Herein lie the tales of Veritas Vapour, a poor young lad of the most uninteresting kind. See his stodgy black hair, his characterless attire, and lackluster personality, all accented with a humdrum grin. Poor Veritas. He has no exceptional talents save one that even he did not know he possessed: Veritas was gifted with the uncanny ability to harness the world’s rarest and most decadent flavors into delectable little elixirs that he longed only to share with others.
While many have attempted to master the art of capturing our innermost desires and cravings, it was with Veritas that the art of Alchemy originated and allowed him to collect these keen little flavors and longings and transmute them into truly sensational vials of goodness. This is the power of the Alchemyst.
Follow Veritas through his many adventures to see just how he turned the world upside down with his craft. What began as an accidental venture into the world of the children of Fae folk soon turns into a life-long journey of passion, betrayal, legendary companions, heroic rescue missions, and ultimately, the prevailing power of friendship.
Every inhalation of one of Veritas’s flavors is a reminder of the wondrous power of Alchemy, the thrill of imagination, and the beauty of creation.
The Breath of the Fae
Those who met Veritas Vapour in the dawn of his life would have commented on what a nice young man he was. Nice, certainly, but not exceptional. He was poor, as many were, and there was nothing about him that really caught an eye. He wasn’t particularly handsome, and he wasn’t particularly talented. All in all, he was what most would call average.
Veritas, though he didn’t know it, did have one exceptional skill. If it weren’t for circumstance, it might have been worth bragging over as well. This young man was gifted with very heightened senses of taste and smell. Everything that touched his palate was something worth commenting over.
Everything that was, except his family’s cooking. Every day and every night, Veritas would eat something that looked like paper and tasted like dull. Many people had often heard Veritas comment about the goopy grobploppers, smelly bugberries, or blackened brickerbacks that he’d suffered through. He didn’t realize that everyone in the land ate goopy grobplopper. Spices had not yet come to be discovered in his land, and no one was the wiser.
It was a yellow bright, misty morning when Veritas decided that he’d had enough. It was time to change his life. If his family couldn’t learn to cook, perhaps he could. He stepped outside, ready to head to the market, when the wind began to blow. The first gust brought such a sweet, tangy smell which compelled Veritas to follow.
This delightful aroma drew him far from his home. Veritas seemed to almost float along as he took in scents of heady green moss with tiny yellow flowers, sappy old trees, and rich petrichor, until eventually winding up in a small clearing that overlooked a fjord. What he saw surprised him. There he saw two lithe little beings – they were tiny children; children that clearly belonged to the Fae Folk of legend.
And like most children, these Fae couldn’t be bothered to sit still and behave. They were dancing around below, sucking in the wind, and blowing out large, intense gusts. Veritas watched them for a few minutes, shocked and blustered by the winds. He might have stood there forever if it wasn’t for the smell. That sweet, sweet smell.
When he brushed the twigs and leaves from his hair, he stumbled down to meet them, the Fae children looked over to this poor and hungry looking boy, and began to giggle. The sound reminded Veritas of twinkling stars. It was an old law that Fae and humans were not to interact, but as children were wont to do, the two in the fjord ignored the regulation, approaching the human with mischief in their eyes.
“Take this,” said the smaller of the two. She started to hand Veritas a familiar looking bottle. He realized that she’d somehow snatched it from his own belt. Before he could fully grab it, the Fae child danced away. She drew in another breath that made leaves shimmer on their branches and then blew the wind into the bottle, filling it with a tulip pink nectar.
When Veritas eventually tasted the flavor, he was washed away with wonder. It was as if, in a land of black and white, someone had spilled the colors of a sunset on his tongue. Within the breath of the Fae swirled the aromas of relaxing summer storms, tart yellow sunshine, crisp morning dew, and the sugary laughter of butterflies. Had they known his suffering? With their childlike magic, they had given Veritas more than a flavor – they had given him a calling.
Back home, his new obsession now in full charge, Veritas the Alchemyst began to experiment with transmuting different flavors into elixirs. To his surprise, the bottle that the Fae child had imbued never emptied. This allowed him to continue to use their magical breath to create the elixir that would start his new profession. He called it Faebryth in their honor, and knew that he would forever hold dear the wayward children who had chosen to share a breath of their world with him.
Thereafter his path in life was clear. He would create many more flavors than the original, and with each would come an adventure to rival the first. Nobody would ever call Veritas average or unexceptional again.
