The Winter Witch

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~Chapter Three~ A Scholarly Boy

Enya had walked a considerable way before taking a quick brake at the local inn’s pub before continuing onwards to the direction of the church. In comparison to other more modern buildings the church was rather small in comparison. But that was to be expected since it was mostly made out of stone. Kind of like the home that Enya lived in, the front was made of large river stones but the rest was made of logs and brick. It was an odd design for a home in comparison to so many others but it had charm and character that others didn’t. It was unique and Enya loved her home.

It was off of the direction that she would normally go to in regards to her routine, but she felt like she had to, so that not every day would be the same thing. Though the weather would change her routine would not and it could get old once in a while.

Close to the church, or more correctly connecting to it was that of a school. Where children of varying ages went to learn, not all children went or course, but many of the children that didn’t go merely stayed at home to help their families. And with the constant snowfall it looked like even a number of children that did attend the school had diminished by quite a bit.

As a number of children left the school one of the boy’s she recognized who had dark somewhat curly brown hair and olive green eyes that were framed behind a pair of thin glasses and who was also the same age as her. He in turn, noticed Enya and a slight smile came to the boy’s face.

“Enya,” the boy called out as he made his way over, waving his arm in the air while trying to keep balance as snow coated the ends of his black pants and shoes as he went through to make it to the path that Enya was on. “I haven’t seen you in a while, been able to keep warm?”

“Hi Will, as warm as I can be in this weather,” she looked to a number of the other kids before looking back to him. “It doesn’t look like there are a lot of students today.”

“A number of students were either sick or a family member became ill, but you probably know about that better than anyone.”

She had indeed; with her constant trips to the hospital she would constantly see various people ill with varying degrees of sickness. Enya had been inoculated when she was a baby by her mother to become immune from becoming sick with horrible illnesses. But many others were not lucky; many thought her mother was overreacting when doing such a thing to her own flesh and blood. But now in hindsight, it was for the best.

But her main concern at the moment wasn’t the hospital. “What about your father William?” she asked with concern. “Is he doing okay?”

William glanced away for a moment and swapped the book he had in one hand to the other. “As well as he can, though he just hopes that this snow stops and the kids get better. He thinks it might be due to something happening far in the north but no one is really certain.”

Will’s father was the teacher at the school and also the pasture of the church, a kind caring man that looked to the way of science rather than magic to describe a strange phenomenon that could not be understood through normal means. Even if it would seem rather short-sighted considering many of the Elven Folk could use it to varying degrees.

“People keep saying that it’s the curse of a witch,” Enya said softly as Roux nuzzled his head against her side. “But I don’t really know…”

Will thought about it for a moment his dark green eyes shifting in through as he folded his arms across his chest before asking her. “Do you… want to come inside?”

She glanced to the fox that looked at her with an almost identical perplexed stare before she looked back at the boy and said. “Sure I guess, but… why?”

“Well I think I know what could possibly tell us why the snow is falling.” He headed up the path to the church as Enya and Roux followed the boy up to the church and allowed her and the fox inside.

The church itself was lit dimly with oil lamps and had a mass of candles at the main area of the building where people went to go pray. A number of adults and elderly folk were there, murmuring prayers that they hoped would be answered or asking who had forsaken them to deal with such a horrible storm. These and more Enya could scarcely hear, and in truth seeing such a thing bothered her. She didn’t know why she just didn’t like it.

“Come on, quickly before my father notices.” William said softly in a hushed voice as he motioned her to follow him. But before the three could even reach the door a man called out to them causing William to partly cringe.

“Well if it isn’t Enya,” the two children turned to see a man in his mid-thirties walking up to them, with dark black hair and a slight smile on his face he looked at the children with genuine interest and wonder, as if silently questioning why they were here. “I haven’t seen you, or even your fox,” he said indicating to Roux who seemed to growl at the man. “In a good long while, what brings you to my church?”

The man in question was Bartholomew, William’s father and head priest and teacher of Bergdorf, however some of his thoughts on those with magical abilities where less then kind, it was something that Enya’s mother never agreed with and in truth neither did Enya. William’s father seemed far more into the belief that magic was a crime and those who used it were horrible people. But even Enya knew that there were pros and cons to anything, magic or even religion and it all depended on the person who ultimately used it.

