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WithAmandFra

Plots, Potions and Omens

Topic: 'Good Omens', 'There was a spark.'- first line, 'Verisimilitude'
 
AN: I had a lot of fun writing this. It's a continuation of April, Week 2's topic. I apologize for the length, but I hope you all like it anyway. 


 There was a spark. Then, a cackling sound came from the mixture as it filled the room with thick, white fumes.

Annalise waved her hand over her face to dissipate the odor around her. It was not an overly unpleasant smell, but fumes like those were notorious for dulling the senses. She needed her utmost concentration if she was going to pull this off.

“Elizabeth, open the window, would you?”

The only other occupant of the room, a woman others in the palace only knew as Annalise’s attendant, did as she asked. She was just as careful, fanning the fumes out of the window to make sure they weren’t thick enough for anyone outside to notice. “Are you sure no one can hear that noise it’s making?” Elizabeth asked, in a hushed tone. “Or get a whiff of that scent?”

Annalise nodded, a gesture Elizabeth almost didn’t see in the dim moonlight. “I’m sure. You stuffed the cloth under the doorway like I asked you too, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Then we have nothing to worry about.”

The two turned their focus back to the potion. It was still cackling, though not as loudly as it had earlier. They observed it in silence as they waited for it to quiet down completely.

Even if Annalise had successfully made this potion many times before, she was especially meticulous about its preparation now. Her marriage to the king was only half a month away and even a small error would cost her everything she had worked for, something she realized a fortnight ago when a mistaken ingredient rendered the mixture completely ineffective. 

That was the funny thing about the Essence of Verisimilitude: though its effects were quite simple, it had to be prepared precisely according to the original instructions or it would prove useless. The Essence of Verisimilitude gave her an aura of truthfulness and served as the core of her deception. It allowed her to gain the king’s complete faith in her and avoid virtually all suspicion from the court by masking the air of her rather devious purposes with one of a genuine devotion to the king. It helped her fool even the most intuitive of the king’s subjects. 

That was, of course, until she had botched up the batch two weeks ago and was nearly ousted by a couple of goons who thought themselves loyal officials. Thankfully, the king was either too dense or too smitten with her to echo their mistrust. She saw this as a major accomplishment of hers, seeing as winning the king’s heart was the one essential part of the plan she had to achieve without magic and she had done it so effectively anyway. 
 
Still, she could not set the success of her plans completely on the king’s affections. Annalise knew that perfection was the only thing that would suffice now that she was so close to success and resolved to take every possible precaution. Knowing it was too easy for her to make a mistake when on her own, she asked the king to summon Elizabeth, a fellow sorceress and familiar acquaintance, to the palace on the pretense of needing an attendant. Discreetly, they both gathered the ingredients needed for the potion, tirelessly measuring quantities and choosing only the best of their supply. They hid their provisions from any watchful eyes and planned the night of its preparation as best they could to avoid detection. The work was painstaking, but it would be worth it if the potion worked out the way she needed it to. 

The cackling finally stopped. Annalise took two small vials and a spoon from the table beside her. Carefully, she took up some of the pure liquid and carefully spooned the small amount to fill the vials. One was for herself, the other for Elizabeth as an extra safeguard. One dose would serve them until the next fortnight. The rest of the potion would be useless in a day. 

“You’re going to have to bury the rest of this in the woods at morning,” she said to Elizabeth, handing her one vial and tightly holding her own. “It’ll be useless to keep it all here.”

Elizabeth nodded.
 
“I’m going to need the utensils cleaned and put away too. I’d do it all myself but I have to spend most of the day with the king and he’ll notice if I’m not rested,” Annalise continued. 

“Alright,” her friend replied. 

“And we mustn’t forget to take out the cloth under the door. Also, the window needs to be closed...” Annalise trailed off, looking out toward the half-moon as she restlessly thought of more precautions to take.

Elizabeth, who had observed this rambling, suddenly let out a small chuckle.

Annalise turned to her and narrowed her eyes. “I’d like to know what’s so amusing.”
 
Unfazed, Elizabeth grinned and said rather lightly, “In all the years I’ve known you, you were never the type to worry, Annalise. I just find it interesting to see how you’re dealing with this.”
 
The queen-to-be’s frown deepened slightly. “You wouldn’t be so entertained if you were in my place. It’s hard to wrap my head around success now that it’s come so close. Besides, I have much more to lose if all of this fails.” As she said this, she corked her vial and put it down on the small table.
 
