“You can sit there all day, it won’t grow any faster”.

Hhis mother had never entertained his hobbies. To think she’d begin to any time soon was nothing short of quixotic. But Gekon didn’t mind. He’d sit on the same crumbling boulder as he always did, and stare at those peas until they were persuaded to grow, if he had to. There was nothing else to do anyway, and peas could be unthinkably stubborn. That year had been a particularly difficult one for a novice herbalist so far; Gekon’s rather rebellious pet Conifer rat had already managed to eat every single flower bud in the garden. His mother’s recipes had all threatened to incorporate Conifer rat meat the very same day and the munching menace had disappeared ever since. On top of that, it was as if every last drop of hydration had been sapped from the soils that now appeared a hopeless grey under the everlasting sun. The wheat, tomatoes and carrots had all perished; it was almost a certainty that these peas would not enjoy any other fate.

Unless…

With a quick flick of his eyes left and right, Gekon knew he was alone. Furiously fumbling around in his satchel bag, he grabbed a small vial and popped the lid.

Just a pinch should do…

The golden powder sprinkled down onto the wilting leaves of the pea plant, the stem began to tremble and then… Nothing? This was the fifty-third trial and still nothing? He’d measured the ingredients with his best scales, powdered everything so much his arms could barely carry their own weight and… still NOTHING?! With an irked roll of his eyes and a sharp word or two, Gekon stood, hands on hips, and cursed the world. It was irritating enough having to practice his talents in private, not to mention the damned things never worked. He traced the path of the sun in the sky. Apparently disappointment progressed time more than he’d ever have imagined, and his father would be returning from the fields soon. Returning the fifty-third experiment to its rightful place at the bottom of the bag, Gekon turned and sulked his way toward the back door of his house.

His house had become just as miserable as life itself recently. There were no home comforts on offer when he walked through the door, and no hearty meal to fill him.

How does Conifer rat taste anyway?

As of late, potato stew had become the tedious norm, and tonight’s feast was no different. The slop was nothing other than depressing, and the conversation… well how much can one family talk about fields of dying crops and the rusty old stove clanking away in the corner of the room? Gekon wasn’t interested in either topic, and his face showed it. In fact, he only lifted his exhausted eyes from his untouched food as a slight tremor rippled through the foundations of the house.

“What was that?” his mother wondered with quite obvious concern.

“Ursaphant. Damned things are terrorising this village” complained his father.

Another tremor shook with even more ferocity than the first, throwing Gekon’s stew onto the floor. His eyes, now flushed with realisation, widened and glanced to the back door.

“I-I have to go to, uh, check on the horse” he mumbled as he rapidly shuffled himself through the door before slamming it shut behind him.

“… We don’t even have a horse”

“Bloody strange child, that one”.

Gekon pushed past the Rose and Clematis bushes urgently, and almost trampled the last remaining bluebells as he raced to his pea plant. It was trembling wildly and was almost six times the size it had been a little over an hour ago. The leaves shone with a brilliant white light, and the peas were radiating a similarly piercing glow.

Too much Canis rabbit hair.

“You’re right. Far too much.”

Gekon jumped with fright at the voice, and swung his head toward it. “How did you-“

“I can see it in your face. You’re learning well.”

The man revealed himself from behind an old stone wall. His voice was croaky and not all too easy to interpret, but his demeanour somehow demanded attention, and Gekon couldn’t help but comply.

“Thank you… Who are you?” Gekon was transparently uneasy.

“You needn’t know. I’ve improved your ingredient selection. Try halving the Canis rabbit hair, and add a little of this, powdered.”

Gekon took the oddly radiant item and stared down at it inquisitively. “This is an Angelica’s Tear… Where did you get – “

Looking up, he realised the man had vanished. A curious combination of excitement and fear overwhelmed him. He bolted to his storage shed, still clutching the Angelica’s Tear tightly. A leather case sat intrusively in the middle of the floor. Its buckle, a glistening contrast to the rugged, cracked leather surrounding it, had been left unlatched. Upon opening the case, Gekon’s face lit up with amazement. A bountiful variety of colours jumped out at him from the vials, lined up uniformly. Two scrolls, each sealed with a strange wax leaf were tucked in a side pocket.

What the…

Compelled by curiosity, he opened the first scroll.

~ For a long time now we’ve watched from afar, your efforts. It has come to our attention that you possess a skill we have not seen in a mortal for millennia. As followers of the Great Bylindu, the alchemist to Angelica herself, he have deemed it right for contact to be made. Please accept these gifts not as a reward, but as a task. You have unlocked the door to a world of godlike power. A world made by the gods for Bylindu, but available to you. ~

Placing the first scroll down, Gekon eyed the second.

Godlike power? I grew some peas… badly.