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A Perfect Dream

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#1 Rytiko



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Posted 06 April 2007 - 07:50 PM

Well, I've scrapped and restarted this project many times, but I'm happiest with this start. So this is the one I'm sticking to. Seriously.

Other chapters will be posted in the topic, and I'll include links in the first post in the future. So, here it is!


Chapter 1
?So, What Now??

?Left ? No, he?s going right!? Hayden thought as he silently motioned to his companion. Nodding in confirmation, they set their sites on their goal and prepared to take their prize. Time was of the essence, and if they didn?t strike fast, they?d lose their window of opportunity. Both Hayden and Vladimir acknowledged this, and it seemed to be through telepathy that they coordinated their assault.

Leaping from the bushes, which were quite common in the heavily wooded area, Hayden tossed a vial of a violently bubbling orange fluid. Vladimir followed almost instantaneously with an equally sized vial of a blue fluid at the feet of the target. The explosion from Hayden?s attack caused the beast, who was at least six feet tall with all four legs on the ground, to lean backwards, supporting itself with only its hind legs. Vladimir?s struck its mark and began to freeze almost instantly around the hind legs. All that was left to do now was to take the trapped creature, resembling those of prehistoric times in many ways - a sharply spiked tail included.

It was always saddening, this collection. After all, all they needed was a single fang from the reptilian behemoth. They were armed with a deadly poison for protection though, and while they didn?t ever attack on normal occasions, no creature would sit calmly through the extraction of their fang. Even sadder was that the beast would perish without its weapons, which it used to soften its diet of the exotic rock-like golems that roamed in the nearby mountains. There was no humane option other than to kill it if they were to use the poison.

It was the nature of man to use animals for their benefit. A cruel nature, without a doubt - but a justified one if they were to survive. This attack was made out of survival. Killing one thing was justified, as it protected the lives of others. ?For the greater good? ? That was the code of the alchemist.

And with that, Vladimir, carefully avoiding the unpredictable thrashings of the tail, thrust his short sword into the back of the beast as it tried to free itself. With one last roar of might, followed by a whimper of pain, the beast lay flat on its belly. It was dead.

?Good. Now we can make the medicine,? Hayden said as he used a small knife to carve out one of the fangs from its gum line. He moved slowly and carefully ? if the fang, which happened to be inconveniently sharp, were to pierce him, He would probably die. The venom of the Juperos was a very dangerous thing. If used correctly though, it could put an end to most viruses.

?Hopefully she lives long enough for us to get this back to her.? Vladimir walked over to where Hayden was squatted and took out an empty bottle to collect the venom in. ?I?d hate to see what the Magi do when one of them gets this virus.?

?Well, they?d rather die than live through alchemy. Those people are more devoted to their god than any group I?ve seen. That?s how they were able to get into the position they are now.? The ripping noise echoed for several seconds after Hayden plucked the fang from the mouth. Handing it to Vladimir for extraction, he moved onto the next one. ?It?s a shame, though ? even though people like us do nothing but help people, we?d be imprisoned on sight if they knew what we were.?

Vladimir silently agreed. The world was truly in a pitiful state when their medicines were denied to the public. People died because of their beliefs. How could it be said that alchemists were demons when they denied people the opportunity of being saved from sicknesses? The way the two of them saw it, this group?s theocracy would be the downfall of man. Everything was fine before they came into power.

The people seemed happier now though, even safer ? Such delusions were pitiful. But in the end, if they were happy, nothing could be done. The Magi gave the people hope that there is indeed a higher power protecting them. Their powers were proof of some divine existence. However, there was no legitimate reason to believe that they?ve ever spoken with these Gods. Their doctrines were of their own design. That is what allowed the alchemists to hate them.

?Alright, we?re done here. Let?s go back to the town and finish the medicine.? Having extracted both fangs of their venom, they stood. Quickly cleaning the tools they had used with a solvent, also found among the many vials that lined their belts, they began to make their way out of the lush woods. The caws of the many birds, the chirping of the cicadas, and the many bothersome and biting insects could only be tolerated for so long, after all. They?d been chasing this thing for days ? It was a very fast creature, despite its massive size. Perhaps that was due to its muscular leg structure, but even still, it was illogical for a thing of such size to move as quickly as it did.

