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Witches!: Part One


by herdygerdy

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“Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!” Edna cackled over the cooking pot.

      A streak of lightning illuminated the sky as she took up a ladle and stirred the thick potion. Thunder rolled overhead as only thunder can, startling the Snorkles in a nearby field. She tasted the potion, blowing on it to cool the liquid.

      “Soup’s ready,” she said simply.

      “About time; I’m freezing out here,” Sophie the swamp witch replied out of the darkness.

      Edna took out three bowls and poured the soup in, handing one to Sophie, keeping one for herself, and giving the final to Morguss the Darigan witch as she loomed out of the dark. Sophie tested the soup.

      “Would have preferred a hot chocolate really,” she complained.

      “Don’t see why we couldn’t have done this at your place,” Edna muttered.

      Morguss glared at her.

      “Imagine what people would say if they heard of witches meeting indoors and drinking hot chocolate! We’d be the laughingstock of the magical community!” she said as she sipped her soup.

      “At least we’d be warm,” Sophie said under her breath.

      Morguss heard her, but let it slide. The truth was she was just as cold and wished she was wearing thicker socks.

      “It looks like rain; we’d best get on with it,” Edna said after a while.

      Sophie and Edna adjusted their black hats as Morguss straightened out her tattered robes. The three witches stood around the cauldron as it bubbled with the force of a new potion brewing. There was magic afoot. Gradually, the witches began to chant, running their hands through the air above the cauldron, summoning arcane forces to do their bidding. Around them, the storm continued its destructive rampage, adding in the odd rumble for dramatic effect. The chanting of the three witches reached a crescendo as the potion boiled and changed colour to a poisonous green.

      “Would you three shut up? I am trying to sleep!” a farmer bellowed from nearby.

      The three witches stopped mid spell and turned to see the farmer racing across the field with a pitchfork to meet them.

      “Did he just tell us to shut up?” Edna asked the others.

      They nodded in amazement.

      “This racket has been going on for hours! It’s bad enough with the storm, but with you three on top how am I supposed to get some kip? Eh?” the farmer said accusingly, pointing his pitchfork at them.

      “Do you know who we are?” Morguss asked him.

      “No, and I couldn’t care less. I’ll have no midnight cookery lessons happening on my farm, clear off!” he yelled back.

      The storm was moving off, his voice could be heard clearly over the distant thunder.

      “We are witches, farmer! Hold your tongue!” Sophie said sharply.

      “Shouldn’t you have a tower?” the farmer asked accusingly.

      “It’s being repaired,” Edna stated.

      “How about a swampland shack?” he asked, turning his gaze to Sophie.

      “Flooded,” Sophie confessed.

      The farmer turned his attention to Morguss, and his eyes shone with anger.

      “I know you, you are Darigan’s witch! You’ve got an entire citadel up there to run around in, why my farm?” the farmer demanded.

      “It’s traditional; witches meet on the moors,” Morguss told him.

      “Meet on the moors? You’re standing in the Babaa field!” he shouted irately.

      The witches looked around. Sure enough, there were mounds of white fluff everywhere. One of them was nibbling at the hem of Sophie’s cloak.

      “It was the best we could find; now clear off before I turn you into a Mortog,” Edna said dismissively.

      “Oh no, you won’t, I know my rights; I own this land. You are trespassing; if you don’t move along, I shall make a citizen’s arrest,” the farmer replied, straightening himself up.

      “What’s all this noise about?” a new voice asked.

      There was a second farmer marching across the field.

      “These three women are cooking on my property; call themselves witches, they do,” the first farmer told him.

      “What would witches be doing out here? I thought witches had towers,” the second farmer said doubtfully.

      “Exactly, now would you three move along? You are scaring the Petpets,” the first farmer barked.

      Edna grumbled something under her breath and extended a hand out towards the first farmer. A spark of yellow light shot out and hit the man, who disappeared. In his place, a small Mortog croaked loudly.

      “What did you go and do a thing like that for?” the second farmer shouted.

      “I warned him. Now, you can scarper or it’ll be the same treatment,” Edna said in a threatening voice.

      “You can’t go around doing things like that, not in this day and age!” the second farmer complained as he scooped up the Mortog in his hands.

      “I said scarper!” Edna bellowed.

