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THE ALCHEMISTS

by

Robert Nelson
 
 

( Based on a True Story )



 
 
 

WGA # 1211134

               FADE IN:

               SUPERIMPOSE:
                                     "THE ALCHEMISTS"
               INT. STUDY - NIGHT

               FRANCIS Preyhausen, aged about 40, sits at his desk, writing
               by the light of a CANDELABRA. The light of a FULL MOON
               streams through the open window.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         Wenzel Seyler found the
                         Philosophers' Stone, he made gold
                         for Emperor Leopold Habsburg, and
                         became a Baron. (beat) He survived
                         his enemies, and he survived
                         himself. (beat) I was there with
                         him, and this, I swear, is the
                         truth of the matter...

               EXT. PASTURE - NIGHT

               SUPERIMPOSE: MAP, MORAVIA/AUSTRIA

               CAPTION: "BRUNA, MORAVIA, 1350"

               A WOLF HOWLS in the distance; an OWL HOOTS nearby. FREDERICK
               Gualdus and KARL Steiner, in brown monastic robes, stand in a
               meadow under a FULL MOON, squeezing dew from a twisted sheet
               of LINEN held between them. More sheets, soaked with DEW,
               hang from poles stuck in the ground. Dew drips from the
               twisted sheet into a FUNNEL in a BOTTLE. A basket is filled
               with plugged bottles; a third with twisted sheets. Karl
               shivers and yawns and almost loses his grip.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Be careful, Brother Karl!, If it
                         touches the earth, the potency will
                         be lost!

                                   KARL
                         Frederick, I feel as if I am
                         dreaming, and walking in my sleep!

                                   FREDERICK
                         The full moon is affecting you.
                         Fight it! We are almost done!

               EXT. HUT - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               The monks' hut stands near the Zwitta River.

               INT. HUT. - NIGHT

               Frederick and Karl are seated at the table. Frederick is
               grinding SULFUR with a MORTAR and PESTLE. Karl is writing a
               MANUSCRIPT. A retort sits on a tripod over a coal fire in the
               fireplace. Yellow oil drips into a flask receiver, attached
               with clay and strips of cloth.

               INT. HUT - DAY

               Frederick is sitting at the table, writing a manuscript. Karl
               is seated on a stool at the fireplace, stirring a white
               powder in a crucible. Smoke billows, and they run outside,
               coughing.

                                   FREDERICK (CONT'D)
                         Too much niter, too fast! Make
                         haste slowly, Karl!

                                   KARL
                         Aggh! Ach! Choo!

               SERIES OF SHOTS - INTERCUT WITH ALCHEMY IMAGES:

               A) INT. HUT - DAY

               Frederick is spooning a white powder into a flask, half
               filled with yellow oil.

               B) INT. HUT - DAY

               The flask has been sealed, and sits in a pan filled with
               sand. Frederick sets it atop a bed of coals. They kneel,
               cross themselves, and begin to pray in Latin mumble.

               C) INT. HUT - NIGHT

               A few weeks later: the contents of the flask are black, and
               it has a pale violet glow about it. Karl sits at the table,
               writing by the light of a candle. Frederick is asleep on his
               cot.

               D) INT. HUT - WEEKS LATER - DAY

               Frederick sits watching the flask. The compound now is white.
               He adds a coal to the fire, and pumps the bellows slowly.
               Karl sits at the table, writing a MANUSCRIPT.

               E) INT. HUT - WEEKS LATER - DAY

               MONTAGE: The contents of the flask pass through every color.

               F) INT. HUT - DAY

               The compound has turned dark red: the Philosophers' Stone.
               Frederick and Karl kneel, cross themselves, and pray in a
               Latin mumble.

               G) INT. HUT - DAY

               A crucible filled with molten lead sits in the bed of hot
               coals. Frederick wraps a grain of the red glass in a bit of
               candle wax. He stirs it into the lead with an iron nail. A
               LOUD METALLIC CRACKLE and FLASH OF BLUE LIGHT startles them.
               They look into the crucible to see pure gold with the iron
               nail stuck in it. Frederick smiles, and Karl looks amazed.

               H) INT. HUT - DAY

               Frederick and Karl are sitting at the table with a small
               COPPER BOX (12" x 12" x 6"). It contains four small BOTTLES,
               each filled with pieces of the red Philosophers' Stone. Karl
               places the MANUSCRIPT in the box, and shuts the lid.

               I) EXT. HUT - DAY

               Frederick is walking away, leading a mule that carries two
               small sacks. Karl watches from the door of the hut. Frederick
               turns to take a last look, and waves goodbye.

               J) EXT. ST. THOMAS' MONASTERY - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               SUPERIMPOSE: "ST. THOMAS' MONASTERY, 1352"

               Several monks' huts and a few small wood buildings have been
               erected, and the monastery is under construction. The monks
               and some masons are building a small stone chapel.

               K) INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               Two monks are chiseling the base section of a small pillar
               next to a small hole in the floor.

               LATER

               Karl places the COPPER BOX in a hole in the floor of the
               chapel, and the monks push the base of the pillar over the
               hole.

               L) EXT. CHAPEL - 300 YEARS LATER - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               SUPERIMPOSE: "ST. THOMAS' MONASTERY, 1670"

               The chapel is in ruins. The modern monastery has been built
               nearby.

               M) EXT. DAWKS' PRINT SHOP - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               SUPERIMPOSE: "LONDON, 1680"

               Dr. BECHER pauses and looks up at the shop sign as he
               approaches and enters.

               CLOSEUP: SIGN "THOMAS DAWKS, HIS MAJESTIES PRINTER"

               INT. DAWKS' PRINT SHOP - DAY

               Dawks picks up a copy of MAGNALIA NATURAE and comes forward
               to greet Becher.

                                   DAWKS
                         Greetings, Doctor Becher! Behold,
                         your booklet, Magnalia Naturae!

               CLOSE UP: "MAGNALIA NATURAE"

               Becher happily pages through the booklet. He speaks with a
               German accent.

                                   BECHER
                         Ah! Yes, goodt, goodt! You have
                         done a fine job, Mister Dawks, and
                         I thank ye kindly.

               EXT. ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               SUPERIMPOSE: "ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF
               NATURAL KNOWLEDGE"

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               SUPERIMPOSE: "JOHAN BECHER, ISAAC NEWTON, ROBERT BOYLE,
               EDMUND HALLEY, ROBERT HOOKE"

               Isaac Newton (age 39), Edmund Halley (26), and Robert Hooke
               (47), Robert Boyle (55), sit at a table with Dr. Becher at
               the head. Other unidentified gentlemen sit in armchairs about
               the room. Everyone has a glass of wine in hand or nearby.
               Halley's telescope stands in front of a window in the
               background. Becher bows as he acknowledges each quest.

                                   BECHER
                         Gentlemen, I am honored by your
                         learned company this fine evening.
                         (beat) Sir Isaac Newton... Edmund
                         Halley... Robert Hooke... It
                         pleases me greatly to present my
                         new booklet, Magnalia Naturae,
                         which Sir Robert Boyle here did
                         urge me to publish. Today I shall
                         give you a more personal account.
                         (long beat) We have all heard of
                         the Philosophers' Stone that
                         transmutes base metals to noble
                         gold. Yet, we must ask if such a
                         thing might really exist.(beat)
                         Well, now our doubt is resolved by
                         two Friars of the Augustine order.
                         (beat) And the truth of it is
                         attested by many men of great
                         quality, by the Holy Roman Emperor
                         Leopold Habsburg himself! (beat) I
                         myself was witness to these events.

               Becher picks up his glass of wine from a small tray on the
               table.

               EXT. ST. THOMAS' MONASTERY - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               SUPERIMPOSE: "ST. THOMAS' MONASTERY, 1676"

               INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               Francis is serving the Mass with another monk. He stands to
               the left of the altar, holding a tray with the pitchers of
               wine and water. Dozens of monks kneel in the pews, with
               several priest in the front row.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Thanks to Friar Francis Preyhausen,
                         that we know so much about this
                         matter. (beat) And his honesty is admirable,
                         for he did not steal the treasure,
                         nor claim some for himself, when he
                         could. But honesty seldom gets what
                         it deserves.

                                   PRIEST
                         Dominus vobiscum.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Et cum spiritu tuo.

                                   PRIEST
                         Oremus.

               The priest picks up the pitcher of wine from Francis' tray.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher picks up his glass of wine, sips, and continues
               speaking.

                                   BECHER
                         Wenzel Seyler was born in Vienna,
                         about the year 1650. (beat) About
                         twenty-five years later, he was
                         caught in bed with the wife of the
                         precinct Governor, Count de
                         Collebrat...
 

               INT. BEDROOM - DAY

               WENZEL Seyler is carousing in bed with the WIFE of the
               GOVERNOR (Count de Collebrat) when the cuckold bursts in and
               starts poking at Wenzel with a sword. The wife cringes under
               the sheets, and Wenzel tries to protect himself with a pillow
               as he scrambles for his pants.

                                   GOVERNOR
                         Scoundrel! Lecher!

                                   WENZEL
                         Ow! Agh! Ow! Oh!

                                   WIFE
                         Eek! Eek! Oh! No!

                                   GOVERNOR
                         Silence, whore!

               A guard comes running in and corners Wenzel with a pike.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The fear of prison was the
                         beginning of wisdom for him. (beat)
                         With the help of a priest, suddenly
                         he found religion, and Wenzel
                         entered the Augustine Monastery at
                         Bruna in Moravia.

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) EXT. MONASTERY GATE - DAY

               Wenzel, two guard escorts, and a priest stand at the open
               gate of St. Thomas' monastery. Wenzel and the priest enter,
               and a monk slams the gate shut behind them.

               B) INT. CELL - DAY

               Wenzel stands at the door of his cell, crowded with a cot,
               table, and stool. He wears the Augustine habit, and his hair
               has been cut short.

               C) INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               Wenzel is attending Mass with the other monks. The priests
               sit in the front rows. Francis is serving Mass with another
               monk.

               D) INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis are among a dozen monks studying under the
               supervision of a stern priest.

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Francis and Wenzel walking in the monastery garden.

                                   WENZEL
                         How did you come to be here,
                         Brother Francis?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Oh, my father pressed me to enter
                         the Church. (beat) I have
                         education, but no livelihood, and I
                         will never inherit the family
                         estate unless the plague takes my
                         elder brothers.
                         (beat) I came here a year ago, but
                         I am mortally bored already. I feel
                         trapped in limbo with a bunch of
                         pompous celibates.

                                   WENZEL
                         Well, at least you are innocent. My
                         sins are venial, so this is like
                         purgatory to me. Yet escape is
                         possible, with money...
 

               EXT. OLD CHAPEL - DAY

               Wenzel and another monks are digging up rocks and tossing
               them into a wheelbarrow. Other monks are doing likewise
               nearby. The old chapel stands in the background.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         After a year of probation, Wenzel
                         Seyler took the monks' vows. Still,
                         he planned to escape, though he had
                         no means. So when he heard the
                         legend of a treasure, hidden in the
                         monastery, he tried to find it...

                                   MONK #1
                         ...Even if the story is true, and
                         you find the gold, the Abbot will
                         spend it to glorify the Church, and
                         feed the poor! Ha ha!
 

               INT. CELLAR - DAY

               Wenzel is alone in the cellar, dowsing with a willow branch.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The man had no scruples about using
                         magic to help himself, and fortune
                         favored him thus.
 

               EXT. MONASTERY GARDEN - DAY

               Wenzel looks about furtively, then tries to dowse.
 

               EXT. ROADSIDE - DAY

               An OLD WOMAN sits beside the road, selling milk, cream, and
               cheese from a small cart.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The monks were allowed out of the
                         monastery on Saturdays... (beat)
                         And thus he met an old woman who
                         practiced witchcraft in secret.

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         Fresh milk, cream, cheese! Fresh
                         milk, cream, cheese!

               Wenzel approaches her and begins an inaudible conversation.
               She gives him a cup of milk to drink.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Becher sips his wine, sets the glass down.

                                   BECHER
                         She gave him a ball of wax, covered
                         with strange figures, and she said
                         it would roll to the place where
                         treasure was hidden. (beat) Now,
                         this may sound absurd to men of
                         science, yet I have seen the ball,
                         and tested it myself.
 

               INT. COTTAGE - DAY

               Wenzel sits on a bench at a table, reading the old woman's
               book of spells. She hands him a cup.

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         Drink this potion, my dear. It will
                         strengthen your magical powers.

               He sniffs the potion, then quaffs it with a grimace.

                                   OLD WOMAN (CONT'D)
                         Yes, yes! Good!

               MINUTES LATER

               He begins to slouch as the potion takes effect.

                                   WENZEL
                             (slurring)
                         What wash in that drink?

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         Laudanum.

                                   WENZEL
                         Law wha...?

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         Laudanum, dear boy. The milk of
                         poppy.

               Wenzel slides off the bench. The old woman lays him out on
               the floor, then fetches a small box from a shelf. It contains
               a wax ball with a hole in it, and a plug. The ball is covered
               with magical symbols.

               MINUTES LATER

               The old woman is kneeling on the floor. She lift's Wenzel's
               robe and apparently milks him, cackling happily as Wenzel
               snores.

                                   OLD WOMAN (CONT'D)
                         Tee hee hee!

               MINUTES LATER

               The old woman finishes filling the wax ball with Wenzel's
               sperm, and plugs the hole, then licks her fingers and
               cackles. She begins to mumble an incoherent magic spell...

               HOURS LATER

               Wenzel looks groggy, and yawns as she presents him with the
               wax ball. He peers at the symbols, and sniffs it.

                                   OLD WOMAN (CONT'D)
                         Wenzel, behold! (beat) If there is
                         a treasure hidden in the monastery,
                         this magic ball can find it! Now
                         watch this! Behold, this is my gold
                         wedding ring.

                                   WENZEL
                         I am beholding.

               She places the ball and ring several feet apart on the floor.
               Wenzel watches in amazement as the ball wobbles, then rolls
               to the ring. She picks them up, and hands the ball to him.

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         I will give this to you, Wenzel,
                         but you must promise to give me
                         some gold if you find the treasure.

                                   WENZEL
                         I promise you, I shall! Thank you!
 

               EXT. MONASTERY YARD - DAY

               Wenzel crosses paths with the ABBOT and two priests who
               accompany him. One of the priests whispers inaudibly to the
               Abbot.

                                   ABBOT
                         Friar Wenzel Seyler! Come to my
                         office.

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, Abbot!
 

               INT. ABBOT'S OFFICE - DAY

               Wenzel stands before the Abbot.

                                   ABBOT
                         Friar Seyler, it is our custom for
                         the old fathers to have a young
                         friar assist them. I have decided
                         that you shall attend to Father
                         Albert.

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, Father Abbot, I shall. Thank
                         you.
 

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - NIGHT

               Father ALBERT is sitting in a chair by the fireplace, and
               Wenzel is sitting on a stool. He adds another coal to the
               fire.

                                   WENZEL
                         Father Albert, I have heard other
                         monks tell of a treasure hidden in
                         our monastery. Do you know the
                         story?

                                   ALBERT
                         Yes, I do. It is said that our
                         first abbot was a master of
                         alchemy, and paid for the
                         construction of this monastery with
                         the gold he made. Supposedly he
                         buried a treasure in the old
                         chapel.

                                   WENZEL
                         Father, I have seen your books, so
                         I know you study the magic arts.
                         (beat) You can trust me not to
                         speak of it to anyone. (beat) I
                         also know an old woman who
                         practices magic, and I have got
                         from her a wax ball with power to
                         discover hidden treasure. I saw it
                         work with her gold wedding ring!

