in the case of witches

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


a young hunter is given a mission to find a witch. embark on a journey with him and witness the complexity of his action and self in this story.

Submitted: August 02, 2018

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Submitted: August 02, 2018

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In the Case of Witches

Ali Al-Lawati

 

“…By the king’s orders, you are to find her and kill her. If you bring me her head, the king promises you gold beyond your feeble imagination. If you bring me her heart, the king promises you luxury and pleasure for all time. Find the witch and kill her.” Those were the orders given by my king through the royal messenger, and the only words I can remember before setting off to a daring adventure to please the king and perform my first quest as a witch hunter. I was given a uniform. It was light, made of leather, but not much protection except for a breastplate and two braces for the arms and legs. I was also given a bow, a quiver made from bear hide, and a small dagger in case the witch or one of her animals attempt to lunge at me. I was truly terrified, yet could not ignore this opportunity, for gold and/or luxury was in store. 

 

I left my small cottage and found a steed waiting for me. Wood brown with ashen hair, strong hooves, strong body; a noble animal. The royal horse. I did not have a wife or child to bid goodbye; therefore, I took a deep breath (filled my lungs with black air) and climbed atop the horse. “Just say HYAH and the horse will go. Just say WOAH and the horse will stop.” Said the gloomy-eyed stable master. I steadied myself, looked at the damp city, then my house, while a part of myself was claiming that I might not return back. “Go on,” said the stable master. Without hesitation, I cried, “HYAH!”

 

Off it went, and by the king how fast it went! The whole flat world turned blurry and all that was once a cottage became a brown rectangle with a yellow triangle on top. The steed sped along the path with such speed, such grace, and such nobility! All the anxiety and fear washed away and I felt one with the wind. Only a half day ride, I thought. Along the path I surveyed the wasteland, brown and damaged. The kind of land where you would still love even if nature did not, for it is your home. There were no animals, no butterflies flapping their wings, no life. I was speeding across a land of lovable death! Such is Death, brown and damaged. Nature ignores Death, leaving Him rotten and barren. Thus, it makes sense if the land of death coincides with Death Himself.

 

“WOAH!” The horse stopped with finesse. My eyes went from the grass to the large oak tree in front of us. “The oak tree,” said the messenger with a grim sigh. “Beyond that tree lies a land of uncharted territory. Witch’s Hollow we call it. Many brave hunters went and never returned. Actually, all that went there never returned. Thus, we classify this land as dangerous. The last hunter who attempted to kill the witch claimed that she fled to the Hollow. The coward did not even set foot to the edge of the land, but you are brave aren’t you? The king orders you to keep caution as your priority when traversing the mysterious land, but most of all, find her.” I looked at my map, trying to find any land information. However, there was none. No contours, no lines, no colors, except for a large WITCH’S HOLLOW inscription in cursive on the large blank space. “Alright, my noble steed. We shall head towards a mysterious land. Are you ready?” I enjoyed talking to animals, they listen yet they do not respond. I definitely did not want to turn back. For who would if his or her result of success promises riches? “HYAH!”

 

For one whole day, I was confronted with a thick mist enveloping and encapsulating a swamp. My fears high, my nerves intense. The swamp was dark, full of insects that would go through your mouth and die in your abdomen. The stench was foul, reeking of rotten blood and dung. I did not rest along the way for it was completely dangerous. My horse felt tired and resorted to trotting instead of galloping. I pitied the animal, and even apologized. However, the more important thought was Is this what a witch’s world is?If I considered our world to be damaged, then what of this?! It was worse than any punishment a dungeon master would give. It was worse than Death! The witches live in a disgusting, fearful, and unknown world, unlike our land, which is known. We humans fear the unknown, but some of us also have the ironic desire to discover the unknown. That is how our lands became known. However, this land is different, it can never be known, never be discovered. Magic is a dangerous contraption designed to fool the mind. These thoughts prevented me from liking the place. However, when I reached the edge of the swamp, the mist cleared and out emerged a completely different land, a forest.

 

I stopped my horse and rested among the trees. It was a desperate call for rest; thus, the area was not perfect for a good sleep. I looked around and saw the trees lining up the warm atmosphere. The forest was much better than the grimy swamp, it was a cleaner and clearer land. It was not alive yet it was not dead, it was the line that separates it. It was quite familiar as well, for it introduced a memory within my head. 

