Channeling Flows
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…With the proper application of the Aethers, as well as something… else, I think we can acheive it. Takwin. The true alchemy, artificial life. If only I could discover what that last element was, that last piece. The spark of life. Its composition eludes me…

-Excerpt, Personal Journal, Jabir ibn Hayyān

Arturo's hands moved in a circle in front of him, his fingers stiff and trembling slightly. His eyebrows were screwed up in concentration, and sweat beaded across his forehead. "I think… I can feel it."

Ruslav leaned against the workbench on the edge of the room. His expression was impenetrable. "You feel the air conditioning."

Arturo's eyes opened and he blinked at Ruslav and Adebeyo, his shoulders dropping. "Nothing? Not a single current? I thought I felt a—"

Ruslav held up a hand. "There are currently no Aether currents flowing through the lab. As I said: air conditioning." His eyes alighted expectantly on the younger man, whose shoulders dropped a bit more.

Arturo thought for a few moments, and finally a few syllables slid from his mouth, clumsy and not perfectly formed. "Aeronatum et karasishui et muram. Not 'et muras'. The Seventh Language is not a toy. Do not play act at its use." Adebeyo's voice rumbled from across the room.

Arturo nodded, and invoked the Seventh Language again, saying thanks to the Aeronous Aether for cooling them through the Air Conditioning, resettling his robes on his shoulders.

Ruslav nodded in affirmation. It was a good sign. The first few times they'd tried to instruct him, the boy had gotten upset at the harsh corrections, but he'd been showing real progress. He took a step forward, and brought his crozier up, the heavy cold iron vibrating ever so slightly in his hands. "The Aeronous Aether is fickle. This is not something new. Try and concentrate harder."

Arturo closed his eyes again, and held his hands out loosely in front of him, his fingers splayed. He continually murmured in a different language, the Sixth Language. The language of calling and summons. His pronunciation was more accurate this time, and the currents began to twitch and drag towards the lab.

Ruslav could feel them as clearly this time. A few more moments, and the current flowing over the Site library would probably come near enough. He made a few gestures with his hand behind his back, and mentally spoke the words of the Fourth Language, one of support and binding to aid the youth.

Arturo's eyes flew open, as his robes flapped slightly with the breeze that had nothing to do with the air conditioning. "Et mesh mento aengh kn'kc ka!sem." The syllables flowed steadily now, as Ruslav's face slowly split in to a smile.

He's got it. He finally attracted the currents. He stepped forward with a small coin, and held it out in front of the boy, who sagged as he completed his intonation. The coin vibrated slightly in Ruslav's hands, and he reached forward to clap the boy on the shoulder. "Congratulations, Apprentice. I feel that is enough to prove your mastery of the Aethers. You are no longer a dabbler. You are one of the Wise, and I formally welcome you to the First Circle."

Adebeyo strode forward, and placed a hand on the boy's other shoulder. "Congratulations, Mr. Genuomo. I am proud of you. "

Arturo nodded, and sagged down on to the stool in front of his own workbench. It was mostly cleared, having no equipment of his own at this point. The only items on it were the beaker his previous teacher had given him, and the small journal that was quickly filling with cramped writing. He took notes on everything the two elders said.

"Thank you, Elders. I appreciate your guidance in this." His eyes shifted to the coin. "What are we going to do with the coin? It has some of the Aeronous Aether in it now, yes?"

Ruslav nodded. "Da. We can use it in the creation of more complicated imbuements, or we could use it directly."

Arturo cocked his head to the side. "Directly?"

Ruslav smiled. "Not every application of Alchemy is precisely a transfer of power. You can also transfer that power in to a lower state. Some of the power that you were transferring expressed as wind, when you were imbuing this coin, yes?" Arturo nodded in agreement.

Ruslav handed the coin to Adebeyo. "This is more your area of Invocation. If it was Aequeous, or Igneous, I could but…" Adebeyo stepped forward, and grasped the coin.

"Of course, Elder. Behold." He placed the coin between his palms, and spoke in the Second Language, the syllables flowing easily like music from his lips, as a slow breeze emanated from his hands. The breeze picked up, a strong wind emanating from between the Elder's hands for a few moments, before building to a huge gust, picking up several loose papers and flinging them across the room.