Their journey was clearly rough, considering their attire and general appearance. Hayden, who was generally very well kept with his formal white shirt covered by a black vest, as well as his black dress pants and his parted black hair of decent length, was now covered in dirt. His normally well kept hair was messy and sticking out in many places. Vladimir was in equally formal attire, merely swapping the white shirt for a black one and the vest for a deep green tailcoat. His hair was intentionally messy on normal occasion though, so the only hindrance to his appearance was the dirt. Alchemists and aristocrats ? it was rather impractical, considering that they were often on the run.

?You know, perhaps we should invest in some different clothing. We waste a bit too much of our cleaning solvents on these clothes,? Hayden mused, acknowledging their impracticality.

?We?ve done that before. You were too worried about finding a woman to dress down, remember?? Vladimir teased.

?Well, I think my stunning good looks and natural charm should be more than enough, don?t you??

?Do you really want me to answer that??

With a sigh, Hayden said ?Fine, fine. We keep the clothes. But I still think you?re just jealous of me always getting the girl.?

There was a loud crack followed by a thump of a young adult sized body hitting the ground. And there, standing above it, was Vladimir. He had his arm outstretched, clutching the hilt of the short sword normally kept suspended at his waist. ?Don?t get cocky.?

They both shared a laugh after he helped Hayden from the ground. The truth was that both of them were quite pleasing to the eyes of a woman. Their faces were youthful, with features that were distinguishing, but not too much so. Whether it was Hayden?s slightly elongated nose or Vladimir?s subtle goatee, both complimented them quite well.

Their journey continued for another day and a half, made easy by the metal tracks for a mining cart leading straight into the town. They stopped at night only for a few hours. There wasn?t much time left to get to the village and make the medicine before the woman passed the point of curability. They were used to such pressure though, and were able to continue joking around as they walked. There was nothing else to do, and in reality, it helped them keep moving. They were an odd duo, but very effective in getting a job done. However, they were also very expensive in most cases?

Not ones involving medicine, though. Something so essential should require no fee at all ? They did, however, charge a small amount for their services. They had to eat, and greatly preferred sleeping on a mattress as opposed to the ground.

As they made their approach to the small village town of a name that they couldn?t even remember, they could only let out a sigh at its dismal appearance. It had been a mining town once, and a thriving one at that ? That was made obvious by the bricked buildings and the tracks for mining carts leading through the forest and into the mountains that they had followed to this point. The present state of things did nothing for it, however ? Especially compared to the metropolis a mere two miles to the east. The once glorious buildings now consisted of cracked brick. The copper that had once made up many of the signs and light posts had all been sold and replaced with wood, which was aged and warped. All because of the Magi. They had forbidden the mining of Lirion, simply because the ore was used very commonly in the higher-level alchemical potions. It was such an adaptable substance that, if mixed correctly, it could be used for virtually anything. The Magi didn?t like that, and with no way to control who the ore is sold to, they simply forbade even bringing it to the surface. The hope they brought to people was destroying towns like this.

Putting their fatigue behind them, they rushed over the small hill and into the town. There wasn?t much time left, but they had taken precautions. Everything that needed to settle they had left to do so before chasing after the beast. They hadn?t anticipated things would take so long, but it was a good thing that they had taken precautions. All that was left to do now was put the venom and the herbal blend they had made while in the forest into the substance and stir. The woman would live, for sure.


?Thank you so much, friends! I can?t possibly express my gratitude!? the elderly man, adorned in ratty clothes with a level of cleanliness only slightly greater than those of the duos, had said. They had made it back with enough time to brew the medicine and give it to the middle aged woman, who was apparently the man?s daughter and the mother of two children no older than 10. She began to make an immediate recovery, which was a great relief to both the duo and the family of the woman.

?It?s no trouble at all, sir. In fact, forget the fee ? We?d be happy for just a meal and a place to sleep for the night. Our pockets are currently running on empty, you see, so that is all we?d have used your payment for anyway. We?d be honored to be your guests, if you would allow it,? Hayden asked politely, even following up with a short bow. The family was the owner of a very small inn, and the fee they originally asked for would likely not be enough to pay for a room in the town to the west. Though it was only another two miles to walk to the town, they saw no reason to if they could get a meal and a bed here without having to volunteer for guard duty. That was a dangerous business, considering who they were.

?Yes, yes of course! It?s no trouble at all. You have paid us more than enough for a meal and a room. Come, come, we were just making supper now,? he said with great enthusiasm, leading the two into the kitchen.

