Santulím had not known joy such as he did in the Court of the Eagles. He worked and worked, heedless of whether Celem ruled the heavens or was in the period of his absence. His workspace was spacious and well stocked with all the marvelous materials known at that time. Santulím even had an assistant, a Jorian Wiseman brought up from the wild forests of Gom. Santulím, who knew the Jorians well, having been raised amongst them, treated the Wiseman with great respect, like the man was his teacher and less his assistant. Long periods of time were spent in conversation about the properties of various herbs and medicines known to the Jorians. Santulím used this wealth of knowledge to develop many potions and concoctions, which he often sent secretly to the old Alchemist in the lower markets. The Alchemist turned these new products into cures and eventually piles and piles of silver and gold, which he dutifully shared with Santulím.
But Santulím’s main tasks were on behalf of the Court, and he fulfilled these tasks to their utmost extent. He supervised the development of Celem Catchers for Court Retainers. He found that the glass side of mirrors could direct the power of Celem without the reflection of the silver backing, and made use of this to direct the rays at a further distance. Military commanders saw the benefits of these new tools for distracting the enemy, setting fire to their camps and battle lines. They made great use of the powerful weapon in their training, having large mirrors made that could be moved around on carriages. Santulím was often called out to inspect the workings of the contraptions and to suggest ways of improving them.
As Santulím’s position and status grew, he received visitors from the other trainees and even some of the more experienced scribes and alchemists. They came wishing to know the theories behind his work, but in reality they sought to find fault with the new Court favourite.
This is because many among the scribes and alchemists feared and despised Santulím. His success came as a cost to them. They also found in the pattern of his thinking something new and dangerous. Hearing him speak about how his Celem Catcher worked sounded, to them, of High Blasphemy, greatly disrespecting the Authorities and the Devotions put in place to honour them.
For his part, Santulím did not seem to care or notice the argumentative structure of his new friends’ enquiries. He despised sitting with a parchment and writing, much less sitting and philosophizing, preferring the busywork of Experimentation, rather than explaining what seemed obvious and straightforward to his mind.
–When they can see it work before their eyes.—said Santulím once, greatly exasperated, to his Jorian Wiseman.—they wish to close their eyes and speak of the parts they do not see. I will never understand or respect this method.—
–You would do well to remember their place in relation to yours—replied the Wiseman, a veteran of the Court.—for they may seek to ruin you.—
But Santulím did not heed this advice, and continued to live blithely in the Court, doing what he pleased and saying what he pleased. At first he continued his spare style of life, but, as the passages went on, Santulím learned to enjoy some of the benefits of Court life. He learned to eat fine things, wear nicer clothes and enjoy the admiring looks of others. His frenetic pace slowed and so did the number of new discoveries he made.
Nevertheless, in this period of time, Santulím managed to invent many objects of value to the Court, including a method of winding cord to make it stretch farther and spring faster (this eventually led to the creation of the crossbow) a type of poison that froze the blood and paralyzed the body (a key ingredient comes from the flowers of a tree that grows in the forest of Gom) and an herbal compound that made the subject insensitive to pain (a difficult process requiring the boiling and later crystallization of a powder derived from a lichen named goroldioa, which grows high in the mountains).
The King for his part greatly enjoyed the company of Santulím, often honored him in Court and asked for him to demonstrate his activities regularly.
–I have never seen any of my other Alchemists perform feats like you do, Santulím!—he shouted with pleasure.—Perhaps you could teach them something!—
The growing friendship between the King and Santulím set the scribes and alchemists even more on edge, and they decided it was time to do something.
They decided the only way to succeed in their cause was to enlist the aid of an official close to the King, the Chief Scribe Dondelios…