Chapter 2- Philtre, The Alchemist

Chapter 2- Philtre, The Alchemist

The woman whipped up a flame of torch and led her through the dank inner passages of the palace which seemed to have been forgotten by time but soon revealed the chamber of a man working on beetles at the corner of the room. The room was almost dark but for the light of a slight lamp whose weak light revealed a man with a beard busy, busy, busy in his room full of flasks and single open flames, not unlike a laboratory of sorts. There was also a panel of books by a wall.

"I brought you the Queen Serena, sir Alchemist Philtre." The woman said.

Philtre looked up from his work and was immediately entranced by the sorrow in the woman’s mien. He had never seen a woman so beautiful and yet so sad. He wanted to vanish the creases of worry on her face which was not possible because he was only a man, an alchemist, at the mercy of the Caliphate who had taken him to live here so he could control the man from spreading his talents in the outside world and be exclusively his. The women from the harem, managed to engage his services once they knew of his existence in the palace. He was a boy when taken to work for the Caliphate but was now a full-grown man who had not fully seen the full light of day for like the Queen, he seemed banished for his services to the King.

"Yes, ofcourse." Philtre replied.

But, today as the sun and blue sky passed through the small window of his cell, he could surmise much as though the Queen appeared to him in a clear lighted dream. The odalisque whispered to him what was required all but in discretion for if the Caliphate hears of this surely all of them would be killed.

The alchemist straightened up as though it were the first time he did for he had always been studying about the elements of the world and longed to be in the outside world in search of his materials but could only send someone to procure these materials from the books he read and searched for solutions to problems that plagued the Caliphate. He was an apothecary upon himself and could create magnificent salves for every ailment the Caliphate suffered. For this, he requested that he be given a library of books for him to study the inner workings of the world of nature and how they related as medicine to man. It was enough for him to know for it was the reward in itself until today.

The Queen appeared to him as though he had known her a thousand dreams before, from lifetimes ago but someone he could not touch for she held the quality of water, shimmering, glassy, impossible to take hold of, impermeable water.

Together they discussed her problem. She needed to lace the King’s drink with a love potion so that he would look at no one else except the way he saw her. She wanted him to fall in love with her the way there never had been anything between them for theirs had been an arranged marriage of convenience and there was no time to know each other except as a royal decree that they marry.

The alchemist realized this woman knew not what love was if it stared at her in the face but wanted it so much.

He himself knew not what love was until now when he wanted to be close to her so much but could only stand meters away from her due to some ridiculous decree that had nothing to do with his feelings for her.

He bribed the soldiers and the gardens were opened for them to stroll in. Finally, she twined her arms around his as they walked about the gardens with the butterflies circling them and the flowers. Birds seemed to warble songs which were intimately composed for them.

The alchemist, bearded and the fine Queen kissed for they knew not what else to do in the garden of immediacy. She so wanted to fall in love with him and he knew more than she that he had known her long ago and will know her more as the days, months, years and lifetimes to come. Why it never ended with them together, he had no idea.

She kissed him first on the shoulder as they watched the green grass, the flowers, the blue sky that sheltered their arboreal, piece of paradise. His own lips sought her own, and did not miss no matter how dim his sight already were for he had grown accustomed to the futile light of his study and laboratory. They sat on the stone bench and knew not what to do. They simply knew, they finally knew what love was all about. A remembering and a reckoning.

Finally, they decided to escape the palace and live a life somewhere else like a normal couple.

Philtre picked a flower from an orange tree and crushed it in his palm. He salved it unto the wrist of his beloved. He told her that if they were to be killed by the King, she should remember the scent of the Neroli so that whichever lifetime they were to be sent, they would find each other again and be happy in the next lifetime as they could not in this.

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