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Quest For The Witch Chapter Nine
Chapter Nine Dog
It was just a few hours drive before they made it to the town where Lulu, the skeleton girl, had come from. During the long drive, Alexandra had to deal with the doubtful glares coming from the preteen who had asked her for help.
"I knew it!" the girl cried when Alexandra welcomed the girl to call her by her true name. "I knew you couldn't be Gwendolyn!"
But there was no doubting that Alexandra is Gwendolyn the Witch after looking at a whole bunch of strange pieces of machinery that Lulu had brought with her. It perplexed the skeleton girl and made her wonder if they were broken or something. She did accidentally dropped the knapsack a whole bunch of times before the motley group found her. But when Gwen, in her young adult form, told her how Alexandra inherited the name of the Immortal Witch when the witch gifted it to her, Lulu's reaction was this:
Lulu crossed her arms, frowned, and then said: "Now that was a stupid move to make."
Alexandra scowled, which deepened when Gwen made no move to defend her decision, being the one who gave Alexandra the name and all the authority it brought.
The town was vast. It was far larger than the town Caesar grew up in, that Alexandra lived over. Small buildings of various sizes clustered together. They were small, but much bigger than the village stores and homes. Almost about everything seemed to be made of stone, especially the floor of the streets which was made of flat bricks. The market stalls were all full of wares, from food to rolls of fabric. All of them were left abandoned outside. Some were on the ground, as if dropped in haste to leave.
Almost as deserted as the last village when Alexandra first saw it, the town was quiet. Now and then, an eye would peek out from behind the curtains of one of the buildings, but just as quickly, they disappear.
"Not very welcoming," Rick commented, lifting the front of his hat's brim with a finger.
"Well, of course," Lulu said, with a sad face. "With that monster out there, not a lot of people are keen of coming out. We must have triggered the alarm when we came in town."
"I didn't hear anything," Caesar said.
"The alarm's magic, dimwit," Gwen said. "You wouldn't hear anything outside."
"Everyone!" Lulu cried out at the top of her lungs. "It's okay! The monster's not here. It's just me! And I brought help!"
Slowly, people began peeking out again. And then sticking their heads out the window. Finally, the streets were gradually filled with relieved faces. Many shop owners went back to their market stalls, picked up fallen wares and resumed business. Their customers with them. About half of the people were clacking, rattling skeletons of various size and clothes.
"Lulu!" a bent skeleton in a brown dress cried out. "My word, child! You've come back! Who is this that you've brought with you?"
"Well, they say they're with Gwendolyn the Witch," Lulu explained, nodding to the party.
The whole town seemed to be in uproar, whispering among themselves and glancing sideways to Alexandra, Caesar, and the rest. Most of them looked doubtful. At least, the ones with flesh looked doubtful. It was hard to tell with the skeletons since skeletons don't have lips or eyes. The elderly skeleton was especially unsure about them. She seemed to be looking at Gwen who just smiled putting a finger over her lips while standing behind Alexandra.
"Very well," went the old woman skeleton. In a flash, her wrinkly flesh came back. Her eyes were hooded with age, and her gray hair was tied back in a bun. "Please come this way to my home."
No matter how often it happens, Alexandra just could not get used to so many eyes on her. She hunched her shoulders and walked with an uncomfortable tingle in her spine. It was especially disturbing now with skeletons among the crowd. Glancing to her left, she could see Caesar was having just as much a fun time as she was following the elder who was having an animated conversation with Lulu, her great-granddaughter. They had decided to leave the wagon tended to by the townsfolk. Gwen shrugged and said "Do whatever," when the townsfolk offered. She, Rick and Jack hung back a little. Jack and Rick remained solemn, while Gwen just grinned and waved like she was queen.
The elder's house was pleasant enough. While not as big as Gwendolyn's mansion, it was pretty big, with snow white paint, a lively green garden, and a fountain. Personally, Alexandra wondered about the elder's taste, staring at the skull squirting water out of its eye sockets.
They all sat around a coffee table in the cozy lounge full of photographs and flowery patterns. A servant, also a skeleton, just left after serving the guests their tea. Alexandra and Caesar watched curiously as the elder took hers. It disappeared into her mouth but did not reappear out of her jaw.
Gwen, seeing the two gape like idiots clouted both of them in the ear. Since she was sitting between them, Alexandra was clouted in the right ear while Caesar the left.
"So tell us about this monster," Jack said. "Describe it in as much detail as you can, if you don't mind."
"Not at all," the elder said. "But didn't Lulu tell you anything on your way here?"
"I thought that it was best they heard it from you," Lulu interjected.
Rick did a half-shrug.
The elder sighed. "Very well. Where to begin? Where to begin? Ah, yes. "Well, the creature first appeared a few weeks ago during our Day of the Dead Festival."
