They were in a small, darkened chamber deep
the earth. The walls and floor smelt of it: of the dirt, roots, and
leaves. Faintly, enough so only the child noticed.
The child sat in the corner, clothed in a
hooded smock of some old and withered material. It might have been
burlap of a flour sack, once. A small tendril of brown hair escaped
darkness of the hood. Her face was in its folds, but she was
A woman clothed in black linen scattered
on the floor. She poked at them irritably with a wand and scowled.
old man pointed his wand at the fire and muttered "Lumos."
dimness of the room lifted a bit, and the woman fixed a few
"There," she said. The child saw
a circle drawn in the dirt, and another circle of herbs within it,
said nothing. Who was she to argue with the woman's mysterious ways?
old man nodded noncommittally.
letting not a hint of praise or disapproval into his voice. The
hung on his every word, the child noticed. Then he turned toward the
glow of the hearth. "This is all that really
but I thought
woman cried shrilly, and the old man clapped his hands to his head
if his ears hurt. He sighed.
"It's only for protection. Not strictly
You are weaker than I though, Lowell. You cannot feel the power of
The woman called Lowell said nothing. The
wondered how long it would be before she revealed her true nature to