File cleaning can bring out some major gems but more often than not we find things we forgot about.  Stories that we started years ago and then got to busy to finish.  As i said in another blog I have so very many tales that I have started that need to be finished.  In this case it is an old and odd tale.  I am pretty sure this was inspired by hearing one too many preachers accusing someone of something.  I have never been one to be tolerant of those in power accusing children of something.  Never mind what i think of prejudice based on race, religion or sex.  I write a lot of tales that in their roots have something to do with hearing too many attacked for what is supposed to be a legally given right to freedom.  Sad to say I can see something like this happening in the near future all over the world.

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To save the child

Chapter One: Found and Lost

Fleeing the mob I ran and ran. I had no notion of where I went as long as it was away from the fire and the stench of burning flesh. Sobbing as I tried to catch my breath, I stopped and listened. The sounds of the mob were far behind me. I looked around and found I had run deep into the woods bordering the town of Wilkeshollow. These woods were supposed to be haunted. That much I had heard from the villagers at the inn. Tilgan and I had just finished loading up our animals when that poor child came running out to us.

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What caused her family to call her witch I will never know. She fled them and ran through the village toward the only two strangers left there at this season. Late into autumn, just before the first snows should fall. She was a tiny thing. All long brown hair and huge blue eyes. She could not have been more than ten. They came on with their torches and their knives intent on her blood.

Well, Tilgen and I could never allow a little one to be hurt and we stepped in front of the mob. I could still see Tilgen, standing tall and strong in the long rays of the dying day.

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“What do you folks think your doing?” He asked gently in that big booming voice of his.

“The little one there behind you is a witch and there’s only one thing you do with witches!” Cried the leader of the mob. I remembered after a moment that the man was the child’s father.

“What do you mean a witch? She’s no more than a child. What could she have done to you to be called such?” I replied. There was something going on that I knew would not be good.

“She has caused miscarriages and stillbirths!” Cried out a woman in the crowd. She was a filthy thing. Hair in tangles and unwashed for the gods knew how long.

“She made my cow’s milk dry up!” This from a stingy looking man.

 

“She cursed my sheep. My ewe gave birth to a two headed lamb.”

 

All the complaints I had heard over and over in the low lands. Somehow the men and women who used to look to witches for healing and blessing suddenly believed those same earth priests who blessed them a short time ago where now cursing them. They thought this child to be doing this.

“But isn’t this one of your own children?” Tilgen asked the girl’s father directly.

“That beast is not my child. When the witch traveled through here six months ago she must have spirited my sweet child away and left that behind.” He took a step toward the child but Tilgen blocked his forward movement with his massive body.

“Do you folks believe all that gibberish out there about witches stealing little ones and replacing them with their own brats. Why any self respecting witch would never give up a child.” I stopped trying to talk to the girl’s father and turned to the crowd. There had to be a way to defuse this situation. This child was not old enough to know how to curse anything. I tried appealing to their intelligence. “Besides you should know that witches are healer’s and midwives. They never hurt anyone and take care of the wilds and wild things.”

“What do you know about witches?” Asked the girl’s father in a suspicious voice.

“Yah, they’re evil and they steal little ones to sacrifice to their evil Goddess!” Cried someone from the back of the mob.

I looked over to Tilgan. He nodded. We were in trouble now. We had not realized yesterday when we had stopped at the inn in this sleepy little mountain town that they were of the new faith. The last report we had from the outriders was that the mountains were still of the “old” faith, believing in the Lord and Lady. The hateful “new” faith that had spread to cover the entire of the valley cities and towns, pushing out their harvest Goddess and the lord of the Hunt wasn’t supposed to have made it this far into the highlands. The worship of the one sexless god changed the good people I had known, people before who had been kind and of good cheer, healthy and strong. This new faith did not teach people to care for themselves, in fact it taught that to bathe regularly was to be sinful and prideful. The people in the valleys I had visited had become dirty and stingy, suspicious and cruel but as far as I knew before it had not reached up into the mist-covered mountains. Now it seem we had run into a pocket of the new faith. This was too far into the mountains for my liking, too close to home and the secret valley pocket of the healing center.

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Yes this is still a very rough draft, written in the late 80s in fact.  My style has developed quite a bit since then but I can see myself finishing this tale with just a bit of tweaking to the original bits here.  There are actually two more chapters of this story on my hard drive.  Who knows when i will get to it but I plan on it.

 

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