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Chapter 1: The Witch's Son
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Prologue: The Death of the Corpse You Are Here Interlude I: The First Murder

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

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On an ordinary summer morning in 1705, ten alchemy students—including Huey Laforet and Monica Campanella—convene for class at the Third Library. Though the topic of the morning lecture is supposed to be the usage of amalgamated gold and silver, Maestra Renee Parmedes Branvillier digresses heavily toward a discussion of repulsive forces—something that Huey notices but elects not to point out.

After the lecture, Renee announces that a new student will be joining the class come tomorrow. Huey quickly loses interest and returns to his book, only for Renee to add that the new student is similar to him and that she is counting on Huey's help. Huey considers this for a little while but ultimately decides not to care.

In class.

Once classes conclude in the evening, Huey gathers up his books and heads home via Lotto Valentino's marketplace. He stops at a storefront along the way to buy groceries, brooding over his hatred for the world all the while, and then heads for a back alley incline so that he can confront Monica – whom he had noticed following him from a distance.

Putting on a gentle smile, he says that he needs more time to think over her romantic confession from five days prior and asks if she will grant it; flushing, she stutters that he can take as much time as he needs. Once she pulls herself together, she reminds him that it is dangerous to be in the alleys what with the Mask Maker serial killer and delinquent Rotten Eggs terrorizing the city and accompanies him back into the safety of the marketplace.

As they maneuver through the crowded streets, Huey and Monica come across several men roughly manhandling a girl around their age. Huey tells Monica that they should leave and not interfere, but it is too late - they have caught the delinquents' attention, one of whom expresses a clear interest in Monica. Resigned, Huey jabs his fingers into the delinquent's eyes, kicks his groin, and crushes his Adam's apple. The man's friends retaliate by kicking Huey to the ground; as Huey falls, he grabs a nearby flowerpot and throws it at a nearby ox.

The ox, suitably enraged, rampages in their direction with a cart full of luggage in tow. Other cattle and horses in the area are quick to rampage in turn, and the marketplace is thrown into panicked chaos as people flee and stalls are overturned. One of the livestock-drawn carts throws the delinquents to the ground, giving Monica the opportunity to take the girl's hand and run.

Huey follows the two girls into an alley not far away, where the girl thanks them but warns them to not involve themselves with her: she is going to be killed soon by the Mask Maker, as she witnessed one of the Mask Maker's murders. If they involve themselves with her, they will be endangering their own lives.

A portly bald man enters the alley with the City Police in tow and accuses Huey and Monica of trying to kidnap his workshop employee Niki. He strikes Niki when she attempts to defend them, and kicks her repeatedly while the City Police place Huey and Monica under arrest. As the police escort them to the jailhouse, Huey silently reaffirms that the world is as wretched as ever.

Meanwhile in the northeast part of the city, Larolf Hancletia introduces himself to City Governor Esperanza C. Boroñal at the governor's manor as the City Police's new Chief. Despite the governor's eccentric appearance, he is clearly sane—much to Larolf's unease—and he asks Larolf for an update regarding the investigation into the Mask Maker. He is disappointed but not surprised that the police have no promising leads and, in professing his love for women, expresses his hatred toward the Mask Maker for killing women as they please. Though his plea for Larolf to protect everyone is sincere, Larolf interprets it as a threat and hastily departs the premises.

The Count is then visited by a black-cloaked figure, whom he appears to recognize. Their conversation is somewhat lopsided, with the figure coming off as bitter and Esperanza frustrated with his role—or lack thereof—in the Mask Maker situation. The figure slips away while Esperanza is complaining; with a quiet laugh, they don the Mask Maker's distinctive white mask.

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After a little while has passed, Huey and Monica are released from the jailhouse at the same time and leave the area together. Monica wonders why they were released so soon; Huey theorizes that one of their alchemy professors may have had something to do with it, and suggests to Monica that they say nothing of the unpleasant experience unless someone asks. She agrees without hesitation, looking oddly happy despite what they just went through; when Huey points this out, she explains that she is happy because she now has a shared memory with him.

Though Huey privately disdains such optimism and finds it 'astounding,' he does not let his true feelings show. He acknowledges that he initially pretended not to see Niki earlier when Monica asks, assuming that she will be disgusted by such an admission, but Monica is not; not only had she expected he would ignore Niki, she "thought it right, too" but did not have the confidence to go through with it.

The conversation subject switches to the new classmate Renee had mentioned during class. According to Monica, their classmates were disappointed by the allegation that the classmate is similar to Huey, as they assume that means the classmate will be disinclined to talk with them. She then asks if Huey is angry; when he says that he is not, she takes this as affirmation that he hates everyone and assures him that she already knew as much when she confessed her feelings for him.

Huey finally outright states that he does hate everyone, including her, and that he has no intentions of being friends with his classmates. His allusion to his past leads Monica to conclude that he just might get along with the new student after all: according to Renee, he is also the son of a witch.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Cultural References[edit | edit source]

  • Aqua Regia
  • Jabir Ibn Hayyan
  • Guericke
  • Savery's steam engine
  • Charles de Batz-Castelmore (D'Artagnan)
  • The Three Musketeers

Characters in Order of Appearance[edit | edit source]

Quotes[edit | edit source]

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