Witch Magic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Drail grew up on a farm in a village barricaded from the rest of the world by mountains. But when a mysterious woman arrives with the Traders, Drail's life is changed forever, for the good or the bad.

Submitted: July 30, 2012

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Submitted: July 30, 2012

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A woman stood on the shore of a beach.  Gentle waves lapped against her ankles and cool mud sunk between her toes.  The air was chilly, blowing tall waves out over the water.  It whipped along her arms and through her red hair, causing it to billow around her beautiful face.  Behind her, carved into the yellow sand were exotic symbols which spiraled out of the water, and slithered up towards the trees that stood dark and sinister.  Orange flames danced through the trees.  Muffled voices came from the lights, yells and cursing of men as they stomped though the undergrowth.  The men stopped at the edge of the trees, their voices hushed to a whisper.  Their torches cast eerie shadows along the patterns in the sand.  The marks seemed to stop the men from stepping onto the sand, as though they were afraid that the ground itself would swell up and swallow them.  They held pitchforks, hammers and other farm tools in their hands. 

The woman continued to stand in the water, oblivious to the audience.  A sudden gust of wind rippled along the water, squishing it flat.  It reached the shore and went through the woman as though she were not there.  It smashed against the men, forcing them to brace themselves against the trees and blowing out the torches.  The wind passed and the men pushed themselves off the ground, clutching their weapons.  Slowly the woman raised her arms, shining in the pale moon.  Music seemed to fill the air.  A soft humming, slowly changing to a loud keening.  The men dropped the weapons, desperately covering their ears from the horrific sound.  The woman, impervious to the men’s screams, stepped forward, walking deeper and deeper into the water.  She kept walking until only the tips of her red hair and pale fingers could be seen over the water.  Eventually, she disappeared.

Drail woke, covered in sweat.  A lantern sat by his bedside, filling the small room with yellow light.  Wind sought its way through the thin wooden walls, making the single flame gutter, sending flickering shadows across the walls and ceiling.  Drail stared up at the ceiling, where a small hole showed through the thatch, revealing the night sky.  Through that little pinhole Drail could see millions of stars, each part of their own little constellation.  Drail knew the constellations by heart; they helped him find his way when he was hunting in the forest.  He reached across the bed and picked up the small leather book that sat next to the lantern.  He turned one of the valves, making the flame fill the room with light.  Drail felt underneath his bed until he pulled out a small glass bottle of ink and a goose feather quill.  He flicked through the pages of writing, smiling at his first written words.  They were large and incomprehensible.  He flipped to the middle of the book and began writing down his dream.

A loud banging on the door frame shook Drail awake.

“Come on, Drail.  Father’s already been up for an hour,” Krista stood in his doorway, her blue eyes scanning the room. “And I’d clean that up.  Father will throw a fit if he finds it.”

Drail groaned as he saw the black puddle on his floor.  He must have knocked the ink bottle over in his sleep.  Krista left the room as Drail started to get changed, shouting over her shoulder, “Don’t forget that the Traders are arriving today.”

Drail quickly washed up the ink, hiding the book and bottle under his bed.  He walked into the kitchen, his feet slapping against the cold dirt floor.  Krista and his father were already sitting at a small table that Drail had helped his father carve from a fallen tree.  Drail joined his family at the table.

“Bundle up when we go to Lanster today, it’s already snowing,” His father grumbled from over his bowl.

Drail looked out the window.  Large flakes fell from the grey sky, covering the ground with a thick dust.

 

Outside Drail, Krista and their father walked towards the village, their breath hanging in the air.  They connected onto a dirt road that slowly grew into a path large enough to fit a carriage and several horses.  From afar the town seemed insignificantly small, little wisps of smoke floating up into the sky from the tops of the houses.  On one side of the village a large river streamed past and up into a series of mountains.  The mountains were large and treacherous and Drail had only crossed them once to visit his dying grandmother.  He knew that the Traders would be coming from that direction and that the snow piled up quickly this far north.  The Traders would not be able to stay longer than a week if they wanted to make it back over the mountains before they filled with snow.  When they reached the village, his father gave them both five copper coins and went off to find Weldon, the butcher.

“Don’t forget about the hole in the roof,” Drail reminded him as his father stomped off.  He didn’t want to wake up and find himself buried under a pile of snow.

Krista kissed Drail on the cheek and walked off towards the center of the village, where the Traders were setting up their booths.  Drail watched his sister’s willowy figure walk off, feeling slightly abandoned.  Drail wandered off through the houses, watching the villagers move towards the caravans where the Traders were staying.  Their booths and tents were dark and weather-worn and several strangers stood by the booths, holding spears in their hands and bearing swords at their belts.

