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Of Potions and Paintbrushes: Part Two


by masaryk_the_mad

--------

Also by antiaircraft

Frostgleam the Aisha bounded up the grand staircase of the stately manor, her footfalls echoing in the foyer. Tapestries on the walls rippled as she ran past toward the library, otherwise invisible to the world. Surely, one of the hundreds of books that she had collected would hold the secret to crafting a potion to turn her back into a ghost.

     The polished wooden double doors to the library swung open, scarcely making a sound. The Aisha stepped into the room and looked around. Frostgleam had organised all of the books by subject, then alphabetically according to the title. Books began to methodically float from the shelves to a table in the centre of the room, starting from the shelf to the right of the door, going counter-clockwise around the room. Then, a chair moved out from the table.

     One by one the books moved forward to the table surface in front of the chair. Their covers opened, and their pages turned, sometimes very slowly, and other times, whole chapters at a time. A basic pencil floated toward the chair from the ceramic Purple Slorg Pencil Holder on the table and scribbled notes on a yellow lined notebook.

     Frostgleam heard the clock chime eight o’clock. She had already read through half a dozen books, feverishly writing down anything that might help her to make a potion that would change her back into a ghost. The sun had already sunk beneath the treetops, and a heavy fog was setting in outside. She suddenly realised that she had to concentrate very hard to read the words on the page in front of her. She paused from her reading for a moment to light a lamp. A chill breeze blew into the library from an open window. Frostgleam rose to close it, before returning to her reading.

     A few moments later, the doors to the library opened. Frostgleam’s brothers, Sun and Drakovitch walked into the library. Sun was carrying a plate of food. The Werelupe placed the plate down on the table next to the tome Frostgleam was leafing through. “You missed supper,” he said. “I tried calling to you, but I guess you didn’t want to break your train of thought to come eat.” He smiled nervously.

     The truth was that Frostgleam was so immersed in her reading that she hadn’t even heard her brother call to her. She hadn’t been thinking about food at all. But now that she could smell the turkey, buttery jacket potato, and vegetables on the plate in front of her, her stomach grumbled. She pushed the book she was reading aside and slid the plate of food in front of her. “Sliced Turkey Dinner - my favourite!” she exclaimed.

     Both Sun and Drakovitch watched Frostgleam eat with bemused expressions on their faces, as they watch forkfuls of food levitate, then disappear. Frostgleam hungrily devoured all of her dinner. Just after the last few peas left her plate, raising her napkin, Frostgleam asked, “Do I have any gravy on my face?”

     Sun looked at her. “Not that I can see.”

     Frostgleam wiped at her face with her napkin anyway. Even if no one could see her face, she wanted to be clean. Then she pushed her plate away and pulled her book back in front of her. “Thanks so much for bringing me dinner. It was absolutely delicious. I can’t believe I didn’t hear you call me to come eat.” She sighed. “I guess I was just too immersed in my reading.”

     “How is your research coming?” Drakovitch asked.

     “Pretty good, I think. I think I have a few of the ingredients worked out. If I’m right about one of them, I have only a couple hours to work out the rest of the formula.” Frostgleam sounded excited about her progress, but a little nervous at the mention of a time constraint.

     “Is there anything we can do to help,” Drakovitch offered, “since time is running short?”

     “Sure!” Frostgleam was relieved to have a bit of help from her brothers. “Drakovitch, if you wouldn’t mind looking through Gluten-Free Potion Composites Cookbook, I need to find a substitute for Wailing Bowl of Oats. From what I’ve read, oats don’t mix well with one of the base potion ingredients.” Drakovitch nodded.

     She then turned toward Sun. “I know it’s not very interesting, but I would be eternally grateful if you would shelve this stack of books and bring my plate back down to the kitchen,” she said sheepishly. Frostgleam was worried that her brother would offended that she had given him very basic tasks to do. It’s not that Frostgleam didn’t think her brother was smart enough to help her devise a potion formula, but she knew he had little interest in potion-making.

     “Whew! I was worried you were going to ask me to look through a bunch of dry tomes for things I don’t quite understand.” Sun and Frostgleam laughed together.

