The Alchemists of old were both revered and feared not just for their ability to refine base metals into gold but for their ability to transmute or manipulate anything found in nature into the wondrous and fantastical or grotesque and horrific.

The most notorious, of course, being the elixir of life or golden pill of immortality. Both terms were used interchangeably.

But while everyone seem to only know of immortality elixirs or pills, in truth, it was just one kind of many in the various alchemical elixirs and pills of essence that Alchemists were capable of concocting.

With the correct formula and enough talent, of course.

Alchemists were very possessive of their formulas which were only handed down to direct descendants or disciples. Only the simplest of formulas such as energy fasting pills or disguise and concealment elixirs were made public to all.

But not even those formulas survived the ravages of war and time and persecution to reach the modern times of now.

The ‘New Alchemy’ that was being practiced now have very little sign of ancient alchemy and their effects were not as fantastical.

Even so New Alchemical weapons have their own unique brand of wondrous or destructive qualities.

❂❂❂

Early morning sunlight streamed in through the crack in the heavy curtains that hang on the floor length windows of the third floor.

The bright golden light fell onto the still figure sitting in the middle of the wide open plane area lined with shelves of books and scrolls, boxes and vials.

It looked like any study or research lab.

If not for the large tripod furnace made of indeterminable metal carved with mysterious characters and symbols that was currently slowly rotating midair. Indigo flames were lit underneath and licked at its three legs and sides.

But if one were to look closer, the books and scrolls appear to be of significant age and the boxes and vials were carved with similarily intricate symbols found on the tripod furnace.

Some of the boxes, mainly carved from jade or rosewood, were open and reveal fantastic oddities of every description that appear to be ingredients of some sort.

Clarence sat cross legged in front of the slowly rotating tripod furnace with eyes closed.

“My little candle, the process of alchemical concoction is a delicate business and requires complete concentration. You must put your whole heart and mind on it.”

A young woman dressed in a pale violet silk robe lead a young boy dressed in black silk embroidered richly with gold threads by his tiny hand to an elaborately carved tripod furnace that was unlit and sitting on the ground of the large stately hall.

“Mother, it’s so big! When will I be able to use it?” The young boy exclaimed with bright silver blue eyes framed in thick curling dark lashes.

He then pouted, “I’m already past the need to use low level furnaces. I can’t create anything useful with it.”

The woman laughed and looked down at the little boy by her side, long blue black strands braided back in thousands of intricate braids with tiny jade beads woven in them clicked against each other as she moved. It framed a face as lovely and elegantly beautiful as lavender blooms. “Tell me that when you have the Elements’ Compendium memorized. And when you remember to not rush through the purification and stabilization steps.”

The wry response had the young boy furrowing inky brows in discontent. “I do not rush.”

A slender, willow leaf eyebrow raised in silent amusement.

The little boy’s pale skin slowly pinked but silver blues still stared stubbornly into another pair of pale eyes but in a shade closer to pure silver.

“My little candle, you have always been an impatient little soul, even when in the womb.” The woman fondly tweaked the little boy’s nose.

“But, you must know, the biggest taboo when conducting any alchemical process is impatience. In order for the last step of fusion to succeed, the first step and second steps of purification and stabilization are essential.”

“But it’s so long and tedious!”

“Yes, I know it is tempting to rush but it is the most important principle. In all aspects of alchemy.”

The little boy looked up at the elegant woman by his side as she bent down to look into his eyes, stroking gently at his blue black braids that glint with delicate gold chains woven in.

“Purity and balance, my little candle, is what we Alchemists strive for.”

❂❂❂

“Clancy! Clancy, get down here already! I know you’re up!”

BLERGGHHHHHHH.

The smell of freshly grind coffee beans reached him.

Along with the burnt acrid smell of a failed batch of pills.

Uncrossing long, slender legs, Clarence moved closer to the tripod furnace that had stopped rotating but still remained suspended above the sapphire flames.

With a beckoning of pale slender fingers, the flames compressed themselves until they shrank into a single flame the shape of a robin’s egg. The sapphire blue deepened into indigo, nearly black, and settled above Clarence’s open palm.

It pulsed like a heartbeat before sinking into the flesh of his open palm, leaving no trace behind.

The tripod furnace without the support of an Alchemist’s flame descended from midair to settle on the brick floor with a light metallic clang.

