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Vixen: Learned books identify Twelve Keys for experiment in the laboratory.

Dog-Head (mutters): A devil's dozen of abominations.

Vixen: Look within the Third Key, missy, and you find my likeness, my fox-form, both eating and being eaten.

Vixen: This is Cohobation. To process and reprocess in perpetuity. Everlasting evasion by fire and steam.

… boil off the vital spirit, contain the vapor, condense it, return it to the matter in the alembic and … boil off the vital spirit, contain the vapor, condense it, return it to the matter in the alembic and … boil off the vital spirit …

Vixen: Continually, unceasingly, unremittingly. Nothing catches me, but I melt. Nothing holds me, but I vaporize. Death is sick with desire to have me, but I transmute in his embrace. I make myself that which is hunted but never is trapped.

Clever (wonderment): You live forever!

Dog-Head (dismissive): She reconstitutes forever. Or at least until her material self reduces to such a concentrated state we’ll no longer recognize it. Not certain what happens then.

Vixen (wistful): I told you, I came first in our story. Imagine me in the wide world, in the Alchymist’s laboratory, alongside his daily work, sustaining my two chimeras — one, a lover for the Alchymist; the other, an escapist from Death. Constant agitation! Extrication! Cohobation! Exhaustion! It became more and more difficult for me to project that face and form beloved by the Alchymist.

 

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Clever’s Road 13: GB0063