Herman Fuller Presents: The Amazing Zoltan
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The following is a page from a publication entitled To the Circus Born: Herman Fuller's Menagerie of Freaks. The identities of neither publisher nor author have been established, and scattered pages have been found inserted into Circus-themed books in libraries across the world. The person or persons behind this dissemination are unknown.

The Amazing Zoltan

To the Circus Born

Alchemical consultants are always in high demand among the anomalous community, even by our enemies. The Jailors, the Book Burners, even the Mad Men use alchemists. Sarkists use us, Mekhanites use us, and the alchemists working for Marshall, Carter and Dark are rich beyond compare.

And here I am, working for scrip at this godforsaken Circus.

I was doing my apprenticeship at Ed and Al's in the Utterly Bazaar when Fuller waltzes in the front door and starts spewing some poppycock about wanting a philosopher's stone made from molasses. Herman was well over a hundred at that point, I'm sure. He had maintained his youth through the use of Astrakhan Springwater, though he didn't have a reliable source of it and wanted something more permanent. He had tried a black market White Worm, and I've been told that ended badly. When he couldn't afford to use MC&D's soul-sucking contraption he tried to steal it, and that was such a fiasco that they wouldn't even do business with us again until after Icky took over.

Anyway, he comes into the shop wanting us to make him a philosopher's stone out of molasses. Willing to pay a fortune for it too. Ed and Al tell him he's nuts, but I - being a cocky little piece of shit at the time - swear I can do it. Ed and Al forbid me to get involved because they (rightfully) wanted nothing to do with this lunacy, so I quit and go to work for Fuller directly. Ruined my life.

The thing about elixirs is they've got to be tailored to the individual, created during the proper astrological conditions and consumed under complimentary conditions. I was also working with this stuff called Tilly's Thaumaturgical Treacle, which was already magic so in my mind that just made it easier. Big mistake. Its innate magic caused all manner of unforeseen side effects and made it impossible to purify.

A proper philosopher's stone is supposed to be a red or at most a reddish purple glassy rock. Mine was bluish purple. Shiny, but not exactly glassy. Herman was understandably reluctant to use it, so he insisted we test it. I tried to explain that it wouldn't work right on anyone else, but he wouldn't hear any of it.

He dissolved some of it into a chalice, did the required rites and offered it to Waldorf, the Human Cannon Ball. He figured an immortal stuntman would be quite the asset. The elixir did work, technically. It set off a chain reaction that turned his entire body into rock candy. He was still alive and probably could have lived like that indefinitely, if not for the fact that Clowns love candy. They practically went feral at the sight of him. Ate him alive. I can still hear him screaming.

Fuller was outraged. He grabbed the stone, pinned me to the ground, and using some kind of henomancy he melted the thing into my skull. That's how I got my 'third eye'.

So now I have a tainted, botched philosopher's stone that was designed for someone else permanently embedded in my body. Its presence continually destabilizes, imbalances, and corrupts my humours as well as taints my elan vital energy, the exact effect changing with the position of the stars. I can manage the effects with potions and whatnot, but my dreams of being a great alchemist are six feet under.

Even though I can never be a proper mage or alchemist with this thing in my head, Herman demanded I join his Circus permanently to 'pay off the debt' he decided I owed him. Maybe that was his plan all along, or at least a contingency.

I was never able to give him the elixir he wanted, but I did make a few horribly deformed homunculi for him. Mostly though I tell people their fortunes and transmute quartz into crappy diamonds. Now that Herman's gone I could technically leave, but I have nowhere to go. A day doesn't go by that I don't think about how much better my life would have been if I just never agreed to help Fuller all those years ago.

I guess you could say I'm as bitter as blackstrap molasses about the whole thing.


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