You sigh and recline further into the old armchair, the soft velvet hugging the contours of your body as you sink back into its recesses. It's a dark evening in October and the rain batters the window against the inky black sky, the wind singing hauntingly through the old house. The cold is bitter outside, but the fireplace before you flickers gently as if alive, keeping you warm and illuminating the old book you have in your hands.
Leafing through the pages idly you see ancient symbols, alchemical tables and complex mathematical equations. The Alchemist has asked you to take some time to study alone this evening, but being his apprentice takes its toll, and you are feeling particularly lazy tonight after having worked hard in his laboratory all week.
Your eyelids begin to close softly, but you are snatched back from the corners of a dream by the sharp smell of spices filling the air. Rubbing your eyes, you see a soft plume of rust-orange smoke beginning to cloud in the library. Reluctantly parting ways with the deep crimson of the armchair, you notice the haze has travelled all the way from the lab upstairs.'What is that crazy old man up to now?' you shake your head.
You set your book down on the battered mahogany table, make your way out of the library and begin to ascend up the staircase. With each creak of the stairs, the scent becomes more prominent and the smoke thickens. The earthy notes of patchouli, amber and vetiver are warm and comforting in the expanse of the large old house.
You reach the laboratory, your fingers grasping cold steel as you turn the doorknob tentatively, pushing the heavy wooden door open with a gentle creak and spilling smoke out into the hall. The doorway lets into a cluttered workshop, where the orange mist now completely fills up the room, making it quite difficult to see. Through the haze you can just about make out crooked shelves lining the aged stone walls; leather-bound books and ancient tomes filling every available space.
"What on earth are you up to this time?!" you splutter through the cloud, your eyes darting around the room as you search for your mentor. A fire dances in the corner with flames of gold and green, illuminating a large table in the centre of the room. Parchment and ink are strewn across the surface, the papers filled with cryptic symbols, complex alchemical tables, incantations and hastily-scrawled notes.
Wooden boxes overflow with oddly shaped gemstones and vials of powdered, effervescent materials. All manner of strange equipment litters the surface, glass bottles of every colour are aglow in the flickering candlelight while dried herbs, insect wings and curious metal implements are scattered in the remaining space.
The woody scented haze begins to subside and you make out the form of the old man standing by the table. His robes are frayed and discoloured, splashed with the stain of years of creation. The grey in his beard and the lines on his face tell of a vast age that he is yet to tell you, but his sapphire eyes sparkle in the candlelight, always with a look of childlike mischief.
He smiles at you and beckons you to join him. "I've done it... I've finally perfected my work!' he beams. You make your way to the table and see a surface splattered with wax, an assortment of dried herbs, cinnamon sticks and hundreds of tiny vials of oil. He stands over a large candle, scented with earthy spices and imbued with a spell of his own creation to keep us warm and inspired through the darkening months, his masterpiece.
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