THE PROCUREMENT OF SOULS
Bio-alchemy. The possibilities are endless. For a price.
Release Date: Summer 2018
A Victorian gothic-steampunk-fantasy
Magnus Drinkwater is close. Close to harnessing enough power to fuel his modified pocket-watch and stop time. But the answer continues to lie out of reach and when his daughter discovers a young woman no longer in possession of her soul, it quickly becomes clear that his own frustrations are the least of his worries. Someone with altogether darker machinations is busy working to their own design.
Dr Weimer is manoeuvring in the shadows, harvesting the souls from small-time criminals and turning their empty bodies into his mind-dead minions. But he too needs more power. Greater soul potency to reach his vision. And he’ll do whatever it takes. No matter the cost.
As the body count rises and Magnus follows a bloody and violent path through decaying city slums and dockyards; city ministerial buildings; and St Villicus’ monastery with its subterranean catacombs, he unearths more questions than answers. What is the link to the violent death of his wife two years before? What secrets are his colleagues hiding? Is there anyone he can truly trust? He must forge alliances he never thought possible and ultimately decide: just how far is he willing to push his own principles of science to power his device and keep the city safe?
Two scientists. Two ambitions. One bloody adventure…
Scroll down to read the first 3 chapters…
The Procurement of Souls
In olden times gold was manufactured by science; nowadays science must be renewed by gold. We have fixed the volatile and we must now volatilize the fixed – in other words, we have materialized spirit, and we must now spiritualize matter.
Éliphas Lévi Zahed
Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (1855)
Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
The whites of two wide eyes were all that could be seen in the splinter of light that passed through the crack in the swollen doorjamb. Dr Weimer observed in silence the blind panic that radiated from them as they darted one way and then another, desperately trying to place themselves. The fear was pungent. Smells like he’s soiled himself, he thought with distaste before throwing open the door and illuminating the room with such a contrasting brightness that the man in the chair audibly gasped.
‘Mr Wade,’ Dr Weimer began as he stepped inside, ‘you must forgive the enforced and abrupt manner in which we make one another’s acquaintance. I dare say that having a bag thrust upon one’s head unexpectedly is most unpleasant and disconcerting.’ His tone was saccharine; sugared with false sincerity. ‘But unfortunately, you hold in your possession something I require. Something important. Something personal.’ He smiled at him, his fat lips parting obtusely and revealing a row of white but stubby teeth, spread with almost uniform gapping in a blood-red gum, before pushing his circular glass frames further up the bridge of his nose with deliberate precision. ‘Nevertheless, this is the situation we find ourselves in.’ He moved a little closer towards him and noticed with curiosity and self-acknowledged satisfaction how the man visibly shrank at his advance.
Wade felt his throat constrict at this sudden and disturbing entrance. Panic took a slightly firmer grip and he tried pressing with all his strength against the back of the chair, to no avail.
His mind clutched at words to try to rescue himself from the situation. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do whatever you want. Just untie me and I’ll promise to –’ but he felt his voice catch, his mouth dry to gravel. He simply couldn’t seem to keep his sense of dread in check. He’d been in precarious situations before but this whole scenario seemed different. The moment he’d been taken and heard the purr of that woman’s accented voice in his ear, it was clear this was out of the ordinary. This man too; the smell of the place – acrid and chemical – was all wrong. He cursed inwardly for not keeping his cool. It was normally him doing the intimidating, yet his pulse continued to spiral higher as sweat pooled at the nape of his neck and thoughts of what this could be about flickered across his mind’s-eye like a flip-book. ‘Listen,’ he implored, ‘listen. I don’t know what it is you think I have but if you untie me, I promise to help you. I have connections. You just need to untie me first and –’
He was cut off with a single word. ‘No,’ the man said, savouring the roundness of the vowel before continuing. ‘That won’t be possible, I’m afraid. After I explain our situation further, I happen to know you’ll be rather less obliging of my needs. Untying you would be entirely counter-productive.’
Wade snorted a number of times in quick succession. Why him? Why now? It had occurred to him that this could be some vengeful intimidation strategy being exacted upon him by some enemy or other. God knows there were plenty of those. Somebody he’d cheated maybe? Perhaps a harbour-master from one of the dock sites he’d failed a run for? But although a good number of possibilities came to mind, not one seemed to fit this particular glove and looking up at this piggy-eyed psychopath in his pristine white apron, illicit goods and aggrieved dockers appeared to be the least of his worries. No, this was something different and strange: it sickened him to the gut. And as he looked wildly around for some hope of an escape, he thought he began to connect a number of the dots.
