Sunday, January 19, 2014

"The Green Witch" from the Therontales



Continuing the Therontales, Part 3, Chapter 1



The Green Witch


                Once Gladdus had nursed Theron back to health, it was Theron's turn to nurse Gladdus. It seems the poor beast had never so much as had a good sprint; he had spent his whole life in the same cage. And though he had heard many stories of lion lore and the way of the mane in hunting, and all other manner of story from his devoted mother, he had never once made a kill.

                Sure, he had always wanted to kill the red witch, but even now, in the recent tumult, when he had the chance, he decided against it.

                Theron was an accomplished hunter, having studied under his incomparable father. He didn't think twice over the matter: he would teach the lion to hunt. So they started out on rabbits and other small game. With Theron's help, Gladdus made his first kill with a white hare. They shared the meal, but Theron gave Gladdus the lion's share. After all, he was able to make a salad from the herbs and winter-time vegetation, mixing in some pine needles, pinecone seeds and so forth -- a cuisine of which the lion ate very little.

                They made their way West, away from the Great Lakes region, heading south as well. Within a few weeks, Gladdus was bringing down larger game, including a heron and even a cougar -- an incident that happened by accident and cost the two quite a bit of anguish, but then finally triumph. For the lion Gladdus was sad to kill a fellow cat, but the beast was impudent and had it coming.

                Meanwhile, Theron and Gladdus would wrestle, and both grew stronger for it. They drew blood from each other and declared themselves blood brothers. What a great life, to have such a one as this for your best friend!

                It was good they were so close, because they were about to die together. Or nearly so. It happened when the two spotted a lake within the woods in which a majestic herd of deer were drinking and browsing. After watching them for half an hour, Theron said to Gladdus, "You can do this, take your first buck. Be ferocious, the others will flee."

                Only it didn't go down that way at all. When Gladdus charged forth with a terrifying roar -- a roar he and Theron had been working on -- the deer didn't even blink. They just stood there, utterly unimpressed. Gladdus trotted to a stop and looked at the deer. The deer looked back. Finally, one of the deer said, "You'd better just go, blue lion, before you get hurt."

                Theron couldn't stand to see his best friend so humiliated, so he ran out screaming his terror scream and it certainly worked, the deer reared up, some bolted, but a few of the great bucks remained. More than remained, they attacked! As they hailed their horns upon the lion, Theron ran to his aid. For a second, he saw that the circle of deer had been shielding a woman in the water who was bathing in the nude. She was a little chubby and entirely youthful and full of beauty. She looked shy and concerned.

                Theron was stunned by the vision, but now the deer were attacking him, their antlers tearing open his skin, tearing open the beautiful clothing his mother had stitched him. Of course, they could tear nothing of the Nemean lion Gladdus, he was built to be uncuttable, but the bruises he was taking were considerable, and the last thing Theron remembered, before going unconscious, was the lion might survive, though he surely would not.


                In fact, they both survived, but barely. When they came to, they were in an elegant wooded house. It was clearly decorated by feminine hands, and as Theron looked around the room, he recognized the Red Witch, looking at him curiously. Only she was wearing green.


                "Oh my!" said the woman in green. "So you've met my sister. Were you spying on my while I was bathing. How you are treated will depend on your honesty over this point."

                "I'm a hunter, and I was teaching my friend the lion to hunt. We regarded the deer as fit quarry" said Theron, who realized now that he was tied down. He looked at his bonds. They were limp thin curls of lace. He tried his strength against them, but the more he pulled them, the harder they become.

                "Please don't waste your strength fighting these bonds. Even if you were in good health, there is no way under heaven you could break them. And dear boy you are not at all in good health. My deer treated you brutally. Forgive me. I would have stopped them but I was in a state of shock at your approach."

                "Ah! Forgive me, as well, I had no idea a human was present. Or a goddess -- whatever you are -- I had no idea you were bathing there or that these deer were of a magic race. I would never have sent my lion to attack such formidable foes if I had known."

                "I believe you, hunter. Come, my name is Sylvia and I run with the herd. This is one of my many homes and you were welcome to stay -- indeed, you have no choice. You are close to death. I am a green witch and know the art of healing. If I lacked such wisdom, I would be burying you now."

                "And Gladdus, how is he?"

                "He is still unconscious. He will be fine. He suffered only bruises. I have heard of these lions, but there has never been one on this continent that I ever heard of. I would guess you have travelled far, but your accent reveals to me you are from the land of lakes -- so you're certainly American."

                "My name is Theron. I ... should tell you the story of how I met your sister and what happened."

                Theron then told the story of Dewma the red witch, and held nothing back.

                "You are still my friend, Theron, though you have broken my sister's heart, and utterly. I feel you had no choice in the matter. Have no fear over the fire you caused in her temple. She had her necklace broken once before. She will make a new one. She will put her house in order. She is such a lonely woman, as lonely as I am, and almost as old. I do not approve of her lifestyle, but I would not see her trifled with, even by a half-god. I know the art of intuition and I have many psychic powers. I know more about you than you believe you have revealed. Indeed, I know more about you than you know about yourself. And yet I am feeling toward you somewhat what my sister felt. I will confess it freely because I have no intention of acting upon it, and every intention of healing you and sending you on your way. It is mine to be a goddess of virginity. As it is, I am merely a witch of virginity. I seek no consort. If I am to earn my apotheosis, I must stay by the strict path set out by Luciana, my Goddess, who is of the moon. I pray to her and she has given me these deer to run with and protect. To her I have sworn never to know the love of man."

                "Understood, noble Sylvia. I have no interest in tempting you from your vows. I am seeking after my mother, a Goddess, whom my noble father, who now walks with Ama, named Niviana. I could not be so fortunate that this woman is the same as your Luciana?"

                "Impossible!" exclaimed Sylvia with an involuntary scoff. "Luciana has never known the touch of erotic love, least of all from a mortal."

                Something in the words offended Theron, somehow, and Sylvia saw this, and immediately repented in her heart for saying them. So she said, "I will do everything in my power to help you regain your strength, and I will give you good magic for your journey as well. Now rest. I will sing a spell of healing. Close your eyes. Let the rays of Luciana fall upon you and heal you."

                Sylvia brought forth a flute, and as Theron was a flute-player, he wanted to give her artistry his full attention. But such was her command over the instrument, and the power of her spell, that he soon found blissful slumber, and never slept as well as he did there that night, under the careful care of Sylvia the Green.


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