It’s been a quiet week so far. I’ve spent most of it reading up on the care of bees in the journal. It seems Auria was very fond of them and had nearly a dozen hives! I don’t remember reading about them in the journal before but over the past few days the pages are just there like they’ve always been present. Her style of writing is very reassuring. She writes like she’s giving a friendly lesson to an apprentice rather than keeping her own record.
While I’ve been doing this Snowdrop has been spending the time exploring the area more, going quite far. We’ve been testing the limit of our connection and after a point we’re basically severed from each other. Not that it stops her getting into trouble. She came back this morning muttering about a “rival”, but wouldn’t tell me anything else. I’m not worried though; I know she’ll be fine, she’s smart.
Tolbem came but earlier and invited me down to the village. He seemed excited and happy about something, but wouldn’t tell me what it was. I’m heading off shortly, but I’m going to prepare a bag of things just in case. I might stop in at Olma’s again, I’m sure her friends will be interested to hear about the bound demon. Maybe they know something about him?
I’m back home and I’ve just noticed that my journal seems to have grown again. I didn’t notice before but there are two whole new sections. I think this book is enchanted to reveal new information as I become able to use it, which would be an incredibly powerful spell! Anyway I’m getting ahead of myself, a lot’s happened this afternoon.
The reason Tolbem wanted me at the village was a celebration meal he’d arranged with his family and a few people from the village. I was assuming I was invited as the village witch until he gave a toast to me!! They’d organised it because I’d stopped the spread of the Adventurer’s Rash. High Rannoc hasn’t been hit with it before but they know of neighbouring towns that have, where multiple people have run off and hurt themselves in the pursuit of adventure before they recover.
I must have been as red as a Songberry and I could see Olma grinning over the side as she raised a glass to me. I was careful to not deflect and to accept the praise. Normally I would have said something like “it was nothing” but I went with “I’m glad I could help”. It seemed like the right thing to say because everyone was delighted with the whole thing, particularly my blush I think.
We ate until mid-afternoon, it was good food as well. Tolbem pulled out a few bottles of particularly expensive looking wine, though I declined. It was lovely to be a part of the village for a little bit, the bubble of conversation, the laughs, the squeals as a pair of children chasing each other slipped on something, a sense of community.
As we were wrapping up Tolbem took a moment to thank me again, shaking my hand, and he said what a delight it was having a witch again; that they all felt safer knowing I was there. A lot of responsibility.
I headed over to the adventuring shop again. I’ve got a nice load of money from the dungeon delve and I want to get the last bit of kit I need as a witch: a broom. It’s been a while since I went flying and you can’t just use any old broom. I had to leave mine at my last apprenticeship and I’ve been missing flying.
Luckily they had a pair on sale, a little pricey at 100 silver each but not too bad. One was clearly just a normal broom that the attendant guiltily removed when I pointed it out to them. The other was the real thing. You can tell a riding broom from a sweeping one a few ways. Usually it’s made of a very dense wood, something far heavier than you’d want in a cleaning implement. It’ll also weight a fraction what it should, even unempowered they’ve got a magic to them. The bristles should all be carefully packed and tied on usually with silver wire. The whole thing will be sanded and varnished too, smooth and shiny to prevent splinters anywhere unsavoury, another good sign because most people don’t worry about getting splinters from cleaning devices.
These are good tips but the things that make a riding broom work go deeper than that, the trick is in the crafting. Much as I’ve used memories of driftwood before a broom has to be crafted with memories of the sky. There’s an art to imbuing wood with the memory of flight. It takes a lot of work to make a broom long to be airborne so that a witch can feed it a little power and it will take off.
The surest way to find out is of course to take it out to a secluded field where nobody can see you if it doesn’t work and try to fly. Obviously not ideal if where you bought it has a “no refunds” policy.
I paid and took it back home and while nobody was watching did just that. Contrary to popular belief it’s only necessary to actually straddle the broom when you’re learning or need the use of your hands. A broom is just an implement and it’s just as possible to fly by holding it at your side, how I prefer to do things. I was nervous having not flown for so long, but it’s something you never forget. There’s a reason witches say “like riding a broom”.
Snowdrop firmly in my satchel I took off and flew. It was just like I remembered it. A moment of tension as the world dropped away, my stomach lurching briefly before settling, and the feeling of complete freedom. The thing about a good broom and a bit of skill is you can go anywhere. There are no limits in the world, no boundaries, no squabbles or bad folk, just the wind and birds and yourself. And your fox.
