Chapter 181 - Paracelsus' Legacy (1)
It was like a bolt out of the blue.
The Yellow Tower Master, one of the symbols of the Meltor Kingdom, was actually a grimoire!
However, Paragranum wasn't surprised about having her identity exposed by Gluttony. Theodore, who was caught in a war of nerves between two grimoires, was simply astonished. The fact that he was encountering another grimoire besides Gluttony... This reality which went beyond his imagination shook his composure.
'What the hell is going on?' He gritted his teeth.
Theodore sent the grimoire on his left hand and the one in the shape of a girl irritated glances.
The presence felt from the girl wasn't great. The problem was that he couldn't guess what was inside. Why did she approach Theodore as a member of 'Quattro,' and why did she appear despite being aware of Gluttony's presence?
Additionally, he didn't know what Gluttony meant by 'taboo.' Theodore wanted to ask, but Gluttony was in an unprecedentedly confused mental state right now. Moreover, what was the reason for her status as the Yellow Tower Master?
"Kuhat, what type of atmosphere is this for a talk? I was interrupted the last time because of Veronica..." Unlike the cute appearance of the girl's face, Para smiled bleakly and waved her arms. "It is good to see you, Boy. I am the Yellow Tower Master Norden and the grimoire, Paragranum, the last book left behind by the great alchemist, Paracelsus. That tongue is pretty wary, but this body is 10 times weaker than yours, so you don't have to worry about it."
"Well, you would be an idiot to just believe me. There is still a lot to talk about."
It was a roundabout suggestion to change their location. This crossroad wasn't a suitable location to share a secret because it was a place where people usually came and went.
'Damn, is it okay to be dragged around like this?'
When Theo looked at the situation calmly, Norden didn't feel like an enemy. Theodore's feeling of discomfort toward her was a sudden fear of his secret being revealed, but his sensory perception had been quiet from beginning to end.
Theodore was well-aware that it was risky to rely solely on his senses, just like when he'd been attacked by Aquilo. In the end, his sensory perception was just an indicator, like a compass. It was reliable as well as unreliable.
In the end, it was up to Theodore himself to decide.
This was a situation where they both knew each other's secrets, but Theodore was nervous in comparison to the Yellow Tower Master's laid-back attitude. The initiative of the conversation had already passed over to Para.
"...Then where do you intend to continue this conversation?" Theodore asked as he was forced to take a step back.
"If you don't mind, how about my laboratory?" Para laughed and pointed to the top of the yellow tower. It was a place where no magician had stepped into for decades, maybe centuries. In that sense, the Yellow Tower Master was like an urban legend in this city.
The grimoire, Paragranum, had been hiding as a human for more than 500 years, at least since the completion of the magic towers. The two people began moving in the direction of the Yellow Tower.
* * *
'Gluttony.' As Theodore climbed up the tower followed the Yellow Tower Master, he used the gap to ask Gluttony questions, 'Explain the previous talk you had with the Yellow Tower Master. What is the taboo, and what is Paragranum?'
-Hrmm, I understand.
Did Gluttony think it was information that Theodore also needed to know? Gluttony confided the information more readily than Theodore had expected.
-As it said, Paragranum was created by the great alchemist Philipus Paracelsus. No alchemist surpassed him in the Age of Mythology, and the vulcans, the ancestors of the dwarves, regarded him as a wise man. Even the great blacksmith, Vulcanus, treated him as a demi-god.
'...The creator of a grimoire.'
The dwarves were far superior to human craftsman when it came to dexterity and aesthetic sensibilities. Then what about the ancestors of the dwarves? The high elves only inherited a bit of the blood of the Arv, yet they were able to cause miraculous phenomena. Then the pureblood upper species must be the embodiment of miracles themselves.
However, the alchemist called 'Paracelsus' was someone who even the upper species paid their respects to. It was clear that he was far beyond the framework of a mortal existence. He was a presence that could create a grimoire.
-Paragranum is the grimoire created by Paracelsus.
Alchemy had continued to deteriorate since the Age of Mythology, so it wasn't seriously studied in the current era. However, it was the base of the construction of Meltor's magic towers, and it was still being researched.
