4 Parts pure and fine powder of Virtue Gem 4 Parts Trarthan Acid, superfluous humidity removed 2 Parts Aqueous Umbra, distilled 2 Parts Thaumetic Sulphite in its most crystalline form 1 Part Voltaxic Sulphite, kept in an ice water bath overnight 1 Part Blood (uncoagulated) 1 Part Blessed Water of Innocence
Mix the thaumetic sulphite with the virtue dust slowly and carefully, adding the trarthan acid one part at a time until the acid takes on a foul green hue. Wait for the dust to dissolve completely.
Add the aqueous umbra and blood at the same time. Ensure the blood is fresh. Coagulants were the cause of error last time, and the boy has paid for it in kind. Mix quickly to prevent separation of blood and umbra. The ichor will foam with dizzying fumes.
Slowly add the voltaxic sulphite, avoiding contact with the skin. Stir out the impure bodies and skim the top.
Add the blessed water and immediately imbibe.
There are some separately scribbled notes
The subject refuses to open his mouth. I have sent him to fetch the chains. I pray this delay does not spoil the mixture, for it is very time sensitive.
What makes you, you, or me, me? Some say it is the soul, an intangible something that exists before we are born and carries on after death. But I have seen souls that walk the land here and show nothing that distinguishes them from the rats and the rhoas.
It is something else. Something no man has discovered. A whisper. A flickering flame that burns through every inch of our being until it is extinguished. But what if we can capture it before it burns away? Bottle it up? Save it, and perhaps, even give it a new wick through which to burn once more?
You will find no shortage of ferocious beings near here. Kill them, cut from their flesh a sample, and bring the samples to me. We will discover the essence of being.
These samples you've salvaged, though gruesome, hide within them countless secrets. Flesh and blood and bone and sinew, all but a veil, a mask that hides what truly drives us. I speak of the Intrinsic Darkness. The base desires and instincts that we all fight, yet rarely defeat. This Darkness hides within us, waiting for a moment of weakness -- a moment when it can take control. A cruel and invisible slave driver.
But we can coax it out...
My master called it Sinner's Water. A concoction he spent much of his life perfecting. He would give it to his children and scribble notes as they beat me. In truth, I do not believe his concoction worked any more than his elixir of immortality, but that did not soften their blows.
His formula was wrong, but his idea was sound. My formula works, as you will see.
Please, drop the samples in the jar, and ready your weapons. You are about to witness the darkness that drives us.
Do you see now what we face, Oriathan? That was what slept within the creatures just near here. What darkness sleeps within me? Or within you? And if we can draw out that darkness, might we then be able to draw out that which makes us... us?
Think on this, when we next meet, we shall begin to seek the answer.
In Oriath I served a man named Lucan Octavius; a wealthy alchemist of high-status. I call him my master, for I was both his apprentice and his slave. Lucan's work required handling extremely dangerous, often very hot, materials. Not the sort of thing becoming of a man of stature. So it came to be that a slave like myself learned the nuances of the alchemical arts firsthand.
As for Lucan, he was... not the man he portrayed himself to be. He was more dangerous, more explosive, and more unstable than any material I had to handle. In public, he was fatherly and genial. In his home, he was violent and lustful.
I do not regret what happened to him; only the part I played.
My master called Alchemy the science of turning learned men to fools. Every half-wit with an alembic would try to turn lead to gold, or formulate an elixir of eternal youth, and Master Lucan was no different. But men like him rarely saw the magic in alchemy up close -- the sudden bubbling of a liquid, the heat growing in your hands, the vibrant colours and foul odours. Much knowledge is lost at a safe distance.
In truth, the power of Alchemy is not in turning one thing into another, or creating miracles. It is in isolating and extracting. It is about finding purity within the confusion.
How many innocent men and women can you think of who were exiled? We are here because we are violent, because we broke the laws of the land.
I killed my master. I do not regret that he is dead, only that it was by my hand. My master was a sick man, with dark proclivities. A sickness of the mind that no alchemy could hope to cure. And he passed that sickness onto me.
I was never violent until that day. Until that day, I could not fathom how one man could take the life of another. But Lucan drew out of me an anger I did not know I was capable of experiencing. It overcame me. Forced me out of my own body. And by the time I was in control again, my master was dead.
