It took the rest of the day to harvest all the magic in the well—or at least that was what Tag thought, until they finished up and started for her village. Since dusk was falling, the witch was walking her to the edge of the forest, for safety and to pacify Mother.
“Tomorrow we'll start crafting,” said Samira. “You should find that interesting.”
Tag blinked up at her. “Crafting what?”
“Keepers, containers to hold the magic of the well. We'll need to work hard; there's a lot of magic left.”
“You mean we didn't get it all?”
“Not nearly, m'dear. Today we only gathered what I could hold myself. Tomorrow Kirchai will be recovered enough to take his share, but we'll still need to put the rest somewhere. It will take several days, maybe until Tenfeast or later.”
Tag frowned. “Is it all going to be like today?” There had been an awful lot of Samira standing still and breathing, while Tag had nothing to do but mix herbs to hand her every once in a while. She had spend most of the time wandering a short distance away, trying to guess which animals would lead her to useful plants if she could have followed them.
“No, that was just this time,” Samira reassured her. “I was the Keeper today, so I needed to concentrate. With common Keepers we just have to set them up properly. I'll be able to talk to you while we do that, and explain things. Then once they're set up, we won't have to monitor them very closely.”
“You said we'd have to work hard,” Tag pointed out. “That doesn't sound so hard so far.”
“No. It's the preparing of the Keepers that takes time and work. Any object can hold magic, but they have to be prepared individually and very carefully. It's like making sure a pot doesn't leak, except we'll be pouring magic into them instead of water.”
“Wouldn't it be good to have a lot of them all set up, so we could harvest a well really fast when we found one?”
“Well, yes. That would have been a good idea.” Samira cleared her throat. “It's been so long since I've encountered a well, I wasn't thinking about the possibility. And Keepers don't last forever; they need some maintenance if they're not filled. It didn't seem worth the effort, and in any case, there's no particular hurry.”
“I guess not.” Tag considered. “How much of the magic did you grab today? Out of all of it, I mean?”
“Only a small part. There's thirty times as much left.”
“And Kirchai can only hold half as much as me.”
“That's pretty good, for a skunk.”
“I suppose it is,” said Samira in an almost-laugh.
They had reached the edge of the forest. “I'll come early tomorrow,” Tag said. “I won't get distracted by squirrels or anything.” That had happened only a few days ago.
“Wonderful,” said Samira. “Your mother hasn't objected to you coming?”
“She won't like that it's getting dark, but when I tell her you walked me here she'll be fine. See you tomorrow.” Tag trotted out of the forest, and saw only trees when she glanced back a second later.
It had been fun and frustrating so far, learning about plants and the forest and even a little magic. Making Keepers would be new. And probably frustrating.
But maybe it would be fun too. Tag grinned as she headed for home.
To be continued...