Curse of the Crimson Throne
Alusian couldn’t quite hack in at the Acadamae and was drummed out in his first year. He’s parleyed his meager skills into crafting the odd brew or elixir for the shadier side of Korvosa.
The door was iron, thick and cold. The rain beat down on it like the drumming of a hundred gnomish hammers. It’s scarred, dented surface reflected the moonlight in pale, chaotic patterns across the narrow alleyway. A small bronze plaque was set into the wall next to the door. It read simply “Alusian Rootmason, Alchemist”.
The stooped figure pulled his cloak tighter around himself to ward off the wet and chill night. He raised a leather clad fist and rapped three heavy knocks on the door in front of him. He waited for a handful of breaths before a small, well concealed gap opened square in the middle of the door.
“Brillig sent me,” the man coughed out.
The gap seamlessly filled back in. Several clanks and cranks sounded from behind the door before it creaked open wide enough for the man to slide in.
“It looks like Doval came through,” he thought. “I guess he saved himself another beating.”
An elf stood back from the door, allowing the stranger to enter. The elf held a torch in front of him, providing the only light in the cramped hallway. His other hand rested on the hilt of the shortsword at his hip.
Ferox closed the door behind him and stood up straight. He towered over the elf, standing nearly half-again as tall as the elf. He shook himself, scattering the water off of his cloak across the narrow entranceway. He pushed the cloak’s hood back off his head. The torch cast odd shadows up across Ferox’s sharp, hawkish face, highlighting his long nose and the jagged scar across his left cheek, giving the impression of a perpetual grin.
The elf turned and started down the hall. Ferox followed several steps behind, emerging into a large workroom. Heavy tables and overstuffed bookshelves occupied every wall. All manner of arcane paraphernalia cluttered the surface of every table. Fires burned under countless glass beakers; their contents boiling, burbling, and smoking. Jars of components, both familiar and foreign, filled many of the shelves where books, tomes, and scrolls hadn’t yet completed their invasion. One table was entirely occupied by a large glass aquarium, filled halfway with a translucent green goo.
The center of the room held two plush couches and a long coffee table. Seated on one of the couches was Alusian Rootmason. The elf wore bright robes, every inch covered in small, overstuffed pockets. He puffed on a long pipe; the red smoke curling around his ears and head as he watched Ferox approach him. The other elf stood with his back to the wall next to the entrance hallway.
“So, what can I do for you, Mr. …?” Alusiar asked, fishing for this stranger’s name.
Ferox dug out from beneath his cloak a small vial and tossed it to Alusian. The vial contained a small amount of green liquid.
“I’m told you can identify this for me,” rasped Ferox.
Alusian caught the vial, then shot a startled look over to the other elf. Ferox could hear the slide of the elf’s shortsword escape from its scabbard.
White light flashed in Ferox’s eyes. He twisted, extending his arm. The momentum carried the dagger from his hand, across the room, to embed itself in the elf’s throat. The elf crumpled to the ground before he had taken his first step.
Ferox turned back to Alusar. “What’s in the vial?”
“Shit! Oh, gods. Who are you?” shouted Alusan. “Look, I didn’t do anything! I just make this stuff to help people have a good time. It doesn’t hurt anyone.”
Ferox’s eyes flashed white again. “Well, it hurt someone this time. Someone important. You’re going to tell me what this stuff is and who you’ve been selling to.”
Alusian’s eyes glazed over and he relaxed into the chair.
“I call it Bull’s Root.” He looked over at the aquarium before returning his gaze back to Ferox. “I found a way to extract the acid from a green ooze and distill it down until it’s mostly safe to use. I mix it up with some other ingredients. Then, if you rub it on your balls, it gives you an erection like a minotaur. Let’s you go all night. It also takes all the hair off your crotch but that’s a small price to pay, if you ask me. Rich brats have been buying the stuff as fast as I can produce it. I hear they have these all night orgies down in Old Korvosa. It all goes through my agent down there. Guy called Dernos Backwiper at the Buxom Halfling.”
“By Abadar!” thought Ferox. “What kind of idiot rubs ooze acid on their balls? That does explain some things.”
“As of this moment, you’re out of the Bull’s Root business. Don’t let me hear about you making any more. I’ll be keeping in touch, Alusian.”
Ferox sighed and started back down the hall. As he reached the door, he pulled his hood over his head and his cloak tight about him again.
“Looks like it’s down to Old Korvosa before Dernos gets wind of anything. Hopefully, I’ll be able to handle this on my own without pulling the guys into it. Ooze acid. Frack.”
Ferox stepped back into the cold, wet night.