When she could breathe without gagging Rizla re-entered the Earth Skyll’s work room. Her anger had had consequences. The hanging corpses floated in the vats below them, lifeless in their own blood. As for the Nawab in the corner, his collar had been snapped in half and he appeared to be dead. She spared him a second glance. His head lolled to the right, to all appearances broken.
The floor was splattered with blood and with a hiss, she stepped out of her thin veil of a gown, revealing a lad’s shirt and trousers. She turned at this and was delighted at Elymas’s horrified expression. Clad as she’d been in the apothecary, he was forced to remember the day he’d tried to buy her.
She scanned the work table. Mortars and pestles of all various sizes; she counted five. All had been cleaned but one and she recognized the smell at once. Lud Sellum. Though it had no taste or smell once added to liquid, the leaves, when crushed, smelled of mint. What remained must be from the batch he’d mixed tonight. With a wave of her hand, she sent the powder in the mortar to the floor.
She scanned the shelves, meticulous yet cunning. Each bottle holding liquid, powder and seed had been labelled, mostly in Suga ‘s handwriting, but some were crudely marked by drawings, and she recognized the work of a village witch. Others were in his own print, for in the lower right corner of the label was drawn a foot with a thickened sole. Ah, so he used his disfigurement as an insignia.
Rizla began to hunt out each bottle so marked, noting with surprise how much he’d gathered on his own. Horny Goat Weed. Why would a fat one such as he want this? Still, a smidgen crushed in food could have an extraordinary affect on others. Water Hemlock. A mild poison. Monkshood. Poison to the touch and idly she wondered which unfortunate Sacred Servant had gathered it. Baby’s Breath. It could aid breathing or take it, depending on the amount.
She spied a bottle hidden behind the rest. Elymas made a strangled sound, but his protest faded as she read the label. Quickening. Where had he gotten these seeds? How? Suga had a few, but they were precious and not to be sold. She’d seen one crushed seed bring an insect back to life, also a small bird. When used on a corpse, it could cause facial movements and flailing limbs. Some believed these seeds were the key to life.
She flung all the bottles but that to the floor, and walked to the large vat.
Though she knew, Rizla would make him tell her what he was creating.