“Elven potion? What is that?” Locke was confused.
“Something nice to extend your life,” Old Korr attempted to reel him in. The man clapped his hand and Lily brought over two beverages. They moved to a seat at the corner of the shop.
Old Korr moistened his lips with some mist tea before continuing, “As you may have already learned, the Scar of the Death Bell isn’t on good terms with Mermerri’s Cottage.”
Locke nodded. That was no secret. The three biggest caster factions of the Marharden Kingdom looked united on the outside but bad blood flowed between Mermerri’s Cottage and the Scar of the Death Bell. The Phantom Tower had been the neutral party that kept their stability in check.
“Krimea’s Mermerri branch is holding a cultivation event in the Enchanted Forest Realm and they’re rewarding elven potions for the third place. Will that pique your interest?” asked Old Korr.
“You still haven’t explained what elven potions are. Also, am I even eligible to join Mermerri’s event?” Locke rolled his eyes.
“Elven potions are miraculous concoctions that can change a human body’s foundational constituent,” Old Korr answered.
Locke blinked owlishly and raised a sceptical brow. “A transfiguration?” He’d heard plenty about such potions that would bend humans into horrible monsters under the promise of a longer lifespan. Some people would readily abandon everything for power and immortality but Locke wasn’t that desperate.
“Oh, come on. Don’t stare at me like that.” The older man knew from his expression that he’d misunderstood the elaboration. “They’ll just turn into pseudo-elves, okay?” Old Korr brought out his pipe and lit it up with a tap. He drawled a breath. “I wouldn’t have thought of telling you if you weren’t a user of wind impetus.”
Elves were no stranger to Locke’s ear but pseudo-elves were a new concept. Elves were alien lifeforms that were gems desired by elite Magisters and Ritters for their ethereal beauty and graceful physique. They looked similar to humans and Magisters and Ritters often bought them as an object of lust.
“Pseudo-elves can only manifest in two ways: A half-blood offspring between a human and an elf or through consuming the elven potion,” Old Korr continued his explanation.
“If that’s the case, how much of an elf’s quality would one receive?” Since the literal transformation of the bloodline was for none other than the sake of power and potential, Locke was most concerned about its efficiency.
Old Korr inhaled another dose of smoke, puffing out small clouds moments later. “I’m not sure about that but a regular person would at least be a mid-rank Knecht.” There was an indication that the effect would be more substantial in Locke’s case. Frankly speaking, this was the metamorphosis of life itself!
“The most attractive part is that you’ll have another century added to your lifespan.” Old Korr grinned at him. “Doesn’t that sound interesting?” The average elf could live for four hundred years, which meant that pseudo-elves would live two hundred years. It was not hard to see why the idea would enamour casters and knights below level one.
“I’ll think about it.” Locke lowered his head in thought. The elven potion would be just right for his parents and Suzzane.
“What’s there to ponder about? Elves are known to inch towards the elements of water, wood and wind. It’s aligned with your impetus,” Old Korr attempted to convince.
“If the rewards are so attractive, why isn’t anyone from your faction joining it?”
“We’re joining, no doubt. I was given a spot open for recommendations and you seem to be the right person.” The other man leaned closer. “So, will you join?”
“You bet!” Locke smacked Old Korr’s shoulder heavily as the older man gritted his teeth through the heavy slaps. Mermerri’s Cottage and the Scar of the Death Bell shared a rocky relationship since forever and the faction would be delighted to sabotage their rival’s event to any degree.
“If the third prize is the elven potion, what about the first and second prize?” Locke asked, seemingly intrigued by the idea.
“The first place will receive the Leaf of Life that increases one’s alignment towards dendromancy and improve chances of breaking through as a level-one lifeform by 30%.” Old Korr continued, “The second place is a piece of supreme level-one magic equipment; the great mana staff used by a certain level-two Mermerri Magister during their level one years.”
Locke’s eyes sparkled in interest as the Leaf of Life was mentioned.
The intrigue didn’t go unnoticed by Old Korr. “I’d advise you to forget about the first and second prizes. There’s a load of Mermerri casters and many prodigies aiming for those already.” Locke had helped boost his income by a third since they started trading two months ago so he didn’t wish to have Locke stand too close to death. “I think you’ll have a better shot at the third prize. The fourth and fifth prize isn’t too shabby either,” said Old Korr.
“What are they offering for the fourth and fifth prizes?”
“The fourth prize is the egg of a base-rank major monster and the fifth will be two hundred high-rank crystal cores.”
“Sheesh, that’s so heavy-handed.” Locke sucked in sharply. The organising party was merely a branch of the faction but they were already capable of handing out a huge load of rewards. Mermerri’s Cottage was crazy wealthy.
“Yeah, we wouldn’t have sent anyone over if the prizes weren’t that attractive.” The older man cackled aloud.
Locke snuck a glance over at Old Korr. The Scar of the Death Bell would have sent a few of their prodigies as contenders for the first and second prizes.
“Will you still join? If the participants hadn’t been limited to lifeforms below level one within Krimea City, I wouldn’t have thought of asking you.” Old Korr persuaded relentlessly.
“Sure, don’t mind if I do.”
“Great.” Old Korr was grinning again. He had managed to get a quasi-Ritter to represent their faction and even if Locke was to come out empty-handed, Old Korr was sure to be rewarded handsomely regardless. Their main goal was to annoy Mermerri’s Cottage and any form of disturbance was much appreciated.
“Alright, time to pay up.” Old Korr reached a hand.
“The admission is five high-rank crystal cores.”
Locke was at a loss for words. “...Isn’t that too expensive?”
“You can’t be thinking that Mermerri is doing this for charity, no? There’s no way they’d offer such attractive prizes for free.”
And that was how Locke’s high-rank crystal cores for the day were returned to Old Korr. His three days of hard work in the forest had disappeared into thin air.
“This is the proof of admission. I’ll lead you there when the time comes!” Old Korr tossed over an intricate skull-shaped brooch. The accessory smelled faintly like death and it bothered Locke significantly. He quickly used a tinge of his wind impetus to mask the scent, immediately feeling better after doing so.