Mid-Week Flash is up. Thank you Miranda Kate for an interesting, if unsettling, photograph. Here is my take, with the help of a writing challenge “offered” by a friend. Have I mentioned my susceptibility to dares?
Sister Elspeth burst from the Council chamber, the doors banging open. Her dark robes fluttered behind like storm-tossed sails.
“What news?” I trailed in her wake.
“Mewling brats!” she seethed, whirling around to spit at the closing door. “There is no wisdom left in all Urtland!”
I dodged out of the way, trying to follow her. But she turned on heel and strode forward again, leaving me scrambling after her.
“The plan,” I repeated. “What about the plan?” But she didn’t hear me.
“The invaders have struck a mortal blow,” she mused, “killing those men whose years brought wisdom. Now boys play king of the hill and all the while our enemy eats us from inside.” Her muttering burned with anger as she pushed open the main doors and swept down the stairs taking the path to the Coven House.
“Sister,” I begged. “Did you tell them?”
She turned on me then, her eyes sparking with hate. Magic crackled around her. A warning. “They wouldn’t let me speak.”
“What?” I stared in shock. How could the Council disrespect her so? The Coven had advised Urtland’s kingship for a century.
“A woman has no place in war.” She mimicked a deep voice. “As if swords alone determined which battles are won. I’ll show you war!” she shouted at the castle, then turned and strode into the trees.
I could do little but hurry after her.
“A woman knows strength is not the only weapon worth wielding” she said to me. “We will behead this snake before its forked tongue corrupts Urtland any further.”
The plan, it seemed, would proceed without kingly permission.
Moonrise found us in the forest. A dozen Coven sisters stood in a circle, Sisters Elspeth, Yadha, Deara, and myself waiting skyclad in the center, athames at ready, faces grim. Chosen warriors for Urtland. Assassins, if you will. One for each invader chieftain.
The spell was already in the casting. Our witch-sisters chanted, hands clasped, and magic tingled along my skin, hot and eager. All that was left was to call our allies. We four lifted our arms and carved the symbols for our chosen trees in our flesh. I chose my namesake – hazel – and carved four bloody lines to the left of a vertical one in my arm. Elspeth’s arm bore three marks beside the straight. A warrior tree – the holly.
I felt a pull in my belly. My call was answered. The Coven opened the circle and we four walked in a daze into the forest. A beautiful hazel tree, robust and green, beckoned to me. Lifting my arms, I pressed against her smooth trunk until my arms became her branches, her leafy crown my own head. Behind me, the witch-sisters sang and I pulled my feet from the earth to dance, slow at first and then faster. They followed me as I cavorted like a satyr in the moonlight, heading toward the enemy encampment.
The Coven wove spells of fog and darkness to hide us as we infiltrated the foreign camp. My fingers rustled and my body ached as branches took the shape of lovely limbs. The glamour complete, I twirled into the tent of a barbarian general. He woke with a start. I smiled at him, beckoning him with my naked body, youthful and firm. The witches spun a spell of love over him.
When he rose to claim me, I let him kiss me. My toughened bark immune to his rough hands.
“Not here,” I whispered. “Come, my love. Away to my bower.”
He grabbed for me, but I spun away, ever just out of reach. I allowed him to kiss me now and then to keep his passion fresh, leading him out of his camp and into the woods.
In a place far from the beaten path, I stopped and surrendered, opening my arms to the brute. He grabbed me then, thrusting himself upon me with ravaging intent. I did not resist, but clasped him closer, opening myself to his plundering. And as we coupled, bodies twined together, the magic changed me once more. My leaves returned. Feet became roots, arms became branches, and my violent lover was trapped within the thickened bark of my trunk…
…never to be heard from again.
You can find links to the other entries HERE.