The Silent Embrace

Within the foyer of Umbara resides the poison shop. Doors allow entrance to this shop within the tower itself, darkly panelled, heavy but not creaking, wrought iron hinges glide like smooth silk. Window panels of bevelled glass are set into the doorway, and as one approaches the shop they can hear the hiss of steaming, bubbling cauldrons. Fumes, some noxious and other sublime, mix and mingle in the air outside the shop in faint pronouncement, but within, depending on the work to be done, those scents can become almost overwhelming. Dark panneled walls, stained ebony, hold the innards of the shop like two large hands. Rows upon rows of glass vials fill low shelves set like bookcases, evenly and equally spaced, almost sparse in their set up. Some cases hold powders, others liquids, some jars of salves and ointments. All are guaranteed to darken someone's day.

At the rear of the shop stands the sales counter, an incomprehensibly tall fixture, black marble slab perched heavily atop ebony base. At four and a half feet the counter itself would seem imposing, dwarfing smaller races and standing arrogantly in the way of larger, blocking the dim hallway to the backroom, where bubbling cauldrons brew their misery and agony in singsong delight. There is, however, a bright note amid all the darkness. Green plants hang in carefully strewn baskets all about the outside of the shop, and windows on the one side face out into a carefully cultivated medicinal garden, where plants bloom. Every single one, of course, can bring agony or even death, but their living touch of green provides illusionary respite from the dark surroundings.
Should one proceed, at their own risk, behind the black counter and into the curtained off back room they would find the work of budding chemists and herbalists brewing merrily, vials of dried plants and, if lucky, the spring green of new shoots being coaxed to life. Cages line the back wall, full of hissing serpents and other creatures whose bodies are violated, essences stolen to produce the blackest of concotions.