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If Mylne could stay awake through her grandfather’s lessons on alchemical sorcery and being an apothecary, she would improve her skills at both.  She pondered this one morning as she sat on the rock that Mr. Craig hid under (he didn’t mind it today).  She could brew a good number of potions now and use many skills in dungeoneering.  However, Grandpa and others said that understanding it all was important to improvement.  But many of Grandpa’s books and lectures were too complicated for Mylne.  How could she follow along and learn?

One problem was that it was a good day outside.  The sun streaming through the forest canopy was warm, the soft breeze made the leaves rustle comfortably, and there were things to do around every turn: fishing, searching out ingredients, playing with friends.  If the weather was stormy, that was a good time to stay inside.  Maybe she could make a rainy day with a potion like Coldwind Bloom?  But that wouldn’t actually help her stay awake during lectures.  She needed a potion to stay awake and focused, instead of yawning and becoming drowsy.

“Hmm, I need a yawn be gone potion,” Mylne said to herself, then smiled.  “I could make it myself!  Um, I’ll need ingredients that give lots of energy.  I should ask people what would work.”  She hopped off the rock and leaned over.  “Mr. Craig?  Can I ask you something?”

Craig lifted the rock up a little.  “What is it, Mylne?”

“What do you do when you want to stay awake?” she asked.

He gave it a moment’s thought.  “Sorry, I’ve never thought of that.  I sleep when I’m tired and wake up when I’m not.  That’s all.”

“That’s fine,” Mylne said.  “I’m just trying to figure out how to not fall asleep during Grandpa’s lectures.”

“Patience usually works when listening,” Craig said.  “I have patience naturally.  You should grow some as you grow older.  That’s natural.”

“Hmm, okay,” she said.  Patience was a good thing.  Still, she wanted to figure out the potion.  Mylne when over to the giant red mushroom that stood by her home.  “Good morning, Mr. Mushroom!”

“Good morning, Mylne,” the Mushroom Sprite said, emerging from the mushroom.  “What are you doing today?”

“I’m gonna make my own potion,” she said with a smile.  “I need to know a few things first.  What makes you feel awake and alert?”

“Rain and shadows,” he said.  “I don’t know if that will work for others, though.  Mushrooms awaken after a good rain.”

“Oh yeah, you find lots of little mushrooms after a rain,” Mylne said.  “Thanks for answering anyhow!”

“You’re welcome,” the Mushroom Sprite said with a wave.  “Good luck with your potion.”

She next found the Scholar sitting by the riverbank, writing down some notes.  “Good morning, Mr. Scholar!” Mylne said.  “What’re you doing?”

“Recording my research for posterity,” he said, taking a moment to crack his knuckles.  “Good morning.  What are you up to today?”

“Researching for a potion,” she said.  “What do you use when you need to stay awake?”

“Coffee,” he replied immediately.  “It’s the backbone of modern civilization, the morning medication of every working adult!  It’s hard to come by here in this forest, but it’s worth the trip to town to get.  Unfortunately, it’s too bitter for children to appreciate.  Even the forest sprites make faces and call it muddy water.  But the Bard appreciates a good coffee too.”

The taste of a thing didn’t matter as much in a potion as long as the other things in it tasted better.  Coffee was a possible ingredient, but if the Scholar had to go to town for it, he might not give some up.  “I see.  Thanks for your answer!”

“Anything that furthers research,” the Scholar said, going back to his notes.

While the Bard was at his usual spot in the forest, he was doing some work on his lute.  Three of the forest sprites were playing around near the ruins.  “Hi Mylne!” one of them said.

“Hi!” she said, waving to them before coming over.  “Hey, what do you guys do when you want to stay awake?”

“Eat candy!” one of them said.

“That’s only good for a little bit,” another one said.  “I go for a walk in the other meadow, cause there’s some plants there that smell nice and energetic!  Go walk there, I’m sure you’ll find them if you follow your nose.”

“I’ll definitely find them,” Mylne said.  There were a lot of good spelling plants around; she just had to find an energetic scent.

“I like to wake myself up by drinking lemonade,” the third sprite said.  “The Mole Diner makes some great lemonade!  But only if the Mole himself is making it, cause he uses real lemons and sugar, and not too much of either.”

The second sprite nodded.  “Yup, and he’s back in business with a better helper!  Thanks for making that back compress for him; I’m sure he’ll show you how to make great lemonade if you ask.”

“Helping Mr. Mole made everybody happier,” Mylne said.

“You seem awake now,” the first sprite said.  “You want to get more awake?”

“I wanna make a potion that keeps me awake for Grandpa’s lessons,” she said. “If I do that, I can learn more and make better potions!”

“Oo, you could be a legendary apothecary!” the third sprite said.  “Awesome!”

