They hurried through the woods, scraping their arms and legs on prickly branches as their clothes quickly became dirty. Sounds filled the dark place; hoots from the owls as they awaken from their nocturnal slumber; deep, spine-chilling howling at the moon from wolves, like they do every night. Neither of these creepy sounds had any effect on the couple. Those noises were so familiar; they knew the sounds like they knew themselves. The man and woman exchanged quick glances every now and again, looking to see if the other found anything significantly useful for their mission. They were searching for something.
Not a single dark blonde hair on the man's head was in place, but he was still quite a sight. His smooth shaven face was rather dirty, and his round chocolate brown eyes stood out as his hair complimented them. He wore baggy black knee-length trousers, and his dark tights showed his muscular calves. The woman had her dark brown hair tied back in a plait, with strands of hair escaping the bunch as the wind hit her. Her beautiful lengthy dress was ragged and worn because it dragged across the floor as she walked. It was once beige, but now with the mud splashed all over, it was a colour quite similar to her hair. Her bright blue eyes were wild like the waves of a sea, violently crashing against the shore, and her eyes were filled with anticipation, fear and disappointment. They still hadn't found what they're looking for.
“Catherine, are you sure what you heard was true? The witch could just be an old tale made up by the elders, to keep the children out of the woods,” the man questioned. Catherine was utterly appalled and turned speedily, “of course I'm sure, I'd bet my life on it! My Father told me about her, and I'm not going to just stop believing everything he tells me just because he's ill. I need to help him Alec,” she said with desperation. Catherine turned away from her companion and stumbled in the opposite direction. Apologetically, Alec replied, “you're right, I'm sorry Cathy.” He caught up to her and threw his arms around her as she sobbed into his chest, leaving it drenched with tears.
Catherine's father was terminally ill. Painful headaches and vomiting became a part of his daily routine. He's been bedridden for the past several months. No doctor in the town can figure out what's wrong with him. Catherine travelled to six different towns all around, searching for anyone who can help her father. But she had no luck. Without a diagnosis he cannot be cured, and with just a couple of days left, she had only one chance; to find the witch.
The forest came alive then. Leaves in the trees shook and branches loudly crashed onto one another. The wind's whistle could make the hair on any brave knight's neck stand on end, and as it did this the trees whispered to each other. Although Cathy was terrified, she didn't show it. She put on a fearless face, and braced herself for the worst. Then Alec mirrored her actions. He stood tall, positioned his feet shoulder length apart and prepared himself for what was coming.
A small figure appeared through the trees. She wore a long pale green flowing dress, and unlike the couple, no mud stains ruined her clothing. Her wavy light brown hair was loose, and it reached all the way down to her lower back. She flew to them, until they were a mere centimetres away, and analysed the pair. She observed their clothing, posture, facial expressions and apparent emotions. Perhaps she wanted to know who she was dealing with. “You're looking for me, Catherine” the beautiful woman stated. Catherine's face grew puzzled, “how could she know my name?” she thought, then spoke, “yes, I need help with-”“you're father,” the woman finished Catherine's sentence. “He's ill. I can help him,” she smiled, “follow me.” It was obvious from Catherine and Alec's faces that they were confused. Even though Catherine was suspicious of the strange lady, she dragged Alec to follow her. They came looking for this woman, and they needed her help.
As the wind calmed down, she took them through the darkened woods to a small old cottage. Catherine noticed that her home was freshly painted; she could smell the fumes as she followed Alec and the woman through the front door. “Welcome to my home,” she smiled, “sorry about the mess, I didn’t have any time to sort the place out.” But her home wasn’t messy at all. No dust, cobwebs or any of the normal features of a Witch’s house were there. No skeletons, cauldrons or broomsticks could be seen. However, she did have a black cat, which meowed at Alec as he walked past, into the living room. Catherine turned to the woman “you’re home is lovely. What did you say your name was again?” “Arielle,” she quickly replied. “Nice to meet you, Arielle” “You too, Catherine. And Alec,” She nodded. “Now, your father, remind me of his symptoms.” Catherine paused. “Remind you? How did you even know in the first place?” Arielle looked surprised at having to even tell her, “I’m a witch, remember? I know everything.” And her smile showed her perfect bright white teeth. “Symptoms?” Arielle raised her eyebrows. Alec nudged Catherine, and when she wouldn’t reply, he spoke for her, “he has a dangerously high temperature, massive headaches and vomits every day.” Catherine continued to stare, blankly out the window as Alec listed her father’s state. “Doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him, they can’t figure it out. It’s something different, out of the ordinary. They suspect he has just a few days left to live. Do you know a way to help him?” Alec questioned. “Come out to the kitchen, Alec. And bring Catherine with you; I think she needs a drink,” Arielle walked out of the room, leaving Alec and Catherine alone in the unfamiliar house.
