Witches had owned the cottage for generations, and arguably still did, although Amanda Clarice Wilmore didn’t think of herself as a witch. She dabbled in everything, which had included magic ever since she’d inherited the tools of her grandmother’s art, but mostly she dabbled in trying things out in order to see what happens.

Right now she was at work in the herb garden, where she’d spent yesterday carefully digging a hole. Her next step was to transplant some herbs into the hole, covering its sides as well as its bottom. Under a full moon the herbs glowed with a faint blue aura that she could see if she concentrated hard enough, and her hunch was that the hole would act as a parabolic mirror, focusing that magical energy onto a single point in space.

The sun had set by the time Amanda finished, and she went inside to wait for the moon to rise. When she looked out the window some time afterwards, a brilliant blue-white light filled the hole, and the herbs themselves were reduced to dark silhouettes.

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