Glenn’s mental strength had leapt from 18 to 20 points after he put on that ‘Source of Happiness’ necklace. When he gulped the mushroom soup, the value of his mental strength now came at 23 points. The crystal test had boosted Glenn’s mood a lot, but his magical force was not raised up accordingly. Apparently, the daily meditation had to be kept up to bring magical force up to par with the level of his mental strength.
Glenn now had many warfronts to fight. Apart from the daily meditation, Soul-breaking of Gadflies and re-permutation of his Element Matrix required a great deal of energy and efforts. As a result, Glenn boycotted all the sessions and gatherings held by the Death Sail League and quit his job as a cleaner in the library, since he was no longer deficient of magical stones.
As two months of secluded life drew to an end, Glenn had nurtured out all the Gadflies and the hundreds of them were all set in his stomach.
Another month of isolated life followed, and Glenn had succeeded in re-arranging his Element Matrix.
The fourth month, Glenn lifted the magical force to somewhere between 224 and 230 points, a normal place based on the approximate 1:10 ratio of mental strength and magical force.
The past four months had been a hell of a lot work, but Glenn had made some essential progress.
There was still one thing that occupied Glenn’s attention – the Life Code. He had been expecting the crystal ball call from Varro for a higher resolution microscope than the ultra-microscope. Apart from that, it was the day to draw his monthly share of profits from the Love Vial partnership store.
The figure of Glenn’s proceeds from that store was too significant to believe. The first month since the store was brought on stream, it sold 600 magical stones worth of goods and Glenn was paid, according to the dividend payment terms stipulated in the Seven Ring Contract of Partnership, two-thirds of the total revenues, or 400 stones. The following month, the figure rose to 1,000, and in the third month, a whopping 3,000 magical stones went into Glenn’s pockets. Glenn was even smiling when asleep because of the stockpiling of magical stones, and he had a good reason to believe that he would overpass many of the sorcerers in wealth.
And Glenn’s peace of heart had not been disturbed by the probability of being robbed or ransomed, because it had been in public knowledge that Varro and Glenn’s store had been making a good fortune, yet no one was getting in the way. This fact alone justified Varro’s claim that he was well-established in the school and had his connections.
But before going to the Black Tower to collect his fortunes, he had something much more significant to do. The acquirement of three sorceries – olfactory enhancement, the Curing of the Element Matrix, as well as the Symbiotic Insects – had qualified him as a ‘student’ and not a ‘novice’ anymore. And what he needed now was a piece of certificate of ‘studentship’. Getting certificated was nothing but a set of formalities to go through, but one noteworthy thing was that the sorcerer in charge of the certification was using the Love Vial. It seemed that Love Vial had gained some solid ground.
Afterwards, Glenn went to the Black Tower.
“Congratulations! I heard you’ve been granted the ‘studentship’. You are now officially a student.” Varro welcomed Glenn in his routine enthusiasm.
‘How did you know?’ was Glenn’s original thought but he knew intelligence spread fast, so instead, he said:
“Yeah, it looks like I am more likely to take care of myself in the First-years Sorcery Test.”
“Absolutely. Good for you! You are in a much better position to pass the test,” replied Varro vigorously.
“And here is your part.” Varro tossed a bag of stones to Glenn.
Glenn caught it in hand and glanced into it.
Varro observed timely the gloomy look on Glenn’s face.
Varro concluded that Glenn’s upset was undoubtedly not related to the stones, which had surged to 50 intermediate stones. Then it might have something to do with the First-years Sorcery Test.
“About the microscope you asked, I am planning to buy one from the Divine Tower of Seven Rings. It was off-limits to non-sorcerers but I have my way.” Varro offered.
“That would be great. I will get one at any cost,” Glenn replied.
Varro’s conjecture about Glenn’s gloom was proved right. Glenn’s satisfaction with the pouring stones had been diluted by the Test and what was preferred was some instant combat capacity.
“Go to the Alchemy Room on the third floor. They might be of some help.” Varro offered after Glenn confessed to him his anxieties.
The Alchemy Room door was kept ajar, and through the gap between the door frames, Glenn could see a skinny albeit robust man, who was short in stature. He wore a goatee and was perusing a book as he was humming something.
Seeing Glenn come in, the man moved his eyes from the book that had faded in color.
“How may I help you?” the man asked in a coarse voice.
“Emm, I don’t have any particular thing to purchase or learn in mind. I am here to see if you have some way getting me pass the First-years Sorcery Test. And Varro recommended you to me.”
“Hah, so you want the Sorcery Tools or the formula of making them?”
“I want them both,” Glenn answered without thinking.
“Okay…” The man drooled, displaying contempt for Glenn’s insatiability. “Here is the deal: Fundamentals for forging Sorcery Tools – session: 10 days, fees: 200 magical stones per day.”
“That sounds fair,” Glenn, with deep pockets, responded with a shade of ostentation.
Quite surprised at Glenn’s straightforward agreement and his wealth, the man restrained himself from his usual complacency and began to peddle a Sorcery Tool.
“This is Ashen Mask – a top-grade Sorcery Tool with strong powers. It got its name because of its as-pallid-as-burnt-out-ash color. It’s a replica of a great, great Sorcery Tool. The best thing about it is the defense shield it produces when an attack is launched against you. When the shield is formed, offenses below 20 points will just be bounced off and away. For offenses standing between 20 and 60 points, the shield will hold when you only consume one tenth of the amount of magical force which was originally required to fend off the offense. In other words, the shield constitutes nine tenths of the sum of magical force needed against an 20-60 points of offense.”
“What if the offense power is stronger than 60 points?” Glenn asked attentively.
“The shield will still play a significant part in the defense. It will save you two thirds of magical force. But in the case of a stronger-than-100-point attack, it won’t save you any magical force any more. And when the points of an attack reach 150 or above, the shield will get crushed.” The man continued.
“There is a second use of this treasure. Did you notice the horn on its top-right?”
Glenn took the Magical Tool. It was actually a mask with eyes and a nose hollowed out. And there was a horn on the right corner.
“Yeah, I saw it,” Glenn answered back.
“Try the mask on and see what happens.”
When Glenn set it on, he could almost catch clearly every light sound surrounding him that would have evaded him previously – the turn of the coarse adjustment on a microscope, the rustling of the book pages in the next room, and the hum of the trading market on the first floor.
The horn was an auditory enhancement.