He hadn't been responding to emails for days. When he was deeply involved in his work, delays were not uncommon, but not this long. Something was clearly amiss. Something had happened to my long time friend and companion Hermes Pascalon. On my trip across town to his elaborate and eccentric workhouse, a mish-mash of an alchemist's den and a productive hive of a bizarre scientist, I tried to recount our recent conversations relating to his latest endeavours. There was something about Flamel - that's a name I was familiar with, but Hermes was certainly not a fan of what he called 'popular trash fiction'. Apparently credit for Flamel's secrets came from elsewhere, but I think I'd been gazing out the window at that part of the conversation. But I do recall something about a Magnum Opus - what was that? Had he been working on a new recipe for a really good ice cream or something? Surely not.
I pushed open the large oak double doors that led into his work space. Dimly lit and cluttered with unfamiliar glassware and experimental contraptions, the room was a museum of periodic tables and astrological symbology. My search for Hermes was fruitless. However, in one disused corner of the room was a wall with a bookcase heaving heavily with ancient tomes and leather bound scripts that were covered in dust, just like the floor around it. But something wasn't quite right. The footprints on the dusty floor pressed right up to the bookcase. Nobody could stand that close to the shelves; there had to be something else. Of course! A hidden door. But how to open it?
On closer inspection, not all the books were covered in dust. One showed signs of being frequently handled. "16th Century Medicinal uses of Mercury". Mmm. Light reading. I pulled the tome off the shelf only to reveal an electronic keypad with numbers 0-9 fixed to the wall behind. And inside the front sleeve of the book was a sheet of paper in Hermes' handwriting. Surely this would provide an insight to the code needed for the keypad. Ah, yes, simple. I entered the correct code and the bookcase quietly and effortlessly slid open to reveal a dark passage leading downwards towards who knew what. Hopefully Hermes.
What was the code I needed to enter the inner sanctum of the alchemist?
Hermes always did have terrible handwriting. Thankfully, I jot down my own transcription of his words into my own notebook, which makes things much easier to read.
PoISON - intrabit Shall I tell of this horrible death my friend? Mark well the words I spoke, of which my peers refused: sola dosis facit venenum. All things are poison, and nothing is without poison. The dose is the key. This may seem like bombastic nonsense, but I assure you that this is my year, for I am amongst the wise men, my throne sits beside the true doctrine. Be not so blind in chemistry that the way is forgotten. Read the table and start the journey. Not all poison kills.
When enterpreted correctly, the text will tell you exactly what bit of information you need to unlock the keypad.
PoISON tells you which words of the text are important.