      “The King will hear of this, just you wait! Honestly, you can’t rampage around the countryside turning people into Petpets, it’s just not right...” the farmer grumbled as he walked off towards his farm.

      Slightly flustered, the witches turned back towards their potion. It had changed colour to blue.

      “Now look, they’ve gone and made us ruin the potion,” Sophie complained.

      “That’ll set us back weeks. We’ll have to meet again at the next full moon to redo it,” Morguss told her.

      “Can’t do the next full moon; I’m visiting relatives,” Sophie replied.

      “Fine, we’ll do it next weekend then. We don’t really need the moon anyway; it’s just for added effect,” Edna admitted.

      Morguss scowled at her.

      “If we don’t stick to tradition, we are no better than that common peddler Kauvara!” Morguss said acidly.

      “Just this once, then it is tradition all the way,” Sophie begged her.

      “Fine, next weekend it is. Let’s do it at your place though, Edna, if you have the roof fixed by then,” Morguss conceded.

      In the distance, the thunder rolled on.

     ***

      A sharp rap on her dilapidated front door woke Morguss the following morning. It wasn’t a fancy house, like those held by Vex or Darigan, and Morguss liked it that way. She’d gone to great lengths to make the place look more occult than any other place in the universe, and occult more often than not equated to run down. Candles of all shapes, sizes and scents burnt all day long in all the rooms. Purple and black were the main colour themes, and arcane symbols were carved into every opening on the walls, ceilings and floors that was available. As Morguss hastily dressed herself in her traditional simple but tightly clad black robes, she considered the possibility that a walk-in wardrobe would be a nice addition. Once she thought she looked mystical enough, she thrust open the door.

      “Who dares disturb the lodgings of...? Oh, it’s you, what do you want?” she asked.

      Edna and Sophie were standing outside looking thoroughly ticked off about something.

      “You haven’t read it yet?” Edna asked.

      “Read what?” Morguss replied.

      Edna pointed to the witch’s door. There was a piece of parchment nailed to it, sealed with the wax visage of King Skarl himself. Morguss ripped it off the door and tore it open, reading it aloud.

      “Vile witch of the Darigan Citadel, Morguss, for crimes committed in the King’s Realm of Meridell you are to be summoned to the royal castle at once. You shall be tried in the King’s court for trespassing upon the King’s ground without due permission, mutating one Hector Grimes into a Mortog by use of forbidden magic, and cooking upon the King’s ground without due care and attention. H.R.H. King Skarl I requests your presence imminently. Yours threateningly, Lord Belton, advisor to H.R.H. King Skarl I,” she read carefully.

      “We both got the same letter. We have been summoned! We are to be tried! Us! Witches, can you imagine that?” Edna shouted.

      “What’s the world coming to, when witches are not above the law?” Sophie asked.

      “Don’t you two stand gawping in the street; people will talk,” Morguss said quickly, ushering them inside.

      She shut the door firmly behind her and leaned against it thinking.

      “What are we going to do?” Sophie asked.

      Sophie was a skilled witch, but Morguss and Edna had been in the game far longer than her. They’d seen more Kings come and go than she’d had hot suppers.

      “We do nothing,” Morguss said after a while.

      “Nothing?” the young witch questioned.

      “None of us are his subjects; he can’t just summon us as he pleases. Besides, imagine what would happen if we just marched down there and got ourselves arrested all obedient like; people would talk,” Morguss told her.

      “We’d be a laughingstock; we’d shame witches everywhere,” Edna confirmed.

      “But, he has an army!” Sophie worried.

      Sophie was from the deep woods. Armies of zombies she was used to, but not armies of living, breathing soldiers.

      “Then he’ll have to march it to my front door if he wants to arrest me. We are witches; we don’t meddle in the affairs of Kings, and they don’t meddle in ours. Skarl may be an idiot, but he’s no fool; he knows what having three annoyed witches after him would be like. He probably doesn’t even know about this. This ‘Belton’ must have just sent this as a gesture for that silly farmer. One of those, thingymajigs, public relations,” Morguss said knowingly.

      “I hope you are right,” Sophie said.

      “Hope doesn’t come into it; I am a witch, and witches are always right,” Morguss snapped.

      There was a sharp knock on the door.

      “Open up, in the name of the King!” a soldier bellowed deeply from outside.

      The three witches exchanged nervous glances.

To be continued...

 
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