The shop was dimly lit. Penelope peered into the darkness until her eyes adjusted. The first thing she noticed was a garden in the centre of the room, ringed by a stone pathway. The garden was filled with white daisies, glowing ever so faintly, like moonlight, and rippling as if caught in a breeze, though the air in the shop was quite still.
A small wishing well made of mossy stone sat in the centre of the garden. Other shop patrons were walking barefoot along the stone path, pausing to browse the bottled potions or magical trinkets displayed on the wooden shelves which lined the walls.
The shop itself was shaped like an octagon, and the shop counter was fitted neatly along the section of wall behind the garden, opposite the front door.
Feeling curious, unsure of what the shop offered, Penelope paced the stone path. The shelves contained all manner of hand-bound books. Some blank, some richly illustrated with tales of ancient mythology, and others filled with symbols of a language Penelope didn’t read.
Amongst the books were baskets of oracle charms, vials of flowers steeping in amber-coloured oils, pots of salves for ailments ranging from mild itches to acute pains, and a range of aromatic salts, each of which promised to impart a different mood.
Penelope picked up a sample pot of fragrant bathing salts labelled Midnight Moonflower. Inhaling the scent conjured a feeling of gentle rain on warm spring nights and the secret havens of hollow trees. Penelope hummed quietly and replaced the pot on the shelf.
Before she could sample any others however, a woman’s voice, rich and deep, resonated throughout the room.
“Welcome, dearest hearts.” A tall woman wearing an elegant shift of twilight blue emerged from a door behind the counter. “I am the Enchantress of Daisy Lane. Thank you for attending the Flowering Fortune ritual today, I’m so glad you’re here.” In one hand, she held a posy of golden blooms, which she handed to shop patrons as she passed by them on the stone path.
As the Enchantress drew closer, Penelope realised that the shop patrons were handing over gold coins in exchange for the blooms.
Though unsure of exactly what the blooms were for, Penelope was overwhelmed by an urgent desire to have one. The blossoms seemed to pulse with magic that Penelope felt certain could offer her what she was seeking.
With a rising panic, Penelope checked her coin purse. She had no golden pidges left, and she hastened to count out the equivalent in copper pennies as the Enchantress approached.
The Enchantress laid a hand on Penelope’s shoulder, and Penelope looked up into clear, moss green eyes.
“I’m sorry, I-” Penelope whispered, feeling embarrassed that her purse fell short. The Enchantress brushed a thumb across Penelope’s warm cheek. “Hush now, love. Three will do,” the Enchantress murmured with a smile, and deftly plucked the pennies from Penelope’s open hand. Penelope accepted a golden flower in return, and the Enchantress wended her way to the next patron, leaving Penelope feeling rather breathless.
Penelope tucked the remaining handful of coins back into her purse with a quiet clink and inhaled the flower’s perfume. It smelled of treacled apples.
When the last of the blooms had been handed out, the Enchantress moved to stand behind the wishing well. The moonlit daisies unfurled, leaning towards the Enchantress as she stepped across the dancing grass.
Her voice echoed throughout the room. “Now that each of you has your Flowering Fortune, hold it to your chest, close to your heart. That’s it.” The Enchantress gazed around the room, and Penelope clutched her bloom tight to her chest.
“Now, when I beckon for you, come to the well and cast your flower into her waters. In return, you will receive a treasure in harmony with your heart’s deepest need.”
The Enchantress beckoned first to a silhouetted patron across the room from Penelope. They strode forward, their bloom glowing brighter with each step. Penelope could not hear the exchange between the patron and the Enchantress, but she watched, transfixed, as they dropped their flower into the well.
A sparkling, golden mist rose from the well, spilling over the stone, and curling in tendrils about the patron’s bare feet.
An ethereal hum echoed deep within the well, bubbling up like a rising tide, ringing to a crescendo as a golden coin spun up and out to hang suspended in the air.
At a nod from the Enchantress, the patron grasped the coin and, after another brief exchange, tucked it into their pocket and padded back to their place on the stone path.
So the ritual was repeated for the next several patrons, until it was Penelope’s turn. Heart pounding with nerves, feeling terrified of getting the ritual wrong, Penelope walked slowly up to the well.
Breathing hard through her nose, she raised her gaze to meet the Enchantress’ eyes. The Enchantress smiled and squeezed Penelope’s hand, setting some of her tension at ease.
“Welcome, dear. Take a moment to relax, and breathe in nice and deep.” Penelope inhaled the sweet scent of the night daisies, as well as the fragrance of chilled apples rising from the well.
“When you feel ready, drop your Flowering Fortune into the well and receive her gift.”
