The Death of an Alchemist

Summary: An alchemist dies in his laboratory with no other human around, but he is hardly alone.

The alchemist fell dead after ingesting the latest of his concoctions, although it was the opposite of the intended effect. His white hair, extensive scars, and long beard attested to the fact he'd survived far worse over the course of his life, from self-experimentation to supernatural disasters. In his last moments, he fell onto the mortar and pestle he'd used to mix his ingredients together, dropping them onto the floor.

The crash of his body into the ground drew attention from the other denizens of the tower. Rats scurried into their holes. Spiders skittered to the edge of their webs. Insects seemed to immediately take note. However, not all denizens were of the natural realm. Jarred reagents on the shelves began moving, eagerly trying to break their glass prisons and escape upon their captor's untimely demise.

Bound familiars already had their orders. They began to carry out last-minute contingencies, ranging from unsuccessful attempts to revive him to final blows against old enemies. The ghost of a bound writer transcribed the alchemist's last will and testament, for when someone finally discovered him in such a position. A procession of homunculi marched across the floor, with a saw and jar carried like an imperial procession. They removed his brain from his skull, gingerly placed it into a jar of nutrients, and then carried to the waiting body of a clockwork doll.

It took time for the doll to stir, during which the cobwebs grew thick and musty in the tower. The summoned spirits and bound familiars departed, their contracts long ended. Now, only a handful of remaining homunculi waited, feeding on the rats and insects that dared grow too bold. Eventually, however, humans found the alchemists' body.

His grand-niece and nephew clambered up the tower's stairs, eager to see their estranged relative. They saw the room and immediately tried to determine what happened. The niece found a slight excess of a particular mushroom the likely culprit, but her brother saw the clockwork doll move. While it spoke in their grand-uncle's voice, they were nevertheless wary. As they talked, they grew comfortable. The young ones looked around the laboratory, and they grew intrigued. Deep inside his clockwork body, the alchemist's brain knew he'd found his heirs. As long as his passion lived on in someone, he was happy.