The antique conference table was some eight inches thick. As Martin took his seat, Chamberlin remarked that this ancient furnishing had originated from a Serbian monastery and was likely more than 500 years old.
"Quite remarkable, Mr. Chamberlin," Mr. Ito commented. "Strange how old wood reminds one of home."
"And where would that be, Mr. Ito?" Chamberlin asked.
"I was a boy of Old Prague, my good man."
"Ah, splendid place," Chamberlin smiled. "Backpacked through there myself, some thirty years ago I imagine. But, enough of that. I'm quite eager to hear more about your process, gentleman."
Ito stiffened in his chair. "The process itself is quite proprietary, Mr. Chamberlin. Though I will say that it is quite expensive in that it requires great amounts of gold to work properly."
"Gold you say? How interesting. And quite ironic given the heritage of our founder."
Martin was puzzled by this. "How do you mean?"
"Sorry, I forget such things are not common knowledge, really.Our founder John Ripley was a direct descendant of Sir George Ripley, a 15th century alchemist and author of the Ripley Scroll."
Ito looked like he wanted to say something, but Martin could see the man was holding his tongue."This Ripley Scroll, what is it?"
"It's really a work of emblematic symbolism. Properly decoded, it is said that the Ripley scroll holds the key to Philosopher's Stone."
"You mean the stone that can spin straw into gold and that sort of thing?"
"Oh, much more than that, Mr. Dial. The Philosopher's stone is the gateway to eternal life."