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Here is a preview of a Patreon exclusive scene: When Timothée and Val venture into the Enchanted Forest to seek ingredients for their potion assignment, they run into some of the dangerous and hideous creatures lurking in the dark.
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Love and Starlight, Jasmine & Sophie
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This chapter takes place after 16 but before chapter 17
In Which Timothée and Val Awaken a Shadow
Timothée blinked raindrops out of his eyes and stared down at the soggy piece of paper trembling between his pruned fingers. He held his lantern up to the page and squinted at the bleeding ink. “One saffron crocus, two orange mulberries, and three cinder mushrooms.”
Ingredients for a protection potion. He looked down at his basket. There was one wilted purple flower, a couple mulberries—that honestly leaned looked more red than orange—and not a single black mushroom.
So much for impressing Professor Barracus in his first class of Potions: Identification and Gathering. Timothée tugged on his too-tight black choker. Maybe he was tired, still adjusting to the Starlings’ schedule of sleeping during the day and being awake all night. But more likely it was just like everything else: he was bad at this.
Professor Barracus who had taken them to the edge of the Enchanted Forest for a simple gathering exercise. After he had laid out the terms and boundaries, they were set free. Foraging would have been hard enough during the day, but at night, it was near impossible. Gloomy clouds covered the moon, and his lantern only cast a small glow around him. Why did Starlings love the dark so much?
Some of the students had already found everything they needed, returned to the professor, and were no doubt heading back to the Cauldron to rest before their next class.
Meanwhile, Timothée had stepped ankle-deep into a pool of mud, ripped his new cloak on a thorn bush, and somehow had brambles tangled in his hair.
Low voices tugged him from his thoughts, and he looked past the yellow leaves of an old oak to see Sylvester and Nathaniel tramping through the forest, baskets and lanterns swinging from their hands. Something clenched inside Timothée’s chest.
This class had all but confirmed his suspensions: people were avoiding him. His classmates were avoiding him.
He’d heard the whispers about what happened the night he got his star: Murderer, darkness, shadows, rising again…
Timothée shook his head, tried to push the thoughts from his mind. After Professor Barracus had given him the names of the Celestial Knights that had fallen, he had written a letter to each of the families. He’d stayed up late in the Professor’s office as they revised it together. Professor Barracus had promised to send the letters off, but Timothée sensed hesitation. When he pried, Professor Barracus had said he’d promised to send them, not that they would be delivered. The Church would read the letters, and it was up to the clerics if they’d pass them on to the families or not.
Timothée had thought he’d feel better after that, but he didn’t. Didn’t know if he ever would.
And now, all he felt was alone.
Sylvester and Nathaniel’s laughing banter cut straight through him. I could ask to join them, he thought. See if I could help.
He walked a few paces forward, but stopped, nerves roiling in his stomach. He was sure they wouldn’t want his help. If someone had wanted to pair up with him, they would have asked.
Something caught his eye at the bottom of a tree, almost blending in with the dark rich forest floor: a tiny black mushroom.
Timothée darted forward, reached for the mushroom—just as a pale hand plucked it from the ground. Timothée opened his mouth to protest when he was suddenly stuck in Valentine’s gaze.
Val’s hair was wet and clung to the edges of his face, falling over his full lips that curved into a mocking smile.
END OF PREVIEW
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