“Blood For Blood”
The wind howled through the twisted dead finger branches of the
ebony forest, reluctantly, with wide, fearful eyes, the horses trod
deeper through the dark so thick it seemed a curtain brushing your
face, vice cold hands ready to wrap round your throat and squeeze
“I hate this place,” a king squeaked, feeling naked without his crown,
“Why can`t we wait till daybreak?”
Patiently, his queen riding side saddle steeled her strength “I`ve waited
twenty seven years for this moment, would you have me wait a
As a screeching wind cut through them like a blade, the trio stopped
in a barren grove where silver shaking moonlight filtering through a
mess of tangled webs and burnt branches beckoning fools closer was
the only light source, anything it touched shied away as if a vampire if
“Your majesty, I wish you`d reconsider.”
With a roll of the eyes, the man who ruled a kingdom but not a wife
he cherished more slowly dismounted, “Yeah, me too”
“I`ll wait for you.” The guard promised.
“No.” Isobella spoke softly, “A deals a deal Galamor, return to the
palace, I can`t thank you enough for safe passage in this cruel place.”
Thumping heart lightened by her praise, soul frozen by this witches
del, the knight nodded farewell, “Ma`am, your highness.”
Quickly, he kicked the three horses to a break neck gallop, to escape
the evil in the shadows, a deal a deal, the king and queen were
protected, he was not.
“Do you think he`ll make it?” queen Isobella asked, hopeful.
Wrapping his long coat over her trembling shoulders, his hand over
her back to lead the way, the two were fearful rabbits caught in
headlights as the barring nest of blood stained thorns drew back,
receded, granting them entrance further into the witches lair.
“Course he will, honey, course he will”, alas he already knew the
Presently the flick of cold candlelight washed over the scorched forest
revealing spiders and scorpions scuttling about their feet, wishing
darkness return as spindrel wet things crunched like shards of glass.
Holding each other, the king blew a shaky breath, “It was your idea,
Here lies a fool who listened to his wife and not his head.
Stopping before the door cut into the side of a tree holding their
secrets or nightmares, slowly the king eased a hand, fearing it
scalding hot, though a trace of sulphur burnt their lungs, surprisingly it
was cool, he swung it open.
“I hope shes in a good mood.”
The grotto was a musty clutter of spell books and bubbling potions
where terror stricken mutilated creatures of all kinds screeched for
release from the knifes holding them down, candlelight flickering demon
symbols written on walls in blood cast reaching shadows as if to
attack the intruders
Softly, a bundle of rags at a table raised a long gnarled bony finger,
dry and wrinkled as a corpse in desert sun.
“Come in, don`t be frightened.” A crone beckoned.
“I`m out.” The king scarpered, dragged back kicking and screaming by
his determined spouse, “Alright, alright” snatching some dignity he
straightened himself, entered and yelped girl like as the door
slammed behind him.
“I hate it when she does that.”
“I know why you`ve come.” the crone cackled, not wanting them to
flee before they`d sealed the contract, she kept her hood, rotted and
thin as spiders silk up and her head down.
Killik smiled, nervous, “Hope so, otherwise your no good to us.”, he
hissed as Isobella jabbed her elbow in his side.
Sad, good fortune had not seen fit to grant them a child, Isobella
smiled sweetly, not ready to spoil their chance.
The crone laughed wickedly, knowing many years the queen was
infertile, for as long as she`d served as her healer, she`d crushed
undetectable contraceptive herbs into her fine meals, robbing her of an
Only now was the time right to reverse that part of her plan.
“A fair trade then.” The witch proposed, “Go from this hang mans tree
tonight to a glade where none shall venture, there, pick a blue rose,
grind it to a fine powder, sprinkle into a warm drink, bake for nine
months, and voila, but you must hurry for the blue rose only grows
this night each century and shall be destroyed by dawns kiss, the
coming of a comet shall signal when the time is right.”
The king shuffled, coughed. “And the price?”
The witches demon eyes sparkled beneath her withered grey hair
flowing over her face, ready for no mortal. “For you, there is no
The king blinked, surprised he didn`t have to amputate an arm.
“Thats it?, no land, no castles?”
The crone smiled as if saying not yet, but held her tongue, it would
be a shame to spoil the surprise so quick.
Her generosity a rare welcome not wished to test, the king led his
queen away before she changed her mind.
“There are just two things.” the crone called softly.
Killiks` heart froze, I thought there would be.
“Yes?” he felt blood freeze in his veins.
The witch laughed as if so trivial, “For the spell to work I shall need
The king stepped back, “How much?”
