Living alone she has no desire to be a part of the magic wars of those who rule this world
|Greta watched her rat terrier, Nimrod, as a brown rat emerged from hiding. Nimrod's black ears went up and his nose sniffed the air. She could see his mottled black and white clearly but she knew that the rat could not see him. Nimrod prepared to spring but waited for the right moment. He stood by an oak tree, downwind from the rat's nest in the middle of the German forest, brown and grey fallen leaves lining the path to his prey. The rat could not smell him, though it sniffed the air. It felt its way towards the broken drain cover which was its access point to the sewers in the local housing estate, built in the last 30 years. When it was far enough away from the nest and halfway to the drain cover Nimrod sprang into action at lightning speed. Just before he reached the rat Greta said her spell and absorbed the life force of the rat into herself, killing it instantly. The dog swiped the rat with its claws. Then he poked it with his paw when the rat fell lifeless to the ground, and grabbed it into his jaws triumphantly, believing that he had made the kill. Greta knew that Nimrod would not eat the rat and watched as the dog brought it to her and laid it at her feet. She patted Nimrod's head.|
"Good dog," she said and gave him some rabbit meat she had prepared earlier. Nimrod munched greedily, his tail wagging.
There was a price to all magic and with this life, she had enough energy for a few months of spells, enough for her simple life. Rats were vermin that disturbed the balance of life in the places they inhabit and she considered this life a necessary sacrifice to keep her magic alive. She moved off in the direction of home.
Her home was in the middle of the forest, an old house from another age. One approached only by a small footpath from a winding country road. She had a well, a vegetable garden round back and kept rabbits and three goats for milk. She lived simply only occasionally going to town. She had no electricity and no connections to the main water or sewage networks. She was remote and her spells did the rest hiding her from a world she was happy to ignore. She had lived this way for most of the last 700 years and was happy with the life she had. As with all truly magical people, she did not want attention, but unlike almost all magic folk, she lacked the dark ambitions which drove her fellow witches and warlocks into human society for their own advantage. They would happily pay the price of their magic with human lives. She was not willing to kill for her magic and for seven centuries it was a line she had never crossed.
Today she would make her monthly trip to town. She knew where the long dead buried their treasures and so had no worries about money. She planned to come back from her shopping with cloth and thread, some books to read, and some toilet rolls. The toilet rolls were something she had only used for the last fifty years but now there was no going back, they were her only luxury, and being biodegradable they were not a problem for her life in the forest.
After the shops she would go to the local pub and chat a little with the locals. She had the appearance of a woman of only 25 years and was quite beautiful despite her simple and archaic dress sense. She wore a thick woolen blue dress that went below her knees, tied with rope around her slim waist. Her large high breasts pushed against the material in a way that she knew drove men wild even without the use of her powers. Her long blonde hair and azure eyes had a magical allure all of their own as did her perfect skin. Men were attracted to her and they would buy her drinks and a pub meal. She would make them laugh and in exchange, they would share the news of the world over the last month or so. It was a routine that she had followed for centuries. Every month she would meet the same people and then as the years passed their children and then their grandchildren. Yet they would never remember her, that was a part of her magic.
But the town had changed in recent years as the pace of life accelerated and people came and went from different parts of the country. There was less continuity in the stories and more turnover of faces. Sometimes the faces would only linger a year or two before moving on.
Greta approached the tavern. It was three centuries old and surrounded by big oak and yew trees of the same age. Before this building had been there, was another older tavern. She had seen some four buildings come and go on the same site.
She walked into the crowded bar, the oak benches full and floorboards creaking with a party atmosphere. There was a magic act in-house tonight doing a show. She loved to watch magic tricks and went to get a drink, her eyes on the stage. She knew the magic act was all deceit and sleight of hand but it was something that she herself practiced when her real-life magic batteries were low so to speak. A man approached the bar, a head taller than her, with a strong set of muscly shoulders. He had dark hair and the fashionable unshaven appearance of someone who deliberately kept three days' growth on his face. She liked the look and his expensive leather jacket and jeans framed a rustic manly presence that would do for her evening's entertainment. So she smiled at him.
"Hi, my name is Ambrose, I have not seen you here before, can I buy you a drink?"
