Flash Fiction: The Crafter

Old clear glass bottle on a tableSamael weighed the bag of coins in his hand. Even if it were all gold it would be insulting and it clinked like silver. He set the leather pouch on the worn, sticky tavern table and slid it back towards the man sat opposite him.

“You’ve got the wrong man,” Samael said, reclining back.

Across from him, his prospective customer darted furtive glances to the side, which only served to make him more conspicuous. He couldn’t even see the man’s face, shadowed as it was under the wide cowl of his cloak. If he’d only sit still he’d be more or less invisible in the dark corner of the Crucible Inn.

“What do you mean? Mister Trenchworth said you were him. The crafter. The poi—”

“Does your mouth have no kind of filter attached? At least lower your tone.” He huffed. “I am who he said I am, but you? You are not what he promised me.”

The man looked down at the purse. Samael watched his Adam’s apple bob. “How much then? I apologise, I am not all that familiar with the cost of… services such as yours.”

Samael took a sip from his small glass of port. “What is it you think I do, precisely?”

“You make—” He glanced to the sides again then lowered his head and his voice. “You make poison. I need some.”

Samael indicated the purse with a tilt of his glass. “The coin in there would buy you sufficient arsenic or nightshade to kill fifty men, from any apothecary of sufficiently dubious morality. Of which, I assure you, there are plenty.” He took another rich red sip. “I can recommend one, if you’d like.”

“Right. Right. Would that work?”

Ruby port swirled around the inside of the glass, leaving oily rivulets on the inner surface that slowly slid down. Samael’s patience wore easily thin dealing with the petty gripes of commoners. His craft greased the wheels of political machinations and dark dealings up and down the continent and was not available to every unhappy citizen who wanted to rid themselves of an unwanted spouse or employer.

“I do not simply make poison. I craft draughts with specific properties, tailored to my client’s needs. All of them untraceable, and every one unique. If you merely need to kill someone there are easier, and cheaper alternatives to my art.”

The man hesitated, shoulders tense and a spark of Samael’s curiosity rekindled. A gut feeling.

“I will give you one chance to convince me you genuinely need my services.”

Again the man checked to make sure they remained unobserved, and then reached for his cowl. He lowered it enough for Samael to make out his features in the low candlelight of the tavern. Regal features. Features he’d seen often enough on the back of every coin of the realm.

Samael downed the last of his port in one gulp and slid out of his seat. “Follow me.”

Based on the prompt “Poison” from Marc Nash (@21stCscribe)

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