It’s the start of the week and I’m preparing to head off to meet Tolbem. I’ll be spending the whole week at this other village, called Traveller’s Rest. I’m a little nervous, but also excited! I’ve been to enough villages over my training that I know what to expect, broadly, but they’re all different. Tolbem wasn’t sure if there would be other witches there, but I’m not sure yet if I want them there.
I’ve been packing up my supplies. We’re taking a wagon so I won’t need much, and it’s about a half day’s travel so I can get back if I need to, but a witch is always prepared. I debated not bringing Snowdrop to keep her safe but she informed me in no uncertain terms how much she disapproved of that idea and that she would be coming regardless. So that settled that.
I’ve got my little bag with my sickle, a few bottles and preparation tools, my new athame strapped to my belt, my wand, and my broom. Time to head off. Of course, this is coming with me too, so I’ll write on the cart.
We’re about halfway there. Carts are boring. I tried walking for a bit but the cart moves just a bit faster so I either have to keep catching up or walk uncomfortably fast. I could ride alongside but it’s too slow for that so I have to double back.
I’ve talked with Tolbem, shared gossip, listened to his purpose, played with Snowdrop, and brushed her fur for an hour… Now I’m bored.
I’m going to pull my hat over my eyes and take a nap and wake when we get there.
At least the scenery and weather are nice, it’s a gorgeous day to be outside. In a cart.
We arrived and things picked up immediately. I was woken in the cart by a small child poking me in the side rather hard, a small child who had the good sense to run away screaming with laughter when I pulled my hat back on and glared at them.
Traveller’s Rest is small. I don’t mean that rudely, it’s a gorgeous little settlement but I wouldn’t have said it’s a “village” even. It mainly consists of a large inn (of the same name; The Traveller’s Rest), a general shop, a good number of storerooms, and a few houses for the people who work in them all. The inn was here first from what I understand, built on a busy crossroads just too far from any of the other villages to want to travel at night. They get a good amount of custom and are central enough all the other villages meet and trade from here for convenience.
For its size, it still feels full of life. There are about 5 families who live here permanently and a few individuals who run businesses from the inn or the shop. There’s currently only a farrier and an alchemist but apparently, the numbers change based on who can find stable work from the passing travelers.
We had rooms reserved for us like everyone else on the delegation. Tolbem explained we were paying customers as normal, just with a purpose to the visit, so it was a very different experience to staying in someone’s home as an apprentice! For starters, everyone was so polite and friendly, but having use of a bath and food prepared was very nice.
There were three other mayors or village chiefs here and I believe there’s only one left arriving later today or tomorrow before they get to the talks. There are no witches here although the other mayors were interested that I’d been bought. They were also polite in asking how life had been, how I was settling in…. honestly that question is starting to get old. I need to come up with an inventive or funny answer to help move on from it. I’m going to wander around a little and see what the local land is like until the last person is here.
Everyone’s arrived and the talks so far have been catching up. Tolbem explained it was a crucial first step to opening negotiations but… it’s gossip. Honestly, witches do it better when we get together.
Most of it was based on resources, heard size and expected yields, population changes, particular things of note like adventurer sightings…. but otherwise, it was discussing things overheard from travelers and bits of news from across the continent. Gossip!
I did get bored quite quickly, particularly as it was so cold sounding. Talking about a herd in terms of volume of milk, amount of meat. A field failing as a setback rather than something earth-shattering for the farmer. I understand why but it just feels off to me. It’s not a world I think I could be comfortable in.
Luckily I didn’t have to be, I was left to wander and do what I want, Tolbem made it very clear I was welcome to listen in but not required if I didn’t want to. I did stay and listen for a while but it didn’t take long for me to get bored of the talk and headed out.
The surroundings were an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, right next to the inn was pretty busy. People were moving along the roads, there was a good amount of chatter, there was civilization and life. Only a few hundred steps away from that it changed dramatically. The trees dampened the sound and the world turned into a private wild space where it was just me, Snowdrop, and the woods.
After spending some time wandering around and seeing the local sights (mainly a nice bubbling river they got water from, a few small vegetable gardens, and a clearing that seemed to be used for camping often from the look of the fire pit) I decided to sit by the roadside and what people pass.
