Little Things: Magic Dust
Niami knew that her friend Rijacki wasn't someone who dealt well with mornings. Then again, she didn't deal so well with them herself most of the time. So, when Rijacki didn't answer her door at their appointed meeting time, Mum squinted at the sun, then made use of a spare housekey that she had been loaned.
Deciding to let sleeping gnomes lie, at least for a bit longer, a comfy-looking couch sitting in front of the fireplace caught her attention. Time for a nap while waiting. Naps goooddddd.
A short while later, Rijacki toddled down from the second story of her manor, yawning on the stairs. She wandered into her entry room that doubled as her personal workroom. Her eyes still bleary from the late night blowing up things in Unrest, she blinked a couple times to focus, watching her clockwork whirly-gig-thingy zapping the carnivorous plant. Yawning, she poked a finger up under her glasses to rub some more sand out of her eyes and shuffled along in her fluffy green robe and slippers.
Yawning widely again, she avoided the small circle of mushrooms next to the chemistry table and climbed onto the stool in front of the table. She focused her eyes and tried to get the cup of coffee left on the table into focus (so much easier to grab if you can see exactly where it is!). She stabbed out her hand and missed the cup. Then tried again and connected. She smiled and brought the cup toward her.
With the cup near her nose, she sniffed and wrinkled up her nose. Reaching into her robe pocket, she brought out a small vial, expertly opened the stopper with one hand, then dumped the contents into the cup. She then tossed the vial on to the pile of empties beside the chemistry table. Pointing her finger at the cup, she mumbled a couple unintelligible words, then zorted the contents to bring a nice little bit of steam wafting over the liquid.
Rijacki smiled and sipped the brew, making a face after tasting the concoction, then drank again more deeply, before setting her cup down on the chemistry table beside the retort.
Wake-up ritual complete, she reached over to the box of supplies she had stashed on the back of the table, sniffling and yawning as she opened the box.
"Bristlebane's Benefilous Dice! Who's been in my loam stash?!"
Rijacki tipped the multi-colored sands on to the chemistry table, swirling her finger through them.
A small noise came from the couch in the other half of the room.
"What? who's there?!"
Blinking groggily, Niami poked her head out from behind the couch while struggling to disentangle herself from an afghan that she'd burrowed into for her nap.
Rijacki blinked bemusedly. "OH! umm... Hihi. Umm.. forgot I asked you to drop by this morning. I wanted to show you.. umm.. something. Umm.. OH! some fae got in my loam supplies and littered all over them and turned them amazing colours. Come see!"
Mum wandered over to look, a bemused frown on her face, as Rijacki continued. "I knew no good would come of consorting with those winged things. Look what it's done to my loams. All sorts of colour, like a frightling of fae threw up all over them."
She poked at the coloured sands, some of which were still piled up, as Niami peered at them quizzically.
"Hmm, wonder if it changes how the concoctions brew." Pondering a moment more, Rijacki exclaimed, "Wait, has anything else changed? My roots, my little bits of metal, my, my, My Dusts!"
As Mum quickly stepped back out of the way, Rijacki threw open the cabinet above her chemistry table to see a whole range of small piles of white dust. She sighed carefully (so as to not disturb the dust) and closed the cabinet again.
She poked at the sand on the table again, biting her lower lip in thought. "Loams... different colours... loams..." she mumbled half under her breath.
To Mum's eye, the loams in question looked harmless enough, but looks could often be deceiving. "Time tae tes-"
"- test them!" Rijacki finished Niami's sentence. "Who knows what they'll do in my potions and poisons! Not to-"
This time it was Niami's turn to funish Rijacki's sentence. "- mention what it may do tae food an' drink! Stove, stove, I need a ... hrm ... can I borrow some of these?" Without waiting for a response, Mum deftly snagged a pinch of some of the orange loam, then a pinch of the purple. With a few mumbled words, she disappeared in a puff of illogic.
Swiftly Rijacki swept up the ingredients for a potion and sifted some of one colour with it into an empty retort. With a wiggle of her fingers, she fired up the flame below it and started melting them together and distilling them. The liquid slowly took shape and changed in colour as the chemical process progressed. Watching as the droplets began to form over a waiting vial Rijacki followed each drop as it dripped into the glass. Just before the liquid reached the top, she whipped out the full vial and slipped an empty in its place without missing a drop.
She sniffed the newly-made potion (coincidentally about the same colour as the one she used earlier on her coffee) and then held it up to the light of her pearl floor lamp. Like a connoisseur of fine wine, she appraised the colour and clarity, then gently swirled the liquid in the vial and observed its viscosity. She then took a very very small sip, swirling it in her mouth, a thoughtful look on her face. Spitting out the taste on the mushrooms growing beside the chemistry table, she nodded with a small smile.
"Colours. Should be easier to figure out which one to use in the morning!"
Meanwhile, Niami had teleported down the street to her own home, quickly making her way into the kitchen that took up the entire basement of her own manor.
Eyeing the ingredients already set out for another batch of cookies for Kiara's "Come to the Dark Side, We have Cookies" campaign, she shook her head in negation.
"Och, I do nae want tae mess those up! Let's see. Mayhaps ... ah, that will do th' trick!"
Deftly filleting up some blowfish that she had caught the day before, she seared it lightly in a cast-iron skillet, then tossed in some chopped roots and mushrooms, as well as a tiny sprinkle of the colored loam. Moving it over to the banked coals side of the stove for slower cooking, she left it simmering for a bit.
Mum then turned her attention to the still, setting up a concoction of hard cider, everfrost coffee, and another pinch of the orange loam.
While that percolated for a bit, she began a batch of cookies to be used as potential bribes for a harvesting project. She deftly used a fork on each walnut-sized ball of cookie dough, flattening it into cookie shape, complete with a distinctive criss-cross pattern on top from the fork's tines. Sprinking a bit of purple loam on top of each cookie, she popped them into the oven, then checked again on the fish.
Perfection. The colored loam didn't harm the dish at all, and it also added a lovely bit of color to the pale fish. Well, at least she had lunch taken care of!
She was equally happy with the results from the brewing and the cookies, and was just cleaning up the kitchen and laying out lunch as Rijacki arrived to compare notes.
"Ah, Rijacki-lass! Perfect timing! Th' colors did nae seem tae harm th' food or drink at all. I'm liking th' change, as it ..."
"... makes it MUCH easier to figure out which loam is which without ..." Rijacki continued, expansively gesturing with her arms as she spoke.
Mum's carnivorous plant, Audrey, was showing a bit too much interest in Rijacki's outflung arms. While she'd taught it that most houseguests were not to be considered food, gnomes had often been a special exception.
"... worrying about labels that fall off, get misread an' such, aye." An old hand at finishing each other's sentences, Mum finished up, never missing a beat as the Rolling Pin of Doom went into action.
After the plant was left sulking in the corner with the fish bones, scales and guts, Niami and Rijacki sat down to a colorful meal, discussing plans to mass-color their loams in the future. And, if they started burping bits of colorful dust up afterwards, both were too well-bred to make any rude comments about unladylike behavior.
Editorial note: Sometimes it really is all in the little things! GU36 will introduced tier-based color coding for all harvested loams, making it easier for you to find the ones that you need in a mixed bag of ... stuff. For details regarding this and other tradeskill-related items in GU36, check out Mum's "(Not So) Little Things" guide to GU36.
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