Ashley's knees slammed into concrete as he fell onto the factory floor, briefly knocking the wind out of him. Before he could scramble to his feet, the cold barrel of a shotgun pressed his forehead. Ashley looked down the barrel and up at the deathly pale, pinstripe-suited mobster.
"I'll ask you one more time before I blow your brains out." The mobster snarled. "Where did you get the gold?"
"I told you. It’s a family heirloom. You can have it! Just let me-"
Ashley was cut off by the barrel of the shotgun smacking into his face with a sickening crunch, drawing out a shrill shriek as he clutched his broken nose.
"Don't lie to me." The mobster tipped Ashley's head up with the muzzle of the now bloody shotgun, flashing a sinister, sharp-toothed grin. "I know your kind; You'd have sold off that gold for scraps or booze years ago. You got that recently. How?"
Staring down the barrel of the gun, his short life flashing before his eyes, Ashley couldn't lie. "I-I made it."
"Unlicensed Alchemy? From a kid?"
Ashley flinched as the vampire lifted the shotgun, readying another strike. "No- no- I... I made it with my- my... powers." Ashley choked out between bloody coughs.
"I need a rock, or something, to transmute."
The mobster kicked Ashley a pebble, which he quickly picked up and clutched in his hand, desperately trying to concentrate for long enough for his magic to work. Gradually, the rock heated up and slowly transmuted to a shining gold bauble. Ashley held it up, hands shaking.
"Well, it appears you'll have some use after all," He grabbed Ashley's wrist and yanked him to his feet, ignoring the golden pebble which clattered to the floor. "The Don'll be very pleased."
"The Dragon." The words made Ashley's blood run ice cold as he spoke. He hoisted him up. "Let's go."
Ashley bolted upright in bed, sweat pouring down his face. His hand reached for the knife under his satin pillow, gripping the ornate gold hilt tightly. His other hand dug into his sheets, ripping a hole into the material as it slowly turned into dense, unpolished iron. He stood up hastily, brandishing the knife in front of him in his dimly lit room. After a minute, there was no movement in his room, and Ashley calmed down, the adrenaline draining out of him as quickly as it came.
With the adrenaline gone, his hand slowly returned to flesh and bone with a painful pop he was fully used to, and he tucked the knife away under his pillow. He was still a little rattled though rattled but alone. He wondered what he'd look like to the intruder if he wasn't alone; All 5'5" of him, waving a knife around in his boxers, his hair wild frizzy, and untamed.
That was the third time this week he had similar dreams, which was deeply annoying since the last thing he wanted to do was dwell on the past. Thankfully, he'd woken just in time for work, which provided a very nice distraction.
Ashley had rented out the apartment next to his and turned it into his workshop. It was just as spacious as his flat. A now dormant furnace stood in its centre, and transparent shelves full of useful material and oddities Ashley had picked up over the years lined the walls. Ashley fed the furnace fuel and switched on the pilot light. As the crucible in the centre of the furnace slowly heated up, he pulled a cup of course, dull copper powder from a shelf. Ashley poured the powder into the now red hot crucible and watched it quickly melt. He pulled the crucible out with tongs and poured the molten copper into his palm.
All Ashley felt in his hand was heat, not pain, just a dull warmth, like his hand was on the surface of slightly too hot bathwater. The metal cooled into a semi-solid form until it bent and twisted like clay in his hand. Ashley bent the metal dough into a rosette, cradling it until the liquid-cooled to its solid state.
By the end of the workday, Ashley had all but forgotten his nightmare. He'd thrown himself into his work and was very proud of his output. Three complete pieces: three necklaces, three pairs of earrings, five rings, and a bracelet. Of course, the self-congratulations were dampened slightly by the fact that his jewellery was all made of scrap metal, loose wires, pipe cleaners, and pebbles.
That was an easy fix. One by one, Ashley lifted each item and cradled it in his palms, relaxing his concentration and letting his magic flow through his hands into his fingers. The scraps slowly transmuted into precious metals, gold, silver, platinum, or precious gems.