Necromancer Academy's Genius Summoner
[Translator - Ramen]
[Proofreader - Artethrax]
Simon and Benya rode in the carriage to the warehouse.
Sliding open the window to let in a little air, Simon felt the slight tremor in his hand that formed ever since seeing the mound of beating hearts now strangely begin to fade.
Was it such a horrible sight that his brain was trying to repress the very memory? Or maybe the sight really wasn't a big deal after all and he was simply moving on.
All that remained in his thoughts now was a single question. What was Walter—or rather, Judas—doing with so many hearts?
As he pondered on this, he soon arrived at the warehouse. Well, calling it a warehouse hardly did it justice. It was more like a large, well-equipped factory.
When they brought the deimos in, a commotion kicked up around them.
"So that's what netherwhales are made of, huh?"
The employees who had gathered were all surprised.
"Let us through, please."
The moment the voice left the speaker's lips, the employees jumped back in unison to form a clear path and bowed their heads.
Benya Vanilla, who had changed into her work clothes, approached, carrying an array of specialized knives.
"Now, I'm going to extract the bones."
Her hair professionally tied back in a tight bun, she pulled out a moderately large knife and started her first incision into the corpse. Surprised, Simon said,
"You're doing this yourself?"
She adjusted her grip on the knife and made a series of marks across the side of the motionless corpse. Then, she looked at the cuts and, using the information gleaned from them, pulled out a new knife and placed the tip of it right above the spine.
"Conquering the baby deimos begins now!"
Simon's jaw dropped as he speechlessly watched it all unfold.
There was no hesitation in her cuts. Flesh tore open with every perfectly angled swish of the blade.
It was a skill that required an intimate understanding of the muscles and a clear sense of where the bones were despite her likely never having worked on this kind of monster before.
Thick chunks of flesh fell to the floor as the work progressed, revealing pure white bone beneath. Blood spattered all over her overalls and her face, but not once did Simon feel she looked unseemly.
No, if anything it was the opposite. The grotesque turned into the sublime as Benya focussed only on butchering the meat in front of her as blood soaked her to the skin.
And after close to two hours…
"There, that's it!"
The deimos's skeleton was revealed, not a sliver missing from the perfectly white bone. Simon and the rest of the staff broke into applause almost out of instinct.
"It was a bit of a struggle because it's still a baby and has a lot of soft bones, but I'm glad to see its frame is still in place."
"Thank you. You did such a great job!"
He handed her a towel, and she gruffly wiped it across her face before shoving it back into his chest. She looked exhausted, but there was a proud smile on her face.
"Then let's get right to work on making your bones stronger!"
It was time to put Vanilla's high-tech equipment to work.
The bones were submerged in a greenish liquid, painted with intense chemicals, and placed in a cooling chamber. Each step was built on centuries of experience carried across generations of necromancers.
During the waiting time, Simon was able to ask Benya a number of questions.
'I'm learning a lot. I'm glad to be part of this club, even if it means a prince in Dresden now hates my guts.'
He felt like this made up for all the trouble he'd been through with Andre.
As he asked more questions, Simon furtively brought up the subject.
"By the way, senior, are there other necromancers who focus on collecting hearts?"
"Hearts? What's with the sudden change of topic?"
Simon altered a bit from the scene he had seen earlier.
"I saw a bunch of monster hearts piled up on a cart. Far more than I would ever think was necessary."
After a moment's thought, she determined,
"Well, I'm not so sure if there would be a situation that required quite that many, but hearts are more of a hemomancy material than summoning, so I don't know much about them. It could be an ingredient for super-sized dark spells, too."
As Simon pondered, a magic circle on the freezer began beeping.
Simon and Benya rushed over, opened the freezer, and started pulling out the skeleton.
Looking inside, the deimos's bones had visibly hardened. While normal bones were brittle and dry, the deimos's bones were smooth and glossy after the processing. It was like touching porcelain.
As a test, Benya took one of the bones and smashed it against a plank of wood. It shattered the plank without showing any signs of strain.
Simon asked in admiration,
"Can you give other skeletons this level of toughness?"
"It depends on the type of monster and the condition of its bones. We, Vanilla, tend to adjust the strength of the bones to suit the purpose, but this deimos was still a baby and had a lot of spongy bones, so I hardened them up. Otherwise the whole thing would be ruined after a single fight."
The preparations were finally complete. It was time to get to the most important part: drawing the magic circle to turn it into a summon.
Shouted Benya, turning to look at one of the many doors. Following her gaze, Simon saw three men walking toward them from the doorway. A sudden wave of nervousness surged through him.
'Wh-Who are they?'
The aura each man exuded was unnerving.
"This is the first time you're asking for help from us, young lady."
Said a man with a short beard and biceps as big as Simon's head. An old, faded scar could be seen across his cheek and his voice carried years of experience.
"I know you must be busy, so thank you for coming at such short notice."
She extended her arm, introducing the three to Simon.
"Comrade, these people are the undead artisans who will be drawing your summoning circle. This is Sir Diego, Sir Marco, and Sir Rodrion, and they will be helping us."
Simon looked at Benya in awe.
