All around her the metal walls surround her. Rage fuels her ever onward in her destructive path. A presence pulling her towards it, providing a strange comfort to her. Blood trailed behind.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
The entire story is inspired by the art from Hapsam, you can see more of it on Instagram or Tumblr
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 Three
The purple lightning made a quick dash through the hall. In its wake, dozens of soldiers collapsed to the floor, bodies shaking in their death throes. Hilda ran through the mess of corpses, eyes darting back and forth for any new detail to guide her. A constant churn and crank of gears vibrated the walls, making them appear alive. Her nose was filled with ash and the smell of iron from blood. Her mouth was dry, her taste buds having become numb to the smoke. A low ringing shook in Hilda’s ears.
The corridors she ran down held the same monotonous bronze metal flooring and plates. The strips of yellow light fizzled, many blowing out as she neared. The darkness was lit by the blue wisps that danced around her. Tiny sparks bounced along her hammer, diving in and out of the cracks that had formed along its iron surface. The fabric of her dress continued to hold together even after numerous burn marks and scratches had damaged its protection. Her boots stomped rapidly along the metal floor as she went.
She froze up at the spark of red out of the corner of her eye. Hilda turned and saw nothing and continued her run. More flashes of red along the outskirts of her vision kept her on edge. The hammer ached to hit something solid once more.
A whirring of engines coming to life brought two thin-legged drones to appear before Hilda. The legs pierced into the floor as large hands formed into weapons. Instead of heads, they had large barrels which aimed at Hilda and fired off beams of red joined by a salvo of bullets from their hands.
Hilda swirled between the fire and found satisfaction with her hammer slamming through the first drone. Metal bent and shattered underneath the blow of the hammer. The spray of oil simmered in the sparks of electricity. Embers formed around her to ignite into flames. The combustion swirled into a ball of flames that she shot at the second drone.
Engulfed in flames, the drone released smoke from its valves in an attempt to blow the fire away.
Hilda smiled and spread her hands to create a ball of air around the drone to trap the fire. The fire pushed back onto the drone, re-igniting it, and quickly melted its body with the intense heat.
In the rising flames, Hilda felt a pull at a string in her heart. That sensation is getting stronger. The presence feels familiar. She resumed her sprint down the hall, an invisible force guiding her swift feet.
More sparks of red danced at the corners of her eyes. She growled in frustration as she looked towards the red but saw nothing. What is that? The pull led her into a stairway that she ascended with a quick bounce.
A pair of soldiers at the top of the stairway noticed her and shouted alarms before being slammed by the hammer, their bodies sent into the ceiling of the stairway.
At the top of the stairs, Hilda entered an intersection and turned right, the pull growing strong as well as the dance of red in the corners of her eyes.
Another drone descended from the ceiling; a flamethrower mounted to its top sent a blue inferno out.
Hilda spun her hammer along with the yellow barrier forming at the front of her movement. Blue flames swept around her. Sweat beaded on her face as she neared their source. There she saw the tiny red eyes on the side of the drone, which she smashed in with her hammer.
The drone flung itself back, head dislocated from its body. Gears spun, and pistons slammed as its body tried to operate without the brain. The drone slammed into the ceiling, nicking the flamethrower’s canister along its back causing it to ignite. Blue flame filled the entire hall in a great explosion.
Protected by the barrier, Hilda rose up after the inferno died down to see the hall charred black. The only light came from the remaining blue flames, which were starting to cool to red.
On the far side of the hall, she noticed the red shape once more. It didn’t move from her vision. Her brow furrowed as she tried to focus. A white eye opened with an ear-piercing screech that howled through the hall. Hilda fell back, hands covering her ears in a cry of pain.
As soon as the noise began it stopped, leaving Hilda dazed. She shook her head and pulled loose curls of hair back behind her ears before standing up. She looked back down the hall and did not see the red shape anymore. The pull at her heart had grown stronger and urged her on. With a grimace, she went down the hall toward where the red shape had been.
There at the end of the hall, a maroon door waited for her.
She reached her hands out to touch the door’s surface. It glowed briefly before opening up to reveal a black space beyond. She stepped inside and turned at the doors shutting behind her. The darkness left her in an eerie silence.
Pale lights began to turn on, revealing platforms of various sizes. The different platforms held an assortment of artifacts, from stones encrusted with crystals to a variety of steel weaponry. Her eyes glanced over the swords, spears, shields, staffs, wooden boxes, flags, and bright crystals before pausing at the object at the far end of the room. Held up by two metal stands was a wooden broom, its top curved like a crescent moon. I can’t believe my luck.
