Chapter Five: Witch in the tower
“Let’s get her to the healer, quick.” Ulric said to Wes who held Sylvia in his arms.
The two of them sprinted towards the healer, the blood had leaked onto Wes, his hands were cold and frozen, the blood sticky and slick. As they reached the healer’s shop Ulric opened the door and Wes rushed inside.
“What is this ruckus?” Rindal, the healer asked, but rushed out when he saw the limp body of Sylvia in Wes’s arms. “Lay her on the bed.”
Wes gently set down Sylvia onto the bed, and then stepped back.
“What happened to her?” the healer asked.
“We don’t know, we were walking and she fell unconscious.” Ulric said.
The healer looked at the area where she was bleeding out from, and he slowly removed the piece of cloth from the wound. As the marks of the teeth were revealed, a silence fell in the room.
“Werewolves.” Wes hissed. “This is their doing.”
The healer cleaned the wound and applied the mixture of herbs on it, but soon the mixture absorbed into her skin and black veins started to form around the wound, they were tangled in each other, slowly spreading.
“What is that?” Ulric asked. “Is that to happen?”
“No, no, no.” The healer said. “It might be because of the werewolf bite.”
“What do you mean?” Wes asked.
“Werewolves we— are believed to be creatures of magic.”
“So?” Wes asked.
“So only magic can heal her wound.” Ulric said as he hit his fist on a cabinet.
Rindal looked down to his feet, unable to see the pain Sylvia was in. She had been overcome by a fever in the next few seconds, her body was getting warmer and warmer. Her pale face was flushed, the black vein-like stuff was still around her wound, getting thicker. Wes and Ulric were sitting down, not knowing what to do next. The healer had given Sylvia some syrup to help with the pain, but nothing to help with her condition.
“Do you think those werewolves are still by the town?” Ulric asked.
“No, Sylvia already took care of them.”
“How would you know something like that? She hasn’t even talked yet.”
“If they were still alive she would’ve come to the village screaming, but she didn’t. She probably planned to keep her lips sealed so she wouldn’t cause the town to panic.”
“Wes, there is one thing we can try.” Ulric said. “But it is a long way to go.”
“Ulric, I am a desperate man, go on.”
“When my father first fell ill, he was weak and fragile, it was new to the castle and to the kingdom. We got word from someone that there was this witch, she lived in a tower not far, and was willing to help the king, because he had spared her life.” He explained. “Father, he always had this dislike towards magic, he believed it was against nature. He had refused, threatening everyone who even mentioned the idea. The witch didn’t press, but she said that we were welcome for any help.”
“You think she can help Sylvia.”
“It is in my hopes.”
“Then what are we waiting for?”
“The witch in the tower,” Rindal said. “It has been a long time since I’ve heard that name.”
“You know of her?” Ulric asked.
“I have heard of her, she is the greatest at what she does.”
“Do you advise us to take Sylvia to her?”
“What, I do know is that I am no help to this poor girl.” Rindal told Ulric. “And if you think the witch is, then who am I to stop you?”
’Ulric, get your carriage ready, I will take her to the witch, you should go back to the castle and see this werewolf matter before they strike again.” Wes said. “We should do this as fast as possible.”
“I’ll get the carriage, you can lay Sylvia in there.” Ulric said and rushed out.
Beatrice came running into the shop, horrified scared when she saw Sylvia’s state. Wes explained to her what had happened and about what he was planning to do. Beatrice hesitated but knew that Sylvia would not survive any other way. She gave her permission to Wes, knowing that even without her permission he would have still left. The villagers quickly gathered some food and other supplies for him. By the time they had everything, Ulric came up with the carriage.
“Are you certain you don’t want a guard with you?” He asked.
“No, the kingdom needs all these brave men.” Wes said then proceeded to slowly lift Sylvia up and laid her down in the carriage. The villagers had brought blankets and had set them on the seats, making a temporary bed. The healer, Rindal had given more of his pain syrups to Wes, saying that the pain would get much worse.
“Here’s the map,” Ulric said handing the piece of paper to him. “If you follow it you won’t miss the tower.”
Wes nodded and put the paper in his carrier bag. Then he jumped up on the horse, patting its neck. “Let’s go, boy.”
With big gallop he leaped forward, the carriage following behind. Wes’s thoughts were compromised by Sylvia, he knew that every second counted for her condition was getting worse. He had never seen her so weak and powerless, she had always shown strength and was quite a handful. He liked that about her, the way she challenged him. Then there was this thing she did, always, she would put her hand on his shoulder when she was frightened. Like a strange-looking man would walk by, and her hand would ao and rest on his shoulder, same with when there was a sudden loud noise. He liked that, he had noticed so many little things about her. She whistled when she was bored, she didn’t like soulberries, thought they tasted like rotten eggs. She wasn’t scared of speaking her mind, she would say whatever came to her. Brave, that is what she is, a brave and fierce woman, with a sweet heart, and a smile that would make any guy weak. She had done that to him.
