Monday, September 28, 2009


Usually, I stay in my little house deep in the woods, alone with my books and my cats and the herbs I gather in the forest. But every once in a while, I forget that I don’t like people very much, and that’s when the trouble begins.

It started out, this time, with a boy--he would have called himself a young man, but he was a boy--found half dead in the forest and brought to my home. This happens occasionally; the forest is a dangerous place for adventurers and poachers and other fools who don’t know what they’re doing. Usually it’s alright. I fix them up, let them stay until they’re better, or I can’t stand them anymore, and send them on their way to continue poaching or adventuring, or, if they have any sense, to go home.

Jakon was more sensible than most, and also worse off than most. As a result, he stayed in my cottage for a while. He never told me what he’d been doing in the forest, and I never asked. Our conversations consisted of me telling him to drink this or lie still while I set a bone or changed a bandage. The only somewhat social interaction I had with him was when he asked what I was reading and I showed him the cover of the book. What can I say, I’m not really a people-person. Jakon was okay, though. He didn’t yatter nonstop and he liked my cats. He recovered better than I would have expected, though he had a limp. He understood that it was something of a miracle, that he’d recovered as well as he had, and was duly grateful. So he went home, and my life continued as normal. For a few months, at least.

And then there was a knock at my door. I ignored it. The knocking continued, and I continued to ignore it. But a few hours later, I opened the door to go outside, and nearly tripped over Jakon, who was sitting on my doorstep.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded.

“Vayran, I need your help.” Even when he’d been at death’s door, he’d never sounded so desperate. I should have known better than to get involved.

But I have to admit, I was rather fond of the boy, so I didn’t tell him to go to hell. At first, I was just going to hear his story before sending him away. But somehow, that wasn’t how it worked out.

“It’s Celidh. My sister. She’s been accused of witchcraft.”

“Why did you come to me? What do you think I can do?”

Jakon looked away. “You’re the only one there is.”

“Is there a reason she’s accused of witchcraft?”

“No, they’re accusing everyone. Doesn’t make her any less likely to die, though.”

Great, I thought. Not only am I considering going into an area occupied by crowds of people, but it’s one in which there’s a witch scare. I knew I was a fool for even considering it. If anyone would be though to be a witch, it was me.

As you may have guessed, I went.

The town was far enough that had I stayed home, I wouldn’t have been sought out; the journey long enough to give me time to regret my decision. With every step I took I berated myself for my idiocy, but I didn’t turn back.

I’d thought to do a simple jailbreak, but when we arrived in the town, a small crowd was gathered around a fountain. At the fountain, two men appeared to be trying to drown a girl. By Jakon’s expression, I could tell it was his sister.

“Hey!” I yelled. People turned to stare at me. I had some vague idea in mind of either convincing the people what idiots they were--that never works, and I usually know it-- or creating a distraction. What happened was that, when everyone had turned to look at me, someone cried, “Witch!” and everyone took up the cry.

As I said, trying to convince people how stupid they are never works, but I was angry, so I wasn‘t being particularly sensible. “You’re fools,” I screamed. “If I was a witch, do you really think you’d be able to do anything against me? You’re farmers.”

“Get her!” someone screamed, and they rushed towards me. I like people even less than I normally do when they’ve formed into a mob, and even less than that when the mob is trying to grab me.

So I was too angry to think straight, and I called up as much force as I could muster and shoved it around. I’m not really a very murderous person, so nothing happened to the mob, but all the buildings in the town began to go up in flames.

The people stared at me. I don’t know why they were so surprised; they’d known I was a witch, hadn’t they?

I don’t know whether they would have came after me as they’d planned or backed away in horror, but they didn’t get the chance to do either. In the distraction, Jakon had managed to sneak up to the fountain and grab Ceilidh. The three of us ran. Not fast, Jakon couldn’t with his limp, and Kelia was still half-drowned, but we ran. I didn’t even stop to put out the flames. Let them have something more to deal with than torturing innocent people.

Jakon and Ceilidh stayed with me for a few weeks, long enough to be sure no one was coming after us, before leaving to find a new home. Ceilidh came back a few days later. Jakon had gotten a job as a printer--apparently that was what he did, though why a printer had gotten half-killed wandering in the woods I have no idea--and it payed enough for him to rent a small house, and Ceilidh could have stayed with him for a while…. But what she really wanted was to learn magic, and wouldn’t I please teach her?

I told her I’d think about it, and after doing so, against my better judgment, agreed. So I went back to my peaceful--if somewhat less solitary--life. Somewhat less peaceful, now that I think about it, what with Ceilidh accidentally blowing things up and such, but I did the same, when I was first learning, and at least no angry mobs are involved.