Marta played with the strand of cottonodd teeth she carried in her pocket at all times. According to Violet, the old crone who lived in a ramshackled cottage at the edge of Marta’s family’s fields, the cottonodd teeth not only repelled the Devil himself, but blocked his awareness.
“The Devil is an old codger,” whistled Violet through the gaps in her teeth, “who doesn’t know his cuckold from his elbow. At the best of times, the barstard doesn’t know what his immediate minions are doing in his name. He’s too obsessed with the Great Matter to know or care what is going on in his own metropolis. If you want to move undetected by His Narstiness, you’ve got to add the feathers of the idione bird and pebbles from the Cavernous Quarry to your cottonodd strands. That’s what will keep you, and anyone else, completely off his radar and those derelict deamons in middle management.”
Violet shuffled around her workroom, showing Marta what she would have to find to fully protect herself as well as the people she was trying to help. The workroom was lined with shelves that held never ending jars of different substances, some of which Marta recognized, but many which she did not.
“You’re certain you want to go ahead with what you are doing?” wheedled Violet.
“You’d better be. Your fate, if caught, is not a pleasant one.”
“What will happen to me?”
Violet waved away the question and turned back to her workbench.
“You know how to make what you’re trying to create?”
“I have the materials and the specifications. All I need are the tools.”
Violet waved an arm around the room.
“I have the tools.”
Marta nodded and looked around.
“You’d better know what you are doing, girlie,” said Violet again. “When the time comes you are going to have only yourself to get you through.”
Violet shuffled out of the room leaving Marta in a wake of doubt and warning.