When your parental guardians packed you away in an old stagecoach, you were miffed. You thought you were going on an introverted trip to Victoria's School for Wayward Girls, a boarding school specifically designed for rebellious young women. There, you were to learn some manners. You were to discern what fork to stab your peas with, and you would master the art of lady-like walking and talking. "Chasing black cats is superstitious," your mother had said with a wag of her finger, "How will you ever find a husband like that, dear?"
After crossing your arms rather than raising your parents good-bye, your stagecoach strayed off the main road to favor a long, winding path along the coast. All of a sudden, the trotting of hooves had ended at an abandoned-looking dock. You feared the worst as the driver hopped off the coach and whisked you onto a rickety old boat, where you sat shoulder-to-shoulder with other frightened girls. Was this a kidnapping? Across the intrepid ocean you all went, rowing in timid unison. You silently contemplated the odd, striped leggings that covered the driver's ankles, just below the poof of her dress.
As an island came into view, that driver began to talk of things. At first, she sounded mad. She spoke of a magical wonderland for witches with wild hearts. She spoke of a place without the boring mannerisms of the Victorians, where girls were free to be girls. You were envious when she spoke of animals to befriend, of mushrooms to be foraged, and of festivals that honored the tidal pull of a bright full moon. You always wanted to master the arcane arts.
What if this woman's honeyed words and extravagant stories were all true? What you thought was going to be the worst summer of your life has just turned into a magical wonderland for witches with wild hearts!
You're fresh off the boat when a hear a voice say,
"Welcome to Druid Isle, a home for wayward girls. This place is filled with raw, magical energy and powerful artifacts that have yet to be discovered." An ancient-looking woman named Rose spoke with importance and dignity as she raised a vine-covered staff skyward. "If a classroom is what you're looking for, you will not find it here. All of the answers you seek are within you. It's up to you to find them, out there."The top of her staff pointed all around to the mountains, to the forests, to the oceans. "It can be dangerous in the wilds, sisters. Though these earthly places may hold the answers you seek, you do not travel alone. Knowing a bit of magic may come in handy for you and your peers. It may even save your life."
"Oh, hush now. You'll scare them." said Zelda, a smooth-skinned witch with an ageless aura around her. As she blinked, her eyes changed colors. "We'll teach you the little bit of magic you seek so that you may have fun here on Druid Isle." She laid her hand over her chest, gracefully. "As you can tell by the color of my stripes, I am a Blue Witch. My wisdom is that of illusion. Through my emblem, you may contemplate perception versus reality. You may learn telekinesis, telepathy, and other powers of the mind. You may harness the ability to alter your physical reality, if you try hard en—"
"All right, that's enough you! Don't get all fancy on them." Rose snapped, capturing your attention once again. "I am a Green Witch," she said, blooming a flower in the palm of her weathered old hand. "My wisdom is that of the birds and the trees. Through my emblem, you may speak to animals and understand the healing properties of plants. You may be an herbalist, a tamer, or an excellent witch in the kitchen."
"And I am a Red Witch," Eleanor said patiently, taking a confident step forward. She had a strong jaw and biceps so defined, that you had never seen them before on a woman. "My wisdom is that of elemental strength. Through my emblem, you may harness the power of the sun and moon. You may command fire and ice, and all the respective elements belonging to hot and cold. My emblem requires a steady hand and mastery over one's emotions."
Rose cleared her throat and leaned her weight heavily against her staff. "Yes, well, choose your emblem wisely, sisters. This is, by no stretch of the imagination, all that you can do. Perhaps you may even discover a new use for your magical abilities. However, we have one rule here on Druid Isle. There is absolutely no use of DARK MAGIC. Such magic can only lead to pure chaos." Finally, she nodded to a wooden trunk full of these emblems, and your choice of leggings/stockings in assorted colors (optional)
The Blue Witch emblem is a crystal, which you wear around your neck. Your choice of witches' stockings are blue/white.
The Green Witch emblem is a feather, which you pin to your hat. Your choice of witches' stockings are green/white.
The Red Witch emblem are satin, wrist-length gloves, which you slip over your hands. Your choice witches' stockings are red/white. (Though, I suppose you could dye the lighter stripes black, like a witch of dark magic...)
Now, which emblem will you choose?
The Lay of the Land
This world is loosely based in the Victorian Era, but also inspired by fantasy and fairytale-like aesthetics. This is set in a time period before cell phones, TVs, or other extravagant forms of technology. The main point of transportation is horse and carriage, bicycle, or broomstick. Remember, this is your world! Imagine it how you see fit.
An enchanted home for witches to relax in during their stay on Druid Isle. This is your starting home base. Everyone has their own bed to rest in, and their own chair to dine on. However, the cupboards are frequently lacking ingredients. If a recipe calls upon it, you must forage what you need, collect from the farm, or scurry to the shops in town.
A land full of rolling meadows, mountains, and forests. Rivers, streams, and coasts grace this land. For the adventurous hearts out there, what may you find nestled in the deep Wilds? What secrets will you uncover in the belly of Druid Isle?
There is one small town in Druid Isle, several kilometers from your cottage homestay. Idyllic "Castmere" is home to fine artisan garments and goods. The scent of freshly baked bread wafts through the cobblestone streets. You may choose to do your shopping at the local markets, or enjoy a latte at the café. There are many fun pursuits to be had in town, if you have the coin for it. Due to the amount of nocturnal residents in Druid Isle, most of the businesses in town are open late, including Café Veronica. You may even choose to buy your very own home in this city. However, you must never bring townies of any gender to the Witches' Cottage. This is a strict rule of Druid Isle. Romantic affairs are to be had out of sight of communal living.
It was a beautiful time of night. Baymorda was seated by the front porch of the Witches' Cottage, in an old wicker rocking chair. A light, cream-colored blanket was strewn across her lap. Her hands bottle jars of fireflies. Each time she twisted a bottle closed, she placed it on the floor next to her, where it emitted a soft glow among a dozen other bottles just like this. She hummed to herself as she made these lanterns for the young witches. When she was their age, she would always go gallivanting on late-night adventures, broom in hand. 'Autonomy is the birthright of any good witch,' was granny Rose's favorite saying. Baymorda grew up on those words.
What words did her guests grow up on, she wondered as she placed another bottle down? Unenchanted Victorian society was so demanding of young women. There were expectations of how young girls should dress and act, and things they were never permitted to do. 'Although,' Baymorda thought to herself, 'These girls are tomboys and rebels, so much so that their parents wanted to abandon them at some stuffy, traditional school for learning manners and to serve a man. Oh, how dreadful!' She thwacked the last lantern down, and then rocked up out of her chair in one strong swoop, leaving all the bright jars on the porch. They were free for the taking now. She would go inside and see what that delicious smell in the air was all about...
Her boots clicked as she passed through the doorway of the cottage, into an airy living room, adorned with all the cozy things. She rounded the corner to the kitchen, following her nose all the way to the wood fired oven. "Oooh, what's going on in here, Gwyndy?"
"Ugh!" Startled by his sister's very sudden presence behind him, Gwydion teetered a searing cast-iron pan between a pair of thickly quilted oven mitts. "There are hot things in my hands, stupid!" He swiveled around her Victorian-heeled towering form, and gingerly set the pan to rest on the last neat counter in the kitchen. He could feel Baymorda's hawk eyes watching him as he did this. She was always like this come time for dinner, always breathing down his neck, always watering at the mouth like a hungry stray. Gwydion secretly liked the attention; he knew his cooking was good. It was almost too good.
Softly clearing his throat, he gestured at the tray with his mitten. "Here, we have gratin dauphinois. The spanakopita triangles will be ready to leave the oven any minute now." He simply folded his hands over his hips. Baymorda saw this an opportunity to wrap him in a good, old-fashioned, sisterly headlock. "Taking us on a food-tour in the kitchen, I see. Trying to impress the ladies, are we?"
