Guthric rushed down the spiral staircase, his feet slapping against the damp steps. As he reached the bottom, he could see Benedict in the far corner, partly obscured in the dark. He shivered in the chill. “You called?” he said.

“Rejoice Guthric, my good fellow, rejoice! Mark this day as a change in the fortunes of man, and specifically this man. For I have turned base metals into gold!” said Benedict, still with his back turned towards his friend.

Guthric looked around at the frankly bewildering scene before him. On a long table was laid out a bubbling fury of potions, pots and machinery. It was difficult to make sense of the commotion, but the longer he stared the more clearly a narrative defined itself. At one end was a jar of coarse metal, dark and dirty. Next to this was a simmering pot with a long, slim pipe emerging from the top, emitting a blueish smoke. That smoke was then sucked through a swooping contraption of pipes, condensed, boiled, recondensed and finally dripping into another jar at the opposite end of the table. From where he was standing, Guthric could make out the faintest glimmer. GOLD! He was shaking again, but this time with thrilled anticipation rather than the cold. They were rich, rich as Croesus. The only dark note was a faint thought that Benedict would try and double cross him. He resolved to check the contracts as soon as possible. Or perhaps…

Benedict broke into his murderous thoughts. “Yes, I’ve just received an email from Schroeders. That tin mine in Burkina Faso I took a punt on has just been taken over by Rio Tinto. I’ll be damned if we see anything less than 11 or 12% return. I think this calls for a few craft ales. What do you say, old friend?” He reached for his coat. “By the way that new test for benzoyl peroxide is looking promising. Did you hear back from SmithKline’s lawyers?” 

“Ja, zey sent over a fax this morning,” said Guthric, desperately trying to recompose himself.

“Fax! I tell you, old chap, those bloody city scalpers are stuck in the dark ages!


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