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 two 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 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 TWO
Elien sauntered down the rough dirt street, chest puffed out and head held high. The ladies in their fine tanned wear, aprons about their chests and waists, all waved and giggled. He returned the waves with a smile and flashing of broad teeth.
“Ladies! We have returned! Never fear. The village is safe once more,” he said nodding to each as the men who had followed him deep into the woods entered the village themselves, chuckling and slapping one another on their shoulders and backs.
Elien walked up to one of the women standing alongside the road, the broom in her hands suddenly loosely held as he came before her. “Margerrot. How fare you? The flowers in your bonnet are especially lovely today.”
She giggled and cast her eyes downward, “Why, Lord Elien, thank you. I do quite well this day.”
“I was thinking, for the feast tonight, perhaps you and I—”
“Elien!” a voice called out, drawing him from her ever so briefly. Looking behind, he saw the old man Crawford Daniels hurrying his way.
Elien returned his attention to Margerrot drawing her eyes towards his once more with but a light touch of a finger to her chin. “Do not go anywhere. I must attend to business. Though, not necessarily more important business.”
She gleamed as he turned and met Crawford halfway across the street. Crawford panted and laughed as the two met and exchanged shakes of the forearms.
“I am pleased to see you have returned unscathed, Elien. Was that nasty creature a torturous fight?”
“Nay, nay! She went up like kindling and twice as bright!”
They got a good laugh out of that as the others joined them. The six of them stood together, encircled, guffawing, joking, and carrying on as the rest of the town went about their chores. It had grown darker, the sun sinking lower. The torches in the square were lit, and the pitfires set for the night’s feast to celebrate an end to the witch. And still the men spoke and jollied and sang.
“And, when Elien saw the children—”
“Children?” Crawford inquired, a strange look on his face as he stared at Jarren who had just been telling Ian of what they found inside the cottage.
“Aye, Elder Daniels. I guess maybe a dozen or more trapped in cages. They seemed a bit strange to mine eye,” Jarren remarked with a shrug of the shoulders. “But some of the women of neighboring villages aren’t exactly the most luscious of breeding material.”
Most laughed at the jest, but Crawford furrowed his brows. Said, “And what did they look like, these children of foul heritage?”
“Why, rather like that,” Elien smiled and pointed at a few cottages towards the edge of town.
There, the group saw several little creatures crawling out of windows. Large, writhing bags on their backs and grins on their faces. The creatures leapt to the ground and glared back at the men.
“Stop them! Stop them right now!” Crawford shouted, pushed forward, and pointed at the creatures. “Don’t let them leave town!”
“Calm down, old man!” Elien laughed. “They’re but children! Definitely not mine.”
Crawford growled and opened his mouth, when above came a screeching howl, “All of them! You let them all out?”
The group looked up, as did the many around town, saw nine women all astride various designs of brooms, and boards, logs, and twisted vine. And, strangely, one very large sow.
“Witches! We’re being assaulted!” Elien screamed, thinking, I knew it! There was more than the one! A whole coven has come! “Get every last man, woman, and child together that we might face this brigand!”
“Do not wait for me, around the village perimeter go set,” Granny Penelope pointed and growled. “To the village edge do not let that horde get! Should we allow that to be, into the forest they will flee!”
A series of cackles rang out as the witches on brooms zoomed away and around the entire village firing blasts of magic at the creatures sneaking out of windows, and doors, and cellars, and attempting through the moors. More than a dozen of them all around town.
“They’re going after the children! Stop them!” Elien shouted, when Granny landed beside him.
And slapped the back of his head.
“Fool! Those aren’t children!”
“Forest gnomes,” Crawford grumbled.
“Forest what?” Elien asked, his brow furrowing.
A woman ran out of a home, screamed and pleaded. “Elien! Those creatures have taken my children!”
“What do you mean, they are the children!” Elien cried out, still not understanding their plight.
One gnome came racing out of a home, the woman drew her lips down and hurried after it, tripping the creature up, and causing its bag to fly open. Children remained inside crying and begging for release. The creature howled in rage and then attack the woman, eating her up from foot to head.
“By the maker!” Elien raised his hands to the skies. “Everyone! Take on the little demons! They’re the culprits! Take them out first, then worry about these wretches later!” and then to Granny Penelope. “What suggest we do, heathen?”
She turned to him and scowled but placed a bony hand on his shoulder, “Grab your pitchforks, and your torches, your axes, and your horses. Run them down, plow them down, poke them, and roast em. Give them no ground, no matter what they do. They will challenge you, eat you, and force you to run. Fight them, face them, and this day will be won. Go!”
“Penelope,” Crawford said, his arms at his sides. “I see you’re still crawling around the wood.”
“Crawford, you old bastard,” she gazed at him not unlovingly. “Been awhile, you cantankerous fool. You know, the bed hasn’t been quite as warm since you left.”
“No choice. You see what I have to contend with.”
