'I’ve thought about all the possible solutions. I can suppress the pain in my body with my mana, but Britney can’t. I tested her when she was born; she doesn’t have the ability to learn magic. I’ve tried to implant lungs from another child into her body, but it’d failed. The difference in their immune systems couldn't be reconciled and her weak body couldn’t handle it.
'Things are getting worse and worse. Britney is not just coughing up blood now, she’d also coughed up some chunks of her internal organs. Is she going to leave us forever? No... Of course, my experiments... Since there isn’t any way to cure Britney, maybe I’ll just extract her spirit completely, then she can live with us forever in a different way.
'I told Monki about my idea. After drinking for the whole night and thinking about it for a long time, he finally agreed to my suggestion. Unfortunately, the process isn't perfect yet. The extraction rate is still stuck at 89%. I just need it to rise by another 1%, and I’ll be confident enough to extract Britney’s spirit.
'Monki doesn’t agree with using people for my experiments, so I can only use frogs and rabbits as my subjects. He would often go to the city in the distance to buy some monkeys and apes since they are rather similar to human beings.
'When Monki wasn’t around, I continued to carry out human experiments. I just had to make sure that he didn't find out. In fact, he didn’t notice anything unusual as I always flew to the neighbouring territories to capture people for my experiments. I didn’t make a move on the people in his territory.
'The progress of my experiment has finally reached 91%. It’s been a long time since I felt so excited. Britney only has half a year left to live, so I need to hurry up. I have to make sure that her consciousness and memory won’t deteriorate when I extract her spirit, so I need to use a lot of precious materials, some of which I don’t even have. Monki sold all of his property except for his house so that we could get the materials, but it was like extinguishing a cartload of firewood on fire with one cup of water.
'I risked being discovered by the Sanctum and sold a few spellcasting materials that I’ve brought over from Magion. Only then I was able to afford to get all the materials I needed, but unfortunately, I can only use them on three subjects.
“Since this is my first time extracting spirits along with their memories, I’m not sure whether the experiment will be a success or not. Of course, I will try my best. When Monki heard my concerns, he suggested that I test it on him first. I was shocked. We didn’t talk to each other for three days straight.
'I’ve initially planned to test it on other human beings first. Perhaps he’d found out about my plan and stepped in because of his so-called chivalry. Speaking of this, I find the people on this continent is really amusing. The knights in Magion’s Hall of Knights don’t even follow those tenets.
'On the other hand, Monki, who isn’t even qualified to join the Hall of Knights yet, strictly abides by it. It’s really ironic, but I think that he, most of all, deserves to join the Hall of Knights instead.
'Several months have passed and Britney is creeping closer to death, but Monki still insisted on his suggestion, so I had no choice but to compromise. He fired all of the servants on that day. He told me he loved me affectionately as I laid him down on the operating table in my underground laboratory. He then closed his eyes and waited for the experiment to start. I cried. It’s been several years since I’ve shed a tear.
'Since it was my first time extracting a human’s spirit and trying to keep their intelligence and memory intact, I made a small mistake during the process. In the end, although he’d successfully turned into a spirit, he’d lost the ability to speak and he didn’t have many facial expressions. He was only a grey cloud of mist.
I don't know if it was just my imagination, but I felt his warmth when I touched the grey cloud. When I extracted Britney’s spirit, I looked at the experimental resources that were just enough for two more subjects, and I made a decision.
'Britney’s experiment was a success. She managed to even keep her appearance and didn’t suffer from any side effects. The only flaw in this experiment is that she hasn’t woken up yet.
'This has nothing to do with the process itself. She is too young, so her spirit is very fragile. There’s a huge difference in the spirits compared to a mid-rank Knecht like Monki and a high-rank Lehrling like me.
'I am now writing my last journal entry as I look at the last remaining resources for the process. This might be the last mark I leave on this world, but I don’t regret it. One way or another, it seemed that I ended up chasing after the Greater Knowledge once more. 1457 marks my last day among the living.'
The notes ended there. After Joaquin finished reading it out to them, everyone in the carriage fell silent.
