(Photo taken from http://tinyurl.com/cendnw6)
At high moon rise, a cup of grog steamed on the splintered tabletop. Beside it, Brunda gazed passed a massive book of magic that lay opened in front of her. Her eyes fixed on the black nothingness that occupies a mind deep in thought.
“Fie!” she shrieked. “None of these spells will do.” Her fist came down hard against the tabletop. The grog and its cup spun against the wooden floor.
Brunda caught Mandrake up onto her shriveled lap. “Once the deed is done, there must be no clue to draw attention this way. But so far, I have found no methodology that will insure this.”
A sudden rap at her door jerked Brunda’s thoughts awry. A frown creased her withered face. Thin lips tightened grimly as she rose to draw back the latch.
In the golden moonlight stood Magwa, the head witch of the local coven. With a rude gesture, Brunda showed her in. Magwa swept past the other enchantress with a crackle of black linen. Brunda grit her teeth at the hateful sound.
Magwa turned her glacial gaze upon her hostess. “You know, Brunda, I never choose to meddle in your business. But it has come to my attention; all the coven’s request cards for your special herbs are being returned to them, charred to ashes. Can you tell me that not one of our assembly is worthy of receiving your mark of agreement? You know, I am merely concerned that something is … troubling you.”
A cold rod of anger bit through Brunda. You are a busybody from way back, Magwa Witch! She kept her feelings to herself, not from fear of the other’s wrath, but because her business was her own. She said aloud, “It is nothing! I just choose not to be disturbed at this time.”
Magwa’s red eyes narrowed to slits, two flaming orbs that stared sidelong. Grim determination was apparent on her homely face. Her burning curiosity was so blatant that it came as no surprise when Magwa arrogantly chose to challenge Brunda’s power.
“I hear even your own sister received a pile of ashes when she sent out her card.”
An irritated click fell from Brunda’s tongue. “Druzelle has gotten soft living in that village. She spends her time giving out love potions to sad eyed youths and belladonna as a cosmetic to charmless girls. She has forgotten what being a witch is all about. I’ve no time to waste on her!”
“Yes, yes I can see how living too close to Christian folk could prove an undesirable thing.” Magwa reached up to stroke her knotted chin. “Have you heard about the witch hunts and burnings? It’s not safe to be suspect.”
Brunda guffawed. “Those fools are burning their own kind. Nary a real witch did they catch and put to their ridiculous tests and nary a one will if the witch keeps hers wits!”
Magwa nodded. Her expression was searching, trying to interpret every gesture Brunda made for a clue to what the herb witch was really thinking.
Brunda saw through Magwa like gauze. She clicked her tongue once more in aggravation.
Magwa jerked of her head toward the door. “I’m leaving now, Brunda,” she croaked. “but we shall all see you at the Sabbat, on All Hallows’ Eve.” The head witch’s words were not posed as a question.
The impertinent wretch! Brunda fumed.
A flash of smoke appeared as Magwa turned to go. But an invisible force held her frozen in place.
Brunda’s strident voice cut through. “Don’t forget, Magwa they asked me first to fill the role of head witch and I turned it down.” Brunda’s eyes burned into the other ones. “I shall be at the Sabbat, but only because it suits me.”
The invisible grip released. Magwa found herself sailing pell mell through the opened door. A puff of fowl-smelling, green mist was all that remained of her presence in the herb scented room. A wry grin spread across Brunda’s face as she watched the rank vapors swirl and vanish. With a wave of her hand, she slammed the door shut. She turned toward her table of books and flasks of dried herbs.