In a dark, oppressive swamp filled with a thick, wet fog.
Even the harshest sunlight was unable to penetrate the low clouds and gloomy fog, so anyone walking through this area would feel a constant chill on their skin.
There were small, foul-smelling ponds everywhere one looked. These ponds were inhabited by a myriad of strange creatures. Whenever wanderers visited, this desolate and silent land would become a paradise for those creatures, many of whom fed on flesh and blood. Demon Rattans, Scavenger Crows, Ghost Nannies, and Giant Swamp Alligators. Each of these terrifying demonic beings made travelers avoid this place like the plague.
But, right in the center of this swampy land, where no reasonable living human being could bear to live, a dark looking tower loomed over the surrounding land.
It was a tall stone tower, with a height of over a hundred meters.
Its foundation was made entirely of augite, so when the darkness of night came, the entire tower would radiate a chilly and silent glow, making it especially attractive to evil spirits and wraiths.
Maybe it was because of a lack of basic maintenance and care, but the lower part of the tower was completely entwined with the crazily growing vines of a demon rattan, making its surface look like it was filled with wooden spikes that shined like metal. If any ordinary man became entangled in these vines, all the blood in his body would be sucked out. Eventually, his corpse would join the others in the huge pile of bones lining the base of the tower.
The sky darkened with the coming night, a candle was lit inside the tower.
Dim candlelight leaked through the narrow window in the side of the tower. Not only did it’s light not bring any warmth, but, instead, would send a shivering sensation crawling down one’s spine and through their heart.
Greem, who had just turned fifteen, was sitting in front of a worn-out wooden table. There was a thick magic book unfolded in front of him, which he was silently making a copy of. Although he had arrived in this world two years ago, the discomfort of his soul still gave him frequent headaches.
His mind was distracted, the scenes of what happened back on Earth continually flashing through his eyes. In his distraction, the tip of his writing brush paused for a moment, causing a big lump of ink to well up on the crude goat skin.
“Damn it! I failed again!”
Greem’s brows knitted into a tight frown. He couldn’t control himself and clenched his fists. He wanted to scream out in anger, but he took a deep breath and held still for a while. After a long time, he finally managed to suppress the urge.
This world was no longer the Earth that he was familiar with, and the body he was now inhabiting was not his original body either. It once belonged to an Apprentice Adept, whose name was Greem. In brief, he was just a wandering soul, who managed to take over this body right at the moment when the original Greem died.
Retaining nothing from his original life, he traveled from Earth, where magic didn’t exist, and came to this world of advanced magic, where foul demons and nonsensical creatures freely roamed. This world was a place where Adepts stood at the top. The process of adapting overwhelmed Li Xuan, such that he almost ended it all right there, but luckily, after merging the memory fragments that left in this body, Li Xuan had gained a basic linguistic ability. Otherwise, just with the weird pronunciations and grammar in this world, along with the completely different alphabet, which looked like swimming tadpoles, would be enough to torture him to death.
Even so, the headache that frequently struck him troubled him deeply.
In this place, he never dared to expose his real identity. He could only use Greem’s name, trying his best to struggle to survival in this tall tower.
Although he was simply an Apprentice Adept living under Great Master Anderson, his glorious status would draw envy from most people living in this world. However, only those people who actually lived in this tall tower would know that not only was this not an enviable position to be in, but could actually be considered a terrifying form of torture and punishment.
An Apprentice Adept’s basic job was to work diligently and conscientiously, taking care of the daily life of their Great Master, in this case, Great Master Anderson. They were also in charge of cleaning up the magic experiment equipment, keeping the inside of the tower clean, taking care of those demon creatures outside of the tower, and… being a part of Great Master Anderson’s experiments.
Although the last job was rare, when the wagons that brought slaves or condemned prisoners were a few days late, Great Master Anderson, who easily became frustrated when there was a lack of beings to experiment on, would order a random apprentice to become his temporary lab rat.
It was said that Mary, who came from Ante Province and lived next to Greem, was ‘fortunate’ to become the experimental ‘partner’ for Great Master Anderson last month. She didn’t die from the magic experiment, although her body was seriously ‘contaminated’, and she had some horrifying mutation now. Since she came out from the laboratory, wearing a thick cloak which covered her entire body, she had just hidden in her room and never left.
Many Apprentice Adepts thought that Mary might have died in her room.
But Greem knew the truth: Mary was still alive.
At night, in the unnatural stillness of that tower, he could hear the sounds of agonized groan scratching against the wall. Because of that, while everyone else was asleep, he would throw some food, which he had snuck back to his room, into her room through those tiny windows on the tower.