They had eaten well that night. It was a great pig roast, with many kinds of vegetables served along with it. It was almost as though they had prepared a feast for them. In fact, all things considered, that didn?t surprise them at all. It was still a kind gesture though, and one that they wouldn?t forget.

Shortly after they finished, they were shown to their room. Or rather, to the second floor. The only thing separating the many mattresses was cloth, so it looked more like a clinic than an inn. The two of them were so exhausted though. Such things didn?t matter to them, as a night on a comfortable bed was as euphoric as any other thing that could have been granted to them.

?Sorry. It doesn?t look like much, but I assure you the service is great. Just call us for anything you might need, and we?ll be happy to get it for you,? said the old man, with a mixture of sadness and loyalty. The state of the town was now in shambles ? In reality, this had once been a small clinic run by the woman they had saved. The town was now so poor and so close to abandonment that they had no choice but to make it into an inn for traveler?s to stay. That is why Hayden refused to collect the fee that had been promised to them, despite the fact that they were flat broke. He knew that the man had been prepared to both pay them and offer them a place for the night.

?Please, just relax. We made enough of the medicine for all of you, as it can be quite contagious. Working too hard will help it spread through your bodies faster. Just rest, and let your body take care of itself,? Hayden advised. Getting a slight nod of understanding from him, he turned to the nearest bed and collapsed onto the soft, springy surface. With a moan of relief, he began to make himself comfortable.

?So, Vladimir. What now? I?m tired of taking on these jobs. I?d like to go back to conducting our own research.?

?Yes, I agree. Tomorrow we?ll head to Kazus and spend the rest of our money on a carriage to Demuth. We can spend our time in the library there.?

?Yeah. That sounds fine, other than the fact that we?re right in the heart of the Magi?s rule as we seek a job.?

?I thought you liked the challenge??

?I do. So it?s a plan??

And with that, the duo put out the candles beside each of their beds and let sleep take hold of them. Even with a carriage, it was a long journey that lay ahead of them.

#2 Rytiko



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Posted 11 April 2007 - 01:50 PM

This one is a bit shorter, but still has an air of completion about it. Here is Chapter Two!


Chapter 2
?Only blind men see the truth?

Kazus ? The city of stolen-good peddlers, thieves, outcasts, and refugee?s alike. It seemed that the Magi had completely forgotten about this place, letting it collect the dust they?ve fought so hard to rid the world of. This was the one place that an alchemist could call home, yet still the last place any self-respecting person wanted to be. Perhaps it was the dirt, or perhaps it was the fact there was a brothel on virtually every corner. There were so many reasons not to live there, yet it was unfortunately one of the last safe places for their kind. And they were going back once again.

?Vlad,? Hayden asked as he washed his clothing in a bucket filled with water from a well, ?I?ve been meaning to ask you ? Do you plan on speaking to Dal Verci while we?re in Kazus??

It was a very relevant question. Dal Verci was what was known as a Skull Merchant. They were the highest level of black market dealers, selling the most hard to come by materials. It was a common stop for alchemists passing by, as he seemed to always have a large supply of Lirion. However, as with all Skull Merchants, he was hard to find and even harder to get what you wanted for an affordable price. Vladimir, however, sought him out for other reasons.

?No, not this time. We can?t afford to take another loan from him, no matter how much we need the money,? Vladimir said with a sigh. ?With the interest rate he charges, we won?t be able to pay him back anytime soon? And that?ll just spell more trouble. You remember last time, right??

It was all too familiar. They had gone to him for research funding on a Panacea, a cure-all medicine, a few years ago. It was a large sum, and because the research proved inconclusive, they had nothing to give him as a product. That was the original plan, after all ? If they successfully created it, they would give him a supply to sell rather than a monetary feedback.

Unfortunately, after three years of research, they had given up hope. Even with two of them traveling to all corners of the globe, they couldn?t do it. They had used every medicinal substance known to man. They had failed.

Verci, a man devoted to his money, had slapped an unreasonable 20% semi-annual interest rate on the 200,000 rune he had lent. They were left with a debt of nearly half a million rune, which was impossible to pay off. They ended up working for him, developing all kinds of explosives and corrosive substances, for nearly a year. They hadn?t asked who these things had been sold to, because they truly didn?t want to know who would buy such destructive things.

