Spring 1, week 4

It’s been uneventful this week but I’ve been reviewing my own notes from my journal. I’ve copied over everything of importance to the witch’s journal so I only have to carry one, and it means there’s enough room for it in my safe pocket. This diary seems to be almost impervious to mundane harm, although I’ve only tested that…. accidentally. It’s fire resistant, water and tear resistant, and doesn’t crease if you accidentally fall asleep on it.

I’ve been taking stock of where I am in the village. I’ve not done anything huge yet, but I’ve had a few people come up since the incident with the metal. They’re mostly just concerned about things going on, wondering if they’re unwell. It’s all been nothing so far. One woman was convinced she was magnetic as well because if she rubbed this spoon on herself and put it between her…. well I explained it was just friction with maybe a little sweat thrown in and she went way almost disappointed.

Interesting she wasn’t uncomfortable talking about… that…. with me. It threw me and I immediately felt guilty before reminding myself I’ve got nothing to be guilty about. It seems old prejudice is hard to shake.

I need a wand. That’s my next plan. Interestingly there’s one in town, the general store has a pretty decent one. It’s nothing special, and certainly not custom, but it’ll do. It’s better than the practice one I had to leave behind. I’ve nearly got enough as well, it’s 100 silver! Extortion! I’d complain but we’re in the middle of nowhere and honestly I thought I’d have to make my own. I’ve checked about that, the store does also sell an unprepared moon dais I could use but that’s 200 silver. Much more reasonable, but still a way off for me. Apparently they get adventurers and the like through sometimes, hence the supply of…. oddities.

I still can’t believe it’s 100 silver.

I also need to stop and…. I need to summon a familiar. I need one now, I’ve been lucky so far but I need their power and support. I’m just…..

I’m just scared.

What if I do the ritual and nothing appears. What if I prepare everything, I sit down, I call…. and nothing answers. What if I’m not a witch. If they were all right? If I really can’t become a “proper witch” because…. because.

I can’t keep putting it off, though. If I’m not a proper witch High Rannoc deserves better.

Maybe once I can afford the wand I’ll give it a go.

I’m writing this entry very quickly as I need to get moving on this. Ash arrived at my door. I wasn’t expecting her, especially so close to the village. I don’t think they have any animosity towards the giants but I also don’t know how familiar they are.

It was serious, though. One of the other giants is sick, they’ve come down with something I’ve heard of before as a laughing matter. Not so much this time.

Phodothropy. A subtype of the relatively common moon-touched curse, definitely one of the less alarming. The sufferer will merely turn into a hamster. A monstrous hamster, yes, but as it’s only for a few days in the month their families usually have enough time to find a witch before it becomes a problem.

In giants it appears to be much worse. Ash’s friend still turns into a hamster, and a monstrous one, but a giant one too. Her descriptions of an angry hamster four foot high are quite disturbing.

So I need to find some ingredients quickly, prevent it happening. It’s a full moon next week so I’ve got to get going. Apparently they only found out last full moon and they don’t know where the curse came from. They’ve only just gotten comfortable enough to come and ask me, and only because Ash insisted I would help. I’m grateful she trusts me like that.

I’m going to have stop in two locations according to the journal. I need some Mermaid’s Gift from the loch. Once I’ve got that I’m going to have to go to the dungeon at Hero’s Hollow to get some Vampire Venom of all things. Those two should do the job.

I returned to the Loch, prepped with some jars. Mermaid’s gift is a thick and furry algae that’s normally a little further out. You can sometimes get it by the shore, though, which is what I was hoping for. It didn’t take much looking around before I heard a now familiar call from the water and saw non other than Molmurra paddling over. They seemed in good spirits and we spoke briefly while I explained what I was after and that it was time sensitive. I didn’t mention anything about my patient, after all a witch’s discretion is invaluable, but they had an idea how important it was.

They offered to take me for a ride out deeper to a few spots as long as I didn’t mind them casting while they cast. I said yes, naturally, I wasn’t going to get out into the loch proper without their help.

After we got a good ways out, so I couldn’t see the shore any more. As they rowed Molmurra was humming a little song under their breath and it caught my ear. It was… strange. It sounded almost discordant, the notes shouldn’t have worked together, but it ended up sounding hauntingly familiar and reassuring.

I asked what the song was and they almost started as if they’d forgotten I was there. They explained it was a song that they’d learned from the witch! She’d taught it to them as a little way of passing the time or calming down in a difficult situation, almost a little charm they could use. It made sense why it was almost hypnotising.

