Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


She would never learn the entire truth of her existence and for almost all of her life, a lot of who she thought she was was a lie.

They called her a witch, or other offensive words that meant little to her. She knew, or thought she knew, what she was: an explorer or a pilgrim. Something old, without a place.

Those who didn't immediately hate or fear her, or those who gave her shelter, gave her fragments of truth, like a jigsaw puzzle, except there were pieces missing and it wasn't just one puzzle, but four or five all jumbled together and she was trying to solve it based on the box to yet another.

But despite all that, and in some cases, because of it, she survived. Her feelings of dissatisfaction kept her moving, from village to village. Sometimes staying for hours, others for weeks. It didn't matter where she ended up, her exit was always marked with the same fanfare: pitchforks, torches and an angry mob.

She had given up on trying to explain herself years ago. It should have been obvious to the villagers that there was no such thing as magic and she was no threat to any of them, but it should have been obvious to her that that didn't matter. They had already made their minds up and nothing could, or would, change that. She was a witch. She was death incarnate and it didn't matter how many children she healed, or how many people she helped, she would forever be pariah.

She was traveling alone, as usual, when there was a flash of green at sunset, somewhere along the horizon. She had never seen such a phenomenon, but books spoke of it. The witching light, said to bring back the dead or hasten the performance of other forbidden rituals.

Somewhere out there, another person like her had started something, or something like that. She was lacking a lot of information.

There are stories that get told, passed from parent to child, and so on down the line. These stories date so far back that there are no other records from that time. These stories are only supposed to remain within a given familial line but, as you might expect, over time, other people learn them, but not the context - or history - that goes along with them and they get distorted and meaning is lost. Incidentally, this is why young women who don't seem to age and who have a natural gift for healing are almost always run out of town very quickly. These stories of times gone by become stories that are used to scare small children into behaving.

Sometimes the stories make their way back into the families that spawned them. Sometimes these new stories are recognisable are are easily weeded out of the oral tradition, sometimes they aren't and remain.

There are big towns, almost cities, in this world where tens of thousands of people all live together. These towns make for very good hiding places for families who do not wish to be found, and so the great families have managed to survive.

For some, just surviving isn't enough. Some are actively waging an unknown war against rival families.

But we live in a world where magic, and even the arcane knowledge that originally allowed magic to exist, are no longer elements in anyone's lives. What used to be readily available has dissolved and washed away in a non-magical world full of technology and scientific advancements.

The stories are still there, however. And within the stories there is truth. And the thing is, the thing that not a lot of people realise: the truth of everything, of the families and the magic and the arcane is there for the taking. All you need to do is reach out and take it.

But the work you would need to do now, eons after magic apparently ceased to be, is immense.

For a start, you would need access to the library. This, in itself, is a lifelong task at this point and those who have even heard of such a place believe it to be a myth. So the question is, how do you find a myth?

The great capital stood ahead of her, some dozen or so kilometers down the cliffs and across the valley, right at the spot where the war of wars ended. Beyond, on the wasteland plains, stood Dragons Legs, a series of immense rock pillars that legend said marked the place of the final stand of the dragon king, the only being powerful enough to rid the world of magic and eliminate every witch from existence.

She smiled a grim smile, a reminder, she had been told, that not everything is permanent. Her family, the ones she had been adopted by at least, had great reverence for the dragon king, They told her the story and the mistakes that had been made. She vowed to never make the same ones. The capital beckoned to her and some small part of her mind, a hand me down from a genetic lineage she was unaware she shared, told her to go there, to find a certain door and to open it.

She arrived at the gates just on sunset, and as she watched, from a tall tower right in the middle of the city an immense flash of bright green lit up the surroundings.

The streets of the capital were lined with people, more than she had ever seen at any one time. The whole time she was in the open she was afraid of the angry mob she had witnessed so many times before, and knew would form again, but they all appeared to be so busy, rushing about after their own cares, that no one saw her, or if they did, gave her no more credit than anyone else out on the street.

Ahead of her, somewhere, was the door, and the final truth.

He screamed in rage. Again and again he had failed. Again and again all his efforts had resulted in nothing more than that infuriating green light. There wasn't supposed to be any colour to this, much less a large flash of light.

He paced, impatiently. At best, he thought, nothing was happening.

But, at worst. At worst, he was signaling someone.