Fairy Tape

Fairy tape? Fly tape? All the same when Gretchen is fixated on capturing the sprite after her teeth. Rod Savely did an amazing job once again in sketching this little moment of triumph from book four, Witches Teeth.

fairy tape

Fly tape to catch fairies?

You betcha, because that’s how Gretchen rolls! Haven’t read Witches Teeth yet? You can check it out on Amazon here.

Or if you’re looking for more bonus content, head back to the episode page to find it all curated in one place.

A Forgotten Treaty

Everyone keeps prattling on about this forgotten treaty throughout episode four, Witches Teeth. But Gretchen can’t seem to get to the bottom of the ‘why’ when it comes to the agreement. So I thought I’d dredge up the document itself, even if Gretchen doesn’t get to see it. Does it raise more questions than answers, though?

forgotten treaty

Hold up, was that a Murkwood signature?

And the portals belong to the wizards? Once Gretchen gets her hands on this forgotten treaty, she’s sure to get to the bottom of the whole debacle. But that story is for another time.

Haven’t read Witches Teeth yet? You can pick it up on Amazon here.

For more bonus content, head back to the episode page.

Gretchen’s Lemonade

This week I thought I’d share a piece of bonus content not tied to a specific episode. Gretchen’s Lemonade is a (very) short story submitted to a monthly competition I take part in with The Australian Writers Center.

Now I’ve used some of these stories before as the opening passages for the books, and another as a mini epilogue for Troll Hunter: Witch for Hire. I won’t rule out using this story to kick off another episode, but until then, enjoy 🙂

Gretchen’s Lemonade

The mounted courier blazed past the line of carts and splashed through the puddle in front of Gretchen’s makeshift stand. She curled her lip and flicked a glob of mud from the ribbon stitched to her pink apron.

“Really, Nora? Dignity aside, you had to choose a miserable day to do this?”

“You made the wager, and I won fair and square.” Nora glanced up from her newspaper with a smirk. “Besides, the fundraiser is tomorrow. You’re doing a good deed.”

“Nobody is buying lemonade from a witch on the side of a road. This is all to humiliate me. Where d’you learn to yodel like that, anyway? Anyone would think you’re some kind of mountain-woman icon.”

Nora chuckled and turned her attention back to the paper. “I’m a woman of hidden talents.”

Gretchen rolled her eyes and watched the procession to the city crawl along. Merchants and traders who hadn’t been early enough to get the worm waited as guards took their time to admit them past the gates. A delivery of raw hides was getting closer, and Gretchen wrinkled her nose at the stench.

“Oi, you there!” A driver leered at them. “Reduced to serving drinks, is it? Potion business not treating you well?” 

Snickers came from the traders within earshot, and Nora stirred. Gretchen held a hand to her friend’s arm and stood with a cheery smile.

“Just doing my good deed for the day, sir. For the old witches’ home. Poor souls deserve a crust of bread, same as anyone. I think you’ll find our lemonade is the best of refreshments for a hardworking man such as yourself.” 

“You’d do better with ale, hag,” he chortled. “A fire in his belly is what a man needs. Should have charmed your face into something pleasant if you wanted to con a man out of his coin.”

Gretchen smiled through gritted teeth as the peanut gallery roared with laughter. Pouring a cup of a slightly different pigment, she stepped over a puddle and proffered it. “A taste test then. I challenge you to say this isn’t the finest lemonade in the city.”

He opened his mouth as if to refuse then glanced at the onlookers. Gretchen reckoned his type wouldn’t back away from a wager, and he snatched the cup with a grimace. 

“Probably horse piss. But I’ve had worse.” He tipped his cup to the spectators and threw it back in a single swallow. Gretchen bit back a grin and watched as his eyes widened.

With a hand to his belly, he gave a mighty belch and flames spewed from his mouth. The poor beast in front leapt ahead and jostled the next wagon. A chain reaction ensued and shouts came from the entire line. Gretchen dodged a flying hoof as she jumped over the puddle and grabbed Nora’s elbow. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Couldn’t help yourself, could you?” Nora panted as they ran for the cover of the treeline ahead.

