A clear solution

Seated on the shores of Lake Lovalus, Rharne serves as the home of the Lighting Knights, the Thunder Priestesses, and the Merchant's guild. This beautiful trade city is filled with a happy and contented people who rarely need an excuse to party.

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Faith Augustin Champion
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They had gone to the marketplace the trial before and bought all the things that they needed to. However, once they were done with that it had been getting late in the trial and they had decided to go and get something to eat, then went for a walk together. It was cold, and getting colder by the trial and the number of tourists in Rharne had reduced dramatically. To Faith's way of thinking, that just made it more beautiful, more special. During the walk they engaged in a heated debate about why frogs froze, talked about the stars, how to make litmus paper and general nonsense and even managed a few quietly romantic moments. Having stopped once again at an Inn to drink some hot drinks (tea for her and a warm cider for him) and warm up, by the time they'd got back it was far too late to do anything except fall into bed and determine to make the bandage-replacements tomorrow.

So, the next morning after they had eaten breakfast and had a slow morning, she had started to get their things together. "If we don't go back to Andaris soon, we're going to be here for Cylus, you know." Her silver eyes were serious and she looked at him with concern in her expression. She didn't want to be the reason that he stayed somewhere he didn't want to stay and she'd already dragged him into the Eastern Territories where he could have gotten himself killed. Faith was kneeling on the floor in their room, having moved things out of the way and laid out what they might need. The single desk wasn't big enough and, besides, she was inevitably more comfortable on the floor. The shopping from the market was carefully laid out and she had some parchment and pencils. As he joined her, she watched him and then the words more or less popped out of her mouth, unbidden. "Please don't quit your qualification, something that you have wanted for so long, because of me. Don't limit yourself because of me, it's the opposite of what I want. I don't care where we are, so long as we are there," she wanted to make things more possible for him, not less so ~ the idea of doing that horrified her.

The emotions that went with that, though, meant that she turned her attention to what they were planning. "I think I've got everything here. I got the sap and honey from our supplies here at the Order," their medical supplies were well stocked here and, in fact, Faith could go and get a refill of her supplies at any time she wanted to. "Then, because we couldn't get seaweed, we got tree gum, which we also use for some of our resins here, which we use in casts and so on, so that was here too. But we bought these oats, too, so that's good, we've got both. We bought lots of celery, which I've juiced half of this morning," he wouldn't need to ask when, she slept far fewer breaks than he did. Although, he might be aware, even that was changing. It would take some noticing, though, since she always went to bed when he did, and was back there but awake when he woke. She just happened to get up for a few breaks in between, but that time was growing less the more used she became to not having a hundred things to do. It was disconcerting, she had considered more than once, this whole 'working together' thing. Far from anything she had experienced before, but it was a wonder to her, "We raided the supplies for jars, we have those and we bought some almond oil." She had also brought up to the room some bowls for mixing and so on, all the supplies that she thought they might need. Turning to look at him she gave a slight quirk of her brow, the excitement at what they were going to do evident in her expression.

"How shall we start?" It was over to him now, she knew, because whilst she had some alchemy knowledge, he was very much the one in the driving seat here.
Off Topic
Deductions:
Oats 8sn
Almond Oil 6gn
Drinks & Meals: 6gn
Sticks of celery 1gn
Total: 13gn 6sn deducted.
word count: 755
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Dust Quarter Satellite Clinic ~ Order of the Adunih~Soup Kitchen & Community Center
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Padraig
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Invisible ink. That's what he'd do, Padraig told her when Faith mentioned litmus paper. Not the two had anything to do, one with the other. But the one, a fine idea on its own, had struck up the prospect in his mind of the other. Frogs froze because they froze, he maintained. Just like any other creature exposed too long to temperatures below the freezing point. It was what kept them alive in the meantime, and caused them to thaw out in the spring perfectly alive and well, that was the interesting thing. Something, if he could identify it, which could prove very useful in his experiments with alchemy.

Funny how they managed to combine science, spirits and romance, when none of those things ought go together. But it was their way, and made them all the more suitable, one for the other. And come to think of it, he'd mentioned while they were wandering through the market, looking for the ingredients they needed: Celery powder, not juice, that's what he'd need to act as a curing agent. But they could as easily make one as the other, so long as they purchased the celery.

