Willgood and the Enchantress

In the magical realm of wizards and witches, there is a little known land called Zoroastra, where talented artists and madrigals have built their aerie community into the sides of a vast mountain range.  There the landand its inhabitants are protected and cleverly hidden from unfriendly invaders.  Zoroastra is a serene and beautiful place and its citizens are a peaceful lot as long as they are left to their own devices.

Willgood Farthing was an artist of that community who was content to spend a good part of each day painting on his canvasses beautiful sunrises, sunsets, local scenery, and anything not of this earth that was a product of his imagination.  He was careful not to paint a single living thing  in any of his art for that was the magical power of this community; painting an object on canvas trapped it there forever.  The madigals had the same spellbinding skills with their songs, so they were careful to use their magic only when they had been wronged or were in danger.

The Zoroastrans were unlike other wizard communities not only in ability but also in their appearance. Their silver blond heads were partially shaved except for long ponytails that hung down their backs after being wound into a topknot on their crowns.  They also had tats around their necks and arms in a manner that displayed their artistic talents and seemed a perfect accent for such a people.  In addition their race was known to be tall, thin, and extremely agile and thought to be descendents of early Picards from the eastern civilization.

Although the area was safely hidden and invasions were relatively rare, recently the artist community had been invaded by rogue dragons that flew though their kingdom and devastated the landscape. On one of those occasions Willgood’s home had lost a roof from a blast of dragon fire and had to be repaired.  If that were not enough of a disruption for our peace loving Willgood, his life had been further complicated by a woman in the village who was actively seeking his attentions.

The woman’s name was Gillian, a name that means ‘downy beard’ and her hair was no longer blonde, it was grey like a wolf’s and fell in a heavy blanket down her back.  Her eyes were blue but closer in resemblence to ice than the soft welcome of a blue sky that Will loved so much.  Long and thin was her face while her chin was falling into her neck as if her skeletal frame were dissolving like those of corpses buried deep in the earth, being eaten by worms and other parasites.  Too, her skin was red and bumpy and developing wrinkles like a raisin left too long in the sun, making her appear older than her years.

Gillian was also a madrigal witch and so Willgood, when he discovered she was paying far too much attention to his activities, had to use a repelling charm to prevent falling under her spell.  Although she was not beautiful, Willgood did not place his opinion of the woman on that alone, but he also found her personality lacking as well.  Sadly, the man had no other companionship interest at this time, so he lavished all his affections on his pet which was half cat and half dog, a caog, named Augur.

The days were growing longer once again as it was March and the frost was no longer about in the mornings. The first blush of spring was felt more intensely in Zoroastria and as it was their custom the artists began to gather early in the morning in front of the tavern to record the latest version of spring’s arrival.  As they painted and sketched and sculpted, they also carried on conversations with each other.  This morning Willgood set up next to his good friend Duerleans, and took one look at the man’s work and threw out his first guffaw of the day.

“You call that art, my good man?  What are you about there?  Mayhap you need some flavored water to wake your senses.”

“Just because you do not understand it, does not mean it cannot be good.  It is a new method being done by non-magic folk, but I fear I have not mastered it yet.  It has to do with reflected light but I cannot get mine to look like that.”

“I see that, but as I look below the surface, the concept does hold potential. As for myself I wish I could capture the moon’s beams just as the sun goes down over the waters below.  I try but it cannot hold the rapture the real one creates in me.”  Durleans nodded his understanding for he too had felt that very thing about that view of the early twilight.

Just then Willgood felt someone peering over his shoulder but he tried to ignore the interloper, hoping that the person would go away and let him get to his day’s work.  He had yet to mix his paints and decide on this morning’s subject.

“Good morning, Willgood Farthing.  I saw you were busy at work this early in the day so I brought you some jostaberry tarts in case you were hungry.”  She smiled and the wizard thanked her for her kindness, but quickly turned to his canvass and began mixing the paints he would need, hoping the woman would simply go away but she did not.  The woman played with her hair coyly and batted her lashed, but Willgood continued to mix the white and black paints together.

“Why do you use those colours and how do you know which ones to use?  Gillian asked about the paints and the intended painting, hoping to ingratiate herself while the artist simply hoped she would tire of the exercise and leave him to his creation.  He began to put paint to the canvas, filling in the background with dark grey granite, painting the cliffs that now mirrored his mood instead of the beauty he saw this morning with spring’s promise.

The wizard Farthing’s day continued as did the ensuing week.  Every time he turned to another exercise, there she was smiling at him.  Another day she would be waiting for him at the market to watch what he purchased so she would know what he liked.  He still pretended he didn’t see her, but she always managed to catch his eye and engage him in conversation.  “Blasted woman,”  he ranted at Duerleans in frustration while they were having a pint of teaberry ale at the tavern the following month.  His friend merely smiled indulgently at him, but thought the man must surely like the woman’s attentions.  What man would not?  Duerleans rubbed his round belly in contentment and leaned back in his chair.  “Why don’t you court the woman?  It would cure her of you, would it not?”  It was said in jest, but Willgood was not going to listen to it.

