At the edge of a small town, a hop skip and a jump from dark twisting terrible woods, lives a Witch. A young woman, with calloused hands and wavy dark hair, carved like a goddess out of dark earth.
And every day, all afternoon, she sings. Having been born to use her voice to wield her magic, she sings in her rooms to brew the potions the nearby townsfolk demand from her.
She hates and loves every moment of it.
The door slams as a tall woman marches to the center of the main room, dropping her load onto the center table. She huffs, dusting her front and skirt with a frown, before reaching back and letting loose her hastily tied up hair, smoothing down the thick braid over one shoulder.
She walks over to a side table laden with silver tools and glassware, and picks up a small notebook. Flipping to the latest entry she quickly reads over the list, her spare hand waving through the air all the while. Her fingertips flash gold, and several vials and beakers fly from their selves and cases, settling upon her table with quiet clinks, beside a large bowl. She raises one beaker, clears her throat and opens her mouth as she pours a red vial into her beaker.
“Offer up your potions, they beg.” She sings, twirling around her tables as she mixes strange liquid after liquid; colors changing from red to green. Smoking purple to amber. Blue to bright yellow.
“Give us a little swig, they cry.” With two little taps of her shoe, she drops silver flakes and crushed flowers into a bowl, pouring the beaker of her liquid smoothly into the bowl. While her other hand grasps a stirring stick and stirs the mixture as she pours.
“Oh, Witch of the earth, give us a little drink. A little taste of that crimson wine, a drop of that golden brew.” She taps her bowl with her stirring stick, shuffling back three steps as a plume of blue smoke bursts upward, sparking with orange and green.
“Oh, we give thanks your hands know just what to do.” With a snap of her fingers, a vial of deep navy liquid flies into her hand, and she tosses it into the bowl without fanfare. Already turned to grab the next ingredient.
“Your solutions are our cure, our only saving grace.” She continues to sing. “Without you, we fools wouldn’t dare to show our face.” More colored beakers fall into the mixture. She snaps her fingers and the empty glasses fly towards her wash bin.
“So, offer up your potions, they cry,” She sings, rolling her eyes. “Give us a little sip or we’ll die.” She swings back, claps her hands, and from her mixture bursts a plume of shimmering dark smoke. “Your solutions are our only cure, our saving grace.” She snaps one, twice, three times, and a her palm alights with flickering gold fire.
“Without you, we fools wouldn’t dare to show our face.” With her unlit hand, she cradles the bowl, her golden fire held beneath, causing her mixture to swirl and then bubble.
“So, offer us a drink, they say. Or we’ll riot in the streets.” One final time, her mixture changes color — a swirling vibrant cosmos of green, red, and blue amidst a sea of pink. The woman, for the first time since she started, smiles. She extinguishes her hand with a simple shake, then sets the bowl back on her table.
She nod to herself, shakes out her hands, and then pivots to face the tray of empty vials on her shelf. She runs her fingers over each empty glass, once, twice, then plucks five vials, seemingly at random.
She measures out her potions, humming sweetly all the while, corks them, and then, from her own braid, she pulls out her ribbons. Without measuring, she cuts the perfect lengths, and she ties them to her vials and attaches the price tags she’d drawn up earlier in preparation.
She sets the vials neatly in a basket, and pauses, enjoying just for a moment, the fruits of her labor. For as much as she grumbles (in her head and in her songs) with what potions her customers beg her to craft — she loves the free use of her magic. She loves the feeling of her magic rushing through her veins and curling up in her chest like a fat comfortable cat. She’s well aware how much better off she is than others.
Satisfied, the witch returns to her list, and though she sighs, she sets to work regardless. She swirls her fingers, summoning forth the next round of ingredients. A few short snaps of her fingers and her workspace is cleared of the remaining old ingredients and tools, and reset with fresh ones.
She grins, humming a nameless tune as she thinks up what words to use next. (She’s always refreshed after one or two. Even if they’re done in sarcastic tones.) The words of her song matter little in the long run when creating potions, though a little press of willpower or intent can make them all the more potent.
Not that she’d give such powerful potions away to the grasping hands of her human customers. No. She’d save her real power for when it mattered. Now, where was she?
“There once was a boy who followed the stream…”