Gwydion hissed, and twisted out of her embrace. "Absolutely not! I just like a good challenge, that's all. I'm cooking for a lot of people tonight." He busied himself with setting the dining table. He brought over a pile of perfectly stacked dishes, and began to lay the plates and utensils out in a striking uniform manner. Baymorda followed him out, and took a comfortable seat at the table. There, she coolly crossed one of her knees over the other, and laced her fingers together on her lap. To Gwydion, this was a symbol that she would be out of his hair for the rest of the night. 'Thank Vesta,' he thought to himself, just in time for the timer to ding.
He sank back into the kitchen, only to return a moment later with beautiful spinach and feta filled pastries, all folded into a triangle shape about the size of one's hand. He plunked these pastries at the center of the table, followed by garlic-roasted asparagus and a flagon of milk. He never knew who may or may not be a vegetarian like himself, so to play it safe, all the dishes were based in butter, fine cheeses, and high-quality produce. A savory scent wafted through the house to prove it, and for a second, a small smile graced his boyish features and he looked down at a perfectly spread table.
Baymorda resisted the urge to fill her plate, and waited instead, to see if anyone else might join her. She made a tsking noise with her tongue as her brother waltzed back into his domain, probably to clean up some mess. He didn't often join them at the table, preferring to keep to himself amongst the crockery that needed scrubbing. Being the socialite she was, she could scarcely believe they were related.
Broom in hand, Ein wrapped around her shoulders with his head peering up, Wren had left the Witch's Cottage as soon as she had finished her breakfast. She muttered to the others something about cooking her own lunch before leaving. Now, what might Wren be doing outside, might you ask? Oh, you know, the typical things. Picking berries, taking fruits, befriending animals, collecting alchemical items, running away from an angry bear because Wren had accidentally found herself in its cave while it was caring for its young. Being able to talk with said animals using magic was very useful, yes, but if they were aggravated, it was rather hard to hold a proper conversation with them. Trust her, Wren had tried before. Multiple times in fact. Ein could testify.
In any case, yes, Wren was currently running. She brushed away the twigs that were blocking her way. She was well aware that some of the fauna had been sticking to her and her hair and whatnot. Perhaps she should have put it up in a ponytail. That was something to note for later.
"You idiot!" Ein hissed from her shoulders, slithering back to look over her shoulder. "Use your broom! Bears can't fly!"
Oh! That's right. She had her broom! Wren reached out behind her and took off her broom that she had slung across her body. She quickly hopped on and she began to levitate. She hunched her form and sped forward before lifting herself up. Wren raised her arm to block the leaves of the trees from smacking her right in the face before she broke through the treeline and into the calm night sky above. Wren let out a light chuckle. "I should apologize when we come back here. It was not my intention to disturb such a peaceful family." Wren mused.
Ein raised his head to stare her straight in the eyes. Snakes weren't particularly expressive, Wren knew this, but the way that Ein was staring at her looked like his lips were pulled back into a very confused state. "You are ridiculous. Absolutely mad!" He bared his fangs at her. "You are not going back there."
Wren tipped her head back, taking a deep breath. Ah, the sky was so clear today. She could clearly see the stars and the moon. How very lovely. Maybe she could fly a little more? In fact, she could fall asleep while on this broom. Flying at a decent pace, the cool wind brushing against her face. The calming silence. Her eyes were closing every now and then and she yawned. She felt a bump to her head and she looked back down to the glare of her familiar. "Don't even think about it. I'm hungry and I don't want to plummet down and crash."
"You just ate earlier."
"Do I need to repeat myself?" Ein hissed again, not that he could do anything else really. "And don't just go ignoring the fact that you're falling asleep!"
Wren hummed, relenting to her familiar's wishes, and descended towards the Witch's Cottage. As she stepped off of her broom, she could already smell Gwydion's cooking. In all the years that she had spent in her family estate, none could come close to the taste of his cooking. Perhaps it was magic or perhaps it is because he is just that good of a chef, either way, Wren was thankful for it. She shouldered the door open, laying her broom down to the side for claiming later before hurrying to the dining area.
"Good evening, Miss Baymorda." Wren greeted, ever polite, even as her appearance was ruffled. She ran a hand through her hair, picking out a couple of stray leaves and a twig before disposing it into a nearby can. "Apologies. I was running away from a bear." She readily admitted before taking her seat, looking over at the selection.
"The food looks delicious, Gwydion. Thank you." Wren remarked, raising her voice more than her normal tone so that Gwydion could hear from the kitchen. Much like Gwydion, she had become a vegetarian upon her arrival to the Witch's Cottage. She appreciated that his meals are often something she could eat. Much like Baymorda, Wren kept her hands to herself until the other witches came along. You could take away a noble from her situation but you can rarely take the nobility out of the noble.
It was Saen's first day at the cottage, and the lamia was already a little uncomfortable. No, the other girls weren't anything towards her except friendly- the problem was the temperature. The reptilian blood in her veins meant she needed to stay warm, and even her drakeskin tail wrap wasn't up to the task. Fortunately, she had brought something along that might help her.
Unfortunately, that something was a purse of holding she'd bought a few weeks ago, and was still getting the hang of using. The second she opened it, the snakegirl was absolutely buried under a mountain of clothing, books, makeup, and other items- but at least the mess included her basking lamp. Mission accomplished?
Soon, everyone else in the cottage would hear a soft drawl with just a hint of resignation in their minds. Um, could I have some help here, folks?
"Oof," Baymorda sighed, placing her manicured fingers over her waist. Her tummy emitted a pathetic groan, reminding her of her hunger. A day full of pottering around in the garden always brought her appetite up, even if she didn't do much aside from talking to the brawny toads that lived beneath the house. Those toads were always relaxing in her potted plants. In particular, they favored the stress-relieving aromas of the lavender, the chamomile, and yes, even the sage. If she didn't know any better, they were like her pets this summer. She thought of their cute, squishy faces to avoid thinking about her empty stomach. However, her eyes kept resting on one obvious point of attention: the steaming gratin and flaky triangles in front of her. Her tummy emitted another groan, more ferocious than the last. From the kitchen, she heard her brother rattling some pots and pans. This tummy growl was enough to rouse him, even from around the corner. "Someone didn't take a field snack with them this morning," he quipped.
"Urgh... Hush, Gwyndork. I'm suffering here." And, to herself, she privately recalled the amount of field snacks she did, in fact, take. Plenty of scotch eggs were had that afternoon. Her knee began to bounce. "I don't know if anyone's coming tonight. The food might get cold if I don't eat it." Her hand began to drift forward to the center of the table, just in time for Wren to pass through the archway. Baymorda quickly snatched her hand back down towards her lap, with shifty eyes. "Oh, nice of you to join us, dear," she cordially chirped.
Wren was a long-time resident of the Witches' Cottage, and Baymorda, nor her predecessors, minded that. Wren was a lovely woman, and her adventurous spunk was what made her so likable to Baymorda. So, when she took a seat and said something about a bear, Baymorda could only bat her lashes and produce an airy-light laugh. She rested her chin over the tops of her hands and leaned over the table, ever so slightly. "Is there anything more exhilarating than being chased by a beautiful, treasure-baring bear? I have yet to find such other thrills."
What did her brother think of Wren? Well... Baymorda couldn't exactly pin what was going on in the domesticated mind of Gwydion Stoneflick, but like all big sisters, she frequently teased him for having 'the lover's quarrel' over Wren's constant messes. He hated that. However, she wasn't given long to think about these two before she heard a meek voice in her head. That was probably one of the new girls. Blinking several times with surprise, she bounced up to her feet and swiftly left in the dining area, in search of Saen.
When she found her, there was an absolute mountain of a mess strewn across the bedroom. Personal items and hobbies littered the floor, but Baymorda wasted no time in falling to her knees to help organize the pile of scattered belongings. "Shhh, we have to clean this up before Gwydion sees your room like this," she warned Saen with a wink, and a hushing finger tightly drawn to her ruby-red lips. "We'll get it done in a jiffy. Now, where does this go?" She lifted up an odd object, a weird lamp? for Saen to make a decision on.
