Even bound in iron chains the witch radiated a casual menace. Its wrists were slack at its sides, draped in the brilliant sunlit metal and its neck bore a tight iron circle as well. It looked like a lion bound. A bare chest rose and fell with measured breaths.
The town’s people kept their distance, all of them standing well away from the beast and marking themselves with religious signs. They were scandalized, incensed, but more than anything they were afraid. The witch had been living among them for an undisclosed amount of time. They had not known. They went about their business while the creature lived among them, ate of their food and shared in their labor. They feared reprisal from the church, they feared reprisal from the crown, and they feared whatever mischief it had done among them.
The witch-hunter was the only one who would approach it directly. He was the one who caught it after all. The hunter stepped forward and when he did the townspeople were emboldened to heckle the witch. The crofter’s boy threw a rotten plum which splashed across the creature’s face. A few were brazen enough to cheer at that, but the witch-hunter drew a closed fist into the air: the gesture demanded silence. No one was foolish enough to speak after that.
“Creature,” he began, “the following charges are laid against you: spiritual corruption, collusion with demonic forces and intent to further demonic goals. You stand accused of working against the heavenly messiah and his earthly envoy, the Queen, and her country.
Do you gainsay these charges?”
The creature looked up through dark matted hair and spoke.
“Corruption. Collusion,” it said, as if testing the edges of the words, and then dropped its head. “Your charges do not interest me.”
There was an uproar among the townspeople. Cries of heresy and more signs against demonic harm. The witch-hunter noticed the variety of gestures and prayers, this town had yet to be converted to the One Church. He made a note of it.
“Then you are sentenced to destruction, creature. Three days hence at the Abbey of Whitehill. May the Messiah’s judgment find you penitent.”
The witch-hunter turned away from the creature and started toward the town’s mayor. The man was feckless and nervous. Apologies tumbled from him pathologically.
“Please forgive us, my lord. Our town is inexperienced with matters such as these. The witch…it, it, it likely obscured our minds, my lord.”
The witch-hunter raised an eyebrow, and said, “the sentence for spiritual corruption is death. Are you suggesting that your village has been tainted?”
The mayor lost his color in an instant.
“No! I mean to say, I meant to say — I’m sure…I apologize for our incompetence, my lord. Thank you for weeding out the black root. We are in your debt eternally.”
“I’ll need two strong horses,” the witch-hunter announced, “in order to move fleetly down-mountain and reach Whitehill in three days. And I am no man’s lord.”
The mayor was agreeing to the request before the hunter finished his sentence. He gave the impression that he would have given over his own daughters to be done with the matter. The hunter began to step away when the town’s mystic approached. He wore the green motley of the druid priests.
“Witch-hunter. A word?” he asked reverently.
The hunter stepped aside and allowed the man to speak.
“It was my understanding that the One Church executed witches on the spot.”
“Do you question my methods, earth-worshipper?”
The druid winced.
“I only suggest that one man alone with the witch for three days is dangerous. Who knows how it might prey on your mind in the wild. Is it not safer —” He drew a line casually across his throat. “— to be done with the thing?”
The hunter regarded the man, who smelled of turned earth and pine. Yet to have spoken he must have something of the earth in him, the hunter decided, some invisible hardness.
“You do not consult me with your auguries, throwing rats into flames and burying the bones like some mad crone. Do not speak to me of my trade, druid. Leave me to my work and leave my sight.”
The druid was quick to comply, but there was some reticence left in his features. The hunter did not care.
It was nearly noon by the time the town put together what had been called for. The horses were strong and sure-footed, trained in the high hills and mountains. They also provided food and water for the three day journey though the hunter had not asked it of them. He was brief with his thanks and ensured them that the church would reimburse any cost. An emissary would surely come to the village before spring. A proper priest to kiss babies and read sermons, not a terse long-haired bull of a man whose gaze struck fear without admiration or love to balance it.
The hunter left just after noon with the witch strapped to one of the horses as he rode the other. The villagers watched and made their signs as the witch was marched away from their homes.
The going was easy for the first day. The land around the village was fertile and the roads well-tended. The hunter stopped a few times to water the horses and rest them. The witch needed no such considerations. They waited out much of the afternoon and took up again just before sundown. They traveled half the night with the hunter watching in the dark with eyes keener than most.
On the second day they turned and began moving up-mountain. The going was harder then, but the horses knew their business and were as sure-footed as advertised. It grew colder as they climbed and the horses were blanketed to keep warm. The witch, bare chested and feral even in the chill, was not given the same luxury.
The third day passed much as the previous three had. Sporadic travel throughout the day and periodic rests for the horses as the hunter followed some unseen path through the mountain range. Then they stopped in a clearing cloistered in by huge jutting rocks on every side. It was just before noon and the air was frosty despite the bold sun and clear sky. The hunter took care of the horses and lashed them up to a nearby rock. He pulled the witch down from its horse and took it to the center of the clearing.
The witch watched him closely through its curtain of unruly hair.
“The Abbey of Whitehill is in the other direction, hunter. Have you no maps to consult?” it said.
The hunter did not respond. Instead he drew his sword. It was brazen in the sunlight. It was brighter than mere steel. With his sword raised, he cut down swiftly and through the iron at the witch’s wrists. Again he raised and again he cut, this time through the iron collar. He did this a few more times and the witch was no longer bound. The hunter sheathed his sword again.
