Day 60 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write about anything inside a witch’s home.
Erin: In the corner of Ophelia’s spell room there was a water cooler. It seemed so mundane compared to all of the other glittering and ancient trinkets otherwise overcoming the space. Even atop the water cooler was a crystal bowl full of gold leaf flakes. But underneath the precious topper was just the old beat up water cooler. She found the equipment in a thrift shop and knew it was the last thing she needed for her work. She understood the plastic heap would be an outlier and eyesore, but she also understood it would be used. And it was used, she touched that water cooler every hour in doing her spells, which she could not say about a single other thing in the room. Just because the water cooler was not the first thing visitors noticed, did not mean it’s presence and impact was not the most influential of them all.
Shannon: I couldn’t imagine that my bathroom cabinet was like any of the other girls at school, or my house for that matter. Maybe that’s why I could never seem to relate to any of them. I always felt like I was from a different world, and found myself having to be extremely careful about never revealing too much to the outside world.
My makeup collection might have appeared normal, but the ingredients were a homemade concoction. For example, my under eye cream contained children’s tears and a mixture of other natural but hard-to-come-by ingredients. There was actually no pigment to at all, because this stuff didn’t cheat. This was true color correction and a face-lift in a bottle. Not that I needed too much yet, but as my mother would say, it never hurts to freeze time.
Each bottle in my nail polish collection contains a drop of fairy blood, don’t worry we don’t hurt them. We exchange them some very sought after valuables for the tiny vials. We’re not all wicked. The magical power goes a long way. There’s enough power in one drop to sway the world in your favor, or more accurately the whole school.
Then there is the mascara. Contaminated with the powder of black petals from flowers in our garden, which are grown under some very particular conditions. The mixture not only fills in natural full lashes within seconds, but also gives the eyes a hypnotizing power. Just a few blinks and I have the power to get almost anyone to do what I want. Not that I talk advantage of these products…too often.
One detail in the setting can sometimes be more important than all of the others put together.
I don’t remember the first few weeks; they’re a blur of red rage and sapphire sorrow. But the day of Quin’s burial I awoke in the real world, having left my dark reveries behind, to find nothing was as I’d left it. Everything in the house had been turned upside-down, Hugo was nowhere to be found and our roommates had suddenly fled amid rumors of dark arts being practised. Even my bedroom was cold and dismal without the light of my life.
When my eyes fluttered open, unwilling to take in this new world on the first try, I turned over and went back to sleep. A while later something jarred me from a horribly disjointed nightmare about being buried alive and I sat bolt upright, taking in my dark surroundings. Usually there was a definite divide to the room; Quin’s plants stretching up the walls and a chaotic desk she never seemed to work on, and my pristine bookcase full of ancient texts and a dresser cluttered with makeup to give the illusion of my being a girly-girl. Today there was no separation, no friendly vines and no books. As I began to stretch out I realized, checking the clock, it was midday.
Across the room our large window was draped in blackout curtains sporting spidery embroidery that glinted in the dim lighting. I leapt out of the bed, letting the comforter lay in a tangled mess, and pulled back the drapes. Outside it was a lovely afternoon with birds chirping merrily and an enormous scarecrow standing in the middle of the yard. Shivering at the sight I made a note to address that when I was dressed.
I padded lightly to the dresser, opening drawer after drawer, and found nothing but black shirts to wear; it was as though I’d gone goth in my madness. Startled by the change in attire I decided to just throw a jacket over my night clothes and picked my way to the other side of the room. Quin’s desk was exactly as she’d left it; dirt spread across one section, journals open in another part and an odd assortment of tools leaning against the wall. Sitting in a corner was an exotic-looking plant with pearly black petals dotted with red. It glared at me without eyes and I was careful to give it space, tiptoeing around the miniature pot.
After shutting the door gently I gazed around at the grand staircase. Dark cloth had been draped from the ceiling, attempting to partially block out the skylight with minimal success. As I tilted my head I could just see fluffy white clouds passing by in the sky. But the overall feeling of the space was marred with darkness and mystery as I thought about what I might’ve been up to the past while. Carefully I tugged most of the cloths down, unable to reach the others and unwilling to attempt even the simplest of charms.
