“The first potion we will brew is a simple one. Despite its simplicity, it tends to be one of the most useful.” Professor Lurcher held up a small flask of light blue liquid. “It goes by many names depending on where you are. Anything from a quick fix elixir to the ostentatious ‘panacea.'”
Irene jotted down every word into her notebook. Potions, and alchemy in general, was not her best subject nor the one she was most interested in. That made it all the more important to pay attention.
It wasn’t that she saw no value in the subject. Alchemy filled many gaps left by regular thaumaturgy. Healing, for one. There were no spells that mended bone and flesh. Potions could be used to that end.
No, Irene definitely saw value in the subject. The problem was simply that potion making never made any sense. None of her tutors before school started could ever explain why ingredients provided seemingly unrelated effects when mixed.
Jordan couldn’t even tell her, and he liked the subject.
Unfortunately for Irene, the potion they would brew in class seemed to follow the nonsensical pattern.
Professor Lurcher quickly went through the ingredients, their amounts, and specific brewing instructions. All together it was a glowing mushroom, skimmed pond scum, powdered flame salamander eggshell, dirt from an anthill, and a tiny dab of low SPF suntan lotion.
At least he explained that suntan lotion wasn’t always used in this potion. It simply became a cheap alternative to rarer ingredients. The dirt was added to the recipe at the same time to help absorb unnecessary chemicals from the lotion.
Not a single sentence was spared for discussing why one might use dirt from an anthill rather than dirt from a termite hill.
How much a tiny dab consisted of went unsaid as did brand or specific type.
Maybe this potion doesn’t need specifics for the lotion, Irene thought as she glanced at all the precise measuring tools on their counters. None of them were labeled as a dab.
“I must stress that it is not a panacea. In some cases, the quick fix elixir may make things worse. Do not administer it if the subject is suffering from heart problems, missing or broken limbs, shortness of breath, or infections. If you don’t know if you should or shouldn’t give a dose, do not do so.”
It took almost half the lesson to go over the potion’s effects. Irene diligently wrote down every downside the potion could have. He went on to list several side effects like bloating, temporary tongue extensions, sore earlobes, full body hair loss, swollen feet, death, and more; Irene was sure she never wanted to take a quick fix elixir.
That reluctance only increased when the list of benefits was drastically shorter.
“It is good for most headaches, sore throats, nausea, most digestive problems, and minor injuries. It has a short boost to your body’s natural blood generation and will help close up small cuts.” He stopped and almost glared at the class. “As you can see, it is not a panacea. If you’re willing to risk the side effects, it can be effective for small things.”
Eva let out a short snort from her seat next to Irene.
Irene wasn’t sure why she chose to sit next to the black-haired girl. Probably because Shelby snatched up the seat next to Jordan and, given her collection of potions on the trip over, Eva had to be better at potions than Max was.
She wasn’t sure that was the right choice.
Eva never took notes. Sure, the first few days of going over lab equipment and safety procedures were not that interesting. What if something happened? What was Eva going to do then?
Even now that they were starting on their first actual potion, Eva hadn’t written down a single word. She didn’t even have a notebook out.
And Professor Lurcher hadn’t missed her scoff.
“Something the matter, Spencer?”
“I’ve told you before to call me Eva.” The girl’s tone had a distinct edge to it that Irene did not want leveled her way. “And there is something wrong. All that drivel you just spouted, Wayne Lurcher. I’ve taken possibly hundreds of general remedy potions, and seen plenty of other people take them. Not once have I seen any of your listed side effects.”
“Then I suggest you exercise caution in the future. Regardless of your personal experiences, Spencer, people can and do suffer more than they’re cured when they take a quick fix elixir.”
Eva just glared at the teacher, probably for using her last name again rather than his berating her. For whatever reason, her name seemed to be a sore spot for the girl. Still, she didn’t raise her voice at the professor again.
Irene gathered the ingredients from the professor’s desk. She set to grinding eggshells while Eva diced mushrooms.
The lotion, dirt, and pond scum all went into a flask of water. It was heated over the burner. Irene measured out an exact amount of her eggshell powder and dumped it in while Eva just eyeballed the number of mushroom chunks to put in.
They carefully stirred the murky brown and green goop. The temperature had to be regulated constantly. It needed to stay hot for a few moments before cooling for another few moments and back again. Eva volunteered to maintain the temperature.
She did not seem to pay attention to the thermometer.
Irene’s fingers twitched at that. She felt a need to take over from Eva and follow the directions in the book. Before she could protest her partner’s irresponsible brewing, the potion completed.
In the blink of an eye, the opaque goop turned clear with a light blue tint.
Irene shook her head. I hate potions, she thought as bottled up a small vial and dropped it off at Professor Lurcher’s desk.