In the past, he was dubbed the restless alchemist. Rumors accumulated, for the outside world could not look into the workshop that was lit all night long.
But looking at the situation, it might be more appropriate him the alchemist with no time to sleep.
In fact, experiments were tax consuming. There were times where he needed to control the fire for the entire nights, or keep stirring, during which he could never look away.
Thus, he was trained not to look away for long periods of time during his apprenticeship. In mid-winter, he kept staring at the block of ice on the table, observing the changes occuring. It was an arduous training.
He saw the white mist seeping out, a thin layer of mist on the surface, silently melting away. He never missed any of it, and at the same time, kept recording the changes on the stone tablet using lime.
If his observations were not good enough, he would be beaten. This was probably how ice would look like when melting, but if he had recorded down the changes using imagination or assumptions only, he would also get beaten. For the first time in his life, he learned that it was not easy to observe things as they were.
Ordinary townsfolk had no no training, and neither did they know the purpose. They harbored fear for no apparent reason with regards to his sleeplessness. The clergymen dubbed ‘Interest (Kusla)’ as a sin, for interest has no breaks or rest, continuing to pile on, and was an anomaly from the balance between toil and rest God had mandated.
And so, this certain alchemist was spending time on a certain afternoon.
He, already used to observing various things silently, was paying attention as usual for a long time. His attention was directed at something basking in the sunlight beneath a polished glass window. It was a little girl hunched like wool, sprawled upon a massive book spread upon a table.
She looked as though she was about to burrow into the book, or that she, already asleep, was dragged out of the book. She had a pretty face, white skin, and peerless hair, along with cat-like triangular ears shaking on her head. Anyone trying to conjure an image of her would end up finding it surreal.
The shoulder-length hair reflecting the sunlight resembled faint purple. Her nape was exposed, revealing the tender, pretty collarbones. Unfortunately, it was overly delicate, without much flesh, and the exposed collarbone stood out. While she had taken her proper meals, her body remained as such. Was it due to her body type? Being too young? Or both?
The fingertips gently grazed the protruding bones, and she eked out a strange sound from deep within her throat, turning to the other side.
She showed no signs of waking up, so the fingertips continued to slide to the back of her head, into her hair. The hair was softer than usual as it was exposed under the warm sun, and it should resemble the feeling of putting the fingers into the warm snow.
Aside from the rustling of the hair strands, all he could hear was soft snoring.
Alchemy was a skill of understanding the element of the item, controlling it and changing. By this context, while he had understood this little girl somewhat, he could not control and change her much. Her unexpected actions or sudden changes left him shocked, and this proved he was lacking in observation and experiments.
So the alchemist thought as he withdrew the fingers from the silky hair, before tapping the triangular eyes twitching above her head. The ears reacted like a cat’s upon being touched, swaying back and forth, trying to shoo off those disturbing her sleep.
However, any alchemist worth his salt was to do one thing after observing and experimenting.
To preserve the subject.
Anything left as it was would absorb moisture and become limp, degrading when exposed to sunlight. People were familiar with the phenomena called deliquescence. Even glass would become brittle over a long time, let alone metals which showed spots of rust here and there. Those with rust would end up completely different.
Before experimenting, any subject with drastic changes in nature would end up ruining the whole process completely, and any loss or damage would be preposterous. He had to ensure the subject was not stolen or damaged, he had to protect it.
So he wondered, could he do it?
His tendency was to follow the nature of his profession, his answers often biased to the negative. Change remained constant, and he should not remain rooted. Alchemy in particular was established due to this reasoning, and this world was filled with cruelty and irrationality. Since he lived, he should never be hoping for peace.
However, there was a thought hidden in his heart defying all logic, experience, one simply borne out of his own motives.
He wanted to protect.
He did not know how reckless this plan would be. However, it was proven that whenever an alchemist made up his mind, he would be more relentless than a snake.
And if he could really protect her until the very end, he might be able to rid himself of the ‘restless alchemist’ moniker.
For he would rest in Magdala.
Alchemists lived for this after all.