Spear Gate — Chapter One, Pt. 1

“I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood you.”

“You’re Previk, right?”

“That is my assumed name, yes.” He adjusted his collar under the young man’s scrutiny.

The boy glanced around the small brown room. It was dusty and dark. Something more akin to an abandoned attic than a conventional store with goods. “I need a vial of your worst non-fatal disease.”

“Absolutely not.”

“What? Why not? Business is business!”

“Sir, I deal exclusively in my patron’s own health. They tell me which ailment they wish upon themselves, we do some measurements based on their body type, and I give them precise calculations of what they need and how much of it they should have.”

The boy frowned. He was taller than the chemist, but his face told Previk he was little older than a child unaccustomed to the new height. “That’s stupid. Why would anyone want to get sick?”

“Responsibility is a double-edged sword, my boy. Many people use my services to avoid work or other duties. People often find it preferable to be bedridden than to be forced into something they find unfavorable.”

“So what if I wanted to use it on myself?”

“A boy your age?” Previk shook his head. “No. You came for revenge. You wanted somebody to suffer. A girl who wronged you, I’d wager.”

“Actually, no,” he replied, a little smug now. “This had nothing to do with a girl.”

The chemist chuckled at that. “There’s always a girl. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, boy, revenge related services are one of my most common requests. Or at least they were until I put the sign on the door. ‘Sales are exclusively for customers. You buy it, you drink it.’ Most people at least read it before walking in here. Nobody leaves my store without drinking whatever it is they bought.”

“I see. He didn’t mention that.” He deflated as he said that, disappointment all over his face.

Previk’s brow furrowed. “‘He?”

“My master Rozire sent me. He just told me to buy your ‘worst non-lethal drug’ and to give you however much money you asked for.”

“Rozire?! Is he in Lower Terrace, then?”

The boy looked back up at the chemist, hope restored. “You know him? Yes, he is! He’s dealing with other matters, though. Said I could handle this one on my own.”

“Well,” Previk scratched an eyebrow. “That rule of ‘You buy it you drink it’ is a little new. Rozire wouldn’t have known about it. I must say I’m a little upset he didn’t come see me himself, but he’s always been a busy man. What’s on the agenda today?”

Revitalized at the change in conversation, he glanced about the dimly lit room, making sure they were alone. Then, he grinned. “Can you keep a secret?”

“My entire business hinges on secrets, boy.” Previk smirked in return.

“We’re infiltrating Upper Terrace. Sneaking through the Meadows under the cover of night.”

Previk’s eyes eyes widened as he whistled. “That’s quite the agenda. I’d better hope you succeed or I’ll never see dear old Rozire again. Your master never does anything by halves, I suppose. You two will need all the help you can get. How much money do you have on you?” As he said this, the chemist left the front desk and opened a door to the back room.

“Thirty-three hundred dragon marks.” His tone said that money was beneath him. With Previk gone, he took the opportunity to look about the room. ‘Abandoned’ was still the first word that came to mind, but there were no webs. The shelves were scarcely populated with bottles, and few of them had liquid in them. Now, however, he got the sense that it was more to protect the merchandise from thievery than a lack of inventory. The dull purple drapery over the windows filtered the light, but the cloth itself was well kept, not a hole to be seen.

“Three thousand dragon marks, you say?” he called from the back room. “That’s good. Exactly how much a vial of Red Teeth will cost you.”

The boy choked. “You can’t be serious!”

Soon Previk returned with a small crystalline bottle, A slow purple liquid sloshing inside. “This stuff doesn’t come cheap.” He set it on the desk with a delicate yet deliberate grace.

“I could buy a house with three thousand dragon marks.”

“And you could also know what it’s like to be pushed to the brink of death, wanting to jump but being unable to have the strength to do so. What’ll it be?”

With a tangible sigh, the boy took out a few dozen coins, each with a small dragon skull emblazoned on both sides, and placed them next to the bottle. “Three thousand is way too expensive,” he grumbled.