That anger, that darkness is still in me, Exile. And that is why we are here.
The task I have given you is dangerous. To face the cruelty that dwells in the living, distilled and manifested, is not a task I wish upon anyone. Yet it is what I have asked of you. So you may be asking yourself, for what purpose do I seek to isolate this darkness?
I once thought it was a symptom of the corruption that pervades Wraeclast, but now, now I believe it to be something more primeval and universal. An element of our very beings hitherto unknown. To better understand it is to better understand life as a whole. Is that not enough?
Very well. There is more to this story, but it may take some time.
To conjure a creature of darkness we use the flesh of the dead. We destroy that flesh, and draw out the ill-will that inhabits it, giving it form. My hope is that, one day, we may do the reverse -- destroy the darkness while leaving the flesh unharmed.
To that end, I've acquired a rare ichor -- there's no other like it in this world. The very essence of a human; for all intents and purposes, its soul. This individual was cruel beyond measure, or so I've heard, though not incapable of kindness. This ichor is robust enough that it might be injected into an entity of equally cruel temperament, and may be given new life.
Now, imagine if we could then destroy the darkness. Could this cruel soul be purified? Could it be brought back, not only from the dead, but from the precipice of damnation?
Though there is much left to discover from the dwellers of Wraeclast and Oriath, I wish to test my hypothesis that the darkness is not simply a property of where we live.
I've heard rumour that there may be a way to experience... other places. I am no expert in such matters, but if you plan on such a journey, I would ask that you continue to seek out suitable samples. And if you find some which possess the darkness in great quantities, well all the better.
Without this lab, I'd be wary about releasing such entities into the wild. Here, they can be contained, if not controlled.
Your victory was a great relief. I must admit, I had my moments of doubt. Unfortunately, the pathetic pool of fluid on the ground, all that remains, is the sample I added, and it appears unaffected. I will get it cleaned up, and we can try again with different samples.
In alchemy, some changes are almost instantaneous, while others require patience. It probably comes as no surprise that a profession that pursues such fantastical goals as alchemy does not attract the most patient of people. Thus, the discovery of the catalyst -- an additive which accelerates the transformation without influencing it.
You might find such an additive useful for seeking out, for example, specific latent properties in certain materials. The sort of thing that could normally take many years.
My master was no stranger to the machinations of the Templar elite like her. I feel a sort of kinship with her. We both gave up our names, though she did so voluntarily. We both sought to make something of ourselves. Where our kinship ends is how she made her name known. I can appreciate the desire for knowledge but, I can never condone the methods used to acquire it.
If it is true that, in her dying moment, she sought to redeem herself, it casts an interesting light on our exploration of the darkness. Perhaps it is our very mortality that drives us to do good, to suppress the primal urges... Our actions outlive us, after all.
So the mad emperor continues to stomp around in his Labyrinth, a speaking dead man inside a grand machine. Did he happen to release any sort of liquid essence when you smashed his body? No? hmm. A shame. For a moment, I was certain -
No. It is no matter. I do not believe we want his kind of immortality...
Though I know little of my natural heritage, I know enough to understand the implications of your victory against the Karui God of War. Did his long slumber weaken him, or have the gods been greatly exaggerated through the evolution of myths? In either case, this undoubtedly means we will find no divine help against the intrinsic darkness. They are not the keepers of mankind many believed them to be.
Keep your distance from her, exile. One horrible night, my master flew into a great wrath and beat me to the precipice of death itself. For a moment, I envisioned myself walking through strange grey halls.
She was there, watching me, unblinking, a herald for something far greater...
She was there. She spoke. She said that joining the Halls of the Dead was not my fate that night, but that we would meet again. These are the faded memories of a terrified and traumatized child, perhaps no more than a foolish nightmare, but I cannot stop myself from shivering when she turns her purple eyes my way... because I can tell that she recognises me.
Oriath is uninhabitable. Got what was coming to it, if you ask me. Do I feel for the dead? Of course. I am no monster. But sorrow and spite can coexist. Luckily for us, we do not need to live in Oriath, only work, and my underground laboratory is virtually unscathed.