I don’t know how long I was flying for but it was early evening when I got home. And there was someone waiting for me. She was about my age, maybe a little older. She looked strong as well, I immediately thought she was one of the foresters. She had thick brown hair tied back in a braid and
the mos nice hazel eyes. I couldn’t help think how cute she was until she introduced herself as Iris.
The town doctor.
Of all the people! I’ve never had a good relationship with doctors but witches rarely do at the best of times anyway. They’re all stuck up academics, more interested in “watchful waiting” than getting their hands dirty with a wigfish to make someone better. They always deride magic, and worse still they’ll take our patients if we don’t work fast enough. Sometimes it’s nice to have a backup if we’re not able to solve the problem on our own, but usually they’re waiting to pounce on someone the moment we’ve got our back turned and interfere.
I was immediately wary of her, particularly as she was here looking…. worried? Definitely nervous and shifting from foot to foot when I saw her as I came in for a landing, but she did seem suitable shocked when I came in for a graceful landing in the space in front of the cottage (thankfully I didn’t stumble or anything). She looked me up and down quite deliberately as I walked over and I immediately started feeling defensive before she stepped forward and grasped my hand with both of hers.
She was so…. nice. There’s no other way to put it. She was smiling, polite, asked me my name and so on after offering her own. She was charming above all else, and I found myself getting swept up trying my best to maintain my detached witchy air. She was very apologetic as well for this being the first time we’d met, citing a busy clinic and personal commitments that kept her from stopping by.
I graciously bought her inside the cottage, thankful I’d repaired all the leaks and removed all the weeds from the floorboards. I offered her a seat and that’s when the story started coming out as to why she was here.
She couldn’t sit down. Now I’ll admit it wasn’t something I’d heard of before, but she physically couldn’t sit and we did test it. Every time she went to sit on a chair it would move out of the way, or she would. We couldn’t quite tell which was witch only that there would be a moment before she made contact where things got confused, after which she would be on the floor.
She’s been like this all day and explained what tests she’d done. She was very… thorough. For example she can’t sit on a chair, window ledge, or table. She can lie down on a bed, and she can even sit on the edge of a bed as long as it’s with the intent of pivoting and lying down. If she tries to “trick” herself by going to lie down but stopping and staying sat she finds herself on the floor again.
She was going to leave it and see if it worse off but it’s becoming embarrassing for her, she rightly pointed out the villagers won’t trust her to treat them if she can’t sit competently. She also needs to spend time examining patients and sits for this, or did at least. That’s why she decided to come and see me, having heard about my recent help to High Rannoc, to see if I could do anything for her.
I’ve never seen a curse this specific before, and I don’t have any clue what could cause it, but I’ve got a few ideas of how to treat it.
I sent her home and told her to lie down for the evening, that I’d be by first thing in the morning with a cure. I just hope I’ll have one.
I think I’m going to try an infusion of Albatross Seeds which are good at removing curses, and Goat Echo which can interrupt effects on the mind. Both of which are in the mountains so if I head off now I’ll have a few hours of light before it gets too dark to continue.
Just before I do, back to the journal, when I sat to write this entry out it looked thicker. I flicked through and an area on The Strange (the home of the Dark Ruler) and somewhere called The Cloud Isles. It looks like because I made the agreement with the Dark Ruler and can go to the Strange now the witches notes about it are visible. The same goes for the Isles which are far above the Moonbreaker Mountains and only accessible by broom. This is some incredibly potent magic.
It seems I jinxed things when I said it was a quiet week. I’ve managed to get the ingredients but it wasn’t easy, and I found something else in the mountain.
I started by flying over on my broom, astride this time, gripping tightly with my knees so I could catch the Albatross Seeds with my hands. These seeds are something special, and not just because of their size. The actual seed is about as big as Snowdrop but they’re attached to a stalk and fluffy bit that’s many times bigger. Apparently when they’re released it’s a beautiful sight as hundreds puff up into the atmosphere, I’d love to see it one day. They spend about two years after that circulating the world in the upper atmosphere, getting lower and lower as they mature. When they’re ready they’ll collide with something and take root. Luckily the older they are the stronger their healing power so catching them from the top of a mountain gets them before they take root but still potent enough.