'The food looks delicious, Gwydion. Thank you.' As the young chef heard a familiar voice ring from the table, his eyes widened. Where was Peregrine? An expression of sheer panic washed over his face, as a pot slipped from his hand and into the hot bubbles of the kitchen sink. A wrought iron bird cage hung from the ceiling, but the door was wide open. Gwydion whipped his head around the kitchen, but by then, it was too late. He caught a fleeting glimpse of black tail feathers shooting through the archway that lead out to the dining area.
"KRAAAAAA!" shrieked Peregrine, Gwydion's animal familiar, who was actually not a falcon at all. Peregrine was a large raven with a thick Russian accent. "I HATE SNAKE! SNAKE TOOK SHINY OBJECT FROM NEST, YES?" With those pointed words, the shaggy corvid planted itself squarely in the center of the table, wings spread wide and beak drawn open in defense. "PEREGRINE'S TALONS THRIST FOR SNAKE BLOOD, YES!" With a hop forward, the raven hurled himself onto Ein's noodle-bod. He squeezed his adversary between his bony feet, but chose not to cut him.
Gwydion scrambled after his screeching friend, and quickly whisked him away from Wren's shoulder. Peregrine flapped his swoopers around violently and squirmed in his master's hands. "NO! NO! YOU MISUNDERSTAND, BOY! PEREGRINE SEEKS JUSTICE! THIS IS THIEF!" Meanwhile, Gwydion was spitting feathers out of his mouth. Between the huffing and puffing, he flipped the corvid over onto his back and began to cradle him like a baby. For some reason, this embrace seemed to quiet the kraaa-ing! ball of fury. Peregrine roaring head dangled over the side of the young man's arms. In his upside-down state, he simply zoomed off into space staring at Ein. His feet were poking straight up in the air.
The young chef breathed a sigh of relief. He usually kept his familiar locked up when Ein was sure to be around, as the two almost never got along. Peregrine was also known to be intense... and often scared the newcomers with his antics. By now, he hoped Wren was used to it. He nervously eyed her now that the room had fallen quiet, and gave a short apologetic bow. "Enjoy your dinner." With those simple words, he swiveled on his heel and retreated back into the kitchen. He also added over his shoulder "I saw what you did to the study this morning." To the surprise of no one, he said this with a flare of sass.
Domi scowled down at their tarot cards, legs swinging underneath the cafe table. Their fingers tapped impatiently on the edge of the table, while they moved to turn over the last card of the deck. The tower, yet again. Domi rolled their eyes, swiping away the cards and reshuffling them. "You're so dramatic," they mumbled to the deck, "I highly doubt my trip to get groceries tomorrow is going to end in disaster. Now, let's try again."
They had been trying out a new tarot deck, one they had bought on a whim from the local magic goods store. The deck was beautiful, inlaid with gold and blue, but it was also finicky, and seemed to foretell disaster with every pull of the cards. Either Domi's life was about to get a whole lot worse, or the deck was simply being a drama queen, which they found to be far more likely. Domi was currently trying to train the deck into submission, and get more accurate descriptions from it. It never was easy, working with one of these new decks, and tactics varied with each one. With their last deck, for instance, Domi had to be gentle and guiding, slowly pulling the truth out of the hesitant cards. But this one would be taking a much more heavyhanded approach.
Fine, Domi thought. I can do heavy handed.
They placed down the freshly shuffled deck of cards and took a bite out of their lemon and poppyseed cake, before taking up the cards and carefully placing their fingers over them. "Now," they started, "what's in store for tomorrow?"
With a flourish of the wrist, they turned over a card, ready for disappointment yet again. Housebreaking a new pet took a lot of time, after all, and this was no different. They weren't at all surprised when they pulled out the tower, and simply rolled their eyes again, prepaping for the next pull.
It was going to be a long night.
♡coded by uxie♡
Meanwhile, Cassius was on the stage of the cafe, plucking out a tune on his lyre and singing along. The music was soft at the moment, slightly somber, one of his slower songs. Cass had a serious expression on his face for once; It seemed that the only time he didn't have an impish grin was when he was playing his music. There was no spell in this song, not even a sprinkling of magic, because Cassius liked to let the music speak for itself from time to time. There wasn't always a need for enchantment beyond a simple melody.
Finishing up the song, Cassius' smile returned to his face and he gave a deep bow to the small crowd. "Thank you all for listening tonight," he said, "but unfortunately our time together is done. I hope to see you again at another show soon."
With that he hopped down from the stage, strutting past the tables to go to the counter. He looked over the selection of food; A bit meager, after the day had already passed. Setting his lyre on the counter, he leaned forward across it and whispered to the person working. "Hey, do you have anything stowed away back there? A slice of apple pie, maybe? I'm starving."
Addie still wasn't quite used to the witches' cottage. Granted, she hadn't been there long- just bordering on twenty-four hours, but still. The witches, the emblems, the island, the people. It was overwhelming and exciting altogether. Then again, anything would be exciting compared to where she thought she was going. Addie thought the straw that broke the camel's back was probably the frog. She intended to care for Mistral with the utmost responsibility when she picked him up, and she certainly wouldn't have kept him if he didn't seem to like her too, even if his grumpy little face didn't show it. She thought he would be the perfect compromise pet for her parents: quiet, unobtrusive, semi-low maintenance. However, her not-so-subtle daydreaming about a lonesome woods cabin life had apparently worn her parents down to the point that Mistral's introduction became their announcement about sending her away, and giving Mistral back to boot. Joyless, Addie had packed up her things: sketchbooks, clothes, flower press and all, and waited for her inevitable fate, carefully scooping a grumpy Mistral into her front pocket on the way out. I'm sorry little guy, she had thought. We'll both tough it out for now and then I promise it'll be ok.
So Imagine her surprise when she was now among witches, other animals, flowers she'd never even heard of before, magical creatures- the works, you could say. She was nothing but pleased to be where she was, even if she couldn't wrap her head around it, it would just take a moment to get used to. "Game plan," she said to Mistral, who was lying content in a bowl of water and greens on her nightstand. "I go downstairs and sketch a little bit in a common space. It lets me be sociable without feeling like I'm bothering anyone by initiating conversation. I meet new people, I make friends." Mistral stared at her, unaffected, as always. "Do you want to stay here?" A quiet, low noise came from the back of the rain frog's throat. "Okay." Grabbing her sketchbook, Addie gave Mistral the gentlest tap with two fingers, going to find a seating area near other folks to sketch. She didn't make it all the way there, instead she was interrupted by the sound of a small avalanche nearby, followed by a small plea for help.
Her immediate instinct was to go to the sound. "Oh my goodness!" Was there a person in that pile of things? Her eyes slightly widened involuntarily when she noticed the tail of part of the pile. It's normal, Addie. Be normal."That sounded like a real crash!" She bent down to start moving things off of Saen. "Are you hurt?"
No matter what he did, Atticus always overheated when he was at work. For cooking safety, he needed the sleeves, the long pants, the closed-toed boots, and the apron to keep all of those things clean. Baking necessitates standing by the oven, inevitably. This means that by mid-evening he was always feeling sweaty and dehydrated. Still, it was nice to be able to look over the café and see people eating and enjoying (at least, he hoped) the things he had made. Domi seemed to be enjoying the last slice of the lemon poppyseed cake he had made the night before. I need to make that one again. His initial thought would be to approach them, at least to say hello, but they seemed busy, brow furrowed as they sorted though their tarot cards. He reached to remove the empty tray from the pastry counter, but paused to take in the music.
Cassius's finishing song was slow, even a little sad. He didn't always play songs like this. Or maybe he did, and it was just never when Atticus was on shift. Pretty. He moved back to scoop the tray again when the song ended and Cass stood to say goodnight to his audience and the rest of the cafégoers, this time leaving the dining room and getting it to the kitchen sink. While at it, Atticus snagged the cake layers from the oven to cool and set moving back out once again to check what was low. It was a good job, and one he cared about, but god if it didn't require constant motion. I'm due for a pair of better shoes. He looked at the slim pickings left on the counter after the day. First though, I'm due to remake a lot of these breads and desserts. Bread and desserts and a lyre- a lyre?
