Slowly but steadily, I begin grasping the new role and path my life had taken. My days in the settlement are those of silent ponderings as I watch the witches go about themselves, tending matters of household and applying their medicinal knowledge in town. It is odd, to think that Leila denotes the village as traitors of humankind when they burn innocent people being misguided by evil. And yet, after those accusations, they are willing to cure the ill and the cripple. I chuckle at my thought and my mind drifts to Leila. Blushing slightly, I stand up from my recent inanimate state and stretch my legs. Leila, accompanied by Astra, went to the main city in the Kingdom of Anglier to tend matters with the witches located there, and thus, left the settlement under my protection.
“Now I can understand why Leila thinks you are queer,” a soft voice says behind me with stifle laughter.
I turn around and face a petit woman before me, Elena, is her name. Her raven black hair reaches down her shoulder and shimmers under the bright sun. Her honey-color eyes are precious amber jewels glinting with delight. A couple of days ago, we killed a demon together. Well, she was observing most of the time. “Does she think that of me?” I ask, amused.
“Sometimes, especially when you are talking or laughing to yourself,” Elena says, walking around me. She has a basket hanging loosely in her arm. “Want to join me in town?”
“Town?” I inquire, “Is there another demon looming around? If so, I have to get some weapons…”
“No silly,” Elena cut me in the middle of my ramblings, “a poor family has a son suffering a very high fever, I will see what I can do about it.”
I cock my head sideways, trying to register her words. The sun overpowers anything and everything in the sky, having parted the rain clouds from last night.
“I know what you’re wondering,” Elena muses, “but don’t worry, I have a low profile when going around town. I am not like Leila or the other ones.” She gives me a small smile and then adds, “I am not as great as them, so attention usually does not shift to my direction.”
“I didn’t mean that,” I say, walking up to her and peering down at her gentle expression. “I will go with you, but be sure not to talk to me when we are in town, I wouldn’t want the people to think you are queer.”
A mirthful smile plays on her lips and we make our way to town.
The wind is enticing the clouds to cover the sun in its playful manner, but to no avail. The town is just some meters away from us now and questions are bursting to be answer. “When did you became a witch?” I ask as casually as possible.
“Five years ago, just like everyone else,” she replies, glancing towards me. “Didn’t Leila tell you about us?”
“You know she is not the one that goes into detail with me,” I snort. As far as I know and she is concerned, I am just another puppet to destroy evil. Sometimes I wonder what will become of me once Drey dies, but those answers are better off leave unanswered for now. I doubt Leila knows the answers herself.
“Astra was contacted by Light,” Elena explains, “I was an orphaned girl under Astra’s care; therefore I was converted into a witch when I was only seventeen. She was our healer and one night Leila stumbled into our village. Astra took her into our home and cured her wounds, they were very serious wounds and she was on the verge of death. Astra thought this was nature’s call and she must convert Leila into a witch and so she did. Leila has been traveling with us to find those worthy of fighting for the cause.”
This is intriguing, one night I asked Leila about her past but she refused to answer. I can see why. “Do you know something about it?”
Elena shook her head sadly, “only thing I know is that she is wary of any men who comes close to her. Astra suspects she must’ve had a terrible experience growing up because many villages and towns were blood-thirsty and greedy at that time. She never talks about it and if she did, well, I guess only Astra knows about it…” her voice trails off as we step into the cobbled-stone path.
I grit my teeth, disappointed at our rapid arrival. I follow Elena as she enters into a shabby-looking house that looks more of an improvised shelter. It has only one room with the furniture piled up in one side of the house and a bed in the other. On the poor-looking bed, lies a thin boy with a ghastly, dying expression. The thin sheet that covers his frail, shaking body is moth-eaten and dusty.
“Good afternoon,” Elena greets as cheerfully as she can, even though Death loiters around. The frail mother stands up and takes Elena’s hand into her bony, cold grasp. Tears form in the poor mother’s eyes and rolls down her quaking cheek. Elena gives her a sympathetic smile and kneels beside the bed. She uncovers her basket and produces from it a loaf of bread and some ham. “For you,” Elena says, “for the coming winter.” The mother takes it gratefully and stores it into a dilapidated cupboard. Herbs are then taken from the basket and brew into a tea for the poor kid.
I watch Elena working diligently to spare a life from Death’s waiting grasp. Unworthy of watching goodness at work, I step out into the setting sun. It is the second time I am noticing the peaceful sight as the dead I am, I admit it is very comforting. No news of further “witch” burnings have been issued from the town since my death, judging by the new knowledge bestow on me, I am grateful for that. Memories run through my head, memories from my childhood up on roofs and down by running streams; familiar and caring faces waiting for my return when I was off to an adventure, until the fire took them away. A stray tear leaves my eye and drops to the ground, I allow it for it is necessary to let go of harmful memories to continue living.
The sun is totally behind the hills, its dancing light still lingering in the horizon. Our steps are light and silent as we make our way back to the settlement. Our shadows are large before us when the trees finally come into view. My thoughts are reel back to Leila, it seems like she lives in my mind already. A smile creeps in my face.
“You are doing it again,” Elena’s calm and soft voice says.
I let out a chuckle and shake my head, “I’m sorry, I can’t help it…”
“What are you thinking of?”
“Leila,” I reply unabashed. “I think it is ironical when she holds hatred for the townsfolk for burning innocent women and yet she lives among humanitarians who are willing to help those who condemn them.”
“She told you that?” Elena asks surprised. “That’s odd; she proposed that we should offer our healing abilities to the ill.”
My eyebrows shot upward with surprise. “She did?”
Elena nods as our shadows faint away with our entrance to the dark forest; we see the moon from between the branches casting the town in its light.
Leila will never cease to amaze me.