His voice had a surprising richness and depth to it and Greta found herself aroused as she stared into the man's green eyes.
Wow that was quick she immediately reflected, I have not been this quickly attracted to someone for centuries, what is going on here? Then she saw a tattoo on the man's neck of a candle and a half moon and it terrified her. He wore the symbol of the Temple of Light, an order of warlocks that was as old as she was.
Ambrose signaled to the barman and ordered two whiskeys. How did he know that was her drink she wondered?
It clicked this man was using powers on her. She could resist them, but if she did she would give herself away. Only spiritually aware Christians and mature witches had the power to resist such seduction and despite centuries of interest, she was no Christian.
"Do you like magic shows?" Greta asked the man. He rolled his eyes and then turned towards the magician who was busy drawing a white rabbit out of his hat."
"Amusing aren't they Greta," said Ambrose. He knew her name, though she had not told him it, the fear returned full force.
"So you know my name, why have the Temple of Light sent you here?" said Greta.
Ambrose gave a sideways glance at her acknowledging she had seen through him.
"The Faction is hunting us. We are gathering forces for the war that is coming."
"I do not want any part of any wars and have avoided them all for seven centuries with no problem, why is this one any different?"
"A faction of the Temple of Light broke away about a hundred years ago. They started the First World War and then the Second, they grew stronger through both of these conflicts and then the Cold War that followed. These wars were just covers. They fed off the fear that wars bring and then with the collapse of the Berlin wall they disappeared. We knew that we had not killed them though we had broken the regimes they controlled. We did not understand their new strategy of concealment. But with the beginning of the Ukrainian war members of the Temple started dying."
"All very scary, but why is this relevant to me, I am not a member of the Temple of Light." Greta looked towards the entrance wondering if she could make a break for it but then noticed another man standing by the entrance with the same tattoo. Ambrose had not come alone.
Ambrose noticed the direction of her eyes.
"We are here to ask for your help. For centuries we have lived in the world of men guiding the new democracies and securing their freedoms from the shadows."
"You have grown very rich off your powers and I know that a great many have died to secure your hold on these countries. But again what has any of this to do with me? I have never taken a human life and never meddled with the dark side powers that you use." This felt very much like a trap to Greta.
"You have a reputation, you know, of being a priest lover and a friend of Christ." Ambrose sneered as he said this and looked her in the eyes as if looking for a symbol of a cross burned on her eyeballs.
"I am not a Christian, you know that, they burnt my whole family and drove me away from the world of men," Greta replied with some sadness, though Christ is one whom I could love and trust, she thought.
Ambrose nodded. "We need your help with a spell of concealment and a spell of revelation. You are the best there is at both. For seven centuries you have remained hidden and you always see your enemies coming. We need that magic on our side."
"Then how did you trap me today?"
"We used clairvoyance... paid a heavy price...it led us here," replied Ambrose.
But Greta had seen the tattoo on the man's wrist when he reached for the drinks. It was a swastika, more anciently a symbol of power that she knew the Temple of Light faction had adopted as its own. She had learned about them eighty years ago from a member of the Gestapo that had attended this tavern. Ambrose was lying. He was one of the rebels and she realized that the faction was losing and needed her powers to conceal them from the Temple of Light who were hunting them down. She smiled at the man to conceal her new insight.
"Let me think." She watched as the magician came to his grand finale. He said he would make the rabbit disappear. She knew this trick, a flash of light was coming up and the magician would use the distraction to slip the rabbit into a bag behind him.
Ambrose watched the magician with a cruel smile on his face as he sipped his beer. Clearly, he thought he had won this and had Greta in the bag.
The moment came, and there was a blinding flash of light of unexpected intensity and everyone in the bar froze.
Greta ran away from the tavern holding a dead rabbit and the rucksack with her shopping. There was a price for all magic. The fake magician in the pub would wonder for the rest of his life where the rabbit went. She had blinded both her pursuers and knew that they would stand at the bar a few seconds longer while their eyes adjusted and the temporary paralysis spell endured. They would not realize she was gone until a few seconds after that. She slipped into the forest. They would never find her there but maybe now after all these centuries she finally needed to move on.
Notes & W/C ▼