Innocence itself, the witch replied, “I have given up that delicacy long
ago, a drop shall suffice, blood for blood as it were.”
“Please, honey.” Isobella hugged him, parent hood never so close.
Reluctantly he nodded, flinching as the hag drew a blade over their
hands, returning the stained daggers under her tattered robes as if the
answer to her own prayers.
“And the second part of the deal?”
The crones hunched shoulders trembled, a soft serpents hiss as if
leaking gas made them realise she was laughing, “Send me back a
man carrying a bag of jewels, but he must be young and fit if he is
to survive a forest unkind to strangers, a lady of simple means
sometimes has a taste for grander things and those pretty sparklers
shall feed for many summers.”
“You wont kill him?” the king stood his ground.
The witch drew a `t` over her chest, “Cross my heart.”
His bloodline and worse his wife’s happiness at stake, the king
reluctantly agreed but didn`t move to shake her hand.
“Fine, I shall send the jewels at first light.”
“No!” the crone barked, making them fall back, apologetically,
composing herself she sat back down, “it must be tonight or never,
surely you agree a few rubies is small price to pay for new life, and
with her majesty’s beauty it is sure to be one fit for the gods
Mumbling agreement, the queen bid them gone before the rose died.
Yet the king seemed uncertain to step foot outside again, “Your crazy
if you think I`m going back out there.”
The witch soothed his worries, “Don`t fear the dark and what lurks
inside, for this night only you are the safest couple to walk these
woods, nothing shall interfere with your stroll, I assure you.”
Killiks mouth glass, he felt the blood go down as he swallowed,
“No motions or magic, call me a taxi or you can-”
Pushing him out before he said something to incur her wrath and
sour the deal, Isobella waved good night and closed the door behind
She started skipping, happily, something she hadn`t done since she
was a little girl. “Oh honey it`s happening, it`s really happening.”
Alone at last, the hag laughed and laughed.
The body of GalamorMilligan, the palace guard that had escorted
them to the epicentre of hell was never found.
This understandably was not a comforting thought as the messenger
barreled with kamikaze speed through the dark forest, strange, contrary
to tales told to him as a child of trees ensnaring him like a rare treat
swallowing him down into the sulphur flames, and giant monsters
slivering down silver threads from the twisted tree tops to
tear his head off, suck him inside out nothing approached, in fact
enchanted branches screaming to devour him willingly dodged him as
in fear of reprisal from a worse demon, out of bounds, the messenger
hurried on, praising the gods far from this wicked place as
he pulled up in the barren grove.
He gently patted his Horses grey nose, his oldest friend who`d saved
his life many times over the years, wondering if he`d seen him for the
last time, the bag of rubies strapped to his hip getting heavier with
What if he never came back out?
His horse nudged him with eyes promising plan b. The bag of rubies
a path to a new life, he could scarper, living on a beach while his
gold plated steed got his share of fillies.
He chuckled, a hollow sound to his own ears, laughter had no home
here, he shook away the empty promises, it was a nice dream, but his
king had trusted him, how could he fail him and look himself in the
mirror again. “Here goes nothing.”
He cut free the bag on his hip, wisely ditching the dagger, never a
good idea to anger a witch.
“Marianna!, I`m here by order of king Killik with your rubies!”,
Please dont kill me
. Hopefully he turned to his horse,
“Maybe she`s asleep.”
A crash of thunder split the sky.
With a floorboard creak, the door swung open dashing his hopes of
her on holiday. Rubies held out at arms length as if a sacrifice to dark
Gods, the messenger was about to leave them on the step when a
whinny scream spun him like a bullet to the shoulder.
No good, his horse was gone.
Now how am i supposed to get home?,
the chilling thought maybe he
wasn`t supposed to was unsettling.
The ground apparently opening up and taking his best friend, the
messenger surprised himself by hurrying into the witches lair, better the
devil you know.
The thought rushed through his head, before barely in her threshold
something scalding hot and sweet like herbs cracked against the back
of his head, pitched him to his knees and a darkness from which he`d
never wake a moment later.
Whistling merry as she worked, Marianna threw down the boulder and
grabbing the mortal by his boots, dragged him deeper inside her lair,
the sweet fly lured to the spiders larder with the promises inside,
“He`s young and strong alright, he will do nicely.”
Having no need for rubies she threw them to gathering Magpies to
make pretty their nests.
Then dropping a severed hand into a bubbling pot she slammed the
door, blocking out the rolling thunder and prying eyes, not wanting to
give her pets nightmares.
Matthew Wilson, 28, is a UK resident who has been writing since and early age and lately they terror tales have escaped to various ezines and magazines. He is currently sharing his time between two jobs and one novel.