The grimoire went beyond common sense, so Gluttony's words made frightened Theodore. The reason Paragranum contributed to the founding of Meltor approximately 600 years ago and the making of the magic towers was to establish a research base.
Of course, Paragranum herself might have a different reason. However, Theodore watched the actions of the grimoire and found that his conclusion was close to the right answer.
'Then what does it mean by breaking the taboo?'
This question seemed a bit tough as Gluttony, who had been pouring out the explanation like a stream of water, paused for a moment. However, then it opened its mouth again.
-Every grimoire has a 'purpose of existence' imprinted from its creator. I collect magic, 'Pride' collects genes, and so on, so forth. All of our actions are meant to fulfill that purpose. Do you understand up to here?
-Therefore, a grimoire follows its own methods of action to achieve its purpose of existence. Autonomous movement, ingestion type, manual control type... They all have their own principles. In the case of Paragranum, it is a 'manual control' type that requires a user.
But Paragranum doesn't have a master now. It created its own body and is pretending to be human. This is different from its purpose. Tools that deviate from their intended purpose are no longer tools.
They deviate from their 'purpose of existence' itself. That is the taboo for grimoires, Gluttony explained in a loud voice. -Simply changing its principles of action isn't bad. But books that violate their purpose become more and more erratic, and soon they will become wild.
It is a sin for a tool to deviate from its fate. It is a miserable end for a grimoire. Their ego will collapse, and they will disappear without achieving the purpose of their existence.
As Theodore had seen in the struggle with Pride and his own experience with Gluttony, grimoires emphasized intelligence and purpose above all else. So, this was an unacceptable result for them. At this moment, Theodore had a question. 'Eh? Then why does the Tower Master look fine? It has been 600 years since the taboo was broken.'
-I am also curious about that reason.
'...Is it dangerous?'
-There is a saying that you might wake up in the morning and die in the evening.
'I don't like that!'
As the grimoire and its owner argued, the girl arrived at the top of the Yellow Tower and asked, "Did you hear an interesting story?"
"...!" Theodore's eyes widened.
This caused Para to chuckle. "You probably asked about me. If you are a master, you would've released at least the 4th seal. You would've heard almost everything and wondered why I am fine after breaking the taboo."
"...Do you have any mind-reading skills?"
"Perhaps. Alchemy doesn't have that type of ability, but I have my own style."
If so, that meant it was Paragranum's fearsome intuition. She was able to infer about the conversation between Theodore and Gluttony. This wasn't an opponent that Theodore could challenge with words. As Theodore filled with tension, Para stopped in front of the tower and said to him, "35 liters of water."
"Huh?" Theodore uttered.
Without responding to Theodore's question, Para continued, "20kg of carbon, 4 liters of ammonia, 1.5 kg of lime, 800g of phosphorus, 250g of salt, 100g of potassium nitrate, 80g of sulfur, 7.5g of fluorine, 5g of iron, 3g of silicon..."
There were a few things in that list which Theodore knew, but some others he didn't. It was knowledge of science and civilization which would only develop in the future. This meant it was a monologue which Theodore didn't understand.
However, Gluttony was different.
-Is that the compound for one average adult human?
"Correct." Para grinned like she had been waiting and stripped off her robe. Theodore had seen beautiful women before, but he was impressed by Para's body, which had perfect proportions. Para waved toward her slim body and said, "I used fewer quantities when creating this girl."
-It isn't made from a human body.
"I can only create something from nothing. Using life that already exists is the domain of chimeras."
Theodore listened to the conversation between grimoires and couldn't hide his confusion. "H-Human body? You created a human body?"
"To be exact, it is a homunculus. This body is just a human imitation and will last 10 more years before dying. In other words, it is a failure."
'Why was Paragranum trying to make a human? Why make a homunculus? Why was a grimoire doing this? Why live as the Yellow Tower Master?'
Many 'why' questions popped into Theodore's mind. Ethical reluctance, curiosity as a magician, unpleasantness as a human, curiosity about the life that was created... Theodore couldn't guess all the reasons.
However, Paragranum, who had watched many magicians for a long time, knew all of Theodore's questions. The grimoire in the shape of a beautiful girl laughed eerily. "This is because of my purpose."