“I’ve got some jellybeans with me,” the first sprite said.  “Wanna play a game for some?”

“Sure, what’re we playing?” Mylne asked.

“Hide and seek!”

“Yeah, yeah, let’s play!”

Mylne nodded.  “Okay, I’ll cover my eyes and count to fifty.”  She put her hands over her eyes and counted aloud, hearing the sprites squeal in delight as they ran off to hide.  Once she hit fifty, she uncovered her eyes and called out, “Ready or not, here I come!”

One of the sprites was nearby; another was up by the stone circle.  Mylne searched around the flower meadows and found both a peppermint and rosemary plant.  As they smelled nice and energetic, she took a bit of each for her potion.  She moved on to find the third sprite by the carroot patch.  He then gave her a handful of jellybeans.  Although they were for her potion, Mylne couldn’t resist eating an apple flavored one as a tiny little snack.

With the game done, the Bard was tuning his lute.  “Good work in finding them,” he said when she stopped by him.

“Thanks, it was fun,” Mylne said.  “Hey, what do you do when you want to stay awake?”

“I drink coffee for that,” he said.  “Kids usually don’t like it.”

“The Scholar said the same thing,” Mylne said.

“You could ask your friend Rosetta about teas that help keep you alert,” he suggested.  “But what are you trying to stay awake for?”

“I want something that will stop me from falling asleep during Grandpa’s lessons,” she said.  “Cause he knows a whole lot and I want to know more!  But sometimes when he teaches me things, I get all sleepy trying to listen.”

“Keep trying and you’ll be able to listen longer,” he said, smiling in encouragement.

There was that.  But she had to stay awake in the first place to get better at listening.  Mylne nodded, but continued on to the Mole Diner.  Not only was the Mole back at work as head chef, but Rosetta was now his soup chef (or whatever that word was).  They were busy when she came in, with a lot of dishes at the sink.  The chef was busily cutting up vegetables.  “Hello Mylne,” Rosetta said, continuing to dry dishes.  “Sorry, we’re busy.”

“Looks like it,” Mylne said.  “Can I help?  I’ll wash dishes.”

“That would be a big help,” Rosetta said, putting the dry plate away.  “I need to clean the dining room too.  After the big meal that everybody loved yesterday, the chef wanted to make a complicated dinner tonight.”

“Then I’ll help,” Mylne said, pulling over a stool to wash the dishes.  All the cabinets were labeled, so she could put them away too.

Rosetta got the dining room cleaned, then cleaned most of the kitchen.  “Thank you, things should go more smoothly,” she said.  “I’m sorry if that took up your time.”

“It’s okay, the food here is worth it,” Mylne said with a smile.

“Ah, a customer was helping?” Chef Mole asked, having finally turned from his task.  “I’m sorry!  But thank you; maybe we do need another helper.”

“We’re getting a lot of people coming in to eat,” Rosetta said.  “Another pair of hands would be handy.”

“I’ll look into it,” chef Mole said.  “Can I offer you anything for your assistance, young apothecary?”

“I’m working on a new potion,” Mylne said.  “What do you do to keep awake?  I was told you make good lemonade for that.”

Mole rubbed his chin.  “Oh yes, a good citrus is handy for that.  And spicy peppers too, if you can handle them.  That’ll both wake you up and clear your sinuses!  Since you mention it, I’ll make you some lemonade real quick.”  He set aside his dinner preparations to get some lemons.

“Coffee or black tea would be handy for that as well,” Rosetta said, checking her pockets.  “I like Earl Gray in particular for feeling alert.  Here, the Scholar gave me some coffee grounds to try, but I didn’t like it.  And a bag of Earl Gray I prepared.  Both of those should produce an effective potion for wakefulness.”

“Wow, thank you!” Mylne said, accepting both the small bags.  They smelled differently, but both bags and the lemonade seemed energetic like the herbs.

She took the ingredients back home to mix up her own potion.  She had her own cauldron now, with her own work room in back.  As she was setting up there, she recalled an ingredient she’d picked up recently, a ghost pepper.  That was a spicy pepper like the hellish peppers, wasn’t it?  She hadn’t found a recipe that called for it specifically, so Mylne wasn’t sure.  Since this was an experiment, she added it to the potion components too.  That would be the ghost pepper, the lemonade, the bag of Earl Gray tea, the bag of coffee grounds, the jellybeans, the rosemary, and the peppermint.  Mix it all together, hope for the best, use some magic to unite it all to one… and poof, she got a bright orange concoction that smelled so vibrant.  To be sure, she used Divination to check on what she’d made.

“Yes, I got a Yawn-Be-Gone Ultra!” Mylne said, pumping a fist in the air.  “But what’s so ultra about it?  Hmm, I’ll ask Grandpa later.  Now we can do some lessons!”

