“Blast you woman, if you can even be referred to as such. You try my patience. Either reveal to me the foul ingredients of that horrid brew or I swear on all things holy you will be rid of that head of yours by day’s end,” Owen pierced the witch with a stare only men chiseled of stone could deflect. Still, she would not speak.
“Very well, you leave me little choice,” Owen turned to one of his men waiting in the shadows and gave a brief nod. The man quickly disappeared further into the shadows and when he reappeared minutes later, the witch’s eyes grew wide with horror at what he carried with him.
“You bastard,” the witch hissed. After several more seconds, the gnarled woman tore her eyes away from the object of her horror and bowing her head whispered, “Ye shall have what ye seek. And may ye and all yer kin be cursed because of it”.
“Your empty threats do not frighten me, you beastly wretch. Now tell me what I need to know!” Owen leaned as close as his nose would permit towards the foul woman.
“First, ye must offer sacrifice to the dark Lord. All life is precious save one, choose wisely what you lay on his alter,” the woman wiped a bit of spittle from her mouth and continued, a feverish look in her eye.
“Boil, in an iron cauldron, water collected from the banks of that mystic river the ancients named Styx. Collect all of the following and let steep in the water until the mixture has turned the color of the blackest ink. Should ye upset the order or add too little or too much of any, ye have doomed yourself…
“Listen well, I will nay repeat myself. Find and kill a young male fox. Chop up its spleen coarsely and set aside half.
“Next ye will require a mature rat, also male. Remove its vertebrae and roast over an open pit until all moisture is sapped from it. Grind the remaining bone into a fine powder. A hand’s full should do the trick,” she smacked her lips as if tasting the bones she spoke of.
The list went on and was equally bizarre: the eyes of ten sparrows, dried; the femur bone of a calf; putrefied lizard tongues, eight to be exact; the brain from a raven; the stomach of six ferrets with their contents; the skin of a bat; sand from the bottom of the Dead Sea, the blood of a newborn lamb and honey gathered from the hive of bees living in the catacombs of Italian monks.
“Is that all witch? Are those the ingredients in their completion, I warn you do not play me false!” Owen growled.
“There is one more thing. But I doubt ye have the stomach to see the task done…” the witch smirked, flashing a mouth full of blackened teeth.
“That is of no consequence to you; now reveal it to me at once!” Owen could hardly contain his anticipation; finally his quest may produce some fruit for its eleven years of labor.
“The final and most important ingredient, without which ye would have nothing but a cauldron full of muck must be obtained carefully. Ye must seek out and slaughter a wizard of the third degree. Remove his staff of power and grind it down. Only the man who fells this great man of magic can then add this final ingredient to the brew. Once it has been added the curse will be complete,” the witch collapsed in exhaustion and seemed to shrink into the ground at these last words. Before Owen or his men could react, she was gone… leaving nothing but a pile of soiled robes and the chains she had been bound by.
Stunned by what they had witnessed, Owen’s men stood transfixed for several moments before their leader could rouse them from their stupor. “Men, we now know what we must do. If that despicable creature uttered any truths, we shall soon discover for ourselves. Let us move on,” Owen kicked the robes into the fire and the troupe moved towards their mounts.
And so, their journey began.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: In an effort to earn “girlfriend of the month” award, I promised to make Andy a batch of my homemade chai concentrate, something he had been craving for a few days now. While the results are delicious and fragrant, I can’t help but feel a bit like a witch mixing her steaming brew when I make this stuff. There are quite a few ingredients so I tried to pass the time it took to grate, peal, chop and measure by assigning them each an unpleasant alter-ego if in fact I was making a potion instead of a delicious drink.
The ingredients & their made up counterparts in the story are listed below… and I gotta say, I think I would make a damn find mistress of evil (aka witch).
The cockroach I killed before getting started (first one of the summer….ick) = Sacrifice
Water = Water from the River Styx
Fresh Ginger, chopped = Male Fox Spleen
Fresh Ground Pepper = Roasted & Ground rat vertebra
10 Whole Cloves = Sparrow Eyes
Cinnamon Stick = Calf Femur bone
Anise = Putrefied Lizard Tongues
Fresh Nutmeg = Raven’s brain
Cardamom Pods = Ferret Stomachs
Orange Zest = Skin of a Bat
Brown Sugar = Sand from the Dead Sea
Vanilla = Blood of a Newborn Lamb
Honey = Honey from Catacomb bees
Tea Leaves = Slaughtered Wizard’s staff shavings
I know… I’m a bit twisted. Delightfully so, don’t you think?
Love & Squirrels.