Wayward Witch

I gently placed my hands upon the young man’s broken body, listening to his gurgles and knowing he was well beyond my abilities. Still, I had to try. I delved inside with my power and saw his heartbeat fading, the breath growing short and the light fading from within. Someone in the crowd started sobbing as I pulled my hands back. There was nothing I could do. No one could stop death, not even the strange woman from the hill.

A couple of soldiers escorted me from the tent as they laid a cloth over the young captain. Leila stood outside, waiting to defend me should they decide his death lay at my feet and not the enemy’s. Her services were not needed as the widow shrieked curses towards the sky instead.

“The cost of this war is growing far too high.”

“The cost of any war is too high. Sadly, it is one that many are apparently willing to pay.”

“They shouldn’t be. Over a hundred dead just this day, and that number would be higher if you hadn’t been here to help the others.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. Ever since I was little, people had come to me for healing. My mother had been afraid that my talents would invite misfortune, but as my gifts had never brought harm, all accepted me warmly. I had learned quickly that not every wound could be healed and even though my talent grew as I did, I would never be able to stop the inevitable. To try would be madness.

“Death comes to us all eventually. Sickness, accidents, the passage of time. It does not matter. Everyone must step through that door eventually. Some just meet that fate trying to shove others through it.”

Leila stopped, grabbing my arm. “How can you say that! Are you so cold you do not mourn the great loss of these young lives?”

“Of course I mourn them! Leila, I have seen death far too much in my life already. It hurts to see so many go to it, but I know that nothing I can do could stop it. What would you have me do? I am not a warlord. I am not a Queen. I have no authority save that given to me by those seeking my help. My powers are limited. Finite. I am a healer, not a goddess. You yourself have explained that to others several times.”

“I know that, but there must be something.”

“There is. Beg the gods for peace and do your best to help in any way you can. It is what I do.”

*** (more…)

Nicholas Does Science

Nicholas and his fascinating obsession with science.

 

Their home wasn’t enormous, but it was more spacious than average to afford extra room for books and research. It was also located near the center of the underground town and had belonged to Storykeeper families for generations. “Nicholas, where are you?” Eidald called as he searched the house room by room for his adopted son.

“You know that boy is probably in your study. I think he may love those books more than your father ever did.” Zofiya looked up from the pile of chia seeds that Nessa, their daughter, and she were harvesting.

“I suppose I should have thought of that first.”

“Yes, you should have,” Zofiya’s words were brining with hostility as they had been for the past ten harvests. Just when Eidald thought her ire was lessening it would flare back to life. “When you find him, tell him to come help separate the seeds.”

“Actually, I had something I wanted to show him.”

“But not Nessa?” Zofiya’s words were laced with daggers. Nessa hunched lower as if she could escape remove herself from the middle of her warring parents.

“If she wants to come along, she can join us,” Eidald answered slowly, knowing that he was surrounded by a minefield of wrong answers.

Nessa looked back and forth between them before finally whispering, “Uh, okay.” She brushed her hands off and hurried to Eidald’s side.

“We’ll be back in time for the dimming meal.”

“You probably shouldn’t have said that,” Nessa whispered on their way to the study. (more…)

Wednesday’s Child

Prompt: It was Wednesday, the day of kindness.

The sun dipped low on the horizon and with its descent, Savina could feel the tension settling into her shoulders. In the reddening sky, the smiles on everyone she passed felt sinister. A reminder that the truce of today would not continue through the night. She resisted the urge to clutch her knapsack to her body. She forced herself to keep walking with her head held high.

Once she left the crowded market, her steps quickened. She had to make it to her hideout before the night settled around her. The path through the woods was treacherous in the dark, full of roots that came alive in the night to snag ankles and cracks that opened in the ground to swallow feet. She could not afford to have an injury when the sun rose.

In the morning the villagers turned into a band of pitchfork-brandishing and torch carrying monsters.

The day of kindness. What a misnomer.

It was the day that the villagers let the outcasts come into town.

They fed them.

They bathed them.

They cared for their injuries.

If they were sick, they gave them medicine.

After all, where was the fun in hunting prey that was too weak to put up a fight? (more…)

July Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

Ok, readers, I’m going to be honest. This month’s prompt is a little weird.

We used a random prompt generator from the Seventh Sanctum website. They have some of the strangest, most interesting prompts we’ve ever come across. And we decided to give the Confabulators free rein this month.

So, they could refresh the page however many times they wanted until they found a prompt that inspired a story.

We asked that they use the prompt either as a first line or an intro line to their story, so you can see what they were working with.

Feel free to peruse the site yourself, if you feel so inclined: Seventh Sanctum Writing Prompt Generator.

Here’s the schedule for July. Join us every Friday for free fiction:

Friday, July 7: “Wednesday’s Child” by Eliza Jaquays
Friday, July 14: “Nicholas Does Science” by Anita C. Young
Friday, July 21: “Wayward Witch” by Kita Haliwell
Friday, July 28: “The Tower Princess” by Dianne Williams

 

Black Magic

I took another drink of whiskey, letting it warm my stomach and dull my magic. Losing control now would be disastrous. Now, when I was so close to the semi-finals. The Miss Galaxy title was everything that I had left. That and the cash prize it promised.

I waited off-stage while a lovely Deltan attempted to play the lyre. She must have been nervous because her extra tentacle kept tripping her up. I would be on stage soon, singing that stupid song. I mean, it was by far my strongest song. The only talent I had these days, now that I’d found a way to dull my magic.

The Deltan must have reached the end of her performance because the crowd cheered. I could never tell with alien music. I watched in horror as she glided off the stage. The crowd was waiting for me and it made my stomach churn. I took one last drink to soothe it. Why did I ever think it would be a good idea for a witch to go on stage singing about old black magic? I must have been drunk when I filled out that form. That song gave entirely the wrong idea about witchcraft.

“And now for a real treat, ladies, gentlemen, and other folk,” the announcer said. I braced myself. “All the way from Earth, we have a real talent here. This is the first time a human has made it this far in our contest. Please, everyone here at Janis Spaceport, give a big cheer for Eliska!” (more…)