Chamberlin entered the lobby and offered Martin his hand.
"Mr. Dial? It's a pleasure. Is there something troubling you about this painting?"
"Remarkable," said Martin. "Is this an original work?"
"Oh, quite. It's a portrait commissioned by an ancestor of our founder, a nobleman by the name of George Ripley. He was quite a man of note of his time, regarded as the premier alchemist of his generation, I'm told."
"Alchemy you say?" Martin asked. "And what about the woman?"
"Ah yes, not only was his consort a great beauty, she was also quite skilled in the dark science herself. In fact, some say their union foretold a great confluence of the two alchemic disciplines, as it were."
"There were two? I thought alchemists were all about turning things into gold."
"Truly. That cover story is how they gained both their sponsorship from the ruling class and their heretic immunity from the Church. While the gold alchemists tried to cook mercury into gold, the spiritual alchemists were primarily consumed with perfecting the human soul."
"And this woman, she was a spiritual alchemist?"
"Oh yes. In fact her writings were widely published in her husband Nicolas' name in order to boost his standing in the royal court. But when her affair with Ripley came to light, the resulting scandal exposed Nicolas as a Charlatan. He leaped off a cliff, I'm afraid."
Martin regard the painting for a moment. "And what became of her?"
"Well, Jennine Flamel reportedly vanished into her alchemic practice in search of redemption. In fact, her last writings claimed she had discovered the Philosopher's Stone."
Friday, August 25, 2006
Chapter 5.2 "The Ripley Scroll"
Note: IPO is a novel blogged in-progress.