A surgeon’s operating table stood in the middle of the room with a tray of instruments waiting next to it. Beside that, a tangle of transparent tubes articulated with rubber joints led to a brass-coloured sphere the size of a carriage with a dozen or so pistons sticking out at a diagonal on either side. Bile rose in his throat.
‘What is this? What are you – a doctor? A surgeon? What do you want from me?’ Anxiety had forced his larynx so far up that the words barely squeaked out. He pulled upwards desperately with his wrists to try and loosen his manacles. ‘I… I really have nothing… nothing worth taking.’
‘That you know of, Mr Wade, that you know of. We all have something worth giving. You need to calm down or you’ll cut your hands to shreds. It’s surgical wire, not yarn; I don’t want you bleeding out.’
‘But… but what could you possibly need me for? I’ve told you, I have nothing to my name, I’m just a… a… nobody.’ He frothed at the mouth a little.
The doctor’s eyes narrowed tightly to slits. ‘That’s precisely why you’re here. You’ve no family either from what I’m told?’
‘Wha-what? No! I don’t – I – fuck! Please! Don’t cut me open! Don’t take my organs, I –’
‘Mr Wade, nobody is going to cut anybody open. What possible use could I have with your organs? I’m not some vulgar anatomist looking to advance his expertise. We shan’t be on the table today. What I want is much more valuable than that.’ He walked abruptly behind his chair and unlocked the wheels. ‘And it’s time to start the preparations.’
Wade’s chair took a sudden jerk backwards and he came face-to-face with his tormenter. He felt the floor slip away beneath him and heard the grumble and squeak of the casters as he was wheeled beside the bed.
‘Now, I should warn you that you may feel a certain degree of discomfort, Mr Wade. It’s perfectly normal. I just need to support your neck a little.’
Mr Wade screamed. Something was clamped suddenly about his thick neck, rigid and tall, pulling his vertebrae fully erect. Cold steel pressed against his skin and held him there unnaturally straight. His hands squirmed despite himself, the wire cutting into more flesh. He had been rendered absolutely useless, and despite his muscular, bullish frame, he was quite at this malefactor’s mercy: a pathetic fly wound tight in the spider’s web.
‘Forgive me,’ continued the doctor, ‘just a precautionary measure to ensure the tubing doesn’t shatter mid-journey. It’s imperative your oesophagus remains in one piece.’ He unhooked a length of tubing from the stand and held one end up to the bare light. An evil metal barb, like the tail of a stingray, flashed as he turned it slowly in his gloved hand. ‘Now listen, you’re an exceedingly large man and I would suggest that the stiller you are, the easier this will all be and the fewer accidents we are likely to have. Open your mouth please, wide.’
Wade’s eyes took on the appearance of twin new moons crossing each other’s orbits as the metal end came towards him.
‘Your mouth, Mr Wade.’
A spike of pain burned unexpectedly at his side forcing him into an involuntary gasp and in that instant the end of the tube found itself secreted at the back of his mouth. He tasted the cold tang of metal briefly on his tongue before it passed back and slipped down into his throat and further still. He gagged to no relief. His tongue lolled inadequately to one side.
The doctor put the scalpel he’d been holding back on the table. ‘Now take slow steady breaths. You will manage that if you remain calm.’
Down the tubing went, like some uninvited serpent, all the way until he felt it in the pit of his belly. The doctor held the other end up vertically above him and with a curt nod looped it through a fine wire coil dangling from the ceiling.
‘Well, we’re in place and anchored at your core. So, let’s begin.’
The syringe was not like anything Wade had ever seen before. For one thing, the needle was curved, and flexed at the touch.
‘We need to introduce the antithesis of what we require in order to act as a lure. It is the simplicity of opposite attraction.’ The doctor held the syringe a little higher and squirted a touch of the scum-coloured fluid into a kidney-shaped tray. ‘Human brain to be precise, mixed with a unique compound of my own design – the cerebrum is quite dead you see and just what we need to draw our target out.’ He depressed the plunger, introducing the liquid steadily into the tubing. This he unlatched from the wire loop and secured the opposite end to a panel at the bottom of the brass sphere behind them. Mr Wade blinked violently in protest, his teeth vibrating against the glass. His mind swam. What was he talking about? What did he mean? Surely he would realise he had the wrong man.