She took a sip to try it out.  It was warm and earthy at first, followed up by a sweet kick of spice.  After a moment, it was like her mind was full of bright sunshine.  Now she should be able to take lessons, no, now she could get anything done!

Mylne bounded out to the main room, finding her grandfather doing some bookkeeping for their apothecary shop.  “Grandpa, Grandpa, I made a new potion!” she declared as she bounced around.

“Did you now?” he said, smiling as he looked over.  “What did you make?”

“I was trying to make something so I didn’t get sleepy during your lessons, so I asked a bunch of people and gathered a bunch of ingredients,” she said rapidly, grabbing the edge of the table as she kept bouncing.  “And I got one, Yawn-Be-Gone Ultra!  Isn’t that awesome?  I got the ultra potion first, I don’t know why, but I must’ve gotten a really good ingredient or a mix, and now I’ve got tons of energy and I won’t be falling asleep to anything!”

“An Ultra version of Yawn-Be-Gone would do that,” Grandpa said.  “I can give you a lesson to test you out on, but first, we’re low on firewood for heating the cauldrons.  Would you go out and gather some?”

“Yup, I’ll go get a bunch!” Mylne said, bolting out the door.  She got to the gate, realized she didn’t have the firewood basket, then ran back to grab it.  The Destroy ability would took care of chopping firewood handily!

But she didn’t want to chop down any living trees, so she walk out past the meadows to find some trees that had fallen down recently to chop up for firewood, and there was a pretty bird singing just out of sight, so she finished up the firewood chopping and went to follow the pretty bird for a closer look but it kept darting away and she kept following it until it finally landed and dropped a blue feather, which she picked up to ask about later, and then she found some mushrooms she didn’t recognize!  Mylne picked one of those too to ask about in case it was useful for a potion and then she heard a stream in the distance so she walked out there to find that it led to a river that she’d never seen before!  It was so big and wide!  And there was a bridge across it so this must be the road that eventually led to the nearest town, which meant she was quite a long ways from home now but it wasn’t too late so she went to the bridge because some people were there and they were nice and she learned how to play a ukulele but then it got late so she rushed back home to show Grandpa how much she had gathered.

She’d gotten enough firewood that they decided to have a campfire evening.  Grandpa, the Bard, Rosetta, and the forest sprites all listened in on what she’d done.  “Um, but I never got around to actually listening to your lessons,” Mylne said, rubbing at her ears.  “Eh-heh, sorry Grandpa.”

“It was a good experience in the end, that’s what really matters,” Grandpa said warmly.  “You did well to get a more powerful version of something you were brewing blindly.  I wonder what you did for that.  Was it a more concentrated sugar or caffeine, or even the spice?”

“Um, maybe it was the ghost pepper?” Mylne thought of.  “Cause I used normal tea and coffee, and jellybeans.”

“You’d need tea or coffee for regular Yawn-Be-Gone,” he said.  “But yes, the ghost pepper is very spicy, enough that it alone could have boosted the potion.  I generally add just a touch of cayenne pepper flakes myself.  Next time, you can try a Focus Pocus potion; it temporarily gives better mental concentration and focus.”

“Okay, we can try that tomorrow,” she said.  “I just wanted to pay attention to your lessons better, so I can understand things more.  I know it’s important to know the history of things, like when you say that alchemical sorcery came from, um, medieval alchemy which was a pursuit of perfection like what Flamel was doing in making the Philosopher’s Stone.  Um, I’m not sure where it goes from there.”

Grandpa smiled at her.  “I need to work on my teaching methods the same as you need to work on your learning methods.  Hopefully we can meet up in the middle.”  He ran his fingers through his beard in thought.  “One major difference between medieval alchemy and alchemical sorcery is that we see perfection as an ideal, but we strive to work with imperfections instead of eliminating them.  This world is imperfect, but that does not make it bad.  There is no perfect person, but that’s fine.”

“That makes sense,” Mylne said.  “Like every person makes mistakes, but they’re not bad for that.”

“The ideal shows what is possible, then it’s up to us to find how it might work,” Grandpa said.  “We’ll talk on that further tomorrow, then.  For now, though, you learned to play music?”

“Well I learned to play a song,” she said, bringing out the ukulele she’d traded for some of the firewood.  She showed it to the Bard.  “See?  It’s like a little lute!”

“Indeed it is,” he said, taking his lute in hand.  “What song did you learn?”

“Um,” she played what she remembered, then played the song with him.  He showed her a couple more songs that they could sing campfire songs too, which Mylne and the forest sprites had a lot of fun with.  Rosetta even sang a little.  But eventually, Mylne got tired and fell asleep while the others were talking.

It was a good day; tomorrow should be a good day too.