My second case has come in the form of the mayor. I found out his name, thankfully he was nice enough to reintroduce himself when I opened the door to him; Tolbem. He was reporting the case of someone else, one of the farmers has come down with something. It sounds like some sort of mind magic, they’re apparently building stone circles in the village centre? Hauling great boulders with unimaginable strength right into the middle of the roads.
This doctor the village has doesn’t seem to clever either. They suggested just giving him rest and keeping an eye on him for a few days and see if he gets better. I may not be an expert but even I’ve heard of Druidic Madness. I went out with Tolbem to see the farmer.
He seemed very pleasant, actually. I’ve heard of cases of the madness where they get violent and angry, but it seems as long as he’s left to his business he’s content to chat as he works. And work he does! It’s only been a day and he’s constructed a lovely stone circle about a foot high in his garden, two more in the middle of the main road, and is working on one using stones almost four foot high in the village square!
Anyway I discussed with him and he has been spending more time in an old standing circle during his lunch breaks out in the fields. A typical way for the magic to seep in and subtly effect people. I’ve told all the villagers to not spend more than a few hours a month in the circles just to be sure, obviously something their witch would have been mentioning if she were here. Everyone nodded and made impressed noises when I told them, but isn’t it just common sense? Even I wouldn’t spend too long in a circle without preparations, I’m not a druid after all.
It looks like the two things I’m going to need are Scramble Bramble and Glittersnow. The Bramble I used to collect back home, it’s common it’s strange stuff that can move on its own. Added to the thick thorns it can be quite dangerous if you’re not prepared, but it’s also mildly poisonous. Glittersnow I’ve never heard of before but the journal recommends it for purifying magical effects, I only hope I can find some in spring I’m going to the Glimmerwood Grove, that’s where I can find both things. There’s also Songberries which can help negate poisonous effects so I’m going to try and find some of that. The potion will still work without it, but it’ll taste awful and leave Omer feeling unwell for a few days.
The Grove is beautiful. It reminds me of the quiet places I would run to back home to get away from people. My cottage is still in the forest but a magical grove is distinctly different. They seem to form when a lot of ley lines converge, usually full of the fey, and there’s always a slightly eerie silence and muffled quality to them. I love it. Maybe I should ask for my cottage to be moved here?
That said it’s still important to keep ones wits about them. I managed to find the bramble easily enough and went to gather some. The trick is to get it to move in on itself so it can’t run away, and quickly slice some branches off. I didn’t notice a smaller patch breaking away from the main bunch , though, and it startled me. I shouted out and that appeared to rouce a nearby bear from a cave I’d been trying to avoid, and a mother bear loped out!
I’m not ashamed to admit I ran away, I may have been screaming a little as well until I regained my calm. Thankfully I kept hold of the bramble but I lost track of where I was and it took me an hour to find my way back. I think if I hadn’t been a witch, or the woods were a bit more hostile to me, they might have kept me lost for longer.
I was slightly distressed after that and it meant I wasn’t paying as much attention where I was going. I may have accidentally trodden on a mushroom, which I didn’t think was a problem, until I heard an angry shout. I didn’t expect anyone else to be out here but it was someone I’d not seen before pointing at the mushroom. It turns out it was a truffle and they were a truffle hunter, and they were upset about the truffle. I think they thought I was someone else because they shouted some name at me?
I wouldn’t have minded but they kept shouting while I tried to apologise and then the flicked their arm and used a sling to throw a rock at me! I ducked so it only hit me in the arm but it still cut me and more than anything it shocked me. I screamed at them and while I don’t quite remember what I said but I know it involved their parents and general moral status. I might have also drawn on my power a little for added effect. I forgot how Groves work though, a little edge to my voice became a shriek that scared all the birds, a slight darkening of the aid became a cloud of darkness with a crack of thunder…. Oops. Maybe they’ll think twice before doing that again, though.
I had to take a moment to bandage my arm and I used some of the moss to speed up the healing. I had a look where they were and they’d dropped their sack which had a few truffles in it, 15 silver pieces, and the Songberries I was after. I’d make an effort to return them but I don’t want to encounter that person again.
Today just wasn’t my day, though. kept foraging with the bag stuffed with thing and stumbled on a fairy circle. I was very careful to avoid it and not cross it, but while I was doing that some pixies snuck up on me and stole the bag! The little devils flew off leaving me nothing but the bramble which was still in my satchel. I couldn’t even chase them; they flew up into the canopy and were gone. I could have screamed!
It didn’t take me long to find more Songberries, to be fair. I didn’t get the money or the truffles back, but I did get the reagent which is the important thing.
It was while I was gathering them that I heard a…. chime. The sound of a bell, but no bell you’d ever find. It was like…. Like the most pure form of a bell, the platonic ideal of a bell, hard to put into words.
