Book One of the Witch series.
"The power that you have is a curse, but also a gift."
Five seperate Kingdoms, but all have one goal. Kill the witches and wizards.
In a land filled with humans and the supernatural, it's a struggle to live a life of luxury.
To sixteen year old Cecelia, her poverty stricken home will never change. Until she's bound to the Queen and has to fight for her freedom, family and the only thing she cares about. Her life.
I lay by my sister, her head resting against my shoulder, the pages that remind me of wrinkles embedded onto someone of old age lays on my lap, my hand resting on it. I must've fallen asleep whilst reading to her. I rise up from the bed, the sheets in a tangled mess. The sun rises over the horizon, kissing the new day with its warmth. Perfect day for hunting. I slink over to my boots and jacket and slip them on, then grab my handmade crossbow by the door as I walk out. The forests call to me, the birds chirping for me to hunt. The trees in the distance wave at me, hiding all kinds of foods in their branches.
I trench through the thick grass towards the forest, ignoring the sudden barks from the nieghbours' dogs. I climb over fences, the wood creaking underneath my weight. I reach the first few trees, already looming over me. These are the small ones, though. The bigger, stunning ones lay in the middle of the forest. Where the so-called witches live. I scoff at myself. Yeah, right. Witches. Something fun to believe in as a child, to pretend there was something that could take away our pains and create something new; but a child grows and common sense takes over. No one can possess powers.
I walk into the forbidden forest, ignoring the rundown sign that I pass every week. The Kingdom, the place where I live, wants the forest to be satchel. I always like this part of hunting. It's the most relaxing. I fill my hip satchel with them and start to make my way back, the rabbit on one side of me, the crossbow on the other. I eye for different mushrooms and I'm lucky.out of bounds, but that rule has slowly been forgotten. The Kingdom is just one out of many, ours ruled by Queen Absinthe. From the gossip of others, I hear we are the only human Kingdom, surrounded by the fairies. They live far from us, protecting the very earth. Fire, Earth, Water and Sky. They are the Fairy Kingdoms, never been inhabited by humans.
I walk through the greenery, always admiring the constant blooming flowers and the leaves that sprout out of the trees. I hear a scurry of animals, probably a fight. I slide behind trees, my crossbow ready. A rabbit sits on the ground, lazily scratching its head with its foot. I point the bow at it, the arrow laid in the cross. It will never know what hit it. I always catch my breath just after I shoot an animal. Like I'm mourning their death as the sudden pain tears through my chest. It lays there, blood seeping out of its tiny back. My heart breaks for just a moment when I watch it, dead.
After skinning the poor thing, I make my way to the usual bushes. Berries of every kind are everywhere, the bushes massive. I pluck as much as I can, my hands greedily filling my small satchel. I eye for some wild mushrooms and I'm lucky.
I arrive home, my satchel filled with mushrooms and berries and a plump rabbit. My sister, Tina, watches me as I place it all onto the table. Her tiny fingers trace the pelt.
"How much will you sell it for?" she asks, her eyes never leaving it.
"Three pennies. Then I'm buying you a new pair of shoes," I say as I ruffle her hair. Her toothy smile makes my day.
The door across from us swings open and she staggers out, a bottle clasped in her hand. Mama's unruly hair hangs over her aging face and the rags she wears for clothes seem to be rotting away before my very eyes. She sits at the table and eyes at the fruits and rabbit, a hand reaching out to grab a handful of berries. I slap it away before she can take away our precious food.
"Why'd you do that for?" she slurs at me, taking another swig from the bottle.
"Keeping Tina and I alive," I snap at her.
"That's the exact same thing your father said to me before he got killed."
"He left, Mama." I feel no remorse at her sunken face as my words make their connections in her head. She doesn't deserve my sympathy.
I spoon the food up into a bowl and place it on the wooden bench. The only thing I remember of Papa is his silhouette as he left us, flanked by two of his friends. I shake my head.
The door bursts open and a rushed man sits at our table. A smile spreads across my face at the pitiful sight of him.
"Hey, stupid," I say as I punch his arm.
He flashes me a smile. "I see you got yourself some good money." He points to the pelt and I stand proudly before him, like a child would to a father.
"Shot it myself." His goofy grin stops my somewhat straight face.
He stands up and grabs the pelt, his fingers tracing along the fur. "Mm. Nice and soft. What do you intend selling it for though?"
"Babies, maybe. Winter's coming in and I've seen a few women with swollen bellies," I say. He nods at me before handing it back. He's my best friend, possibly my only one. Harold and I have been friends for years after we met when the Queen herself came through to inspect on her Kingdom. He was pulling faces at her.
I stuff the pelt into my pocket and walk outside, summoning for Harold to come as well. He strolls up to me and we make our way to the markets.
The markets are always loud and too busy for my liking. Men and women bustle around the make believe shops, buying useless crap. They're from the wealthier part of town, the women sporting cheap hats with feathers and long, stupid dresses and the men with black suits and top hats. Really, they look like they should be at some kind of ball, but instead they wear this every, single day.
Marketers call out to potential customers, pronouncing what they have. Cheaper prices, the best this or the best that. One or two people are at each stall, handing over coins. Children race along the adults, shrieks of laughter escaping their mouths. In the heat of the crowd, one or two kids stand with the adults, arms flying in a blur, taking wallets and jewellery. Guards man the market place, their eyes flicking to everyone, but seem to be unaware of the pick pockets. Or uncaring. The guards never really bother anyone; they just leave the pick pocketers to steal. I see one guard with a beautiful woman hanging off of him, her dress barely covering her tits. She traces along his hairline and presses her chest into his arm. He smiles at her, his hand tracing along her sides.
We finally arrive to the stall that buy and sell merchandise. The elderly couple smile when they see me, their faces sunken in from years of hard labour.
"Hello, Cecelia," the woman says to me. I smile in greeting. I pull out the rabbit fur and hand it to them.
His hands trace along the fur. "How much?"
The woman pulls out three, shiny coins and places them into my hand. "Big things are going to happen, my girl." I smile at her as I take the coins. She says this every time I see them. She snaps her fingers and shakes her head. Behind me, a young boy stalks off back into the crowd. "Thief," she mutters.
Harold and I start walk out of the market place, leaving the stupid people behind. In the distance, I can hear music. Flutes, fiddles and yodelling. Music of the Ancients, when the so-called witches and wizards dwelled among us quite happily. People clap and dance in time of the music, singing and yodelling. Guards start to walk around the outer edges of the dancers, their hands on their pocketed guns.
"Come on," Harold says as he grabs onto my hand. "We all know what happens after this." I grip onto Harold's hand and let him walk me out. Whenever people start making music from the Ancients, the guards shoot. I don't know why, but anything to do with Ancients always seems to be forbidden.
I walk fast as people start yelling in the crowd. A woman screams and a man seems to be begging for mercy. I hear a gunshot ringing out, silencing everyone. The woman from just before lays on the ground, the man crying over her bleeding body.