The following is an aphorism created during a livestream on prose writing. It was written live on my youtube channel with the audience giving me input for various details, which I then converted into this little story. It introduces a female rogue protagonist, Sarah, by showing her visit an apothecary for a bag (probably of poison).
Sarah rushed through the narrow alleyway, brushing a stray red hair from her blushed lips as she went. The cold night wind drew moisture to her eyes, something that had grown unfamiliar to her in the days since she had offered her employment to the Order of the Black Lotus. She grumbled to herself as she stepped around a stray cat, causing the inky feline to tip over an empty bottle. Nothing living in the darkened passage reacted to the tinkling echo, and she released her breath.
Finally, she reached her destination, an old iron-shod door. She hesitated and found herself gazing into an image of the half moon, trembling in a slightly stirring puddle at her feet. A leaf, abandoned by some great maple along the nearby thoroughfare landed in the water, destroying the transient view.
Taking a deep breath and smoothing her ruffled green skirts, Sarah reached up to the knocker, a thing which once bore the image of an eagle, but had been reduced to a smooth abstract shape with the years. She pounded out the rhythm she had been taught by Giovanni, or as he was known in the streets of London, Logan the Shiv.
Tot. Tot. Tot tot… Tot tot tot… Tot. She was careful to make the third knock the loudest.
She waited quietly for an answer, noticing in the corner, by the iron doorknob, a small brass plaque that read, the ancient code of the Lotuses, “Trespassers will be killed on sight.” She knew Balthazar would be expecting her, but she still felt the middle finger of her left hand reflexively tickling the trigger of a modified pistol hidden in her sleeve.
With a great creak, the door swung inward, revealing the candle-lit interior of the Apothecary beyond a tall and heavy man in a dirty grey waistcoat.
“You’re late,” he said in a voice like dry sand under a wagon wheel. Abruptly, he turned around and staggered inside, collapsing into a worn leather chair at a wide and cluttered desk.
“I don’t think you’re in a condition to be judging time, master apothecary,” Sarah said softly, almost honey-sweet, emphasizing the soprano of her voice. She took her cloak down so the old poison-master could see her.
He raised a single grey caterpillar-like eyebrow when she revealed her face, then turned back to a ledger on his desk, vocalizing softly.
Sarah pursed her lips.
Balthazar produced from a nearby coffer a small bound sack.
“Ten pounds,” he growled, leaning back in the creaking old chair.
Sarah fingered the coins in the pocket of her cloak. She smiled sweetly at the old man, opening her blue eyes wide to catch the candle light.
“I was told five pounds.”
Balthazar huffed. “Flapping your eyelashes might work on younger men. No’fing I haven’t seen before. Ten pounds or get out of my shop.” Keeping her face placid, Sarah took out both purses she had in her pocket and dropped them on the table. The apothecary picked them up tossed them on a nearby scale.