Excerpt for A Generic Witch Tale by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

A Generic Witch Tale

By A.S. Morrison

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2017 A.S. Morrison

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Table of Contents

1. The Little Witch

2. The Last-Nine-Day

3. Willy

4. The Magic Man

5. Eastgate

6. The Evil Witch

7. The Magic Town

8. The Korrigan

9. Fairies and Death Balls

10. The Do-Over

  1. The Little Witch

Little Fira scrunched up her face in concentration.

“This time.” She said seriously, almost threateningly, staring at the little black squirrel twenty yards away. “This time I get it right.”

Her dress darkened to almost black. Her fists shook. Little plants in the dirt quivered, their leaves forced to the ground. The black squirrel, Rupall, shifted nervously, his little paws rubbing together. Ailith watched from nearby.

The little witch extended her hands and quickly spread her palms. A loud crack shot through the air. For a second it looked like something might happen. She waited, staring at the little squirrel hopefully. After a few more seconds it was clear that nothing changed. She fell to her knees.

The trees began to whisper. It sounded like a strong breeze rustled their leaves, but there was no breeze.

“I can hear you.” She said loudly.

It was too difficult to pick out what any one was saying when they all talked at once.

Ailith walked over and knelt beside her. “It will work out, don’t worry. You just need more practice.”

“It’s tomorrow.” Fira reminded her. “I just can’t get it. We’ve tried for ages.”

“You’re overthinking this.” Ailith said. “You’ve done it before. You’re just nervous. Trust me, when you get on that stage tomorrow night everything will fall into place.” She lifted Fira to her feet and dusted her off. “It’s getting late, let’s get back.”

“No! One more time.”

Fira pulled her black witch’s hat down to her eyes and concentrated even harder on Rupall, who looked nastily back. He was getting tired of being her practice target.

She ignored him, wishing with all her might that he might disappear in a great flash of light. She pulled her arms back, gathered the energy, and then unleashed everything she had in his direction.

A great gust of wind blew through the dirt patch and rustled the trees encircling it. The trees chattered louder and louder until all Fira could here was the wind blowing by her ears and their incessant commotion.

Both the witches’ hats shot straight into the sky. The squirrel tumbled backward. Fira kept pushing the air, certain that it might work this time.

The sky darkened instantaneously. The wind grew cold, large raindrops splattered the ground. When Rupall disappeared into the woods, it was clear it hadn’t worked.

Fira let her arms drop to her side. She fell to the ground again.

The wind died, the rain stopped, and the clouds disappeared as fast as they had come. The hats fluttered back onto the heads they belonged on.

For a few moments everything was silent. Rupall rushed out of the bush and back into the clearing. He screeched angrily and watched the little witch wearily.

“Welp!” Ailith cried out. “That’s not bad. You could always blow everyone away tomorrow night. That’d be a last-nine-day party they’d remember for ages.”

“It’s not funny.” Fira complained, her dress momentarily turning deep scarlet before going back to its usual violet. “I’m hopeless. Are you sure I can’t try without the hat?”

Ailith shook her head. “You saw that. We can’t have a storm every time you want to do magic. The hat keeps your powers under control.”

“I can do it better when I’m not wearing it.”

Ailith sighed. She got down on the ground next to Fira and put her arm around her. “No one is perfect at their chosen ability when they turn ten. The party is just to show which one of your childhood powers you’ve chosen to pursue. It’s especially difficult for someone like you. You had how many to choose from?” She squeezed her shoulder encouragingly. “You could animate your dolls, morph sticks, read minds—float. I mean, who can float? That’s halfway to flying.”

“But I was best at teleporting things. That’s why I chose it.”

“And it shows. Look, if you still aren’t sure you can do it by tomorrow afternoon then switch to teleporting a large rock. You can teleport those no problem. I still remember when you figured out you could do that. I came home one day and the house was full of pebbles you’d conjured up from somewhere. And I mean full. I was slipping and sliding the whole night trying to get them all outside and you were still making them appear.”

Fira pulled herself away and scooped up a shaking Rupall. “The party’s for showing off. I can’t show off by teleporting a rock. They’ve all seen me do that a thousand times. When the mayor takes my hat off I want him to fear me teleporting him halfway across the world.”

Ailith laughed. “Then you’re just going to have to master it by tomorrow. That’s what I did.”

“Really?” Fira asked skeptically. She could remember Ailith once telling her that she’d mastered her childhood ability at seven.

“Sure.” Ailith said. “I could manifest my thoughts in small ways. It was easy for me to make simple objects appear.” A glowing green cube appeared in her hand. “But it was another thing entirely to do what I really wanted to.” The cube disappeared and a glowing green hut appeared next to them. It stood four feet tall and came complete with a thatched roof, an ornate door, and even vines crawling up the walls. “I was so nervous that my first try was just a bright flash of light. I nearly blinded everyone. But then I calmed down and made a hut just like this one.” She scrunched up her face in thought. “Well, maybe it wasn’t quite this nice. The point is that everyone has trouble during the party. The important thing is not to worry too much about it.”

The sun was beginning to set and Ailith decided that it was time for dinner. They walked back through the woods and into town. Rolling hills stretched off to the base of the northern mountains. Each hill had one or two black wood houses, each different in shape and size. Tall and short fences laced their way through the town, creating an uneven patchwork. Smoke wafted into the air from outdoor fire pits or cauldrons, and various farm animals mooed or clucked as they wandered up and down the hills.

The town of Windelwind sat comfortably in the western side of the Anull, a country made specifically by and for magic users. Fira didn’t know why it was created or when, but she did know that Windelwind was the only full witch community in all of Anull. She knew that other towns had all sorts of strange people in them, but she rarely got to go to them herself. Stories had to keep her curiosity at bay until she was old enough to explore on her own.

