“Dano seelin katay,” Tag finished, and the wall glowed beneath her palm.
She jumped away with a shriek of glee. “I did it! Do you see? It happened just like it was supposed to!” The glow flickered, then steadied when she frowned at it.
“Wonderful,” said Samira. “That activation spell should serve you well. Now, do you want to try making your own glow-spell, instead of activating one of mine?”
“Yes!” said Tag.
“All right, then. Fresh herbs are easiest, for the first time. You remember which ones you need?”
Tag nodded eagerly. The light slipped away from her again, and she took a deep breath, staring at it. It steadied, and she slowly released the spell.
The witch smiled in approval. “Well done. Off you go.”
Most of the herbs were common, and Tag found and picked them quickly. The mint was the last one she needed. Closing her eyes, she tried to think where the big patch was that Samira had shown her. She didn't remember exactly, but she after a moment she opened her eyes and started walking. She knew it was along one of Kirchai's paths through the undergrowth.
She found the right trail easily, and soon reached the mint, grown so big it was practically a bush. She picked what she needed, and was turning to go when she caught a glimpse of black and white through the leaves.
“Kirch?” she said cautiously. She edged forward until she was sure it was a skunk, then a little closer until she could see Kirchai's familiar bent ear. “Kirch, what are you doing out here? It's almost noon!”
Kirchai didn't move as she approached. His eyes were closed, his nose in the air. He was swaying slowly from side to side, raising both left feet, then his right feet, then his left, then his right.
“Kirchai...” Tag reached out to touch him, then hesitated. In a circle around him, as wide as her spread arms, the leaves of the low plants were bent away from their stems as if drawn by a wind, every one of them pointing toward the skunk. They were quivering ever so slightly. Kirchai continued his slow sway, but his feet on the dead leaves beneath him made no sound at all.
Tag backed away, and ran for the great oak.
“Samira!” she shouted as she neared it. ”Are you inside?” She stopped at the trunk, panting. The witch had showed her how to open the door, and it was simple, as long as you started at the right swirl in the bark.
Before she could find it, the door rolled aside. Samira frowned at her. “It may be rare for other people to enter this forest, but it's still best not to yell like that right outside the door.”
“I know, but down there—I found—” Tag waved her hand in the general direction, struggling for words.
Samira stepped outside, scanning the trees warily. “What is it? Is there a problem?”
“I don't know. Maybe he does this all the time. It was odd, that's all. Kirchai was just standing there, moving back and forth, and all the leaves around him were shaking, and—“
Samira's eyes widened. It passed through Tag's mind that this might be the first time she had ever seen her surprised—surprised, but evidently not at a loss.
“A well,” the witch whispered. “He's found a well.”
To be continued...