The Evil King I
I waved goodbye to everyone in my small village. It made me feel happy and sad at the same time. Traveling the world was my dream but that brought some bad news. Coming back to call this place home was out of the question. I looked at the letter my parents just gave me.
It contained a small note: Best of luck and wishes to our dearest Calytrix. Don’t forget to visit us and write.
I put the letter in my bag, straightened my pose and started walking faster. Despite my determination to not look back, my eyes became teary. I pinched my cheeks and started running to my first destination. Getting emotional even before my journey really started was something I wanted to avoid. It was unbecoming of a witch that recently became a proper adult. My 20th birthday fell in springtime, the best time to start the journey since the weather was at its kindest, not too hot or cold.
Suddenly a wind fluttered my hair into my face and forced me to take a few steps forward. I was on the taller side, slim, but considering my overall weight as an adult that kind of strong wind was very rare. A small strike of red and blonde colors filled my vision until the wind finally stopped and I managed to untangle my hair.
My first stop was a close-by citadel. I was supposed to arrive there at dusk, just in time to do a little light magic show. I bet the kids will be delighted and some of their parents could be willing to give me some pocket money. Self-funding was one of the basics of every witch’s journey. I received some travel money from the village chief and my parents, but it wouldn’t be enough for the whole journey and it’s never bad to make money when it’s easily accessible before a worst-case scenario happens. A money pinch.
I ran through the green fields as I took shortcuts from the main road. On my way, I encountered two black cats playing with each other, one lost cow enjoying her newfound freedom and three teenagers hiding in nearby bushes which I pretended not to notice. I felt the nice, cozy warmth of sunshine along the way. It felt like today also wished me good luck on the journey because it brought good weather.
Since I hurried, I arrived at my first destination earlier than expected. All the main roads in the citadel were paved with small stones which I found amazing because my village didn’t have a single paved path. Even from the distance, the citadel was impressive as always. It’s big white walls formed a magic star.
A rumor that has been spreading in the area said that one of the ancient witches founded the citadel. I loved myths about the witches of the old ages. The place where the adventures happened wasn’t written with enough precision to deduct what part of the world they happened, but it was speculated that this citadel was one of those places. According to the myth, witches gathered near a large man-made formation that formed a magical circle once every year where they exchanged their experiences and techniques and also opened portals to other worlds. It was a fantastic story. I felt a bit disappointed I didn’t live at such an exciting age.
I would love to meet other witches during my journey, but I didn’t know what I could expect from other witches. I always imagined that it would be a wonderful meeting.
I wasn’t sure if I could say that I’m already on my journey because the citadel was nothing new. I visited it a lot with my parents and villagers. The liveliness that spread all around brought me back from daydreaming. As always there was something happening during the day, but the nights were also interesting. The main square had a lot of small stores that focused on special little works, like repairing shoes and sewing clothes, open almost all day. A bookstore I frequently visited was also located there. It didn’t have many books, but they managed to get all of the books I asked for after a certain period of time. I once waited a whole year for a book and it was worth the wait. They even let me read some small books in the store without the need to purchase them.
The local villages around the citadel weren’t prosperous; they were small and people managed to get by with small farming. The citadel, on the other hand, seemed to be well off but its true source of prosperity was publicly unknown. There wasn’t large scale trading or special craftsmanship that would bring in the extra profits. I was told I shouldn’t stick my nose in other people’s business since the citadel wasn’t meant to be a long term living place for me. It was just a temporary stop. It was fishy but it was the truth. I can’t find my permanent settlement anywhere near here so I never pursued the topic.
“Lady Witch!” A group of children hanging around the town square surrounded me.” Did you start your journey to become a real witch?”
“How many times do I need to say this, I have a name: It’s Calytrix! I’m already a real witch, the journey is a formality of coming of age.”
They were kind of annoying but still cute. The moment they started pulling my clothes, I reconsidered thinking of them as cute. Older girls were interested in the golden woven pattern on my corset. The little ones started pulling my sleeves, but I stopped them in time before they’d get any funny ideas about pulling my short black dress.
