Mentor, Maiden, Mother, and Crone
Tira glared up at the hag. "I'm gonna stop you."
"We can settle this peacefully, I am sure," said Jemmy.
"Only if you give yourself up," said Gloom.
"Won't happen," said Tira, shaking her green fist at Millie. "Get lost, hag!"
The witch girl's hands began to glow with a silvery light.
"Psh! You're nothing to me," said Millie. "I'm going to grab your man. I'm getting moist in anticipation."
Mylar felt queasy. "The hag wants to rape my brother?"
Shayna was coming over to them, resplendent in a black dress. Diamonds sparkled around her throat. "What is this?" Her eyes were wide.
Anna pointed upwards. "That witch is damaged. So many red flags. She wants to take the young warrior by force."
"I will not let that happen," said Shayna, her bosom rising and falling as she breathed hard through her nose.
"There is not a lot you can do," said Anna. "You are powerless. Now Tira… hold my hand. We'll pool power."
The young witch linked hands with the older witch.
Millie glared down at them. "I control the weather. I am your goddess."
The hag raised her green hands in the air and a raging wind buffeted the assembled party guests from all sides, battering and upsetting the tables and causing the nobility to murmur in consternation. The wind swirled around Jemmy, Mylar and the witches.
"Imagine a wall, Tira," said Anna.
Tira closed her eyes and Anna murmured something. The air around them glowed purple and the wind seemed to stop.
Above their heads, Millie gave a screech of frustration.
"You have abandonment issues," Anna called up to her. "I can tell. I've been there. That was me. I had abandonment issues. Taste my pain, Millie. Tira… empathise with me and lend me your power."
An orange glow surrounded the witches and Anna sent a glowing amber spark at Millie who shrieked when it hit her, lighting up her green face. The Bedlam Hag tore away through the sky and the raging wind died down.
"She'll be back soon enough," said Anna. "I just stalled the fight. That trick won't work so well a second time. She'll be back, and more determined than ever to take Jemmy and force intimacy with him."
"What do you mean?" said Shayna, glaring at Anna. "I'll call the City Guard. They'll catch the hag."
"Are the guardsmen magic? Can they fly? If no, I don't see how they can catch a hag," said Anna. "Only witches can defeat a witch. Tira's helping me, but she's a rookie. The best she can do at the moment is boost my power with her raw strength."
"I'm happy to do whatever it takes," said Tira. Her green, purple painted face looked unusually grave.
"That Bedlam Hag is a lot of trouble," said Anna. "She's so strong, she can control the elements. We need to be able to pool more power so that we're an unbeatable force."
"You two witches don't have the power of this one?" said Shayna. "How many does it take to become an unbeatable force?"
"As many as possible. At least four," said Anna.
"A witch is a woman who has taken the oath to Shekka the dark goddess and been transformed to be all green and magic," said Gloom. "I wonder how many ladies would take magic powers on the terms that Anna and Tira did?"
"I'll do it," said Shayna. "I'll become a witch and thrash that impertinent hag. You'll see, Jemmy. I will be your champion."
Anna looked at her. "It can be done right away. I believe there is a nexus point nearby. A clearing where the rays of the goddess shine down directly."
Jemmy touched Shayna's arm. "Shayna, are you certain you want to do that for me? I have no wish to drag you into my problems."
Shayna glared at him. "You really think I'd stand by and let some crazy woman rape you? Why can't you see I only wanted you to be happy."
"Huh. Unexpected. You gave off the impression of being somewhat jealous," said Gloom.
"Gloom…" Said Tira in a stern voice. "Let's be nice. It's very noble of Shayna to want to help. Of course she wants to do the right thing."
Mylar couldn't help but feel a twinge on unease at the thought of Shayna becoming a witch and having so much power. Were her motives really all good?
"Hold one moment," said Mylar. "You need four witches to thrash this one villainess?"
"Well, me and three rookies can do it," said Anna. "I know it's piling on the odds, but it's better to be safe than sorry."
"Quite right," said Tira.
"I'll be the fourth," said Mylar. "No insane hag threatens my brother and then escapes my wrath."
Jemmy blinked at her in astonishment. "Mylar, what…? You, become a witch?"
Mylar glared at him. "What else can I do? Stand by and do nothing? Don't be a fool, Jemedar!"
"I'll be real glad to have you fighting alongside me, honey," said Tira, gently touching her arm.
"Follow me, ladies," said Anna. "I'll show you how to get the super-power. Jemmy, stay with us at all times."
Anna led them into the copse nearby. There was a clearing amongst the trees, and a beam of moonlight shone down, bathing it in an ethereal glow.
"The power of the goddess is touching our world right here," said Anna. She pointed a green finger at the clearing. "Right there. It probably won't for long. Anyone who doesn't have a green face doesn't know about this sort of thing."
Tira was gazing at the moonlit clearing with wide blue eyes. She put a finger to her chin, evidently lost in thought.
"Memories of being all alone in the moonlight?" asked Gloom. Was he referring to a song?
"Can you feel the power?" said Anna, pointing at the clearing. "Are you ready?"
Shayna folded her arms and narrowed her eyes. "Explain yourself, witch. I do not take kindly to being trifled with."
"Stay with me," said Anna. "To become a witch, you have to take the oath to Shekka while standing in her light." The red headed witch held up a sheet of parchment. "You just stand in the clearing and read this. Tira knows, don't you Tira?"
"Yeah, that's what you have to do," said Tira. "I'm afraid it hurts. I almost cried when I transformed. But then I could do magic right away."
