Glenda looked at the list Quin had dictated for her with bewilderment. She didn’t recognise half the ingredients on the list, let alone where to find them or what they did. She didn’t dare ask Quin where to find them. He had been in a strange mood ever since he came back, snapping at Glenda whenever she made the slightest hesitation. She knew he sometimes had these mood swings but they didn’t usually appear to get to him so badly and they certainly didn’t affect his work.
“You can do this,” Glenda told herself. “It’s just like getting ingredients for Father, just a little more of a challenge.” She decided to start with the items she could identify, setting off for the herbalist Quin normally acquired his ingredients from.
“Good afternoon, Glenda,” the herbalist said as she approached his deserted stall on the outer edges of the marketplace. The balding middle-aged man had grown used to seeing her coming to collect the ingredients Master Conroy needed for his work.
“Hello Eion,” Glenda replied with equal cheeriness. “How’s business?”
Eion shrugged. “I can’t complain. But I’m sure it will improve vastly now that you’ve arrived. What’s Master Conroy got you searching for now?” Whenever Glenda couldn’t source Quin’s ingredients herself she went straight to Eion. His collection of both basic and slightly more unusual herbal ingredients was the best for miles around.
“I have quite a list,” she said, pulling out her scrap of parchment from the concealed pocket in her gown. “Some are fairly straightforward but there are others I don’t recognise and I was wondering if you could help me learn where I might find them.” Eion held out his hand for the parchment and Glenda gladly gave it to him.
His eyes widened as he took in the items on Glenda’s list. “I’m not surprised you said you didn’t recognise some of these. Did Quin say what he wanted these things for?”
“No,” Glenda replied, Eion’s gaze worrying her.
“I can’t think of any potion Master Conroy would need this combination of ingredients for; some of them are very rare.”
“Can you help me?” Glenda asked, a hint of desperation creeping into her voice.
“I have a few of these things I can give you, the belladonna for instance. I assume you’ll know where to find fresh wolfsbane so you can pick it when the time is right. But the others I don’t know about. Araekyth is a very rare substance and very few substances need it so I have no idea what channels you would have to go through to acquire that, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of heart’s blood, at least not under that name. It’s very odd.”
Glenda studied Eion’s face carefully as he handed her list back, searching for any hint that he might be hiding something from her. But his face showed no signs that he was lying.
“Well thanks for the help anyway,” she said. “I’ll still take the belladonna from you now then.”
“Be careful, Glenda,” Eion warned as he handed her a small bag that contained the belladonna. “I don’t know what Quin is planning, it’s probably nothing, but make sure he doesn’t get you into any trouble.”
“I will,” she replied, his words allowing an ominous feeling to settle in the pit of her stomach. She didn’t let it show as she bid the herbalist good day and wandered away from the stall.
He watched her go with the same worry in his face. He liked Glenda, she was always cheerful when he saw her and found time to talk with him, even when she was running an errand for Quin. He didn’t want her to get hurt by some experiment her master was messing around with.
The market was relatively quiet so hardly anyone saw Glenda as she wandered through the stalls. She was usually very good at passing by unnoticed, but the lack of people made her complacent and when her concentration dipped she walked straight into someone coming the other way.
“I’m sorry, Brion,” Glenda exclaimed as she knocked a sword out of his hands. “I wasn’t looking.” She felt herself blushing as Brion smiled broadly at her.
“That’s alright, Glenda, we all get lost in our own thoughts sometimes.” His beautiful green eyes, a trait of the Fionn family, lit up, almost like they were smiling with the same warmth as his lips.
Glenda had been in love with Brion from the moment she first saw him, shortly after she had begun working with Quin. They had been called to the chieftain to administer a sleeping draught to one of his men and as they left Glenda had seen him laughing with a girl, his sister, Aislinn. Neither of them saw Glenda but she immediately felt drawn to both of them, especially Brion. She had never forgotten that moment.
“Where have you been recently?” Brion asked. “You haven’t been on a visit to us in weeks.”
“Master Conroy prefers to visit your father and the rest of your family alone these days,” she explained sadly. “And I’ve been kept busy with other tasks.” Glenda’s visits to the Fionn family had been the highlight of her day when they had occurred because it meant there was a chance she could catch a glimpse of he chieftain’s eldest son.
“You work too hard, Glenda,” he observed. “You need a break.”
“I enjoy my work,” she insisted. “Which reminds me that I have some things to collect for Master Conroy.”
“Then I shan’t keep you,” Brion said with another of his dazzlingly warm smiles. “Take care, Glenda.”
She watched him go, being careful to make sure he didn’t see her looking. Just the sight of him made all the worry Eion had stirred up inside her vanish and it was replaced by a deep longing. Glenda knew he would never see her true feelings towards him and if he did then he wouldn’t act on them. She was an apprentice and he was the eldest son of a chieftain, the man most likely to succeed his father. The two just didn’t match.