Archive for ‘Weekly Excerpt’

July 16, 2015

150 words: an Orval and Lily exercise

ALLY

An ally, among the Dracoisi—once I thought we would all be friends. I hoped.

“Tell the others I will be ready,” I say.  “Orval and I leave for the north at first light.”

The messenger nods and rises, silent as a shadow. His silhouette fades into the deepening sky.  Stars, golden and bright as my love for Orval, blink sleepily in their black velvet blanket. Such stars glimmered over us, the night we met.

Such stars must have hung over this world in the ancient days.  Where else would the Dracoisi descend from?

Now they returned. I wanted a lasting kinship with these ancestors, I hoped for friendship…

They took Egon, and Orval’s grandmother.

Hope was nothing more than a thin slice of obsidian, sharp and dark and brittle.  It shattered when I returned home.

Orval was gone.  

Perhaps allies and lasting love were only myths.

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June 25, 2015

Messenger: a 150-word exercise with Orval and Lily

MESSENGER

“You said Death called the Dracoisi,” I say. “You cannot believe I did such a thing.”

“You. Death. Does it matter?” Now Orval’s teeth chatter. He wraps his arms around his sides, leaning against the wall.

Eventually he slumps to the floor, sleeping feverishly. I slip his grandmother’s pillow under his head. As the evening shadows darken his brow, I leave him to walk in the cool of the abandoned city.

No one lives in these perfect homes now. In the deepening twilight they glimmer in all the shades of blue, empty and lonely, but I—I am not alone.

No sound warns me, no Night One’s hunting call or rush of wings. Instead, I feel the warmth of a messenger’s mind as he lands on one foot beside me.

“The Dracoisi have taken Egon,” he says. “We have an ally, but we must act quickly to rescue him.”

June 17, 2015

A 150-word writing exercise: Lover’s Quarrel

I’m kind of having fun with this! Here is the latest Orval and Lily 150-word adventure:

LOVER’S QUARREL

This is not my fault. I tell Orval so. His skin goes as violet as the sky, and he hollers in my face.

“You—you have no right to say that! You, who used your power to manipulate everyone!”

His words are a hot iron poker, branding my heart with shame.

“I gave all I had to save my people,” I say, pleading for understanding. “I gave up the throne.”

He shakes his head. “Ion, and Sindi. All the Night Ones, all the humans, even Egon.  Even me. You deceived us all.”

“I tried to save you,” I whisper. “In the end, I let you merge with Death—I let you change our world.”

“You let me,” he says through gritted teeth, “But the damage was already done. You called the Dracoisi to our world the first time you linked your mind to ours.”

June 13, 2015

A 150-word exercise: Orval and Lily and Death, the last dragon

 

THE LAST DRAGON

Death.

The only dragon not destroyed.

The monster flew over this valley, the evening we returned.

Orval’s breath rushes across my face. “How did Death escape? I merged souls with him.”

The blade under my chin trembles. I reach out, latching my fingers through Orval’s as the dagger clatters to the floor.

“Does it matter?” I say, gasping in relief. I brush my knuckles against Orval’s slate-hard face.

“He must have called the Dracoisi.”

“We are all one people, now. They will not destroy us.” I will myself to believe this, and to believe my feelings for Orval will make him well again.

My sweetheart loses faith in our love. Something tainted flickers in his eyes, and he pulls away.

“My grandmother. They took her.”

The red sky fades to purple, the color I wore as empress—but I have no power now.

Without Orval, I have nothing.

January 25, 2013

Humor attempt number one

My humor guru, C.J., says this should be my first humor-effort post. This actually was on my site a long, long time ago and somehow isn’t there anymore. I must have removed it when I revamped the site a few months back. Anyway–the first five efforts will be centered around this story. Feedback is always appreciated!

DSC08418

The last day of sixth grade wasn’t my most brilliant.

For starters, all the sixth graders at Mandan Middle School were involved in a humongous softball tournament.  I was on the same team as TayLynn and TeLora Birdbeard, which meant I had to put up with their almost-constant remarks about my lack of softball abilities and their twittering whenever Ashton Newberry was up to bat.

Silly twins.  You’d think after six grades of crushing on the same guy, they’d give up and move on to someone else.

Not that I could blame them.  Ashton had these huge blue eyes, hair that reminded me of melted chocolate chips and a smile so bright that his shiny trumpet seemed wooden in comparison.

Sigh.  I’d been crushing on him, too.  We shared the same music stand in band class.  Surely that was the perfect beginning for the perfect relationship, right?

