Today is the day. I’ve been putting it off for so long. Too long. I’m going to try and call a familiar.
I’ve known how to do this for a while, it’s one of the earliest things a witch is taught. I wasn’t taught right away though. And I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m so worried to continue.
When I asked to become a witch I was laughed at. My parents laughed anyway, but they didn’t believe me when I told them anything else. That turned out to be one of the better reactions.
The local witch was…. confused. Well meaning, but confused. She told me I couldn’t be a witch. It didn’t matter if I wanted to or she trained me it’s just “not how that works”. Not for someone like me.
She spoke to the village head in the end, they don’t know I was listening from outside. She wanted me gone, didn’t want to deal with me, suggested shipping me off to another witch nearby who owed her a favour. The village head didn’t want to do that because he wanted their little “secret” to stay that way. He didn’t want any other villages to know about me.
In the end she won and I was shipped off to someone else a few villages over who was far less happy to have me. It seems she’d only taken me on out of obligation to our local witch. She was not only doubtful I could be a witch but took my desire as an insult. “You dishonour all witches by trying to play at being one.”
It wasn’t long before she started holding my own potion over my head, trying to make me quit in exchange for it. Strangely that’s what helped me make my first breakthrough and create a potion for myself, the desire to keep taking it and the unwillingness to be reliant on her for it.
After that I ran away, spend time drifting between villages and apprenticing myself under the local witch. I learned what I could, and the longer I went the less likely they were to notice anything unusual about me. But they always did notice in the end, and would being to push me away. Eventually my last “teacher” obviously decided it was easiest to give me my own posting. Getting me out of the way once and for all.
A posting with no equipment, no reagents, no support. Thankfully the witch who was here previously left so much, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do a thing.
So I never tried to call a familiar. What if it didn’t work? I couldn’t get that out of my head. After everything I’d done what if they were all right? If it had all been a mistake and I wasn’t really
a w a witch.
But I think that’s enough of that. I’m going to try it, I’m going to do the calling properly. A magical space, accumulate power, commune, and try. If it doesn’t work? Well then maybe I just need to ask the doctor to apprentice me. I’ll still be able to help people.
My plan is to go this afternoon to the Glimmerwood Grove. I’ll look for the elven throne again, but failing that any place of power will do. Once there I’ll set up and wait until twilight to begin. Then it’s fairly simple for any novice witches reading this.
Build a circle. If you can’t find a natural (and safe) one then making one out of stones, planted flowers, a mound in the middle of a flowing river. “Circle” is also a lose term, it just has to be a completed ring to help focus energy.
Once you’re done that; settle yourself down, get comfortable, and then stop. Take a moment to become completely at peace with where you are. You are not of this place, yet, just a guest. I find a useful technique is the grounding technique for lots of magic. Work down the list and acknowledge the following:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Once you’re grounded focus your power into the circle, bring it to life. Hold it there, drawing your power from the land and giving it back with a shape and purpose. Hold and listen. Listen for a voice calling you. That’s when you’ll know. Help that voice find you and you’ll find them waiting.
I’ll update this diary, perhaps for the last time, when I return.
I’m having trouble writing clearly now, but I’ll try.
I entered the Grove as normal and tried to retrace my steps to the courtyard. I started wandering in roughly the right direction but gave up pretty quickly. The forest shifted as I was walking and I could tell it wouldn’t let me rationalise my way through. So I started just wandering and saw a few new sights.
There was a group of people, possibly druids, chanting around a huge golden tree. I started to approach but as I moved around a small sapling and my vision was broken for a split second it was gone. There was a stream, perfectly crystal clear and winding through the trees… but it was floating about two meters off the floor. I walked under it and saw a small fish swimming down as if nothing were wrong.
This place is so saturated with magic that everything has such great potential. It would take a seasoned practitioner minutes to create a wonder that would last generations. The sort of power that could easily go to someone’s head. I wonder how the Grove would react to someone trying to impose their will? Would it be receptive or reject them? Would it depend on the person?
