During the medieval times of England, it was necessary for a man to work and have a trade. This defined him and it was common for this trade to be passed down through generations. It is clear that a man without a trade could not be successful, and so it was for Galfridus Larsdatter. He is, as one would consider him now to be, a loser. His exploits led him through attempts at various fields, anything from baking to welding, and he was ill advised to pursue any of them.

Galfridus was unable to succeed in any venue, and thus unable to find a wife that found him suitable. He jumped from town to town in attempts to find work. It should not be said that Galfridus was entirely unhappy, but as age became more of a determining factor, he began to realize the depth of his shortcomings.

In 1330, at the ripe age of 25, Galfridus decided that there was no longer a life for him in Europe. The Silk Road was a major entryway for goods and foreign folk, and seemed to be the origin of many intriguing tales of afar. In the stories that he’d heard, Galfridus caught glimpses of the oceans of sand, brightly colored clothing, fine silks, and infinite skies and wisdom that could grant your every wish. And so he headed east.

Galfridus eventually made his way to the Silk Road. By assisting with labor he was able to join caravans, but never lasted long due to his inability to work effectively. The further he traveled, the more interesting the people he met were and soon he didn’t mind all of the change of pace.

The excitement was intoxicating and Galfridus loved it, but something he was missing. One night, having joined a caravan of the most mysterious men, he lay awake watching the stars. Just as he was about to drift off he heard one of the other men coming out of their tents. Although he wasn’t the most socially comfortable person, Galfridus took it upon himself to greet the man and ask for his story.

Little did Galfridus know the rats were to become his demise.

He was old with hair white as snow that draped far down his back. After prodding he began to describe to Galfridus the art he practiced—the art of Alchemy. Galfridus was immediately enthralled. This was what he was looking for, everything that could solve his problems. Through the art of alchemy, Galfridus could find the elixir of life.

After hours of incessant questioning, and eventually being ditched by yet another caravan, Galfridus set forth on a new mission: To become an Alchemist and create the Elixir of Life. He set off into the towns off the path of the Silk Road, looking for texts and anything that could help with his newfound profession. After a year of collecting documents and potions, strange animal parts and chants he’d picked up off the street, Galfridus was ready to create. By now he’d made his way to China and hunkered down in a hut he had built to practice his alchemy. While his dedication was far greater then any he had procured in the past, Galfridus’ cunning ability to fail miserable was still ever-present.

Harmless fires and dead chickens were the result of much of his testing, but soon he began working with rats, as they were far more dispensable. Little did Galfridus know the rats were to become his demise.

One pleasant evening, in the shelter of the hand-built hut, Galfridus felt he had come upon something. After just acquiring a new batch of rats for testing, he began to test out his latest concoction, sure that it would produce the elixir he’d been waiting for. He should of realized his failure all those years was not in preparation for a success elsewhere, but a warning that he would not succeed anywhere. Galfridus dropped his potion in the rats’ drinking bowls and on a block of cheese, and waited for the morning.

Galfridus woke up in a mad sweat. There was something very wrong. Strange bubbles had formed in his armpits and groin. And where had the rats gone? Within 72 hours he was dead.

Galfridus Larsdatter, the failure that he was, had unknowingly created not the Elixir of Life, but death itself. The rats that he had infected soon spread their disease through China, as the plague proceeded to kill 25 million people in 15 years. Yes, the Black Plague. As though it knew where it’s maker had come from, it traveled back through the Silk Road, hitting Europe with a force that reduced its population by almost 100 million people. The man who had provided nothing to the world but death, died before he saw it happen.