But no.  I never knew what to say to him beyond asking him to change the music or turn the stand so I could see it better.  The longest conversation we had all year was the day that I accidentally spilled a package of Skittles into my trumpet case.  He tried to help me get them cleaned up before Mr. Barton saw.

Unfortunately, a strawberry-flavored Skittle got caught far enough down my trumpet that it blocked off the horn.  I didn’t know it until I tried to play Aura Lee with the rest of the trumpet section.  All that came out was a long, squeaky wheeze.  I blew harder, trying to get any kind of a decent sound to come out, and the Skittle suddenly dislodged.  It launched out of my trumpet and hit Mr. Barton in the forehead just as my trumpet blared like a dying elephant.  The class burst into a torrent of laughter that lasted nearly half an hour—at least until Mr. Barton got himself under control enough to double our required home practice time.

Oh, and I got detention.

What a way to make a good impression!  I must have been more embarrassed by it than I realized, because I was hot and sweaty when the bell finally rang.  I slammed my trumpet into its case and lunged out of my chair.

“Hey, Lacey, wait up,” Ashton said.  He closed the music folder carefully, picked up his trumpet and followed me to door.  “That was the best laugh I’ve had all year.”

“Yeah, well, I’m glad you enjoyed it.” I was sure I was as red as the Skittle had been.  “It wasn’t as much fun for me as it was for everyone else.”

Ashton grinned. “I don’t think anyone knew Mr. Barton could scream like that.  He sounded like a little girl.”

“He sounded like a like a hot dog getting cooked too long in the microwave.”  I started to smile.  “Do you think it’s worth detention, though?”

“Most definitely.  You should lighten up.”  We reached the lockers, and Ashton saluted me as he walked backward toward his locker.  “See you tomorrow, Skittles.”

Skittles.  He called me Skittles!  I would never eat another type of candy ever again.

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December 27, 2012

Magic Studies: Happy Hour

Hannah Gietzen and I decided to write fictional letters back and forth to each other after we both read “The Enchanted Chocolate Pot,” which was written the same way.  We’re just having fun with this and we hope you have fun with it, too.  We’ll be posting and cross-posting this story as it develops.

This is the last set of letters until I hear back from Hannah–I hope she writes back soon!

A 'wand' my husband carved for one of our daughters...

A ‘wand’ my husband carved for one of our daughters…

Dear Mother Humphrey,

The happy hour potion worked great. I made it just as you told me, following the directions exactly. I found the potion in my book, as well, but that was only after I had made it.

I started on it after my parents left to argue about whether I should be able to keep my cat. I was all alone in my lab, except for Little Miss, who has decided that the lab is hers.

I began by putting everything in the pot in the order that you said. Then I placed it over the hot coals. I was careful to stir it in the instructed direction for the entire 25 minutes. By the time I took it off the fire it was a pumpkin orange and bubbling nicely.

I let it cool as I cleaned up my lab. All the while, Little Miss was circling the cauldron and purring. After it had cooled I carefully put three drops in a glass of orange Gatorade and sat it on the table until I could give it to Duncan Dunsz’s assistant (Jack).

I had only turned my back on it a second when my little brother came in and drank the entire thing. I know I was not supposed to give it to him but it worked anyway. He was happy for the rest of the day. Now that is saying something, considering that he is a ordinary 10 year old.

The next day he still was not himself. I keep waiting for it to wear off but it hasn’t yet. He is still insanely happy. It is cool.

I took great care in storing the rest of the potion in a glass jar as instructed. That is all there is to tell about the Happy Hour episode. I hope it is what you wanted.

I completely read the chapter on wand maintenance, taking notes as I did.

I then spent three hours at Spector’s studying the different wands. The first I looked at was an oak-fairy level 1. It is only for an advanced magic user who specializes in something. Seeing as this one is oak, I would say it would work best in directing water magic but could also be used as a slime wand. It is extremely delicate and needs to be kept clean, so it is best to store it in a tube of water. It is a specialty wand and is not to be used in everyday magic.

The second was a level 5 pine-SingBird wand. It is a general use wand that is used to teach and practice with. It is used to direct all different kinds of magic, which gives it its other name, the household wound. It needs no special treatment and is often kept in the utensil drawer.

The third was a beech-ogre level 5. This makes it useful for all kinds of outdoor chores and can only really be used dirtside. Like the ogre that it was made from, it does not work well in space. It is most useful at high altitudes. Like the household wand, it is not very powerful but is not used in teaching very often because of its ornery temperament.

