I was utterly, perplexed by the grandeur of the Athenaeum. There were as many books as there were stars in the sky. Perhaps I was in a dream. Perhaps this was all a part of my peculiar imagination. These thoughts cluttered my mind as the alchemist, and I drifted on the floating bookshelf. I hesitated to ask the alchemist, but I could no longer hold in my inquisitions.
“Is this real?” I asked.
“That depends, young Augustine.” the alchemist replied.
“Depends on what?”
“On your viewpoint. Do you perceive this realm as real or not?”
I was quite baffled by the alchemist’s question; I did not know of any realms. Since my own predicament was an enigma in in of itself.
“Well, you are quite uneducated, aren’t you?”
The alchemists’ face changed into a gaze of regret.
“How did you even find me?” the alchemist irritatingly inquired.
I was dazed, as the bookcase on which we were soaring had started to descend.
“I do not understand.” I uttered with perplexity.
“You shouldn’t be here”
Not knowing if I should be offended by such a comment, I continued to inquire.
“Wait-“I uttered in confusion.
“I’m doing you a favor,”-interrupted the alchemist.
“But I have a feeling that this is no coincidence, could you at least explain to me-“ I continued to ramble until the alchemist interrupted.
“Seems as though your “feeling” has deceived you.” The alchemist gibed.
“Are you mocking me? “I asked as we landed on a floating platform. The alchemist jumped down upon the platform and proceeded to call to me.
“Come on down, young Augustine! I don’t have all day!”
I refused to get off the floating bookshelf, for I kept on persisting.
“I shall not! I shall sit here until…”
The alchemist waved his staff and the bookshelf tilted, causing me to tumble onto the floating platform.
“You are making it harder for the both of us.” the alchemist jeered as he grabbed me by the armpit and led me down a flight of stairs.
“I need answers, sir! You have no idea of how much I have longed for this! I just need something to hold on to!” I continued to plead with the alchemist as we approached a similar door akin to the one through which we had entered.
“I do not know you! I do not care for your anomalous predicament! If you had known any better, you would have never approached me!” The alchemist exclaimed as he opened the door and tossed me out on the other side. “You had never met me! I have never met you! Is that understood?”
I lay on the floor, utterly destroyed by the fact that I had lost the possible answer to who or what I was. The alchemists face flooded with pity, but quickly disappeared as he slammed the door shut.
I did not want to go away, for I could not let such an opportunity go. Leaning against the door, I waited, hoping the alchemist would change his mind.
Almost two nights had gone by; still I waited, hoping in that cold and empty room curled in a ball, lying in front of the door like a stray dog.
Finally, the door abruptly opened. I was asleep as the alchemist looked down upon me; his staff luminesced to see if I was still present. Determining that I was still waiting for him, he pondered whether he should he take me in or not.
Leaning against the door frame he looked upon my luminescent outline. Pity engulfed him and giving into his emotions he reached down and picked me up, taking me to one of the many studies which resided in the mountainous walls of the Athenaeum.
The alchemist set me onto a makeshift bed which he had hastily made. As he laid me down, he sat heavily in his chair of books, gazing at me with that gaze which pierced through anything it set its eyes upon.
I awoke into a perplexed state of mind, looking about in confusion, wondering where I was. Noticing candles and books everywhere, I concluded that the alchemist must have changed his mind, for I could not think of any place which could possibly resemble such a shamble.
“Took you long enough.” a voice uttered from the corner of the room.
“You changed your mind?” I hesitantly inquired.
“Better you not question my decision, young Augustine, for I might begin to question it myself.“ The alchemist responded testily, as he stood up from the floor to confront me. “Now, I shall say this once, and once only. I shall teach you how to use your anomalous properties, and I will teach you ways to excel your willpower, but with my ways, and my ways exclusively. You shan’t question my ways or why we do this or why we do that. I am the teacher, and you are the student. Is that clearly understood?”
I was quick to agree, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
“Understood!” -I hastily exclaimed.
“Splendid!” The alchemist sarcastically uttered whist picking up a pile of books which lay behind him and setting them on the edge of my makeshift bed.
“You are to read these by noon, no exceptions.”
The alchemist then left the study and closed the door behind him. There were more than a dozen books.
My heart dropped as I stared at the momentous pile. Not wanting an opportunity to slip away from me, I picked up one of the books and began reading.
The contents of the writings were quite intriguing, they spoke of many realms and many ways to access them. Describing many creatures and entities which resided in exotic worlds. There were writings which spoke of conjuring gateways to various worlds, and ways to use your willpower to influence these realms.
This awoke my curiosity and thirst to know more of the unknown, and perhaps also awoke the stupid side of me.
I was finished before noon and wanted more, so, I picked up an old dusty book which resided on a shelf right across from my bed. As I began to pick it up, it flung out into the hands of the alchemist, who stood in the entrance of the study.
“I do remember giving you a set of writings to study, did I not?” The alchemist quipped.
“But I finished them, sir.” I answered.
“And did I say to move on to other writings?”
“No, sir… “
I was still thirsty for knowledge, but had to control myself. The last thing I wanted was for the alchemist to make me leave.
“Only a fool would go forward without mastering the knowledge he had acquired.“ The alchemist smugly insinuated.
