It was a known saying that the sound of children’s voices were music to the ears.
Perhaps the lovely soprano could be heard as Elise shrieked inhumanly as snow was shoved down her woolen trousers, maybe the undertones leading to the mounting crescendo was visualised as Braille gathered heaps of snow that increased with each patch.
Perhaps the caesura came to abruption when the snow reached its pudgy aim and said aim let out a deafening shriek.
Perhaps the--perhaps Nadea had finally had enough.
“Stop!” She ordered. Eight pairs of guileless eyes centered on her.
“Now,” she continued, “off you go to Elder Zelda.”
She waited till the last child had rounded the corner before letting out a deflated sigh.
Who said charity was easy? She mused, helping Zelda watch over the witchlings was no task for a weakling.
The old Elder was everything one would expect a witch to look like; a hunched back, crooked nose, pointed chin, beady eyes, wrinkly skin and a mole on the cheek bone.
But she was the kindest soul--at least to her.
Gathering up her cloak, she hurriedly made her way to the dormitory. On reaching her room, she flung the door open and bent just in time to escape the incoming odour spell, twisting with years of practiced nonchalance she dodged the shot of magic grey hairs and sidestepped with inane grace, the spell rug of swollen feet.
Looking at her dresser, atop which five spell identical books instead of one now resided, she couldn’t tell which was which.
Grabbing a pillow from her bed she made a quick decision to throw it towards the dresser and watched in amazement as root vines sprung out of the false books with frightening urgency, grappling for an object to bind.
Meredith really went all out today.... She mused.
Seeing as the vines were satisfied with the pillow and didn’t seem to be relinquishing it anytime soon she grabbed the original spell book and bolted out of the room, walking as fast as she could without appearing hasty she kept an eye out for her caste witches while heading for the spell room.
In her coven, certain rules of etiquette were observed, one of them being; a lady was not to be caught running. Unless in dire situations--perhaps even then.... Nothing was as it seemed with head mistress Allegra.
Not catching sight of her caste witches she began to panick. Increasing her pace, which might have looked like a lady taking a walk in the park and sniffing roses languidly, she entered into a narrow hallway leading to the spell room.
Increasing her pace yet again, with a little trot this time, she went into a connecting passageway. Lit torches a dull glow with lights pouring from outside through high windows.
She hoped with all her favourite flowers that there was no one in the spell room, for a class to be going on without her there -yet again- was serving her hide on a golden plater for headmistress Allegra to have it.
Perhaps the other witches were in their dorms.... Or perhaps training their familiars.
Her roiling thoughts clamoured in her head with no outlet.
She neared the class’s door and--drat!-- a class was definitely going on, she took a deep breath and turned the handle.
Coming into view, seven pairs of eyes reverted backwards, centering in on her. Head witch Hilda was the last to notice the change in atmosphere.
The still ferret she levitated in the air fell to the ground with a thud, the head witch looked at her shrewdly through rounded spectacles. Dea was sure, ‘late... Again.’ Was part of the head witch’s train of thoughts.
Perhaps in situations like this, there was no such thing as being ‘fashionably late.’
The silence was cut short as a plate of pudding came flying into her face, where it came from she didn’t know.
Taken by surprise, the thrown pudding smudged her entire left cheek as she tried futilely to escape the hurtled dessert.
The class erupted with cackles making the tips of her ears redden in anger, she wanted to march over to them and demand with rightful indignation if they weren’t too old for such pettiness. Except in her present state it would only warrant more laughter.
“Silence!” The head witch’s equally shrewd voice pierced through the laughter.
“And you! Nadea, go take your seat.”
Walking over to her solitary seat in a corner of the class she passed by Meredith, her green eyes twinkling with cruel mischief and her freckled cheeks pulled taut with a taunting smile.
Descending onto her seat with gracefulness -she hoped she looked the part, what with her face being a sweet tooth’s dream- she placed her spell book on the desk and proceeded to watch head witch Hilda continue her class.
“So!” Hilda continued, her voice laced with an unusual chirp. “Who can come forward and perform a levitating spell?”
A few witches raised their hands, but head witch Hilda only had eyes for one.
“Lilith dear.” Lilith....
“Can you come forward please?”
‘Can you come forward please?’ Dea’s inner voice mimicked with comtept.
