While I typically make effort to remain impartial when sharing the histories of my items, the truth is that I cannot tell this story without including my personal biases. The Witch Doctor’s Vial is among the most treasured items in my collection. This is because the Witch Doctor was the closest thing I ever had to a father.
That said, the following is the story of how I obtained The Witch Doctor’s Vial.
I grew up homeless, with my mother, in the slums of a poverty-stricken city. I prefer to keep this city private; I do not believe the location is of particular relevance. As is the case in all slums though, life was difficult. We survived as scroungers, spending our days sifting through piles of garbage, looking for anything to trade for food. It was a hard, thankless life, and one my mother and I desperately wanted to escape.
The jungles enclosing this ghetto were famously brutal. We were warned not to venture in; tales of enormous beasts and toxic plants kept the destitute in line. But a refusal to accept my lot in life and a fascination with the natural world drove me into the forest. It was here that I came across a decrepit old shack. It was littered with books and parchments, writings had been scribbled on the walls, vials and elixirs lined the shelves, and in the back, there was a powerful, elderly man, quietly dredging his retort.
My mother and I ended up living with the hermit for years. The man taught me to read and write, and showed me how to brew all manner of concoctions, using ingredients from the local flora. He also taught me of mysticism and the supernatural, and inspired my lifelong fascination with the extraordinary.
As the years passed, my mother and I came to learn that the hermit was not the isolated man we had believed him to be. We would notice him leave in the middle of the night, bringing with him scrolls he had written and potions he had concocted, and he would return in the morning, empty handed. When my mother and I confronted him, the Witch Doctor reluctantly told us the truth.
He would regularly deliver his mixtures to the slums I grew up in. He never asked for anything in return, but he used the black market to supply medicine to the poor and poisons to the oppressed. In time, I came to view him as a medicine man, a figure of hope for the hopeless, and a symbol of rebellion against tyranny.
While some may not agree with the man’s actions, he was certainly a hero in my eyes. The Witch Doctor was always kind and generous to my mother and I. He took in a mother and her son without question, raised me as his own, taught me much of what I understand of the world, and worked tirelessly to ease the lives of the poor.
Before he passed away, the Witch Doctor delivered one enormous, final shipment to the slums, and for the first time, accepted payment. This payment he gave to my mother, the last action of the man to whom we owe everything. My mother and I used this money to leave that city, and we were able to establish ourselves and begin a new life – one we had previously never dreamed possible.
I still hold a few items in my collection which were used by the Witch Doctor, most of which I will never part with. I am a sentimental man and live for nostalgia, and those particular items will remain with me until the end. But I do not want the Witch Doctor to be forgotten, and by sharing the story of his vial, the very one with which he brewed his poisons and potions, I hope to also preserve his legacy.
To the person who purchases The Witch Doctor’s Vial, please do so with the intent of honouring its original owner. The Witch Doctor was a man who believed in love, in freedom, and in equality; ideals which I too consider among the most important in the world.
The item will be meticulously packaged, and delivered with a copy of its history. Thank you for reading this tall tale, and I wish you all the best.
J. W. Smithworth