 

It was in our world. It was day, the sunlight slithering among the tall trees. I was much younger than now. I was on a hunt to bring food for my family. As you see, there exists an irony within me. I love nature, but also love hunting. I was perched atop a tree when I lost my balance and fell. It was a funny moment and a reminder of my lack of balance. My body slammed on the ground with a rather hard SLAM! My back ached and I emanated my worst mistake, a loud gasp. Immediately, a wolf emerged! With it, two more wolves. I was helpless and felt like my end was nigh. I wanted to prove to my father that I can hunt alone, but this attempt became my downfall. I was faced with three wolves. Wolves hunt in packs, and I was alone. I was reduced to the prey, the hunted. It was not long before one of the wolves started emanating a howl not of threat, but of pain. I was completely surprised when I saw the arrow deep inside the wolf’s body. The wolves turned and saw another hunter. My savior. Thus, the wolves retreated from battle. The girl did not stop to greet me, but rather looked at me with piercing green eyes and a smirk that indicated competition. A contest to determine the better hunter. I accepted the challenge, and lost.

 

I never knew her name, for she never spoke, and I never met her again, for she never returned. Though I will never forget her gaze, her stare, the green eyes. It was also a different moment in my life. I was, for once, happy. I never experienced the pleasures of a good family, a good state of life, and a good luck. However, that day reversed all that I experienced, all that I perceived of myself. Suddenly, a rustle in the leaves and I was washed back to reality, the present condition, the quest… the quest! I looked around and realized that it was the wind. Then I looked at my steed. “Come on chap, let us resume our journey.” 

 

All clues seemed to point to a valley, my final destination, my opportunity to become the richest man. I entered the valley and by the king it was beautiful! The grasses weregreen -for once- bearing beautiful, colorful roses and flowers of full bloom. The sky was blue! The air was clear, no black smoke. There were animals! The land was full of life! I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. All happiness seemed to return to me. This is the land of life! I witnessed heaven on earth! This is Witch’s Hollow! Then, my expression turned grim. I am being bewitched! Calm yourself Richard, and focus on the task at hand. I looked around and saw no sign of a woman, or a crooked-nosed witch. I turned my attention towards the trees and saw no mark, no claws. I looked at the grass… no prints, no scratches. I looked at the sky… no indication of a flying figure. No signs… no clues. Feeling disappointed, I dismounted from my horse. Before I could lie down in shame, I looked at the animals and realized that all seemed to head towards a specific area. I followed it and, finally, found her! The witch!

 

She was seated on the ground in a graceful fashion, laughing and playing with the animals. She possessed a deceitful smile and counterfeit hair. I pulled out my dagger. I did not want to kill her from afar with a bow and arrow. Instead, I wanted to cut her head and heart out! All that was once heaven went out of focus. The only focus was the blasted witch. The animals noticed my presence and went away, leaving the witch alone. This is it! The moment I have been waiting for! My success, my reason for gold and luxury! I raised my dagger and saw her notice my dark, growing shadow, then turn her face towards me. That is when everything changed. A sudden hesitation coursed through my body and I froze. In fact, the whole world seemed to freeze. Me, with my arm raised and the dagger clutched in my gloved hand. The girl, in her graceful seating position looking at me. Yet she was not attempting to scream, she just looked at me with an expression of silent terror, anxiety, and anticipation. Her hands on the grass, her green eyes fixed on mine. 

 

Prison. That is where I went next. I returned with a heart, but the royal guard saw through my lying eyes and sentenced me to death. I embarked on a quest where I had to slaughter an innocent, the same way when the ruffian of my memories slaughtered my mother. The ruffian did it with no hesitation, he would have become a skilled witch hunter if my father did not kill him that day. There are two kinds of people, reader. There are those like me, and there are those like the ruffian. Become the ruffian if you want to live; become me if you want to be executed on Hallows Eve to be cursed forever with an agonizing pain in your dead body… in your grave. Become the ruffian if you want to give Death; become me if you want to give Life. 

 

 

 

 



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