The Alchemy Guild's headquarters were situated in a large, three story building in the northern part of Brenas. The first floor was dedicated to a single shop, which sold every type of potion imaginable. This floor was the most crowded, with merchants and adventurers alike bustling in and out to peruse the wares. The crowding was unavoidable - potions were an essential item for combat and were always highly in demand.

To access the second floor of the building, one had to pass through a reception desk before being allowed up the stairs. From what Ian knew, the second floor contained the offices and laboratories of the guild's senior Alchemists, and one would only be allowed up if they needed to directly conduct business with them. As for the third floor, it was completely dedicated to the Guild Master, the famous Alchemist Doran Mingas. Even in Ian's rural town, rumors of Guild Master Mingas' prowess in the field of Alchemy could be heard - the man had singlehandedly raised Brenas' Alchemy Guild to be the greatest in all of Briodelar.

Ian weaved through the group of adventurers exiting the building and headed towards the reception desk. There were currently twenty receptionists working behind the desk, cooperating to quickly process the requests of the Guild's customers. Ian quickly found a receptionist who had just finished with another customer and went up to the desk, pulling out the letter that Carson had given his father.

"Hello, I'm here for my assignment with the Alchemy Guild farms." Ian passed the letter over to the receptionist, who quickly read it and shuffled through her desk’s drawer, pulling out and handing a form to Ian.

The receptionist gave Ian a practiced smile. "Fill out this form with your basic information, and then I'll show you your assignment location and supervisor. He'll take over your orientation from there."

"Before I go to the farms, is it possible for me to see an Alchemist? I have some questions that I'd like to ask." Ian figured that the guild Alchemists would be more knowledgeable than the workers on the farms, and that this would be the best time to ask.

"I'm sorry, but you'd have to be a bit more specific for me to let you see an Alchemist. What exactly are you wishing to inquire?" From her tone, Ian could tell that the receptionist thought that Ian was just some curious country kid. Ian was slightly irked; it seemed like everybody he met underestimated him.

"I recently got my hands on some Magical Plants, but I'm not too sure what they are. I was wondering if an Alchemist could tell me more." Ian started with this amount of information as he didn't want to disclose his Magical Botanist class just yet. He'd wait until there was a bit more trust between him and the Guild before doing so.

The receptionist's face froze. "You said you have Magical Plants?

Ian nodded his head. At this, the receptionist immediately stood up and opened the gate beside her desk. "Follow me, please. I will take you to an Alchemist who can answer your questions." The receptionist waited for Ian to walk through the gate before guiding him towards the staircase leading to the second floor.

Ian followed the receptionist up the stairs, but was confused when they passed the second floor landing and kept climbing. Ian gave a questioning look towards the receptions, but she responded with a smile saying that she knew what she was doing. Something was up - if they were going to the third floor, then there was only one person that she could be bringing Ian to meet.

They had now reached the third floor, which had its own waiting room and secretary. The receptionist from the first floor whispered something to the secretary, gave Ian a smile, and headed back down the stairs. The secretary spoke to Ian.

“Would you please wait here for a moment? You may sit and enjoy the refreshments while you wait.” She gestured to a comfortable looking couch behind a table filled with plates of delicious looking pastries and iced beverages before disappearing as well.

Ian’s stomach was now filled with butterflies, but he still had enough time to eat a few pastries before the secretary returned. He hadn’t eaten anything all day, and the hunger was more than enough to overcome any nervousness as he quickly scarfed down some scones and cookies.

“The Guild Master is expecting you in his office. Please follow me.”

The secretary had returned, seemingly not judging Ian for how quickly he had devoured the pastries. Ian blushed, stood up, brushed the crumbs off of his lap, and followed the secretary to the Guild Master’s office. The secretary knocked on the door, opening it slowly and holding it open, gesturing for Ian to enter.

Ian took one last deep breath, steeled himself and walked into the office. The secretary closed the door behind Ian, shutting it with a small click. She returned to her desk and sighed, feeling some pity for the clearly naïve, young country boy. She was probably the person who knew the Guild Master the best, as she had worked for him for over ten years. She knew of all the things that he had done, and all the things that he would be willing to do.

Ian had just jumped into the lion’s den, and he didn’t even know it.

The Guild Master’s office was probably the nicest room Ian had ever been in. Every wall was covered by mahogany bookshelves filled to the brim with old books, and a fine fur rug lay on the floor. However, Ian did not have the luxury of enjoying the decorations – he was here to meet the Guild Master.

Sitting behind his desk was Doran Midas. At first glance he reminded Ian of his Grandpa; warm and inviting, always there to tell you a story before bed in front of the fireplace. He was clearly old, as evidenced by the wrinkles on his face, but Ian could not tell if he was sixty or if he was ninety. Seeing Ian walk in, the Guild Master cordially smiled and stood to greet him.

“Hello, it is my pleasure to be of your acquaintance. I am the Guild Master of Brenas’ Alchemy Guild, Doran Midas, first of his name. May I ask you for your name young man?”

Ian was surprised by how eloquent Midas’ introduction had been.  “Ian, Guild Master Midas. Just Ian.” He grimaced internally – his introduction had been much less elegant.

The Guild Master smiled at Ian again, seeming to not be surprised at Ian’s lack of a last name. He gestured at Ian to sit, to which he complied, and similarly sat down.

“So Ian, I have been informed that you have come into possession of Magical Plants, and were looking for an Alchemist to ask some questions.” Midas leaned forwards, still radiating the atmosphere of a harmless old man. “I am actually Briodelar’s top expert in Magical Plants, so you’ve come to the right place. Would it be possible for you to show me one of your Magical Plants?”

