I haven’t got much time, I need to harvest come ingredients immediately.
I was woken by a hammering on the door this morning, the day after getting home, and it was Violet. Her partner Casper had become ill and she was worried about him. She’d been trying to get me for the past day but I wasn’t here, and she didn’t realise I was back until this morning. I’ll have to deal with the problem of me leaving later.
I examined him in the village and it’s serious. He was grey, shaking with a fever, and had a low heartrate. He didn’t want to tell me what happened but after sending Violet out I dragged the truth out of him. He’s been stretched recently providing for the elderly and children with more people spending time out in the fields. A passing merchant offered him a potion that would perk him up and restore his energy levels “like he’d slept for a week”.
He drank it a few days ago and he’s been getting worse every since.
It’s a simple diagnosis; Potion Poison. A generic name for a variety of conditions from either poorly brewed or worse, maliciously brewed, potions. I need to find out more about the merchant but it’s more important to get everything fix up first, the consequences could be anything depending on what the mix was brewed with and his already weakened state from exhaustion will make it much worse. I’ll have to talk to Tolbem about that exhaustion as well.
I’m going to the Cloud Isles for the first time, I need some Flood Bulbs which grow relatively commonly there, apparently, as well as some Star Shards. I’ve only ever seen a few Star Shards as jewellery or for sale for exorbitant prices but they can be found on the Isles.
Time to put my flying skills to the test. I’m leaving Snowdrop with Casper because he keeps trying to get up. I’ve told him time and time again that he’ll get worse if he does but he won’t listen, so if he moves out of his bed Snowdrop is to tell Iris who is on standby.
I’m back in my cottage ready to prepare the potion. That was a very tense trip but thankfully very quick, partly because of who I ran into. I’ll write an account of the Isles themselves later as I’m planning on returning if this works, but for now the ingredients.
I started by looking for shadowed areas, grassy and relatively flat, the ideal growing ground for Flood Bulbs. It didn’t take long to find a cave that was mostly out of sunlight but had a natural stream running through it, giving them all the water they needed. Sure enough just inside the entrance was a lovely patch that I quickly snatched a pair up from… right before noticing a few had big bite marks missing from them. Then the growling started and I realised the reason they grew so well was the wyvern dung fertilising them.
I ran for the edge of the island and leapt off, broom in one hand and root in the other, just as the wyvern shot over where I’d just been. It took to the wing and started circling around to come at me again.
I don’t know what would have happened if I were a less skilled flier but it took me far too long to evade it. I flew as fast as I could, using every trick in the book. I twisted, looped, tried to lose it behind landscape, bounced off mountains to trick it, this wyvern was far too quick and clever and nearly got me a few times.
Eventually I lost it and spent a moment drifting along catching my breath and calming down. It was like that a raven pulled alongside me and gave me another fright by talking.
It introduced itself as a friend of Auria and asked if I needed anything, as a favour to her. I said I was looking for Star Shards and it said it had hoarded a few if I wanted them. I promised to pay it back later and it pulled away.
It was at that point I realised if I left it might not be able to find me so I spent a nervous time watching t he skies for anything wyvern-shaped and waiting for the raven.
It wasn’t too long before it returned with a thick shard that would have made anyone jealous if used as an engagement present. I thanked the bird and it said it was just repaying support Auria had given it and its brood in the past and it was glad to help.
I returned here quickly but I’m making a note the next time I go up there I’m bringing a whole fish for it.
Preparing the neutralisation potion is simple and can be done with just a mortal and pestle.
First crush the star shard as finely as you can, you’ll need to really grind it around to get a dust. It won’t be as hard as it seems; Star Shards aren’t as strong as they appear once they’re broken down. If your crystal is too big to fix wrap it carefully in cloth and hit it with something heavy, that’ll break it into manageable chunks.
Once it’s powdered get a bowl at least ten times the size of your root. Use something sharp to puncture a hole in the fruit itself, ideally in the thickest part, and aim the hole quickly into the bowl. It will spew out far more water than you think, and under far more pressure than should be possible. Trust me; you’ll likely fill that bowl. If you absolutely must then puncture it outside, but the water is packed full of nutrients and is a great drink. It’s particularly helpful to use as the base for the rest of the potion as it restores a lot of nutrients the body will need from the sickness bad potions can induce.
Once the fruit is empty cut it open. Unfortunately the flesh is pretty unappetising, it’s rubbery and tough and tastes like orange pith. Instead look in the middle for the seeds, each about the size of your thumb. You’ll want to add about 1 seed per tablespoon of Star Shard dust. The seed also needs crushing, but first crack it open on a table. I find it helpful to grind with the Star Shard dust for extra roughage to help break the seed down.
