A/N: I wrote this at school for a creative writing assignment. It got good grades, so I hope you guys enjoy it!
The carriage tore through the forest; dead trees stretched into the dark sky like skeletal hands. The horse's hooves thundered on the leaf strewn path. Inside the carriage, the two young travellers were pouring over a set of documents.
"This one is definitely a Moon Witch." The young man said to his companion. She nodded in response and tapped another sheet. The man studied it and shrugged.
"I don't know what it could be." He said. She bent her head and read through the article that was on the clipping.
Dead bodies with markings scrawled on the walls in blood. All silver items had been stolen. And houses had been set ablaze in the night, killing the inhabitants.
"Hansel! This is so obvious!" She exclaimed. Hansel raised an eyebrow.
"Why don't you enlighten me, Gretel?" He said.
"Well, the markings suggest an Alchemy Witch is involved. The theft of silver objects must've been a Klepto Witch, and the houses being set on fire would be a Pyro Witch." Gretel explained. Hansel frowned.
"Why the hell would they all be working together?" He asked in confusion. Gretel shrugged.
"Illyria must be the Witches favourite haunt." She jested, smiling slightly. "Speaking of Illyria, what do you think would happen if they knew we are from Messaline?" Gretel asked.
"They would have our heads." Hansel said simply.
The horse's steps faltered and they slowed to a trot as the carriage passed over rotting wooden planks. They were on a bridge, over the famous Jandale River. Gretel peered out of the small window. She could see nothing but darkness, and the rippling of the river under the moonlight.
It is said that the Jandale River has an invisible current, strong and swift.
It has taken many lives, and yet no creature dares to live in its depths.
Something was wrong.
A clawed hand erupted out of the water, and Gretel cursed. She grabbed her trusty sword, Adalea, and kicked the door open. A gnarled hand seized her by the hair, and she was hurled to the other side of the bridge. The Witch collided with the carriage, and it teetered on the edge of the rickety bridge. The world watched with baited breath. The carriage fell. Gretel's scream mingled with the whiny of the horses as they were dragged under the water. Anger pulsed in Gretel's veins as she gripped the hilt of her sword and turned to the Witch. Pond weed was trapped in her matted hair, and her mangled rags were sodden from the murky water.
It was a Troll Witch. Gretel sized her up. A simple beheading should do. With a screech like a banshee, the Witch charged at her and swiped a clawed hand at her face. Gretel dodged and swung her sword. It cut into the Witch's neck but didn't completely behead her. Gretel grunted and swung the sword again for the final blow. The Witch's head rolled onto the ground, staining the grass dark blue.
The adrenalin drained from her body; she was exhausted. A cruel wind whipped her hair around her, and Gretel shivered. Her eyes could barely see past the dark recesses of the forest. Silence hung heavily in the air. Gretel really was well and truly alone. Her heart ached. Hansel was dead.
Tears welled up in her brown eyes.
She screamed into the night; it was a roar of agony and grief.
Gretel strode down the streets of Illyria. The townsfolk stared at her. She knew exactly what they were thinking. She was wearing leather trousers, thick leather boots and a cotton tunic. They were "obscene" clothing according these primeval fools. But no matter how hard she tried, she could not imagine herself wearing a frilly dress with a matching parasol whilst Witch hunting.
Her destination was stood on a box giving a lecture about Witches, and the threat they pose on Illyria. A lot of what the Mayor was saying was false, but Gretel ignored it and approached the Mayor. He looked down at her, a smirk on his face.
"And who is this?" He asked, more to the crowd than Gretel.
"I'm Gretel. The Witch Hunter." She replied confidently. The Mayor laughed, along with the crowd.
"When I last heard of the Witch Hunters, there were two of them: Hansel and Gretel." The Mayor said, still smirking.
"My brother is… dead." Gretel said.
The Mayor's smirk turned into a cruel smile. "Then what good are you for this Witch infested town? He asked. "Women are no good without a man to keep them in their place."
With clenched fists, Gretel snarled up at the Mayor. He continued to mock her.
"Who wants this harlot to rid our town of evil?" He asked the crowd. No-one raised their hand. Gretel stalked from the scene, followed by wolf whistles and cat calls.
This town didn't deserve to be saved. But Gretel had promised herself that she would cleanse every dark corner of the world. She just needed to take a different approach. Gretel needed to disguise herself as a man. There was only one man she could ever hope to imitate.