Oberon, King of the Fae
Veritas Vapour continued his unusual work, making matchless flavors for the world. Time seemed to fly by. Weeks turned into months, and months faded into long seasons, and before he knew it, it had been long past a year since he’d first met the Fae, and now they seemed as old friends.
He knew it was against the law for the Fae to interact with humans, but many Fae turned a blind eye when it came to Veritas. He had fast become the only human exception. They seemed eager to welcome him, offer advice, and help him however they could.
One of Veritas’s best friends was a Fae called Lluh. Lluh was a good man, much older than Veritas. He had a laugh that carried forever and reminded Veritas of grasshoppers and lily pads. While he kept his green hair in short spikes, Veritas had begun to notice that it started to grey.
It was Lluh that invited Veritas to the Summer Festival of next month. It would be a week of joyous occasions for the Fae folk; very much the hullabaloo, the bees’ knees, the most sensational time of dancing, laughter, and fun. There would be mushroom eating contests, the fairy chase, feats of strength, and sparkling sweet willow wine.
“This will be my last Summer Festival,” Lluh admitted to Veritas. “I don’t know when, but soon, it is time for me to change.”
Lluh was giving Veritas an empathetic, and thus disquieting look. They were the best of friends, and though he’d visited with these mythical creatures for quite a long time, there was still much of their customs and culture that he had yet to learn. Lluh’s statement was left hanging in the air, forcing inquiry into the mystery that Veritas felt he did not wish to know. “What do you mean?”
“It is hard for the Fae to keep these forms forever,” Lluh seemed to implore Veritas to understand, “soon it will be too tiring for me. I will change, and the change will be lasting -” here interrupting Veritas’s protest with a raised finger “- but before I do, Veritas, make me a new flavor! The Fae have many flavors, and even amongst us, you are one of the best at creating the most grandiose, but make me something that I’ve never tasted, something that I’ll never forget.”
With Lluh’s solemn request, and the Summer Festival upcoming, Veritas reluctantly set his creativity into motion. This could be no ordinary potion. After having been such close friends with Lluh and the Fae Folk, this was his chance to give this Fae friend a parting gift, and even prove himself as one of them.
He thought about the many distinct aromas they’d introduced him to: heavy blue thunderstorms, rich petrichor, and even the latest trend of sun dried strawberry seeds.
He needed something new. That’s when he remembered a story of custard and pastries made in far away lands for nobility. It would be sweet custard, and something the Fae had never heard of. Veritas stayed up nights and long days, blending buttercup milk and sugar bark, churning custards and various honeys, roasting walnuts, sweet breads, and vanilla beans.
“What will you call it?” Lluh asked, as he prepared to inhale the newest flavor. The Fae were so expressive in their childlike excitement. “Tell me before I taste it, Veritas.”
“I was thinking of naming it after your King,” Veritas admitted coyly. “I have heard that the King of the Fae is near, and I wish to impress him.”
Lluh laughed that light lily pad laugh that Veritas had grown accustomed to. “Oberon, the King of the Fae. I like it!”
At that, Lluh drew in the newest flavor, and such a look had never crossed his face. As those creamy custard notes blanketed his tongue, he didn’t speak, and only smiled. Golden flakey bread, glazed so lightly in candied walnut liquors, and bursting with vanilla custard. It was as though a king’s dessert had been popped into his mouth; so delicious it seemed forbidden.
He exhaled with such satisfaction. Veritas need only watch Lluh to tell that his creation had fulfilled his request.
But Lluh’s expression shifted quickly to a sharp realization, and then wonderment. He began to change. It was a process that all Fae went through when they no longer could maintain their humanesque forms. The Fae friend collapsed in a cloud of sparkling vapors, and when the cloud had cleared, only an iridescent gem of a beautiful jade color lie glistening on the floor.
A tearful Veritas had just picked up the gem with trembling hands when the imposing hoofsteps of the king of the Fae approached: it was Oberon himself and his little Fomorian chancellor, Bres. “You!” Oberon demanded. “Are you the human who is fraternizing and trading his human crafts with the Fae?”
“I am,” Veritas admitted. “But I named this one after you. Do you like it?” He fumbled the elixir up into Oberon’s large and fur-cuffed hands.
“And now you take my name. Let me see this…” Oberon was stern and dubious to Veritas’s agenda, but not without heart. “This elixir is most impressive. I am pleased.”
Then the King paused, his eyes narrowing. “But I find no pleasure what I must do. Humans cannot interact with the Fae and we are all bound by this law. My people have great love for you, but I cannot tolerate this breach. Veritas Vapour, you must be punished.”