Head swimming with thoughts I kept wandering, waiting for the right moment. Eventually it happened, that chime again. Knowing what I was looking for I followed it and found myself back in the courtyard with the throne. This time the elf wasn’t present, it was just me. It was also slightly different, the centre of the courtyard was no longer plain brick but there was a large pool of water there. It was filled with lily pads and floating blossoms. Dragonflies flitted about and I could see fish swimming about, the water deep enough they could surface or sink into darkness and be hidden.
One of the lily pads was big, large enough I could easily sit on it. I decided to try there. Using my new wand I directed a little of the abundant energy to pull it towards me gently, before stepping onto it and pushing myself back to the centre. I nudged the others into position to form a second ring with flowers at the eight points of the compass, and took a breath.
I don’t remember everything I used to ground myself but I remember the cool feeling coming from the water, particularly the small amount I was sitting in. I remember the sound of the leaves rustling, birds chirping, wings humming.
And I remember the feeling as I reached out to the Grove. I will never be able to write what it was like, and I could have spent my whole life there in that moment. The feeling of being connected to everything, for however brief a moment. I could see the scope of the woods, how deep the water under me truly went (which was a surprise), every animal and insect. And the trees…. the trees were the brightest of all in my mind. A field of stars against the backdrop of a landscape as old as the world.
I was there for… hours? Years? It could have been any length of time. I think I could have become lost there, if not by any maliciousness on the part of the Grove just because of my own naiveté in thinking I could understand this place.
It was only a voice, quiet and warm, that bought me back. It sounded almost playful as it called my name. I didn’t listen to it for a while. I spent time drifting between particularly bright stars, looking at the world around them, exploring the Grove. But the voice kept calling me, louder and more insistent, drawing me back to see who it could be.
And I opened my eyes to see a white fox sitting on one of the lily pads in front of me. Just looking with its head cocked to one side. I looked at her and she looked back at me for a little bit until a voice behind me nearly made me fall of the lily pad.
The elf was back, looking just as much a part of the throne as before. He chastised me for being rude and not introducing myself, but he had a look about him. If I had to describe it he seemed almost smug? Like he’d made a bet and won.
Chastised I did turn to the fox and introduce myself, nervous and hopeful, and the fox paused for a moment before introducing herself as Snowdrop. Like that, as we exchanged greetings, everything shifted. It’s hard to explain but it was like the world suddenly felt right. Everything was in the right place, it was as it should be. And in my mind she was there.
Things got a little confused after that. I had a moment of holding it together before completely failing and breaking down into sobs. The elf seemed to be amused, exasperated, confused, uncomfortable, all at the same time. They did something and the pond wasn’t there anymore, just smooth stones and the three of us. They kept trying to talk to me but I couldn’t stop long enough to take anything in.
Eventually they must have given up. There was a tugging feeling like they’d picked me up by the scruff of my neck, a brief feeling of falling, and then me and Snowdrop were back here on my bed.
It’s been a few hours since then that I’m finally writing all this down. it’s been an overwhelming day, but I did it. She’s here, she’s real, and so am I.
I woke up curled around the journal with Snowdrop nestled into my chest as well. Apparently she doesn’t need to sleep but likes to curl up and rest. That’s not the only thing I learned about her today.
Snowdrop; my familiar.
I can feel her in my mind now, wherever she is. It’s not a strong connection unless one of us focuses on it, otherwise it’s like the knowledge there’s someone else in the room with you. If we do focus we can communicate with our minds, although that seems to be harder the further away she goes. Apparently the stronger I get the better this connection will be. I’ve read in history books that some witches were even able to “borrow” their familiar’s senses for a while and leave their body behind.
And what’s Snowdrop like? She’s enthusiastic! She’s so excitable and energetic she doesn’t seem to stay still for more than a moment. She’s particularly fond of racing around the cottage, bounding off the furniture and walls. When she does want to focus, though, she goes completely still. And her fur is so soft.
There wasn’t any wariness between us, no period of getting used to the other, as soon as she stepped into the world it was like we’d known each other since we were children. She also knows so much, I’m going to be able to learn a lot from her. And in return she gets scratched behind the ear and as much chicken and fish as she can eat. According to her that’s more than a fair trade.