Wes shivered as the cold air hit against his body, he had always hated the cold. It made everything so colorless. It seemed so sad and miserable. He tugged on the blanket that was thrown over him. He had always dreamt of going to the seaside, the warmth of the sun shining down, the noise of the waves crashing against the shore. He liked it, happy and full of life. Perhaps he would visit sometime, along with Sylvia and Ulric, Analiegh would enjoy the sand, Gwen would love to try the fruit.
Wes had been lost in his fantasies for long enough to not notice the sun go down. He was tired from the long travel, it would only take them another day to make it to the tower. He jumped down from the horse and scratched his aching limbs. He had stayed in almost the same stance for hours. He jumped inside the carriage and locked the door, he couldn’t be so trusting, especially in the forest path. His eyes instantly fell on Sylvia, her face seemed more weak and sunken. He slowly took out the syrup bottle and lifted it to her mouth. One sip at a time she swallowed it down. Her breaths relaxed soon and she seemed less in pain. Sylvia’s hand grabbed his attention, upon a closer look, he saw that the black veins had formed up till there. He didn’t know what they were, but he knew that they weren’t helping Sylvia in any way.
He wanted to stay up until the sun returned, but he had to regain his energy for the next day. As he set his head down on the seat opposite of Sylvia and drew a blanket on top of himself he wondered about the witch. Was she really going to help them? What if she refuses? Among those many questions in his mind, he found someplace to sleep.
Wes woke up to the sound of birds chirping, he groaned as he turned over and fell to the ground of the carriage. He rubbed his bruised head as he sat up again. He looked to his side towards Sylvia. As much as he wanted to deny it, she looked sicker and sicker as time passed by. He jumped out of the carriage with a blanket and onto the horse. He had no time to waste now. He predicted it to take until evening to get to the tower. He grabbed the reins of the horse and whipped them down. “Hiyaa,” he screamed and the horse galloped forward. The forest was getting more narrower and further away from any civilization. Wes kept his eye on the map, making sure he was going the right way. The deeper they went into the woods the more ominous it began to look. He passed a place that was filled crows, cawing out loud, enough to make him cover his ears. Soon after the crows, he found himself by a big rock that looks like a face, a man’s face. He chose to ignore these strange signs and was determined to keep on moving. He had decided to not stop until he would reach the tower.
He slowed down when he stumbled upon an arch made from overgrown roots, there were vines, acting as curtains to the other side. He managed to get through and saw the tower, it was much taller than he had expected it to be. He couldn’t see the top, because it was hidden by the clouds, and at the bottom, a strange yet thick mist was swirling around.
He slowly moved forward and stopped as soon as he neared the tower. He made sure to keep his sword in his belt when he knocked on the door. The tower was built with stone bricks, grey, and dull, the door was a plank of dark brown wood, it was thin but sturdy. Magic, he thought. After a couple times of knocking he heard footsteps. As the footsteps drew closer, Wes became more anxious, and then with a creaking noise, the door opened. A beautiful lady stood in front of Wes, she looked to be the same age as his mother. The witch wore the witchy hat with a pointy top, her robes were satin red. Her black hair was long enough to touch the stone ground of the tower.
“A visitor.” the witch said and then stepped back. “Do come in, kind sir.
“I have a friend, she has been bitten by a werewolf, and you are the only one that can save her, please.” Wes said. “Ulric, the prince he has sent me.”
“I know, boy.” the witch said. “Bring the girl in, I’m afraid she doesn’t have much time left.”
Wes didn’t question how the witch knew already, instead, he carried Sylvia from the carriage and set her on the bed inside. The inside of the tower was the same as the outside, dull, and grey stone bricks. There were some red rugs here and there. The only color he could see was the glass bottles filled with strange liquids.
“Can you help her?” Wes asked.
“It has been quite the decades since I’ve seen a werewolf bite, but yes, I can treat her. Why don’t you sit down by the fireplace and warm up, I’ll just make the antidote in a jiffy.”
“Antidote.” Wes asked.
“Wolves carry a type of poison in their teeth, when they bite their prey the poison travels through them, these black strings on her skin is a common sign of the poison spreading.” she explained as she mixed a bunch of things together. “It can be healed by the saliva of a werewolf, or by this antidote.” the witch held up her final formula and held it on Sylvia’s lips, just like the pain syrup, she was given the antidote sip by sip until the bottle was empty. After the bottle was empty the witch chanted a word over and over again. She looked at Wes. “this should heal her quickly.”
“That was it?” Ws asked in disbelief. “So quick.”
“Yes, I would say magic works quickly. She just needs rest to regain her strength. ” She said as she sat down on a chair. “Now tell me more about this werewolf ordeal.”
Wes takes a deep breath and explains what has happened. He told the witch about how the werewolves first attacked Sylvia’s village. To his surprise, the witch already knew that Sylvia was a Lycan and why the werewolves were after her. He then told her about Analeigh’s village and how the werewolves weren’t going to stop until they had Sylvia’s consent.
The two of them jumped up to their feet when they heard Sylvia stir on the bed. She had her eyes open and was starting to sit up when Wes put her back down.
“Stay, you need your rest.” He said. “How are you feeling now?”
“My body doesn’t seem to ache anymore.” she said in a drowsy voice. “I was attacked by werewolves, I killed one and then the other hit me, I had managed to kill him, but the wound had gotten deep.”