I managed to snag one and cut the umbrella off. After I wrapped it in my pack I decided to go for a second and managed to grab one, but while I was cutting through the stalk a griffon took notice of me! I must have been near its nest because it started flying aggressively at me, squawking and flapping. I started to pull away and dove to the side but I dropped the second seed in the moment. I figured I’d cut my losses at the one.
Next up was the Echo. These are tricky to get because you need the goat to bleat somewhere there’s already an echo. Trust me when I say you don’t want to be trying to get a goat to go somewhere echoy against its will.
I did a few passes of the mountains, specifically focussing on valleys, and spotted a small heard of goats picking around by a cluster of boulders. They weren’t making much noise but it seemed as good a shot as any.
I dropped onto the rocks and sat, wand at the ready, vial in hand, and watched them roam. It was quite peaceful until Snowdrop got bored. She decided waiting for goats to make a noise was too much effort and she could chase them to get the same effect. If she’d been a dog or similar it might have worked, unfortunately goats are wilful little pains most of the time so when she started yipping at them they all stopped…. turned…. and stared at her. She was unnerved and slunk back to the rock but before she could get up here they let out a cry almost as one and charged. I grabbed the note out of the air, stuffed it into the vial, and went to grab Snowdrop so we could fly out of there.
What I didn’t expect was that once I jumped off the rock it stood up. The pile formed together into limbs; thick arms and stout legs, a wide torso and a mossy head to top it off. That scared the goats enough they all ran off while I looked at the golem now standing in front of me! An actual genuine golem!
It approached me and plopped down into a sitting position again, watching me. I carefully moved up and held out my hand for it to reach out a single large finger and gently touch my palm, rumbling happily to itself. It looked damaged so I asked if I could examine it and got an affirmative hum in response. I’m glad I did, it was really beaten up. The poor thing had large chunks missing, even some whole stones from its legs, and moss had turned to vines in places restricting its movement.
I stepped back and told it I could help repair all of that if it wanted, but that it was going to take some time and I’d have to come back. It rumbled happily again and rocked side to side a little, what’s time to a golem after all? I wish I knew who’d built and left it here, but I could find that out later. I nodded and patted it’s arm, thanking it for the help with the goats, and flew back home as it waved goodbye.
Now I’ve got everything it’s time to brew.
This one is quite easy to make up, or it will be if it works.
To start with you’re going to need to distil the Echo, this can be really tricky if you’ve not worked with incorporeal ingredients before. The best way that I’ve found is to get your flask ready and in a smooth motion uncork the vial and use your wand to direct the Echo in. Keep it held down with the tiniest bit of power while you attach the condenser and get the fire lit quickly. It doesn’t take long for the next bit so keep your eye on it.
What you’ll see is the wispy vapour of the Echo almost melt into a watery substance before it starts to give off what will look like steam. This will rise out, condense, and you can collect as normal. Keep going until it’s all boiled away and you’re left with a white chalky substance on the bottom of the flask. I don’t know what you call the residue but it’s quite funny to keep; mix a teaspoon into a drink and it will cause anyone who drinks it to bleat just once uncontrollably.
Anyway, the new liquid will be clear like water but a little syrupy. You can leave this to cool while you prepare the seed which I recommend you do outside.
The first step is to crack it open which can be tricky. There’s no dignified way to do it so just dig a little hole, drop it in there firmly, and hit it with an axe. You don’t have to worry about damaging it too much if you’re after curse removing effects. If you want magic boosting effects you need to be a bit more careful; identify a crease in the outer shell and hit the opposite side with the axe.
Inside you’ll see a lot of white fleshy material that’s perfect for curse reduction and a little leafy bud attached to the other side of that crease which boost magic effects.
Scoop out all the flesh and put it in a cheesecloth before ringing it out as hard as you can and catching all the liquid. Even with this it will be lightly cloudy, just don’t let it get completely opaque.
You’ll need abut a cup of seed liquid to a tablespoon of echo distillate.
For this recipe I then recommend soaking a towel in it and placing it over the infected area to direct the magic to the source of the problem.
I call this one Compass Compress.
It’s pretty late now, definitely past dark, so I’ll get up early to bring it to Iris tomorrow morning.
