by Kierstyn Budz


The leaves rustle slowly in the wind, a woman sits in a clearing within the dark woods. A dying fire and lumps of clothing lay nearby. She slowly takes off the red-soaked cloth bandages wrapped around the stump. The wound still drips with blood from where a sword had stolen her left hand. She takes out a crumpled piece of fabric from a dirty bag and puts it in front of her on the blood-stained dirt. She unravels the bundle containing her severed hand and closes her eyes. She mutters under her breath and puts her hand out flat, hovering above the detached appendage. A faint green mist emits from her palm as it falls on the cut hand. The mist engulfs the fingers first, then wraps itself around the wrist and lifts it, almost as if being picked up by an invisible force. The mist pulls the disconnected hand to the stump and circles around her left wrist.

“Contosium!” She shouts as the mist captures her entire arm, then dissipates.

She flexes the fingers on her left hand as the color returns to her flesh. She grabs the fabric that previously contained her hand and throws it onto a pile of other blood-soiled bandages. She stands up wobbling and pulls the hood of a black cloak she found over her head. She follows a trail back to the village, knowing the woods well. She continues her walk until she made it to the edge of Wyedon, a place that now, didn’t feel like home. She wandered throughout the town, passing by the happy people who littered the streets.

“Callista is gone! We are free! We must celebrate!” Everyone shouted with joy at the death of Callista, the King’s servant and reason for last night’s fire.

The woman weaves her way through the crowded street to the burnt edge of town. Families stand on the ash-ridden ground trying to find any remnants of their former homes. Cries are heard all around the block of houses wiped off the Earth. Families were ripped apart and lives were shattered in just a matter of hours. A stark contrast from the cheerful people on the other side of town. The woman continues her walk to the castle of Wyedon on the steep dirt roads. Soon, the dirt paths turn to stone and the woman knows her journey is close to over. Her anger only boils over more as the large castle comes into view. She finds a large rock on the outskirts of the castle walls and sits against it, weary from the long journey.

She closes her eyes and waits until nightfall, the darkness being an easy cover to sneak inside. She stands up from her sitting position and peaks around the rock at the castle. The guards stand watch on the walls but nowhere near the high doors that would grant her access to the castle’s insides. She sneaks over to the doors and presses her hands to the locks.

“Unlonious,” she whispers as the mist once again appears from her palms.

She pushes open the giant door just enough to get inside and closes it behind her. She sneaks down the corridor looking out for the guards that roam the hallways. Dodging the torchlight as she turns corners, she gets to the familiar room she was looking for, the library. She quietly opens the door and checks for anyone in the book-filled room, but when she finds it empty, she takes a deep breath.

She holds out her palm and whispers “britenda” which emits a tiny light from her open hand.

As she heads down a row, she feels a familiar magic energy pulling her closer. She grabs the blue-colored book filled with the spells of her fallen kind. The cover was enchanted to look like any other book in hopes no humans were able to find their secrets or destroy the pages. After the war, every royal kept magic users as prizes. Their fighting had almost made the magic world extinct, and these books were some of the last proof of their existence. The war had long passed, but the human’s hatred still lingered. She opens the book, dragging her fingers across the withering pages, and flips through looking for the two spells she needed. She took off the black cloak that concealed her wounds. Burn scars from the fire covered her entire body and tears started to fall down her face as she dragged her fingers across them. She sets the book down on the shelf and takes a deep breath in, clearing her mind.

“Heloneta!” She held her arms above her head and the mist poured out of her palms flowing around her entire body and engulfing her.

The mist fell to the ground and disappeared revealing the woman, now scar free. She took a deep breath and smiled to herself. Her happy moment was ruined by the slam of the wooden library door hitting the stone wall.

“Callista! How are you alive? I cut you limb from limb and had my men burn your dirty witch flesh in the woods!” It was the King with his guard.

She laughed, “Did you think I could be rid of so easily? You’re dumber than you look.” Callista put her palms out facing the King and his men with a smirk. “I learned a new spell. Oxyana!”

A dark green mist poured out of her hands and wrapped itself around the necks of the men standing in front of her. The King and his men fell to the ground clutching their throats as their breath was being stolen from them. Callista grabbed a sword off the wall and stood over the King, remembering the pain she suffered just hours ago.

“I was your servant for years. I gave you my life and you tried to kill me. Now, your men lay lifeless in the woods. I must return the favor.”

About the author

Kierstyn Budz is an English major pursuing a career as an author and editor. She has always loved to read and write and has been writing stories since elementary school. While unpublished, she currently works as a substitute teacher and wants to write a children’s book to read to her students.

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