Atticus looked up from his bread count and at the now-quiet Cassius as the bard gave him his quiet request. Atticus thought momentarily. There is plenty of food out here. Then again, the quiet song had actually been really pleasant this evening. He leaned in and spoke quietly. "I'll see if there's something." He picked up a mental headcount of everything coming out of the oven in the last hour. "If I don't have apple, would you do cherry or three berry? I know we have those. I'll check for apple first, don't worry."
"It is quite exciting and a rather nice exercise." Wren admitted with a nod in agreement to her elder. Once more silence had invaded the dining area. She did idly wonder if some of the new witches would join them for dinner. She was looking forward to getting to know them better if she was being honest, even if her interactions with them had, so far, been brief. Unfortunately, adventures waited for no one and restocking for her next experiment took precedence. Maybe she needed help...
Wait. That didn't sound like her inner voice.
She looked up to Baymorda, wondering if she heard the same thing. Her elder looked just as surprised before standing up and leaving for the new witch's room. Wren was about to stand up, really she was, when she heard a series of flaps coming from the kitchen. Over the five years that she had been living in the witch's cottage, she had gotten used to many things. Expect the unexpected until you expect anything to happen and just accept it.
"Oh shut it, you burnt flying chicken!" Ein hissed back, raising his body upwards and flaring his hood out in an act to defy the raven. "I took no such thing! Your petty treasures are of no interest to me!" He continued, baring his fangs.
"Fair evening to you as well, Peregrine."
This was one of those times. Peregrine and Ein had hated each other almost immediately. Unfortunately, Wren brought Ein everywhere and Peregrine was usually caged when she was around. However, there were times when the planets aligned and it just so happened that Ein and Peregrine were in the same room. Then this happens.
Peregrine barreled forward, talons outstretched and grabbing Ein's body. The force of the raven pushed Wren back slightly against her chair, outstretched wing blocking most of her view from what was happening. However, Wren's eyes were at her familiar who was reeling back his head. She shoved her arm quickly between Peregrine and Ein as the latter shot forward with every intention to bite but instead meeting Wren's clothed arm. The fangs made no attempt to pierce through Wren's skin.
Gwydion quickly took Peregrine away and Wren frowned at her familiar. "You can't hurt anyone's familiar, remember?"
"That stupid bird started it."
"You're a venomous snake. We can't have you biting our friends." Wren whispered back. The two kept eye contact before the cobra lowered his body and curled back onto Wren's shoulder, looking away from both the kitchen and his master.
In the meantime that she was telling her familiar off, it would seem that Peregrine had calmed himself down thanks to Gwydion. She gave him a reassuring smile in exchange for his apologetic bow. "I'm glad to see that Peregrine is as energetic as ever. And thank you, I will." Wren lifted her familiar a bit to check on her clothes which Peregrine had accidentally scraped and was monumentally relieved to see that his talons hadn't scratched up her clothes. She froze, however, at Gwydion's last remark. "Ah yes, yes, I was doing some research on a tonic for intense fever. My sincerest apologies, I had to rush." Wren had always been sincere in her apologies despite her frequent mistakes. "Hm, are you not joining us for dinner? Surely, the new witches here would appreciate getting to know you. What better way than to sit down and dine with us?"
Gwydion paused for a moment, mildly surprised by Wren's suggestion to stay. Even his sister gave up on trying to get him to attend his own dinners years ago. She was so much more outgoing than him, always knowing what to say, and always saying it in the rightway. He raised one brow and peered down at Peregrine, who was still spacing out in his arms. He weighed the situation. On the one hand, Wren had just been assaulted by his bird, and since Baymorda had rushed off to go assist one of the new apprentices, she was now sitting at the table alone. On the other hand, the earnest chef wanted to get everything prepared for the morning so that he could retreat to the night market in town. It was his Wednesday routine. It was one that he had upheld for years, and that he hated to admit he had spent far too much of his coin on. The most exotic textiles and thingy-ma-jigs swept through Castmere on Wednesday nights and the weekend, but the weekends were far too crowded for his liking.
"Peregrine was jerk..."the corvid gurgled and croaked, slowly melting out of his reposeful stupor. "You sit with witch and enjoy fresh kill, yes?" Then, he wiggled out of Gwydion's embrace and flew back up to his iron-barred nest. He perched in the center of his odd treasures and knick-knacks, beady eyes glinting. A feather dropped from his elevated position.
Gwydion gave a little shake of his head, and simply pushed the door of the cage closed. "I wouldn't call it a 'fresh kill,' fancy feathers, but I suppose I can sort out the kitchen immediately after..." He almost winced when he said it. Unlike Baymorda, who seemed to put things off gleefully, he was not one to procrastinate. Though it was painful for him, he made an exception. He avoided looking at the disorganized area, and shuffled back into the dining room. "All right, I'll stay. I'm pleased with how the fear renouncement spell turned out. It would be a waste not to try it." He seated himself next to Wren and neatly folded a cloth napkin over his lap. "I sincerely hope you weren't studying intense fevers for any particular reason, hm?" Seeing as everyone else appeared to be busy unpacking, or perhaps they were simply running late, he began to fill his house-mate's plate.
"Anyways,I just hope the spell is potent enough this time," he mused in a curious voice, serving up a triangle and helping of creamy potatoes for himself. "I've never seen so many demure outsiders in my life. It's strange to not have a full table." He began to poke his food around with his fork. When the first bite reached his palate, he gave a hum of contentment. A feeling of courage and self-assuredness began to move over him. However nice the food was, this feeling of conquering fears moved at a pace that was much more rapid than he intended. 'What am I afraid of again? Spiders? No, no... not spiders. Those are friends of any good kitchen. You know that!'
His thoughts began to swirl with urgency. His mind flipped through his deepest phobias before landing on ???
It appears you'll just have to wait and find out what ??? is in the next part of this story...
Perched atop a straggly ticklewood tree, a black cat the size of a notebook stared pitilessly at his target — a cottage puffing cheerful clouds of smoke from an age-worn chimney — and contemplated the next step in his master plan of planet subjugation. Before he could leap dramatically out of the tree and start on it, a mote of yellow dust landed on his nose, and he twitched. And twitched again. With all his might, he sucked in a breath and… managed not to sneeze. It would ruin his entire cultured demeanor if he did. True nobles never lost their composure to such a small matter as itching powder — it wouldn’t do to act like the common human peasant.
While it had used up almost all of his concentration to ignore the increasing amount of yellow dust falling upon him, he believed it worth it to inform himself of the gourmet choices that now laid in front of the mini-witches in the cottage. It would surely cause his opponents to lose heart if he whisked such choices away; after all, what would the hosts say when they couldn’t feed their darling protégés? It was said sustenance was the heart of an army, and while the witches on Druid Isle certainly weren’t an army, he was sure it applied all the same.
If any witch had looked out the window of the Witches’ Cottage at that moment, it would be quite obvious that there was a small pollen-coated cat staring ravenously at the dinner on the communal table — one that had brainwashed himself into thinking that stealing food from children was indeed a worthy action of his time and definitely contributed to his grand plan of world domination. Somehow. With enough time and brainpower, anyone could twist anything into a step for world domination, so it wasn’t like it wasn’t true in some way, shape or form.
Either way, whether the reasoning behind the decision was sound or not, what would happen would happen. And there was nothing* that anyone could do to stop it.
* Most people could stop a single cat from stealing a spinach triangle right smack dab in the center of a dining room table, but for the sake of Rene’s ego, we’ll be nice and say there’s nothing.
— ✡ —
Slinking in the cottage from the back porch, letting no more than a squeak sound from the door, René paused to bask in the scents of pastry and cream from the hallway. The cat, feeling quite smug about his easy entrance, held his tail high and moved quietly to the edge of the dining room. It was obvious such newly inaugurated witches wouldn’t be able to match up to the skills he had honed over years of reducing the daily fare of isle residents, magic-using as they were. Why, he was almost sure that even if he waltzed right in from the front door, no witch would be able to stop him.
Peeking into the dining room with flattened ears, he noticed Wren, that careless fool of a girl, along with the much more sensible Ein and, surprisingly, Gwydion Stoneflick. It wasn’t a blue moon tonight, so whatever had happened to cause the stubborn housekeeper to stay? His brain automatically came up with a chain of inane possibilities, but the cat shook it off with slight disdain. It had nothing to do with his current task, and even if it did, he wouldn’t be aware of such without approaching the conversation.