"You worry too much," he told her while she sorted through their materials, and he set up his equipment on the small desk. "I'll get back to earning my qualification in time. And there's more to learning than sitting in a classroom or working in a lab." The truth was, what that diploma would earn him, for the most part, was the prospect of a teaching position in a university. And Padriag wasn't entirely convinced it was what he wanted just yet. "Besides, neither of us is particularly long in the tooth. Not just yet," he teased her. "There's plenty of time to settle in one place."

"All of this is more chemistry than alchemy." A little of both, truth told, but mostly chemistry. "In order to create a gel that will draw out and prevent further infection, it needs to be as clean and pure as possible from the point of creation forward. I'll need to purify the honey and tree sap which is simple enough. You've learned a thing or two yourself," he reminded her. "Want to make a little celery powder for me?"

"As for elasticity, I'll start with the oats," he decided as he lit the burner and set out the other equipment they'd need. "I think it will probably provide better elasticity." All the better to mimic human skin, he thought. And as a random thought struck him, he said. "I know that you're often up and back to bed. More so than after you were first freed. Do I snore too much?" he asked with grin while measuring out a dose of tree sap and honey and dribbling each into its own vial. "or is it one of the side effects of Famula's visit?"

The celery powder for her, to start, and purifying the other ingredients for him. Once that was done they could begin combining the ingredients, bit by bit, testing the results and making whatever modifications were necessary.
word count: 536
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"I worry, to coin your phrase, exactly the right amount," she looked at him with a serious gaze, determined that he wasn't charming his way out of this one. "Stop being deliberately irresistable, it isn't fair and it won't work. If you tell me the reason you don't want to go back to University right now is because of you, not me, then I won't worry at all." She didn't think he could, though. But then, she realised something and having done so, she sighed slightly, aware that in that realisation, she was defeated. "If it's because of us, too, that is acceptable. When did that happen?" Her confusion was as genuine as her pleasure about that realisation. Sometimes, she considered, defeat was better than victory. How strange.

Celery powder was easy enough, she'd had some of it dehydrating since they got back the night before since he'd said he wanted it, so she nodded and gave him a grin, "A little celery powder? Is that going to be like talc ~ you want just enough and I'll read your mind?" He wasn't the only one who could tease, after all, and she moved over to next to the fireplace where she had kept it. Dehydration of foodstuff, whilst also in a chemist's skillset, was very much her wheelhouse as a chef and so it suited her on two levels. She was carefully transferring the dehydrated celery into a bowl so that she could start the grinding process when he asked her about getting up and Faith suddenly got the feeling that she was walking on the ground where he had laid those explosives. One mis step here, and there'd be all sorts of damage done. So, she didn't answer for a moment, trying to put it clear in her head. "You don't snore, not at all. You sleep very peacefully, in fact. I love watching you sleep. Somehow, when I wake up, you sense it and hold me tighter, like you don't want me to get up." and in this moment, she really wished that she hadn't. Not once.

That was the easy bit done. "It's nothing to do with Famula. I should have thought about it," of course she should have thought about it, but cursing herself for it now wasn't going to help, although she did it anyway, "I didn't used to go back to bed at all, when I first moved in with you, although sometimes I'd go back to my room. I was trained from birth to four breaks of sleep or less. Never more, so I wake up early. Middle of the night really," he already knew this. She was quiet for a full minute, transferring the dehydrated celery into a mortar and pestle and then spoke, not looking at him, concentrating on the repetitive movements. "All my life, whoever owned me, I used the time from when I woke to do the cleaning. That was how we were taught, do all the things that would upset, offend or inconvenience while the freeborn slept, so we were available to them whilst they were awake. In Athart and with Jamal, sleep was a privilege to be granted. Tristan did away with that and I slept every night but," oh she really should have thought of this, why hadn't she thought of this? "he expected me to be back there when he woke up." She had no intention of going any further there. They both knew, why that was and that was enough and far too much; she wished it had never been. "It was my duty and it meant as much as my duty to clean the floors or cook his food." shut up Faith, she thought and she sighed but didn't look at him. For the first time, ever, she understood his feelings about Tristan in a way that she never really had.

