The Apothecary's Daughter

The Apothecary's Daughter

A Story by Aurafiex

A homunculus discovers that she is not the only one who knows of pain and fear.


There once lived an apothecary by the name of Magnus Leblanc. A diminutive man with simple features creased by decades of hardship, he was physically unremarkable. However, most knew him for his miraculously potent tonics and salves that were said to suppress any pain and heal any wound. His unique ability to create such wonders allowed him to run a successful business, patronised by both simple men and famous adventurers alike.

Although many appreciated the potency of his work, no one knew Magnus’s secret, the one thing which allowed him to create such wonders. Unbeknownst to even his most regular patrons, his assistant was much more integral to his work than a mere servant. Rather, she was perhaps his greatest achievement.

Cast adrift in an unending tide of work, the scrawny, blonde haired girl spent most of her day cleaning the store and stocking the shelves. A threadbare tunic, always seeming a size too big for her, hung loose over her frail body like a rag on a wooden pole. She spoke little, and most saw her as little more than a simple servant girl.

Although she looked and behaved like a human, the girl was actually an unintended result of Magnus’s experiments. Through a mixture of lead and topaz along with the flesh and blood of pigs, he had birthed her existence rather than achieving his intended goal of creating an inhuman guardian to protect his holdings. Enraged by the failure of his endeavour, he screamed at his new creation, cursing her existence as a blight upon the world. However, anger soon turned to excitement, as if inspired by some malignant force, for his mind had divined her import in his future endeavours.

While Magnus had no qualms regarding human experimentation, he knew it to be against the laws of the land. However, the girl was not legally human, and therefore exempt from such complications. Thus, she was the perfect candidate for all forms of alchemical experimentation, her constitution being similar to the users of his creations.

From that day forth, the girl became integral to his pursuit of perfection. By day, she took on the role of shop assistant, dutifully running errands and assisting patrons as any faithful servant would. However, in the dead of night, her duties shifted to something far more insidious. Within Magnus’s laboratory, she spent night after night shackled and subject to crushing blows and vicious cuts, with each session deadlier than the last. Such barbarity was done to facilitate the creation of painkillers and healing salves of greater effectiveness.

Eventually, the girl came to dread the sound of metal scraping the walls at night, for it meant to her a night of bloodied agony. Yet, it was not the pain that affected her most, but rather the sheer terror from the helplessness of her situation. She didn't understand why her body bled every night like clockwork, and she couldn't fathom the fear and pain that coursed through her veins when it happened. Worst of all, she couldn't make sense of her inability to follow her instincts and flee.

But then again, who was she to oppose the will of her father, creator and god? In the face of such questions, that was perhaps the only inner voice that kept her in line, even in the face of her predicament.

Through such calculated violence, Magnus was able to perfect the formulae of his healing salves and tonics. They became so effective that they were able to completely inure the girl from pain while also removing even the deepest of her wounds. Even so, the tonics and salves did little in the way of quelling her fear and helplessness in the face of her master’s beatings. Sadly for her, he did not care, his efforts focused solely on the physical healing properties of his creations. And as far as that was concerned, he was successful beyond measure.

Such success was of course duly rewarded. His tonics and salves became famous across the land, with adventurers and locals coming in droves to purchase them. At the height of his fame, he received the patronage of the king himself, who made plans to appoint Magnus as his personal physician. In the face of such gilded prospects, he moved to the palace, taking the girl along to continue serving him in his new appointment.

Despite this phenomenal success accrued from her "help", Magnus still regarded the girl with cold indifference. To him, she was little more than a false life from the vial, effectively no more than a walking doll of flesh. Even so, she looked upon him with a reverence worthy of the divine, seeing him with mixed feelings of fear and love. She knew of her place in his world, that she was little more than a monster, a fact that Magnus had reiterated to her on numerous occasions when she tried to seek his affection. Despite this, the girl took it all in her stride, for she knew no other purpose in life other than servitude.

Regardless, she didn’t have time to contemplate, for her master’s promotion to royal apothecary brought about new errands that kept her busy. No longer confined to the musty shop and cramped laboratory, her new tasks allowed her the chance to see the outside world for the first time. Through delivering her master’s potions and salves to bloody battlefields and wretched almshouses at the king’s behest, the girl became exposed to the dead and dying.

