The Newt and Demon

Chapter 4: Pay your debts

Chapter 4: Pay your debts

The sun broke through Theos window, pulling him from a peaceful slumber. Despite the beds rough construction, he slept well. His stamina bar was at full once again, and he was ready to meet the day. He couldnt remember the last time that hed gone to sleep shortly after dusk, and awoke with the dawn, but it made sense. Without electricity, he was bound by the whims of his candles. Something about the way the light flickered made him drowsy, and Luras departed shortly after the sun fell below the horizon.

[Quest Completed: Welcome to paradise!]

Reward: 10 copper.

A weight fell into Theos pocket. He scooped out the ten coins, inspecting them. They were stamped with an image of a laurel and the number 846. He shrugged, returning them to his pocket.

Theos stomach growled when he rose, stretching and sating his thirst with the last of his waterskin. The problem of drawing water directly from a river would have to wait until later. He couldnt stand by while his lab was such a mess. After creating his first position, he gained a sense of where things should go. While eating the mystery jerky, he went around and tidied up. Glassware piled high in the room's corner, his makeshift pipette being the only one spared. Four units of the light pink [Healing Essence] remained, but he reserved that for later.

The three long wooden tables remained, cleared away of all the clutter. Only his two books stayed in a place of prominence, the remaining space reserved for stages of his production. With his lab sorted, he wanted to take care of a few more problems. His supply of water would have to wait, but he had an idea for that. Before departing last night, Luras informed him that hed have to meet with Miana and discuss his debts. After doing that, hed get a lay of the land and determine what a fair price for his potions were.

It was easy to assume that farmers wouldnt have an interest in his healing potions, but it was impossible to imagine a swamp without widespread disease. Essential Alchemy mentioned combining ingredients with [Healing] and [Cure Ailment], and Wild Plants of the Swamplands had detailed drawings of a tree that would produce the [Cure Ailment] effect. Focusing his mind on completing these tasks helped him adjust to the strangeness of the situation. He kept a single thought in his mind.

This is way better than being dead.

Theo pulled his light robe around himself. Despite the heat outside, he felt more comfortable wearing the robe. It made him look more like an alchemist, and that counted for a lot. The simple white shirt and gray trousers did little for him, but the moccasins were incredibly comfortable. He wondered if the leather used in the creation of his shoes was gathered by his new friend, but he dismissed the idea and left the lab, locking it behind him.

The town was already buzzing with activity, Marshlings that smelled more like death than the marsh moving up the road in a small group. They greeted him all the same, smiling and baring rows of fanged teeth. He winced at the sight, but forced a smile before they could notice. Mianas house was also the mayors office, situated in the circle near the small monolith. He knocked and waited for her, listening to the angry stomping of her feet before stepping back to avoid the door.

What? Miana asked, scowling.

Luras said I should see you about my debt, Theo said, smiling.

Mianas scowl vanished, a smile spreading across her face. Come on in, then. Are you getting situated?

Im working on it, Theo said.

She led him through the building, into a small sitting room near the back. With no fanfare, she handed him a scroll that he unraveled.

[Debtors Notice]

It is noted by Miana Kell and witnesses noted below that the Dronon, named Belgar, of transitional origin, is hereby indebted to Miana Kell until such time as his debts are cleared. The debts shall accrue interest at a rate determined by Miana Kell and the betterment of Broken Tusk at her discretion.

Below is an itemized list of services rendered in the acclimation of the Dronon Belgar to Iaredin.

[Medical Services Rendered] : 1 Silver

[Room and Board (1 week)]: 10 Copper

[Alchemy lab (to be paid in installments)]: 1 Gold

[Equipment therein (to be paid in installments]: 1 Gold

[Service Charge]: 5 Copper

So it is noted, 873rd Year of Balkors Betrayal in the Third Week of the Season of Blooms.

Theo gawked at the ridiculous price of everything, a twinge filling his mind as a box popped up into his vision.

[Pay your debts]


Miana Kell has overseen your transition into your new world, and you owe her a lot of money!


Pay the following debts:

[Medical Services Rendered] : 1 Silver

[Room and Board (1 week)]: 10 Copper

[Alchemy lab (to be paid in installments)]: 1 Gold

[Equipment therein (to be paid in installments]: 1 Gold

[Service Charge]: 5 Copper

Thats a lot of money, Theo said, scoffing.

