Greetings and salutations, faithful followers of this blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and THIS is Story Time With Tim! An ongoing series presenting my works from the past, my works from the present, and works yet to come all for your reading pleasure! Most are just trunk stories, but others are materials that I’ve self-published on several sites. Links of which you can find below.
This here is part one of a story I wrote on Scribophile last year. It was also another contest entry that didn’t win but still got some fans. I think it came along quite nicely. It is basically a fairy tale about witches being attacked by humans in a rather comical way. Suffice it to say, it has a rather unusual conclusion. Two or three parts will be all that will be required here so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading and I’ll read to you again next week!
The Burden of Witches Part One
“Bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble. Let these wretches boil and grovel!”
The cauldron thrummed with the life of heated water, droplets splashing over the edges and slapping upon the tailored robes of one Esmeralda Wickens. She cackled, as she was wont to do, and opened a cage at her feet. Reaching inside, she pulled out three screaming little creatures who wailed and bit and kicked and scratched. Yet, her grip didn’t lessen as she smiled pleasantly and tossed them into the boiling concoction. The water sprayed upwards causing her to step back a foot. Then, laughed heartily slapping her thighs as the little critters boiling within struggled in vain to reach for the rim of the great black pot, all the while screeching like lobsters in a seafood broil.
“Tut, tut! You little cretins. Thinking you could shrink yourself and escape your enclosures. Oh, no. Not just yet, I don’t think,” She chuckled and grabbed a large wooden spoon to push the snarling creatures away from the pot’s rim. They struggled to grab the spoon and pull themselves up, but she laughed and pushed them deeper, the flesh peeling away from their bones, and their howling screeches echoing into the gloom of her hut. “Oh, yes! Keep on screaming, you little bastards! Momma’s hungry and she knows just what to do with you lot!”
Another vicious cackle and a broad grin as she cracked her back and walked over to her rocking chair. The floor creaked and groaned under the weight of her frame. The chair squeaked and cracked once she took to her seat and started her rock. She exhaled slowly, feeling better about the long day and leaned deeper into her wooden chair; felt the vibration of oaken runners drawing across ancient floorboards. The hot fire of the pit under the cauldron flickered and spat casting orange, yellow, and red light across the shadowed interior of her domicile. It warmed her flesh. She watched the beasties within trying to grow back to their natural states yet succeeding in little more than adding weight to their plight and soon sunk beneath the surface of the bubbling stew.
“Oh, yes. You’re going to be tasty ones tonight. Gonna feed on the kind of gnomes one can only find out in the deep wilderness. Deep, deep in the night. The dark and funneled shadows of tortured wights, forgotten by those about the kin of the Heights,” she let her smile settle as her eyes grew heavy. “Such is the pace and the case of our lot. That you cannot set your sights on those unfortunate tots. Oh, yes. Dinner will be fine tonight. A heavy stew, replete with potato, carrot, and sprouts. Tended to with fervor, love, and miniscule louts…”
Esmeralda’s eyes closed as the boiling cauldron continued its task. And the peaceful interior of her cottage in the wood grew warmer, more silent, and comfortable. Save for the crackling fire and the creaking of her chair, of course.
However, that serenity came to a rather sudden and rude end when the front door burst open and five men with torches held high raced into her home. Her eyes shot open and her chair came to an unenviable stop. “What the blazes?”
“There is the witch! Burn her! Burn her now!” the front man exclaimed as his cohorts shouted valiantly, raced into the home, and took her by the arms, pulling her from her comfy chair.
“Now just you lot wait a moment! How dare you burst into an old woman’s home and accost her in this manner?”
“You’re not fooling anyone, you hag!” the man closest, the lead man (Oh, this buffoon, of course!) to her with the dark hair and garlic breath intoned. “We know you’re a witch and it is known thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!”
“And what has this old witch done to you, stinky child?”
“Exist!” he replied and three men dragged Esmeralda outside with their torches waving gleefully.
The usher of this violence, Elien Farris, stepped towards the boiling cauldron. His brows raised and his eyes widened, his mouth slackened and his torch bearing arm fell. “My God, Jarren! There are bones floating in that stew!”
Jarren made a cross over his chest with his left hand. “Not just any stew, Elien. Look, the bones are that of a child! It must be!”
The two heard murmuring from behind and turned. Towards the rear of the tiny cottage, they saw dozens of cages full of small people. All with large eyes and fearful expressions. Crying and slobbering and begging for freedom with sputtering lips spewing words unknown to the men.
“There are children here!” Elien spat indignantly.