Undead artisans! She was really fine with bringing in big shots like them for free?
"And this is my member from the club, Simon Polentia. He's a first-year at Kizen."
"Pleasure to meet you!"
Simon formally greeted them. The bearded man who called himself Diego stepped forward and held out his hand.
"I'm Diego, a necromancer under the Vanilla Group. Nice to meet you."
His voice was somehow cold, but Simon didn't hesitate to shake his hand.
"It's my honor!"
He greeted the other two as well. They then exchanged a quick hello with Benya before removing their jackets and getting to work.
"Comrade, this undead will be specialized only for you, so I will need you to lend a hand."
"Yes, I'll do my best!"
The skeletons purchased from the shops only needed a few finishing touches by the summoner on the already installed magic circle, but that was only possible because they were so mass-produced.
When it was an entirely new model of skeleton, there weren't as many known formulas that could be relied on, so the only option was trial and error.
That's why Benya brought in the artisan necromancers to do it.
While Benya and the artisans were talking, Diego quietly approached Simon.
"Yes! Did you call me?"
"The young lady might hear us. Whispering only."
A fierceness flashed across Diego's eyes.
"I'll be watching you, so do it right. If you hold us back while we're working, I won't let you get away with it."
Diego tapped Simon on the shoulder and walked away, audibly muttering something under his breath.
"It pisses me off that I'm stuck helping the kiddies with my years of experience instead of doing something actually worthwhile."
Simon sheepishly scratched the side of his head. Then he heard Pier's bloodthirsty voice.
[Does that bastard want to die?]
'…It's fine. I'm the one who asked for help, and it's not like I don't understand how he feels.'
He wouldn't be happy either if his boss's granddaughter called him away while he was doing something he actually cared about.
For their sake, Simon was determined to finish the job quickly.
A few moments later, the three artisan necromancers took their places in front of the deimos.
The image of them exchanging jokes and laughing with Benya like doting uncles was completely gone, and their faces were serious and focused. They closed their eyes and muttered to themselves to think aloud as they executed their routines.
'Woah, professionals really are different.'
"What are you doing?! Come here in front."
Soon, the work began in earnest.
* * *
Translator - Ramen
Proofreader - Artethrax
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* * *
Diego, the leader, drew a magic circle on the skull. He brought his right arm straight up, and the circle expanded and rose into the air.
The circle was nearly two meters wide. Inside, it was empty.
Before the enchantment collapsed, Diego brought out more jet-black and drew the outline of a rune in the center.
"When the work begins, there will be no such thing as friends, young ladies, or juniors. I will treat you as a necromancer—as an equal—and there will be no favoritism. Keep your head on straight."
"Hands on the runes."
Simon placed his hand on the outline of the runes. Diego ordered,
Simon released his jet-black and funneled it into the sketch, and the other two artisans quickly picked it up and began to form more runes.
It was an unbelievable sight. Controlling someone else's jet-black to draw runes on yet another person's magic circle! How was this even possible?
"Lay the chain."
"Don't you know what a chain is? A circuit for the jet-black to pass through? A circuit! Do I have to spell everything out for you?!!"
Simon nervously drew a jet-black circuit. The other two craftsmen drew their formulas around his circuit.
"Who told you to draw the chain in a curve! Can't you lay it out more neatly?"
"Sorry, I'll fix it right away!"
"Mr. Simon, the jet-black is leaking on this part. You'll need to redo it."
"My friend, you're nervous. I can see your jet-black shaking."
As soon as the work began, the artisans began to frantically hustle him, and while the other two were at least trying to be friendly, Diego was having none of it.
"Remake it again! You're disgracing all of Kizen!"
"If you can only do this much, quit this shit right now!"
"I'll do it again!"
Diego was extremely strict, and Simon worked himself until his forehead beaded with sweat. It felt like he was being scolded almost every minute.
"What is this transformation formula?? Who made it?"
"Whatever. Marco, you cover it."
Marco erased Simon's formula and started from scratch.
Simon could only watch from the back.
"I'm telling you this again. Get a grip."
Fire burned in Diego's eyes.
"Every time you make a mistake, another person suffers. You're not helping. You're a disturbance."
"I know! I'm sorry!"
"Apply a Circling in the corner."
For the first time, he was asked to do something he knew. It was a technique he'd learned when he was summoning his first skeleton archer.
Simon immediately created a spinning stream of jet-black in his palm and nailed it to the spot.
"Next. I won't show you twice, so watch closely."
Diego formed a simple magic circle and gently rolled liquid jet-black over it, which slowly took shape and hardened to have a clearer corner.
"It's called Beveling. Do it."
Simon's eyes widened, and he rolled the liquidized jet-black from side to side over the magic circle.
Diego looked the other way momentarily, then looked back at him.
"Hey, can't you even do that ri…"
His words trailed off and he gave Simon a confused look.
"I'm sorry. Did I do something wrong?"
'To think that he succeeded in Beveling, a skill known for its complexity. Didn't the young lady say he's a first-year?'
Diego tilted his head in confusion and curiosity before turning back to his work.
"Lay the chain sideways."
"There will be a binding formula in that spot! It's cramped!"
