An endless plain of grass, clawed blades scratching at the sky, stretches beneath a never-ending twilight, a greenish-blue darkness that suffuses the land as if a bitter pall has settled over the world. Eva hovers over the cast-iron cauldron. The wind catches the gray straw of her hair. At her feet, the fire's copper glow lights her child's cheeks.
"Horn, hoof, and tail. Talismans of the mighty triad." Eva sprinkles a dash into the cauldron, which bubbles and pops, spitting trails of fluid to sizzle the grasses black.
"What is a witch?" The girl's hands clutch at the knots in her hair.
"Where did you hear that?"
The girl wilts under Eva's glare, hands stroking through ashes, as if she can bury herself and be forgotten.
"Speak girl." Eva has done much for the girl. Has protected her all these years from the others. Has created this land beyond the world of suffering. Has sacrificed her loves, her desires. She trembles and tries to hide it from Glinda. No sense frightening the girl.
"He comes in sleep. His forehead scarred."
"Scarred how?" Yet, Eva doesn't hear the answer. Her own thoughts drown the girl's voice. She knows it is Luc. Star scar on his forehead. His seed was necessary. Yet, what sense did men have never to learn their place. It was a simple deal. A transaction. She had dealt fairly with him. He has no right.
"What is a witch?"
Eva knelt beside her daughter, caressing the girl's cheek, noticing the grime. It is all Luc's fault. "It is a hateful name that others call us. We are the Devins-Guérisseurs, seer-healers. It is a name for what you will become. It is a name for me. You must not listen to the dreams."
"But." Yet she says no more.
"Sleep, my dear. Let the horn of the unicorn protect you, the hoof of the stallion speed you, the tail of the pegasus advance you. Sleep calls."
Eva stirs the brew with her paddle. She dredges her memory for the spells, and whispers the incantation. Smoke bubbles from the cauldron. Luc's body appears like a genie from black smoke.
"The girl tattled."
"None of your business. We had a deal."
"You didn't tell me."
"Would that have changed anything?"
A whisper of power whisks Glinda from where the child sleeps into the warlock's arms. "Seed for healing is one thing. Seed for making, another."
"It does not matter. I do not need you."
"My heart rends, but that is an old wound. I know this in you. But, what about her."
Glinda's eyes open. She grabs a handful of Luc's beard. "Tail!"
Eva sees the smile on her daughter's lips. She wants to tip the cauldron, end the spell, exile Luc outside his body. She can provide Glinda everything she needs. But, the child's smile fills the emptiness that has haunted the girl's edges. "Horn and hoof and feather."
"So we have a deal?" Luc asked.
"No more hiding in dreams. You will accept my summoning."
"Your heart softens."