                                   ALBERT
                         I am curious to examine the thing.
                         Show it to me!
 

               INT. OLD CHAPEL - DAY

               Father Albert watches as Wenzel lays the wax ball on the
               floor, but nothing happens. After a few seconds, he picks it
               up and tries again at another spot, but again nothing
               happens. Then he places it near the pillar. The ball wobbles
               a bit and rolls to the base of the pillar. They repeat the
               test with the same results.

                                   ALBERT
                         That is most interesting! Yet,
                         though a treasure may be hidden
                         here, we have no way to break down
                         the pillar, and the abbot would not
                         allow us.
 

               EXT. OLD CHAPEL - NIGHT

               A winter storm rages, and lightning strikes the old chapel,
               knocking down part of the wall and setting fire to the roof.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         But fate had other plans, and a
                         great storm arose one night soon
                         after, and lightning badly damaged
                         the old chapel.
 

               INT. ABBOT'S OFFICE - DAY

               The ABBOT is talking to Father Albert.

                                   ABBOT
                         I have decided to have the masons
                         demolish the old chapel. We can use
                         the stones elsewhere.

                                   ALBERT
                         I should like to supervise them,
                         Father Abbot. (beat)
                         That is holy ground, and I would
                         say prayers there until their work
                         is finished.

                                   ABBOT
                         I am pleased to hear you say so,
                         Father Albert, for I plan to assign
                         you to the task.

                                   ALBERT
                         Thank you, Father Abbot.
 

               INT. OLD CHAPEL - AFTERNOON

               The roof and walls of the chapel have been demolished, and
               several piles of cut stone lay about on the floor. Only the
               floor and the base section of the pillar remain. Wenzel and
               Father Albert watch closely as the masons smash it with
               sledgehammers and wedges. Master Mason MENDEL stands nearby,
               overseeing the work. The hole in the floor becomes exposed as
               a chunk of stone falls away, and the corner of the copper box
               is visible, now green with corrosion. Father Albert steps
               forward quickly to cover it with his robe.

                                   ALBERT
                         Stop! Stop! Master Mendel, that is
                         enough for now! (beat) We can
                         finish this tomorrow. Go now to the
                         kitchen, and tell Father Benz that
                         I sent you.

                                   MENDEL
                             (reluctantly)
                         Very well, Father Albert. Thank
                         you! Men, let's go eat!

               When the masons have walked about a hundred feet away, Father
               Albert speaks to Wenzel.

                                   ALBERT
                         Push the stone away, Wenzel! Use
                         that pry bar.

               Wenzel struggles with the pry bar, and manages to move the
               pieces of the base and retrieve the box. Mendel looks back at
               that moment and sees Wenzel hide the box under his cloak.

                                   ALBERT (CONT'D)
                         Take me back to my room, Wenzel.

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, Father Albert.
 

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY

               Father Albert is seated at his table with the copper box open
               and the four bottles and manuscript beside it. Wenzel stands
               beside him, looking disappointed.

                                   WENZEL
                         There is no gold here! The story
                         was a lie!

                                   ALBERT
                         I doubt that Father Steiner buried
                         this box as a joke. If there is
                         some virtue in this glass, the
                         manuscript may tell us how to use
                         it.

               DAYS LATER

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY

               Wenzel enters with a bucket of coal and sets it by the
               fireplace next to a small pile of firewood. Father Albert is
               seated at the table, studying the manuscript.

                                   ALBERT (CONT'D)
                         Wenzel, go to the kitchen and find
                         an old pewter dish. (beat) Oh, and
                         bring an iron pan, and a large
                         nail. But let no one see you!

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, Father Albert.
 

               INT. MONASTERY KITCHEN - DAY

               Wenzel looks around to see if he is being watched, then hides
               a pewter plate under his robe. Another monk notices him, but
               says nothing.
 

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY
 

               Pieces of pewter lay in a small pile on the floor, and a
               small iron pan sits on a bed of coals in the fireplace,
               filled with molten pewter. Wenzel blows on the coals through
               an iron pipe. Father Albert is sitting at a table, using a
               knife to scrape a tiny fragment from a chunk of the red
               glass. Then he drips a bit of wax from a candle, scrapes it
               up, and wraps the bit of glass with it.

                                   ALBERT
                         Now we shall see if I have
                         understood the manuscript truly,
                         and found the use of this glass.
                         Drop this into the pan, and stir it
                         with the nail.

               Wenzel adds the wax and stirs the molten pewter. The
               transmutation happens suddenly with a LOUD METALLIC CRACKLE
               and FLASH OF BLUE LIGHT. Wenzel jumps back, and Father Albert
               almost falls off his chair. They look into the pan, and then
               at each other, astonished. The pewter has become gold, and
               the iron nail stuck is in it. Wenzel starts to giggle
               hysterically.

                                   WENZEL
                         Hee hee hee! Ha ha! Ha!

               LATER

               Father Albert hands a few small nuggets to Wenzel, and speaks
               confidentially.

                                   ALBERT
                         When you go into Bruna tomorrow,
                         take this to a goldsmith. Tell him
                         you have melted down some Roman
                         coins that you inherited, and you
                         wish to sell the gold. You may keep
                         the money, but let no one know of
                         it. No one!

                                   WENZEL
                         Thank you, father Albert!

                                   ALBERT
                         Wenzel!

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, father?

                                   ALBERT
                         Tell no one! No one!

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, father!
 

               INT. GOLDSMITH'S SHOP - DAY

               The GOLDSMITH #1 is testing one of the nuggets on a
               touchstone. The other nuggets sit on a balance scale.

                                   GOLDSMITH #1
                         I will pay you twenty ducats.

                                   WENZEL
                         I, I will accept that.
 

               INT. WENZEL'S CELL - DAY

               Wenzel sits at his table, looking at his little pile of
               ducats while he munches on a roast chicken leg and swigs from
               a bottle of wine.

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY

               Wenzel and Father Albert are sitting before the fireplace.

                                   WENZEL
                         Father Albert, I have been thinking
                         about the treasure.

                                   ALBERT
                         I'm sure you have, my son. And what
                         have you thought?

                                   WENZEL
                         I think that since I helped to
                         discover it with my wax ball, half
                         of it should belong to me.

                                   ALBERT
                         Oh, no, Wenzel, not yet. We know
                         not how to manage this thing.
                         (beat) Besides which, you have no
                         need for money here. And if you
                         were enriched by this tincture, it
                         would prejudice your soul, and you
                         might become a most miserable man.
                         (beat) Henceforth, however, I will
                         allow you two crowns every week for
                         your diversions. But for now, I
                         will not part with any of the
                         glass, for I must study the
                         manuscript more carefully.
                         Apparently this glass is the
                         Philosophers' Stone, and it hath
                         other powers and virtues, more
                         precious than gold.

                                   WENZEL
                         What might those powers be, father?

               Albert reads from the manuscript.

                                   ALBERT
                         The author says, our blessed Stone
                         hath virtue to conquer all disease,
                         and bestows a long life in good
                         health upon its happy possessor.
                         For the power to transmute metals
                         is only the beginning of its
                         wonderful powers. (beat) Wenzel, we
                         must be most careful if we would
                         live to enjoy this treasure with
                         peace of mind. For otherwise, the
                         envy of greedy men may well get us
                         killed.

                                   WENZEL
                         Oh... Amen...
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine, sets the glass down, and continues
               speaking.

                                   BECHER
                         Wenzel enjoyed his allowance for
                         the next few weeks, but all the
                         while he worried, thinking that the
                         old priest might tell the abbot.
                         Therefore he cogitated how he might
                         get the box and escape from the
                         monastery, but he had no way to do
                         so. Father Albert kept it locked in
                         his desk, and he never left his
                         room except with Wenzel, to attend
                         Mass and take his meals. (beat)
                         Then one day...
 

               INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY

               Wenzel enters Albert's cell, toting a bucket of coal. He
               finds Albert sitting on his bed, coughing, gasping, and
               clutching his chest.

                                   ALBERT
                         Fetch me a cup of wine, quickly!

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

               Wenzel is rushing through the corridor with a cup of wine,
               holding one hand over it to stop its sloshing.

               B) INT. ALBERT'S CLOISTER - DAY

               Wenzel finds Albert sprawled on his bed, gasping, struck dumb
               with a stroke, and reaching out blindly. Instead of helping
               him, Wenzel takes the copper box from the cabinet, then wraps
               it in a blanket. He peeks out the door, then leaves.

               C) INT. WENZEL'S CELL - DAY

               He enters with his prize.

               D) INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

               He hurries back into Albert's room, then emerges and calls
               for help.

                                   WENZEL
                         Help! Help!

               Several monks come running, too late. Father Albert is dead.
               His cup of wine is spilt on the floor.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine.

                                   BECHER
                         Now, it just so happened that the
                         monastery held a solemn debate
                         about alchemy, and by chance friar
                         Seyler was chosen to argue that
                         metals can be transmuted! But he
                         knew nothing about it, so he was
                         easily baffled...

               Dr. Becher sets down his glass.
 

               INT. WENZEL'S CELL - NIGHT

               Wenzel swigs some wine from a cup. The bottle sits on his
               table. He is copying from Father Albert's manuscript. He
               stops, peers at his notes in the candle light, and reads
               aloud .

                                   WENZEL
                         ...And thus the alchemist can
                         convert the elements... (beat)
                         first by purifying them... (beat)
                         and then by rotation... (beat)
                         Mmmm... That sounds good.
 

               INT. AUDITORIUM - DAY

               All the monks and priests are gathered for the debate. Wenzel
               stands at the podium, nervously reading from his notes. His
               opponent stands at another podium. Between them sits a priest
               at a table, acting as MODERATOR.

                                   WENZEL
                         ...And thus the alchemist can make
                         one element out of another, uh...
                         first by purification, uhhh... then
                         by rotation, uhhh... of fire into
                         water, and water into air, and
                         uhhh... air into earth. And,
                         ummm... thus are the base elements
                         transmuted to silver or gold,
                         uhhh... by alchemy. But the
                         ultimate means of transmutation is
                         by the Philosophers' Stone.

               The monks and priests in the audience begin to chuckle and
               laugh, and Wenzel loses his temper.

                                   WENZEL (CONT'D)
                         Why do you laugh? I can prove it to
                         be true!

                                   MODERATOR
                         Hold thy tongue, fool! I can sooner
                         turn thee into a cow, than thou to
                         transmute the metals!

               Wenzel is chagrined, but he remains silent as the audience
               continues to snicker at him.
 

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis are walking in the monastery garden.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Today you claimed you are able to
                         transmute metals. That was very
                         foolish of you, even if it is true.
 

               INT. MONASTERY KITCHEN - DAY

               Master Mendel sits at a table with his fellows, talking
               inaudibly to Francis, who stands holding a pitcher of water.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O., CONTD.)
                         Besides, there is a rumor in the
                         monastery, that you and father
                         Albert found a treasure in the old
                         church, and that the masons saw you
                         with a copper box.
 

               INT. MONASTERY KITCHEN - DAY

               Francis is talking with Monk #1.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O., CONTD.)
                         And I heard that you took a pewter
                         plate from the kitchen...
 

               INT. GOLDSMITH'S SHOP - DAY

               Monk #1 is selling a ring to Goldsmith #1. They are talking
               inaudibly.

               LATER

               INT. MONASTERY KITCHEN - DAY

               Francis is talking inaudibly with Monk #1.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O., CONTD.)
                         And that a monk of the Augustine
                         order sold some gold to a goldsmith
                         in Bruna...
 

               RETURN TO SCENE

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Francis and Wenzel stop walking. Francis sits on a bench as
               Wenzel stands nervously.

                                   FRANCIS (CONTD.)
                         You may claim that your money was
                         sent by your family, yet people
                         believe it was you who sold the
                         gold. (beat) Wenzel, I do earnestly
                         desire that you declare the truth
                         of this matter to me!
 

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Wenzel falls to his knees and clutches Francis' robe.

                                   WENZEL
                         Brother Francis, I beseech thee,
                         swear not to tell anyone the secret
                         I will reveal to you! Swear it to
                         me! (beat) Give me your help, and
                         when we flee from here, we will
                         have great wealth, and advance to
                         high dignities together! But you
                         must give me your most solemn oath
                         of faith and secrecy!

                                   FRANCIS
                         I swear upon my very soul, I will
                         keep your secret, if you will share
                         it with me! We will hazard this
                         together. Now get up before someone
                         sees you like this!

               Wenzel stands up.

                                   WENZEL
                         By all that I hold sacred, I do
                         swear my fealty to you, brother
                         Francis.

               Francis stands up.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Upon my soul, and the Holy Bible, I
                         swear the same to you, brother
                         Wenzel. Let us go to the chapel to
                         seal this oath!
 

               INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis kneel together, praying inaudibly.
 

               INT. WENZEL'S CELL - DAY

               Wenzel shows Francis the wax ball, copper box, bottles,
               manuscript, and gold.

                                   WENZEL
                         ...And thus we found it. (beat) And
                         this is the gold we made with it.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I would not have believed you, but
                         this gold is very convincing.

                                   WENZEL
                         Francis, I dare not sell more of
                         this gold myself, if I am under
                         suspicion. You should sell it for
                         us. Then we shall have the money we
                         need to escape from here!
 

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) INT. GOLDSMITH'S SHOP - DAY

               The goldsmith is counting out 100 ducats for Francis.

               B) INT. WENZEL'S CELL - NIGHT

               Wenzel and Francis are feasting happily on roast chicken and
               wine. They click their cups together in a toast.

               C) EXT. STREET - DAY

               Wenzel is talking to a pretty woman standing in a doorway. He
               hands her a coin, and they slip inside.

               D) EXT. MONASTERY GATE - DAY

               Wenzel enters the monastery gate with the woman; she is
               wearing a man's clothes, periwig, hat and cape.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Friar Wenzel arranged for a certain
                         wanton woman to come into the
                         monastery with him, dressed in a
                         man's clothes, and wearing a wig,
                         on pretense of being his cousin
                         Anastasio from Vienna. But the
                         visits became frequent, and often
                         lasted overnight, and the rumor of
                         it came to the Abbot's attention.

               INT. CELL - DAY

               Wenzel and ANASTASIO are intercoursing too loudly.

                                   ANASTASIO
                         Oh! Ohh! Ohhh!

                                   WENZEL
                         Shhh! Quiet!

               INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

               Two monks are listening at the door of Wenzel's cell. They
               look at each other with jaws agape, then scurry away.

               MINUTES LATER

               Abbot Brecheisen listens at Wenzel's door as two priests and
               several monks watch. The abbot tries to open it, but the door
               is locked.

                                   ABBOT
                         Friar Seyler! Open the door!
 

               INT. WENZEL'S CELL - DAY

               Wenzel is climaxing with the woman.

                                   WENZEL
                         I'm coming! I'm coming!

               He dons his robe and unbolts the door. The abbot shoves it
               open and enters, glowering. The woman cowers under the
               blanket as the priests and monks gawk at her from the
               corridor.

                                   ABBOT
                         Good heavens! It's a woman! Get
                         dressed, you whore!

                                   PRIEST
                         What are we to do? If we give her
                         to the magistrate, the public noise
                         of it will shame us with infamy!

                                   ABBOT BRECHEISEN
                         We will keep her here till
                         midnight, then cast her out. No one
                         will see her then. (beat) And you,
                         Friar Seyler, will remain in your
                         cell! (beat) You, whore, come with
                         me!
 

