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Neverwinter Moments - The Fine Art of Alchemy

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The Fine Art of Alchemy


She quietly shook the contents of her vial, watching carefully to see whether it had reached the shade of desired green, which was the result she was supposed to come to for that particular poison. Of course, shaking could get boring, so her eyes wandered. Soon, they came to rest on one studious elf. Sand was looking rather drawn and wan. Being a very considerate girl, Lianne decided that her companion would probably find an anti-gravity potion very useful. Then, he could float up and feel happy, because the sadness or whatever he was feeling would no longer be dragging him down. She smiled upon thinking of it.

Sand happened to look up at the moment, and he caught her dreamy smile. He glanced over at an undignified heap in the corner, but Aldanon was asleep. He would receive all the benefits of this unwanted conversation. The problem, though, was that Lianne was not precisely looking at him this time, but more through him. While displeased at the interruption (and mildly troubled at the thought of not being considered worthy of being a focal point), he was willing to take a few moments to know why. "Did your imaginary friend say something amusing just now?"

"No, sir," answered Lianne earnestly. "I am not currently speaking to her. We had an argument about whether or not dragons produce drinkable milk for humans."

The elf, who had gotten used to some of his charge's quirks, sighed and returned to his study.

However, the child's gaze did not waver as she absently continued her project of poison making. Sand had always fascinated her. He seemed like a… cake pan that had too much mix in it, and the extra bits were trying to get out. She tried not to laugh to herself at the idea of Sand being cake, out of respect for the other occupant of the room, and ended up with a sobbing, coughing sound.

Sand lifted his head to look at her again, this time with greater annoyance. "Explain yourself, or I will have you leave the library." Honestly, why had fate allowed him to live over two hundred or three hundred years and then be tormented by this… thing?

"I was thinking about cake," she explained, putting a finger to her lips thoughtfully.

"I see. Was it a birthday cake with your name in pink sugar frosting?"

"No, it was not."

This was good. She did not plan to elaborate more.

The unfortunate thing was, though, that Lianne had suddenly decided that she would make an anti-gravity potion for Sand. It was obvious that he was being distracted in bits, which accounted for him speaking to her when he had originally said that his study was important and that he could not be bothered. If he had an anti-gravity potion, he would be undistracted for a bit, because the distractions could all go up at once.

But Sand knew nothing of her (il)logical thinking. "Please continue your project." Her continual stare could truly be unnerving.

"I am done," she said. "I think I got it correct, because I believe poison is this shade of green."

"Indeed." He gave the vial a cursory look. "Seems acceptable."

She nodded to herself and then placed the vial carefully on the table. Next, she drew out some more ingredients that seemed to come from her pack. It was truly terrifying, how she stuffed things there. And not just normal things… all sorts of random things, like remnants of broken objects, strange coins, many gemstones, odd bits of metal, and other odds and ends of rubbish and whatnot. It was obvious that though cleanliness was high on her list, the sister virtue neatness was not so much. That mattered little, though. She cheerfully began poking powders and burning a piece of her hair in the candle.

It was when she started crushing bits of stones by pounding that he made his objections. "You are uncommonly loud for one so small," he remarked sardonically.

"I am almost done," she assured him. She had actually been wondering what would happen if she added a bit of old spell paper, but she sorely disliked aiding in the destruction of possibly useful texts.

Finally, she finished and went to stand behind Sand to wait for him to give her a part of his attention. Sand ignored her for as long as could be acceptable before sighing and saying, "Yes?"

"I am done. Would you look at it, please?" She held out a vial of mud-colored fluid.

"Hmm…" he murmured, with his eyes searching the words on a page.

"Is that powdered dragon scale?" she asked suddenly, gesturing towards a small pouch near his hand.

"That, my dear girl, is pixie dust."

"Oh, I see."

"Rare if one cannot find a pixie, yet it still manages not to be a figment of my imagination."

She blinked owlishly in uncertainty and then brightened up. "I imagined a pixie yesterday, when I was sleeping."

He made a sound that indicated he was not particularly impressed.

"What is it used for?" she asked, curious and seeking more knowledge.

Her eager tone caught him, and he answered, "It is a very potent cure for headaches."

"I shall remember that. My father gets headaches very often." The child sounded a bit sad.

"I would think so," muttered Sand to himself. He was very thankful all of the sudden that he had never chosen to associate with children in any way--- except this one. One was enough. But he did not voice his thoughts. Instead, he asked, "Is there anything else?"

She lowered her mouth near his pointed ears and spoke in a loud whisper. "I must go now, but may I come back later and you can help me test my new potion?"

He sighed, something he seemed to do plenty of when near her. "I suppose so," he said reluctantly, but he was careful to temper his voice to show only a hint of the feeling. Rather regretfully, he realized that he would not have his bath and wine on time tonight.

They agreed to meet after she was back from cow milking. It was an activity she had insisted on personally helping with, though he had heard rumors that she drank a fair bit of the milk as well. At any rate, when she left, the library was mostly empty and gloriously silent.

Except for the sound of Aldanon snoring in a corner.