Drail walked past the booths, pausing over several that were piled high with trinkets and stopped at another that had a myriad of different coloured scarves hanging from them, fluttering softly in the breeze.  The scarves were made from marvelous colours: forest greens, vibrant oranges and pinks and several that were a silvery material that billowed in the air like hand-sewn clouds.  Drail touched one of the scarves, feeling the fabric between his fingers.  It was soft and light, unlike anything he had ever felt before.  The material was a deep crimson and for a moment it reminded him of his dream.  Drail shook away the memory and continued onward.  His stomach started to grumble so he made his way towards an area where Envlin had set up a make-shift bar and tables and was helping his wife, Norma, serve mead.  Drail reached the small area surrounded by houses where, at groups of tables and stools, laughing men sat holding tankards of mead.  Drail grabbed a tankard and plopped himself down in the only free seat.  Two young men who Drail recognized as Envlin’s sons were boasting about their hunting feats across from him, while a man wearing a dark cloak was hunched over his mead.  Drail took a draft from the tankard when suddenly someone put their hands over his eyes, making his world go black.  Drail grabbed the hand, pulling it down from his eyes.  Black hair and smiling eyes stared back at him.  Gabriel pushed back his bangs and waved his free hand in front of Drail’s face.  He pushed Drail into a headlock and finished off Drail’s mead.  They stomped away from the table, trying to push each other into the snow drifts.  Gabriel finally got Drail to the ground and they ended up leaning against one of the houses, watching the men and women sitting around the tables.  Krista and a group of her friends walked by.

“Oi,” Gabriel poked him in the ribs. “Isn’t that Phoenix with your sister?  Does your dad know their together?”

Drail shook his head.  Phoenix, the son of the village blacksmith, and Krista had been together for almost a year now and everyone in the village knew.  Thankfully their father seldom came to the village and recently he had been sending Drail to buy supplies from the village on his way back from hunting, so he had no idea that Phoenix had been courting Krista.  Krista had known that their father would never approve of Phoenix; their respective fathers had been enemies for as long as Drail could remember.

“Hey, who do you think that is?”  Gabriel pointed to the cloaked man who was still sitting at the table.

Drail shrugged, watching his sister smile up at Phoenix, “I thought he came in with the Traders.  They always have odd people travelling with them.”

Gabriel shook his head, “Nope.  Richard saw him coming in from near the river this morning.”

Krista and Phoenix were sitting in a table that was hidden in a corner and Drail had to crane his neck to see them.

“That flea-bitten bastard!” Drail made it halfway to his feet before Gabriel pulled him back down. “He’s kissing her!”

“Yeah, and I don’t see her complaining,” Gabriel hissed into his ear. “Look, I know he hasn’t asked your dad’s permission yet, but calm down.  There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Gabriel quickly dragged Drail off before he could do anything rash.

 

It wasn’t until nightfall that Drail saw Krista again.  Every year, when the Traders arrived, the Trader’s storytellers and the storytellers of the village would get together in the center of the village around a giant bonfire where they would share tales.  Everyone, Traders and villagers alike would gather around the fire and listen to these stories.  Some were well known and other Drail had never heard before. 

When Drail reached the center of the village with Gabriel, his father, sister and most of the village had already arrived.  They sat on the ground, their faces bathed in the light of the orange fire.  Gabriel pushed his way to the front and shoved himself into a small patch of free ground.  Drail squeezed in next to him.  A man stood in front of the fire, his silver hair shining in the firelight.  His stern eyes appraised the faces staring up at him.  Drail did not recognize him so he assumed he was one of the Trader’s storytellers.  He raised his arms to the sky, his thin black clothes dark in the fire.

“Tonight is a night for storytelling.  Tonight, the stars have changed shape, showing us a constellation that appears once every millennium.” He pointed up to the sky, where five particularly bright stars shone in an odd formation.

“These five stars,” the storyteller continued, “Are known as Theto, Maj, Korin, Quim, and Xer.  Together, these stars create the constellation Mythocious.  It is said that every time this constellation appears, Sorcerers across the world meet around a fire, much like we are now.  Their greatest enchanters entertain each other with spells and magic, and most of all, stories.  Tonight we sit under the same stars and will join them in telling the stories of old.”

The old man began telling a story about an ancient hero named Wrotham and his blue-eyed love, Faira.  Other storytellers, some old, some young, stood in front of the fire and told their tales.  Gabriel’s favourite story, one about a young woman that was turned into a doe by a witch was told by a tall bearded man.  Then Drail’s favourite story was told by one of the village storytellers, Karran.  She stood in the firelight, her raven black hair darker than the sky and she told a story so real, it made Drail shiver.  She spoke of an ancient tradition of Sorcerers who were immortal and could control the elements: wind, water, flame and soil.  This clan of witches looked just like everyone else, save for one difference.  Their eyes would change colour, never repeating, from yellow to green to silver.  But there was strife among the witch clans and this caused war.  This clan of witches was almost killed out during this war and they became outcasts.  Every thousand years, when the stars are ripe, they are forbidden to join in the Sorcerer’s gatherings.  So now, it is said, these witches must find human gatherings to tell their stories.

