This morning, I went up and knocked on the attic door.
“Kestrel.” I was so hoping she didn’t play the knock knock game again. The box of shrooms was heavy, too.
Whoa…she let me in? I pushed the door a bit, and it creaked open, all slow and creepy. It was dusty in the attic, and at first I didn’t see nobody. I had to creep through the kitchen to get to the witch’s area. That was creepy too, cuz there were cobwebs and spiders and dust. Not a way to keep a kitchen. I get that the witch needs quiet, but it doesn’t seem fair. Maybe we could move the kitchen somewhere else, or put a door up that the witch can lock on the other side of the kitchen (so Nim and Vega can get in to cook food for the Littles).
The witch’s section was crazy. It was full of stuff, so much I had a hard time squeezing in with my box. Plus she’s kinda tiny, so I was back to feeling too big in a tiny place. I had to think small, when I really wanted to think big. But I took a deep breath and went in. She had a bookshelf full of potions and spellbooks and bones and–oh my gumdrops!–was that a skull?
Deep breaths, Kestrel. This wasn’t the time to lose my nerve.
I gave her the box of mushrooms first. Most of ’em were wild picked, but I had a little bowl with some button mushrooms from the kitchen, in case she wanted a salad or something.
She inspected them for a bit and took a nibble of the button shrooms in the bowl and said they were a fine offering. She picked a few out of the box. Then she walked over to her table and started messing with stuff, putting some of the mushrooms into the cauldron on her table–only it wasn’t a cauldron. It was Dolli Lane’s soup pot!
I watched her for a bit, thinking maybe she was working on something to help me, even though I hadn’t even told her what was wrong. Maybe she had listened to me talking to Nim and Vega downstairs, and she already knew why I was there? But I still think she should’ve talked to me first. After a bit, I coughed a little and shuffled my feet. She kinda looked sideways at me then and sighed.
Then she turned around and pulled a spellbook off her shelf and started looking through it, muttering to herself. She ignored me a bit longer, until I couldn’t take it any more.
“We need your help,” I said. “My family is getting attacked by a monster. It has fur and teeth and–”
“I know,” she said. She had a really soft voice. But she looked at me finally. Her eyes were so sad. She looked back down at her book and got quiet again. I was afraid maybe that was all she was gonna say, but finally she started talking again.
“I am afraid the monster may be my fault. I have been trying to complete my college-level witch’s classes, and I am taking a class on advanced potions. One of our assignments was to create a portal to another dimension and summon a creature through it to bind as a familiar.” She picked up one of the little shrooms and pulled it to bits. She fed some to her scorpion then put the rest in the cauldron and stirred it.
“I had attempted the spell before, but all it did was cause a large rainstorm. This time, when I attempted it, there was no result. Or, at least, not one that I could see.” She looked at me again. “I am truly sorry that your family has suffered from my mistakes.”
“Can you, like, make it go away?” I asked. “Cuz your spell sure did something, and some creature came through, but it doesn’t wanna play nice.”
She looked away again and touched her crystal ball. “I’ve been talking with some of my other witch friends. That’s one reason I couldn’t let you in earlier. We were researching ways to close portals and banish monsters. But the spellbook I have for this class doesn’t address that kind of magic, so my research has been less than helpful…”
She was starting to make me mad. “Ok then. How do I kill it?” I asked. I didn’t quite stomp my boot, but I kinda did too. Then I looked at the scorpion. Maybe that used to be a kid that made her mad… Witches can do that kinda stuff, right? I bit my bottom lip and held back my boot stomping.
She looked up at me, kinda wide-eyed. “Don’t kill it, please. It probably doesn’t know what it’s doing. It’s as scared as you are. It’s like a…like a baby. I accidentally pulled it from its home and brought it here. Most of the time, it’s trapped in a limbo area and unable to move or do anything. Then, sometimes, it can get through the portal area and come into our world. Most of the time, it seems to be going into your house, but sometimes it also goes outside your house, which makes me think that the portal may be a short-range, mobile version. But it hasn’t hurt you or your family. It scared you. But you scared it, too. Let me find a way to put it back.
“My witch friends have suggested a few ideas. One idea was to create a talisman and trap the monster’s spirit in there until we can find a way to return it to its plane. That way, your family won’t be scared, and the monster won’t be hurt.” She turned around and moved some bottles on the bookshelf. “I was working on that last night when you got to Dolli Lane. Thank you for being patient.” Then she pulled a bottle with a white potion off the shelf.
“You’ll need to sprinkle this in the area where the monster usually appears. It should coat the portal opening and get all over the monster’s fur as it comes through to your house.” She moved over to a different container covered in jewels. When she opened the top, I could see it was full of stuff.
She picked out one of the objects and handed it to me too. “You’ll need to set that in the room. Cover it too with the potion. The monster should then get trapped inside the talisman and be stuck there. As long as you don’t break the talisman, you and your family will be safe. When it’s done, bring it to me. I’ll find a way to return the monster to its plane.”
So I had a bottle of potion and a talisman to go fight a monster. More deep breaths. I could do this.
After she handed me the stuff, the witch turned back to her table and seemed to forget I was there, so I turned to go. As I was creeping away, the witch added, “Good luck, Kestrel. I will see you soon.”
I hope this works.