Previk scooped up the coins and gestured for the boy to take the bottle. “Well, you should know that I wouldn’t sell that for under four to anyone other than Rozire. I’m doing him a favor, since he seems to be short on coin these days, if that’s all he gave you.”

With a careful hand he took the bottle, staring at the liquid inside.

“In order for it to work, you have to drink it. It won’t do anything if it isn’t ingested, got it? Rozire will know what Red Teeth does, if you don’t. Just be sure to tell him what it is. And if you give this to anyone sick or elderly, the chances are pretty good they may die, even if it’s designed to be non-lethal. Got all that?”

The boy nodded, still too shaken to respond.

“Oh, and one more thing. You won’t have to worry about breaking that bottle. It’s extremely thick. You’d have to smash it into the ground as hard as you could to crack it. So as long as you don’t lose it, you’ll be fine.”

He tucked it into the recently vacated coin purse and nodded. “Thanks for your help. Rozire sends his regards.”

Previk nodded sagely. “It’s always a pleasure to help a friend. Say, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you plan on using it for?”

He shrugged. “He never told me. Just said that it was important.”

“Always full of mysteries, that one. Well, tell him I hope to see him soon, especially now that he owes me a favor. Sunlight guide your path. Or, well, I suppose not in this case.”

The boy gave a genuine smile that, after a moment, grew to unease as he felt the purse at his side. “Aenias guide us all,” he said before opening the door to Lower Terrace.

“I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood you.”

“You’re Previk, right?”

“That is my assumed name, yes.” He adjusted his collar under the young man’s scrutiny.

The boy glanced around the small brown room. It was dusty and dark. Something more akin to an abandoned attic than a conventional store with goods. “I need a vial of your worst non-fatal disease.”

“Absolutely not.”

“What? Why not? Business is business!”

“Sir, I deal exclusively in my patron’s own health. They tell me which ailment they wish upon themselves, we do some measurements based on their body type, and I give them precise calculations of what they need and how much of it they should have.”

The boy frowned. He was taller than the chemist, but his face told Previk he was little older than a child unaccustomed to the new height. “That’s stupid. Why would anyone want to get sick?”

“Responsibility is a double-edged sword, my boy. Many people use my services to avoid work or other duties. People often find it preferable to be bedridden than to be forced into something they find unfavorable.”

“So what if I wanted to use it on myself?”

“A boy your age?” Previk shook his head. “No. You came for revenge. You wanted somebody to suffer. A girl who wronged you, I’d wager.”

“Actually, no,” he replied, a little smug now. “This had nothing to do with a girl.”

The chemist chuckled at that. “There’s always a girl. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, boy, revenge related services are one of my most common requests. Or at least they were until I put the sign on the door. ‘Sales are exclusively for customers. You buy it, you drink it.’ Most people at least read it before walking in here. Nobody leaves my store without drinking whatever it is they bought.”

“I see. He didn’t mention that.” He deflated as he said that, disappointment all over his face.

Previk’s brow furrowed. “‘He?”

“My master Rozire sent me. He just told me to buy your ‘worst non-lethal drug’ and to give you however much money you asked for.”

“Rozire?! Is he in Lower Terrace, then?”

The boy looked back up at the chemist, hope restored. “You know him? Yes, he is! He’s dealing with other matters, though. Said I could handle this one on my own.”

“Well,” Previk scratched an eyebrow. “That rule of ‘You buy it you drink it’ is a little new. Rozire wouldn’t have known about it. I must say I’m a little upset he didn’t come see me himself, but he’s always been a busy man. What’s on the agenda today?”

Revitalized at the change in conversation, he glanced about the dimly lit room, making sure they were alone. Then, he grinned. “Can you keep a secret?”

“My entire business hinges on secrets, boy.” Previk smirked in return.

