Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"The Red Witch" next story in the Therontales

This ends part 2 of the Therontales

Take care, caretakers,




The Red Witch


                There was no beginning a quest like this, so Theron began it the only way he knew how: he got thoroughly lost. For seven days he travelled randomly through deep wilderness, instinctively avoiding the places of man. This, after all, was how his Father Samsoar had first discovered the secret forest of Niviana: by getting entirely lost. Indeed, though it was winter, he too came across an enchanted forest. He knew this not only because the trees were unseasonably green, but because a serpent addressed him in his own tongue: American.

                “Greetings, human. To have discovered this forest, you must be something extraordinary. That is exactly the sort of creature mistress wants. Follow me.”

                Theron wordlessly followed the serpent, and they came upon a marble temple. It was clear the temple was run down and then taken over by whomever now lived there. Theron had foreboding as to who lived in the temple now, but followed the serpent. Inside there was a ring of cages made out of crystal with every manner of creature in it: dragon, unicorn, raccoon, griffon. In the center was a great alter that glowed of its own energy.

                “Right in here,” said the serpent. Theron followed the serpent into a cell, and as soon as he entered, crystal grew up from the floor and down from the ceiling and trapped Theron within. Theron saw that he was trapped but was not worried and made no cry.

                “You are a very fortunate man, for the use Mistress will make of you,” said the serpent, once he had slipped through the bars of the crystal cage. The serpent then said something in serpent to another snake, “Mistress has never had a human sacrifice! What power she will get from a human.” The two slithered off.

Theron calmly removed a mirror from his bag of carrying and meditated. First he looked at his face, to search it for any dishevelment or any disorder, and then he tilted his head and let Ama speak to him. Ama told him he was equal to the situation, that his mother was not here, but that he was about to earn a new friend.

Theron then listened to the other beasts in the various cages. They were all eagerly awaiting being chosen next. They all had great respect for Mistress. They all wished for her to give them some of her wine.

That night a woman with long dark hair that reached to her ankles walked into the temple. She set a necklace on the alter. She was clearly beautiful, but rather ordinary looking, in comparison to what Theron expected.

She sang a beautiful eerie song and a crystal cage that was entirely sealed in a cell across from him opened up. Inside was a tiny bird. Theron recognized it was a humming bird. “She has chosen me, she has chosen me,” chirped the bird.

The woman dressed in red brought the bird in her hand and pet it lovingly. She sang a song in some strange tongue. Once at the center of the temple her song changed, and the torches dimmed, candles lit. She sang a strange hymn that went on for 40 minutes. Theron was utterly entranced.

Then the woman in red picked up a silver knife, kissed the blade, and set it next to the bird. The bird kissed the blade as well. The red woman picked up a goblet, also silver, and drank from it. She opened her mouth and let the hummingbird drink it. The fluid also looked silver.

Once the hummingbird had drank the fluid, it began to sing the most beautiful song Theron ever heard. Knowing the tongue of all animals, Theron recognized that the hummingbird was praising Mattriama and preparing herself to meet her maker.

The hummingbird made no cry when the red woman slit its throat with the silver knife. It simply died. The red woman, then poured the blood upon the necklace. Rather than get stained, the necklace began to glow like lava. The woman in red picked up the necklace and put it on.

Instantly, she was transformed into a goddess, or something terribly beautiful. She looked up at the full moon above and then took flight into the aperture in the roof of the temple. Once she was gone, the temples relit themselves and the other animals murmured praise and love for the woman in red.


Theron did not sleep well that night. He was greatly troubled by what he saw. For three days he sat alone in the cell, and on the fourth day, the serpent returned and said, “Mistress has been informed by your presence. She is coming to apologize for your imprisonment. Her name is Dewma, she is a powerful witch. She bids me tell you she means you no harm.”

Theron used his mirror to look himself over, and awaited the arrival of Dewma. He was not kept waiting, but shortly she entered, not wearing the necklace, looking like a plain, but somewhat beautiful woman, still wearing red, and with her hair now plaited in braids.

“I am terribly embarrassed that you witnessed my private ceremony,” explained Dewma. “You must think the sacrifice of animals is evil, but I am not an evil woman. These animals all come here as prisoners, but after staying here a sufficient time, they are willing victims. All of them kiss the blade that kills them. Let me ask, you, what hunter is so kind to his prey as that?”

“You seem defensive,” said Theron. “I have no business judging you and your religion, though I do not approve of it, and I cannot tell you quite why I do not. I am seeking my Mother, a goddess, who also keeps an enchanted forest about her. Are you a woman who would know where she could be located?”

“What’s her name?” asked the red witch.

“I never knew her name, but my father gave her the name Niviana when he took her for wife.”

“Was your father a God?” asked Dewma.

“My father was mortal,” said Theron. “And now he lives with Ama. Have you heard of my mother.”

“I wish I had, for you are an entirely interesting specimen. What is your name, O half-God!”


“And I am Dewma. But you are beautiful and my heart loves you already, so I will be bold and tell you my secret name. It is Tulifara. Come, let us make a deal, O Theron, half-God. Let me pledge first of all that I will do you no harm. But if you will be my consort for but one date – any thing further will be at your discretion – then I will send my serpents, who are the wisest of beasts, to ask the white eagle if he knows her. The White Eagle has eyes that have seen all of America – indeed, all of the world. He has known the Simurgh, and he has known the Great Phoenix, whose pendant I see you wear.”