               INT. ABBOT'S CLOISTER - NIGHT

               The Abbot is sitting in a chair, spanking Anastasio across
               his lap. Her hands are bound, and she is in her underwear.
               The abbot has an ecstatic expression on his face, his tongue
               is lolling, and he is breathing heavily.

                                   ANASTASIO
                         Oh! Oh! Ow! Oh! Please, no! Mercy!

                                   ABBOT
                         Silence!

               INT. CORRIDOR - NIGHT

               Two priests are listening at the abbot's door. One of them
               stoops to peek through the keyhole. They are breathing
               heavily, obviously excited.

               EXT. MONASTERY GATE - NIGHT

               Anastasio giggles as she exits the monastery, escorted by two
               monks.

                                   ANASTASIO
                         Tee hee! Come see me on Zwitta
                         Strasse when you are in town!

                                   MONK #3
                         Ha ha! Perhaps I shall!

               Anastasio disappears into the night. The monks shut the gate.

                                   MONK #3 (CONT'D)
                         Surely, Brother Wenzel will burn in
                         Hell for this sin! The abbot will
                         see to it personally!

                                   MONK #4
                         Ha ha!

               INT. CORRIDOR/CELL - NIGHT

               Francis taps on the door of Wenzel's cell, then slips a note
               under the door, followed by the first foot of a thin rope.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Psst! Wenzel! Wenzel!

               Wenzel hops out of bed, picks up the note, and pulls in the
               rope. It is about 30 feet long. He reads the note by
               candlelight.

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) EXT. MONASTERY GROUNDS - NIGHT

               Wenzel sticks his head out the window, sees Francis, and
               lowers the copper box. Francis unties the rope, and Wenzel pulls it back into his
               cell. Francis slips the box under his robe, then hurries
               away.

               B) INT. FRANCIS' CELL - NIGHT

               Lit by a candle, Francis is sitting at his table, reading the
               manuscript and Father Albert's notes. The copper box lays
               open on the table with the bottles.

               C) EXT. MONASTERY GROUNDS - DAY

               Wenzel stands stripped to his underpants, with his arms
               around a tree and his hands tied. He groans as a priest whips
               him. The other monks and priests are gathered to watch.
               Francis is among them.

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine.

                                   BECHER
                         Now, Prince Charles of Lichtenstein
                         was a keen student of chymistry,
                         and Francis was acquainted with his
                         steward. He managed to convince the
                         man to deliver a letter appealing
                         for his help, and a small amount of
                         the Philosophers' Stone to the
                         prince, with instructions for its
                         use.

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               The LOUD METALLIC CRACKLE and FLASH OF BLUE LIGHT startle
               PRINCE CHARLES. When he looks into the crucible and sees
               solid gold, with the iron rod stuck in it, he grins with
               delight.

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Prince Charles hands a small box to his steward KURT.

                                   PRINCE CHARLES
                         Kurt, I enjoin you to return to
                         Bruna, and give secret assistance
                         to the friars Seyler and
                         Preyhausen. (beat)
                         I commit my seal to your custody,
                         to make use of it for the purpose,
                         if the need arises.

                                   KURT
                         It shall be done as you command, my
                         lord.

               INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

               Francis intercepts FRIAR JAKOB, who carries a tray with a
               slice of bread, a pitcher of water, and a key.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Brother Jakob, is that food for
                         brother Seyler?

                                   FRIAR JAKOB
                         Yes, it is. Bread and water is all
                         he gets to eat.

                                   FRANCIS
                         His cell is near mine, and I'm
                         going there now. I can take this to
                         him, if you like.

                                   FRIAR JAKOB
                         I thank you. But bring the key back
                         to me quickly.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I shall, brother.
 

               INT. WENZEL'S CELL - DAY

               Francis enters, puts the tray on the table, and pulls a
               chicken leg from his pocket. Wenzel grabs and devours it
               while Francis produces a lump of wax from his pocket and
               makes an impression of the key.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Wenzel, I have a plan...
 

               INT. FRANCIS' CELL - NIGHT

               Francis is sitting at his table, illuminated by candlelight,
               carefully filing a key.
 

               INT. CORRIDOR - NIGHT

               Francis unlocks Wenzel's cell with the new key, and hands him
               a tiny vial as he comes out.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Here is some of the tincture as you
                         asked.

                                   WENZEL
                         Thank you, Francis. I think perhaps
                         you should bury the box until we
                         need it.

                                   FRANCIS
                         That is a good idea. I will do it.

               They hurry through the corridor, and stop at an exit. Francis
               opens it and peeks outside.

               EXT. MONASTERY - NIGHT

               They run across the grounds to a side gate in the wall of the
               monastery.
 

               EXT. MONASTERY WALL - NIGHT

               Kurt stands waiting with two horses. He hands Francis a
               letter, closed with Prince Charles' seal.

                                   KURT
                         Francis, you must get away from
                         here as soon as you can, and go to
                         Felisburgh. This letter will give
                         you audience with Prince Charles.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Thank you, Kurt! Godspeed!
 

               INT. ATTIC - NIGHT

               Kurt locks Wenzel in an attic room with a tray of food and a
               bedpan. He drips some wax on the lock from the candle he is
               carrying, and impresses it with Prince Charles' SEAL.
 

               INT. CORRIDOR - DAY

               Friar Jakob sets a tray with bread and water on the floor,
               then reaches in his pocket for the key. He unlocks the door,
               steps inside, then runs out and stumbles on the tray,
               spilling the water.

                                   FRIAR JAKOB
                         Help! Help! Friar Seyler has
                         escaped!
 

               INT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE - DAY

               The Abbot stands before Governor Collebrat with the
               MAGISTRATE.

                                   GOVERNOR
                         Shut the city gates, and search
                         every house!

                                   MAGISTRATE
                         Search every house!? Are you
                         serious?

                                   GOVERNOR
                         Do I look happy? Start with the
                         nobles! Use all your men, and
                         soldiers too! (beat) I swear to
                         God, I will castrate that damned
                         monk!
 

               EXT. PRINCE CHARLES' MANSION - DAY

               Kurt confronts the magistrate and his men at the front door.
               Two of the prince's guards block the door.

                                   KURT
                         This is the house of Prince
                         Charles! You cannot enter here
                         without his permission!

                                   MAGISTRATE
                         The Emperor's laws say otherwise,
                         and even the prince must obey them.
                         Shall I arrest you for resisting my
                         authority?

                                   KURT
                         I am not so foolish as that, sir,
                         but I protest, and I shall report
                         your intrusion to Prince Charles!

                                   MAGISTRATE
                         I would expect you to. Now stand
                         aside!
 

               INT. MANSION - NIGHT

               The magistrate's men go quickly from room to room, followed
               by Kurt.

               MINUTES LATER

               They finally reach the sealed room in the attic. The
               magistrate is tired already, and Kurt speaks up.

                                   KURT
                         Sir, this is the private closet of
                         Prince Charles, which he sealed up
                         himself. It cannot be opened
                         without incurring his most royal
                         displeasure.

               CLOSE UP: SEALED LOCK

                                   MAGISTRATE
                         I am satisfied here. Come, men! We
                         have the entire city to search.

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) EXT. CITY GATE - DAY

               Prince Charles' carriage leaves the city, escorted by two
               soldiers on horseback.
 

               B) EXT. ROAD - DAY

               Kurt and Wenzel sit opposite each other in the carriage. They
               smile, then gaze out the window at the passing scenery.
 

               C) EXT. MONASTERY GATE - DAY

               Francis leaves the monastery with a group of friars on their
               Saturday outing. He carries a small sack.
 

               D) EXT. STREET - DAY

               Francis is walking behind the other monks, and he stops as
               they go around a corner. After waiting a few seconds, Francis
               turns around and hurries away unnoticed.
 

               E) EXT. FARM - DAY

               Francis rides away on a horse. The farmer looks at money that
               Francis has paid him.

               F) EXT. OLD WOMAN'S COTTAGE - DAY

               Francis rides away on his horse. The Old Woman cackles as she
               looks at the gold Francis has given her.

                                   OLD WOMAN
                         Tee hee! Ha ha!
 

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Prince Charles is sitting with Wenzel and Francis, who are
               dressed in plain clothes. The Chamberlain PIETRO stands
               beside the Prince.

                                   PRINCE CHARLES
                         Unfortunately, Wenzel, I cannot
                         continue to hide you here. Governor
                         Collebrat still searches for you,
                         and if his spies find you, they
                         will obtain a mandate from the
                         supreme Consistory at Vienna, and
                         that will be the end of you. (beat)
                         I advise you, therefore, to go to
                         Rome straightaway, and obtain a
                         discharge from your monastic vows.
                         (beat) My chamberlain Pietro here
                         will accompany you. He is Italian,
                         and shall serve as your agent. I
                         shall provide you with a letter of
                         introduction, and a thousand ducats
                         for your expenses.

                                   WENZEL
                         Thank you, your Highness.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, thank you, my lord. You are
                         most considerate and kind.

                                   PRINCE CHARLES
                         Think nothing of it. It is simply
                         the right and best thing to do.
 

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis are walking in the garden, ignoring the
               manservant watching them from a distance.

                                   WENZEL
                         Francis, I think it would be wise
                         of you to find lodgings in Vienna.
                         Attend the morning Mass each day at
                         Saint Stephan's Cathedral, and I
                         will meet you there when I return.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I agree. I shall leave immediately.
 

               EXT. ROAD - DAY

               Francis casually leaves the estate on his horse.
 

               EXT. ROAD - DAY

               Wenzel and PIETRO are riding horses, and leading two
               packhorses.

                                   PIETRO
                         Whoa! I must piss!

               Pietro dismounts, and Wenzel does the same. Suddenly Pietro
               pulls out a pistol and aims it at Wenzel, startling him.

                                   PIETRO (CONT'D)
                         I shall kill you here and now
                         unless you give me your gold-making
                         stone!

                                   WENZEL
                         I, I call God to witness, sir! I do
                         not have it with me! I sent it away
                         with friar Francis!

                                   PIETRO
                         Liar! Open your bags! And take off
                         your clothes!

               MINUTES LATER

               Wenzel stands in his underwear; his clothes are scattered on
               the ground.

                                   PIETRO (CONT'D)
                         Damn it all! Well then, we will
                         come to terms, or I will kill you
                         anyhow! I want your ducats. Then go
                         your way, and I will tell Prince
                         Charles that you escaped.
 

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Prince Charles slaps Pietro.

                                   PRINCE CHARLES
                         You fool! How could you let him
                         escape?

                                   PIETRO
                         Your Highness, he fought like a
                         madman!
 

               FLASHBACK:

               EXT. ROADSIDE - DAY

               Pietro and Wenzel gesticulate as they discuss matters.

                                   PIETRO (V.O.,CONT'D)
                         And my pistol fell in the mud, and
                         it would not shoot!
 

               MINUTES LATER

               Pietro rides back towards Vienna; Wenzel stands forlorn.

                                   PIETRO (V.O., CONT'D)
                         And he ran away into the forest,
                         and I could not find him!

               RETURN TO SCENE:

               Prince Charles hits Pietro again.

                                   PRINCE CHARLES
                         Damn you, idiot! I have lost the
                         greatest treasure on earth, and a
                         thousand ducats too! (beat) Get out
                         of here before I kill you!

               Pietro beats a hasty retreat.

               EXT. ST. STEPHAN'S CATHEDRAL, VIENNA - DAY (ESTABLISHING)

               INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY

               Wenzel enters to find Francis attending Mass.

                                   FRANCIS
                         What happened? Why are you back so
                         soon? You look terrible!

                                   WENZEL
                         The chamberlain robbed me. I am
                         lucky to be alive. (beat) Thank
                         you, dear God! (beat) I'm hungry.

               EXT. PARK - DAY

               They sit on the grass, eating bread and cheese, drinking from
               a wine bottle. Wenzel keeps looking about nervously.

                                   FRANCIS
                         We must be more careful if we would
                         live to enjoy wealth and freedom.

                                   WENZEL
                         What can we do? I am at my wits'
                         end! Only the Emperor or the Pope
                         can save us now.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I know the steward of Count Hans
                         DePaar, who is an alchemist, and a
                         favorite of the Emperor. I will try
                         to arrange a meeting. Otherwise,
                         yes, we should leave Austria. There
                         is no safety for us here.

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Count HANS DEPAAR is about 50 years old, afflicted with
               arthritis, and walks with a cane. Wenzel is slowly pumping
               the bellows as DePaar watches. The LOUD METALLIC CRACKLE and
               FLASH OF BLUE LIGHT startles DePaar. Then he beams with
               delight upon seeing the mass of gold with the iron rod stuck
               in the crucible.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         You have transmuted me into a
                         believer, friar Seyler. I shall
                         make an appeal to Emperor Leopold
                         immediately. Meanwhile, you shall
                         be my guest, if you will.

                                   WENZEL
                         I am most grateful to you, Count
                         DePaar. The gold is yours to keep,
                         of course.
 

               INT. IMPERIAL COURT, HOFBURG PALACE - DAY

               EMPEROR LEOPOLD sits on the throne. He is 35 years old,
               short, ugly, and has bad teeth. Count DePaar stands before
               him, leaning on his cane as he pleads his case. Dozens of
               nobles, courtesans, clergy, servants and guards attend in
               audience. Dr. Becher is among them, and a Jesuit priest.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         I can give no great heed to your
                         proposition, Count DePaar,
                         especially since I have report that
                         your monk is a fugitive and leads a
                         dissolute life. Moreover, he is
                         reported to practice magic!

               Count DePaar pauses to ponder his words before responding.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         There is great weight in the
                         objections made by your Imperial
                         Majesty. (beat) And though I would
                         not presume to impose upon you, it
                         seems reasonable to me to consider
                         this thing apart from the persons
                         it concerns. For all men are
                         sinners, yet must we therefore
                         reject all their inventions and the
                         good works they do? (beat) As for
                         me, I have no reason to love
                         alchemy, for I have suffered much
                         loss by it, and never found any
                         truth, save in this tincture of
                         friar Seyler. (beat) I appeal for
                         your permission to examine this
                         matter, and ask you to deputize
                         some persons to witness a
                         transmutation, and test the gold.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Count DePaar, I commend you for
                         your eloquent discourse. Yet,
                         though you mean well, perhaps you
                         are deceived, for we all know that
                         modern chymistry has shown ancient
                         alchemy to be untrustworthy. (beat)
                         But I also know full well how my
                         father the emperor Ferdinand tested
                         alchemy, and highly prized what was
                         shown to him by Baron Chaos, and
                         rewarded him for it. For that
                         reason, I can believe there may be
                         some truth in alchemy.
                         (beat) Therefore, Count DePaar, I
                         order you to make a trial of the
                         tincture with witnesses skillful in
                         chymistry, to determine this
                         matter. Then I shall make my
                         decision. (beat) Doctor Becher is
                         given to the examination of
                         alchemists' claims, so he shall see
                         to it on this occasion. And my
                         confessor father Spiess shall
                         represent the clergy. So be it.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Your Imperial Majesty is most
                         gracious, and I am very thankful.
                         With your leave, I will attend to
                         your command, this instant.

               Emperor Leopold nods, and DePaar withdraws with a bow aside
               to the Secretary, who dictates inaudibly to a scribe.
 

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Dr. Becher and FATHER SPIESS are seated when Count DePaar
               enters with Wenzel. The Emperor's letter lays on the table,
               stamped with royal seal.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Gentleman, allow me to introduce
                         Friar Wenzel Seyler. (beat) Friar
                         Seyler, this is Father Spiess. He
                         is the personal confessor of
                         Emperor Leopold.

                                   WENZEL
                         Father Spiess, it is an honor to
                         meet you.

