Home > Stories > Setting: Redsky > Little Potionmaker

Eldri was in the shed at the backyard of the house, preparing some potions out of leaves and other plant parts. She wasn't allowed to make magic in the house because her husband hated the scent of magic crafts, so she set up her potionmaking table and all her materials in the old shed they had, but she didn't mind it. It was great having her own place to do her crafts, away from everything else. There, she could be completely alone – or so she thought. She was so focused on her crafts that she didn't even notice her five year old son watching through one of the large open windows.

“What are you making, mom?” he asked, breaking the silence.

“Oh, Seir. What are you doing out here? Go play at home or something, it's cold,” Eldri said without lifting her eyes off her potion. She didn't like being interrupted, especially by Seir. Though she tried to be tolerant of him, she still regarded him as a constant annoyance she was forced to put up with, who would waste the time and energy that she should instead be putting on her experiments. She didn't want a child, but her pushy husband eventually persuaded her. She regretted it deeply and wished she had simply left him back then, but now the damage was done, so she had to deal with it the best she could.

“Don't wanna. There's nothing fun to do right now,” Seir said, climbing onto the window sill to get inside.

Eldri glanced over to him for a second but then looked back to her potion. “Seir, please, I'm trying to work,” she said.

“I just wanna know what you're making,” he said, walking closer to the table she was working by.

“A potion,” she replied with a hint of displeasure, seeing that he wouldn't leave.

“What kind of potion?”

“A simple cooling potion.”

“Why would you need a cooling potion when there's so much snow and ice outside?”

Eldri sighed. “The potion will cause any liquids it's poured into to cool down instantly. Snow and ice would take time and melt into water.”

“Oh.” Seir watched as his mom put some leaves into a flask containing a transparent bluish liquid. He grabbed one leaf from the desk, and approached her. “Can I help?” he said, trying to reach the flask with the leaf he picked up.

“No, that's pepperlily, it has a warming property, not cooling,” she said, gently pushing his hand away. Though she wanted to kick him out of her shed, she tried to be as tolerant as possible with him since he was actually doing nothing wrong so far. She didn't want to berate him for simply being a curious child.

“Oh,” Seir inspected the leaf he took. It was indeed different from the ones she was putting in the flask. “So that's why it got pepper in its name.”

“I guess.”

“What's the one you're using?” he asked.

“Frost holly, but also snow rose and icicle thornleaf.”

“It's three different ones?”



“It's a bit complex but using different plants helps stabilize their effects.”

Seir didn't really understand what that meant but he didn't ask about it. Instead, he was thinking of something else. “Are there other leaves with warming properties?”

“Yeah, there's a few.”

Seir looked at his mom's ingredients cabinet to the right. There were several jars containing different plant samples, from leaves to roots and berries, all tagged with their names. He went to take a closer look, reading every tag.

“Is ember leaf one of them?”

“Yeah,” Eldri said, looking at him for a moment as he picked up the jar. “Please be careful with the jars,” she warned, although she knew her son was usually cautious when handling things.

Seir set the jar aside on the table and continued browsing. “And firefern too?”

“Yeah. You're just looking for anything with fiery names, right?”

“It's not hard to guess,” Seir said with a proud smile.

“Well, it works for these but it's not always that easy to tell.”

Seir put the firefern jar next to the ember leaf one. “Now, if I add pepperlily, ember leaf and firefern instead of the plants you're adding, do I get a warming potion instead of cooling?”

Eldri turned her face to her son. “Yes, in fact that's correct.” She was somewhat impressed that he could reach that conclusion all on his own.

With an excited grin and tiny tailwags, Seir grabbed the short step ladder that his mom used to reach the top cabinets and moved it close to her so he could actually reach the top of the table. “Can I do it?” he said, with the two jars he picked at his reach.

“Probably not,” Eldri replied, holding back a giggle.

“What do you mean with ‘probably not’?”

“You've never done this before, you have no experience or skill.”

“How do I get that?”

“With time and practice.”

Seir looked down at his hands, tip tapping at the edge of the table.

“I think I have time now since I'm not doing anything else.” He looked up at his mom, “I guess I can practice!” he said.

Eldri looked at him. He seemed really excited about it. She thought it was silly to let a 5 year old child attempt to brew a potion, but then, it was a fairly simple mixture with minimal need for magis input, as long as she provided him with an already prepared base potion. She could hand it to him and see if he could finish it.

“Alright,” she said, “Let's see what you can do.” She took another flask containing the same transparent bluish liquid as before and placed it in front of Seir. “Put one leaf of each of the plants in order, until you've added three leaves of each. First pepperlily, then firefern, then ember leaf, as you'll want to follow from weakest to strongest, and then repeat,” she said, as Seir paid close attention, “Can you do that?”

“Of course!” Seir opened the jars and took three leaves of each plant, as well as three leaves of the pepperlily which were already on the table. He then proceeded to put one of each leaf in the correct order. “What next?”

“Now you'll shake it a little bit and then add nine drops of this,” she said, showing him a small vial with an eyedropper containing a black liquid.

“What's this?”

“It's called the breaker agent. It'll break down the leaves so their properties can be fully activated and combined with the rest of the mixture.”

She showed him how to use the eyedropper and then handed over the vial to him. He completed the task swiftly. “Now what?”