Enough people recognized my outfit, the hat probably helping but Snowdrop is certain it’s because of her, that I got a good number of traveler’s stop by and say hi to me. They were keen to just chat, trade any gossip, check for any local dangers, and get a good word for their journey. I can do a lot but bestowing good luck isn’t in my repertoire, however, just talking seemed to be enough of a good omen for them. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing there’s a friendly witch nearby to help you out if things go wrong.
I’ve been here a few hours now and it’s starting to get dark, I’ll head back for food and see what tomorrow brings.
I’ve been here a few days now and things are getting a little more interesting, at the expense of someone’s comfort.
I’ve spent most of my time cluttering the road up if I’m honest; sitting on the roadside and offering advice and time to people. I’ve helped with a few minor ailments that mostly just needed good sense. Keep that cut clean, avoid those foods, take time to rest. The most dramatic was an elderly gentleman who was determined to maintain his movement and was trying to keep lifting huge bags of grain to keep his strength up. He’d been doing fine until spraining himself a while ago and wasn’t coping with the loss of ability well. I showed him some gentle exercises to stretch it out gradually and get his movement back over time and gave him firm instruction to build up weight slowly.
Today, though, I noticed something unusual. The alchemist who has been coming by has been quite… dismissive. He has the air of a doctor; certain he’s right and determined that witching is nothing more than applied alchemy and hand-waving. I showed him the flying broom and his only response was “well wizards can do that too!”. I’m not sure why doing something that only wizards can do, plus something only alchemists can do, somehow makes witches worse than both. But I digress.
I noticed he was looking pale and sweaty, more so than when we first arrived. I asked a few times if he feels okay and he said he felt fine, just a little tired from having all the village heads by at once. This morning, though, I noticed a little green tendril sticking out his trouser leg and recognized the leaf instantly.
I pulled him to one side and asked if I could check him over for signs of Marshbloom and sure enough on his right ankle was the little seed attached to him. It was only just starting to sprout so the vines had only got up to his mid-shin, but untended to Marshblood will leave the sufferer exhausted and bed-ridden, and need dramatic action to remove it.
He was grateful for me noticing it but determined he could solve it for himself. Just in case I’m going to whip up something to sort it out, there should be enough in this settlement for what I need.
I think I’m going to need the Whisper of a Cat and some Wild Rose. Both together should fix him up quickly.
I’ve got both reagents although I might have caused something of a stir.
I was walking down the road to where I remember spotting a patch of Wild Rose when a got a letter. Normally this wouldn’t be too surprising but whoever it was had opted to send it by Harpy Delivery! Normally letters would just be put on the next wagon to somewhere with a runner, High Rannoc and Traveler’s Rest are far too small to worry about a dedicated Runner. But if you really want something to get somewhere quickly you can pay the premium for a Harpy to fly to you, pick up whatever you’ve got (up to a certain weight) and take it directly to your recipient.
It did startle everyone else on the road when the Harpy dropped out of the sky. They’re not small beings, they have a wingspan of around two meters, so they need a bit of space.
She handed me over a letter after verifying who I was by description and name and asked if I wanted to write a return letter as one had been paid for. I was thoroughly confused now who would be sending this but I slipped open the parchment and it was a letter from Meg!
Obviously, Iris had paid for and helped her but it was also clearly written in Meg’s handwriting. She’d written hello, how she missed seeing me and Snowdrop (who preened at that), how she hoped we were having fun at “Travelling’s Rest”, and how she wanted us to tell her a story when we got back. On the back, in much neater handwriting, Iris had written “Hello Samara, hopefully, you’re well, my apologies for sending this message but Meg wanted to practice her writing by sending you a letter and I wanted to teach her about the Harpies anyway. Talk soon.”
It was so adorable. Seriously. I wasn’t sure what to do initially but I was grinning like a fool.