I dont expect you to pay it all at once, Miana said, rubbing her hands together.

Isnt it enough to have an alchemist in the town?

What, you think I dont have taxes to pay? Half of what I collect from you will go to the crownyou know, you should appreciate what Ive done for you

Theo held up a silencing hand, a broad smile spreading across his face. He was too excited for this new world to let something like crippling debt get the best of him. I will pay my debt to you as quickly as I can. Ive already made my first potion.

Good for you, Miana said, sneering. Now get the hell out of my house.

Miana shoved him out of her home, his moccasins skidding along the wooden floor as he went. He stumbled out onto the muddy street as she slammed the door behind him, parchment still dangling in his hand. It must have been a common occurrence, because none of the people passing by paid any attention to the scene. Theo shrugged and trudged northward to the farms. Farmers were always up before dawn on Earth, working the fields until the light faded from the day. Theyd be working the fields already, and he could probe for information.

After ascending the hill, he watched the Half-Ogres work the strange crop. Theo didnt know what season it was, but the southernmost fields werent ready for harvest. As he wandered further north, he saw that a similar crop was being reaped by the massive farmers with sickles taller than him. The green fruit that grew on top of thin shoots looked like a clustering of giant corn kernels, three per plant.

Theo watched a large man ply his sickle on the crops, bringing a score of them low with a single stroke. Their eyes met, and the alchemist smiled. What?

Id like to buy some uh, whatever this is, Theo said, grinning.

It would leave a poor impression if he didnt at least offer to buy some of the farmers hard work. The last thing he wanted to do was make enemies with the people that provided food for the town. They might even become good customers, if he could figure out how to make their crops grow larger with alchemy.

Youre that lad who transitioned, arent you? the Half-Ogre said. Names Banurub, you can call me Banu.

Banu strode across the field, holding out his massive hand for Theo to shake. Like Luras, the farmer shook too hard, almost sending the alchemist tumbling into the mud.

Nice to meet you, Banu. I was very excited to see your farm, but Ill be honest I know nothing about this place, Theo said.

Well, this field holds Zee. Sturdy crop. Grows in all seasons down south. You can mill it for uses like a grain, or eat it how it is, Banu said.

Theo couldnt imagine milling down the fruit. Each kernel on the stalks was as big as his head. He remembered going to farmers markets before the end-times, buying absurd amounts of produce for cheap directly from the people who grew them.

How much do you sell them for?

By the kernel? I couldnt say We sell them by the busheltypically exported north. Twenty kernels to the bushel, ten copper for the bushel. Well, thats the price we get to export them, Banu said.

Would you take six copper for a bushel? And another copper to deliver them to my alchemy lab? Theo asked, smiling.

Aye, I can do that, Banu said, reaching out his hand to shake once more.

Theo winced as he shook the mans hand before fishing six copper from his pocket. Banu counted it out and nodded at the alchemist, saying, Ill have one of my boys deliver it.

Thank you, Theo said, turning on the spot and walking along the fields once more.

He didnt have a use for that much Zee, and he didnt know if it was useful for anything. What he gained from the exchange was information, and a positive impression from the farmers. If people in town thought of him as a productive member of society, theyd be more likely to work with them. He now knew that twenty kernels of Zee sold for ten copper. It was easy to reason that there was 100 copper to a silver, and 100 silver to a gold. Perhaps there was 100 gold to something else, but he couldnt speculate further. Because of the specialized nature of creating potions, and the scarcity within Broken Tusk, he could demand five copper easily, ten if he was greedy.

The town of Broken Tusk was cleared of trees, a fact that Theo thought a shame. A wizard might have diverted the river away from the town itself, but water still soaked the ground. A few well-placed willows, or the equivalent in this new world, would do wonders to rid the roads of the mud. He filed away the thought before it got away from him, focusing on his next project. The area to the west seemed inherently dangerous, but it was easy to spot his next target. His book detailed a tree that was common enough in the swamplands, Ogre Cypress. The familiar name helped center him, and they were easy to spot at a distance.

Wild Plants of the Swamplands had detailed drawings of the tree, and the harvestable parts of it. It had a thick outer bark that was useless, with seams of silver sap-laden bark underneath. This made up the bulk of the useful material of the tree, the [Ogre Cypress Bark] that the book described to have [Cure Ailment]. His intended use for the reagent was twofold. He planned to experiment in water purification with an essence derived from the bark, and a potion combined with the [Healing Essence] for portable affliction curing.