“Um…”

“I’m lending her one of my books.” William said to his father, drawing the man’s attention to him. “Since her mother is still away I told Enya that I’d lend her some books that she was interested in.”

William’s father looked to Enya with an intrigued questioning stare. “Is that so? Then if that is the case why not come back to my school? I’m sure the other students would be more the willing to accept you again.”

Enya averted her gaze from the man as she placed her hand on the fox’s back. “That’s okay…” she said softly. “My mother is a good teacher, and so was my father and the books that they have are helpful.”

“True, but your alone now, no one knows when your mother will come back and many of the students have talked about your father. He was a good man and many feel for his loss but that shouldn’t stop you from exiling in learning.”

“Father,” William interjected. “I think some of those who worship need to speak to you. It kind of looks important.”

With a sigh he looked back to Enya and with a smile said. “Enya you know you are more than welcome to return to my classroom, at least give it some thought before turning it away. Until then I hope you stay in good health.”

Will then grabbed Enya by the hand and quickly led her to a door which led to a set of stairs and in turn those stairs led to the front door of a home which they entered quickly before William shut and locked the door. With a sigh of relief he pressed himself against the door and slid to the floor before looking up at Enya who merely watched him. “I’m really sorry about that Enya…” he said. “I know you don’t like it when people keep bringing up what happened as if it’s some old story. I keep telling my father to not do it but…”

“It’s okay,” Enya spoke up as she stood in front of him. “I’ve become used to it, even though I don’t wish to hear it there’s nothing I can really do.” She then offered him a hand and when he accepted it to stand she said. “So what was this book you wanted to show me?”

William led Enya and the fox through his home, passing the kitchen and dining table, then heading up another small set of stairs and down a narrow hallway to a door at the end. Upon entering his room Enya saw many books scattered across the floor with pieces of paper containing hand written notes while others were merely discarded, crumpled up into little balls and tossed aside. Enya picked up one of the books on the floor, it was a children’s book of a girl stuck in a tower, she recognized the story, it was an old one but she recalled that instead of the girl waiting to be rescued she goes and rescues herself and makes her way to freedom.

She then looked to some of the other books, a number of them had titles, others didn’t but many were stories of a vast verity for ages and the like. while others looked to be that from his schooling and about the history of the land, but there would never be any mention of the Elven folk, the Sidhe or even those who used magic which gave Enya the very apparent note that William’s father was completely against acknowledging it.

“Sorry about the mess.” William said drawing Enya’s attention. “It’s been a while since I’ve let anyone in here, so be careful where you step.”

“I’m surprised your father doesn’t get mad that it’s so messy.” Enya told him as she placed the book back where it belonged.

He smiled almost knowingly. “Well there’s actually a good reason for that.” he then pulled out a wooden box from underneath his bed. Opening it he then took out a rather old and warn book that looked substantially heavy, for when he carried and placed it on his desk it made a noticeable thump when it made contact with the wood.

Enya frowned as she came closer, noticing a type of strange almost archaic design on the old warn brown leather book. “What is this?”

“It’s a book,” he said with a humorous smile only to see that Enya was having none of it. “Well, it’s a history book of sorts. But it’s a rather strange one at that.”

She glanced at the book before looking at him. “It looks really old, where did you get it?”

“A year ago, there was this cloaked individual in the market, he was selling an assortment of things, some odds and ends that I couldn’t make heads or tails of, and even a few pieces of jewellery. But what stood out to me was this book, for some reason or another I just felt drawn to it I can’t explain why.”

“So you bought it,”

William corrected her. “Actually no, the man just… gave it to me. It was surprising, I couldn’t understand as to why. I was more than willing to pay for it but he declined.”

Enya couldn’t help but frown that did sound strange. “Did this man tell you why he gave it to you?”

“He did but it was odd, he told me that every item has an owner. When one owner dies another comes to take its place no matter how many years go by until a new one comes to claim it, and that I was the new owner for this book. I asked him why it was me and he then said that it was only an answer that I could find on my own.”