Lifting the lid, Clarence looked at the ash-like substance without surprise but still furrowed his brows as he cleaned it out from the belly of the tripod furnace.

“Clancy Light!”

Clarence let out a sigh at the loud and cheerful voice calling for him from downstairs, managing to penetrate through two floors of brick and wood.

Running fingers through shoulder length blue black waves he peered through the crack in the curtains and squinted at the bright morning sun and the bustling street.

“The time flies too quickly.”

❂❂❂

“C’mere Miss Maggy, my lovely bebe! Let auntie huggle you!”

Clarence stopped at the bottom of the spiraling staircase and looked expressionlessly at the red haired woman currently ‘bullying’ his cat.

“I think you should restrain yourself a bit more or else Miss Maggy will give you a new scratch to add to the collection.”

The woman lifted her face that had been buried in Miss Maggy’s soft furry tummy at the dry remark and exclaimed, “About time you got your lazy arse down here, Clancy!”

Clarence’s disheveled state soon registered and she added with a wrinkle of a delicate freckled nose, “What a waste of the Creator’s gifts. Couldn’t you at least put on a change of clothes? I bought you several day outfits last time. Lord knows you don’t bother shopping for yourself and dress like a retired old man all the time. Just what kind of role model you are being for poor Miss Maggy.”

Clarence listened with a numb expression at the rocketfire rambling and sipped a mug of coffee that Leila handed over with an amused look.

“I’m not handing Miss Maggy to you no matter how much you slander me in front of my cat.” Pale lips curled in a half mocking half playful smirk, “Miss Maggy is a daddy’s girl. Aren’t you Miss Maggy?”

Miss Maggy purred in response as she leaped from her ‘auntie’s’ clucthes and rubbed at Clarence’s ankles in greeting.

Clarence casted a provoking side long glance at the stunning statuesque red haired woman that had so rudely shattered his morning peace.

“Stinky lil’ bro. How should you be acting towards the sister you haven’t seen for 2 weeks? Huh? Huh?”

Clarence extricated himself from the strangle arm around neck grab the other easily put him in with her 5’11 ft height, just an inch shorter than himself.

“You’ll never find your soulmate if you continue acting like an Amazon, Dawn.” Clarence couldn’t help rolling his eyes despite his normally mild disposition.

A personality like Dawn Fairchild always leave him not knowing how to react. He doesn’t know how to deal with characters like his adopted sister. Unfortunately, he couldn’t just employ his preferred method of avoiding her seeing as they were adoptive siblings and all.

“Ugh! You men are all stinkin’ donkey ass!” Dawn threw herself in the egg shaped couch of the shop’s resting nook.

Clarence and Leila exchanged meaningful looks.

“Did you encounter an asshole again?” Leila asked without much surprise.

For as long as she had known Clarence she had also known Dawn, Clarence’s statuesque, runway model gorgeous adoptive sister. The two were as different as water and fire, Clarence’s mild and indifferent disposition to Dawn’s garrulous and hearty nature.

The two were examples of extremes with Clarence practically a recluse preferring to live in his own world while Dawn thrived on socializing and noise.

One thing they had in common though was their equal lack of luck in romantic relationships – nonexistent for the former and ending in failures for the latter.

“Don’t remind me! The next time I’m blinded by a pretty face or perky ass I’ll, I’ll eat only broccoli for a month! No, for a week straight!” Dawn declared furiously into a couch pillow.

Clarence and Leila stared at the back of that fiery red head, unimpressed.

“How’s Mr. Fairchild? Did he come back with you from your trip to the Sky Dynasty?” Clarence changed the subject, bringing up his adoptive father.

Though he found both father and daughter intolerably noisy at times, he was forever thankful they took him in.

It had been 15 years since he had arrived at one of American Federal’s major metropolitan city New Apple, a lone traveler in a strange city.

Sometimes, he wondered if it was the workings of fate that the first person he would meet was a kind and erudite New Alchemist raising a teenage daughter on his own.

Certainly, he would not have chosen to settle down for this long in a single place if not for the Fairchilds.

Dawn lifted a head of ruffled red curls and rolled expressive hazel eyes, “You know how dad gets. He’s having the time of his life with other Alchemists at that annual research meeting and will be staying in Jinling for another week or so.”

Dawn looked at her incorrigible adoptive brother with reproach, “The one that should have accompanied dad on this trip should have been you, a fellow Alchemist, and not his poor daughter who isn’t interested nor understand a thing about alchemy.”

