She had always been a bit of a loner. She’d always been different from everyone else in her village. No, she didn’t have green skin or snakes for hair; she didn’t put hexes on people or brew potions while chanting random incantations over a cauldron. She wasn’t a witch. She was an alchemist. The only power she was born with was an unquenchable thirst for knowledge; a hunger to learn and an endless desire to help those around her be better versions of themselves. But in her normal village, being an alchemist meant being an outcast.
All the lodestones she could find didn’t seem to help attract any worthy friends to her, as much as she wished it would. But she wasn’t really lonely. She had her familiars (she might not be a witch, but she was a cat lady by nature) who had the run of her small house on the edge of the dense woods. She had some customers who turned to her for advice, generally the older, weirder population of hippies leftover from decades past. She had just taken the plunge and rented a small space, hardly bigger than a closet, on the main village thoroughfare to try and attract some new customers, and maybe a friend or two.
Overall, hers was a happy, if simple, existence. Business was awfully slow those first few weeks in the new storefront. She spent most of the day reading and trying new combinations of herbs, minerals, or whatever sounded appealing to her that day. She’d long since figured out how to turn other metals into gold, which was largely how she was able to survive with so few customers, and spent her days learning and practicing practical alchemy (the thing she had been interested in from the start; learning how to make gold was merely a survival tactic, and was much easier than her mostly male predecessors had thought). And then, one day in early autumn, a well-known face walked through the door of the shop, looking panicked and clearly in need of some help only an alchemist could provide.
Scent notes: Swirls of pipe tobacco around a plate of nutty toffee and caramels. A pile of old books and a touch of nag champa. Candle wax dripping from the sconce by the wingback leather chair. and cheerful labdanum wafting through the open window.