The Potion - Chapter 2
I could see that he was contemplating just how old that made me. He gave me a hard stare as the cogs in his brain did the math.
"But that would make you more than 300 years old?" He said with a start.
"326 years old this may, to be exact." I told him.
I took a moment to stare out the window while he got over the shock. The old maple in my yard always cast such a beautiful glow on the room this time of day. The gold, red and yellow of the leaves in the late autumn sunset calmed me inside.
"326 years is a long time Rob." I said after a moment, "You can't imagine all the things I've seen and been forced to go through... You can't imagine the amount of times I've tried to make it all end.."
I found myself in quiet contemplation of the memories I was about to rehash with this stranger. I still wasn't sure if he was worth the time to tell the story, and even if he was, whether or not it would make any difference to him. Rob certainly wasn't the first person to try and get the potion from me, and I very much doubted he would be the last.
"It still amazes me sometimes, that I can remember what my life was like before the potion." I started slowly. "You would think that memories from so long ago would have died away with my mortal life, but it seems they only become clearer with every day that passes..."
"I was a lot like you in my youthful days. I had come from a wealthy family and by the time I was 18 most of my elders had passed and left me plenty. Though I had suffered from multiple health problems since infancy that made life seem like torture. My pancreas never worked right, and I'm sure it was diabetes at that time, but in those days, hardly anyone was really aware of how to deal with that. I had allergies to nearly everything imaginable and by the time I was 19, I'd had ever medical intervention imaginable performed on me to try and cure my ills. Leeches, blood letting, fasting, surgeries, herbal infusions, psychedelic drugs... If you can imagine it, I had it done to me. The only thing I refused was a lobotomy, which I almost regret not having done, since at very least I wouldn't have been in any mind to take any potions after that...."
"By the time I turned 22 I was fed up. I wanted something - anything to be done. I didn't want to die, but I didn't feel I could go on living the way things were. At that time I really didn't know how lucky I was to have what I had and I was willing to try any means to have life that wasn't filled with so much struggle." I said, "Which is when I began to look into more supernatural cures."
"I found myself traveling all over the world, trying to find anyone who could help. I saw old shamans, crazy witch doctors, wize women, priests, wizards, sorcerers, enchantresses and voodoo priestesses. I inhaled in books I could get my hands on and questioned anyone and everyone. Sometimes their cures someone would give me would work for a few days or even weeks and give me a taste of peaceful and comfortable life, but then it would end. I found myself less enthusiastic for each next cure, as each one seemed not to work or to only be temporary. It wasn't until I found myself in a conversation with a native elder in what would now be known as northern Brazil, that I started learning about the fountain of youth myths and various tales of magical concoctions that might be able to cure my ills and give me all the life I could ever want."
I could see that Rob was still hanging on my every word, but I think it was starting to set in that this story would be a very long one, as he started to sit a little more comfortably on the sofa. The glint in his deep blue eyes told me he was still hoping that he'd somehow swindle me into giving him the potion, and it almost saddened me to know that he'd never get even a drop from me. It made me wonder if that glint would die away at the end of my story, and another part of me wondered if there were someway I could help him keep that passion alive without giving him what he thought he wanted. I knew that was something to contemplate later. For now I continued with my story.
"I spent the better part of a year with that old man who was know as crazy wisdom by the locals, but he told me to call him Juan. He wasn't particularly special in the sense that he wasn't a witch doctor or shaman that he ever let on. It was mostly his presence and knowledge of the old ways that was strangely comforting to me. Even when it became clear that I needed to go on traveling if I were to find my magical cure, I really didn't want to leave. Juan taught me many things about the way the world works, mostly through the use of various natural psychotropic plants and spiritual journey's. His calm demeanor and confidence of the variour realities almost made me feel better in itself. If it weren't for the fact that he mysteriously disappeared one morning, I probably wouldn't have ever left."
"I realized as I continued my journey, that things had changed, that I had changed. I went from wanting to simply find a cure to my illnesses, to wanting to find this fountain of youth, or the alchemist stone or any form of life giving magic. I was no longer satisfied with simply living a healthy life, I wanted to live forever. I wanted to experience true magick and to become powerful. I wanted to be free from the fears of death, illness or pain and I wanted to have everything."
I gave Rob a stern look, and I could see that he caught the relevance of that last sentence. Still though, he seemed to be trying his best to remain innocent to my hint as he waited for me to continue.
"In 8 years, I had traveled more places than most people will ever travel in their entire lifetimes. By the age of 30, I had been to highest peaks of the Himalayas, the purest beaches of the Bahamas, the harshest jungles of the Congo, the deepest caves of the cascades and the farthest reaches of Antarctica. I'd trekked through African desserts, traveled across the Americas, hoped across the worlds islands and been to every well known magickal place from Ireland's Stone Henge to the ancient tombs and temples of the Mesopotamians."
"During my journey's I learned many things. I studied every bit of information I could and stocked my bags full of dried herbs, enchanted objects and my notes of magic practices. I had even learned a fair bit of real magick while I was out and so I made sure to keep my things secret through various enchantments. I also learned many forms of business and managed to keep myself well endowed with many currencies and never went without something I could trade for resources. Not that I ever needed it much, since Juan had taught me how to find food and water in any situation or place."
"I had learned a lot about the different myths I had first heard about. Some of them turned out to be wild goose chase or silly enchanting stories. Time and time again, the only on that seemed to hold any water was the fountain of youth myth. I learned that there was more than one body of water with youth giving powers. It turns out that it was not fountain, but many all over the world. I traveled to each and every one I found out about and sampled every body of water ever said to be a fountain of youth or still considered to be a youth fountain. I tried to be smart about what I was doing though, so instead of taking them then and there, I followed my more intelligent side and withheld from drinking the waters right when I found them. I was determined to know what I was getting into before I tried anything, and I wanted to be back at home in New York where my lab was, so that I could analyze the properties of the magic waters.. After all, I had never met anyone who had drank from the springs, or at least they never told me if I did. And because I'd never met anyone who'd lived to tell the tale of drinking from a youth spring, I took into account that the waters could have been poisoned not magical. It was probably one of the only truly smart things I had done in regards to my obsession with eternal life."
