm of alchemy which helped to cleanse the body of impurities. Over a person's lifespan, their body will collect numerous impurities and imperfections, which affect not only their external appearance but also their muscle strength and bone density. Once consumed, this pill's medicinal effects would spread throughout the body, removing impurities as it went. While a single pill was far from enough to remove all of the impurities by itself, the results were far from insubstantial. This was one of the most commonly used pills by cultivators. After all, they simply had to spend some money, and in exchange they would obtain a stronger, more resilient body (that also looked more appealing), and the improved hand-eye coordination provided by the removal of impurities even made the tracing of sigils slightly faster and easier. After all, nerves were also areas that acc.u.mulated impurities.This pill was practically miraculous in its effects, and while it could not remove any of the deeper-rooted impurities, it was still highly sought after due to its effects for the price it cost. For this reason, there were almost always requests from the pill hall to refine more of these pills, since their stock was always being depleted.Nadran was familiar with this pill, but had never taken one before. After all, his family barely had the money to feed themselves, and while these Body Purification Pills were not considered very expensive, that was only by the standards of pills. For the price of a single pill, Nadran's family could eat comfortably for weeks.[Since I need to make a lot of pills, I'm going to have to put a larger amount of materials into the cauldron, otherwise it will take me forever to make enough pills. Hm, I need to be careful, though. In general, the more pills you make at once, the lower the quality of the individual pills. Maybe I should try to make them in multiple batches? If I use a liquid manipulation sigil, I think I could keep the batches isolated from each other so that the material ratios won't be messed up. That way, I could make multiple batches in the same cauldron simultaneously, and that would hopefully cause them to be a higher quality than if I made one giant batch. Well, it's worth a shot, at the very least.]
Nadran picked up a batch of herbs, then carefully divided each component into two groups of equal size. [Let's just start with 2 groups, then work our way up to more groups if this goes well.] A sigil was traced under the cauldron, lighting a small fire that flickered softly, heating the dark gray cauldron and the purified water contained within. Next, Nadran dropped the cut and dried herbs into the cauldron, keeping his hands apart to prevent the mixing of the batches. After doing this, he quickly began casting a sigil, causing the now brackish-looking water to split into two different sections. A rift of air formed across the liquid, resulting in the two halves of the cauldron being isolated from each other.[It would probably be simpler to just refine these pills in two separate cauldrons, but at my current level, I am incapable of creating and sustaining two different fires simultaneously.]In truth, the reason for this was quite simple. The flame he used to heat the cauldron was not an ordinary fire. It was 'his' flame. This flame had a special connection to him, and he could only control the flame because of this special trait. Rather than creating fire, it was more that he was summoning fire from its home in the elemental plane of fire. It was said that every person alive had their own fire that burned on that mystical plane, and this sigil was just a method of pulling it over to this plane of existence and manipulating it. Nadran still wasn't completely sure as to when and how this connection was formed, though, and the instructors he had seen never gave an answer that satisfied him. Of course, he couldn't ask the instructor himself since he was sneaking into the cla.s.ses in the first place, so he had no choice but to reign in his curiosity.[I should see if I can find a book or something on the subject when I have the time… woah, the batches are sliding closer together. I don't want them to end up mixing after all this effort, I need to focus more.]Nadran put more mental energy into the separation of the batches, then watched the slowly bubbling liquid as dark shapes began taking form in the murky liquid. He carefully continued the process of pill refinement, making sure to closely follow each step. It was not long, however, before the bubbling liquid showed signs of instability, the contents of the cauldron swirling about chaotically. Nadran quickly tried to calm the liquid, but it was already too late. The partially formed pills trembled before crumbling into pieces, leaving Nadran with nothing but a useless pool of liquid that no longer contained any medicinal properties.[What happened?] Nadran wondered in confusion, staring into the cauldron as he released the sigils he had been maintaining. [I thought I had been following the instructions correctly, so why did this happen?]Frowning, Nadran emptied out the cauldron before preparing a new set of ingredients and starting anew. This second batch ended the same way as the first. This time, though, Nadran was able to identify the problem.[With the liquid separated like this, it cannot follow the flow path it wants to. This wasn't mentioned in the condensing instructions, but it seems that the path of the liquid is important in shaping and holding together the pill. While following the directions, the fluid will naturally flow in a path that holds the pill together while pulling the necessary ingredients closer and pulling away the unwanted parts. Thinking about it, this recipe is rather impressive to allow all of these things to happen simultaneously without needing to be directly controlled. But if I want to be able to make multiple batches at a time, I won't be able to let the liquid flow as it wants to. What should I…][Oh, wait! Maybe I can control each of these processes manually. They are normally done automatically, but that doesn't mean they NEED to be done automatically. It will probably be difficult to control them all at once, but it should solve the problem if I can pull it off. Besides, practicing my control shouldn't be a bad thing, and success means I can take less time refining large amounts of pills in the future. It might even make it easier for me to pull off more difficult refinements in the future that have more considerations and moving parts.]With his course of action set, Nadran began his third attempted batch refinement. This time, Nadran controlled the liquid manipulation sigil to the limits of his abilities. He was unable to control all of the required aspects properly, however, and was soon left with another failure. Undeterred, he tried again, but this time, he didn't pay enough attention to managing the flame, causing the pills to become burnt, effectively destroying them. Suppressing a grimace, Nadran took a deep breath to calm himself, then started again from the beginning.