The Harpy reminded me I had a return message but that she couldn’t wait longer so I grabbed a sheet of paper from this journal and wrote back about how I was so happy to get her letter, what it was like here, and how I’d tell her all about it when I got back. That done the Harpy tucked the letter away and took off in a blast of dust. It was a lovely surprise and I could feel the bounce in my step as I cut out the rose I needed before heading back to the inn.
The next part, getting a Cat’s Whisper, was a little harder. I looked all around the houses and even asked the occupants but nobody had seen their moggies. Eventually, I found out why when I returned to the inn proper. There was a traveling bard who’d eaten with us the night before and was now playing music for coin out the front. Only all of his current audience was feline.
I was quite taken aback at the sight but there he was playing away on his lute and surrounded by around ten cats who were just sitting and watching him. He caught my eye and winked so I headed over and sat with them. They turned to look at me briefly before turning back to him as he finished the song.
It was a good song as well, a ballad of a fallen hero at Hero’s Hollow, he had a rich voice and played expertly, but nothing that would explain why the cats loved him so much.
Once he’d finished they started lazing about and cleaning themselves, the moment gone. As he started putting away the lute I asked one of the nearby cats if they’d mind giving me a whisper and with permission, I pulled out my wand. There was a lot of energy in the air from the special moment so it was easy enough to pull a little glowing orb out of nothing and gently deposit it into a flask for safekeeping.
Once I’d done that I realized the bard was watching me with keen interest as were a small group of passersby, obviously they don’t see much magic where they come from!
The bard came over and we got to talking. He’s a very interesting person, although I didn’t catch his name, he said he spent most of his time working around all the local villages and spending a month or so there (until, in his words, they get sick of him). He explained he knows all the local songs and myths and does speeches as well as songs if the mood is right. High Rannoc is coming up on his list in a little while so he was hopeful he’d see me there again.
I got the distinct impression he’s more than he appears. here’s something definitely magical about him, some force of power he has that he’s not calling on, it would be almost unsettling if he weren’t charming as well. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
I’m now in the alchemist’s workshop. I need access to his equipment and he has begrudgingly let me have a shot. He’s tried brews of his own including some enchanted healing crystals but they’re just accelerating the growth of the vine. I’ve had warned him off if I thought he was going to do that, a lesson for next timer is don’t trust the patient no matter how educated they seem.
Preparing the mixture is easy enough. Crush up the Rose with a mortar and pestle until you’ve got a wet paste. The natural moisture in the plant should be enough but if it’s a bit older add some to get the right consistency. IT’s then just a case of tipping this into the vial with the Whisper and giving it a really good shake. The Rose will react with the Whisper and the Whisper will condense into a bright red liquid. Depending on how well you crushed the Rose you’ll hopefully get about half the vial full of the potion, otherwise, you may need to add another until all the Whisper has reacted.
It’s then a simple case of siphoning this off to get rid of the gunk and letting the patient drink it.
Thaddeus refused at first but eventually gave in and downed it in one, I think he was expecting it to make him sick or something. It only took about a minute for it to work and I knew it had when there was a rustling and a little impact as the seed detached and fell to the floor, all the vines included.
He was amazed and delighted, already feeling his energy coming back, and thankful. He paid my going rate and was out the door immediately explaining how good I was. I may have to start tempering expectations in the future.
I met up with Tolbem again and he seemed in good spirits. It sounds like my quick potion has left a good impression on the other villages, and actually put High Rannoc in good standing too. There are a few more days before we head off but I’m already getting requests from people to solve minor problems and provide advice. I might put a bag out in front of me for people to drop in change as well, if it works for the bard it’s good enough for the witch.
I’m back home at last. What a long week! The journey back was fine, we left early enough and had a few merchants on their way to High Rannoc as well, so there was good company and conversation on the road.
Almost the second I got back Meg jumped me, so I spent some time sitting with her and telling her everything while she told me how cool it was when the Harpy landed to take her post and deliver my letter. It was only late when I managed to tear myself away and head back here.
It was a good week, though. I hope I left a good impression on the other villages and maybe their witches when they hear. Hopefully, I’ll meet some of them soon.
- +30 silver (+10 extra)
- +42 silver from side work
- +0 reputation (Novice ailment does not grant reputation at Intermediate level)