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A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

The stagecoach rode tore the alleys of Marn with unsafe and urgent speed. As the wheels rumbled over uneven stones, the coach pitched and yawed precariously, threatening to overturn at any moment. The violent rocking caused the lantern that illuminated the cabin to sway from side to side, filling the interior with disorienting shadows that surged forth and retreated like warring ghostly armies. Depending on the inclinations of the observer, one might have seen an old woman with her arms resting on the bloodied body of an alchemist, or a tall, comely man cradling a fellow with strikingly similar features--his brother, perhaps--rocking him back and forth. The rare observer might see both of these things, one image surging forth as the other ebbed, illuminated and darkened in alteration by the uncertain light.

"Are you really in there, brother, or am I just holding a corpse?" the man asked.

There was no response, but the body seemed to stir briefly. Zapar couldn't be sure if the movement stemmed from the body or just the movement of the carriage. He touched his forehead to his brother's. The skin was cold, but that didn't surprise him. His skin, too, was often cold. What did surprise him was the voice emanating from the other side of the cabin.

"Of course I am, you dolt," Morax said. "But please, spare me your attentions. Or spare the body, at least. It cannot withstand much."

Zapar glanced down at the body in his hands. It was the alchemist--Bekkar. His brother was seated on the other side of the cabin with an expression that seemed almost peevish, but mostly impassive.
"It's a shame," Zapar replied. "That my most attractive brother is so emotionally.. unavailable."

Morax waved his hand dismissively. "Summon the other. I wish to discuss the ritual."

The carriage rocked, and the light shifted to reveal the old woman again. "Everything has been prepared. The only thing needed is the body.. and the phylactery, of course."

With an eerie, wide smile full of sharp teeth, Morax nodded curtly. It seemed, finally, that everything had a chance of working out his way.

Re: A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

Post by Daq Bekkar on

"Did you know?" Silke asked, but it was all too bright for him. He'd just gotten used to the dark.

"I..." Daq started, drifting off before he could really formulate anything. There was nothing but light--efflugent and radiantly bright. "It's too bright," he said hoarsely.

"Did you know?" she asked again.

"I.. can't," he said, squinting his eyes and holding his hand in front to shield them. "It's too bright."

"Did you know?" she repeated, growing louder and closing in on him. "Did you know? Did you know?!"

Daq said nothing. He could see nothing but her silhouette growing larger. He shirked away from it. Silke continued to close in, screaming furiously, repeating the phrase over and over--did he know? She came so close to him that he could feel the rush of her breath. She blocked out much of the light. In that pleasant dark, he could finally think.

"No," he whispered. "I didn't know. I'm sorry."

Before he even managed to finish, he felt the warmth of Silke's embrace. Pressing his face into her shoulder, he repeated himself over and over as she had earlier, apologizing to her until she quieted him.

"It's alright. You'll get used to it," she said softly, taking him by his left hand and leading him away.

Used to what? The guilt? Daq thought to himself.

"The light," Silke said quickly, almost seeming to preempt his thoughts. "You'll get used to it."

When Priscilla arrived at her house in the foothills near Marn, she had Morraigne and a few other servants help her move the body into the room she had set up and place it at the center of a salt and sulfur pentagram that covered most of the floor.

"Reach into the jacket," she ordered. "The left pocket. Find a smooth metal cube and hand it to me."
Nodding silently, Morraigne identified the desired object and removed it from the body's possession. He left the heavy leather jacket splayed out to either side, like the flesh of a cadaver at an unfinished autopsy. In this arrangement, with arms and legs set far apart, so that points of the body were aligned with the points of the pentagram, the angle of the axe looked particularly odd and discordant. Priscilla moved to stand next to it and motioned for one of her bodyguards to join her. Pointing to a tall, narrow thing leaned up against the opposite wall and covered in a sheet, she gave an order to the other guards.

"Unveil that mirror," she said. One of them snapped the sheet away to reveal a full-length mirror in an elegant but antique-looking frame. Priscilla looked into it. Instead of an old woman standing next to the body of a somewhat younger man, she saw Zapar staring back at her, poised by his brother, who was stretched out in the same manner as Daq but looking much more alive and impatient. Priscilla took great care to keep from aggravating her bad back as she bent down to place the phylactery on Bekkar's chest at about the level of his belly button.

As Priscilla made her preparations, the two brothers were having a restrained but serious argument about the ritual. In the mirror, Zapar could be seen gesturing nonchalantly as he chided Morax on the attention he was giving to the human. Bekkar was, after all, nothing more than a host. He was neither particularly helpful, nor particularly useful. What was the purpose of bothering to preserve him?
Morax's answer was rather peculiar, even to one versed in the language of an alchemist. "After death," he said slowly, as if expecting Zapar to have difficulty comprehending the statement. "Many of them become dissolved in the same medium."

"What do you mean?" Zapar asked. "That they all rot away into the same earth?"

"It is not that dissolution I am interested in," Morax said.

"Just come out an say it!" Zapar exclaimed peevishly. As usual, it seemed that Morax had no intention of sharing either his knowledge or his designs. It was a mannerism that vexed him only because it compounded the various ways that Morax made himself unavailable, while he found himself almost painfully full of lust and, oddly enough, caring for his strange and wonderful brother.

"He is referring to the notion of an afterlife," Priscilla interjected, looking up momentarily from a black tallow candle she was engraving with her ritual knife. "Many diviners have proposed the theory that the existence after death is a paradoxical mix of individual essence and collective consciousness. It is how the dead may be counseled for wisdom they should not possess."

"So it is the collective knowledge you are after? Have you not already been granted knowledge of the virtue of all things? What could the humans know that you don't? Surely you are not interested in subjects beyond your areas of expertise."

"That is correct, brother," Morax said. He raised his head to stare at Zapar. "I do not wish to know of anything but my trades, and I already know the virtue of each thing employed in them. My knowledge, however, has allowed me to realize that there are things yet undiscovered, things related not to the virtue of the elements, but to their manipulation. Given time, humanity will surpass us, and they will leave us behind, the old-world demons and rituals. That is the nature of it--the virtue."

Zapar had opened his mouth to say something else, but Priscilla held up her hand and squelched him. "I am ready," she said.

"Good," Morax answered, laying his head back. "Remove the axe."

Re: A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

Post by Daq Bekkar on

There was a strange noise in his head, he realized.

.0017 moles of Methyl benzoate ...

He couldn't understand it. It was a clutter, a low droning--like the murmur he had heard at the old town hall in Skelleftejäure before the meeting could be called to order. He could pick up bits and pieces of it, but whenever he tried to, he was distracted by the blinding brightness.

TLC showed product rf of ...

"Jaaahh.. Silke," he whispered, shielding his eyes with one hand and gripping the cool, smooth fabric of her sleeve with the other. "It's.. terribly bright."

... corresponds to triphenyl methanol. End of report.

She didn't respond to him. She simply led him on at the same, slow pace. As they moved together, the light and sound continued to get worse, and Daq started to renew his complaints. He stopped himself when he heard a familiar voice among all the others.

"Why don't you tell him?" he heard. The voice was high-pitched, and the words had a certain underdeveloped softness to them. Was it really..?

... reaction product has been designated polyamide 6-6.

"Why don't you tell him?" he heard again. It sounded like it was trailing behind them as they moved. It isn't necessarily, he half-reasoned. It could be any child's voice.

It has a high melting point, which presents difficulties in ...

"Why don't you tell him?" he heard. This time it was more insistent, impatient, and it took on a characteristic pitch, both whining and condescending, that he'd only heard one child employ, having learned it, probably, from his father. Daq knew: it had to be his son. Why not? Silke was there, after all.

"Tell me what?" he asked. As soon as he formed the words, he felt a tug at his elbow. He didn't want to respond--it was the arm he was using to shield his eyes--but he dropped his hand to his side anyway, and felt a small, soft hand clutch at two of his fingers.

"You don't have to squint, Faddi," his son said. "You don't have to squint. It's not bright. Tell him, Muddi. Tell him it's not bright."

"Just wait, Rolle," Silke said. "Let him get his bearings."

"But it's not bright..." came the response, in that same whining, condescending tone.

The axe was lodged in too tightly for Priscilla to remove it, so she signaled for Morraigne. Bracing the body by propping his foot against its chest, he grabbed the handle and pulled at it. There was a gooey popping noise with his first tentative attempt, but the axe didn't seem to move. A small rivulet of blood trickled out of the wound site and into Daq's jacket. Making a more deliberate effort, Morraigne yanked at the axe, grunting with exertion. It came free suddenly, swinging back in a bloody arc accompanied by little bone chips, bulbs of subcutaneous fat and gobs of torn sinew. The body jerked reflexively and a jet of blood gushed out of the wound, staining the butler's pants and shirt. With each heartbeat, blood continued to pulse out, each time with less and less force, until it merely oozed.

"Back, Morraigne," Priscilla ordered. She moved forward to take his place at the body's side. Carefully, she knelt beside it and placed one hand on the phylactery at its navel. The device was growing warm. Glancing at the mirror, she could see Morax's image beginning to grow transparent and reveal the body it was obscuring. Raising her other arm as high as she could manage, she shouted with an unearthly, multi-voiced wail, "Zurrägkomme, Bekkar!"

Her shout was punctuated with an ominous groaning of the wooden walls and creaking of the floors. Her men stepped away from the ritual circle, frightened. One of them made for a door, but it slammed shut before he could get to it. At the opposite wall, the shutters over the windows began to rattle, shaking free months' worth of accumulated dust that pooled and swirled at the level of the body.

In the mirror, Zapar seemed distressed. He banged at the frame with both fists, but his hits were ineffective. He could be seen calling for his brother, but not heard amidst the rattling. Also not able to be heard amidst the clamor was a faint crackling arising from the body. A person with his ear to its chest might have likened the noise to the sound of grease cooking, and, at that close range, he might have been able to discern the body's flesh rippling as its elements were shifted, lengthened or attenuated, all according to its new owner's designs.

The sights and sounds of the ritual had begun to fade when Morax arose from where Bekkar had lain. Aside from the now ill-fitting clothing, nothing remained that resembled the alchemist who had been there before. Instead of the body of an average-sized, slightly pudgy, worn-out looking man, Morax now possessed his own form--tall and strange with fresh, sharp features and a wild shock of orange-red hair.

The phylactery had fallen from his navel to the floor when Morax stood, so he hunched down and stretched out his long fingers to grab it and pick it up. Scrutinizing it with his thoughtful yellow eyes, he asked, "Bekkar is within?"

Priscilla shook her head. "No," she replied quietly, unexpectedly finding herself a little frightened by the tall demon’s husky and feral voice. Creakily and with the help of her butler, she stood up. Even at her full height, in the company of Morax, she seemed like a dwarf. "I don't believe that the ritual succeeded."

Re: A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

Post by Daq Bekkar on

As soon as the suggestion had been made, Daq had started to realize that his son was right--it wasn't bright, per se. Even if he squinted, his agitation didn't improve. In addition, as he had begun to adjust, he realized that he wasn't having trouble seeing, he was having trouble sorting out what he was seeing.

The action of heparin-class anticoagulants hasn't been fully elucidated, but ...

Just like the droning in his ears, he seemed to be seeing multiple things at once. Part of him was looking at his wife's face, but part of him was looking at some sort of paper with printed numbering and mountainous squiggly lines. Words popped into his head, unbidden--"Mass Spectrometry."

"What's.." he whispered. He was forced to pause mid sentence by more noises.

... primary mechanisms appear to involve Factor Xa and Antithrombin.

Patient presents with diminished breath sounds in the left lower lobes ...

Singlet diradical molecules with intermediate diradical characteristics seem to possess enhanced static hyperpolarizability.

His wife answered him, even though he hadn't finished. "You're starting to parse everything."

"Parse...?" He asked.

... in which the methylene chain inserted between 3T and acetylene bridge, the TRIP values are ... .

"The ears hear what the mind knows," his son replied cryptically.