Penelope held the flower over the well and let it fall from her fingers. She watched the bloom fall into the darkness. The well was much deeper than Penelope had expected, and she never heard it hit the water.
Even so, the now-familiar ringing hum rose up from deep within the well, followed by an outpouring of the same glimmering golden mist.
The mist was warm as it curled about Penelope’s toes and ankles, and left the taste of plums in her mouth.
A coin shot up and out of the well, and Penelope reached out to take it from the air. It too was warm, and emblazoned with a complex sigil of interlocking circles.
Penelope looked at the Enchantress, unsure of what she was meant to do with the coin.
Eyes crinkling at Penelope’s evident confusion, the Enchantress spoke. “That coin is a token, enchanted to bring to you what your heart most needs.” The Enchantress held out her hand, and Penelope passed her the coin.
“Ah. This one is very special. The treasure of inner love. Keep this token close to your heart and you will experience immense healing.”
Though she couldn’t say why, Penelope felt disappointed. She had expected something, if not grander, then at least more practical to her quest.
With a weak smile, Penelope thanked the Enchantress, tucked the coin into her breast pocket, and moved back to her place on the path.
As the final few patrons received their treasures from the well, Penelope inspected her token. When she held it in her hand, it seemed to fill her mind with a whisper of the well’s music, and Penelope felt the stirrings of, not quite peace, not quite joy, but some echo of the two within her chest.
The last patron stepped down from the garden with their token, and the Enchantress addressed the gathering in her shop.
“Now you all have your treasures, go forth in peace and keep them close. Their magic will last until their purpose is complete.” With a bow of her head, the Enchantress dismissed her patrons.
As those gathered began to move and filter out the door, it felt as if a spell had broken. Penelope stayed in her place, watching the daisies sway in the garden and listening to the scrape and shuffle as those outside put on their shoes and retreated up the laneway.
When Penelope was the only one left in the shop, she took a breath and approached the Enchantress, who had remained by the wishing well.
“Um. Excuse me?” The Enchantress lifted her head and smiled. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to seem ungrateful at all, and I understand if it isn’t possible but—”
“You wish to trade your token.” The Enchantress sounded amused, though not unkind.
Penelope swallowed and nodded, feeling that perhaps she was in the wrong for asking. However, there was more at stake than her own happiness, and so Penelope planted her feet in the grass and forced herself to look the Enchantress in the eye.
“Yes. Please. If I may.”
“You may, of course.” The Enchantress motioned for Penelope to stand before the well once more.
“Though I might caution, that which you desire and that which you need are two very different things. It’s been my experience that what you need—” the Enchantress gestured at the token in Penelope’s closed fist, “—will be of far greater service to you than what you desire.”
Penelope considered this, frowning in thought.
“Do you still wish to trade, dear?”
Penelope nodded. “I do. Please.”
“Very well. What is it that you seek, love?”
“I’ve seen a glimpse of a possible future for myself. A future which will allow me to realise my own dreams, as well as others.” Penelope squeezed her eyes shut, thinking of the Sisters stuck living in their patched little cottage, with its leaking roof and deep isolation.
“I need a way to make that future possibility a certainty.”
The Enchantress hummed and tapped her chin. “Tricky business, divination. Perhaps…” the Enchantress trailed off, her eyes glazed in rumination. “That might be the most certain path forward. Yes, a fate treasure might do it. It’s powerful magic, laced with chaos, and sometimes tricksy… However, I want to make it very clear, nothing is certain. But I believe a fate treasure will be your best ally in bringing to bear your envisioned future.”
Penelope nodded vigorously. A fate token sounded exactly like what she needed.
The Enchantress leaned over the well, and began to sing, low and throaty. An answering tremor rumbled beneath the earth.
“There. She’s ready. Drop your token into the well and you shall receive a new treasure.”
Penelope dropped the coin into the well. She felt a brief flare of panic that she had made the wrong choice after all as the new, fluttery feeling in her chest dropped with the coin.
However, as the song rose once more from the well and a new coin emerged, one of obsidian with copper tracing, Penelope felt a sense of thrilled relief as she plucked it from the air.
Penelope could feel the token’s power pulsing in her hand and smiled.
“Thank you, Enchantress. Thank you so very much.”
Penelope raised her gaze to see an expression of… pity? Penelope blinked and the Enchantress was smiling kindly once again. “You’re most welcome, dear one. Go in peace now, and I wish you every success achieving your desire.”
Penelope left the shop, giddy with relief that at last she had some real power working for her. She pulled on her boots, waved goodbye to the woman by the door, and skipped back up the lane.