As years of such faithful errands went by, she got to observe lepers writhe in pain as they waited for the temporary respite of a painkiller, and watch dying soldiers bleed out as they confessed to her their fear of death. It was intriguing indeed, for through such experiences, she learned that she was not the only one who could bleed, and that agony and fear were not exclusive to her. In the face of such discoveries, the girl began to remember the questions she once held at the back of her mind, and began to spend many sleepless nights thinking. It was a new course of action she had never done before, her life before then being one of blind obedience.

Such contemplations eventually bore fruit in the form of a revelation, a result of her mind spending many hours trying to make sense of the matter. Based on her observations, they screamed when afraid and leaked the same sanguine liquid when hurt, just like her. No longer did she regard herself inferior to those around her, for armed with this knowledge, she now knew better, having seen that she was no different from everyone else.

From this moment forth, a simple curiosity began to brew within her as she watched her master’s every move with the inquisitiveness of a child. Perhaps he too could bleed, and maybe he could experience fear and pain. After all, he seemed no different from them, at least on the surface. Such thoughts were indeed exciting to her, and a desire burned within her to find the truth.

Eventually, as if fate had heard her pleas for an answer, the opportunity to test her theories came. One night, under the dying glow of the waning moon, the girl was awakened by the sound of her master stumbling into his chambers in the wee hours of the morning. As she watched quietly from the shadows, it became clear to her that the opportunity for enlightenment was finally at hand.

While her master slept off his revelry, she strode into his room with a sense of purpose that superseded anything she had ever felt in her entire lifetime of servitude. Seizing the gilded mace from the display case next to his bed with a fearlessness alien to her, she looked upon her unconscious master with the excitement of a child in a toy store. Raising her arm, she brought the gleaming weapon down upon his shoulder, bringing forth a loud, cracking noise as red liquid leaked profusely from the stricken spot.

Almost instantaneously, her master opened his eyes and cried out in agony, like how she always did when he used to beat her. Seeing his creation standing before him with a bloodied mace in hand, his expression changed from one of pain and confusion to that of sheer terror. Looking upon her master's bloodied, fear-wracked visage with great interest, she raised her arm for a second swing.

Ignoring his anguished cries for mercy, she found the answer to her question at long last, much to her satisfaction.

© 2016 Aurafiex

Author's Note


Do let me know what you think! If you've enjoyed this story, do check out my book on the Amazon Kindle Store, The Best of Aurafiex - A Short Story Collection.

Buy it now at

Have a nice day!


My Review

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This was a very well thought out, organized piece. I love that the Apothecary suffered a fate similar to his creation's daily life. It's empowering, in a way. Kind of something along the lines of "just because they created you, doesn't mean they own you." It's a very great read, Aura.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

Wow! Amazing. This one is epic. It's a good narration with a dramatic effect. It actually gave me a Gothic impression upon reading the intro. However, I must say that you have solely focused on the girl and the master's life without any regards to how people see their relationship. But you know, I think I can handle that well.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

A amazing story told.
"Almost instantaneously, her master opened his eyes and cried out in agony, like how she always did when he used to beat her."
I liked the above lines and I enjoyed the tale and the good description. You made each scene come alive. Thank you for sharing the excellent story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

I like the story very much. Your descriptions of the main characters is well done. Magnus is cruel,ruthless and self indulgent. His assistant grows from being a cowered,unresponsive puppet to understanding her plight. Now that she has insight of her being and knowledge of her surroundings, the story ends to quickly.
If the reader goes this far then the writer should reward them with a quality ending. Your story is too good to have it end this way.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


6 Years Ago

What suggestions do you have for the ending? I would love to know what you think!

6 Years Ago

These are only suggestions, she discovers a way to hold power over Magnus to gain important standing.. read more
Well i loved this...exellent concept. The narration was good, sometimes people accidently slip into third or second person etc but you didnt do that. The story was interesting and easily kept me reading so to be honest i didnt even notice if you had any grammstical errors etc. I would love this story expanded upon and to hear more of what happens to her next etc...where did you get the idea for this, very unusual :)

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

Well, you did ask, so... ;)

If you've read my other critiques you can pretty much guess what I'm about to say, which is that it's not a matter of good or bad writing, or talent, but that you're thinking in terms of telling the story, as you would were you with the reader. And while that works in person, and is a necessary way of doing it, it cannot work on the page, because of limitations imposed by our medium.

