Everyone these days knows about the philosopher’s stone, aka the elixir of life. For alchemists, it was the ultimate objective, symbolizing alchemical perfection, transforming base metal into gold. We all know how it, in book form, transformed the life of JK Rowling via a certain Harry Potter. But it was meant to have other properties too, quite apart from rendering anyone who consumed a small part of it healthy and immortal. It could, for instance be used to construct perpetually burning lamps, revive dead plants, turn crystals into diamonds, or create a clone or golem, traditionally out of inanimate materials such as clay or wood. These were nothing more than dumb, obedient robots, with no thoughts of their own. Ideal for the washing up and taking out the trash!
Alchemy and its study provides rich pickings for storytellers, like me, to this day. In the Obsidian Pebble, alchemical symbols play a vital part in solving some of the puzzles. Just how big a part can only be found by reading the book. But here’s a little taster.
“Look at all these symbols.” Ruff let his fingers trace the carvings that covered two panelled walls. “Think it’s a code?”
“I think you’re spending too much time on Labyrinth Quest on the Xbox,” Oz muttered.
Ruff looked up from his examination of the panelling. “Hey, I’m only on level four. There’re six more to complete.” He turned back to inspect the symbols, muttering distractedly. “Think there’s any hidden treasure in this old place, Oz? And if we found any would you split it with us? Maybe I wouldn’t have to help my dad paint freezing chalets if we found a hidden lost masterpiece, or a medieval chalice or something. You know, I bet there are secret passages behind these walls.”
“Well, I wish you’d hurry up and find them so you could get lost in one. We’re supposed to be doing research here,” Ellie said irritably.
“There’s no need to get your thong in a knot.”