The Witch and the Tinker

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


A Crocked Forest, suspicious villagers, a witch, and a shack near a stream. What could possibly be going on here?

Submitted: July 16, 2018

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Submitted: July 16, 2018

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In the shadowy Crooked Forest, near a swollen springtime stream, sits a badly tattered wooden shack with an attached waterwheel.

The sound of the water and the turning waterwheel is all there is to be heard, aside from the sounds of the occasional bird. 

Those birds that have ventured too close to the shack have become ingredients for obscure potions; or so I've heard from the villagers. How do they know these things? From observations, I guess.

The shack sits near the center of the Crocked Forest and in an odd sort of clearing; for little grows near the cabin edge. And if the stream were to widen any further then the shack might not remain standing.

As it is the waterwheel spins at a frantic clip during this month of May; by August it will stop altogether. And when it does stop the sound of the stream will give-way to the voices that come from within the rickety old structure.

One of those voices is said to be the forest's resident witch, Marcella. But as for the other voices, that is still a mystery that no-one seems to want to find out.

Marcella is no Hansel and Gretel witch, no; she has no taste for children, or any human flesh for that matter. But that is not to say that she doesn't snatch a human now and then.

 

People in the area use {wives-tale} herbal medications, but what they know how to do is not enough to treat every situation. So they must go to Marcella to treat their other ailments. It is from her that they get potions and other remedies for really serious problems.

It is even said that Marcella can reach inside a person's body to remove such things as tumors; the amazing thing is that the patient feels nothing during the expulsions and no scar is left on the skin. At least, that is what they tell me.

However, there is one big drawback to having this resident healer living nearby; she does away with their men. Never a women or child, mind you, only grown men seem to disappear; and only one a year according to those who have been keeping track.

I am told that she uses their bodies for the making of potions, and other such ventures, but none have proof of this and I myself wonder about such accounts.

Some of the village women refuse to believe these accusations, saying that their husbands were not reliable and simply ran off.

Most of the Nay-Sayers are women whose family members, especially their children, have been saved from certain death by Marcella and her witchery.

Whether or not the stories are true the villagers still felt that they needed the witch’s services, at any cost. So what could they do about the loss of a man every year?

There were four villages along the road that experienced male members disappearing. That lessened the loss by a fourth, but still, any missing man was vital for some family's survival. So the villages got together and devised a plan to solve their missing male problem.

Whenever a lone male traveler passed by, they would direct the traveler to take the forest road as a shortcut. And those trusting men happily did so thinking that they had been done a good turn.

Such was the case when Orlando Sebastian Machiavelli came to one of the villages; he was driving his newly acquired Tinker Wagon.

Orlando had been this way before, not too many years ago; But that was when he was in the King’s service, as a Huntsman.

Now Orlando was an independent businessman trying to build a new business. After all, he would have to be a man of means if he hoped to support a family.

Orlando had proposed to the love of his life, but family matters were interfering despite her willingness to marry.

 

As he opened his wagon for business most of the Kemah Villagers came out to see what he had to offer. And many bought items that they were going to wait to purchase at a later date. After all, they might not see another Tinker for some time, especially if the witch took a liking to this one.

 

"Good people of Kemah Village, I have goods for your buying and bartering pleasure; silk fabric woven in far away China, Satins from the spinners in India, and jewelry from the craftsmen in the orient. I have cookware of cooper and iron that shall make your cooking time more desirable, and make you the envy of your neighboring villagers.

And best of all, I just happen to have, for a limited time only and because supplies are scarce, the Queen's Tonic from Siam. It cures almost every ailment known to the human race. It will even remove warts!

So come one, come all! Come see the valuable products I have available. And remember, they are all at bargain prices!"

 

The kingdom's coins are in short supply around the villages, but these people know how to barter. So when the Tinker left that village he had six chickens, a fine rooster, four ducks, and a piglet named Wiggles.

Not only livestock was in Machiavelli's items of trade, he also acquired a few handmade rugs, blankets, and items of clothing; finely woven, every one.

But the real prize-items were the hand fashioned bracelets and necklaces made from silver and gold that is sometimes found in the stream that runs through the area.

One particular item that Machiavelli acquired was a gold chain with a hand-fashioned silver and gold teardrop. In the center of the teardrop was a bright red, completely transparent, gemstone. The stone was not a ruby, nor was it a fire-red diamond.

The mysterious black haired old woman who crafted this prize was not a local; at least no-one from the village seemed to know her.

She told Machiavelli that she had found the stone while digging for truffles; it was buried very near a wolves den that no-one else would dare go near. 

Machiavelli knows jewelry, and for him to give the woman a half-bolt of silk and a fine copper teapot for that amulet, well, it must have been worth a lot. So much so, that he decided to wear it around his neck for safe keeping.

When Orlando Machiavelli left the Kemah Village he was a richer and happier man.

As he traveled the dirt road, that flowed parallel to the stream, he calculated the worth of each trade and felt he was ahead by 30%, overall.

"A good trading day, that's for sure," Machiavelli told himself as he made notations in his ledger.