----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----Nadran sc.r.a.ped the charred remains of his latest attempt out of the bottom of the cauldron, then leaned back with a sigh, wiping the beaded sweat off his brow. It had been several hours since he had started, and night had long since fallen. He was starting to feel the effects of fatigue, despite the fact that he was used to long periods of constant exertion while climbing the mountain face looking for herbs. This type of fatigue, however, was not physical, but mental. He had been exerting his mind and concentrating intently for hours, and it had taken its toll on him. Despite this, he still decided to go for one more attempt.He had a simple reason for wanting to continue. In his last refinement, he had been mere seconds away from success, and had failed in the final step. He knew he could complete the refinement, he just needed to make it to the finish line.Nadran breathed deeply, adjusting his mental state in preparation for the refinement. He popped an internal energy replenishment pill into his mouth, then began the process. Tracing his fingers through the air in a complex pattern, he relit the fire below the cauldron, the faintly purple fire flickering and casting a pale light on Nadran's face. He poured the medicinal liquid into the cauldron, then began casting a second sigil while maintaining the control over the fire. In his mind, two different tendrils of internal energy flowed out of him, one connecting to the fire he had summoned, the other being imbued into the second sigil. His internal energy swirled inside the sigil before traveling into the liquid once the sigil was complete.In a sense, sigils are conduits for internal energy. Internal energy is otherwise formless and cannot affect the outside world, but through sigils, this energy can be given shape and used to manipulate the world around him. Sustained sigils like the ones he was using functioned by creating a constant stream of internal energy that connected him with an external object or group of objects, allowing him to control the connected object based on the use of the sigil. The flame sigil actually had two parts; the creation part and the manipulation one. First, a burst of internal energy was channeled through the sigil, pulling his fire into this plane from the elemental plane of fire. After this, a stream of internal energy attached to the fire, allowing Nadran to control its intensity and location.Nadran carefully controlled both streams of internal energy, keeping the liquid and fire at the proper levels. Then, he placed the first ingredient, a green, stringy plant, into the cauldron, neatly divided into two equal portions. He slightly increased the intensity of the fire, simultaneously forming a small current in the liquid that pulled apart the stringy plant, evenly heating each part and causing them to take on a faint orange tinge.Immediately upon seeing this, Nadran threw in the next herb, the petals of a bright blue flower, and lowered the heat of the fire. The currents of liquid changed into a small whirlpool at Nadran's command, pulling the materials together and causing them to show signs of fusing. He then added two more materials at the same time, leaving one to the side to simmer in the hot liquid while the other acted as a bonding agent, connecting the fusing materials into a single ma.s.s. The other material, which was a powder that had not yet dissolved into the liquid, was then pulled over. As soon as the powder came in contact with the irregularly shaped ma.s.s, the partially formed pill reacted, changing into an appealing cyan color. This happened in parallel in the other side of the cauldron.With this step complete, Nadran added the next material.
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And the next.And the next…Nearly half an hour later, Nadran began the final step of the refinement, turning up the heat of the fire while delicately controlling the liquid surrounding the pills to maintain their shape and keep the essence of the pills from escaping through the cracks. At the same time, he worked to repair the cracks that had formed, his eyes darting back and forth as he carefully micromanaged the formation of each pill. He squinted, resisting the urge to wipe the sweat off his face, and worked to finish his task.Finally, he let out a sigh of relief as a muted flash of light was released from the cauldron, indicating the success of the refinement. The finished pills floated to the top of the liquid, which had now become nothing but water. With lightly trembling arms due to the fatigue, Nadran pulled the pills out of the cauldron. Two batches of ten pills sat in his hands, totaling twenty pills altogether. A smile spread across his tired face as he carefully placed the pills in a bottle he had prepared earlier.[I finally succeeded… making two batches at once is no joke. It was way harder than I thought it would be, but the satisfaction of succeeding makes it worth it. Really though, I should get some sleep now. I almost messed up multiple different times during the refinement due to exhaustion. Besides,] he thought dryly as he glanced at the now empty s.p.a.ce that had once held a small mountain of herbs and other materials, [I need to get some more herbs before I can refine any more pills.]Nadran crawled into his bed and quickly fell asleep, a smile on his face.