Feb. 2nd, 2009

zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
So I'm trying to poison a character with something left inside his cup which, when mixed with the wine that fills said cup, will kill him. I need something that might, after the wine has settled a while, leave a bit of an oily film, and my subconscious said, for no reason I'm aware of, "Alkaloids!" Then I spent some time ruling out various New World alkaloid poisons because this is early 16th century Denmark, and various alkaloid poisons that smell like mouse-droppings.

I don't quite get the point of a poison that smells like mouse-droppings. If it smelt like rabbit droppings it might work, but only if you were trying to kill a rabbit. Anyone else is going to say "This shit smells like crap" and refuse to drink it.

So I ended up with belladonna, and then I was discussing with Irina whether it'd leave the requisite oily film. One of us remembered that nutmeg was an alkaloid and, as I have a lot more nutmeg in the pantry than belladonna, I decided I'd run an experiment with that. Then I forgot because I was actually getting writing done. (Yeah! I know!) But tonight I remembered.

Methodology:
One wine glass was filled with pure (albeit extremely cheap) red wine as a control in case I hadn't washed the glasses properly.

Into a second glass 1/8 tsp nutmeg was placed. Next red wine was added.

At this point it was realised that 1/8 tsp nutmeg was in excess of the amount that would give best results. Therefore a third glass was dusted with minute amounts of nutmeg and red wine was added.

Results:
Nothing unexpected was observed on the surface of the contents in the control glass, thus vindicating my housekeeping skills.

However on the surface of the second and third glasses, a thin layer of nutmeg powder was immediately observed.

Discussion:
It was recalled that, whereas nutmeg comes in powder form, belladonna comes in an oleous solution. It is likely that these two substances have different properties as a result. Recalling this before beginning the experiment would have saved on red wine and, more importantly considering how cheap said wine is, on time spent doing dishes.

[My sisters will recall that I have a history of designing scientific experiments that turn out to be, at best, tangential to my auctorial needs. There was the time I burnt a match in order to taste the burnt wood only to realise that a) burnt wood tastes like burnt anything and b) what my story actually wanted was a description of what burnt wood smelled like.]

Conclusion:
Further research is required with olive oil.

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