The Syrian Latakia tobacco in his pipe was dark and delicious, but it did nothing to help the pain in Giles’ knitting ribs. Phaedra sat near him, reading a book in between conversation.
“Thank you again, love. I hope Melnik vomited blood all over his self-righteous wife and your work on Blackrain was brilliant.”
Phaedra smiled brightly, “I’m so glad you approve. Only Bilavio remains. I do so look forward to seeing her writhe in her death throes.”
Berithos paused a moment and removed the pipe from his mouth. “Well, I rather think killing her would be a bit excessive. I mean, to be frank, if we kill everyone in this city who merely mocks me, no one will be left.”
Phaedra gave a dangerous look, “I don’t see the problem with that. Besides, why are you being defensive of her. You had no qualms about shooting MacBain. Do you fancy Bilavio?”
With a wince of pain, Giles held up both his hands defensively, “Certainly not! I’d find romance with Pip more enticing than with that shrew!” Pip, sitting in the corner, gave a rude gesture as an indication that he did not think much of that proposal.
Looking unconvinced, Phaedra turned back to her book and away from Giles. Partly out of love and equally out of fear, Giles spoke up. “I’ll prove it, darling. Pip, go fetch the orange bottle containing the white powder from downstairs.”
Pip soon returned with the very item. Giles held it up. “Phaedra, this is a very potent drug, tasteless and activated by heat. We have Pip put it in the harpy’s cocoa and we have our vengeance.”
Phaedra’s eyes lit up. “Oh! Is the death a painful one?”
Berithos grimaced a bit, “It is not fatal. However, it does cause permanent alopecia.” Phaedra gave a small frown of dissatisfaction.
Berithos continued, “Hair loss. Alopecia totalis. All her hair – gone. She’ll be spending a bit of time at the wigmaker’s, I assure you.”
“And the effect is completely permament?”
Despite the pain, Giles fidgeted a bit. “Well, probably. Most likely… see, I’m not going to give Pip too much. It could be fatal. But, I promise she will certainly lose her hair. And in a woman that vain, that is as good as deathly poisoning.”
Phaedra gave a “hmmph” as she returned again to her book, obviously dissatisfied with this course. Giles made up a small packet of the substance for Pip, aware that he was in bad straights.