Arturo stood beside Ruslav, awestruck. "Was… was that magic?!"

Adebeyo let out a deep, heartfelt laugh. "No, Mr. Genuomo. It was Alchemy. Any two-bit sorcerer is just tapping in to the Aethers somehow. They just don't know it. Any dabbler can throw fire or wind around. It takes one of the Wise to do something constructive with it."

Ruslav led Arturo out of the door to this office, which he now shared with his erstwhile apprentice. "Do not worry, Arturo. You will be capable of such things with time, and study."

…The application of Invocation is a trivial thing. Anyone can fling firestorms around, just as anyone can slap them down. Such things are for dabblers. The true power, to create, to Imbue, to find a way to transmute. These are the foundations of alchemy. Leave the fireballs to the 'wizards'…

-Excerpt, A Treatise on the Applications of Alchemy, Perenelle Flamel

"Elder Diaghilev?" Arturo's voice was hesitant, as he looked up from his book.

"Da Apprentice?" Ruslav didn't look up from his notes, as his pen scratched slowly across the page.

Arturo stood, bringing the book over to the other reading desk in the library. The section they were in was restricted by Level 4 order. Specifically, Ruslav's order. He'd kept everyone except himself, Arturo, Adebeyo, and presumably anyone with a higher clearance out of this section for the last fifty years.

Having an apprentice around had certainly helped keep it cleaner, but it also meant fielding lots of questions. "This book references techniques to harness the Aethers, and lists quite a few more than five. Is that correct?"

Some questions were more difficult to field than others. "That is a complicated question. At the time that book was written, yes, there were more than five Aethers. The five existed, as purer forms of the others of course. Igneous and Terronous Aether comprised most of the Metallic Aethers. The same for lesser Aethers of wind, water, et cetera."

"So… what happened to them. Neither you, nor Elder Adebeyo talk about anything other than the five Aethers." Arturo sat down at the seat across from Ruslav, and settled his little notebook on the newly dusted surface. The tiny book had to only have four or five pages left.

Ruslav made a mental note to provide the Apprentice with a more suitable book. Or at least, how to make a more suitable book. "Arturo… some things are difficult to explain. I am not sure you are ready to truly know all of the mysteries of the Art."

Arturo's face grew tighter, and he set his jaw. "You told me when I became your student, I could ask you any question and you would not lie to me. You would tell me the truth."

Ruslav sighed, and muttered under his breath, "I did. The truth is very long, and complicated. The short version is, a long time ago, myself, Adebeyo, and many other Alchemists did… something important. Something that changed Alchemy itself. It made things like using the Aethers, or even feeling them significantly more difficult."

Arturo's eyes grew narrow. "You… did this? Why? Why would you make Alchemy harder on purpose?" Ruslav could see the anger rising in the young student. Learning Alchemy had not been easy for the young man, and the six months since he'd arrived at the site had been filled with many frustrating days.

"It was necessary. When you are at least a Journeyman in the Art, I promise, I will explain why. For now, that will have to suffice." Ruslav's heavy brows were steady as he looked the young man in the eye.

A time ago, Arturo may have snapped at the Elder, but he took a deep breath, and nodded, returning to his desk. "Thank you for the instruction, Elder."

A long minute passed in silence. Ruslav sighed, and stood, walking silently to a shelf behind his own desk. He retrieved a slim volume, entitled Darkest Entities of the Aetheric Currents. He walked over to the young man's desk, and sat down heavily across from him, opening the book. "What do you see?"

Arturo looked over at the book, written in a tight runic script depicting the concepts of the Fifth Language, the language of knowledge itself. "I can't… quite read it. I am sorry Elder. My Fifth is still coming along."

Ruslav nodded, "Da I translate." He flipped a few pages, his fingers sliding over the gold trimmed volume. "This is the Scarlet King. Do you know who or what it is?"

Arturo shook his head. "I do not know this Scarlet King."

Ruslav nodded again, and slammed the volume shut. "Da this I know too. Do you know why?"

Arturo shook his head, drawing back slightly. "No, Elder."

Ruslav leaned back, and closed his eyes. "Because of what you asked me about. A very, very long time ago, we sealed the Scarlet King, and many others behind the Great Seal. It was… a very difficult thing. Many Alchemists perished in the attempt. Many more turned against us, and did not accept the Circles' decision to enact the Great Seal. It was open warfare between factions of the circles."