Suddenly a terrible cramp grasped at him somewhere near the pit of his stomach. For a second, he had the notion that he might soil himself. The cramp grew. He felt an excruciating wrenching of something pulling apart; could actually feel involuntary movement in his abdomen. A tearing was faintly audible. ‘Sthh-sthh’ he hissed with his tongue on the tubing.
He could feel the doctor’s eyes upon him, observing. His apparent composure was chilling, as he stood, hands formed into a cage at his chest, simply watching. And then a peculiar stillness came over him too: an emptiness and sensation of release, much like the feeling after vomiting. Was this it? Would he let him go now? His eyes searched sideways for an answer.
‘The calm before the storm,’ noted the doctor.
A crippling, violent spasm shot through Wade’s body, radiating from his centre so that, despite the length of glass-tubing inside him, he stretched out awkwardly against his wire restraints, his frame rigid as steel. He couldn’t breathe, not at all. He tried to suck in air. His lungs burned. Blood rose to the surface, covering his skin in raised veins and capillaries: worms of red, threatening to burst at any moment. I’m dying, he thought. This is it.
An audible pop sounded from within him, the noise making even the doctor jump slightly. Wade’s body slumped as far as it could in the chair and then movement shook the tubing. Something viscous issued from his mouth along the length of glass. Pink, yellow, plum, red, green: its colour seemed to morph as it moved rapidly towards the brass sphere, like light refracted through water. It gave off a haze or glow that bathed the room in a peculiar tint before disappearing again inside the machine.
The tiny cog caught in the sunlight and winked at its handler as it was carefully coaxed into place. Powder-dusted hands held the circle of bronze between the teeth of a pair of miniature long-nose pliers and, with a final, smooth, and invisible motion of the fingers, negotiated its hole onto the smallest of spindles. Barely half the size of a new-born’s finger nail, this cog was one of the last pieces of an extraordinary puzzle that finally heralded its completion. The expert hands relaxed slightly and the enormous eye, which had been overseeing the work through a set of three-domed magnifying lenses, blinked.
Magnus Drinkwater set his tool down on the workbench and lifted the lenses from the frame of his spectacles. His tongue, which through force of sheer focus had been poking out between closed lips, was like a slice of cured ham and he rolled it around his mouth to bring it back to life. He sat back in his chair and rubbed at his face with his fingers, leaving a smear of white across his cheeks. This newest incarnation was nearly ready. If it worked, it promised to raise the bar way beyond his previous creations and take The Guild on an altogether new trajectory. If it worked. He allowed himself the merest of smiles at the promise of success and his waxed moustache flourished slightly. Steepling his hands, he leant forward and rested his chin on the tips of his fingers.
A pocket watch, which at first glance may have looked quite ordinary, lay on a square of baize with the face open on its hinge and inner workings exposed to the elements. But this was anything but ordinary and had been the sole focus of Magnus’ every working day for the last six years, from conception to this much-anticipated day of completion. So byzantine was it in its engineering that it had required someone of his singular discipline to reach this stage. A man who was prepared to bruise his brain and numb his fingers with the convolution of thought and intricacy of precision it entailed; to re-draft and re-imagine at every hurdle encountered. To the observer, it might have appeared as obsession, mania even. It didn’t matter. What did matter was completion, successful completion of an idea formed nearly a decade before. And whilst he had veered down many false paths, momentum had been such in recent weeks that he was finally ready to test it. Magnus usually thought himself a man of measure. Not straight-laced to the point of complete sobriety exactly, but deliberate and paced. Considered. Yet here he was feeling the swell of excitement threaten to flip his stomach. He willed it to work with every fibre of his being. For Anna, if not for himself.
He took a slow, stilling breath, stood up and went to his wet-bench. From a wooden box, he extracted a miniature, flat-bottomed flask. This, he placed on another square of baize before removing the first of three small vials from an adjacent stand. Using a delicate funnel, he poured the contents in. The liquid was black and pungent and as soon as he removed the rubber stopper, the room filled with a bitter aroma. He coughed. No matter how many times he smelled it, the vicious stink of flux concentrate still burned the nostrils and flexed its acrid tendrils across the roof of his mouth. The second vial however, was simply purified water; odourless, colourless, and stable, it ran easily down the wall of the glass flask and joined the first.
