A group of hooded figures goes deep into a forest of tall, dark trees. It is night.
Ooohhhhmmm. Aahhhhhmmm. Soapwort. Rue. Oooohhhmmmm.. Aahhhhmmm. Comfrey. Basil. Oooohhhmmm. Aahhmmmmm.
Pepper is among the witches. They all look different, but wear the same hooded dress. Any with long hair have braided it in two low braids, or have two strands falling out of their hoods.
The head witch steps forward, hand to her breast.
Head Witch: Oh, Demon Priorri, we have brought our monthly sacrifices.
Priorri sits on a patch of red dirt, among the purple dirt. Small stones are on the red dirt. The demon Priorri is bright pink, a cross between a sheep and lion. Zer mane is light pink, falling like long hair. Zer yellow curved horns grow close to zer giant pink eyes. Small teeth show in zer mouth.
Priorri is not at all interested in the spectacle of the witches.
Priorri: Awesome. Thanks.
Head Witch: … This month, we have your requested voice changing potions, as well as some sight-improving ointments.
Priorri: You know, I keep telling y’all to chill with the costumes and stuff…
Priorri speaks with one paw up to their mouth. The witches are not baffled by Priorri’s language.
Head Witch: Apprentices, present Priorri with the potions.
Priorri now sits behind stacks upon stacks of potions in various jars. Some jars have corks, others have screw-top lids. Most are rectangular, but some are cone-shaped and some are round. They are filled with green, pink, or blue bubbling liquid.
The Head Witch turns away.
Head Witch: We shall take our leave now.
They chant again. Most of the witches walk away, but Pepper stays behind, staring at Priorri.
Ooohhhhmmm. Aahhhhhmmm. Vervain. Burnet. Oooohhhmmmm.. Aahhhhmmm. Marigold. Angelica. Oooohhhmmmm.
Priorri looks up at Pepper, frowning.
Priorri: You got something to say, kiddo? Besides the weird chant they insist on repeating for eons?
Pepper folds her hands together at her waist, looking down. She has taken off her hood.
Priorri: c’mon, they’re all gone.
Pepper: i’ve been thinking of leaving the coven. Make my own potions, rather than the academic ones. Not worry about the supervisors.
Pepper speaks with her hands, waving them around, unsure of herself.
Priorri: Can’t say I blame ya!
Priorri sprawls out on the ground, looking happy.
Priorri: Hahaha, it’s been what, fifty years since someone managed to work up the courage to leave! Great to see another plucky youth, wanting her own way in life.
Pepper: You’ll support me? Keep my magic going?
Pepper is shocked.
Priorri: Sure thing! I don’t care as long as you aren’t doing anything evil.
Priorri has sat up, putting zer two front paws together.
Pepper: Can we change the delivery date of my sacrifice? I won't stop or anything, I don't mean to kill you—
Pepper remains cautious.
Priorri: Come a day later than usual. Bring me something good! I wanna see what new ideas ya got in mind.
Pepper: Ok! I’ll do it.
Pepper clenches her fists together, smiling a little. Her cheeks are brighter.
Some time has passed. Pepper is in a green t-shirt and jeans. She is holding her head in her hands, freaked out.
Pepper thinks: Oh sweet violet! I’m leaving the coven. I just wanted to escape the structure, the rigidty… and Priorri seems to think I’m developing a new potion! Or a new kind of potion? I don't have any ideas for my future, just what I hate about my past.
What am I thinking? I should turn around and explain it was a dare. A prank.
What can I do… oh, yarrow…
She stands on a street, looking at the ground, not happy.
Ok. As long as I have something, it'll be okay. The Coven always makes the sacrifices, so Priorri won't be dying any time soon from a lack of good magic.
She lifts her head, focusing a bit.
Lettuce and red bell peppers sit on a dark shelf. Pepper stares at them. She holds a red bell pepper in her hand when someone calls to her.
Lily, a supermarket clerk with thick, wavy brown hair, reaches out to Pepper.
Lily: Hey, hey- don’t start crying. What’s up?
Pepper: Ugh, ugh, sweet violet! I quit my job.
Pepper tries to hold back the tears.
Lily: HUH? Burnt yarrow… But that means leaving the coven! What’re you gonna do? I mean, maybe you can do work like me, but you’re really good at potions, I wouldn’t… I don’t- You just have so much more potential than I do.
They stand in the produce section of the supermarket. The food is all lined up nicely in crates and on shelves.
Pepper stiffens up. Behind her, there are glass refrigerated cases of milk and juice.
Pepper: Anise and her boss are going to help, and Clove too.. I just need a new idea.
Lily: Oh, so you do have a plan.
Lily is a little miffed.
Pepper: Well, I’m missing the key. A new potion format.
Pepper feels a bit guilty.
An older woman walks by in the background, looking cranky. She has the same apron as Lily.
Lily: Tch. Sweet violet. Walk with me, I gotta fool my supervisor.
Pepper stands by Lily as Lily checks vegetables. Pepper holds a basket on one arm.
Lily: What about a drink? Like alcohol or something?
Pepper: Most alcohols cancel out the magic. That’s why I can’t make your hangover cures.
Pepper holds her hand up to her mouth. Small text outside Pepper’s speech bubble continues her thoughts… I’ve heard the rumors that the Alchemists are finding a way to transmute alcohol’s properties into magic itself, and while their initial reports have merit, we’re a long way off from true magical alcohol. I need a more…
Lily puts another head of lettuce up.
Lily: Right, right…
She holds a head of lettuce close to her head in the next panel.
Pepper: Ew. Worse than eating houseleek.
Her head sinks into her shoulders. Again, Pepper keeps mumbling to herself:
The taste is one issue, but, soda has another problem which is all the sugars added in creating the addictive flavor. Magic only lasts so long near all that sugar and we’d have a big problem…
Lily’s hand fits a head of lettuce in tightly with the others.
Pepper’s eyes grow huge.
While juice sometimes does have a lot of sugar, I don’t know of any problems magic has with fruit sugar. The right branding would solve that issue. In addition, fruit have a lot of good properties that can be combined with the magical effects…
Pepper sits in her tiny galley kitchen. One side is dedicated to potion-making: a hanging rack from the ceiling holds jars of herbs, and there is a cauldron near the counter. The other side is for food preparation: there is a fridge and an oven. Some juice sits on the counter behind Pepper.
Pepper: I ended up buying too much.
She looks at her fridge, full of juice.
Panels show her cauldron, the herb racks, and her wooden stirring spoon.
Pepper moves to her main room, standing by a table with yellow high-back chairs. She holds a glass of juice in her hand. Resting it on the table and putting her head down on the table as well, she looks at the juice.
Pepper: But I have to start somewhere. Juice it is.
Pepper’s thoughts about the potion-creation are spread across several panels. She stares at the juice, sitting upright. Then she moves to the bookshelf, picking out a thick book. Reading it at the table, we see a large plant in the same room, far away.
Orange juice would go best with balm of gilead and meadowsweet for healing, and maybe something else to balance the acidity... I wonder if I have to add tarragon, since it’s always used to balance out the taste of normal potions. I bet the juice would do it for me. That would drive down the cost... Oh, but some people might want organic juice, so I’d have to get organic herbs as well.
Then Pepper considers her herbs, with a panel showing her small teal pots of herbs.
But does Anise’s magic count as organic? … she’d said she’s coming over tomorrow morning, i’ll ask her. Are any of my herbs growing? I guess not, Anise can maybe help out with that too.
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