“Aha,” he cries, hair wild about his head, and laughs maniacally. “At last! At last! I’ve done it! I, Doctor Helmut von Schlieffmann, have isolated pure selenium!
“This marvellous element,” he continues, lecturing to an audience numbering in the hundreds — no! thousands! — which throngs the shadowed spaces of his cobwebbed laboratory, “sensitive as no other to the magical and, I think I’m not being too bold, yes, the feminine influence of the moon, is the most efficacious conduit of thaumaturgical energies known to man! Compared to selenium, the purest argent, blessed three times under a new moon by consecrated virgins, is as dull and unresponsive as salt water in a cold alembic! Compared to selenium (which of course I take no credit for discovering, though I will say that it was a work of towering… oh, thank you, you’re too kind), mistletoe cut on Midsummer’s Eve with a golden sickle wielded by an elderly castratus might as well be mudwort! The wonders of the master magi of ages past are once again at our fingertips, and it is I, Doctor Helmut von Schlieffmann, who have made it all possible!”
He bows to thunderous applause. The door at the top of the laboratory, the one that leads to the roof, swings slowly open. Moonlight begins to fill the room.