The third and final vial contained the catalyst ingredient: blood. Magnus’ own, which, as soon as he introduced it to the mixture, would begin an instant chain reaction that would need to be harnessed and contained. He moved this kit back to his workbench, lifting the little flask onto a wire stand for additional height. He sat back down before sliding the lenses into place over his glasses again. This was it. The moment of truth. The blood made contact with the other liquids and instantly appeared to boil, though the glass was almost full now and to avoid anything from spilling out through the top, he set to work once more.
Immediately, he picked the watch up and turned it up-side-down. With a constant, steady hand, he lowered the centre onto the flask’s tiny stem so it slotted into a small central hole between the complex layering of cogs. A slight click told him that they had connected correctly. He turned the whole thing back over, the flat glass bottom now sitting over the inner workings like a second skin. This he secured further by closing the hinged casing over the top: a trim ring of brass which left the centre of the glass exposed. Magnus observed as the liquid inside thickened and transformed in colour to a pale opalescence, swirling almost with a life of its own.
‘One working cell,’ he whispered, barely daring to exhale before sitting back slightly in his chair to recover from the force of concentration.
Against the far side of the room, two mice trundled continually around on their wheel, quite undisturbed by Magnus’ presence as he crossed to stand next to them, time-piece in hand. The wheel span relentlessly as their little pink claws clicked back and forth against the rungs. A breeze blew in through the opening at the porthole window and made the fabric strips tied to the cage flutter like lacewings. He drew his attention to the face of the watch. Instead of two hands and numerals, he had engineered seven brass dials, each one slightly larger than the other as they swept around the edge of the front casing in a crescent with the opalescent compound at the centre. He began with the smallest dial, turning it so that the marking, which was etched into the top, lined up against an adjacent groove on the ring of brass on which it was housed. He positioned each one in turn until all that was left was the seventh and largest.
‘Tempus neminum manet,’ he said. ‘Let’s just see.’
Magnus twisted the final dial into place before pressing it with his thumb and recessing it slightly with an audible snap. His eyes diverted straight towards the cage, to the fabric lacewings. For the merest of a second, the wheel seemed to falter or slow; the cloth wings stilled in the air as though stiffened just for a moment by some unseen force. And then nothing. The strips continued to catch in the wind, the mice steamed on with renewed determination. Magnus pursed his lips, turning his moustache into a frown. He clicked his tongue and shook his head.
‘More power. I need more power.’
Clementine rounded the corner so quickly that she nearly skidded straight into the giant laurel hedge that marked the boundary of the house. The October sunshine was unusually warm and she felt sweat begin to prick under the collar of her yellow ulster coat. She would press on in spite of it; news this interesting couldn’t wait any longer. First thing this morning, Amelia had mentioned the initial disappearance and when Suzanne had added another two names to make the beginnings of a list, Clementine had been on edge all day to get home and discuss it with her father. He’d have something to say about this. A course of action could be put into place, and if she played it right, perhaps he might even allow her to support him in conducting a private enquiry.
She approached the north lawn and stopped to see if her father appeared to be home. Looking up at his attic workshop window, she was momentarily forced to shade her gaze by something unexpected – a clear signal to Clementine’s trained eye that her father was in and working. Experimenting. The entire roof of the central rotunda that housed her father’s workroom seemed wreathed in light. Somehow soft and harsh at the same time, like the shimmer of a heat wave with the glare of a reflection bouncing off water. And then it was gone. How frustrating to miss another practical application! How her schooling stunted her growth: stuck inhaling chalk-dust all day at college when the real learning was right under her very nose at home. Maybe this time he would let her in on some of the trials voluntarily rather than her resorting to watching through the inch of space at the bottom of the laboratory door. That was always the dream at least.