     ********************************

     By the time the clock struck ten, Frostgleam had just finished looking through the last tome on her table. Drakovitch had helped her to look through the last dozen books for potion formulas that might help her turn back into a ghost, while Sun helped to keep their work area clean.

     “Well,” Frostgleam said, flipping through the pages of her notebook, “based on my research, there seems to be three key ingredients for my potion. No one has ever made such a potion before, so I couldn’t get an exact formula, but based on similar potions I researched, this has a good chance of working.”

     Sun grinned. “So, what are these three main ingredients you need? I hope it doesn’t involve the heart of a Werelupe.”

     “No, silly!” Frostgleam poked at his ribs. “It’s nothing quite that sinister. Maybe a bit more spooky, though.” She paused for a moment, then jotted something down on the yellow paper. “I need to get one vial of soil from the grave of someone driven mad by fear, the tears of another Ghost Aisha, and glowing mushrooms that have never seen the light of day, harvested at midnight. Otherwise, the potion just involves a handful of common ingredients that we already have.”

     “Do you know where you will acquire these ingredients, dear sister?” Drakovitch asked, a hint of doubt in his voice.

     “Actually, I do,” said Frostgleam, confidently. “I have a good idea of where I can find the first two in Neovia, but the last one was a little more difficult to track down. But after referencing several books on Haunted Woods ecology, I was able to track down a historical reference to an exact location.”

     “Do you want me to come along?” Sun asked his sister. “I don’t want you travelling through the woods alone at night. You might be invisible, but I'm not the only denizen of the woods who can hunt by smell.”

     “And of course, you’re ever so noisy all the time,” Drakovitch prodded absent-mindedly as he tried to make out the name on a badly worn herbology guide.

     A number of retorts armed themselves swiftly on Frostgleam’s tongue, but they all faded at the memory of some of the Aisha’s past experiences in the woods. Even getting lost on a town’s outskirts could easily get her hurt, or worse. “Well, I could use the company, I suppose. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have along than a big, tough Werelupe,” Frostgleam said, her smile evident in her voice.

     “Then I will stay behind and start mixing up the base liquid for the potion,” Drakovitch interjected. “I found out that Haunted Hummus will substitute well for a Wailing Bowl of Oats when using Bloodfern Loam.”

     “Are you ready to depart, Sun?” Frostgleam asked her brother.

     Sun nodded. “Just remember to plan our route beforehand. We’ll want to avoid the lesser used paths, especially the ones east of here. Bring a map if you have one. We should probably bring more than one if we can.”

     “What do you think I’ve been doing all this time?” Frostgleam shot back, gesturing smugly at the pile of neatly annotated maps sitting on the corner of the desk. Once she realised that nobody could see her gesturing, the maps levitated off the table and rolled themselves up with an irritated sigh, then headed straight for the front door, leaving a breeze of mixed trepidation and excitement behind them. Sun trailed behind a bit, wondering if it might be better to try and convince her to delay the quest until morning. Trying to stop Frostgleam when she was this worked up would probably be even more dangerous, though, and the woods were barely any safer in the daytime. The Werelupe resigned himself to the long night ahead.

     As they approached the door, Sun hesitated a little. He felt a bit guilty for not trusting his sister’s map reading skills, but they’d landed in some of the woods’ less friendly parts before, and it hadn’t been a pleasant experience. He quickly sidestepped and grabbed an old sling bag from the coat hangers in the foyer, quietly slipping his Sword of Skardsen inside. Glancing towards the door, he saw that it was already wide open, and from the sound of things Frostgleam was now glaring at him and tapping her foot impatiently.

     “Are you coming?” the Aisha demanded. “I’m all ready to go.”

     Sun paused and studied the spot where his sister was probably standing, trying to push away his concern. “No, you’re not,” he declared finally. “It’s freezing outside tonight, and I’m not letting you end up sick as well as invisible.” The Werelupe reached over and snatched a cloak from the hangers on the door, draping it carefully over Frostgleam’s shoulders. “Now, you’re ready. Let’s go.”

To be continued...

 
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