Shoddy as she was, there were things that she knew without doubt. "I love falling asleep and waking up in your arms, and more than anything, I love watching you wake up," her voice took on a wistful tone as she explained, although she didn't look at him still. "Your arms tigthten around me, like you're checking I'm really there, yet you've been holding me since I got back into bed and you say my name as you wake, every morning. It's just mine, that moment." and as true as that was, she rather thought that by not thinking about it she had trodden roughshod on it and she bit back a sigh. Too much, too much, it was all just too much, "I made the celery powder," she kept everything carefully neutral as she picked up the bowl with it in and brought it over. "Is this enough?" Focus on what they were doing, that would work, she hoped. "What's next?"
word count: 846
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Irresistible? He'd never thought of himself as any such thing and he scoffed when she said it. He smiled and shook his head nonetheless. "I wonder if you're being deliberately contrary." He didn't mind, truth told. "I'm delaying another round at university for myself, and for us." It had happened while she wasn't looking. He hadn't been looking either.

"A few tablespoons ought to be enough," he said when she asked about the celery powder. "Enough to experiment with. There's no reason for more, until we've determined the correct ratios." That would take experimentation. But it was different, than when they'd been creating sleeping dust intended to target a camp full of rebels, all at once. It had required quite a bit of talc to get the job done. For the raft, they'd first need to identify the most effective combination of ingredients, and then fine-tune the recipe.

As for her sleeping habits, as soon as he'd asked, Padraig wished he hadn't. If he'd thought it through, really thought it through, he wouldn't have. He knew the answer before she supplied it, and it had only served to make her uncomfortable. He also knew just why Tristan would have adopted the practice of wanting her back in bed before the morning's light. Was he surprised? He frowned. No, he wasn't and in spite of doing his best to get along with her former master, Padraig still wanted to throttle him.

"Of course he did, and of course it was your duty." He didn't doubt her there for a minute. Still, "You don't need to explain," he told her. "If I'd been thinking, I wouldn't have asked."

"Do I?" he asked then, in a not so masterful effort to change the tone. But change it he would. Did he call her name first thing on waking up? He didn't know, it was that hazy place between waking and sleeping. But it was a nice thought, if he did. "It's enough," he said when she brought him the freshly made celery powder. But then, the other ingredients were prepared and waiting. "We test it now, different combinations of the celery powder, tree sap, honey and oat gum, and see which works best."

Having said that, he'd begin the process of combining the ingredients in very small batches, each of which they could test on some kind of surface. "Not glass or stone, neither are porous enough," he considered as they worked. "I don't want to test it on human skin until we've worked out a solvent to remove it. So, wood maybe, or parchment?" he suggested. Whatever they decided, there were several things he was interested in.

The consistency of the bandaging solution. Gel like, not runny, but not to thick. Ease of application. How well the stuff stayed put while it was setting, and how quickly it set when exposed to air. And lastly, the level of tackiness once it dried completely. They wanted it to be flexible after all and somewhat clear. But on the other hand, not sticky and not too soft.
word count: 539
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"Deliberately contrary? That is your counter to me calling you deliberately irresistable? Oh stop, I can't cope with all these compliments," she was teasing him, but couldn't help herself when he said that he was doing it for himself and for them. Serious silver eyes looked at him and she spoke,completely dead-pan, "For yourself and us? But that adds up to three again, which makes no sense. But thank you, from me, and my half of us, too," she kissed him with a gentle kiss, just to be sure that he knew she was teasing, grateful and pleased all at once, before moving to start work on the celery powder.

He had more precise measurements of celery powder than he had of talc, she was pleased to note and so she got on with it. It shouldn't take her long and she was quite happy to be doing it, until of course he asked her that. A glance at him at just the moment when it was probably least helpful that she did so meant that she caught sight of the frown on his face, the expression telling her what his words did not. Damnit. But he didn't want to hear it, which was more than reasonable all things considered, so she turned her concentration on to what she was doing and that was that. When he asked her about his waking up habits, though, she was more than content to answer.

