Andrew had a good memory.
Or rather, a good memory was a trait all scholars had.
As two paths of transcendent beings, scholars and magicians were similar to an extent.
Magicians manipulated aether through ‘expression.’
Regardless of whether it was the ‘language’ used by black magicians or the ‘characters’ white magicians employed, these were both expressions of willpower and desire, ultimately turning into pathways of magic through the power endowed by aether.
Similarly, scholars manipulated aether through ‘learning.’
Through their innate knowledge of aether — knowledge representing the rules of the world, by itself, an ‘expression’ of the world’s will — exploration, memorization, fusion, application, and finally transferring the power of aether to the products constructed with all this knowledge serving as the foundation.
These products covered all aspects, ranging from weapons, buildings, arcanum medicine, and much more.
Since the emergence of scholars, their status among transcendent beings was unshakable precisely because both ordinary and transcendent beings could no longer live without many of these products.
This was the indispensable value of scholars, which was also the sole reason the Truth Union could, to a certain extent, control the transcendent community.
These two classes both relied on aether flow. Other transcendent classes mostly did so too, but each had their own unique aspects.
On the surface, magicians and scholars had an obvious similarity — a good mind.
Through the process of continuous 'expression' and 'learning,' the organ with the most frequent contact with aether was their brain.
Aether flowed in and out through their brain in large amounts, resulting in sort of 'erosion.'
As such, the brains of scholars were gradually affected, resulting in an irreversible change that intensified the higher level they got.
Most scholars had physical capabilities no different from an ordinary being and could only achieve superior physical strength through specially-created exoskeleton armor or prosthetics.
But when it came to the brain, scholars were vastly superior to other classes of transcendent beings, followed after by magicians.
And memory was a crucial aspect of this.
Andrew was certain that he remembered right.
He had indeed seen this teenage girl who resembled a thin daffodil in the past, even before he had come across the bookstore.
In his mind, memories began splicing at breakneck speed, as though a movie was being rewind frame after frame.
Eventually, the flashbacks stopped at the scene of a dimly-lighted laboratory.
Within rows of fixed transparent tanks, young, fragile homunculi relied on various nutrition fluids for sustenance. Blank eyes stared at the outside world while their thoughts and souls were incomplete. These were either incomplete or rather, failed products that were unable to think independently.
Even with the doors of the laboratory opened, the commotion of people moving in and out didn't lead to any reaction from them.
Andrew was clustered among quite a few people as he smiled while being led through the crowd.
As a Vice-Chairman, Andrew always had people trying to win over his favor, but he was more interested in what to have for dinner than these people.
While putting up a patronizing yet polite smile, his gaze fell upon faces of the homunculi in the transparent jars with an array of tubes attached to them. At this point, he was just on a usual duty of being updated on the progress of the 'Clay Idol' project.
Ever since this capital intensive project was approved a few years back, Andrew had routine monthly surveys of this laboratory, which has been jointly established by the mechanics and alchemists.
However, much to his disappointment, there had yet to be any successful homunculi made by the laboratory over the past few years.
Though a project on creating homunculus was an extremely difficult task, even for the Truth Union, this intense resource consumption was getting a bit too much to bear...
In fact, when he thought about it later on, Andrew found it strange that there hadn't been a single objection throughout the Truth Union when such an absurd plan was proposed. On the contrary, it had been a unanimous decision that everyone gleefully made.
The Truth Union had talents from every discipline and an enormous amount of capital after all.
Even so, resources weren't finite… The Truth Union too wouldn't give up the research of other disciplines just to focus solely on the 'Clay Idol' project that had slim chances of success.
Furthermore, the rate at which various grades of philosopher's stones were being consumed was alarming.
The basis of this 'Clay Idol' project had been that the Truth Union could already produce low-grade philosopher's stones.
Before this, even producing a low-grade philosopher's stone the size of a rice grain was already a mind-boggling challenge for a Pandemonium-ranked scholar. For scholars specializing in alchemy, the typical benchmark for mastery was the ability to create low-grade philosopher's stone.
If the alchemy examination were a test, the creation of a low-grade philosopher's stone would be the final question. Most people might not even comprehend such a question and grasp blindly at straws.
Therefore, most scholars in the discipline of alchemy would never attain mastery throughout their lives…
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Yet, the Truth Union gathered a group of elite scholars and with their collective effort, managed to produce low-grade philosopher’s stones, which was an amazing feat by itself.
Afterwards, the 'Clay Idol' project commenced.
Andrew’s quick glance lingered on a transparent tank labeled S-277. The homunculus floating in the bubbling nutrition fluid had a pale, puerile face, yet Andrew could sense a tad of familiarity from it.
He left shortly after and did not give any extra attention to such an ordinary homunculus.
Yet, at the present moment, as this flashback replayed, Andrew realized that the homunculus appeared to have tilted her head and cast a gaze upon the nearest scholar ever so slightly. It had been so brief that it seemed like just an illusion.
“Hello, what would you like to have? Here is the menu.”
A pale, slender hand pushed a piece of paper toward Andrew. “Our milk tea is newly launching today, but unfortunately the discount vouchers for the first hundred customers have already been distributed…”
Andrew snapped back to reality, raising his head to meet the jet black pupils of the young bookstore assistant’s gaze.
The same indifference, the same look.
That’s right, this bookstore assistant was part of the second batch of homunculi he had briefly caught a glimpse of back at the laboratory.
A storm brewed within Andrew’s mind.
Back when the laboratory came under attack, a total of three homunculi went missing, including S-277. It was initially thought that these three had been stolen together, but S-277 had unexpectedly become an assistant at the bookstore.
Could it be that Mr. Lin was already aware of what the Path of the Flaming Sword's plans were back then even though the Truth Union was still in the dark?!
Otherwise, how could he have gotten a homunculus to be his assistant amidst the attack that no one saw coming?
Andrew suppressed his shock and retrieved the neatly-folded discount voucher from his pocket and exclaimed hurriedly, “I have it! I have the discount voucher! Mr. Lin gave it to me…”
He reached out and handed the voucher over. Upon verifying that it was the same voucher that Lin Jie had taken previously, she nodded. “So, one pearl milk tea, am I right?”
Andrew exhaled sharply and nodded vigorously. “That’s right.”
So it's like that!
Ahh, everything is all a part of Boss Lin’s plan…
Andrew had been wondering why the philosopher's stone had to be delivered to Mr. Lin, but now he realized it was to complete S-277!