The Woman in the Wood – Possible ending number One.

Last week I was challenged by The Britchy One:

Three Days, Three Quotes – 05/11/18.

“please write me a witch story!” she said.

“Good Witch or Wicked Witch?” I asked

“Both” She replied.

“Challenge Accepted” Said I….

So I started writing a fantasy tale about a witch.

See here to read the first bit:

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/the-woman-in-the-wood-a-witchy-tale/

I actually have two endings in mind so I thought I would write them both on my Blog and get you to choose which one you liked best. 

This is the first option:

They journeyed through the dense forest. Perseus on his horse and the woman, he called Diana, taking the lead in the form of a white raven. 

Often he thought he was lost as each dark path they followed looked the same, but he trusted his guide and continued onwards. 

By day she was the raven and by night she became the beautiful woman again and sat with him by the fire. They talked about their lives, although she really revealed very little about her past. He thought it odd that she transformed every night to sleep on the rough ground, when she could probably be more comfortable as the raven. He actually asked her why and she laughed, a rich throaty laugh.

“It is because of the moon.” She told him. “The moon forces you into your true form, it is impossible to transform into a different form with the silvery moon shining above. At the new moon, when no light shines, or on really cloudy nights when no moonlight touches the earth, then I can take on other forms. Oh, I shouldn’t really be telling you these secrets of my craft. They probably bore you anyway.”

Perseus leaned closer, the flames from the fire bathing his handsome face with its orange glow. 
“Not at all. You are Diana, queen of the wood and I enjoy listening to you. I am fascinated, please go on.”

She smiled at him, it was so long since she had someone to really talk to. The few people who came to her were so full of their own worries, they didn’t want to really hold a conversation. She had grown used to that. She had enjoyed her solitude. Now this man, this Prince, sat doting on her every word and she enjoyed this even more. 

She told him a few other secrets of her craft, innocuous things that wouldn’t do any particular harm. There were, of course, many aspects of magic and some like the domination of others, she had turned away from long ago. They were dark and evil and she prided herself on only using her gifts to help others, not to harm them. Only in extreme circumstances would she ever use her powers destructively, only to defend her life. 

They continued on their journey in this fashion, travelling from dawn until dusk then making camp and chatting long into the night. He would always fall asleep before her and she would look at him, gently snoring, and wondered what spell she was falling under.

After three days they had reached the eastern edge of the great forest and they slept that night in an Inn. She realised when she went to bed what Perseus had meant about never sleeping alone in an Inn. They were not very hygienic. Bed bugs and fleas crawled through the blankets, straw mattress and the rug on the floor. She lit one of her incense burners which produced a cleansing smoke of camphor, pine, rosemary and other herbs that would repel the insects. Only then could she sleep. She lay there thinking of Perseus in his room next door.

Ever onwards they travelled, across a wide, river where they paid a ferryman to row them across. Then they climbed across a mountain, though a winding pass where the air howled like a banshee in their faces. 

Finally after a week of travelling they came to a more civilised land. The fields were well-tended, each with neat stone houses and usually a few cows and sheep. The people went about their daily tasks with a quiet efficiency, they occasionally stopped to wave to the Prince on his horse. 

Then on the horizon the woman saw something she had never seen. Nestled in a valley either side of a river was a city with houses all built from stone. Even the streets were paved with stone. When she had last lived amongst people the houses were usually made from woven hazel covered with mud and had straw thatch roofs. On the top of a hill overlooking the city was the biggest marvel of them all. A castle of white stone with huge towers and turrets that seemed to shine golden in the afternoon sun. Flags flew from these towers, a white dragon on a red background. It slightly took her breath away. 

The Prince picked up his pace, encouraged by the sight of his home and the fact the flags still flew above the castle. If his father, the King, had died, the flags would have been taken down. 