With the hall already brighter I made my way to the room Joan had occupied, barely able to read the newly drawn sign; Potions Room. It was scrawled in what I could only assume was my own freedom-drunk hand, in chalk that had smudged halfway through. Twisting the old-fashioned crystalline doorknob and giving the sticky frame a good, solid shove, I found myself in a strongly-scented darkroom with vials and bottles of liquids clustered across tables. All around the walls stood sturdy shelves that held an odd assortment of herbs, illicit ingredients and spell books.
Flicking the light I heard something pop somewhere in the room and two burners blazed to life. I turned the switch off, watching the instantly-bubbling liquids settle from a safe distance. Along with seemingly-random bottles, were fractured pieces of a pine-green blackboard with marginally less legible writing scribbled all over them. Everything in the room was vaguely familiar, including the oddball method I’d used to write the spell, but I couldn’t recall what it was all for.
I stepped up to a desk, leaning over to make out a small list of sketchy materials written in pale pink chalk. Beside the list, in deep violet, was a coded sequence of additions in a secret cypher only Quin and I used. In tilted handwriting that appeared momentarily to be someone else’, was an incantation that didn’t match either of the other bits of information. My half-understanding mind was piecing together the complicated processes of my deranged, free-of-consequences one.
Slowly, I patched all the fragmented enchantments together across several in a collection of whole, clean slates. Though I wanted to know what each of the five separate spells were for, I also wanted to keep the blackboards where my other-self had left them, lest she return. As I began to decipher the first spell, grey-blue printing that spanned across four different boards, I recognized a few phrases in Relenzan. “Daum vitispus rerut,” meaning, “To give life back,” was the most important line I came across; a potent spell to bring a life back from the veil.
Deep down I sensed I should break the board, drown the powders and potions in salt and set the whole lot on fire. But, instead, I gathered the graveyard dirt mixture on the far counter, clearing a space among the rubble for a station. Next I hunted for the jar, unlabeled, of sirens’ tears and some equally difficult to obtain ingredients that looked nearly identical to every other container in the room. After a good half hour of hunting I accidentally knocked a tiny pot, with eight identical twins, off the wooden counter. Narrowly catching it, I noticed a faint line of dots engraved into the bottom plate of glass.
Fascinated at why it was there I tipped the other jars over and found similar, though subtly different, patterns adorning every container I checked. I spied an inkwell hidden under a large stack of plain paper and had an ingenious, though not entirely original, idea; the pattern could hold the key to matching the spells to the jars.
Carefully placing the first miniscule urn on the ink and rolling it around, I moved it over to a clean sheet of paper, repeating the careful rocking technique. When I lifted the glass the imprint that was left, the dots as well as the outer circle of the jar, I could see the spell forming in my mind. One drop of this formula would have your toughest enemy rolling on the floor in sheer agony that couldn’t be described.
Shuddering with the mere thought of causing anyone that much pain, I searched for a less-populated shelf to begin ordering the potions. As I moved the horrible concoctions over I glanced around at the mishmash of herbs stacked on the other shelves; most were obviously grown and dried here, with careful inscriptions in Quin’s neat hand. Others were ugly, nameless containers filled with bizarre elements you wouldn’t find in any magick shops, even back in Briarwood, let alone suburban Narlton.
After I rewrote all the information I’d written out on the creation of this serum, scrounged together from various texts and journals, I destroyed my illegible cursive versions; if I wanted to make it again I would need to be able to read it. Hoping I never would, I moved on to the next set of jars, repeating the stamping process with clinical precision.
A cure-all potion was next, sporting herbs that would have cost me a mint as well as some vital organs that needed to be extracted prior to death. Scrunching my nose in disgust, I attempted to find an inscribed account of its creation but failed in my quest. Onto the shelf it went, looking lonely among the larger, numerous jars of poison.
Two hours later, the first counter was clear of jars, cleaned off and an entire shelf was organized with tags and charts. Though I hadn’t found anything containing siren’s tears I didn’t give up hope, moving all the rewritten work to the immaculate tabletop. Fortunately I didn’t have to look far to find a vial with a miniscule quantity of shimmering pearly liquid. Without checking it for engraved dots I moved the stand it was on, a burner with a sizable glass jar to the side, to my work space. I read through the spell thoroughly, thinking on the consequences of a charm of this magnitude; the drawbacks could be that you don’t manage to bring the soul back, or you don’t manage to reanimate the body or that the body still continues to decompose or, or and or.
