The Alchemist had no love for hospitals. For all his knowledge of the realities of the chemical world, he loathed medical science. Mostly the needles and bone saws so prevalent in the field. When eyes first opened and saw the white curtain surrounding his bed, the gas lamp lighting his room and the doctor scribbling notes on a piece of paper he sighed.
“It had to be hospital. I take one long nap and they put me here,” he said.
The doctor rushed to his side and threw a bevy of questions at the waking man.
“Shush. End your drivel. Where am I, you oddly short creature?” The Alchemist was a bit more forward than usual.
“Sir, do you remember what happened is Descar? With the automaton?” The doctor asked.
“Of course I remember. Landship explodes, mechanical soldiers follow and oh my goodness I was blown up wasn’t I?” The Alchemist did not fully remember the evening’s events. “Good heavens, that is is something one should remember yes?”
The curtain around his bed was flung open and a cadre of coat wearing doctors with scopes and prods in hand entered the tiny area. The Alchemist saw nothing but heads leaning in for better views. One of the doctors poked at his arm.
“My word, what are you doing there? This is an odd way to greet a day,” he turned to face the doctor at his arm and saw the reason for their concern. “Young lady, you seem to be examining a limb from the automaton that attacked me. Oh. Wait. I do now suspect that arm is mine? Have I been made into a cyborg? This is some sort of poorly composed science fiction is it not? What has happened to my arm?” The Alchemist raised his voice.
“I have happened to your arm. You are welcome,” the first doctor finally spoke up.
“And what in the world does that arrogance mean?” The Alchemist jumped from the bed.
“I am Lionel Rieso, engineer and the man responsible for that creation. You are the first human outfitted with the device. The combination of hydraulics and gears should make you stronger than before. Likely more graceful too, if your manners are any indication of the care you put toward your own experiments,” the doctor said. The man’s voice grated on the Alchemist.
“Rieso? The resistance tried to have you killed, right?” The Alchemist taunted.
“Often. I figured my best bet was to join up. Down with the Crazed King!” Rieso shouted, “and what not. Lift the arm for me.”
The Alchemist raised the arm. It whirred and hissed, but it responded to every command. The doctor gave more instructions and the Alchemist complied as best he could. The arm was gold in color and comprised of beams and gizmos. If he liked Rieso whatsoever, the Alchemist would have complimented the achievement. Instead he found little things to nitpick and taunted the man for his diminutive stature. It was petty, but the Alchemist was far from tactful.
“Well enough,” Rieso said after three days of testing. He clapped his hands and left the room. That was the last interaction the two men ever had and both were pleased for it.
Rieso left with his team and they were replaced by new, taller people in military uniforms.
“The Greens! How I missed you folks,” The Alchemist said, noting the uniform colors.
“Likewise, sir,” the figure at the center said.
“Please tell me there is a new, less hospital like, endeavor for me to take on?” the Alchemist asked, begging.
“We do have quite a dozy for you, sir. The siege of the King’s Castle is near. It looks to be a long encounter and the Cloak and Cowl will be fierce opponents as we approach. We are to escort you to the front where you will lead the effort in bringing the castle down. You, sir, will lead our forces as the Crazed King falls.”
“We cannot bring the castle down. That building holds so much of our country’s history. Even if it currently provides sanctuary for the Crazed King, we must ensure it stands after the crown falls,” The Alchemist said.
“It’s your operation, sir, do what you want and we’ll follow,” the group’s lead replied.
“Oh. You know, I heard you say something to that affect, but I did not want to overplay my role. We shall set forth then?” The Alchemist said.
“Steam carriages await. We should reach the front by tomorrow evening if we leave now.” The escorts parted and directed the Alchemist to the exit. Each saluted as the Alchemist passed.
“Superb,” the Alchemist said. He went to salute as well, but the arm refused to rise. “Silly thing. Built by a turncoat. Going to have trust issues for weeks. Rather nice looking though is it not? I’m going to call it Lefty 2. On the right side, funny yes? I will need to spend some time in the lab to find a way to keep it oiled. You know what Rieso does build well? Weapons of war. Let’s get this arm to the king’s castle. It should do wonders in bringing this war to an end.”
The escorts did not know what to think of the man that talked so much. They did know he was going to end the war. They brought him to the carriage, the engines churned and they drove to the front one last time.
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