“Lady Witch, when you finish your journey and become a real witch will you come to visit us again and show us new magic tricks?”
I sigh, they completely ignored everything I just said to them a few seconds ago. So typical, but I couldn’t be angry with them, so I said, “Yes! I will come to visit you. Expect the unexpected.” I struck a victory pose and the kids started cheering me on.
“Stand back and I’ll show you some colorful flames,” I said with a smile.
The kids did what they were told and watched my show carefully. I worked with fire magic and had to do the incantations all the time but my audience was happy with the process.
“Dona mihi fugatur spirituum flamma, virdi, caeruleus, flavus, purpura.” The yellow, green, blue and purple flames danced around me in various directions switching sides with each other.
Although I did this show a couple of times the kids were still content with it. Their eyes carefully followed the flames. I did a couple of special hand movements just for dramatic performance. I could have cast magic standing in one place, not moving and just reciting the incantation but there wouldn’t be any fun in that. Focus, magical power, the right to use magic granted by the elemental spirits and the right incantation were the only things that mattered when casting magic. Everything else a witch did was just for show in most cases. At least that’s how I handled magic so far.
After I put out the flames the kids cheerfully thanked me and ran to their homes for dinner. Other passersby that watched the show also went on with their business. I started to wonder how people from far away towns would react to magic shows. Did they have the same shows? As I got lost in thought one of the village girls came up to me.
As I was thinking of all the possibility of other towns, Aliz walked towards me, “Is that all you’ve got? I’m glad you’re going on the journey to learn something else because colorful flames are boring.”
Aliz wasn’t in the village when I said my goodbyes. I wondered where she was, I guess she came to the citadel before me. We never managed to get along. There were times I tried really hard, but it was impossible. People like her are the only ones I won’t miss.
“If it’s so bad you should show me your magic,” I said walking away, avoiding further verbal conflict.
She might have said something back but I ignored her words and slipped in the crowd that was going to the palace entrance. This could have been our last meeting and she felt the need to leave a bad impression even in the end. The unbreakable rule stated that witches lived in their birthplace until they were twenty. After that, they had to find their own place in the world outside their village or hometown. Visits were allowed, but prolonged stays were a big violation. Everybody knew this. I wanted to stay longer with my parents. They were kind people. I wasn’t bothered by all the things that my village lacked. I felt that the others were lucky. They didn’t have to leave if they didn’t want to. They had a choice that I wasn’t allowed to have. That’s why any kind of rejection from other villagers hit me hard. I thought that I should have the same rights as any other villager.
I decided to spend some time in the citadel before going north. A large crowd started forming and I decided to follow them. They stopped moving in front of the king’s palace. The palace was magnificent. Rare plants from far away places decorated its windows and balconies along with small engraved statues made by the best sculptors. Seeing the plants always made me smile because they reminded me of a silly experience from my childhood.
A few of us, village children, snuck in front of the castle at dusk. One of our little boys distracted the guards the rest of us took a few flowers to get the seeds. We managed to escape the citadel without being noticed and planted the seeds in our village. Only one plant grew. It had beautiful big dark blue flowers in the shape of a rhombus. It bloomed every year since we planted it. I hope it will continue to bloom and maybe I’ll see it once again when I visit the village in a few years. We were all yelled at and got grounded for messing in front of the king’s place, but all of us felt like the flowers were still worth it.
The extravagant plants and statues represented the power of the royals. The monarchy was strong and loved by its people. That was the saying I heard all my life. The kingdom was mostly rural with the exception of the citadel. Bonds between neighboring villages weren’t strong but everyone respected and bowed to the king. The face of the king was also known to everyone. Each village had a portrait of him put up in the central part of the community.
The balcony on the second floor was where he made important speeches, they were usually long and boring and I skipped them but this time I decided to listen. As the king made his appearance everybody started clapping and letting out enthusiastic sounds except me. I just stood still and carefully listened.
