“Look. I’ve told you a thousand times. I can’t turn lead into gold. If I could I wouldn’t be working in an apothecary.” There was a block of lead sitting on his counter.
The Aliazian guard looked him up and down. “Look, Frevren. I don’t think you can either. It’s the king who thinks you can.”
Sighing, Frevren took the proffered lead. “If you want me to try I can, but it won’t have anything other than the color of gold.”
“I don’t care, but the king’s orders are to locate any alchemist that can produce gold from lead.” The guard shrugged. “I’d say I don’t know why he wants it, but he obviously wants to decorate his throne room with it.”
“All us humans are the same. We want more more more. In my case, I want more privacy, but that doesn’t matter when the king makes a decree.” Frevren turned to head into the back of the shop. “Well, come on then. You’re supposed to make sure I don’t swap this with real gold.”
– – –
The guard held the golden colored substance in his hands. “I know you say it isn’t gold, but it sure looks like it.”
“Here.” Freven offered him a knife, handle first. “If you cut into it it’ll be bluish grey on the inside. The color of freshly cut lead.”
“Frevren, you know that part of the demonstration will be done by court alchemists. Come along. It looks like gold so you have to come with me.”
“Very well, let’s go.”
– – –
The court alchemists were having a really busy day. Just about every alchemist in the city could produce the same effect as Frevren.
The guard escorting Frevren dropped the gold-colored ingot on the table unceremoniously. “He says it’s just a different color on the outside.”
“That’s usually what it is.” The alchemist pulled out a knife. “How long did you soak it for coloration?”
“About an hour.” Frevren replied.
“Well, shit. I guess we’re gonna cut this thing in half then.” He put the knife away and pulled out a saw.
“I was supposed to do my best. Sorry.”
The saw quickly dealt with the lead, revealing the bluish grey interior material. “Yup, still lead.” The alchemist tossed the lead into a bucket full of lead. “What shop did you say you were from?”
Frevren paused. “I didn’t, why?”
“It wasn’t an apothecary, was it?”
The alchemist stared at the guard. “I hope you didn’t place the lead on or near where this man does business?”
The guard looked nervous. “Uh…was I not supposed to?”
“Look, the findings were really recent, but you were supposed to be told to take care with this potentially poisonous substance.”
The blood drained from Frevren’s face. “P-poisonous? We’ve used lead for like everything. What changed?”
“Enough changed that you can’t use anything that the lead touched for any medicinal purpose. Sorry, you’ll need new equipment.”
Frevren cursed under his breath and left the testing area. When he arrived back at his apothecary he took all the tainted material and burned it. Then, having only a few items remaining, he sold the building and bought a merchant’s cart and a horse.
“Oi, Frevren! Where ya going with that cart?”
“Oh, I’m going up north. Hear they have need of healers in Ertval.”
“Well, good luck with that then.”
As Frevren was exiting the city the guard from before stopped him.
“Hey, sorry about my mistake before. Here, this coin should help you live comfortably until you get a steady income. If there’s something else I can do let me know.”
“I doubt I’ll be back again. Your mistake isn’t the only reason I’m leaving.”
– – –
“So, Frevren was it?”
“Yes, Emyr. That’s my name. What do you want with me?” Frevren was locked in a cell for the destruction of half the town of Norwich.
Emyr pulled a stool in front of the cell and sat down. “I wanted to talk about your alchemy. How’s your explosive creation when you aren’t increasing its potency with magic?”
“Pretty good, but my passion is in making healing poultices and the odd potion or two. Why do you ask?”
“Well, the prince and I have a project going on. We need some explosives mixed up. For use by the military, of course. You help us out you get out of jail. Deal?”
“Alright. Come with me. The workshop’s one floor up.” Emyr unlocked the cell and lead him up to a workshop where there were automatons being worked on. “This way. No explosives for those things. We have something we’re calling blast spheres. The mechanism is fine, and the current explosion looks powerful, but it’s mostly for show. We need a little bigger of a kick if you will.”
“What do I have to work with?”
“That’s the spirit!”
– – –
An explosion rocked the workshop.
“That wasn’t one of mine and there shouldn’t be any testing going on.” Frevren looked around the workshop and saw Zdenko and Avron collapse to the floor. He ran over to help as quickly as he could.