The Price Of Witchcraft

Photo by Stormseeker on Unsplash

Jaral was shaking, his voice quavered uncontrollably and he tried cover it up with a cough, clearing his throat as if affected by the putrid fumes that hissed from the bubbling cauldron.

He was affected by the putrid fumes mind you, we all were—well, not the witch who cackled at our discomfort—but we all knew it was fear that caused his reaction. Not that I could judge, I was sweating through my tunic. The deep red fabric grew darker with oozing perspiration by the minute.

The decrepit old woman threw a foul herb into the concoction and stirred with an oversized ladle, pushing up onto her toes and heaving with her shoulders to move the sludge around. She was exactly as we expected, exactly what we needed to complete our goal, and the only reason we travelled out to this backwater commune in the forest.

“Well?” Jaral managed to squeak. “Will you make the spell for us?”

“Oh, heh, hargh, haragh!” The witch cackled so much that she fell into a horrid coughing fit which shuddered throughout her creaking body. “Oh I can give you what you seek.”

“But?” I stepped further into the cramped, hide strewn shelter.

“Well,” she heaved as she continued her slow, laborious stirring, “It will cost you both, greatly. A deep, red, price.” She glanced between Jaral and I, a sly, evil gaze that halted on me and stared deep, deep, into my heart. “Are you willing to pay the price?” she laughed again, different this time, a low, foreboding murmur.

Jaral sighed and clutched at his purse, then glanced at me. He was so naive.

I steeled myself and gave him a nod, making a show of reaching for my purse as well.

As he turned back to the witch, I drew my dagger and rammed it through his back, straight into his heart. I shut my eyes and held back my spew as he cried out and collapsed onto the dirt hearth.

“What the hell are you doing?!” the witch shrieked and jumped back, pulling out her steaming ladle and holding it before her with a splash of boiling fluid.

I shook my head, incredulous as I wiped the blood from my dagger. “I’m paying the red price, now give me the spell.”

“The red price is rubies you absolute lunatic! I meant it would cost you all of your rubies! What the hell kind of person backstabs their companion for a good luck spell?!”

“I . . .” I suddenly felt a hot weight in my gut. “You didn’t need a blood sacrifice?”

“Get the hell out of my hovel! Guards! GUARDS!” The witch was shrieking, bellowing, and a responding commotion sounded from the derelict commune outside.

“Shit.” I turned and ran from the hovel, without my spell, and without my friend.

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