                                   FATHER SPIESS
                         Good afternoon, friar Seyler.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         And this is Doctor Johan Becher.

                                   WENZEL
                         Good afternoon, Doctor Becher.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Gentlemen, the Emperor has
                         commissioned us to investigate
                         friar Seyler's claim that he can
                         transmute base metals into gold.
                         (beat) Doctor Becher, you practice
                         alchemy, and you have written
                         several excellent books about the
                         art. And, as the Emperor's privy
                         councillor of commerce, you also
                         test the claims of many alchemists.
                         I ask you, therefore, have you ever
                         seen any supposed gold made by
                         alchemy, that passes testing by
                         assay?

                                   BECHER
                         Count DePaar, since I was
                         commissioned by the Emperor in the
                         year 1667, I have never found any
                         truth in any of the claims made by
                         any alchemists. Still, I continue
                         to hope that the Philosophers'
                         Stone might really exist.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         I assure you, Doctor Becher, today
                         you shall see the truth of alchemy.

                                   FATHER SPIESS
                         I do not believe in alchemy, but I
                         am willing to observe and testify
                         concerning this matter, if his
                         Majesty commands it.
                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         He does, Father Spiess, as decreed
                         in this letter. (beat) Shall we
                         proceed to the experiment?
                         Everything is prepared, so we need
                         not delay.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               The group stands around a small metal furnace.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         As you can see, Doctor Becher, I
                         own one of your famous portable
                         furnaces. (beat) Here are several
                         ounces of the best German tin, and
                         new Hessian crucibles. Please
                         examine them, so you can be certain
                         there is no gold hidden within.

               DePaar hands Becher a magnifying lens. Becher selects a piece
               of tin from a small pile on a table and peers at it with the
               lens.

                                   BECHER
                         I want to keep some pieces to test
                         later in my laboratory, Count
                         DePaar.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Of course, Doctor Becher. And take
                         any of the crucibles too, as you
                         please.

               Becher smashes one of the crucibles on the floor, then picks
               up a piece of the bottom and scrutinizes it.

                                   BECHER
                         I am satisfied that there is no
                         apparent trickery here.

                                   FATHER SPIESS
                         Gentlemen, I fear of magical
                         enchantment, and would bless these
                         materials before we continue.

                                   WENZEL
                         Oh yes, please do, Father Spiess.
                         It can only help.

                                   FATHER SPIESS
                         In nomine patris et filius et
                         spiritui sancto...

               His voice trails off into indistinct Latin mumbling while Dr.
               Becher fills a crucible with pieces of tin and places it in
               the hole in the top of the furnace.

               MINUTES LATER

               Everyone is startled by the LOUD METALLIC CRACKLE and FLASH
               OF BLUE LIGHT. Dr. Becher and Father Spiess look into the
               crucible, and then at each other with amazed expressions.
 

               INT. IMPERIAL COURT - DAY

               Count DePaar, Father Spiess, Dr. Becher and Wenzel stand
               before Emperor Leopold. A crowd of courtiers look on. A
               Jesuit priest stands among them.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         I am eager to hear the particulars
                         of your examination, Doctor Becher.
                         What do you have to say about the
                         matter?

                                   BECHER
                         Your Majesty, I have prepared a
                         written account, and all of us have
                         subscribed to it.

               Becher holds out a sealed envelope. The Imperial Secretary
               steps forward to receive it.

                                   BECHER (CONT'D)
                         I examined the tin and the crucible
                         closely, and the tincture that was
                         used. I also tested the gold that
                         was produced and found it to be the
                         purest I have ever seen. I
                         calculate that one part of the
                         tincture transmuted ten thousand
                         parts of tin to gold. (beat) We
                         also repeated the experiment to our
                         satisfaction. (beat) Your Majesty,
                         I am pleased to say that friar
                         Seyler possesses the true
                         alchemical tincture, the
                         Philosophers' Stone.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         How very interesting! And what is
                         your opinion, Father Spiess?

                                   FATHER SPIESS
                         Imperial Majesty, I am not an
                         alchemist, nor a chymist, yet it
                         did appear to be a genuine
                         transmutation. On my part, in God's
                         name, I blessed the materials to
                         prevent any magical mischief.
                         Indeed, it appears to be a small
                         miracle of rare device.

               Emperor Leopold pauses to look at each of them in turn.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Father Spiess and Doctor Becher, I
                         thank you for your service in this
                         matter. (beat) And I enjoin thee,
                         Count DePaar, to treat friar Seyler
                         kindly, and to assure him of my
                         favor. (beat) I advise thee, friar
                         Seyler, to refrain from further
                         scandal. You will assume the
                         Augustine habit again, and amend
                         your manners so as to satisfy the
                         clergy.
                         (beat) I shall investigate this
                         matter further, and make a final
                         decision for its disposition. So be
                         it.

                                   WENZEL
                         I, I am most grateful, your
                         Imperial Majesty!

               Emperor Leopold nods and smiles benignly.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         I humbly thank your Imperial
                         Majesty, and shall discharge this
                         commission as you command.
 

               INT. DEPAAR'S STUDY - NIGHT

               Hans DePaar sits at his desk, impressing his seal on an
               envelope. A second envelope lays to one side, already sealed.
               FATHER DUNELL sits watching him.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The very same day, Count DePaar
                         arranged for his confessor father
                         Dunell to vest friar Seyler with
                         his Augustine robes once again, and
                         he wrote letters to the abbot and
                         the governor, informing them of the
                         emperor's command.
 

               INT. ABBOT'S OFFICE - DAY

               Abbot Brecheisen throws the letter down on his desk and
               glowers at Father Dunell.
 

               INT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICE - DAY

               Governor Collebrat throws the letter on his desk and glowers
               at Father Dunell. Then he picks up a glass of wine, takes a
               gulp, and slams it down.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Becher sips his wine, then sets his glass down.

                                   BECHER
                         Count DePaar hoped to persuade
                         Wenzel to call for Francis
                         Preyhausen to bring him all of the
                         tincture, thinking himself safe
                         from violence under the emperor's
                         protection. But Wenzel easily
                         perceived the real intention, and
                         he made a pretext to attend Mass,
                         and managed to slip away from
                         DePaar's men.
 

               INT. ROOM - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis are sitting across from each other at a
               table with the copper box between them. Wenzel removes one
               bottle and puts it in his pocket. Francis stands up, shuts
               the box, locks it in a cabinet, and puts the key in his
               pocket.

                                   WENZEL
                         Brother Francis, we have endured
                         many hazards together, and now we
                         have the Emperor's promise of
                         protection. Still, I fear that we
                         must always beware. (beat) Now,
                         only you and I know how much of the
                         Philosophers' Stone we really
                         possess. Therefore I will take one
                         bottle, and pretend that is all.
                         The rest we shall bury again.
                         (beat) And I think you should
                         remain incognito until we can act
                         with confidence.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I agree completely. We must be more
                         careful than ever. Let us go bury
                         the box together.
 

               EXT. DRIVEWAY - NIGHT

               Count DePaar arrives in his carriage. The driver sets a
               footstep for him, and helps him down.
 

               INT. SALON - NIGHT

               Wenzel is sitting in an armchair, sipping wine and watching
               the logs burning in the fireplace. When Count DePaar enters,
               he rises and bows.

                                   WENZEL
                         Good evening, Count DePaar!

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Good evening, Wenzel.

               DePaar pulls a pistol from his belt and lays it on a table.
               Then he takes a sealed letter from his coat pocket.

                                   HANS DEPAAR (CONT'D)
                         Wenzel, my son, today I had
                         audience with the Emperor, and he
                         gave me this sealed decree. (beat)
                         He demands the tincture of thee,
                         and says that if you refuse to
                         deliver it, I must execute the
                         sentence of death upon thee.

                                   WENZEL
                             (flabbergasted)
                         I, I cannot believe that he would
                         do such a thing. I wish to read the
                         decree!

               Wenzel reaches for the decree. DePaar picks up the pistol and
               points it at Wenzel.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Alas, my dear friend, the Emperor
                         commands that if you open this
                         decree, I must execute you
                         immediately! (long beat) Yet, if
                         you heed my advice, we may yet free
                         ourselves from this misfortune.
                         (beat) You are not alone! I am your
                         friend! I offer you my fatherly
                         love!

                                   WENZEL
                         I welcome your advice, Excellency!

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Both of us need the Emperor's
                         protection, and surely we shall be
                         forced to give him the tincture.
                         (beat) Yet we may both keep it, if
                         we pretend to try to multiply it in
                         quantity and potency, as the adept
                         alchemists claim. (beat) And after
                         some time has passed, we shall say
                         that the glass was broken by the
                         heat of the furnace, and we lost
                         all the tincture.
                         (beat) For the truth is, the
                         Emperor's court is not worthy of
                         such a treasure, and it would only
                         be prostituted there. Emperor
                         Leopold needs gold to pay for the
                         wars against France and the Turks.
                         (beat) But to engage thyself to me
                         in greater faith, you must give me
                         half the tincture, and we shall
                         make a mutual oath to be faithful,
                         one to the other, as long as we
                         live. And what has passed between
                         us tonight shall remain our secret.

                                   WENZEL
                             (reluctantly)
                         I would sign a written agreement on
                         these terms, and confirm it with
                         our mutual promise.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         As you wish, Wenzel.

               Count DePaar raises a glass of wine.

                                   HANS DEPAAR (CONT'D)
                         Let us drink to our success!

               Wenzel raises his glass.

                                   WENZEL
                         To our success!

               As they sip their wine, Depaar grips his hip and grimaces. He
               puts down his glass.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Damn the gout!
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher puts down his glass of wine.

                                   BECHER
                         Now,  few days later, Count DePaar
                         suffered a severe attack of gout.
                         And to relieve the pain, he drank
                         some potable gold that the
                         alchemist Burrhy had prepared but
                         poorly, and it only caused him more
                         grief.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Count Hans DePaar is on his deathbed. His brother PETER
               DEPAAR stands at his side as Father Dunell administers
               Extreme Unction. There is a small desk at the foot of the
               bed.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         His physician administered other
                         remedies to no avail, and his
                         symptoms grew worse. Count DePaar
                         sensed his death approaching, and
                         called for his brother Peter, his
                         only heir, for he was a bachelor.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Peter, listen carefully, and heed
                         my words. (beat)
 

               FLASHBACK:

               INT. PARLOR - DAY

               Frederick is reading Hans DePaar's palm. An amazed look comes
               over his face. He pauses, then continues inaudibly.

                                   HANS DEPAAR (V.O., CONT'D)
                         Years ago in Italy, a soothsayer
                         named Frederick Gualdus foretold
                         that I would obtain the
                         Philosophers' Stone, and then soon
                         after I would die! (beat) The first
                         part of the prophecy is fulfilled,
                         and now my death is near...
 

               RETURN TO SCENE

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         I know that you have spent as much
                         time and money as myself in the
                         vain practice of alchemy. I have
                         nothing more valuable to give you,
                         Peter, than the portion of the
                         Philosophers' Stone that I have
                         obtained. It is sealed up in that
                         desk. I shall entrust it to Father
                         Dunell, and upon my death, he shall
                         deliver it to you.

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         Dear Hans, I doubt very much that
                         your end is nigh, so I will take my
                         leave for tonight. Sleep well, my
                         brother. I shall return tomorrow.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Father Dunell, I entrust this desk
                         to you now, to deliver to my
                         brother.

                                   FATHER DUNELL
                         Your Excellency, it shall be done
                         as you wish. I shall take the desk
                         with me tonight.

                                   HANS DEPAAR
                         Thank you, Father.
 

               EXT. ST. FRANCIS' MONASTERY - NIGHT (ESTABLISHING)

               EXT. MONASTERY COURTYARD - NIGHT

               Father Dunell arrives in DePaar's carriage, accompanied by
               two men in a wagon with the desk. The coachman places a
               footstep and helps him down. The other men unload the desk
               and carry it into the building after the priest.

               LATER

               As the carriage and wagon leave through the monastery gate,
               the Spanish BISHOP CASTILLE and his entourage arrives in
               three carriages, accompanied by several soldiers. The
               bishop's face is seen in passing.
 

               EXT. MANSION - NIGHT

               The STEWARD is instructing a servant, LUDWIG.

                                   STEWARD
                         Ludwig, ride to Count DePaar and
                         inform him that his brother has
                         died this hour.

                                   LUDWIG
                         Yes, sir.
 

               EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

               Ludwig is galloping to Peter DePaar's estate.
 

               EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

               Peter DePaar and Ludwig gallop on horseback, followed by two
               men in a wagon.
 

               EXT. ST. FRANCIS' MONASTERY - NIGHT

               Peter DePaar knocks loudly at the monastery gate. The PORTER
               MONK opens the peephole, then opens the gate slightly.

                                   PORTER MONK
                         Yes, sir, what do you want?
 

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         I am Count DePaar, and I must speak
                         with Father Dunell immediately!

                                   PORTER MONK
                         Your Excellency, this is an
                         unreasonable hour for a visit.
                         Father Dunell has retired for the
                         night.

               DePaar barges in, and slips a coin into the monk's hand.

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         Take me to him, now!

               The flustered monk stares at the coin. DePaar slaps another
               into his palm.

                                   PORTER MONK
                         But... I...

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         Now, my good monk!

                                   PORTER MONK
                         Yes, Excellency. Follow me. (beat)
                         Quietly, please!

               He leads the way, carrying a lantern.
 

               INT. CORRIDOR - NIGHT

               Count DePaar pounds on Father Dunell's door as the monk and
               the other men stand by.

                                   PORTER MONK
                         Shhh! Please be quiet!

               DePaar ignores him and keeps knocking loudly. Father Dunell
               finally opens the door, yawning and squinting, dressed in his
               nightgown, and wearing slippers.

                                   FATHER DUNELL
                         Why do you wake me at this ungodly
                         hour?

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         Father Dunell, my brother has died,
                         and I have come for the desk. It
                         belongs to me now.

                                   FATHER DUNELL
                         Count DePaar, I am shocked by your
                         rudeness. Please wait until
                         morning, and the desk will be
                         delivered to you in the presence of
                         the Abbot.

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         I cannot wait until morning. I will
                         have it now, if you please.

               DePaar motions to his men, and they enter the room to take
               the desk. Father Dunell tries to stop them, and they shove
               him aside.

                                   PORTER MONK
                         Help! Help! Alarm!

               Several monks come out of their cells, dressed in their
               underwear, and rush to aid Father Dunell. Then Bishop
               Castille appears, dressed in his nightgown.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         What is all this commotion? Who are
                         these people?

                                   FATHER DUNELL
                         Bishop Castille, Excellency! I was
                         the confessor of Count Hans DePaar,
                         who died this night. He entrusted
                         this desk to me, to deliver it to
                         his brother here, come now to take
                         it by force! I only ask that he
                         wait until morning, to receive it
                         with the Abbot as a witness.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         Unless this desk is made from the
                         wood of Christ's Cross, there will
                         be no more noise about it tonight!
                         (beat) I will take receipt of this
                         desk from you, Father, and I shall
                         present it to Emperor Leopold when
                         I see him today. And you...

                                   PETER DEPAAR
                         I am Count Peter DePaar. I am the
                         Postmaster of Austria.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         Count DePaar, you may claim your
                         desk from the Emperor! Now leave,
                         posthaste!

               Fuming, Count DePaar turns to leave, and his men follow.
               Bishop Castille gestures to the monks.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE (CONT'D)
                         Bring the desk!

               Two monks pick up the desk and carry it after the Bishop. The
               other monks return to their cells. Father Dunell yawns,
               shakes his head, and shuts his door.
 

