Here it is finally, the first part of “The Last Witch” a novelette following the young witch, Hilda on a quest for revenge against the Goddess who spared Hilda’s life.
I want to give special thanks to the patrons who’ve supported me thus far:
Hypermice, Sean Young, and Mister Artorias
The Last Witch: Part One
A flash of light tore through the center of the goblin, and its innards vanished in the brilliance. The goblin crumbled to the floor. A blast of fire extended from her hand to disintegrate three more goblins with ease. She swung her hammer around to slam its heavy top into the skull of a fifth goblin. The blow sent the goblin across the clearing, its head a bloody bulb that smeared across the grass.
The dozen other goblins remaining faltered in their advance upon the abrupt destruction of their comrades. Mechanical hands and legs shifted, gears turning.
“You monsters are in my way.” Hilda snarled. She bounced in place, “I’m not stopping.” A smile crossed her lips as she launched herself forward. The hammer swung into the side of one goblin, and the force of the blast sent the goblin into two others. With a snap of a finger, the three goblins were engulfed in flames. The inferno sent embers to dance across two other goblins, their metal parts melting with their own flesh.
The two closest goblins jumped at her, cleavers raised.
Turning on her heel, Hilda faced them and grabbed them mid-air with an invisible hold. She raised them into the air then slammed them into the ground. Guts squeezed out the side of the two goblin’s bodies as the invisible force crushed them.
The remaining goblins turned and ran. The hammer left her hands to soar through the air. Each goblin neared the forest edge before the hammer flew into their bodies.
She opened the palm of her right hand to the air waiting for the hammer to return. “Just more fodder getting in my way.” Hilda spat into a nearby pool of goblin blood. Useless goblins. I hate that they were allowed to live. She paused at a shiver that ran up her spine. She’s near.
A bird chirped from the branches that covered the clearing. Sunlight danced across the forest floor with the pass of wind. The cool, smell of the morning forest was replaced by the stench of the dead goblins.
Hilda moved away to head for the thin veil of trees. Leaving the dead behind, she came to the flowing stream of water snaking through the forest. She took slow steps along its banks as her heart began to calm from the fight. The hammer was slung over her shoulder, freeing up her hands as she took her time cracking each individual knuckle.
The chirps of the bird followed close behind, with the occasional flap of wings as it crossed from branch to branch. Small mosquitos danced along the stream’s surface. A fat fish swimming in the water slowly rose up to suck down several mosquitos before it submerged again.
A scowl crossed her face as she listened to the chirps. “Is that you?” she asked. She kept walking, not bothering to turn around to see if there would be an answer. The stream twisted to the left and she jumped over it to continue straight. Over a set of rocks and up an incline she made her way along a path that set her above much of the forest. A few trees lined her path as she continued up.
Another chirp of a bird above the remaining trees.
“Answer the question!” She yelled and threw the hammer up. Hilda saw the puff of feathers among the branches. The hammer came back to her grasp, the body of the bird nowhere to be seen.
“You did not have to do that,” a calm, peaceful voice said.
Hilda turned around to see the long-eared woman standing beside a thin tree. She held a calm and collected look, emerald eyes studying Hilda. The woman’s green hair matched the feathers stitched into her long white dress. The staff she held in both hands was topped with a lantern that glowed from the candle within.
“You know damn well I had to!” Hilda yelled and jumped at the woman with her hammer raised.
The woman stretched her clear wings and vanished before the hammer could make contact. “Surely you recognize by now that that won’t work on me.”
Hilda twisted around to see the woman reappear. “You monster, face me. Or are you too scared to get that fair skin of yours a little dirty?”
“I will not fight you, my child.”
“Don’t call me that!” Hilda snarled, “Not after what you did!” She raised her hand and fired off a blast of concussive magic.
The woman vanished again; the tree behind her was blown apart. The top half of the tree rolled down the hill.
“Please, stop doing that and listen.”
“No!” Hilda swung the hammer as the woman reappeared. She vanished once more.
“Why must you hate me so?” The voice trailed off with the flow of the wind.