We talked for a little while about the witch after that. I explained I was staying in their cottage and had taken over from them after they went missing. Nobody in the village seemed to know, or want to talk, about her. Molmurra was understanding but couldn’t add much more. They hadn’t realised the witch had gone missing, they’d just assumed I was either passing through or apprenticed to her and didn’t want to intrude. Frustratingly Molmurra couldn’t remember her name either, or much more about her. When I described the person I’d seen in my vision Molmurra agreed that’s what she looked like, but only seemed to remember after I said it.

This is a mystery I might need to devote more time to. What happened to her to make everyone forget so much? Was she just as reclusive as I am, or is there a work of magic going on?

Regardless we arrived at a thick patch of Mermaid’s Gift and Molmurra cast out a line while I set to scooping some carefully up. It’s mildly poisonous and has a habit of leaving anything it comes into contact with a thick layer of fresh fur. A few jars later Molmurrra also got a bite and reeled it in. It was a Wigfish, much to their disappointment. They explained they weren’t very nice to eat, but that I could have it. Apparently they have similar properties to Mermaid’s Gift; something that isn’t even in this journal! I thanked them for the advice and the gift, they said it was nice to remember the witch again and to know High Rannoc was in good hands.

They took me back to shore after that and wished me luck on my way, and I headed up to Hero’s Hollow.

Hero’s Hollow… One of the sites the area is famous for. I imagine this is why the local merchant has things like wands for sale; those looking for fortune can always try their luck in the Hollow.

I’d read about it but nothing really prepares you. Climbing a twisting mountain pathway, protected from a drop by nothing more than a rope railing, you round a corner to see…. a skull. A skull bigger than anything you can imagine. It takes time to fully understand it because it looks like a natural formation, but it’s not. I can’t estimate sizes but it is staggeringly big, covers the side of the mountain. It’s some kind of simian skull, monkey like, with sharp teeth grinning out into a valley.

The pathway continues winding round the mountains to get to the left eye-socket, and it’s here there’s an entrance. Behind the skull, buried in the mountain, is a dungeon. I don’t know who first built it, but it’s been expanded by different people with ill intent for generations. There’s so much I don’t think any of it has been mapped, and nobody really knows how deep it goes. It definitely has treasures in it, though. Sometimes adventurers come out having found a new secret room, bags full of gold and gems.

More often than not they come out injured, or don’t come out at all.

I needed Vampire Venom. I couldn’t believe I was going to try it. It was the middle of the day so they should all be asleep, even though it’s dark inside. I still put a few minor stealth charms on myself to help prevent noise from walking and wrap some shadows around me.

Entering was very strange. It was like walking into a crypt, which I suppose in some ways it is. The chill was immediate, despite it being a sunny day, and the sound immediately became muted and slightly echoing. It was an unnerving experience, nothing magical, maybe the effect of whatever’s skeleton this is?

I crept around as quietly a possible. It was a good thing I did have a few charms on because it seemed the whole place was designed to make noise! Lose stones, wobbly tiles, big puddles, if someone were less cautious everything in the dungeon would know where they were from the sounds.

While I was exploring I found a chamber that looked like it might head lower so I thought I’d check it out. As soon as I stepped in the ground vanished and I fell about a floor into another room, then it just reappeared over me like nothing had happened. I wasn’t too hurt from the fall, just some bruising, but I couldn’t find any way back up. The only way seemed to be a single door, like a jail door with bars in it, locked of course.

Not for the first time I was grateful for some of the charms I picked up back where I used to live. A little work and I had the lock picked and I kept sneaking deeper in, now looking for a way back up more than anything.

It was while wandering I heard sounds of movement and ducked into a side chamber. I was still, silent, waiting as scuffling and scraping noises came towards me, before a chest with legs waggled into view. I couldn’t really believe my eyes for a moment but it was a big oak chest, gold trim, and hundreds of tiny legs under it. It kept moving towards me and I saw the lip open up and a long tongue loll out, which finally gave it away as a mimic.

Thankfully I had some extra meat on me, mimics are quite harmless if they’re not hungry, so I threw it the Wigfish and it happily munched it down before trotting off.

Even more luckily as it did it kicked a pile of bones over which made a loud clattering. Still frozen I heard a slab of wall grate open to see none other than a vampire standing there looking about! They saw the mimic, sniffed the air a bit, but decided to go back to rest. I waited some ten minutes before creeping over to the wall and gently pushing it open. I was prepared to bolt at any moment but all I could hear coming from inside was rather undignified snoring.

The actual process of collecting the venom was easy enough, just a vial with some cotton wool over the end and gently press it to a fang. I wasn’t exactly comfortable doing this, aware that at any moment a horde of hungry vampires could wake up, but I was slow and methodical and they didn’t.

