"Where have you been?" asked Vivacia as her roommate walked in the door. Amora was wearing the same warm smile she always wore, but her best friend knew her too well to be fooled. Something was troubling her.
"Guild business," Amora replied curtly. "The gnome boy was being examined, and my father wanted me on hand for some reason," She rolled her eyes and flung her bag down on the couch.
Amora and Vivacia's apartment in Tiesan hall was small, but cozy. Two semicircular beds jutted out from the walls like shelves, with ladders against each wall leading up to them. The bottom floor contained a desk (which was hardly ever used,) a small couch, and, in the center of the chamber, a fire pit with a spit over it, which seemed completely out of place in the tiny, second story room. Currently there was small cauldron suspended from the spit, and there was something simmering in it.
"What's cooking?" asked Amora, with hint of wry humor.
"Oh, just a potion for Lady Cecilia," Vivacia replied, "She's gonna stop by here in a little while, by the way. Needs my help with some ritual,"
"I've been wondering about that," commented Amora after a moment. "She seems to need your help a lot lately. Isn't it... a bit odd?"
"Not really," answered her friend, "Why would it be?"
"Well, she's, like, the most powerful witch in the world, right?"
"She's up there," Vivacia replied proudly.
"Well, no offense, I mean, you're good, but you've been doing this - two years? Three? Why wouldn't Lady Cecilia choose a more... experienced witch?"
"Oh," said Vivacia. She began to blush a bit. "Well, it's kind of, um... I mean, yes, she wants the most experienced witch possible, but some rituals require a younger witch, and some..." she trailed off. The cauldron whistled; she got up and and began to stir it.
"Yes?" asked Amora after a moment.
"Younger," said Vivacia decidedly. She was blushing quite a bit now."Some rituals just... need a younger witch. So, um, this gnome boy, how was he?"
Amora understood that her friend was not telling her everything, but she decided to let her change the subject.
"Hardly much of a threat," she said. "In fact, I think he could be kind of useful. I just wish I hadn't introduced myself to him by cursing him. My uncle's right. I need to be building support, not alienating people."
"I'm sorry," replied the human. "It's my fault. If you hadn't shot at Bogue -"
Amora cut her off. "It was my bad judgement as well as yours. No more messing around, though. I can't afford to take the chance,"
They sat in silence for a moment.
"You really think your uncle's gonna die?" asked Vivacia. "Like, soon? I mean, not elf soon, cause that could be forever, but like, human soon?"
"He thinks so," Amora answered. "He's getting his affairs in order."
Vivacia thought for a moment.
"Unless," she said eventually.
"Unless what?" asked Amora.
"Well, he told you not to tell anyone, especially Lady Cecilia, right?" asked Vivacia.
"So?" prodded the elf.
"So keeping secrets has never been your strong suit, Am. He knows that. He also knows I'm your best friend, and he knows I'm kind of Lady Cecilia's protege... "
"You thinking he wants it to get out," observed Amora.
"It all kind of adds up, doesn't it?" Vivacia replied.
Amora made to reply, but was interrupted by a knock on the door. She had barely opened it a crack when a tiny purple and beige figure zoomed through. Simile slowed down and came level with Amora's face. She was carrying a scroll which was slightly larger than she was. She proffered it to Amora.
"From your uncle," she said, irritably, "Apparently Thurigen isn't the only one in this city who thinks 'pixie' is synonymous with 'carrier pigeon'."
"Thanks, Simile," said Amora, taking the scroll. She unrolled it and began to read. Simile zoomed over to the cauldron and hovered over it briefly, then flew over to Vivacia.
"Smells good," she said. "But do you really want the Lady to come in here and smell a love potion?"
"Viv!" Amora exclaimed.
A look of panic had spread across the face of the young witch.
"You can smell it already?" she asked. "It still has to stew for a few weeks - how...?"
"Pixie nose," Simile replied, "A little stronger than a human's. But if you think they've invented a potion Lady Cecilia can't recognize, in any stage..."
"Viv, what is that for?" asked Amora.
"A friend," answered Vivacia.
"You're a terrible liar," said the pixie, zooming between the two women.
"It's not what you think," the witch began, but just then there was another knock. The room fell silent.
"Vivacia?" came Lady Cecilia's voice from the other side of the door. "Are you ready?"
"Yes, just a moment!" called the young woman.
"May I come in?" asked the matron.
"Um... I'm not decent," Vivacia replied.
"Alright, I'll wait in the lobby," answered Lady Cecilia.
Vivian waited a moment for her to leave, then mouthed, "That was close,"
"The woman can read minds," admonished Simile, rounding her tiny body on the pale witch. "You're a fool if you think you can hide anything from her. What were you thinking?"
"Hang on," said Amora. "What's so bad about Vivacia brewing a love potion? I mean, I know they're dangerous and all, but it's not really her any of her business, is it?'
"It is if she has to train up a new virgin!" exclaimed Simile.
"Simile!" cried Vivacia.
A look of understanding passed over Amora's face.
"A 'younger witch," she said. "I had no idea,"
"That's important to witch's magic," said the pixie. "The maiden, the mother, and the crone,"
Vivacia looked adamant. "I wasn't gonna actually... you know..."
"Not if you want to keep your job you weren't," laughed Simile. "Not really in need of another mother, is she? I gotta run. So do you. Best not to keep the lady waiting." She zoomed up and out the chimney.
Amora looked to her friend, who seemed on the verge of tears. A small green bubble appeared in the elf's hand.
"Cheer up," she said. "We'll talk about this later, but Lady Cecilia shouldn't see you like this,"
The witch nodded. Amora flicked the little bolt of happiness over to her friend. As it sunk in a smile flickered over her face.
"Thanks" she said. "I'll see you tonight. Take care,"
She slid out the door, closing it behind her. Amora settled on the couch.