“Will it work?” The alchemist was wringing his hands, the look of terror evident in his eyes. The acolytes arrived unannounced to see if the alchemists had finally made a breakthrough. They all seemed terrified when the emperor’s right-hand man, Xu Fu, entered, his rich, silken tunic swept along the floor.
“It has to, or the emperor will bury us alive!” One of alchemist said, breathing heavily.
Xu Fu laughed. “Then you better make sure your progress is coming to an end. The emperor’s patience is wearing thin, and he’s not getting any younger!” The alchemist looked saw the mirth on Xu Fu’s acolytes, grinning wickedly. Before the alchemist could respond, the doors flung open, and the emperor entered, with his bodyguards surrounding him. Everyone in the room fell prostrate on the ground.
“Xu Fu!” The emperor’s voice was deep. “Well? Is it ready?” Xu Fu slowly got up, legs suddenly feeling shaky. He gave a sideway’s glance at the alchemist, who remained prostrate on the floor. The emperor’s eyes were striking and failure was not an option.
Bowing low, he said, “W-we are close, Your Imperial Majesty. This has never been achieved before, but I believe it can be done. Immortality is close.”
“How close?” The emperor seemed impatient. His alchemists had been working for years finding a way to grant him immortality, and his patience was growing dangerously thin. Looking back at the alchemist, Xu Fu ordered him to report to the emperor what they have so far.
He looked at Xu Fu, and smirked, “If the Elixir of Life was discovered, our experiments wouldn’t have to take so long.” Xu Fu turned purple with rage. He was tasked by the emperor years before to search for the Elixir of Life, but to no avail. The more expeditions they went on in search of the fabled Elixir, the more it became apparent of it being a myth, nothing more. He stepped forward and punched the man in his face, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground.
The emperor laughed. “Xu Fu,” he said, “your temper knows no bounds! Get these fools to carry on. It’s time for me to take my daily mercury potion.”
Xu Fu looked sceptical. “Your Imperial Majesty,” he said cautiously, “perhaps you should not take so much mercury. We don’t know if it would have a negative effect in the long run. Let us wait what the alchemists come up with.”
The emperor barked out a laugh, causing Xu Fu to flinch. “I would be an old man before any of these imbeciles come up with a solution. No, Xu Fu, I find comfort knowing that immortality is in my grasp by continuing to take the mercury.” Xu Fu bowed low as the emperor swept out of the building.
Once the emperor left, Xu Fu turned a furious gaze at the alchemists. “You better find an answer soon. The emperor is not looking well.” He left, followed by his acolytes. The alchemists were beginning to worry. They too, saw the emperor’s complexion looking an unnatural shade of pale.
“We running out of time,” whispered the one Xu Fu struck in the face. “His acolytes are faithful and if we don’t find a way, they’ll kill us all and use their unholy rituals to find another way for immortality.”
Years went by and still, the alchemists worked day and night to find a solution to the emperor’s ever growing fear of death. But the day they had all feared arrived. The emperor died from mercury poisoning and knew they were doomed. Xu Fu and his acolytes rounded them up.
“You had your chance,” Xu Fu said in a deadly, calm voice. “It is our time to create the impossible!”
“But the emperor is dead!” One of the alchemists pleaded.
Xu Fu shook his head. “While you were ‘dabbling’ with your experiments, my acolytes had found something worthwhile. We will bring the emperor back by creating a disturbance. Each time a disturbance is successful, the stronger the emperor will become!”
The alchemists looked at each other quizzically. “Create a disturbance? In what?”
Xu Fu gave them a manic smile. “History! Just as our great Emperor wanted to rewrite it!”
He gave the order to his soldiers and the alchemists, along with their families, were buried alive.