She walked slowly forward, her heart aching. What are the chances that Mother’s broom would still be intact? Could I even fly it?
The flash of red caught her attention, and she turned in time to meet the red claws aimed for her head. Jumping back, Hilda swung her hammer to attention and clenched her teeth in anticipation. Frustration crossed her face as she saw the red claws no more. “Stop hiding, you coward!”
Another flash of red and she was forced to dodge again.
Then a third strike, but this time she sidestepped the claws and swung the hammer down. The hammer made contact with the red arm. A crackle of red energy shot her across the room to land along the side of a smooth crystal twice her size. The crystal glowed a dim blue as wisps danced around her briefly before vanishing.
She looked up to see a flash of red and quickly pushed herself down the side of the crystal. Above her, Hilda saw a red humanoid form with its fist deep into crystal. Her boots hit the floor, and she swung her hammer up, aimed for the creature’s side.
The red shape pulled itself against the crystal to dodge the attack then launched itself at Hilda.
Hilda brought the hammer around to hit the creature across the head. The same crackle of energy was released from the strike, launching Hilda across the room.
She skidded across the floor, keeping herself on her feet. Her hands reached out for the hammer that soared through the air to meet her grip in time for the charging red creature.
The creature swung its claws at her.
Hilda raised her hammer and hit nothing but air. She froze up and twisted on her heels at the reappearance of the creature standing perfectly erect before her.
A white eye opened along its head and the ear-piercing screech filled the room.
Hilda screamed in pain, and her eyes filled with tears as she blindly swung the hammer around.
As if predicting the motion, the creature brought its hands up and caught the hammer. No release of energy came; instead, an intense vibration was sent through the hammer toward Hilda.
The vibrations struck her arm and at first felt like nothing but quickly built into a pain that shook her to her very core. She screamed louder and tried to shake the hammer away, but the vibrations continued to deliver their pain.
A deep crack formed along the hammer, then another, and more kept forming. Bright blue light shined from the cracks, which caused the red creature to screech, but it continued its onslaught.
“Stop!” Hilda choked, her throat raw from the painful scream.
On cue, the creature squeezed its claws, and the vibrations stopped with the hammer shattering. Shards launched in every direction with the release of a blinding flash of blue that took all the light from the room.
Hilda was flung backward. She gasped in pain as she struck against the wall before landing with a heavy thud against the floor.
That thing… how did it just do that? She slowly raised her head to see the dim lights slowly flickering back on. She saw no sign of the red creature. Stumbling to her feet, she clenched her hands into fists, prepared to cast a spell at a moment notice. Her eyes studied her surroundings with an intense glare.
Satisfied that the creature was gone for now, she limped over to the remains of the hammer. There she stopped to stare at the pommel covered in a blue dust. I guess I relied on it too long. I have the wand after all. She moved her hand to her hip where the wand still rested in its small capsule.
A pull at her heart brought her out of her thoughts. There, still waiting, was the broom upon the metal stands.
She stepped away from the remains of the hammer and headed for the broom. Well, at least I have an escape off this ship. She reached her hand out for the broom and paused; her other hand touched the locket wrapped around her neck. Her hand shook. Mother’s broom. I wish she could be here to hand me this. Instead, it was stolen… She took hold of the shaft of the broom and pulled it off the stand. A warm comfort rushed through her. It’s now back in our family. She smiled and pulled the broom close to her chest. It won’t be much longer before I learn why the Goddess did this… then I’ll make her answer for her crimes.
A vibration ran through the entire ship, disturbing the peace of the artifact room. The release of energy and magic fluttered into the room from deeper within the ship.
Such a powerful sensation. Hilda turned, her grip tightening on the broom. Fear and anger washed through her from that distant place. “The emotions… it has to be the book!” she cried and began to run along the dim hall. They must be trying to destroy it. No wonder it’s filled with such hate!
A closed door was torn apart by a swift wave of her hand. The hand holding the broom shivered with magic, blue wisps flowed out from the broom itself. The spirit is coming alive within the broom! It’s incredible that its energy has helped me so much and now it’s awake… it seems limitless! Now if I could just reach the book in time. She sprinted from the long hall of artifacts back into empty halls.
Through stairways, halls, vast rooms filled with machinery, and back into tight tunnels, she raced without a single soldier or robot getting in her way. Machines continued to mindlessly work, adding their smoke and oily smell to the air. Great vents released large puffs of smoke to fill the low-ceilinged rooms.
She turned down another hall and leapt down a long set of stairs to land with a quick roll. Back on her feet, Hilda froze up at the two thin-legged drones waiting for her down the hall.