Jarren frowned. “Wait, now I’m not so certain, Elien. Have you ever seen a child of this manner before?”
Elien looked at Jarren, eyes wider and mouth further agape. “My good fellow! Look at their sizes! Should such small people be anything other than children?”
“I suppose you could be—Elien! Your torch!”
Elien looked down and saw where his torch hung. “By the maker! My torch hath set yon witch’s seat aflame! Quick, unleash those children fore they burn to death in this carnage!”
Flames licked the walls, the ceiling, and the furniture as the two went about setting free the two dozen or so creatures encaged. The little beings laughed, leapt outward and raced for the front door.
The two men followed and, once outside, Elien shouted with waving hands, “Go, children, go! Return to your mothers and fathers! Return to your families and spread the word that we, the righteous, have slain the witch of the wood and burned down her castle!”
The gnomes fled into the woods and the two men joined their cohorts where the witch thrust her arms up towards the skies and burned brightly under the brilliant, burning flames. Her screams were like that of a lobster in a seafood boil.
“Excellent!” Elien said, satisfied and crossing his arms over his chest. “We have purged the woods of the unholy. Let us return to the Heights and spread the good word that now we are all safe from the savagery of evil.”
“This was far too easy, Elien. Mayhaps there are more of these hags about that the such would allow themselves burned on a pyre.”
Elien guffawed and slapped Jarren on his back. “Thou worries too much, Jarren. Tell me, did she beg, Merus? I beseech thee, Hairn, did she struggle? Ease my troubled friend’s mind, Marth, was she too much for you three fine and burly men?”
The three men gathered around the pyre pit laughed heartily and came around towards Elien and Jarren. Jarren wore a frown on his face yet said nothing as his friend nodded towards their colleagues.
“Nay, my Lord,” said Merus. “She went in as easy as mounting a whore on Sunday.”
“Easier, in fact,” Hairn chuckled. “We tossed her in and she went up in flames like she was made of tender and wanted to start the fire with her own tallow to warm our wary souls.”
The group laughed. All save for Jarren whose frown grew deeper still. None seemed to notice this happenstance and continued with their relating of events.
Marth pursed his lips and leaned against a long stick he had picked up. Long enough to shove a certain witch back into the fire should she have had a sudden change of heart. “Though, she did say something strange before tossing her into the maw of Satan’s delivery.”
“I’m not sure how strange it was,” Hairn replied, smile on his visage. “She seemed very accommodating.”
“Aye, she was, she was,” Marth agreed. “Yet, it still sticks with me.”
“Well, out with it, man!” Elien shook his head, smile broad upon his own visage. “We must be away to the village lest they believe this witch has gotten the better of us.”
“Aye, my lord. Hard to remember now, though. Felt this tingling sensation in my bones as she was saying it…”
Merus looked to Marth, “I wouldn’t say she was so much sayings it as much as singing it. What was it, again? I think it started, ‘You try your best, you struggle in vain—'”
“No, no, no,” Hairn cut it. “She said, ‘Thou doest thou best, thine struggles in vain. What wyrgan’s us most, stands the foolish swain.’ And, uh…”
“OH, oh, oh!” Marth came forth, his hand waving in the air. “Then there was this, ‘Buttressed before baneful buffoonery,’ uhm… it’s right there, blast it!”
The three men glared at one another for a long moment, then laughed and started speaking as one, “‘Thou doest thou best, thine struggles in vain. What wyrgan’s us most, stands the foolish swain. Into the forest remote, they cannot flee. What thou hath left, ignoble chicanery. Even so, even thus, even driven into dust. This can this one say: Buttressed before baneful buffoonery, a witch’s soul set free. As such, so mote it be.'”
“Yeah, that was it!”
“I still don’t get it, but it’s amazing we remembered it!”
“You think she suffered much?”
“Does it matter? She was an animal. Animals are the dominion of man.”
“Aye, you’re likely right.”
“Okay, okay,” Elien waved his hand. “It matters not. She’s a witch and witches are creatures in defiance of man. Let us not dwell on the babbling braying of Satan’s hellspawn. It is time to return to the village and be done with this sordid affair.”
The men watched the witch burn for a moment longer, her shouts ceasing, and then wandered away down the trail leading opposite the former cottage. Only Jarren looked back once.
“Alright, who let the gnomes out?” Granny Penelope grumbled and fumbled for the spellbook hung about her waist by a strap. “I am seriously getting exhausted coming after these little cretins!”
“I’ll give you one guess, Penelope,” Merrybell Dwight said, her youthful visage gleaming in the moonlit air. “Those idiots up in the Heights!”
