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The Alchemical Process

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1 The Alchemical Process on Wed May 02, 2012 2:26 am

Alopex

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On the outskirts of a small human village was a stone cottage where an old alchemist lived. Her name was Po Sanso and she lived alone except for the obsession that was her life. She was currently working a large bellows as quickly as her arthritic hands would allow pumping up the fire beneath her crucible. She kept track of the time in her head and after forty-five seconds of sustained heat Po stopped her labor, cut the gas, and let the flames below the crucible die. She collapsed into a chair just as there was a knock on door. Grumbling she stood again and went to unlatch the door.

“Um hi Miss Sanso,” a boy said. Po had to adjust her spectacles in order to make him out. Before her stood a lanky boy about thirteen years old with brown hair carrying a large basket.

“Hello Buroa, how are you today,” She asked pleasantly but going back in to her comfy chair.

“Ok I just brought you your groceries,” he replied moving in after her and looking around the cottage. It was a single large room cluttered with equipment; furnaces of every kind, crucibles, tongs, scales, shelves upon shelves of thick books, and in one corner a bed. Buroa went to the still smoking crucible and looked inside it. “What’s this?”

“Those are thrice purified salt crystals,” Po said as she dug a loaf of bread out of the basket and devoured it. “Oh and the towns elixirs are over there,” she added pointing to a basket on a table by the door.

Po had an arrangement with the town. She sold a variety of elixirs to the village in exchange for food and all the supplies she needed. She mostly made birth control and potency elixirs but every now and then she’d get a request for health or mana potions. Sadly she never got to make anything interesting like battle potions but that’s what you get for living in the most peaceful corner of the Kelthdran.

“So you’re trying to make that thing again,” Buroa said.

Po sighed. “That thing is the great work that I’ve spent my entire life trying to complete,” she said already getting tired of this kid. “Don’t you have places to be?”

“Um sure,” the young boy said picking up the basket of elixirs before walking to the door. But before leaving he turned back to Po. “Try not to blow yourself up again old lady,” he said before running off.

“Hey I haven’t blown my lab up in 30 years,” she called after Buroa as he ran back to the village. “You weren’t even alive back then.” Po slammed her door and went back to her crucible and gathered up the salt crystals into a container and hobbled around for the other materials she needed.

About ten years ago Po had finally figured out the process to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. But one of the key ingredients was the blood of the alchemist who was crafting it. Another ingredient was one of the many precious stones in the world. Human blood had subtle mineral differences from person to person and depending on the blood the alchemist would have to add the matching stone or the Philosopher’s Stone wouldn’t be produced. Also there was the additional problem that in order to get all the ingredients into the exact composition to create the stone they had to go through long processes of transmutation that took around ten months.

Po had tried several different gems but none had worked so far and she had to start over again each time. Today she was finally ready for another attempt. This time she would be trying to match her blood to a piece of jade. Hopefully this time it would work because Po wasn’t sure how many more attempts she’d get. At eighty-eight years of age Po was running out of time for her great work.

Po began to collect the materials she needed and place them in her largest crucible. Along with the purified salt she also added purified sulfur and mercury, along with the piece of jade and about a dozen other different chunks matter. After all of the ingredients were in the crucible Po took a long dagger and slit her palm allowing blood to splash into a measuring beaker until she had enough.

After measuring the exact amount of blood she needed Po started up the furnace beneath her crucible. She quickly built up the heat to five hundred and fifty-five degrees, the various matter melted and combined into a multicolored soup. She took a deep breath and poured the blood in. At first nothing happened Po just watched the mixture bubble and hiss. After a few minutes though it had still done nothing. Po sighed, another failure and another ten months gone to waste.

Just as she was about to turn off the furnace the various chunks of matter entirely dissolving in Po’s and changed to a bright golden yellow. Then it changed to a dark blue. As she watched in astonishment the mixture seemed to be disappearing, or drawing into itself, the crucible had started filled to the half way point but now it was only up to a quarter full. Po watched amazed as the mixture turned from blue to white, and from white to black over the next few seconds it also seemed to be hardening. By the time it was black it was the size and hardness of a pebble. It sat in the bottom of the crucible for several minutes sizzling slightly before suddenly it released a green gas that in an instant enveloped the old alchemist.