Ailith and Fira’s house stood on the side of a hill all the way on the west end of town, near the large lake. As they meandered through fence openings and over hills people came from all directions to see Fira.

“I just can’t wait till your party tomorrow.” An old witch said from a rocking chair as they passed.

“What are you going to do? Don’t keep us waiting.” Another called while stirring a large stone cauldron.

“Are you gonna fly?” A little girl asked as she skipped alongside them.

The more people that came up the worse Fira felt. Everyone was excited except for her. She had been looking forward to her last-nine-day party for as long as she could remember. She’d always enjoyed going to others, but the closer hers got the scarier it became.

The voices only got louder.

“I blew up a house for mine. It was great!” Someone said.

“I flew through the air, remember?” Came another.

“Yes, remember how I created a terrible thunderstorm? Please tell us something, Fira.”

“Alright, that’s enough.” Ailith shouted over the growing crowd. “You’re all going to have to wait until tomorrow night. We can’t ruin the surprise.”

As everyone went back to their houses Ailith noticed the scared look on Fira’s face. “Don’t worry about it.” She stressed. “Worrying is the worst part.”

Their house had a main room with two disconnected bedrooms off each side. All three little buildings had pointed roofs that looked like witch’s hats. Ailith had designed them with thought forms when she was just a little older than Fira. Another witch then quickly built them by enchanting the tools and wood.

Inside, the walls were covered with cabinets and shelves. Each one filled to the brim with objects that had any and every use imaginable. A small bronze cauldron bubbled from the corner. Ailith had started soup before they left for training.

Fira collapsed into a cushy armchair, threw off her hat, and pulled her wiry mop of dark brown hair into a bun. She sat back and stared at the wall, wondering how she could possibly manage to avoid total humiliation in twenty-four hours.

Ailith went to the closet and started throwing things out as she rummaged around for something.

“I know what will cheer you up.” She said, her voice muffled. “Now where did it go to?”

All sorts of things came out of the closet. Broken brooms zipped through the air, nibs of quills scattered across the floor. Fira even had to dodge a flying knife that shot across the room and lodged itself in the wall only a few inches above her head.

“Got it!” Ailith straightened up with a small but very heavy stone cauldron. She placed it in the middle of the floor. “I remembered to keep the ingredients in here; that’s smart of me. Oh, but there’s something missing. Would you stop that?!” The knife had come dislodged and flew right at Ailith’s head. She plucked it out of the air and threw it back in the closet. With a swipe of her hand all the doodads and thingamajigs flew back into the closet and the door slammed them inside. “Anyway, I’m missing horehound. Fira, can you run over to Mr. Jorna’s and get some more.”

Fira wasn’t paying attention. She was thinking about all the terrible things that would undoubtedly happen if her last-nine-day party didn’t work out. She imagined that they would kick her out of town and make her forage for berries to stay alive for the rest of her life.

“Fira! Horehoud!” Ailith said, rapping on the stone cauldron.

“What’s that—right—Mr. what’s-his-face.”

“Jorna. You remember horehound, right? You liked the leaves because they were soft.”

“He’ll know.” Fira jumped up and went to the door. “Come on, Rupe.”

The black squirrel ran out the door with her.

Suppertime in the little town of Windelwind was a loud affair. Everyone cooked outside, which meant that everyone in town was outside. Parents sat around to chat as the food cooked itself in cauldrons nearby, while kids used their childhood powers to play tag. Fira had to dodge a large bird that zoomed by when she stepped outside. She wasn’t sure if it was someone who had turned into a bird or whether it was a real bird that had been enchanted.

Fira quickly ran to the large lake and walked on its rocky shore to avoid any more well-wishers, Rupall at her side; his long bushy tail swaying back and forth.

“At least it's a nice night.” Fira said, looking at the gray water of the lake.

Rupall flicked his tail and made a small high-pitched squeak.

“Exactly. But at least the weather is cooperating for my last night in town.”

Rupall chattered his teeth.

Fira shook her head. “They’re not going to let me stay here if I fail tomorrow. I’m sure of it.”

The squirrel flicked his tail rapidly.

“I know your joking, but it’s still mean. If I could just have chosen something easier. I thought about enchanting a tree to walk around, but the bigger the harder. I could enchant sticks to fly through the air, but Murth did that last year. Teleporting you is the only thing that is somewhat unique. Even adults who teleport have a hard time with living creatures.” She stopped suddenly. She watched the people of Windelwind chatting and laughing together. “Maybe teleporting myself would have been easier. Oh well, it’s too late now.”

As Fira and Rupall climbed over rocks on the shore a familiar figure dropped out of the air on a broom.

“Excited for tomorrow?”

It was Vornay, a girl two months older than Fira. The two had hated each other forever, though Fira had long forgotten why. It may have been because Vornay hit all the milestones a witch can hit shortly before Fira, and always managed to do be much better at them.

Vornay rode a broom for her last-nine-day party. She did tricks that most adults couldn't do.

“Go away.” Fira said.

“I saw you practicing earlier.” Vornay said as she sat cross-legged on her broom, floating just above the ground. “I was zipping over the trees—you probably didn’t notice. I saw you down there, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what you were doing. Nothing seemed to be happening.”

Fira’s face grew hot as she tried to walk around her least favorite person and continue to Mr. Jorna’s.

Vornay sped up and refused to leave Fira’s side. “All I could tell was that you don’t seem to like your familiar very much. He kept tumbling away.”

Vornay’s fat little wren fluttered onto her shoulder and sang an unpleasant tune that sounded something like laughter.

Fira clenched her fists and walked faster. “You just wait till tomorrow. You’re gonna see some amazing magic.”

Vornay laughed. “I don’t know if old Rude will survive that.”

“His name is Rupall.”

