The Chronicles of Infel

The Legend of the End Witch

Chapter 003

On the promised night, with no moon in the sky, Sylvanis made her way to the grate in the water. There she whispered Deyus’s name.

He appeared before her and leapt into the stream. Their lips met again.

And Deyus said to Sylvanis, “Soon we will be together.”

Then the boy took tools from his satchel and he began to pry at the grate, and he made little noise as his hands were practiced.

Sylvanis sat and waited on the grass.

The last rivet was pried from the grate. It heaved a quick, heavy groan, and bent forward. Deyus snatched it, pulled with all his might, and turned it in the stream. Sylvanis stood, rushed towards her love…

…as a guard swooped upon the girl and grasped her in his arms. Soldiers swrmed through the gardens, around Sylvanis and behind Deyus. They overtook the boy and bound him in rope, and Sylvanis was handled no gentler. The two were drug to the palace and thrown before the King.

And the Tyrant King was filled with satisfaction.

The King spoke to Sylvanis. He told her how he had watched her, and adored her. He told her how he longed for her, how he desired her, since first he saw her stand among the lilies. He told her, from this moment, she would be showered with riches, and luxury, for herself and her family, because of how he loved her.

And in return, he asked for Sylvanis to be his wife.

Sylvanis refused.

The Tyrant King was not angry, no. How could he be when he had expected such a response? So with a wave of his hand, he ordered the pair to be thrown in the dungeon, separated. He called for Sylvanis to be locked away in the eastern dungeon, and for the boy, who he did not call by name, to be thrown in the western.

They were taken down, into dark and torchlight, and imprisoned.

 

Now, Sylvanis and Deyus were young, and so they were naïve and stubborn. They thought, very earnestly, that they would escape and be happy. So each, as they were dragged to other ends of the palace dungeon, began to think of a plan.

That night, the King came to Sylvanis. He stood before her cage and spoke to her. He told her again how he loved her, how he longed for her. He asked her again to be his wife.

Sylvanis refused.

This time the King was angry. He was impatient, and he lusted for her. In his anger her made her a promise.

“You love the boy, I know,” he said. “And so it is the boy that keeps you from me. I say this: each night I will return to you, and each night I will ask my question again. If you accept, you will become my queen, and have treasure and riches unimaginable. But if you refuse, I will torture the boy, and with each refusal I will torture him still. And on the eve of the third night, if you refuse me still, I will kill him.”

This filled Sylvanis with terror. She wept, and apologized, and protested and begged.

“But,” the Tyrant King continued, “If you agree, his life will be spared. I will pardon him, and I will set him free,”

With that he stormed from the dungeon.

And he left the girl to her tears.

Sylvanis was filled with sadness. Alone in her cell she cried. Her tears dripped to the stone, and she was heartbroken. She did not want to marry the King. She hated him and his cruelty. But if she did not, the boy she loved would be killed.

Sylvanis felt that she was trapped. In all the naivety of youth, the girl cried aloud.

“Oh, I would give anything if only there was someone to help me.”

And she cried in the darkness of the dungeon.

As her tears touched upon the cold stone floor, as her quiet weeping echoed through the empty dungeon halls…

…a shadow appeared.

Its body was flat and ghostly, like a painting upon the wall all black and flickering. It crept across the walls, across the dungeon ceiling, and looked over the weeping girl. The edges of it danced in the torchlight.

Sylvanis looked up and saw the thing, and she drew back in fright.

“Do not be afraid,” the shadow said sweetly, “For I am a demon and I have heard your cries. And I am here to help you.”

At this Sylvanis was even more afraid, and she stumbled further backwards as the demon faded through the bars, into her cell, and sat on the hay before her.

“I have watched you,” it said. “I know of your plight and of your wish to see your love again, and I have come because I have power, and I have come to give it to you.”

Sylvanis steadied herself, then. In happiness at this twist of fate, she sat down with the demon, whom she believed; for desperately she wished to be reunited with Deyus.

“Please, then, help me, great shadow,” Sylvanis asked.

The demon was pleased at her eagerness. But his head lowered and he looked upon her face, though he had no eyes, and said.

“I have great power, child, but I can not give it freely, for that is not the way of the world. My power comes at a price, and though I can give you what it is you desire, the cost of such things will be equal to the gift.”

And as she heard it, Sylvanis’s heart sank. She had nothing in her cell, no trinkets, no baubles with which to barter.

“What is your wish?” the demon asked.

Sylvanis replied with sorrowful eyes.

