When a Witch raises a Stray Little Human Girl her Consecrated Slave brings home
|Strega - A Strega Story|
The child had healed, mostly. At least what was in her power to heal. She did not like it, this small human in her home but Kautian had brought it home like an injured bird and now they waited to mend it enough to set it free. Or not.
“Lo-ha.” the girl murmered softly as she snuggled under the blankets of the gnarled root bed. “Tell me a story before I sleep.”
The Strega cursed the luck and cursed Kautian a little. “A story?” she frowned trying to recall a human tale. “I do not know any human stories.”
“Tell me a strega story.” the girl rubbed her eyes and yawned. “Of magic.”
The Strega snorted. “You mean like a fairy tale?”
“Yes!” the girl became excited. “With fairies and heroes and rescued damsels.”
Making an annoyed sound the Strega came to sit on the side of the girl’s bed and thought hard. “How does it go...” she grumbled. “Oh ya, once upon a time there was a lush and beautiful forest that not even the speediest and most nimble footed elk could cross in a whole week. There in the middle of this wood stood a tall and mighty tree of pale wood and golden leaves, and in the spring it flowered with dark golden blooms and black ribbons of vine.”
“Was it magic?” the girl asked impatiently.
“No. Many trees as that grew all over the world then. It was happy and loved by all things of the wood. Even the..” the Strega paused. “Fairies, yes! But not all of the fairies were happy. One in particular grew more and more greedy, more cruel and unkind as all the others. She bound herself to night and darkness setting out to defeat all others who would not serve her. Bit by bit the forest that was once succulent darkened and died, only to grow withered and warped in manner instead. The dark fairy fed off of the power of the other fairies, devouring and consuming all she could find as she grew unstoppable. The remaining fairies ran away, surrendering their perfect home to the darkness that devoured it slowly. And so it went until the only thing that remained was the pale wood tree whose beauty endured untouched by the foulness around it.”
“A magic tree as I thought.” the girl nodded.
“No. Just a tree with roots deeper than the impure stains upon the land.” the Strega corrected. “Are you going to let me tell the story?”
“Yes Lo-ha” the girl pouted.
The Strega set her face, thinking hard. “The dark fairy remained alone for a long time with only the tree as friend. Until one day in a fit of loneliness she decided to use magic to make herself a companion. She gathered the tails of slithering things, the crystals of star beams, the water of the black pools of the deepest caverns, the silk of poisonous spiders, and the corpse of her very last enemy and began to bind them with magic. Into all of this she wrought with great power to bring to life this thing she made. And then she needed a sacrifice and turned upon the tree.”
“The tree was cleaved open, the pale wood ripped as splinters scattered so far it could never be reclaimed. And from it rose the one who would be companion to the thing that destroyed it.” the Strega hissed. “Her skin was warm as the wood, her hair long and black as the vines and her spirit full of the pain of her birth. The fairy was so happy to see her new friend she did not notice the true intent of the creature she had made. In one swift movement the Companion commanded the broken mother tree to devour the fairy to heal itself and both of the great halves of the tree wrapped around the dark fairy who screamed and tried to cast a spell to protect herself. The tree, knowing better now, stuffed the throat of the fairy with velvet vines until she died and then consumed her.”
“The tree healed, though it was changed and never bloomed again. Its vines spread and spread always searching for the pieces lost. But no fairy or witch ever bothered it again as long as it had a companion to champion the lands and keep it safe.” the Strega finished and stroked the girl’s hair. “Do you know the lesson in my story?”
The girl sleepily thought about it and shook her head.
“The lesson is no matter how lonely, or powerful, or sad, or angry, or cruel or strong you are it doesn’t give you the right to destroy someone else’s life.” the Strega replied. “Now go to sleep.”
“Yes Lo-ha.” the girl yawned and snuggled deeper into the blankets.
The Strega lowered the light with a shadow casting and left the room looking back at the child in the make-shift bed. “Humans.” she grumbled softly as she left.