“Made the entire venture worthwhile.”

She cant help herself, can she?

But I think that’s why Gretchen is awesome. I hope you enjoyed this snippet and maybe you’ll recognize the scene somewhere down the line in one of the books.

Looking for more bonus content? Why don’t you check out the interview with Gretchen from way back before the series kicked off?

Not sure where you’re up to in the series? You can check out the series page on Amazon for the most up to date releases.

Sealed With a Kiss

Most frog prince stories end with a kiss. A Royal Froggy Problem started with one. At the end of the book, Nora is quite rightly livid with Sheena for her part in the frog hex, but this story captures why the witch did what she did.

A cautionary word though, if you haven’t read the book, you may want to go check it out here first.

Sealed With a Kiss

Sheena excused herself from the throne room and clutched the vial in her pocket. She hadn’t seen her fiance all evening, and the potion she had brewed was becoming less potent as time wore on. Although nerves danced in her belly, she was resolved to transform her future husband into something less formidable, leaving no opportunity for her father to marry her off elsewhere.

The full moon illuminated the gardens, and she slipped through an open door under an arch heavy with the scent of jasmine. While warm, the absence of the scorching sun was a welcome relief. Her thoughts strayed as her silk slippers crunched on the gravel path, wondering if she would have time to prepare another dose before the morning meal.

A giggle from the shadows drew her attention, and Sheena narrowed her eyes at the far wall of the garden. Taking a tentative step from the path to the soft lawn, she crept closer, already suspecting who she would find in a hasty embrace.

Between the palm fronds concealing her presence, she curled her lip at the sight of her fiance groping a young woman. A servant, most likely, who wouldn’t dare refuse the lecherous pig. It was as though benevolent spirits had guided her here, giving her the opportunity to remedy his condition to something more fitting.

Moving warily, she unstoppered the vial and dabbed droplets from her finger onto her plump lips. Careful not to ingest any, she hid the vial among the bushes and strode out toward the couple.

“And what do we have here?” she pouted. “Am I not pleasing to his royal highness?”

His back was turned to her, though she saw his body tense in the dim light. The girl pressed herself against the wall, seemingly terrified, and he unhanded her to spin on his heel. The mottled red of his cheeks had nothing to do with that of shame, and he glowered at the interruption.

“What do you want, woman?” he sneered.

Sheena flashed a smile and flickered her eyes toward the girl. “Leave us, harlot.”

The girl scampered away and Sheena stepped closer to the Prince. His fists clenched at his sides, and Sheena reached to smooth his richly embroidered silk shirt. “Come now. Let me be the one to please you.”

His lip curled, but before he could refuse her, she stood on tiptoes to reach for his mouth, forming intent in her mind. When their lips locked, a crackle in the air prickled Sheena’s neck and her mouth twisted in a malevolent grin. She stepped backward as the prince began shrinking, his face already turning an alarming shade of green, his shocked expression distorting into an amphibian set of features.

“Think you could see out your days with your boot planted on my head, husband?” Sheena hissed. “Your only dominion now will be that of stinking marshes and insects.”

His highness, the frog, flicked his tongue from the bundle of clothes on the ground. Sheena drew her sleeve across her mouth before scooping the pile up and took a few deep breaths to collect herself. She knew what followed would be the performance of her life, and her fate would forever be in the balance. Leaving one slipper discarded, she pulled a pin from her hair and let out a piercing wail.

“The prince!” she screamed. “Someone help, my fiance has been hexed!”

And we all know who got the blame!

Perhaps I should put together the tale of her comeuppance set after A Royal Froggy Problem, though Nora was pretty clear Sheena was not off the hook with her!

For more bonus content, head back to the episode page to find it all in the one spot.

Youth, Truancy, and Fireworks

Nora and Gretchen’s trip to the Witches’ Academy in A Royal Froggy Problem brought back a flood of memories for Gretchen’s time there as a student. This week, I thought I’d put together a story of truancy and fireworks from Gretchen’s youth. She was as much trouble then as she is now!

