Long week, here we are again, late Thursday night, tired and melancholy — perfect for this:
Blade Breaker 1.1 (start here)
Blade Breaker 1.5 (last week’s episode)
Alchemy is magic that tries to masquerade as a science. Many magics, such as Artifice, are much more cunning in their guises, but none are sciences. Alchemy, in particular, lacks experiments with reproducible results.
I am no scientist, but it seems to me that if an alchemist writes down a recipe and leaves detailed instructions on how he creates a particular concoction, potions, or salve that another alchemist, or even a careful amateur should be able to create a concoction, potion, or salve with the same powers. This is not the case with true alchemy where the recipes are merely inspirational and only other alchemists have even a hope of creating the same effect. Certainly no amateur who does not have a spark of magic will never make them work. I suppose it is for the best though — if everyone could turn lead into gold, I would have to endure endless lectures about the declining value of gold from the merchants who frequent the girls.
The door to Git’s shop was open. I entered. The shop itself was made of stone and ceramic tiles. The shelves were full of bottles of all shapes and sizes in a rainbow of colours. A bored looking woman, pretty and perfumed, quickly stood and smiled as I entered the shop. Her hair reminded my of raven’s feathers, and I might have stared just a little too long.
“Welcome to Git’s Potion Emporium,” said the woman. “Can I help you with anything?”
“How about a love potion?” I asked, grinning.
“Certainly sir, we have several varieties…” she said.
“Which do you like?” I asked.
The clerk paused, pride warring with salesmanship. A woman like that would never want to admit to using such a thing, but she had to sell Git’s wares as hard as she could. I enjoyed the little ruse.
“Don’t be petty Ragnar,” Git’s familiar voice, low and steady for a goblin, drifted out of the back room. “I have enough trouble keeping good help without your jests. Besides, we both know that a potion that could convince a maiden to love to a man like you is beyond any alchemist in Myrrhn.”
“Who wants maidens?” I said, grinning at the clerk as she returned to her post. “I prefer someone who knows what she is doing.”
“I assume you have business, Ragnar?” said Git. “If you do, come back here so I don’t have to yell. If you don’t, come back after work and we can have a drink then.”
“Polite,” I noted. “Does that mean you have forgiven me for the Vestal Cult?”
“… no,” said Git flatly. “It means that I have discovered through long suffering trial and error, that the best way to get rid of you is to be polite and to the point.”
“Garm’s secret lore!” I exclaimed mockingly.
I squeezed through the door at the back of the shop. I had to concentrate on keeping my nose in check. Odours, both curious and offensive, demanded my attention. Glass vials full of bubbling liquids, decanters, and a spinning centrifuge. Git was grinding herbs at a mortar and pestle. The skin on his fingers was stained a deepre green. His long ears drooped, making him look old and tired. I sniffed — he was making an expensive dye; most alchemists make their money with mundane tasks, which are less demanding than the art.
“It has been some time, my friend,” I said, extending my hand.
Git clasped forearms with me, our eyes met briefly before he sat down and returned to his task. He looked sharp-minded, as ever.
“This about a case?” he asked.
“Yes, I am looking to pick your brain about a particular poison,” I said. I went on to describe the effects of the poison, as well as the way it smelled.
“Hmmmm,” said Git. “That sounds like a specialty item. Most people would just go for something lethal — even white spider venom would be less expensive than a poison that paralyzes that effectively and still allows feeling. Only Gregor the Grey and The Borik Sisters are skilled enough to make such a thing as well as unscrupulous enough to sell it.”
“Excellent,” I said. “That is a pretty short list.”
“You should be wary on this one, Ragnar,” said Git. “A poison like this costs a fortune. Your wolves can’t help you here if you anger someone with real power. They may not be able to kill you, but they can certainly bury you for a long, long time.”
“I do not fear death Git,” I said. “And the wolves are just at home hunting in city streets.”
“Well, I want no part of this one, Ragnar.” said Git. “I’m a legitimate businessman now. I cannot afford to anger the guilds or the merchant houses.”
“It is a shame, my friend,” I said. “We had some good times didn’t we.”
“We did,” said Git. “Some very good times, but also some bad ones, Ragnar.”
I left it at that. I lifted the conversation to lighter topics, ale and money, before taking my leave. I did not want thoughts of the past to cloud my judgement on a fine day like this. I still had to visit Gregor the Grey and The Borik Sisters.
Moments after I left Git’s shop it began to rain. I smiled. The rain was cold and pure, born of the northern winds. It reminded me of home. It wiped away the foul smells of Burning Hill and Myrrhn in general and filled my ears with cheerful drumming. I let go of the unspoken sorrows of the past, the deaths and failures that lay between Git and I, and thought of home.
I almost didn’t notice the assassin.