Careful to dodge direct light, René slipped under the table and shimmied himself onto a chair. He caught only the tail end of the conversation — it was about spell potency, unrelated to why the man was there, unfortunately. Since he now considered it a dead end, he focused fully on his undertaking. First probing if they were facing his direction and satisfied that they were not, he proceeded to sneak a paw up the table and pat around for a spanakopita triangle.
Saen struggled her way out from under the junk. The lamia chuckled wryly to herself- she needed to find a spell that would actually let her pull out what she was looking for the first time, rather than... that. Recovering her composure, she brushed herself and started sorting through the mess. Baymorda handed her the lamp, and she quickly plugged it in and turned it on. "Thank you, Miss Baymorda. That was what I wanted in the first place."
Another witch came over, asking if she was hurt. "Nothing but a bruise to my pride, Addison, and that will fix itself with time. Say, do you want to practice sometime tonight? I could teach you to read minds and warp thoughts- it's a fascinating subject."
Mavies Goldheart typically dreamt of sweet things. Riding unicorns, strolling the clouds, and fishing eels in a sea of jellies- these were only a few of the many wonderful things she loved dreaming about. Nightmares were something so foreign to her; a type of phenomena she had only experienced at least once or twice in her lifetime. So, imagine her surprise when she woke up with a shriek as her mind brought her back from an awful, dreadful, horrible, terrible, nightmare.
In her nightmare, she got kidnapped by a bus driver who was supposed to take her to her new academy. An academy that her affluent parents wanted her to attend to fix her clumsiness. She sighed, using the back of her hand to wipe the pool of cold sweat dripping from her forehead. "I'm so glad none of it was real..." She murmured to herself, feeling herself calm down before a warm smile rested on her lips.
Oh well! There was no point in dwelling with nightmares! A full day was waiting for her! "Teehee~, I have to get out of my nightgown!" After all, she was planning on going to the garden to paint some orchids that had recently bloomed. She looked down, hands tugging at the fabric of her nightgown-
"Eh?" She blinked. "EH?" Her eyes widened. "EEEEEEEEEEEEEHHH???" She loudly shrieked as she found herself not in her nightgown, but in the same outfit she was wearing in her horrendous nightmare! As panic struck, she hurriedly looked around her room and found out that she was, in fact, not in her room. Instead, she appeared to be in some sort of room with its walls and floors made up of wood, curious strings of vines adorning the surface in an irregular pattern. She looked behind her, realizing that the bed she had been asleep on was actually made up of leaves which oddly felt like her cotton bed.
It was all coming back to her now... SHE TRULY HAD BEEN KIDNAPPED!
Pressing her gloved hands against her cheek, she let out another scream as the realization completely dawned upon her. SHE HAD TO GET OUT OF HERE, FAST! On cue, the red-hooded female burst out of the room she was in and sprinted down the hall without any clear direction. She took a couple of turns and twists here and there, passing by other girls that seemed to be donning a similar fashion style as hers. Nonetheless, Mavies was too out of it to pause on her track and think for a second.
Eventually, the scent of something absolutely delicious reached the bullrushing female. It was only then when her mind finally spoke to her (or it could be her stomach, sometimes they find them confusing). She needed to follow that scent! Only good guys could be masters in the arts of culinary, after all!
After a few moments of running around like a headless chicken, Mavies finally found the source of the delicious scent and barged into the dining hall. With panic written all over her face, she screamed. "P-PLEASE HELP ME! I'VE BEEN KIDNAPPED!"
Wren had to admit, she wasn't expecting for Gwydion to actually sit down with them on the table— or rather with her, considering she was the only one present at that time. At the mention that he had added a fear renouncement spell, there was an unmistakeable glimmer in her eyes. "Oh? That'll certainly help some of our new members ease into the environment. Always the advance thinker, aren't we?" Wren complimented with a hum. She ever so innocently tilted her head at the insinutation, lifting both of her shoulders in a shrug. "Nothing big, really. I simply wish for sicknesses to pass faster. They were quite the impediment in my studies." Which did make sense. Wren often lost herself in her own studies and adventures that she had sometimes failed to take care of herself, leading to her body seizing itself with a fever and a few days of bed rest.
"I do wish that they would come. It would be a waste to not try these out." Wren hadn't been keen on social interactions back when she had first come. The way her parents had described this place made her assume that it was a place where she would lose herself in exchange for a perfect daughter, as they would call it. Alas, it seemed to have been quite the opposite. "Thank you." She said as she took a fork and took one of the triangles into her mouth.
The effect of the spell was near immediate. First it had started with the feeling that she could delve into the Wilds during the night, staying there for multiple nights at a time with no other companion. Not even Ein. It switched very quickly to fighting a bear one on one with no magic (that didn't seem right, Wren thought helplessly as her mind continued to move, bears were very friendly creatures after all). It then switched to a different figure to fight. Her parents clear in her mind and her heart began beating faster and faster, filled with magic-induced bravery to tell them what she truly wanted out of life.
Wren took a cup of water and drank it, hoping it would dilute the spell even for a bit. Not, it did not. "Perhaps.... perhaps the spell worked a little too well, Gwydion. It's quite nice though, all in all." The spell hadn't fully left her system when another entered.
"P-PLEASE HELP ME! I'VE BEEN KIDNAPPED!"
Indeed, the bravery had lingered as Wren immediately stood up and headed towards the girl. Even as the potted plant burst into fire, Wren still continued on. Gingerly, she placed a hand on the blonde's shoulders. "Oh dear, you might want to have a seat to calm yourself down. Don't worry, you're safe with us." Somewhere in the back of Wren's mind was a question of why this girl was familair. Wren had decent memory, she would like to say, but her facial recognition certainly needed some work.
Ein slithered around Wren's shoulders, bringing himself up. "Who would be foolish enough to try and kidnap anyone here?" He questioned, idly placing his head on top of Wren's in what looked to be an attempt of seeming less terrifying... as much as a ten foot long venomous snake wrapped around someone, that is. "You're not hurt, are you?"
It would seem in the flurry to aid the woman, both Wren and her familiar had not noticed the black paw trying to nab some of their food.
Alice slowly walked up to the cottage with her two suitcases one in each hand. In all of her wildest dreams Alice never imagined anything as fantastic as this. Witches were real, magic was real, and all sorts of impossible things were real! It was a dream come true! Well hopefully this wouldn't exactly be like the dream she had as child but still it was all simply wonderful. "Oh I can't wait to get some new dresses I simply hate these dresses grandmother made me pack." She looked down at the current dress she was wearing and sighed. Why was it women had to wear this why couldn't she wear her usual dresses sure they were short but she always wore stockings to keep her legs covered and at least they didn't choke her. As excited as she was there were still somethings she was a little worried about, practical things. Like what was she going to do when her mother tries to write to her? She wouldn't be at the school she would be here! Also what's going to happen when they find out and of course they would she couldn't stay here forever she would have to go see them. Thinking about it just made her nervous about the whole situation luckily though her excitement was bigger. Once she reached the door to the cottage she breathed feeling all the butterflies in her stomach. She wonder what the girls would be like. Would they like her? Alice didn't have it easy making friends they thought her weird and the comments her grandmother always made didn't help.