Patiently, she stood on the gravel path, waiting for a sign that something more might happen. But the strange film of light was gone and seemingly would not return again that day. In fact, the crisp autumn sunlight afforded Clementine a particularly good view and she could now see her father sitting by one of the little circular windows, apparently deep in thought or at close study of something or other. She began to feel that familiar pang of desire build in her chest again. To be involved – properly involved! She was grateful to him for paying her college tuition fees; it was an expense she didn’t take lightly. But she had just turned seventeen and Magdalene Girls’ didn’t exactly cater for her less-than-traditional subject matter of choice. She was ready to learn the sciences. Real science. Her father’s science. What she really wanted more than anything was to be involved in a trial where she could get her hands dirty like her father and take proper risks. To work alongside him, like her mother had done. To be a scientist of grand acclaim! Yet beneath the momentum of excitement that had mounted, doubt crept in uninvited. When had he ever truly let her past the threshold with the real guts out on the table? Especially since the accident. If anything, he’d been even more reticent to teach her anything of substance after that. Her brain had been racing too fast, but then didn’t it always?
And on cue, came another thought. Perhaps the information she’d just uncovered would provide exactly the opportunity she needed to prove herself. It might not be proper alchemical invention work like her father’s, but if she could use existing science to some end to demonstrate that she could handle herself, then maybe he might start to trust her to do more than just stir sugar solutions and clean out the stinking mice. And she thought she knew just the way to do it, just the thing to take a risk, live up to the family name and get the answers she sought. This morning’s news would be the litmus, whether her father indulged her or not.
‘Marina! I believe we have a successful extraction.’
Marina swung the door open and stood in the frame. She was tall, slim, and dressed head to toe in black. Her figure, all sinew and muscle, was cleanly defined, her gloss-black hair scraped severely against her scalp to form a tight bun.
‘It’s done?’ Her tone was clipped but as rich as the cigarillo she was smoking. She ground the last of it against the doorjamb and flicked it down the corridor before raising a pair of angular eyebrows in his direction. ‘I’ll clean up then.’
‘Be careful as you remove the tubing, it will be especially brittle as a result of the procedure. And remove the wire from his hands and feet as you go, we may as well use it again.’
‘Fine, fine.’ She strode the length of the room, her boots clapping loudly against the tiles, and set to unscrewing the brass nut from where it attached the flange at the end of the piping to the machine.
‘Wait! Wait, Marina!’ Dr Weimer slapped her hand away impatiently. ‘You must slide the seal in place first, just as I showed you. We can’t afford for leakage. Slide, engage, unscrew.’ He mimed the actions as he spoke, as though directing an infant.
‘I do know,’ she snarled, ‘it’s tight and the seal won’t drop down without loosening it first.’
‘Just take care. I’m going to run a diagnostic and check the predicted levels match up.’
He left her to her task while focussing his own attention on preparing another syringe. He crouched down onto all fours and pushed the needle through a series of rubber seals positioned at the base of the unit. After a moment he stood up and deposited the extraction into a jar containing a small solid white lump which immediately dissolved.
Marina stood over Wade’s slumped form, making circles with the tubing with her customary lack of due care until she heard a dull click. The barb had been dislodged and she pulled length after length of tubing from his gaping mouth until the hook once again winked in the bare light. A sucking sound and then a steady, audible stream of air issued up from his stomach. Marina curled her lip. ‘That’s fucking disgusting,’ she said.
Dr Weimer came over to join her, placing the jar on the bench by the chair.
‘Well that may be, but just wait to see how useful he proves. I’ve another trick to play yet!’ He took a miniature vial from his pocket and held it under Wade’s nose before clicking it in two to release a vapour. Wade’s eyes snapped open. ‘You see Marina, just as your mother would have boiled a carcass for a nutritious soup, so too have I ensured that our remains are put to good use; nothing’s to be wasted, not one scrap.’
Marina pursed her lips. ‘I don’t understand. What is he then, a ghoul? Some kind of living dead?’
‘A ghoul! No, no, I assure you, Mr Wade here is quite alive.’ He laughed and took his handkerchief from his pocket to daub his sweating forehead. It was time for his exertions to pay out in dividends.
Marina’s head bobbed from side to side, like a cat weighing up its prey, as she puzzled the logic out in her mind. The limbs were limp, eyes glassy, mouth slack: he certainly reminded her of someone newly deceased. But the slight rise and fall of the chest could not be denied. However slight the thread may be, this one was definitely still alive. She felt a flicker of anger: how she hated surprises. Things were so much simpler when people said what they meant.
‘So he’s alive.’ Her tone was waspish. ‘But what use is he stripped of his soul and left to sit like a sack of cabbages?’