“And so much more to gain,” her friend replied. “I wouldn’t worry so much, Annalise. From the signs I’ve seen, I think things will go your way.” Elizabeth corked her own vial as well. The potion would be at its most effective an hour after preparation, when the magic would completely manifest itself in the mixture. They would take it then.

Annalise grew perplexed “Signs like what exactly?”
 
Elizabeth thought about this for a moment. “Well, there was that songbird outside your window this morning, there wasn’t much dew on the grass in the fields, and it’s a cloudless night. All signs of good fortune.”
 
Annalise burst out laughing, something she rarely ever did sincerely. “My goodness, Elizabeth, don’t tell me you still believe in that childish omen business. It was alright when we were children but don’t you think you’re a bit too old those superstitions?”

“Some of them make sense, you know,” her friend replied, rather defensively. “Moons made half of light and half of dark, strengthen magic’s eternal spark. Something that you believe in, I suppose, seeing as you scheduled your fortnight periods according to the half-moons.”
 
“It’s a well-known fact that half-moons make a good night for magic, Elizabeth. It has nothing to do with that.”

Elizabeth sighed. “Fine, be cynical about it, if that’s what you want. I just thought it would make you less uneasy to know that Fate is on your side.”

As much as she wanted some relief, Annalise wasn’t about to pin her hopes on baseless superstitions. She knew better, and she knew that if she would succeed, it wasn’t going to be because of luck. “Fate has nothing to do with it,” she replied. “But thank you for trying to comfort me, nevertheless.”

They spent most of the remaining hour in silence, Elizabeth sometimes making small talk in an attempt to banish some of the worries in Annalise’s mind. Then, when the time had come, they both uncorked their vials and took their doses of the Essence of Verisimilitude. Whether the potion was effective or not was something they could only find out tomorrow, when it’s influence could be seen working on those around them. Hopefully, it would also ward off any suspicions she had raised after last fortnight’s botched mixture.

Knowing that there was nothing more to be gained by worrying about the success of her endeavors, Annalise resolved to push her anxiety to the back of her mind and to get some rest for tomorrow. Elizabeth, meanwhile, tidied up as quickly and quietly as she could, not forgetting to close the window or get the rags out from under the door as Annalise had asked.

And for the rest of the night, things in the queen-to-be’s room were as normal as they could possibly be.


The next morning, Annalise was greeted by the king almost immediately after she had left her rooms.

“Ready for breakfast?” he asked casually, offering her his arm. He was flanked by his head advisor and the Captain his Guard, both did not look particularly pleased but didn’t seem to completely object as well. They seemed unsure now of their doubts concerning her, which meant that the Essence was taking effect.

She let out her best doting laugh and took his arm with a pleased smile. “Of course, My King.” Each action and gesture, she planned perfectly to keep up her ruse.

“That’s great, because I ordered the cook to serve your favorites today,” he told Annalise, taking her hand in his and giving it a small squeeze.

She widened her smile and looked up to gaze at him as lovingly as she could. “What a treat!”

At receiving this little reward, the king looked pleased with himself.“And maybe after breakfast, we can continue some of our preparations for the wedding…”

As the king continued talking about plans for their matrimony, Annalise felt a sense of relief fill her. Everything seemed to be pointing to her success: the king was waiting on her hand and foot, the court remained relatively clueless of her intentions, and she was now a day closer to accomplishing what she had come here for.

Good omens, Elizabeth would call them. And in her newfound calm, Annalise was willing to admit that she could be right.


 

Comments

Your use of the prompt fit in with your characters perfectly! Wow!
Thank you :) The prompts have been scarily compatible with my plot ideas recently which is both creepy and awesome.

Also, nice to see you on BF again :)
Wow, nice. I wouldn't have thought to take this approach. And this is part of an overarching plot?
Thanks :) It's part of a plot I worked on three weeks ago which I will be continuing. I guess you could call it an overarching plot :D
love the line "...couple of goons who thought themselves loyal officials" heehee. Nice job!
Thanks! Well, you know what they say: One man's goon is another man's best buddy or something like that. =))
Looks very interesting... I guess I'm going to have to go back and read April week 2, hmm?
Thank you, and I suppose so :)

Here's the link if you want it:

http://openedlocket.livejournal.com/55847.html#cutid1
This was a great use of the prompts, especially verisimilitude which was, for me, the most tricky to incorporate! Well done! Definitely one of the most engaging I've read from you so far, and it was awesome that you came back to these characters.

