The Day of First Sun
Steam wafted from the cauldron as bubbles popped and pinged against the iron sides. The boiling potion gave off a pungent vapor that moistened Annie Pearce’s face and frizzed her massive wave of curls. She wiped away the sweat with her sleeve and checked the heat beneath the oversized cauldron, reducing the blue and orange flames. Though the heat was lower, the flames still danced and pulsed as they cooked the holy water.
Stirring the potion calmed her apprehension and siphoned some excess adrenaline she always felt before facing a vampire. But then, this wasn’t an average vampire.
The timer beeped and, standing on bare toes, Annie peeked inside the pot. The clear liquid bubbled softly, so she shut off the fire before dumping a bucket of ice into the mixture. As cold met hot, the potion hissed like an angry snake, sending more steam in the air. Unfazed, Annie sang along with P!nk’s “Who Knew” as it blared from the small radio near the stove.
As the potion cooled, Annie loaded supplies into a field pack. First came an abridged version of her Book of Shadows. The tome contained potions, spells, and notes—an accumulation of Annie’s life experiences with magic. The book had grown exponentially over her five years with the Wizard Guard; thumbing through the book, she was amazed and maybe a little proud by its thickness.
The book fit nicely beside several ash stakes, each whittled to the sharpest point, good for piercing the skin and the breast bone of a vampire. On top of those lay a rolled map of Chicago tied with a scrying crystal necklace.
Three songs played on the radio by the time Annie finished gathering and packing her supplies. After closing up the pack, she poked her head into the cauldron and immersed a pinky finger in the potion.
Rummaging through the kitchen cabinets belonging to her best friend and Wizard Guard partner Bobby “Cham” Chamsky, she found a stash of small glass vials, grabbed a handful and placed them in a haphazard cluster on the counter. Filling twelve—more than enough to take down the vampire—she tucked half of the bottles deep inside her field pack to prevent shifting during teleportation. The rest she left for Cham.
“Isn’t the potion done yet? It smells like it’s burnt,” he complained from the dining room.
Rolling her eyes and arching her back Annie glared at him. His scrying crystal glowed bright white, and he marked another location on the map next to the several already drawn that night.
“I’m a potion master. It’s not burnt. Haven’t you found him yet?” she asked defensively.
Cham glanced up and offered a grimace. “Yeesh. He’s never in one place long enough to confirm his location.”
Burn my potion, right.
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