“Place your hand on top of the flask like this,” she said, demonstrating with the flask she was working with. Seir immediately followed. “Now, imagine that you're pouring water into the flask from the center of your hand.”

“Huh?” He tilted his head slightly. “I have to add imaginary water?”

“It's a bit more complex than that, but essentially, yes.”

Eldri wasn't quite sure how to teach him how to use his magis, so since this potion required so little of it, she figured “imaginary water pouring from his hand” would have a close enough effect. It was, after all, a classic example found in beginner textbooks. Although she was pretty sure he wouldn't manage, this exercise could help trigger a small response of his volition over the magis node in his hand.

Seir looked at the flask, trying to imagine water coming from his hand. It was difficult. “How do I know how much imaginary water is enough?”

“If you did everything right, the liquid in the flask should turn orange.”

A little moment later, nothing had happened yet.

“Mom, I don't think it's working.”

“Think of a liquid running inside your arm, and then out from the middle of your hand.”

Seir thought about it for a moment. “You mean blood?”


“Blood is like water inside my arm. I can imagine that if I hurt my hand, the blood would come out.”

“Huh, well... if you want to think of it that way, I guess it could work.”

Imagining something that he had seen happening before was easier to Seir. He listened to his heartbeat and imagined it pushing blood from his chest, then through his arm and then out of his hand. Of course, it wasn't actually happening, but he knew that it was a thing that is possible and could happen. After a little while of playing with this thought, he smiled.

“Mom, look! It's turning orange!”

“Oh!” They both watched as the contents swirled and an orange tint slowly took over the previously pale blue mixture. “You actually did it! Well done, Seir.” Eldri smiled at him. Seir didn't see his mom smiling very often.

As the mixture finally turned wholly orange, he picked up the flask with both of his hands.

“It's not too warm,” he said, “Shouldn't it be warmer?”

Eldri touched the flask. “Not really, this is normal for the recipe I gave you. To make it stronger there would be variations.”

“What kind of variations?”

“Amount of ingredients, for example.”

“Ah... okay.” In his head, he went through all the steps he did. He had an idea. “Can I do another one?”

“You know what? I like your enthusiasm. I guess I can let you do another one.”

She gave him another base potion. Seir repeated the same process as earlier, but with a slight difference. At the end of it, the results came out as he expected.

“Look mom! This one is warmer,” Seir said with a proud smile.

“What?” She picked up that flask and compared it to the previous one. It was indeed warmer. “But... what did you do?”

“I put five leaves of each instead of three.”

“That alone shouldn't have worked. The extra leaves wouldn't have been broken down by that amount of breaker agent.”

“I added more of that too. ‘Cause if there was nine drops for nine leaves, I thought it would need fifteen drops since it's fifteen leaves.”

“Oh...” Eldri was definitely impressed, “That's exactly what you had to do. You're very smart, Seir!”

She wouldn't have expected that a little kid like him could figure that out so easily, but then, maybe all those math activity books for kids she got him to keep him busy and away from her had actually been a pretty good idea. He was turning out to be the kind of kid who really liked solving puzzles and who was eager to learn. Thoughts started forming in Eldri's head. If she started him on this path, perhaps he could become a fine mage himself someday. If anything, she was from a lineage of powerful magicians, and since he had her blood, he would certainly have inherited much of that power. This little display of potential changed her feelings about Seir.

“What else can I try?” Seir said, after admiring his craft once more.

“Well, let's see...”

For the first time, Eldri really felt like spending time with Seir. Having a child, she thought, was perhaps not such a terrible idea in the end.

They spent the rest of the afternoon mixing potions and doing simple magic exercises, and little Seir seemed to be having a blast through all of it.

Eldri watched as Seir carefully trimmed a piece off a root. He was gentle and patient in most of what he did, and despite being at this for a couple hours, he still wanted to learn more.

But then, Eldri heard the sound of her husband's car.

“Hey, Seir, seems like your dad has arrived,” she said, facing her son, “You know how he doesn't like potions and magic, right?”

“Yeah...” Seir remembered his dad being really angry about his mom's crafts.

“I think it would be best if we kept this a secret from him.”

“A secret?”

“Yes. Don't tell your dad that you've been making potions with me. He wouldn't like it very much.”

“Oh... Okay.” Seir didn't want his dad to be angry at him too.



“We can continue some other time,” Eldri told him with a smile, “Now go.”

“I can pretend I've been in my room all day, he won't suspect a thing!”

Eldri watched as Seir jumped out the same window he came in through, and then into the window of his own room.

While her husband tolerated her magic craft as long as she did it outside the house, she knew there would be conflict if he found out that she was teaching it to Seir. It would hurt his pride to know that his son liked the same “freaky crafts” as she did.

As Eldri cleaned up her materials and put things back in place, she continued to think about Seir. She placed all the potions he made into a cabinet. So little, but with so much potential. She was eager to see how far he could get. And if he could really keep a secret, then it would be all the best. Phytomagic wasn't all she knew, but if he was already this interested, maybe she could eventually go even further – into the crafts she couldn't speak of. She smiled as she left the shed. It was certainly a few years too soon to consider it, but maybe, in due time, he would be ready. How cool would it be to have her own little apprentice to discuss the dark secrets of necromagic?

Published: 10 January 2023
Last modified: 10 January 2023