Book II: Chapter 14
OK, so the cat’s out of the bag – yes I became an Alchemy Master in order to try to kill myself.
Has it worked yet?
Meanwhile, Miriam pleaded, “I don’t want your help if it means you’re trying to kill yours—“
“Don’t worry,” I interrupted her, while wheeling Alan over to one of my workbenches. “I won’t be needing the Ebon Essence for this procedure.”
Miriam tried to stay out of the way as I poked and prodded Alan. My examination lasted for some time so I won’t bore you with the details. Eventually I advised, “It won’t be easy. Only The Nigredo can save him now.”
“Ah, OK? I guess. But what is this Nigredo?”
“John, er, Azoth, I don’t understand. I’m not an alchemist!”
“Cool your breeches, sister. Basically I have to perform a Rite upon Lazarus that will first putrefy his body and then purify him from the inside out – it’s the only way to burn out the impurity left from The Chair of Woe.” And after a pause, “It will not be a pretty sight.”
“You may want to go back to my house and wait.”
The color draining from her face, Miriam gritted her teeth, “No.”
“Suit yourself.” I turned my back on her and got to work.
Yet before I could get started, Miriam sheepishly asked, “Does this ritual involve The Philosopher’s Stone?”
At that I laughed – I mean, I truly laughed – it was a rich, heartfelt laugh the kind that I had not experienced in decades and damn it felt good!
“What’s so funny?” Miriam asked, perturbed.
“Is that the extent of your knowledge of Alchemy?” I smiled, as if talking to a child. “Do you think The Stone is truly a great mystery?”
“You mean it’s just a legend?”
“On the contrary, The Philosopher’s Stone — the substance called the Philosopher’s Stone — is quite real. And yes, you can use it to turn inexpensive metals into gold.” Raising a hand, “Before you ask, those three chest there are filled with gold ingots. All at least a thousand years old from back when I amused myself with this trick. Ah, but who needs gold anyway?”
(Do YOU want that gold? If so, come on by and you can have it – it’s waiting for you… that is, if you dare to try to find my house).
My eyes narrowed at that. “Don’t trouble yourself with that vein — I buried those secrets long ago.” And because this was a touchy subject for me, I changed it, “As for Alan, he requires but one step along the path of The Opus Magnum – ‘The Great Work’ — The Nigredo is the first step of this path.”
“How many steps are there?”
“Well, after working on this craft for over a thousand years, I’ll bet you have completed them all, right?” Miriam tried to be encouraging.
Yet my face grew hard, “That’s no concern of yours, Mary. Now step back and give me space to work!”
(And don’t YOU go asking about that either — the fact is that I have NOT yet completed The Opus, but I am damn close! Yet before my life is over I WILL complete The Rite…and become a god! )