Chapter 5 – A Penchant For Potions
Part 1: Beginning of the End

Eight years passed quietly since Velroth’s death, and Ienarath was ten. Old enough to help Sadri keep his shop picked up for a few spare coins, and even old enough to go with Azurine to the White Phial. Ienarath especially enjoyed going  to the Phial. There was something about the smells and the soft candlelit gloom of the place that excited her senses.

“Auntie Azurine, look what I found,” Ienarath said excitedly as she came bounding out from the storeroom where she had been sent to straighten the shelves up. “Look! It’s a briarheart, isn’t it?”

“Child! Where on earth did you find that?” Exclaimed Azurine, looking up from her recipe.

“It was in the storeroom, in a box. I didn’t know what to do with the box, so I opened it to see where it should go and I found a briarheart. That’s what this is, isn’t it? I know it is. I remember the picture you showed me of one.” She continued, with a broad grin.

“Yes, my dear, that’s what it is. My you have a good memory. But now, I think it would be best if you go put that back. They are rare and *very* difficult to get a hold of.” Said Azurine, trying to remain calm. If Nurelion knew that she was letting Ienarath run around the store with one of his more exotic ingredients, he would be quite upset. “Quick, now. And do be careful,” urged Azurine. Ienarath came back from the storeroom, having put the briarheart back. “I heard Mr. Nurelion talking about briarhearts with a customer once. He said they can be combined with canine roots.”

“Canis root, dear.” Azurine  corrected her. 

“Canis, that’s it. Canines would be silly, that’s a dog,” she giggled. “But yes, canis root. I heard him say if you do that, you can make a potion that will paralyze people. I even heard him say in a quiet voice, but I heard anyway, that you could even mix it with,” she looked around and said in a quiet voice, “*human flesh*.”

“Well, um, I suppose so,” Azurine stammered, caught off-guard by the girl’s revelation. “Potions can be made from a lot of things.” Then she added, in a moment of inspiration, “Ienarath, would you like me to teach you about alchemy?”

Ienarath’s eyes lit up, her mouth opened slowly in awe. “Really?” She gasped. “You'll show me how to make potions? Can we make a paralyzing potion first? We can use *human flesh*,” she said with a fake grim tone, trying to be scary, but giggling too much for it to be effective.

“Oh, child, where do get these notions from?” Chuckled Azurine. “No, we’ll not be using *human flesh*,” she said, imitating Ienarath, “and I think we should start with something that will maybe help people first, don’t you think?”

Ienarath just laughed, “OK!”

“When we get home tonight, after dinner, I will begin to tell you all about the equipment used and what it does, OK?”

Ienarath nodded her head and clapped her hands, and then skipped away, back to the storeroom.

***

“What are you so excited about, Ienarath?” Asked Silas, as he took a sip of his soup.

“Aunt Azurine is going to show me how to be an alchemist!” She replied.

“Is that so?” Silas asked, raising a brow at Azurine.

“Yes it is,” said Azurine, a twinge of defiance in her voice. “I was about her age when I first began learning about alchemy, so I see no reason Iena should not begin learning, too.”

“Well, well. Two alchemist in the house, eh?” Said Silas, with obvious fake concern. “I guess I had better be on my best behavior then,” he continued. “Or I might find myself eating some strange potion, hmm?”

“That’s silly, uncle Silas,” laughed Ienarath.

“Silas!” Exclaimed Azurine.

Silas laughed. “Oh, I’m only joking, Azur. No need to get all worked up.” Then looking at Ienarath, Silas continued, in a more serious tone, “alchemy is a serious skill, Ienarath, so you need to promise me that you’ll pay very close attention to your aunt, OK?”

“I promise,” squeaked Ienarath.

“That’s my girl. Now finish up your dinner.”

***

Over the next few weeks, each night after dinner, Azurine and Ienarath would sit down at the table and Azurine would teach her about the craft of alchemy. The lessons also doubled as an introduction to reading and writing. 

Azurine started slow, but Ienarath’s comprehension was such that she was soon doubling and even tripling her lesson plan. And not only did Ienarath catch on quickly to the abstract concepts of alchemy, she picking up on reading and writing at an alarming pace, as well. It wasn’t long before Ienarath was begging to go to Sadri’s, or the market place, to get more books.

Over the next year, Azurine continued to teach Ienarath the intricacies of alchemy, and marveled at the girl’s ability.

“It’s just simply amazing, Silas. I hardly know what to say. She is only 11, and yet, she is the most gifted alchemy student I’ve ever seen! So far, she hasn’t stumbled on a single concept that I’ve taught her. It’s, it’s, it’s extraordinary! I can only imagine the magical gifts she must possess.” Azurine’s voice trailed off as she thought about her sister, Nehrine, at that moment. 

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