“We have the witch on our side.” Moon sat in bed next to Vix and elbowed her friend. Ayla’s packing was taking an inordinate amount of time. Indeed, according to the witch, she would not be done packing for a full three days. Vix had recieved the news gratefully. It meant that she might have three days without danger or conflict. Three days respite from the war which raged hither and thither throughout Lesbia.
She nodded in acknowledgement of Moon’s words. They did have the witch. Ayla was not what or who she had expected. A twisted angry crone, Ayla was not. The woman was beautiful, sensual, mature… and a dozen more adjectives all of which served to tantalize and excite.
“She’s pretty,” Moon observed out loud.
Vix made a non-committal grunt.
“Are you going to pretend you don’t notice? I tell you what,” she said, happily holding both sides of their conversation. “I’ll take Kira. You can have Ayla.”
Vix made no reply, her agile fingers focused on her whittling. She was so adept at it that nary a wood shaving fell into the bed. Moon was being quite ridiculous. Kira was not interested in either of them, and Ayla would likely not be interested either. Beings like Kira and Ayla were so far above lowly mortals like she and Moon that the idea of them taking more than a passing interest was ludicrous. Might as well hope a star might come down from the heavens and inquire as to how one’s day had been.
“We should sleep,” she said abruptly, putting her knife aside for the evening. “That is the place for your wild dreams.”
The next morning, Vix sat outside the witch’s cottage, whittling cogs and wheels as usual. The activity soothed her nerves, which were engaging in a very unpleasant near constant jangling. She was not a woman of war and she did not relish the constant danger she had been compelled to live with over the past months.
“Your talents are impressive.” Ayla’s resonant voice made the marrow in Vix’s bones tingle. How long the witch had been watching, Vix did not know.
“Thank you,” Vix said stiffly. She kept her eyes on her work, refusing to look at the witch. It was not proper to look at such an illustrious creature.
A hand on her shoulder made it impossible to ignore Ayla.
“Do you fear me?”
Vix raised her eyes about as far as Ayla’s bosom. “Of course.”
“Please, do not.”
It was not so easily done as said. The witch crackled with power, the air around her was charged with an energy Vix would have loved to harness if such a feat were possible. Fear was the proper reaction when encountering someone so far beyond the realm of the mundane.
“You are Ayla,” Vix said. “I have heard tales of you all my life.”
“I am a simple forest witch with a talent for healing, nothing more.”
Vix bowed her head, feigning agreement. If a glittering star wished to call itself a candle flame, so be it. She would not argue, for one did not argue with the heavens. Ayla could declare herself a pork pie and Vix would agree.
There was a soft sigh. “Your fear could prove dangerous,” Ayla said, slipping her fingers beneath Vix’s chin so that Vix was forced to meet her gaze.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Moon said, swinging from a nearby branch. “I am not afraid of anything.”
“That’s because herbs have dulled the part of your head that allows you to feel fear,” Vix said. “At this point, you are more plant than woman.”
“Thank you,” Moon beamed, “so sweet of you to say.”
Vix returned her smile. Moon was a most agreeable sort of person, the perfect companion in times of danger and concern.
“I have taken all the herbs in Lesbia at one time or another,” Moon said, changing the subject in a way that relieved Vix of the burden of Ayla’s attention. “I have taken them all, and each has left its little leafy mark upon me. I am a part of all that I have eat.”
Glancing up, Vix saw amusement written plainly on the forest witch’s face. Ayla found Moon charming, naturally. Moon was very charming. Even if one were to ignore her nudity, which Vix often did, Moon was so cheerful and open to everything the world held that it was impossible not to enjoy her company.
“I think there might be a few you have yet to taste,” Ayla said.
Ayla’s expression of mixed amusement and fondness set off a reactionary pang of jealousy in Vix. She wished the witch would look at her that way, but knew such a thing was out of the question. She was a woman of very little note, a tinker who had stumbled into trouble. She did not have Moon’s beauty and charm, or Kira’s strength and fortitude, or Ayla’s wisdom and charisma. All she had were her little works. And so she renewed her labors whilst Moon began nattering on about all manner of plants and potables.
Vix looked toward the sound, which came from the corner of the house. A young woman with dirty blonde hair and a wicked expression of glee plastered across her face was standing there. She winked at Vix and waved. Vix did not wave back. Neither Ayla nor Moon seemed to notice the interloper as she walked up and sat down beside Vix.
“She has a soft spot for herbalists,” the young woman said, indicating Ayla with a jab of her finger. “A full member of the sisterhood of travelling plants.”