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A Recipe For Focus

Posted by in Short Fiction


Ten. The reagents are gathered under the light of the gibbous moon. The foxes tail must be fresh, at least as fresh as the essence of toad, the virgin’s tears are optional, but like the laughter of a newborn infant, it helps the spell to set.

Nine. The cauldron is important, it can’t be too deep or too shallow. Iron ore is preferred but steel or aluminum will do in a pinch. The important thing is that it’s clean, spotless.

Eight. Cool spring water is best, but any liquid that boils past 100 degrees will do. I’ve known practitioners who used herbal tea or Chai. I’ve even known one, trapped in the field, that made use of a half empty bottle of Pepsi.

Seven. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, the toad essence can be tricky, and should be added last–lest it burn. No one likes a burnt essence.

Six. After twenty minutes, the dry ingredients can be added. People underestimate the importance of dicing, there is nothing quite as good as finely grated rats tail to get the cosmic energies flowing.

Five. Stir vigorously until your mixture becomes a paste. Since there are a number of liquid ingredients, you may find it difficult to tell when its finished. A good rule of thumb is that you should stop stirring when the brew smells faintly of lavender.

Four. Now it’s time for the fun part. Find yourself a ceremonial knife (your favorite butter knife doesn’t count). While traditionalists work with cold-forged iron, some don’t have meso-american temples to do our shopping in. For the rest of us, a gently used pocket knife bathed in moonlight for a week will do.

Three. Now dip your knife into the paste and spread it across the length of the blade. DO NOT use your hands! While this goes without saying, it’s amazing how many practitioners end up wandering dazed and confused through the nation’s infirmaries because they were too cheap to invest in a pair of gloves. If you do accidentally touch the mixture, immediately soak your hands in a 50/50 mixture of rose water and common, household bleach. Wash until all residue has been removed.

Two. Leave the blade in the noonday sun for at least one week. Patience is a virtue young practitioner, because without it all you have created is an extraordinarily dangerous piece of sharpened metal. Many practitioners will spend an extra week with their knives, hoping to make them safer. This is fine up to a point, but you run a constant risk of dayglow (where the ceremonial blade begins to shine dimly in low light). If it works at all, a dayglowed blade will always be less effective and more unpredictable.

One. If you have completed all of these steps, you will be the proud owner of a brand new Hephaestus focus, perfectly suited for transformations, divinations, evocations and even light necromancy. Practice these simple instructions and you will be transforming Princes into toads in no time.