I gave Electron a reassuring smile which was met with ever encouraging skepticism.
I stood and walked into the center of the small circle. The air was much colder up here despite the fire as the breeze passed freely over this area. All those light eyes glistening in the fire light against those dark mud colored faces watched me expectantly. I’d looked in to far more enraged eyes cornered beasts and had never felt so scared. This was daunting. It drew in a deep breath and tried not to focus on the faces of people but talked to the air, to the sky and the snow. I was familiar with them. Remembering the way Shadow had spoken to me in the inn I began my story.
“It is strange, that our tale should also take place on a night such as tonight, when the wind is cold from mingling with the snow, the sky a full moonless curtain of impenetrable navy. And the tale takes place not far from here, why just on the outskirts of the marshland which serves as the last separator of the feuding Russia and Romania.”
The audience perked up at how close the story took place.
“The night was silent no beast dare disturb the tension in the air. For tonight she walked.”
Electron tossed me a surprised but amused look, I smirked inwardly.
“No one knew how long she walked amongst the snow and beasts but her presence was never welcome. Some said she was a witch others insisted she was a wayward soul, a banshee. Whatever she was, it was unlucky for the young thief, returning from his heist that night, to ignore his horse’s frightened cries and trespass upon her marsh. A shill wailing shattered the silent night as he set up on her land. The thief’s horse knew better than to stay, he ducked out from under his master and thunder off into the darkness.
“The witch approached the stranded thief and told him of his offense and told him the penalty would be his life. The thief tried to escape but when the witches huntsmen, an abominable mix of man and wolf, brought him back he tried to bribe her. He offered her his stolen gold for his life but she refused. She rose her hands to the heavens and the sky broke with blots of hot blue lighten. The lightening descended to her hands and clashed in palms where it formed a sinister, crackling orb.”
Electron raised her eyebrows at me, she knew this witch was based off of herself.
“As the witch raised her hand to strike the final blow to the thief the youth cried out, ‘wait, or great majesty!’ when she waited he continued hastily. ‘do you consider yourself the most powerful being on this earth?’ the witch did not need to consider this she croaked. ‘Silly I am the most powerful being!!’ the thief shook his head quickly. ‘You can’t be, because I am.’ This confused the witch greatly. She lowered her hands and the lightening fizzled out into the air. ‘Prove it’ she commanded. ‘I’ll ask you a riddle and if you cannot answer me then you must admit I’m more powerful than you and you must let me pass.’ He said and he gave her three guesses and two clues, the first was this passage ‘In the day it is praised, in the night it is feared, it was born of the sky and will go to the earth never having loved in the world.’ And the second clue, he said she had seen the thing of which he spoke.”
The audience was silent.
“What were the witch’s three guesses?!” I offered turning to the audience.
“A wolf?” Electron asked.
“For once no.” I replied.
“Was it an animal?” A young man asked.
“Is that a guess?” I asked.
He paused thinking it over before shaking his head.
“The sun?” Asked a mother sitting close to Electron.
“Good guess but no.”
“A creature of the sky, was it a hawk?” Bo asked.
“Nay, and so the witch could not guess and so the youth was able to pass the marsh that and the witch remained in bewilderment unable to find the second clue the thief had given: it was her.”
I took a curt bow to a round of befuddled applause as my audience tried to figure out the riddle.
“My hunter didn’t know you told riddles.” Electron whispered when I took up my seat beside her once more.
“I am a riddle.” I replied.
“You’re suddenly more interesting than first assessed.” She admitted. “I will figure this one out.”
“You must tell us the answer to the riddle.” Bo boomed.
I smiled. “Have you not guessed? In the morning, the beginning of the witch’s life she was beautiful and praised for that beauty. But as she grew older, day turning to night, her beauty faded and all people saw was her awesome power and they feared her. She was said to born of the sky because of her command over lightening. She had never loved in her life for none could love her fully. I believe the moral of this story is ‘know thy enemy and you may defeat them with their own complexity’.”
Bo shook his head.
“I will never understand the mind of a storyteller.”
“Our words are all we have, they are our weapons and our love, our praise and our wraith.”
“Granted.” Bo said standing. He stood and stepped to the middle of the circle and spoke a prayer in his language which drew the crowd together in solemn silence. Electron and I played along.
After the prayer was concluded he led Electron and me to a small tent that had obviously been constructed last minute out of several patchwork blankets. Once he had left us to get ready for sleep I turned to Electron.
“I--” I began.
“Interesting riddle.” Electron said. “Reminds me of someone.”
“It should.” I assured her.
“Are you calling me a witch?!” She demanded half amused half upset.
“Electron, we storytellers draw on everything from our lives--”
“You’re a hunter!” she laughed rolling her eyes at me. “Don’t forget I’m Lady Electron to you.”
“Milady, I’m going to talk to the players about this whole Romania business.” I said bowing out of the tent.
“I won’t wait up for you.” Electron yawned unclipping her cloak.