Only the dead have seen the end of war
Hard working single dad
A male human entering middle age, his dark hair beginning to grey at the edges. He stands quite tall which exaggerates his lean stature. Prefers not to bother wearing armour, instead choosing dark formal garb coupled with a dark cloak. Likes to wear a mask covering the eyes when adventuring, claims it helps him “get into character”.
Alchemy, at it’s heart, is the art of transmutation. The act of changing one thing or things into something else. Lead into gold is probably the most popular and infamous example but the possibilities are nearly endless. Nearly. While alchemy is not quite a science there are rules which govern it which do not govern the other forms of magic such as sorcery or miracles. The most important of which is the “Principle of Equivalent Exchange”. In order to obtain or create something, something of equal value must be lost or destroyed.
Nikolas Durad sits in his home, eyes staring into a crackling fire. The night is calm and his wife, Maria, sleeps soundly in bed. He has been married to Maria for twenty years, twenty beautiful years. Even now he couldn’t believe that he should be so lucky as to be married to such a beautiful, wonderful, brilliant woman as Maria. Yet he was troubled. Most nights now instead of being in bed with his wife he would sit in the living room and in the light of the fireplace he would work. Old texts would be scattered across the floor and Nikolas would fill notebooks with observations, musings and alchemical formulae. By all accounts Nikolas was a mediocre alchemist. He lacked the physical constitution for both mutagenic and cognatogenic compounds. Nor was he interested in developing explosive compounds that interested the military and pyromaniacs. His contemporaries put his mediocrity down not to a lack of ability but lack of passion. Nikolas had little in the way of ambition even before he met Maria. After, he wanted naught but to settle down a raise a family with the woman he loved. A simple, wholesome dream. Twenty years have passed and they are yet to have a child.
They have tried everything. They’ve consulted clerics dedicated to multiple gods and goddesses of fertility. Nikolas and his colleagues attempted numerous times to make alchemical concoctions that might be of assistance. All for naught. Now Nikolas feels time closing in on him. His hair has already begun to grey, his movements slow and stiffen. Maria remains as beautiful and young as ever, elves were like that, but Nikolas knew that his time to be a father was slipping away.
Nikolas takes his eyes off the fire and grabs a notebook, it’s leather cover dark with age. With care he searches through its pages for a set of ingredients. He knows them off by heart at this point but there is a hope that seeing it written down might reveal something hitherto overlooked.
Water, 35 litres. Carbon, 20 kilograms. Ammonia, 4 litres. Lime, 1.5 kilograms. Phosphorus, 800g. Salt, 250g. Saltpetre, 100 grams. Sulphur, 80 grams. Fluoride, 7.5 grams. Iron, 5 grams. Sillicon, 3 grams. By the time he had gotten onto the trace elements he had closed the book. Looking at the elemental makeup of a human you would be forgiven for thinking that making one should be simple. None of the listed ingredients were particularly rare or expensive. He lifted his eyes back to the fire and considered Equivalent Exchange again.
If one attempted to create life with such materials all they would create is a lifeless lump of flesh or worse. It would have no soul, no animus. What acts upon people that gives them their animus? What could possibly have an equal value to a soul? These questions are what keeps Nikolas awake at night. Whatever the answer, he knew he could not create true life. Not naturally and not with alchemy. What if he could get close though? What if he could create a being with an artificial soul, an artificial animus. It would of course never match up to the real thing but would it be close enough?
He had spent long enough consulting old occult texts and others who were concerned with matters of life and death. Tonight was the night. He donned his cloak and made for his laboratory. A fog bank had enveloped the village and cloud cover ensured there was no light from the moon. Hopefully with such pitiful visibility he could conduct his work undisturbed by others. It was a delicate procedure, and the consequences for even the slightest deviation from the necessary proportions could be disastrous. It didn’t take long for Nikolas to arrive and get to work. The ingredients aren’t dissimilar from that used to make a human, although the proportions are different and there are two important additions. Root of mandrake and the blood of the creator. The blood binds it to the creator, a tiny shard of animus providing an artificial animus for the being. Nikolas works with a fervour unknown to him, feverishly mixing and distilling. Then came the final ingredient. With no hesitation he grabs his razor and pays the blood price. Bleeding into the mixture, Nikolas slowly passes out, his dreams haunted by the possibility of failure.
