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NikiTheBlob t1_jeb74pp wrote

"Ah, good. You're here. I was wondering if you'd arrive."

The woman was maybe in her 40s or 50s - it was hard to tell with way aging went here. She eyed me with the tired yet observant most mothers were known for.

"You don't look much like the mages around here." She said. There was a note of suspicion in her voice.

"I'm not much like them, either." I said, putting my bag down. "I was told this was urgent?"

She gave me a nod, and put away her sewing kit. She then got up, dusted off her apron from loose threads, and gestured for me to follow.

"I first noticed it ten moons ago." She said, leading me further into the house. "The shaman called it the Black Curse. Said this area is influenced by the Great Evil... He said to call a mage, since he didn't have the resources to get rid of it. But I'm not made of money. So he recommended you..." She glanced back at me with the doubtful look I was very much used to now. "...Anyway. We're here."

She moved to the side and pointed to the wall. I crouched down by the cool stone and observed the little, black clusters on it. I sniffed the air. Musty.

"What happened that you noticed it?" I asked, getting up.

"My kids started sneezing and coughing any time they were in this room. I thought it was the work of an evil spirit, so I got some ground up Unicorn horn to sprinkle around. That's when I saw it."

I looked around the room as she spoke. I quickly spotted what I was looking for.

"Where's that coming from?" I asked, pointing to the ceiling. The heavy wooden blocks soaked through on the side of the inflicted wall.

The woman glanced up thoughtfully. "Just the roof over us." She said. "It's been raining a lot. Probably the straw needs changing."

I nodded and faced her. "Okay. I can give you the solution. But it's going to require work from you, too."

She gave me the doubtful look again. "Alright. What is it?"

I pointed to the wood above us. "Get the roof changed. Or cover it up for now at least. I was told you have some fire magic?"

"Just enough for cooking or starting a fire. Nothing much, as magic goes."

"It'll do. Use it to heat up the roof and wood to get rid of the water. After I get done with this, it won't disappear on it's own. You'll have to scrub it off and then put vinegar that I'll give you on the area. I'd also recommend checking if it isn't anywhere else in the house."

I could see her doubtful look turning into one of confusion with each next word I spoke.

"Aren't you going to use your powers to get rid of it?" She finally said. "What is this, vinegar and fire? That's it?"

I went back out to fetch the things I'd need from my bag. The woman followed me. "What sort of ruddy mage are you?"

"I never called myself one." I said. "Everyone else does, but all my rituals and things are basically science."


"Back in my wor... I mean, back in my country, we call mages 'scientists'." I took out the vinegar from by bag. In ideal conditions, I'd use stronger agents, but these people haven't discovered them yet. Thankfully, vinegar will work here too. "What you're dealing with is a fungus. It grows in places where it's damp, cold and dark, like the room where you found it in. And it can be defeated by removing everything that's keeping it there in the first place."

I was already back in the room by the time I finished explaining. The woman had been following me around all this time.

"And I'm supposed to believe you?" She said. "I don't know your country, or your mages. How will I know this'll work? No mage I know of uses this sort of method."

"The methods they use have the same principle, just far too overcomplicated for the issue." I said. "Knowing them, they'd probably put fire runes over the fungus and use a cleansing spell, which I'm guessing from observation, simply strips down all living things down to molecular level, and then charge you a hefty sum for it. None of that is necessary."

The woman watched me as I applied the vinegar to the affected wall, and then listened intently as I gave her a step by step instruction to eliminating it for good.

"You'll know it worked if after scrubbing it off, it doesn't reappear." I finished. She gave me one last uncertain look.

"And how much do I owe you?" She said.

"How much did you pay the shaman?" I asked.

"Three silvers."

"Then two silvers. And the promise to recommend me to anyone who needs household help."

"I still don't trust you." She said. "Especially for this price. No mage takes anything under one gold coin."

"But someone recommended me to you, didn't they?" I said. "Don't worry. Give this two wee- I mean, fourteen moons. You'll trust me then. Pay me when you do."

Two weeks passed. I recieved a small package at my door - two silvers and an empty vinegar bottle.