I saw Rob's lips draw thin as the corner of his mouth formed into a slight grin, as he nodded along with my logic in wanting to test the magic waters before taking them. I could tell that he hadn't taken the idea of poisoned waters being sold as ancient life giving potions. Then again, no one I told this story to, ever had thought that way. Even now I find myself a little surprised that I thought about it at such a young age, especially given my lack of forethought in any other situation back then.
"As my journey continued, I continually shipped everything I wanted to keep, back to my house. I always sent each item with extra money to make sure my staff was paid and well taken care of for safe guarding my precious items. This was important to me, as I had to trust my staff not to steal from me or give away the strangeness of the things I sent home. It would be all to easy for someone to piece together what I was doing, and I didn't want anyone to know. I hoped that by making sure everyone back home was happy, that I would have nothing to worry about when I got home."
"It wasn't until I received a notice from my staff manager Ms. Flatts, that I had no more space left to store things in the 8 rooms of my home, that I finally started traveling back home. It took me three weeks to get home to New York from Panama where I was at the time, and when I got there I finally understood why my staff felt it was important to tell me there was no more room left. When I read the letter, I figured they just meant that there was no room left on the shelves or in storage cupboards. When I finally got home, my house was literally bursting from everything that I'd shipped home. It didn't seem like that much when I was sending it, as I only ever sent a few things at a time, but it was so much that my house staff had even invested in having a large shed built to hold enough things so that there was still a walking path through the house for them to get to their rooms."
"It took me another few weeks to get everything out on the lawn to be organized, sold or given away. I spent much of that time profusely apologizing to my staff manager, as she was most unhappy at having to store everything with me being gone so long. I made sure to give her a large bonus, plenty of trinkets and some time off, which seemed to calm her red haired rage a little. She still tsked at all the things I decided to keep and I could tell that even though she kept my secrets, she thought I was daft. I asked her to stay and help me finish organizing everything before she left on a good long vacation and promised her that once she got back, I would have everything organized and easy to care for. It was the promise I made to sell off most of what I had sent home, which seemed to make her happiest. I didn't blame her, since my organizational skills were very lacking at the time."
"As we went through everything during the next week or so, it was hard to decide what to let go off and what to keep. I had sent back a libraries worth of books, manual and notes. I picked up strange masks, intriguing trinkets, custom furniture, rare jewelery, numerous artifacts, artisan clothing and handcrafted tools. I had satchels full of various herbs, bottles of elixors and potions. Then there was the cases of what appeared to be bottles of water to the untrained eye, but were actually my bottles of magickal life giving water. When I set each item, it seemed like so little. Yet when spread out on my front lawn in all took up more than a half acre of land."
I stopped to laugh to myself for a moment which made Rob give me a quizzical look. "I can still remember Ms. Flatts looking out at it all with a look I can only describe as one a mother would give her child after seeing the messiest bedroom in the world. She stood there with her arms crossed over her broad chest, simply tsking to herself as I studied each of my possessions, trying to decide what to do with each one. Eventually she had to come and remind me that she would like to go on her vacation sometime in the near future, and that it would be best to not get so attached to things I was about to get rid of."
"After that she spent much of her time trying to convince me that just about everything was useless unless I could give her a good reason that it wasn't. With many things it was easy for her to win, as I really had no specific reason for them. It was more difficult with other items, that were of magickal nature, as I didn't want to explain to her why I must keep them. I could only tell her no and move on to the next item, hoping that by the time we got through everything, the stuff I was going to keep would seem so small and insignificant that she wouldn't question them anymore."
I stopped for a moment to draw on my pipe and consider where the story went next, to try and avoid rambling on for too long about things that didn't matter as much. I must've taken to long to begin the tale again though, because Rob piped up and asked, "Did your plan work? Do Ms. Flatts stop questioning the strange things you brought home?"
"Yes and no." I replied slowly, "She was clearly still curious about it all, but she knew me well enough to know that when I had a secret, there as nothing that could be done to get it out of me. She tried a few times to trick me into telling her about things, but I caught on to quickly and changed the subject, which eventually led her to quit trying so hard."
"After the week had finished and most things were taken care of, or at least situated so that I could take care of them, Ms. Flatts went on her vacation. I had made sure she had enough money and arrangements to be away for at least a month and then gave most of the rest of the house staff vacation leave as well. The only person I asked to stay on was my chef, as I very much missed his meals. I did promise him time off when the other came back though, as I didn't want to be unfair."
"Once things were set in place, I quickly set myself to work organizing my lab. Bringing in my new tools, cleaning off my old instruments and refreshing my memory of chemistry, physics and biology. I went to the markets and got any remaining supplies that I realized I still needed and then got work. It was over the next four weeks that I found myself enveloped in tons of experiments. Before I knew it, I had already gone through most of my bottles of enchanted waters. I had shipped back at least 10 cases of the waters, each labelled with the places I'd found them, and by the end of four weeks I was down to one case. I realized to late that I had wasted much of what I had gathered, only to find that I could not uncover exactly what made them so special. I found there were definitely some components that made the waters different then the average water found anywhere else and that none of them were poisonous, but there was really nothing empirical to be found. Nothing that I could take to any educated man and clearly define."
"After all that time experimenting with infusions, recipes and potions, the only thing left was to try some of this magick water and hope that it worked...."