Flash Fiction: The Thraben Witch

Inspired by Magic: The Gathering and prompted by the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: One Small Story in Seven Acts


Courtesy Wizards of the Coast

Let them call her ‘heretic’ if they wished. She was a witch, no more or less.

Thalia and the priesthood were never comfortable with her kind. Humanity, they professed, had no need for the tools of the arcane, and such things only drew the attention of the darker denizens in the night. She didn’t begrudge the people overmuch for their fear. Drinkers of blood and changers of shape stalked the shadows outside the city; why tolerate something equally dangerous in their midst?

Staring at the manor house, though, Victoria wondered how many knew what lay within.

She’d observed the comings and goings, the parties and the banquets. Always by night, never under the light of day. The vampires of the house of Markov knew better than to dwell within the walls of Thraben. Yet these were doing so, right under the nose of the supposedly watchful clergy. The Doomsayers and her siblings both told her to stay away from the mansion. She knew in her heart they meant well, but to let these creatures live within the walls unchallenged was folly. So in spite of her better judgement, there she was, alone, knocking on the manor door at sunset. The slot in the door opened slowly.

“Yes?”

“I need to see the lord or lady of the house immediately.”

She held up a symbol of Avacyn, the archangel to whom the clergy prayed. The red eyes behind the slit narrowed.

“We have no business with the church. Begone.”

“Then I will tell them vampires dwell here and the manor will be put to the torch at first light. Good evening.”

She turned on her heel.

“Wait.”

Pausing, she looked over her shoulder. The sound of the latch opening was like a snapping bone. The door creaked open slowly and a pale hand gestured. She approached, the Avacyn symbol dangling from her wrist. The servant stepped aside and allowed her to enter. The receiving hall had a high, vaulted ceiling. As she walked in, the candles in the chandeliers came to life of their own accord. The feeling of dark power was palpable and seductive. Victoria swallowed and marshaled her mind.

The door closed behind her and the bar came down across it. Servants and guests moved slowly out of the shadows, watching her with red eyes. She turned her attention to the figure in the gown that floated just above the staircase.

“To what do we owe this unexpected visit, my child?”

“I have come to ask you politely to leave Thraben and never return.”

Silence filled the hall. Then, the woman began to laugh. The others joined suit. Victoria held up her hand and conjured a light. It wasn’t a great trick, in and of itself, but the intensity of the light was comparable to the noonday sun. It shut the vampires up immediately.

“Do you know who I am, witch?”

Victoria looked up at the lady of the house. “A vampire.”

“Astute. I am Drusilla of Markov, formerly Drusilla of Thraben. I was driven out because I, like you, expanded my mind beyond the clergy’s bounds. And I, like you, know that light is nothing but a conjurer’s trick.”

The vampires hissed. Victoria grimaced. She brought her hands together and poured all she could into the light. It filled the hall for a moment, causing the monsters to cry out. She ran for the nearest door as they recoiled.

“It was an illusion, you fools!” Drusilla’s anger and hunger seethed through her voice. “Capture her! I want her alive!”

Victoria pushed away thoughts of what horrors awaited her as she scrambled through the mansion. She found a staircase leading up, held back from taking the first step by cold fingers around her wrist. She spun, a stake in her other hand, driving it deep into the vampire’s chest. Blood exploded from the wound as the monster fell back. Victoria vaulted up the stairs two at a time, cursing her own stupidity. Why didn’t she listen to her sisters and brothers?

Several of them had flown up to the roof to meet her. She snapped her fingers, bringing fire to their tips, generating heat along with the light to complete the illusion. Before she could draw another stake, however, another vampire grabbed her by the shoulders from behind. The flame went out and the others approached. Victoria closed her eyes. She tapped into the well of power deep within her, convincing herself that releasing all of that power, all at once, was the only way to keep Thraben safe, even if she were to burn with these creatures.

As her clothing caught fire and the vampires began to burn, she was aware of another presence on the roof. Beyond the flames, golden eyes watched her. A dark coat and white hair were caught on the wind. Vampires on fire released her and fell to the streets below. The fire was breaking through her defenses, and soon it’d be searing her flesh…

“Enough.”

The word, whispered and deep, quelled her fire and sapped her strength. She held herself, suddenly aware of the evening’s chill, as she knelt by the chimney. Long fingers gently lifted her chin, and she stared into a face that both tugged at her heart and filled it with fear.

“You’ve got potential, Victoria of Thraben. But if you burn yourself up (and I do appreciate that irony) it’ll all go to waste. So you’ll go home, and I’ll deal with these wayward children of mine.”

His eyes became her world, and the next thing she knew, Victoria was at home abed, in her threadbare nightgown. The window of her loft was open, the morning breeze giving the curtains life. She walked downstairs to find a pile of vampire heads on her porch and a gathering of frightened townsfolk on her lawn.

Some said Avacyn had saved her. But she knew the truth.

The lord of Innistrad had returned. And given this carnage, he was not pleased.

2 Comments

  1. This is the opening chapter of a terrific book.

  2. Great story. I really liked the snapping bone simile, and the second to last sentence.

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