I followed it, obviously being careful. I put a charm on myself to resist mind-altering effects or other magics, and went looking. It didn’t take me long to find a courtyard among the trees. It was beautiful. It was paved in deep blue bricks, marble pillars draped in moss, and in the centre sat a gold throne. It was huge, a king’s ransom in gold, more than the village would ever make in ten generations. And on it?
An elf. A real life elf. If the courtyard was beautiful they were…. breath-taking. Painfully attractive, they drew all attention and it was hard to look away. Even with my charms their gaze was… beguiling. Compelling. But there’s a precedent for dealing with elves, rules to be obeyed. My family may not have wanted me to be a witch, and the local witch definitely didn’t want to take me on as an apprentice, but she did tell me some of the Old Ways.
I approached and bowed, he chuckled and when I looked up he was less… intense. Still beautiful, but less overwhelmingly so. They nodded and greeted me, they didn’t give his name and I didn’t give mine. Too much power, especially in that place.
They made me an offer, or rather a demand as elves do. “A gift! A gift for a story!” they declared to me. Dangerous, and they knew it as much as I did. I wracked my brain for things I had that could be freely given but I didn’t have anything with me aside from what I foraged, hardly appropriate. Knowing elves not giving a gift isn’t without its own cost. I did the only thing I could think of, daring as it was.
I offered “a witches friendship, repaid in kind”. They liked that, a loud laugh and a fierce grin. My heart was in my mouth I was trying not to shake, but they nodded and leaned back. “A worthy gift indeed, in time. Little witchling you need to grow a little more before you can call yourself a friend to us. But we think you will, so we accept your gift to be called on later.”
And then they told me a story. Oh but what a story. I saw the forest, I saw it grow and shrink, an hundred seasons passing in an instant. I saw the village be founded, I saw the first stones being laid and the houses being erected. The mayor at the time, I saw him. A tall, proud man, he felled all the trees that built his house that still stands today. I saw generations of family, roads being built, houses springing up, so much. And then? I saw the witch.
She was powerful, I could tell immediately. She walked through the village, the forest, perhaps the world like she owned it. But she looked so kind. I saw her stop again and again to listen, to give a healing poultice here, to give a small child a flower there, time for everyone. I caught a glimpse of her face, I swear she looked at me through time and through magic. She was striking, eyes that had seen so much and a face that had weathered it with good humour. And I swear she winked at me.
And like that I was back, kneeling on the forest floor in front of a gold throne that now sat empty. Well, mostly empty. There was a small pile of white powder on top of it, the Glittersnow I was looking for. I scooped it up and headed home, but even as I write this my mind is still whirling, and I can’t forget the face of the elf… or the witch.
Perparation went well. The recipe, should I need it again, is simple.
Start by crushing the bramble firmly, releasing as much juice as possible. Tip the whole mixture into the cauldron, thorns included. Slowly bring this to a boil and once it’s bubbling use a long and heavy spoon to crush the remaining dregs more to get as much of the liquid out as possible. Be careful not to use any metal tools at this stage as they react poorly to the mix. Keep it bubbling for a short while, you’ll know when it’s done because the smell will shift from grassy to something more cloying and harsh, metallic almost.
Once it’s done boiling remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, don’t let it get too cold. After about 20 minutes it should be cool enough to touch, at this point crush the Songberries and add them into the mix. The smell should immediately shift and return to the grassy smell from earlier as the poison is neutralised. Now it’s safe to touch and you can use your little finger to test the temperature.
Once it hits about room temperature sprinkle in the Glittersnow. You’ll need to keep adding it until the magic kicks in, but you’ll see as soon as it does. You’re looking for the murky brown soup to suddenly flash with light and turn completely clear, once that happens you can stop.
The last step is you will need to strain it into your vial, all the mush at the bottom can be thrown onto your garden patch to hep nourish your plants. The resulting potion I’m calling “Druids Brew”. They can’t all be pithy.
I headed back to the village, it was pretty late now but I didn’t want to disappoint. I found Omer still working away, he’d made quite a nice stone ring around the village square. If not for the fact it was inconveniently in the way I don’t think anyone would have minded.
I did have to persuade him to drink the brew, he was certain he wasn’t ill and didn’t need anything. I think it would have been a lot harder to get him to drink it if not for the Songberry juice. He eventually did, “if it will make you feel better”, which I emphasised it definitely would. He’s off to bed now, and he should feel much better in the morning.
I heard from Mayor Tolbem this morning, he came by with my food delivery to thank me for the quick work with Omer. He dropped off my payment as well.
I’ve decided to spend the next few days tidying my garden plot out, getting it ready for whatever I decided to plant there. I’m also going to explore the mountains a little for some Candy Rock, apparently it’s great at neutralising poisons which I could use for later.
- +20 silver pieces
- +1 reputation
- +4 Rock Candy
- Villager Met: Omer Ponnal
- Villager Met: Mayor Tolbem
- Other Met: The Elf
- Memory of Witch Obtained