Since ancient times, witches and witchcrafts had existed in many forms and shapes. In every culture in the world, witchcrafts played a crucial role within society. There were some places where the witches were treated as the servants of Devil and should be tried and executed for practicing the arts of Devil, while in other places, the witches were revered for their mystical and otherworldly natures.
There are certain parts in fairy tales and folklores that depict the witch as a force of evil while other parts as a force of goodness. In reality, witches are not bound to morality and laws, and good and evil can never properly describe them. Witches have transcended morality itself. It may not be an exaggeration that a witch is an existence that defies any logics and established laws. One may say that a witch is the same like a demon itself.
But for the witches, there is always a threat for their powerful existence. The threat is those who want to get rid of the witches from the face of earth; the witch hunters. Like the witches themselves, the witch hunters existed since ancient times in many forms and shapes, and they are known as the eternal adversaries of the witches, and they will never stop pursuing the witches until the end of time itself.
For the witch hunters, they have developed many means and methods to get rid of the witches. And in extreme cases, the witch hunters may turn into the very thing they hunt, which may cause complications later. But, as mentioned earlier, the war between these two sides will never end, until one side is utterly and completely annihilated into nothingness.
"More tea, my dear…?" asked Emmasophia Valtiel to the girl in front of her.
"…Yes, please," Emma nodded. Smiling, the witch of the hill poured the tea into her cup. Several dolls could be seen moving around, creating some creaking and mechanical noises along the way. "As usual, this tea is delicious."
"Thank you very much, Emma dear," Emmasophia Valtiel chuckled after hearing that from Emma. "I bet you never had such thing before, right?"
"…I never had such thing…" Emma said. "And… even with such taste, the fact that my life has no meaning never changes," she said in rather cold manner as she set the cup on its saucer. "In the end, what is waiting for everyone is to crumble down and die meaninglessly. Everything is destined to be destroyed…"
"Oh…" Emmasophia Valtiel's expression changed as she put down the teapot on the table. From what she could see, this young girl had a rather nihilistic view of life. "Are you sure, my dear?" she stood up before Stolas flew towards her, perching on her shoulder. "Yes, it is true that everything is destined to crumble down, but are you sure that it will crumble down meaninglessly? Dying is another part in the circle of life. When there's death, there's also birth. When a living thing dies, another one is born. It is a process that will never end and the legacy of life continues for eternity."
"But… nothing is the same for everyone," Emma reasoned. "For those who experience happiness, there are also who experience grief…" she said. "And for me, the world is not very kind. All people I loved had been snatched away from me… and I was left alone in this world. If the world is being fair to me, why does it make me feel so miserable? Why must it torture me with such misfortune?" Emma was barely in control of her own emotion. "…Why… why do I live…? Even… even if the world doesn't allow me to…?"
"Such grief is strong within you, my dear Emma…" Emmasophia Valtiel said, magically appearing behind the girl. "…The world is being harsh to you, and yet, it doesn't allow you to die…" her slender fingers caressed Emma's cheek from behind before she softly whispered to Emma's right ear. "But… now you have me, my dear…" she said. "Unlike others, my existence is absolute. The world won't be able to snatch me from you. I won't leave you like others did to you. I will stand by your side, forever…"
"Yes…" Emma smiled as she touched Emmasophia Valtiel's hand. "Forever…" she nodded. "…Please don't leave me, Emma. Please don't leave me alone…"
Emmasophia Valtiel gave Emma a kind smile before she noticed something. The movements of her dolls became frantic before she stepped back.
"What happened?" Emma asked, confused after seeing the change of Emmasophia Valtiel's expression.
"…Quiet, dear," Emmasophia Valtiel hushed. "Someone's been watching us…"
"Huh?" Emma blinked.
"My dear, hold on tight," Emmasophia Valtiel immediately lifted Emma without any sign of effort, and the younger girl yelped in surprise. Black feathers of crows began to appear around the witch as Emmasophia Valtiel cradled her. "It's going to be quite a bumpy ride. We're going out!"
The countless black feathers swirled around, obscuring Emma's vision before she found out that both of them were outside the witch's cottage. A pair of black wings could be seen on Emmasophia Valtiel's back as the witch cradled the younger girl. Those wings slowly flapped in the air as she stayed airborne. It was night and darkness seemed to fill the sky. Due to the darkness, Emmasophia Valtiel's eyes shone like the fire of hearth.