They had a Day of the Dead Festival? Alexandra thought. Now that couldn't have been more ironic.
"No one know where it came from, nor why it chose to come here, though we all have our theories," the elder continued. "It was a horrible sight. Without warning, it burst in on the festivities. A great, horrid thing, vicious as it was strong. It rampaged throughout the streets of our town. Many people were harmed in the process. We thank our lucky stars that no one was hurt. It seemed especially partial to those like me and Lulu."
"That monster ruined my favorite dress," Lulu said, indignant at the memory.
"Yes, well," went the elder, shooting some kind of look at her great-granddaughter. "Since then, the beast has appeared numerous times causing us no end in grief. We've set an alarm at the outskirts of town so that anytime the beast returned we would have just enough time to hide ourselves. It helps, but is an inconvenience. It just comes at random times of its own choosing. There is no pattern. We've tried to find one."
"We can't keep living in fear, so I left town to find help," Lulu cut in. "I walked for a long time before I was run over. And then you guys came. And here we are."
"You were run over?" the elder exclaimed. She sounded hysterical.
Lulu shrank away sheepishly.
"I told you it was dangerous out there! I told you to be careful!"
"I was!" Lulu argued. "The noble's horseless carriage was going too fast."
"Blasted nobles and their dangerous machines!" the elder spat. "Thank goodness you turned when you did."
"Uh . . ." went Alexandra. "About that monster . . . "
"Huh? Oh, yes. Obviously, we wish to be rid of the beast," said the elder. "If you truly are the heiress to the Eternal Witch's name, then something like this should be a snap for you. When the beast next comes, please, for the village, I beg of you to free us of our tormentor."
Alexandra and Caesar met eyes, both uncertain what to say. Alexandra was especially hesitant. She wasn't too keen about fighting horrible monsters. But at the same time, she knew that she could not leave this town to the monster's mercy. Just as she was coming to a decision with her inner debate, Gwen got up and announced for the whole house:
"Be at ease! There is NOTHING that Gwendolyn the Witch can't do!"
"Huh?" Alexandra went. Just what was Gwen thinking?
The elder and Lulu both lit up excitably. Well, not that excitably. But they did look relieved that at least someone has come to help.
"Sure, why not?" Rick said with a grin, his hand brushing over his pistol. "I've been raring to catch up with my work."
"Seriously?" Alexandra said, not finding the fun in going out and hunting a horrific monster.
There was a horrible squawking that rammed against Alexandra's eardrums. It was like some kind of deformed bird was crying out. The elder and Lulu got up, their eyes fearful and wide. Or at least that was Alexandra's guess. The pair were skeletons again, startled by the alarm.
"The monster is here!" the elder cried out.
Everyone rushed outside. Rick had his pistol out. Caesar drew his sword. Jack raised his staff. Gwen brought some crumpets with her. And Alexandra came out empty-handed, wondering why she was the only one without a weapon, except for Gwen who never needed a weapon for eight-hundred years.
The beast came charging at them center of the main street. Slobber flew back as its tongue trailed against the wind. Its fur was as black as night. Its tail wagged and flapped as it ran. Spikes studded its blood-red collar.
And it was a puppy.
At front, Caesar and Alexandra gaped at the puny creature sitting at their feet. They exchanged looks and then rolled on the floor laughing, Caesar dropping his sword.
"Idiots," Gwendolyn muttered beneath her breath.
Alexandra was just able to regain enough of her composure to stand back up, wiping tears from her eyes.
"That is the monster?" she said, while Caesar continued to laugh, almost hysterically. "Well, I know you're skeletons, and you're made of bones, but that's no reason to be scared of a dog!"
"Uh . . . Gwendolyn?" Lulu said, pointing to something behind the girl.
"I mean, really! I'm sure it can be a bit of a menace, but that doesn't mean you guys should run and hide."
"Alexandra," Jack said, mimicking Lulu and pointing to whatever was behind Alexandra and Caesar.
Caesar looked. And he stopped laughing.
"Couldn't you guys, I don't know, maybe get out a net or something? You don't have to just capture and kill it. I'm sure you could have just found a nice place far away where it couldn't bother you and still live its life."
Caesar, who didn't get up, tugged at the hem of Alexandra's skirt, gaping at the beast.
"And further more - The cute little puppy grew into a ginormous, horrific monster behind my back, didn't it?"
Everyone slowly nodded their heads. Alexandra slowly turned around. The monster roared, blowing hot breath hard at her face. Flecks of spit hit her cheeks.
- Quest For The Witch Chapter Eight
Having put the spirits of the elf village to rest, time now comes for Alexandra's next venture into the vast unknown of the country.
- Quest For The Witch Chapter Ten
The monster turned out to be a cute puppy dog that transforms into a ferocious, bloodthirsty behemoth. How will the second Eternal Witch deal with it?
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