Jinny took one of the turnips and idly spun it in her hand, balancing it on a fingertip with a little help from a magical cantrip. “If only I could flash the water out of you into steam, like I do when I’m jellying you for the winter,” she said.

A thought occurred, and she held the turnip up as if it were speaking back. “But you can!” she squeaked. “Just cast a rune of delay! Then the instant I’m disturbed, I’ll flash-steam! But with no pot to contain me, the result will be mayhem!”

Jinny snickered. “Make me a promise, little man,” she said, laying a hand on her belly. “Never get so old that you’re embarrassed by your mom talking to vegetables.”

There were other cantrips, spells, and knacks that has already been cast. The little garden outside the house had been magicked to produce thicker, juicier veggies on the quickfast; Jinny sprinkled a packet of seeds on it from a little drawer she’d labeled “War Sprouts.”

Outside in the fields, small as they were, the magic had almost entirely gone out of the scythe and bucket that had harvested the meager Sagescrub crops. They were capable of only a few feeble movements, and certainly not enough to fight even though their blades were quite keen. The wagon to move cut crops up to the house had only a tiny amount of knack left, enough for one good trip. Jinny, weakened by the strain of manufacturing an heir and mindful that the Art was not end endless wellspring, couldn’t spare a cantrip to re-enchant it.

Jinny whispered to the cart. “Up there,” she said. “At the top of the path. Wait for my signal.” It obligingly shuddered up the footpath that led into the hills, and, eventually, the Butterhollow homestead. To the pitiful farm tools, she whispered a different missive: “Into the house with you, loves, and speedily.”

The barn had been depleted from the long winter, with just a few goats, chickens, and a nag that Jinny kept more as a pet than a farm animal, as her days of carrying anything other than a small child were long over. She kept her best layer and best milker out of the chickens and goats, and then led the others outside. With a tub of water in one hand and a little bit of ground-up feyroot dust in the other, she wrote a message onto the fur and feathers of her animals, invisible to the naked eye of anyone but its intended recipient.

“Mrs. Butterhollow,” she whispered to one chicken. “Mr. Cuttergrille,” she cooed at a goat. Another chicken was quietly told “Goris Sluffer,” while the final goat was given the name “Feris Skulljelly.” At last, Jinny drew her old nag, Murgatroyd, to her. “Old Mr. Supply Belcher, at the Old Mission.”

Once the ensorcellment was complete, Jinny opened the barn doors and let her animals loose. They departed in five different directions with five different degrees of alaracity. “As long as there’s no rain to wash off the magicks, they should arrive with the messages intact, kiddo,” she said to the babe beneath her armor. “No idea if they’ll actually do anything, but that’s out of my power. If nothing else, my critters don’t have to die if I do.”

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