The witch gave a wary look at his hands and then back at the hunter. “What sport is this?”
The hunter did not deign to answer, instead he walked over to a mound of rocks and began kicking them aside. As he did a form appeared beneath them. A man long dead and covered only by a filthy, tattered cloak.
“The hunter who was sent to kill you, brother. You were reckless. And it was a near thing. I had to reveal myself to him and lure him into these mountains so that I could kill him and assume his identity.”
The witch blinked as things became clear. “Another witch then. So I am saved.”
The false hunter nodded. “And I am owed.”
The witch was slow to nod. To acknowledge the debt. It could only be paid with power and after his captivity he was loathe to relinquish even a little, but such debts could not go ignored. The witch began the formal rite for ceding power to another practitioner.
“I, Zacharius, offer my name to you, brother,” the witch said.
“I, Orestes, offer my name to you, brother,” the false hunter replied.
In that circle of rocks, shielded from the eyes of any mortals, the two witches shed their disguises and stepped into the cold with purified bodies and names. Zacharius was not much changed in body, but his long hair was clean and pulled away from his face by a silver clasp. His body was still muscular for a witch, suggesting that perhaps he was invested with some deep vanity. Orestes, the false hunter, had shed his skin and was as different as night from day. The gruff, surly witch hunter was gone and a slim, youthful man had taken his place. His short hair was curly and golden, but his smile was too clever by half. He looked young, but conjuring youth was nothing to a witch and it was unlikely that either witch had chosen to show their true forms to each other. Even in the depths of their ritual, something was still held back. It was their nature.
“Orestes, of the ageless brotherhood, do you accept my offer of power?” Zacharius said.
Orestes opened both hands. “I do.”
The air was charged. As if a lightning storm was coming on. The space between the rocks darkened. The light of high noon bent around the place.
Zacharius went down to his hands and knees in the snow and didn’t even remotely feel the cold. Orestes approached from behind him and placed both hands on his ass. His hands were warm beyond the warmth of flesh. It signaled his excitement. His desire to devour another witch’s power. He used his hands to spread Zacharius open and led with his tongue.
The contact of tongue to hole caused Zacharius to instinctively shudder. His hole twitched as Orestes made a meal out of it, licking and sucking sloppily. Zacharius withheld his own pleasure for a time, but the other witch’s spirited rimming made it untenable. He allowed himself to desire it and the ceding of his power began in earnest.
Saliva dripped down over Zacharius’s balls while Orestes prepared his hole. It was easy to reach back and swipe a handful of the spit to lubricate his own growing erection.
Once Zacharius began touching himself, Orestes knew he was ready. The slender witch needed only to imagine his cock wet and slippery and it was so. He positioned himself against his brother’s hole and pushed forward. Somewhere above them thunder clapped.
There was no denying the pleasure that flooded through Zacharius once Orestes was fully inside him. The witch fucked him with abandon. He grunted liberally and pressed a hand against Zacharius’s neck to push him down into the snow. With the other witch’s face down and his ass fully exposed, Orestes was go deeper than before, to both of their pleasure. There was a rawness to their sex. A savagery that resounded through the rocks.
The rules of this exchange were clearly delineated though it seemed like nothing more than sordid pleasure. Zacharius kept his focus on the sensations emanating from his ass, the heat generated by the other witch pounding into him, opening him up with each thrust. He kept the feeling clear in his mind and used it to bring himself closer to his eventual orgasm, his cession.
Zacharius let himself cum when the feeling grew too strong to push back any longer.
Orestes felt the witch cumming: his insides twitched and clamped down, but Orestes only pressed deeper. The power was there suddenly. The trade had been made. Only then did Orestes let himself cum, filling Zacharius with his seed in wild gushes and concluding their business.
When it was done Zacharius lay in the snow catching his breath. He felt the cold now. Not so keenly as a human would, but in a somewhat distant, annoying way like hearing a fly buzzing around the room. He lay there leaking the other witch’s fluid and willing himself to stand but finding himself strangely short of breath. By the time he stood, Orestes was already wearing a new face and was stepping into new clothes. Zacharius followed suit, changing his features until he could not remotely be associated with a witch who had been caught a few days prior.
“You’ll be weak for a time, brother. I fucked you thoroughly and dug deeply into your reservoir,” Orestes said bluntly, but without malice. “I suggest you stay out of trouble. The next hunter you encounter might not be a fox in wolves’ skins.”
Zacharius took the advice as he brought clothes into the world and dressed. He found he was thankful for the extra layer of warmth. The cold was more annoying than he remembered.
“Thank you, brother. I don’t think I shall require your help again.”
Orestes grinned. A ghost of his youthful smile on his now grisled features. “A pity. Your ass was sweet.”
They agreed to take a horse each and Zacharius let his savior leave first. He watched the other witch make his way down the winding mountain path. Zacharius waited until the sun set before he began making his way. He was not sure where he would go. Though the idea of vengeance against the villagers who had chained him was appealing, he thought it was better to wait. Wait until his power had grown again. And if it took a generation or two, what of it? Would the children of those villagers be any less bloodthirsty and cruel, as men and women? Would they deserve his vengeance any less?
He considered these things as he mounted the sure-footed horse and made his way back to civilization.