Alice's grandmother was the one who pushed for Alice to be sent to Victoria's School for Wayward Girls. Her grandmother had came for a visit she usually came twice a week. Alice's mother always made the joke that seeing her once a week was even to much. Her grandmother had been very angry she had basically reached her limit with Alice's behavior. "It's time we took action to fix this problem." Her grandmother said sternly. Alice's mother gave the most polite smile she could muster up. "I assure you Angelyn Alice is just fine. Don't you think you over reacting just a bit." Alice was in the room next store with door crack listening to the conversation. Angelyn raised an eyebrow at this. "Over reacting? My girl that child is running amuck! People are gossiping its about time she start's acting like a young lady and not a child! This girl has just a month ago been introduced into society and already she's making mistakes. I mean she going up talking to strange men she hasn't even been introduced to yet, she's climbing trees, wearing dresses that are much to short, and she always speaking nonsense! How is she suppose to find a proper husband hmmm? Does the girl not care!?" Her mother sighed. "Believe or not Alice it quite the romantic she has every intention on finding a husband." Angelyn scoffed. "Who would want her with the way she acts and I told you stop letting her read those books they are filling her head with nonsense! Now look I'm here to tell you that I have enrolled her into Victoria's School for Wayward Girls and-" Alice's mother interrupted. "You did what?!" Angelyn stood up and gave her warning look. "Bonnie White how dare you speak that way to me. Is this where your daughter gets it from?" Bonnie didn't respond. "Of all the women my son could have chosen." Angelyn mumbled to herself. Bonnie did caught and breathed in trying not to go off. "Now this is not up for debate she is going and that is final. A carriage will be here to pick her up next week." And that was that her grandmother left and Alice was sent away but luckily for her she ended up somewhere much more fun.
Alice shook her head breaking away from her thoughts and finally sat one of her bags down and knocked on the door. Just as she did though she heard girl scream about being kidnapped. Alice opened the door and peaked in and called out. "Hello?"
"Perhaps.... perhaps the spell worked a little too well, Gwydion. It's quite nice though, all in all."
Gwydion, who was half-way collapsed over the table at this point, groaned in a miserable sort of way and nodded in agreement. He had chosen to lower his head, with his brow leaning in towards his hand. The elbow of that hand sat firmly on the oaken surface. With his eyes squeezed shut, rapid-moving visualizations flooded every corner of his mind. It was as if he had succumbed to some kind of delirium. It was a valorous dream that pulsed to the same beat as his own heart, which was now pounding in his chest.
Basked in vivid colors, he imagined being all alone, and feeling strong like that. He imagined producing food that wasn't good enough to eat, and failing to please everyone in the room, and yet he still felt a swelling sense of confidence and pride for his craft. The scenes began to go into a deeper subset of fears. The fear of riding a bicycle was replaced with a scene of him coasting downhill at impossible speeds. He imagined going on terrifying adventures with other people, something that would never fly in his current, domesticated way of life.It was in that moment, that he realized this was no fear renouncement spell... No, this feeling was much too extreme, beckoning him to take immediate actions on the thoughts that frightened him most. He must have gotten the recipe wrong. It called for fennel and thyme. When mixed with the other potions in his mortar and pestle, these were tell-tale ingredients for a spell of fear transmutation. How could he get it so wrong?
This realization rung in the mind at the same time Maives' panicked screams filled the room. Gwydion produced another sad groan as the headiness of the recipe continued to inflate his sympathetic nervous system. He was not prepared to deal with this situation, and yet, he had all the right words for it. "Please be quiet..." He lifted his head, and brought his finger tightly to his lips."SHHHHHH!" He gestured around at the large spread of home-cooked meals. His hand brushed right passed a certain cat's paw without even noticing the soft black fur, and ended up snatching the very triangle this cat was aiming for, right from under the little pink-beaned paws!! Then, he fired the spanakopita into the witch's shrieking mouth, which was opened wide enough to take at least one bite, he hoped. He didn't ordinarily behave this way, but boldness, readiness, and action were all circulating through his blood-stream. Besides, if the delicious, magically-enhanced pastry couldn't pacify her fears of being kidnapped, nothing would.
His eyes shifted back to Wren, then to Maives, then to Wren again. He leaned in towards them both, as if he was about to share something really, really interesting. "Alright, now here's the deal, I may or may not have made a grave error here. But you know, we all know, that panicking is not an option. It was NEVER an option, yeah?" He was speaking as if everyone was following his lead on this. "The only thing to do now is to FIGHT. Let's go." He leapt up from the table with a clutched fist pressed to his heart, which was still drumming in his chest. It was in that moment that his heroic composure wavered, and his eyes caught René and his little crumb-covered paws. His determined was replaced with a look of adoration as he scooped the cat up, and for someone that knew Gwydion well, this was also an odd way for him to react. He considered most animals to be pests of the kitchen or messy fur-shedders of the house, but now, he had fully given in this idea of holding a troublesome feline. "This beautiful animal will lead us to victory. I know that's why you've come here, cat."
And with that, the young chef's feet began to move towards the direction of the window. He threw one leg out, followed by the other. The whole time, this strange cat was suspended from his hands. "We're off to conquer our fears..."
"I'm afraid my brother's the one who knows these spells. If you're nice to him, maybe he'll teach you some helpful tricks." Baymorda hummed as she began to fold Saen's fallen clothes by hand. She began to arrange a neat organized pile of fabric this way, and ignored the rumbles in her tummy for the time being. Despite feeling so hungry, she could stave off her appetite long enough to help this poor girl out. Even so, the mouth-watering fragrances that were wafting through the doorway of Saen's bedroom were of no special help to the grown witch. She could feel her arms weakening...
Then newcomer had joined them in scooping up the strewn objects, perking the avid forager back up."Oh! Good evening, Addison. Thank you for coming to our aid. These things can happen to any one of us, you know." She gave the lamia, she recalled the student to be as marked by her snake-like lower half, a playful wink. To pose a couple of motherly questions that some young witches found annoying, but that many had also found quite useful over the years, her gaze returned to Miss Beaumont. "So, how's it going, dear? Are you finding it okay here? If you're hungry, there's plenty of food downstairs." 'I hope...'
After her fingers arranged all the things that she possibly could in front of her, the woman with the pixie haircut rose back up to her heels and fluffed her black skirt. "Well, one thing is for sure, ladies. If I don't get some food in me soon, I'll turn into a real witch. Simply replace that 'w' with a 'b'..." she traced the shape of the invisible letters with her index finger. "... and yes, that's me! Or, so I've been told." An airy laugh escaped her as her boots clicked against the old, creaky, (and in some ways, charming) floorboards. There were stains of wine on those floorboards, which made her smile and shake her head. She could remember her youth in this house well. Old memories began to surface from those stains, and scenes of her and her friends hosting outlawed parties in the Witches' Cottage, inviting all the townies in despite the judgment of the Three Great Witches, quickly came back to her. She and a few others had been grounded to the far reaches of The Wilds for that one. Half a year in the wilderness taught her most of the things she knew about edible plants, which mushrooms one could eat without dying, and of course medicinal salves.
Filled with nostalgia and a growing sense of awareness of her empty stomach, she clicked! down the staircase, only to be surprised by Alice's presence in the doorway. "Oh, another one!" This new girl was dressed in a beautifully posh outfit, and yet the plaid suited her brilliantly. Baymorda was instantly reminded of her brother's love for fine textiles and sophisticated fashion senses, and hoped that somehow they would get along. Gwydion rarely made friends with the houseguests, and it worried her. "Please, make yourself comfortable. We were just getting ready to have dinner. There should be plenty to go around!" She beamed, blissfully unaware of the CAT-astrophe that was unfolding in the dining area.
As Saen finished putting her things away, she felt... something tugging at her mind. Fortunately, this was her wheelhouse. A little patience and some thinking revealed it to be a fear spell, and she gulped. This could get really ugly, really fast. The lamia slithered out into the hallway at her top speed, which admittedly wasn't all that fast. "Alright, who did this? Do you realize what you've done?! Creating tulpas of negative emotions can have all sorts of side effects on metaphysical reality. We have no idea what could be waiting for us outside those doors!"
No one seemed to notice her but she could here the commotion going on. Alice took a step inside wondering should she just stand here and wait or go on in. After a moment she decided maybe it would be best just to go on in. She turned around and walked back out to grab her bag as she was doing so she noticed someone jump out the window with a cat. Alice blinked. "Well that's certainly odd....I hope their not mad." Alice mused to herself. Alice then turned around and headed back in. Just as she did a woman appeared.
"Please, make yourself comfortable. We were just getting ready to have dinner. There should be plenty to go around!"
