Isabella

This is a short fiction story I wrote for a contest that was never published.

My name is Isabella. I lived in a village no one ever heard of called Isen, where it was icy cold. I will tell of one night when I was alone.

“Isabella, I want to talk to you,” the priest said through the unopened door. I stood next to the door waiting for him to speak again. “Isabella, we need you. You’re the protection against the wolves and demons that might roam the woods this night. Help us.”

“I’m not ready.” I hurried into my clothes gathering things together at the front door. “Give me a few minutes.”

“Isabella, your mother agreed, you must do what she promised before she died. I hope she gave you her knowledge.” His voice was intense.

I opened the door in my full regalia of a witch. “I’m aware of what my mother said she would do for the village. Let me get my cloak and bag.”  I turned to retrieve a black bag, my cloak went over my shoulders, and my blacker than black walking stick was in my hand. I dressed in my mother’s hand-me-down black dress with heavy leggings and black boots. Mother’s Witch Symbol dangled around my neck. I shoved a fur hat on my head.

“You will come? Do you have what you need?” He shivered when he saw the witch symbol. He turned to face the woods.

“I have not agreed to do this protecting you need done.” I turned back to my door.

“Isabelle, you must come. We have nothing. Please.” His voice rose higher as he spoke.

“Calm down, priest. Let’s see the set up.” I pulled on warmer gloves and pulled on a warm fur hat. “Take me there.” The priest turned back to the path. The priest’s movements showed his anxiety. He looked side to side and back at me, then to the front repeatedly. It began to affect me when we arrived at a small cave that sat in the center of the woods.

“This is where they will come from.” He said. “I have no way to stop them from destroying our village. Your mother promised she would take care of it. It falls to you. Did she teach you about the cavern?”

I sighed.  My Mother’s death left me with many obligations. “I will try, priest. That is what I can promise. I will try not to be killed protecting my home.” He sighed, made the sign of the cross, turned, and began the cold walk back to the village.

I was more prepared for this night than I let on to the priest. Mother taught me everything she could in her last months. I pulled out the bags I hid in the forest yesterday. I pulled out a blanket, flinging it open onto the snow. Its blackness contrasted with the white snow. I pulled three candles from one of the packs. I placed them in the center point of the blanket. Then I drew a circle with pine needles, fresh off the trees around me. I said the Lord’s Prayer, a Witches’ Prayer, and a personal prayer for my safety while I did the ritual. I lit one candle with each prayer. I placed the white candle into the center of the cave entrance. I heard a growl from deep inside. I picked up the black candle and placed it in the left-hand crevice. The red candle went into the red slot of a right-hand crevice. I heard a scream come from the cave, a little closer than the growl had been. They were waiting for the night.

I began to weave from candle to candle with magic streaming from my fingers.  This needed to be a strong gate to keep them from blossoming out of the cave like an evil flower. I pulled every bit of magic I could find in the woods to me as I wove a magical web. It would stop the smaller demons and wolves, but I knew I was in for a fight with the bigger demons. I stopped when the last magic strand went into place.

I had a few hours to rest and warm up my magic for a fight. I picked up the axe Father left us when he was taken by the militia and died at their hands. I wove magic in, out, and around the axe head and handle. It was my only defense for anything that came out of the cave.

I heard screams, howls and voices come closer to the cavern mouth. I saw shadows flicker through the back of the cave. I shivered. The net was too much trouble for the first to try to get through. I would deal with the big creatures of the night if they chose to ignore my net’s warning.  I sat on a tree stump to watch the entrance. Sparks flew out of the mouth of it as my net was tested.  I was seething with ground and forest magic. I wove more strands into my net and around the axe.

Deep, fierce growls came from the deep cavern.  I heard an answering growl from behind me. I spun around, axe in hand. It was a huge wolf that stood behind me.  A few more wolves stepped into the edge of the clearing. I reached out to the wolf and touched him with Nature’s magic Mother taught me to use.

“Evil comes tonight.” He growled out at me. “Who be you?”

“I’m the Guard for this cave.” She answered him. He nodded his head in assent. He sat next to me while his pack gathered around me at the entrance to the cave. A howl, heart breaking and loud, came from the cave. The wolves answered with their calls.

“Don’t call it.” I said.

“We tell it we protect this place.” The Great Wolf growled.

A large shadow wolf moved across the back of the cave. It was not interested in meeting these wolf brothers. We watched as shadow after shadow walked up to the net of magic to pull and prod on it, then decide it was not worth the fight.  I was hissed at time and time again. I sat with my axe, silent, with the Brotherhood of Wolves around me.  One or two small devilments came through the net. The wolves picked them off in midair. Their magic fed the wolves.

I could see the magic shield that grew around us and the cavern.  Nothing would get into the village this night. I might die here, but the villagers were safe. I touched the wolf nearest to me. “They come.” 

The ugliest, reddish black monster with a forked tail stood at the opening of the cave behind my net. He grabbed the net with both hands. It electrocuted him with five thousand volts of pure witch magic.  I felt the net weaken.  The next three were fried, too. The magic net weakened until It was nonexistent when the last creature reached the back of the cavern.  He saw us waiting.  I flashed the axe in a circle. He saw the demons that laid in front of the cavern. He watched as devilments were eaten by the wolves. He shook his head.

“Protection granted, Witch.” His brutish, gravelly voice came from the back of the cave. “We’ll be back.” He walked to the back of the cave and disappeared. The last devilment was chomped on by the wolf closest to me.

 “I will seal the cave.” I placed a magic web on each edge of the cave and pulled. The cave walls collapsed. The wolves helped me move the rock pile down into the tunnels on each side. It looked like a natural pile of rocks when we were done. I sealed it with a witches’ web that sank down into the ground. This cave would never be opened again by either side.  The magic shield that held us to the cave disappeared at first light. My wolf friends darted out into the woods. “Thank you, my friends.” I called to them. I heard short barks in answer.

I would have to leave this place.  The night of the Wolves would be history and mystery in this village. I folded the black blanket into a small square and stuffed it into a pack.  I threw the two packs over my shoulders.

I walked toward the nearest lake walking along its shores weaving the magic web I needed to step between worlds. I knew I would go to Isen first in one of those worlds. The web was complete when I came up on a tumbled set of huge rocks. I hung it the best I could between the tallest rocks. It glowed at me with power. One step and I would be in another world.