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RAVENNA SPENT the night curled in her chair, watching the world unfold outside her window

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RAVENNA SPENT the night curled in her chair, watching the world unfold outside her window. It stormed all night, the darkness of sky shattered by spider webs of lightning. The sunlight slowly forced itself through the clouds, through the wispy branches of the trees that surrounded the property.

The book refused to unlock for her, no matter how often she checked it.

Disgruntled, she stood and started to rummage through her belongings. It had been a while since she'd entered the village, and her clothes needed to be washed. She put a possible outfit out on the bed. It stunk the least compared to her other dress.

As she began to undress, her gaze fell upon the dresser. It was pressed against the wall opposite from where she stood. Curious, she moved forward. It wouldn't surprise her if the drawers were filled with clothes. He'd gotten her a dress before.

The first drawer that she opened was barren, filled only with a layer of dust. The second drawer, however, was filled with various garments of different colors. Shaking her head, she withdrew a light blue dress and held it up to her torso. It seemed the be just the right fit. Her gaze darted back at the dirty dress that was spread out on her bed, hesitant.

Ravenna cleaned herself up and wrestled into the clean dress. If she'd worn the dirty dress, she risked polluting the somewhat clean air within the town and destroying the nostrils of the friendly townsfolk. When she was finished, she checked the spell book again, with no luck, and emerged from her room, going downstairs to look for breakfast.

As she roamed the hallways downstairs, she noticed Caelan. He stood in front of a table, in a room that looked a lot like his workspace back at the cabin. Instead of being surrounded by open spell books like in his study, however, he seemed to be surrounded by weird jars of ingredients. A small cauldron sat atop the table, a frothy liquid bubbling over its rim.

She ignored her inner curiosity and pushed on to the kitchen. She grabbed an apple and then returned to where she'd seen Caelan.

"What are you making?" she asked as she entered the room.

He didn't respond at first. His eyes remained glued to the open scroll in front of him, a finger pressed against the crinkled paper. His other hand held a glob of green slime. He hesitated and then held the slime over the cauldron. Slowly, he squeezed the slime between his fingers, allowing it to stretch toward the frothy liquid. The moment it touched the liquid, it started to sizzle.

"I am attempting to perfect a spell that I have been working on," he murmured, almost too soft for her to hear. His expression was that of pure concentration.

She glanced toward the window. Sunlight pierced the clouds, forcing its light upon the world. The tavern would be open by now, yet she hesitated. "What is the spell supposed to do?" she couldn't help but ask.

Caelan released the last of the slime into the cauldron. It hit the solution with a loud pop, and then sizzled. Froth flashed a rainbow of colors, bubbling over the rims. As the solution fell toward the table, it dispersed into clouds of light green. "If it works," he said, "It will allow me to create a collection of magical servants. It's tricky, though. I haven't perfected the right amount of personality. I need them to be able to function on their own, even without my orders, but not enough to feel that they can be their own actual person."

Ravenna was taken aback. "Magical servants? As in, a person?"

"Somewhat."

His nose pinched. Clouds of smoke billowed from the cauldron now, spreading throughout the room and floating toward the ceiling. He reached out and grabbed something, a small jar. Its contents were skewed by the smoke. She watched as he reached his fingers inside the mouth of the jar, digging around at whatever was inside. He withdrew his fingers and dropped a pinch full of white powder into the cauldron.

The smoke dissipated. Caelan grasped the sides of the cauldron. He pushed it forward, until the cauldron rested on its side, and the solution inside poured out. It dripped toward the floor, no longer green. It was now a soft pink, fleshy color.

It pooled on the floor, a gooey mess. Caelan moved around the table to stand before it. He waved a glowing hand and watched, expressionless, as the solution stretched toward the ceiling. It pirouetted in the air, twisting around itself, and then expanded. An oddly shaped face appeared, then a pair of twiggy arms and legs.

"Move the cauldron back to its spot on the shelf," Caelan instructed.

The fleshy creature tilted its head. It stared at the cauldron, long and hard. It made no motion to move or follow Caelan's orders.

After a few more minutes, Caelan sighed and snapped his fingers. "Another failure," he announced. The creature melted to the floor. He waved his hand over the solution once more, and Ravenna watched as it flowed through the air, back into the cauldron.

"That was amazing," she said.

He arched an eyebrow at her. "It isn't perfected yet. The moment that the servant actually does as I ask it to, I will be impressed."

"Is it something that I could help with?" she asked. She stared at the cauldron, a thousand ideas racing through her head. A magical servant would be so useful. It was hard to believe that no one had attempted to create a spell for the idea yet. There were endless possibilities that could be idealized with the spell. Household servants, delivery servants, farm workers, even soldiers for an army.

Caelan eyed her warily. "There is not much that you could contribute as of right now. This spell is still in its early experimental stages, and can easily go wrong. One wrong drop could lead to an army of defiant creatures that could turn against us."

Ravenna pouted. She took a bite of her apple. "I'm going out then."

A muted snort escaped Caelan. "The spell book is still locked, I see."

Her scowl was partially hidden behind her breakfast. He started to chuckle. She grouchily scanned over the room again, focused on the ingredients that were spread out in front of Caelan. That unmarked glass jar, filled halfway with white powder. A few herbs, a small mountain of brown clay, and several berries. The ingredients seemed so simple. The urge to ask about that white powder became overwhelming.

"I'll see you at dinner," she told him, pushing away from the doorframe and starting toward the door. "Good luck with the spell."

Caelan didn't respond.

Caelan didn't respond

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Ugh. Between battling constant illness and a massive amount of classwork, this semester has almost defeated me, I swear. My goal is that I will be able to start writing again by tomorrow night or Thursday night. We will see how it goes though. Your continued support and patience is amazing! <3

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