Here is chapter 4 from my novel Bloodcrest.
As night approached, Malachi had retired to his basement for some late-night alchemy practice. He enjoyed practicing at night. It allowed him to practice his skills and stay sharp when fatigue set in.
His basement consisted of a table with several shelves and drawers where he kept his alchemy supplies, including his onyx mortar and pestle, given to him by his great uncle who was a member of the Conclave of Alchemists – the highest alchemy position one can achieve.
Joining the Conclave of Alchemists requires two months of tests, puzzles, and scenarios that only the most competent and skilled alchemists are able to pass.
Malachi’s basement also contained an armoire where he kept several swords and staves, allowing him to practice his melee skills in case his alchemy supplies run low during combat.
Also in the basement was a wooden target with which Malachi could practice on with his swords and staves.
The rest of the basement was open space that allowed Malachi the freedom to move and full practice his alchemy skills.
Malachi lit the wall sconces that lined his basement, illuminating the basement in rich, full torchlight. He opened a drawer in his desk and removed various plants. He ground them up with his mortar and pestle until they formed a fine powder. After that, he emptied the contents into a glass vial and slid it into a special notch in his belt which he created specifically to carry his alchemy vials.
He did this two more times with different plants, so he had three vials filled with powder; one blue, one red, and one green. He then walked to the center of the basement and got in a battle-ready stance. He quickly pulled the green and red vial from his belt and smashed them on the floor, creating a smoke that reeked of tainted meat and spoiled eggs. He waited a moment and smashed the last vial on the floor, giving the noxious smelling smoke a wonderful scent of roses and honey.
Malachi then swiftly waved his arms, performing a series of certain moves that caused the smoke ignite and burst into flames, raining flames onto the basement floor in front of Malachi.
Malachi dashed back over to his desk and picked up a vial full of blue liquid. He threw the vial into the center of the flame.
“Volack!” he shouted.
The vial burst and the blue liquid enveloped the raging fire and turned it to ice, then shattered.
Malachi smiled at his success and returned to his desk where he ground up several other plants and filled vials with the resulting powders. He then went up to his common room and tended to several plants with which he harvests for his alchemy.
As he finished tending his plants there was a knock at the door.
Malachi sighed, irritated at the interruption, and answered the door.
“There’s something interesting about you,” Rosalia said as she leaned on the frame of Malachi’s door.
“Rosalia, what are you doing here?” Malachi asked, puzzled at her random appearance.
“May I?” she asked, motioning inside his home.
Malachi stepped aside and allowed her to enter.
“To what do I owe this honor?” he asked, semi-sarcastically.
“Why did you confront me today?” she asked.
Malachi offered her a seat, and sat down across from her before answering.
“Just out of curiosity, as I stated earlier,” Malachi replied.
“I don’t believe you.”
“I don’t know what you came here to find out about me,” he said, standing up and walking to the kitchen.
Rosalia followed him.
“I came here to find out more about you,” she said.
Malachi handed her a cup of hot water, picked up a jar and put two spoons of tea powder in it.
Rosalia watched as the powder dissolved.
“I’m really not that interesting,” Malachi said as he prepared his own tea. “I’m just an aspiring alchemist.”
“Oh come on,” Rosalia pressed. “Not many people just walk up to me and start asking what the use is of a Head Alchemist.”
“I guess I’m just bold,” Malachi said, chuckling.
“Maybe… But I feel like there is something more to you. You’re not the average Varx citizen.”
“I would disagree,” Malachi objected, sipping at his hot tea.
“Oh please,” Rosalia retorted. “Most citizens around here are mindless miners who couldn’t form their own opinion if a goblin were torturing them.”
“Clever analog,” Malachi said, chuckling.
“See! That witticism right there! You’re clearly an intelligent individual.”
“I do enjoy a book or two,” Malachi said, smiling.
“Exactly. That’s why I need your help.” Rosalia’s voice was significantly lower, as if she were telling a secret.
“What do you need my help with?” Malachi set down his tea and crossed his arms, assuming it was something related to her campaign.
“I’ve discovered something in the Ungaarden forest.”
Malachi was caught off guard.
“And what exactly did you find?” he asked. He picked up his tea and continued sipping at it.
“This,” she said as she reached into her satchel and removed an item.
It was a necklace of some sort. There was a crest attached to it, about twice the size of a gold coin, and shaped like a shield. The crest was gold, but seemed to shine a blood-red color. Engraved in the crest was a picture of a dragon shooting a stream of flame into the air.
“What is that?” Malachi asked. He stared at the crest in awe, his eyes wide.
“I’m not sure,” Rosalia answered. “I’ve been too busy with my campaign to really do any research on it. But, I figured a smart individual like you would be able to help me out.”
“Let me see it,” he said, reaching out to grab it.
Rosalia held onto the crest for a moment, not releasing it.
Malachi tugged and Rosalia let go. He looked at her for a moment before examining the crest closer. It was warm to the touch, almost too hot to hold.
“There’s no artist engraving anywhere which is very strange. Did you try taking it to a metal smith?”
“I don’t want to risk it with anyone. This could be very valuable and I don’t want too many people to know I have it.”
“Have you shown it to anyone else?”
“No, you’re the first I’ve shown it to,” she answered, staring at the crest.
“Why don’t I hold on to it. I’m going to the library tomorrow anyways. I can do some research there.”
Rosalia thought for a moment.
“I suppose. But you have to be very careful not to let anyone know you have that.”
“You must really trust me, a stranger, whose name you haven’t even asked yet.”
Rosalia stared blankly, feeling like an idiot.
“My apologies,” she said, smiling. “What is your name?”
“Malachi,” he answered. “Malachi Vliekish.”
“Vliekish?” Rosalia questioned. “The same family as Samuel Vliekish, member of the Conclave of Alchemists?”
“My great uncle, actually.” Malachi answered.
“I knew there was something special about you.” Rosalia smiled. “I must be going before my assistant worries.” Rosalia handed Malachi the half-empty cup of tea. “Please be careful with that. Its value could be immeasurable.”
Malachi walked Rosalia to the door and exchanged farewells. As he closed the door behind her he quickly took the crest to his desk and began observing it much more closely.
There was something very curious about the crest. It was still warm to the touch, and the curious blood-red glow despite its golden color made it even more curious as to what the crest was.