Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The First Alchemist - Prologue
“If you expose that to your skin, you’ll explode,” the Grandmaster said. “Don’t expect me to clean up the mess.”
Mi Ling quickly jerked his hand away from the bowl of liquid. “Grandmaster, I didn’t hear you come in.” He gave a respectful bow.
The Grandmaster seemingly ignored him as he made his way to his chair, looking tired. For awhile nothing was said. The Grandmaster just kept stroking his beard with an absent minded look.
Mi Ling didn’t know what to do but stand there shuffling his feet. There was no way he was going to say anything that might interrupt the Grandmaster’s thoughts. He was too scared. The Grandmaster was, after all, the greatest alchemist in the entire world. His discoveries and knowledge in alchemy has saved countless lives, as well as increased the overall strength of those who cultivate in the profound. There wasn’t anyone close to his level of skill.
“You’re probably wondering why I sent for you?” the Grandmaster finally said.
Mi Ling nodded emphatically, remembering the army of alchemists that showed up at his door, then brought him for miles and miles all the way here. What could such a powerful person want with him? He was just a lowly writer.
"I'm dying," the Grandmaster simply answered.
Mi Ling's eyes bugged out. He thought he might have heard wrong. "Uh...what did you say?"
"Do I have to repeat myself? I'm dying, you nitwit."
"Bu, but that's impossible! You're the Grandmaster, the greatest alchemist in the world! You created the antidote for the black scale poison, rediscovered the cure for the smooth stone disease, as well as treated other fatal maladies. What could you possibly be dying of?"
"Oh...," Mi Ling paused. "Couldn't you just take some Life Extending Pills?"
"Those pills could only go so far. I'm not just old, I'm ancient. I have lived far longer than most people have the right to.” He gave a sigh. “It's time for me to die. Who knows, there may be something that comes after."
Mi Ling didn't know what to say. He never realized how awkward it would be when someone was talking about their impending death.
The Grandmaster looked around the room as if he was appreciating every detail. "I have already made some arrangements. My disciples know what to do after I'm gone, or at least they won't squabble as much over everything. My last worry is with you."
Mi Ling stood up straight, ready to listen to why he was summoned here.
"You say that I am the greatest alchemist in the world, and although that may be true in the current era, in the past there was one alchemist even greater than I. The First Alchemist." The Grandmaster's eyes sparkled. "He was the one who discovered alchemy in the first place, over one hundred thousand years ago. Ever since then, no one has been able to match his knowledge and skill. I am probably the closest, but even I dare not say that I'm up to his level. He is simply the greatest alchemist in all of history."
The Grandmaster grew quiet again, then said, “I want you to go into my personal office in the Alchemist Association. There you will find journals, paintings, and everything else I've ever collected about The First Alchemist. I want you to go through it all, especially the journals."
"What for?" Mi Ling asked.
"So that you can learn everything there is to know about The First Alchemist, and then write his biography. A lot of time has passed since his death and there have been many books written about him. But those books only account for sections of his life and most of their information is based on ancient rumors. I want you to write one complete book that details his entire life so that everyone can read about this great man. I want everyone to see him just as I do." The Grandmaster's eyes shined with light.
Mi Ling finally understood, but he was still confused. “Why me? Why not some other writer?” he asked.
The Grandmaster waved off his question, not bothering to answer. “Rest assured, you will be well compensated for your work. Everything has been arranged. Anything you need, you will get.”
Mi Ling still had questions, but he wasn’t going to pass on the chance for paid work. His pockets have been a little light lately. "Rest assured, Grandmaster. I will write the greatest and most memorable biography in history. No one will ever forget The First Alchemist!" Mi Ling was excited about this project.
"I can't tell you how much that eases my mind. I just don't want The First Alchemist to become a footnote in history." The Grandmaster relaxed in his chair and closed his eyes. “Now that I no longer have any worries, I think I can finally die in peace. You may go now."
"Ah, yes." Mi Ling bowed. He waited for a second, but seeing as there was nothing else forthcoming from the Grandmaster, he went to the door and left the room, but not before taking one last look at the greatest alchemist in the world.
It was the last time anyone saw the Grandmaster alive.