Rupe crawled up and sat on Fira’s shoulder. It stared angrily at the wren.

“Whatever.” Vornay said. She sped up and blocked Fira. She hung off the broom and leaned toward her. “I’ll be in the front row. I can’t wait to see what you’ve got planned.”

She laughed, her wren sang, and they both shot straight into the air.

Fira closed her eyes and refocused. She was out there to see Mr. Jorna and to get Horehound. The party the next day was going to go great. It had to. Her anger at Vornay outweighed her nerves. She wanted to show everyone that she was just as good at magic as Vornay.

Mr. Jorna’s house was on a little outcrop on the other side of the lake. It was the farthest house from the others. It had a large garden that provided all the herbs and most of the vegetables for the whole town. Fira found him sitting on his porch looking out over the lake.

“Ailith need some basil for dinner?” He asked kindly as Fira approached.

“Not tonight. She needs horehound.”

He looked impressed. “Making a call then? That’s a good idea seeing as tomorrow’s the big day.”

Fira sighed longingly.

“Ha-ha, don’t be nervous. Everyone has to go through it.”

“What did you do?”

“I grew a tree right out of the ground. It had apples and oranges and pears—none to eat of course. Magic fruit isn’t known for its safety—especially when made by a nine year old.”

Fira stared at the ground.

“Perhaps I should have said it was a complete disaster.” Mr. Jorna said, getting up from his chair and making his way to the garden.

Fira followed. “I would love to hear that someone failed before me.”

“It’ll be fine. Everyone manages something.”

Mr. Jorna stood on the edge of the expansive garden. He watched clippers clipping by themselves, knives dicing away at leaves, and the diced up leaves filling jars.

“Alright, that’s enough.” He yelled.

Everything dropped to the ground.

“Now then, horehound.”

He went over to the table full of jars and picked one up.

“Here it is. I believe this makes five. Ailith owes me a mockup of that new greenhouse I need.”

“Thanks very much.” Fira said. She put the jar in her pocket and started back towards home.

“Here we go.” Ailith said a few minutes later as she dumped the horehound into the cauldron.

The brown liquid turned stark white. It swirled faster and faster until a whirlpool formed. Very slowly the liquid calmed. The contents turned crystal clear as if becoming a mirror. Fira crept to the edge. For a moment it reflected their small home, her and Ailith’s reflections, and then it changed. Two faces appeared; that of a man and a woman.

“Fira dear, how are you?” The woman asked.

“Hi mom, dad.” Fira said, shifting her feet.

“So, you ready?” Her dad asked. “I can’t wait to hear a full report tomorrow night. I wish so bad that we could be there with you. But don't worry. We’ll be there in spirit.”

“I know.”

The faces stood out from a bright blue cloudless sky. They looked younger and happier than they did the last time Fira saw them in person.

“So,” her mom said, “tell us everything. What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to teleport Rupall from home to the stage in a flash of light.” Fira said, looking anywhere but at her parents.

“Oh my.” Her father said, beaming. “That’s hard at your age. I was proficient at teleporting inanimate objects, but to teleport a living animal? That’s just gre—”

“I know it’s hard!” Fira suddenly cried out.

There was an awkward silence as Fira began to cry.

“I’m sorry, but I just haven’t gotten it yet.”

“Hey—hey, don’t cry dear.” Her mother said. “Don’t get worked up over this stupid party. It’s for you. It shouldn’t be so bad.”

“I told her that.” Ailith said.

“Fira.” Her dad said sternly.

Fira stared at the floor, wiping her eyes.

“Fira.” Her dad said again. “Look at me.”

She tentatively looked into the cauldron at her father’s severe face.

“I want you to do something. I want you to imagine a rock in your mind. Can you do that for me?”

Fira nodded sadly.

“Do you see it?”


“Now bring it toward you. Think of it disappearing where it is and reappearing in your hand.”

Fira did as she was told. A pebble appeared out of thin air and landed softly in her hand. She looked at it sadly.

“I can do that no problem.”

“Now I want you to imagine Rupall. Do you see him in your mind?”


“Now turn him into a rock in your mind. Keep his bushy tail and his black fur. You should be thinking about a rock with the fur and tail of a squirrel. Are you?”

Fira screwed up her face in concentration. “I think so.”

“Now do the same thing as before. Imagine the rock disappearing and reappearing in your hand.”

Fira tried her hardest to not disappoint her father. With a soft blip noise Rupall appeared out of thin air and landed in her hands. She stared with disbelief as her father laughed.

“That’s it! You did it. The secret is to imagine the thing you can’t teleport as closely to something that you can.”

“I-I did it.” She said, unable to take her eyes off the squirrel, who just wanted to get down.

“Now you’ll do great!” Her mom said.

“How about the flash?” Her dad asked.

“I’ve got that down, but putting the two together might be tricky. I can teleport a rock with the flash, so maybe I can just do this and get it to work.”

“Of course you can.” Her father said, beaming. “It’s all about the mental attitude you bring to it. If you believe you can do it, if you can picture yourself succeeding, then you most likely will.” He shook his fists triumphantly. “It’s always worked for me.” He looked around and frowned, his fists dropping to his sides.

Fira nodded sadly, staring at the hard stone of the cauldron’s side. “It failed once.”

Her parents looked at each other guiltily.

“We’re so sorry we can’t be there with you.” Her mother said. “Always remember that most people don’t get to talk to their parents after they’re dead.”

“I know.” Fira said. She took a deep breath and smiled at her parents’ faces rippling on the surface of the liquid. “I’ll do great tomorrow and tell you all about it. Now I need to get some sleep.”

She wiped her hands across the surface of the liquid as her parents both tried to get in their goodbyes. The picture vanished. The light died out immediately; leaving the two witches in darkness.