“Forgive me, sir. I was just…”
“Excited? Thrilled? Aflame? Or all of the above?” the alchemist jested. “You will have to learn to suppress that burning urge, for in grave quantities, it brings nothing but destruction.”
The alchemist lectured me as he put the book back on the shelf.
“Now, leave these books, and follow me.”
I followed the alchemist out onto the mezzanine, as he summoned a shelf with his staff. I began to question him about a couple of conundrums which I had not understood.
“So, in the Terifilum, it spoke of a memento, which someone needed to possess in order to conjure. How could I get a memento, sir?”
As we stepped onto the soaring bookcase, the alchemist began to explain.
“A memento is no mere object that you carelessly pick from the ground. It’s a profoundly meaningful item, which is deserving of such a label. An item in which you channel all of your affection, joy, anger, fear, grief, desire, passion, and most importantly, your will. It’s an object which will give you an unreachable itch when you are without it.”
“Like your staff?” I inquired.
The professor turned to me with a face of disappointment.
“Never deduct the obvious, you’ll just end up looking like an idiot” the alchemist uttered
“And how do I find such an object?” I curiously asked.
“It finds you, young Augustine.”
This perhaps led me into a wrong state of mind, a state in which I persistently sought for such an item. A state of mind in which did nothing but the opposite of what I sought to accomplish.
We landed on the platform from which I had first arrived. For a second, I thought the alchemist was going to exile me from the Athenaeum, but gratefully, it was not the case.
The alchemist donned his torn dark blue robe and turned his staff back into a twig before exiting the Athenaeum. We stepped out on the streets of London, its fast pace residence, dirt filled roads and smoking factories bringing back a sense of reminiscence.
“Now, young Augustine. This shall be your first task. Listen closely.“ The professor whispered. “I want you to go to that man, right there…”
The professor pointed to a well-dressed gentleman standing on the corner of the street, gazing at his pocket watch.
“I want you to approach him and speak to him, as you are speaking to me, and tell him that you witnessed what he did last night, and that you will make his deed known unless he gives you his shiny silver pocket watch. Understood?”
I hesitated for a moment, looking down at the ground.
“I cannot do that, sir. “I stuttered.
“Why not?” The professor inquired.
“It goes against my promise.” I hesitantly replied.
“What promise?” The professor asked, with irritation causing his voice to rise in pitch.
“I made a promise to my mother, never to affect or attempt to affect the lives of other people.”
The professor face relaxed as did his shoulders and he exhaled with disappointment.
“All right, if you say so.” With his hands in his pockets, the professor arrogantly uttered and turned his back to me, heading for the library.
I started to panic, not knowing what to do. I would either have to break my promise to my mother or please the alchemist to gain more knowledge through his teachings.
After a few seconds of contemplating, I impulsively uttered:
“Fine, okay, I’ll do it!”
This caught the attention of the alchemist. Stopping he turned to face me with a smug grin on his face.
Angrily, I gazed at the alchemist as he signaled me to move forward with my decision, which of course I did.
Turning my back to him I headed in the direction of the delicately dressed individual. I was hesitant to perform this act, but nevertheless, I persisted.
It was a battle between body and mind. The mind fought against my body, pleading for it to halt and keep the promise which I had vowed. While the body longed to complete the task which the alchemist had given me.
Approaching the soon to be victim, I stood to his right, and after a moment of silence called out to him.
“Pardon me,” I waited a moment but received no response.
I came closer and spoke louder, still receiving no response. I closed my eyes, and concentrated.
Opening my eyes, I drew nearer to the man’s ear, maliciously uttering. –
“I know what you did last night.”
The man convulsed in shock.
“What?” he exclaimed, as the people around him stopped and stared.
“Keep it down, or you will make a fool of yourself!” I whispered back.
“Where are you?“ The well-dressed man whispered, as I comprised my wording.
“I am a ghost, and I know what you did last night.”
The man’s eyes widened as he formed his response.
“I don’t know what you mean? What did I do last night?”
I was stunned by his response, so I quickly improvised.
“Um, something really bad!”
“What?” confusion laced his response.
“You know what! Don’t make me repeat it! I shall reveal it to everyone!”
I raised my voice as the elegantly dressed man panicked.
“Lord! Please don’t, I shall offer you anything! Blood! Sacrifice! Anything!” The man blurted out.
“No? Why would you give me blood?” -I inquired.
“Well, isn’t that what you ask of people? I read it in a book once.” the man stuttered.
“No. I don’t care much for blood. What I do care for is that silver watch you have there.” I finally uttered.
“This watch?” the man fearfully raised his silver watch.
“Do you have any other watches?”
“Then yes, that one,” I confidently prodded.
“Why would you require a watch?” the man questioned.
“None of your bloody business! Now hand it over or I will make your secret known.” I angrily urged the muddled man.
“Forgive me poltergeist! Here, I give you my watch,” the man uttered in dread as he put the shiny silver watch on the defiled sidewalk.
“Many thanks to you, kind sir.” I thanked the startled man as I picked up his watch, willed it in and headed towards the professor who watched from the corner of the street. I unenthusiastically handed the watch over to the professor and sat on a wooden box.
“I’m surprised…” The professor took the pocket watch from my hand and stuffed it into his black frock “That it took you so long! We should practice more in the future, “the professor acutely uttered as we headed down the crowded streets of London, back to the library.