Subject: Maria Amiel
Location: Western Europe
Time Period: 1527 CE
Video Summary: "Please wait while we synchronize the DDS. Close your eyes and try to relax. Inhale deeply, exhale. Inhale, again exhale. That's it.
"The Renaissance. As early as 14th century, Italian scholars began to reexamine classical lore. Triggering revitalization of knowledge throughout Europe. You will explore the memories on one of the Paracelsus's assistants, Maria Amiel. Please report your findings."
I have cut short my visit to Mother. Though I was happy to see her and my sisters, I cannot say the same about her new husband. Besides, I have neglected my duties long enough.
I open the door to Professor von Hohenheim's laboratory. "Maria!" A tall man with a swarthy complexion stands next to him. He stares at me, mouth agape.
- "Maria!" I almost fail to recognize the professor's voice. "I did not expect you so soon!" The stranger smiles when I glance at him.
- "Maria!" Frantically, Bombastus piles sheets in front of him, forming an uneven pyramid on his desk. What is he trying to hide?
- The professor wets his lips, searching the room with wide eyes. When his gaze finally rests on his companion, he stops fidgeting with the paper.
- The professor takes a deep breath and smiles at me. There can be no doubt: something is definitely wrong!
- Bombastus introduces his colleague, Signor Giovanni Borgia, Duke of Nepi. He bows and greets me with a silky voice. Mechanically, I salute our guest.
- Sheets of paper glide to the floor as Bombastus quickly puts his hands behind his back. He took something from the table, I'm sure of it. The Old Devil!
Nothing to hideEdit
Bombastus keeps his hands behind his back, his ashy forehead glistening with sweat. I can tell that he has not slept in days.
- "What is going on here?" I recognize Mother in my tone of voice and instantly regret having spoken so impertinently. The professor is a great man.
- Bombastus' eyes are so wide I fear they are going to burst out of his head. He stares intently at his friend and manages to croak, "Giovanni?"
- The stranger explains that he has come to seek the professor's wisdom, that he has some questions for him.
- Bombastus is eager to answer Signor Borgia's questions, and glad to change the subject. His hands move behind his back, as if slipping something in a pocket. I pretend not to notice.
- Sensing his guest's hesitation, the professor explains that he can speak infront of me, that I am his most trustworthy assistant.
- I do not fully follow the conversation, for Signor Borgia speaks mainly in riddles only the professor understands. I remain quiet, nodding and smiling politely when expected to do so.
Signor Borgia's voice rises, and so does his temper. Bombastus remains elusive, uttering gibberish. Despite Borgia's insistence, the professor has not answered a single question. Nothing unusual.
- "The answers we seek are in this book of yours!" Signor Borgia must refer to the tome Bombastus keeps under lock and key. Three years as his assistant and I have yet to see it.
- "The book is not the answer! The book is... is not..." The professor sneers and turns his back on Signor Borgia. "I can help you no longer!"
- "Bombastus!" Borgia puts a hand on the professor's shoulder. Bombastus shrinks under his touch, terrified. "Remember what I have given you."
- There is ice in Borgia's voice. For a long moment the two men glare at each other. The silence is unbearable. I fear Signor Borgia will strike Bombastus, but he does not budge.
- Finally, the professor relents. "The book is incomplete." His voice is barely audible. "For the answers you seek... you will need the other half."
- Bombastus does not know how to find the missing half. He says he is too busy to help and seems not to care, yet he offers my services to Signor Borgia.
I spend a week in the university's library, but find nothing concerning the other part of Bombastus' tome, which he believes to be titled "Divine Science."
- Though he often seems lost in his own thoughts, Giovanni is courteous and insightful. He is a delight to work with and he treats me with respect.
- Giovanni reveals that Bombastus transmuted silver into gold. Giovanni wrote the formula himself; he had seen it materialize on a blank page in Bombastus' tome.
- "Perhaps you had a vision of what the missing half contains," I muse. Giovanni's face brightens. We now know what to look for!
- We read every book dealing with transmutation in the library. There! An old journal detailing the life of a French alchemist believed to have turned lead into gold.
- I investigate further. The French alchemist, whose name was Flamel, based his recipe on the teachings of Abraham of Würzburg.
- I learn that Abraham's knowledge was divided in two manuscripts: "True Magic" and "Divine Science!" We must find the book Flamel used! We must go to Paris!
City of LightsEdit
Giovanni and I prepare for our journey to Paris. It is not proper for an unmarried woman to travel alone with a stranger, not to mention dangerous, but I am excited to go to France.
Journey to ParisEdit
Mother would be appalled to learn of our travel arrangements, so I decide not to inform her. I will write to her when we return to Basel.
- Bombastus is too busy to bid us farewell. Not surprising. I have hardly seen him these past two weeks. I wonder if he approves of our journey. I do not ask.