The forth was an aged level 2 willow wand with celtic runes caved into it. This wand is used by throes who prefer animal or healing magic. It is very powerful but can only handle delicate magics. It needs to be keep dry and is usual stored in a leather case or a cloth bag. It is not popular dirtside because it can’t get wet.

The fifth was a apple-phoenix level 3 wand with a leather handle. This type is used for people who like fighting magic and it can handle vast amounts of magic going through it at a time. Because of this, it is also known as a blasting rod and is usually used in combat. It is longer then the average wand and heavier, weighing almost 5 pounds. Some argue that it is a staff and not a wand, but it is still considered a wand by the general public.

The sixth was a super oak reinforced pine troll finger wand level 4. This type is famous for earth magic and does best stored in dirt. It is useful in many ways but is most often used by weather mages. It is not all that powerful, but is often useful for teaching.

The seventh was the most extraordinary. It was a level 1 earth redwood unicorn wand. It is used only by hags and is illegal for anyone else. It is often stored in a glass case, though it does not need special care. It is used on any of the five elements, earth, water, air, fire and metal. It is extremely powerful as well as deadly. It is used in combat as well as healing, curses, weather and potions.

That is all I have for the wands. I hope this is what you wanted. I also have to tell you that my mother and Dork Boy did not even see each other. Mother was out shopping when he came.

Well that is all I have for now. I look forward to the next lesson.

Always your apprentice,

Justine

Dear Justine,

How is it that Dork Boy was talking to your mom if she was out shopping? Something is not right here. Please tell me what’s going on—and it had better be good, or I will fulfill your earlier request to know what ‘excruciating’ means.

Under the circumstances, I’m beginning to doubt that the book was destroyed. I need it returned to me as soon as possible.

Your teacher and future Hag,

Elena Humphrey

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December 26, 2012

Magic Studies: The Table of Sorceries

Hannah, who writes as Justine, is home from University now. It will be interesting to see how often we’re able to post together like this.

A 'wand' my husband carved for one of our daughters...

A ‘wand’ my husband carved for one of our daughters…

Dear Mother Humphrey,

Did you know that the Hag exams are coming up? This is so exciting. They’re only six months away. I can’t believe that the year that I start to study magic there will be a new Hag.

I asked mother why they only allow one person to become a Hag every thirty years. She said that it is because the members of the Table of Sorceries are a bunch of sick control freaks that need to have control over everything. What do you think?

Oh, and why is the name of our ruling body called something as silly as the Table of Sorceries?

Now, first things first. Mother did destroy the book. I know because I looked everywhere for it. There is no sign of it anywhere. I even went to her office and looked through her things there. All I got was dust bunnies and a near heart attack when mom’s secretary walked in on me. I managed to convince her that I was cleaning mom’s office as punishment after I used her credit with out permission.

That was a close call.

I could have told you that I was not going to find it because mother quit using magic years ago, but I have a feeling that you wanted me to look for the book for a different reason. Am I right?

I also know mother destroyed the book because I was talking to my father and he said that he had to buy mother flowers to apologize for getting mad at her for burning a book. Magic books are the only books that dad thinks should be burned. So you see, the book has been completely removed from my reach. You don’t have to worry.

I have just recently learned that I have a familiar. I know I am not suppose to get one until I am a Sister, but let me explain.

My Aunt Doggerel came for a visit. She brought with her the prettiest black cat you have ever seen. She said here name is Little Miss and that she was mine. I told her that I would have to ask mother and father before I could keep her. That is when my aunt told me that she was already mine and she had been since the day I was born.

I tried to tell her that it was not possible for a cat to live that long, and that is when my Aunt told me that Little Miss is a familiar. I started to argue when my parents walked in and mother told me it was true, that children in our family had familiars bound to them right way.

Daddy was not happy. He asked mom what right she had to do something like that without his permission. Mom said that it was not something she had to discuss with him because it was my right as her daughter to have a familiar. Both of them keep yelling at each other for a good hour before father went fishing. Mother told me to feed my cat, as I would be keeping her. I asked why and mother said, “What is done is done.”

Next: I have the best news ever. I am every good at making happy hour. It did not work exactly the way you said it would, but it sure did work.

That is mostly all that happened this week, I look forward to your next letter.

Your ever constant apprentice,

Justine

Dear Justine,

More details on the outcome of Happy Hour, please. To whom did you give it? What were the results? I expect a full description of what happened.

