Quest For The Witch: Prologue
In a world of magic and technology, there was a kingdom. It was the kingdom. It was a place where magic and science coexist to become the kingdom's own unique brand of magic, in a world torn in half by the two factions of magic and science. All the world came to this kingdom to learn its secret, which was no secret at all, really. Simply, one must respect the opposing view and catch a small glimpse of this view.
The kingdom, of course, had a king and queen. And good rulers they were, too. There was the king, strong, respected, and with unquestionable honor. And there was the queen, pure of heart and a mother to her people. How unfortunate for them, and for their kingdom that their baby, the Crown Princess, was struck with illness.
This was no ordinary illness, mind you. It was not the sort where a bit of medicine from the doctor could sort it out. This was something that all people dread. The baby princess had been struck by evil magic.
Everyone knew that evil magic had been on the prowl. But it was a shock that the princess, born in one of the safest, well guarded castles on the planet, would fall victim to this dastardly power.
The king and queen desperately sought for a cure. But no matter where they turned, or who they turned to, nothing could remove the curse on their beloved infant daughter. As the weeks turned into a month, the parents of the cursed child became willing enough to give up even their crowns and thrones if it meant the salvation of the princess whose life may end when it scarcely began.
Then came a little girl, wearing a black dress with a tattered hem skirt, and a crooked, pointed hat. She stood no taller than the tallest of dwarfs, which was still considerably small. And with all eyes on her, she remained still, not blushing like a normal child would being under such scrutiny by people of power.
It was not unusual for witches to send their apprentices, no matter how young, as representatives. They say it's to build character and experience. But when the little girl said that she, herself, had come to cure the princess, the entire court of the audience chamber, sitting in their comfortable seats at either sides of the violet carpet leading to the thrones of royalty, scoffed.
"She is but a child!" said a minister, wearing robes of gold. "What can she do?"
"I may appear as a child, but I am anything but," said the girl, her face as cool as a patient adult, but her eyes flashing dangerously. "I am she who have crossed further in time than anyone, minus the gods of old. Legends speak of me as both wicked and benign. Science is my servant, and magic, my slave. Spell master, that I be. And incantations, I am proud of developing."
The entire court laughed. Thrice, did the child bite her tongue, which made her rants all the more amusing. A clap of thunder on a day without clouds rendered them all silent.
Smoke danced at the little girl's feet. and when it was gone, the girl was too. And standing before the king and queen was a woman as old as time, itself. The crone wore the clothes of the girl, except bigger, and needed no staff or broom to stand.
Everyone stood in stunned silence, their jaws dropping in awe. It wasn't because of the child's sudden conversion into adulthood. Nor was it because of the crone's elderly appearance. Wasn't old women in black the stereotypical image of witches? No. It was her presence that stunned them all. Not even the king in his fiercest could hope to be seen while this witch was here. That alone was proof of her power.
"I am the Witch of Eras Past," the crone spoke, her strong voice echoing the grand hall. "I am the Lady of the Night, and Ally to Day. None have surpassed me, but one. And he has but fallen to Time. Here me now, for I have come to show benevolence to an innocent soul. But by the Laws of Old, a price must be paid. And so it shall be."
The king, strongest of his people, was the first to find his voice as he fought against the presence that belittled him. He had heard of the Witch of Eras Past, a shapeshifter and immortal. Only on times of great shifts in balance, does she appear. Half of the time, for the good of kingdoms, and other times, to observe a kingdom's fall.
"And what price would you have me pay, Witch?" he demanded, though his once thunderous roar was now a frog's soft croak. "I have jewels of unfathomable rarity. My treasure chests be full of gold. And my libraries contain the most ancient of books and knowledge of the arcane arts."
"I care not for your earthly possessions," said the witch of legends. "And ancient knowledge of the arcane, I have. But I will have payment. The girl will be mine from this day forth, never to grow up within these noble walls. For this, I will save her life."
The court was in uproar, their awe lost. Replaced, it was, by anger at the witch's daring. How dare this one crone, senile and old, name such a price? And to address the princess in such a way was nothing short of blasphemy.
The king, himself, was on his feet, his sword half drawn and his face as red as the tomatoes his mother enjoyed growing during her long life. His anger made him resilient to the witch's power. Now stood the man who was this kingdom's champion, before he became its ruler.
"Who are you to make such demands?" he snarled. "I will not have my child torn from me! I will not have her torn from her mother!"
"If nothing is done, that will happen, anyway," the witch argued. "Dark times are coming. Even if I cure your daughter, if she were to stay here, her treatment will be for naught! Surely your magi have sensed it? The prophesied days are here and the princess must be the first to go if hope is to die."
"And why should I trust you?" the king demanded, although his grip on his sword was more lax and his face softening to a more wizened feel.
"She is already doomed," the witch answered, gesturing to the bundled child in the queen's embrace. "Why would I waste my time on an already doomed child, one cursed by something so ancient, that only someone just as ancient would know anything about it, if I meant harm?"
Her words made sense. Not even the foremost professionals in the entire world knew what to do. And the king had seen to them all. Shamans from jungles unchanged by time were of no help, either. The king turned to his wife, whose pleading eyes were on him. She has made up her mind. Now, he must, too.
With a resigned sigh, he sheathed his weapon, a sword enchanted to be mighty even to a blunderbuss. He dropped back into his throne, his shoulders slump.
"Very well," he said heavily. "I will pay your price. But you must tell me why she must go with you."
"She will be safe with me," the witch answered. "There is training that I must give her, to prepare her for what destiny has thrust in her path. And when the time come, so, too, shall her debt to me be paid in full, shared with the one who will fight at her side."
"May the stars shine most bright on my child," the king muttered. "Do as you must."
The witch was quick. She always was. As soon as the king signed the contract, and finished with a tiny droplet of his blood, she went to work. Her workshop was brought with her, and appeared around her in a flash of colorful light. For her, there was no need to consult a book What knowledge she needed was sought from sorting through her brain. Foul smells tortured her audience, but they refused to leave, all suspicious of the witch's motives.
When she was done, the child was bottle-fed the magical brew. It must be more delicious than it smelled, for the child consumed the potion most enthusiastically. Almost immediately, the purple spots that marred her were wiped clean off her face. She became more lively, and actually smiled for the first time in a long while. The hall exploded with cheers at her recovery, and the queen actually grinned with relief. But just as sudden did the entire chamber rejoice, did they all fell into remorse.
As she was true to her word, now must the king pay the price. His queen was slow and reluctant, but she did come to give her child to the old crone. With that deed done, the witch bade farewell, vowing that the child will be well looked after.
The first flash of smoke transformed the crone back into the little girl she was when she entered the audience chamber, who bowed respectfully to royalty and nobility. The second consumed her and the child who began wailing the moment she was no longer in her mother's embrace. Her mother raced to the witch and baby in a fit of emotion, but she was too late. When the smoke cleared, the witch and the princess were gone.
- Quest For The Witch Chapter One
Alexandra, who has never set foot outside the mansion she lived in all her life will attempt to leave once and for all with the aid of a delivery boy. But then came the witch.