?Hah, well I wasn?t suggesting that you did. Rather, I was going to advise you against it. I?d rather risk being found by the Magi than take another loan from him,? Hayden said as he hung his clothing on the line next to the clinic-turned-inn they had stayed at to dry. His laundry done, he dismissed himself to bath in one of the many tubs within the building.

As Hayden poured the pot of water, now hot thanks to the wood-burning stove, into the cast-iron tub, he let his mind wander in the midst of the steam. Just what was it that they planned to search for? Would they once again seek the Panacea? It seemed hopeless. Even after the medicinal knowledge they had gained since their last attempt, they were no closer to such a theory now than they were in the past. What hope could there be now, with nothing changed other than knowledge being even more difficult to access?

Hope was a fragile thing. It was so much easier to have it, but so easily dispelled in the mind of a scholar. Without knowledge, there could be no hope. Knowledge of a perfect medicine did not exist. They hoped to take other medicinal knowledge and combine it, but that had already failed once. There was little point in doing anything but brainstorming at their current stage in that research.

Rumors and legends were all they had to guide them. Hayden and Vladimir had long shunned the existence of Peritus Creo, regarding his work as nothing but myth. He was the shining light that all Alchemists aspired to. With no proof of his existence, it was hard to believe that such a man existed.

A man capable of changing elements at their very core, creating whatever he wishes to create, could not exist. Even more unbelievable was a man capable of stealing the Magi Crystal. Perhaps that is what made the idea so ludicrous ? If their crystal was stolen, something which nobody could ever prove and live to tell the tale, there would have been the utmost focus on getting it back. Everybody would know. If parts of the myths were completely absurd, there was no reason to believe in any of it.

That was the conclusion they came to when the discussion had come up in the past. As far as Hayden knew, this conclusion was still valid among them. Even now, years later as he was scrubbing the dirt caked on from weeks without a bath, there was no reason to believe otherwise.

?Besides,? Hayden thought, ?if the rumors about him are true, there is no method we could exert that the Magi wouldn?t have.? And that was true, regardless of his existence.

Standing, now with a clean and adventurous feeling, he walked to the window from which the clothes line was visible. As he looked out, he saw that Vladimir had finished his laundry as well, and was likely taking a bath in one of the nearby rooms. Knowing that the clothing would not yet be dry, he took a seat on a nearby wooden bench and continued to gaze out to the clouds from the small window. Unless they abandoned their current research, they were doomed to a seemingly never-ending journey.

?Thank you for your hospitality, sir,? Vladimir said as they finally exited.

?It was no trouble at all. You?re welcome to this place any time you wish!? the elderly man said with a wave and a smile. Hayden and Vladimir returned the gesture bfore turning away and heading in the direction of Kazus.

Bathed and dressed in clean clothes, they were ready to begin their next great journey. However, the question resided in both of them ? What would they do? The Panacea seemed hopeless, and there was nothing else that would engrave their names in history. That was their goal, after all?

As they neared the wooded path that led to Kazus, the look in their eyes went from thankful and happy to surveying and serious. What would they do? Unfortunately, there seemed to be only one option ? Peritus Creo. Neither of them wanted to admit that they may have been wrong in their conclusion, but if they were to continue their research, it seemed that there was no one else capable of helping them. IF he had survived the many years, as would be guaranteed if the rumors surrounding him were true, then he could give them the information they needed. But at that point, the work would no longer be theirs. Their pride would have been in finding him.

Two roads were left for them to walk down ? Creating the Panacea and being written down in the history books, or finding Peritus Creo and being written down in the history books. Both paths led to what they wanted, and both seemed equally impossible.

?Hayden, I?ve been thinking that we need to seek someone out,? Vladimir said, breaking the silent thought.

?And that would be?? Hayden inquired, oblivious to Vladimir?s tone.

?Dal Verci?s brother,? he finally said.

?The blind man who used to work in the castle? Why would we want to speak with him? Besides, that involves getting closer to Dal than I?d like to be,? Hayden replied.

?We seek him out because he used to work in the castle. If there?s one man that can truly confirm that Creo is a myth, it?s him. No one knows about him but us, so it gives us the upper hand ? no one will have sought him out before now.?

?But you realize the problems that would rest with actually finding him, don?t you??

?Of course. But the fact of the matter is?? Vladimir paused, searching for the words to convey his message. ?Only blind men see the truth. We can trust that his eyes are not mistaken, and that his ears are keener than any. If there?s something to know, he knows it.?

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