Fira gazed into the darkness at where her parents’ faces had just been. Ailith clapped her hand on her shoulder.

“Whelp, time for bed.”

Fira nodded and slowly made her way to her room.

  1. The Last-Nine-Day

Fira had the hardest time sleeping. The first time she fell asleep she dreamed that she accidentally blew up the whole town. She woke with a start and had to look out the window to make sure it was in fact a dream. There were stories told to the little kids about a witch who once set fire to several houses in her sleep, so there was precedence. On top of that, dreams were very important to the Windelwinders. They were seen as prophetic and were not taken lightly. This all made Fira very nervous as she looked out the window at the intact town.

After a long while she finally managed to get back to sleep, only to have a dream about a monster rising out of the lake and eating everyone. She woke in a panic just as dawn began transforming the sky. Not wanting to have another horrid nightmare, she slowly got out of bed and went outside.

Early mornings in Windelwind were her favorite time of day. There were only a few other people out that early, and it gave her a chance to roam aimlessly without having to run in to too many well-wishers. Some of the older witches went out early to set up for their jobs. Each job had something to do with the ability each witch chose to pursue. Fira passed one particularly old witch hunched over a hole in the ground with smoke coming out. She knew this witch was burning certain plants and breathing in the smoke to see an upcoming event. People would come by during the day and ask if she could look into their future. From what she knew it was like seeing grainy snapshots, but it fascinated her nonetheless.

Several people were out early meditating. These were usually witches that needed to strengthen their ability before the stresses of the day weakened them again. She could remember her mother doing that as it helped sharpen her remote viewing later in the day.

Near the mountain pass on the northeastern side of town, Fira smelled something really amazing. She hadn’t eaten anything yet that morning and found herself being drawn to the aroma. It appeared to be coming from a small hut some ways away from all the others on that side of town. It was an odd little hut. For one it was one of the few on flat ground. The windows were partially boarded. The doorframe was covered by a long ratty cloth that blew slightly in the breeze. The walls sloped downward as if part of the house was sinking, and the roof had several holes in it. It was the exact opposite of all the other houses in Windelwind. For witches, fixing a hole, repairing a door, or even building a whole new house from scratch wasn’t a big deal. If the owner of this house had wanted to have it fixed, they easily could have.

Fira stopped short of the house. Thick mud covered a large area all around, making it hard to reach the cloth door. The smell was so powerful and mesmerizing that she found herself inching closer through the mud anyway. Finally, after a few more steps, the glorious smell turned suddenly sour. It smelled just as bad as it had good. It was so bad that the girl had to run out of the mud and away because she couldn’t breathe.

The cloth shot up in the air as if a strong wind came from below it. An old woman stepped out and glided smoothly above the mud, landing softly on dry ground. She took a deep breath and glanced over to Fira.

She had a similar appearance to the house: slightly misshapen and unkempt. Her black dress had frayed edges and too many stains to count.

Fira knew instantly who this was. It was Ms. Bleedmere. Stories of her bewitching children or casting evil spells were told all over Windelwind. Fira had heard many stories, all of which were too ghastly to think about when standing only a few feet away from her. The most important story, though, was never to go near her house. Ms. Bleedmere was the only witch of her kind in that town. No one else who lived there ever caused harm to anyone else, and definitely did not use their abilities for evil.

The girl nodded cordially and quickly walked away.

“You’re Fira, correct?”

She froze mid-step. Either through fear or magic, Fira wasn’t sure. Her dress turned stark white. Very slowly she turned to face the old woman.

“I am.”

“Ah, I won’t be at your party tonight, but I imagine you’ll do well.” Ms. Bleemere smiled creepily.

“Um, thank you for saying so. I sure hope you’re right.”

“You came for that smell, didn’t you?”

Fira found the use of her feet, but still couldn’t take more than a few steps back. “I thought it was interesting. I just wanted to see what it was.”

The old witch looked genuinely pleased to have someone to talk to. “It was interesting. It’s an old recipe I dug up.” She held up her hands, which were covered in caked on dirt. “A potion to lure and trap. Not that I wanted to lure and trap you, dearest. I only wanted to try it out just in case. . . for the others.”

Fira feigned a look of understanding. Her dress slowly returned to violet. “That is fascinating. I’ll just go ahead and–”

“Of course not you.” The old witch continued. “I see you—you’re the one I like.”

That pushed this whole ordeal into a new level of creepy; one that Fira felt was too much to deal with on the morning of her last-nine-day party.

“The others though, they don’t have your destiny.”

“Huh, that’s inter—that’s something.”

“Did you want to know it? Your destiny?” she moved toward the girl, her eyes shining bright.

“No thanks, maybe later.” Fira said, forcing her feet back faster.

“It’s good, better than most.”

At long last Fira took full control over her legs and ran for it. She didn’t stop until she got all the way to the other side of town. She stopped to catch her breath. This was not the day for such strangeness. It was difficult but she found a way to ignore that it happened. She didn’t want anything to distract her from what she had to do that night.

Eventually the sun came up fully and everyone streamed out of their huts and out to whatever it is they did. Even though Windelwind only had one hundred people, it was still hard to keep track of what they all did. Some left town completely. Fira envied them. She couldn’t wait until she was thirteen and old enough to leave on her own. She never thought it fair that it was literally impossible for anyone younger than that to get through the protective barriers without an adult. Once she ran through the woods just to see how far she could go. She made it about one hundred yards past the clearing she trained in, and suddenly found herself smack dab in the middle of town square, right on top of the six-foot-tall statue of their founder Madam Windelwind. It was always embarrassing having to climb down when all watching knew that she had been trying to leave.

