He was being watched.
Moving noiselessly through the musty shadows of the forest, his gaze slid sideways over the damp leaves that carpeted the ground. Cursing to himself under his breath, he scanned the floor for tracks and, coming to a halt, strained to hear something, anything, in the silence of the trees that surrounded him. Nothing. He stared intently at the ground, wondering whether to turn back or try his luck, not noticing the cloaked figure hovering in the shadows behind him. But it seemed that luck was with him tonight, and as he moved on the silent observer sank back and was reabsorbed into the darkness.
It was her job to trail him; every witch was assigned to a few people to track and monitor, but this man was special. The stars had foretold that he was destined for greatness, and it was her job to make sure he achieved it. The wind buffeted her frail body with its hungry breath and she shivered, pulling her cloak tighter around her as she glided over the fallen leaves after the man she was watching. She had been given no particular reason as to why she was tracking this man, or why she was assigned only one charge instead of the three or four normally guided by a witch- but it was her job, so she assured herself as she hastened after the rapidly disappearing silhouette ahead with a strange sense of urgency running in her blood.
The smell- he knew he was near something, but the smell- it was like nothing he had ever smelt before. He tried to analyse it in his mind: there was an element of cat, with a strong rose undercurrent- and was that a hint of cinnamon mixed into it? Shaking his head vigorously to clear his mind of the bizarre thoughts that had just crossed it, he glanced around warily before going on. There was something about the evening that night- something about the way the sun slowly set, framed in the pinky-purples of the sky and fragmented by the trees blocking it- he sensed that something was going to happen, but just couldn't work out what. Ah, there were the strange ideas again. Best to keep moving.
Her job tonight was to keep him going on. The witches never knew what their next instructions were going to be- they were all delivered telepathically. An idea would abruptly pop up in a witch's head and it would be her duty to carry the order out. Nobody knew precisely where the orders came from, but rumour had it they were sent directly from the Counsel, only to be heard by the recipient. The lower ranked witches often grouped together in clans, according to where their targets were, but the trained witches with high-maintenance targets rarely crossed paths. It was painful- she had been separated from her best friends from her childhood, and never saw them again, but life went on. Anyway, it wasn't as if rebellion was possible. She shook the thoughts from her head and flew on.
Far above the lonely witch, a very different sort of person was sitting before an enormous screen, following her progress intently. Both the witch and her target were marked as high risk to the Counsel, but the mortal was only tagged in the vast complicated plot to bring her down. She had been challenging the authority, and just as she was tracking the mortal, a team of elite witches were tracking her, controlling her destiny as she controlled his. They had discovered her dangerous thoughts and marked her down for control.
He was nearly there- he could feel it in his blood and his bones. He had hunted from a young age, the art being passed down through countless generations, so deeply ingrained in him that it even lingered in his mind while he was doing other things. But it didn't matter, for he was destined to hunt as his forefathers had before him. He reached a clearing, and instantly recognised where he was- his tribe had camped here once, when he was just a small child. It was twenty, maybe twenty-five years since they had moved on, but the memories remained. The smell was stronger now, and he swung his head around wildly, trying to calculate where it was coming from.
She had lost him. Cursing her stupidity in getting lost in her thoughts, her gaze darted frantically around trying desperately to pick up a trace of where he had vanished to. Normally she would wait, unstressed, and gradually catch up to him again, but today was different. Even the Counsel could not conceal that from her- no, she knew better than that- in crucial moments they slipped and let out more than perhaps they should, and she knew that today there would have to be great sacrifices for the future. And so she called upon her last resort- after all, she was just a pawn in this frantic game- there was nothing to lose, nothing to gain. Closing her eyes and gathering her strength, bracing herself against the icy winds that swept the land, she stamped her feet and chanted the incantation that every witch knew but only ever used once. It would transport her to the location of her target, at a cost of her life.
It was instinct, or perhaps a subliminal message from the Counsel that told them to do it- never out of their own will. It came, and she went, emerging panting into the clearing to see the one, the one that they had all thought would hold the key to the future, the one who was meant to liberate them all from the tyranny under which they lived, turn and thrust the spear into her chest.
Horror spread across his face when he realised, but it was too late. The last journey had wearied her beyond her imagination, and she knew no more than she had been betrayed, betrayed by the ones who were meant to protect her, betrayed by the one she was meant to be protecting. But it was too late now. She was on to a new existence, and didn't even notice the face of the Counsel, which only ever appeared to give blessings to the dead, spit to mark the beginning of the rain that fell on the witch who had dared to defy.
A/N: A little oneshot I wrote two years ago for school. I didn't think much of it then, but I had some time to kill so I thought I'd clean it up and post it. Thanks for reading (: