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A Letter of Resignation from an Apprentice

By MerelyDave All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Fantasy

With Great Sincerity

Dear Great and Worshipful Master Martin Greenbones,

It is with some regret that I must tender my resignation as your apprentice. While I realize that I signed on for a goodly number of years, and am thankful for the scraps of knowledge that have fallen into my hands, I feel it is best to take my leave of you now before something even worse happens. I feel that I am simply not cut out for the sacred arts of Alchemy and Divination.

To be honest, Most August and Powerful Sir, I can't take it any more. My knees are bruised and scraped to the bone scrubbing the floors with borax and lye. I have shaken grubs from my hair after scrabbling through midden heaps, looking for bones to grind into powder. The spiders in the pile of rags I call my bed bite me most fiercely. I am almost lame from pulling splinters the length of my fingers from my poor feet. I am mottled with burns from the crucible. I have suffered awful cuts from the glass shards of broken alembics. You will remember when I accidentally filled my lungs with vapor from pure golden sulphur; I was rendered senseless for half a week. The dizzy spells still occur around noon most days.

I have done my very best in a year's service to you, but you send me to do impossible things. I ran all the way to Mordentshire to copy a chapter from The Sphere of the Primum Mobile; you did not bother to tell me it was in Hebrew. You bade me to create mixtures of vervain, henbane, alums and acids, but your writing is so crabbed and impossible to read that I cannot help but produce the most lively and awful bubbling messes that eat the threads of my clothing.

You grow so furious at the littlest mistakes that I fear you will turn me into a mouse. You shouted at me most mercilessly for scrubbing away part of your thaumaturgic circle, but I was trying to clean the floor... as you asked!

You commanded me to etch most carefully the names of the Voices of God, but how was I to know that "Tetragrammaton" is spelled with two "m's"? How was I to realize that reading a passage from Le Livre de Salomon would evoke a demon that would curdle all the wine in the lord's manor? I thought it was a recipe for broiled rabbit. And I believe it is a perfectly natural mistake to have confused cinnabar with cinnamon.

Fearless and Most Magical Master, I have served you faithfully and well. I have kept the continual fire burning for three days to mix the noble circulated salt of Paracelsus. I took great pains and called in many favors to bring you a bezoar of hair from a madwoman's belly. I have prepared the sophic mercury by luna and the antimonial stellate regulus of Mars... at least I think I did. Great Sir, I do not know the half of what I do!

Therefore, I beg you, oh Voluminous Master, to accept my resignation and release me from my contract. You deserve an apprentice worthy of your renown. I know a minim from a dram, but I am better suited to weigh bolts of cloth in my father's shop. Might I recommend to your service my cousin Lucian? He is very able with Latin, a hard worker and very patient, and you will do well to choose his service over my poor self.

Sincerely and Hopefully,

Your Servant,

Edmond Spindleshanks

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