Deep breaths. Relax, Hilda. She squeezed the handle of the hammer. Her purple eyes filled with hate at the sparkle dancing away into the wind. Relax. Nostrils flared as she exhaled deeply. Her nerves calmed, and she slung the hammer over her back. Damn her. Hilda took another deep breath. She wiped her hands along her black blouse. Her hands brushed the golden necklace she wore, and her fingers paused along the small locket. I’m going to get revenge for you all and make her answer for what she did to you.
With a nod and adjustment of her big hat, she set forth along the incline. Her boots crunched along the trail as cracked dirt replaced flourishing grass. The wind grew stronger and the air itself became colder with each step she took. She reached for the edges of her billowing dark purple cloak, pulling it tight around her for warmth. Hilda looked up along the path to see low hanging clouds moving towards her. It can’t be much further.
The clouds swept around her. She lost a grip on her cloak as water blinded her. Wiping her eyes, she stumbled forward, blind. She extended her hands out to catch herself from falling flat on the hard ground. Getting back to her feet, she pulled any loose strands of blonde hair back behind her ears and adjusted her hat once more. With slower steps she continued the ascent; the white clouds kept her vision low. Her bare legs grew numb while the rest of her body shook.
A tickle along her thigh gave her pause. At her feet, she saw long blades of grass. Stepping forward, the clouds began to dissipate and, in their place, more of the tall grass. Hilda left the final cloud and came to a view of a large rocky outcropping that towered over her. A wall of clouds kept a distance all around the place. The tall grass moved in the light breeze here. The freezing cold had warmed up slightly. Several green buds topped the grass promising a flower soon.
Hilda looked over the large rocks, studying their smooth surfaces. Seeing nothing else of interest, she moved into the gap at the end of the trail. Once inside, Hilda walked past more of the large sloped rocks. The path was now covered in tiny pebbles that crunched and were kicked up by her boots. At the center of the rocky formation, she saw a pedestal with a metal cased book resting atop it. A smile creased her lips as she made her way towards the waiting book.
“Welcome, Witch Hilda,” a voice said, confidence behind the words.
She turned and saw standing atop a rock was a woman wearing a heavy white cloak. The cloak was wrapped around her body, hands hidden beneath. Her black hair pulled back in a long ponytail; the individual strands seemed abnormally thick. Two vibrant green leaves were embedded in her hair.
“Who are you?” Hilda asked.
“I am Elios, and behind you is my sister, Rahfey.”
Hilda twisted around, hammer raised. Standing a few feet away was another woman, long brunette hair flowing freely. Her dark blue tunic had a red wire wrapped around it. Metal plates went up the length of her arms. Her legs were not human, but instead long, thin metallic limbs. The thin plates of the feet stepped lightly along the stone. A broadsword hung on her belt.
“This the witch, sister?” Rahfey asked with a raised brow. Her voice had a slight echo.
“Yes, it is the one the Goddess spoke of,” Elios stated.
“The Goddess! You know her?” Hilda exclaimed, turning to see Elios had not moved from her perch.
Elios nodded. “Of course we know her. We serve her. She is the one true Goddess.”
“She deserves death!” Hilda yelled.
“She deserves our undying gratitude,” Rahfey spat.
“Are you serious?” Hilda looked back, hands balling into fists.
“She saved us, just like she saved you,” Elios said.
“Saved me?” A scowl crossed Hilda’s face. “I’m lucky that she spared me from the death of my family! I owe her nothing!”
“What an ungrateful child. You try to act tough and confident, but you know nothing. Still young and naive, even your voice betrays you.” Rahfey laughed. She ran a hand through her hair, her other hand close to the pommel of her sword. “A high pitched and weak voice. Just like a child.”
Hilda ground her teeth, head lowered. “A child?”
“Enough, Rahfey!” Elios commanded.
Rahfey nodded and took a step back from Hilda.
“Go back from where you came from Hilda. If you stay here, then we will be forced to stop you and if that is the case… then I hope your training as a witch is enough to keep you alive.” Elios waited, eyes studying the girl.
She looked out the corner of her eye at the nearby metal book. Get the book, and it’ll bring me to the Goddess… I can’t go back now. Hilda looked up at Elios with a fire in her eyes. They’re not human. I can kill them just the same!