Fearing being asked about what she was going to do that night, Fira ran back home, grabbed her broom, and took off into the sky. The sky barrier was really high so the eight year olds beginning flying lessons could have some room to practice. Eight year olds constructed their own broom shortly after their birthday, and within a few months could zip through the skies over town. Fira’s broom bent halfway up, but it was the still pretty fast. She went about to the top of the tree line and floated for a bit, finding it amusing to watch the little people go about their day. She was a fair flyer; nothing too spectacular—not like Vornay.

Fira slowly made her way around town a few times as well as over the trees. As the sun rose higher the nerves got worse. When she got hungry she went back home where Ailith was just getting up.

“Want oats for breakfast?” Ailith asked as she looked through one of the many cabinets in the small house. “Or maybe something more substantial. It is—well you know what day it is.”

Fira shrugged. “I’m good with oats.”

“Ok, because I just want to make sure that you are in fact good with oats. I have some eggs and I can find some meat if you want that instead. I think Yura has some—of course he does, he has all the animals—well not all the animals—you know right? We see them wandering all over the . . .” Ailith noticed Fira’s sympathetic expression and stopped. “What?”

“I think I’m the one who’s supposed to be nervous.” Fira reminded her.

Ailith waved the thought away. “I’m not nervous.” She bit her lip and looked anxiously out the window. “Oh my, everyone’s already gathering.”

Fira flipped around. No one was gathering. A few people milled about, but that was normal for any morning.

“I think you need to lie down.” Fira advised. “I’ll wake you when it’s time to go.”

Ailith continued to stare out the window. “I didn’t train you very well. If you mess up its all my fault.”

“Well you couldn’t actually train me.” Fira said, slightly annoyed that Ailith would bring up the possibility of failure. “The ability I chose doesn’t match up with yours at all.”

“I know, but if it all goes south—”

Fira jumped up and ran to the door. “I think I’ll lie down then. Or maybe I’ll wander, I don’t know.”

It was a long and horrible day as Fira attempted to find some way to pass the time. She and Rupall walked around the lake twice. The whole time she made rocks teleport out into the middle of the water. A few times she thought really hard of them with a big bushy tail, and each time was surprised at how easy it came now. When it was clear that teleporting rocks had been mastered, Fira turned her attention to Rupall. He didn’t look terribly pleased to be practiced on again. On the first try he teleported from the ground right into her arms with a small flash of light. It was such a great feeling that she refused to do anymore for fear of tiring herself out mentally before the party that night. Performing magic was eighty percent mental—or maybe it was ninety-five percent mental, she could never remember which way the old saying went.

As she finished her second lap and headed toward home Vornay dropped out of the sky as she often, and annoyingly, did. The fat little wren sang as it fluttered around the two of them.

“Tonight’s the night.” Vornay cooed in a faux sympathetic way. “I wonder if anyone’s ever died during a last-nine-day party. I doubt it, but it’s always nice to be the first person to do something.”

Fira clenched her fists automatically at the sight of Vornay. Rupe jumped onto her hat and hissed at the wren.

“Why are you so mean? I never said anything like that before your party.”

“Oh really? If I remember right you said: ‘I hope you fall off your broom and break your neck.’”

Fira tried not to smile. That did sound familiar.

“Don’t pretend like you’re better than me.” Vornay said.

“Why? You pretend to be better than me.”

“I’m not pretending.”

Fira quickened her pace toward home.

Vornay flew a few circles around her and then took off into the air.

It didn’t matter what Vornay said. Fira successfully teleported Rupall and was going to do great at the party.

Feeling thoroughly pleased with herself, Fira took a nap until early evening. When she got up everyone really was gathering. The stage had been erected on the edge of town near the base of the northern mountains.

Ailith came in with a clean dress, violet like all the others, and a few words of wisdom.

“You will do great. Nobody expects you to be a master. This is just to show everyone what ability you’ve chosen.”

Fira quickly changed, grabbed Rupall, and started out.

First, she took her familiar over to the statue in the center of town.

“Remember the plan. When I get on stage I’m going to teleport you to me. It’ll only be a few minutes from now. After that we can eat and party and forget about how stressful this all was, alright?”

Rupe nodded and flicked his tail happily.

“Wish me luck.”

A few minutes later she was behind the stage. The crowd murmured curiously as the mayor, Mr. Brighton, reminded everybody how everything was going to work. They all had heard the speech so many times many could recite it by heart. Fira, however, couldn’t seem to remember any of it, and wasn’t paying the least bit attention to what the mayor was saying. She was busy drying her sweaty hands and pacing uncomfortably while waiting for her name to be called.

Over the past few weeks the fear of that moment when she took the stage ebbed and flowed depending on how she was doing in practice, or just how she felt. While waiting backstage it flowed without end. She grabbed her pointed hat by the brim and pulled it down over her ears, hoping for some relief from whatever the mayor was saying and the random cheers from the crowd.

Suddenly a very large cheer broke out that she couldn’t hide from. At first she wondered what in the world he could be telling them to get that much of a reaction when she heard her name being called again and again.

“Fira . . . Fira! Why, perhaps she’s invisible.”

She jolted uneasily up the stairs, her hands furiously pulling the hat from around her ears. It wouldn’t go without a fight. With a hearty tug she pulled it clean off her head and stumbled into view.

For several painful seconds she stood in the center of the stage with her hat out in front of her and her back hunched over mid stumble. She quickly straightened up, put her hat back on her head, and stared out at the sea of people. Windelwind may have only had one hundred residents, but it sure looked like ten thousand to her. Ailith must have been out there somewhere, but Fira missed her in the brief sweep of the crowd. Instead she came eye to eye with Vornay. She had her fancy well-made broom in her hands and the most condescending expression imaginable on her face. Fira’s eyes lingered angrily on her bitter rival. It gave her just enough hate to temporarily drown out the embarrassment of her entrance.