The drones rose up and released their salvo, casings flying out the sides as bullets were released from long barrels.
Hilda leapt back and forth, staying a step ahead of the chasing onslaught.
The drone’s barrels turned red as they spun faster; the whirring sound echoed through the tight hall.
Landing on her feet, Hilda slammed the butt of the broom to the floor and created the yellow barrier. She closed her eyes, ignoring the thousands of bullets flying helplessly against the shield. Bullets began to melt together, the intense speed generating immense heat. A metal wall was formed, and Hilda began to walk forward, pushing that growing wall ahead of her. Once she was within a few feet of the drones, the bullets ricocheted back at them. The moving belts began to jam before the drones themselves were crushed by the wall.
Satisfied at the destruction, Hilda climbed over the makeshift wall and slammed the waiting door open with a wave of her hand.
On the other side of the door was a room bathed in blue and red light. At the center floated the metal book from before, trapped in an invisible stasis. Red beams shot from several machines trying to burrow into the book’s surface. The red glow of the beams seemed to be furiously fighting with the blue lights wafting off the book.
“You must stop!” Hilda exclaimed as she ran towards the closest machine firing its laser. Touching her hands along its surface, she felt through its structure and found the heart within. She ripped her hands back and out came a mess of wires and glass. The red beam halted in an instant.
She rushed over to the next machine and repeated the action. Hilda looked over to the book, anxious fear at her heart that she could be too late. The magic she swept through the second machine acted faster and harsher, ripping more machinery from the core of the structure.
Hilda paused and looked to the vent at the top of the room. The cyborg’s voice.
“Absolutely incredible.” The voice came again from the vent.
She resumed her destruction of the machines, ignoring the voice.
“Not only did you defeat Serveil, but you successfully reached the book and now threaten the Goddess.”
Hilda finished with the third machine and headed for the fourth, only two more after that. Purple light danced along her fingers as she touched the smooth metal with devastating effect.
“I had hoped it would not come to this.” A pause came as the cyborg seemed to ponder for a moment, a heavy sigh came through the intercom. “My favorite ship shall, at the very least, take you with it. Goodbye, witch.”
Hands stretched for the fifth machine and tore its core out in an instant; red energy sparked from within.
The room began to tilt, and the sixth machine rose towards the ceiling.
Hilda growled and jumped for the machine but missed it by a few inches. She landed back on her feet and abruptly slipped on the uneven floor. She slid across the surface to crash against the wall. Cursing, she looked up at the machine still firing its beam into the book.
Why is the room so tilted? Surely, they wouldn’t crash the ship? She reached a hand out for the last machine and fired the yellow rope, pulling herself to it. She flew forward and landed against the machine, hands burrowing deep to rip the final core from within.
A loud mournful groan echoed through the entire ship as it tilted further. They are trying to crash it! They’re insane, all of them! She looked over her shoulder to see the book fall from the stasis bubble to the floor that had once been a wall. I guess it’s time to see if I can fly. She let go of the destroyed machine and fell to the floor beside the book. Taking it into her hands, she felt its cool metal surface and heavy weight.
Pulling the book close to her chest with one hand, she used the other to steady herself atop the broom. It’s time. She closed her eyes and called for the spirit within the broom. A warm comfort washed through her, a reassurance after so much struggle this day. Her eyes opened, and she felt an energy flowing from within the broom. The broom lifted her up, and she tilted its direction for the doorway that was now above her. An invisible force grew from within the threads of the broom and turned into a powerful ignition. She quickly lowered herself against the broom as it launched her up with frightening acceleration. The door was slammed open to reveal a vertical hallway before her.
The loud groan of the falling ship began to die with the growing sound of a roar far below. The broom raced her through the first hall and into another; the air howled all around. Several crates and machinery fell towards her that she easily darted around in her extreme climb. Distant explosions sounded from the release of helium and the munitions catching fire. The explosions all fed into the growing roar that threatened to swallow the entire ship.
A wall up ahead was torn apart by a blast of lightning from her fingertips. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she weaved the lightning ahead to strike several more holes through the ship. The broom raced through each hole without pause, its magic synergizing with Hilda’s own.
Heat grew across Hilda’s back, and she looked over her shoulder to see the inferno chasing her with a hungry maw of fire and death. Those left on the ship all fell past the fleeing witch, bodies and machines all getting swallowed up by the hungry flames. Hilda focused her attention forward again, hugging the broom even tighter as the bristles on the back bloomed with violet embers of magic. Snaking fire reached for those dry bristles with lustful hunger and was chased back by the violet embers with a passionate defense.