“Oh, hush you!” Granny Penelope said, her fingers flying through the pages of her book seeking a rite and a spell that would send Esmeralda back to her ancestors in the great wellspring of life. “You always think humans are responsible for traumatic events. It could be those ogres, or the orcs, or the wights of living torcs residing in the basin of the Wiccas basin.”
Merrybell sighed, “Seriously? You really want to cast off the notion that the fools who live there keep coming after our kind feigning some sort of doctrine of hedonism? I can feel the power of Esmeralda’s spell still lingering in the air, Granny. It’s potent and strong. Awaiting your words of release. And, I cannot think of any other than the villagers beyond. Led by that pompous fool of a lord of theirs…”
Granny Penelope paused. Then said, “Well, they do seem determined to destroy anything sacred and profane anything cursed. Even so, perhaps it’s best to leave well enough alone. If Esmeralda felt it best to let them do their worst, then there is something she saw that we do not.”
“Then should we not, at the very least, investigate their village, ma’am?” Merrybell begged and stepped before the good Granny. “If they’ve set loose these vial creatures, they could be in grave danger. As you say, perhaps Esmeralda felt it better we deal with this foolishness. She was getting on in the years and had expressed a good deal of hope of leaving this Earthly coil sooner rather than later. Perhaps she saw this as a way to reach the ancestors now?”
“You may be correct. Esmeralda did have her own thoughts on these matters. That old heifer. Always looking for the easy way out of a problem… However,” Granny Penelope shook her head with a great sigh. “I’m really getting tired of saving these people. They keep sacrificing ‘witches’ to their river yet refuse to recognize that any self-respecting witch would never be drowned. In fact, quite the opposite. I don’t want to deal with them anymore.”
“But, Penelope, if they have let those gnomes loose…”
“Yes, yes. You’ve made your point. We’ll make sure. And when it’s demonstrated that they haven’t, we’ll go back into the wood and discover where the menaces have hidden themselves.”
“Of course, Granny Penelope…”
Merrybell turned towards the still raging pyre as Granny Penelope raised her spellbook and recited the spell. Esmeralda’s burnt corpse sunk into ashes and set the flame higher, their color a vivid cerulean blue and green, reaching for the heavens as if this moment could not have come soon enough.
Thanks for reading and hope you had fun! There will be more to come next week! Until then, have a good week!
~Timothy S Purvis
Amazon Kindle Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
Smashwords Author’s Page–> Timothy S Purvis
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION STARTS!
I would appreciate if you have Kindle or even if you want some paperback goodies if you’d head on over to my page and maybe show me some love there. I mean, if you’ve been reading a while and see something you like, wouldn’t you like to have it in your personal library? I have some cool short stories available for cheap. Also Tales From A Strange Mind that collects my short stories (there’s also a Kindle edition but, for some reason, Amazon wouldn’t let me link them together) , Tales From A Strange Mind II which collects my old novellas, Red Star Sheriff (Which also has a Kindle edition but Amazon, am I right?) my first novel ever released, though, yes, it does have some grammatical errors and drags on for way too long, sigh. But I still love it and I will be writing a follow up sometime within the next few years. I have a collection of my poems called MisAligned: The Heart Waxes Poetic which collects my old poems but not some of my newer ones included those flash fictions! I’ll probably do that in the future as well. And if you love the perfectly inane, why not check out my Star Cloud scripts presented in book form? Star Cloud The Original Scripts. Another one where Amazon was being difficult with me in connecting the Kindle and PB versions. Still, the paperback they let me sale for cheap and it’s well worth a look if I say so myself. Or, if you don’t want to click on individual links (all of which will take you to my author’s page anyway), just click on my author’s page directly by tapping my name: Timothy S Purvis See for yourself what all I’ve published since I began this venture in 2016.
I mean, if you like my work, of course. No pressure. Just trying to find my way in this world without working menial tasks and suffering physical and mental issues as a result. If only I could merely stay home and write. That would be my most epic fantasy brought to life. Well, if you don’t want to do that, you could also donate to my cause down below after all is said and done. It would help. You know, if you liked what you saw and all. Up to you. I don’t have a lot of reviews on my materials because of low sales. I mean, very, very low sales. In the single digits. Right now, I have to rely on Pubby for reviews and those people only read your synopsis and recap it for a five star review. I want honest opinions. Not mean ones, but honest. So, if you ever find yourself buying some of my work, I’d certainly appreciate some feedback. Again, up to you.
Also, I’m selling my work for cheap over at Smashwords.com! Check out that page here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TSPurvis
END SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!