They both chuckled. But it soon ended. The gnomes took the screeching children out the bags and threw them into their mouths.
“They’re eating the children!” Elien raged.
“Don’t you dare let up,” Granny Penelope twisted, her hands balled up, her left squeezing her broom. “Stab em, and poke em, and drive through their minds! Take off their limbs and thrust through their hinds!”
“They’re trying to run!” one witch shouted on top of her sow, she pointed her wand towards a group of gnomes and shouted, “Put those beasts down before they can shun!”
This witch drove her sow in low and fast, fire blazing from its snout and glittering wings to the rear of its chest. Gnomes fell and fried and fled before her. Her lovely sow snacking on gnomish corpses. Then those remaining saw their plight for what it was and opened their bags all at once.
The sun set, yet light still flashed. The witches did their business with zest. The gnomes tried to hide, they ate who they could, tore limb from limb, and sucked down their prizes. The children were swallowed, every single one. The people of the village, fought, and shouted, and slayed without regard. And when all was said and done, not a single gnome stood whole, alive, or able to run.
“The children! They’re all gone!” a woman wailed and fell to her knees.
Others followed suit and the men hung their heads in shame.
“We, we didn’t know you were protecting us from them,” Jarren said. A tear rolled down his face.
“Protecting us? Why, they should have told us the truth from the get go!” Elien put in, his own growl on his visage. “How do we know that they weren’t the one’s responsible for this chaos?”
Crawford cleared his throat, “Uhm, they weren’t. I’ve always known about them. But, well, Penny and her company were fantastic caretakers. Nary a one of her coven ever spotted. Thought, ‘well, no need to rattle any cages.’ Didn’t imagine you’d ever find one of them.”
“Why, you cold blooded, son—of—a—” Elien drew close as if to hit Crawford. Crawford didn’t even so much as flinch.
Yet, the fist was drawn short when Granny Penelope said, “Now, now. Calm down you lot. Always the problem with human males, so blasted hot! Of your children, cease any reason to cry. The gnomes might be dead, but I think on your young you can still rely!”
Granny raised her hands, a wand drawn from her robe. The other witches saw this, and repeated her motion.
“Sisters, daughters, coven. Bring yourselves together. On this night we are kitchen, and altogether woven. There’s no need to be precise, no need to be concise, no urgency to be anywhere near nice, yet completely, inexorably we raise our wands to the winds and the stars and life and shout—”
“Arise!” the group sang in unison.
The villagers stared at the gathered corpses of gnomes in stunned silence. The bodies pulsated and writhed. The flesh bubbling and boiling as if something was about to be born of their former selves.
Then, an explosion of flesh. Blood and viscera, brain matter and bone, flew outward somehow passing through the witches. And splattering the villagers. Then, one by one, each gnome split and a child emerged from the gore. Then two. Then three. Then so many more.
“Samual!” a woman shrieked, racing forward, arms wide and ready for embrace.
“My darling Marcus!” another shouted and repeated the motion.
Heedless of blood, tendons, tissue and sine, mothers and fathers embraced their bloodied children. All that they cared for was that their children were safe and whole once more. As they did this, the witches picked through the slaughtered forest gnomes.
“Well, this is just great,” Merrybell sighed. “Enough for our people and it’s going to rot.”
“Well, maybe we can have a feast tonight? There’s some we can save,” a younger witch said, her name Hazel. Newest to the coven and least seasoned of the group. “Look, there’s a good piece!”
Merrybell merely shook her head as Granny Penelope approached them with Crawford and Elien at her sides.
“Wait, you mean to tell me you eat these things?” Elien asked incredulously.
“What else do you think we’d do with them?” Granny asked. “If we didn’t, your children they’d take.”
“Well, we thought it was you and yours taking our children,” Elien said rubbing the back of his head. “My apologies madame. Apparently, I was mistaken.”
“How many?” Granny inquired.
“Children, Elien. How many taken and over how long?”
“Oh! I think six or seven over the last two months.”
Granny Penelope closed her eyes and frowned. “That means a nest is nearby. Lovely. I suppose we weren’t as watchful as we thought. Well, there’s a solution to that, yes, my witches?”
“Yes, Granny,” the eight others intoned who were gathered around with baskets, buckets, and barrels at hand, picking up pieces of meat.
Merrybell smiled, “I see kidneys, livers, stomachs, and spleens. I can’t help but to think, a village this feeds.”
Granny smiled and nodded in knowing, “You’re right, Merrybell. Insight has never been your problem. Gather the ingredients and tonight we shall solve them.”
Elien looked aghast, though Crawford smiled. Elien shouted, “Wait, no, no, no, no!”
Hazel stripped a piece of meat from her meal and looked to the hog sitting on its haunches beside her. Looking up with great interest. She smiled and tossed the sliver towards the great beast.
“Here you go, Prissy. You did well tonight, helping us with those nasty gnomes!” Hazel said and laughed. “I loved how you handled that one little bully trying to escape with those kids!”