As the sight of a white raven had rather startled people, the Prince had bought Diana a lovely white palfrey to ride. She wasn’t very experienced at riding, but she leaned forwards and whispered softly into the horses ears. The horse became calm and she knew she could rely on it not to throw her off. 

They rode through the streets of the city, a throng of people were making they daily rounds of the shops and markets. More people than she had ever seen, more shops and goods than she had ever seen, selling all sorts of wares. Bright fine cloth, linens and lace. Food stalls with all kinds of things to be eaten, fruit, vegetables and meat. She tried not to stare as they continued towards the castle.

At the gates of the castle Perseus pulled up his horse and shouted to the guards to open the gates to let him pass. The guards were wearing clothes made from solid pieces of metal covered in cloth tabards of red with the white dragon, matching the flags flying above. They saluted them and opened the gates.

After they left their horses in the stables, Perseus grabbed her hand in his and he led her through the many rooms of this grand palace. Up stone staircases and through rooms with walls lined with polished oak panels or finely woven tapestries. Finally they entered a room filled with men and women wearing the most fancy clothes, made from velvet and silks with gold and silver thread and ornate embroidery. In the centre of the room was an enormous bed, carved solid oak pillars at each corner held up a rich red canopy over the emaciated figure of the King. He lay there, plumped up with pillows, his sunken eyes were barely open and surely unaware of the crowds of people around him. His white hair and beard hung loose and limp and made his face appear smaller and more sunken. 

She opened up her mind to examine the King’s aura and she could see clearly the problem. He had a severe congestion on the lungs that was badly infected. He was barely breathing and his aura pulsed so weakly that she knew, if left untreated, he would be dead within just a few days. She could already feel Death creeping about the room, waiting patiently to claim his next victim. She was determined to make sure this time Death had come far too premature.

Perseus looked desperately into her face, the unasked question clearly displayed in his eyes. 

‘Could she save him?’ She knew she was going to do all she could to fight off Death. It would take everything she had.

“Please clear the room, Perseus, I can’t do this surrounded by all these people.”

The Prince began chivvying people to the door and reluctantly they went, clucking like a flock of angry chickens. 

Perseus ensured that everything she needed was brought to her. She called for lots of boiling hot water and fresh towels. She mixed concoctions of herbs and spices that she knew would help to clear the Kings ailing lungs. She lit sconces and burned incense to clear the infection from the air. She bathed the king’s body herself with antiseptic herb water and placed hot towels on his chest to get the poisonous phlegm from his body. 

As well as these more medicinal methods she employed her powers, gathering in all her energy and will to drive the spectre of Death away. She could feel that her efforts were slowly working, but not without taking a cost. She felt her own life force diminishing. 

She had to draw on her reserves of power, power that she had used to extend her life and hold back the ageing process. Gradually her appearance changed, the wrinkles that had been unnaturally held at bay, flooded her face. Her limbs became thin and frail and her spine became curved. In those few moments she had gone from a beautiful woman in the prime of life to an old crone.

The King breathed deeply and opened his eyes which no longer were pale and unseeing but clear. The colour returned to his cheeks and he saw his beloved Son standing over the body of an old woman.

“My Son, you’ve come back!”

“I have father and I brought you a Woman who has saved your life. Rest now, father.”

The Prince picked up the body of the old woman and carried her from the room.

Perseus laid her body down on a soft bed and she stirred.

He looked at her with grateful and loving eyes and she gave him a fragile smile. She could see the figure of Death at her side, just beyond Perseus and she knew he had come to claim her at last. 

Perseus spoke to her. 

“You saved my father. I am so grateful. The prophecy was wrong, my Grandfathers prophecy, I mean. He thought that a Witch would come to rule over his kingdom, but you came to save it instead.”

Tenderly he bend down and gave her a gentle kiss. Then she passed into the arms of Death. 

The End

Well that was possible ending number one…You could say it was a premature ending.

Stay tuned for possible ending number two coming soon….

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 18/May/2018

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/premature/

 

via Daily Prompt: Premature

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