Edward Owen – Author

Ray Bradbury Challenge #22- Witch Hunt

Yes, the title was inspired by American Horror Story: Coven. The story itself came from someplace with the deep, scary places in my mind. This is another idea that has a good chance of becoming a novel. Post apocalypse division of humanity along some very interesting lines. Maybe my next WIP if I can finish the current one. *sigh* Never enough hours in the day.


Witch Hunt

I can hear my pursuers’ thoughts as I clear the weed choked lot and scurry over the wall.

“Target acquired … “

Control wants her taken alive … “

“Alive? She’s not old enough to breed … “

“She carries the bloodline of the Regents …”

Past the wall an ancient ruin looms above me, a silent, lifeless monolith bathed in moonlight. The door opens at my bidding. I enter and seal it behind me with a fire rune. The flames will block my body heat from their envy-gees. What they would see as a strength is a weakness I use to my advantage. The arrogance of men and their machines.

By the time they have gotten through the fire and have my trail I am more than a hundred meters ahead of them. My body is thin and flexible. I squeeze through openings too small for the lumbering hunters to pass. They are forced to choose another way around.

Even though I have yet to have my cycle, my bloodline warrants their persistence. They would capture and keep me to produce offspring. Males would be trained as hunters and soldiers, females likely harvested for the General’s table.

The narrow passage ahead has been obscured by one of their devices spouting a think, rank smoke that is surely poisonous. It is the most direct route; to turn back now will put me dangerously close to the hunting party. I could summon the wind but there are no portals and I cannot see the sky. I search my memory for a spell or rune that will help me. They have broken through a doorway and my lead has become dangerously short. Instead of thoughts, I can hear voices. I must do something now.

In desperation I draw the sign of the Moon Goddess and the purification rune. This is normally used to cleanse those on the cusp of conceiving their first child but fear of capture and the rancid odor have clouded my mind. The hunters are close and I am out of time. I pull my dagger from my belt and press the cold blade against my throat. I will spill my blood at their feet and release my spirit before I allow myself to further their horrid bloodlines.

They say the goddesses protect the young and the foolhardy; the smoke sinks to the floor and swirls around my ankles. I sheath my blade and press forward, mindful of the traps that no doubt await me. I find wires and seeing lenses that will release snares and nets if disturbed. The wires are easily avoided by leaping clear; the lenses obscured with a night-black rune. Not even the men’s envy-gee sight can pierce the darkness spreading out behind me. At the end of the passage I listen as one of the clumsy oafs trips his own snare and cries out to the others. They do not stop for him. I am of far greater importance than he.

At the end of the passage I scribe a series of runes and glyphs on the floor. The men will see my trail heading off in two false directions. The argument alone should give me the time I need. Across a cavernous hall I come to a pair of immense wooden doors. It would take ten of our warrior clan to push them open with brute force. I must work quickly. I make a small cut across my palm with my dagger and let the blood trickle through my fingers and onto the floor. The drops spread across the stone and form an intricate and powerful pattern. I close my eyes as the words come to me from my heart. I push the thought of the men from my mind and focus. It is an asking spell, one I have never used on something so large. I am offering a piece of my spirit in return for the help of the Goddess of the Wood. I am lost in the chant.

Energy surges through me and I push against the doors. They remain closed for a moment then slowly give way. I squeeze through the narrow opening and race down the steps to the broken street below. The men have closed the gap and burst through the door behind me. They are bigger and stronger. I cannot outrun them in the open. I make a sudden turn down an alley littered with debris. If I stop to cast a rune they will be on me before I finish. The alley comes to an abrupt end with no doors or passages out. A brick wall blocks my path.

I turn and face the men. They have their weapons trained on me but I know they will not kill me. My bloodline is far too valuable.

“Witch, you are hereby ordered to submit, by authority of General Diego. You will …”

The first arrow hits this man in the throat, cutting off his words. His mouth opens and blood streams out. Two more arrows hit his partner in the chest. They crumple to the ground as the brick wall behind me dissolves. Two of our warriors escort Tara’lon, our Mage. I drop to one knee in respect.

“May the Goddess smile on you and your house, Mother Tara’lon,” I say.

“And on yours, Moon Darling. Your performance was excellent, Myla,” says Tara’lon. Her use of my given name is a blessing on my bloodline. “Your spirit is strong and you honor the Goddesses. These hunters will provide meat for our Winter feast.”

A compliment from the Mage is no small feat. I smile and look forward to my next hunt.


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