A flash of stubby teeth and gum. ‘The answer is of a very great use. And the phrase is a sack of potatoes, Marina. We may have stripped him of his soul, as you put it, but that’s precisely the point. Mr Wade here now lacks what you might call his spark of consciousness, so technically I suppose your crude analogy is correct; we are left only with a shell, a sack of cabbages for want of a better description. But in truth, the reality is infinitely more exciting and that sack is full of something substantially more pliable than brassica. Shall I show you?’
‘So show me,’ she said, tapping her boot heel with irritation.
Dr Weimer turned and faced the slumped figure in the chair. ‘Stand up, Mr Wade, stand to attention.’ Immediately, he complied. ‘Very good, Mr Wade, now turn on the spot if you please.’ Again, the action completed upon command.
Marina frowned and held a tentative finger out at the new recruit. ‘He’s like a ragdoll?’
‘I prefer to liken the result to that of puppet and master. But yes, I see the penny has dropped. Though of course, the magic here means,’ at this point he spread his fingers assuming the role of the conjurer, ‘there are no strings attached! No axis of plywood held aloft his head! Nothing. Quite remarkable wouldn’t you agree? And full use of all his physical functions. Hop twice on each leg, Mr Wade. There, you see.’
She had to admit his genius. Not only had he managed to successfully extract the spirit, but so too had he made the remaining subject dance to his tune. She took a deep breath in through her nose. The potential power this prospect held was intoxicating. ‘May I try?’
She took a more direct position immediately opposite the new toy.
‘Sit down, Mr Wade.’
But nothing happened, not even a suggestion that he had registered her presence, let alone the command. ‘Mr Wade, sit down!’ She tried barking the order, but again to no avail. ‘Pfff,’ she blew out with frustration, ‘what is he, fickle?’
The doctor tapped the side of his head immodestly. ‘Ingenious isn’t it? And do you want to know why?’
‘Please, tell me.’
He ignored her hint at sarcasm and instead indulged his ego a touch further by revisiting his alchemical mastery. ‘The compound which made up a proportion of the serum with which I was able to extract his spirit was laced with nerve cells harvested from my own body. It is these, in combination with the other agents, which are able to continue firing when planted inside a foreign host, like our example here, Mr Wade. Now that his own core energy is gone, his brain is responding instead to my consciousness as it makes connections with the message patterns created by my cells now inside him and with the messages which radiate to him from my brain. He will respond of course to any active oral or visual commands I give as well.’
‘It is tele –’
‘Telepathy?’ At this, he wrinkled his face. ‘Of a sort I suppose. Technically, my own spark of consciousness is now able to control his brain, him having no spark of his own any more. It really is empowering! You should try it.’
‘But of course I can’t.’ She rolled her eyes at this power play.
‘Oh but you shall, Marina, you shall.’
She brought her heel down hard against the floor. ‘This is beginning to get tedious. Either show me or –’
But the doctor cut straight through her. ‘Mr Wade, you will now take your orders from Ms Dreski as well as from me. You will abide by all Marina’s commands. The next voice you hear will be her own.’ He turned to her with a triumphant sweep of his hand and stepped aside, allowing her to position herself directly opposite him again.
‘Sit down, Mr Wade,’ she commanded. No sooner had she spoken, had he returned to his seat. That thrill of latent domination she had had moments before returned to her realised and renewed. Her chest heaved with excitement. Once again she took a deep breath through her nose, her slender nostrils flaring slightly with pleasure. ‘How?’ she asked without taking her eyes from the prize.
Dr Weimer picked up the vial from the table and whirled the mixture around a couple of times. ‘Programming. Think of it as a long-term loan. Borrowed goods. You can leave the building, be the other side of the city with him, and still he will be yours to direct. And speaking of which, I have something more for you to do. You can take him along with you to do the bulk of the work.’ He held the vial against the light. ‘This mixture should be completely transparent in about an hour’s time, and that will confirm that the levels are correct and that the number of souls we need is indeed as predicted. In the meantime, we still need more subjects. Take Mr Wade with you and make sure you’re not seen, we don’t need fuss.’
Marina nodded her agreement. ‘We’ll go right away.’
‘Good. Be sure to provide clear, accurate instructions to avoid confusion. Oh, and Marina, bring our other three guests in from next door, I should be able to make the extractions simultaneously now I know the procedure definitely works.’
Tincture distilled from a combination of unstable organic compounds.
Time waits for no man.