Lilith rose with the grace of a dove, her golden hair piled atop her head to fall over in soft ringlets around her face, her dainty features shuttered with lofty prominence, her back straight with discipline.
The image of one who was assured of her place in the world--or coven.
While Meredith was really naughty to Dea, Lilith was more aloof, looking onto her -and others as well- with detached superiority.
The first, last and only time she and Lilith had warred with each other happened when they were young, a little over nine. Lilith had called her a craxe, one who abandons one’s coven, in other words an abomination. Dea’s mother had been a craxe, she had forsaken the coven, running off with a man and leaving the coven fragile due to depletion of energy.
The only time she returned was to hand Dea over to coven, spend her last days.... And say farewell to life.
Lilith ripped old wounds open by calling her a craxe, it was impossible for a child her age to harness her powers. But she did.
And Lilith was the scapegoat.
Dea could only remembered feeling profound rage then the next thing she knew, Lilith was lit up like the sun. She was surrounded by a barricade of blazing flames.
Lilith was petrified.
The rest from when the high priestess arrived was history, the but she could remember very well a blistering pain on her backside.
Presently, Dea watched as Lilith lifted the fitchet with ease by just the wave of her hand and a muttered spell. The class clapped with amazed approval as she set the frightened animal on the ground.
Head witch Hilda clapped the loudest.
It was obvious to all that she was vying for the post of second high priestess.... Her mother’s former station.
When the clappings died down and head witch Hilda proceeded to gather her paraphernalia chatters erupted from all angles.
Dea scraped her nail idly along the ornate tilts on her spell book.
She traced her nail along an engraved stone.
Ignoring Meredith she continued to outline contours.
Her head snapped up and she was about to regale Meredith about her last week’s pipe incident when a sudden hush fell over the spell room, the air appeared to stiffen like one of head witch Hilda’s test animals.
Even Hilda straightened up a little.
The dull thud of the head mistress’s boots seemingly revibrated throughout the room.
The high priestess, a vision of black in her long black cloak that almost swept the floor, her broad black hat shielding most of her face, a pair of pale green eyes the only source of colour on her person glowed with acuteness.
An acuteness she used to scan through everyone at a single go.
The head mistress proceeded to the front of the class and stood beside head witch Hilda, now there was a blatant juxtaposition.
Whereas Hilda was petite and on the willowy side, the headmistress was tall and a touch robust.
The headmistress seemingly held the gazes of everyone at once, when she spoke her voice was curt and stiff.
“As you all well know, we shall be departing for the ice court on the morrow. And you will all be given royal trainings together with witches of other covens, hence permitting one of you the honour of becoming a royal witch.
You must all be on your best behaviours whence we arrive the castle,and even more so, as this season is the Prince’s choosing.”
The prince’s choosing; a ceremony which spans for a month or two. A group of high ranking ladies would journey to the palace wherefrom the prince would choose a bride, who would later become queen after the prince’s immediate coronation.
A few less audible, breathy sighs were expelled from some witches, no doubt wishing they weren’t witches but gently bred ladies.
Judging from the half sneer on the headmistress’s upper lip, their quiet and wistful sighs were audible enough for her.
Her curt voice carried on again, “there shall be no undisciplined behavior,” she said as her eyes surveyed the class and landed on Meredith, Dea could see Meredith wilt a little under her mother’s glare.
“There shall be no inappropriate food experiments... Or throwing.” Her eyes zeroed in on Imogen.
“And for those of you who might have a tendency to run off with men into the sunset at others peril,” her eyes rested solely on Dea, “there shall be no sniffing around the men, or the ice prince.” She finished.
Perhaps Dea was more of a ninny than she thought, at the reminder of her mother a creeping pain nagged at her chest.
“And lastly,” headmistress Allegra continued, “for vast reasons of safety, a room shall be assigned to three witches. Two head witches and an elder from the witches council including head witch Hilda, and plus myself, shall be following with you to the ice castle.”
She concluded with a curt voice directed at the head witch, “I’ll leave you to your class now, Hilda.” With that she left the class, restoring the room to its former chattering and laughter, now coupled with chairs being scraped backwards as witches exited the room.
Gathering her cloak and spell book, Dea followed the side exit and escaped to her haven.