Georgia ran into her sister’s back. She had tried to stay awake, but flesh betrays mind when a tired body has been marching for hours in the dark.
“Sorry Xiomara; my eyes closed on me. Are we stopping?”
“No.” Xiomara whimpered the word. “My feet are too swollen. I had to slow down.”
“I took my boots off after my fifth blister burst,” Georgia said. “I’m blood-shod. We should take a break.” Her pack was already dragging her down. She surrendered to its weight, and let herself collapse.
“Not here Sis.” Hunger and exhaustion had muffled the sounds of fireballs hitting trees and claiming souls, but a witch’s brain is especially good at prioritizing when survival is at stake. “We are too close to the rebels.” Xiomara looked behind her. “We’ll be slaughtered, if we—”
The putrid greenish mist of a flesh-melting air hex engulfed Xiomara’s body before Georgia could block the killing magic. Her right hand flew to her throat. The other reached for her sister.
Georgia tried a purification spell, but she was energy barren. She had used the last of her energy during a self-healing attempt, three days ago. She watched as her sister drowned in the thick fluid of her melted tongue. The sight and smell of Xiomara’s liquefied innards, oozing out of her nose, ears, eyes... filled Georgia’s mouth with bile. She swallowed it down and tried screaming, but couldn’t.
Casilda hovered above the sleeping form of the Sand Energy Law Enforcement Coven Leader. She stopped chanting; waited until her former boss’ body twitched less violently. She was going to stop the nightmare spell, but Georgia’s words came back to mind. “We’ll get rid of three healers,” she had said. “Most SLEC witches are capable of self-healing, so why waste funds? We need to attract younger and less expensive witches to help us mold the future.”
The words boiled inside Casilda’s heart. The changes did not affect her directly; she was a warrior, not a healer. But she refused to be part of SLEC after the healers were terminated. She tried reasoning with Georgia when the casualty count surpassed the number of names at roll call; nothing worked. Seasoned witches continued to die of wounds; their pay was used to hire ten novices who were ready to give their lives for what they thought they believed in. So many died in Casilda’s arms…
The memory filled her eyes. It squeezed her heart. She bit her lips until she tasted blood. She blinked. She swallowed. She chanted her interpretation of Owen’s words into the other witch’s nightmare:
Xiomara drowns in the thick fluid of her melted tongue.
Brownish red innards ooze out of her nose, ears, and eyes.
Georgia’s mouth fills with bile.
She swallows, but still can’t scream.
She wants to help her sister.
She wants forgiveness;
Tries to say she did it for the greater good,
But chokes on fallacious retch—
Blood-shod witch can’t tell The old Lie.