Martyrs and Thieves Part 3

Iiiiiiiiit’s Wednesday, which means serial novel day!! You can find the previous parts by clicking the serial tag on this post 🙂

 

“Start talking then.” Vivian deliberately turned her back on him, scooping feed mixtures into bowls and beginning to distribute them to the cages closest to her. Maybe if she ignored him, she’d feel slightly less powerless.
“I thought when people negotiate business deals, they start with small talk. Feel each other out a little.”
When she turned around to give feed to the blue dragon, Elen was already there. Her attention caught on his teeth for some reason, sharp and predatory. Why weren’t Saul or her father stepping up? She could handle things herself, but it didn’t mean she always wanted to.
“We don’t need small talk. I have no interest in finding out more about you than is absolutely necessary,” she said.
“Hurtful. And maybe unwise.”
She shut the cage door too hard, setting off a chorus of cries from the baby dragons nestled beneath their mother.
“Just tell me what you want enough to come marching in here. You’ve never had an interest in the labs before.”
Elen leaned comfortably on the table, studying her as she measured herbs and seeds.
“Not that you know of. But I make it my business to keep unnecessary parties out of my business.”
“Which means you want something specific to our company. To these labs. Or you wouldn’t be here.”
“Just so.” Elen’s face tightened down, good humor vanished as easily as he’d shown it. “I want the company. If you want it plain and simple, that’s what I’m really here for. I expect it’ll take some time before you’re willing to part with it, and I don’t doubt there’ll be some messiness involved. But that’s what I’m after, in the end.”
Vivian stared at him, the bowls in her hands forgotten. “What?”
Elen sighed, pulling the hardbacked chair away from the wall and dropping into it. Every move he made was calculated, graceful in a way that was simultaneously threatening and enchanting. Vivian studied him carefully. She read the creatures in the lab every day, searching for the balance of their magic that would let her create potions humans could consume without killing either the creature or the person. She watched what they ate, when and how they slept, how they dealt with their young. The mission to make the magical accessible was the cornerstone of everything Armain Industries did, so studying living things and reading their secrets was easily the most important thing she did from day to day. And judging by the company’s success, she was relatively good at it.
But from Elen she gathered only silence, a strange gray peace that should have been easy and instead seemed dangerous.
“I know you’re not stupid, so let’s agree that so long as I speak slowly, you’ll at least make an effort to understand.” Elen crossed his legs and leaned back in his seat, turning an escaped seed over and over between his fingers as he spoke. “There’s a great deal of profit to be made in the business of marketing magic. And for whatever reason, you’re willing to pass it out to whomever shows up.”
“That’s how we make money. We make the potions, and sell them to the people who need them.”
“Ah, but you don’t. You sell them to the people who want them, which is an entirely different issue. Wanting is well and good, but need. Need is expensive. Need is an opportunity.”

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