One of the most ancient alchemical quests involves the search for alkahest, a universal solvent.

The definition of alkahest varies from from one alchemist to another.  To some, alkahest is a solvent that will reduce composed material into its component parts.

This type of alkahest would be particularly useful to alchemists  who wish to redefine magic on their terms.  In theory, they could break magical potions down into components, measure the proportions, and mix identical potions that would have the same effect.  Early attempts have been disappointing, but they have raised intriguing new questions as to why the reconstructed potions do not have the same effect as the original.  Some alchemists postulate that the potion’s elements can be broken into into even more basic substances–substances not yet discovered or defined.  Others believe there is an unidentified component, something common to all such potions, that, if isolated, could become a source of enormous power.  Still others believe the fault lies with the alkahest and continue to refine the solvents used.

Most alchemists consider these studies fanciful, if not downright heretical.  Accepted wisdom states that a universal solvent is impossible. The alkahest conundrum points out that before a universal solvent can be compounded, one must first find a container that it will not dissolve.

The alkahest conundrum is generally regarded as one of those questions alchemists regard as an exercise of reason and everyone else considers pure nonsense.  This is not to say that alchemists don’t research solvents:  They do, and some of these compounds have powerful applications in medicine, art, and warefare.

There are, however, a few on the fringes of alchemy who still seek the theoretical ideal.

One such alchemist, a man who is known only as Avidan and only to a very few people, has made great strides toward true alkahest.  His success is based largely on his choice of container:  a dragon’s tooth.  Avidan argues that alkahest is specific to the realm in which it is compounded. Dragons, being creatures from another realm, are not affected.

Flasks made from ancient dragon teeth are not difficult to find in Sevrin, when antiquities and curiosities are a cultural passion.  Thanks to his friendship with Fox Winterborn, a skilled thief, Avidan possesses the finest collection of dragon teeth in the city.

Avidan believes he could do better still if he could find a living dragon.  Since no dragons have been seen for many human generations, Avidan’s friends view this goal as yet more evidence that the alchemist is as crazy as three caged squirrels.


Scribe’s note:

The dragon tooth flask pendant depicted is the work of the artists at Remnants of Olde. For more information, including how to purchase such an artifact for your own nefarious purposes, please follow this link.