Ian found it hard to refuse Midas’ request. He closed his eyes and entered his Magical Farm, pulling out one of his Magical Pea plants that he had pre-potted. At the sight of a huge plant appearing out of nowhere, the Guild Master raised his eyebrows but did not make any comments. Instead, he focused his attention on the plant, inspecting its leaves and vines.

“Have you seen anything like this plant before?” Ian cautiously inquired. Midas shook his head.

“I’m sorry Ian, but in all my years I have never seen a plant like this. I can clearly feel the magical energy in it though, so it is definitely a Magical Plant. Now Ian, I will be upfront with you – I am very interested in studying this plant for research purposes. Would you be willing to sell me this plant?”

Ian considered Midas’ proposition. On one hand, he wanted to maintain a good relationship with one of the most influential people in Briodelar. On the other, he wanted to keep all of his plants with him – in an emergency, his plants would be his only fighting power available. Considering the pros and cons, Ian made his decision.

“I’m sorry, Guild Master Midas, but the plant is not for sale. However, I would be willing to come in and frequently let you see the plant.”

At this, the Guild Master leaned back and once again smiled at Ian, seemingly unperturbed. “I understand, and greatly appreciate your offer. My receptionist will arrange for your residence in one of Brenas’ finest inns, and you can come back again tomorrow at this same time. Meanwhile, I will need to conduct some more research before I can properly answer any questions you have about your Magical Plants. I hope that you can understand my ignorance about this topic.”

Ian nodded, and the Guild Master stood up, indicating that it was time for Ian to leave as well. Midas pressed a bell at his desk, and his secretary quickly showed up, opening the door to his office.

Midas smiled at Ian again. “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance Ian. Please inform my secretary of what we just discussed, and I look forwards to your presence tomorrow.”

“It was nice to meet you too Guild Master Midas, and I will be back at the same time tomorrow. Have a good day.” Ian turned to follow the receptionist back to her desk, where she helped to arrange Ian’s stay at one of the inns closest to the guild headquarters.

Leaving the guild, Ian felt pretty satisfied with how the meeting went. Hopefully, by tomorrow the Guild Master would have some answers prepared and would be able to finally answer some of Ian’s questions. Doran Midas was also a very pleasant person to meet, and was overall very different from what Ian had expected. Ian liked him – he treated Ian well even after he had introduced himself with only his first name. Usually, only those with great accomplishments or of noble birth had a last name, and those who did tended to treat commoners poorly. The fact that Midas had not raised Ian’s impression of him greatly.

However much Ian liked Midas, there was once thing about him that bugged Ian as he walked towards his inn. Ian had never met a man who smiled as much as Midas did – he would smile with almost every sentence he spoke. There was nothing wrong with the smile, as it was as warm and cheerful as a smile should be, but it was the frequency at which Midas’ smile appeared that bugged Ian. Perhaps Midas is just an extremely cheerful person, Ian thought, and was quickly distracted as he instead pondered about which restaurant he should try for dinner.

Back at Midas’ office, Midas and his secretary were sitting at his desk. The door and blinds were closed, and the room was soundproofed to ensure that nobody would be able to hear their conversation.

“Vanessa, do you know if there is a organization backing Ian?” Even in private, Midas kept smiling while he talked. His secretary was used to it by now.

“From my impression of Ian, he seemed to be just a regular country boy. However, a normal person would not be able to get their hands on a Magical Plant, so there may be more to him than meets the eye.”

Midas agreed with his secretary’s evaluation. Ian’s possession of a Magical Plant, along with a high class spacial object able to store living objects, indicated that he was somebody of significant backing and wealth. Conversely, Ian’s character and lack of knowledge about the true value of his Magical Plant seemed to indicate that he really was just a regular boy. It was due to this uncertainty that Midas hadn’t pounced on Ian as soon as he had left his office; he didn’t want to risk offending an organization capable of procuring a Magical Plant.

Earlier, Midas had only told part of the truth to Ian. He wasn't lying when he said that he was unaware of the origin of Ian’s plant, but he did know how much value the plant could provide. As the most experienced Alchemist in Brenas, Midas could quickly tell that the plant contained high amounts of mana of the INT nature. Making potions with the plant’s leaves would result in extremely powerful INT increasing potions, which could sell for hundreds of gold to eager mages. The plant was a veritable gold mine just waiting to be exploited.

Midas made his decision. “Vanessa, contact Robert and have him kidnap Ian tonight. We will meet him at the abandoned warehouses by the docks at midnight to make him extract his plants from his spatial object. Make sure to tell him to remove any tracking artifacts from Ian’s body before bringing him, and make sure that nobody knows that it was us who sent him.”

Vanessa nodded in agreement. This was not the first time that they had used unscrupulous methods to achieve their goals, and it would not be the last - how else would they have grown their Alchemy Guild so quickly? Once again, Vanessa felt a brief moment of pity for Ian. She knew what would happen to Ian after he gave over his Magical Plants, and it would not be pretty. Vanessa got over her guilt pretty quickly. She had worked for Midas for a many years already, and had grown used to his ways long ago. Many a political rival or business competitor had fallen before Midas, with the last thing they ever saw being Midas' smiling face.

Midas' nickname was the Smiling Executioner for a reason, and Ian would found out why tonight.


About the author


Bio: Thank Mr Goose ... if you get the reference hit me up

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