“Great shadow, I am but a bird in a cage. I have nothing to give you for your gifts. But please, I beg of you to help me.”

The demon sat in silence, and his ghostly form shifted with the flickering of the torch. And he thought to himself.

At last, he looked towards the girl and spoke.

“A lock of your hair, fair maiden,” the demon said, “Will be payment enough for your first wish.”

Sylvanis was overjoyed when she heard this: her hair was long and she had much to give. She gathered it in her hands and held it towards the demon. He took much of it, and what had been long now was short, and it disappeared into his darkness. Around the strands, the hair from where he had touched was singed in black.

The demon was pleased and he looked towards the girl.

“What is your wish?” he asked.

Sylvanis thought.

“I wish for the power to open the locks of the cells, so that my love and I might flee in the darkness of the night,” she said.

The demon smiled, and he reached a ghostly hand toward the girl.

For an instant, the torches dimmed to darkness. Sylvanis felt cold as she never had before. But then it was gone and the torch burned brightly and the shadow was gone.

Sylvanis looked around, and looked at the cell and saw that it was still locked. Slowly she walked to it, and placed her hand on it.

There was a click, and a break.

As she pressed on the gate it opened. Sylvanis was filled with joy.

The gate opened easily, and still it looked sturdy and as impenetrable as it had. No guard would tell the difference; surely the King himself would not.

So Sylvanis flung open the gate to her cell, and closed the thing behind her.

She ran down the hallways of the dungeon until she found the west wing, and she rushed into it and found Deyus. He was surprised to see her, and rushed to the bars, and they kissed and he took her hand between the grate.

“How did you escape?” Deyus asked.

“Oh Deyus, it is awful,” Sylvanis cried, “The King says that I must marry him or you will be killed!”

As she spoke, she placed a hand on the gate and pulled and it opened, and Deyus was surprised.

“How do you open such a locked door without key?” he asked. But Sylvanis took his hand and pulled him from the cell and embraced him, and in his happiness he asked no more.

“We must leave this place tonight,” Sylvanis said “For the King has promised me every day I do not marry him he will torture you. I cannot bare that thought!”

“Then we must leave in haste,” Deyus smiled, and he pulled her arm and they ran down the hall.

The lovers reached a flight of stairs leading  out of the dungeon. They rushed up to a large, barred wooden door. Deyus pulled hard, but the door did not budge.

“Locked,” he sighed, and they were filled with sorrow. “The guards must have the key.”

Sylvanis placed her hand upon the door as she had with the cells, but she heard no click and felt no breaking. Her heart grew heavy.

Then, she remembered the shadow. With renewed hope she turned to Deyus.

“We must return to our cells tonight,” she said. “Close the gate tightly so it seems as though it is locked. Neither the King nor the guard will notice, and we will steal the key to this door and make our escape tomorrow eve.”

Deyus trusted his love, and nodded. They walked down the stairs and parted ways.

“Do not worry about me,” he said, gazing into her eyes. “For you, I will bear any pain.”

Sylvanis threw herself on him.

As she returned to her cell, she shouted for the shadow.

“Shadow! Shadow!”

But the demon did not appear, and so she slept.

The next night, the King came down with his guard and asked the girl to marry him.

She refused.

The King angered, and stormed out of the freezing dungeon with his guard.

Sylvanis watched carefully. When both were gone the dungeon was silent.

Then the demon appeared, fading through the bars and coming to sit on the hay.

“Good evening, little witch. You are still here?” the demon greeted her.

“Oh great shadow, I have erred! True we both are free, but there is yet another door, not a cell, and the guard has the keys!” Sylvanis cried. “Please, you must help me!”

“What is your wish?” the shadow asked.

“Please give me the power to take the keys from the guard.”

The demon was silent, and his body twisted with the flicker of the torchlight

“For this wish, I will require something larger,” he said.

“I must have your touch,”

Sylvanis drew back; she did not understand. But there was no option to protest, and so in her naivety she accepted the demon’s terms.

The demon again reached out to her, and placed his hand above her head. The torches grew dim and her body grew cold. When the dungeon grew light again, the demon was gone.

Sylvanis looked around the cell.

Nothing had changed.

In a huff she kicked the bed straw in the cell’s corner, and it flew into the air. It was then that Sylvanis noticed a sizable hole in the floor.

Larger than her arm, yet not so large as to crawl through, it sank through the stone and into the dirt below.

Sylvanis was curious, and reached towards it.

Suddenly it sprang to life.