Daq wanted to scream. He began to realize that he was feeling more than the silk of his wife's sleeve and his son's hot, sticky hand. He could feel hints of bitter cold and boiling heat, rough surfaces, smooth surfaces, pulsations and contractions. He could smell more than his wife's sweet, buttery perfume. He could smell the stink of sewers and burning hair.

"Please, faddi," his son seemed to whisper in his ear. "Just relax. It's alright."

But it wasn't alright. Through all of the overwhelming sensory overload, Daq was feeling an awful hurt. Each step pained him, as if his innards were caught on a nail somewhere behind him. He had to turn back. Something was calling him.

"Daq?" He heard his wife ask. It was a dull sound.

"Faddi?" The volume was nothing compared to the command that seemed to be echoing from within his very skull: Zurrägkomme, Bekkar!.

"Shazzi, don't go!" his wife demanded. She wrenched her sleeve from his hand and grasped his arm. He could feel her squeeze, but he could also feel pine bark, cotton sheets, soft Darleone cheese, the cutting edge of a sword, and, most of all, an insistent gnawing at his insides.

"I..." he whispered, unsure, as always, of what was supposed to come next.

After many years of gruesome rituals, there were few things could make Priscilla squirm, but Morax's creepy, wild stare was almost one of them.

"Well? What do you want me to do about it?" she asked, trying to mask her anxiety with feigned petulance and frustration.

Morax closed in on her a few steps, and sighed loudly. She could smell his oddly sweet breath. He backed away, moved to the desk at the side of the room, and picked up a worn, leather-bound book that was sitting on it.

"This is the tome I instructed you to procure?" he asked. Priscilla nodded, and he opened it up. After flipping through the pages for some time, he jabbed his finger at one section and walked over to Malatrast to show it to her.

"An alternate ritual is written here, in case of the primary ritual's failure. Please attempt this," he said. A hint of concern had crept into his voice. Above all else, he knew that he didn't want to lose Bekkar entirely. He couldn't quite convince himself that his concern was entirely related to the lost opportunity for learning.

"Fine," Priscilla said. "Is there anything else?"

"The reagents?" Morax asked. "Were you able to find all of them? And the equipment?"

"Yes," the old woman replied. She motioned for one of her frightened servants. "This one will show you to the lab I have set up for you."

With an eager pace and a relieved expression on his face, the servant excused himself from the ritual and motioned for Morax to follow.

"I shall return after I have completed my end of the work on the homunculus," he said. "I will expect Bekkar's spirit to have been trapped by then."

Priscilla bowed slightly, watched him leave, and then turned her attention to the printed ritual. She flipped back a few pages to read the contextual ordering. Ultimately, she decided that it seemed simple enough.

"Midd'är Chrefft dez'Naggts..." she began. She spoke with a quiet whisper that quickly grew louder.

Re: A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

Post by Daq Bekkar on

"Midd'är Chrefft dez'Naggts..."

Daq doubled over in pain, or, at least he thought he'd doubled over. There were no reference points where he was, and he felt just as upright as before, which didn't help at all in distracting him from the pain in his guts.

"Faddi?" he heard. The sound was dull. Distant.

"Daq?" A soft hand grabbed his. His skin felt numb. He was cold.

"Igg empfällaazee!"

It seemed like a fissure had opened up in the brightness, and darkness was flooding through it, pooling around him.

"Daq?" His wife screamed. "Daq! What's wrong?!"

"I..." he groaned. "It's all getting.. dark.. again.."

"A necromantic ritual," his son said, sounding very adult all of a sudden. "He is being recalled."

"Grab hold of him," Silke said. "Let's at least make them work for their prey."

Daq saw his wife and son approach him, bright and translucent against the dark, like apparitions. They took hold of him, and he could feel their warmth wrestling against the chill of.. what was it..? Life? Death? Voices flooded his head again, just briefly this time.

Helium (pronounced /ˈhiːliəm/) is the chemical element with atomic number 2, and is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table. Its boiling and melting points are the lowest among the elements and it exists only as a gas except in extreme conditions.

