Her name was Ginelle, and she was born a witch. Now while I’m not trying the slander the poor girl, the title of witch at the time she was born meant something else entirely until Ginelle’s fifteenth birthday. That was back before the crown of the kingdom banned of all things that were considered witchcraft. Until that horrid day, witches were considered honorable and someone everyday common folk could turn to if you needed help with anything. Whether it was a remedy to help someone get over a common cold, or something special to help a romantic evening get off on the right foot, witches seemed to help out in any way they could and charge very little if anything for their services. While it was assumed that everything the witches did was a product of magic, the truth was many of their remedies were herbal and just carefully brewed medicines that anyone could make. While many witches could and did sometimes use magic to help people out, those instances were few and far between. It was, however, the rumor of their powers that scared the crown which caused those in power to fear them.
Afraid that they were losing power and control over the masses, which wasn’t true at all, the crown passed down an order that all witches were to be rounded up and jailed, and that all their possessions and businesses to be torched. This was also an example of extreme sexism as the men who were known as wizards and sorcerers were immune to this royal decree, but only women were punished for practicing magic and trying to heal people outside of the medical community. The term witches were used rather loosely during these dark days, for someone used this as an opportunity to attack women who were daring to work above what the men considered to be their place. So, midwives, politicians and other kinds of successful women were all accused of witchcraft and were therefore unjustly imprisoned by the crown.
When the order came down, the actual witches had to protect themselves first, and that proved to be more difficult that any could predict. Most of the witches in the kingdom were quite well known, as they never really hid from the public and were very open about their magic and what they did with it. This status made it quite tedious for most of the witches to flee the cities as the royal guards managed to nab most of them whilst attempted to escape. The people also aided the guards by ratting out the witches as they attempted to get out of the city, resulting in most witches being dragged off to the dreary dungeons of the high tower. Because of what seemed like impossible odds, Ginelle’s mother made a unique decision that she knew her daughter wouldn’t approve of. She surrendered her only child over to the care of her brother, who was a farmer. Her older brother happened to be in town to sell a very bountiful crop when the arrests had begun. Out of loyalty to his sister, the farmer agreed to take the young child out of town and get her away from the city. He even agreed to watch over Ginelle until his sister returned to get her, something even he himself was unsure she could achieve. Neither he nor his wife had any connection to witchcraft so they wouldn’t be questioned on their way out.
Ginelle’s uncle also had four kids, so as he was leaving town with one extra kid no one questioned it. Most guards were dumb and could barely count their fingers, so Ginelle’s escape was easier than expected as she blended in with her uncle’s brood as just another one of his kids. One extra kid in the wagon wasn’t even noticed as the guards were on the lookout for real witches, so it never occurred to them to be on the lookout for their kids. Once they were out of the city and on their way back to the farm, Ginelle was able to finally breath normally, but she was still concerned about her mother. As her mother had said to Ginelle’s Uncle, it was planned that her mother would try to meet up with them later but that never came to pass. Ginelle would hear years later that most of the witches were either publicly executed in the town square or rotted in the dungeons of the high tower for the rest of their lives. She never knew what happened to her mother but was too concerned about her own life to inquire out of fear her questions would attract unwanted attention.
Ginelle had assumed she would be welcome at her uncle’s home, but that didn’t appear to sit well with her cousins. During the long ride back to the farm, she could tell that some of her older cousins was looking at her strangely as if her mere presence was offensive to him.
“What is it?” Ginelle asked him, as she could feel his gaze on her skin as if it were the blazing sun on a hot day.
“What is it?” Her cousin repeated, “You’re a witch.”
“That’s not true,” Ginelle lied, “Just because my mom is does not meant that I am. She was just afraid people would make dumb assumptions, like you are right now.”
“I don’t know why you’re even here,” her cousin spat out, still upset.
“We’re family,” Ginelle said, feeling hurt by his venomous words. “Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do for one another?”
“You’re not my family,” The boy said, as he was flushing red to show his anger. “I do not associate with witches!”
Ginelle wanted to try to calm the anger boy down, but she was never given the chance. Without any warning, that angry cousin reached across and pushed the young witch out of the onto the ground. Ginelle wasn’t able to say anything as she hit her head when she landed and was knocked out. Unable to call out to her uncle for help, Ginelle laid there on the ground for hours. Her uncle didn’t even know he was a child short until they were at least an hour away. When asked her cousins said she jumped off the wagon and ran away. Angered that his niece repaid his generosity by running away left, the mean old uncle had no choice but to keep going and leave the young girl behind.
