Scary October needs a scary witch, and the fantasy Autumn Spells by Edie Roones offers us Neehla.
Eager to re-embody herself in a younger woman, Neehla builds her sorcerous spell.
In this life her name was Neehla. Over many lives, she had lost some things, gained others. Through them all, her sorcery remained tangible evil, woven from the elemental air and the incense of her spells.
Her fingers flew across the loom, weaving a snare for the unwary. She snatched a spiral of smoke from the air and twisted it deftly before joining the sorcered strand to the thread on the shuttle. As it shot across the warp threads on the loom, the gray smoke deepened, becoming as darkly hued as the power that shaped it.
The old woman’s lips voiced the spell, a susurration designed to entrap and bind. Her words rustled around the room, their dark intent still as insubstantial as the air from which she wove her spell.
Once the spell was completed, once she released it on her prey, her intent would be
as tangible as the iron chains that bound prisoners to the dungeon walls, as her prey would be bound to her. She worked in deepest night. No one would overhear this work. No one would suspect her dark intent. She was the castle’s dame, sworn to help and heal. No one knew she was a sorceress incarnated many times in bodies willing and unwilling. Old in evil, Neehla had learned to hide her purpose so she could continue
As she would continue, once she had another body to use.
Madda stood guard outside the room although poor old fool did not know she kept watch for a sorceress. Neehla laughed silently at that. Should someone come—and who would come this late?—but should someone come, the old woman would give her mistress the few seconds she needed to make everything appear innocent. No one would interrupt, though. No one thought anything more about the keep’s old dame except that she was good for healing. That would change. Soon she would take control of Senric Keep, its people and its buildings. Until that day, she must work secretly.
So she wove her ensorcelled blanket by dark of night.
Power darkened her fingertips as the shuttle flew across the warp threads. Again a tendril of smoke, a twist to shape it, and the shuttle snapped back across the purple strands. She worked with the colors of her powers, the staining purple and the abyssal black, strongest of the dark powers, hardest for her to wield.
Three lifetimes ago she had first thrust her hand into its inky depths. She paid with the energy it drained from her body, but the toll was worth it. Senric would be a name in these plains, a name to be feared, a name that the Watrani overlord must reckon with when his troops came to conquer northern Mullen, as he had conquered the southern keeps this past summer.
Aye, she’d rule three score years more. With a new body, a strong young lord snared to her side, and a return to her great puissance, no foreign lord would dare unseat her, no matter what tamed sorcerers came at his side.
The shuttle flashed back. She smoothed the blackened strands of smoke, as taut and strong as the thread. Tonight, the blanket would be finished. Tomorrow her years of planning and of hoarding her powers would be near their end. Tomorrow she would await his return.
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