“You didn’t ask this man anymore questions?”

William shook his head. “I was too confused at what he said to really understand, he gave me the book and I left to try and think it over. But when I had begun reading it more questions began to form so I went back to the marketplace the next day to ask them but the man was nowhere to be seen. I asked around but no one seemed to recall this man. It was like he merely vanished into thin air.”

Enya looked back to the book once more before asking. “What was it that you wanted to ask him that you didn’t think before?”

William ran his hand over the cover. “I wanted to know where this book came from and if it was at all possible to find out who had written it. This book is filled with so many things, not just about the history or magical beings but in parts it’s also written in a language I can’t understand and there are maps too with strange areas marked.” He then opened the book, flipping through page after page until he reached the spot that he was looking for. Enya looked at it over his shoulder and saw that it was a map of the area with the village of Bergdorf and a few other places around the mountain. But what made her frown once more were the odd places marked along the map with strange symbols.

“What are those? There are a lot of them marked on here.”

“I’m not too sure, but I think the markings are of some type of location, that something might be there. I know it sounds pretty obvious but it makes me wonder what might just be there.”

Enya couldn’t help but notice how William seemed to light up about the idea, but at their current age she highly doubted that his father would ever let him go off on his own to find out ever since his mother left two years ago.

“But what does this have to do with why the snow is constantly falling out of season?” she asked him, drawing Will out of his daydream thoughts.

“I’ll show you.” he then pointed to a part of the map. “Bergdorf is here, followed by See-Stadt near the lake and then the town of Raunheim, and then some place called Ruhenheim deep in the forest, with those four we all have one thing in common. We all live close or at the base of the mountain, Watzmann. Taking that into account I’m sure whatever is causing the snow is also affecting the other villages and towns.”

“What makes you so certain?”

He tapped part of the map, following his finger Enya saw that he was pointing to the near summit of the mountain in question and saw what looked to be a drawing of a building of some kind, followed with the words written under it.

“Berchtesgaden Castle…”

“After coming to this conclusion I began doing some research on that place in the books that I have, and what I found was really interesting. Berchtesgaden Castle was once the home to a noble family, the Schnee family.”

Enya frowned, she felt as though she had heard that name somewhere before but wasn’t sure as to where or why. But she did know one thing. “That name means snow.”

“Exactly!” William proclaimed. “And you’ve heard the stories about how there are those who can control such elements?”

“Yes, those who could control the elements were both revered but also feared by many. So those who had such abilities went into hiding so that their own powers wouldn’t be misused or abused by those who wished for it.”

“That’s true, but there’s something else, those who held the highest regard had something special. Something that only they could have and no one else.” Enya looked at him, waiting for his response as he flipped through the book and stopped at the page in which Berchtesgaden Castle went into further detail along with what looked to be that of a family crest followed with that of Schnee inscribed underneath it. “They were given last names that connected them to their element and by extension…”

“The seasons they are linked to…” Enya finished. “But if that’s true, why haven’t any of us heard about this castle before? Or even why it’s there on the mountain. You’d think people here or even the merchants would talk about such a thing.”

“It’s probably because it’s so high up in the mountain, not to mention with all those dangerous creatures roaming around it would make sense that no one would want to go near. Although I did read one story that might explain why.” he flipped through the pages once more and stopped when a large black bird with four eyes and wearing a white mask that looked like bone came into view. What’s more it looked to be fighting a group of people. “I think it might be due to this, but I can’t read the language and even still I don’t know what happened but my best guess is that the family might have almost been whipped out, leaving only a few to survive.”

“And you think the decedents of that family might be the cause of this snow storm?”

Will nodded. “I do, but I can’t understand why they would let it snow like this. In the books I’ve come across it said that those who were a Schnee were noble and caring to the people. They would never use their powers to harm others.”

Enya didn’t say a word as she looked to the old family crest; she couldn’t understand why she felt such an odd feeling when looking at this crest. But what concerned her most was that if what William said was true, then someone was living in Berchtesgaden Castle and allowing the snow to fall. She only hoped that the reason was not a nefarious one.

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