“Dear subjects, your merciful king will reward each one of you for the national day with a big fat pig,” he declared.
The crowd got even more enthusiastic. It was the first time something like this was promised. The citadel must have been even better off than I imagined. I wanted to know the money source for it, but nobody around me seemed to care. They were all imagining tasty meals they were going to make with the king’s gift.
There weren’t any more announcements. The king waved the crowd goodbye and as I watched him leave, I felt someone’s presence behind me. I whisked my head around only to find two guards standing there like they had some business with me. “Calytrix, the witch?” one of the king’s guards asked me.
“Yes?” I said confused.
“You need to come with us, the king has called.”
One of the guards positioned himself left of me and the other on the right side. There was no choice of turning down the offer. I was curious to know why the king wanted to meet me. He never showed any interest in me until now.
The guards escorted me through the front door of the palace. I could feel intense stares from the people gathered around the palace entrance, but I pretended not to notice and stepped forward as proudly as I could. More guards awaited by the entrance. All of them were heavily armed with swords, spears and short pistols. If I knew this would happen I would have put a protection spell on myself, just in case, but it was too late now. I didn’t want to get unwanted attention and annoy the guards. They had simple, metal, non-decorated armor covering them from head to foot so it was impossible for me to make a distinction between any of them. I was led through long hallways and a few beautifully decorated rooms until I finally arrived at my destination.
“The king is waiting for you inside,” when the guards said that they took a few steps backward and stood in front of a room with massive wooden doors.
They weren’t going in with me, which was a pleasant thing because I hated it when somebody closely watched my every step. The doors were made of massive wood with impressive wood carvings that represented the history of the kingdom. It was a splendid work. I would have loved to look at it carefully but this wasn’t the right time. One of the guards opened the doors to the room showing me the throne room. The king seemed to be the only one in the room. I felt awkward being the only person in the room with the king, but I went in because he probably had something important to say.
The king was a robust middle-aged man with a big black mustache. He dressed in traditional black and red colors: his cape was red, but the rest of the clothes were black. A big crown wasn’t present on top of his curly hair which was a rare sight for the public. His special points were his intense black hair and black eyes. People of this area usually had lighter hair and eye colors.
Looking into his intense black eyes made me feel like I was looking at a demon. My own eye color wasn’t exactly normal. It switched between blue, gray and green. Since I was born like that it never bothered me but I wondered what people really thought about my color switch. I couldn’t control the shift in the colors of my eyes. My parents said that gray meant I was feeling sad. Blue meant I was feeling okay or according to my interpretation it was a neutral position and green meant that I was really happy. Even without confirming my current eye color people who didn’t know me well could still easily guess my emotions: I had that kind of face where all of my emotions showed right away. I was pretty bad at making a poker face.
“Welcome Calytrix,” he said, gesturing to come closer.
I was lost for words but I did walk closer. It was silly of me to get nervous but I couldn’t help it.
“As you know a witch already worked under my orders with complete obedience,” he continued. “You must be angry because you need to leave your birthplace, right? But I can fix it. I am the king,”
“No,” I said as I shook my head.“It’s like a natural order in this world. I cannot do the opposite.”
“Why? Who will punish you?” he asked with a tone that indicated how he didn’t understand what I just said.
“The guild of witches,” I answered.
He started laughing before he said anything, “That old, good for nothing society? They haven’t even been meeting for the last past decades.”
“Please stop looking down on witches,” I glared at him.
The king looked at me very intrigued and then started to laugh again. “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?” he said seriously as he stood up from his throne. A black fog started to cover his entire body. At that moment I finally noticed it. The king was possessed by a demon.
“Don’t stand there stupidly with your eyes wide open. Close your mouth and bow before your king,” the demon said.
I was quite shocked and froze wide-eyed at the spot. It was impossible to cover my feelings and hide my true reaction. I lived near a possessed person for so long and I never noticed.