After you have told me more about Happy Hour, read the next chapter in your book on wand maintenance. Then go to Spector’s House of Fortune, which is about a sec and a half from Dunsz’s shop. Spector keeps a wall of fashion wands at the back of the store. I want you to describe and evaluate at least seven of the wands he has on hand. For each wand, tell me whether or not you would choose it and why.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that the book was burned. But you didn’t tell me—what were Dork Boy and your mother talking about when he was there? I knew your mother in school, and I can’t believe she completely gave up on it.

Have you tried Happy Hour on your father yet? That might help him get used to Little Missy.

Congratulations, by the way.

Dork Boy has just brought my new Superpoint Concentrator witches hat…the latest model, and it fits perfectly. I can already feel its effects. I’m off to hit the books for a few hours.

Your ever studious teacher,

Mother Humphrey

P.S.- I believe they call the council the Table of Sorceries because they conjure complete Turkey dinners and peppermint ice cream at every monthly meeting. Hag Murtle requires the council to eat at the table now because the last time they ate in front of the entertainment screen, someone spilled cranberry sauce and it got mashed into the white carpet.

There’s a slim chance I could be wrong about the Table. However, you should know that stains from enchanted food DO NOT come out.

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December 23, 2012

Magic Studies: the second lesson

This is the last post for Magic Studies this week. I’ll add about two more of these types of posts next week. 

A 'wand' my husband carved for one of our daughters...

A ‘wand’ my husband carved for one of our daughters…

Dear Mother Humphrey

The assistant arrived here just after your last letter. He was talking with my mother while I went go get the book. I could not find it anywhere, so I asked my mother if she had seen it. I am sorry to have to inform you that she had.

This is how that conversation went:

That disgusting book, ‘Everything a Hag Needs to Know About Transmutation and the Aftereffects Thereof?’ Yes, I found it. I am sorry, Justine, but I refuse to have such a dangerous book in the same house as an apprentice. I destroyed it this morning. It is way more advanced than you are and should not have been given to you.”

But Mom, I was to give it this Dork Boy here to take back to Mother Humphrey!”

Well, if she wanted the book, she should not have given it to you.”

Mother, why can’t you leave me alone and stay out of my stuff like you promised?”

That is not your concern.”

So I am sorry, but that is what happened to your book. If you want I can try to replace it. I just don’t know where to get something like that. I am truly sorry.

Dork Boy did bring me the right book, and I read the chapter that you told me to in your first letter. It was a lot simpler than the book my mother destroyed, and I understood it.

What Witches Do” is going over the basics about the laws and regulations put on magic uses (and how to get around them). It was very interesting. It also talked about what magic is and where it comes from. It explained that a magic do-er is simply someone who knows energy and has the ability to influence it to go where he or she wants it to. In other words, we don’t create, but we do manipulate.

It was very interesting. That being said, I was wondering what you want me to do with the Bergamot? Is it poisonous, nonpoisonous? I just don’t know what to do with it.

I have completed all that you asked me to. I did it the best I could. I am ready for the next lesson. Aren’t I?

Your apprentice Justine

P.S.- I didn’t think Dork Boy was cute. I already like someone else. Duncan Dunsz’s assistant.

Dear Justine,

Your next assignment is to make doubly sure that your mother actually did destroy the book. I’m suspicious, especially if she was talking with Dork Boy. Did you hear what they were talking about?

While you’re working on that, you can also try your first potion. There are three things to remember for good potion making:

1)Always make sure your cauldron is clean before you begin. Otherwise you might get unpleasant results.

2)Measure accurately. For example, the recipes for Essential Wart Remover (relatively harmless) and Skin Bubbler (to be used on your enemies) are exactly the same, except Skin Bubbler has ½ oz more slug slime and ¼ teaspoon more Cayenne Pepper.

3)For the same reasons as above, make sure you read your ingredient list and recipe directions carefully before you begin.

Now for your first potion: Happy Hour. It will make the person you give it to extremely happy for at least an hour.

Ingredients:

6 oz. dried, crushed bergamot (non-poisonous, by the way)

Juice from 1 lemon (For flavor, probably, and vitamin C)

½ teaspoon cinnamon bark (stabilizes blood sugar levels so that the effects of the potion can last the entire hour)

1 minced cacao nib (antioxidants—good in almost any potion)

3 spider sacs (this gives the subject a wriggly feeling)

1 whole dried lightening bug (adds a tingly feeling)

3 drops early morning glory dew

½ cup sugar—otherwise, no one will want to taste it.