“We’re infiltrating Upper Terrace. Sneaking through the Meadows under the cover of night.”

Previk’s eyes eyes widened as he whistled. “That’s quite the agenda. I’d better hope you succeed or I’ll never see dear old Rozire again. Your master never does anything by halves, I suppose. You two will need all the help you can get. How much money do you have on you?” As he said this, the chemist left the front desk and opened a door to the back room.

“Thirty-three hundred dragon marks.” His tone said that money was beneath him. With Previk gone, he took the opportunity to look about the room. ‘Abandoned’ was still the first word that came to mind, but there were no webs. The shelves were scarcely populated with bottles, and few of them had liquid in them. Now, however, he got the sense that it was more to protect the merchandise from thievery than a lack of inventory. The dull purple drapery over the windows filtered the light, but the cloth itself was well kept, not a hole to be seen.

“Three thousand dragon marks, you say?” he called from the back room. “That’s good. Exactly how much a vial of Red Teeth will cost you.”

The boy choked. “You can’t be serious!”

Soon Previk returned with a small crystalline bottle, A slow purple liquid sloshing inside. “This stuff doesn’t come cheap.” He set it on the desk with a delicate yet deliberate grace.

“I could buy a house with three thousand dragon marks.”

“And you could also know what it’s like to be pushed to the brink of death, wanting to jump but being unable to have the strength to do so. What’ll it be?”

With a tangible sigh, the boy took out a few dozen coins, each with a small dragon skull emblazoned on both sides, and placed them next to the bottle. “Three thousand is way too expensive,” he grumbled.

Previk scooped up the coins and gestured for the boy to take the bottle. “Well, you should know that I wouldn’t sell that for under four to anyone other than Rozire. I’m doing him a favor, since he seems to be short on coin these days, if that’s all he gave you.”

With a careful hand he took the bottle, staring at the liquid inside.

“In order for it to work, you have to drink it. It won’t do anything if it isn’t ingested, got it? Rozire will know what Red Teeth does, if you don’t. Just be sure to tell him what it is. And if you give this to anyone sick or elderly, the chances are pretty good they may die, even if it’s designed to be non-lethal. Got all that?”

The boy nodded, still too shaken to respond.

“Oh, and one more thing. You won’t have to worry about breaking that bottle. It’s extremely thick. You’d have to smash it into the ground as hard as you could to crack it. So as long as you don’t lose it, you’ll be fine.”

He tucked it into the recently vacated coin purse and nodded. “Thanks for your help. Rozire sends his regards.”

Previk nodded sagely. “It’s always a pleasure to help a friend. Say, if you don’t mind me asking, what do you plan on using it for?”

He shrugged. “He never told me. Just said that it was important.”

“Always full of mysteries, that one. Well, tell him I hope to see him soon, especially now that he owes me a favor. Sunlight guide your path. Or, well, I suppose not in this case.”

The boy gave a genuine smile that, after a moment, grew to unease as he felt the purse at his side. “Aenias guide us all,” he said before opening the door to Lower Terrace.

One thought on “Spear Gate — Chapter One, Pt. 1

  1. A few oddities here and there, nothing too major. But good overall!

    Things that stood out:

    The nonchalance about how much money he had versus the cost of the poison. I was originally under the impression that, like you wrote, this much money was a pittance. But I think instead you meant for 3.3 grand to be so much the boy never expected anything to even come close to that.

    “The boy nodded, still too shaken to respond.” – I didn’t know he was shaken in the first place until I was informed that he was in fact STILL shaken. Last clue I had, it seemed he was merely curiously looking at the contents of the vial.

    In both of these cases, I feel like I’m seriously nitpicking. But at the same time, these are pieces that literally take me out of the story. I either immediately stop reading and back track, or, in this case since I know it’s a short piece, go back afterwards to verify it was how I thought it was. Either way, I figure pointing out things like this may help!

    Liked by 1 person

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