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Monthly Short Story Winner: Potions and Elixirs

Chaos and Alchemy cover by ChrisRa

Outside of RPGs and adventure games, potions hadn’t been very popular until a certain professor humiliated a little wizard student lesson after lesson in his potion class. This month our entrants were to show us there is more to potions than Severus Snape, Felix Felices and Polyjuice Potion.

Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. A potion or elixir has to be relevant to the story.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.

This month’s winning story was by Darren Ambs, with “Goldenfoot, the Brave”.

Congrats on your win, Darren!

You can find all our entries here.

And now on with the story!

– – –

“Goldenfoot, the Brave”
by Darren Ambs

The old gray-haired rabbit tossed his apron on the table and plopped onto the bench opposite Theo. Tears stained his eyes, his ears limp. “I’ll never see you again, will I?”

Theo looked away from his father, and found himself staring at the ragged sack on the bench next to him. What could he say? Maybe he would be back one day? It wouldn’t fix anything. Give his father hope and it would tear his heart every day that he didn’t return. No, he couldn’t avoid this.

“I-”

His father hopped to his hind feet, wrapped his arms around Theo, and wept.

“I knew this was coming,” father said a time later, glancing at the sack. “You hear rumors when it comes to things like this.”

“We’re out of options,” Theo said.

“Turning into a monster is an option?” Father shook his head. “Why you, Theodore?”

There were plenty of others willing, that was certain. But, in the end, he only trusted himself to do it.

“I have to go,” he said, grabbing the sack. His father walked him to the bar door where they hugged a long while.

“I love you, son.”

“I love you.”

The moment he turned and walked away was the hardest thing he had ever done.

He arrived at Senator Swayback’s burrow an hour later. Deep below the main keep were secret tunnels that connected every major rabbit’s home in the entire warren. And, most importantly, it had tunnels that led far away from the warren into the open forest.

Seven rabbits filled the small chamber. All were members of the Senate or Presidential family, with the exception of Eloine. The only ones, apart from his father, that knew exactly what he was about to do.

He handed the sack to Eloine who dumped the contents onto her workbench. “This is everything I asked for?”

Theo nodded to the chemist. “Lady blossoms from across the plain, two husks of lok root, five blades of blue grass, the eye of a golden kangaroo rat, mineral dust from the caves of the highland bats-”

“And a very special tooth,” Eloine said, holding up the massive thing to inspect. “Perfect.” She began combining the ingredients into a pot and added a blue liquid that had been boiling when he entered.

Senator Swayback shuffled over, whiskers low and voice lower. “Theo, we all know you’re a brave rabbit. Carrots man, everyone will know your name by morning. But, how in Garden’s Sanctuary did you get the eye of a kangaroo rat?”

Theo smiled as he watched the tooth disintegrate into the liquid. “Some things, Senator, are best left to the imagination.”

Eloine poured the neon potion into a small glass vial and stoppered it with cork. “Now,” she said, voice serious. “Take this when you are clear of the tunnel. If they catch you with it, you may not have a chance to drink.”

“How long will I have?” Theo reached out and took the vial delicately.

“I have never made a potion of this magnitude as I made perfectly clear before. With any luck, it will be immediate. The most important part of this will be your memory.”

He squeezed his free forefoot tight. He hadn’t told his father this part. How do you explain to someone that not only were you going away forever, but you would no longer have any memory of what you left behind?

“You’ll have a day. Maybe two at best.” He nodded, doing his best to keep his ears up.

President Silvercoat stood at the front of the room. “Thank you, Theodore Goldenfoot. Violence must always be a last resort, but we cannot allow the Nightstalkers to continue their attacks. Your sacrifice will save this warren. Tomorrow, we will celebrate you.”

Everyone in the burrow thumped a foot.

Shortly afterward, when all had given their thanks and praise, Theodore Goldenfoot traveled the mile and a half of tunnel that led away from the warren and into the district of Tall Trees. He reached the end of the tunnel just before it turned upward to the surface. He took out the vial, popped the cork, said a prayer, and let the bitter potion ooze down his throat. He waited several minutes, heart thumping, whiskers jerking.

Nothing.

Doubt crept into his mind. Eloine did say she had never made a potion like this before. What did she get wrong? He’d have to go back!