My next patient arrived towards the end of the day. An old lady, being escorted by what turned out to be a concerned granddaughter of about 13. I opened the door and the young girl shrank back nervously, seeing an opportunity Snowdrop bounced out and prowled over to her before pouncing and licking her face. While the two of them rolled out giggling and yapping I spoke to the lady.
Her name was Olma. She was a seamstress of great skill when she was younger but now spends much of her time kitting, watching the village form her porch, and gossiping. Her words, not mine. She was very easy to talk to, friendly and warm, and immediately complimented me on Snowdrop. I could feel the fox prancing with pride as Olma praised her beautiful coat, fluffy tail, agility… She did wink at me as Snowdrop revelled in the attention.
It seems Olma is used to witches, she’s lived through the village having 3 now including me. Immediately I tried to pry a little into the last witch but Olma couldn’t tell me much at first. She had trouble remembering specifics, only that the witch had been there for a long time and hadn’t seemed to age as much as everyone else did. She remembered a familiar but not what, and apparently nobody in the village can remember much about her now. This confirms my suspicions, there’s definitely some magic going on here.
One thing Olma could tell me, finally, was a name.
It seemed to take her a lot of effort to remember it, but once she said it that seemed to go away. She could freely say the name again, and didn’t seem to forget. Another clue for me, maybe I can try scrying her now?
I quickly apologised to Olma for taking up so much of her time when she’d come to me for help but she just laughed and assured me her problem wasn’t all that serious, she’d just mostly wanted to come and see the new witch. According to her it’s always wise to be on good terms with the village witch, because you never know when it’s going to be an emergency. I reassured her I would always help even if we weren’t on good terms and she was pleased, patting my hand.
She explained she’d been having trouble sleeping, a general feeling of restlessness and an almost itching from all her joints. She’s gone to the doctor (who she annoyingly spoke very highly of) but they’d not been able to do anything for her. She is otherwise in perfect health for her age, only a little stiffness in her joints mostly around her fingers, but the lack of sleep was beginning to impact her.
I gave her a thorough examination and agreed with the doctor initially; nothing physically out of place. I checked her with a few tools; made her hold some reactive substances like iron and salt, nothing there. There was something bothering me whenever I touched her though, a slight feeling that made me uncomfortable. A few quick tests later I found out why when I placed a fresh budding leaf on her hand and it began to shrivel up and turn brown; necromancy.
I didn’t take her for much of a necromancer and this was obviously new, but it explained what had happened. She seemed really worried about the leaf so I reassured her I knew what the issue was and would have something whipped up by the morning to get rid of it.
She kept asking if it was serious and if it would hurt her granddaughter or husband, I promised her it wouldn’t and after searching my eyes for a moment she relaxed and headed home.
I had a look through the journal, I could tell there wasn’t much necromantic energy in her but it was clearly collecting around her bones causing the itching feeling and restlessness. I know it won’t hurt anyone else but if it’s not solved eventually the energy will get too concentrated and hurt her. I know what the ailment is, at least.
It looks like everything I’ll need is in the dungeon again, Hermit Snails have properties to reinforce bones and Coldrust is known to absorb background magic and pass it harmlessly from the body. I know it’s late now but Snowdrop agrees; we can’t wait. Hopefully we don’t run into anything harmful.
When we both arrived at the Hollow it was late evening, everything was starting to get dark, but I headed in anyway. It didn’t take long to find the first thing; Hermit Snail shells are everywhere in places like this. You can usually spot them by following one of the many slime trails on the walls, so I grabbed a couple while I was there.
And then I fell down that damnable pit trap again! It might have been a different one, I’m not sure, but again I found myself in a little cell having to pick open the lock. Snowdrop was fine, she landed quite gracefully on my head.
What happened next was a little less typical. They always say witches make deals with demons but that’s a little unfair. After all demons make deals with lots of people, or they do where I come from. Not every day obviously, but they trade through their portals and they sell us things.
That said when one of the Dark Rulers stepped out of the shadows while I was trying to find my way out…. well I just about screamed. Snowbell was in front of me instantly, on alert, but he was just standing there with his hands held out placatingly.
Shadows boiled around him like an angry ocean, the light was sucked into his eyes, every word he said echoed uncomfortably in my ears like I was hearing it from far away and too close at the same time as he…. Invited me to….. tea.