Although Greem had his own problems to deal with, he still had some compassion inside him, from his time back on Earth, so he felt he should try to help Mary, as best he knew how.
Today, the headache came at the wrong time. It chose to strike him right when he was making a copy of the book. He was low on money, yet he had wasted another piece of goatskin paper.
Although it was just a crumpled and crude goatskin paper, it was worth about two silver coins. In this world, the most commonly used currency was the gold coin. A gold coin could be exchanged for ten silver coins, and a silver coin could be exchanged for ten copper coins. Five copper coins was about how much money most people in this world made a day.
Hence, for most, an ordinary looking piece of goatskin paper was considered a huge fortune. But in this place, it was just rubbish that an Apprentice Adept could simply throw away.
However, within the tall Adept’s tower, nothing was ever, truly free.
Greem was required to pay for Room, food, and board, along with the cost of learning with his own efforts. The only ways to earn money required one to walk out from the tall Adept tower, and either feed those brutal and ferocious demon creatures, take care of those eerie and strange demon plants, or searching out and harvesting the magic materials specified by Great Master Anderson. One could also earn money by cleaning out some of the dangerous areas within the tower.
When carrying out these tasks, they would put on a magic talismans made by the Great Adept himself, which would allow them safe passage through the magic formation around the tower. But in this mysterious and strange world, no mere talisman could allow one to consider themselves absolutely safe. Every couple of months there was always an incident where a few unfortunate guys would be devoured by demon creatures or plants when taking care of them. Sometimes people were struck down by magical energy while cleaning up some experiment of the Great Adept.
Therefore, most of the time the safer tasks would be taken by senior Apprentice Adepts, and, as a result, the weaker Apprentice Adepts could only pick more dangerous tasks to earn their money and knowledge points so they could continue their magic training.
Money was, of course, used to buy one’s daily needs, while knowledge points were used in buying knowledge. It was a currency system created by the Great Adept himself. In the library within the tower, each magic book was labeled with different knowledge point values. Borrowing books would require knowledge points, not money.
The apprentices had to work hard to earn knowledge points, but those hard earned points would only allow them to borrow the book for a very short amount of time. The time was so short that it was totally not enough for an apprentice to master all the knowledge within the book. Therefore, most of the apprentices had made a habit of copying the books themselves.
Whenever they borrowed a magic book, the apprentice would put all their efforts into copying the knowledge they needed, so they could continue to study in future. Copying books required ink and goatskin paper. Obviously, these were not free either, and thus the Apprentice Adepts needed even more money.
Of course, if an Apprentice Adept came from a rich family, then they could spend a huge amount of money in exchange for knowledge point. The exchange rate between them was one knowledge point cost one hundred gold coins.
For example, the ‘Glossary of Demon Creatures’, which Greem had borrowed today, had cost him three knowledge points. He could only borrow it for half a day. With Greem’s copying speed, based on his best estimation, he would have to borrow it three times in order to make a complete copy of this book.
This would cost him a total of nine knowledge points. Greem would have to leave the tower two weeks in a row in order to earn these nine knowledge points.
So he didn’t feel even the slightest bit upset for wasting a piece of goatskin paper, but he was furious that he had wasted two hours of his precious time of copying the book.
Greem took another deep breath, and did his best to stamp out his anger, as doing so would help his book copying later, however, in the next moment, a familiar beeping sound suddenly resounded in his brain.
*Beep* “Biological energy has reached the required amount. Biological Assistance Chip, serial number ZXJ9521 initiating…”
Greem let out a cry of surprise.
“Biological Assistance Chip!”
Once upon a time, during the tough time when he had just arrived in this new world, Greem had indulged himself in fantasies where he became a mighty immortal who traveled to a new world with a divine weapon. But too bad for him, besides giving him a frequent migraines, the damn chip had never shown any signs of activating. Surprise, surprise… it had finally decided to work today!
After the chip finished making adjusting to its new state, a graceful yet emotionless female voice resounded in Greem’s brain.
“Host detected, establishing database… please wait…”
Eh? It could still identify his new body? That was unexpected.
After all, this was a world of advanced magic. The entire dimension was filled with a mystical material called Elementium. Based on the differences in these basic ‘elements’, these Elementium were classified into types, like Earth, Fire, Wind, Light, Darkness, etc.
Adepts would have differing levels of affinity toward these elemental types, and thus there were different fractions among Adepts. Because this system was completely different from how Earth operated, Greem was troubled and how to standardize the data in this world, so having the chip here to attempt to quantify these things brought him hope.