               INT. IMPERIAL COURT - DAY

               Bishop Castille stands before Emperor Leopold on his throne.
               Two priests stand behind him with the desk between them. The
               court is crowded; Dr Becher is present.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         Your Imperial Majesty, I bring you
                         greetings and salutations from
                         Empress Margaret of Spain.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Bishop Castille, you are most
                         welcome here in Vienna. I trust you
                         had a safe and pleasant journey.

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         I did, your Majesty, until I
                         arrived last night at Saint
                         Francis' Monastery.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Pray tell, what happened?

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         Your Majesty, I have a grievous
                         complaint to make against your
                         postmaster, Count Peter DePaar.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         What? Count DePaar?

                                   BISHOP CASTILLE
                         Yes, your majesty, the Count Peter
                         DePaar. He came to the monastery
                         late last night and made such a
                         violent disturbance that everyone
                         was awakened. And it was all for
                         this desk! (beat) I humbly ask your
                         Majesty to reprimand the Count.
                         Such behavior is not tolerated in
                         Spain. And therefore I deliver the
                         desk to you for disposition.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         My dear Bishop, you shall have his
                         most humble apology. But let us not
                         dwell on it. We have important
                         matters to discuss, in my privy
                         chambers.

               The Emperor rises, and everyone bows as he and Bishop
               Castille leave with the two priests and the desk in tow. The
               courtiers start gossiping indistinctly.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine.

                                   BECHER
                         The story raced through the court
                         and the city, and soon reached
                         Wenzel Seyler. (beat) And by means
                         of Bishop Castille, he obtained an
                         audience with the Emperor, and told
                         him the whole story, how Count Hans
                         DePaar had extorted the tincture
                         from him, and forced him to vow
                         secrecy, but now the Count was
                         dead, and he was free from the
                         oath.
 

               INT. PRIVY CHAMBER - DAY

               Wenzel stands before Emperor Leopold and Bishop Castille, who
               are sitting in armchairs.

                                   WENZEL
                         Your Imperial Majesty, I am very
                         glad that the Tincture has come
                         into your hands.
                         I have been determined to deliver
                         it to you, but the violence of
                         Count DePaar, and of Prince Charles
                         and Count Schtick has prevented me.
                         (beat) Therefore I implore you to
                         grant me your protection, and
                         return the tincture to me so that I
                         may test its virtues and powers.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Friar Seyler, now that I understand
                         the events in this affair, I will
                         extend my protection to you, and I
                         shall entertain you in my court.
                         Therefore, I commit you to the care
                         and inspection of Count Austin of
                         Wallenstein, the Governor of
                         Hattshirr. (beat) The tincture
                         shall be returned to you, that you
                         may examine and enjoy it. But I
                         shall keep some of it for
                         safekeeping.

                                   WENZEL
                         Your Majesty, I am eternally
                         grateful for your mercy and
                         understanding.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         My secretary shall make the
                         necessary arrangements.

               He nods to Wenzel, who bows his way backwards out of the
               chamber. The Emperor pulls a bell cord to notify the guards
               outside, and they open and shut the door.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sets his wineglass on the table, and rubs his
               hands.

                                   BECHER
                         Friar Seyler was well received into
                         the Emperor's good graces, and he
                         was assigned lodgings at the
                         Imperial Bowling Green. He also
                         performed some transmutations
                         before the Emperor, and Count
                         Austin made a gold chain in memory
                         of the occasion.
 

               EXT. ROAD - DAY

               Francis, dressed in his monk's robe, is riding in a royal
               carriage, escorted by two soldiers on horseback.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         And Emperor Leopold sent Friar
                         Francis Preyhausen to Rome to seek
                         a dispensation from the Pope, to
                         release them from their monastic
                         vows.

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) EXT. ROOFTOP, VIENNA - DAY

               A black-robed Jesuit priest releases a HOMING PIGEON with a
               message holder tied to its ankle. Cooing pigeons rustle about
               in their coop, with Hofburg Palace visible in the background.

               B) EXT. ROOFTOP, ROME - DAY

               The Vatican is visible in the background as the HOMING PIGEON
               lands at a rooftop coop full of cooing pigeons. A Jesuit
               priest unties the message holder from its ankle.

               C) EXT. VATICAN - DAY

               Francis enters the Vatican, accompanied by an Augustine
               priest. The Jesuit follows at a discrete distance.
 

               INT. PALACE LABORATORY - DAY

               Dressed in the Augustine habit, Wenzel is sitting at a table,
               drinking wine and talking inaudibly with Paul DELOURDES and
               Herman LECHLER. Several alchemical books lay open on the
               table. Specimens of various minerals lay about, and a mortar
               and pestle.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Friar Seyler met many chymists and
                         alchemists, yet none knew the true
                         practice, so he only wasted his
                         powder. Then some charlatans
                         insinuated themselves upon him, and
                         he learned many cunning frauds from
                         them.

               Delourdes is holding a crucible, and pointing into it.

                                   DELOURDES
                         My favorite trick is to mix some
                         powdered gold with wax in the
                         bottom of a crucible and cover it
                         with clay. When I pretend to make
                         gold from lead, I poke through the
                         clay with an iron rod and stir up
                         the gold.

                                   LECHLER
                         Ha ha! Yes, that's easy, and it
                         works every time! I paid fir my
                         first tour of Europe that way,
                         until that accident in Rome...

               The three men chuckle drunkenly and drink up.
 

               INT. PALACE LABORATORY - DAY

               Wenzel, DeLourdes, and Lechler are distilling something smoky
               and smelly. Count Wallenstein and Dr. Becher come in to
               observe. The Count is frowning, shaking his head, and he
               holds a handkerchief to his nose.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The many visitors soon became a
                         noisome bother at the court, and
                         Wenzel was always watched by Count
                         Wallenstein. So friar Seyler told
                         the Emperor that he needed to
                         prepare some sulfurous substances,
                         and the noxious fumes and stench
                         would be a danger to the court.
                         Therefore a laboratory was built
                         for him in the Carinthian Fort, and
                         he had the entire place to himself.
                         And Emperor Leopold commanded me to
                         assist him, so I got to better know
                         the man.

                                   WENZEL
                         Doctor Becher! Count Wallestein!
                         Welcome!
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Wenzel and Dr. Becher watch as masons construct a furnace in
               front of a window.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine.

                                   BECHER
                         Now, every alchemist knows the
                         adepts' claim that the
                         Philosophers' Stone can be
                         increased in potency and in
                         quantity. Therefore, many people
                         asked to buy a bit of it, hoping to
                         augment their portion. And friar
                         Seyler was happy to sell it to them
                         for much more than it was worth in
                         the gold that could be produced.
                         Count Savonius was one such
                         customer.
 

               INT. SALON - NIGHT

               COUNT SAVONIUS hefts a small box onto the table and opens it
               to reveal 1000 ducats.

                                   WENZEL
                         I thank you, Count Savonius. And
                         here is a generous portion of the
                         tincture for you to test. I wish
                         you every success in your
                         experiments.

                                   COUNT SAVONIUS
                         I thank you in like wise, friar
                         Seyler.

               The Count looks closely at the vial, then puts it in his
               pocket. Wenzel closes the box and locks it in a cabinet. A
               SERVANT KNOCKS at the door.

                                   WENZEL
                         Enter!

                                   SERVANT
                         Dinner is served, master.

                                   WENZEL
                         Shall we join the other guests,
                         Excellency?

                                   COUNT SAVONIUS
                         With pleasure a good appetite, Herr
                         Seyler!

                                   WENZEL
                         Call me Wenzel, please.
 

               INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT

               Wenzel is dining with Count Savonius and several other
               guests. Gorgeous Angelique is sitting next to him, sporting
               an extravagant necklace.

                                   WENZEL
                         Angelique, my darling, you look
                         ravishing!

                                   ANGELIQUE
                         Oh, Wenzel, you are so charming!
                         And generous! This necklace is so
                         beautiful! Thank you, my dearest!

               She leans over to kiss him. Wenzel suddenly begins to gasp
               for breath, clutches his stomach in agony, and falls to the
               floor. The guests watch in horror and look aghast at each
               other. One of them stands up, runs to the window, and vomits.
               Angelique kneels on the floor, comforting Wenzel in her lap
               as she weeps for him.

                                   ANGELIQUE (CONT'D)
                         Oh, Wenzel, Wenzel! Please, don't
                         die!
 

               EXT. FRONT DOOR - NIGHT

               Count Savonius hands a note to his COACHMAN.

                                   COUNT SAVONIUS
                         Go to Doctor Biliot at this address
                         and bring him here at once!

               The coachman looks at the address and bows.

                                   COACHMAN
                         Yes, Excellency!

               LATER

               Count Savonius greets DR. BILIOT as he arrives. The doctor is
               carrying a leather medical bag.

                                   COUNT SAVONIUS
                         I want you to attend to his every
                         need -- and to mine.
                         He has taken one thousand ducats
                         from me for some of his tincture. I
                         want it back, and the tincture too.
                         The money is in the cabinet in his
                         study, and the key is in his
                         pocket. Find the tincture for me,
                         and the thousand ducats are yours
                         to keep.

                                   DR. BILIOT
                         I understand, Excellency.

                                   COUNT SAVONIUS
                         Good. I shall send my carriage back
                         for you. Good night, doctor.

               Count Savonius climbs into the carriage, and the coachman
               shuts the door for him.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Dr. Biliot finishes examining Wenzel, who is unconscious and
               moaning. Angelique sits beside the bed.

                                   DR. BILIOT
                         It appears that he has been
                         poisoned with arsenic. I have
                         administered vitriol. Now we must
                         wait. (beat) There is nothing you
                         can do here, fraulein. You might as
                         well go home.

                                   ANGELIQUE
                         Yes, Doctor Biliot.
 

               INT. STUDY - NIGHT

               Dr. Biliot opens the cabinet, removes the box of ducats, then
               puts it in his medical bag.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         The unscrupulous doctor found the
                         Count's ducats easily, but Wenzel
                         had hidden his tincture well, so
                         Biliot failed to find it.

               INT. BEDROOM - DAY

               Wenzel is sitting up in bed, and Angelique is fussing over
               him. She kisses his brow.
               He pulls her to him kisses her lips, and nuzzles her bosom.
               She giggles and lays back in his lap, smiling lasciviously.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)(CONT'D)
                         And soon after, to everyone's
                         surprise, friar Seyler began to
                         recover his health.

               EXT. VATICAN - DAY

               Francis is smiling as he leaves the Vatican, holding a sealed
               letter. A Jesuit priest follows discretely.

                                   BECHER (CONT'D)
                         And a few weeks later, Francis
                         Prehausen returned from Rome with
                         the papal dispensation.
 

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) EXT. ROAD - DAY

               Francis is riding in a royal carriage on his way back to
               Vienna, escorted by two soldiers on horseback. He is now
               dressed in plain clothes.

               B) EXT. ROOFTOP, ROME - DAY

               A Jesuit priest releases a HOMING PIGEON with a message
               attached. The Vatican is in the background.

               C) EXT. ROOFTOP, VIENNA - DAY

               The HOMING PIGEON lands at the rooftop coop in Vienna.
               Hofburg Palace can be seen in the background. A Jesuit priest
               picks it up and unties the message from its ankle.
 

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Francis is sitting in an armchair, sipping wine. Wenzel
               stands happily reading the papal dispensation. He tosses it
               on the table, then tears off his monk's habit and throws it
               into the fireplace.

                                   WENZEL
                         Cheer up, Francis! Our dream has
                         come true! We are free from the
                         Church, and we have wealth, honor
                         and fame, and women!

                                   FRANCIS
                         Mmmm... Forgive me if I am less
                         than enthused, for I am tired from
                         my journey, and I exhausted my
                         relief in the indulgences of Rome.
                         (beat) Wenzel, I am very worried by
                         the many strangers you have
                         attracted. (beat) I think it would
                         be best for me to remain incognito
                         while I am in Vienna. Only you may
                         know where I reside. (beat)

                                   WENZEL
                         I agree, Francis. We may enjoy the
                         Emperor's protection, but lesser
                         men will always seek to steal our
                         treasure.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Soon I shall go traveling again, to
                         study alchemy in the great
                         libraries. We know nothing of the
                         proper use and the powers of the
                         Philosophers' Stone, and no one
                         here in Vienna knows any more than
                         we do. Perhaps I may meet someone
                         who can teach me the true practice.
                         (beat) I shall send you letters to
                         keep you informed of my progress.

                                   WENZEL
                         I shall provide you with all the
                         money you may need.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Thank you, Wenzel.

               EXT. ST. STEPHAN'S CATHEDRAL - DAY

               Wenzel and Angelique are leaving the cathedral after getting
               married. Dr. Becher is among the many guests who follow them
               out. He stands quietly watching as the others cheer and throw
               flowers at the newlyweds.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Soon after, Wenzel married a very
                         crafty woman named Angelique who
                         had attended to his sickness and
                         his desires. (beat) But in Vienna
                         she was accounted as a common
                         whore.
                         (beat) And he was visited by
                         persons of the highest rank, and
                         was mightily respected by the most
                         eminent ladies, countesses and
                         princesses.

               INT. BANQUET - DAY

               Wenzel and Angelique are celebrating their wedding banquet.
               Francis and Dr. Becher are among the guests..

                                   WENZEL
                         My friends, I do fancy that the
                         elements all conspire together to
                         make me happy! Eat, drink! Be happy
                         with me!

               The guests laugh drunkenly. Francis manages a wan smile, and
               Becher sips his wine.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine, then sets the glass down.

                                   BECHER
                         As a spectator of the scene, I
                         thought he was living in a fool's
                         paradise. (beat) It reminded me of
                         Cornelius Agrippa, who wrote in his
                         book The Vanity of Sciences, that
                         if he were master of the
                         Philosophers' Stone, he would spend
                         it all in nothing but whoring, for
                         he could easily make women
                         prostitute themselves thereby, and
                         yield to his lust. (beat) And that
                         is just what Wenzel Seyler did. He
                         squandered it all in debauchery.

               MONTAGE:

               Wenzel and Angelique are carousing in bed with a series of
               women and men in orgiastic combinations, climaxing in a
               chorus of passionate moans and cries.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - DAY

               Wenzel and Angelique lay beside each other in bed, breathing
               fitfully. They are covered with chancres, and their eyes are
               closed.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         But Wenzel and Angelique were so
                         depraved, that soon they contracted
                         the French disease. Yet Wenzel made
                         another miraculous recovery.
 

               LATER

               Wenzel stands beside the bed, weeping; Angelique is dead. The
               doctor pulls the sheet over her head.

                                   BECHER (V.O., CONT'D)
                         I believe that the medicinal virtue
                         of the Tincture saved him, because
                         he had handled it so often, and it
                         strengthened his blood. But he knew
                         nothing of it, so he could not
                         treat his wife, and she died.

               MONTAGE:

               INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Wenzel carouses serially and in combinations with dozens of
               women and some men, climaxing in a chorus of passionate moans
               and cries.

               LATER

               He lays in bed after it all, looks at the woman sleeping
               beside him, and sighs as tears well up in his eyes.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         After the death of Angelique,
                         Wenzel Seyler exceeded all bounds
                         of modesty, and indulged in every
                         sinful excess. In three years time
                         he spent more than ten thousand
                         crowns in all manner of luxury...

               SERIES OF SHOTS:

               A) INT. SALON - DAY

               Wenzel chooses from an assortment of fabrics as two tailors
               fawn over him.

               B) LATER

               Wenzel is posing for a portrait.

