Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
This prompt led to my short story “The Alchemist’s Contract“, which appeared in Swords and Sorcery Magazine in November 2013.
“Intrigue and Alchemy”
“Beware the alchemist,” the man said from the shadows of the tavern. I wasn’t sure if he was truly real at first- I could see only the glow of his pipe, the shine of his glassy false eye, and his oversized black boots emerging, crossed, from the shadows. The soles were crumbling and peeling, looking more eaten at by some creature than by wear and years.
The room grew quiet as our party turned toward the man.
“Pay no mind to him,” someone behind me said.
“We have business with the alchemist,” I said. “He is a man of business, and we have the coin to entice him.”
“Don’t mind me, then,” the man in the corner said. He leaned forward. I expected gruffness, a man who’d lived a harsh life. His skin was smooth and pale. His one eye reflected distress and concern.
“Boy, you’re not more than 25,” my companion said. “Making stories about the alchemist to rile traveling strangers.”
“You’re mistaken,” he said gently, “I’ll be 80 next month.”
“Is this at all true?” my companion asked the barkeep.
The keep looked away and began to polish glasses.
“The alchemist,” the man in the corner said,” took my age from me, as sure as the Long War took my eye.”
“I’d like such a theft,” I said, three beers in.
“Well then, take yourself to the alchemist.” He stood and walked out the entryway, with the gait and pace of my grandfather.