"I'm sorry, I'll do it again!"
"Simon! Hold the formula here again, please."
Despite being squeezed between three artisans, Simon diligently focused on his task.
An hour passed in the blink of an eye.
'Does this guy...'
Diego looked at him in surprise.
'…not get intimidated?'
New graduates of necromancer schools, especially apprentices who had just been hired and were working on a magic circle like this for the first time, were often teary-eyed by the end of their first day.
The seniors tend to keep a tight rein on them, as circle-making carries a huge risk of explosion. Many people quit after a month or two.
But Simon wasn't like those newcomers.
He hadn't even graduated from necromancer school yet, but he wasn't shy or intimidated in the field.
He wasn't afraid of being scolded, and he wasn't afraid to ask questions and admit his ignorance.
Even when he made a big mistake, he dealt with it and worked through it.
"You're not putting the chain on straight!"
Simon quickly apologized, then persistently continued with his task.
'He's a freak.'
On the contrary…
'This is so fun!'
Simon was actually enjoying it.
'Why did I find out that there was such an interesting field like this only now??'
The pleasure of learning.
The joy of a challenge.
There was no time to be intimidated by his seniors. Working with these artisans was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Spending time on emotion would be a waste. He would rather use the headspace being sad to instead learn one more thing.
He wanted them to teach him more.
To teach him something new, something harder, something more complicated.
Feeling exhilarated, Simon didn't hesitate and laid down a row of jet-black circuits.
"Whew~ Pretty tough!"
"Good, good! Summoning magic circles is all about momentum to begin with, my friend!"
The other two seniors were in fact happy to see Simon's boldness. And their joy only made Simon even more energized.
"Hey, watch me!"
Diego showed him a new technique using jet-black.
"It's called a Flop. Can you do it?"
Simon failed once but immediately succeeded in the next try.
Diego, who was about to get mad, felt the corners of his mouth twitch upward.
'Who the hell is this bastard?'
Teach him one thing and he figures out ten.
He makes one mistake and he fixes twenty more.
Even in front of artisans, he's not intimidated.
"I'm done! Did I make any mistakes?"
Diego was a professional necromancer. Of course it wasn't very pleasant to be called here when he was busy.
"Well done. Keep it up."
No necromancer didn't like a good worker.
"Simon, I need some help here!"
Hours passed, and now the artisans were even relying on him. They'd draw the runes in a straight line, and Simon helped by pinching in the parts poking out using droplets of jet-black.
"Hey, the Beveling on my line! Who did all this?"
"Oh, thank you, Simon. You saved me a lot of time!"
"Hey, buddy! Help me with the Beveling on the right!"
"I already did that!"
"Woah, you're right! You're an ace. An ace!"
It had been two hours since the magic circle procedure began.
After just two hours, the artisans now recognized Simon as a force to be reckoned with.
"Now, watch me, my friend."
Rodrion ruffled Simon's hair, then conjured up jet-black on his fingertips before pressing it against the magic circle.
"What we're making is the brains of the undead. There's no other logic to it. What we're making is what the undead is all about. Do you understand, my friend?"
"Yes, I understand!"
"Once we get this thing working by pressing this…"
Rodrion pressed a spot on the magic circle, and the bones of the skeleton's tail fin crackled and moved.
"See? This is the connection to the nerves in the tail fin."
"But it's moving so unnaturally now."
Rodrion gently spun the Circling on the magic circle with his fingertips to tighten it. The fluttering grew a little wider.
"See? Try to balance the Circling by spinning it. If it's too loose, the movement will be exaggerated and unnatural, and if it's too tight, the skeleton will be stiff and brittle."
Work was progressing well. The magic circle was nearing completion.
It was then that Diego, who had just finished coordinating the head movements after a solid few minutes of wordless concentration, tried moving the tail fin.
His eyes widened when he saw how the fin moved.
It shifted gently, like a creature with flesh and muscles instead of bones. It was like the deimos was actually swimming in the ocean.
'I've never seen such smooth movements in the attunement stage before!'
Diego urgently raised his head.
"Hey! Hey! Hold on! Who tuned the tail?"
Simon held up his arm, looking a little nervous.
"I did! Is there anything I should fix…?"
Electricity coursed through Diego's veins as he stared down at Simon. A huge shudder ran through his body, and his mind raced.
This bastard, honestly…
Diego howled with laughter as he slapped Simon on the back of the head.
"You insane asshole! It's fucking great, Simon!"
Diego called him by name for the first time. Simon's face lit up. He smiled broadly and bowed his head.
"Thank you! It's all thanks to your teachings, seniors!"
He was humble enough to give credit to his seniors.
Simon's performance lifted the mood of the workshop.
All three artisans shed their sense of authority and began to create the magic circle with their mouths wide open, laughing. They haven't had so much fun at work in years.
Benya, who had watched in silence as Simon was scolded and then praised, smiled with satisfaction.
They'd never believe her if she told them at HQ.
Diego, known for being cranky to any new recruit, put his arm around Simon's shoulders as he pulled him close to teach him something new. The man's wrinkled face was beaming with excitement.
"He's a great kid."
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