- The carriage we share is simple, but surprisingly comfortable. Mother would have liked it. Our driver is a quiet, tooth less old man. She would not have liked him.
- We travel alone to Besançon. I am eager to learn about Giovanni's adventures in the New World. He met cannibals there! We talk the whole night through.
- In Besançon, we meet a group of merchants going to Paris. It is safer to travel with them. Giovanni continues to be the perfect gentleman.
- Giovanni and I share our thoughts on many subjects. We are becoming fast friends, but he is more reflective as we approach our destination.
- Paris is even more magnificent than I had imagined. I could lose myself in this place! How glad I am to be here!
I yearn to visit the city, but Giovanni is eager to find any trace of Flamel's book. I share his enthusiasm, but not his obsession. He is well travelled. I am not.
- Flamel's tome will not be easy to unearth. I am overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. I need to focus.
- I do not know how, but Giovanni has obtained permission to consult the royal library at the Louvre. I can scarcely believe it!
- The royal library is rich with secrets. I find Nicolas Flamel's last will and testament. His wife's nephew inherited an old grimoire. Giovanni believes it is the book we seek.
- Giovanni uncovers interesting rumors; stories of people matching the Flamels in appearance, performing miracles. Can it be? Are they still alive?
- Unfortunately, Perenelle Flamel's nephew is long dead. We begin to search for living relatives. Perhaps they know something about the grimoire.
- It takes a few days, but I finally identify one of the nephew's living descendants. Giovanni easily locates him. He insists we visit him at first light.
It is late when we leave the royal library. We are tired, but Giovanni is in a merry mood as we return to our hostel.
- We stroll along the Seine, whispering and laughing. Giovanni delicately takes my hand into his. I let him. What would Mother think? We continue to walk in silence.
- We are deeper in to the city. Giovanni suddenly stops, motioning me to keep quiet. Distraught, I put a hand on the handle of my stiletto.
- Brigands move out of the shadows, surrounding us. We have walked into an ambush!
- The leader stares at my chest. He tells his men they will have some fun tonight. I turn to Giovanni, and am surprised to see him smile.
- Before I have time to draw my weapon, Giovanni disarms one assailant and kicks another in the chest. He is incredibly fast! And unbelievably good!
- The fight is over before it even begun. The brigands run, bruised and bleeding. My protector tells me he learned to fight in the New World.
I am happy to meet Giovanni for breakfast, but I ponder about what I witnessed last night. Have I imagined him such a brilliant fighter?
- I follow Giovanni to the residence of the man we seek. The old man greets us with suspicion, refusing to even speak to us at first. But Giovanni is a persistent and charming man.
- Eventually, the old fellow tells us that his cousin, Jacques Henri, inherited Flamel's grimoire, as well as other paraphernalia.
- We meet Henri and learn that he could not care less about the alchemist's inheritance. He agrees to sell us everything for a few coins!
- We have the grimoire! We make our way back to our hostel, my heart resounding like thunder in my chest. In Giovanni's room, I place the book on the table.
- We peruse the grimoire. It details ancient hermetic practices and is filled with strange symbols and numbers, which remind me of the teachings of Pythagoras.
- Giovanni does not share my enthusiasm. "It was translated by human hands." He claims nothing short of the original manuscript will do.
The "Cimetière des innocents" is a disconcerting place. Tonight, a thick mist covers the ground and spirits whisper in the wind. I tighten my cloak.
- I ask Giovanni to remind me why we are doing this. "To prove or disprove a rumor," he replies, grinning.
- Using an iron bar, Giovanni forces the crypt door open. It makes a terrible screeching sound in protestation. I think about Mother.
- We should not be doing this. It is sacrilege. Sensing my hesitation, Giovanni stares at me for a long moment. "I can do this alone, if you prefer."
- "No." My voice quivers. "We are as one in this." He nods and enters. I follow, barely fitting beside him in the narrow crypt.
- Giovanni skillfully removes the lid from the tomb upon which the name "Nicolas Flamel" is written. It hits the floor with a loud thud.
- The tomb is empty! And so is his wife's. A chill runs down my spine. Are the rumors true? Are Nicolas and Perenelle still among us?
Although we have found Flamel‘s grimoire, I fear Giovanni's quest is just beginning. Only Abraham's original manuscript will satisfy him. I am determined to help him, for better or for worse.
Giovanni is quiet as we prepare to return to Basel, but he insists that we visit Troyes on our way back.
- I know not why he wants to go there, but he is adamant. Perhaps it has something to do with the book we seek, but I doubt it.
- As we approach the city, Giovanni becomes distant, haunted by reveries. What does he expect to find in Troyes?
- Giovanni's mood continues to darken. When we enter Troyes, he calls it the "Vipers' Nest." It is only a whisper. I do not dare question him.
