Short Story: The Alchemist

  • Mr. Flamel had always thought of nightfall in Skyrim as one of Kyne's most exorbitant - and most stunning - displays. Luckily for him, the grand spectacle insisted on repeating itself at the end of each day; first with its sun setting in a vivid sea of crimsons and oranges, then with the subtle transition of warm reds to cold blues to black. And then the stars would appear. Beaming, winking at him, as if they'd been there the whole time, watching his fumbling progression as the days passed by far below on Nirn. 

    Yes, nightfall in Skyrim was beautiful, and as Nicolas Flamel laboured towards the summit of Bard's Leap, he knew that that night in particular would put every other twilight he had witnessed to shame. That night, Mr. Flamel reasoned, would be a good night to die. Not that he had any choice in the matter, of course; no, the slow-acting poison in his blood made sure of that. But the Immortal Alchemist was not about to let a little thing like death spoil his enjoyment of the sunset- especially not on that night. 

    So he made his winding way up, through Lost Valley Redoubt, supported by the age-old walking stick that had once been merely a fashion accessory, and accompanied by his most trusted companion and friend, Elias. The dog had seen far better days, but then, so had Nicolas, and their mutual deterioration after centuries of health and fortune spent together served only to bring the two closer together. The Forsworn left them alone, and for that Flamel was thankful, though he knew a few of the weaponised potions in his knapsack would have kept them at bay, if needed be.

    The two walked until Elias could walk no more, at which point Nicolas dropped his stick and hoisted his old friend into his arms, carrying him as far as he could before his legs declined into entropy. The Alchemist collapsed, spent, a few hundred feet short of the summit, propping his companion up as best he could before lying back himself and smiling. 

    "Ah, immortality's overrated, I say." He sighed. Elias panted in agreement, and the sun began its long descent.

    "Tell me, Eli," Flamel continued, "If you had known back then of the hardships everlasting life would bring, would you still have agreed to join me?" Elias managed an irritated bark. Nicolas laughed heartily, "Of course you would've, you loyal bastard." The sky darkened a little more, and the Alchemist and his dog fell silent for a while. 

    "I'm sorry, old friend." Coughed Flamel. "That I couldn't keep us going."

    The dog whined, and Flamel reflected upon the last few hours that had put them in their current situation. He had been gathering ingredients for the potion that would sustain himself and Elias for the next few years when he chanced upon a group bandits. In the ensuing fight, Nicolas had been poisoned by a stray arrow, dipped in toxin, and though Elias had been unharmed, extended periods without the potion had him in a worse state than his master. Dogs, it seemed, needed doses more frequently than other creatures, and not for the first time Flamel cursed himself for leaving preparations so late. Too late.

    Later, Nicolas had identified by the cold, tingling sensation in his legs, that the toxin was likely frostbite venom. A crude, minor poison in the world of alchemy, that he had ample antidote for back at his home. But home, Flamel knew, was far too far for the sick man and the old dog to walk. Perhaps he should have been angry at fate's cruel twist, but cheating death for so long had left him too weary to attempt the journey in defiance. So they climbed, instead, to watch the day progress into night. 

    "How fitting," Nicolas smiled. "Alchemy kept me alive, and now by its hand, I die. Very poetic, wouldn't you say, Eli?" Silence. "Do you think folk will tell tales of our exploits, old friend?" A pause. Then, quietly, "Do you think any sort of afterlife is open to those who have actively avoided it for so long?" 

    Questions unanswered, Nicolas Flamel pulled Elias into a tight embrace as his breathing grew faint. 

    "I am the Immortal Alchemist!" He yelled into the night, and the mountains echoed his claim thunderously. The darkened sky came alive with a dazzling array of blue-green lights, delivering to the Alchemist and his dog the send-off they so deserved. 

    Yes, thought Mr. Flamel. Tonight is a good night to die. 

    ----------------

    I know, not my usual comedic short story. It was nice to write, though. 

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Comments

28 Comments
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  January 14, 2016
    This instantly drew me in; beautiful.
    On a side note, there is a series, Iron Druid Chronicles, about a druid and his Irish wolfhound that have survived centuries through drinking a tea brew. That has a much different, lighter tone and they haven't ...  more
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  January 12, 2016
    Yeah that was Australian headlines I think around the same time as the Nazi thing. Hilarious.

    Sorry FishDout I am notorious for posting random crap on people's blogs.
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  January 12, 2016
    Haha no worries, I'm more than used to your shenanigans now, and they most certainly put a smile on my face.
    Side note: Oh Harry, what have you gotten yourself into now?
  • Idesto a'Shinbira
    Idesto a'Shinbira   ·  January 12, 2016
    @Andrew I didn't know that; was that in Oz? Presumably while dressed as a Nazi & posing naked with some working girls? 
    @FishDout I hope you don't feel we've hijacked your story. I really enjoyed it. 
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  January 11, 2016
    Come on FD. If anyone can do it its me and Zombidesto...
  • FishDout
    FishDout   ·  January 11, 2016
    How you managed to turn Flamel, portrayed here as a rather defined, emotional figure (if I say so myself) into a stoned philosopher I will never know.

    LokaCola, thank you for the words :)
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  January 11, 2016
    I remember they nicknamed Prince Harry, Harry Pothead after he was caught smoking weed.
  • Idesto a'Shinbira
    Idesto a'Shinbira   ·  January 11, 2016
    BTW: best pub quiz team name EVER: Hairy Pothead and the Stoned Philosophers. You're welcome. 
  • LokaCola
    LokaCola   ·  January 11, 2016
    Very sad story, as well as being beautiful. I guess there's only so long that one can cheat death.
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  January 10, 2016
    If only he'd held on to that damn philosopher's stone...