"W-what happened…?" Emma asked.
"Witch hunters…" Emmasophia Valtiel said. "It seems that they have noticed my presence here, and they come to me in order to exterminate me…" she said in rather casual manner. "By the way, my dear, are you alright? Are you feeling comfortable in my arms?" she asked as she smiled gently to Emma. "Or should I change your position if you're not feeling comfortable?"
"Uh, it's alright," Emma said.
"Well…" Emmasophia Valtiel said as she slowly landed onto the ground. "Let's get this problem over with. It's quite troubling to be a witch because there are always these pesky witch hunters who want to have my head," she shrugged while still cradling Emma. "Come out now, hunters. I am not a type of prey that is afraid of some predators that can only hide in bushes."
Then, several people came out of their hidings. They were young females, perhaps teenagers, but they were seen wearing some kind of brown robes while holding some fancy trinkets. The one who seemed to be their leader was a red-haired girl who seemed to wear a rosary. From what one could see from her face, she looked rather determined and fierce-looking. "It's been a while, witch of the hill…" the girl spoke as she removed her brown robe, revealing her elegant black-and-white gothic Lolita dress. "Or should I call you Emmasophia Valtiel?"
"Ah, fancy meeting you here, Gabriella," Emmasophia Valtiel said casually. "It's been thirty years since the last time we met. And you never changed, did you?"
"And you're always the same like before, you dirty witch," the girl, Gabriella said as she grinned. "I've been wondering if a witch can age…" she shrugged. "I guess that being a servant of Devil sure has some perks."
"Well… the same goes to you as well, Witch Huntress Gabriella," Emmasophia Valtiel replied. "You hardly age, right? Well…" she grinned. "I guess you've grown a bit around your chest, haven't you?" she said in teasing manner.
Feeling a bit embarrassed, Gabriella immediately brought up her arms to cover her chest. "D-don't comment on my breasts, you evil witch!" she exclaimed. "A-and…" she took her time to recover from her flustered state. "Unlike you, I do not preserve my age using magic of sorts. Thanks to the advancing technology, I am able to preserve my youth and beauty," she said rather haughtily. "Unlike witches who can only preserve their youthful appearances by using their deceptive magic, we use science to enhance ourselves. In this modern age, science will triumph everything, even magic."
"Oh?" Emmasophia Valtiel tilted her head. "Well… let's see if you can take me down using that science of yours, Witch Huntress Gabriella…" she put down Emma. "Emma dear, please go there and hide. And if everything goes wrong, please run away, alright?"
Emma gulped. From that, Emma could tell that the witch was uncertain whether she could get out of this situation alive or not. And if something bad happened to Emmasophia Valtiel, then Emma would be left alone again. And she didn't want that. But, because the witch told her so, Emma ran towards a tree, hiding behind it while looking at the witch and the witch hunters.
"Is she another person that you've tempted using your foul magic?" Gabriella asked.
"She's a friend," Emmasophia Valtiel replied simply. "So, what are you waiting for, hunters? Come and get me," she said.
"Girls, kill that witch!" Gabriella ordered her teammates, which consisted of three girls. One of them, the one with brown hair wielded a longsword, while the remaining two, with short white hair and long black hair respectively wielded knives.
Despite being attacked by three witch hunters at the same time, Emmasophia Valtiel just stood there, having a smile on her face. When the one with brown hair tried to swing down her longsword onto the witch, she caught the blade using her two fingers, much to the girl's surprise. Before she could do anything, Emmasophia Valtiel pulled the girl towards her before she landed a headbutt on her.
The others tried to attack her while Emmasophia Valtiel was distracted, but the witch was proven to be more powerful as she turned around and conjured countless black feathers, obscuring their visions before the witch grabbed their heads, slamming their heads against each other. Then, Emmasophia Valtiel just dropped them to the ground while they were groaning and writhing in pain after being hit on their heads.
"I don't feel like killing anyone today, Gabriella," Emmasophia Valtiel said as she swayed her hand and the black feathers vanished. "Please be thankful that I don't put any lasting damages on these lovely girls of yours. I don't want to dirty my hands before I can have my supper."
