Poison Workshop Outtake from GRAVE MERCYWe are all in the poisons workshop. Sister Serafina sets the youngest girls to pluck theflowers, leaves, and berries from the nightshade I collected yesterday. She gives them carefulinstructions not to crush the stem, for it will fill the room with a foul odor. Margot and Matelineare outside collecting honey from bees fed on laurel and rhododendron, for even what we use tosweeten our potions is poisonous. Annith is sorting through a bag of rye, plucking the grains
covered in black mold, for that highly prized black fungus is used in a poison called Martyr’s
“Here,” Sister Serafina hands me a plate of goose livers and a mortar filled with grayishwhite powder. “Prepare this for the toads, then have Floret
te and Aveline feed them. After that,
I’ll need your help with the mushrooms.”
I take the supplies from her and set them down on the table closest to the toad’s cage.
They croak loudly and crowd close, eager for their meal. The two younger girls play with themwhile I quickly mash the arsenic into the goose liver, then form the mixture into small, pebble-
sized balls. “Gloves,” I remind the girls, and they hurry over to the shelf. When they return, I set
the platter of pellets on the floor and watch them feed the first few to the eager toads. Once I amcertain they know what to do, I hurry over to assist Sister Serafina.I have just begun to help her place the crop of wild mushrooms on a drying rack whenSister Thomine appears in the doorway. Sybella is with her.
“Our new novitiate is ready to join the others in their lessons,” Sister Thomine
Sybella’s eyes seek mine out, and she gives the tiniest of nods. I smile back. “Sybella can