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Quest For The Witch Chapter Eight
Chapter Eight Skeleton
It was well into the afternoon when Alexandra, Caesar, Gwendolyn, Rick the gunman, and Gwendolyn's former apprentice, the elf wizard Jack were ready to depart. Behind them, within the archway, the village was burning. To them that burned the village, it seemed appropriate. Other than Jack, there was no one from the village that remained. Rick was more than happy to leave, though he bade a solemn farewell to his former companions, the ones he failed to protect from the shadow beasts during the years that he and his travel mates had been trapped in the village.
Gwendolyn, the one who set the entire village on fire with a single word, on Jack's request looked to her two champions. She couldn't help but smirk noticing how close the two of them were. When they caught her staring, Alexandra and Caesar quickly broke apart, red in the cheeks and avoiding eye contact. Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, Gwendolyn wondered how it could be that the ones she chose would be so shy to such a point.
"Well, where are you headed now?" Caesar asked as they walked. The wagon, like a faithful hound, rolled beside the party at a slow pace.
"I don't know, Slick," he said. "It's been a mighty long time since I've gone anywhere. I may come from simple folk, but even I know how fast thing changes. A lot of change must have happened while I was stuck in that hole."
"Well, you're right about that," said Gwendolyn, choosing to sit cross-legged on a flying cushion. "But I think you'll get used to it real quick. After the dark magic took over most of the land, the kingdom's getting more and more behind with the rest of the world."
"Is that right?" went Rick. "In that case, I might as well stick with you lot. You're all headed for big trouble. I can tell. Might find me useful in the long run, especially if you're going around solving dark magic trouble like at that village."
"We'd appreciate it," Alexandra said. He was right in saying that she, Caesar, and Gwendolyn were probably going to need all the help they could get. "What about you, Jack? Will you be accompanying us?"
Jack inclined his head.
"It would be an honor to do so," he said in that lion voice of his. "I owe it to Mistress Gwendolyn for raising me in the art of mage-craft. It is about time I pay back my debts."
"What about your wife and children?" Gwendolyn asked. "Aren't they waiting for you to come back? Or did you mess up big time with your wife?"
Jack did not meet his former mentor's eyes. His face flashed great pain momentarily. He quickly tried to hide it, but knowing Gwendolyn, it was probably futile. He was grateful that Gwendolyn did not delve further.
Alexandra saw the pain in Jack's eyes, but like Gwendolyn, she said nothing. She had a lot of curiosity, but she knew when not to give in to curiosity's pull. She was also grateful for Jack's presence. She had heard stories of Gwendolyn's last most recent apprentice, always bragging about his skills and how Alexandra's own paled in comparison to Jack's talents. Maybe he could give her pointers in how to improve her magic so that Gwendolyn would stop complaining.
They decided to make their way to the big town that was nearest to where the elf village formerly stood. Of course, that was still a long ways ahead, even on the wagon at its top speed.
When the village was freed of its curse and the dark magic eradicated, life had returned to the fields, and the atmosphere wasn't as dreary as before. But that soon changed when the wagon wheeled beyond the land's borders. Once again, they were in gray.
Alexandra sighed with melancholy. If it was anything as sad as the village, she was beginning to worry that she wouldn't make it very far. As if she read her mind, Gwendolyn rapped her knuckles against the side of Alexandra's head.
To keep spirits up, both Jack and Rick began competing with one another on who had the most impressive adventures. Some of them, Gwendolyn had confirmed true for Jack. As for Rick, it was harder to tell which tales were true, and which were fiction. They were all getting more and more outlandish with each new tale from his youth.
The sun was beginning to set when the wagon suddenly stopped.
"What's wrong?" was what Alexandra was going to say to Caesar who had been manning the wagon beneath a wide-brimmed farmer's hat. She cut herself off midway when she saw what was lying in front of the wagon.
Lying on the ground in reckless abandon were bones. Human bones. The intact skull stared blankly back at the flesh-covered ones looking down at it, and then opened its mouth.
