I’ve been keeping myself busy still. There’s so much to do to make this place liveable! Weeds to pull, floorboards to push down, holes to patch. Luckily I learned a lot back home making do with the place I had. I guess I need to stop thinking about it as “home”, don’t I? This is home now, unless I chose to leave. Maybe I’m not taking it seriously enough or thinking permanently enough?
I have managed to make progress, though. I’ve got the interior mostly cleaned up, I’ve set up all my brewing supplies in one corner, and I’ve cleared the planter as well. There’s still a few holes in the roof but it’s so warm and dry at the moment buckets are doing the job when it does shower.
I got a letter
from home from…. my last village. It wasn’t from my parents, obviously, or from any of the other apprentices. It was from the witch but I’m surprised I got anything at all. I almost didn’t open it, I thought it would be offensive at best and I Was about to burn it but I changed my mind at the last minute.
It was… pleasant? I’m not keeping it, especially here because I know what a focus for bad feelings it will be, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It spoke about ensuring I did a good job, put their training (ha!) to good use, make sure to uphold the principles of “the craft”. They still couldn’t bring themselves to call me a witch.
The next case at my door was something I’d seen before, and seen it go really wrong. A young woman came and knocked at my door, nervous and shaking as much as I was I think. She wanted to talk about her partner, the apprentice to the local blacksmith. He’s currently recovering from an iron ingot suddenly becoming attracted to him and hitting his shoulder at speed. He’ll be fine, their doctor has treated the sprain and bruising, but of course they don’t know anything about why it happened to start with.
I immediately recognised it, though. The harmlessly named Magnetic Thumb, too much iron in the diet and the right alignment of magical energies is a recipe for disaster if it befalls the wrong person. Metal suddenly becomes attracted to the person, starting small with utensils sticking a little bit and progressing up to bars, blades, you name it. If you’re quick and you notice soon it’s easy enough to cut out red meats and beans for a while and you’re good. But once it gets to this stage it’s risky, especially if they work in a forge.
I told her to go back home immediately and remove all the metal from the room. The walls are decently thick wood so they’ll protect him, and everyone else should check themselves. I normally test people by placing a nail on the back of their hand and getting them to turn it over. If it sticks they need to watch out. I told her if anyone else shows symptoms to do the same thing; get all the metal out of their rooms and stay inside something robust until I can get there.
I didn’t need to see the person this time, the description is enough, and I’d better get a move on. This could be risky otherwise.
Luckily I can use my shark ink for part of this, the other thing I need is a pain reducer and the Loch should have just the thing in the form of Goldscale Guppies. They have a poison that’s good for blood related conditions. This will be a potent potion as well if I can mix it properly, which will be necessary with how advanced the condition is. I might even use some of my Candy Rock to give it some added power.
I walked down to the loch again, determined to catch a guppy a get the poison I need. As soon as I stepped down into the valley it was apparent it was going to be a difficult day. The mist was so thick I could barely see three feet in front of me.
It’s lucky really that I stumbled on some footprints that were hard to miss, even for someone as bad at tracking as me. They were wide and very deep, clearly giant. I decided to follow them after my positive experience last time and see where they led me.
I was following them for about half an hour before I arrived at the water’s edge and found what they’d been doing, there was a canoe for fishing, beside which was a fishing net. They were both so big it startled me for a moment and made me remember what I was doing; following the tracks of some random giant!
Still I had to get a closer look.
I moved up, still looking around, and peered in… the boat was easily big enough for 6 smaller people to fit in, with room to spare for fish. It was so thick as well I couldn’t even imagine pushing it into the water, and it seemed implausible that it even floated. But even with how huge it was the craft work was detailed, delicate. What stood out to me was that the seats, slats between both sides of the hull, were engraved round the edges. Creeping vines and leaves curling around the top, only visible from inside, it must have taken days to do.
While I was admiring it I wasn’t paying as much attention to my surroundings and the next thing I know there’s a quiet cough from behind me. I whirled about ready to scream and run but it was the giant again, and they just sheepishly waved at me.
After my heart rate settled we talked a little.
It turns out her name is Ash, after the tree. She is a quiet and gentle soul. She lives with several others in the mountains around the loch and spends much of her time foraging or fishing. She also knows so much about the area it puts even the notes of my predecessor to shame.
She’s very pleasant company and seemed pleased for mine. I got the impression she and the others were something of outcasts. I think she got the same impression of me.
To cut the rest of the conversation short she took me out onto the water. I explained I was looking for the guppy and we spent a little time casting the net and drawing it in. We caught a good number of regular non-magical fish which she carefully checked the size of, only taking ones over a certain weight and length. Everything else she threw back. It didn’t take long for her to haul in a Guppy.
She left me at the shore not long after that, with a promise we would talk more, and I headed back to the cottage.
Preparation of this one is easier, as long as you’ve got the reagents, but it turns out the Candy Rock is necessary to negate the poison. The advantage is you end up with a much better tasting potion at the end.
Start by cutting the poison glands out of the Golden Scale Guppy. You can save the meat for later, if you’re confident in your butchering. Be wary that missing any will leave you very unwell if you do eat it.
Once the glands are all separated place them in a cauldron just barely covered by cold water. Bring that water to a boil as slowly as possible, this will cause the glands to break down fully and release more poison. Once the water is boiling leave it for around thirty minutes. When you start boiling it should be a pale translucent pink, you’ll know it’s done when it turns a thick red.
While that’s happening you will need to gather your Shadowshark Ink and set to distilling it. The liquid will have a lot of water from collection and you need it to be pure. Once it’s boiled away and you’re left with a thick tar-like substance you’ll need to combine it with the poison. Be very careful at this stage as the poison is quite potent.
I found the easiest way was to temper the tar. Take a separate container and pour in about a cup of poison and add your tar. Wear gloves. Carefully mix the tar in with the warm poison, use slow scraping motions. After a while the tar will heat up and dilute and it will thicken the poison. Once it’s all dissolved into a paste you can add it into the remaining poison and gently stir in. You’ll know this stage has worked because it will change the colour to a deep black instead.
The potion now is perfectly functional but is still toxic, whoever drinks it will be cured of their Magnetic Thumb but will feel very unwell for several days. If you have it now is the time to add in the Candy Rock. While you can just add it and let it dissolve it works better if you crush it and then pour the dust. You get the interesting side effect that the potion remains pitch black but has sparkles through it from the magic.
I’ve decided to name this potion Degaussing Fluid which makes it sound both technical and effective. It’s a lot of work but I’ve made a pretty perfect potion with no side effects.
I rushed it to the village, conscious that it was dangerous for anyone afflicted. Luckily when I got there the lady I had spoken to confirmed nobody else had the affliction. Cyril had a shot of the potion and immediately we could tell it worked as a small clatter of accumulated utensils dropped off the outside of the walls.
He was so grateful he actually picked me up and spun me around! After his partner convinced him to stop he kept patting me on the shoulder and loudly proclaiming to anyone near by that “that young witchy girl there saved my life!”. That’s a pretty nice feeling.
I spent the rest of the week tidying the house more. I was able to make a nice meal with the remaining Guppy meat which was not only delicious but didn’t make me unwell. I’ve been pouring over the witch’s notes for any clues about where she went but I can’t find anything, for some reason this journal seems to be hiding entries about her life. I can read all her tips about the locations, ingredients, conditions, but there’s huge gaps in the middle. I wonder if I can break the enchantment somehow.
- +24 silver pieces (+4 bonus)
- +2 reputation (+1 bonus)
- Villager Met: Cyril Short
- Other Met: Ash the Giant
- Stock Used: Shadowshark Ink & Candy Rock