Spooky Tales of Aeran: A Halloween Special pt 3
Shambling from the waters edge with black hair plastered to her face with muck from the lake’s bottom. With a jerky motion and pressure on the rotten wood of the pillory around her neck, the soft lumber of her right wrist gave way. Her atrophied arm swung limply at her side.
Her spasmodic movements rattled the chains that hung on her limbs. Hearing a sound coming her direction she grabbed the discarded chunk of the pillory before skulking into the shadows, just as a light emerged from the tree line.
“Hello? Is someone out here? It is past curfew, make yourself known or the punishment will be tenfold.” the man dressed in inquisitor’s grab said, sweeping the hooded lamp across the beach. He was about to speak again when a voice entered his ears, it seem to come from everywhere.
“...Gr-Grimsby.” the voice of a woman groaned at him through vocal words that were waterlogged and partly decomposed.
“Wha…” but before the man could finish something slammed against the back of his neck hard, hard enough that he spun as he fell landing on his back. As the blinding flash of white cleared from his eyes he felt a weight on his chest, and looking up he only saw a dark silhouette with green fire where the eyes should be. “W-where is…is Gri-msby?” the female’s voice asked, but before he could answer a clammy hand gripped his neck and slammed his head down in a jarring motion. The inquisitor could feel the woman was light, and he could shove her free and get the upper hand, but as he went to reach to push her off he felt tree roots growing up to grab his arms and legs. As he struggled they held him tighter. And when he looked at his right arm, in the dim light of his hooded lantern he saw the truth, they were in fact not tree roots, his arms and legs were held fast by skeletal hands. The bone fingers somehow holding him fast as if he were a child, and squeezing like a vice.
“I’ll take you to Grimsby.” he croaked, “Just let me go…”
“Gr-...” she groaned, and the man felt her grab something from his belt. But it was too late to even scream by the time he realized what she’d grabbed, as he own dagger sank into his chest and hand twisted in a spastic motion.
The witch pulled the dagger free and rose to her feet, unsteady for a moment before letting out a low guttural moan, dragging her balled leg as she stumbled towards town.
As she made her way around the lake she encountered another man, another one from the day she died. Much older now. He heard her approach, “Woah woah. Don’t you know its past curfew?” He asked, not getting a good look at her yet. “Who are you supposed to be anyway? The Witch? It's a pretty good costume but don’t you think it’s in bad taste to dress up like that?” he asked her as he got closer. “Gods….” he nearly spat, covering his nose with his hand. “You stink…wait is that bloo…”
With a quick but paroxysmal slash the dagger connected with the next inquisitor's neck, the motion caused The Witch to rock slightly and her arm swing back and forth, as the man clutched his neck. Reaching out with his free hand, swiping at The Witch as she took jerky steps back to avoid his grasp, he lost his footing and fell forward into the muddy earth. The Witch looked down at him, tilting her head before stepping on his head driving his head deeper into the muck until his movements stopped. The brown earth stained a ruddy crimson.
She stepped around the now lifeless body, heading towards her final quarry Inquisitor Grimsby. Stalking through the town, the ball of iron affixed to her leg carving a divot into the soft dirt. Passing houses with curtains drawn but the telltale glow of occupants, the sounds of conversation yet to die down with a night of excitement. Her head turning creakily looking at each window as she passed them by, they were in a way guilty but not guilty enough for The Witch to inflict the same pain on them, the only one she wanted that yet lived was Grimsby.
The moon was high in the sky casting a silver light making it impossible to see inside the lake fog that had begun to roll in. A thick grey silhouette glided through the mist, the occasional green singular heartbeat of light pulsed, blindingly in the haze.
The midnight walk eventually ended, The Witch finding herself standing in front of the door to Grimsby’s home. The Witch didn’t bother trying to turn the knob, it just pulsed green, rattled and twisted, the door sliding open with a groan.
“I knew you’d come back. I told them, I told them you were a demonic harlot. I was right, I told them.” Grimsby said, back lit by his crackling fireplace. He hefted a sword, “I’ve killed you once I will do it again.” he snarled, swinging the blade at The Witch but swinging wide, when he’d passed her, she swung wild and spasticity to the side driving the knife into his right arm, sending a shudder of the blade up her arm as it clinked off bone, but she retracted it nearly as quick as she’d stabbed.
“You bi..” before he could speak his words she slashed again, cutting lower down the same arm. “CH.” he slashed downward in a heavy arc, just missing The Witch, but not missing the floor, the blade of the sword sinking into the wood. Grimsby only managed one attempt to tug the sword free when the knife’s blade met his breadbasket. A half twist and he screamed in pain, though she was light it was enough weight when the pillory was added to topple Grimsby when she forced her weight against him, and knocked him to the floor.
Slash after slash, stab after stab. Grimsby attempted to raise his good arm and protect against the blows. Viscera covered the floor and walls as The Witch continued her berserk assault. Even long after Grimsby was dead she hacked at his carcass unrelentingly. A wisp of green glowing effluvium escaping her mouth. Continuing until both the blade of the knife and her one working arm were broken beyond use. She dismounted the body, slinking back into the darkness of the night and back into her watery grave. The townsfolk found the three mutilated bodies the next day, and that was the last time they celebrated The Final Witch Hunt and the drowning of an innocent woman who had done no wrong to anyone.
Some say she will return if ever The Witch Trials should start once more, but modern Verden is a bit more enlightened these days, although not as much as it pretends to be; but that's a story for another time.