“For a start, he had me help him mix the toxin. Figured I was easier to keep control of than humans were. But he also had me poring over books… books about the sea. He wanted me to figure out objects from the sea that could hold a good amount of terror toxin.”
Drake looks slightly puzzled.
“I should think he’d be more interested in ways to spread toxin. Wouldn’t cauldrons be enough for holding it?”
“That’s what I found strange myself,” Harbottle agrees. “Indeed, when I made suggestions for spreading it, he got annoyed and said it had to stay in the sea. It was almost as if he wanted to poison the sea itself… and then, as he made more gripes about Nual getting in his way, I realized that’s what he wanted. Poison the sea, kill Nual.”
“It can’t be that simple,” Drake scowls. “Terror toxin can’t kill a god.”
“Yes, I suspected there must be more to it, but as I said, I wasn’t trusted with the details,” Harbottle replies. “If I were to hazard a guess, the terror toxin is probably a component to be used in conjunction with a powerful spell – probably ancient forbidden magic.”
“Wizards can’t kill gods, either,” Drake retorts. “I know a little about how magic works – it needs something called ether. Thing is, a single wizard can only handle so much ether. And the last wizard I talked to said that even if you got all the wizards in the world together, the most they could do is level a single town before they were all exhausted. Gods are harder to destroy than towns, I should think.”
Drake seems like the sort of man who’s given a lot of thought to just how hard it would be to kill a god – not because he’s planning on it, but because he wants to be ready if it’s necessary.
“Look, I’m sorry. I only figured out that was what was driving him. I can’t tell you more about how he hoped to do it, outside of the parts I was directly involved in. Which was all about the toxin.”
“Tell me everything,” Drake says, in a distressingly calm tone of voice.
“The only thing left that I know for sure is what he planned to contain it in. The main thing was the water lanterns – they contained sea water and were otherwise sealed, so he felt they’d be perfect for contamination. But the other major target that caught his interest was the whale sausage.” Harbottle pauses. “You know, the illegal bait. It turns out to be very absorbent of terror toxin, and if it’s consumed by a whale, well, the toxin would pass through the whale’s body. He seemed to think it would be especially effective, though again, I don’t know any of the details.”
The whale sausage that you have on you. Wonderful.
“So that’s why he contacted us,” Drake says suddenly. “Damn! He’s probably contaminated the whole shipment.”
And then he turns in your direction.
“Whoever you are, I don’t trust you. But I do trust what you’ve said about Jack Flame, and I can’t contact anyone else fast enough. I need you to do something for me.”
“And why should I?” you ask, slightly defiantly.
“Because you probably won’t like what I’ll have to resort to if you don’t.”
He definitely isn’t bluffing.
“Fine, then. What’s this favor of yours?”