“Fira! The night before every witch turns ten they perform their chosen childhood ability that they will take with them into adulthood. You had quite a few to choose from. If I recall correctly you have shown proficient ability to float, enchant sticks, and even teleport rocks. These can all be honed in the years to come and be applied to many areas. Are you ready to show us which you’ve chosen?”

A cheer from the crowd answered for her.

Fira took a deep breath and looked out over the heads of those gathered to where she could just make out the statue in the dying light.

“Yes I am.” She announced, her voice shaking.

“Then let’s get to it. Fira’s ability, everyone!”

The mayor stepped down from the stage.

The girl stared steadfastly out at the statue; where she could just barely make out the squirrel sitting on top. She took a few deep breaths to steady herself and began picturing a rock in her mind.

Suddenly she noticed how quiet it was. No one made a sound. She hated the cheering, but at least then everyone was occupied and not staring at her.

A few more deep breaths. Rupall’s tail twitched back and forth. She could see the movement.

If only someone would see something amazing in the sky and they could all turn towards it. Anything would do. A phoenix maybe, or a meteor hurtling toward them.

Fira closed her eyes. The rock was shiny and round. It sprouted black fur and a squirrely tail. She was almost ready.

Someone coughed. Why did they cough? Were they bored? Was she taking too long?

She thought hard on the flash of light. It had been so easy to do—to the point where she didn’t even need to think about it. But now she was. What color would it be? How big could she make it? Didn’t she need to surround the rock with the light in her mind? Did she before? She couldn’t remember. How did it work again?


Fira opened her eyes without meaning to. She recognized that voice. Vornay was in the front row kicking the dirt. Their eyes met again. Vornay looked pleased with herself, as if Fira already failed.

No! It wasn’t over yet. It hadn’t even started yet. Fira closed her eyes again and pictured the rock and the flash of light. She wondered what horrible colors her dress was turning.

Murmuring broke out. Again she recognized the voice. Vornay was saying something nasty to one of her little friends. Someone tried to shush her but she only got louder.

“Standing still is not an ability.”

For a brief moment Fira wondered if jumping off the stage on to Vornay could be considered an ability.

“I’ll bet she’ll fake it—pretend she did something far away or something. She’s so stupid. I’ll bet she’ll go like her parents before she’s thirteen.”

Fira’s eyes flew open. Rage filled her body like white hot lava. Make fun of her—alright. Make fun of Rupall—less alright but not terrible. But no one makes fun of her parents, especially after what happened to them. If Vornay wanted to motivate her then she did the trick.

Fira flung her hands out in front of her, keeping the statue centered in her vision. She concentrated and began to see the rock and the flash in her mind’s eye. Wind started blowing from within. Her hat shot into the air and fluttered away. Several people braced themselves as the wind picked up and up and up.

All at once she unleashed everything she had.


It sounded as if something exploded right next to her ears. A flash brighter than anything she had ever seen burst forth in front of her eyes. She shut them tight. Her feet left the stage. She tumbled through the air in every direction at once. Her body jolted this way and that, shooting through the air at a tremendous speed.

This all happened in a single second. With a loud smack she hit the ground, her limbs spread out. She immediately lost consciousness.

  1. Willy

The sun’s light pushed in on her eyelids. A warm breeze made the trees sway and their leaves rustle noisily. Somewhere above, birds chirped and sang. A twig broke nearby—perhaps a little animal.

Fira slowly opened her eyes and immediately shut them again. A stream of sunlight shone through a gap in the trees right on her face. With great difficulty she got into a half sitting position, groaning from the pain of hitting the ground. When she finally managed to open her eyes fully, she took in her surroundings.

This wasn’t a part of the woods that she recognized. The light was too strong and the green too green. In her woods the leaves were dull, they didn’t shine like the ones here. And there was no whispering from these trees. They stood quiet and lifeless.

A crunching sound came from the base of a nearby tree. Her eyes shot a glance in that direction. Something disappeared behind the trunk.

“Hello?” She croaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Hello?” She said more loudly.

A face appeared from behind the tree. It was a little boy. He didn’t look familiar.

“What’s wrong?” Fira asked. She noticed he looked both scared and intrigued at the same time. “Come on.”

Very slowly he made his way from behind the tree. His hair was light brown and he had on a well-worn tan shirt and pants, both slightly too large for him.

He came a little closer and then stopped, looking at Fira curiously.

“There was a loud noise last night.” He said. “And a bright flash. I thought it might be an explosion.”

Fira suddenly remembered what she had been doing the night before. The unfamiliar boy and surroundings gave her a sinking feeling. Had she teleported herself by accident?

“Where are we?” She asked.

“I was too afraid to see what it was at night.” He continued. “But now I see it was you. Did you explode?”

“No, I didn’t explode.” She said, a little snippy. “How would I be alive if I exploded?”

The boy made a noise that sounded something like ‘I don’t know’.

Fira sighed. “How far are we from Windelwind?”

He scrunched up his face in thought. “Is that a place?”


“A windy place?”

“What—no! It’s my town. It’s where I live.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

Fira’s heart sank further. Where was she?

“Alright, where are we now? Are we near the . . .” She tried to think of the name of the mountains to the north of town, but realized that she never knew if they had a name. “The northern mountains?”

“No mountains near here.”

Fira stood up, felt a little woozy, and grabbed a tree for support. “How is this even possible?” She said to herself. “I’m not old enough to get out of town alone.” She turned her attention back to the boy. “What is the nearest town, then?”

He looked around as if one might suddenly appear before them. “There’s a little village near here. It’s just called the Southern Post.”

Fira leaned against a tree, feeling thoroughly put out. “Someone in this town of yours might know the way. Maybe one of them can teleport. Of course if I could figure out what I did, I could just do that again.”

The boy looked at her suspiciously. “Teleport?”