 

Tomorrow was another day and the dangerous forest was ahead of Orlando Machiavelli.

There was no telling if the witch would be in a bartering mood, or if she bartered at all. But no-one from the village told Machiavelli of the witch, so he pressed on without concern.

 

Machiavelli spent that night just outside the Crocked Forest and had set-up camp next to the stream.

The next morning, as Machiavelli was dousing his campfire three hungry wolves appeared in the shadows. They were eying his livestock! Or so it seemed.

Machiavelli waved his arms above his head in an effort to look bigger than his six foot stature, but the wolves showed no fear of this man.

So in a supposed effort to look even bigger, Machiavelli took off his shirt and began waving it over his head.

The wolves took one look at this shirtless man and stopped their advancement; in seconds they retreated back into the forest.

"Huh, it really does work," Machiavelli said out load, followed by a hardy laugh.

 

As Machiavelli drove his wagon along the one lane forest road he saw the shack.

He stopped the wagon and pulled a box out from under his seat. From the box he pulled a sketching pad and some oddly shaped pieces of charcoal.

"Oh what a perfect setting to capture," Machiavelli stated as he quickly set about creating his masterpiece.

As Machiavelli was hard at work he didn't seem to notice that his horse was happily sampling some roadside vegetation. Little by little they were moving closer and closer to the shack.

When Machiavelli was nearly done with his drawing he felt the presence of someone nearby; a woman was seated right next to him in the wagon.

It was a woman of exceptional beauty; her long black hair glistened in the rays of sunlight that were streaming through the trees. And her eyes, oh her eyes, they seemed to have a depth that went on forever.

"Your drawing is excellent, very lifelike," the woman stated very softly.

Machiavelli seemed speechless, maybe his words were stuck somewhere in the back of his brain and couldn't manage to find a path out.

So the woman continued by saying, "Might I ask what your name is?"

That he managed to do with an air of pride woven in, "I am Orlando Sebastian Machiavelli, Tinker by trade and artist at heart."

And as Orlando Machiavelli jumped down from his wagon, he bowed and stated, "I am at your service dear Lady. Please, honor me by calling me Orlando!"

The woman giggled shyly and then stated, "I will do just that, and you may call me Marcella."

Then the petite and well proportioned woman lifted into the air, just as angles are thought to do.

Orlando tipped over backward while watching her. Needless to say, he fell heavily on his rump!

As Marcella floated to the ground, she asked, "Are you alright, Orlando, are you injured?"

Orlando jumped to his feet, trying not to look embarrassed, and stated, "Nothing hurts a Machiavelli, we are made of a sturdy stock!"

"Yes, I can see that," Marcella stated as she waved her forefinger in a circular motion, clockwise. Which, in turn, caused everything stuck to Orlando’s cloths to fall off; dirt, moss, pebbles, and even the dusting of bird droppings from his hat?

Then Marcella stated, "You are a fine specimen of a male, I can see that is true, and of sturdy stock to say the least. But to know a man I look to the heart and yours beats truer than any I've heard before."

With those words spoken Marcella waved her hands in the air. Apparently she was casting a spell on Orlando because he quickly fell asleep.

 

"Who have you brought us this time, Marcella?" asked a voice from within the shack.

"Oh yes, do tell what manner of man this one is," said another voice.

Then a third voice simply stated, "I am hungry, let’s get on with it!”

"This one I would spare, sisters, if allowed," Marcella said as she sent the sleepwalking Orlando toward the shack.

"Well you are not allowed, EVER! You are here to serve us, you Were-Witch Half-breed.

It is your bondage duty to bait the hook and reel in the fish, but we do the eating! Now send in the male so we may prepare our yearly dinning delicacy. The full-moon will soon rise and when it does our feast must begin.

So Marcella did as she was told and sent Orlando into the shack.

 

Not five minutes had past when a terrible racket emerged. Floorboards rattled and it seemed as if large creatures were running around the inner walls of the shakey building.

Suddenly the sounds of wolves yelping and snarling came flowing out of the shake and into the woods. That is when Marcella noticed movement at the door of the building. Growls soon emerged as the three wolves ran out of the shack and into the light of the rising blue-moon. When the light hit them, they fell to the ground and trembled.

Within a moment Orlando stumbled out of the shake without his shirt on; and as soon as the moonlight hit that red stone on the teardrop, then the bodies of the three wolves dissolved into thin air.

"See, my love, I told you it would work," Orlando said to Marcella as he took the teardrop from his neck. All we needed was the eye of the Dragon, and your sisters were stupid enough to tell you where they buried it.

Now we are free to marry, that is, if you are still willing.

Marcella smiled and said, "Oh Orlando, need you ask again?"

Then Orlando pulled a wand from his pocket and pointed it at the shack, saying, "Brickity Brack, Brickity Boom, give us a house with lots of room!"

Suddenly, where the shack once stood there was a two-story country cottage complete with English garden and outdoor patio furniture.

Not only that, they now had a duck pond and a chicken coup.

But the icing on the cake was the barn big enough for the Tinker's Wagon, the horse, and a piglet named Wiggles.

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

07-15-2018


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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