Adelaide shifted the basket on her hip. The sharp, somehow cold, scent of the Icefruit’s flower filled her nose. The delicate, pale blue petals tickled her arm as it draped over the basket, holding it to her hip. They made a soft rustling sound as the blossoms were jostled, that mingled nicely with the light tinging of her glass jars filled with Frost Sapphires.
Juniper would be pleased. The Potion Master had added the sapphires to her ever-expanding list of specimen for Adelaide to collect on a whim, she had no great confidence that the girl would manage to find any. Adelaide had spent the majority of her apprenticeship disappointing Juniper Harfeather, the Potion Master of Duredin. It seemed no matter how hard Adelaide tried, the older woman’s brow was always creased in consternation at her efforts. Adelaide had even overheard her muttering to her raven “It makes one wonder if that girl is in the right place, Lapis.”
But Adelaide always tried her best. She knew one day, it may be far off from now, she would make her mistress proud. Perhaps it would be even closer than she thought and it would be today.
A thought occurred to her then: perhaps the Frost Sapphires in their jars should not be touching the Icefruit flowers. There was a thin webbing of frost forming across the jars, nearly covering her neat little labels that read: Frost Sapphires, always cold. DO NOT LICK. She set her basket down upon a drift of snow, pulled one of her thick woolen mittens off of her hand and dug about in her satchel on the belt at her waist. While the blossoms flourished in the cold of winter, it did not mean they enjoyed being in direct contact with frost, and eventually ice.
Pulling out a tea towel, Adelaide carefully wrapped it around her small gaggle of jars. When she straightened, she noticed the height of the moon overhead. Cursing, she realized she had completely lost track of time. She pulled her fur -lined hood of her cloak up over her auburn braids and scooped up her basket once more. Adelaide would have to make haste – hurry scurry, as her mother has always said – back to town, and hoped that Juniper had also lost track of time.
Her fur-lined leather boots slipped and slid along the path. Her free arm sent pinwheeling when she hit the occasional patch of ice. Adelaide’s breath came out in thick, clouded puffs as she hurried herself along. When she paused a moment to catch her breath, she admired how clear and bright the stars looked in the frosty, night air. It was a beautiful, cloudless night, it would have been perfect for star gazing and catching sight of the auroras if she were not in such a hurry.
Emerging from the path that descended from the hills above town, Duredin came into view below Adelaide. The thatched roofs glowed a warm amber in the glow of the street lanterns, the firelight flickering shadows across the cobbled stone walls of the buildings. From this distance, the streets appeared empty. Which, of course they were, it was the middle of the night. Adelaide always loved when Duredin was quiet. When the streets were abuzz with life, it was overwhelming to her senses.
Juniper Harfeather’s house sat on the outskirts of town, closest to the hill path Adelaide was returning on. The iron garden gate squeaked forlornly on its hinges as she pushed it aside. She went to the heavy timber door with its dark, iron banding and black, raven knocker. Hesitantly, Adelaide turned the knob, half expecting to meet the resistance of Juniper having barred the door, expecting her not to return. But the knob turned easily and the door swung inward, bringing a half-stumbling Adelaide with it.
“There you are!” Juniper exclaimed jovially, a tone which Adelaide had never heard the woman use before. “I was starting to fret a Snow Troll may have gotten you!”
The main room smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg, the fire was crackling, Lapis was sitting on her perch nearest the cauldron that hung on its iron arm near the fireplace. A small sweet cake sat in the center of Juniper’s workbench, it’s glossy icing shimmering in the candlelight. Adelaide looked around in confusion. Everything was the same – save for the cake – but it all felt… warmer… somehow. Even Juniper.
Adelaide moved further into the room, shutting and barring the door behind her. Slowly, she set down her basket on a small table near the door before removing her cloak and snowy boots.
“I, um, I found a fair bit of Frost Sapphire,” she offered, when she saw Juniper going for the basket and moving it to the workbench further into the room.
“I’ll say you did!” Juniper exclaimed, her pale blue eyes wide in delight as she pulled out jar after jar of the rare specimen. She whirled towards Adelaide, her long, raven black hair swirling about her. “I knew you had it in you!” Juniper declared. “Oh, I am so proud of you!” Her rosy lips kissed the top of Adelaide’s head as Juniper moved past her.
“What is all of this?” Adelaide asked hesitantly, as she slipped her feet into her fur-lined house shoes.
The older woman smiled warmly at her. “Why, you’ve been with me for a full year now, have you not, Adelaide?” Juniper said. Adelaide nodded mutely. “None of my other apprentices have had the tenacity to last long, I figured it was high time you actually learned something. Don’t you?”
Inktober 2022, Prompt #2: SCURRY, also inspired by the video game Potion Craft, which is where the delightful Header Image is from.