As she was, sunken in cushions, draped over the side of her overlook, eyes half-lidded, it could be said that Leix was not keeping good track of her small legion of alchemists. Since the last accident had resulted in punitive measures, the goblins had not been making the same punitive mistakes. She had not touched them, of course. There were laws against that, and a good business-entity won by playing by the rules. Resorting to illegal measures was the mark of evil, or worse: bad business. No, Leix chose to run her business according to the laws of Periad. Though, as she thought on the contents of the basement, she had to admit that she occupied certain grey areas.
In business there was “perfectly legal” and then there was competitive.
A shattering of glass and flash among the cubicles that populated her emporium’s second-floor work-space drew the Yuan-ti out of her reverie. With a sigh her arms unfolded from opposite sleeves of her green blouse. Uncurling along her long body, the snake-woman raised to her full, prodigious height of nearly eleven feet on her coiled tail and spotted the flickering motion that flames made among the work-space.
By the time Leix arrived, the goblin had already put out the flames, to his credit, and was working on cleaning up glass shards with a speed that only suggested that she wanted to be done before the master alchemist appeared. Unsuccessful though this hopeful plan was, Leix said nothing for those first few terrified moments as the smaller creature stood before her, trembling, her apron full of glass and uncertainty stretched across her features. Leix smiled. What in the world was the point of hitting people to make your point?
She had not become a master alchemist for having a poor memory, and Leix quite thought that it intimidated the goblins further to hear their names spoken aloud. “Do not worry too much, Gazre.” she said, slipping into the cubicle briefly so that it filled with bright green scale and dangerous muscle, leaving her employee flat against the wall lest one of them unintentionally break the law. Leix gave the bench the briefest of glances. She spoke slowly as her hands flickered over the remaining glass and boiling compounds: “Working on alchemist’s fire, aren’t you? Trying to replenish our stock after our big sale? Good, good.”
It was entirely a dance. The goblin was mesmerized by having her employer so close, and every motion was threat. Grey areas. It was not Leix that had started the rumor that she had unhinged her jaw and eaten an entire goblin out of raw fury, but it certainly didn’t hurt. “It is very difficult for Alchemist’s Fire to burn down a building, Gazre. You will not ruin my business with such weak mixtures. There are compounds remaining in this world that could do such a thing, but they are locked away safely in hands steadier than yours.” The master alchemist’s lightly scaled hands had no problem resetting the retort, pouring out the congealed liquid inside with only a little assistance from her Mage Hand. She began to reset the entire workbench, speaking all the while. “Alchemist’s Fire does not burn too hotly, barely as hot as a wood stove, and only rarely does such a stove set fire to a home. No, to get a conflagration one can only use Alchemist’s Fire as a catalyst. Even in great quantity, it burns its fuel too quickly, at temperatures too low to be dangerous to well-constructed buildings. Or,” she said, knocking on the table “well-constructed furniture.” There was little to indicate the accident had even happened except for a discolored mark on the desk. Alchemists had long since referred to those marks as ‘progress’.
“As you were, Gazre.” Leix said, letting the trailing end of her long tail linger in the goblin’s cubicle as she removed herself from it. As the coils slid out the door, becoming narrower as they went, the terrified creature could only stare at the very tip of Leix’s tail, waiting in silence until it, too, slipped out of the cubicle and left Gazre alone.
Then, at last, she could let out her breath.