"Heh…" Gabriella just scowled as she saw her girls being effortlessly dispatched by the witch, and she defeated them without using her magic. Well, the witch did use a little bit of magic, but it was nothing but a distraction. "What kind of witch are you to use martial arts instead of your flashy magic? Have you no shame?"
"Why should I feel ashamed? Witches are not bound by any trivial things like shame and moral, you see?" Emmasophia Valtiel said. "So… are you going to withdraw? Or are you going to test your luck whether you can take me down or not? It's your choice, after all…" she shrugged offhandedly.
"Such arrogance…!" Gabriella growled as she pulled out two swords from her back. "You witches are always the same! You mock everything that is around you! You disregard any fundamental laws in this world! Your existence is nothing but an anomaly! And this is my task to eliminate any single one of you! Prepare yourself, Emmasophia Valtiel! Today, by my blades, you will taste death!"
"Oh?" Emmasophia Valtiel just smiled. "Well… I guess it's better to be eaten with tea," she joked. "Now… come and get me, Witch Huntress Gabriella."
Gabriella charged towards the witch while holding both swords with her hands, and the witch evaded all her attacks without any effort as the witch hunter swung her swords to attack her. As Gabriella tried to land a hit on Emmasophia Valtiel, the witch just dodged her attacks like they were nothing.
"Stop dodging, you witch!" Gabriella bellowed as she tried to stab Emmasophia Valtiel, but the witch just stepped aside, casually avoiding the stab. "I say, stop dodging!" Gabriella cried before she tried to cut the witch using a horizontal slash, but Emmasophia Valtiel just moved out of its way, as if she was stepping out of a crowd like it was nothing. "You…! Go to hell and die, witch!"
Before she could deliver a hit that could hit Emmasophia Valtiel's head, the witch grabbed Gabriella's wrist before the witch drew her face closer to Gabriella's. "Sorry… but I don't think I'm going to die today, Gabriella. Why don't you join your lovely girls and go to sleep instead?" she said before she delivered a headbutt on Gabriella's face. With that, Gabriella writhed in pain as she fell onto the ground while holding her face. "It's over, Gabriella. Like I said before, I don't feel like killing anyone today. So, why don't you bail out and call it a day instead? After all, I still need to have my supper for tonight. Please don't hold me back…" she sighed. "Emma dear, come out now!" she called out for Emma. "It's safe now. These scary people won't be able to do anything to me!"
"Y-yes…!" Emma ran out of her hiding before she went towards Emmasophia Valtiel's side.
Grinding her teeth in frustration, Gabriella could only look at both Emma and Emmasophia Valtiel before she forced herself to get up. "I-if I can't kill you…" she growled. "I… I'll kill that little one! I'll kill her!" she bellowed before she charged towards Emma who was running towards Emmasophia Valtiel.
"Huh?" Emma saw that Gabriella was running towards her while brandishing her swords, but she was unable to do anything.
And those two blades pierced through a body.
"…That's not very nice of you, Gabriella…"
But instead of Emma, the one who was stabbed was the witch herself. She was standing protectively in front of Emma while letting those swords piercing through her torso. Blood could be seen flowing out as those swords stabbed through her. And because Emma was standing behind the witch, her body was also stained by the witch's blood.
"…E-Emma…?" the young girl muttered as she saw the witch had protected her from being stabbed by the witch hunter.
"I won't kill you, but…" while being stabbed, Emmasophia Valtiel raised one of her hands before she conjured a ball of flame on her palm Then she crushed the ball of flame using her hand, setting her hand on fire. "…I won't allow you to leave this place unharmed," she said before she slapped Gabriella's face using her fiery hand. Gabriella screamed in pain as the witch slapped her before she was thrown aback. Half of Gabriella's face was burned, thanks to Emmasophia Valtiel's fiery hand. After slapping the witch hunter, Emmasophia Valtiel pulled out the sword from her torso before she tossed them towards Gabriella. "This is what you get after trying to harm my only friend…" one could hear bitterness in her voice as she said that.
"Urgh…" with half of her face burned, Gabriella finally complied with the witch's order before they left the witch and the young girl alone.
"Heh… such a dirty coward…" Emmasophia Valtiel grumbled before she coughed up blood. "Ah… I was careless."
