I initially planned to make this story into an illustrated piece, with one full-page illustration per paragraph, with the text working within each illustration somehow, but with a combination of lack of time and acknowledgment of insufficient skill level at that point to do it justice, I had to put it on that ever more crowded back-burner.
I'd like to give it a go at some stage, I'm thinking black & white, heavy inks with a thick brush, a combination of scratchy and tight in the right spots. But for now, I give you...
The Hedge Witch
Rainwater drips off unclean hair. A brow furrows, a jaw shudders. The Hedge Witch is dying. Dying... in this awful, wet, dirty, lonely place.
She does not know why she dies. She only knows that she can not stop it, though she still tries, so hard. But she cannot contain the life-blood that seeps through her pores, washing away in the rain, quickly replaced by more.
Her mind drifts to warmer days. Green leaves and youth. Power sought and power wrought. The ground and its heart. Its secrets. They opened up to her like a flower. Of flight. Fire. Sight.
She digs her claws into the ground in a panic, seeking that once so familiar life-force. But it does not listen to her pleas, it chooses not to. Why has she abandoned her, the great mother of the earth. Why must she die? Not now?
Bare feet suddenly stand before her. The harsh and evil man with his long beard and magic branch. He looks down at her with lightning behind him, flashing his silhouette, burning into her eyes.
He yells his made up lies, but she knows that there is a part of her that sees that they are not. She weeps. She weeps for the horrid things she has done. The people she did these things to. She was so very wrong to do it. But the power... the power.
With effort she rises. Defiance painted on her face, but with remorse scribbled around the edges. She stands and faces the Mage. Her hair a mess of twigs and mud. Her clothes of fabric and moss. Her skin pale and red.
The Mage looks at her, back. He sees her resolve, but pleads to her regret. He says there is no other way. She knows he is wrong. With one final surge, she engulfs herself in power. The Mage anticipates.
He shields himself. A circle of blue. It cracks. He screams. The Hedge Witch looks out, through a wall of fire. She can smell burning hair, her own. But she does not die. She does not die...
The Mage falls. His magic branch broken. She will mend it all the same. He is gone, she remains. She questions why she lives, she does not know. She only knows that she can not stop it, her life. But she will try, so hard.
But this is her Hedge. She is queen here. None shall destroy her while she resides, though she will invite them. It is her green. Her Shield. Her home.
100 Heads in 100 Days #45
Unusually, considering I am Australian, I'm not a fan of hot days. I'd take cold and rain over dry and hot any day.