A witch is forced to cast an evil spell with terrible consequences.
| Skeletal arms of lightning smashed into the rain-soaked ground, sending clods of earth flying through the air and leaving smoking craters in the grass. Wild horses galloped through ramshackle farm outhouses like a tidal wave sweeping away a village. The acid-green rain lashed down upon the town as the obscenities stalked the peaceful streets. They passed through windows, the panes of glass breaking into myriad tiny pieces and hanging, suspended in the air for two skipped beats of a heart, before driving themselves into nearby wood, flesh or cloth.
The spirits tore into the townsfolk’s dreams, waking them with their own screaming. They battered themselves against walls in a vain attempt to rid their minds of the terrifying images that refused to disperse once they had opened their eyes. As mothers held their children, husbands ran in fear for their lives, trying to scream but finding themselves choking. One boy fell to the ground and was trampled beneath desperate feet.
Backed into a corner by the apparitions, a young man threw himself from a fourth floor window and a toddler watched as he smashed into the paved main road of the serene town of Farawell. Blood splashed across the toddler’s face and it began to wail, plucking at it's mother’s hair where she sprawled, slowly slicing into her arms with a knife she kept in the house to defend herself, trying to create a channel for the emotional agony to escape, as she watched her perfect life being torn apart before her eyes. Evil had come to Farawell.
The Hill of Valour broke from the soft turf behind Ilria’s capital, watching over it like a guardian. Above the wild screaming and widening green and red rivers, it was a safe haven from the madness; and the spectres.
“I tried to warn you,” the witch said, dropping a snake-like sky blue dragon, about the length of an arm, onto the floor beside her. He snorted a little flame onto her toes in irritation, rearing into a “S” shape on his hind legs to show his distaste for the wet ground.
“Oh, get on and finish the spell,” the Queen snapped, “I didn’t pay you for counselling.”
The witch raised an eyebrow but bit back her retort and turned to the five concentric circles constructed from bones, bleached white from the four weeks that they had lain in the sun. She placed the skull in the centre. The eye sockets glinted with sapphires and the gold band encircling it caught the occasional flashes of light. She held her arm out and her familiar, Sark, wrapped himself around it, squeezing rather more tightly then usual, conscious that they were doing wrong. The spell was evil but Sark was willing to trust Saramia's judgement. Besides, the Queen was a powerful woman and she was willing to go to any lengths to get exactly what she wanted. Relenting, he coughed the little velvet pouch into Saramia’s hand and she opened it, spreading the contents around the skull.
How the rose petals didn’t blow away in the wind, the Queen could not tell. She could not fathom how the witch was perfectly dry and how her hair fanned out gently behind her in the opposite direction to which the wind was blowing. The Queen had always considered taking up magic but there was no chance her overbearing Father would ever have allowed it, he had always wanted her to become a pitiful servant. The ignorant fool could not see what she was capable of until she no longer needed him. The executioner had been expensive and fast, but the death was painful. She had had to settle the score for a repressed childhood: nobody got the better of her, not even her own Father.
The witch closed her eyes and a bolt of lightning touched the skull, spreading out like a drop of liquid, filling the outer rim of the five concentric circles. The bones gently floated into the air as the witch mumbled underneath her breath, slowly raising her hands above her head and swaying gently. The bones began to spin, speeding up as an eerie whistling filled the air. A finger of lighting slashed the solid blanket of cloud in half, revealing a blood red sun for a matter of seconds before the whirling masses caved in on themselves. A roaring filled the air and a large group of wild horses galloped down the side of the hill, plunging into Farawell river with a wild squealing. The witch opened an eye to look at them, then closed it again, scrunching her face up in concentration. She dropped her arms and the bones flew into a magically charged pile, disintegrating in an explosion of blinding white light and electric-blue sparks.
Sark shook his head to himself. His witch always was one for the big effects. There were witches and witches, those that did the bare minimum, and those that added a liberal amount of special effects to wow the audience and flaunt their showmanship. He watched as she dusted off her hands, then swam through the air to where she was standing, wrapping himself against her neck and licking her neck gently.
Saramia winced and the smell of burning flesh wafted up to her nose as Sark licked her. His affections gave new meaning to the phrase “love hurts” but she would never give him up for anything. She gained pleasure from turning her nose up at the other witches with their scrawny coloured cats in vain attempts to inject interest into the age-old opinion of how witches should be. But she loved going that little bit further, her imagination stretching into the barely perceptible. She always loves being the individual one; the one that made everybody stop and stare; the one that was never effected by other people. That was why she hated herself so much for what she was doing now. She had been tricked, and she would never forgive herself for falling into the Queen’s trap. Revenge would come later, right now she had to focus on getting the job done and preventing as much damage as possible..
“Get the locket,” she whispered into Sark’s ear and he rippled down her body to retrieve the locket from her purse. He deposited it in her hand and she held it out to the Queen.
“The spell you forced me to cast,” she said, placing a little extra emphasis on the ‘forced’, “opened a rift between this world and the next, allowing the passage of spirits…”
“Tell me what I don’t know and get this over with, I’m a busy woman,” the Queen retorted. Saramia disliked her more with every second. The woman had barely been married to the King for two weeks but her influence was already turning factions against him and causing political upset. This latest incident was likely to cause trouble along the border with Ousria, and she could foresee fighting at the Arc in a matter of months. There had always been superficial arguments between the two halves of Keranglia, but this was likely to have a lasting effect. ‘And to imagine, I’m to blame’, she thought to herself.
“Put the pendant round the baby’s neck when she’s born and the counter spell will be automatically cast, sealing the rift and trapping the obscenities on this side of the world in a spirit-tomb.” Saramia was not going to explain that the spirit tomb would be hanging around the Princess’s neck. There were no two ways about it, that was how the spell worked but she doubted that the Queen would be particularly happy about it. The witch did not fancy watching her family die in front of her due to the Queen’s bad mood. She didn’t read the contract; she would have to deal with the consequences. And there were certainly going to be a lot of those in her highness’s personal life even after the spectres were taken care of.
“Whatever happens you can’t let her take the necklace off, or the counter-spell will be reversed,” the witch was fabricating now, Saramia knew that in the wrong hands, the spirit-tomb could mean the end of Keranglia and everyone in it but she was not going to tell the Queen that either. She did not want the responsibility of another dark object.
“Liar,” Sark whispered in her ear. She uncoiled him from round her neck and threw him into the air as the Queen turned away with the pendant dangling from her fingertips. Sark rolled away from her in a ball of white flames, his whiskers twitching in fury. Saramia cast a basic shield as Sark gathered himself and slid towards her, literally fuming, walking on the invisible steps in the air that only he could find.