Phaedra lay her fingers gently against Giles’s forehead, her brow creased with worry. He would not allow Pip near him, nor allow her to use the talents which she had cultivated so carefully over the years, fearing them in a way that almost gave her pause. She worried he would die of his wounds, but didn’t dare break a promise to him.
Her kind did not break vows easily.
“Pip,” She called quietly, he appeared at her side in silence, his wide, dark eyes staring up at her, “Pip, watch him closely. If he seems worse, fetch me immediately, I’ve business to see to.” He nodded and moved to crouch in a corner.
She hurried across the city to her home, thankful for the heavy night fog that had blown in off the Vernian. She clawed through the jars on her shelves and hunted in the bindings of her books until she found the pouch filled with a silvery, glittering powder. She dispensed some of it into a vial and tucked the vial into her bodice with a thin smile. Almost as an afterthought she retrieved a twisted, mummified left hand from her trunk and an odd, black match.
She made her way along the port to ‘Cuffs and stood on the stoop for a long moment, staring into the chilly night fog and attempting to discern any suspicious shapes, but saw none. She bent and, with a pin from her hair, sprung the lock on the door and let herself in, shutting it quietly behind her. Inside it was pitch black and opressively silent. She withdrew the withered hand from her pocket and struck the match, laying the flame against the hand. The thing ignited soundlessly with a pale light. She held it aloft as she checked the bottles until she found the absinthe she was looking for, thankfully already open. She sat the hand on the bar, the pale flames from the thing clung to her fingers like spiders’ webs and she blew them away in annoyance.
She uncorked the absinthe and poured the shimmering powder from the vial into it and shook the bottle hard for some minutes, ever-mindful of the sounds of the street beyond. She held it up to the light, watching the liquid settle and seeing if the powder would form a sediment. When it didn’t she lifted the bottle to her lips and took a swig, swishing it around her mouth thoughtfully before swallowing. She smiled, satisfied that the taste had not been altered, and whispered across the lip of the bottle, “Fancy taking jabs at my husband, Mrs. Melnik? I’m sure this will give yours a turn.”
She re-corked it and swirled the contents one last time, murmuring over it before replacing it exactly as it had been on the shelf. She picked up the hand, blowing the webbing of flame out that had started to spread across the counter: it left only a faint web of marring on the wood, not easily discerned from the usual scuffs and scratches. At the door she snuffed the hand itself and checked carefully that she hadn’t left behind any of its curious flames. When she was content that the room was as dark as when she had arrived, she let herself out, locking the door behind her.
Phaedra, any concern about her actions already far from her mind, hurried back to Giles.
((Friction matches were invented in 1826. The more you know!))