Mix the above in your cauldron. Gently place over glowing coals and stir CLOCKWISE until the mixture is dark orange, about 25-30 minutes. Note: Stirring counterclockwise disrupts the flow of electrons and results in a sour-bitter tasting concoction that actually makes people angry or sad. MAKE SURE YOU STIR THE RIGHT DIRECTION!

Cool the potion completely. You can store it in glass flasks or jars at room temperature.

Next I want you to try it out, but NEVER TRY IT ON YOURSELF. I’ll tell you more about that later.

I think I’ll have you try it on Duncan Dunsz’s assistant. Add 2-3 drops of the potion to orange juice or lemonade and let him drink it…record the results and let me know what happens.

If this works, you can try it on your mother later when she’s angry at you for finding the book. If it doesn’t, sorry—you’re out a boyfriend.

Your ever caring teacher,

Mother Humphrey

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December 21, 2012

Magic Studies: Introducing Dork Boy

Thanks, Slepsnor, for getting me to post more of this story.

A 'wand' my husband carved for one of our daughters...

A ‘wand’ my husband carved for one of our daughters…

Dear Mother Humphrey,

I have received a book as you said I would, but it is entitled “Everything a Hag Needs to Know About Transmutation and the Aftereffects Thereof.” Did you want me to use it instead? I have read the first chapter, “The Arts of Black Magic,” but I did not understand most of it. It kept using words like ‘excruciating pain.’ What does excruciating mean?

As near as I could tell, the chapter was about not using transmutation as a curse. I don’t even know what transmutation is.

I took lots of notes anyway and am trying to find a dictionary for witchcraft so I can understand what is being said. That is, if this is the book you want me to have. I am not sure it is because in the back cover there is an inscription that reads “To Elena, with love. Knock their knickers off, Baby.”

I have all my supplies now. Jinks’, my local magic shop, got in a new shipment of cauldrons, so I have a black one now, as well. Mother wanted to know what an apprentice needs two cauldrons for, but she got it for me anyway.

I even found Duncan Dunsz, so I have the dried nose of toad. My herbs have arrived and I have them all sorted. Most of them are in the ‘nonpoisonous’ category, with some in the ‘poisonous’ category and only one type in the ‘not sure’ category. The label on that one was ripped, so all I could make out was Bergamot. I have never heard of it before, so I put it in the unknown category.

I have all the rest neatly organized in my “lab” (as mother calls it). The poisonous ones are om one side and the nonpoisonous on the other. I was able to sort them so well because they were labeled poisonous and nonpoisonous when they arrived.

I didn’t know that you studied with my mother. I knew she was good at magic and she would have been a great witch, had she not quit and given up the art for a guy. I will not make the same mistake. Mother never made it past Sister before she met dad and give up the craft completely.

By the way, you don’t have to worry about the nut thing. My father is deathly allergic to nuts, so we are not allowed to have any. I hope that this will not interfere with my studies in any way. If it does, I will not let my father’s allergies interfere with my studies. I will be the best student you have ever had.

Also, I was wondering if I could get a broom to enchant. I saw one at Jinks’. It is the latest model. I know riding brooms is a little old-fashioned and not the fastest mode of transportation, but it is so much more witchy then my hoverskate. Mom said it went out of style when non-magic folks started using the air space. But I still want to try it. I was wondering when we could get to that.

I will get started on reading the next chapter of that book I got as soon was you say I say I should. I want to thank you for all the instruction. I will wait to hear from you.

Your apprentice,

Justine

Dear Justine,

Put that book away NOW. And don’t touch it again. I’m sending my hired assistant, Dork Boy, to come get it right away. He should be there in a day or two.

I told Dork Boy NOT to clean up my work table. I told him there are things that he, as a sixteen-year old Warlock Novice shouldn’t be poking his nose into. I told him to keep his curly head out of my work room entirely and stick with cleaning the outer offices and my classroom at Mother Hubbard’s.

The last time he said he wanted to be helpful it took me three weeks to find my personal copy of Secret Enchantments of Successful Hags. He said he was only dusting the bookshelf, but I found that book crammed into a bucket of pixie bones under my work bench.

I would fire him, but I don’t think I could find anyone to replace him right away. With the semester just starting I need someone to help me with the extra work so I can study. Otherwise I’ll never pass my Hag exam this fall.

Besides, as annoying as he is he charms the schoolgirls here quite easily…which means even more time for me to carry on with my more lofty pursuits.