Other storytellers joined and told stories of adventure, of heartbreak and of magic.  The moon grew brighter over the heads of the rapt villagers and the fire’s last embers smoldered in the black wood.

The last person stood in front of the fire.  It was the black cloaked man.  Slowly he raised delicate white hands and pulled back his hood.  Long red hair tumbled out of the hood and startling green eyes blazed above high set cheekbones.  Drail stared into the face of a beautiful woman.  He could feel his heart quicken and his face go red, but he could not take his eyes away from her.  She began to speak in a rich dark voice.

“In times long forgotten, Magic was prominent throughout the world.  One clan of Sorcerers was known as the Chipha Clan.  It was a group that began with twins born to a woman who lived far north in a city that was painted white.  One had hair and skin as dark as night, with eyes that were as blue as the ocean while the other had hair and skin the colour of snow and eyes that shone like stars.  These girls were born with magic flowing through their blood, but their village thought that they were demons.  One night, when the sky was black and the moon was gone, the villagers snuck into their house when their mother was sleeping and stole the twins.  They took them from their home and up a snow-tipped mountain where they lay the twins down on the edge and left them to die.

“Years past and the villagers gave no more thought to the two babies who they had abandoned, until something extraordinary happened.  One day, exactly ten years after they twins had been born, two girls walked hand in hand into the village.  On one girls shoulder sat a snow-white raven, while the other was being followed by a black mountain cat.  These two girls walked through the village and came to stop at their mother’s hut.  The woman who they saw had aged beyond her years so one of the girls gave her the gift of youthful beauty while the other promised that her fields would prosper as long as she lived there.  The girls left, never to be seen again.

“It is said that they traveled south and gathered other abandoned children, giving them the gift of Magic.”

There was total silence throughout the people as the woman returned to her seat and replaced her hood over her head.  None of the villagers had ever heard this story before and from the quiet muttering from the Traders, they had not either.  As the last of the fire died, everyone stood and returned to their homes.  Drail said goodbye to Gabriel and watched him move off towards the outskirts of town before Drail went to search for his sister and father.  He found them standing by Phoenix’s house, their voices raised.  When Drail turned around the corner of the house, his father abruptly broke off.

“We will talk about this tomorrow,” he said through gritted teeth.

He turned on his heel and walked out of the village towards the house.  Drail walked next to his sister, watching her grim face and listening to her loud stomps through the snow.  Drail stared up at the five stars above his head, watching them twinkle.  The longer he stared, the more certain he was that they were in the shape of a woman.

“Drail!” They had reached the house and his father was calling him from the doorway, “Make sure to feed the pigs before you come in.”

Drail watched his sister and father enter the house before wandering over to the small pen that they kept just in view of the farmhouse.  He leaned against the picket fence, watching the pigs tumbling over each other.

“Odd animals aren’t they?”

Drail whipped around and came face to face with the red-haired woman.  He stared into her indigo eyes that perfectly reflected the stars above.  She gently took his arm and pulled him away from the pen and to the edge of the forest.  He looked into her eyes and felt as though some mysterious part of him was being drawn away from his house and into another world.

“Come with me,” she whispered into his ear. 

They moved through the forest, Drail amazed at the softness of her hand.  Suddenly he heard shouts coming from his home.  Drail turned but the woman pulled him into a run, “Do not look back!”

They ran, blind in the dark forest until they reached the edge of Twin’s Lake.  She ripped two long branches from a tree and handed one to Drail before starting to draw lines into the sand.  Bewildered, Drail dragged his branch along the sand and a thrill went through him as intricate symbols seemed to grow from the tree limb.  Shouts came from the forest and Drail could see torches bobbing through the trees.

The woman gently took Drail’s face in her hands and stared into his eyes.  She softly pressed her lips against his forehead and Drail shivered, as though a surge  of energy was pulsing through him.

“Go.  Hide.”

Drail dropped the branch and hurried to the edge of the trees, watching the woman as she stepped into the water.  The men of the village came out through the trees, wielding pick axes and torches.  Music seemed to fill Drail’s ears, but he could not tell where it came from.  A giant gust of wind pounded against them, pushing Drail against a tree.  Drail propped himself up, rubbing a bruise on his elbow.

“Hey, Drail,” Gabriel was tapping his forehead, “Are you ok?  Whoa!”

“What?”

“You’re eyes…they just changed colour!”

Drail touched his eyes and watched the woman walk out into the water, never to be seen again.

 


© Copyright 2017 Gryffin. All rights reserved.

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