“Are you mad?  The last thing I need to do is encourage her. Oh, how I wish I could find an agreeable woman with an easy spirit.”  He sighed before he added, “And that is not Jillian, I assure you.”

The conversation moved to news outside the community and after a long discussion, the two men departed for home.  For once Willgood was happy to  note that he did not see Jillian once all the way home.  But that did not mean she gave up on him, she was merely trying to be more subtle in her approach.

When her little ruses did not work, she tried going to extremes wearing revealing attire, but sadly, there was nothing of interest to display.  The wizard, being a good and kind man, had no desire to hurt the woman’s feelings in any way, he merely desired her to direct her attentions in another direction.  As she grew more and more forward in her manner, however, Willgood began to resent her and tried harder and harder to avoid the woman completely.

The witch knew then that she had to try a different method if she were going to win the man’s affections.  She gathered herbs and studied the ways of witches in other lands, trying to produce a potion that would bring the object of her desire to her, lovesick and unable to resist her charms.  She tried burdock burrs and stitching heartsof rosemary with tied red ribbon that she placed in a special box.  That did not work either.  Most other witches would have moved on to someone who wanted her but not Gillian.  She was becoming more determined the more he resisted her.  She began visiting his home, tempting his elf cook with her herb potions, cleverly hidden in tempting cakes and fruits that the servant wisely threw away.

Unfortunately, the cook grew more resentful of the intrusions with every visit.  Finally the elf, fed up with the temptress’ trespass on her territory that cast aspersions on her cooking, went on strike because, “The chinless witch keeps in’erfearin’ in my do-ma-in’.”  Further adding to her master that she could “work enerwheres,” and how she “Don’ need this a t’all.”  One time the cook even went so far as to tell him that he “could jus’ paint her in one’r yer pitchers,” while her eye held quite a wicked gleam.

The wizard rolled his eyes with each of her suggestions and disregarded her advice because it wasn’t a solution that he believed was a proper one.  Today, after cook’s latest tirade, Willgood left to go to his studio, thoroughly sick of both the women in his vicinity — for now anyway.  As he painted, the poor man began to wonder what it was going to take to discourage the woman or get her to leave him alone when his beloved pet rubbed back and forth against his leg, wanting his attention.

“Ahh,” sighed the artist with regret, “If only I could find a mate that I loved as much as I love you, Augur, and who was as happy to have me near as you are.  He rubbed the caog’s calico fur gently, enjoying every minute of the brief interlude.  Finally the pet, having had enough of its owner’s affections, pushed away, leaving Willgood to return to his work.

Watching from a distance, however, was the witch who was as jealous of that pet as it was possible to be.  Perhaps if Augur, the caog, was gone, Willgood would turn to me in his grief, she thought irrationally.  She decided to sing to the pet and she lured it to her after making a stop at cook’s kitchen one more time.  Unfortunately for Augur, as it had nothing to protect its ears from the witch’s siren song, the pet succumbed to the her spell.  Gillian was then able to turn Augur into a statue in the garden then she sat calmly upon a bench while patiently, yet foolishl,y waiting for Willgood to come to her in his grief.

Unfortunately for the chinless witch, the cook was watching out the window when she was doing the wicked deed;  the elf discovered her treachery but did not have enough time to save her master’s pet.  She did, however, run to Willgood directly after and regretfully informed him of the fate of his beloved animal and added the information that Gillian was responsible.  If she had not been so upset over the pet’s passing, the cook would have gloated over catching the woman but she cried instead.  Caog was a good and loyal animal and both she and the master loved him dearly.  How could Gillian do that, the elf asked herself?

The wizard grieved but only for a moment before his anger consumed him and he picked up the nearest brush and rapidly began to paint Gillian’s likeness into the scene before him.  Faster and faster he worked, putting all his frustration into the creation.  When he laid down his brush, the witch was transported immediately into the valley in the painted canvas where she was imprisoned and could not escape.  For the first time in his life, Willgood was so livid that he wanted to be certain that Gillian would never hurt anyone again the way she’d hurt him.  He reached out, grabbed the canvas and threw it in the flames of the hearth before he had time to change his mind.  He watched sadly as first the paint melted and then the canvas finally reached a temperature where it caught fire and began to burn.  He heard her piercing screams until they suddenly stopped. He did not care that he hurt her for she brought this state upon herself with her wickedness.  Willgood turned and left the room silently and without a single regret, closed the door silently behind him.

The End

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