Read Part 1 here.
As soon as the genie finished his declaration Ali was surrounded by the court sorcerers, politicians and servants. They all inundated him with advice, tips, and things to help him on his potion making journey. He felt immensely overwhelmed and frankly, he was frightened out of his wits!
He was very relieved when Rafique finally managed to break through the circle of people surrounding him. “Alright, alright, that’s enough; leave the boy alone I will help prepare.” Rafique shooed them away. “Master Osman, if you please accompany us.” He added, leading Ali out of the hall.
Master Osman was the Court Sorcerer who had told the genie about the potion and he followed them hurriedly. As soon as they reached a suitable antechamber, Rafique led them in and turned around. “I am very sorry my work has led to this, my boy, but now we must find a way to fix my mistakes.” he told Ali sorrowfully. “Show us the recipe and we will help you understand it.” he added. Ali silently handed it to master Rafique.
It was the strangest potion recipe Ali had ever seen; this was because unlike normal potions, this potion demanded that the brewer add the ingredients as he acquired them. This means that Ali would have to find all the sensitive ingredients and carry the brewing potion with him on the quest; adding each ingredient as he collected it. Also, certain ingredients could only be added at specific times and places, therefore, making it even more complicated.
“I don’t need to see it; because I know the recipe by heart.” Master Osman said “How did you even think to create such a convoluted concoction?!” Rafique asked incredulously from Master Osman after looking it over. “This is not a recipe I created, it is an ancient recipe that I pieced together after years of research about the runes painted on the walls of Khema. It has the power to remove any kind of external enchantment on a person, no matter its power. It can even cure victims of the Gorgon’s stare. Yet its ingredients are so difficult to acquire that it cannot be made by just anyone. ” Master Osman explained.
“What do you think of the recipe Ali? Which part do you need help with?” asked Rafique.
Ali started saying, “I need your help to make a map for my route according to the potion’s needs. I think I can pick the flitterblooms first from the southern forest, then extract the juice of alum, next I should go to Uncha mountains to gather the eagle’s nest-”
“What are you on about you silly boy? Why would you need to pick flitterblooms or find any of these common ingredients by yourself?!” said Raique in exasperation.
“What Master Rafique means is that, you do not need to collect the common ingredients. You can just take them from the castle stores as the castle is well stocked with even the more obscure ingredients. The only ingredients we will not be able to find are the ones that require a location and have to be acquired in a quest.” Master Osman clarified.
“Oh”, said Ali, “right.”
“You can take my potions kit. It should be stocked with most of what you need, and we will go and fill it from the castle stores with any missing ingredients.” said Master Osman.
And so it was that that Ali set out of the castle, early in the morning. He was carrying a fully stocked potions kit and a communication mirror, as well as any extra supplies needed for the journey. He pulled out and read his carefully crafted map and set out in the direction of the Lake of Unsuna. It would take him two days to reach his destination, and once he reached there he needed to acquire the first quest ingredient. It was essential to add the first quest ingredient, before adding any other ingredients.
His journey to the lake was unremarkable, and he easily set up his cauldron and brewing station on the shore of the lake. The first ingredient he needed was water from an underwater spring that flowed from within a mer-person’s home. The only spring that fit this description was located in the palace of the exiled Mer-Prince Hanul, who was a notorious recluse. Ali put on his magical re-breather and dived into the lake. He found the palace easily and when he explained that he came from the King’s court, he was led inside by a smiling mermaid. For three hours he waited, but he had yet to see the mer-prince. He was disheartened and insisted that he had to see the prince urgently. The mer-people just tittered at his insistence and told him to wait.
This repeated the whole day until Ali got so frustrated that he distracted the guard with a minor light spell and barged into the Prince’s chamber uninvited. The prince’s chamber was huge with beautiful and strange inlays and drawings all over it, the prince was laying in the middle on a giant clam shell, playing with what seemed like a blue rose. When Ali entered the Prince nonchalantly looked up and lazily asked, “Who are you?”
Ali bowed immediately and related his tale to the prince. “Hmm,” said the prince, “so you want to collect water from the spring, why should I let you?”
“I will do whatever you want in return for this boon, your highness.” Ali offered uncertainly.
“Entertain me.” replied the prince. “If I find my boredom lifted, then I will allow you to collect the water.”
Over the next two days, Ali tried everything. From all the jokes he knew, to stories, to any funny costume he could make on the fly, he even tried a few spells, though they were not his forte. Yet the prince remained unmoved, he did not crack even a single smile. By this point Ali was desperate, he needed that first ingredient within the week, as the potion required a full 17 days to brew, and he only had a month in total.
On the third day he was returning after yet another failure, when bumped into a mermaid gouing the other way. He apologized and was about to move on when he noted that the mermaid looked very sad. He asked her what was wrong and she related to him that she had lost the princes favourite dolphin and was dreading her punishment.
Ali felt bad for her and decided to help her look for it. They both searched high and low, and they finally found the fish. It had escaped its kennel and snuck into the prince’s chamber. If it was discovered that the mermaid (her name was Indeel) had lost the fish, she would get beheaded so Ali concocted a plan to get the fish back in the kennel, without getting discovered by the prince. Ali would keep the prince and his guards occupied and Indeel would capture and replace the dolphin.
Ali knew it was a crazy idea, but that afternoon he brewed a sleeping draft and stealthily, Indeel poured it into the guard’s food. The prince was too well protected for them to able to contaminate his food, but Ali thought of a mild transfiguration draught that worked even when it touched skin. It would turn the prince into a goldfish for ten minutes.
With the plan thus set, they launched it at the evening meal and Indeel was able to get the dolphin out of the room and into the stables without a hitch. Everyone in the prince’s court was shocked and panicked when all the guards passed out and Prince seemed to disappear. Within ten minutes, the prince reverted back and five minutes later the guards also woke up.
The prince immediately ordered the guard to capture Ali, and asked him, “What was the meaning of this?! How dare you attack me in my own home?”
“Your highness, I was just trying to amuse you-“ Ali tried to say.
The prince was no fool however, and interrupting him said, “You would not be able to do this without help. Find his accomplice!” He ordered his guards to search the palace for any persons that seemed out of place and Indeel was soon captured loitering outside the hall. Knowing that the jig was up, Ali tried to take the blame but Indeel would not let him and told the entire tale to the prince.
The princes’ face was inscrutable, and he turned to Ali and said, “Let me see if I understood this tale correctly, you drugged me and my guards, infiltrated my private chambers and all to return a dolphin to its kennel?”
“Your highness, I can explain-“ this time Ali was interrupted by laughter, the Prince was laughing. The entire court was silent, and many had their mouths hanging open in astonishment.
“Hahahaha, you are the most ridiculous human I have ever met!” the prince spluttered out, in between his bouts of laughter. It was a good seven or eight minutes later that the Prince finally stopped chuckling and turned to regard Ali, with an amused and almost fond expression on his face. “ Ah, I have been bested by you indeed, young human. To think that it did not even occur to you to steal what you want, even after you succeeded in making my security look like a joke. Your actions are most honorable. I will allow you to collect the water you need. I hope you will return to visit us sometime, o young wizard.”
Ali, flabbergasted, yet immensely relieved and overjoyed, followed the guards to the spring and finally collected the first ingredient.
His next step was to return to the shore and, following the recipe, he lit a fire under the cauldron using mahogany wood chips only. He added the spring water to the cauldron and chanted the necessary ritual words, while adding the other initial ingredients. He brewed on the edge of the late for five days, then set the potion to simmer. It was time to collect the next ingredient.
To be continued…