               C) LATER

               An effete decorator fusses about as workers carry luxurious
               chairs and small tables into the room. Wenzel's portrait
               hangs on the wall.
 

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               Wenzel is entertaining dozens of guests in the salon and the
               garden. Francis stands at a window of a study that overlooks
               the garden. Wenzel looks up from the party and sees Francis.
 

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               Francis turns away from the window. Wenzel enters, shuts the
               door, and sinks into an armchair, looking tired and slightly
               drunk.

                                   WENZEL
                         Aren't you enjoying the party,
                         Francis?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Oh, do forgive me, Wenzel. I don't
                         mean to seem unfriendly toward your
                         guests. But I have another matter
                         in mind.

                                   WENZEL
                         It sounds serious.

                                   FRANCIS
                         It is.

                                   WENZEL
                         Then I shall leave you to dote upon
                         in private, unless you want my
                         advice.

                                   FRANCIS
                         The matter is you, Wenzel, so do
                         stay and consult with me, if you
                         please. The party won't miss you
                         meanwhile.

                                   WENZEL
                         Uhhh... Well...

               Francis has Wenzel politely trapped in the chair.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Indeed. (beat) Wenzel, I don't want
                         to sound dramatic, but I tell you,
                         man, I do fear you are at grave
                         risk of losing your soul in the
                         abyss of sin.

                                   WENZEL
                         Ohhh... Uhhh... Well... You may be
                         right, brother Francis. (beat) No,
                         you are right! No matter how often
                         I confess my sins and do penance, I
                         cannot resist the next temptation!
                         My lust seems to have no bounds! No
                         woman resists me, not even wives or
                         virgins! (beat) Well, there was one
                         nun, but she was... special.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Wenzel, Your penis is your Achilles
                         heel! Sex killed Angelique, and it
                         nearly killed you! Aren't you ever
                         satisfied?

                                   WENZEL
                         No... I am only satiated, for a
                         little while at best. (beat) My
                         life is a perpetual motion of wine
                         and women, music and food. I
                         haven't been sleeping well, and I
                         have a headache every morning.

                                   FRANCIS
                         That much is easily cured. Don't
                         drink so much wine! Get outdoors
                         once in a while to breathe fresh
                         air! And bathe more often.

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, of course! Why didn't I think
                         of that!?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Maybe you are too drunk to think.
                         (beat) Seriously, Wenzel, this
                         cannot endure! You are wasting the
                         Tincture, and you know not how to
                         replace it. What will you do when
                         it is all gone? Will you become a
                         monk again?

                                   WENZEL
                         Hmmm... Possibly... But not
                         Augustine, or Benedictine, nor
                         Jesuit. Perhaps I shall become a
                         Protestant, or a Moslem...

               Wenzel's voice sinks into mumbling, then a mild snore as he
               pretends to pass asleep.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Ach! Damn it, Wenzel! You are
                         impossible!

               Francis glares, then leaves the room. Wenzel opens an eye to
               watch Francis leave. Alone, he sighs and frowns, closes his
               eyes, and groans. After a long beat, he begins to snore
               slightly.

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Wenzel and Francis are sitting in armchairs before a
               fireplace, sipping wine as they talk. Wenzel, slightly drunk,
               pulls a bottle of tincture from his pocket.

                                   WENZEL
                         I have spent almost all of the
                         Tincture in this bottle. I need to
                         retrieve another from the box. I
                         shall go tomorrow.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Wenzel, there is only one bottle
                         left. (beat) And it is not where we
                         buried it.

               Wenzel rises from his chair with an alarmed look.

                                   WENZEL
                         What do you mean, it's not there?!

                                   FRANCIS
                         Precisely. I have moved it.

                                   WENZEL
                         You moved it? And you did not tell
                         me? What are you trying to do?

               Wenzel advances, glowering at Francis.

                                   WENZEL (CONT'D)
                         Where is my tincture, Francis?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Calm yourself, Wenzel. It is safe.
                         But you are not. (beat) Your
                         enemies can not harm you, yet you
                         are destroying yourself with
                         excess.

                                   WENZEL
                         I don't want another sermon,
                         Francis. Where is the tincture?

                                   FRANCIS
                         It is nearby. And I will return it
                         to you, when you must come to your
                         senses, Wenzel. Your excesses, must
                         stop!

                                   WENZEL
                         I am a dissipated, dis-,
                         dispensated monk, damn it, not a
                         saint! Excess, you say? Ha! I won't
                         know what is enough, until I've had
                         too much!

                                   FRANCIS
                         Wenzel, you are totally debauched
                         and depraved,  and your
                         embarrassment of riches is
                         shameful, yet you have no shame.
                         (beat) You possess a great gift of
                         God, that you could use to help
                         people in need, yet you spend it on
                         luxury and entertainment. I do not
                         object to luxury, Wenzel, but this
                         is wanton waste. (beat) Wenzel, do
                         you remember the vows we exchanged
                         with each other in the monastery,
                         when we began this adventure? Eh?

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, of course.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I want you to renew those vows with
                         me. Now. Then will I return the
                         tincture to you. (beat) Think about
                         it. Let me know when you're ready
                         to be sensible. I await you.

               Francis leaves abruptly, and Wenzel remains staring into
               fireplace, chewing his nails as he worries.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Wenzel sits at a table, weighing his remaining tincture on a
               balance scale. He writes some notes, then puts the quill pen
               in the ink pot, looks at his notes, scratches his head, and
               bites his nails. He gulps some wine, and looks worried.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         He foresaw that his supply of
                         tincture would not last long at
                         that rate.

               LATER

               Wenzel is performing a distillation. He pumps the bellows a
               few times, then peers into the retort. Suddenly it explodes,
               and he runs out of the laboratory, coughing, choking.

                                   BECHER (CONT'D)
                         And though he hoped to increase it
                         as the adepts teach in their books,
                         he was no alchemist, so his
                         experiments only resulted in
                         further loss.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Wenzel is experimenting with DeLourdes and Lechler.

                                   BECHER (V.O., CONT'D)
                         Yet his needs were such, and so
                         many wanted to buy his powder, that
                         he resorted to a fraudulent scheme
                         with the help of his partners Paul
                         DeLourdes and Herman Lechler.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - NIGHT

               Wenzel is experimenting with DeLordes and Lechler.

                                   BECHER (V.O, CONT'D)
                         They prepared the tincture with a
                         mixture of powdered cinnabar,
                         copper, and litharge all boiled
                         together in aqua fortis, so that
                         ignorant fools might mistake it for
                         his real gold-making powder, and
                         buy it for a high price. (beat) And
                         by means of this and other
                         swindles, he got many thousands of
                         crowns.
 

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               Wenzel is selling a small bottle of red powder to BARON
               KARNSTADT, who hands him a bag of coins. Paul DeLourdes and
               Herman Lechler also are present, watching from across the
               room, and smirking at each other.

                                   WENZEL
                         Thank you, Baron Karnstadt, I hope
                         your experiment is successful.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         I thank you too, Herr Seyler. I
                         shall make the experiment as soon
                         as I return to my laboratory.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Baron Karnstadt is attempting the perform a transmutation. He
               removes a crucible from his furnace with tongs and sets it on
               a brick counter. There is no gold. He frowns.
 

               INT. SALON - DAY

               Baron Karnstadt is angrily confronting Wenzel, DeLourdes, and
               Lechler, who are holding glasses of wine.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         You have cheated me, Herr Seyler!
                         Return my money, or I shall bring a
                         complaint against you before the
                         court!

               Wenzel puts his glass on a table.

                                   WENZEL
                         My dear Baron Karnstadt, the verity
                         of my tincture has been proven by
                         the assayers at the Imperial Mint,
                         and by many others, as you know. I
                         can only suppose that you lack
                         skill in the art, and made a
                         mistake in the practice.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         Do not insult my intelligence, sir!
                         I followed your instructions
                         carefully, and I am well practiced
                         in chymical science! I demand that
                         you return the money I paid you!

                                   WENZEL
                         In that case, Baron, I must ask you
                         to return the tincture I sold to
                         you.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         I used it all in the experiments!

                                   WENZEL
                         Well then, would you like to make
                         another trial of it? Perhaps you
                         can get it right this time.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         The only other trial I shall make
                         is of you, Herr Seyler, in a court
                         of law!

               The baron storms out, and the three scoundrels snicker in
               glee as they click their glasses together in a toast, and set
               their glasses down.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sets down his glass of wine, and surveys his
               audience.

                                   BECHER
                         The matter could not be kept
                         secret, and people began to talk
                         about it. Serious alchemists
                         resented his prostitution of their
                         science, and his many crimes of
                         fraud. (beat) But he was in such
                         good credit with the emperor, that
                         it was not safe to impeach him.
 

               INT. COURTROOM - DAY

               The courtroom is crowded with observers, including Dr.
               Becher. Baron Karnstadt is in the witness stand.

                                   BECHER (VV.O., CONT'D)
                         Nevertheless, several of his
                         victims took legal action, and they
                         obtained a judgment against him.

                                   BARON KARNSTADT
                         Then he said, would you like to
                         make another trial of it? Perhaps
                         you can get it right this time!
 

               INT. PRIVY CHAMBER - DAY

               Emperor Leopold is meeting with several high councillors,
               including Dr. Becher. Their discussion is indistinct except
               for snatches about "Seyler", "fraud", "court", "judgment" and
               "Your Majesty".

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Now the Emperor, unless he were to
                         leave his favorite Wenzel to the
                         judges, had to intervene. For so
                         many complaints were made against
                         him, and his infamy was so
                         widespread, that Leopold thought it
                         convenient to have it suppressed.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher sips his wine. He is slurring slightly.

                                   BECHER
                         Gentlemen, the hour is getting
                         late, so I will bring this story to
                         a close. (beat) I will just say
                         that the Emperor paid all of
                         Seyler's debts, and got from him
                         the rest of his tincture.
 

               INT. PRIVY CHAMBER - DAY

               Wenzel hands one of the small bottles of Philosophers' Stone
               to Emperor Leopold. It now contains only a small amount.

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Wenzel, you are one of my favorite
                         subjects, but you have caused me a
                         great deal of embarrassment, and I
                         am sorely irritated about it. Do
                         not disappoint me again. Do you
                         understand?

                                   WENZEL
                         Yes, your Majesty. I promise to
                         mend my ways and refrain from any
                         further abuse of my privileges.
                         (beat) I humbly apologize to you,
                         my gracious sovereign. (beat) I am
                         very sorry to have displeased you.
                         I thank you for being so merciful
                         to me.
 

               INT. IMPERIAL COURT - DAY

               Wenzel is kneeling before Emperor Leopold, who is placing a
               medallion on a ribbon around his neck. Dr. Becher is among
               the many courtiers present for the ceremony.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Then the Emperor advanced him to
                         the title of Baron Seyler of
                         Rheinburgh. (beat) And furthermore,
                         he made him the Hereditary Master
                         of the Mint of Bohemia!

                                   EMPEROR LEOPOLD
                         Rise, Baron Seyler, and go forth to
                         your estate.

               Wenzel rises to his feet, bows to the Emperor, and withdraws
               as the audience applauds.
 

               INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT

               Wenzel and his beautiful new wife are entertaining several
               aristocratic guests. Francis Preyhausen is among them.

                                   BECHER (V.O.)
                         Emperor Leopold sent him away to
                         Prague, where he now lives with his
                         second wife. (beat) Her name is
                         Waldes Kircheriana, a lovely woman
                         of a noble family. (beat) And Baron
                         Seyler made Francis Preyhausen the
                         steward of his house.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Dr. Becher finishes his glass of wine, sets it down, and
               points to Robert BOYLE, who nods and smiles.

                                   BECHER
                         I published this story at the
                         request of Sir Robert Boyle, to
                         tell the truth of the matter, and
                         to silence the critics of alchemy.
                         (beat) Now, if I have mistaken any
                         of the facts, well then, Baron
                         Seyler is still alive, and he is
                         welcome to correct me with a more
                         exact account.
                         (beat) And to conclude, I sincerely
                         wish that, if God should bless any
                         alchemist with the Philosophers'
                         Stone, he puts it to better use
                         than did Wenzel Seyler, for the
                         benefit of humanity, and the glory
                         of God. (beat) One can only
                         speculate how Emperor Leopold has
                         used his portion. But his Majesty
                         did bestow upon me a single grain
                         of it, and I keep it with me
                         always, in this vial.

               Dr. Becher produces a tiny vial from his pocket. It contains
               a tiny piece of the red Stone.

                                   NEWTON
                         May we take a look at it, Doctor
                         Becher?

                                   BECHER
                         Certainly, Sir Newton! Pass it
                         around.

               Becher hands the vial to Newton, who is sitting closest to
               him.

                                   NEWTON
                         Ah, what a wonderment! I would give
                         anything to know the secret of its
                         preparation!

               Newton peers into the vial, then passes it to Sir Robert
               BOYLE, who is distracted.

                                   NEWTON (CONT'D)
                         Sir Boyle?

                                   BOYLE
                         Ah, yes. (beat) Gentlemen, I would
                         like to add mention of a meeting I
                         had recently with Count von
                         Lamberg, son of the Lord High
                         Steward to Emperor Leopold. He was
                         in the company of Count Wallestein,
                         who came here as an envoy to King
                         Charles. (beat) I asked him to tell
                         me about Baron Seyler, and he said
                         he was very well acquainted with
                         the man, and had witnessed several
                         projections on lead and tin.

               Boyle pauses to sip his wine.

                                   BOYLE (CONT'D)
                         He also said that Baron Seyler had
                         repaid sixty thousand florins of
                         debts, and returned the pension
                         given to him by the Emperor. (beat)
                         The count also told me of a
                         particular transmutation that
                         Seyler performed before the emperor
                         and Count Wallestein.
 

               INT. EMPEROR'S PRIVY CHAMBER - DAY

               Emperor Leopold and Count Wallestein are sitting in
               armchairs, watching Wenzel. He speaks inaudibly as he hands
               the Emperor a piece of silver that he has cut with shears
               from a plate. Wenzel dips a small brush into a cup that
               contains a dab of red paste, and paints around the cut in the
               plate. Then he sets the plate on a bed of red-hot coals in a
               brazier. The silver turns to gold as they watch.

                                   BOYLE (V.O.)
                         He took a silver plate and cut off
                         a piece to show that it was pure,
                         then he spread a paste made of his
                         powder on the plate and held it
                         over burning coals, and the
                         tincture turned most of it into
                         gold.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Boyle looks around at the others, and gestures as he speaks.

                                   BOYLE
                         And the Count showed me the piece
                         of silver that had been cut off,
                         and a piece of the transmuted
                         plate, and later he presented both
                         pieces to his Majesty King Charles.

               Boyle takes an other look at the vial, then offers it to
               Edmund HALLEY.

                                   BOYLE (CONT'D)
                         Mister Halley?

                                   HALLEY
                         Thank you, Sir Boyle.

               MINUTES LATER

               The meeting is over, but Dr. Becher, Newton, and Boyle remain
               chatting. In the background, Halley is showing off his
               telescope to Robert Hooke and the other guests.

                                   NEWTON
                         I would have you know, Doctor
                         Becher, that you are being
                         considered as a candidate for
                         fellowship in the Royal Society. It
                         shall come to a vote at the next
                         meeting.

                                   BECHER
                         Ah, that is sweet music to my ears,
                         Sir Newton, for I would so enjoy
                         such an honor!

                                   NEWTON
                         Well, Doctor, I promise you shall
                         have my vote!

                                   BECHER
                         Why, thank you, Sir Newton!
 