Once you’ve got a well ground powder add it to about a cup of water and leave it to steep for at least five minutes, when done strain all the lose material out and the liquid should be done. This one will remain clear and doesn’t hold a scent, but you should be able to dip a finger in and taste it to check it’s ready. Plain Flood Bulb juice has a earthy taste whereas this will be completely flavourless, that’s another reason to not use water as a base because you won’t have this safety check.
I’ll drop this batch down to Casper and update on everything else later.
I feel bad and anxious but I hope I’ve also done a good thing.
I gave Casper the potion and he gratefully drank it before immediately starting to fish out money for me. I was going to refuse it because he’d been literally poisoned but Violet agreed so I took it.
As for him… he was feeling better pretty quickly. That’s the advantage of using actual magical ingredients and knowledge, along with a witch’s natural skills and power. Not some hack trying to make a quick and most definitely fraudulent bit of silver.
When he was back on his feet I checked his temperature and pulse again, all normal, so I decided it was time to have a little chat about him being so overworked he thought he needed to rely on a strange potion to solve his problem. My potions notwithstanding.
He was adamant there wasn’t a problem, and it’d all settle down. I asked if this had been a problem before and apparently it’s always difficult around harvest season and planting season, but not this bad before. He seemed so stubborn all of a sudden! He wouldn’t listen to any ideas, wouldn’t entertain the thought of slowing down to stay well, he even started to get quite angry. Eventually he let it slip as to why; he thinks that people will think less of him and Violet if he isn’t able to do it all alone when they’re out in the fields.
We had a long conversation about why that’s not helpful to think about, what he should do if people do start saying things like that, how he can manage his demands when it gets busy. We agreed that the older folk could look after the children for periods while he did other things like preparing meals, and that I would talk to Tolbem about suggesting people work the fields in sets, starting a little earlier and finishing a little later, so there were more hours when people were around. Even that took a lot of work.
Of course when I did raise it with Tolbem he was more than happy to suggest and push for it. He asked if there was anything he could do, he was happy to keep an eye on the children while he worked if they came to the hall, and he’s going to talk to Casper about that idea later himself.
Did I do the right thing? Was I being nosey bothering him over his own life? Or was he being stupid and not thinking about how much he could hurt himself?
Snowdrop things I did right.
I’ve got too many thoughts going round my head to sleep so I’m going to go on an evening flight back to the Cloud Isles and see if I can find anything useful, but mostly just to fly as fast as I can for as long as I can.
It’s late. I’m pretty tired but my mind is clearer now. The flight was a good idea.
I found a few useful things for my stores, but I got something extra special.
As it started getting late I decided to head back but it got dark pretty quickly, and I saw the Aurora Lighthouse! It’s a squat building on the highest peak of the Moonbreaker Mountains that shines out a magical light across the whole valley to warn any airships not to descend any lower or they’ll crash. It takes the form of beautiful lights swirling through the sky, and it’s an amazing sight to just float there and watch them ripple and flow.
I didn’t know if it was possible but I pulled out my wand and tried to divert a little, and it was successful! I’ve got a large demijohn now hanging from my ceiling full of it. It’s not hugely visible in the day but at night, like now, it’s perfect.
My last entry for the week, I was so tired yesterday I fell asleep without writing up what the Cloud Isles are like.
The Cloud Isles are probably the most magical part of the area (aside from the Strange which I don’t count). They’re high, so high you can barely see them from the tip of the Moonbreaker Mountains, but they’re there.
A huge part of the sky is full of floating islands of all shapes and sized. Some are tiny spires that only hold a tree and a few birds, others are acres of rolling hills with animals of their own. There’s a large amount of airship traffic through there too, the massive flying vessels weave in and out of the islands, or stop for a break and to stop up on water.
It’s rumoured they were the result of whatever’s under Hero’s Hollow rampaging millennia ago. The legend goes it smashed the mountains up with a club and threw the pieces into the sky where they stayed to this day.
They’re dangerous as they are pretty, you can only get there by broom or airship, or a very unlucky wind, and one wrong step without protection would be a good way to die. That’s not to mention all the creatures up there that are used to being alone.
Best go prepared!
- +45 silver (+15 extra)
- +1 reputation
- Decoration Gained: Bottled Aurora (no effect)
- Reagents Gained: Moon Lotus, Nimbus Fish, Ambergris