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A v a r i c e | T w e n t y O n e

T w e n t y O n e

❝A fixing for the plague;

is a little dash of sage.❞

WHAT DOES THIS CLOAK DO?” I asked immediately after stepping into Lilith’s home the next day.

Lilith had been making her infamous tea on the fire, but looked up when I walked in. I hadn’t knocked, so she was surprised to see me. “Hello, Cerise,” she said while standing up straight. She lifted her pot from the fire and carried it over to her counter.

“What does this cloak do?” I repeated myself, shutting the door behind me. Lilith moved silently around her home, getting out cups and filling them with the tea she had made. She glanced at me and motioned for me to sit down at the table.

I hesitated at the door, but with another motion, I found myself walking forward. Lilith nicely pulled my chair out for me. I thanked her and sat down, immediately grabbing my tea. The tea wasn’t very good, but it was addicting to have something to do. Lilith could sometimes have awkward lapses in her conversations.

Lilith serenely walked back around her table and took her own seat. She swirled a spoon in her tea for a minute then tapped it against the side and put the spoon down. She took a sip of her tea, set it down, then said, “It’s for protection.”

I instantly relaxed into my seat. I had figured as much, given what happened with the lycanthropes. “I knew you would get in over your head and try to go against the lycanthropes, so I made you a cloak that would prevent them from...hurting you.” Lilith took another sip, looking down at the table. “I hadn’t quite predicted you getting in with a lycanthrope so...early, however. In your training, I mean.”

I nodded. “Well, thank you. For the cloak.” I gave her a small smile, letting her know I wasn’t upset with her or angry any longer.

“It was my pleasure, my dear. I’m just glad you didn’t get hurt too horribly,” she pointedly stared at the wrapping on my wrist.

My cheeks warmed in embarrassment. “I thought the cloak was meant for something else. I was being stupid.” I apologized. Lilith couldn’t be the one manipulating me. It wouldn’t make sense for her to protect me so fiercely, train me to be the best I can be.

“So,” Lilith stood up. “I was thinking we could go scavenging for some berries today? Out in the woods?”

I winced at the thought. “I think I’ve had my share of running around in the woods this week.” I told her. Lilith nodded in understanding.

“Alright. Let’s work on your magic, then.” Lilith offered, and smiled brightly at me.

I nodded and took a stand as well. Lilith turned and headed for the door, about to go outside, but then thought better of it and turned around. “It’s pretty chilly outside,” she thought aloud. “Perhaps we’ll stay inside?”

I shrugged and sat back down. “That’s fine.”

“Let me just go retrieve a few things, and then we’ll start.” Lilith told me before disappearing into a back room. When she came back, she held a potted plant and the book full of mysteries. She set them on the table. “Let’s practice calling up your magic.”

I nodded, standing up again. Without her telling me to, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, feeling my power rush through me.

Kill her.

My eyes instantly opened. The voice was back again, this time louder. I blinked a few times, but it didn’t stop. It kept on repeating itself, over and over again. Lilith noticed my hesitance and frowned at me. “What’s the matter?”

Kill her. Kill her. Kill her.

I fought the urge to give in by turning away from Lilith and pressing my hands against my head. “Cerise?” Lilith whispered cautiously, frightened. The voices slowed down within time, and then quieted completely. I sighed, turning back to face my grandmother.

“Are you alright?” she asked warily.

I nodded. “You know?” I sighed. “I think we should do easy stuff today. I’m not feeling very well.” An idea popped in my head. “How about potions?”

Lilith raised an eyebrow. “You want to learn about potions?”

I nodded. “Why? Is that wrong of me?”

Lilith shrugged and shook her head. “No. I’ve never been very good with potions, though. They’re more of a...witch’s thing, you know.” She said, making her way towards the large book on the table. “But I suppose they are just reading ingredients and saying a few words.” Lilith looked up at me. I had been peeking over her shoulder while she looked through the book. “Latin words, my dear.”

I nodded in understanding. I clearly needed to learn Latin.

Lilith clicked her tongue. “We’ll start out easy, then. A temporary potion.”

I raised an eyebrow. “What determines a temporary potion compared to a permanent potion?” I questioned, truly interested.

Lilith grinned at me. “Whether or no you use the Latin term for temporary when using it.” Lilith hummed while she carried her big book over to the counter. “That’s the tricky thing about potions. You’ve got to be there, using it, if you want it to be temporary. Otherwise it’ll be permanent.”

My eyebrows pulled together. “Is there no way to reverse it?”

Lilith shrugged. “Of course. Everything in magic is reversible. It’s just a real pain.”

I watched Lilith get out some cups and a knife, filling one cup with water and the other with some kind of herb. The plant smelled nice at least. “Water and salvia officinalis,” she told me, “Are the two basic ingredients. You can use these for almost all simple potions, so long as you’re saying the words correctly.” Lilith noticed me giving her a weird look when she said what the plant was, and clarified accordingly, “Sage.”

“Ah.” I nodded. “Where can I find sage?”

Water was pretty plentiful around the village. There were many wells around and inside the forest there were ponds and a lake.

“You can’t. They don’t grow naturally here, but I grow them myself.” Lilith smiled at me. “You’re always welcome to them, of course.” I smiled back nodding. “Now,” Lilith said, “Basic potions, as what we are currently making, are for basic healings. Sage is known to be a healing herb. Potions were meant to heal the ill in older times, but they’ve grown past that somewhat. Now they’re meant for many things, but usually it has something to do with one’s health whereas spells are used for everything.”

