Even though the clouds hid the sun, he knew sundown was soon. Raven flew down from the tree and shifted.

Tamsyn glared at him. “Don’t say it.”

Raven pointed to the west. “We’re running out of time.”

“I said don’t say it.” Tamsyn pushed around her brother and continued the search for the final ingredient. Goldenseal had been overharvested in North Carolina. If she could find a single plant in the densely shaded, wet, deciduous forest, there was a chance. Tamsyn squealed and dove for the understory plant she had searched for since sunrise. She carefully selected a single flower with a green center and white petals with green tips, placing it carefully in her pouch. She left the root for future use. “Tell them I’m on my way. I want the rest of the potion bubbling when I arrive.”

Raven nodded and jumped, shifting back to a hawk. It would take him less than five minutes to get to the others.

Tamsyn ran full out, jumping downed trees and once getting caught in the vines that covered the ground. She slipped and fell in the mud but jumped up and resumed the run. Tamsyn could barely see as the clouds continued to hide the light from above. To add to the irritation, her feet were soaked from the puddles she had run through. It took her thirty minutes to reach the fence line. Tamsyn leaped on a rock and jumped the fence, running through the cow pasture toward the farmhouse. She could smell the potion brewing.

Raven stood on the front porch.

Tamsyn took the stairs two at a time. “Tell me I’m in time.”

“You are.” He opened the door, and she ran inside.

With the precision of many herbs prepped, Tamsyn ground the stem, leaves, and flower and added the entire mixture to the brew. While waiting for the potion to absorb the new ingredients, she asked, “Any change?”

“No.” Medea wiped Bardo’s brow. “Still moving between consciousness and unconsciousness.”

When the potion came to a full boil, Tamsyn dipped the ladle in and filled a mug half full of the sweet-smelling draught. She poured more into a mason jar and secured the lid. Handing Enola the mason jar, Tamsyn said, “You know what to do.”

Enola held the green-tinged potion up to the candlelight. “Yes, thank you for helping my sister.”

“Go. There isn’t much time,” Tamsyn said before turning to Medea. “Hold his mouth open.”

Following the instructions, Medea asked, “Will he swallow?”

“I hope so. It has to be ingested.”

Medea looked at Tamsyn. “Goldenseal is a poison.”

“It can be,” Tamsyn agreed. “The poison was ingested. The best way to counteract it is ingestion.”

“You better be right.” Medea opened Bardo’s mouth.

“She always is,” Raven said.

Tamsyn slowly poured the brew down Bardo’s throat.

When Bardo thrashed around, Raven moved in to restrain his friend.

“Hold him,” Medea said.

“I’m trying.” Raven tightened his hold.

“Watch it!” Tamsyn pulled the mug back before its contents spilled.

Raven gave up and jumped on the cot on top of Bardo, trapping his arms in place.

Tamsyn poured the rest of the brew down Bardo’s throat.

Bardo coughed and sputtered but swallowed. A few minutes passed before his eyes fluttered and opened. After a few deep breaths, Bardo groaned and said, “Raven? Get off. You weigh a ton.”

“You were difficult.” Raven jumped up.

“What happened?” Bardo moved to sit up but laid back down when he had a coughing fit.

“What happened? You had dinner with Evanora. She poisoned you.” Medea threw a pillow at him. “Why am I cursed with a stupid brother? See pretty woman. Must make foolish decisions.”

Tamsyn smiled in relief. “You were warned. Evanora mixes up her herbs. Her mother’s garden is a mixture of cooking, healing, and poison herbs. Don’t eat with her again until she’s fully trained.”

“That will take months. What will Evanora and I do until then?” Bardo looked over at Raven.

Raven laughed and pulled Bardo to a standing position. “Man, if you don’t know, we can’t help you.”

More Flash Fiction by N. R. Tucker.

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