By the way, his name isn’t actually Dork Boy. It’s Lambert Wolf. That’s not much better. And be glad you’re not studying here this semester. You will only have to deal with him for a few minutes while he straightens out the mess he made.

I forbid you to like him or even think he’s cute.

Your irritated teacher,

Mother Humphrey

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October 23, 2011

Magic Studies: The Beginning

A 'wand' my husband carved for one of our daughters...

A ‘wand’ my husband carved for one of our daughters…

MadnessMelody and I began collaborating on a letter-based story a year or so ago, and we’ve decided to pick it up again.  MadnessMelody writes as Justine.  I write as Mother Humphrey.  Here are the first two letters.

Dear Mother Humphrey,

I thank you for agreeing to take me as your apprentice by correspondence. I promise to be an obedient pupil whom you can be proud of.

I have already obtained most of the supplies that you instructed me to get in your acceptance letter. I was wondering if you could explain where I can get dried toad nose? My local magic shop does not carry it. I also can’t find a black cauldron.  My magic shop only carries pink ones right now.  Will that do?

I don’t have all the herbs yet, but they are being shipped to me tomorrow. I promise by the time you send my first lesson I will be ready. Also you said you would send me the magic text that I needed, depending on how far I pursue this. Well, I assure you that I intend to keep practicing magic for my entire life. I will spend my time as apprentice , then a sister, a daughter, and a Lady.  I will not quit until I am a Mother or even a Hag. So you see, I intend to be a very committed student of the arts. I have even set up a workshop in my mother’s basement.

I know that most 14 year olds who want to study the arts enroll in Old Mother Hubbard’s School for the Magically Inclined, but my mother needs me at home and we really can’t afford a boarding school. I understand that I will have to work twice as hard as boarding school students to be a good and safe witch but that will not be a problem. I can do it just fine. I will keep you apprised of every thing that happens in the course of my studies as you instructed.

Again I thank you for this opportunity and hope to hear from you soon.

Your dedicated apprentice,

Justine
Dear Justine,

The authorities have cracked down on correspondent magic courses this past year due to several unexplained disappearances, a few fires and one minor earthquake in the techno district. Magic insurance has become astronomical because of the safety hazards. Registration fees and licensing fees are no joke, either.

As an instructor, I am obligated to make sure my students are both safe and discreet in order to help keep these costs down. I’m sure you, or at least your mother, are aware that I don’t normally take on apprentices as young as you are and I very rarely take on correspondent students, but your mother was an excellent student herself. I trust that you will be as self-conscious in your studies and magical practice as she was. Just don’t get sidetracked by the night creatures that abound around the Caelum Spaceport and you will do just fine.

There are several good sources for dried toad noses, but most of them can’t be found by technosearch. Normal humans still don’t want to know too much about their magical counterparts. For that reason, I’m sending your lessons to you in the form of real books rather than as electronic text. I’m sure you will roll your eyes at this because books are outdated, cumbersome and relatively expensive, but they are also less easy to track. (They have other uses as well. If you mean what you say about being a serious student, we’ll talk about that in lesson 39.)

For dried toad nose, my personal favorite supplier is Duncan Dunsz, the apothecary near the bottom tier of the manufacturing district in your area. I don’t know how he does it, but he always has plenty on hand and they’re better quality than you could find at your local magic shop or at the occasional open street markets.

I have to buy in bulk because of shipping costs. It also takes a full two days for me to receive the shipments. You should be able to hoverskate there from where you live, but a word of warning: Duncan is always up to something. Don’t let him entangle you in any half-wired plan of his.

A pink cauldron will do nicely as long as you don’t add peanut butter or other nut products to your potions. The nut oils tend to make the enamel peel off the outside and can cause uncertain chemical reactions in the potions themselves. Ask your mother about how she accidentally blew up my brand new, hot pink designer-label cauldron with her Triple Fudgy Walnut Warts when she and I were students.

On second thought, don’t. That tends to make me second-guess taking you on as a student. Let’s forget I mentioned it.

Your first book is called “Witching Necessities.” It should arrive any day now and will cover the first fifty lessons. We will cover lessons as quickly as time permits. As soon as the book gets there, read the first chapter, entitled “What Witches Do” and send me a brief electronic synosis of what you have learned. Meanwhile, sort your herbs as they arrive into three categories: poisonous, nonpoisonous and ‘not sure.’

We will talk again soon.

Your magic instructor,

Mother Humphrey

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