"Help me," the girl's voice whispered. "Please."
Alexandra and Caesar screamed before rushing back into the wagon, then out the other way in a panic, only to trip and fall on their faces. Rick and Jack, wondering what the matter was with those crazy kids went out to investigate. They saw the bones, heard the skull speak, and then Rick fainted while Jack stood paralyzed.
"Ho ho!" went Gwendolyn "I didn't think I'd meet any of your kind out here. What are you doing lying on the ground like that? And where is your family?"
"Th-that's what I came here for!" the skull answered. "I'm on a journey searching for someone who could help my village! Please! Do you know where I can find the eternal witch, the berserker sorceress, the witch, Gwendolyn?"
After snapping everyone out of their stupor with vicious and obviously painful slaps to the face, Gwendolyn had the rest of the party gather up the bones strewn all over the ground. All the while, she explained what the bones were.
"There are a people mostly found in this region with an unusual ability," she explained.
"It's more of a handicap, really," the skull on her lap interjected. She went quiet after a glare from the ancient witch.
Gwendolyn continued. "They're called the bone people for the obvious reasons that in a blink of an eye, they can become just that, bones. Of course, not many have full control of this ability, and often times it becomes a huge pain in the rear for them suddenly becoming skeletons without meaning to. It's why they mostly kept to themselves, seeing as becoming a skeleton in the middle of a street would freak the other people out."
"Sorry about that, by the way," the skull said. "I was walking when it happened. Normally, it wouldn't be a problem, but then I got hit by a horseless carriage going very fast. Those rude nobles didn't even stop and just plowed right through me. My bones could repair themselves just fine, but being split like I was, made it impossible for me to move. And now my dress is ruined. I had just bought them a few days ago for my travels, too. Although, if I hadn't transformed, I'd probably be dead."
"While it might be extremely hard to kill them because of this ability, it is also quite easy to subdue them," Gwendolyn said, "All you have to do is keep the bones scattered and they'll be helpless."
"Lady Gwendolyn, we have gathered all the bones," Jack said, dropping a femur into the pile. "Shall we reassemble them?"
"No need," Gwendolyn said, nodding to the pile. The bones were already rearranging themselves into anatomical accuracy. The skeleton was sensible enough to put on the dark dress and boots before walking over to the skull and reconnecting it to the spinal cord. It also donned a huge leather knapsack that Caesar found just a few feet away, full of survival gear and supplies for lengthy travel. Once in place with a wide-brimmed traveler's hat, there was a flash and in place of the completed skeleton was a blond-haired girl with green eyes and a canine tooth.
"Thank you all so very much!" she cried out, bowing down while supporting the large backpack she was wearing. The weight was a bit too much and she lost balance. She was saved thanks to Rick.
"Now then, what is it that you need with Gwendolyn?" Gwendolyn asked.
"Are you Gwendolyn?" the girl asked, eyes as big as dinner plates.
Gwendolyn shook her head. "If you're looking for Gwendolyn the Witch, look behind you."
The girl did and came face to face with a pale Alexandra. The girl had lost control of her form again and was now a clean skeleton. Her empty eye sockets stared at Alexandra's filled ones.
"This is the great Gwendolyn?"
For some reason, the girl's doubt irritated Alexandra. Although, she does have a right to doubt.
"O-of course," Alexandra said, trying to mimic Gwendolyn's air of authority.
The skeleton cocked her skull in doubt. Then she shrugged.
"Whatever," she said. "I suppose you'll have to do."
'And what is THAT supposed to mean?"
- Quest For The Witch Chapter Seven
It is time for Alexandra to perform the ritual. As she dances, monsters rise from the shadows to stop her. Will she succeed where another had failed? Or will she join her predecessor in doom?
- Quest For The Witch Chapter Nine
After having rescued a girl who could turn into a skeleton from spending the rest of her life in pieces, the party heads to the girl's village where they must deal with a horrible monster.