Ginelle woke up a few hours later, and realized she was still in the middle of the road and surrounded by trees. She slowly got up off the ground just as the sun was going down; it would be dark soon and the young girl had nowhere to go. She didn’t even know where she was and that sacred her the most out of all the was already going on. She was lost, alone, and afraid that she might not make it through the night all alone in the forest. The wildlife howled around her; the moon hid behind the clouds which made things extra dark. It left Ginelle no choice but to use the magic she was taught to survive. She had promised she’d not cast magic too much but had no idea she’d be using her power so soon after leaving her mother.
“Lightous,” Ginelle whispered to herself, and a small glow began to emanate from her hand, mimicking a torch. She used the glowing hand to see where she was and look around the forest. The spell she was using would only work for a short time, so she used it to look for shelter.
While she was wandering through the woods, she came upon a tree that had a hole in the bottom of the trunk. It looked big enough for her to squeeze in, so Ginelle grabbed a few branches from nearby bushes and used them to cover the hole she was going to rest in. She felt safe enough to close her eyes and rest until the sun came up the very next morning. The little nook she was resting in must have been comfortable, because she rested there for quite some time inside it. The sun was really high up in the sky when she woke up, but it was sounds she heard that stirred her from that slumber.
There were men working in the area, and she remained hidden in her little cubby in the tree, but it wasn’t a very safe space for very long. The men were carrying axes, which meant they were lumberjacks that were looking for good trees to chop down. One of the lumberjacks was looking at the trees around the one Ginelle was hiding inside. The more the big, burly men looked around, the more they scared her. The young witch was afraid that her tree might be next. When one lumberjack looked like he was about to start swinging at her tree, Ginelle had no choice but to defend herself.
“Bakarus!” She called out, and the spell sent a blue light shooting out of her cubby and into the man that was about the swing at the tree.
The blue ball of light that shot out didn’t harm him, but instead flung the lumberjack back several feet and flat onto his back, which startled everyone else in the group. Several men backed away from the tree in fear.
“Where the hell did that come from?” One of them asked.
“It came from the tree,” the other one answered. “It said something too.”
“What did it say?” The first lumberjack asked.
“I didn’t catch it,” The other answered, “But that blue ball came out afterwards and knocked Harrison off his feet.”
“Everyone back away,” Harrison called out as he struggled to get back to his feet. By how the other lumberjacks responded to his order, it was clear to Ginelle that the man she had knocked over was in charge. Harrison slowly got back to his feet but didn’t pick up his axe. One of the other workers picked it up for him and even offered to hand it back, but Harrison waved him back.
“Not yet,” Harrison said, “Hold onto that for me. I’ll be right back.”
Harrison slowly walked back to the tree where Ginelle was hiding, and went down on one knee, which allowed him to look at the young witch in the eyes. He knelt there in front of her and looked into those blue eyes for a moment before smiling at her.
“Hello, little darling.” Harrison said, as he started to understand what was going on. “I’m guessing we look kind a scary to you, waving our axes around and chopping the trees.”
“Yes,” Ginelle said, “I thought you were going to hit my tree.”
“This is your tree?” Harrison asked.
“No,” Ginelle corrected him, “I’m just using it for a place to sleep. I got lost and wanted to take shelter.”
“That’s a good idea,” Harrison said, “There are wolves, bears and other fierce creatures roaming in these woods. You don’t want to bump into any of them around here, especially at night.”
“Where can I go then?” Ginelle asked.
“For now, you shouldn’t stay here,” Harrison answered, “We’ll take you back to camp with us.”
“Are you sure about that?” the other lumberjack asked.
“I’m quite sure,” Harrison said, “We don’t leave children to fend for themselves, and I don’t think Margorie would have a problem sharing her dorm with this young lady. She could never say no to a stray or to an extra pair of hands to help in the kitchen.”
“I can cook,” Ginelle said, hoping that might help.
“You can?” Harrison asked, intrigued.
“My mother taught me,” Ginelle confirmed, “I am willing to work for your help if that’s alright with Margorie.”
“I have a feeling she’ll really like you,” Harrison admitted. “Let’s get back to camp and give her the good news.”
Ginelle was a little hesitant when Harrison reached out his hand to help her out of the tree, which the big man understood given how their large sizes would intimidate many people, especially small children.
“Fear not little one,” Harrison added, “I promise you’re safe with us. No harm to come to you while we are yet living.”
That was all Ginelle needed to hear as she reached out and took the man’s hand as he helped her out of the tree.
“This way,” Harrison said, “Let’s go tell Margorie the good news.”