"That's not right."
"How about now?"
A deep sigh, then, "That's not right, either."
Aerrol laid his head down on the polished wooden table before him, one arm acting as a pillow atop the hard surface. "I've had about all I can bear today, Iaden," the blond man said softly, more than a hint of defeat in his tone. "Let's try again tomorrow, when the wounds of the day's constant failures aren't so fresh."
Iaden nodded in understanding. Bowing respectfully to her employer, she deposited her research journal back into her cube and waved away her spirit companion. Instantly, the living embers dissolved into a mist, the laboratory's temperature dropping to a milder temperature almost immediately afterward. "Until tomorrow, then, Lord Queenston," the woman said, turning to take her leave.
"Azphelumbra, Iaden," Aerrol grumbled. The sound of retreating footsteps echoed about the otherwise silent lab, followed by the sound of the door closing. He was alone now, his only company the various parchments upon which Iaden had scribed the day's happenings. The sheets of paper littered every conceivable surface, from the very table he rested his head to the shelves of assorted herbs and minerals and even the floor about him. Raising his head slowly, he cast a disdainful glance about at them. A bunch of rubbish they'd turned out to be. He'd begun the day with such enthusiasm; after days upon days of failure, he thought he'd finally analyzed the alchemical composition of the human body well enough to replicate one. As per usual, though, his results had been disappointing at best.
It baffled him; how could a body be so difficult to create? The more puerile of minds could manage it through procreation. Shouldn't he, with an intellect sharp enough to rival that of his father's, possess the ability to assemble one through less natural means? It wasn't as if the body itself was anything difficult to comprehend; bones, muscle, tissue and flesh to structure and hold it all together. Veins and arteries to transport the blood throughout it. A heart and brain to keep everything running smoothly. As he continued through his mental checklist of the components making up the body, Aerrol couldn't help but grow the slightest bit more frustrated. It was clear he understood what was necessary. Hell, he'd been over it a thousand times it seemed, both on paper and in his mind. He knew every bone, every joint by heart.
To make matters worse, his lack of results had brought his research on souls to a grinding halt. Without a body to place the soul in, he couldn't begin working on manufacturing one. What if he succeeded? He'd have a living soul in his hands with nothing to put it into, a cruelty beyond the darkest reaches of his imagination. Furthermore, without a body he'd never see how the soul behaved. Whether it would function the same as a normal person's or revert to some sort of feral being. Whether it would be born knowing how to speak or if it would be the same as raising a child and simply skipping the younger phases of its life straight to adulthood.
It had been three months since he'd hired Iaden. Three months since he'd formally begun his experiments, leaving the theorycrafting stage behind and delving right into the experimental portion. Three months of constant failures. Of seeing his ideas shot down all around him as if he were using them as targets to practice his archery on. One by one, each of the hypotheses he'd dreamed up over the years had failed him. He'd begun to question his own intelligence as of late. It occurred to him that perhaps he'd been giving himself far too much credit and wasn't nearly as great a mind as he'd come to believe. Surely, one boasting superb intellect would have long since solved his own riddles.
Shaking his lingering self-doubt from his mind, Aerrol rose to his feet and begun to collect the disproven research notes. He'd have plenty to feed his fireplace with that evening at the very least.