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               SUPERIMPOSE: "PRAGUE, 1683"

               Francis is holding a LETTER as he stands before Wenzel at his
               desk.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Sir Robert Boyle in London has
                         written a letter to me. He says...
                         (beat) I regret to inform you that
                         Doctor Becher passed away in London
                         a few months ago, in October of
                         1682. (beat) He spoke often and
                         well of you... (beat) I have
                         enclosed a few copies of his
                         booklet Magnalia Naturae, which he
                         published at my behest... (beat)
                         Here is a copy for you, Wenzel.

               Francis hands a copy of MAGNALIA NATURAE to Wenzel.

               INT. LABORATORY - NIGHT

               Several lanterns hang from hooks on the walls, lighting the
               scene. Robert Boyle and Dr. Becher watch as their assistant
               furiously pumps the bellows of a furnace.
               A near-empty retort sits in the hole atop the furnace, and
               the white liquid in the receiver and the retort glows
               brightly. Becher and Boyle move closer to peer at it. The
               glass retort cracks ominously, and they cringe in fear of an
               explosion.

                                   BOYLE (V.O.)
                         Thanks to Doctor Becher's knowledge
                         of phosphorus, we now can work a
                         profit from the distillation of
                         urine and sand by Brandt's process.
                         (beat) It always dismayed him,
                         however, that he was not elected to
                         membership in the Royal Society.
 

               INT. FRANCIS' OFFICE - DAY

               Francis is studying Frederick and Karl's alchemical
               MANUSCRIPT. He silently mouths the words as he reads.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         If you want to meet other adepts
                         who might be nearby, then dissolve
                         a grain of your Stone in a bowl
                         pure water and set it on the ground
                         under a full moon.(beat) When you
                         go to sleep that night, rub some of
                         the water on your head, and pray to
                         recognize your fellow. You will
                         dream of him, and you will remember
                         his name and place. (beat) Hmmm...
 

               EXT. GARDEN - NIGHT

               Francis is kneeling in the grass before a bowl of red water.
               The FULL MOON shines overhead.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.) (CONT'D.)
                         A strange beam of light will rise
                         from the bowl toward the moon...
                         (beat) Hmmm... Any adepts who know
                         this will do the same, hoping to
                         meet their brothers.

               SPECIAL EFFECT: The WATER GLOWS with a RED LIGHT, and a
               ghostly BEAM RISES toward the moon. Francis watches in
               amazement.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

               The bowl now sits on a bedside table along with a single
               candle in a holder. Francis is sitting on the edge of the
               bed, rubbing his head with the red water. He blows out the
               candle and lays down to sleep. His head and the water in the
               bowl continue to glow softly in the dark.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.) (CONT'D.)
                         When you go to sleep that night,
                         rub some of the water on your head,
                         and pray to recognize your fellow.
                         You will dream of him, and you will
                         remember his name and place. (beat)
                         Hmmm...

               LATER

               Francis is dreaming. A mist clears to reveal Frederick
               Gualdus' face.

                                   DISEMBODIED VOICE
                         Frederick Gualdus... Prague.
 

               EXT. GARDEN - NIGHT

               Frederick is standing before a bowl of red water.

               SPECIAL EFFECT: The WATER GLOWS with a RED LIGHT, and a
               ghostly BEAM RISES toward the moon.

               Frederick peers at the bowl through a RED GLASS LENSE, and
               sees Francis' face appear on the surface of the water.

                                   DISEMBODIED VOICE
                         Francis Preyhausen... Prague.
 

               INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY

               Mass is being served, with hundreds of people in attendance.
               Francis is among them, and Frederick sits behind him. He is
               dressed inconspicuously, and appears to be about 50 years
               old.

               LATER

               Mass has ended and people are leaving. Frederick approaches
               Francis.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Herr Preyhausen?

                                   FRANCIS
                         I, I saw you in my dream! You...

                                   FREDERICK
                         I am Frederick Gualdus. (beat) I
                         knew Father Karl Steiner, the first
                         abbot of Saint Thomas' Monastery.
                         We prepared the Philosophers' Stone
                         that you possess today.

                                   FRANCIS
                         But the monastery was built four
                         hundred years ago! How can you be
                         so old?

                                   FREDERICK
                         I am much older even than four
                         hundred years. Seven hundred would
                         be more accurate, perhaps eight
                         hundred. I do not know exactly.
                         (beat) The medicinal virtue of the
                         Elixir cures all diseases, and
                         bestows a long life, until God
                         calls for your soul. (beat) The
                         power to transmute base metals is
                         merely one of its many powers.

                                   FRANCIS
                         That is what the manuscript says,
                         that was in the copper box!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Yes, I know. I helped write it.
                         (beat) Shall we take a walk?
 

               EXT. PARK - DAY

               Frederick and Francis are perambulating past a pond and a
               flock of swans.

                                   FREDERICK
                         You need to learn the proper use of
                         the Tincture, or you will be in
                         peril of your soul, and cause great
                         harm instead of good, like your
                         friend Baron Seyler. (beat) Indeed,
                         it is a miracle that he has
                         survived to enjoy such good
                         fortune.

                                   FRANCIS
                         He and I are the best of friends,
                         sir, yet I must agree with you,
                         Master Gualdus.

                                   FREDERICK
                         I have actually been observing you
                         for some time already, Francis, and
                         I think you are worthy of
                         initiation into the mysteries of
                         alchemy. (beat) Baron Seyler,
                         however, has disqualified himself
                         by his many sins. Therefore, you
                         may not tell him or anyone else
                         what I teach you. Promise me that.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I do so promise, Master Gualdus.
                         (beat) I implore you to teach me
                         all you can about alchemy! I shall
                         be on my best behavior!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Hmmph... Of course you shall, or
                         I'll abandon you to your fate.
                         (beat) And don't call me master so
                         often. It's embarrassing. I am also
                         simply Frederick.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, sir. Thank you, Frederick,
                         Master Gualdus!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Hmmph.
 

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               Francis is standing before Wenzel, who is seated at his desk.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I used the tincture according to
                         the instructions in the manuscript,
                         and I met a real adept alchemist!
                         His name is Frederick Gualdus, and
                         he is the master who taught Abbot
                         Steiner to make the Stone you
                         found!

                                   WENZEL
                         Francis, Abbot Steiner lived three
                         centuries ago! How could... what is
                         his name?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Frederick Gualdus.

                                   WENZEL
                         How can he be so old?

                                   FRANCIS
                         I asked him that, and he said it is
                         by the medicinal virtue of the
                         Elixir. Even so, few masters have
                         ever lived so long.

                                   WENZEL
                         The Elixir, you say?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, that is what he calls it, and
                         the Philosophers' Stone, and the
                         Tincture.

                                   WENZEL
                         Hmmm... Well, this should prove
                         most interesting!
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Gualdus is teaching Francis. Several alchemical books lay
               open on the table at which they are sitting.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Master, what is the Elixir? Is it
                         the Philosophers' Stone, or the
                         Tincture? I am confused by so many
                         names.

                                   FREDERICK
                         They are all the same thing, in
                         different forms. But the Elixir is
                         the great Medicine. (beat)
 

               FLASHBACK:
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               An unidentified ALCHEMIST holds the Philosophers' Stone up to
               the sun, praying in a blissful mumble.

                                   ALCHEMIST
                         In nomine deus, et filius, et
                         spiritus sanctus...

               MINUTES LATER

               The alchemist has filed a bit of the Stone. He tastes it
               tentatively. After a long beat, he dies, surprised.

                                   FREDERICK (V.O.)
                         Many alchemists who attained the
                         Philosophers' Stone ingested it
                         hoping for perfect health and long
                         life, but they met sudden death
                         instead.
 

               RETURN TO SCENE

                                   FREDERICK
                         The Stone must be dissolved in wine
                         and greatly diluted. (beat) A
                         spoonful each day will cure any
                         disease by a gentle sweat. (beat)
                         But take care not to be injured,
                         for the power is only medicinal,
                         not surgical. It will not heal
                         wounded flesh.
 

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Francis and Frederick move about the laboratory, selecting
               labeled jars of substances for an experiment and setting them
               on a table. Frederick stops to pull a silk pouch from his
               pocket, and a red glass lens from the pouch. He hands it to
               Francis.

                                   FREDERICK
                         The Philosophers' Stone is the key
                         to open heaven and earth. Through
                         it, you can see through everything.
                         (beat) Simply paint a glass with
                         it, and behold! Look at the
                         furnace.

               Francis peers through the lens at the furnace, and sees an
               elemental SALAMANDER in the fire.

               SPECIAL EFFECT: SALAMANDER CAVORTING in the coal fire.

                                   FREDERICK (CONT'D)
                         Now look out the window!

               Francis walks over to the window and looks through the lens
               out into a garden. He sees a glowing new world, populated
               with elemental spirits of water, air, and earth.
 

               EXT. GARDEN - DAY

               SYLPHS flutter about in the air, FAIRIES flutter about,
               GNOMES peek from behind trees and rocks, and UNDINES splash
               in a small pond. They smile and wave at Francis standing at
               the window, watching through the lens, his jaw agape. Then he
               grins with delight.

               RETURN TO SCENE

                                   FREDERICK
                         All spirits will obey you, for the
                         Stone elevates the soul to the
                         highest realms. (beat) You can also
                         know all things past and future, as
                         much as God permits... (beat) but
                         not your own death. (beat) And if
                         you look through the lens at
                         another person, you can diagnose
                         their health. All these things and
                         more will be shown to you.

               Frederick opens one of the jars and shakes some of the
               contents into a crucible.

                                   FREDERICK (CONT'D)
                         There is a new outbreak of the
                         black plague in Vienna. I am going
                         there tomorrow to fight it with the
                         Elixir. Will you come with me?

                                   FRANCIS
                             (reluctantly)
                         Yes, Frederick, if you wish.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Do not worry about it, Francis. If
                         you have been using the Elixir as I
                         instructed you, it will protect
                         you.

                                   FRANCIS
                         I have been taking one drop every
                         week. I do feel wonderful!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Do so for the rest of your life,
                         and you will scarcely show your
                         true age.
 

               EXT. STREET - NIGHT

               A CHURCH BELL TOLLS in the distance as Frederick and Francis,
               dressed in brown monastic robes and carrying lanterns, walk
               past a wagon filled with corpses of plague victims. Two men
               toss another body onto the pile. The DRIVER RINGS a small
               BELL a few times.

                                   DRIVER
                         Bring out the dead! Bring out the
                         dead!

               They walk around a corner. The narrow street is empty except
               for them. They pass by a door painted with an X, sign of the
               Black Death. They look around to see if anyone is watching,
               then slip inside and close the door behind them. The CHURCH
               BELL TOLLS again.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Their lanterns light up a tiny bedroom as Frederick looks
               through his red lens at a man and wife,laying together fully
               dressed on a bed. They are clutching crucifixes. Their faces
               are spotted with black buboes, and they gasp and moan weakly.
               Frederick pockets his monocle, takes a bottle from his pouch,
               and dribbles some Elixir into the man's mouth. Francis does
               the same for the woman. Then they cork their bottles, put
               them in their pouches, and leave the room.
 

               INT. STAIRWELL - NIGHT

               Frederick and Francis descend the stairs.

                                   FREDERICK
                         We saved dozens of lives today,
                         Francis. (beat) I wish we could do
                         more, but we must be careful not to
                         attract attention.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Alas, the task is overwhelming! But
                         it is gratifying indeed, to rescue
                         these few souls at least from
                         certain death.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Yes, the elixir is a great gift of
                         God to suffering humanity. But it
                         is fraught with grave danger, as
                         you know.
 

               EXT. STREET - NIGHT

               Frederick peeks out the doorway, then steps out with Francis
               following. The distant CHURCH BELL TOLLS.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Only a few years ago in 1679, I
                         secretly ministered to plague
                         victims here in Vienna. Seventy
                         thousand perished that year, and as
                         many again in the next. (beat) I
                         was able to restore thousands to
                         health with my medicine. And then
                         one day, I was trapped by a mob...
 

               FLASHBACK:
               EXT. STREET - DAY

               Frederick is wearing plain clothes, and a cloak. He has a
               short beard. A desperate MOB #1 of howling men and women have
               him surrounded. JESUIT #1 is among them. Frederick pulls a
               bottle out of his pouch and tosses it to them. They start to
               fight over it.

                                   MOB #1
                         Medicine! The medicine! Me! Me!
                         Give me some! Argh!

               Frederick tears off his cloak and throws it to the mob. He
               manages to slip into a doorway as they tear at it. Then the
               mob passes around the corner, and Frederick runs away. Jesuit
               #1 follows him unseen.
 

               INT. ROOM - DAY

               Frederick has changed clothes, donned on a wig and hat, and
               shaved his beard. He peeks out the window, then leaves.

                                   FREDERICK (V.O.)
                         I gave them what I had, and while
                         they fought over it, I escaped, and
                         shaved, and put on a wig and new
                         clothes, and fled the city.

               RETURN TO SCENE

               MOB #2 suddenly comes around the corner a block behind them.
               A few men are carrying torches and lanterns; Jesuit #1 is
               among them.

                                   MAN #1
                         There they are! They have the
                         medicine!

                                   MOB #2
                         Medicine! The medicine!

                                   JESUIT #1
                         Seize them, in the name of the
                         Church!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Run!

               As they race around the corner, Frederick drops his lantern,
               tears off his pouch and robe, and throws them to the ground.
               Francis follows suit. Frederick is wearing pants and a shirt
               under his robe, Francis is in his underwear, and both are
               wearing boots. Frederick pulls the bottle of Elixir from his
               pouch and drops it on top of his robe, then continues
               running. Francis does the same. They make it around the next
               corner just as the mob appears again behind them.

                                   MAN #1
                         There! The medicine! Medicine!

               The screaming mob starts fighting over the bottles and
               tearing at the robes and pouches, but Jesuit #1 hurries to
               follow Frederick and Francis.
               LATER

               Frederick staggers to an exhausted halt.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Stop! Stop! I must rest!

                                   FRANCIS
                         I think we lost them, or vice
                         versa.

                                   FREDERICK
                         If it isn't the mobs, then it's the
                         damned Jesuits, or those silly
                         Rosicrucians, or the Allumbrados!
                         (beat) I need to travel again,
                         perhaps to America this time.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Who are the Allumbrados, master
                         Frederic?

                                   FREDERICK
                         Allumbrados... The Illuminated.
                         They're Spanish... pretenders all
                         of them... elitist worms...

               MINUTES LATER

               Frederick and Francis are walking again down another street.
               Jesuit # 1 follows discretely, close enough to eavesdrop.

                                   FREDERICK (CONT'D)
                         Beware of all things Catholic,
                         especially the Jesuits! They are
                         the lowest form of Christian.

               Frederick spits.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Why do you hate them so much?

                                   FREDERICK
                         The Jesuit Inquisitors have
                         retarded the progress of science
                         and civilization for two centuries,
                         and they persist, in secret.
                         (beat) We could be sailing amongst
                         the stars by now, but for those
                         Luciferian bastards. They think
                         they are holy, but they're just
                         shyte, pretending to be human,
                         pretending to be Christian!

                                   FRANCIS
                         I had no idea...

                                   FREDERICK
                         If they ever capture you, you'll
                         get plenty of ideas! You'll say
                         anything they want to hear, for
                         fear they will stretch and tear and
                         burn and cut you again.

               Frederick stops walking and rolls up his sleeve to reveal
               ugly scars on his arm.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Whoa! Jesuits did that to you?
                         When?