Alec gazed deep into Catherine's eyes as he held her, and he shook her, “Catherine. Cathy! Wake up!” She came back to the real world. “Are you okay?” he asked a dazed Catherine. “Yes, I'm fine. Just worried. Let's go to Arielle,” she urged. Alec took hold of Catherine's hands and brought her through to the kitchen, where Arielle was cooking something. She seemed surprisingly cheerful as she hummed, whilst mixing various ingredients into a large pot. “What are you cooking?” asked Catherine. Arielle replied, “a potion,” she giggled, “that's what you'd call it. I'm just making a cure for your father's illness.” “Just like that?” Catherine replied in disbelief. “How do you know what to make? Are you sure it will work?” Arielle hesitated before replying, “Yes, it will work.” The witch turned away.
After a short period of time, Arielle declared the remedy complete. It smelled lovely, like a deliciously hot stew on a cold winter's day. Arielle remembered, “Oh yes, one more ingredient,” as she placed a drop of some orange liquid into the mixture. It made a loud sizzling noise and a small puff of purple smoke blew into the witch's face. “It's ready!” she announced. She picked up the steaming pot, and poured a small amount of the medicine into a tiny transparent bottle, and shook it until the purple mixture bubbled, and changed colour. It was now a clear blue liquid. The witch offered the glass bottle to Catherine, and after a moment’s thought, she reached out to take her father's life's last chance. Catherine was so grateful to Arielle, “how can I ever repay you?” she asked. Arielle looked shocked, “no repayments,” she paused, and Catherine breathed a sigh of relief. “However,” the witch continued, “you'll owe me one favour.” Catherine's nodded in agreement. “Okay, what's your favour?” Alec became weary; he didn't like the idea of Catherine owing a favour to the witch. “I don't have one as of yet,” Arielle stated, “when I need one, I'll find you,” she grinned. “Now go and help your father. Quickly.” she urged.
Catherine grabbed Alec, and the couple were out the door so fast, you wouldn't see them for dust! They ran through the pitch dark woods, crashing into many bushes on the way. Catherine tripped three times, and each time Alec picked her up so easily. Though Catherine was tired, her happiness and excitement kept her awake and willing to run more. As she saw the lights coming from her home where her father rested, she picked up the pace. Sprinting to the front door, she found her father lying in the same place she left him earlier this evening; in bed. She ran up to him, “Father, I have the cure!” she sobbed, and knelt down on his bedside. Catherine got a fresh soaked towel, folded it and wiped the sweat dripping from his forehead. Alec took a seat next to Arielle and smiled at her, “give him the medicine, Cathy,” and she took out the delicate bottle. “I got this from the witch you told me about, who lives in the woods. See, I do listen, father,” His eyes grew frighteningly wide. Carefully, she opened her father's unwilling mouth and poured in the blue remedy.
Slowly, Catherine and Alec watched her father regaining his strength again and coming back to normality. He tried to sit up, but he wasn't strong enough just yet. “You rest, father. I'll go get some wood for the fire. Alec, you stay with him.” “No, let me go, Cathy. You should be here,” Alec requested. “I need some fresh air anyway,” she assured, then walked out the front door into the cold dark forest. Catherine walked around and picked up a load of sticks as she inhaled the frosty air. The mud under her feet was soaking into her socks, her shoes must have ripped sometime during the day. Catherine sighed and hurried back to the house, where she could hear a loud noise. There was shouting, screaming and the lights in her house were brighter than normal. She was confused. “What's going on?”
Everything went silent then. Catherine opened her front door to find the whole town in her living room. “Why are you all here?” and their expressions were frightening enough to kill a beast. “Fathers better now, what's wrong with that?” she saddened. They were holding various weapons; knives, pitchforks and spears. “We're here for you, Catherine,” stated the leader – head of the town. “We knew you were a witch all along! Those times when you were a child, you were so different to the other kids. We had our suspicions, and now that you've conjured a potion to cure your father, we have the final proof! You're coming with us!” he signalled to two large men, and they grabbed Catherine - one each side, and refrained her arms. “I'm not the witch” she screamed, “tell them, Alec. We went to the other side of the woods today and found a witch called Arielle. She made the potion. Alec, tell th-”
“I tried, Cathy. They won't listen. They're convinced!” tears rolled from Catherine’s eyes. “Where's Father?” and she then became angry. “What have you done with him?” she shouted as she tried to escape their strong grasp. “I'm here, sweetie,” her father sadly replied. “you should have left me. It's my time soon anyway,” and he too began to cry.