Elios shook her head with a frown. “A shame you chose this path. Deal with her, Rahfey.”
“It’ll be my pleasure!” Rahfey yelled, the broadsword already in her hands.
Hilda turned around to see Rahfey tilt back on her thin legs; the pistons whirred as she prepared to launch forward.
Hands took hold of the hammer. Hilda brought the weapon to bear in time for the first strike from Rahfey. The blow sent her skidding several feet across the floor. She raised a hand, and a thin shield of yellow light appeared in the air.
Rahfey brought the sword down in repeated succession, the shield deflecting each blow. Sparks shot off as dents appeared in the shield.
On the sixth strike, Hilda let go of the magic and swung the hammer around. The heavy head of the hammer caught the sword on the side. The attack caused Rahfey to lose her balance momentarily. Hilda brought her free hand up.
Even at an awkward angle and standing on one foot, the metallic legs quickly gained their balance. She spotted Hilda’s hand and jumped back from just one foot. A grin crossed her lips at the fiery immolation where she had been a moment before. “Have to do better than that witch!” she taunted.
From the smoke, Hilda made the charge with hammer raised high.
Landing effortlessly, Rahfey twisted around to create momentum with her sword.
Hilda halted in her attack, seeing the spinning blade coming for her. She jumped to the side to get near a large boulder.
The sword hit the air but kept going. Rahfey jumped from foot to foot as she chased Hilda.
Hilda moved so the boulder was between her and Rahfey. Wide-eyed she watched the boulder get cut to pieces. Fragments of stone shot out as she created a barrier to shield herself from the debris.
In the midst of the storm of flying fragments, Rahfey abruptly vaulted upwards. In the descent, she stabbed the broadsword towards Hilda’s head.
Hilda rolled forward and gasped in surprised as a heavy impact caught her in the back. She went head over heels to land in a sprawl. She spotted the raised foot of Rahfey that had kicked her. The hat had fallen off and been cut in half by Rahfey who smiled.
“Clumsy.” Rahfey smirked and turned around to face Hilda. “I don’t know how you expect to defeat me.”
With a quick hop, Hilda pounced at Rahfey, hammer swinging.
Rahfey deflected the blow and each following one before she brought her blade around for an uppercut.
A step back, Hilda saw the glint of the blade inches from her face. The wind of the strike took her breath away. With a gasp, she jumped back in time to see Rahfey’s blade strike down into the stone to crack it.
Blade left in the stone, Rahfey leapt forward with her foot extended outward.
Hilda was caught square in the chest and sent flying back. Smacked hard against a rock wall, she slid down to lie face first on the cold stone. Looking up, she saw her hammer far from her spot, fingers reached out for the impossible.
Rahfey laughed and stepped forward to place her foot atop the hammer’s flat side. “Well, are you done, child?”
A fit of coughing washed over Hilda as she tried to regain her composure. Between the thin air and the heavy kick into her stomach, her vision had become dizzy.
“Pathetic,” Rahfey stated and looked up to her watching sister. “Shall I end her, Elios?”
“Yes, such a stubborn child can’t be left to live. Even spared by the Goddess, the child is too blind with hate to see the compassion that was given to her. Such ungratefulness should be punished.”
“Agreed,” Rahfey hissed with a grin and turned her eyes back to Hilda.
She looked up to meet Rahfey’s grin and returned it with a smile. She isn’t a human. Just a monster that needs to die.
“Even in the face of death, you still smile.” Rahfey chuckled, “Maybe that is why the Goddess saved you. In hopes you’d help better the world with your strength.” Rahfey eyed her broadsword, running a hand along its surface. “A shame she was mistaken.”
A pained laughed left Hilda. Rising up on her hands, she rubbed her chest and spat up some mucus. “I smile because it’s you who is naïve.”
“Ha! Confident foo—!” Rahfey began.
Hilda melted into the ground and made her reappearance with her hand wrapped around her hammer beneath Rahfey. The hammer shot up through the right leg of Rahfey, to split the metal. Screws and plates scatter in every direction.