Though he would have to postpone his bath, there was no reason not to get started on the wine. So, he took a visit to the proper location and picked up a bit of the right liquid. Sand had always been good at holding his drink, and no one realized that he was already deep in the elven liquor. Aldanon was still serenely snoring in the corner, speaking of which… Sand had always suspected that the old sage was perpetually intoxicated anyways. Aldanon probably used the fanciful, rambling speech and the twinkling, smiling eyes as a decoy. Luckily, he did manage to sober up for certain occasions, such as when information was needed about evil dead kings and other such.

It was an hour or so later that there was a light knock on the library door. Though Sand had drunk quite a bit, he was still lucid enough to realize who it was. The knocks seemed to sound the beat to a mournful dirge for the waste of his time. "Come in," he ordered.

"Salutations, Sand, sir," she greeted respectfully. That was one of her redeeming points… she did show some respect for people. "There has been wonderful weather."

He looked at a wall and then glanced back at her. "It has been raining," he said flatly, sounding almost cynical.

"I know it has. Rain is a gift of the heavens. I heard it is created when angels weep for the meanness of man."

He unintentionally twitched at that. Did she mean that--- was he mean? Ah, he was thinking too much of it. "Yes, indeed. Well, let us hurry and finish with your… potion. I am sure you are eager to… go and dance naked around trees under the rain or whatever it is you prefer."

Lianne blinked in surprise. "I am not a member of the obscure and ancient Xin-Mon tribe, but I am honored that you would think so."

Sand grimaced in response. "There is no such tri--- never mind." He cut himself off and rubbed at his temples. "The potion?"

She reached for the vial and opened it. "I call it an anti-gravity potion," she explained. Rather ruefully, she added, "Or I will, if it works." While Sand went off to fetch a test subject, Lianne took a sip of the potion.

The elf was less than pleased when he returned. "I know you are flighty, but what are you doing up there?" he almost growled as he looked up at the ceiling. The mouse in his hands squirmed in a futile effort to get free.

"I drank my potion, and it worked." Her manner of speaking implicated that she thought he was mentally deficient for not realizing her reason for being at the ceiling. The suspicious look she shot at him only emphasized it.

He started slightly in irritation. He had been sure that the potion would not work--- who had ever heard of an anti-gravity potion? Also, the ingredients she had used were not what he would have thought could create such a thing, if it did exist. "What were you thinking of by testing it on yourself?" he shouted. The alcohol combined with the child was getting to be too much for his nerves. "You could have been severely injured and I would have taken the blame! Get down at once!"

"Why not come up here instead?" she suggested.

"Did you hear me? Get down!"

"It lets you leave some of those heavy, unhappy thoughts on the ground," she continued, as though she had not heard him. "Drink some of it," she urged him.

Sand had some doubts about the effects of the so-called "anti-gravity potion". If he had been in his right mind, he would most likely not even have thought about drinking from that vial. Unfortunately, he was not. And, though it might have only been his imagination, he thought that some heavy thoughts did seem to be kept to the ground. Later, he would attribute it all to the child's gift of persuasion. He took a drink.

It was like floating, and like nothing he had ever felt before. He was above the library, above Aldanon, and--- next to a child. Yet he did not seem to mind anymore. It was happiness, to be floating up near the ceiling.

"How do you feel?" she asked.

"I feel quite normal to be floating up in the air," he replied dryly.

She closed her eyes and smiled before beginning to float out of the library.

"Wait! Where is the antidote?"

"Antidote?" She sounded vaguely confused.

Sand resisted the urge to throttle her right there and then. High in the air or down at the ground, Lianne would still be Lianne. "Yes, an antidote."

"An antidote may be defined as a substance that counteracts the effect of a poison or toxin, or as a welcome relief or remedy which will take away or reduce the bad effects of something experienced previously," she stated academically.

Her knowledge of some things compounded with her ignorance of other things was amazing. "Precisely," he said crisply. "The other vial, which will let us return to the ground." He was sure that if he pointed out sardonically that he had asked about the antidote and not for the definition, his wit would be wasted.

"I think I forgot about that."

He muttered something under his breath, but glided down to the table. The child entertained herself by thinking of fairy tales and reciting bits of them out loud, but was interrupted when the elf eventually returned. "You should hope this works." He had found something promised to be a panacea to remedy most mildly problematic difficulties.

"Did you find it?" she asked casually, rather like someone else asking whether or not one had found the slice of bread which had gotten lost or the thread which had become missing.

Sand felt that it was beneath him to answer such a question, as well as unnecessary. After all, what had he been holding in his hand when he floated back up? "Drink," he ordered as he handed her the vial.

She drank, returned the vial to him, and fell to the floor. Sand peered down at her curiously before taking a sip as well. "It tasted like chocolate," she complained. "And now I am sleepy. I think I will go to sleep now. Good night, sir." She paused, and then added, "Can I have some pixie dust, please? I think my father would like some for his headaches. He always seems to have one whenever I am---"

"In return for your silence, of course," said Sand, forcing Lianne to discontinue her sentence. He was feeling the onset of a headache and felt that he would need a bit of pixie dust as well.

"Do not worry. I am very good at keeping secrets. I never told anyone about the time I saw Bishop looking at Elanee when---"

"Thank you, my dear girl. You may go."

Neverwinter Moments - The Fine Art of Alchemy © Hetaera

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