The leader signalled to the two men holding Catherine, and they took her outside with the rest of the town following behind them. She noticed a huge pile of sticks in the middle of the field around the back of her house. As she got closer and closer, she could see the tower it was connected too, and then she realised they were going to kill her. “Let me go! Let me GO!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, but no one could save her. The whole town thinks she's a witch, and she's now going to be burned at the stake. Catherine wriggled, she kicked and flung her arms but it was no use, the men were too strong. Catherine could hear chanting all around her as the men tied her up against the post. She began to lose clear sight and became weak and light headed, until she saw the fire beneath her feet. It was burning at her toes, and she could feel the skin of her feet slowly dying as the fire climbed higher.
Choking on the fumes she noticed the same green dress she once envied hours earlier. “Arielle!” Catherine called, “help me, Arielle. Please..” she pleaded. Next thing she knew, the witch was in front of her and untying her hands and feet from the stake. “Quickly,” Arielle whispered, “Stay behind me,” she ordered, and like a child, she obeyed. Catherine's fear of the townspeople escalated in the past half an hour. She never knew they could do this! Arielle grabbed Catherine's hand and took her down to the ground. “I need my Father. And Alec,” Catherine was clinging onto the witch, as the townspeople surrounded them both with their knives and pitchforks. Arielle raised her hand, and all of the townspeople fell to the floor, lifeless. “Arielle, are they dead?” “Yes, they deserved it, don't you agree?” and Catherine went silent. “I never knew they were so powerful. They're all...dead,” Catherine grew scared.
Alec and Father appeared in front of us both, and to my delight, they hugged me so tight I had difficulty breathing. “Thank God you're okay,” her Father breathed out like he had been holding it in his whole life. “Hello Jonathon,” Arielle's smile once again showed her perfectly white teeth, “It's been a while.” Her father pushed Arielle away from Catherine and quickly grabbed her. “You two know each other?” she was confused. Alec took Catherine's hand, while her father spoke, “she murdered your Mother Catherine..” and he collapsed onto the ground in tears. Catherine couldn't believe what she was hearing, she refused to believe it, “I thought she died when I was born.”
“Technically, she did,” Arielle jumped in. “The day you were born was the day she died, but it wasn't during childbirth.” The witch took a long look at her as Catherine stared blankly into the forest. “She died to save you,” and Catherine's eyes welled up in even more tears as Alec held her. “I need your blood to live. Your blood is the type of blood I need to stay alive for another 300 years, give or take,” she knelt down to Catherine, who was sobbing on the ground, surrounded by the corpses of her town. “Your mother gave her life, to give you a life – of about 20 years,” she continued, “now my favour is your life. Your life for your father's, as we agreed.” Arielle held her hand out to a weepy Catherine.
In a rage, Catherine's Father grabbed a pitchfork from one of the corpses and ran at Arielle. He was inches away from piercing her skin, but she held up her hand: he was floating mid-air and gasping for breath, still holding the sharp pitchfork. The witch clenched her fist, and Jonathon’s face turned bright red. As he choked, he took one last look at Catherine through his soft blue eyes, until his body became lifeless. Catherine was frozen in place with her mouth gaped wide, when she jumped up and sprinted to the witch, shoving her into the burning flames. Catherine’s body flung backwards.
Catherine watched the 1000 degree flames slowly disintegrate Arielle's dying body. Her screams would be etched on Catherine and Alec's minds forever. But something was wrong. Alec was staring at her stomach as tears rolled down his cheeks. His mouth was moving, but Catherine couldn't hear anything. She felt a warm liquid dripping down her leg, and she looked down to find the pitchfork from her father's hand ripping through her stomach. She was numb. Catherine fell to the floor, and Alec caught her on her way down. His tears dripped onto her already soaked face. “You can't leave me, Cathy. What am I supposed to do?” he tilted his head, “everyone's gone. Not you too...” he sniffed. She raised her hand to hold his face and smiled. And then she was lifeless.
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