Alice smiled she seemed friendly oh and boy was she hungry she hadn't had bite to eat since breakfast...heck she barely had that. "I'm Alice by the way Alice White its nice to make your acquaintance." Alice said politely. Her eyes then glanced around the cottage. She liked the homey feel it had. She couldn't wait to see her room. Suddenly Alice gave slightly worried and confused look. "So um is everything alright? I heard someone yell out they had been kidnapped and I saw I think a boy jump out the window....with cat....."
Addison managed to make a swift recovery from the sight of the lamia struggling out from under the junk. This is normal now. You're ok. She managed a smile when Saen declared herself unharmed. "Thank goodness! The noise was very loud, very abrupt." She paused at Saen's offer. As much as she believed the lamia was genuinely fascinated by the observation and manipulation of minds, it didn't seem like something Addie herself could get behind. It made her feel dizzy on her feet to think about someone else messing with her mind, and besides- she had never been someone who wanted to spend all her time around other people. She'd much rather plants and animals. Even so, she didn't want to be rude, so she managed to stumble out an answer. "That sounds.. very nice. Perhaps some time when we both are free you could tell me a bit about it."Not a bad recovery, Addie.
She almost gave a start when Baymorda turned and spoke to her. "Good evening!" She gave the other witch a respectful nod, using the nervous energy she was feeling to keep picking up any loose objects that were still left. "I'm settling in just fine! Mistral seems to like the bowl of greens I gave him, as well. I was thinking maybe in the next few days I could go into town and get him a proper basin." She wasn't sure how she was going to do that without any money, but the point stood. Addie nodded along with the offer of dinner. I was just planning on sketching downstairs, but I should go if I've been invited! Besides- she took a deep inhale, the scents of the kitchen latent in the air- it smells so good. And I haven't had as many proper meals the last few days. A laugh almost escaped her at Baymorda's self-deprecating humor, but she held it in. Even as a joke, Addie didn't believe it- the witch who had brought her here was probably the nicest person she'd met so far. "I'm sure you aren't, Miss!" Addie said, almost without helping herself.
Addie let herself get to her feet as Baymorda moved to speak with the girl in the plaid dress. Alice White. Ok. Baymorda, Saen, Alice. Addie wasn't always perfect with names, but she was making a point to try. I suppose it's dinnertime. Starting toward the hallway, she tensed up as Saen sped past her, speaking with jargon- tulpas? metaphysical reality?- for which Addie's understanding ranged from half to none. Suppose I'll have to ask her if anything was up at dinner, she thought, making her move to leave the room, following the smell of the strange spanikopitas.
Mavies Goldheart was more than relieved to find a helpful person in this unfamiliar and highly suspicious place. As she clutched her hands together and smiled out of repose, her eyes were pried by a lengthy animal. "Eh?" Mavies blinked as the animal spoke, asking about her welfare. "EHHHH!????" And there it was again, the look of panic written all over her face as she let out her nth shriek of this evening.
Just what in the world was happening here!? Did she get taken into another world!? Was this an interdimensional kidnapping!?? Did that snake really just talk!? Were snakes capable of doing that all this time and she just didn't know because she lived in an isolated mansion all her life!? And why was nobody extinguishing the burning plant!?
Too freaked out to notice the chef's request for silence, Mavies once again opened her mouth to let out a scream for help but-
Something triangular found its way to her mouth at bullet speed. It happened so quickly that the unwitting witch choked on the spot, her hands resting on her throat as she coughed and keeled over. It looked like this was it for her. It was her time to go. Ahhh, she lived such an unfulfilling life. There were still so many things that she wanted to do. So many beautiful sceneries she has yet to paint, so many books she has yet to read... The world, no matter how beautiful, is a cruel, cruel place.
She dramatically laid there, eyes closed. The burning plant now looked like a candle over her defeated form.
What an odd way to die... Choking on some triangular thing... Oddly delicious, might she add. She smiled, feeling the flavor of the dish spread in her system. Oh man, this might not be so bad after all! This was impossibly delicious!
In that instance, Mavies shot up with sparkling eyes. "DELECTABLE!" She exclaimed as she brought herself back on two feet. Somehow, the burning flame grew stronger and eventually licked the nearby curtains. Mavies, who was now feeling the psychedelic effect of the dish, couldn't care less as she trotted to her triangle-provider. He was now holding a black cat up in the air, revering it as something that'll lead them to victory. Mavies has no idea what they were supposed to fight, but it all made sense to her.
She dropped to both knees, hands shooting up the air as she yelled, "All hail the mighty cat!" She then bowed so deeply that her forehead hit the floor. When the man made his way over the other side of the window, Mavies was quick to follow. "Conquer our fears! Conquer our fears!" She chanted all the way through, completely forgetting that she was probably the victim of a kidnapping.
If it was the smell of some delicious fried chicken, maybe Elsie would have woken up earlier. However, the rumbling of her stomach and the savory scents wafting from the kitchen had awoken her from her deep, alcohol-induced slumber late in the evening. With a big stretch followed by a tired head scratch, Elsie groaned. She remembered today was the day new witches were being admitted to the cottage. It’s not like she hated meeting new people, it’s just that she has to… she shuddered, socialize. She actually liked socializing with people she knew. She remembered being told by the elder witches to be welcoming and kind to these shy new witches. It’s the fact that she has to sound interesting and energetic. At least there was tasty food made by the cuisine extraordinaire albeit awkward Gwydion.
Or Gwyd Gwyd.
Ooh, how about… Gwydie.
Elsie wasn’t sure if the only male witch cared about her goofy nicknames, if he did.. well, that was unfortunate because she wasn’t going to stop messing with the poor cook anytime soon. He seemed anxious enough for her to tease. The young witch shuffled out of bed and she ruffled her messy bed head. As she got off, she felt something soft and squishy underneath her feet. She rolled her eyes, “Tom Tom! Lay somewhere else, you chunker!”
The lazy, chunky cat narrowed his emerald eyes and rolled onto his side to ignore his master’s nagging. Suddenly, his eyes shot wide open and he began hacking and coughing while arching his back to barf up a pile of mushy grass. Elsie groaned once more and wagged her finger in front of his annoyed face, “Tom Tom! Stop eating grass, weirdo.“
Thomas stared at his vomit with his mouth cracked open, then he walked away leaving his master to clean it up. Elsie crossed her arms and also decided she wasn’t going to clean up the vomit. Thomas was a magical cat, he can clean up his damn messes.
Elsie grabbed a random black dress and pulled her hair up in a messy bun. All she had to do was quickly hoard all the food as she could in her arms and rush up to her room. If she did see any new witches, it would be a brief introduction and then skedaddle. Else nodded to herself and rushed downstairs. She noticed Baymorda interacting with the new lamia girl… Saen was it? And then two other girls Elsie couldn’t identify. They seemed timid and new as well. To avoid any in-depth conversations, Elsie blurted quick greetings and zoomed past them to her destination.
… why is a plant burning? the witch’s eyes widened in intrigue when she saw a plant pot burning. But the next thing that caught Elsie’s attention piqued her interest more to make her glad that she decided to come to the dining hall. What she witnessed Gwydion jumping out of the window with René with a pleading face that screamed to save him from his misery… at least so Elsie assumed. Wren was taking care of another new witch. Then suddenly, a triangle pastry flew into the new witch’s mouth and it appeared as if she was dying.
What… what was happening???? Elsie ran her fingers through her messy bun in disbelief. When the new witch stopped choking, the fires on the burning plant pot grew larger and she began worshipping whatever the hell Gwydion was doing. Elsie quirked a brow. She wanted to be whatever Gwydion and this new witch were on.
Elsie giggled in delight and found another triangle pastry. She made the assumption that was what got the new witch in whatever high she was in. As quick as Elsie found the pastry, she plopped it in her mouth just as quickly.
Strange energy washed through her like lightning and Elsie’s eyes went wide in awe. She threw her head back and cackled as she blasted more curtains with fire out of her hands. Then an amazing idea popped into the crazed witch’s head. Elsie snapped her fingers and Tom Tom popped into her arms with eyes darting around in confusion and fear. She raised her fat cat into the air and chucked him at Gwydion and René screeching, “LEAD US TO VICTORY, LEAGUE OF CATS.”