I didn’t stop to breath relief until I had snuck back out of the room and gone a good way down the corridor. From there it was more sneaking and searching to find a way out. A quick compass charm made sure I didn’t get lost but I must have been there for an hour trying to find my way out before I came upon a dirt ramp and a set of hidden doors that took me almost to the entrance. I hurried home, looking back over my shoulder nearly the whole way.

The preparation of this potion is slightly more complex than usual. First set to boiling the Mermaid’s Gift. This will take a while and if you’re pressured for time, as I was, you’ll need to multi-task. The algae must be bought to a strong boil and kept there for around thirty minutes depending on quantity. You’re looking for the water to turn a thick sludgy brown and when you stir the algae to bring it to the surface all the hairs along it must have come away. You can’t over-boil it so if you’re not sure give it another few minutes and check again.

While it’s boiling the venom needs to be distilled. Be very careful as gaseous venom is highly toxic. You must make sure your distillation equipment is air-tight and the venom will be cooled quickly once it enters a run-off tube. Distilling the venom is simple enough, you’ll be left with a milky white substance that is highly toxic.

Once the algae has finished boiling use something like a sieve to dredge it all out of your cauldron, keeping the water. I tied mine to the end of a stick so I wouldn’t get anything in the water, it’s not harmful it just feels horrible.

The leftover algae is useless from here, but can be composted.

The resulting sludgy water needs to cool completely before the next step, otherwise it breaks down the venom. Once it’s at least room temperature you can add it to the venom in a flask, one part venom to eight parts liquid. The final solution is a rather…. unappetising shade of brown, I’ll admit.

The mixture like this is functional but mildly toxic, only a bit though. I had some spare candy rock so added one crushed up, leaving me with a sparkling pale brown mixture. I do suggest something to improve the taste as the smell, look, and texture make this potion particularly unappetising. Side effects may cause people to swear off it for good.

I’m back from delivering the potion to Ash. I took it to her boat, where I met here before, and she was so grateful she took me back to their home. She told me on the way it was secret, I couldn’t tell the villagers or anyone else, they were worried of being chased off. Of course I could only swear on my magic, I couldn’t ever betray her like that.

When we got there it wasn’t anything like I was expecting, it was a cave certainly but shortly into it was a wooden wall across the tunnel and a heavy door set into it. She unlocked it and took me inside to what could have been a cosy cabin anywhere else. Beautiful wooden walls and floor, thick rafters, the only thing that gave away this was inside was the lack of windows and a fire.

Ash introduced me to the others there. It was her and 3 giants; Willow, Ivy, and Holly. It was Ivy who had the affliction and was pacing nervously up and down the room when we came in. I was quick to present the potion to zir as ze was clearly anxious and upset. Ze drank it down in a gulp, barely shuddering at the texture, and actually complimented the sweet taste!

I stayed to reassure all of them that this would work, that nothing would happen tonight, and they all believed me. I could see Ivy relax as ze let that sink in, I couldn’t help but wonder how ze had been coping with the worry for weeks now.

They thanked me and paid in silver, tipping for the speed and quality. Ash also nervously asked if I was “okay” with them all. It took me a moment to realise what she meant, but I said I didn’t want to pry as it wasn’t my duty. But also that I could understand her fear of being an outcast and being shunned. She nodded and… I realised she understood about me as well. And didn’t care.

We sat and talked, all of us. Once they realised I was like them it was as if a wall had been torn down. They were friendly grinning, chatting. They confirmed they were all in a relationship with each other, which was why they were here separated from where they grew up. They didn’t call it home, and neither will I. They joked, they flirted, they were full of an overjoyed energy that Ivy was better. They kept resting hands on zir shoulder or hand as if reassuring themselves ze was there. It was wonderful to see.

Eventually I headed off, but not without their thanks and a shared understanding. That and a promise that if I ever needed anything that was in their power to give, that they would be there. A little sense of community.

I had to stop writing last time, I got lost in thought. What would life have been like if I had grown up with them? It wasn’t a good avenue to go down, too much reminiscing and hurt.

I broke myself out of it after a while and packed up for the night, but this morning I made my move and went to the village. I bought the wand, for all 100 silver using all of what I got from Ash and nearly all of my savings. I think next week when I find some quiet time I’m going to try and summon a familiar.


  • +32 silver (+12 bonus)
  • +2 reputation (+1 bonus)
  • Status Change: Reputation Increased to Intermediate
  • Other Met: Willow the Giant
  • Other Met: Ivy the Giant
  • Other Met: Holly the Giant
  • Other Met: Mimic (fed once)
  • Stock Used: Candy Rock
  • Purchase Made: Simple Wand (-100 silver)
Photo by Luca on Unsplash

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