Before Veritas could say more, Oberon had passed his open hand in front of Veritas’s vision. Then he realized his view point had changed. Oberon seemed even taller than before! He looked down at his feet – they were hooves! He let out a goaty bleat in his shock, only to further startle himself.
“Many would have punished you with death!” bellowed Oberon, “But I am a merciful king. You are doomed to wander the world as a goat.” The King looked darkly on him as he turned to leave, confident the matter had been settled.
Veritas the goat was left alone with muddled emotions of sadness and pride. he couldn’t believe this furry form was his, that Lluh was gone forever, but Oberon…the king of the Fae said he approved of his new recipe. That much filled Veritas with honor and more purpose than ever before. But how could a goat even perform Alchemy? Veritas the goat lied down with a flop and thought of Lluh “Lluh would have known what to do.”
Pan’s Bane and Promise
For most people, it would have been something to see a goat wearing a waistcoat and a pocket watch. So when Veritas the Goat was approached by someone that seemed neither surprised nor astounded, he couldn’t help his own curiosity. He stayed rather than trotting away as usual.
“My my,” said the stranger. He was an odd creature himself, a mirthful man with his own pair of goat legs, and a penchant for banter, “what a fine thing, goat fashion. It has come so far, hasn’t it?”
Veritas shook his head, his little goatee waggling side to side. “I’m not a goat,” he said with some consternation, his voice much the same as before his transformation, if not a bit more gruff.
“No?” said the stranger with smiling eyes. “Well, you look an awful lot like a goat for someone who says that they are not. Though, I’ve never known goats to speak. If you’re not a goat, then what are you?”
What a strange question. He had never been asked what he was. Veritas couldn’t help feeling a bit blank in the face. “I’m Veritas Vapour,” he finally said. “I was turned into a goat by the King of the Fae. It was a punishment for interacting with them, and for coming to their festival!”
“Ah,” the stranger said. “I’ve heard of you. Yes, you are the Alchemyst! What an interesting situation. Very intriguing. I shake you warmly by the hoof! As for me. I’m Pan. Pan the Faun. Or Puck the Jester, or even Robin Goodfellow. But you can call me Pan. That’s a good enough name for now.”
Pan was a man of many vices and took great interest in Veritas’s methods of creation, regaling him with all manner of story in between. Veritas found himself laughing alongside Pan. It was a long time since he’d laughed and it did not come without a pang of sorrow. “I wish that I was human again,” he told Pan later that day. “I miss transmuting, and creating flavors for the world.”
“If you act like a goat, perhaps you won’t miss your human self so much,” Pan suggested. Then he was off, chasing nymphs, and Veritas followed. He even found himself enjoying it. The nymphs were faster than they, but it was good exercise, and good fun.
It was only the next day that Pan found Veritas sinking back into his slump of depression. “You must cheer up,” Pan admonished. “You must. If I can’t even cheer up a goat, what good am I? My good name will be ruined, and I shall be ruined alongside it.”
“Without my work, I am nothing. Nothing but a stupid goat. Even now I find tastes among the pepper grass, I nibble tart blackberries, and this yellow hibiscus flower is enchanting but I cannot work, I cannot transmute them,” Veritas bemoaned.
Pan laughed. “Do not fret, I will help you!” Veritas was incredulous.
“How could you possibly help me? Don’t tell me that in all your stories you failed to mention you are friends with the king of the Fae,”
“Ha! Not so much fortune, no. But I can still help you.” He leaned in to meet Veritas’s eyes who saw more motives cooking in Pan’s brain than he could understand. “I will be your hands.”
“Make me a blend that even the nymphs could not distract me from and I’ll turn you human again.”
And though the promise seemed empty, the venture seemed harmless enough and might allow Veritas to design one last exquisite potion.
Veritas had an idea for something new. It was a flavor that brought to mind his grandfather in a rocking chair, puffing on his pipe, chopping wood in the fall, and looking out over the purple mountains. Pan was skeptical by the description, but they set about its creation, and the moment he’d tried the flavor, his eyes widened.
“Ohhhh…” sighed Pan. Suddenly, Pan who usually chatted constantly was quiet. He was falling in love with the creamy and delectable caramel blended with a sweet pinch of tobacco steeped in coconut milk. His own childhood among the satyrs came flashing back in vivid nostalgia.”
Veritas implored Pan to give his review but each time was only waved away whilst he puff, puff, puffed on those savory clouds. And in this, Veritas was satisfied, the desires of becoming human again diminished in the pleasure of another successful transmutation of base ingredients into a harmonious performance.
