Somewhere on a back street a short walk from a New Hope market square there is a tavern room. It had always been an unassuming room, small, sparse, and a little dark, but soon it would become the room where it all happened. It had been months hold up in this lantern lit tavern room, surrounded by drying herbs, pipe ash, and stacks and stacks of ink stained notes, but Cordyn was finally edging close to a breakthrough. All the long restless days would finally be worth it when he managed to crack the recipe.
Months prior Cordyn arrived in New Hope with the intention of spending the Winter surrounded by civilization and whatever work he could scrap together. He had a small amount of coin saved up as well as some reagents he collected on his travels southward from the Great Wolf’s Hackles and the fields surrounding the Archon’s Spire. With his knack for potion work he wasn’t worried about making a living. Things had a habit of working out for Cordyn. He was never really sure why, but he found that when he put himself out there, things just fell in place.
After finding a room at a local tavern, Cordyn mixed up a small sampler of potions and took to the nearby market square to secure some work. It wasn’t long before he stumbled across a struggling, overworked alchemist. He was an older man who had clearly been around for a while and had drummed up a consistent level of business that he was desperately trying to keep up with. After a short conversation they agreed on a business relationship. The alchemist would supply him with reagents and then buy back completed potions at a reduced wholesale price. Cordyn would have definitely made more money selling potions on his own, but he liked the idea of being able to pull up stakes when he wanted to and a shop of his own would have felt more like a shackle than anything. Either way, he made enough money to cover room and board and still have a little on the side to put away.
Things went very well for a few weeks until one day Cordyn set his pipe too close to some dried herbs and they quickly went up in flames. There was no way the alchemist would resupply Cordyn for one of his own mistakes, and though the thought of lost coin hurt his heart as well as his purse, he resolved to head down to an herbalist himself and replace the lost reagents.
The door was heavy and the room smelled of dried flowers and potpourri and a large burly man stood behind a counter. Were it not for the racks upon racks of herbs, Cordyn would have sworn he accidentally walked into a blacksmith. Quietly and thoughtfully, Cordyn picked through the racks, placing the replacement herbs into a bag, it wasn’t until he walked up to the counter that he saw it. Far in the back room behind the burly herbalist was a fantastic, dusty library. Cordyn’s eyes lit up as his gaze fell past the herbalist and onto the leather bound tomes. The shopkeeper found his excitement endearing and with little push agreed to let Cordyn peruse his expansive collection. Cordyn pushed his way past the large man and sat at the floor, pulling book after book off the shelf to leaf through. The majority of the herbal properties were already known to him through his alchemical research and training, however one word appeared a few times that he had not encountered before.
“Hey shopkeep?” Cordyn called out inquisitively, “What’s an aphrodisiac?”
Out of reflex the shopkeeper laughed a bit, but quickly he pulled himself together,
“ Well, it’s an herb or powder, something you eat either way, that puts you in the mood and puts some power in your loins. Between you and me, none of them really work, but that doesn’t stop people from dropping some serious coin on a hope that they will. I get runners for New Hope nobles in here weekly loading up on this or that for their respective employers’ sexual potency. I’ll tell ya, boy; whoever does figure out a real aphrodisiac will find himself a rich man.”
Cordyn smiled from ear to ear and hurriedly gathered up a sack of reagents from around the shop. “
“Tell ya what, shopkeep. When I’m that rich man, I’ll buy you a drink.”
The shopkeeper called to Cordyn as he spilled out of the store, “I’d lose a lot of business if you do! You’d better make it a bottle, boy.” He chuckled, rubbing his temples.
Over the next few months Cordyn continued his alchemical work, but with all of his spare time he worked to develop and perfect his new potion. He’d worked out a deal with an older homeless beggar. In return for testing his potions, Cordyn would buy the old man a meal and a stiff drink at the tavern. The beggar didn’t ask what these concoctions were supposed to do, he just jumped at the chance for a hot meal. It was for the best this way. The last thing Cordyn needed was a placebo. The testing needed to be blind or he may well end up with just another wannabe aphrodisiac.
For months they continued in their standard fashion and everything was working out well. Jimmy, the beggar, was well fed and Cordyn inched closer to a breakthrough. Other than a short vacation to escort Gwynevive to Iron Mound so she could reconnect with her Phoenix family, Cordyn worked tirelessly. One afternoon after hours of distilling and grinding Cordyn poured a crystallized powder into his working dish. After a few seconds the once clear liquid he’d been toying with took on a milky, purple appearance. This was it. Cordyn could feel it. He tore downstairs and threw open the front door to the tavern, calling out for his assistant,
“Jimmy! This is it! Hurry”
The elderly beggar made his way toward the tavern door in no apparent rush. “Calm down, boyo. Let’s get some stew in a bowl.”
“No! No, Jimmy. This is it! Potion first, then stew!”
The beggar grumbled and took the potion from Cordyn, “Alright. Just give it here.” Jimmy grimaced at the sight of the potion and downed it in a single swallow. “Well, at least it doesn’t taste so bad.”
Cordyn stared at the man with eager eyes, “Well?”
“Well. It’s not doing anyth- …wait…” Jimmy’s eyes widened and he quickly moved to grab between his legs. “By the fucking grace of Arnath, boyo! I haven’t felt the call in years! Forget the stew! I need a whore!”
Cordyn jumped and laughed in excitement and with trembling hands dug his coin purse out of a pouch and placed some coins in Jimmy’s hand. “Should be enough for the night, my man!” Jimmy clasped his hand over the coins and tore out of the tavern, whooping and skipping.
Still trembling with excitement Cordyn turned to the bar, placing a few coins on the counter. “Give me a bottle of whiskey, please. I have an herbalist to visit.” As he stepped out into the Spring sun, Cordyn finally began to calm down. He sighed contentedly and mused, “Well. It was a Winter well spent.”