If you haven’t read Part I yet, you might want to do that before continuing.
Their host woke Brogan by waving a cup of some sort of dark, steaming liquid under her nose. It smelled bitter and strong. “Drink this,” he said. “It will revive you.”
“What is it?”
“A magic potion. Trust me.”
Brogan held the cup, but didn’t drink as she regarded her host over the beverage. “I don’t wish to seem ungrateful, but why should we trust you? It was very kind of you to let us in, but it doesn’t mean you don’t wish us ill. For all I know, this is all a mirage brought on by our exhaustion. We could have stumbled into the land of the faeries by mistake.”
The man’s bright eyes twinkled over his rosy cheeks. “It’s no mirage and I’m certainly no faerie. If I wanted to do you any harm, I’ve already had all the chance I need while you both slept on my floor. Now go on and drink. Your brother seems to like it just fine.”
“What? Dennis!” Brogan looked over to see Dennis happily sipping from his cup, both hands wrapped around the mug.
“What? At least it’s hot. And the taste isn’t so bad, once you get used to it.”
Brogan rolled her eyes, but Dennis appeared to be fine. His eyes were brighter already and the color was coming back into his cheeks. Besides, their host had a point. He had already had plenty opportunity to do whatever he wanted with them. And the cup was warm …
Brogan sniffed at the contents again. The smell wasn’t so bad, now that she was awake and expecting it. She looked over the lip of the cup at their host. “I’m Brogan. My idiot brother goes by Dennis.”
Their host smiled warmly at her. Brogan knew evil intentions could still hide behind pretty smiles, but she didn’t have much choice at the moment. “Pleased to meet you both. My name is Pete.”
Brogan nodded and raised her cup in a salute before taking her first tentative sip. She wasn’t sure why knowing his name reassured her, but it did.
The potion tasted worse than it smelled. Brogan made a face, but she choked it down. As soon as she did, the flavor changed slightly. It was still the same strong, dark taste, but also slightly sweet. She took another sip. Dennis had been right: it really wasn’t that bad once you got used to it.
“What’s in this potion, exactly?”
“Magic beans. I bought them from an old woman who taught me how to roast and grind them before brewing. I traded my cow for them.”
Brogan cocked one eyebrow. “Magic beans?”
“Just wait. You’ll see.”
Brogan had a sudden urge to through her cup into the fire. This man had clearly lost his mind, but Dennis, who had already finished his, stood up and stretched. “I feel loads better! How much farther do we have to go Brogan? I’m ready to start whenever you are.”
Brogan looked at him, then out at the cottage’s single window. The sun was only slightly lower than when they had stopped to rest. She narrowed her eyes at Pete. “How long have we been here?”
“Couldn’t have been more than a quarter of an hour.”
Brogan looked back at her brother. “And you’re already rested?”
“Completely. I feel like I could go for miles.”
She looked back at Pete, still skeptical. “Just drink it,” he said. “You’ll see.”
If anything, Dennis’s sudden recovery made Brogan more skeptical, but she continued to steadily sip at her mug of potion, and gradually, she did see.
She went from sleepy to alert. She felt brought back to life, and soon she was ready to resume their journey. “What magic is this?”
Pete chuckled. “Like I said: magic beans. Best trade I ever made.”
“Thank you very much. I wish there were something we could give you in return.”
Pete held up one hand. “Think nothing of it. I”m happy to help.”
Full of renewed energy, brother and sister continued on their way. Once they had completed their quest, they tried to take the same route home, but they never did manage to find the cottage with the magic potion again.
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