A great, enormous serpent emerged from the hole, heavy and black and brown with yellow eyes. It slithered up the pit, out from the darkness, huge and hulking and hungry.

Sylvanis fell in terror against the far wall as the serpent drew near her. The creature was more than the length of the cell, even now, though it still had not pulled itself fully from the hole.

As Sylvanis threw her hands up in fear, the snake brushed her leg. She looked down, and it placed its head in her lap. The serpent pulled the rest of its body from the crevice, curled beside her, and lay still.

Slowly, Sylvanis lowered her arm and placed a hand on the snakes head.

It seemed content.

Curious, Sylvanis motioned towards the cell across the hall with her arm.

The serpent moved to follow, slinking through the bars and slithering across the hall, before curling on the hay of the empty cell there.

Sylvanis motioned back, and the snake returned, silently and obediently. It curled itself into her lap.

Sylvanis thought to herself, ‘why don’t you go and weave your body through the bars of the cell?’. To her surprise, as if she had spoken the words out loud, the serpent did as she commanded. Slowly it twisted in and out of each bar until it was tangled and immobile.

Sylvanis stood and helped it free, and soon after it came again and curled around her, gently resting its head upon her leg.

The girl thought of the things she could do with such a friend, and in her mind, as the day dwindled on, she thought of how she could get her keys.

 

That evening, as Sylvanis tried to sleep, she heard screams echoing down the hallway. She wept.

 

The next night the King returned with his guard, and stood before her and spoke,

“The boy is brave, but that will not save him. It is the second night, and I ask again,”

“No,” Sylvanis said, and again the King stormed off in rage.

But the guard lingered, just a moment, so as not to be the subject of his master’s wrath. After a moment of hesitation, he moved to walk down the hall.

Sylvanis raised a hand.

The serpent lunged from the bed of hay, sinking its fangs into the neck of the guard. It threw its massive body forward, striking viciously four times as its body wrapped all around the man’s. His armor was crushed as the snake began to squeeze, the metal bent and broke. In not a moment, the guard was dead.

The snake removed the keys with his mouth, and returned them to its master. Then it curled up and slept upon the hay.

Sylvanis burst from the cell with the keys in hand.

She rushed with haste to Deyus, and found him bruised and battered on the floor or his cell.

“Oh Deyus!” she cried, tearing open the cell door and falling to her knees. He looked up, only smiling.

“For you, I would bare a thousand pains.”

Sylvanis threw herself upon him. Then she flinched away.

There was no warmth in his body, and his touch felt cold and unpleasant. She kissed him, but felt no sweet sensation. She touched his face, but still felt nothing. Hesitantly, she raised the keys before his face.

Deyus looked on in amazement.

“How did you get those?” he asked.

“There isn’t time, we must go,” she said, and pulled him to his feet.

As Deyus stood, he pushed Sylvanis back.

“Away, serpent!” he shouted.

Sylvanis looked behind and saw the serpent curled behind her.

“Lay no hand on him, for he has done nothing,” she said, and Deyus looked at her in awe. Slowly she turned and walked unhindered past the snake, stepping over its head and leaving the cell. Deyus did the same, and as he left the cell, the snake turned and followed.

Deyus was uneasy.

Quickly the two reached the doorway, and Sylvanis pressed the keys into the lock. She turned, and it opened, and with a heavy press she pushed the door open, and the two were free.

“You’ve done it,” Deyus smiled, and grasped her hand. Sylvanis cringed.

The two tore up the flight of stairs that led from the entrance of the dungeon, and the snake followed far more quickly than either expected. They reached the top of the stairs.

“What direction from here?” Sylvanis asked, but Deyus was silent. He hushed her, and they listened. Slowly, Deyus peered around the corner, through an archway into a great hall.

There were guards in every direction.

“Tonight will be impossible,” he said in lowered voice. “The guards will catch us undoubtedly,”

Sylvanis tugged his arm in protest, “I could not bear to have you suffer once more tonight because of me!”

Deyus smiled, and placed a hand on her cheek. It was frigid and painful. Desperately, Sylvanis tried to mask the pain he caused her.

“For you, I would suffer a thousand agonies. I will endure this last night, knowing tomorrow we will be together,” he said, and Sylvanis was filled with both joy and misery. Quickly, the two descended back into the dungeon, and the snake followed behind. As Sylvanis opened her cell she dragged the body into the hay, closing the door behind her and the snake began to devour it. The sight made Sylvanis sick, and between its memory, and the echoes of screams through the halls, she did not sleep that night.

Chapter 003 End

005

006

007