Specifically, the page cannot reproduce either your voice or the visual parts of your performance. And storytelling, as we do it in person is a performance skill.

Were this a film, for example, you wouldn't tell the audience about the situation, they can see it, so you would cue the actors and begin the story where the story begins. But when storytelling on the stage you're alone, and must set a scene the reader can't see. So you explain, describe, and report, with the WAY you tell the story supplying the emotional component. When the protagonist is frightened you illustrate that and the other emotions that character may feel through your expression and body language. You visually punctuate the story with gesture. You use tone, intensity, cadence, and a hundred audible tricks to illustrate the emotion, as you make the reader live it.

But how much of that makes it to the page? None. You can tell the reader that a character snarled a line of dialog, but you cannot tell them how YOU read your narration. So what they get is the bare words, inflected only as the punctuation and wording suggest to that reader, based on their background, not your intent. And that is an absolute story killer.

But that doesn't matter because the reader isn't with you to learn the details of the story, in any case. Nor do they give a damn about the past of the characters and the situation. Like someone watching a film they want you to start with story, leave out the editorial comments and gossip, and make THEM live it, moment-by-moment, just like we live out lives. Readers seek an emotional experience, not an education on the history of fictional characters.

The short version: You're telling, but you should be showing. Think of yourself. Assume you're reading a romance. Do you hope to learn how the protagonist feels about the one who has won their heart? Or do you want to be made to love that character for the same reason the protagonist does? For horror, to learn that the protagonist is frightened? Or are you hoping to be made to be afraid to turn out the lights?

See the difference? Facts inform, but emotion entertains, and we seek entertainment, so that's what the story must provide, right from chapter one, line one. And the page on which entertainment stops is the page where the reader closes the cover. The great Sol Stein put it well when he said, “A novel is like a car—it won’t go anywhere until you turn on the engine. The “engine” of both fiction and nonfiction is the point at which the reader makes the decision not to put the book down. The engine should start in the first three pages, the closer to the top of page one the better.”

Obviously, we can't do that with the nonfiction writing techniques we're given in school. Instead, we need the professional tricks the pros take for granted. And you can learn them as easily as anyone else.

Not good news if you were hoping to cash royalty checks by Christmas, but doesn't it make sense that the fiction writing profession, like any other, has specialized knowledge and tricks of the trades that aren't obvious from the outside? So it's not a big deal.

And since the vast majority of people never learn what I'm telling you (who's to tell them? Everyone around us is just as ignorant of the fact that the writing skills we were given were to make us useful to employers, not train us to write fiction) you now know something that puts you miles ahead in the race to publication.

A great source of help is the fiction writing section of your local library system.You definitely should devour a few books there, to get a diversity of opinion. And while you're there, seek the names Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, Debra Dixon, or Sol Stein—the first three for nuts and bolts issues and Stein for style.

My personal suggestion, though is to start with a download of Deb's GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict, from any online dealer, or in hard copy from her site. It's a warm read and a gentle introduction.

You might also poke around in my blog for some of the basic issues, to see what you need to focus on. There are a few stories there to see what those techniques look like in practice.

But no matter what you do, hang in there, and keep on writing.

Jay Greenstein

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

Will Neill

6 Years Ago

I must say I agree entirely with the review above, while the story was engaging I found it lacked em.. read more

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8 Reviews
Added on April 6, 2016
Last Updated on July 8, 2016
Tags: Pain, Fear, Master, Alchemist, Apothecary, Daughter, Beating, Abuse, Torture, Human, Experiment, Homunculus, Alchemy, Potion, Tonic, Salve, Healing




Hi! I enjoy World of Warcraft, music and swimming. I'm someone who writes for fun. Pardon any typos or mistakes, because I write on my phone(lol). I'm new here, so if you like what you see do.. more..

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