Forced to balance on one leg, Rahfey tried to hop away but was caught midflight. The bottom half of her left leg was caught by a swing of the hammer. She was turned about and landed heavily onto her head. She tilted the rest of the way to fall on her back. Hands reached up to her face where blood was oozing from a crack on top. The red stained her blonde hair.
She stood over the mechanized woman, a smile across her lips. She rubbed her hammer, satisfied by its weight and punishment it had dealt the robotic woman so far. “The Goddess might have spared me from her murder. I don’t plan on sparing her, or her minions.” She raised the hammer into the air. No sorrow.
“Sister! Sister save me!” Rahfey began to scream, hands scrambling at the ground to try to drag herself away from the witch. Blood oozed out from her bottom half. The remaining motors whirred loudly in an attempt to move parts that were not there anymore. “Sister!”
Hilda slammed the hammer down hard into Rahfey’s chest. She found satisfaction in staring into the wide eyes of Rahfey and in the wheezing breath she made. Hilda paused at the struggled breathing of Rahfey. She has the face of a human, but she’s a fake. I must end her. The hammer was raised again, it fell, and this time it struck Rahfey’s face to smash her skull.
Rising from the bloody mess she made, Hilda turned around to face Elios who had not moved from her perch. No regrets.
“A pity she died,” Elios said with a shake of her head. “I expected more from her.” Her hands moved to her cloak, loosening its hold from around her body. The wind from where she stood pulled the cloak back the rest of the way to reveal the cyborg body hidden beneath. Metal covered much of her body from arms to feet. Between various plates were red tubes and pumping bags that acted as organs beneath. An elegant katana hung from the white silk that was wrapped around her waist. She stepped off from the perch and landed with a light step to the floor below. Rising to her full height with shoulders pulled back, she rested her hands on her hips. She towered over Hilda with a somber expression “Witch Hilda, you are the first in a long time to face me. I hope you prove worthy.”
Elios unsheathed the blade, taking the grip in both hands. The white ribbon wrapped around the pommel was loosened and discarded to the wind. “Are you ready?”
Her own cloak was loosened to the wind. A twirl of the hammer and Hilda focused her eyes on the woman. Another monster to kill.
Heavy boots kicked off from the stone to send Elios forward. The katana raised high came down for Hilda’s head.
Seeing the move, Hilda jumped to the side and began to swing her hammer before she was forced to move again.
The robotic woman finished the first strike and kept her momentum going. The katana followed Hilda with attacks from a variety of angles. Most of them miss. However, several strikes carved thin marks along Hilda’s arms and legs. The witch barely kept a step away to avoid deeper cuts.
Slammed against a rock wall, Hilda ducked a swipe of the katana. Hilda rolled between Elios’ legs, dodging a stomp of her heavy foot. The shockwave caused Hilda to stumble as she tried to get back to her feet, landing heavily on her stomach. She looked back and saw the katana coming down. She rolled to the side, fragments of rock flinging against her. She rolled again from the followup strike. She released her grip on her hammer and propelled herself from the ground with a blast of concussive magic.
Elios shielded her eyes from the gust of wind and looked up. “If all you do is run, then you will surely fall,” she stated and used her free hand to send several wires up into the air.
Hilda’s eyes widened at the grip the wires created around her ankle. Before she could react, she was thrown across the clearing into another set of rocks. She held up her hands toward the rock wall and called out for more magic. The blast of air slowed her down, but she still slammed hard against the rock, creating an imprint in the surface.
Leaning back on her feet, Elios launched herself up. She tilted her sword as she soared through the air, straight for the witch’s heart.
Hilda saw the glint of light against the katana’s blade and raised her hands again. A barrier of yellow light formed before her. The katana cut straight through the barrier to stop a mere inch from Hilda’s chest. She held her breath, arms strained as she pushed outward. The bubble of the barrier expanded rapidly to send Elios back into the air.
Elios landed by the pedestal, the katana left in a low stance. “Better, but you are without your weapon.”
Pulling herself from the wall, Hilda landed opposite of Elios. She curled her hands into fists. “I don’t need it.” She grinned.
The katana rose up, and Elios pounced forward.
Fragments of rock soared through the air at Hilda’s call. Her hands floated the rocks between herself and the approaching robotic woman.
