Whitteled Secrets

You have to be careful in the forest. There's witches in there.

I live in the god-fearing town of Cropstare, where the prized quarry is a witch. Catch one, you are a hero, lose one, you will burnt. My father, the head of the hunts, believes that anyone who helps a witch indulges in witchcraft themselves. I think he's gone mad with power, ever since they took my mother. That's what he's really hunting for. He won't stop till he finds her.

But what if witches aren't all bad......

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1. The Fire

The moonlight dappled the lush green grass, as the snow white rabbit crept towards the snowdrops cautiously. It seemed as wary as me. Well, almost. The silver disc went flying towards the rabbit's neck, where it met without a sound. Before I could see the red stain on the white fur I swiftly moved forward and picked up tonight's meal. It went in to my bag, along with dandelion and plantain leaves. I packed some mint leaves and moss just in case. The moss was for the wounded, the mint for myself and the children in Cropstare. It would keep them happy while their fathers where out in the forest hunting. I saw a flicker of light in the distance between the silverbirch. That would be my fathers party. Only he would lead people this far in to the forest. The others would stay in sight of the village fire, cowering in the shadows. Fire...... the memory took me. Fire......

"Rowan! RUN!" screamed my mother. The six year old shook her head, and tried in vain to move the fallen tree off her mother. The path out of the burning forest was closing, fire licking up the tree at the same time.

"Rowan! You have to go! Mummy will be okay! I love you....." My mother trailed off, as a strange noise sliced through the roar of the fire, a sweet singing. The six year old took no heed, only jumping back when jumping embers burned her hand. At that moment two black shapes flew through the burning forest, shaking off the tree and picking up my mother. The child screamed, and started to cry, her body shaking she gulped a lungful of smoke, coughing and retching afterwards. She gave a futile attempt to speak, but as the smoke rose, she sobbed despairingly and ran through the gap, not noticing the flames close behind her, gently waning until all the was left was a green bit of forest, seemingly untouched by the ever-hungry mouth of fire.

I ran through this part now. I'd gone back the next day looking for my mother, expecting a barren wasteland filled with ash and blackened tree. I remember blinking furiously, wondering if I had been blinded by the smoke. I remember the sweet calming singing filling the forest, and I sat down, listening intently. I looked around, and spotting an oak, climbed up and hid out of sight. I looked down at my father, his slick black hair combed back, his eyes dark and hungry. He fumbled with a ring, one I had not seen before.

"Sir. The ring we found is not a protective one from the village. Its one of..... theirs."

My father froze, and let the ring fall. He murmured something to the bald headed man who spoke, evidently the torch bearer. He nodded and the moved on. I breathed a sigh of relief, flinching when a sigh much the same sounded simultaneously from just above my perch. I reached for a disc.

"Who's there? No, wait, I know what you are. Show yourself, witch." I whispered. A light, was lit, a white orb, to my right, so I could clearly see a face illuminated just inches from mine. A malevolent face, holding a disc to my throat, smiling in a way that said: I'm going to kill you. I took in the fanged teeth, the snake-like eyes and long claws grasping my disc. I gasped, and feeling my mask of horror, went against human instincts. I didn't run, or scream. I calmly took my disc and said, "I'll thank you to not steal my weapons. I guess I did say show yourself, but I would prefer if you did so at a comfortable distance." The witch blinked and the eyes turned human, a dazzling blue. It gasped, and the fangs shot upwards, turning in to normal teeth. I saw the claws turn in to nails, attached to delicate, white fingers. A glamour. I'd heard of those. The face was now a beautiful, serene face, long black hair framing the white skin. The girl gasped and drew back. She looked about the same age, sixteen, but the question of how long she'd been sixteen was difficult. I watched her mutter an incantation, cursing after since it didn't work. "I wouldn't be scared if you cast another Glamour. I'd know." I spat out. She looked up.

"Oh, you would now?" The voice was soft, perfect. "Would you happen to know all the witches secrets you filthy-"

"Don't call me names! I mean..... strange." My shock had disappeared and I felt at ease with being angry at the witch. Like she was normal. "I'm not a filthy whatever you were about to say. I think a thief like you has got cheek calling me names."

"Thief? Do you know that I could turn your insides out, or fit you in a bottle for eternity?" She retorted. I thought for a moment.

"I doubt it. I've read that a glamour is the basic power of a witch. If you're having trouble with that, I think that you'd probably trap yourself in a bottle in you tried. Furthermore-"

"You dare suppose my power? I'm only just learning. Besides, you may be a good shot with a throwing disc, but I doubt you could do a glamour yourself."

" Well since you can't it seems that I have the upper hand. Well, you're fast, one minute you were above me and next you're in my face, but I bet I could get you with a knife."

"Well as a matter of fact, I'm fastest in my clan."

"Clan? How many witches are there?" I asked eagerly. She wrinkled her nose, an expression of disdain on her face.

"Witch. Not very civil term. Witch means old hag with warts and pointy noses, and a rather ridiculous point hat. No. We are a rather more refined than those.... old ladies."

"What's your clan like?"

She smiled. "How about I show you?"

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