AW 1724. Zosa on Dezolis.
In a tiny back room Makarran the alchemist was on the verge of a discovery. This project had consumed eight months of his life. Eight months of testing, analyzing, experimenting. His notebook was filled with pages in his tightly crabbed handwriting, detailing every formula he'd tried along the way, what went right and what went wrong. By painstaking labor he'd discarded false leads, discovered unusual connections, and established the correct proportion of each reagent.
The alchemist's long-fingered, green-skinned hand carefully measured out each ingredient of the preparation—a spoonful of this, five drops of that added at precise three-second intervals. Stirring with a glass rod at exactly the right speed, fast enough to mix the ingredients but not so swiftly as to over-agitate the mixture and generate an unwanted, perhaps dangerous reaction. For nearly two hours Makarran labored with a will and determination that bordered on the fanatical, driven only by his dream, that elusive alchemical grail he'd sought mind and body, heart and soul for so long.
Until, at last—it was done!
"Yes!" the Dezolian crowed. "Now! Now let them laugh! I've done it at long last—I've revolutionized our life here in Zosa, perhaps all life on Dezolis! When children study the heroes of our planet, they will chant my name alongside that of Bishop Ngangbius for generations to come! What price those fools now—the skeptics? The doubters?" He tossed back his head and laughed, and if there was a bit of hysteria in his joy, near-insanity in his mirth, well, who could blame him after so many days spent in total devotion to a single goal?
Makarran scooped up the beaker containing his world-shattering discovery and rushed through the front room. He could hardly contain his enthusiasm to share his creation with all of Dezolis; the alchemist virtually threw open the door on his way outside.
The impact knocked him sprawling; the beaker was torn from his hand. As Makarran extricated himself from the snowbank piled up alongside his front walk, he heard loud munching sounds followed by a happy chirp of triumph. He raised his head, saw the empty beaker lying in the snow, and the retreating form of a large, blue-feathered bird.
"Oh! Pengu-feed is stolen!"