“You are not a run-of-the-mill academic”,
Smoke remarked as he opened the door to his office and ushered her inside before closed it again. She looked around with fascination, momentarily forgetting that she was supposed to be afraid of him or, maybe, mad at him.
He had replaced the furniture that the room come with, with much more luxurious furniture a while ago as he had no interest in spending the trial in something that looked like an oversized prison cell.
There were a desk that was made of dark wood and covered with intricate carvings that he had imported from Rynmere, back before the Plague, and shelves made of a rare kind of wood that came from Scalvoris as well as fine carpets, among other things.
Instead of a painting, an old sword hung on the wall behind the desk, the same sword that he had wounded an Immortal with once.
He had kept it as a reminder of what he considered to be the beginning of his ascension.
The Mortalborn inclined his head in order to confirm Smoke’s suspicion that he was not like the rest of his colleagues before he sat down behind the desk and gestured for her to take a seat opposite of him.
She did so with a certain amount of trepidation and looked at him expectantly.
“I know what you have done”,
he informed her in a matter-of-fact tone, having decided to get straight to the point, and met her gaze. “I know that you have been distributing drugs and selling spiked alcohol. I have treated some of your victims.”
“I want you to stop. I’m tired of finding a new drug victim on my examination table every time I enter the Infirmary. They are getting in the way of my research”,
he told her.
“You will find that I’m not entirely unreasonable”,
he continued. “We might be able to come to an agreement. I could make things considerably easier for you if you cooperate.”
“I won’t sleep with you!”
she blurted out, crossed her arms over her chest and glowered at him.
“I don’t expect you to”,
he retorted coolly. “I’m not the kind of man that lets a criminal get away if she shares his bed; besides, you are not my type. No, what I want you to do is the following. First of all, I want one of your vials, an secondly I want you to write down the ingredients that you used for your potion so that I can make an antidote”,
he told her, removed a piece of paper and a quill from a drawer of his desk and slid them across the desk.
Her hand trembled slightly as she started to write, and she occasionally looked up at him as if she were wondering about something – or, perhaps, rather afraid of something.
“I’m not entirely sure what exactly the punishment for what you did is”,
he admitted in a slightly more casual tone. “But it is without a doubt harsh. People have been lashed for petty crimes. Thieves usually lose a hand, and blasphemers lose their tongue. Your concoctions almost killed someone. Brewing potions without hands will be next to impossible.”
“The authorities might decide to be lenient if you tell them that you regret it, that it was a mistake and that you intend to make amends though”,
“For that reason, you will accompany me. You will tell the authorities that I found you, that we talked and that you are sorry and promise to never do anything like that again.”
“I will confirm what you said.”
“You will also give them the rest of the vials”
, he added.
“That doesn’t sound like a particularly good deal”,
she remarked and scoffed.
“Once you have been punished appropriately”,
he spoke, ignoring her comment. “You may visit me here again. From what I saw in the laboratory, you are quite a skilled alchemist. I may occasionally need the help of someone like you. Two people tend to get things done faster. I want you to work for me rather than against me.”
“And what if they whip me and hack my hands of regardless?”
she asked. She narrowed her eyes, and her mouth resembled a thin red line.
“It’s your only chance”,
he said and shrugged his shoulders. “I’ll either drag you the authorities or you come with me voluntarily, apologize to them and hope for the best.”
“I’ll give you five bits to make up your mind”,
he informed her, took the piece of paper with her list and the vial, put them away, crossed his arms over his chest, leaned back in his chair and waited.
~ ~ ~
In the end, Smoke followed him through the Academy and the snow-covered streets of Viden all the way to where her fate would be decided, making a face the entire time. The woman, the Mortalborn observed, could be a bit of a pain in the proverbial, but he was confident that he would be able to take care of her attitude problem and put her to good use.
And if they hacked her hands off, whipped her to death or exiled her after all (or she decided not to take him up on his offer), well, then he would have gained something from it regardless.
Stopping a criminal alchemist would put him in good standing with those that were in charge of Viden, and there would probably be someone else that he would be able to put to use in his laboratory eventually.
He'd win either way.