Release that Witch Chapter 526
It was a place always full of vitality, often filled with students and apprentices constantly moving materials back and forth. He could see steam rising from various vessels and perceive the smells of sulfur and acid water. Occasionally, he could hear crashes of broken glass, usually accompanied by loud scoldings from alchemists.
Even though he was promoted to one of the three chief alchemists two years ago and had his own alchemical room, he preferred the busy and crowded Refining Hall for inspiration. Just like the Refining Hall where people of different kinds gathered and mingled, alchemy was a process of mixing various matters. Nevertheless, only a few, such as crystal glass and snow powder, could distinguish themselves from the ordinary and shine through the muddy mixture.
The charm of alchemy lay in the refining process, in which those grayish white sand and black charcoals could turn into such a splendor that nobody had ever foreseen. The same held true for people. The Alchemist Workshop accepted a large number of new apprentices every year, but only a very few of them would eventually stand out from the rest and become first-rate alchemists. Retnin was one of the very few. It had taken him 34 years to go from apprentice to chief. Although he was now nearly 50, with one foot in the grave, he felt content with his life, for having learned the aesthetics passed down from the sages.
The only thing that disquieted him was the recent round of incidents in the King's City.
The biggest overturn was the change of the king. After Prince Roland hanged Timothy, he had indubitably become the successor of the King. The news should have had nothing to do with the Alchemist Workshop. They needed to be responsible for alchemical production whoever the king was. However, he was not sure if they could stay out of this trouble once Prince Roland found out they had provided Timothy with snow powder as a war material.
King's City had gradually restored its peace. Yet the fact that the prince had visited the Astrological Station instead of the Alchemist Workshop gave Retnin an ominous feeling.
"Are you still worried about the Astrology Association?" asked a voice at his side. "Its not like you to sit here in a daze, brows furrowed."
Judging from the unguarded tone, Retnin knew it must be another chief alchemist. He turned around and found Rayleigh, whose hair was as frosty as his, sitting next to him. "What on earth do you think His Highness is planning?"
"He’s thinking those fellows who only care about stars are wasting money. What else can he be thinking about?" Rayleigh said carelessly. "It's a pity he didn't stick to his opinion. Those guys shouldn't be crowned as sages anyway. They should have been laid off a long time ago."
"Are you worried that the Alchemist Workshop will be shut down as well?" He patted Retnin on his shoulder heartily. "Don’t forget the profit we bring to King's City! Once the limit in the production of crystal glass and perfume is lifted, the gold royals we'll earn can probably fill the prince's entire bedroom. How can he resist such a lucrative business opportunity and shut the Workshop down?"
"But we produced snow powder for Timothy."
"So what? Could we disobey the King's order?" Rayleigh grunted. "Any reasonable person should know it isn't us to blame. Besides, he also manufactured loads of weapons fueled by snow powder himself. I bet he must have gotten the formula from Boer, the traitor. In this light, we actually made a contribution to his victory. Perhaps he'll even reward us if we hand in the advanced formula."
"Hopefully." Retnin nodded, feeling a little relieved. Like Rayleigh had said, the Alchemist Workshop was the largest gold production organization. The prince might have been stuck in the middle of something and therefore failed to visit them right after the war.
Just as Retnin was about to instruct a group of alchemists, a student dashed into the hall. Out of breath he shouted. "M-Mr. Chief Alchemist, His Majesty is here!"
Hearing Retnin's exclamation, everybody in the hall was silent, looking at the student.
"Above the yard in the air." The student swallowed hard. "His Majesty descended from the sky!"
Retnin and Rayleigh exchanged an astonished look. "Bring Chief Alchemist Archer here. Everybody else, follow me to greet His Majesty."
A giant balloon that covered almost half of the sky was floating in the air outside the Alchemist Workshop. Soldiers armed with snow powder weapons surrounded the yard. After they had searched the Association thoroughly, making sure it was safe, the balloon started to land slowly.
"That must be the transportation device the prince used to visit the Astrological Station with the witches," Rayleigh whispered in Retnin's ear. "I didn't expect it could truly make a person fly."
"Don't worry. I know how to behave properly." Reyleigh assured him with a smile.
After the basket landed safely, a beaming gray-haired man came up to them under the protection of the guards. He was bareheaded, not splendidly dressed, and held no scepter in his hand. He was not as marvelous as he was rumored to be, yet the prince's every single gesture was majestic and dignified. Next to him stood an elderly man in a cope, who seemed surprisingly familiar to Retnin.
"Your Majesty, welcome to the Alchemist Workshop." The three chief alchemists bowed, followed by all the other alchemists.
Roland smiled. "My father used to talk about you often when I was still in King's City. He said both crystal glass and perfume are quite popular alchemical products, they have even been sold to the Fjord Islands. These products have brought great profits to the palace. So, I built an alchemical workshop myself after my father sent me to Border Town."
"Pft—" Rayleigh almost burst out laughing upon hearing these words, whereas Retnin restrained himself and managed to conceal his amusement. "That must not have been an easy business, Your Majesty. Every alchemical workshop requires a large amount of gold royals to operate."
"Really? But I didn't invest a lot of gold royals. You know how deficient the resources are in Border Town. At first, I could only do the experiments in a few wooden sheds. But now I'm able to produce various products, including glass and perfume." Roland continued casually, "So I'm wondering where those gold royals actually go."
"Your Majesty, what... what do you mean by that?" Retnin's heart sank.
"This is my Chief Alchemist, Mr. Kyle Sichi," Roland replied, pointing to the elderly man next to him. "He'll examine and evaluate your products. If there have been no innovations in recent years, I might as well shut down the Alchemist Workshop. After all, King's City was just ravaged by a war, and I believe tons of gold royals are needed for reconstruction."
The alchemists were outraged by the prince's comment.
"Your Majesty, I can't accept this!" Rayleigh was so angry that he couldn't bear it and stood to challenge him.