Dirt peppered him from above as massive arms wrapped around him. He was hauled up into the cold night air, then slammed onto the ground. His breath was kicked from him as he struggled to stand.

“I got one!” A deep voice called out. Footsteps rushed toward him from behind. “Hidin’ in this here hole, he was.”

Theo caught his breath, finally able to focus on the red faces around him. Wide, toothy faces. Nightstalker foxes. “Let’s rip him apart.”

“Calm down, Ferrel,” one said, placing a claw below Theo’s chin. “I’ve seen him before. Was at the parley last week when we brought back those pelts.”

“You sure, Trot?”

“Oh yeah,” Trot said, coming closer, eyes wide with hunger. “I had my eye on him, all right.”

Why in all Garden’s Sanctuary did the potion not work! Carrots! Work! Calm yourself. Think through this. Theo found the words that had felt so far away.

“I am the negotiator,” he said. “I have an offer for your skulk chief.” Theo’s nose twitched, then he lost all scent. “I have authority from our herd’s President to offer payment.”

The two foxes laughed, then shackled his wrists in twig cuffs.

“Well,” Trot said. “On to the chief.”

They led him deep into the Tall Trees until they reached a place where two fallen trees joined together. Below was a dug out den which was guarded by four Nightstalkers.

Ferrel kept him close while Trot spoke with one of the guards. Theo winced as a sharp pain struck his hind leg, his muscles convulsing, then it was gone.

Ferrel chuckled. “Legs gon’ limp, have they?”

Theo growled under his breath, then gasped. He had growled. Rabbits don’t growl.

Castor, the Nightstalker chief, appeared a moment later and walked right up to Theo, slashing him with his claws. Theo fell backward, his cheek on fire. Blood seeped into his fur, but the pain faded as a hot surge engulfed every inch of his body. Theo’s ears began to tingle.

“I have already given my terms,” Castor said, his voice a high-pitched squawk. “Fifty of your thickest bunnies. That is the only offer. Anything less and we will continue to pick your warren apart. One. By. One.”

The others laughed, showing their teeth. Theo tried to speak, but his throat slammed shut, his chest was so tight it felt ready to burst.

“I have grown tired with your deliberations,” Castor said, pacing around Theo. “We are Nightstalkers!”

His skulk cheered, raising their paws.

He stopped in front of Theo, grabbing him by the ear. “The fact is, we won’t ever stop.” He threw Theo to the ground. “Four other warrens have all fallen. Yours will be next. But, it won’t be the last.”

That moment, Theo let out a breath that carried a wisp of blue smoke. Then, he lurched forward and screeched as if struck by a hawk. He could hear their laughter once more. The shackles broke before Theo knew what was happening. He felt like he was flying, raised high above the ground. He felt power entering his legs, a tight wrapping of muscle and sinew. Thick skin and fur replaced his soft plush, his ears tightened, his nose straightened. His tongue poked from his mighty jaws, licking the backside of his long, massive teeth.

Laughter gave way to cries of horror. Castor backed away, terror clear on his face. “I offer our response to your terms,” Theo said, his voice the booming bark of a grey wolf.

He lunged, caught Castor in his jaws and thrashed.

He dropped the Nightstalker’s chief’s body, then leapt at Ferrel, tearing a fatal gash into his hide. He dealt with Trot in the same manner, then chased down the guards who had run and tore them to pieces.

Theo sat on his hind legs, panting. He felt the triumph first, then the weight of his actions crashed down on top of him. Nightstalker bodies lay scattered about, the entire skulk eliminated. The warren was safe.

Tears fell as his father’s face appeared in the back of his mind. He smiled, howled a long mournful note that would travel back to the warren and pierce its tunnels, then ran. He ran as hard as his new body would take him. He had to get as far away from the warren as he could, before his memories of the rabbits were gone, and all that remained was the wolf.

– – –

Congratulations again to Darren! If you’d like to enter our monthly writing contest, check out our forum for more information.

Happy Writing!

Title image by ChrisRa.

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Rating: 9.1/10 (10 votes cast)
Monthly Short Story Winner: Potions and Elixirs, 9.1 out of 10 based on 10 ratings
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4 Comments

  1. ScarletBea says:

    I really *love* this story!!

  2. Amanda says:

    I love it as well! Cheers to many many more!

  3. Lady Ty says:

    Great story, one I enjoyed and will remember :}

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