“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

any moment.

“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

second more?”

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

the sun.

“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

your blood.”

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

each step.

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.

“Samson?, Samson!”

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.


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