“Though, soon enough” thought Veritas, “Pan will work his strange powers and help me become human again”. Until then, Veritas would just have to watch Pan enjoy the newest flavor. After all, that was his passion. It didn’t matter if he was human or goat as he long as he created something original that the world could enjoy.
Many days past and Pan seemed to lose interest in everything but his new blend. Nymphs called upon him, the fauna asked of him, but there lie Pan with his new love, puff, puff, puffing and watching the clouds roll by. And thus Veritas called it Pan’s Bane.
Veritas Vapour and Pan the Satyr enjoyed many long days together. Even as a goat, Veritas’s penchant for transmuting flavors into fine consumable mysts never left him.
He had found some small solace spending the days in his new form. Climbing rocky mountain sides provided a most stunning view of his world. Though even this comfort would not last long..
“What is going on here?” she demanded when she found the pair of them, sitting in the meadow outside the makeshift laboratory they’d fashioned. “Pan, dearest, I have been expecting you for weeks and here I find you lounging about with a hairy little goat. And what am I, spoiled bugberries?”
“He is not a goat,” Pan said. “This is Veritas Vapour, the Alchemyst. He makes flavors befitting for kings. You must try this, my dear. You must. It was made for me, you know. Truly, this goat is an artist. Well, this man is.”
Frustration still loomed on her brow, but his rambling had a way of warming her heart. She muttered under her breath, casting a dark look at the goat. Veritas smiled in return, but his wire whiskered grin was met with a sharp look crossing both disturbed and shocked. The smile of a goat has not been known to calm nerves.
“It is time to go!” she bellowed to Pan; her tone then turning nectar sweet “I have missed you. You may bring your blend along. I can see how much it means to you, but the goat must stay.”
Pan pursed his lips and thought on the torture he must have caused his lover. “Oh, alright.” He gave his reluctant goodbyes and Veritas watched in forlorn silence as his only friend began walking away with his beautiful lover chatting in his ear. He would be alone again, and worse, still a goat. Aphrodite spared a glance back as they started to leave, and something in his face pulled her back to console him.
“I am not a cruel woman,” she said, “and yet your face hints that I am. What is it that bothers you so much, little goat?”
“Pan is my only friend,” Veritas said. “I’ll be alone and without my human form I’ll never be able to practice my work again! Please don’t take Pan, he promised to turn me human!”
What began as a heartwarming speech from Veritas suddenly provoked a laugh out of Aphrodite. “He can do no such thing!” Pan, still standing a little ways off pretended not to hear. “Who do you think he is? King Oberon? Ha!” Her eyes narrowed in a catty gaze as she spoke low to Veritas “Pan is not as powerful as some.” She raised a slender finger to his goaty nose and *POOF*, he was human again.
“I have granted your desire,” she said curtly, “now I urge you to grant mine. You may not see Pan again. He is too easily distracted, and it is forbidden for his kind to see yours. And do not think or call me cruel.”
“As you wish,” Veritas said, but he was still sad. Lluh was, and now Pan was leaving. He loved what he did, but without friends the path seemed so lonely. “Thank you for this gift.” His eyes to the ground.
“Listen to me,” Aphrodite said, “I see the future of all love, and I see that you will soon find it. I will help you, so that you will not feel lonely and especially you will not break the oath you have given me.”
With that, she plucked a petal from her rose red flower ring., and effortlessly dropped it from shoulder height, descending into a tiny bottle sitting on the tree stump below. “Design one of your elixirs with this,” she told him, “and in its mysts you will have a vision of your love. Use this to find her. When you do, your hearts will be one, forever.”
“I am truly grateful.” Said Veritas, his mind already fixed on the task ahead. Aphrodite smiled with satisfaction and took her leave.
He set to work at once creating a flavor that would embody passion itself. When it was done, Veritas took in the pale red tincture, a plume of shimmering myst touched his tongue, a painters palette of orange and vermilion fruits, the subtle bite of exotic spice, and then a vision of a girl in bronze.
And thus his latest, greatest creation was named after the woman who had, with but a flower petal, set him on a journey to of love and adventure to ends unknown – Aphrodite. Transmutation had been all he’d known, and now he had another vision to hold hands with on his path. His journey was now two-fold; twice as exciting; doubly important! His heart was full of joy for what he’d been given, and for the friendships and adventures that he’d so far had. “Onward!” he thought. “Onward to ever greater friendships, and ever greater creations!”.
