I am just no one special. I gather things. I gather herbs and grasses, mosses and stones, bits of this and bits of that.
I gather by the light of the Moon and by the Dark.
I am not shy.
I gather for those much higher up the food chain than myself. I have their permission. I have their protection.
I would never claim that I am the only one who does what I do, for I know this is untrue. I am merely a woman grateful for the peace and the security to do what it is I love.
On my doorstep this morning, along with the offering of a bevy of doves, all ready to be roasted, sat a note full of the list of items I am to have ready by the next cycling of the Moon.
I had plenty of time to gather my bits and my bobs, but I like to have plenty of time on the off chance that something goes awry.
This night, I decided a college would do for my collecting.
Room by room I went, a tooth snatched here, some hair cut there, a finger will not be missed this night. I shall be long gone by the morrow.
These are simple things this night.
Tomorrow, I must take my knife. Deeper things will need to be cut.
I know a place to go, the nursing home across town, to gather these meats and delicacies. I do my best to do it right, so none shall die in agony.
I need tissues from brains, long lengths of muscles, several different organs as well. Here too I find some unusual things clinging to the walls, various greenery and molds. I bring these back with me as well, careful to mitigate the items contact with others within my wicker basket.
I let the furor over that harvest blow over whilst I work on other things. The toenails of wolves. Eyes from spiders. I do my job well. None feel pain. Nearly all survive. Those who fail to thrive were those who made the choice to cross over, which is no doing of mine.
Herbs I seek this eve. Mushrooms and spores. Thorns and tears. I do what I can at my age.
I need to go out again, more organs are needed. More blood. More bile. An asylum in the next town is a handy place for me to slide through to take up my wares unannounced.
Here, there is no need for my cloak of Shadows. There is no need for subterfuge. Here I can speak plainly, ask for what I need, garner permission.
I feel calmer here, less the thief and more the healer. Oftentimes I am able to offer comfort to those trapped here. Many a man, a woman, a child have I freed from these torturous confines. Whether that be showing someone the way out under fence as I go, or offering to show them the Road onward is entirely up to them.
I have all my ingredients. I set up my shop.
I cut. I chop. I snip. I hang things to dry. Other bits get smoked, beautiful ash smoke, spilling into my valley with the wind. Some things are ground and turned to dust, collected into tiny bottles. Other things are boiled, boiled down, made into wine-like sups. There are tinctures and tisanes. There are poultices and dry rubs. Medicinal, ay, but more so as well.
I package every little bit, wrapping each offering in pretty paper, some in cloth, tied securely with ribbon and twine. Each package came with explicit and clear instructions of use.
The one last piece, the heart of the mage, had been too easy to obtain. Permission had been greatly given for me to take it. Peaceful now did the Lady rest. The heart needed time to heal. I set it in the box of salt and closed the lid. I knew my job there was done. A year from now, They would return the heart to me for further work. Until then, it was out of my hands.
I packed these up in a fresh new basket, adding loaves of freshly made bread and great lumps of goat’s milk butter, along with a few bottles of dandelion wine. Who would I be if I did not give tribute to those I love best, who care so for me?
Now, it is time for me to sleep. Until they come for me the next time.