Chapter 556: Nocturnal Gathering
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Chapter 556: Nocturnal Gathering

Nocturnal Gathering

Swift activities followed Martel's return, though with complications. The Tyrians set up another abandoned building to act as storage where harvested ingredients would be brought and processed; a few of their number along with some legionaries received the task of doing the latter, preparing them to be used. However, a lack of tools meant only a few could be at work at the same time.

As for his workshop, Martel wanted to emulate the warehouse back in Morcaster, where he and the other alchemists had laboured long, but efficient hours during the pestilence. But lacking both space and equipment, this was not possible. At best, he could have two potions brewing at the same time, once he created a second fireplace; it would make for hectic hours to keep both cauldrons going, but with his Tyrian helper, Egil, aiding him by stirring and watching the progress, it could be done.

The major bottleneck was bloodwort. It had to be harvested while its magical potential was being activated, and thus, it could only be done by someone trained in Sindhian alchemy. With no other recourse, Martel and Eleanor left Esmouth for the wetlands.


While only Martel could harvest the plant, Eleanor helped to scour the marsh and point him towards clusters. She watched as he placed his hand around the stem and drew out its magic, colouring the white petals red before he cut the plant with his knife.

"How do you do that?" she asked, sounding a little fascinated.

"It is a Sindhian practice. Magic exists in a dormant state in just about everything, and it can be awakened to be used in alchemy," he explained. "I suppose I could teach you, but it took me quite a while to learn, and awakening ingredients is just a small part of it. There's all the actual alchemy to learn as well."

"I think I will be satisfied with my foray into Tyrian runes and otherwise stick to Asterian magic," she considered, resuming her search with eyes peeled to the ground.

"Probably wise. It's a lot of hours bent over cauldron, stirring and trying not to fall asleep."

"But we all benefit now of your time spent learning this. I cannot imagine any other legion would have such luck. By the time another alchemist could be summoned, the outbreak would probably be over."

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"I suppose that's true. I wish I could have studied the craft longer, though. I'm not feeling fully confident my potions will be good enough. Not to mention, I only ever learned a handful of recipes. There's so much more I should like to know." Absentmindedly, his hand went down to touch a pocket on his belt wherein rested the healing elixir given to him by Mistress Rana; it remained his most valuable possession, though he hoped he would never have need of it.

"Maybe one day you can travel to Sindhu, and they can teach you all the things you have yet to learn."

The way his first year in the legion was shaping out, Martel had his doubts he would ever be afforded the opportunity. "Yeah, maybe."


Sunrise could be glimpsed on the horizon as the pair made their way back to Esmouth. The orange glow reached the river on their left, granting the same colour to the waters. Both yawned more than once, as their journey to the marsh and back had taken all night. Martel dearly wanted to sleep, but it would have to wait. First, he wanted to inspect his workshop and deal with any issues that might have come to light setting up the new work processes.

He parted ways with Eleanor; she could not help him with this, and he saw no reason to deny her sleep. As they trudged to the Tyrian enclave, she continued towards camp while he went into the building newly prepared for storage of reagents.

He found it empty of people, though a few heaps of plant had been dumped inside. The early fruits of what could be harvested near the camp. No further preparation work had been done, due to Martel's absence; the legionaries lacked the oversight or initiative to do anything more. Martel would have to direct them once the camp woke up and he had workers at his disposal.

For now, he began the most time sensitive part of the process. His drying rack had been moved from his workshop to this storage location, and he began hanging up those herbs that required it. Once complete, he used his magic to draw water as best he could.

He was never entirely comfortable with this method, even if he had used it back in the apothecary at the Lyceum; water being his weakest element, he could not trust his own sense on whether he had done the task adequately. He could try and use heat to basically dry the herbs at speed, but he feared it might alter the properties of the reagents or render them inert. Letting them simply dry by normal means had always seemed the safest route to go, but time was of the essence, so he allowed himself a small head start in this manner.

He glanced at the other reagents, in need of cutting or grinding and so on; he would leave that for later, once he had help as he could instruct and who could take over for him. For now, he would grant himself a little rest. He left the building and Esmouth itself, walking to his tent in camp. Once inside, he saw the hands of his Khivan clock somewhere between four and five. Still dressed, he lay down on his cot and fell asleep.

The ringing of the first bell woke him. A glance at his watch confirmed it was the sixth hour; noises from outside told him that the camp was slowly waking up. Fighting back the urge to continue sleeping, he got out of bed. After a splash of water into his face and eating the last of his travel rations, he staggered back to his workshop.

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