“Yes,” She said curtly. “If not that then I can borrow a broom.” A thought suddenly occurred to her. “Ugh! Vornay’s never going to let me forget this. Maybe she did it. Nah, she could never have that much skill.” She looked up at the boy, who had backed into a tree, looking terrified.

“You’re a . . .”

Fira didn’t catch on. “What’s your problem?”

He pulled a necklace out from under his shirt, unsnapped something from the end of it, and held it out in front of him.

“I know what you are.” He said mightily, brandishing the small something like a weapon.

“Are you alright?”

“A witch!” he yelled.

Everything seemed to go quiet.

Fira was starting to get annoyed. “Yeah, but did you have to yell?”

“You admit it!” He stepped forward, stretching his arms out as far as he could.

“What’s your problem, kid? Haven’t you ever met a witch before?”

Fira knew that she lived in the only full witch town, but she always figured that there were plenty of other witches all over the world.

“Of course I haven’t.” He said, his voice full of anger.

“Wow, I must have really gone far.” She stared at his loathsome expression with a mix of surprise and humor. “What sort of stuff have you heard, then?”

“You’re all evil.”


“But I’m prepared. My dad makes amulets and statues that ward off evil entities like witches.” He showed off the thing in his hand. It was a little stone dog with red gems for eyes.” He travels the world selling them to people. So you can’t hurt me.”

“Alright, first of all you stupid child: I don’t want to hurt you. Secondly, we are not evil.” She suddenly remembered Ms. Bleedmere. “At least most of us aren’t. And finally, that stupid dog is not going to protect you from anything.”

“That’s enough.” He yelled. “Be gone soulless devil!”

He threw the dog at her. It bounced off and landed in the dirt. She picked it up and examined its fine details.

“This is nice.”

“Y-you’re not dead.”

“I know,” she said condescendingly, “because I’m not evil.”

“So then you’re not a real witch.” He sighed with relief. “Why didn’t you say so? I’m sorry I threw that at you.”

Fira smiled mischievously. “You don’t think I’m a real witch?”

She looked down at the dog. With a bright flash of light, it disappeared.

“Whoah, you—OW!”

The amulet bounced off the boy’s head and landed in his hands.

Fira tried hard to keep from laughing as a mortified expression came across the boy’s face.

“You should hold on to that in case a real witch comes by.”

“But—but you . . .”

“Yes, I am a witch.” She said, sounding bored. “No, I am not evil, and no, that amulet does nothing. Now, let’s get back to figuring out how I’m going to get home.”

“There are good witches?” The boy said quietly, mystified.

“I could still fly if I could manage enchanting a tree branch or something.”

“—but that doesn’t make any sense—”

“Or I could buy a regular broom in this village and enchant that.”

“—my dad lied? Does he know—”

“But without my hat I might catch the thing on fire or make it disappear.”

“—what if there are other witches—”

“Hey kid.” Fira called.

“My name is Willard!” The boy shouted indignantly.

“Calm down kid, stop yelling so much. I get it. Willy, can I get a br—”

“Willard! Only my mom calls me—”

“Whatever! Shut up! Stay focused, kid. I need to get home.”

“Well how did you get here? Just do that again.”

“I would if I could, but I don’t know what I did. I might mess it up worse now.”

Willy folded his arms and frowned.

Fira did the same. “Look, kid, if I could just get a br—”

“Stop calling me kid!” Willy stomped his foot. “I’m eight, you’re not older than me.”

“Actually, I’m nine, so I am—Wait! I’m ten. It’s my birthday.”

“Oh, happy birthday.”

“No, it’s terrible.”

“Witches don’t like birthdays?”

“This is the most important birthday of them all for witches. I should be there eating my fill, rubbing Vornay’s face in my amazing teleporting. And instead, I’m in these awful dead woods with some tiny child and no way to get home!”

“I told you, I’m eight.”

“I don’t care.”

Willy gave Fira a dirty look. “Fine then, I’m going home.”

“What? You can’t leave me here. You have to take me to town.”

“I do not.” Willy protested. “You’re a witch. And besides, you haven’t said one nice thing to me. My mom told me not to do anything for anybody who can’t be nice.”

Fira returned the dirty look. “Ok, I like your shirt. It’s nice and baggy.”

“That wasn’t very nice.”

Fira threw her hands in the air. “I’ve known you for like three minutes. You’re the greatest little kid I’ve ever seen. You’ve got the best name in the world. Your hair doesn’t look stupid. What more do you want?”

“I’ll help you,” Willy said warningly, “but only because I want you gone. Now come on, I’ll need to stop by home first. I need to write my mom a note in case I’m not back when she gets home.”

Fira followed Willy through the trees to a tiny dirt road. Past the dirt road were large fields, some of which were growing crops. He led the way down the road to an overgrown patch of trees. In the center was what looked like an old streetcar, refurbished into a small home. It had wild bushes surrounding it and ivy crawling up the sides. Several black statues of animals stood out front. Fira had never seen a streetcar in use and thought the little home was weirdly shaped.

They entered through the end. Though already cramped, it had those black statues all over the place. There were a few large ones and a bunch of small ones. They were carved into any and all animals imaginable. A tiny table with tiny chairs stood on their end. The other end had two thin beds smashed up against each wall. Another hung above their heads from the ceiling. The windows were down and the ivy crept in.

“It’s nice.” Fira said, casting a wary glance at all the statues with their creepy red eyes. “Where are your parents now?”

“Away.” Willy said, squeezing past the table. “My dad travels and my mom’s in town working till night.”

“What does she do?” Fira asked. She always wondered what non magical people did for work.

“She works at the hotel. She cleans the rooms. You hungry?”

As soon as he said it she realized that she was starving. It had been hard eating anything the day before.

She nodded fervently.

He put a bowl of small hard pieces of bread on the table.

