The Hedge Witch Diaries Book 1: Witch of The Woods
Is there such a thing as a necessary evil? Is killing a few to save many a justified action?
Witch of the Woods –
The bloody sigil carved in the warlock’s skin throbbed, not only from the wound but from the dark magic that coursed within it. A magic he’d sworn he would never use.
The scent of burning wood and charred flesh lingered in the air. Dozens were already dead. Burned at the stake. Hundreds more awaited an identical fate.
The warlock held his breath as he passed the grim scene. He didn’t know those witches. He hardly knew anyone at all. But they didn’t deserve to die.
More were soon to be judged and condemned to the same.
With a deep breath, the warlock stepped through the doors of Notre Dame de Paris, his body covered in a dark cloak that hid the magic coursing through the dark sigil on his arm.
More than a thousand men and women whipped into a fear-fueled frenzy gathered to witness the so-called trials, which weren’t trials at all. The witnesses were stacked. False promises of salvation, in exchange for public repentance, wouldn’t earn their freedom. It was all a part of the charade. Murder disguised as mercy. Those who repented might be spared the wrath of God in the life thereafter, but they’d burn all the same.
Nicholas Rémy had already claimed hundreds of lives in his relentless pursuit of purging the “ungodly devils” from the face of the Earth. A tall man with a crooked nose and sunken eyes, Rémy glared at the accused with a mixture of disgust and twisted satisfaction.
“Se repentir!” Rémy demanded from behind the towering pulpit. Repent and be “saved.” A hollow promise. Few witches ever took Rémy up on it. Why would anyone want to be saved by a god who supposedly thought they were born abominations?
The warlock leaned against a mosaic on the back of the cathedral’s narthex, his heart heavy with grief and anger. He knew he was the only one who could save the witches and end this nightmare once and for all.
His curse had made him an outcast, a hedge, a pariah among witches and men.
It also granted him immunity to Rémy’s wards. Those potent defenses had thwarted countless attempts to hinder his murderous crusade.
The warlock pulled up his sleeve, and his gaze fell upon the strange geometric sigil carved into his skin. The ancient magic, first devised by the ancient netters in Egypt, contained a power so malevolent that it could consume the user in darkness for centuries. For an immortal like him, the effects could last even longer.
Gathering his strength, the warlock charged into the sanctuary, his entrance silencing the murmurs of the crowd gathered within. His eyes blazed with determination, and the air thrummed with the force of his dark magic.
“Enough!” he roared, his voice echoing through the hallowed halls. “This farce ends now!”
The congregation gasped collectively, their eyes wide with shock and fear. Rémy’s face contorted into a snarl as he recognized the intruder for what he was – a threat to his twisted sense of order.
“Sorcière!” Rémy shouted, pointing at the warlock with a trembling finger. Dozens of men, their faces a mix of fury and fear, turned and fixed their eyes on the warlock.
There was no turning back. The fate of the accused witches rested upon his shoulders, and he would do whatever it took to save them, even if it meant losing himself to the darkness.
“May the spirits protect me and guide my hand,” he prayed silently, preparing to unleash the full force of his terrible power.
The warlock braced himself as the fearful mob surged toward him like a tidal wave of humanity, their eyes burning with fervent zeal.
His heart pounded, but he refused to give in to the panic that threatened to consume him. The warlock flourished his hands and unleashed a torrent of wind, its howling force sending them tumbling back like leaves caught in a tempest.
“Back, I say!” he roared, resolute as stone. “I have come to put an end to this madness and free those who have been falsely accused!”
“Blasphème!” Rémy spat, his eyes narrow slits of hatred.
The warlock met Rémy’s gaze, feeling the weight of countless lives hanging in the balance. There was no more time for words. The moment had come to take action. With a deep breath, he closed his eyes, summoning the darkness that coursed through his veins like a river of shadows.
“May the spirits guide me,” the warlock murmured, opening his eyes to reveal orbs of pure darkness, blacker than the deepest abyss. He spread his arms wide, releasing the pent-up energy within him in a cataclysmic explosion of power.
The soundless blast tore through the church, its shockwave rippling outward like a pebble cast into a still pond. The air crackled with the stench of brimstone and ash as the magic flung the congregation against the walls with the force of a thousand hammers.
Rémy collapsed behind the pulpit. He was dead. So were a thousand more.
The warlock stood at the epicenter of the destruction, his expression impassive as the smell of frankincense flowed around the cathedral.
Of the many who had filled the church moments before, only the witches remained, unscathed by the warlock’s wrath. They stared at him in shock and awe, their eyes wide with disbelief.
“Go,” the warlock whispered, his voice barely audible above the susurrus of wind through the ruined church. “Leave this place, and let the spirits guide your paths.”
The witches hesitated, their fear of the dark energy emanating from the warlock palpable. Yet, they knew they had no choice but to trust this unexpected savior. Gathering their tattered garments, they huddled together and approached him cautiously.
“Who are you?” an older witch dared to ask, one of few who spoke Dorian’s native tongue, albeit with a thick French accent. Her hair was long and white. Her voice trembled with trepidation.
“An instrument of justice,” the warlock replied solemnly. “Now go, and let your lives be a testament to the end of this nightmare.”
“Forgivez-moi,” she murmured before stepping back, her eyes filling with tears. “But you must be sent from here to the new world, lest the darkness turn you into the kind of witch that justifies these people’s fear.”
A sudden tremor shook the ground beneath the warlock’s feet. His eyes widened, and he looked about in alarm as an ominous rumble filled the air. From the floor of the cathedral, littered with bodies, sprang forth a swirling violet vortex. The crackling energy that lined its edges licked at the stones of the church like hungry flames.
With a final surge of effort, the warlock wrenched free of the vortex’s grasp, only to find himself flung through the air and cast into the new world beyond. As he tumbled through the void, he could not help but wonder what lay in store for him on the other side and whether he would ever again know the light he had once cherished.
When at last he emerged, the warlock found himself in a dense forest, the trees towering above him like ancient sentinels. He clung to the trunk of a massive oak, its bark rough against his hands as he fought to steady himself.
“Help me,” he implored, his voice barely more than a whisper. “Save me from this darkness if you can.”
A hum of energy flowed from the tree. It momentarily soothed the warlock’s swelling angst, but that was all the tree could offer. He’d made his choice. He’d killed thousands, but how many more had he saved? He was already cursed. He’d already been alone. He could have sent himself back, but the witch was right. He was dangerous now, and he knew it. If the spirits willed, only time could wrest him back into the light.
Where was this dark wizard sent? Is he really a bad guy if what he did saved many? Find out the answer to these questions and more on October 12, 2023 when The Witch of the Woods: Hedge Witch Diaries Book 1 is released.