Storytelling: The Long Morning

“Zed!”
 
Zed.

It isn’t my real name, but it’s the name I use. I read it in a book once; felt kinship with it, now I tell everyone it’s my name.

“Come out. Your wards may prevent us from entering, but I’d wager fire could still burn this hovel you call home to the ground. Besides, you’ll live considerably longer if you simply come out and cooperate with us.”

Elves. The ruling race of the Summer Court. Enchanting. Beautiful milk white skin, eyes like precious gems, hypnotic grace and allure, dressed in the deep greens and reds of the High King’s Court; the stuff of fairytales. Also, liars.

“Zed! The High King of the Summer Court is merciful and just. You shall receive fair treatment and a fair trial.”
Liars.

I had received a summons to appear before his majesty two weeks ago. Yes, I did blow him off. The summons charged me with providing aid and comfort to members of the Winter Court, a blatant violation of the Neutrality Act enacted during the Council of the Autumn Song.

Long story short, the Fae Courts were going to war and called an emergency Council, a gathering of ruling figures representing the various Supernatural beings inhabiting Earth. The Fae declared their intent and urged outside Supernaturals to remain entirely neutral and uninvolved during the war. The proposal for neutrality was agreed to and sworn upon.

A few things to bear in mind; first, I wasn’t invited to the Council, so I’m bound to nothing. Second, I have no interest in Fae wars. The Fae are always engaged in some petty war. Besides unless they are killed by cold iron, the Fae don’t really die. They disintegrate in a dramatic display of flowers and ash. After a year and a day, any Fae killed reforms and lives again. And lastly,

“Fair my ass. You have no authority here. Tell your king he is looking for the wrong guy.”

“Zed, don’t be unreasonable. Cooperate and we will not harm you.”

Liars. All Fae. All of them. Especially those who are bound to the service of the Courts. I didn’t believe for a moment that I would travel unharmed in their care.

“Alright! Alright.”

Slowly I crawled out from beneath my desk. It was early in the morning when my visitors announced themselves by kicking down my door. I had instinctively dived under the desk when the door burst open. Luckily my wards kept them from entering the home.

I wore only a pair of purple boxers and a t-shirt too small for my chunky frame. My pride wasn’t bolstered any when the shirt rose above my belly as I raised my hands.

“Good, Zed. Good. Now disable your wards that we may enter and apprehend you appropriately.”

The smug bastards beamed at one another as they basked in their victory. I let out a heavy sigh and groaned a string of ancient archaic syllables and sounds. Old promises and bindings from a time long forgotten by this world. The wards inscribed around the entrance of my cabin bubbled and dissolved in an acrid white smoke.

The Fae marched proudly forward. A subtle click sounded as they crossed the threshold. A trigger tripped freeing six oak bolts from their hidden chambers. The elves burst into a beautiful display of rose petals and ash.

“Shit. I guess I forgot about that.”

You can always rely on the hubris of elves to outweigh their sense of caution.

***

After a light breakfast, a long shower, and a chance to get dressed in clothes that fit appropriately, I gathered up the elven remains in a dustpan. I scribbled a quick note apologizing for the fate of the Summer Court’s finest and emphasized my innocence and disinterest in Fae squabbles. I may have also included a respectful reminder that I was not bound by Council Acts to which my kind had not been properly represented as noted in Supernatural law.

I placed the remains, the ignored summons, and the scribbled note into a large parchment envelope. I walked over to a heavily warded pantry well organized and stocked with a collection of magical components. I carefully selected a small pouch of incense, a silver coin, and two crow feathers before making my way out of the cabin and into the forest clearing just outside.

The sun began to break over the horizon setting the sky ablaze in vibrant pink and orange hues. The air carried crisp scents of autumn. I approached a blessed fire pit built many years ago. Wood and tinder had already been prepared from the day prior. I pulled out my trusty brass Zippo etched with a triquerta on one side and a pentacle on the other. It was a gift sent to me thirteen years ago on my eighteenth birthday. There was no note, no return address, and nothing to identify the sender; just the lighter which never seems to require refilling.

I ignited the tinder and within minutes a warm fire rose against the chill that hung in the early morning breeze. I set down the ritual components and envelope on a stone altar adjacent to the fire pit.

“Something of value to pay for this task.”

I hold up the silver coin to reflect the rays of the rising sun. Three sharp flashes of light reflected into the heavens before I set the coin on the ledge of the fire pit. I pour the incense from the pouch to my palm. Clearing my mind I toss the incense and crow feathers into the fire. The scent of summer fruits and blood rose toward the celestials completing the simple ritual.

The waiting is the worst part. A ritual like this could be answered in minutes, hours, or not at all. It depended upon who hears the call. This waiting left me to stew in my bitterness towards the Councils.

The spiteful forgetfulness of the Councils which neglected to include Witch representation allowed us to get away with a lot. Magi were always represented while Witches were almost always entirely forgotten.

This probably has to do with the fact that Magi are able rewrite reality to suit their needs. When a mage says “Coffee ex nihilo,” coffee shall appear ex nihilo. A Witch is an entirely different animal. We don’t get to rewrite the rules of reality. My ability to make with the magic is entirely dependent upon bending and warping the rules of reality and channeling otherworldly powers through pacts and ancient agreements. Most of what I do involves rituals, magical ingredients (eye of newt, tongue of frog, scale of dragon, etc.), tools,  hand waving, and of course, the right magical words.

Ancient secrets, rites, and pacts rule the day. I don’t need to worry about belief. As long as my components and actions are correct, the magic will happen. It makes what I do a bit easier than what a Mage does; however, my abilities are greatly limited in comparison.

The other catch of being a Witch is that you have to have some degree of Supernatural blood coursing through your veins. This means that somewhere in my family tree hides a Mage, a Faery, a Werewolf, or some other mystical, mythical, divine, or infernal being. Whoever that might have been stayed in the closet about their true nature, and as far as I was concerned I was going to respect that.

Twenty minutes pass before my thoughts are interrupted by the cawing of a large crow. The bird sets down gracefully on the ledge of the fire pit to examine the coin. It pecks at the coin before taking it into its beak and swallowing it. The offering had been accepted.

Respectfully I gesture to the parchment envelope still resting on the altar.

“This needs to find its way into the hands of the Summer Court’s High King.”

The crow caws in acknowledgement before taking flight. It snatches up the package and set off for the horizon.

Letting out a sigh of relief I turned to make my way back inside.

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About Z.

Poetic pipe and cigar enthusiast rifling through the haunted memories of a not so distant past while openly wrestling with faith and God. A rambling writer with the misguided notion that he has something to say. His only redeeming qualities are his wife and children.
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