- Much of the city was destroyed by fire, but in only three years its inhabitants have rebuilt it. I follow Giovanni to an inauspicious inn. The proprietor is dirty and boorish. How I miss Paris!
- Giovanni rents a single room. "To insure your protection," he explains apologetically. I do not mind. He is not his usual self, but I trust him with my life.
- Giovanni does not sleep and remains by the window, watchful. He has barely uttered a word since yesterday. I wonder what troubles him.
Giovanni is in better spirits this morning and insists on taking me on a tour of the city. We pass many newly built, half-timbered houses on our way to the market.
- We linger near Troyes' cathedral. As I admire St. Peter's tower, Giovanni carefully examines the site, noting every detail.
- The market bustles with activity. I am busy scrutinizing the work of a local clothier when I realize I have lost sight of Giovanni.
- A stranger greets me; a simple red cross decorates his drab tunic. He asks me peculiar questions, as if he knows who I am.
- Giovanni suddenly appears behind the stranger, as though materializing out of the crowd. He does not look at me and his features are set in stone.
- My interlocutor stops mid sentence. He stares no longer at me but in to nothingness. He crumbles upon the ground! Nearby, a woman screams.
- The crowd quickly disperses. Giovanni grabs my arm and pulls me away, his fingers digging deeply into my skin. Numbly, I follow.
Giovanni drags me through a maze of streets. We move at a pace I can scarcely follow and his hold upon me hurts. I am too dazed to protest.
- Bemused, I let him guide me until I am completely lost. Our mad race is over, but Giovanni does not release me. He is furious!
- What is happening? Is Giovanni jealous? Suddenly, I panic! Is he responsible for my interlocutor's sudden death?
- The man crumbled the moment Giovanni appeared behind him. Impossible! Yet...
- Giovanni pushes me against a wall and a thin blade sprouts from under his wrist. It feels cold upon my neck, but not as much as Giovanni's glare.
- "Why were you conspiring with the Viper?" His voice has an edge colder than his blade. I can no longer hold my tears.
- For a long time, Giovanni gazes into my eyes, his fury gradually melting. His hold upon me remains strong, but I stop trembling. We kiss, passionately.
Our embrace lasts forever, but eternity is much too short. Giovanni eventually pulls away. "We must leave the city. Now!"
- Never in my life have I felt so passionate about anyone. I would follow this man to Hell! I smile and nod at Giovanni, waiting for him to lead the way.
- We walk through quiet streets and back alleys. Before I have a chance to question him, Giovanni admits that he murdered the man in the market.
- I am not surprised, nor am I scared. Not anymore. The man was an enemy of Giovanni's Order –what ever that is– and a messenger returning from Basel. Giovanni shows me a letter.
- How Giovanni managed to steal it, I will never know. The letter explains our quest and provides detailed descriptions of both of us. We have been betrayed!
- Giovanni's enemies will stop at nothing to get us. Troyes is their nest. It was here that their Order was made public, centuries ago.
- The messenger must have talked to Bombastus, for no one else knew about our quest. The professor could be in danger. Either that or he betrayed us.
Giovanni helps me scale the city's wall. We are out of Troyes, but a long way from safety. "Hurry!" I follow him into darkness.
- Before noon, we hear horses approaching. We hide in thick bushes as men ride past us. "Minions of the Cross," Giovanni whispers. We are safe... for now.
- We cross a stream when a rider spots us! We run through the nearby wood until I am out of breath. No! A falcon cries overhead!
- Three riders are upon us! Giovanni bounces off a tree trunk and jumps upon one of the Templars' men. I hear the sound of metal against metal.
- Forcing the rider off his horse, Giovanni falls on him, his victim already dead. Using the trees, Giovanni easily avoids his foes' assaults.
- Giovanni tosses sparkling powder in the nearest man's face. He clutches his eyes, screaming. Giovanni silences him.
- The last one cuts Giovanni. He struggles, just dodging the falconer’s blows. Then, Giovanni hurls a knife into his throat. The battle is over.
Let no ManEdit
We frequently change clothes and travel companions on our way back to Basel. Thanks to Giovanni's cunning, we avoid further trouble.
Although we are rarely alone, Giovanni and I enjoy precious moments of intimacy during our journey. I am almost sad to return to Basel.
- We are careful not to get noticed as we enter the city. We do not dare go to the university, so I bring Giovanni to a trusted colleague's house.
- Ivan’s wife, Lara, is almost as shy as her husband. Ivan has not returned from the university, but Lara invites us in. She serves us tea while we wait for him.
- "Ma-ma-ma-Maria!" Ivan almost drops his books when he sees me. "You-you're back!" He salutes Giovanni, avoiding eye contact. Typical.