Theron felt foreboding in her heart. Yet his Phoenix amulet did not tell him no, nor did the ring from his mother, so he trusted his own judgment when he agreed to go on a date.

Dewma explained that she found this old temple that once existed for the benefit of Ama, and as it was abandoned, she took it over. She had been abused as a young girl and taught herself dark magic to avenge herself. Then she learned good magic to balance herself out, and gained every manner of magic power. She was centuries old and had kept this woods young and vibrant all her life.

She told him freely that she sacrificed magical and immortal animals and poured their blood on her necklace, and then she became a goddess and could visit other worlds. Theron made no comment. Finally, she left him in a bedroom, a guest room that apparently had not seen a guest in a long time, such was the dust. She told him she would meet him for their date in a few hours.

Theron explored the room. There was a bookshelf filled with bizarre tomes in foreign tongues. Though Theron could speak all languages of beasts, he could not speak all the languages of men. He realized now that he hadn’t read much, all these years, that Father had never been much of a reader. He wondered if he would benefit from learning magic.

Of course, when the time arrived for Dewma’s return, he dressed himself and made himself look handsome. Dewma looked nice too, and she was dressed in a new red dress. She wore perfume, and makeup, and her hair had been carefully combed.

“There is no sense being secretive with you, O Theron half God, so I will tell you plainly. I am in love with you. From the moment I saw you I loved you. It is my sole aim tonight to make you love me. I will hold nothing back: you will meet every charm I have to offer.”

She smiled at him, and then led him by the hand to a stairway that led upwards. They emerged on the roof where there was a garden laid out. The roof overlooked the sun, which was about to set. Dewma picked up an instrument, a new instrument that had never been constructed before. She explained that she designed it to exactly fit her body, exactly match her voice. When she sang, it was clear the match was an inspired one: aside from Shara’s singing, this was the best singing he had ever heard.

She read him her poetry, and then they watched the sunset. She then lit some candles merely by singing, and brought out a full meal, which they shared. It was pheasant, his favorite, and the spices were unlike anything he had ever tasted before. It might have been the best meal he ever tasted.

“Now, please, sip my wine,” she said. She poured him a cup of wine in a silver cup. The fluid was silver and red. It was the same stuff she had given the humming bird. The phoenix pendant said no, his ring whispered no, but Theron’s flesh said yes, and he drank the wine.

His eyes and ears were opened, and all was transfigured. At this point, Tulifara slipped on her necklace, which glowed like Lava. She was a goddess and Theron, having sipped the wine, was full God. Tulifara took off the top of her dress, revealing a more attractive dress underneath. She picked up her instrument, and sang to him again, and now his whole body quaked and shook and he desired her and loved her, and forgotten was everything else. Without thinking about it, he took off his phoenix pendant and set it in his pocket, and took off his ring and set it in his pocket.

Tulifara told him her mead was made from wine, using a yeast grown in her own body, and that it was mixed with many other things, but mostly mercury.

Theron was as a man silent. He could not speak. But he marveled at this knew world, and vowed in his heart to forget his quest and live out the rest of his life with Tulifara at this temple. He told her so, and she laughed and smiled, and said, “then you must come with me into the temple.”

She led his willing hand, and at the center of the temple, where she had sacrificed the humming bird before, she laid out a thick blanket and set pillows on it. Theron fell in her arms and wanted nothing but Tulifara, now and always.

She looked into his eyes, for a solid half an hour, seeking out the secrets of his soul. He looked back. There was no hiding. They kissed some more.

Finally, she was ready for him, and she leaned back, and Theron was ready for her.

“Only one thing,” she said.

“Anything,” he said.

“Call me Mother.”

The words brought reality back to Theron, and he was hit with such a shock of terror and confusion that his hand caught the necklace of Tulifara by accident, taking it clean off her neck. He looked at the necklace, and with his eyes opened, saw how weak, small, and plain the red witch was without it. He raised the necklace and smashed it in the ground. It shattered into a thousand pieces.

A great liquid fire rolled out of the necklace, and all the animals began to scream and shriek. The crystals that held them in place shattered, and the entire place became a mad zoo. Dewma was sobbing on the ground, and it looked as if the fire would consume her, but all Theron could think to do was run.

And run he did. He went back to his room and grabbed his bag of carrying. Then he rushed back to the temple, only to see that the red witch was missing, and the animals were attacking each other. Amid the tumult, there was one animal that stood out: a young lion, blue, with yellow and orange in his adolescent mane.

“Take me,” said the lion.

Theron took the lion in his arms, large though it was – he seemed so full of strength, and he ran and ran.

It felt like days that he was running, and when he was long back in the dead of winter, he collapsed, face first, in the mud.


The lion nursed him back to health.

“My name is Gladdus,” explained the lion. “My mother was pregnant with me when she was caught. By the time I was born, the red witch wanted to sacrifice her, but she refused, since she was loyal to me. The witch tricked her into drinking that horrible wine, and it made mother crazy. She is a Nemean lion, which means she can’t be cut by any blade or sword, and so the witch didn’t know what to do. Mother ran off into the night, leaving me there. I’ve been there for years, and I’ve seen many animals come and go.”

“I too have lost my mother,” said Theron. “I am looking for her.”

“Maybe we can make it a dual quest,” suggested Gladdus.

“Yes, we shall henceforth travel together,” agreed Theron.




\ ~@M@~ /



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