Of course I accepted, an offer of hospitality given to a witch is an ancient and timeless promise, so I knew I was safe enough. Even so it’s hard not to be wary when one of the most powerful demons that exist leads you deeper into a dungeon, stalking past all manner of creatures who wisely decided to be elsewhere as quickly as possible.
I didn’t really know what to expect when we got to his throne room but it was cosy. It was still a little stereotypical; pitch black walls and blood red carpets, but the carpets were thick and fluffy, the walls adorned with paintings of demons, the throne had a cushion on it.
The table was a marvel of glass, looking like it had been spun out of threads that interwove and delicately held up a single sheet of silver that looked thin enough I worried I’d break it. On top of it were all manner of treats. Small cakes in piles, sandwiches, spreads, cream, and a handful of separate pots of tea.
He gestured for me to sit in a chair just as delicate looking as the table, but robust enough when I lowered myself on to it. Rather than taking a seat at the throne he pulled up a similar chair a little round the table from me so we could see each other without peering over the stacks of food.
I got my first good look at him as he poured me a glass of tea. He was very tall, I’m not exactly tall myself but he was around double my height. It was difficult to see clearly, however, because of the way the shadows and darkness would swirl around him. They were less present here, but it was still an intimidating effect.
His actual face? I couldn’t really tell you. All I can firmly remember is a pair of eyes that required all of my will to not be drawn into, otherwise he is mostly a blur.
He chatted pleasantries, complimented me on moving round the dungeon without coming to harm. He asked how my duties were going, any interesting stories I had, and told me about his time in the dungeon. Apparently he doesn’t leave but spends most of his time writing history books or managing his estate in his home plane. He even offered to lend me some volumes which I was keen to get hold of, history written from the perspective of someone who lived it? Priceless to me.
Eventually he got to the point of why he wanted me here. Honestly I couldn’t have seen it coming and wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me.
He needed my permission to open up a portal to his home.
As he was on my land, land protected by a witch, he was bound by an old deal that meant the portal to his home must be kept shut unless I allow him to open it again. As the previous witch was gone and the responsibility fell to me he needed my approval and had been waiting for me to approach him. He assumed the last witch had left instructions but after the months it took me to get here and a month of me not visiting him he took matters into his own hands when he saw me.
I explained I had to think and continued to eat cake mechanically while I discussed it with Snowdrop. He seemed to know what I was doing because he kept quite and ate a little as well.
I didn’t know what to do, was this a trick or a trap to get me to sign away something? Snowdrop didn’t think so but I was hesitant anyway.
I decided honesty works best and told him I was worried I was being tricked or deceived and asked if he would mind showing me some of his books, his home, if I would be able to travel there, just trying to get him to talk.
He was more than happy to discuss everything and once I got him talking he happily chatted away. His home seemed to be a set of estates in somewhere called The Strange. He described a land of magic and demons, strange architecture and old power. He showed me his works, thick and heavy tomes of the history of the demon kingdoms and of the lands around High Rannoc. He gave me a couple of them about the more recent history, more recent for him being the past hundred years.
Another interesting bit of information was about the witch. I asked him about the deal and how much he remembered about her and there was a pause as he thought about his answer. I asked him outright if he remembered her and he said yes, but that he was sworn to say nothing else. He couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but he could say she was well respected, powerful, and a good witch to the village.
Eventually I decided to agree, I couldn’t find any malice in him, any deception, just homesickness and worry. So I told him he was free to reopen his portal on the condition it wouldn’t harm the village, it’s people, or the surroundings. I also asked if he’d let me go through and he was happy to, excited by the prospect.
While he told me stories about his home and his family he showed me the portal behind the throne. It was a large obsidian slab with an indent carved into it that would be big enough to stand in, and an array of skulls and flames carved all around the edges. I must have been eyeing them nervously as he seemed embarrassed, explaining they were entirely for show and the artefact was very old from a time when that aesthetic was more popular.
He showed me how to activate it by running my hand over two of the skulls and saying a key phrase I could barely pronounce let alone spell. When that was done there was a sound like paper tearing and the air seemed to come apart like someone pulling aside a curtain. I couldn’t see The Strange through it, but I could see a passageway of sorts I could go into.
