The Ardors and Agonies of Witchcraft: Part Ten
Colly shivered so hard she thought her fur might fall off. She tucked her legs under her dress to in the hopes it’d warm them up, but when every surface is covered with a thin sheen of ice, it’s impossible to avoid the cold. In fact, it wasn’t just that Mago had frozen the boarding house over; she’d expanded upon it, freezing the mud of the landscape and sculpting it into a frigid grey fortress. Colly had no idea how big this dungeon was, or how she could ever hope to escape without the help of her friends when she hadn’t seen them in hours.
The wall ahead of her rippled. Colly watched with horror as the mud melted and sloughed off the wall the make way for Sarabet, who didn’t even wait for the doorway to be solidified again to welcome herself inside. Mud plopped onto her head and ran down her body, but she treated it with indifference.
Colly gathered her resolve. “Wh-where are my friends?”
Sarabet gave her a blank look. “I don’t know.”
“Oh.” A pause. “Well… Could you ask Mago to put us together?”
Sarabet was quiet for a minute, thinking. “...Sure.”
Oh. That was easy. While Colly was overcome with confusion, Sarabet slumped onto the floor beside her, her limbs sprawling out. At first Colly felt uncomfortable being stared at so intensely from such a close range, but then she remembered Sarabet’s familiarity with the boarding house, and wondered if Sarabet wasn’t staring because she thought she knew Colly.
“Um… do you remember what it was like to be a jewel?”
Sarabet’s brow furrowed. “It’s blurry and confused, like a dream… but I remember many years of fish and diluted sunlight.”
That was likely the bottom of the lake, before Colly fished her out. “Do you remember… me?”
“Yes.” Sarabet tilted her head. “You look different, from this angle. I’m more used to…”
Before Colly could flinch away, Sarabet had taken hold of her paws and pressed them onto each side of her face. It was difficult to hold Sarabet’s face with her paws in shackles, not to mention bizarre, but Colly wasn’t about to tell an evil witch what to do.
“Why did you let your friend compromise me?”
Colly felt the words in her paws at the same time she heard them, but they still didn’t make any sense. “What do you mean?”
“That other one. The Mutant one. He cracked the jewel. It hurt!”
“Oh! I’m sorry…”
“I brought the rains to punish him.”
The rains? Did she mean the rain that had persisted here for years? If Sarabet could do that while still locked away, then what was she capable of now that she was free?
“Sarabet,” Colly pleaded, “You mustn’t join forces with Mago. Innocent people will be hurt.”
“I have been hurt,” Sarabet snarled. She pushed Colly’s paws away. “I have been a prisoner! For YEARS, I’ve been trapped, with no hope of reprieve!”
A gust of magic wind whipped up inside the dungeon. Colly cowered before it, pressing her ears to her head. When it died down, she opened her eyes to find the wall from which Sarabet entered closing up behind her.
By the time the carriage from Brightvale had brought them to the Haunted Woods, it was already storming with fervor. Seneca turned to Ronan as soon as the first dark clouds loomed ahead in the sky. “You don’t think Mago already released Sarabet, do you?”
“Given all that you’ve told me, we’ll have to prepare ourselves for that possibility,” he replied, grim.
After Ronan had placed his last battle with Sarabet on a map of Neovia, suspiciously close to the lake near the boarding house, Seneca had remembered everything Bella told her about the people who lived there. Specifically, she remembered the mysterious jewel Colly had found in the lake, and the fact that Multint damaging the jewel to turn it into a necklace had coincided with the beginning of the endless rain.
“You described Sarabet as a storm-maker,” Seneca said. “So that jewel has to be her!”
And Ronan had agreed. He praised his daughter’s detective skills. “I should have had you stationed there, Seneca. Apparently the witch I entrusted with the task of spotting mysterious jewels couldn’t handle it…”
Fast-forward to hours later in the carriage. Afraid to proceed any further, the Unis pulling the carriage dropped the group just outside Neovia and took off. “Good luck!” one of the Unis cried over his shoulder. Seneca, Ronan, and Maikya made their way towards the center of town, having to hold their hoods on their heads with both hands to prevent the wind from whipping them off.
“We’re almost at my old shop,” Ronan called over his shoulder. “I’m sorry to say it’s been so many years since we’ve lived there that we’re bound to bump into our fair share of-”
Before he could say “Spyders,” someone literally bumped into him. He staggered back as the little white Krawk gathered her senses.
“Bella!” Seneca cried, recognizing her Ugly Holiday Sweater at once. “What’s wrong, why are you running?”
“It’s the boarding house!” Bella cried. “A monster appeared and attacked Colly! I’m lucky I escaped!”
“That’s Mago,” Maikya whispered. Seneca only just heard her over the gale.
“She’s found the jewel,” Ronan murmured. “She’s released Sarabet.”
Bella stared at him, as if only just realizing for the first time who she was talking to. “What are you and Seneca doing here, anyway? A-and who’s that over there? And what are you talking…?”
“Come with us, and we’ll explain everything,” Ronan said. “We’re going to help you save your friends.”
To be continued…