"E-Emma…! Are you alright?" the young Emma went to Emmasophia Valtiel's side as she checked her wound. "You're injured!" she cried. For a normal human, this could be fatal, and Emma didn't want to lose another person that she considered as a friend. She already had had enough of losing people she cherished. She didn't want to lose the only friend she had at the moment.
"I'm alright, my dear Emma," Emmasophia Valtiel said as she patted Emma's head. "For a witch like me, this wound means nothing," she said to the young girl reassuringly. "I am weakened, though. So, please help me to move to the cottage, my dear…" she told Emma.
"Y-yes…" Emma nodded. So, Emma helped Emmasophia Valtiel to walk towards the cottage, which wasn't too far away. After entering the cottage, the witch instructed Emma to help her to take off her dress, much to the younger one's embarrassment.
"Do you feel embarrassed, my dear?" despite her injury, Emmasophia Valtiel gave Emma a teasing grin. "Well… since I am very beautiful and have such an alluring body, I guess I am not surprised," she said. "Please take off my dress, dear. Ah, and after you're done taking off my dress, would you please take a damp cloth and clean my wound? Having blood flowing out of your body doesn't feel too comfortable, if you know what I mean…" she said before she chuckled.
So, with reluctance and embarrassment, Emma helped the witch to undress. Emma's face reddened as she saw something that was usually hidden beneath the witch's dress. For a while, Emma placed her own hands on her own chest, letting out a disappointed sigh after that. It seemed that she still needed to grow up more. So, after taking off her dress, Emma went to take a bucket of water and a damp cloth before she cleaned Emmasophia Valtiel's wound.
"Thank you very much, my dear…" Emmasophia Valtiel said after Emma's done with cleaning her wound. "The wound's going to close up anytime soon, so I won't be wearing anything for the time being. Please endure this, okay?" she chuckled as she said that. She was lying on her bed as Emma sat on a chair near the bed.
"D-does it hurt?" Emma asked.
"Oh? Well… whether it hurts or not…" Emmasophia Valtiel seemed to be thinking for a while. "Hmm… actually, it's hard to describe, because my sense is different compared to humans. Well, maybe it hurts just a little bit, but I promise that it won't really harm me. It feels like tiring yourself out after running for three full laps…" she chuckled after giving out that analogy. "Well, I guess that's the only way to describe it…"
"Can a witch… die?" Emma asked again.
"…Hmm… well, nothing in this world is eternal," Emmasophia Valtiel answered. "Even with my absolute existence, there will be a time when my existence has come to an end," she closed her eyes before she let out a soft sigh. "Even after defying so many logics and fundamental laws of the world, this is the truth that we cannot deny. Eventually, a witch will die. It's the same like others, right?"
"…I-if you die… then, are you going to die before me?" Emma asked, grasping for the witch's hand. Just hearing about the possibility that a witch could die was enough for her to be this desperate. "Are you going to leave me alone?"
"…No, my dear," Emmasophia Valtiel said. "You are a mortal, and your lifespan is far shorter than mine. Maybe you'll die much earlier than me…" she smiled despite of everything that she said. "But… as long as you live, I won't leave your side, my dear Emma. You will no longer be left alone again, I will make sure of that," she said in reassuring manner. "Like I said before, if you wish for heaven, I will bring you up there, and if you wish for hell, I will descend together with you. No matter which path you will have to take ahead of you, I will always be there."
"Thank you, Emma…" the young Emma said as she kissed the witch's hand. "Please don't leave me alone. I've had enough of this loneliness…" tears began to gather in her eyes. "Please… as long as I live… let's hate this world together."
"Yes… my dear," Emmasophia Valtiel got up. Her wound seemed to be fully healed. "If that is your desire, then I will make it into reality," she hugged Emma, burying her face against her chest. "Your hatred will be my hatred…" she stroked the girl's hair gently. "Let them know your grief and sadness…" softly, she whispered to Emma's ear. "And with my power, everything shall be realized. Please rest assured, my dear Emma. The witch of the hill shall always be by your side…"
END OF CHAPTER
"Look! You are beautiful, O girl companion of mine. Look! You are beautiful. Your eyes are [those of] doves. Look! You are beautiful, my dear one, also pleasant. Our divan also is one of foliage. The beams of our grand house are cedars, our rafters juniper trees."
Song of Solomon 1:15-17