That list terrified me more than simply not having my Quinny standing beside me, alive. So, against my heart’s wishes, I placed the vial and jars carefully on a separate shelf. As I spun a protection charm around the components my vision began to blur; the first truly emotional response I’d felt all day. Refusing to wipe the tears away I finished that task and took my leave from the room, half my work lying unfinished about the lab.
In the hall I quietly shut the door, leaning against the cool surface as sadness overwhelmed me. But I had to fix the rest of the house; this drab feeling had to go before I could begin to heal. My deranged-self had engraved random charms all over the walls, some painted over. Some were negative, some were pipe dreams and some kept the horrors from returning to my mind in full colour. As I stepped down to the first floor it was like walking into a basement.
Heavy blankets and tarps covered the windows and glass shards lay about the living room where the panes had been smashed in. As I wandered about, ripping the cloths off the walls, I picked my way through the sharp fragments. Slowly the house began to look better until I meandered into the family room; carved into our original wooden floors were sigils of dark magicks I never wanted to play a part in. My other self must have gone crazy without her rock, Quin.
Having learned all I needed about my revenge plans I wanted nothing more to do with Hugo Moray and his egotistical and murderous tendencies. I made up my mind that, after the funeral, I would leave in the dead of night and leave this part of my life in the past; maybe I’d go take up residence in the Heart house in Briarwood and live with my sister.
At the funeral, a proper witch’s burial, I was the only one to attend the entire ceremony; Hugo was opportunely absent. After all the mortals had said their bits, we hadn’t touched many people who would stand with a suspected witch, they scattered like flies. Leaving me alone with the only person I’d ever loved was a blessing and curse but I did her proud.
While calling upon all eleven elements took a lot longer than expected, I thought it all went pretty well. Our funerals are spectacular occasions where we celebrate one’s life and magick; but when we’re in the mortal world we tend to have more muted festivities and the joy gets lost in translation. We call upon someone from each element to cleanse the person’s soul and leave an imprint on their body, ending with their own, which we use to destroy the physical form. Some families are more traditional and require day-long parades complete with parties in the deceased’s honor Quin never wanted a big fuss.
Setting up dozens of candles around the gravesite I wept for a long time before composing myself to do the blessing. She would have been happy with my tiny tricks. A yellow star hovered as it refracted the light of a dozen golden flames for the aer element, leaving its imprint before bursting into a million light shards. For fauna a tiny feathered fawn galloped around her, amber shadows falling on her coat as she licked Quin’s cheek fondly. As the cute creature vanished into the darkness a single feather fluttered down, sizzling on her pale arm. The light dimmed to ochre as the ground trembled, a scar-like mark appearing on her leg marking terra’s cleanse. Tears drenched my face as ignis flowers floated up from the candles, converging above the corpse before lapping at her hair affectionately. It sunk into her skin in bright scarlet.
Darkness brought with it a black hole that tore at everything around her, but was necessary in life, as well as death. Nox left a dark mark on her chest, releasing the candles from their cold flames. Sparks passed between the candles, lightning shooting around in a spectacular light show before it shot into Quin, a lightning bolt symbol appearing for aes. Fluffy clouds formed in the air above her for tempus, raining down on the lifeless body, dripping a cloudy mark on her cheek. When ice began to form on her skin I nearly stopped, hating to see her hurt. But it receded quickly, leaving just the snowflake symbol of gelu as evidence.
Water droplets swirled about us, dousing some of the candles, before settling on her skin and leaving aqua’s sign in pale teal. Lux blinded me for a moment as it appeared and disappeared silently, letting her soul be cleansed by the light. But I halted the spell, preparing myself for the last part, the worst part.
Lying motionless on the stone pedestal, as tradition stated, Quin looked like she could be sleeping. But as I levitated her body it hung unnaturally limp in the air, dragging downward at odd angles. When I laid her down in the soft grass I sighed heavily, closed my eyes, candles settling around us, and completed the burial. Tendrils trailed up from the ground, snaking their way around Quin’s body and gradually pulled her under, leaving nothing but fading candles and a broken-hearted lover behind.
