The alchemist has his workshop somewhere in the back alleys of the market, far away from the church. He is an old man with a beard dressed in ragged robes. Although he is entirely and utterly mad (he spends most of his time trying to transform hazel nuts into gold coins), he is somewhat scary as well. Some tomes of lore on his shelves are not entirely fiction, it seems.
"Ah, some tasty philosopher stones!" the alchemist said to the bag of nuts.
He earns his keep by brewing potions and powders for patrons. That way he earns enough to focus himself devotely on his quest of hazel nuts.
The alchemist is quite interested in some of the widow's paintings, but she is not interested in selling - the painting have, ah, emotional value. These works are frameworks between worlds he claims: "such paintings are, or can be, a doorway, either from this world to the painting, with no way back, or from the painting to here, which are very dangerous images one shouldn't triffle with, or both - one can never tell in advance...". Naturally, this is all a load of quackery.