The great alchemist, Philipus Paracelsus, had left the purpose to create a [human]. The [human] couldn't be superior or inferior to humans.
Paragranum's purpose was to create a complete human being. It didn't matter if they were a beggar or hero, as long as life was created. This was the destiny given to Paragranum and the purpose of its existence. This was the path of truth that the alchemist, who had reached the peak in the Age of Mythology, pursued until the end.
"Thanks to that, I could rewrite my behavior to exclude users and enable solo action. There is no research as effective as imitating humans directly."
One question was resolved for Theodore, but another question popped up. "Why did Paracelsus try to create a human?"
"According to the records of Creator Paracelsus, humans are the 'allies of possibility' and the 'seed of chaos.' Namely, a creature that can't be anything but chaos. If I can create that possibility myself, there may be a way of reaching the truth."
"That... it is a simple hypothesis."
"Is that really the case? No, that question is worthless. Be it right or wrong, I still have to try."
After listening to Para, Theodore understood the madness inherent in the grimoire. The grimoire had wisdom from a time which humans could hardly imagine, and it could communicate with a high intelligence. However, it had the instinct to pursue its purpose, regardless of success or failure.
'Don't feel despair. Don't give up. Don't compromise. It isn't possible or impossible.' Para talked like a human, but her essence was thoroughly a tool.
Theodore shut his mouth. Then the Yellow Tower Master turned around and said, "My story is up to here, owner of Gluttony. Are you wondering why I brought you here and confided my secret?"
The tower master opened the door to the tower. The darkness inside flowed out smoothly and seemed to devour the cool air of the corridor. It incited a fear in Theodore that he couldn't understand.
Theodore barely overcame the tension and spoke, "There is something you want to ask."
"Correct." The Yellow Tower Master Paragranum reached out her left hand as she looked at him with a satisfied expression. Then she found something on the wall and bent it.
Click. A dull mechanical sound was heard in the darkness.
"Heok!" Theodore's eyes trembled in amazement.
The darkness cleared and an unimaginable sight appeared before him.
""Hello, welcome to my laboratory for the first time.""
There was something in the shape of a strong, young man. There was another thing in the shape of an elderly old man. Then there was something else that looked like a cute little boy...
And yet another thing in the shape of a beautiful woman. There were people of different shapes floating in transparent glass containers. No, Theodore knew. They were all homunculus. Human shells that didn't have their own ego.
Theodore barely calmed down as he spoke in a quivering voice, "...How many people know this fact?"
"There is no one. If you weren't the owner of a grimoire-no, you wouldn't know if you weren't the owner of Gluttony."
"So, why did you come to me?"
They entered the room, and Para sat down on a chair in the middle of the bizarre room.
Then she looked at the still shaken Theodore. "As you can see, I can't get away from the city. Mana-vil can cope with just Veronica, but I can only move a short distance away. So, I want to do business with you, who have the skills and a shared secret."
"Business?" Theodore shook his head and almost scoffed. Did she show off her power in order to make a deal? However, Paragranum nodded and said with a serious expression, "Don't you have a lot of hidden secrets because of Gluttony? I can help you when it comes to this."
It made a lot of sense. Theodore had managed to avoid answering about the Great Forest, but he couldn't conceal Gluttony's existence forever. The fact that he had recently defeated Hyde, one of the empire's Seven Swords, had yet to be revealed to the public.
Theodore was convinced by the Yellow Tower Master and nodded. "...Continue."
"I need someone to move on my behalf, and you can get benefits while sharing your secrets. Isn't this a win-win situation?"
"What exactly are the benefits?"
"I have been waiting for you to ask!"
From Theodore's point of view, he couldn't help but ask. However, Para pulled something out like she had been waiting. It was a map. The map was outdated, but Theo didn't have any problem recognizing the drawings. It covered an area which coincided with the Meuse Desert, outside the Austen Kingdom.
Para pointed to a red dot on the map and said, "This is the place where the laboratory of my creator, Paracelsus, is hidden. If you go there with my homunculus, I will give you all of the legacy he left behind, except for the materials I need."