August Nordenskjöld has gone into bankruptcy in Uusikaupunki, fled to Stockholm and left his assistant Bergklint to suffer the jibes of the creditors.
Soon, heartening news comes from Sweden: King Gustav III has agreed to fund a new attempt to make gold.
The men must use pseudonyms and move about in disguise for the work must be kept secret. The making of gold is quickly left for Bergklint to worry about when Nordenskjöld leaves for London to help plan the New Jerusalem Society. Gold does not emerge, and Bergklint stops his work in the laboratory to concentrate on the enigmatic Sacred Marriage.
The true purpose of alchemy also begins to become apparent.