The same was true for the guards at the academy's main gate. Jason, who was waiting for the shift change with his colleagues, watched the glow of the sunset as always.
'I don't like winter vacation… It is comfortable because there is no work, but I am bored without any people.'
Only a few students stayed in the dormitory during summer vacation and even they went home during winter vacation. If he included the professors who remained in their offices, there was a total of approximately 10 people who came and went in one day.
It would be worse if someone heard him say this, but Jason's boredom was severe.
At that moment, someone was approaching in the distance.
"Pant, pant. Not, pant, not late?!"
The panting and sweat on the person's forehead showed that he had been running without any rest.
Jason nodded, and Theo sat down with a sigh of relief. The business with the black market trader had taken longer than he'd thought it would, so he'd almost broken curfew. No, if he hadn't run hard, he would've been late.
'It is okay because it was a good trip.'
He had signed a contract with the black market trader and completed his first work. The things he received in return were enough to cause the backpack on his shoulder to swell. Thanks to that, sweat flowed down but the weight added to his sense of accomplishment.
Additionally, the weight of this backpack would soon lead to an increase in the amount of magic power! It was pleasant, so there was no reason for him to feel displeased.
Jason checked the permit and gave it back.
"Third grade, Theodore Miller… Yes, I have confirmed it. You can go inside now."
"Hah, yes, thank you."
Theo was still panting as he crossed the threshold. He had a staggering gait but managed to somehow cross the grounds without falling over.
Jason watched the scene from the entrance and muttered to himself, "What the hell did he do?"
From behind, he couldn't even see Theo's hair. It was because Theo kept on wobbling from the weight of the backpack. Jason thought about it for a while, but then he met his colleagues who would replace him and soon forgot about it.
'Well, who cares?'
In the end, it had nothing to do with him.
* * *
Theo skipped dinner and headed straight to his dorm. Normally, he would've gone to the library, but today, there was something more important.
It was an opportunity to increase his lacking magic power! He couldn't buy magic reagents due to his thin wallet, so he couldn't miss this chance. The reason he'd skipped dinner was to raise his concentration.
Theo first opened his bulging backpack.
The objects in the backpack poured out onto the ground. Gloves, necklace, broken cooker, worn out staff… objects of various weights and length filled the room. Although their appearances were humble, they were artifacts which contained magic power. If he found the right item, then it could be worth at least a few gold.
Unfortunately, Theo only had one such item.
'Still, there were five winners out of 20, so it is pretty good. Not every day will be like today.'
Today, Theo had appraised a total of 20 items for the black market trader. It was a quantity which matched the limits of an 'average' level appraiser. It would be dangerous to show the black market trader an ability to appraise over 20 items.
Although he did appraise curse items, it didn't raise any doubts in Canis. As a result, today's income was fifteen defects and one common artifact.
"Then… shall I feed it one first?"
According to the previous explanation, the 'simple eating' function was different from feeding it magic books. Thus, he needed to look at what the difference was.
Theo sat down and picked up one of the defective products. It was the magic gloves enchanted with 'Grease' magic.
The tongue responded to Theo's call and swallowed up the gloves.
['Clumsy Hands of a Fool' has been consumed. The amount of magic power it possesses is very marginal.]
[It will take 3 minutes and 12 seconds to digest it fully.]
3 minutes and 12 seconds passed by. The moment the clock hands spun exactly three laps and moved 12 spaces, a voice was heard.
[Your magic power has increased slightly.]
[Proficiency with the 1st Circle magic 'Grease' has increased.]
At the same time, changes took place within Theo's body.
An unidentified magic power was boiling up. The amount wasn't large, but it moved through Theo's body like it was his magic power. The two circles on his heart turned like cogs which had just been oiled. Additionally, a narrow area of the application of 'Grease' magic entered his mind.
'This… It is different from magic spells. It is more like pouring knowledge into my head rather than it being engraved. If that is the case, I don't need to worry about a headache like last time.'
This wasn't like when he fed Gluttony magic books. When a book was eaten, he felt like the magic was being burned forcefully into his body. However, with the artifact, it felt like he was being taught how to handle the magic. Above all, learning was Theo's specialty. Even if he fed Gluttony a few at a time, he could accept it without any problems.
Theo found some confidence and swallowed the artifacts in succession.
['The Tightening Necklace' has been consumed. The amount of magic power it possesses is very marginal.]
[Proficiency with the 2nd Circle magic 'Hold' has increased.]
['Angry Pot' has been consumed. The amount of magic power it possesses is very marginal.]
[Proficiency with the 1st Circle magic 'Freeze' has increased.]
['High-speed Hourglass' has been consumed. The amount of magic power it possesses is very marginal.]
[Proficiency with the 2nd Circle magic…]
[It will take 45 minutes and 12 seconds to digest fully.]
Despite swallowing 14 items, Gluttony's tongue moved as always. There was so much food that the voice was heard continuously. Theo paused as he listened to the last sentence.
'The digestion time is determined by the sum total of the food.'
The digestion time had increased until it was up to 45 minutes. If he added the digestion time of all the items eaten before that, he would get a similar number. It was hard to think of this as a coincidence. Ultimately, it seemed like it was necessary to have a lot of free time when eating the artifacts.
"45 minutes… It is an ambiguous length."
He could focus on other things, but he was unsure if he should leave this place or not. Thus, Theo waited in his spot silently. After 45 minutes, his magic power boiled again.
'Ohh, this is…!'
The magic power in his body was raging differently from when he ate one artifact. The two circles creaked as they accepted the magic power, since it was close to the limit that the two circles could accommodate.
Theo sensed it intuitively and immediately concentrated on it. There was a response to his call.
The voice of magic which could only be heard by Theodore Miller started resonating. It was the sound of magic power flowing through his blood vessels. This was the sweetest sound to a magician, and it proved that Theodore wasn't wrong.
As Theo's consciousness sank to the bottom of a lake…
He started spinning the magic power gathered in his heart. In a space which contained nothing, he had to draw a perfect circle.
He would add a third circle to the current two circles. The magic power moved around according to his will. If this image collapsed, then everything would be in vain.
His lack of sensitivity meant he had to use all of his concentration power. As usual, Theo's mental prowess was already beyond that of a 2nd Circle magician. A senior magician would be no match for him when it came to concentration power. Theo's spirit had unintentionally been tempered by his extremely low sensitivity.
Soon, the third circle started to take shape. Unfortunately, it was up to there.
Theo breathed out and opened his eyes. The result was that it was a half-success. The magic power gained from the artifacts was amazing, but it was a bit short to complete the third circle. Despite his fierce concentration, his limit was just forming the shape.
He would need to consume artifacts one or two more times to achieve a perfect third circle.
"…Was it originally that easy to reach the 3rd Circle?"
There was still more than a month left of winter vacation. If he increased his magic power regularly, even if it was difficult for him to reach the 4th Circle, Theo could reach the 3rd Circle safely. He didn't need to worry about the academy's diploma anymore now.
Theo wondered just how far he could go with this help. The owner of this ridiculous monster would never be able to live as an ordinary magician. If so, Theo would go as far as possible.
'Well, shall I start by cleaning up the knowledge inside my head?'
The story of the future would be postponed until later. Theodore Miller once again made his way to the library.