"Every morning since the first one," she replied with a quiet voice, "in between sleep and awake, you tighten your arms around me and say my name. Like you're asking if it's me. When I answer, you smile and pull me close to you, then you go back to sleep for a few bits, before you wake up properly." Faith measured out the last of it and brought it over. It was enough? Good, that worked. She pushed down the feeling of having messed up on a quite phenomenal scale and listened instead to what he wanted. "Orange peel," she replied, apparently randomly, before she went on to explain, "when we are practicing giving injections, we practice on oranges, because their peel is most like skin." He might, in fact, have noticed that there were a lot of orange-related produce readily available. Juice, marmalade, that kind of thing. "I'll go get some, you whip up some samples," planting a kiss on his cheek, she exited to go and bring back with her a small basket filled with, unsurprisingly, oranges. "Here you go. Ready to test," she explained, all business like and focused. This could, quite genuinely, save lives and limbs and so she was keen to get it right.

She tested each one, trying to make the same hand movements, minimise the differences between each condition. It would be no surprise to him that she was careful and thoughtful as she proceeded, considering each sample on a number of different levels."The consistency and ease of application are best for this one, although it is a little more sticky than this one," she made marks on the pieces of parchment she had rested the oranges on, identifying which one she meant each time, "I prefer the stickiness of this one. This one dries the most efficiently, although this one is quicker, it's too quick. Does that help?"
word count: 577
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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Padraig knew that she was teasing him, just as she'd known that he was doing the same. It was something that hadn't changed. Something that had started shortly after they'd met. Long before she was freed, and before he'd believed there could be anything more between them than friendship. He'd never have foreseen it, not in himself at least. Their temperaments, Faith's and his both, seemed to have made it inevitable. And yet it was a give and take that he thoroughly enjoyed though he'd never admit it aloud.

"How very unlike me," he said with a smile when she confirmed that before he was fully awake each morning, he called out her name. "However, I'll concede the point if you'll also acknowledge that you snore, just a little, when you're sleeping soundly. I like it. It tells me that you're content and I find it endearing." Whether she did or she didn't, was neither here nor there, his teasing tone seemed to imply.

So, oranges to approximate the elasticity and porousness of skin. "Are the natural secreted oils similar?" he wondered. Then again, neither paper or wood secreted oils in a similar way of skin. And Padraig was determined that they'd not apply the stuff to skin until they'd identified a way to remove it once it was set and dry.

Whichever the case, by the time she'd returned with the oranges, he had the samples ready to test. "Don't use your bare finger to apply it," he warned her. After all, it was meant to bind with skin, and again, they hadn't whipped up a suitable solvent just yet. So as she tested each one, and then told him what she thought of each, Padraig took notes and made the appropriate calculations as they went. More celery powder in one case would reduce the stickiness, and perhaps less in another case.

"It helps, yes," he said, and having already set up another small jar to combine ingredients in, just like her, he examined each orange to make sure he knew what she wanted. "In the bottle, the stuff will be too thick to shake. But the oat gum will also act as an emulsifier, which will stop the individual ingredients from separating between uses. No shaking required," he added with a smile.

"You know, this was your idea. And it really is brilliant," he told her more seriously. "It could save lives, prevent infections that might otherwise result in the loss of a limb. It can take the place of stitches, ordinary bandages. This a good thing, what we've done here."

Now of course, there was whipping up a proper solvent to remove the stuff, once it was no longer needed. It would, he believed, resolve itself over time and simply fall off once the skin had repaired itself well enough. But she'd made a good point, it might need removing sooner, and a medic would need a way to do it safely and without causing the patient more pain and injury.
word count: 523
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When he said that speaking her name was unlike him she raised an eyebrow. "Why is it unlike you? It's exactly like you to me. The only you I've ever known, anyhow," every morning since the first one, after all. At the prospect that she snored, however, her eyes lit with pleasure. "Padraig, if all you do is tease me, I won't know when you're telling me the truth or making up stories, you know. Do I really?" Faith looked utterly delighted at the thought that she might. "It's significant if I do. We were not allowed to, those who weren't sleeping had to stop those who were. It's unbecoming and inappropriate for a slave. I must not be one of those any more, even in my sleep where I can not remind myself. Do I really?" All teasing of him was gone as she moved forward, lifted her hand to behind his head and buried it in his hair as she kissed him in a slow and languid embrace before she whispered, "It means I am completely content, yes. Utterly and scandalously so, in fact," her eyes searched his as she spoke, touching the tip of her nose to his as she whispered her next words. "Completely content and absolutely in love. It doesn't get better than that."