Nome, símbolo, número: Sódio, Na, 11.
Classe , série química: Metal , representativo (alcalino)
Massa atómica: 22,98976928(2) u

Kalium kommt in der Natur nur als Kation in Kaliumverbindungen vor. Das liegt daran, dass es nur ein Außenelektron besitzt und dieses sehr bereitwillig abgibt, um eine stabile und energiearme äußere Elektronenschale zu erlangen. Kovalente Kaliumverbindungen sind daher nicht bekannt.

Chromian(VI) baru (BaCrO4) jest stosowany jako żółty pigment do wyrobu farb, zaś manganian(VI) baru (BaMnO4) jako pigment zielony.

AuCl3 su, alkol ve eterde çözünür, fotoğrafçılıkta ve kaplamada kullanılır.

One by one, they faded away until only his wife's voice remained. She clasped his face between her two small hands.

"Daq?" she whispered. "Daq, listen to me. The tree--do you remember it?"

"Yes," he said. "Our tree. You carved.. carved a.."

"The box," she said. She was smiling, but her eyes were squinted oddly. Daq could tell she was about to cry. "I don't know how much you'll remember, but find the tree."

"F-ffind the tree," he replied. The pain was beginning to overwhelm him, and the inky blackness had begun to swallow even his wife and son.

"Yes. Good," Silke said. She blinked and the tears that had been secretly accumulating spilled out. "The tree. It will help you find your way back to us."

"I.. I knew it," Daq whispered. He reached for her face, perhaps to brush away the tear tracks, but he couldn't touch her. "I could tell you were gonna cry."

"You always could."

"ZURRÄGKOMME, BEKKAR!," he heard, and then there was nothing but the all-enveloping dark.

As Priscilla had begun with her chanting, the phylactery had lifted off of the ground to levitate in mid air above the center of the glyph. Throughout the adjunct ritual, the object had shook, spun, and glowed, but now that the spell had ended, it rested almost peacefully on the stone floor, aside from a sputtering, sizzling noise that came from the tile beneath it. Although it didn't look that way, Priscilla could tell that the object was hot, mostly from the smell of charring.. something.. that rose from it.

Her suspicions were confirmed when Morax entered the room brandishing a pair of long tongs, gloves, and thick safety goggles. With an expression that almost seemed something other than passive, he lifted the goggles from his eyes and into his hair.

"Huh," he mused. "I was expecting more light intensity."

With a shrug, he grabbed the item with his tongs. Another sizzling sound arose, and the ends of the tongs quickly grew red hot. Carefully, Morax toddled away with the phylactery in tow.

"Help me," Priscilla said to Morraigne. "I wish to observe the procedure."

Morraigne followed orders silently, taking Priscilla by the arm and leading her, step by arduous step to the lab she'd organized. When she arrived, Morax was already at work, measuring out cups of a dull, gray powder onto his scale. The phylactery was propped up against the bench, where it smoldered patiently.

When Morax was satisfied with his measurements, he transferred the measured amount into a larger basin and mixed it with the other contents.

"Carbon, sulfur, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, calcium," he muttered, almost chanting. He uncapped a small vial and tapped another fine, gray powder into the mix. "And a trace of iron."

Priscilla watched quietly as Morax removed his gloves and pricked one of his fingers with a sharp instrument. He squeezed out a drop of his blood that fell into the powdery mix and mumbled something about 'auxiliary elements.' After this, he stooped down in front of the basin and appeared to do.. nothing. Only after a few minutes of careful observation did Priscilla realize that he had begun to glow. Soon, the whole lab was cast in a strange, crimson pallor that didn't appear to agree with the servants but suited her just fine.

What didn't suit her was the awful crunching, gurgling sound arising from the basin. She was thankful that Morax's broad shoulders were blocking the view of the process taking place before him. Then, something occurred that made her wonder if she'd silently jinxed herself--with a thick, popping noise, a quivering, gelatinous mass was expelled from the basin and landed at her feet. Priscilla, a veteran of many gruesome rituals, was not particularly unsettled by the mass, which closely resembled a hunk of human fat, but her stomach turned as it began to inch along the floor like a worm back to the basin, leaving a slimy trail behind it.

