War and Despair

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Chapter 6

The Geomancer felt that there was something very wrong. For one, the purple haze that always seemed to surround the witch’s cottage was gone. This particular witch, Gwyrdd, used magic for almost everything. And the door hung ajar, that never happened. Gwyrdd always kept the door firmly shut.

The Geomancer crept slowly towards the door and entered the cottage. Inside was a mess. The few furnishings Gwyrdd kept lay in pieces on the floor, something had carved deep scars into the wall. And then the Geomancer saw Gwyrdd.

The older woman lay on the floor in a pool of scarlet. The Geomancer knelt beside the witch and gently peeled the layers of fabric away from the wound on the woman’s chest. Whatever had attacked the witch had tried to spill her insides on the floor and killed her. But Gwyrdd’s chest still rose and fell ever so slightly, so the monster had failed.

Suddenly the Geomancer felt a hand grip her arm. She looked down and saw that Gwyrdd’s piercing green eyes were open.

“Silt…” The witch groaned.

“Shh. You’ll be just fine.” The Geomancer comforted.

“Such… Always such a sweet child. You shouldn’t have to pick up our pieces.” Gwyrdd coughed.

“What do you mean?” The Geomancer asked softly.

“We dabbled where we weren’t supposed to, Silt. We made a monster, child.” Gwyrdd groaned, smiling a smile that revealed bloodstained teeth. “We made a monster and its coming for you!” Gwyrdd broke off into hysterical giggles until she started coughing up blood. She pressed something into the Geomancer’s hand. “Take it and go, Silt! Flee into one of your little tunnels before it catches you! Run! Now!

“But what about you?” the Geomancer fretted.

“I’m dead anyway. Not even you can heal this wound, girl.” The witch coughed. “Get out of here before he comes back!”

The Geomancer ran from the hut and changed to her dragon form. Clutching the slip of paper that Gwyrdd had pressed into her hand tightly, she took flight, heading homeward as fast as her wings would carry her.

As soon as she had landed, the Geomancer unfolded the bloodstained piece of paper. Gwyrdd had written on it with her familiar messy scrawl

Earth protects fire, but Can also kill it.

Water hates fire but loves earth

Air coexists with earth water, but feeds fire

Fire devours earth but should beware, should earth turn on fire and quench it.

Silt, I’m sorry. Long have the witches wanted to know the secrets of the four elements. If they can be combined, if they will destroy each other if they are. Dragons are fire, but you have managed to use earth magic, proving that they can be combined. We experimented a few times before you, but most of our test subjects died. Then you came and proved that it could happen. Finally, one of our subjects survived. But he’s angry. He wants everything responsible to pay. There’s nothing you can do about him. He’ll kill you, he needs your heart to keep living. Ask the deep earth if you want to know exactly what I mean. But first, there’s another matter that needs to be settled. Many seasons ago a girl came to one of my sisters wanting her to give her enough power to kill a dragon. Instead she turned her into a dragon. Like the monster, she became consumed by her anger. Try to help her. I think that you will need her in the times ahead.

-Gwyrdd

The Geomancer folded the note and closed her eyes. This was not good. Why couldn’t the witches just let things alone? The thought of it made her want to scream and throw things. But she was earth, and earth was gentleness and tranquility. All she could do was try to pick up the pieces.

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