“So, the two spirits should be Monki and the black caster, right?” asked Mina.
Joaquin nodded solemnly. She didn’t expect the spirits’ lives to be full of such twists and turns. Although the black caster had killed countless innocent people, Joaquin sympathized with their misfortune. If she had a choice, she might not even have thrown the fireball that killed them.
'Did they grow weaker after transforming into spirits?” Angelina asked. After Monki and Clarelia, who was a mid-rank Knecht and a high-rank Lehrling respectively, transformed into spirits, they only became low-rank spirits.
“Not really. She could still cast spells,” said Billie. She had never heard of spirits who knew how to use black magic.
“Britney is so pitiful.” Daenie sighed. She was just a seven-year-old little girl who hadn’t seen much of the world yet, but now she was half-dead. To be fair, they were responsible for the death of her parents. Everyone looked at the small figure in the black crystal ball and kept quiet.
After a long silence, Locke started a conversation. “Don’t let it weigh you down. We haven’t even distributed the loot yet. The heritage of a high-rank Lehrling must be valuable, right?”
Since he’d been in war for five years, he was already accustomed to seeing all matter of deaths and they didn’t really affect him much now, unlike how sensitive the rest were.
“You only care about the money!” Angelina glanced at Locke. She hadn’t gotten even with Locke yet.
“Hehe.” Locke scratched his head and giggled. If Faustian’s strongest caster and Angelina’s mentor, Crimea, was a high-rank Lehrling, this dark caster who'd travelled all over might be even richer.
“Yes, let’s distribute the items first!” Joaquin was the first to respond. The dozen bottles and cans of spellcasting materials in the box were very valuable, not to mention the few journals.
“Is that green velvet grass?” asked Billie as she pointed at one of the small bottles.
“Green velvet grass?” Locke had never heard of it before as he didn’t know much about magic materials.
“Green velvet grass is used by high-rank Lehrlings who specializes in plant spells by enhancing the casters' affinity for it. So far, I’ve only seen a piece of it that is just as big as a fingernail. It's my grandfather’s treasure,” explained Billie.
The assets that Billie’s family owned were probably second only to that of Joaquin and Angelina’s family. If she’d only seen such a small piece of it, green velvet grass must've been precious indeed. Yet, they got a piece as big as a finger within that small bottle.
There was one material that only Angelina recognised. It was called horsehair worm but it looked like a black plant; Locke couldn’t figure out why it was named as such. When Angelina flicked the bottle, the plant curled up into a ball instantly. If he looked closely, he noticed that it was an insect with legs.
“There are only two horsehair worms in Faustian. They can help to enhance various qualities of a caster,” whispered Angelina to Locke.
When Locke heard this, his eyes lit up. Apart from those two items, nobody knew what the remaining items were. It was no surprise, as such things were rare on this continent. Not to mention, they were weak enough to not even be exposed to something like that.
Clarelia had brought most of those items from Magion, a continent where many casters lived. Since they didn't know what they were for, they weren't sure how to distribute them. Apart from that, all they had left were the spirit crystals and two spirit cores.
A few spirit crystals were given to Bob and Chris. Although they might not be able to use them, they could sell them for gold. The rest of it was divided among Mina and Daenie.
Locke and Joaquin got one spirit core each because they’d contributed the most to this mission. The spirit core that was produced by the black caster was obviously of better quality, but Joaquin gave it to Locke generously as she knew that Angelina needed it more than her. Billie and Angelina's spoils were the small piece of green velvet grass and the horsehair worm respectively.
Locke and the others couldn’t understand why Angelina was so eager to get the horsehair worm. But when Angelina promised to pay 500 gold moores for it, they all agreed. Since Locke got rather hurt during this mission and 500 gold moores wasn’t a small amount of money, they didn't press the matter.
In the end, the mission was completed successfully, and all of them had gotten what they wanted. Although it was far different from what they had expected at first, they were happy with how it turned out. Everyone agreed to let Joaquin take care of the rest of the items in the chest. They could use the items whenever someone among them needed any in the future.