- Ivan hugs his books, as if drawing strength from them. "Pro-pro-professor von Ho-ho-Hohenheim..." Fearing the worse, I ask, "What is it?"
- Ivan stares at the floor. "He is ma-ma-MAD!" He sobs. "To-totally MAD!"
- Lara explains that Professor von Hohenheim has insulted every physician at the university. He even got into a brawl with Doctor von Rothenburg.
While we were away, Professor von Hohenheim publicly renounced traditional medical treatments and methods.
- Professor Krause tells me Bombastus begged every doctor in Basel to stop their "unholy" practices. In a mad fit of anger, he threw medical books at other professors!
- Bombastus is an arrogant man, but I have always suspected that he enjoyed defying authority, like refusing to lecture in Latin. This time, he went too far.
- I locate the professor during St. John's Day celebrations. Unfortunately, I am too late to prevent him from further angering Basel's intellectual community.
- Bombastus stands next to the bonfire in front of the Münster, dirty and disheveled. The dancing flames distort his features, making him look possessed.
- I can scarcely believe it! He is burning books!
- Giovanni pulls the professor away. In defiance, Bombastus throws one last volume into the fire. "Let no man who can belong to himself be of another!" he shouts angrily.
Giovanni drags Bombastus to a deserted alley. The professor does not fight him, but continues to yell insanities. What are we going to do?
- As if he had read my mind, Giovanni gags Bombastus. "Perhaps Ivan and his wife could take care of him?" I suggest, doubting anyone could.
- Lara is not happy, but she agrees to look after the professor. We soon realize that none of what he says makes sense. He has lost his mind!
- Ivan's scream awakens me. Bombastus is gone! Ivan vows to find him, but Giovanni is convinced that there is nothing anyone can do for him. Sadly, I agree.
- We are ready to leave Basel. I know not where Giovanni will lead me, but I trust him. However, we must make one last stop before we depart.
- We break into Bombastus' laboratory. It is in shambles. Giovanni finds a secret compartment under the professor's desk and easily unlocks it.
- Giovanni takes Bombastus' mysterious tome. I want to read it, but Giovanni will not let me. "No! The lore it holds— the formulas— will corrupt you."
I sit near the fireplace reading Professor von Hohenheim's "Die grosse Wundartznei" when Giovanni bursts into the room. "We must leave immediately!"
- "But I know better than to argue with you, husband. Once your mind is set on something..." We laugh. Giovanni takes me in his arms.
- Long years have passed since we first met in Basel, but my heart still skips a beat every time Giovanni touches me.
- "So what did the Assassin find in this temple?" I ask. Giovanni puts me down and says, "Nothing." I roll my eyes. Why am I not surprised? "And you believe..."
- "I do!" There is a sparkle in Giovanni's eyes. "We must go to this place, Maria. I know there is something there. I know it! Trust me!"
- "I always have," I laugh. "And look where it has gotten me!"
- The road to Rome is uneventful. We go straight to the entrance of the catacombs that will lead us to Giovanni's forgotten temple.
Giovanni lowers me into the catacombs. I have the definite impression that no one has set foot in here in decades. There is something eerie about this place.
- The catacombs are dark, musty, and damp. The torch I carry illuminates our path, but it does little to warm my heart. I shiver.
- We pass through a chamber filled with sarcophagi. "Remind me again why I married you?" I try to sound cheerful, but Giovanni knows me too well.
- "Because I charmed you off your feet and never let you down!" He grins, pretending not to notice how distraught I am. The Old Devil!
- Most tunnels have been excavated from solid soil, but here and there brick walls reinforce the ceiling. I jump when a handful of rats scurry away.
- The walls here are made from human skulls. I hesitate. "We are almost there!" Giovanni says encouragingly.
- Giovanni stands in front of a wall that looks identical to most others. "Here we are!" Even after all these years, he never ceases to amaze me.
Giovanni pushes a few bricks and a wide section of the wall creaks open. We enter a circular chamber, but it is not the heart of the temple.
- I follow Giovanni through several adjoining rooms. In the middle of a vast chamber, he lights an urn, which creates a trail of fire! "Almost there..."
- Strange symbols are engraved upon this wall. Giovanni switches some of the bricks, rearranging the pattern, as if he had been here before.
- A door opens. "This is it!" Giovanni can barely contain his excitement. We walk into the next chamber, the strangest place I have ever visited.
- The walls come alive! A brilliant light washes over them, forming eerie patterns, numbers, and glyphs, as it fills every cavity on their surfaces.
- Giovanni drops to the floor, unconscious. I kneel beside him. His eyes suddenly open, but a stranger gazes at me. Giovanni's face alters before my very eyes!
- "I am Consus, the Erudite God," he says in a distant, unfamiliar voice. It is not my husband who addresses me, but an entity much older.