Hi all! This story is an entry to Lisabee’s Monthly SimLit Short Story Challenge. August’s theme is: It’s Hot!
The following story is a continuation of last month’s entry The Shadow King. This tale is stand alone so you don’t need to read The Shadow King to understand it (but it would give some context). That said, if you have read the previous entry, then you should know that this skips ahead a bit. Ench and Velle are working together. Ench only knows how to get to the underworld through his death. They discover that the bog witch of Hasreah has traveled through the underworld before.
Names pronounced: Ench=ink, Velle=rhymes with “Belle”; Lolli=like lollipop
The Bog Witch
The full moon peeked out on the eastern horizon. The hellhounds would be hungry and Lolli had no meat for them. She could give them the cow. The hounds preferred human flesh, but she didn’t have a better solution. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be too upset and rip her apart like they’d threatened last time.
She thought of checking the rabbit traps again when chattering from the overgrown road caught her attention.
Humans? Was she so lucky?
“All I’m saying is the sun is over-hyped.” A male voice said. “It’s just a hot ball in the sky that makes me glisten and you smell.”
“I don’t smell!” A female voice said. “And literally nothing could live without it.”
“And yet you want to go to a place where everything lives without it.”
They saw her when she saw them. A white-haired young man in a bright orange outfit and a beautiful woman in drab trousers.
“Hello,” the woman said. “I’m Velle and this is–”
“Ench: mercenary, wasp whisperer, culinary expert.” He bowed. “At your service.”
“We’d like to speak with the bog witch.”
Lolli nodded. “Follow me.”
She led them inside, seating them at the table of the large room that functioned as kitchen and living area. The loft held her small bed and meager belongings. A locked door stood behind the table — a private room.
“You must be famished,” Lolli smiled.
“We’re not here to eat,” Velle said. “We need the bog witch’s help to find an entrance to the underworld.”
Lolli wagged her finger. “Hospitality first.”
Velle huffed, but sat down. Lolli ladled steaming soup from the pot on the stove into two bowls which she placed before the guests.
“Hot, spicy soup.” Lolli took a seat across from them. “Eat it all and the bog witch will see you.”
Velle took a sip and immediately began coughing. Lolli suppressed a snicker. Those who couldn’t stomach the special soup fell into an immediate fatal illness. After they died, their bodies were fed to the hellhounds.
Ench tucked into the soup like he hadn’t eaten in days. After four bowls, he sat back patting his stomach. Velle finished her first serving with watering eyes and a wheeze. Lolli stared, shocked. They’d both eaten it and lived.
“Fabulous,” Ench smiled. “The heat reminds me of the 9 times I’ve burned down Citadel City.”
“Where’s the witch?” Velle pounded her fist on the table. “We ate the soup. Now tell us how to get to the underworld.”
Lolli cleared her throat. “I’ll get the witch now.”
She took the key out from her dress pocket and opened the door behind the table, slamming it closed. The room was in complete darkness. As the witch liked it.
A searing, electric heat shot through every inch of Lolli’s body. She fell to her knees as power coursed through her veins. The surge subsided with a shiver.
She rose slowly, wiping her brow. Her body was always steaming after the transformation.
A long howl filled the night. The hellhounds were hungry. Wanting to go to the underworld was a foolish request. She’d do them a favor by ending their lives here. She had just the trick.
She stepped out of the room.
“You want to know the way to the underworld?” She asked.
“Yes, finally.” Velle sprang to her feet.
She led them outside. The day’s heat was cooling and the round moon shone bright. The dark waters of the bog were still. They crossed the boundary of her property.
“How long will the journey take?” Velle asked.
“Something’s not right,” Ench said. “Why are you helping us for nothing?”
The witch turned back and grinned.
She placed a whistle to her lips and blew. Two hellhounds dashed out from the trees. Velle and Ench spun around and ran as the hounds gave chase.
“If one of you survives, I’ll take you,” she called after them. “Not that either of you will.”
She went inside to make a cup of hot tea and wait. There was something odd about those two. They weren’t mere humans. Ench’s aura was as troubling as his name. And Velle’s sword was familiar.
If they were eaten, she had nothing to worry about. If they found a way to defeat the hellhounds… Well, she’d find a way out of taking them.
Only fools sought the underworld. She’d vowed never to return. She hoped to keep that promise.
Several hours later, she felt two beings cross her boundary. She sighed. They’d returned… alive.
Words: 756/800; Screenshots: 11/12
Please support SimLit by reading the other entries to the challenge and vote for the ones you most enjoyed here! (The entries will be compiled there on Sept 4. Until then they can be found on the forum just scroll).
A/N: This is a very condensed version of a much longer scene I titled The Princess and the Witch. After I edit it, I’ll post it on my blog. I’ll also do the in-between chapter where Ench and Velle decide to work together. However, these may not be posted until next week as I need to get my final Black Widow posts out this week. 😛
CC: Ench and Velle’s outfits are the same as in The Shadow King. Harrah’s top is by Dansimsfantasy. All exterior shots are Planet_N0va’s Glimmerbrook Witch Hut. All interior shots are sets by me.