The Witch-Hazels

The following is an excerpt from Phantammeron Book One by author Mitchell Stokely.

Ana and the Witch-Hazels

Ana saw that the trees appeared to have many strange faces wrapped about their trunks, like that of ancient seers tortured by some unending madness. Bearded and black, with crooked noses and hollow cheeks, the largest trees seemed to bear upon their trunks the grimaced and distorted faces of possessed and hoary wizards, born of some lost arcane and evil world. Wrinkled and worn, their countenances bore the struggles of an endless and apocalyptic war, in which the horrors of some uncontrollable black magic had been unleashed upon them, lashing its full fury back upon their masters.

With the sound of the horse’s hooves, the faces of the trees now awakened. The glowing orbs of their cold and expressionless eyes poked through their crumbling and ragged bark to stare at the small girl as she passed between them. Their eyes shined forth with a ghoulish glow, their numerous orbs hovering in the hollows of the distant woods as they passed. Some burned from deep down with a devilish fire, like that of red-hot coals, while others shined out with a pale green or aqua glow. Most just simmered with strange and bewitching, smoke-filled globes, hypnotizing her with their enchanting lights.For the spirits that dwelt within these demonic trees could use their seductive gaze to tempt the living. The wary traveler so entranced would then fall into a cursed sleep. They would then be dragged to their death in the cold mud beneath their roots, their flesh consumed by the devilish trees that had reached up to grab them and pull them down.

But the pale horse seemed to know of the tricks of the witch-hazel, and would not tarry long. The spells placed upon Ana were soon broken by his brisk and determined gait.But as Ana passed close to their trunks, the vile trees began to whisper into her ear, strange half-heard words of ominous forebodings, mutterings, mumblings, and meaningless babblings of an ancient and forgotten tongue. Some shouted out in rage, unintelligible incantations and lost enchantments left from some cryptic age of dark sorcery. But nothing came of their archaic words. For the demonic spirits of the trees had been sundered from their ancient homeland long ago. And so their black magic could hold no power over the living in Phantaia.

– the Author



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