“Alchemy isn’t for everyone,” Sorvin said as he dipped his brush into a paint pot. Several moments passed in silence as he applied spiceberry red to his sketch of a whale-sized serpent. “That is why so many of our writings take the form of emblem books. The pictures work with the text, sometimes illuminating, sometimes obscuring or even contradicting.”

“And sometimes distracting.” Henderkin pointed to a painting of a female figure caught in a moment of transformation, not to mention nudity.

The alchemist smirked and shrugged.  “A man should enjoy his work.”

Henderkin picked up a book and turned several pages filled with strange runes and stranger woodcut art.  “This makes no sense to me.”

“And that, my dear brother, is entirely the point. Alchemy is the science of transformation.  It cannot be understood at a glance.  Understanding the true nature of things requires effort and discipline; seeing things as they might become requires far more.”

“And what’s wrong with the way things are?  The way they always have been?”  Henderkin dropped the book and folded sun-browned arms over his chest. “I’m a fisherman, like our father and his before him.  I notice you’re not too grand to eat the herring we catch.”

Sorvin glanced at the page he was illuminating, and the pattern of tiny fish half-hidden in the shadow of the great serpent. They swam in a mindless circle, oblivious to both the danger and the possibilities above them.

“Alchemy isn’t for everyone,” he repeated.