CONTENT WARNING (CW): Violence. Discusses sexual assault. Contains Mind Control.
This is a story about the bad guys, it may not be everybody's cup of tea.
Set in approx. 600 AD Europe
Dad glared at mom across the table. He pointed at me. "She's a witch!"
Mom buried her face in her hands.
Dad motioned towards town. "I think Father Paul realized it today. They're going to come for her."
Mom raised her eyes from her hands and looked at me. "But we need rain. If she's a witch, can't she make it rain?"
Ever since my eighteenth birthday, these strange thoughts of a bigger destiny itched away at me. Weird pulses of something raging through my veins followed the thoughts. The feeling seemed to be stronger every day. It started out as a slow tickling along my spine, but when it reached a crescendo, it burned like a charge through my body, reaching every extremity and every orifice.
My little brother, who was constantly lost in some nether region of diabolical thought, said, "Evelyn's a witch? Are they going to burn her?"
My eyes went wide, and I looked at the door to the outside.
"King William's a fair king," Dad said. "If she can make it rain in the middle of this drought, maybe good will come of it."
"How am I supposed to make it rain?" I cried.
Mom shook her head. "It's late, you two get to bed!"
My brother and I raced to our room. A spark of fire lit in my belly, and I knew a wave would overtake me soon. I lay awake in bed clutching at my blanket, while waves of prickly tickles coursed through me.
Peaceful slumber overtook me. A loud knock on the front door woke me at the first light of dawn. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stumbled into the main room of our house.
Father Paul stood in the doorway, and a dozen men waited behind him. Men armed with heavy maces, swords, and chains.
The priest looked at me and smiled. "We're here for the witch."
Dad nodded. "Evelyn, it's time to go."
Father Paul waved at his men. "Come along quietly, my dear, so we don't have to use the chains."
They were quite lucky in fact I was no witch. I looked at my mom.
"You have to go," she said. "Make it rain for them, honey."
"I don't know how!"
One of the guardsmen shouted, "Come along, now, or we'll put the chains on you and drag you to see the King."
I stepped outside and walked towards the castle, and the troop of men with weapons followed. At that time, I was unaware how bleak my situation was. An old woman saw me as she was dumping refuse outside her house and spat in my general direction.
We hadn't seen rain in four weeks. The last day it rained was on my birthday. Damn coincidence all it was.
The castle in all its glory loomed into view with its gray stone walls and towers. We walked through the gate, and beasts and men dodged out of our way. On reaching the palace, guards put cuffs on my wrists and escorted me to the throne room. The King sat on an obsidian throne. He wore a gold crown with emeralds in it, and he held a golden scepter in his right hand.
A squire announced me.
The King looked at me. "You're a witch. You can't live in our kingdom."
"But why?" I asked.
"It's forbidden. But perhaps, if you could do something for us, we could let you stay."
"I don't know how to make it rain. Nobody can make it rain!"
The King looked at the guards. "Show her the lessons the rack can teach. Perhaps it'll jog her into lifting the blight that's on our land."
I tried to run. Tried to fight. The guards were big and strong, and they hit me. They carried me down countless flights of stairs. Torches lit the way every twenty feet or so. They came to a wooden door and opened it. Men in leather masks picked me up and put me on a wooden table. A leather strap went around each of my ankles, and then they attached more straps to my wrists.
They cranked a wheel on the side of the rack. My ankles and wrists pulled tight until I thought they couldn't stretch any more. It didn't hurt so bad. Then they turned the wheel another notch, and the straps on my ankles and wrists tightened up. Blood pooled in my hands and feet.
The wheel moved another notch, and pain spiked in my muscles as they were pulled to their limit. I screamed. They turned the wheel another notch, and the joints in my hips popped. They turned the wheel yet another notch, and my knees snapped. I screamed even louder. They twisted the dial, and my shoulders dislocated. I begged. I promised them anything. One looked me in the eye. "Make it rain."
They spun the wheel a hair, and my elbows cracked. I howled at the top of my lungs. They turned the wheel. I went numb in my hands and feet, but my muscles burned in agony, and my joints ached with sharp stabbing pain. The device tightened another notch. I lost control of my bladder. One of the men in leather masks said, "That's enough."
They left me alone in my agony. My mind started to focus. I asked myself, how does a witch make it rain? Didn't know the answer. I waited. Had to wonder how long they'd leave me on the rack. I told myself, days.
I began to dream, running through the meadows chasing a butterfly. Back at the barn, where Dad was slaughtering a pig. I was in the kitchen with mom cooking bread. It seemed a never-ending supply of tears poured out of my eyes.
I didn't even hear them come in, but the men with leather masks were back. The wheel turned a half notch, and pain spiked like wildfire through my whole body. Then it loosened, and I just lay there whimpering. The masked men undid the straps on my wrists and ankles.
I tried to stand and fell flat on my face. One of the men picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. He walked to another door and went into the room. He set me down on a pile of straw and left me to lie there as I slowly regained my ability to move. Likely lucky they hadn't ravaged my body, perhaps at dawn.
I fell asleep. They woke me up and gave me a mug of water and a piece of bread. I ate greedily. Father Paul appeared at the cell door. "The King will see you now."
We made our way to the throne room, and the King sat there smiling. "Have you decided to help us?"
I looked down at the floor. "I don't know how."
"Brand her as a witch and exile her. Girl, if you return to my fair kingdom, we'll burn you at the stake. Is that clear?"
I shook my head and cried. Guards took me back down to the dungeon and strapped me into a chair. They brought in a blazing hot fire. A man took a brand of a cross and burned it into my forehead. I screamed again.
Men hauled me upstairs and tied me to a post in the back of a wagon. Thunder clapped overhead, and rain started to fall. The wagon driver whipped the horses, and we left the castle.
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The Wither ChroniclesFantasy
CONTENT WARNING (CW): Violence. Discusses sexual assault. Contains Mind Control. The Wither Chronicles. "W" Series Precursor. 600 A.D. Europe. Evelyn, a witch, has to learn to coexist in a world ruled by the bible and the law of the land, "thou sh...