Clarence flashed a friendly smile over his mug, “Thanks, sis. What are older sisters for, huh?”

The corner of Dawn’s lips twitched a bit in suppressed irritation and amusement that she wouldn’t admit to.

She was still surprised at how close their relationship had developed from the cold disinterest and unfriendly suspicion that colored their first meeting.

But then again, it had been 15 years, insignificant in the lifespan of Eximius, but how many 15 years does a Norm like her have? A lot could and had changed in 15 years.

She knew Clarence was thankful that they accepted him into their little family but it was Dawn who wanted to thank him for his sudden appearance in their lives. He filled the raw hole left behind by another young and genius Alchemist.

Furrowing her brow imperceptibly at the unwanted thought she hid her brief lapse of attention by smoothing a rebellious red curl and smirked. “Trying to irritate me so that I’ll leave won’t work.”

“Anyway, before I forget, do you have time this weekend? What am I saying, of course you do, oh Mr. Hermit. I have a new friend I want to introduce to you.”

A chill crawled down his back and Clarence’s grip on his mug tightened unconciously, “I’m not interested in dating so you can forget about setting me up for more blind dates.”

He was really and truly fond of his Amazon sister. In spite of her garrulous ways and obsession with love and dating.

Only, he often had to convince himself of that everytime the woman try to drag him into her mad dating spree.

Recalling the blind dates she had forced him to go on had him letting out a shudder.

Best not recall the painful past.

“I’ll have you know I’m the best matchmaker in town. Do you know how many successful couples I’ve set up?” Dawn huffed in discontent at her little bro’s unappreciative attitude.

Clarence edged away from her and looked around only to catch a disappearing ponytail.

He narrowed his eyes. Leila, that traitor.

He looked down and met the yellow eyes of Miss Maggy who seem to blink at him in a commiserating way.

The woes of living under the thumb of a tyrant for an older sister (auntie).

“I’m still at a loss why Mr. Fairchild let you waste a perfectly useful degree in alchemy and go do frivolous things like event planning and matchmaking.”

Dawn pouted, “What’s so great about alchemy? It’s boring. And for your information event planning and matchmaking are noble professions! What I am doing is sharing and spreading positive feelings like happiness and love. Besides, you both know I have zero talent in alchemy.”

“Oh.” He could repeat Dawn’s hippie-like speech by rote now.

He regretted bringing up his old complaints.

Dawn rolled her eyes at the lackluster response. “As if I’m the only one wasting my precious college degree.”

She casted a distasteful sidelong look at the disheveled figure slouched in the couch in front of her, “Who’s the one unwilling to help out dad at the Alchemist’s Council and holed up in a dinky little shop instead?”

“It’s not dinky.” Clarence protested with annoyance and added, “All my customers think my creations are great. Did I mention even the Fitzroy heir thinks so too?”

“Truly? Well, you always had the knack for alchemy particularly mechanical and chemical alchemy. And what Fitzroy heir?”

“Wait, no. Aha! I almost fell for it!” Dawn punched Clarence in the arm. “I won’t be distracted. Are you coming with me or not? It’s just a friend, not a date.”

Clarence lifted an inky eyebrow.

“I swear! He’s a Magus I met while in Jinling who happened to be visiting New Apple. I promised to be his city guide but I just received a new job to plan a company anniversary party.”

“So you want me to fill in?”

“Yes, asking a recluse to be a tour guide might not be a good idea but you’ve lived here for 15 years, practically a native! It’ll be fine. Besides, getting out and socializing will be good for you.”

“I socialize.”

“Uh-huh sure. I don’t see you refusing so I’m gonna take that as a yes. Well, I’m off!” Dawn left a quick pinch on his cheek and swept out the shop in a perfume cloud of wildflower and honeysuckle, not giving Clarence a chance to react.

“Oh, did big sis leave already?”

Clarence turned around and gave Leila an unimpressed look.

“Don’t look at me like that, your sis is too intense for me. I don’t want to be forced on a blind date either.” Leila twirled at her ponytail in a rather guilty manner.

“Oh, so you abandoned me and Miss Maggy is that it.”

Meow. Miss Maggy looked up from grooming the fur that had been rubbed in all directions by Dawn.

Leila avoided the identical accusing looks from pet and master and made her getaway, “I have dance practice, see you tomorrow!”

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