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“Can you still get mummy dust, these days?” Dorian asked, mystified.
“Yes, but the cost. It’s a bit dear,” Tillie said.
“Well, of course it would be,” Dorian said. “After all, you don’t just find mummy dust lying about, do you?”
“Goes for seven grand on the black market,” Zofia informed, then shoveled popcorn into her mouth and munched.
He directed his sneer to her. To Tillie he said, “How’s it used? In the spell, I mean.”
“It’s put in the hole I dig for the Mandrake.”
“A Mandrake, and mummy dust. Hmm. Well, all right then. I can shell out a few grand to put my soul back, I expect.”
Zofia’s mouth unhinged. “You have Ugwump money?”
Tillie turned to stare back at him, too.
He returned their stares. “Why not? What d’you think? I have been here for three years and I’ve not exactly been idle, I’ll have you know. A man has to have a dwelling, and—quit looking at me like that!”
“You have a job?” Zofia asked incredulous.
“Not exactly a job—”
Zofia scoffed at him.
“Look, I’ve got the money—don’t ask me how—I can pay whatever the amount,” he huffed. “Now. Moving on.” He turned to Tillie. “You said something about a Mandrake?”
“Wait just a Troll minute,” Zofia interrupted. “You came here, to my house with nothing. No car, not even a suitcase. Just the clothes on your back. Where’s all this money at?”
He heaved a heavy sigh and rolled his eyes skyward. “Oh, for the love of Karballa Wizards, woman.” His gaze fell back on her. “Look, for one thing, I don’t need a car. Besides, the insurance will kill you. But I do have some possessions which I’ve sent for. They should be arriving here in a day or so. Just so you know.”
“How do you get around?” Zofia asked. “On little bat wings?”
Tillie and Zofia both tittered uncontrollably at this. Zofia imagined Dorian with wings like a bat.
“Very funny,” he said. “Can we just get on with this?”
The snickers died and Tillie turned back to the spell book.
“We must make a Mandrake,” Tillie said. “It must be carved in your image. I suggest that we use the root of bitter nightshade for this.”
“It grows quickly, even after it’s been carved and replanted.” she said, tapping the page. “The other ingredients are rue, bitter aloes, henbane, a pinch of sulfur, hemlock, wolfs bane, and dragon’s blood resin. Everything here we either carry in our shop, or grow out back.”
“Wait a minute—hemlock?” Dorian looked pensive.
“And pulverized juniper wood, the berries as well as yew—all of it easily obtained. No problem.”
“That list is highly toxic, Ottillie.” He squeezed his eyes at her. “I’m not going to drink it. Am I?”
“What’s the matter?” Zofia asked. “Afraid it’ll kill you?” she said. Then, snapping her fingers said, “Oh, that’s right, you’re all ready dead, aren’t you?”
“Not funny, Zofia,” Dorian said, his voice stern and husky. A wild longing surged through her with vague thoughts of his touching her intimately. Stop that!
“How long will this take?” he asked Tillie.
“The usual time for spells of this nature. About fourteen days.”
“Fourteen days!” he echoed. “Why so long?”
“Because that’s how long it takes,” Tillie said, giving him a stern look. “Now, the Mandrake must be replanted beneath a waxing moon and be allowed to grow. It also must be watered regularly. I think I’ll add a bit of blood to the distilled water.”
“Blood? Why blood?”
“Because that is what you’re nourished by, dufus. Blood,” she said, glancing over her glasses at him. “Then, a few days before it’s ready, I’ll exchange the few drops of blood with milk. That’s traditional for humans.”
She turned back to the spell book. “I don’t know. I’ve never done anything remotely like this before.”
“Oh, great. Just great!” Dorian threw his hands up and dropped them.
“You mean this doesn’t say what’s supposed to happen at the end of fourteen days?” Zofia asked.
Carefully Tillie flipped the page to see if there was more. Finding nothing else on this spell, she turned back to the original page. She leaned close to the lower edge of the page and read a final passage at the bottom. “It says, ‘The cursed shall be restored to his or her original self by the fourteenth day’.” She turned to Dorian. “It’s entirely up to you. If you’re serious about getting your soul back, you’ll put your money where your mouth is.”
He returned one of his most broodiest looks.
“I’ll have to order the mummy dust. That may take a few days to get here. The sooner you decide, the sooner we can start the ball of wax rolling,” Tillie said.