Nikolas awoke sore from lying on the hard, wooden floor of the lab. Golden rays of morning sunshine pour through the windows. Immediately he knew something was amiss. His cloak was draped over him as a makeshift blanket. Shakily, he rises to his feet, letting his cloak fall from him. He looks down to his wrist to find it bandaged, albeit extremely poorly. He crosses the room towards his “work station”, a circle drawn in salt, ash and blood inside of which are various runes and geometric shapes. He finds neither lifeless flesh or a successful specimen. Just a dried stain of blood. Then he hears it. A child’s voice softly drifting across his thoughts.
“Master, you are awake.”
Behind him there is the padding of small feet against wood. Instinctively Nikolas turns on his heel, drawing his razor in one smooth motion. Stood before him was a small humanoid, scarcely standing more than three and a half feet tall. Two small black horns sprouted from its hairless head, contrasting with the creature’s wan skin. Two inky black eyes stared at Nikolas with complete attention, responding to every movement, every expression, every word. Its thin lips hid a row of dagger-like teeth, its pronounced canines dripping with venom. The hands of the creature end in hard, pointed nails in the same shade as its horns, too pathetic to do any real damage now but it wasn’t far away from being a real danger. From its shoulders a set of leathery, bat wings which are far from vestigial. All across the creature was various alchemical and arcane symbols, dyed in a sanguine red.
Nikolas drops his razor and practically throws himself at the creature eagerly embracing it. He had done it, he had actually done it! The creature shifts under him and the child’s voice sounds out again,
“No, not Master, never Master.” Nikolas interjected, voice quavering. “Call me Father.”
“Yes, Father. What shall I be called?”
Reluctantly, Nikolas relinquishes his child.
“Well it wouldn’t do to name you without your mother’s permission.” Nikolas reaches into his pocket to dab his eyes with a handkerchief. Here he was, a man of logic and formulae blubbering away like some sentimental fool. Well it isn’t everyday you have a child after 20 years of attempts. He took a long breath and looked over his child again. He would need clothes, not to mention a room and toys and oh goodness he had focused so much on creating the child he forgot to prepare what they actually needed. He swore to himself, bloody tunnel vision.
“No matter, lets go meet your mother now.”
He sprinted home, child on his shoulder to tell Maria the good news. Gently he crept up the stairs and nudged his wife awake. Barely containing his joy he told her that their dreams had come true, that they finally had a child, that they could be a proper family. Maria thought he was playing some bizarre joke. Then she thought he had lost his mind and just bloody adopted a child without consulting her. Then she saw the “child”. This clawed, twisted, unnatural thing was their child?
When she was done screaming, she explained in no uncertain terms that Nikolas was beyond insane and that his obsession to have a family had driven him over the edge. That he needed help and that thing was not his child! He couldn’t understand! He had worked so hard for this, for both of them and… and she calls their child a monster. To their face! Screaming this loud, this early in the morning was bound to attract the wrong type of attention and soon. He had to make a decision. Give up his child, give up on his dream, to stay with his beloved Maria or cut ties, leave now and never return.
The decision was made with only a moments hesitation. His backpack laden with all he could carry Nikolas strides forth from the village, his child not far behind. He looks back only once at the picturesque village which had been his home for the last twenty years, breathtakingly beautiful in the morning sun. Although its placid nature was somewhat besmirched by the large, concerned crowd that was forming. He pushes forward, no regret in his decision.
“Father, Mother seemed upset with me.” A voice whispers at the edges of Nikolas’ mind.
“It’s unfortunate but most people don’t understand you, and people hate what they don’t understand.” Nikolas replied. He forced himself to think this, the sooner he accustomed himself to the telepathy the better. “But don’t worry, I’ll protect you.”
“And I will protect you, Father.”
Nikolas let out a small chuckle. So noble at such a young age. “So, I’ve been thinking about a name. Does Abel sound good to you?”
There is silence for a few moments.
“Abel… I like it, Father.”
Nikolas gives Abel a tired smile and together they walk into an uncertain future.
[In progress. To be expanded/edited as is appropriate]
[Apologies for the WORDS WORDS WORDS, I may have got carried away]