It was not long, though, before the twinkle of amusement returned to her eyes, "I have chosen to believe that I do snore, just as I am choosing to believe that you speak my name when you first wake because it is how you said it was the first time you kissed me and told me you love me; that you think of me when you wake. It could be, of course, that you are not sure who it is that you pull so tightly to you and are just checking, but I will choose the former." Even in a tender moment, that tug of war they did was ever present. She would no more admit it than he would, but it delighted her. "But I am not budging on the dimples," her grin was pure mischief at that with a brief expression of challenge, but she pulled her thoughts, reluctantly, back to what they were doing.

When she returned with the oranges, he asked about the oils and she nodded, "Yes, moreso than almost anything. Better than pigskin even. It makes sense, really, oranges have thick skin and a lot of fluid inside them. We are very similar, really," it possibly did not help that she tore open a piece of orange as she said that to show him. She didn't seem to notice, instead deftly peeling and then offering him a quarter, even as she popped a segment into her mouth. "Want some?" She shook her head when he said, though, not to put the samples on with the bare skin of her finger and she held up the small chunk of orange peel she had apparently quite casually ripped. "It's like skin. So I will use it to put it on and then it will be like I was applying it with bare skin. Just in case." One of the things which Faith had a knack for was the organisation of tasks. It helped in experiments like this, she thought through contingencies, pitfalls and so on. So, she used a different chunk of orange peel to apply it each time, just in case that made a difference. Until they had the solvent, it would have to do.

"No shaking, not under any circumstances," she confirmed with a grin to him. When he said that it was her idea and it was brilliant, Faith shook her head. "We don't know that, yet. There are lots of tests still to do. What other than this solvent might cause it to come off? How does it deal with heat or cold, water on the outside or further bleeding inside? Will it work instead of stitches? It might work in place of four or five, but what about a line of ten, or even more? What if someone vomits on it? Urine? You name the body fluid, I need to know how it will react." Logistics was an important part of her life as a medic and she explained with a most earnest expression that the time to find these things out was most certainly not when using it on a live patient. Just in case it working, or not, made a difference to them being, well, live or not at the end of it.

"So, solvent first, then tests. Then, we celebrate success if it is appropriate to do so," she shot a grin at him and then added, because really she rather had to. "I mean, please, would you help me test it?" Her smile softened and, in a completely new behaviour to the serious young woman, she added, "I'll say thank you afterwards." Shoddy at flirting too? Certainly, but it was her first attempt and she was pleased with it, all told.
word count: 862
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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He'd rather remain in Faith's embrace much longer, with her in his and their breaths mingling in a kiss, than answer the question of whether she did or she didn't. Snore, that was. But eventually he did, while he still teased her, she also knew him well enough to realize that his answer was sincere. "You do." Padraig smiled while adding somewhat of an addendum. "Not the snore of a drunkard, mind you." No gaping mouth or anything of the sort.

"It's a quiet, irregular but soothing sound, I think I've come to sleeping better with it than without. Contentment, that's what it's like," he reassured her, and it was true enough. As for the dimples, well, they'd have to agree to disagree. He'd continue to claim she had them in the most wonderful of places, and Faith would continue to deny it.

So, the oranges would work nicely as a stand in for human skin for the purposes of testing. He took the bit she handed him and ate it, but frowned while considering her concerns.

"I wouldn't think that heat or cold would effect it much," Padraig said. "Exposure to extreme cold might thicken the stuff stored in the bottle, so probably better to keep it from getting too cold. On the skin though, I think that once it's set, it's set. I don't think exposure to blood, or to water on the skin, will compromise it either. Tree sap dried on the outside of trees, isn't washed away by rainfall."

