Alchemy has been practiced in the Known Lands for hundred of years, but knowledge of this tradition reached Sevrin about fifty years ago. In its infancy, Sevrin alchemy was a central part of the plan to overthrow Eldreath, the sorcerer lord. This early focus determined the course of Sevrin’s approach to alchemy.
In the southern lands where it originated, alchemy is as a philosophy and spiritual tradition in addition to being a practical art. Personal transformation is considered to be the goal of wise men, and the notion of “changing base metals into gold” is a metaphor, not a literal quest.
In Sevrin, however, the search for alkahest, a universal solvent, became a search for alchemical weapons that could melt metal armor, burn with unquenchable flame, or cause noxious fumes that could stun or kill. Such weapons won Sevrin’s freedom from Eldreath and discourage other countries from attacking, but the price has been high.
Corin, a small island at the northern end of the chain of islands that make up Sevrin, is a casualty of those early experiments. Once a thriving community of fishing villages, small farms, and busy market town, it is all but deserted. Most people of Sevrin believe that Corin was destroyed by Eldreath’s sorcery.
Since the overthrow of Eldreath, Sevrin alchemy has diversified. Some adepts still focus on weapons, others lead the search for medicines that will cure ills and prolong life. Others focus on metals and craftsmanship, building clockwork machines that have become Sevrin’s most profitable export. These machines range from toys to safeboxes, from devious traps to musical instruments, from animated statues to small hand weapons. Two adepts, Rhendish and Muldonny, are famous for their clockwork guards. They jealously guard the secrets to these creations, however, and keep these metal servants strictly for their own use.