Jarren sat next to her, leaned over, and said, “Tell me, what’s with the pig?”
She looked to him and pursed her lips with a tight grin, “Priscilla is not a pig. She is a sow, a hog, and a lovely one at that, thank you very much, sir.”
Jarren snorted a chuckle, “Well, okay. But, still, why do you fly a, uhm, hog?”
Hazel raised a brow, “Are you saying you’re curious about me and my flying hog?”
“Without a doubt. I imagine it’s… quite the tale.”
“Indeed, it is. However, that will just have to be a mystery for another day.
Across from them, Elien took a huge bite of gnoman steak. It was his third and he was having trouble stopping his feast. He was surprised, terrified, and thrilled. And a steady sense of angry built deep within him. A resentment of these sudden events. Still, he forced a smile and turned towards the leader of witches.
“Granny Penelope, this is terrific!”
Granny sat beside him smiling. “Of course, it is. However, I sense a great trepidation in you.”
Elien shook his head, and imbibed a portion of beer then caused a thrumming vibration when he clumped it down. “Granny Penelope, Lady of Witches. I can’t help but think, I have a couple of hitches. The food you provide is sublime and without equal, yet I still feel some doubt and some prequal. Are you here to conquer us and put us down? With this meal that cannot possibly leave one with a frown? I’m curious and doubtful. Somewhat left a bit frightful.”
“My dear Elien, I do believe our rhyming has caught on with you.”
“Yes, so it would seem,” he muttered and placed down the leg of gnome he was chewing on. “Why is that, Granny? Why do you and yours rhyme when you do battle? I see you using your wands but… are you casting a spell upon me?”
Granny laughed and took in her own drink. “No, no, no, young man. It’s a matter of focus. The true magic is not in spells or hocus pocus. It lies in intention and mind. You are part of the magic. For now. When we leave, it will fade. And then you’ll go back to your dunderheaded means.”
Granny popped a roasted carrot in her mouth and smiled with eyes closed. Elien watched her for a moment and stared down at his own plate. Gnome steak, carrots, peas, and potato. And for dessert, a strange thing their sudden guests called, ‘sweet liver pate.’
Elien let his hands rest on the table clench in fists at each side of the plate. “Please, Granny, forgive me my foolishness. I thought to be doing the right thing. Always taught that evil is that what exists in the wood. The secret arts thriving in the night. Yet, the fear is still there. I do not wish to lose myself. If you are bewitching me, say so now. You have done a great thing for us and our village. However, to lose them, to sacrifice all that we are… I, I can’t allow that to happen.”
Granny Penelope sighed and looked away, her arms folded into the sleeves of her robes. He noted the night air flowing through her raven black hair with strands of gray highlighting here and there. It was a majestic look, he suddenly realized. And he wanted nothing more than to strangle her.
“Look around you, dear lad. What do you see?”
He reluctantly did as she asked. Saw the faces of his fellow villagers. Laughing with the witches. Having a great time. Sharing toasts and ancient stories. Across from him, his best friend Jarren enjoyed a conversation with the youngest looking of the witches. Anger pulsated in his skull once more. The whole village is suddenly a fan of witches. We’ve been bewitched, of this I am certain. There was a darkness here. Yet, the gnomes were out there too. Vicious and eager. Perhaps playing nice wasn’t such a bad thing after all? At least, for a while yet. And, when the time comes…
He looked back to her. Her gaze upon him was intense and knowing. He let his broad teeth show. “They’re enjoying themselves, to be true.”
“There is little else for it than we are allies, young Lord Farris. It is to our mutual benefit to coexist,” Granny lamented her own smile diminishing. “I will not cease to defend my witches, of course. Of your fears, they have a basis in the unknown. Always do we have the rogue, the knave, and the highwayman. You do as well, do you not? The unscrupulous characters hellbent on challenging our ways of life. Yet, the magic you fear is not the magic of chaos but community. How we work we draw energy from those around us to protect. You, us, all those requiring it. This is not an evil work. Fear is the evil work. Fear is what must be managed and be wary of. The fear of truths. Of knowledge. Let us not fear one another, m’lord. Let us be as one. A community who understands who each of us is and wishes to be. A toast. To our alliance.”
Elien held her eyes for a moment longer and let his smile return. “To our alliance,” he said lifting his own mug and they met their cups together. Both held each other’s eyes as they smiled and drank. Then, both put them down. Elien turned back to his plate and picked up a gnome leg, “You know, Granny. You were right. Gnome makes for a delicious meal.”
He took a bite, and Granny turned to Crawford who sat on her left side. She ran an arm around his shoulder as he was chewing on a piece of liver. She closed in on his ears and chuckled.
“You and I are going to have a very long conversation on how you and your lot treat my witches.”
Crawford coughed, food spilling from his lips, “Er…”
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
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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.
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