Chapter I

Originally published on Guild Wars Vault on 2007-08-06


The Alchemist of Arah

Wisdom then is critical in helping others. To be wise one must have self-knowledge and maturity.
– Lavian Furu

 

It was a cold winter that year, which was bad for traveling, but good for the frost wine crops. Though he enjoyed the spring when the lands were in bloom and fresh fruit and berries clung to the branches for nurturance, this was when Belenos harvested the frozen grapes for his wine. He would wait until just after the first frost to pick them so that the bitter season was infused in their essence to make his sweet dessert wine. As the sun crested the mountains to bathe the valley in its golden light one morning, Belenos heard a sound in the distance.

It was common to hear the animals rustling in the woods, but they usually didn’t draw attention to themselves as the source of this sound did. Belenos followed the sound, which he had determined was that of a human, to the main road. There, lying in some brush was indeed a woman who cried out in pain. She wore plain cotton clothing and heavy furs to keep warm. The furs were sticky with blood and it was clear that the woman was in labor. Belenos acted quickly. Tearing the large cloth bag he had planned to fill with grapes, he laid it out on the ground and carefully moved the woman to lay comfortably on it. He spoke softly and calmly to her announcing his every move before he made it. He asked her name and she replied in a shaky voice “Lavian.” He asked her what brought her out this far from the city and she replied, again in a shaky, forceful voice, that she was going to the city of the Gods to give her child a chance at a good life.

Using his haversack to prop her up, Belenos instructed the woman to breathe and gave her a draught of liquid to ease her pain. The woman gave everything she had to deliver her child into the world. When the child was born Belenos held the baby girl up to the mother speaking softly, “You have a beautiful baby girl. What shall we call her?” There was no response from the woman. Her breathing had slowed and her body was quickly losing heat. Belenos quickly swaddled the newborn in furs and attended to the woman. He checked her pulse only to find it fading. Taking a leaf from his belt pouch he began to chew it as he wrapped the woman in furs and cloth to keep her warm. He placed the chewed leaf into the woman’s open mouth and pushed it down her throat. He knew the leaf would only buy time until he could return the woman to his cottage to care for her properly, but as he began to move her he realized that she had passed. Her body grew colder and she no longer drew the cold winter wind into her lungs.

“Farewell Lavian. I shall care for your child and provide for her the chance for a good life. Though she was not born in the city of the Gods, I shall teach her of their splendor. She will grow to know love and appreciate life. She will know the importance of helping others and helping herself. Though your journey may end here today, her journey is just beginning.”

Belenos named the child after her mother. Lavian ran in the woods and collected berries and other items for her “Uncle Bel.” She would disappear for hours wandering the trails in the woods exploring. “Melly is watching over me” she would always say when Uncle Bel would caution her. As she grew older her exploration turned inward to her arcane talents. She began to run errands for Bel and discover what it was he did with all of the components he had her gather. Her curiosity got the better of her and Lavian began to help Bel with his current project of forging signets and scribing scrolls.

Lavian Furu - Alchemist of Arah
Lavian Furu – Alchemist of Arah
(picture by Belzan Furu)

As promised Bel taught her everything he knew about the Gods. Lavian learned of Balthazar’s fury and lust for war. She learned that Grenth controlled the bitter cold and cared for those who had passed on. Lyssa, she learned, was as inspirational as she was chaotic. Lavian found Melandru to care for the creatures of the lands and watch over those who travel. It was Dwayna she found most like herself. Dwayna cared for others at the sacrifice of herself, just as Lavian’s mother did. Lavian sought to care for others and became interested in the teachings of the Goddess of Light.

Lavian was quite the apt pupil and kept Belenos on his toes. He reveled in teaching her about life and enjoyed spending time with her. The day eventually came when Bel realized that she would leave him. A woman traveling alone found her way into the woods and to Belenos’ hut. The woman was very tall and had long blond hair braided up into buns atop her head. She wore blue robes and the religious symbol of Dwayna. Lavian was enamored with her from the moment she arrived and, with Bel’s blessing, left with her to go to Arah. Though he intended to be a hermit, Bel suddenly found himself very alone.

The city was more extravagant than Lavian had pictured from Bel’s descriptions. She quickly found her way to the Temple of Dwayna and became a member. Lavian stayed in Arah familiarizing herself with the teachings of Dwayna and making a name for herself as an up and coming alchemist. Within the temple Lavian served as a Hospitaler and she was granted a residence only a block away. From her home she opened up an alchemical shop to sell unguents, salves, sleep aids and other items of general use. Lavian was doing what she loved and helping others at the same time. Alchemists were scarce since Belenos was exiled from Arah and no one could compete with her skill earning her status very quickly. After a two years of crafting items and alchemical agents Lavian trained a group of six priests and priestesses of Dwayna in alchemy who would replace her and tend to the shop.
Shortly thereafter Lavian returned to Belenos with stories of her success, only to find an empty hut. There was a cherry wood box sitting on the floor next to Bel’s straw mat. Opening the box she found a note inside addressed to her.