In a second Po’s lab was full of the gas and she was on her knees coughing and hacking on the stuff. Her eyes watered and for an instant she was completely blind. Not the blurry, cataract filled vision she had gotten used to in her old age but complete blackness. This was accompanied by immense pain that wracked her body. Luckily this only lasted a second and then Po was okay again. A moment later the gas dissolved into the air and Po slowly crawled to the sink.

She splashed some water on her face and stared at her face in the mirror. It was the same as the last time she looked. She was heavily wrinkled, missing a handful of teeth, and had her gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was exactly the same except for her eyes. For her entire life she’d looked in this mirror and seen her own familiar brown eyes. Now they were green. Actually they matched the color of the piece of jade she had used exactly.

Po shook herself and carefully got to her feet and went to check the crucible. Laying there at the bottom was a tiny blood red stone. She shut off the furnace and used tongs to pick the stone up and place it on the table.

Po sat down and stared at the little stone. She had spent her entire life trying to create this tiny red stone but she’d never actually thought about what she’d do with it. Supposedly it could turn any base metal to gold and create the elixir of life, which were both great powers but Po had never actually thought about it much. She had grown up being told by her parents that to complete the stone was the greatest work. They had both been alchemists and had trained Po and her siblings in the art. As children all her siblings had been obsessed with the idea of the stone and they often worked trying to discover it. But as the years went by, one by one all her other siblings went off to lead lives of their own and devoted their lives to lovers and children. Only Po had persisted with the great work into old age forgoing the comfort of others to delve deeper into the mysteries of the Philosopher’s Stone.

Once it had cooled enough to hold Po carefully picked it up. It felt almost alive and Po could swear it was beating like a little heart. It also felt almost electrical in her hand. But for as weird and wonderful as it was it still just sat in Po’s hand. She didn’t feel anything of the happiness she had seen on her sibling’s faces when they beheld their children.

As an experiment Po dug through her materials till she found a bar of lead. She held the bar in one hand and the stone in the other and tapped them together. Nothing happened. Po pressed the stone to the lead and still nothing. As she began to wonder if she’d wasted her life for a pretty red stone with no powers she willed it to transmute the lead. This got results as a wave of gold spread from the point where the stone touched the bar quickly turning it to gold. Po weighed the bar in her hand for a moment before licking it. At least it tasted like pure gold. She put the bar down and turned her attention back to the stone. She still didn’t know what to do with the stupid thing. She became frustrated with the stone and closed her fist around it.

She was beginning to realize just what her life had been. It had been an endless quest for an unattainable goal. But here she sat with the goal in her hand and no idea what to do with it. She had no friends or family to share her gold with and nothing she had ever wanted except for the stone. She had wasted her life and had nothing but a magic stone to show for it. Now she was old and nearly dead and she had barely ever left this lab. Po’s internal tirade ended when she felt her hand become wet.

She opened her fist and saw that the stone was leaking. Her palm was filling up with a crystal clear liquid. This must be the elixir of life. At least she could get her youth back from the stone. Po cupped her hands together and let the elixir fill them. When her hands were full with the liquid she brought them to mouth and swallowed deeply.

The effects were immediate. Po felt an irritating itch all over her body as her skin tightened becoming soft and silky. The white cataracts that blocked out parts of the room disappeared and her overall vision sharpened making the lab blurry through her glasses before she took them off and dropped them to the ground. She felt new white teeth slide into her gums and the pain in her joints stopped for the first time in years. The gray hair fell out and for a second Po was completely bald before a new mane of raven black hair grew in. But most extreme of all was the wave of hormones that began pumping through Po’s youthful body.

“Wooo,” she exclaimed once the transformation was complete. She ran to the mirror and stared at her new reflection. She looked like she was in her late twenties but Po didn’t remember herself being so beautiful. Maybe it was the new eyes; they were an exotic green that looked a little stony and unnatural. Or maybe it was her new mental clarity, she realized she had never fully looked at herself without having thoughts of the stone taking up some of her attention.

But it wasn’t her youthful beauty that surprised Po it was the hormones. She was suddenly very aware of the fact that she was a virgin. She was an eighty-eight year old virgin. This thought brought a sense of shame to Po, even Buroa-whats-his-face probably wasn’t a virgin.