He thanked me again, asked if I wanted to come through now. I declined, explaining I’d already taken enough time and I was actually here on a journey to prepare a cure for someone. He understood and showed me to a doorway on the side of the room. He made me put my hand on the handle and chanted a quick spell, saying that would make the door remember me and let me back in whenever I needed.
He then pressed a glowing dagger thick with blue rust into my hands before ushering me and Snowdrop through the door.
Once I stepped to the other side of it and looked around I realised I was back at the start of Hero’s Hollow, literally standing in the entrance way. The door behind me, on the right of the passage, had definitely not been there before. It seems I’ve made a friend, and found a way to somewhere new to find reagents. I checked the dagger but I was right, it was coated in a thick layer of Coldrust; just what I needed. I wonder how he knew?
Back home I started to prepare the potion, this one is quite easy.
All you need to do is take one of the shells and hit it with something big and heavy until you get about a handful of chunks. Wash these out to get rid of any slime and let them dry carefully. You can use the slime for other effects but you need to boil it out which ruins the shell so you have to pick one.
While they’re drying take a thick chisel and take it to the artefact you’ve got. Some witches like to try and save the item because it will have a reasonable enchantment on it, I don’t like to take the risk because the rust will have weakened it and most artefacts you don’t want to fail at the wrong moment. You need to get a good few pinches of rust off of the item and make sure it’s not got any of the artefact in it, things like daggers can flake away steel which will remain in the potion and cause damage to the throat.
Once you have your rust and dried shells you need to thoroughly crush them in a mortal and pestle, reducing both to a fine powder. I’ve found if you don’t have large set you can do it in batches but I advise grinding a bit of shell and rust at the same time. This helps it mix together and the effects combine, but also the rust acts as an abrasive to make it easier to grind down the shell.
When you have a good handful of the power add it to water in a fifty fifty mix. You may need to adjust the powder to water by adding a little more of either, the consistency you’re looking for is something like a rich gravy and about the same colour. Make sure it’s well mixed and the powder has dissolved fully before you bottle. I like to strain the mixture through a clean cloth before bottling to catch any grit that doesn’t dissolve and as a precaution to catch any metal which won’t dissolve.
There you have it, Sleep Easy Tonic.
I’m writing this the afternoon after making the potion. I debated going directly to the village or not, but in the end I decided I should as it was likely Olma wasn’t getting much rest anyway.
I arrived at her house very late, it was mostly black and the only lights were from a few windows. Once I knocked on her door there was a long moment of mummering, quiet movement, and then the door only opened a slip before Olma’s husband realised who it was and opened it fully revealing an old but still very functional sword.
He invited me in quick before helping Olma over. She was surprised to see me but seemed very pleased I was there so late. I gave her the tonic, explained how to use it, and she downed it there and then. Her husband seemed just as grateful as she was, and they both looked relieved.
I left quickly, bidding them goodnight, conscious of the hour.
The next day she returned, this time with two young boys maybe 8 years old each, twins. They immediately started asking about the “pretty fox” and if they could play with it, which Snowdrop was only too happy with.
Olma said she couldn’t stay long but wanted to thank me properly and pay for the services. I went to protest and say she didn’t have to but she gave me a stern look and said something I don’t think I’ll forget….
“People round here are proud of their work, proud of how they live, and of who they are. They’re also proud to have a witch, especially I’ll wager one so dedicated. If you turn down their payment you’re telling them you’re better than that to their faces. Don’t do that to them, let them thank you properly, and take their words and money graciously.”
I was suitably chastised and apologised, but she just laughed and said she remembers telling Auria something similar a long time ago.
She sat outside the cottage for a while in the sun with me as we watched her grandchildren play. She talked a little about how much the village has changed, how proud she was of her family and her children. She insisted I come by regularly to sit with her and her friends, to talk and rest, and to meet the rest of the village.
I think she’s right.
- +45 silver (+15 bonus)
- +1 reputation
- Villager Met: Olma
- Other Met: The Dark Ruler
- Familiar Gained: Snowdrop