These resources are untapped, Theo said, scoffing at the circular road and gaining more than a few strange looks. He shrugged it off, spotting a towering cypress to the west.

It was a short walk from the center of town, towering over the edge of the wetlands. Theos moccasins were treated with animal fat to prevent water from seeping in, but he trudged through knee-deep water and muck to approach the trunk of the tree. Peeling back a layer of the outer bark with his [Copper Alchemy Knife], he saw where this plan would be a problem. Only a small amount of the inner bark bore the signs of usefulness, thin seams running under the outer layer. The alchemist stuffed his satchel and pockets full of the reagent, inspecting a piece as he removed himself from the mire.

[Ogre Cypress Bark]

[Alchemy Ingredient]


Bark of an Ogre Cypress, known for its restorative properties.


[Cure Ailment] ???? ????

Youre a busy man, Luras said.

Theo whipped around, finding Luras standing in the mire. A grin spread across the hunters face, a gesture that the alchemist returned.

I have a plan to improve the towns drinking water situation, Theo said, struggling against the suck of knee-deep mud. Mind giving me a hand?

If it means I dont have to boil water every day, sure, Luras said with a shrug.

The help that Theo hoped to get came in the form of the hunters ability in combat. If he was comfortable enough to roam the swamps daily, then he could handle himself. The notion came true within two-hundred paces of the [Ogre Cypress], a massive turtle bursting from the water and covering them in a spray of muck. It was huge for a turtle, larger than a horse, its shell covered in a layer of moss. The head of the creature snapped back and forth, pushing itself through the swamp and toward Luras. Theo focused on the monster, and an information box popped up as the hunter positioned himself between it and the alchemist.

[Ogre Snapper]

Monster-type Turtle

Level 5

Ogre Snappers lurk in the swamp, waiting for unsuspecting travelers to step over them. Their beaks are powerful enough to snap bone. Many inexperienced adventurers have fallen to this monster.

Theo watched as Luras released a series of arrows, all finding their mark under the hard shell. The monster shrieked in pain, blood flooding to stain the water. All the alchemist could do was watch in amazement as the hunter disassembled the creature methodically. His mind went back to his days working for that clandestine organization, and taking part in covert operations among a fireteam. He didnt miss it. The creature fell to the mud after a few minutes of fighting, letting out one last sonorous cry before dying.

What does it mean when it says Monster-type Turtle? Theo asked.

Animals can become monsters, although I dont understand why, Luras said. He moved to inspect the turtle, digging under his shell and retrieving a small circular object covered in slime. Sometimes they have a [Monster Core], which is like a proto skill core.

What good is a core from a monster? Theo asked.

Artificers can use them to create magical objects. You can feed it to a house to upgrade itor a town, Luras said. A level 5 [Monster Core] isnt that useful, but they sell decently.

How much would you get for one? Theo asked. He trusted his newly honed memory to lock the information in.

Anywhere from 20 to 50 copper, depending on the trader, Luras said. How much are you planning on selling your potions for?

10 copper, Theo said, trudging over to inspect the downed turtle.

You could get more, Luras said.

I need to establish my name, first, Theo said.

Speaking of, you should name your lab, Luras said, holding the core out for Theo to take. He narrowed his eyes when he saw Theos reluctance to take the object. I expect free potions.

Theo smiled, taking the core and inspecting it before shoving it into his already-full bag.

[Monster Core]

[Proto Core]


Level 5

A lesser monster core.

I dont have any ideas about what to name my lab. I eventually want to have a shop, Theo said.

Youll want to upgrade it, then, Luras said. If you feed it enough cores, you can change the way it looks. Regular buildings exist in Broken Tusk, but your lab was created with cores. Youll get bonuses the higher rank your building is.

Luras withdrew a knife and dug around in the turtles insides. He withdrew an organ and handed it to Theo with a smile. The alchemist almost lost his breakfast as the squashy thing fell into his hands.

[Ogre Snapper Spleen]

[Alchemy Ingredient]


Spleen of an ogre snapper.

[Poison] ???? ????

This is gross, Theo said.

Luras simply laughed, returning to butchering the creature. Despite its size, there wasnt much meat to speak of. Theo doubted that whatever meat was extracted was without parasites, his mind going back to the jerky hed been eating. He pushed the thought away, joining with the Half-Ogre as they continued trudging through the swamp. Midday came by the time they left with enough [Ogre Cypress Bark] to execute the water purification plan.