My dear Lavian,

I have perfected it! I have found a way to craft signets from simple alchemical agents. The process is simpler than one would imagine and is much faster than the standard enchantment technique that is used in Arah. I intend to take the recipe for the Capture Signet to my old friend Magi Malaquire in Lion’s Arch. The Lionguard have a lot of problems on their hands and the Capture Signet will help the new recruits quickly attain the proficiency of seasoned warriors. The Resurrection Signet I intend to take to Sir Tydus in Ascalon City to lessen the casualties of the Guild Wars.

I have missed you so much my child. I have heard word of your success and it has motivated me to share my talents with those who need it. This note was left for you to assure you of my safety and good health. I have spent most of my life in Orr and there are so many people in Tyria that could use my skills.

I love you my child. I have left for you one of each signet and the recipes for both in a similar box buried where you were found so many years ago. These are my gifts to you as you are as much a part of this success as I. Good luck to you child. I know not when our paths will again cross, but I look forward to that day with a joyful heart. May Melly guide your travels and Dwayna bless you in all that you do.

Uncle Bel

 

Lavian smiled knowing Bel was safe, but felt as if she had lost something very important to her. Leaving the hut behind she walked the unmarked path to the location where Belenos had found her mother nearly two decades before. There buried, as he had written, was a second cherry wood box whose contents were two signets and two scrolls. Lavian packed these into her satchel, took a deep breath, and walked back to the city. As soon as she entered the city Lavian was greeted by the royal guard—King Reza was asking to speak with her.

“Lavian Furu: The Alchemist of Arah.” Reza greeted. “I understand you have been living with Belenos Furu. Is this true?”

“Yes my lord,” Lavian replied, “He raised me until I heard the call of Dwayna and came here to Arah. He taught me everything he knows.”

“You have made quite a name for yourself here in the City of the Gods. I can think of no better teacher than the Great Belenos. I would enjoy nothing more than to speak with you for days about his life. Alas, it is not his life that brought us together here this day. I am afraid I have some sorrowful news for you.”

As King Reza paused Lavian’s eyes began to well with tears for she knew what the king’s next words would be.

“Belenos was found about a week’s ride outside of Arah. He was headed north toward Ascalon by way of the mountains when an avalanche struck. A small group of travelers came across him after the snow began to melt and fended off the bears in the area. Apparently his esteem was so great that they knew of him in Ascalon and one of the travelers recognized him. His remains arrived yesterday. I am so very sorry Lavian, he was a great friend and it hurts me to even utter these words.”

Lavian sobbed openly. Belenos was like a father to her and a part of her died that day as well. So much of her life was spent with him that she could barely fathom his absence. Even in the past few years in Arah she had thought of him daily and looked forward to meeting up with him again. She would no longer sit and sip green tea by the fire as he told stories of his youth spent in the magical city of Arah.

A funeral service was held the next day. King Reza declared that a parade in honor of the Great Belenos Furu of Arah would commemorate the life of his dear friend. There were mixed feelings about this given the exile of the great alchemist decades before, but few spoke up as the grief on the king’s face was unquestionable. Lavian looked down upon the man who cared for her one last time seeing the joyful face she had always loved instead of the cold, stiff one that remained. She would remember her youth and the time spent with him. She would remember the lessons he taught and the ideals he upheld. She would carry on his final quest as he had carried on her mother’s final quest. Arah was no longer home for her. There were many more people in Tyria that she could help. She had left her mark on the City of the Gods and it was time to move on. With news of the Guild Wars reaching Orr, Lavian knew she would head north to Ascalon to help Sir Tydus as Belenos had intended. She would finish his quest for him. She would seek out Magi Malaquire in Lion’s Arch and deliver the Capture Signet as he had planned and make aware the Magi of Belenos’ passing. And when Belenos’ quests were complete, she would seek out the Temple of Ages and test her faith in Dwayna as a high priestess.

Lavian boarded a ship in the harbor of Arah and set sail for Lion’s Arch. She wore the Capture Signet and Resurrection Signet on her fingers as badges of pride. She would seek out the Magi first and then travel northeast through the Shiverpeaks to reach Ascalon so as to avoid many of the battles. Standing on the bow of the ship Lavian looked off into the distance. A storm was brewing.

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