When Morax finally stepped aside, Priscilla wasn't surprised to see nothing more than a pulsating blob of matter resting in the basin, but she was still disgusted by it. Bones and hairy growths seemed to jut from it at every angle. As she turned away from the sight, she could have sworn she even caught sight of a row of teeth. Leaning heavily against her servant, she tried to repress the wave of dizzying sickness that had just washed over her.

"Don't look away now," Morax called, lowering his goggles again. He moved to pick up the tongs that held the phylactery. "You'll miss the best part."

"That's quite alright," Priscilla responded.

"Suit yourself," Morax said. With that, he stabbed the hot phylactery into the fleshy construct. It began to quiver, writhe, and even squeal. "But... maybe cover your eyes anyway."

Priscilla did as commanded, and she was relieved that she did when she heard an even louder gooey pop and felt another one of those pieces of fatty tissue splatter against the back of her neck.

"Okay," Morax announced in the silence that followed a few more minutes of popping and squealing. "You'll want to see this."

Turning to face Morax and his work, Priscilla was not expecting to see the tall, well-formed man standing in the basin. His features were oddly perfect and strikingly symmetrical. In some ways, he reminded her of a statue.

Morax was holding on to the handle of the long tongs, which protruded from the man's chest, around where his heart should rest. With a heave, he removed it. There was a brief spurt of blood, but he staunched it with a wave of his hand that elicited the skin's rapid reconstitution. Using the same sharp instrument he'd pricked himself with, Morax carved a glyph over the newly healed skin. It was his sign.

Finally, Morax set aside all instruments and tools, leaned in toward his creation's ear, and whispered: "Are you awake?"

The man's eyes snapped open in response. They were a pale, thoughtful blue--the only aspect of the construct that could possibly resemble the former form of the alchemist now trapped within it.

Re: A Coalescence of Valence and Essence

Post by Daq Bekkar on

Daq would have come-to with a start, but he couldn’t remember how it was that he was supposed to move. He couldn’t exactly say what had even caused his eyes to open, though, had he had his faculties about him, he’d have attributed it to some yet undestroyed reflex.

“What do you remember, Daq?” Morax was asking him, but Daq had no hope of understanding this. He didn’t know who Daq was, much less what he was even looking at. With almost everything obliterated, there was simply no reference point for him to begin comprehending his surroundings and the noises coming at him. Driven by that same instinct that had led him to open his eyes, he squeezed them shut again.

Lowering himself carefully, he tried to cower in the basin. It was too small, and it pitched forward. He’d have hurt himself if Morax hadn’t been there to catch him, and he recognized that fact. Cradled in the tough, thin arms of the creature that had awakened him, Daq was overcome with a sense of comfort and safety. He pressed his face into Morax’s chest, oblivious to his maker’s casual brushing of a finger along the curves of the glyph he had carved into the body’s chest.

The effect was instantaneous, even more sudden and disorienting than the awakening itself. Daq was at one moment an infant, a blank slate, and at the next, he was an adult, fully versed in all of the trials and intricacies associated with life. He no longer felt safe in Morax’s arms. He felt a mild sense of embarrassment, dampened only by the newly apparent fact that he and Morax were terribly old friends and had known much greater intimacy. They had, after all, shared a body and, to some degree, a mind.

“The… um…” Daq said. “The procedure—it worked?”

“Yes,” Morax replied. “Very well, but perhaps we’ll discuss it later?”

“Oh, right. I do have… that… thing to attend to. With the woman?”

Morax nodded. “Pagusel. It won’t do for you to be late to the meeting. She is a finicky business partner.”

“Yeah,” Daq said. “I remember… sort of.”

Snaking an arm around Daq’s torso, Morax helped him up. The pressure and the closeness caused an unfamiliar sensation to well up in Daq’s chest. Was it fear? His heart was racing. The memories he’d acquired seem oddly devoid of emotion and feeling. Perhaps that sort of information was just too hard to transfer.

“But first, let’s get you some clothes,” Morax whispered, still holding Daq too closely for him to feel at ease. The transcendent familiarity of his voice was, however, a great source of comfort.

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