Theo dropped his ingredients off at the alchemy lab, and Luras helped him carry four buckets down to the river. The edge of the river was a long stretch of rocky beaches, the water coming to lap against a little cove where the town drew its drinking water. It flowed cool and clear, but he knew too much from watching survival shows on television to trust it. Inspecting the buckets of water, his fears were realized.

[River Water]

[Common Item]


Water drawn from a flowing river.


[Disease] [Parasites]

Do you see that this stuff gives you diseases and parasites? Theo asked, throwing his hands up in exasperation.

I cant, Luras said. Your alchemy skill must give you the ability to identify the properties that stuff has.

Well, this stuff is riddled with crap, Theo said.

On their way back to the lab, Theo instructed Luras on the proper way to harvest Spiny Swamp Thistle. They returned to the unnamed alchemy lab with enough of the root to make a double batch of healing potions, a fact that the hunter was excited about.

I already used the first potion you gave me, Luras said, dumping the roots in an empty bucket. Found a fairly rare swamp wolf and tested my luck.

I still have four units of the [Healing Essence]. Well whip up four more potions after we figure this water thing out, Theo said, moving to consult Essential Alchemy.

The book detailed standard usages for essences, but also mentioned more unconventional uses. In theory, he could use the pure essences to impart an effect onto something. The example given in the text was that he could drip [Healing Essence] directly on a wound to close it in a pinch. It wasnt as effective as making a [Lesser Healing Potion], but his intent was different with this approach. The plan was to impart the effect of the essence directly into the water, but how much of the essence hed need was a mystery.

Theo brought out a ream of parchment, laying it down on the table and holding it there with empty flasks. The alchemist drew out columns and rows, writing bucket (100 units) in the first column, and essence (0.01 units) in the second. He would work his way up from the tiny amount to find the most efficient ratio for water purification, if it worked at all. He urged the [Glassware Artifice] to create a tiny pipette capable of drawing the partial unit-sized doses from an essence.

Luras helped load a spare bucket with the [Ogre Cypress Bark], mashing it down and adding it to the [Copper Still] with enough water for the process. While the hunter made the fire, Theo created four vials of [Lesser Healing Potion] all of which were at the same poor quality. Hed need to refine his process if he wanted to produce better potions.

I wish I had something to control the fire better, Theo said, watching as Luras stoked the flames to life.

Thats something for an artificer to make, Luras said. Keep an eye out for people passing through town. You might find a magical flame from a passing trader.

Right. Gotta make money, first, Theo said. How do I add this monster core to the lab?

Just hold it up, and think about it, Luras shrugged. Only the owner can do it.

Theo did just that, holding the slimy core above his head and focusing his thoughts on adding it to the lab. After a moment, the core vanished, and a screen appeared.

[Alchemy Lab Upgraded]

Belgars [Alchemy Lab] gained 25% toward level 2.

Four cores to get level 2, Theo groaned. Thats a lot of cores.

They waited there for some time as the [Copper Still] did its work. Theo controlled the flame better this time around, letting it smolder to coals before even moving it under the still and adding wood as needed. The result was a longer distillation process, but it didnt sputter or burn like his first attempt. He inspected the 10 units of liquid in the flask.

[Drogramath Alchemy Core] receivedexperience (8%).

[Theo Spencer] receivedexperience (3%).

[Purifying Essence]



Created by: Belgar

Grade: Decent Quality

10 units (liquid)

Concentrated essence of purification.

Not only had he made more of the essence, but it was a better quality. Luras watched as Theo took notes, applying his trade to the buckets of river water. The first dose of 0.01 units was almost impossible to measure and had no effect on the tainted river water. He wrote his findings and moved onto the second bucket, applying 0.1 units, which was easy enough to measure by eye, but there was no reaction besides a faint sizzling sound. By the time he moved to the last bucket, after failing with 0.3 units on the third bucket, he applied a half unit of the [Purifying Essence], and the reaction took place. The water bubbled, releasing a foul odor that brought both men coughing and gagging. They opened the windows and the door before inspecting the bucket.

[Purified Water]! Theo shouted, holding his hand out for Luras to high five.

You have a knack for this, Luras said, slapping his hand gently against Theos.

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