"I have no idea how it will respond to vomit or urine," he added with a curious frown. He hadn't considered that but why would he? "Not at all, I don't think." Except that he grinned as he added, "But don't ask me to vomit or urinate on an orange. Some things, not even for science.' Nonetheless, they had their raft. And the next step was to mix up a solvent to dissolve or remove it with.
word count: 347
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That she was utterly delighted to discover that she snored was far from an understatement. It was significant to her, in ways that she did not want him to understand, let alone ways that she was going to describe. But given her way, she too would have lingered in his arms rather than continue with their task. She smiled, a soft and gentle expression tinged with mischief, "Given my druthers, you know, we'd not have left this room or that bed yet. I hope you know that," she considered for a moment, though, and then changed her mind. "I suppose, except to wash and eat. I mean.... you know what I mean." Faith grinned, her hand sliding to caress his cheek, a gesture she seemed to enjoy judging by how often she did it. "We both sleep better with each other, then. It's like being awake, isn't it? We do that better too." His insistence on dimples, though, was getting to be nothing short of silly and Faith shook her head, determined not to accept any truth in what he said. Certainly not admitting that she already knew the truth she so fervently denied.

When, reluctantly on both parts it seemed, they got back to what they were doing, Faith listened to his explanation and nodded with a serious gaze as he explained that she shouldn't let the bottle get too cold and why it should be just fine with water and blood. When, however, he said that he had no intention of either vomiting or urinating on an orange, she smiled in delight and amusement, a slight chuckle escaping her. At the words 'some things, not even for science', however, that chuckle evolved and Faith let out a rare laugh. "Nor would I ask you to. Oh, you are a funny man. I wasn't suggesting that," not even for a moment had she been but whilst Faith's laughter happened rarely, it was a release to her. More than that, though, it was indicative of the very same thing that snoring was ~ a forbidden noise released, expressing something which had previously been outside of either reach or expectation.

"Solvent, then?" Faith watched him with amusement still lighting her eyes. "Citrus, like you say, wouldn't be good," she frowned, trying to consider and then looked at him with a quizzical expression. "What about mayonnaise? We use that in work sometimes, when... well, never mind. We use mayonnaise, I believe that it is actually the vinegar, but the egg counteracts the acidity of it. Would that work?" Her experience, after all, was as a chef and so she reverted to that as easily as she reverted to other aspects of her previous life in the specific circumstance.
word count: 469
"Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote."

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There was no question that they were better together, either sleeping or awake. She'd made him better, or maybe she'd somehow managed to draw out and expose a part of him that he'd never known was there. Padraig also suspected that it was only her that could have done it. Either way, he smiled and could only agree. "We'd spend much more time abed if I had my way. Eating in bed could be arranged. Bathing though would probably be awkward."

But when she laughed and reassured him that she hadn't been suggesting he test the stuff, by personally doing any of the things he'd suggested, Padraig was skeptical, even when she insisted it wasn't the case. "It sure sounded like it," he maintained. Better though, that it wasn't what she'd intended. "But since it's made you laugh, and it's a rare occurrence that I thoroughly enjoy, I won't complain."

But to the topic of solvents, he considered their options and concluded there might be a number of them that ought be suitable. "No orange oil, are you sure?" he asked, since citrus oil was one of the better naturally sourced solvents available. Just enough in combination with other ingredients, he wondered, but not enough to cause painful effects to the patient?

Whether or not she believed it was acceptable, it wouldn't hurt to experiment just a little. "Mayonnaise, or a combination of vinegar and egg might work," he agreed. "But if egg is to be included, it ought be turned to powder. Otherwise the stuff will spoil and go rancid in a short amount of time"

"Another option is a starch extracted from vegetable matter, like corn, wheat or barley," he told her, assuming that any one of those things might be easily gotten from the kitchen. "So we've got vinegar, prepared and powdered egg, starch...possibly orange oil, with a little water and almond oil to achieve the right consistency." A liquid state, but one thick enough to swab on rather than pour.

So if she could find him some eggs and reduce the cooked stuff to powder, and corn, wheat or barley for him to extract the starch from, they could begin to experiment with different combinations and ratios.

It would take a couple of breaks before they'd produced a number of vials to experiment with. But just as they'd done with testing the raft, he'd leave it to Faith to actually apply the stuff, while he took notes and adjusted the combinations and ratios based on her findings.
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