Pepper, mouth closed, stands quietly in the grocery store.
Lily turns, happy, holding a cabbage.
Lily: Hi, Pepper!
Pepper’s words float outside of the panels.
Pepper: Did you poison Boss, pretending to be part of Alecost?
Lily puts the cabbage down among the other cabbages.
Lily: Alecost? Is that your group’s name?
Pepper looks at her, frowning.
Pepper: Answer me.
One of Lily’s eyebrows arches up, and the other makes a frown.
She turns to Pepper, putting a hand over the logo of the grocery store’s apron.
Lily: I guess you haven’t heard of the Linden Tree Coven.
Pepper puts up a hand, sort of leaning in to Lily.
Pepper: Linden Tree? Those only produce poison, Lily! That means you… How could you join such a coven?
Pepper’s finally question hangs beneath the trees Boss was under when they were sick.
Lily makes fists, holding them up. She stands firmly.
Lily: How? Who cares, I already did, a year ago!
Pepper closes her eyes, turning to the right. She turns away, ready to walk away. The background gets darker.
Pepper: I see. Well, you’re no longer part of Alecost. You disgusting witch. Your demon should be ashamed.
Lily’s hair flies up a bit, her gaze radiating in yellow waves. Then she raises an arm up, on a pink background, diamonds falling down.
Lily: You think I had a choice? I’m not like you, with the Sugar Pine River’s powerful demon channeling magic to me.
The next panel shows Lily, eyes closed, with a pattern covering her and the background of leaves a little berries.
My parents forced me into the contract with the Linden River demon. I could never join another coven because of my demon’s magic. Much less make my own stuff and sell it! So I ended up here, working in a grocery store of all places. At least the coven is paying off my debt, and I’ll be a proper witch in a few months, making potions. So what if I hurt people- I need the money.
Lily holds up a hand in a flat position.
The back of Pepper’s head faces Lily.
Pepper: That’s none of my business, now.
Anise is walking back from work on a dark street. A green light illuminates part of the area.
Clove is half-in the light, standing with one hand on her hip. Her legs are spread a bit, and the speech bubble covers her eyes.
Clove: What do you want, now? You gloating, now that I’m out of the picture?
Anise’s eyes are wide.
Anise: No, Clove-
Clove leans in, fully in the light. She stares intensely at Anise.
Clove: You have Pepper- rejoice! You made such a great lie, and had her reject me!
Clove stands only partially in the light.
Clove: By a text, no less!
Anise is in the darkness.
Clove stands in the middle of the light.
Clove: I know it was you. Drop that façade, Anise.
A close-up of Anise’s eye shows a wild confidence. She stands outside of the light. Clove’s eyes are closed.
Anise: Heh. What will you do about it? Tell Pepper?
Clove walks out of the light.
Clove: No. That’s for you to do, someday. I won’t waste my time on that anymore.
Anise crosses her arms across her chest.
Anise leans over, entering the light. She smiles, eyebrows up suggestively.
Anise: Too bad. I’m going to make Pepper famous. You could’ve been on that path, if you hadn’t-
Clove exits the light, back to Anise.
Clove: Goodbye, Anise. I hope I never see you again.
Anise points a finger at Clove.
Anise: Oh, but you’ll hear of Pepper. All from my efforts. Just you wait and see.
Clove walks away in the dark.
Pepper leans back in the dark, on her red chair.
Anise stands, back to Pepper, hands raised as she grows the plants. The dim light illuminates her arms and hair.
Anise: I’m sorry, Pepper. I kept asking Clove if she would apologize, but she just wouldn’t.
Pepper holds her legs to her torso, looking down. Anise crosses her arms behind her back.
Pepper: And Lily is out there… probably learning to poison people.
Anise reaches a hand out to Pepper’s knee.
Anise: It’ll be okay, Pepper.
Pepper puts her hands up, tired, angry, and sad.
Pepper: How? How? It’s just the two of us.
Anise smiles, but we only see her mouth, chin, and chest.
Anise: We’ll find some new friends.
The next panel shows the whole apartment, dark and empty but for Anise and Pepper. Anise stands, turned away from us. The plants are very tall. Pepper stays in her chair.
Pepper: I hope so… we’re all alone now.
Anise grins, mouth open. Once again, we do not see her eyes.
Anise: Pepper, c’mon,
She holds Pepper’s cheek in her hand. Pepper frowns, looking at the hand.
Anise: You need to think positively. We’re together. It’ll be ok.
Anise sits on the arm of the chair, reaching around Pepper, pushing Pepper’s face to her chest. Pepper closes her eyes.
Pepper: I hope so.
Anise: We’ll succeed- you’ll be famous!
Pepper opens her eyes, looking away from Anise.
The apartment, from above, looks tiny.
Pepper: I just want to have rent money.
Anise opens a curtain, looking out at the night.
Anise: Oh, don’t worry about that… rent will be easy to pay! And someday…
Outside, someone walks with a big pink backpack. A stick comes out from a side pocket.
A hand holds a phone showing directions.
A young person grips their backpack strap and their phone.
New witch: Here I am… Alecost.
They stand before a big building with the sign ALECOST GROUP. People walk by on the street.
The new witch is elated.
New witch: I can’t believe it. They actually accepted me!
They walk in, the doors sliding open.
New witch: Starting today… I get to be a real potion witch! Experimenting, learning new things, meeting the masters!
Pepper and Anise stand, floating above many stalks of alecost flowers. Anise smiles, Pepper seems to be asleep. The new witch stands among the flowers.
Anise: And… Someday, we’ll be leading the way for others like us.
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