If you return to them again in the future, perhaps you can explore what the motivations are behind Annalise's actions. Is there any reason she wants to be queen?

Great job!
Thanks! I'm really happy that my use of verisimilitude worked well in the story.

Yeah, I've been planning to get to that in a later piece but I haven't been able to get it done. There is a reason she wants to be queen, but I still have to sort out those motivations in my head.

Thanks again for reading :D
Well I look forward to learning more about her, then! :D

EDITOR: Part One

Hey, OL! I’m Tox, one of your editors this week, and I’m very excited to be doing this. I’m pretty sure we’ve met in this capacity before, so I won’t go into that whole “here’s how I roll” thing. Let’s just get to the editing, shall we?

There was spark. Then, a cackling sound came from mixture as it filled the room with thick, white fumes.

First off, I’m VERY excited you had fun this week! It’s been so interesting to see how everyone starts off at the same point and then goes off in a thousand different directions. But, setting that aside, I do have one little content remark here. I feel like there’s a word missing in “…sound came from mixture…”

“Elizabeth, open the window, would you?”

This isn’t technically wrong the way you have it separated from the rest of the narrative, but I keep wanting to lump it together.

“Are you sure no one can hear that noise it’s making?” Elizabeth asked, in a hushed tone. “Or get a whiff of that scent?”

On the other hand, I feel like this should be separated because it gets a little lost in the narrative.

That was the funny thing about the Essence of Verisimilitude: though its effects were quite simple, it had to be prepared precisely according to the original instructions or it would prove useless.

AHAHA!!! Oh, very nice! I think you’re the ONLY person to use the advanced prompt this way!

They hid their provisions from any watchful eyes, and planned the night of its preparation as best they could to avoid detection.

Since the two clauses here share a common subject matter, the comma after “eyes” isn’t needed.

Carefully, she took up some of pure liquid and carefully spooned the small amount to fill the vials.

I think there’s a missing word in “…up some of pure…”

“And so much more to gain,” she replied.

On first reading this, I thought it was Annalise answering herself. I think specifying who the speaker is here would be good.

“Some of them make sense, you know,” her friend replied, rather defensively. “Moons made half of light and half of dark, strengthen magic’s eternal spark. Something that you believe in, I suppose, seeing as you scheduled your fortnight periods according to the half-moons.”

Haha! Again, very nice play on the prompt. I also really, REALLY like this story. The characters are intriguing and their dynamic is fun and natural. I’m very interested in the plot and how it’ll unfold. Great work!

“Fate has nothing to do with it,” the replied. “But thank you for trying to comfort me, nevertheless.”

Hmm… running trend here with words missing. Some of these a spell check would’ve caught for being an incomplete sentence. Just be careful of this for future work.

He was flanked by his head advisor and the Captain his Guard, both did not look particularly pleased but didn’t seem to completely object as well.

That comma after “Captain his Guard” (missing word there as well) should either be a period or semicolon.

“Of course, My King.”

Okay, when using high forms of address like this, they wouldn’t be capitalized. It should be “my king” or “my lady” or whatever. The ONLY time royal addresses get capitalized are for cases like “Your Highness”, “Her Majesty”, etc.

Overall Impressions:

Awesome work! There were a few little details that slipped by, mostly those pesky missing words, but otherwise this was very cleanly written. Your punctuation was pretty much spot on, the story progression and characterization smooth, pleasant, and very well crafted, and the ending left me asking questions and wanting to find out more – all the trademarks of a story well told. Nicely done!

Re: EDITOR: Part One

Thanks! When I saw these prompts, thinking about all the different ways I could use them is what really got me going for this week and I'm glad it payed off.

Darn those incomplete sentences. I feel so silly for skipping over random words. I just read past them for some reason. I'll correct them immediately!

I'll also fix the forms of address I've used.

Thank you so much for the edit. Your critique really helps, and I'm glad you liked the piece.

I remember this one! I am definitely pleased to see more of Annalise's POV, and to see a bit more into her motivation. She's an interesting character; although, like Thora, I'd like to understand more about why she is doing this at all.

One thing that did put me off a bit is that in the first paragraph, you left out two words. I believe the prompt was to use "There was a spark" at the beginning, and you left out "a". Same with "Came from mixture" ... I think you're missing an article there. But those are easy fixes!

Nice work. :)
Thanks! I'm going to get to her intentions in the next weeks to come. (After finals probably, as they have taken over my life at the moment.)

Ah, those missing words. I'll fix them now. They popped out in this piece with surprising frequency.

:D Thanks again.