Edmund fought the urge to simply shrug and ask to be let out. There was so much he didn’t recognize in the room, so much he didn’t know, that he was beginning to despair of ever learning enough even to fix a simple statue.
Yes, he scorned himself. Just walk away, like an eight-year-old boy, because you certainly aren’t Patron material.
Edmund steeled his jaw and cleared his throat as he surreptitiously pulled his copied recipe out of his pocket.
“I need something call- that is, I need some Linniman’s Rebuke, and an alembic. And if you have a spare vial-spinner, I’d like that too.”
Tunansia moved immediately towards a large trunk in the corner. She fumbled with the lock, pulled open the lid, and took out a thick sealed glass jar of a faded green liquid. Setting it on the table, she reached back into the trunk and hefted out a large black keg-like metal cylinder that she gripped by a leather handle.
“Here,” she said, tossing the heavy cylinder on the ground with a loud thud. “It’s old–don’t know why I kept it, retorts are much easier to use. I don’t have a spare spinner, just tie a piece of string to a vial, and that will do you. This is all the Linniman’s Rebuke I can spare–If you need more, go buy your own. What on earth are you using Linniman’s Rebuke for anyway?”
“An experiment,” Edmund said.
“An experiment? With Rebuke and an alembic?” She made a strange interested noise through her nose. “That sounds like something you don’t know anything about. Are you looking to blow up the mansion?”
“I have a formula,” Edmund said, hefting and then dropping the alembic with a thud.
Tunansia snickered. “What are you trying to make?” Her tone brooked no discussion.
“A revitalizing tonic,” Edmund swallowed. He wanted to stop there, but something made him continue. “I want to modify it to work with engines.”
“Ahhh…” She nodded slowly. “Planning on making some Mechanus Vitae, are you? You’re wasting your time, the last Plinkerton Engine in Moulde Hall was sold the city six generations ago.”
“You know about the Plinkerton engines?” Edmund asked.
Tunansia laughed as she walked back to her trunk. “Of course I do! I’m not an illiterate fool like everyone else–I pay attention! And it seems to me that you’re heading in a dangerous direction, boy. Chemistry isn’t for the faint of heart or infirm of stomach, and those aren’t qualities you can teach.”
“I’ll find a way,” Edmund insisted. After a moment, Tunansia returned, gripping a thin black book in both hands.
“Here,” she grumbled. “These are some notes I made on Mechanus Vitae that might be helpful. If you don’t blow yourself up, come back on Mondays and I might let you help me run some of my experiments.”
“Why?” Edmund managed to ask, after taking the book carefully from her hands.
“I have my own reasons,” she said, quietly, her eyes glittering dangerously in the dim light as she unlocked her door. “And I won’t help you for free. Remember, boy, you owe me a favor. Now leave!”