The Glorious History of Aathenaar, Part Fifteen: Wicked, Wicked, Wicked
One day a most unwelcome visitor came to Aathenaar.
There can be no doubt that she came—invaded, even—from one of Coventra’s distant city-states; perhaps the central Vakid desert, where the antisocial thrive, or the highlands of Crandide, where one is free to pursue knowledge of the heinous and unnatural without the restraints of decency.
She rode into town on the back of a terrible black goat, who belched flames from its nostrils at regular intervals, much as the noxious gases of the Paquerine Swamp bubble to the surface every six minutes.
“I am Wajida!” she cackled, punctuating this seemingly simple declaration with a terrifying display of pyrotechnics from the tip of her hell-spawned wand.
“I yearn for ale!” she demanded to a lad of no more than six or seven. This poor boy, scared witless at the sudden intrusion into his secure world, nevertheless sketched a bow and promised to procure some, though he had no money of his own and would have to beg it at the Red Dragon Tavern.
This was hardly enough for the wicked witch. “Faster!” she insisted, but it was clear that she had no concern for patience; the boy had barely raced across the street when she brandished her wand and incanted a set of foul words that have not come down to us and that we would not repeat if they had. The effect of these words has come down to us, however: A beam of shot forth from the wand and struck the running boy in his back, and then he disappeared, and on his spot was a rather shocked-looking ferret.
The people of Aathenaar, wisely, gathered those dear to them and retreated to what security their homes could offer. (Even the boy-turned-ferret’s distraught mother, who managed to lure her rodent-son to the family home with a piece of moldy cheese.)
There was only one who dared brave the witch’s incursion into the peaceful town of Aathenaar. That man, naturally, was Baron Brange. Upon learning of the witch’s presence, he marched into town to address her.
Baron Brange found Wajida examining a flowerbox with much the same demeanor as a queen might inspect her new manor’s crown moulding. Baron Brange approached her silently, and he was at her shoulder while she was still unaware of his presence. He announced himself by bending down to the goat’s ear and commanding quite forcefully: “Bad goat!”
The goat, who was just rearing up for another expulsion of fire, reconsidered this course of action.
Wajida was unamused. “I am Wajida, and this is now my town,” she declared.
“I am Baron Brange, and I think not,” Brange retorted.
Wajida attempted her infernal magicks at the good Baron. Whether it was the same spell or one entirely different we cannot say, for the Baron was careful and wise, and understood that danger could approach at any time. He therefore wore at all times a rare and clever charm that protected him against witchcraft, and Wajida’s spell bounced off his person.
Brange laughed at this—a human, decent laugh, as distinguished from Wajida’s cackle, but deep and booming and resonant with power. When he finished, he intoned: “Your time here is done, witch. Begone, and return not!”
Even the ballistae of hell could not withstand such a show of force and fortitude from Baron Brange. Wajida bowed her head and directed her steed to carry her out of the village at its maximum speed, an order that the beast seemed only too happy to comply with.
Witchcraft has never again reared its head within the boundaries of Aathenaar, but the good Baron remains vigilant and will take whatever action proves necessary to protect the fair village.