Elios sliced the katana through the variety of stones, her movements slowed by the projectiles.
Rocks slammed together to form a thick shield before Hilda. Her hands rested against the shield, and heat flowed into the rock.
Elios jumped to the side at the sight of the superheated rock. Fragments of stone shotgunned out from the shield to hit nothing more than air. No stones were between her and Hilda. Elios leapt forward, leading with the katana.
Hilda gasped and melted into the ground. Too close! She reappeared by her hammer and stumbled back with the hammer raised to deflect strikes from the katana. She’s already on me! How?
“Don’t think your little trick will work on me,” Elios said with a cold expression. Her form towered over the witch, the veins pumping bright red along her metallic body in deep contrast to her white ribbon.
She stretched her hand out, another thin barrier helping deflect the onslaught of attacks from Elios. Hilda gasped as she lost her grip on the hammer. Teeth clenched she kept her hands weaving together to create a web of yellow light, to slow and stop the katana.
The katana pulled back for another strike. The blade dug deep into the barrier with each strike. Spotting a weakness, Elios swept her right foot low and caught Hilda by surprise.
Landing flat on her back, Hilda raised her hands to refocus the barrier above her. She gasped at the katana’s point frozen right above her nose. With a blast of air, she skidded across the stone floor, her dress protecting her skin from the rough surface.
“Your time runs low, witch.” Elios kept up with Hilda, the katana already poised for the killing blow.
Her hand reaching into a pocket, Hilda produced a small capsule that lengthened and stretched at her command. Now in her left hand sat a thin, metal wand. Purple light shined off the top of the wand as a bolt of lightning shot up the length of the katana and struck Elios.
Hilda sat up with a smile at the robotic woman sent flying across the rocky clearing into a large boulder now turned into a crater. Getting to her feet, she kicked the katana to the side and walked over to her hammer to take it into her right hand.
“I’m impressed…” Elios said before coughing. She lifted her head; the rest of her body did not move. “You had one more trick and a wand at that. Who’d think the witch I was facing was the wielder of one of those ancient weapons. And fused with metal no less.” She laid her head back with a sigh.
Hilda sheathed the wand back into its capsule, hidden within a pocket. She grasped the hammer tightly with both hands. Eyes on the cyborg, Hilda began to walk. “I’m glad I impressed you, but now it’s time to end this.”
“Of course, do what you must, Witch Hilda.” Elios closed her eyes and waited. Several motors began to whir and spin into action. “Else I will retaliate with renewed strength.”
Hilda came to the crater’s edge to stand over Elios, her eyes paused on the woman’s face. The hammer felt abnormally heavy in her hands. They aren’t human. She looked further down at the woman’s exposed veins and organs, the metal gears starting to come back to life. No mercy.
The hammer slammed into Elios’ face, crushing the skull. The brain within was mushed into a lesser form of itself. Elios’ chest was next smashed in, the organs within squashed by the heavy weapon. Hilda raised the hammer for another strike, then a fourth and fifth until she spotted the half-metal heart and destroyed it.
With heavy breaths, Hilda stumbled back and landed in a heap of exhaustion. Blood coated her body. She looked up at the nearby pedestal, the book atop still waiting for her. Another two monsters killed. She half-crawled, half-walked over to the pedestal, hands reaching up for the sides. Pulling herself up, Hilda touched the book’s cover with a smile. Now finally my prize. The ancient text to kill them all. She’ll pay for everything!
A cold wind swept through the clearing as a loud engine sound filled the air. Appearing from the cloud cover was the bow of a massive airship. Hilda looked up wide-eyed at the ship continuing to grow as it moved forward, its metal surface filled with weaponry and armor plates, puffs of black smoke appearing along its stern.
“Curse me!” Hilda exclaimed before getting blown back across the clearing. A heavy smack across the back of her head caused her vision to go blurry. Fighting the urge to black out, she spread her hands out and created a barrier. More shockwaves sent her rolling as all her senses were on overdrive from the explosions surrounding her. Turned end over end, she was thrown among the crumbling walls of rock. The book, nearly in her grasp, now seemed terribly far.