Arturo's eyes were slowly widening. "War… fare? With Alchemy involved?"

Ruslav continued, nodding. "Da, Alchemy. Before this seal, terrible things were possible. The Scarlet King was one of those terrible things. After the seal, the Scarlet King was not a problem anymore."

Arturo leaned in slightly. "Wait, how? How is this possible?"

Ruslav closed the book, shook his head. "Later. You are not ready. That will have to suffice for now, Apprentice."

Arturo looked down at his small notebook, and nodded. "I see. Thank you, for your instruction Elder. I appreciate your candor."

Ruslav stood, and returned to the shelf, sliding the volume home. His eyes lingered on the spine. Darkest Entities of the Aetheric Currents — Lord Henry Percy. Ruslav's eyes narrowed slightly, thinking back to the conflict.

Those were dark days indeed.

…Obviously Ruslav is a deluded fool. The Great Seal is as much a myth as it is a terrible idea. His rank of Elder has always been suspect. Elder Hayyān conferred the title and the circles honored that wish out of respect for the great master, but let's be honest here. The man is an unknown, a dabbler, spouting ridiculous hypotheses that have no basis in fact…

-Excerpt, A Letter to the Esteemed Circle of The Wise, 1693 CE

Ruslav took a deep drag of the cigarette in his hand, the smoke filling his lungs with a dark vapor-like substance that superficially resembled smoke. Adebeyo had created the false cigarettes overnight with Ruslav's help. The stimulating effect of the alchemic tobacco allowed him to see the currents of Aether with his naked eyes. It was beautiful.

Adebeyo looked out over the snow-covered valley behind the Site, and took a drag on his own. "I never get tired of looking at that. You?"

Ruslav nodded, and smiled slightly. "Never. How can one tire of such beauty?"

A few moments passed as both men took in the twisting and dancing currents. Here and there a small stream of the Igneous Aether would slide along the distant road beyond the bridge leading to the entrance to the Site. "What do we tell Mr. Genuomo? He's going to be curious about the war. And if we do not tell him, he could end up siding with—"

Ruslav held his hand up. "I know. This is possible. We will do what we must. Guide the young along the path to wisdom, and what not. Have you contacted the Sixth Circle?"

Adebeyo nodded, taking another drag, and looking up at the moon, a blazing orb of Aether currents. "I did. They are with us. Do you think—" his voice trailed off for a moment, before resuming. "Do you think we did the right thing?" His eyes rested on the people below, walking in and out of the site. The faintest trail of Aether currents could be seen flowing around some of them. People who were experiencing inspiration, or a sudden burst of energy maybe.

Ruslav nodded without hesitation. "I know we did. Elder Hayyān was very clear about what needed to be done. I was going to carry out his will whether I wanted to or not."

Adebeyo looked over at Ruslav, the glowing Aether currents shining out of him like a lighthouse. Every time he looked over at the man, it showed off him like a star. "What… is it like? The compulsion?"

Ruslav shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know how to describe it. It's just part of me. Always has been. Ever since Elder Hayyān breathed life in to me, the Takwin, I have just… known. What to do, and what I must maintain. The Great Seal is not just a goal for me. It is the purpose of my life."

Adebeyo nodded, and looked back up at the sky. "I envy that… clarity of purpose sometimes. That bell-clear knowledge of what you must do."

Ruslav took the last drag of the cigarette, and stamped it out on the floor of the parking garage. "It is both a blessing and a curse. I always know what I must do. But I always must do what I know I must. Very little… freedom in it."

Adebeyo reached out, and patted Ruslav on the shoulder, as he walked back towards the Site, the snow crunching under his heavy boots. Ruslav's eyes returned to the sky, the Aether currents flowing through and past him like a torrent.

…Lord Henry, with all due respect, Elder Diaghilev is every bit as qualified as you are. You'll have to learn to get along with him. Ruslav Diaghilev has mastered every aspect of the Art, and as such, the petition to promote him to the Seventh Circle, to fill Elder Hayyān's vacancy has been approved. His death was keenly felt by the circles, and all of us are happy to offer the position he leaves to Ruslav…

-Excerpt, Reply to Lord Henry

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