Created to Write:
August wakes up with a throbbing headache. ‘I thought I got rid of that,’ he thinks.
He starts to sit up, holding his head gently. He’s on a cot. He puts his legs over the side of the bed, feeling for the bump on his head. His hand then goes to his side.
‘I got stabbed,’ he remembers. There is a bandage wrapping his bare abdomen. He sees his shirt and jacket folded up nearby, along with his other stuff. He stands, noticing minimal pain where the injury is. He checks his stuff, but his weapons are missing. He turns as someone walks into the room.
“The Sorceress Megdan is expecting you,” the man says. August is poised to attack, then remembers his injury. He is not a fool. He nods, and starts to pull on his shirt. But after the pain spikes, he instead is handed a vest made out of a soft silky cloth. It doesn’t tie in the front, leaving his chest mostly open. He then follows the man out the door. The man turns around, touching his sword, “Try to escape, or harm the sorceress, and you will be slain on the spot.”
August nods. The man continues and August follows. Some people give him strange looks. August keeps a hand on his side. “…How am I standing? The injury on my side would render me to bedrest for a few days.”
“Herbs from the Sorceress Megdan’s garden,” the guard says, “and I would hold your tongue. Speaking in the Sorceress’ presence is forbidden unless spoken to.”
More guards join them, surrounding August.
Then they walk into a heavily decorated room. Rugs swallow the floor, tapestries of rich colors and vibrant patterns coat the walls, layering in textures. Dotting the floor are couches, which young children and couples lounge. Gold and jewels are over everything. August is led through the couches to the opposite end of the room. There’s another couch, to fit one and a half people. On it, a woman decked in purple and gold sits, with a child on her lap, half covered by her full purple skirt. She has two necklaces, one is a gold snake, the second a purple choker, and underneath them both is a tattoo of swirls. Her full dark hair is separated into three parts, one falling over her shoulder. Her forehead is covered by a large amethyst held in place by a gold circlet.
August is stopped on a blue carpet, then pushed to kneel.
The woman strokes the hair of the little girl on her lap. She kisses her forehead, murmuring something in a language August doesn’t understand. The girl scurries off, giggling. The guards salute to the woman, “Sorceress, this is the boy you heard of.”
August hears her hum, “…Look up.”
August lifts his head. Her gold red eyes stare at him with a soft intensity.
“He’s American,” she says, “I did not hear that.”
“But his skills-”
“Yes, Dartni has told me,” Megdan hums. She leans back, regarding August with a finger to the edge of her lips. “What is your name, stranger?”
“August,” he says. The incense in the room, hung from the beams above and in the corners, thickens the room.
“Well, August,” Megdan says, silkily, “You have confusion surrounding you.” She is silent for a little longer, then motions him forward. August stands up and steps closer. Megdan takes his chin in her hand. She tilts his head, looking at his eyes, “You do not know everything about you, do you?”
August doesn’t know how to answer, stuttering, “I got caught in an explosion, and afterwards, I couldn’t remember why I was here, or who my family are.”
“But you know who you are.”
“And you know you have family,” Megdan continues.
Megdan lets go of his face. August leans away, but then Megdan grabs his wrist, turning him back to her. “…You…” she breathes. August waits for her to continue, noticing how no one else is speaking. Her gaze softens. She lifts a hand to his face again, her skin contrasting his. August tries not to flinch. Megdan traces the underside of his eye slowly, “You have…”
“What my sorceress?” a guard asks.
Megdan smiles at August, ignoring the guard, “Who is she?”
“…Who is who?”
Megdan sighs sadly, “The girl that gives you such a glow?”
August looks at her confused.
“Well…” Megdan traces his eye again, “More than a girl, but a woman. A woman of pain and growth. I see the blue in you.”
“…I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are talking about,” August says, trying to pull away.
She tightens her grip on his arm, “It is an agony to forget love,” she says. She releases him, “I may have the means to lift the burden.”
August steps back, thinking, “You can cure my amnesia?”
“Perhaps, but I need you to do something for me,” Megdan answers, “the reason why my people brought you here. You have skills my warriors lack.”
August is pulled to kneel again.
“But… I need to know if you have the skills to complete the task. There is no room for mistakes.”
“…What is the test?” August says.