"We can do magic right away," said Anna. "We have familiars as well, but that comes later."
A lizard poked its head out of Anna's sleeve. "My little ones are clinging tightly to their mommy," said Anna. "You can all choose the familiars that suit you best. First, we have to find a solution to that would-be rapist. The Bedlam Hag."
"I'll go first," said Mylar quickly. Somehow she didn't entirely trust Shayna. If she tried any mean dodge, Mylar wanted to be ready to take her on then and there.
Jemmy looked like he was about to say something. "Not now, Jemmy," said Mylar, and she took the parchment.
Tira stepped forward with Mylar, but Anna put a hand on her shoulder. "Only one at a time. You must remember that that's the rule."
Tira sighed. "I'll be right here, Mylar."
Mylar stepped into the clearing. The moon shone as bright as day. She read from the parchment:
"I dedicate myself to Shekka, Dark Moon Goddess. I let her power flow through me so that I will be transformed. In her embrace, I am reborn as her creature."
Suddenly, Mylar felt her jaws clamp shut and her arms pinned to her side. She was paralysed. Her vision became hazy and filled with green light She felt a burning sensation spread through her… her bones were on fire and her flesh was bubbling. A burning smell filled her nostrils… She was spinning round and round, caught in a maelstrom of lurid lights and agonising sensations. Swirling round and round and round…
Then she was released and she collapsed onto the grasp, gasping. She looked at her hands. They were bright green. She pulled up her sleeves. Her arms were green. She rolled up her dress. So were her legs. Out of the corner of her eye, she could just about see that the tip of her nose was green too. A little dazed, she stepped out of the clearing. Tira ran forward and flung her arms around her in a tight hug, her blond hair obscuring Mylar's vision for a moment.
"You OK?" asked Tira softly.
"I feel fine," said Mylar. "And now I'm a witch."
"You look so good in green," said Tira, smiling in her face.
"Tell me," said Mylar, "what defensive spell can I do now?"
"You can do this one," said Tira. She put her fingers in a steeple position. "It makes any simple spell bounce off."
Jemmy touched Mylar's shoulder. "Mylar, I do not know what to say. I never dreamed you would become a witch."
His eyes were wide. Mylar stuck her tongue out at him. "I daresay your imagination was not up to the leap."
Shayna stood nearby and now she curled her lip. "I am about to do the same for you, Jemmy. All to protect you."
Jemmy clasped her forearm with both his hands. "I thank you profusely."
Tira was staring at the two of them, and Mylar was about to say something sharp to Jemmy. He definitely should not make Tira feel insecure.
But now Shayna took a piece of parchment from Anna and strode into the clearing and began to recite. Jemmy stood with his wife and sister and put his arm around Tira's shoulder.
In the clearing, the light around her grew brighter and turned green. The dark haired lady began to spin and then spin faster. Tira grimaced as Shayna gave a cry of pain. Now the lurid green lights turned back to their previous silver radiance and Shayna dropped to her knees. Her skin was bright green now. Mylar had to admit to herself that Shayna still looked striking. Did Mylar really look good as a green woman? Of course Tira would say she did. Tira was such a nice girl…
"Shayna! You OK?" said Tira.
Shayna rose to her feed and dusted off her hands. "Fine, Tira." She strode over to Jemmy and touched his nose with the tip of an elegant green finger. "Remember, I do this for you. That makes you my beautiful damsel in distress and Millie a horrid dragon."
Jemmy's cheeks flushed faintly pink. "Yes, you are… gallant…"
"We're all four doing this for him," said Mylar tersely.
Shayna turned to her. Moonlight shone off her long green nose. "You also transformed for love of Jemmy," she said. "Who besides us two can say the same? Our two fellow witches here transformed before they even met him."
"Moving on before this gets awkward," squeaked Gloom. "First the topic of virginity, and now this even weirder theme…"
"Ladies, we have to make magic," said Anna, clapping her green hands together. "We've got to practice the elemental spell. It takes a lot of energy, even with four of us, but man is it effective. We all have different parts to play. I am the mentor. Now the rest of you can take on different roles. Tira..." Anna made a motion with her fingers and Tira's dress turned red. "Red for the mother." She moved her fingers again and Mylar's dress turned pure white. "White for the maiden. Shayna already has a stylish black dress on. Black for the Crone."
Shayna breathed through her long green nose and her brows contracted. "Do not be impertinent."
"It's just for the spell, Shayna," said Anna smoothly. "Tira's the only mother here, and Mylar's the only virgin."
"Wow. What else can she tell?" Gloom wondered aloud.
"Now girls, lets hold hands and form a ring around Jemmy."
Mylar took Shayna's hand in her left and Tira's hand in her right.
"Focus! Let our minds touch," said Anna. "Power of the elements rise, through fire and earth and stormy skies!"
Mylar felt a tingle run through her whole body and became more acutely aware of her fellow witches.
Gloom the imp was sitting on Jemmy's shoulder and Mylar could hear him squeaking at her brother:
"This is as strong a defence as you could hope for. As strong as any that could have been arranged right away."
Then the wind howled and there was a rustling through the leaves of the trees above. Millie the Bedlam Hag appeared, breaking through the canopy. She was straddling her broomstick. She glared down at them. Mylar felt her jaw tighten and her heart began to beat faster.
"So, you all conspire to keep my true love away from me?" Millie gave a cackle. "You, rich snob," she pointed at Shayna, "and you old hag," she pointed at Anna, "you think he will reward you with his hot man chowder? Is that it? Do you know who you're dealing with? Get ready for the fight of your lives!"