Removing Doubt

…Do you feel this…"Foundation" will be enough? These are men of science, not wisdom. Without Alchemy, can they "contain" these anomalies as they claim?…

-Excerpt, Recording of the Meeting of Elders, 1722
First known reference of the term Foundation referring to The SCP Foundation

Ruslav stood over the shallow grave, and held his hands out. His fingers slowly weaved a pattern through the terenous flows around them, carving a thin line in to the heavy stone that served as a crude headstone. "Here lies Perenelle Flammel. Wife, mother, dedicated Alchemist."

"She did not deserve this death." His voice was a gravelly rumble, carrying over the windswept, snow-covered plain. The man standing beside him carried a ropy scar across his jaw, down to his chest.

"She didn't. But I thank you for doing this anyway. She would have been honored to be buried in your homeland, Ruslav." Nicholas Flammel's voice had changed from the original lilting, almost mocking tone to a harsh snarl since the war had taken a downturn. This was the fifth such friend they'd buried together this week. His right arm flexed, in to a tight fist. The air around him began to shimmer with the gathering of the aethers. Around the stump which was all that remained of his left forearm and hand, the aethers swirled in to a nearly-visible sheen.

"Nicholas. It's not the time. Save it for those that deserve it. We must journey to—" Ruslav's hand reached out for the older Alchemist, but the remaining third of the man's left arm slapped his hand away.

"No. Damn your plan, Ruslav. Damn you, and damn it. While we've been busy trying to gather together the links, our people are dying to the bastard Alaggaddan's hordes." Nicholas let the power he'd gathered disspiate, in to the air around him. The aethers were chaotic at best since the war had reached a fever pitch, and lent themselves easily to destructive ends.

Ruslav concentrated, and smoothed the flows around Nicholas, letting the Igneous and Tenebrous aethers return to balance.

"I…dammit. I'm sorry Ruslav." As the energies returned to balance, the tension fell out of Nicholas Flammel's shoulders. He reached in to his cloak, and pulled out a small silver flask, taking a small sip.

"Think nothing of it. It was not you. We should go, it's not safe here." Ruslav moved his hands in a slow circle, the air in front of him growing opaque, as the fabric between this world, and the Dark Between the Ways parted. "Kormulast is still safe for us to move through. Elder Trismegstus is waiting for us."

The two alchemists stepped through the portal, which closed without a sound behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a figure beyond the treeline opened a portal to a similar world, across the heavens, and stepped through in to darkness.

…They are sincere in their desires. With the fall of the college, what choice do we have? They will be enough, or they will not. They will either save this world, or it will fall to Alagadda. We can do nothing except follow through on our part…

-Excerpt, Recording of the Meeting of Elders, 1722

As the portal closed behind the two elders, a figure slipped out of the shadows in the dull yellow stone of the alley they'd emerged in. Elder Trismestus smiled at the two as they shook the ice of the transition off of their cloaks. "Elders. I'm glad to see you safe."

Nicholas' face lit up seeing his ally and teacher in the flesh for the first time in three years. "Elder. They're sending you to run errands now, we must truly be desperate." His face split in to an easy smile as he embraced his instructor in alchemy.

Elder Trigsmegstus' face fell as he backed up from Elder Flammel. "Nicholas, you…don't know?"

Ruslav took a step forward, "What has happened?"

The Eldest turned his face away, and grimmaced. "The Citadel at Ebril has fallen. The Black Queen cracked the dome over the meeting hall, and The Leviathan made a move. They…all of the Apprentices and Journeymen at Ebril are dead. Most of the members at Alchemist level didn't survive either. All of the Elders and Magi managed to shield themselves in time from the onslaught."

Nicholas' face went white, "Onslaught of what?"

Trisgismestus turned completely away from them. "Everything. Every disease The Leviathan has ever visited upon our world was dropped at once. The weight of the motes of disease alone were enough to crush nearly a quarter of the dome. Ebril is a graveyard."

Ruslav's hands shook slightly, as he tried to wrap his mind around what was in front of him. "The…I do not…" The normally unshakeable Alchemist was at a loss for words. "Who is left?"

The Eldest waved them to a pink basalt door, which opened to a well-lit room within a building on the side of the alley. They entered in to the quiet study and closed the door behind them.

Inside was a comfortably appointed library. On the shelves were dozens of volumes, written on finely ground stone paper. The shelves were a faintly glowing quartz, lit by some Alchemical means through the bedrock of the city itself. The ubiquitous grinding sound could still be heard in the distance, as the city itself ground its base slowly in to powdery salts, restored ever by the dedication of its alchemists.

"It gets worse, I'm afraid." Elder Trisgmestus lit a dozen small candles with a wave of his hand. "There was…defense, obviously. Wards, guardians, familiars all around the citadel. They were undone."

The two other elders looked at Trisgmestus expectantly. "Guolao betrayed us. He was in charge of the wards. My familiar reported to be as soon as they fell. He removed them, and stepped through a doorway to Alaggada. We've been betrayed again.

Elder Flamel's eyes practically smoldered with rage, as the weight of the betrayal hit him full force. "Guolao? As in, my apprentice, Zhang Guolao?"

Ruslav put a hand on Flamel's shoulder. "Elder, we must not—"

Flamel raised a hand, and turned away from the other two