Po began listing all the things she’d missed out on in her life. She’d never drank alcohol, never left the village, never been in love with a man or a woman, etc. The list went on and on. There was so much she had missed out on in her life so far. Po looked down at the stone.

“Maybe now that I’m done I can go out and live,” Po said looking down at the stone in her hand. All the gold she wanted and infinite life to use it in. She finally had an idea of what to do with the stone. She could leave her old life behind and actually experience the world.

Po looked around the little cottage. It was all so familiar to her. The different pieces of equipment were almost a part of her. Despite the familiarity of the room Po felt stifled. How had she spent so many years in this tiny room? In a moment Po’s feeling for her lab turned to dread and disgust, she needed to leave, and she never wanted to return.

Po slipped the Philosopher’s Stone in her pocket and looked around for anything she might need. She had always lived a very Spartan lifestyle so there was nothing she really wanted to take. She ended up just filling a small bag with some clothes and the bar of gold. Po threw on her cloak and looked around her lab.

“Hm; how long has it been since I blew up my lab,” Po giggled before darting around throwing various odds and ends into her crucible. She did the chemical calculations in her head making sure the reaction wouldn’t go off for a few minutes. Once she was satisfied that she’d have a few minutes to get away she lit the furnace and hobbled away.

Or she hobbled before remembering her new youth then she ran as she hadn’t done since she was young playing with her siblings. It was sunset and the shadows were lengthening quickly. Po ran a bit down the road until she heard the explosion. She looked back to see a plume of smoke where her little cottage had been.

Cries were coming from the village and Po could see people running to the ruin. Intrigued she began to walk back towards the burnt out cottage. She was curious to see if anyone recognized her but doubted it greatly.

By the time she reached her cottage there was a large crowd of people in front of it. Some were digging through the wreck but halfheartedly, they could see the force of the blast was too much for anyone inside to have survived. Po was actually touched to see how sad they looked. While she hadn’t been close to any of them she was still a part of the village and the people had always treated her with kindness. Po sighed, it was difficult to hurt these people but she felt like she couldn’t go back now.

Looking around the group Po spotted a rather handsome young man at the back of the group. Po remembered him as Yoroni, he had been her delivery boy before Buroa. She hadn’t actually seen him in a while and was surprised by how good looking he had become. She took a deep breath to steady her nerve and walked up behind him.

“What’s happening here,” she asked Yoroni’s back.

“It’s the village alchemist,” he replied without turning to Po. “She must have blown herself up in her experiments. She was such a nice old lady but so lonely.”

Yoroni sighed before turning to Po. The moment he locked eyes on her his jaw dropped open. He seemed paralyzed and just stared at her. Po stared back but began to feel a bit nervous. Perhaps he had recognized her after all.
“Um what is it,” she asked him meekly.

At the sound of her voice Yoroni shook himself slightly looked at the ground blushing. “Sorry it’s just that you’re so beautiful miss,” Yoroni said embarrassed.

Po smiled at the blushing boy before her and did some blushing herself. It was nice to see that she had such an effect on him. He seemed to be more at ease since Po was smiling and stepped a little closer to her.

“Um may I ask why you’re here,” Yoroni asked grinning goofily. “I haven’t seen you around the village before.”

“Well I just got here and decided to see what the commotion was about,” Po lied smoothly. She had grown very sarcastic in her old age but many couldn’t tell when she was trying to be sarcastic. However this did make her a pretty good liar. “I wonder if you’d care to escort me around a bit. Perhaps we could get a drink at the tavern.”

Yoroni looked as if he couldn’t believe his ears. “Um s-sure, um miss,” he managed to stutter. However Po couldn’t stop herself from laughing at the poor boy.

She was surprised to find out her laugh was full of joy and somewhat musical. It was very different from the croaked laugh she was used to making. Apparently Yoroni liked the sound of her laugh as well for despite his embarrassment he started to laugh to.

“Well if you’d like to go then let’s go,” Po said extending her hand for him to take. “We can have a drink in your alchemist’s honor.” He gulped and gently took her hand as if she may not be real. His hand was a little sweaty but Po didn’t mind. He began to lead her away from the old cabin toward the village.

“Um I’m Yoroni,” He said to her. “What’s your name miss?”

“Call me Jade.”

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