Before the poor cat could even touch the delectable spinach pastry triangles, many things happened at once. A pale-haired brunette wearing a currant-red — René’s mind immediately flicked to currant jelly, currant tarts, currant jam on buttered scones — hood sprinted into the room and started wailing about being kidnapped. At her shrill cry, he almost meowed in triumph; he had known there was something distinctly fishlike going on with the mini-witch training institution they had enacted on the isle. The idea that the isle witches were kidnapping young girls to indoctrinate them into the same vocation wasn’t all that much of a surprise to him, but it was a welcome confirmation for his plans. He ignored the objection Wren had spoken; her brain was understandably not developed enough to imagine that she had been brainwashed.
What he nearly missed was the potted plant that had erupted in flames at the mini-witch’s entrance. To be fair and just, he was preoccupied with the fact that Gwydion Stoneflick, that damned housekeeper, had stolen his spanakopita triangle and tossed it straight into the mouth of the screaming girl. The human man might have signaled her to silence herself beforehand, but was that any excuse to throw the pastry at her? No, not at all, not ever. And as if that was not enough, continuing his chain of unhinged actions, the birdbrain proceeded to boldly utter some nonsense about his “grave error”, panicking and fighting — fighting? He was quite sure from his, ahem, sources that the man markedly did not appreciate the art of physical warfare. Or at least, acting upon it himself. It seemed that his sources had erred greatly.
Even as his brain churned at his minions’ incompetence and what that could mean for his future strategies, the idiot, fool, halfwit, imbecile grabbed René with his grubby — they were in actuality sufficiently clean — hands, held him up and declared that he was here to lead them to victory. What in the witch’s arse? Then, the same idiot, fool, halfwit, imbecile muttered some generic motivational line about conquering fears and threw both himself and the cat in his hands out the window. It was clear that he was going insane. It was time for René to remove himself from the premises and mediate on a plan that did not include him stepping back into the cottage.
“Release me, you idiot, fool, halfwit, imbecile, nincompoop, peabrain — !” He ran out of breath before he could scream more insults at his captor. Scrabbling and scratching at the human gripping him, he realized after a period of desperate mutilating that his actions were near futile. It was as if the housekeeper was a vise and René were a block of wood clamped in his iron jaws — short of an explosion, nothing could recover him from his deranged claws.
Perhaps if he was in a better state of mind and not sandwiched between the hands of a madman, he would have appreciated the exaltation the currant-hood mini-witch had given him after she had eaten his spanakopita triangle. She clearly had superior eyes to everyone on the isle save for Wren, and when he was out of the crazy’s clutches, he would offer her a position as his vassal. … Did she not light that plant on fire as well? “You there! Currant-hood! Get me out of his hands, and I’ll allow you to be my vassal! Burn his hands if you must!” Drastic circumstances made for drastic measures, and while he didn’t want to make enemies of the witches so soon, what had to be done had to be done.
Soon, more witches popped out of doorways — a new mini-half-snake-witch, and Elsie the Drunk — and things went even further down the avenue of no return. The Lamia mini-witch was yelling about tuplas of negative emotions, and Elsie had resumed the activity of burning down the cottage that had originated from currant-hood after a bite of pastry. Before he could come to an epiphany on his situation, a fat orange peasant cat was pitched into his face. “Impudent — ”
"Tulpas of negative emotions? My word!" Pressing her hand against her chest, the ash-blonde craned her neck towards the direction of the lamia's voice. Saen was slithering down the stairs towards them, in what appeared to be a rapid pace for her. The late 20s-something witch was beginning to feel massively appreciative of her own legs as she watched this snake-like movement take place down the long, spiraling steps. 'Really?' she thought to herself, 'How does that poor girl not get dizzy?"
As if tulpas of negative emotions and breaking metaphysical reality weren't bad enough, Alice was musing on about a girl screaming that she had been kidnapped. The wide-eyed gardener whipped her head back towards the plaid-clad young lady in front of her. "Kidnapped? Oh, no, no, no. Miss White, was it? There are no kidnapped girls here, I assure you. This is the opposite of a kidnapping, you see! It's my promise to you that none of these young women wanted to go to that dreaded school of servitude and normality in the first place." She clapped her hands together as she explained herself and tried to make a good name of the Witches' Cottage. Clearly, she didn't want a newcomer getting the wrong impression about this place. "So, I simply whisked them away on a boat, and across the ocean we went to this island full of oddities and danger, which is completely isolated and concealed by a potent magical ward, mind you, so that no one can enter or leave without a enchanted passport that only highly-authorized travelers, with government clearance such as myself, may ever possess. This is not only the greatest, most secretive charity operation of the era, Miss White, but also a dream come true for hundreds of intelligent ladies such as yourself—" as Elsie sluggishly passed by with the scent of alcoholic indulgence wafting off of her, Baymorda even brought her into this spiel with a frantic gesture of her hands, "and this sophisticated young woman, too! Look how scholarly and magical she is!" She was beginning to sweat, especially under her arms. She couldn't tell if it was from the strange heat in the room, or just her own nervousness.
However, now that she was actively thinking about it, Baymorda did remember hearing a funny noise when she was upstairs. She must have tuned it out while she was concentrating on folding those clothes! Her studies on Druid Isle had imparted on her the utmost of focus in dire situations. Wellllll, other than when it came to the most pressing of dire situations, like the one currently at hand. She was still painfully oblivious of the fire in the other room and the hot flames that were likely licking the curtains by now and charring her grandmother's precious wallpaper. Baymorda could have remained blissfully unaware for a wink longer, if Elsie hadn't shouted with newfound stamina and destruction,"LEAD US TO VICTORY, LEAGUE OF CATS."
"Oh-uh... You know what? It really does sound like something is amiss." The green witch chuckled nervously as she looked between Alice, Saen, and now Addison, who was following her nose towards the most chaotic room in the house. "Oh, you know what, Miss Beaumont! I think I should go in first, just to make sure everything is OK in there." She dashed to get ahead of Addison, even though they ended up arriving at the same time, shoulder-to-shoulder. Baymorda huffed as she caught her breath, but her puffs were quickly replaced by a pronounced gasp. Her brown eyes took in the disaster at hand. They took it all in. ()
She ran her hands through her hair and stomped her foot on the floorboard as her eyes flicked from the bodies squeezing out of the opened window, to the flames, to the tray of scattered pastries and perfectly good food. Then, she caught something trying to fly out the window. A page? She snapped it up when it had flown onto the wall and had momentarily gotten stuck there, only the see that the contents of the page was an obvious spell for fear transmutation, even though it was incorrectly titled, "Fear Renouncement Spell of Satisficed Tummies." This alone elicited another suspenseful gasp. It was just like Saen said. Tulpas of negative emotions a-plenty! She threw the page over her shoulder to free up her hands in a pinch, and reached for the nearest gunny sack full of flour.
"Girls, DO NOT put ANYTHING in your mouths!" She managed to wheeze this warning while straining to hurl the 30-something kilo gunny sack directly at the growing flames. Of course, the flour burst everywhere upon impact, and flour being as highly flammable as flour is, caused an exhilarating explosion as it rained on the fire like an avalanche of combustible snow. She shielded her eyes from the bright flash of light that popped from this poor decision. There was a loud POOF! followed by a wave of incredible heat. When her eyes adjusted to the scene, she saw that this explosion had quelled most of the fire much like a burning candle whose wick had been blown out with a big, cheek-filled puff of air. It was a crazy idea to try this again, but her heart was pounding, and at this point she was just reacting to the danger in front of her. She went for her next bag of flour, to squash the remaining, tiny flicks of flame that probably could have been extinguished with a simple apron or oven mitt.
"HGGGRRR!" For better or for worse, another remarkably heavy, flour-filled bag came toppling over these minuscule bulbs of fire on the remaining strip of curtain. Rather than exploding this time, the impact gave a pathetic fizzle, and the powder-white freely filled the room. Nothing was untouched by her brother's beloved fine-milled spelt. The flour covered everything around them, including the triangles she had been so hungry for seconds prior to all of this.
She was panting from the amount of energy she had exerted to save their lives. At least nothing was on fire now.