Hilda entered a great hanger, and there she raced along trying to find an opening to the outside she caught glimpses off. She spotted frigates and carriers moving through the air, guns bristling into action as they fired upon her. She weaved back and forth dodging the hungry maw of heat at her back and bullets filling the air before her. At the end of the hall, she spotted the sky, blotted by a pair of frigates that lined up with cannons bristling with fire.
She swooped past the shells that were thrown at her. The iron fed into the fire, growing its intense hunger but not satisfying it. Her heart was pounding as she gathered energy for a shock of lightning. Another wave of warmth washed through her from the broom, and her eyes became focused with an intense heat. “You monsters are in my way!” She shouted and shot the lightning out.
The two frigates, able to carry well over a hundred soldiers each, firing salvos of munitions, were struck by the forked lightning. Explosions sounded from their sides as they tilted toward the enormous inferno that grew rapidly behind Hilda. She raced past the opening she had created and laughed maniacally at the frigates who now fell towards the hungry maw.
She continued to climb to a safe distance before looking back with a wide grin at the inferno now satisfied expand outward in a grand ignition of fiery death. Its waves of heat blew across a massive forest, setting trees ablaze in an instant. What had been a great green field that stretched hundreds of miles was now lit red in less than a few minutes. The shockwave knocked the forest flat and collapsed a nearby mountain, its own smoke adding to the great mushroom cloud that was growing.
Atop her broom, Hilda could not help but smile at the display set out beneath her. Clouds floated behind her bringing them a cool breeze to ease her pain from the searing heat that had moments before chased her. “Yes, run, all of you cowards!” she shouted at the remaining frigates and cruisers, now racing away from the grand immolation. Several floating balls of flame crashed into a couple of frigates to send their bodies into the ground below. “Damn monsters!” She laughed.
She pried her eyes away from the inferno to look down at the book that was pushed up against her stomach. Her fingers began to reach for the pages before stopping. The clouds bringing their wind froze in place along with the sound of the distant crackling of the fire below.
“Does this destruction satisfy you?”
Hilda growled in frustration and looked over to see the woman standing atop a small cloud. The lantern hanging from the staff cast a gentle orange glow across the woman’s sad face.
“Your actions have brought the end of countless lives and destroyed an entire ancient forest.”
“Are you kidding me? That monster of yours, who calls himself ‘Red’, drove his entire ship into the ground! Red did that just, so they could kill me!” Hilda shouted. The broom brought her closer to the woman, but she refrained from attacking, knowing it was pointless. “I can’t believe you’d actually try to throw the blame of what happened on me!”
“Your choice to hold on to the past is the cause of this.” The woman tried to keep her voice even, but every word dripped with a hint of sadness. “If you would just accept what has become reality then you could live in peace with the rest of the world. Instead, you would rather see it burn.”
“I want to return it too normal! The monsters you created did all of this!” She waved her hand down to the fires below.
“Their actions are to stop you from destroying their whole world.” The woman shook her head slowly. “It might appear destructive, but what you will cause is far worse.”
“This is a waste of time.” Hilda spat and turned her attention back to the book. “After I open this book, I’ll finally have my way whether you like it or not, ‘Goddess.’”
“I implore you to not open the book. What you will cause is irreversible!” she exclaimed, fear crept into her voice.
“Your pleading won’t stop me.” Hilda turned the cover, and her fingers tingled with excitement as she slid them across the first page.
“Everyone on this planet has fought you because they fear what you want. Surely that fear is reason enough for you to stop and consider your actions. It’s for the sake of all!”
“No!” Hilda yelled and looked up at the woman with a scowl before turning back down. “You are wrong; the only one afraid is you. You fear death, and you convinced everyone to help defend you.” She turned several pages, fingers weaving across the written script in search of the specific spell. “This book that you created so long ago, which gave you immortality, shall finally bring your rightful downfall.” She grinned as her fingers stopped in their fast movements over a spell at the center of the book, “There…”
Hilda looked up to see the woman gone, the clouds free once more. Fire far below continued to blaze in a bright orange and red glow. “Suppose she didn’t want to see me in my triumph.” She giggled.
“Fine…” a light whisper on the air began.
Her eyes traced the scripture on the page. “Now then… what must I do.”
“Read the spell…” the whisper continued.
Her lips began to move, mimicking what was being asked of her by the book.
“I’ll be waiting…” the whisper finished, drifting away with the clouds.
She finished the spell and was whisked away in an instant.
The sky, now empty, was quickly darkening at the oncoming nighttime. The fires continued to rage, snuffing out any final survivors below.