“Guards!” the king shouted.” Take her to her room.”
The guards immediately entered the room. They grabbed both of my hands and pushed me thought the left-wing of the palace until they showed me into a room. Everything happened in such a hurry that I barely noticed my surroundings. If I had to retrace my steps I would surely get lost.
The room I was locked up into was a room that a witch formerly used. That was clear since I could still sense some of her magic. The bookshelves contained a few books about magic. There was a simple work table with some basic potion materials and a simple bed. It wasn’t a small room but it was mostly empty, giving it a modest atmosphere. It didn’t have any decorations or noble signs like the rest of the palace. I felt like I was in a simple servant’s room.
Before I was born, a witch came to live in the citadel, but she died a month after coming here. There were almost no rumors about her because she lived so short and almost nobody had the chance to get to know her. The only thing I knew was that she lived in the palace for a while and the king said she worked beneath him but a witch wasn’t supposed to work beneath anyone. It was clear that he looked down on witches. Even if I ignored the fact that one would usually say somebody worked for me, not beneath me.
I wondered if I would ever hear more information about the witch that lived here. Maybe by being here, I had the chance. Someone in the palace might be willing to share some information with me, but right now wasn’t a good time to look into it because I had more pressing matters unless someone came to tell me something, but that wasn’t likely.
I sat on the bed looking blankly at the books. All of them were familiar. I already read them and I even owned two of them. Escaping a locked room like the one wasn’t a problem, but heavily armed guards inside and outside the palace were a big problem. If I used a magic protection shield against many heavily armed guards attacking me at once it would surely break. I had the option of quietly sneaking out, hiding my presence but they were surely on high alert tonight so I decided it was the best to bear with this situation today.
After a while, I calmed down and tried to rationally find the best solution to my problem. I looked through the window to get a grasp of time because there was no clock in the room. A full moon was high up in the sky when I looked up. That was a bad situation for me. It meant that the creatures of darkness had more power. I thought that the best course of action was to try to exorcise the demon, but I wasn’t completely sure. I had to gather more information. Demons were usually bad-tempered and mean, but still, every demon needed to be checked individually.
The information I wanted to came to me on its own, suddenly. I heard footsteps of some guards passing by my room. I turned my ear to the door to hear their whispers.
“The treasury is empty again,” said one of the guards.
“We need to capture some children and take their organs again?” said the other guard.
“It’s such a pain,” another guard commented.
I almost gasped loudly but I covered my mouth at the right time. I had no doubt anymore. The demon needed to be exorcised and destroyed. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t act in this situation. Lives are more important than some treasury. One may get many chances to increase wealth in the future, but once one messes up another’s life there is no turning back.
Preparing was the first thing I needed to do. I started to mix the ingredients to make a distraction potion. A small smoke screen might come in handy.
After finishing it, there wasn’t much for me to do. I presumed that the king would call the guards to take me to him again in the morning. That meant that I could spend the night in the room as I pleased. The potion was safely hidden inside my clothes. I didn’t have the ingredients to prepare anything else and the demon wouldn’t do a foolish mistake of entering a witch’s room because she could prepare trapping spells. If he came to my room it would the best possible situation because I couldn’t use a trapping spell in a place I have never seen or been before, but he would probably anticipate it and have me meet him in an unknown place of the palace.
As I awaited further development I decided to try meditating. Sleeping was an impossible option because I was feeling way too anxious. Meditation, if done right, could relieve me of some of the stress. The demon will be in its fullest power when I meet him because of the moon tonight so I need to do my best tomorrow.
The guards were doing rounds back and forth in front of my room. I tried to not get bothered with them and cleared my mind of all pointless thoughts. The demon’s magical power didn’t seem that strong so even a novice witch like me should be able to beat him. It will be my first magical triumph on this journey so I decided to give it my all. After I’m done I’ll start happy and confident travels. I should focus on all the positive aspects because too much negativity would weigh me down.