Lilith smashed up her sage into small little pieces in the second cup then emptied hot water into it. The sage turned the water a pleasant greenish color. “Here’s the tricky part.” Lilith said. “Latin word for ‘heal’ is ‘curare’. A powerful witch doesn’t have to say anything; she just has to think it. But, since we are not witches, we are required to say the following words after mixing the sage and water together.” She looked at me, as if making sure I was paying attention, before going on.

“Curare tempus,” Lilith’s voice had gone silky. She quickly grabbed the knife and cut the inside of her hand with it. She squeezed blood into the potion. “You must give something up of your own before using a potion,” she explained to me. After she squeezed enough blood, she lifted the cup up with her left hand while holding out her right, motioning me to watch it.

While she drank the potion, her wounds healed immediately.

It looked as if nothing had happened.

Lilith put the cup back down. “‘Tempus’ is temporary,” Lilith told me. “You would only use it right after creating the potion if you yourself was going to drink it immediately. Otherwise you would have to wait until someone else took a drink to say it.”

I nodded.

We practiced some more, only working with the basic potions for now. I didn’t dare ask her for the potion Cain and I had spoke about. It was far too early for that. I would have her teach me more about potions and then I would ask her.

Or perhaps, if I could just get that book away from her....

“Farewell, Cerise,” Lilith waved goodbye from her doorstep. “Please be careful on your way home. I wouldn’t want you to get attacked again.”

I smiled and waved back, walking away from her house.

I had planned on visiting Cain after visiting Lilith, but I didn’t need to make the trek. After walking only two minutes from Lilith’s, Cain stepped out of the woods. “Cerise?” he called.

“Cain!” He had frightened me, but I calmed myself down. “I was just about to-”

“Cerise?” another voice said, coming to stand next to Cain. Edward. I had known he would begin lycanthrope hunting sooner rather than later, but I suppose I hadn’t yet caught on to how soon exactly.

“Edward,” I smiled tightly at him and gave a look to Cain.

“What’re you doing out here? Shouldn’t you be at home resting?” Edward asked and looked down at my hurt wrist.

I nodded. “Indeed. I should be. And that is what I was going to do.” I awkwardly replied. “I was just, uh, looking for some sage.” For some reason, that was the first thing my mind had come up with. Cain and Edward stared at me.

While Edward said, “Sage? For what?” Cain leaned against the tree, crossing his arms over his chest while he smirked at me with a languid demeanor.

I tilted my head to the side. “Errr....” Cain saved the day, luckily. He kicked himself off of the tree and winked at me.

“Sage for incense, I’m sure.” Cain lied smoothly.

Edward frowned. “Incense?”

Cain nodded. “Yes. Your mother loves having the house smell nice, doesn’t she?”

I had been staring at him with my jaw dropped, eyes wide so when he spoke to me, I was a bit slow to respond. He raised an eyebrow. “Doesn’t she?” he repeated himself.

I blinked. “Oh. Yes. Of course. Mother loves incest-”

“Incense,” Cain corrected me, giving me a look. My cheeks went crimson.

“Right.” I nodded.

Edward knew something was up. He narrowed his eyes at Cain and me speculatively. I smiled at him nervously while Cain just stared back at him, unwavering. Finally, Edward nodded. “Well, tell your mother I said ‘hi’.” I smiled back.

“Will do.”

Edward looked at Cain, probably asking where they should go next. Cain motioned his head to the side. “You go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you.” Edward nodded, glanced at me once more, and then went on his way.

Cain turned back to me and walked forward. “So what were you really doing?”

“You heard me before - I was collecting some sage.” I said.

Cain raised an eyebrow. “Funny. I don’t see sage anywhere.”

I cursed under my breath and glared at him. “You’re lucky Edward didn’t notice your lack of sage, either.”

I sighed. “Thank you for that. For saving me.”

Cain shrugged. “No problem. So what were you really out doing here?”

Although I wanted to tell him about Lilith, I wasn’t able to. So, instead, I was forced to lie. “I was looking for lycanthropes.”

Cain rolled his eyes. “I figured as much.” He said. His eyes blazed as he glared at me. “Do you have a death sentence or something?”

I frowned at him. “No, of course not!”

“Well it sure as hell seems like you do.”

I shrugged. “Well I don’t.”

Cain shook his head at me. “The witch has been caught, Cerise. Why are you so obsessed with the lycanthropes? I already told you, we can try the powerless idea. It’ll take time though.”

I sighed and shook my head. “We don’t have time. Tomorrow is when the king determines whether or not Marquise Trill is the true witch.”

Cain shrugged. “I can’t do much about that, Cerise. How do you suppose we find out how to make the witch powerless?” His voice had risen with his anger.

I shrunk down, looking at my feet rather than at him. “I’m working on it.”

Cain raised an eyebrow. “You’re working on it?” he repeated questioningly.

I nodded.

“Well, if you’re working on it, then shouldn’t you be the one worrying about time?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I am. That’s what I’m doing. Right now.”

“Great,” Cain sighed. “Then do that. But, please stop running around in the woods.” Cain wasn’t capable of saying “please” nicely, which just made me angrier with him.

“Fine!” I snapped at him, and walked away.

He was right, however. The woods were dangerous, and I really needed to come up with a solution to the witch problem. I didn’t have time to beat around the bush with Lilith. I either needed to ask her directly - and soon - or discover another way to learn about making a witch powerless.

And I was leaning towards the latter.

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