There was but one place in the world the Alchemist could venture where his outer monologue and incessant rambling would annoy few if any of his compatriots. One place that he could go to commune with his tools and books to create and forge new technologies and sciences yet undreamed by his peers. He was walking there now. Originally he had conscripted a steam-carriage to carry him there, but the driver tossed him out after ten miles after having quite his fill of the mad scientist.
The Alchemist was heading to his laboratory deep within the forest of Tirr. He hollowed a mountain’s side and installed for himself a lab that could remain hidden from passersby, yet accessible enough to those that needed to find him. He used to be asked quite consistently how he managed to hollow a mountain, he would explain the chemical reactions necessary to melt rock in a speedy yet controlled manner and then, because all of thoughts were expressed outwardly, tell the interviewer he thought they were not smart enough to understand such science. He has not been asked a question in quite some time.
He adored the serenity of the hill top lab. Lush vegetation from creeping vines to towering oaks speckled the scenery. Birds chirped and cawed at all hours and from time to time he saw animals he found more enjoyable such as squirrels and bears. It was a far cry from the lab he kept in the city, where the brick walls around him seemed to constantly be dripping with water from unknown origins and the distinct smell of garbage permeated his office.
He trekked to his mountain lab in search of isolation. He had a tremendous task given him by his colleagues in the resistance. He needed to turn liquid water into a solid substance. When given the task he blurted a thousand solutions that would not rely on his alchemical knowledge.
“Find some corn starch and run fast,” he suggested. The resistance envoy tilted an eyebrow and requested a more realistic approach.
“Make it really cold down there? Oh! Cement could be fun. You would need a few wheel barrows though. Do your followers enjoy wheel barrowing? I remember wheel barrowing as a child, sitting in the bucket as my brother pushed me down hill. Most of the time I did not fall over. There was that one time though,” the Alchemist rambled.
The resistance envoy stopped the ranting and handed the Alchemist a satchel of coin heavier than the alchemist had ever lifted before, but was quite curious why he was being given payment.
“You know by the very nature of my title I can literally whip up gold whenever I want to right? You resistance folks know what I do for a living?” The Alchemist questioned.
The envoy informed him he had three weeks to find a solution.
That conversation happened two weeks ago. The Alchemist was having no luck at his city lab and nearly destroyed a structurally significant pillar of the basement workshop in the process of finding solutions that did not work. With one week to go, the Alchemist was losing hope he could find the solution the resistance sought.
The Alchemist reached his lab and rummaged his books. The writings of Egyptians and Romans, Persians and Greeks who had originated his profession had given him many answers before. Alchemy was most certainly illegal under the laws of the Crown. Citizens crafting their own gold was a dangerous precedent that devalued the entire lot. Alchemists pursued their craft for so much more than monetary gains. They could derive gems from feathers, fabrics from dirt and, when done properly, they could use aether to control the four elements.
The Alchemist hoped that within the texts written by his forefathers, one of them wrote something that could help harness the power of water. He poured through every book, staying awake day and night taking in the words of those that came before him. He brewed an elixir from arrow root, willow branches and a rat’s tail that was suppose to end the need for sleep. He regretted the decision after one sip and opted for short hour long naps every ten hours.
Finally, on the fourth day of his isolation he found his answer.
“Oh this is just too fitting. This. This is wondrous. I need to start right away,” he said as he sat the book down and ran through his lab to gather supplies.
A book, written in ancient Greek detailing the works of an Egyptian alchemy cult. The Pharaoh had banished the cult to well beyond the reach of the Nile and her life giving waters. The cult switched their focus from creating gold to controlling water. The Alchemist read the history and knew that if they had access to aether, as he did, the cult would have found success in their efforts.
He gathered his available supply of aether, stowed in apothecary jars inside a leather case he traveled with, and placed it haphazardly on his largest work table. He ignited his furnace that sat a far corner of the lab, a ready stash of coals near by would keep it hot for hours. He grabbed a chisel set and tossed it alongside the aether jars that had spilled out of their case. The one final element that would grant him the ability to control the water that was confounding the resistance’s progress was emerald. Fortune smiled greatly on the Alchemist as he had just stolen the largest emerald in the kingdom from the Crown’s own agents.
He pulled the emerald from his pack and lifted to the table. With a chisel in one hand and a mallet in the other, he cracked the astonishing stone in half and began etching the cult’s words into both pieces. Two Emerald Tablets would ensure the resistance would have a second chance should the first attempt be foiled. He doused the tablets in aether, applying the much sought after element quite liberally, and placed the stones into the make shift kiln. He felt like a baker of sorts, but wished very much the smell of the mountain cave was more bread like and less burning dirt like.
In the morning, once the tablets had cooled and the aether set, he would deliver the works to the envoy at a small tavern in the city that had proven itself no friend of the Crown. The tablets would be transferred, instructions of use provided and the Alchemist would be on his way. He would never be updated on the fate of the stones or informed if they were of any practical use. The Alchemist was fine with not knowing, all he wanted was another mission; another way to take down the Crown.
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For more in the series, follow these links:
The Academic’s Travels