I’m back from delivering the remedy. I tried to catch Iris at her house but she’d already moved to the little surgery beside it and started preparing for the day. She was very grateful and had no hesitation in applying it. It took about 5 minutes of gentle testing, with me holding her arm to prevent her hitting the floor, before she could sit properly again. I told her to leave it on for at least the day and she should be right as rain.
While she was enjoying being able to sit a little girl who couldn’t have been more than 10 burst into the door with a book about as big as her torso held triumphantly over her head. She started to literally shout something like “mum I’ve got it” before she saw me and that turned into a squeak and she hid behind the tome.
Iris apologised for the surprise and told her to come over, introducing her as Margaret, or Meg, her daughter. Meg mumbled something like a greeting while Iris laughed and teased her gently; “you were so excited you were going to see the awesome witch earlier, what happened!”. Meg hissed at her to shush and kept sidling behind her back.
I crouched down and tried to coax her out by saying hi and putting on a big smile but the hero of the day is Snowdrop who proudly trotted up, sniffed her a little, and then immediately rolled over to present her belly for petting. The squeal of delight Meg made bough smiles to both mine and Iris’ faces as she mouthed “thank you” at me.
As Snowdrop bought Meg out of her shell she remembered the enormous book she was carrying and heaved it over to me, dropping it on a table with a hefty thump. It looked like a book of local legends and Iris explained it had been Auria’s, and she’s lent it to Iris a little while before she left. Iris felt it was right that I take it back now, saying it had been Auria’s favourite book of everything she owned.
I had a quick flick through it and spotted a few things that stood out; the Elf in the Woods, the Demon in the Dungeons, stories of the great Guardian of the Lake….. I’m not sure who wrote it but I’m sure there’s a few things I could pick up from it.
I thanked them both and solemnly held out my hand to Meg who shook it with just as much seriousness before bursting out with a cascade of questions. It felt like her nervousness had passed and she wanted to know everything about being a witch. She was amazed by my wand, the broom, when she realised Snowdrop wasn’t just a pet but a familiar who could talk (through me, that also clearly caught Iris out).
After a lot of answering she got all shy again and Iris looked a little worried for a moment before Meg asked me what it would take for her to be a witch.
It wasn’t entirely unexpected to me, and obviously this was a conversation they’d had before. I gave Iris a questioning look and there was a lot of feeling in her eyes before she nodded slightly. Taking that as permission I answered Iris honestly, as I remembered all the good bits about what I’d been told.
I said; “Being a witch is a difficult journey. It needs dedication and effort, a lot of learning, and a desire to do right by the people you watch over. It’s dangerous, no doubt, but when you do your job right you help people. Anybody can be a witch if they want, there’s no trick other than wanting it with all of our heart. You’ll need a witch to look after you and teach you, to make you their apprentice. You’ll travel a lot, and sometimes you’ll need to learn from different people, but most importantly one day you’ll have to leave home for a while. No witch can learn by staying where she was born. You’re very young, so you’ve got time to think about it. You can start your learning at any point, but you have to be a little more grown up. You won’t find any witch who will take you on until you’re at least sixteen. So grow up, have fun, learn about the world around you, and if you still want it when you’re ready you come let me know.”
She was disappointed, I think. She wanted to be ready now, but that’s exactly why nobody would start training before she was an adolescent. Iris looked relieved and thanked me for my time.
I left soon after that, after she paid me, promising I’d pay Meg a visit the next time I was down.
It’s the end of a busy week, this will be my last entry. I wanted to note that I’ve spent the past few days repairing the Golem. I’m not done but I think if I put my mind to it I will be either next week or the week after.
It likes the attention, I’ve discovered. Golems are all very different, much like everyone else, and this one seems to have become stuck and lost in the mountains for a long time. It can communicate using rudimentary gestures or by writing with a finger in the dirt, though it prefers to rely on hums and grumbles to get meaning across.
I spend most of the time repairing it just chatting away about life and anything that came to mind while Snowdrop bounced around the field teasing the goats until they’d chase her back.
Life as a witch is stranger than I thought it would be. Maybe I’ll ask if Iris will let me tell Meg some stories.
- +45 silver (15 extra)
- +2 reputation (1 extra)
- Gained: Broom (-100 silver)
- Locale Unlocked: The Cloud Isles
- Villager Met: Iris St Germain
- Villager Met: Margaret (Meg) St Germain
- Other Met: The Golem – 5 of 10 downtime slots used to repair