Fifteen Years Ago
“You’ve been beaten, Wendarla.” Across the mountains the words echoed, harsh, their throaty malevolence scratching at Wendarla’s ears. The witch towered over her, grey-ish purple skin streaked with blood and rain. Lightning forked as a deafening crash sent Wendarla to her knees. “I claim the Witch Lands as my own. Be gone from this place, wretch!”
“Please, Bartula,” Wendarla extended one black taloned hand in beseechment, her fanged teeth gritted through the pain. Long strands of dirty white hair whipped past her face, and the wound on her belly was spilling blood through her fingers.
“You call yourself a witch?” Bartula sneered. With one thin, reptilian foot she kicked the other woman away, turning to look out over the peaks of rock that rose up around them. Lightning flashed again, throwing the figures watching them into harsh relief. “This woman is no witch! She is a worm!”
“She is worse,” cried one of the watchers. Pale purple hair dripped with icy rain as she glared down at Wendarla. “She is a mere human! Strip her of her witch rights!”
“Mother,” Wendarla cried, struggling to stand, “no!”
“Wendarla Mountain-Winged, I hereby strip you of your right to witch- you are banished from this place. Live among humans, as a human would, and call yourself one of them- you are no better than that!” Bartula, a rictus grin of triumph on her face, ripped the sodden ruby on its chain from around Wendarla’s neck. “I am the Witch Queen now.”
Their screaming laughter echoed through the mountains, and from her peak Wendarla was thrown, past ice and clouds and hope of return. The humans would take her- humans were weak like that.