Travels with The Arabian
My dearest wife, Samira, I can only hope that this letter reaches you, and that it brings you comfort on nights that I am not there. My spices have become most favored among the wealthy, but traveling to the west is always weary work. Usually there is no one to speak to but Sabin, who only flicks his ear and offers a tired whinny time to time. I miss your green eyes and he misses your grooming. I am hopeful that soon I will be able to return to your side and we may continue our lives together.
This time I have such a tale for you! Rarely I come upon other travelers and we ride together for a time. We speak of our trade, and children, and wives. I think it is their company that keeps me from losing my mind on the road without you.
The man that I most recently met though, he claims to be of sound mind, I have my own doubts. The man spoke about childlike creatures called Fae, and of a king that turned him to a goat, and a beautiful woman who changed him back. I am laughing even as I write this. Though he also spoke of this power, transmutation he called it; turning foods and spices into mysts that you can breathe and taste.
I couldn’t help but wonder at how much truth there was to his ramblings. I find that my mind will acquiesce to stranger ideas the longer I traverse the night desert. It was all pleasant enough to hear though, and Veritas, this…Alchemyst, seemed a good man. He was deeply enamored with creating unique blends of flavors. In fact everything he told me revolved around this single obsession. All but one thing I suppose. He sought for a woman, or a cloud of vapor, I am not sure, because he told me of a vision held in one of his mysts.
Veritas’s cloak was long, his eyes fierce yet kind. He was small of stature, and dark of hair. He seemed tired, yet relentless. All his garments were stuffed with vials, pouches, fronds, and strange instruments. I’ve never seen such a thing. Like a walking laboratory. Sabin was always sniffing about him.
Once I could get him to slow down I offered him some of my famous spiced Turkish coffee. The second it graced his nose, before he even tasted it, his eyes were alight and he gave me an incredulous look. “What?” I said, feeling oddly guilty. “What is this?” he seemed to demand. “Well, we have much in common Veritas. You see, I deal in flavors as well. That coffee you hold is quickly becoming the choice commodity within the western aristocracy. I would tell you my name, but I do not believe your tongue could pronounce it and I cannot abide by a butchered family name. In your part of the world I tell people only to call me The Arabian. Well go on, have a sip.”
Veritas brought the spice infused blend to his lips and tasted a rich, dark, Arabica cappuccino, swirling with bold and exotic spices. “It’s beautiful, thank you.”
“Of course! That particular blend is -”
“A little bitter.”
“I need to do something. We can camp here for the night.”
“Umm, yes, of course.” Perceptions differ, I thought. And not everyone can have good taste.
I do not believe Veritas slept that night, I know I didn’t much because he was interrogating me about my spices: their origins, the methods of brewing, the age of the plants, what starsign they were born under. I never felt I gave him a completely satisfactory answer. “Veritas, you cannot expect such meaningless information to change the blend. The plants are ripe or they are not.”
“Yes. I can.” Veritas implored. “And do not call it meaningless.” Truly nothing phases this man, I thought with a laugh.
Then he set to work. It was so late, and I was so tired that all his fussing with glass and iron could not keep me awake. I dreamt strangely. In my dreams were men with animals features, gems with dire needs about them. It all felt so important. And Veritas – mixing, mixing, mixing with maddening fervor. I woke with a jolt and he was there above me presenting an instrument.
His eyes were so urgent I didn’t even think to speak. Slowly I gained my composure and took the device, turning it over in my hand. A vial with some beautiful, pure, and amber colored liquid, a mouthpiece, a chamber for a small flame, and a button to initiate it. I looked back into his eyes thinking to myself what a strange and mad genius you are, Veritas, and I could not help but to smile.
Veritas dipped his chin very subtly and raised his brow. Go on his expression said.
I swear on the stars Samira, what exquisite magic lie in that potion! My tongue was engulfed with Arabica cappuccino, faintly smoldering with Cardamom, Ginger, and Clove, weaving through milky sweet dessert cream. I felt the comfort of quiet mornings cooking breakfast with you. All my life I could have not have designed such splendor in one vial.
My day was luminous. After that, I never doubted Veritas again.
He gave me a bottle of this magic liquid and bid me to bring it home to you. He called it The Arabian, in honor of our time together.
He has left since then, following his own road, still in search of his love. I have faith that he will find her, and that he will continue to hone this power.
Know that you are in my heart, my dearest Samira, and soon I will be at your side. Until then, this cherished elixir will continue to remind me of home, and of you.