                                   FREDERICK
                         A century ago. But there is no
                         forgetting such pain, nor forgiving
                         such cruelty. (beat) It is not safe
                         for us here.
                         We might as well return to Prague.
                         (beat)
                         Francis, I think you are ready to
                         learn some of the inner secrets of
                         alchemy. But enough for today. Meet
                         me on Sunday noon at the Clock
                         Tower, and we shall talk about it.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Thank you, master Frederick! I'll
                         be there!

               Jesuit #1 watches and listens.
 

               EXT. CLOCK TOWER, PRAGUE - DAY

               Francis is standing on the steps of the Staromestska Radnice
               (Clock Tower). He sees Frederick approaching, dressed like a
               beggar, and starts to walk toward him. Suddenly a carriage
               pulls up beside Frederick. Jesuit #1 is inside. Two men jump
               out and grab Frederick.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Help! Francis! Help! Jesuits! Help!

               The kidnappers shove Frederick into the carriage, then
               clamber in as Francis comes running. The carriage races away.
 

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               Francis bursts into the study, surprising Wenzel at his desk.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Wenzel, the Jesuits have kidnapped
                         master Frederick! (beat) We must
                         help him!

                                   WENZEL
                         Certainly, Francis, but how?

                                   FRANCIS
                         They have headquarters in Prague.
                         No doubt, they took him there!

                                   WENZEL
                         I know the place. I will get some
                         men to help us.
 

               EXT. JESUIT ESTATE - NIGHT (ESTABLISHING)
 

               EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT (ESTABLISHING)

               Light flickers through the window of a large cottage behind
               the Jesuit mansion.
 

               INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

               The cottage is equipped as a torture chamber. Candles light
               the interior. A coal fire burns in a brazier, with a poker
               stuck in it. Frederick is strapped to a table. Jesuit #1
               stands holding up a vial of Elixir to examine it closely.
               JESUIT # 2 sits at a table with pen, paper, and an ink pot
               before him, taking notes.

                                   FREDERICK
                         I shall be happy to confess
                         anything. Just ask.

                                   JESUIT # 1
                         I don't want a confession. I want
                         instructions. (beat) I have heard
                         there is a simple way to prepare
                         the Philosophers' Stone very
                         quickly, in less than a day. (beat)
                         And I have collected a letter that
                         claims you know this short way.

               Jesuit #1 picks up a red-hot poker from the coal brazier.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Please, there is no need to be
                         brutal. I'm too old for this shyte.

                                   JESUIT # 1
                         Oh, it's no bother at all, Herr
                         Gualdus. Actually, it's my
                         pleasure... Where shall we begin?
                         (beat) Tell me, good Herr, what
                         minerals are used to make the
                         Philosophers' Stone? Eh?
 

               SERIES OF SHOTS:
 

               A) EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

               Frederick screams from within the cottage.
 

               B) EXT. ROAD - NIGHT

               Wenzel and Francis are riding in a carriage, racing toward
               the Jesuit headquarters. Several men accompany them on
               horseback. When the estate comes into sight, they stops and
               dismount. The driver remains behind as the other men climb
               over a wall.
 

               C) EXT. JESUIT ESTATE - NIGHT

               As they sneak through bushes toward the mansion with weapons
               drawn, they hear Frederic scream from within the cottage.
               Wenzel points, and they hurry there.
 

               D) EXT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

               The group is gathered at the door. Francis peeks in a window
               and sees the Jesuit about to burn Frederick with the poker.
               He signals to Wenzel, and they burst in.
 

               INT. COTTAGE - NIGHT

               Two men grab Jesuit #1; another knocks him out with a punch
               to the jaw. Another grabs one of the torture tools and bashes
               the second priest on the head, knocking him out too. MAN #4
               keeps watch at the window. Francis and Wenzel release
               Frederick, who is grimacing and groaning. Francis produces a
               small bottle from his pocket and dribbles the contents into
               Frederick's mouth.

                                   MAN #4
                         All's quiet, Baron.

                                   WENZEL
                         Let's go, men!

               Francis and three of the men pick up Frederick by the arms
               and legs and carry him outside. Wenzel remains in the cottage
               with the other three men.

                                   WENZEL (CONT'D)
                         Well done! Now, if you will set
                         this place on fire after we leave,
                         I shall add a golden bonus to the
                         reward that already awaits you!

                                   MAN #4
                         Thank you, Baron! But what shall we
                         do with these priests?

                                   WENZEL
                         Let this be their Purgatory.
 

               EXT/INT. COACH - NIGHT

               Flames from the burning cottage flicker in the background.
               Wenzel and Francis sit together opposite Frederick, who is
               inebriated with laudanum and wine.

                                   FREDERICK
                             (slurring)
                         Wash in that wine? It tastes like
                         laudanum.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, Frederick, poppy juice to ease
                         the pain. I remembered what you
                         told me about Alexander Seton, and
                         I came prepared.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Good shinking. (beat) You shaved me
                         from his miserable fate. You are my
                         Shendivogius!

                                   WENZEL
                         What? Who?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Michael Sendivogius. He rescued the
                         alchemist Alexander Seton 75 years
                         ago. It's a long story. I'll tell
                         it to you sometime.

                                   FREDERICK
                         I'm so sleepy...

               Frederick passes out and falls over. Francis lays him out on
               the seat.

                                   WENZEL
                         He is a master of alchemy? He looks
                         like a beggar, and he talks like a
                         madman!

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, he says that the adepts prefer
                         to appear that way. (beat) But I
                         have also seen him in most elegant
                         attire, and speaking with inspiring
                         eloquence.
 

               INT. BEDROOM - DAY

               Frederick is resting in bed. Francis is sitting in a chair,
               and Wenzel stands beside him.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Baron Seyler, you are living proof
                         that God works with cracked pots.
                         (beat) You have survived your
                         enemies and yor sins, and proved
                         the Philosophers' Stone to Holy

                         Roman Emperor Leopold, and many
                         others. (beat) Now it is a fact of
                         history, and henceforth, science
                         must organize around alchemy. I
                         congratulate you for that happy
                         accident. (beat) And I thank you
                         for rescuing me.

                                   WENZEL
                         It is all thanks to you in the
                         first place, Master Gualdus. I am
                         very glad to help you in any way I
                         can.
 

               INT. LIBRARY - DAY

               Frederick and Francis are sitting at a table with several
               alchemy books and manuscripts spread before them.

                                   FREDERICK
                         ...And that is the arcanum of salt.
                         And likewise for mercury. They are
                         symbols. We do not use those
                         substances to prepare the Elixir.
                         In fact, I seldom use common
                         mercury, except to make gold from
                         it.

                                   FRANCIS
                         If mercury is not the matter of the
                         Philosophers' Stone, then pray
                         tell, what is?

                                   FREDERICK
                         Ahh... That is the greatest secret
                         of alchemy. But I promised to teach
                         you, so I will tell you now. It is
                         called by every name, but its own
                         is... Gur.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Gur? I've never heard of it!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Gur is a mysterious sulfurous
                         vapor, exhaled by the earth. It is
                         the astral stuff from which all the
                         metals take their forms. (beat) I
                         suppose I shall have to show you.
 

               EXT. PASTURE - NIGHT

               Frederick and Francis are walking through a snow-covered
               field under the full moon. They are warmly dressed and
               carrying baskets. Frederick sets his down and points to a
               large, clear gelatinous blob that sits on top of the snow.

                                   FREDERICK
                         That is Gur. In the winter it can
                         be found thus, on top of snow. In
                         other seasons, we collect dew
                         before dawn, before it touches the
                         earth. This is the universal
                         spirit, our virgin water.

               As he speaks, Frederick takes an empty bottle, a glass
               funnel, and a glass bowl from the basket, then scoops up the
               blob with the bowl and pours it through the funnel into the
               bottle. Francis watches for a few seconds, then does the
               same.

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Frederick is standing beside a small furnace, distilling the
               gur in a retort. Several plugged bottles of the stuff sit in
               a basket on the floor beside the furnace. Francis is sitting
               at a table, writing notes as Frederick talks.

                                   FREDERICK
                         ...I prefer the short Dry Path for
                         the Great Work, but the Wet Way is
                         very beautiful to watch, if you
                         have the time. (beat) It takes a
                         year to complete, and much
                         equipment and material. But this
                         dry way can be done in one week, in
                         one crucible, with a few minerals
                         and salts. It is a great secret,
                         known to only a few masters.

                                   FRANCIS
                         But gur is watery, master
                         Frederick. Is this then the wet
                         path we are following here?

                                   FREDERICK
                         Yes, Francis. (beat) I am not going
                         to make this too easy for you. Make
                         haste slowly. You need know how to
                         use the Stone wisely, if you are to
                         survive it. Why, just to sell the
                         gold can be a problem. (beat) A few
                         years ago in Paris...
 

               FLASHBACK:

               INT. GOLDSMITH SHOP - DAY

               A GOLDSMITH #2 looks up when Frederick enters the shop.

                                   GOLDSMITH #2
                         Good morning, monsieur. How may I
                         help you?

                                   FREDERICK
                         Good morning, monsieur. I would
                         like to sell some gold.

                                   GOLDSMITH #2
                         Hmmm... Show it to me, please.

               Frederick pulls a bar of gold from a leather pouch and hands
               it to the goldsmith. He looks at it with a lens, then rubs it
               on a touchstone. He puts the bar on the counter and frowns at
               Frederick.

                                   GOLDSMITH #2 (CONT'D)
                         This gold is made by alchemy!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Why monsieur, whatever makes you
                         think so?

                                   GOLDSMITH #2
                         I know the gold from all the mines
                         in Europe and Africa. This is
                         better than any of them! You can be
                         hung for this felony!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Monsieur, you are mistaken. I
                         believe this gold came from
                         America, and it is perfectly
                         natural and legitimate! Why, I have
                         the receipts for it in my
                         saddlebag. Wait a moment, I shall
                         fetch them!

               Frederick exits the shop.

               EXT. GOLDSMITH SHOP - DAY

               Frederick scurries away, looking behind him to see if he is
               being followed.

               INT. GOLDSMITH SHOP - DAY

               The goldsmith's scowl changes to a grin as he watches
               Frederick from the window. He hefts the bar of gold, then
               puts it in a crucible, adds coal to the furnace, and pumps
               the bellows.

               RETURN TO SCENE

               Frederick slowly pumps the bellows of the furnace as he
               stares into the fire.

                                   FREDERICK
                         I possess enough wealth to buy the
                         whole world, yet I may not use it,
                         thanks to the wickedness of men.
                         (beat) I am weary of this lonely
                         life, shut out from friends and
                         family, like Cain. (beat) Some day,
                         gold will be as common as dirt.
                         Then we masters of alchemy shall
                         find rest, thank God.

               Francis puts down his quill pen and looks at him
               thoughtfully.

               YEARS LATER

               INT. STUDY - DAY

               Francis is sitting at his desk, writing a MANUSCRIPT by the
               light of a CANDELABRA . He appears to be about 40 years old.
               A copy of MAGNALIA NATURAE lays beside a small gold BOX on
               the desk. He puts down the quill and picks up a page.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         In the summer of 1718, newspapers
                         in the Netherlands reported the
                         death of one Frederick Gualdus, who
                         drowned in the River Scheldt while
                         fishing. His body was not found...

               FLASHBACK:

               EXT. RIVER - DAWN

               Frederick is sitting in a rowboat, preparing to cast off from
               a small dock. JAN hands him a fishing pole, then a bucket of
               bait, and a small basket filled with bread, cheese, and a
               bottle of wine. The river is covered with fog.

                                   FREDERICK
                         Thank you, Jan. I shall return by
                         midday.

                                   JAN
                         Good luck to you, Herr Gualdus!

               Jan unties the boat and gives it a shove away from the dock.
               Frederick starts rowing, and quickly disappears into the fog.

               MINUTES LATER

               Frederick stops rowing, and drops a roped anchor stone over
               the side. Then he pulls a WHISTLE from his pocket and BLOWS
               twice.

                                   FRANCIS (O.S.)
                         Hello! Frederick!

                                   FREDERICK
                         I'm here!

                                   FRANCIS (O.S.)
                         Keep talking till I find you!

                                   FREDERICK
                         Well... A Catholic, a Protestant,
                         and a Jew walked into a tavern. The
                         owner looked at them and said, what
                         is this, a joke?

                                   FRANCIS (O.S.)
                         Oh, mercy... Perhaps you should
                         sing instead.

               Frederick breaks into an off-key song.

                                   FREDERICK
                         La la la, la la la...

                                   FRANCIS (O.S.)
                         Do you know any more jokes?

                                   FREDERICK
                         Hmmm... Ummm... A priest entered
                         his fat donkey in a race.
                         And the town crier yelled, priest
                         enters fat ass! (beat) That
                         bothered the bishop, so he told the
                         priest, do not race that donkey
                         again! (beat) And the town crier
                         yelled, bishop scratches priest's
                         ass! (beat) That made the bishop
                         very angry, and he told the
                         priest...

               Francis emerges from the fog and pulls alongside.

                                   FRANCIS
                         Never mind, here I am. I've heard
                         that story before, and I still
                         don't get the point.

                                   FREDERICK
                         It's a metaphor. (beat) Hold the
                         boats together, please. I don't
                         want to really fall in.

               Frederick climbs into Francis' boat, and they row away.
 

               EXT. DOCK - DAY

               The fog lifts to reveal the empty rowboat at anchor in the
               river. Jan sees it and calls for help.

                                   JAN
                         Help! Help! Somebody help!

               Two men come running, and Jan points to the boat, talking
               incoherently. They clamber into a rowboat and cast off,
               pulling hard and fast at the oars.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         I never saw Frederick after that
                         day, but he had taught me all I
                         needed to know.

               INT. LABORATORY - DAY

               Francis sits on a stool before a small furnace, peering
               inside at the brilliant red stone inside a small flask that
               sits in a small pan filled with sand on a bed of glowing
               coals.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.) (CONT'D)
                         And so, by the Grace of God, I made
                         the Philosophers' Stone, with
                         arsenic and gur, as I have
                         explained. (beat) And now, I have
                         told you enough, if only you will
                         understand.
 

               EXT. RUINED CHAPEL - DAY

               Francis is burying a copper box in the rubble of a medieval
               chapel. A small pick lays beside the hole.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         Yet even if you cannot make the
                         Philosophers' Stone, perhaps you
                         can find it, like Wenzel Seyler,
                         since the master alchemists have
                         buried it in many places.
 

               RETURN TO SCENE

               INT. STUDY - NIGHT

               Beautiful wife SOPHIA knocks gently and enters. She is in her
               nightgown.

                                   SOPHIA
                         Francis, darling, it's very late!
                         When are you coming to bed?

                                   FRANCIS
                         Any moment now, my dear Sophia.

               Sophia sighs and pouts.

                                   SOPHIA
                         Do hasten, dear. I await you!

                                   FRANCIS
                         Yes, my love, any moment now... I
                         shall come straightaway hence.

                                   SOPHIA
                         Mmmm...

               Sophia smiles amorously at him as she leaves the room,
               closing the door gently behind her. Francis leans forward to
               open a small gold box sitting on the desk next to a copy of
               MAGNALIA NATURAE.
               He picks out a piece of the red Philosophers' Stone into his
               other hand, then leans back and gazes at it. Francis puts the
               Stone on the copy of MAGNALIA NATURAE.

                                   FRANCIS (V.O.)
                         As for Wenzel Seyler, he lived
                         happily ever after. (beat) And so
                         have I, thank God!

               Francis stands, picks up the CANDELABRA, and leaves the room.

               CLOSE UP: PHILOSOPHERS' STONE, glowing in the light of the
               FULL MOON.

                                                              FADE OUT.
 
 



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