Youth, Truancy, and Fireworks

Gretchen scowled as she scrubbed the endless pile of plates brought down from the dining hall. It wasn’t her fault that old Chancellor Inglewood happened to walk past her table when she let off the fire cracker spell. 

If she thought keeping Gretchen in the kitchens would prevent her from giving the cook the slip to see the fire show, she was sadly mistaken. 

Aunt Esme would have seen the humor in it. Gretchen doubted that her aunt would give her much by way of reprimand when she went home at the end of the semester. She never did, much to her sister Cordelia’s disgust. 

Gretchen watched Cook from the corner of her eye as she dutifully scrubbed the remains of the thick stew that was the students usual fare from the mostly chipped crockery. The woman was formidable, and it wasn’t the first time Gretchen had fallen afoul of the stout guardian of the kitchen. That would make it harder to sneak out from under her upturned nose, but the risk was worth the reward.

The fire show only took place once a year, and at fifteen, Gretchen was now considered old enough to attend the ceremony which was largely officiated by the Wizard’s Guild. The royalty and all the nobles of the land would be up on stage, waving to the small folks who gathered in the market square. But Gretchen wasn’t interested in their pomp.

If she could get her hands on some proper fireworks, she was sure she could improve her pyrotechnic skills. It wasn’t a brand of sorcery that the Witches’ Academy encouraged and was dominated by snooty wizards favored by the gentry. But some nights Gretchen fancied spending the rest of her life on the road, perhaps with a traveling band of performers, and having a bag of tricks would be the right step in that direction.

“I don’t have all night,” Cook tittered. “Always the same with you youngsters. Arms like lead, as if they wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if it bit them on the backside.” 

Gretchen ground her teeth, fighting the urge to make reference to the harridan’s own wide backside. If she would just take a sip of that darn tea by the fire…

“Nothing to say for yourself?” she clucked. “A first for everything I suppose.” 

Gretchen heard, rather than saw, Cook shuffle toward the fireplace where the only chair in the room sat. She smothered a smile and dropped another stack of plates in the sink. When she heard an undignified slurp, she counted to ten before risking a glance over her shoulder.

Already, Cook’s eyelids drooped, and if she noticed the young witch watching her, she didn’t give any sign of it. She knew she hadn’t gotten the brew quite right from the shade of yellow the woman was turning, but her breathing seemed easy enough. Gretchen grabbed a cloth to dry her hands while wearing a smug smile, then draped the wet, stained towel over Cook’s face before creeping into the hallway with a bucket of refuse under one arm. 

It was the oldest trick in the book, getting out through the doors which lead to the middens. In her first years at the Academy, she had read a discarded journal from centuries earlier of another student who’d used the same method for truancy. It was a wonder nothing had been done about it, although Gretchen thought the teachers rather enjoyed administering punishment.

Her feet were light on the more utilitarian floors, and she let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding when she rounded a corner and saw the back door clear of anyone who would interfere. Dropping the bucket by the door, she dusted off her hands and pushed the heavy door open with her shoulder. When she turned toward the street, she was nose to nose with Chancellor Inglewood.

“Not this time, Gretchen Murkwood.” Gretchen shuddered at the flinty tone in the Chancellor’s voice. “You think I didn’t expect some kind of trickery? Let’s see what state you left Cook in this time, so I can punish you accordingly.” 

Gretchen’s shoulders sagged, and she stepped aside to let Chancellor Inglewood past her. As the old woman’s heeled boots struck the timber floor of the hallway, Gretchen slammed the door closed and sprang away down the alley. She ran as fast as her feet would curry her, and despite the shriek coming from the alleyway, she was soon lost in a press of people on the street waiting for the night’s festivities. 

She knew she would pay dearly for her transgressions. But she would make sure the night was worth it.

I hope it was worth it!

I can’t quite decide if she got her goodies in the end, but I’ll leave that in your hands as the reader. If you haven’t read A Royal Froggy Problem, it is currently available on Amazon with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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Or if you’re looking for more bonus content, head back to the episode page where I keep it all in one spot.