“We know.” Wes said.
“Wait, where are we?” Sylvia said looking around.
“It is a long tale, but it doesn’t matter. You are all better now.”
“Sorry to interfere with your joyous occasion, but there are still wolves running around in the world, threatening to attack villages.” the witch said.
“Who are you?′ Sylvia asked.
“I am Morgana, the holder of all magical knowledge, the best witch in the world, an—”
“She saved your life,” Wes said ending her heroic facade.
“The wolf.” Sylvia said. “The one that I killed first, he said that if I do not consent within five days, they will attack our town. Wes, I don’t know what to do, we can’t possibly kill all of them.”
Wes looked at Syliva’s worried face, which he knew his face reflected. He was lost now, he had no idea how he was going to save his town. He had been given the title ‘count’ by the king, but the title was of no use if there was no way he could save his town, his people.
“There might be a way.” Morgana said.
“What?” Wes and Sylvia grabbed on together.
“There is this grimoire.” The witch began. “It contains all the spells on the creatures of magic. It might have a way of defeating the werewolves.”
“That is great news, where is it?” Wes asked.
“That is where the problem lies.” Morgana said “the grimoire has been considered lost, but there is a rumor that it resides in the forest of luminity, cabin to be more specific.”
“Isn’t that just a rumor too, the forest of luminity?” Wes asked.
“No, it isn’t.” Sylvia said. “My mother used to take me there all the time when I was younger, but then we stopped going.”
“Because the forest grew corrupt, evil took over its roots.” Morgana said. “It is a dangerous place since nobody has been there in ages, people believe it to be gone.”
“And you are certain that the grimoire is there?” Wes asked.
“I only heard a rumor.”
“Wes, it’s worth a look.” Sylvia spoke as she sat up. “We don’t have anything better to go against the werewolves.”
“You to go to the forest, and if the grimoire isn’t there then I will aid your town in any possible way.”
“That’s okay, but it will certainly take us more than five days to go there, find the grimoire, and then get back in time to save the village.” Wes said.
“That’s why I have these.” Morgana said holding up to bottles filled with liquid and clinking them together. “Teleportation potions, they take ages to make. Take them once you find the grimoire, it will teleport you back here.”
“Why can’t you just give us more?” Sylvia asked.
“They are one of the hardest, most time consuming and most dangerous potions to make.” Morgana said. “If I tried to rush while making them, it would surely end in a magical disaster.”
“So, how does the grimoire look, and where is the cabin located?” Sylvia asked. “Is there a map for the forest?”
“You will know it is the Grimoire when you see it. For the cabin is the only cabin in the forest, and there is no map of the forest since it is believed to be, well, not be.” Morgana said. “You two should leave, you only have three days left.”
“Do you have a horse?” Wes asked. “We came on one, dragging a carriage.”
“Yes, there is a white horse down behind the tower, Artemis is her name.” Morgana said. “Now, off you two go. I’ll be waiting here for your return”
The two of them were pushed out the door, and into the cold air. “So much for resting.” Syliva said to herself.
“You can stay if you don’t feel well.”
“No, I’m alright.” She said. “Let’s go, we don’t have light to spare.”
Gwen sat by the window in her room, her eyes were looking outside but all her focus was on her thoughts. That day Syliva had left to be treated by the witch in the tower, she and her friends had heard stories about her in her childhood. They used to be scared of the witch, thinking she would come and snatch all the kids, put them in her stew and then eat it with a sinister grin. She almost laughed at her memory, how naive and thoughtless she was as a kid. Her world as a small child was nothing but fun. Running in the field and looking up at the shapes of the clouds. Having snowball fights in the winter. Trying to learn how to make stew for her father. She was sheltered from the evil that grew in the world.
“Gwen.” She heard Beatrice say as she entered the room. “Don’t worry, my sweet child, she’ll be alright?”
“I know she’ll be fine.” Gwen said turning around to face her mother. “I am not reminiscing about her.”
“Is this about that boy that didn’t show up.” Beatrice said. “Perhaps he saw the ruckus in the town and decided it would be better if he were to not come.”
Gwen knew all too well why Rowan didn’t come, and she knew what he really was. She thought hard about whether or not she should tell Beatrice the truth, after all, she was going to tell the townsfolk soon. It was for their safety and protection, they had been fooled by one innocent looking girl. Beatrice had always been trusting, she wanted to help everybody out when they were in trouble, and she paid no attention when they didn’t return the favor. Gwen knew that the truth would hurt her, even though she didn’t know her long, they had become close. Gwen was close to her, she had confided in her, she felt disgusted at how close she was to her, she had put her absolute trust in her, everyone in the village did, and they had the right to know.
“What is it, my dear?” Beatrice asked when Gwen fell silent. “You are not yourself.”
“Mother, Rowan said something to me. I paid no attention to it at first, but then I saw it.” Gwen said. “Mother it was the most horrific sight ever.”
“I’m home.” Analiegh said as she entered the room. “Oh, I should go to the kitchen while you finish talking.”
“No, this is important.” Gwen said. “Sit and listen carefully.”