“Crackers.” He informed, watching to see if she’d ever had any before.

They didn’t have any taste, but Fira wolfed them down anyway.

“That’s all we have for now. We don’t have an icebox so mom brings dinner every night.”

They sat for a bit. Willy strategically placed several amulets and statues closer to Fira. She had the sneaking suspicion that he wanted to see if she would suddenly die if she came in contact with a bunch of them. Meanwhile Fira looked over the place to find something that she could enchant to fly high into the sky and get a better view of her surroundings. There didn’t look to be anything there that would fit the bill. There was a small carpet, and she had seen someone fly into town on one once, but she heard it was harder to enchant because of its larger surface.

“So what’s being a witch like?” Willy asked, looking around for paper. “Do you get to fly around and curse people all day?”

“No.” She said quickly. “It’s probably not that different from what you do. Except—you know—we actually can fly around.” She suddenly turned to him inquiringly. “Do you have any sort of power? I mean, are you really completely ordinary?”

“No one here has powers. You’re the first person I’ve ever met that did. We hear stories, of course, but witches and goblins, and . . . whatever else are all mysterious and scary. A long long time ago there were witches around here I think, but they’re all gone now.”

Fira nodded slowly. “Yeah, I’ve been told that my town was founded by a witch who led a bunch of other witches away from a war or something. Maybe they came from here.”

Willy shrugged. “Who knows.” He found a scrap of paper and started looking for something to write with. “What was the deal with that birthday thing. Why was it so important?”

Fira found a pen on the floor and handed it to Willy, who began scribbling on the paper. “We have this thing called the last-nine-day party. It’s the night before we turn ten. Turning ten is the most important time in a witch’s life. Well, that’s what my sister Ailith said anyway. Although she also told me eight was.”

“Why is it so important?” Willy asked, putting the note on the table and motioning Fira to follow him outside.

“Nine is the last single digit age. That’s considered really special. When a witch is born they can’t control their powers. It grows in them until they are nine. All nine year olds have to wear a special hat that keeps the powers under control. Really bad things can happen if they don’t wear it.”

They left the streetcar and started down the small dirt path.

“And that’s how you ended up here?” Willy asked.

“I don’t know.” Fira said, looking out at the fields to their left. “I got on stage to teleport my familiar and I got real nervous. I guess I lost focus or something and couldn’t control it.”

“You tried to teleport your whole family?”

Fira laughed. “No, my familiar spirit.”

Willy gave her a look of total confusion.

“He’s sort of my spirit guide—in the form of a squirrel.”

That didn’t seem to help.

“A spirit guide that tells you where to go?”

“He’s—I don’t know—my little buddy that helps me be a witch.”

“Like a pet.”

“Sort of, but he listens and gives me advice.”

“He can talk?” Willy gasped. “That’s cool.”

“They don’t talk.” Fira bobbed her head back and forth, trying to figure out a way to explain something she never thought she’d have to explain. “Rupall—that’s his name—he can make it known to me what he needs to say. I don’t really know how, but I know what he wants me to know.”

Willy seemed to think this wasn’t going to end in a place that he could understand so he shrugged and moved on.

“That’s neat. So this party thing, was there cake?”

“There would have been if I hadn’t ended up here. After I teleported Rupall, the mayor was going to symbolically take off my hat and give me a real witch’s hat. After that we eat.”

The dirt road curved this way and that as though the builders were never sure which way they wanted it to go. After about twenty minutes of walking they could see smoke rising in the distance beyond a hill.

“That’s it. We’ll get a good view from the hill.”

Once at the top a little village came into view. The houses were all wood with thatched roofs. They were much more uniform then the ones in Windelwind. The streets were muddy and carts pulled by horses splashed their way along. A bell chimed off to their right. Fira glanced over and saw a streetcar coming to a stop at a small station.

“There goes your house.” She said.

Willy wasn’t paying attention; he was busy thinking about where they could go to find someone who might be able to help.

“Nobody will think that you’re a real witch.” He said, more to himself than Fira. “But we can’t be too sure.” He looked her over. “Eh, I don’t know.”

“If I can just find a broom or something.”

“Oh, I know!” He beamed. “Why didn’t I think of it. It’s perfect.”

His excitement spread to Fira. “You know a good broom store?”

“Better. I know of someone who also doesn’t fit in here. They’re the craziest person in town. Everyone hates them because they claim to actually like witches.”

“That doesn’t seem so bad. Where are they?”

Willy pointed to their left. Dark and creepy woods climbed up a large hill.

“They live out there. They have a little shop.”

Without further ado they both started towards the creepy woods.

Upon entering it seemed like the bright morning turned to late evening. Very few beams of light managed all the way down to the ground. A few birds chirped far away, but other than that it didn’t seem like any animals were around.

The path through was covered by dead leaves. Willy led the way, hoping he knew which way to go.

After a few minutes they came to their destination. It wasn’t much to look at. It was a wooden building right in the middle of the woods. A large tree stuck out the side of it. The walls had several holes where the wood had fallen away, there were cracks in all the windows, and mold grew along the edges.

“I’ve never seen it in person.” Willy said, gazing at the odd building. “Is this what a witch’s house looks like?”

“Most of the ones in my town are better kept.”

She knocked hard on the door. It swung open. The inside was very different from the outside. The walls were gleaming with shelves full of strange little objects. Some reflected the light of the multitude of lit candles scattered about, while others were dull and dirty. A counter stood near the rear of the room, and it was also covered. Glass balls with glowing centers, a multitude of incense sticks all burning at once giving the place a powerful odor, and various sized boxes took up most of the space. A middle aged woman with long black and white hair sat behind the counter staring amorously at a book. She didn’t seem to notice the door open, but she jolted to attention when the two kids stepped inside.

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