Personal Short Narrative
"To the wealthy citizens of Pendragon she was Commandant Miranda Weston, but to people of the slums she was known only as The Witch, though no one ever dared to call her that to her face."
The story below is a work in progress and represents only a fraction of my passion for worldbuilding.
Josh tightened his grip on Sarah’s hand and slowly lowered her onto the balcony beneath him.
“That’s as far as I can reach,” he whispered staring down at Sarah’s tangled brown hair blowing violently in the wind.
“Alright. I’m going to let go, Josh. Wish me luck.”
Sarah exhaled and relaxed her hand and felt her arm slide out of Josh’s grip before landing softly on the floor beneath her. The muscles in her legs tensed as her bare feet touched the cold marble floor, sending shivers up her spine.
“Are you sure you want to do this? If she catches you it’s five years in the gallows.”
“Shut up and just be ready at the exit with Tim,” she whispered back as she pointed to the large wooden door at the end of the apartment.
“Alright, we’ll see you outside.”
Sarah took a deep breath and looked at the ceiling and waited as the sound of Josh’s footsteps faded away in the distance. Reaching into her tattered shorts she pulled out her pocket watch and winced as her finger slipped on the the broken glass on the watch face. She stared at the watch trying to make out time through the fresh blood seeping into the cracks of the watch. It was was now or never she thought to herself. The Witch's pendant had to be in the apartment somewhere but the hard part was finding it, and Sarah had never seen an apartment so big.
With her watch safely stored in her pocket, Sarah carefully stood up and turned the handle on the large balcony door which, much to her surprise, opened with ease. For the leader of the city guard, the Witch was surprising lax with her own security. Feeling a sense of pride, Sarah careless walked into the living room and let herself fall back onto the couch at the center of the room. The smile growing on Sarah’s face quickly disappeared when she heard the echo of music playing in the distance. Had the Witch come home early?
Normally, on the day of the annual Flying Fish Airship Parade, the Witch would make her typical long-winded speech to the city guard, patrol the slums, and then change clothes back at her apartment slightly before the parade’s start. By Sarah’s count she should have had another twenty minutes at least. Before she had a chance to react, the door to the bedroom flew open letting the sound of dance music fill the apartment. Frozen in place, Sarah stared straight ahead hoping that she had sunk down far enough into the couch not to be seen from behind. While she often claimed to be fearless, the fact of the matter was that the Witch terrified her. To the wealthy citizens of Pendragon she was Commandant Miranda Weston, but to people of the slums she was known only as The Witch, though no one ever dared to call her that to her face. And to this day the only person that had gotten close was Alex Tate, a young orphan, who spent a week locked in the stocks in the Pendragon town square for simply mentioning the word "witch" within earshot of the commandant.
“Who’s there?!” Miranda shouted, certain that she had heard a noise coming from her apartment living room. Out of the corner of her eye she saw her balcony door cluttering in the wind. Realizing that it was probably just the wind that had blown open the door resulting in the sound she mistook as an intruder, she relaxed and walked to the balcony doors. With the doors shut she pulled out a small gold key from her pants pocket. After turning the key in the small hole underneath the door handle, she firmly pulled the door toward herself.
Confident that the door was now securely locked she turned around ready to return to her bedroom when she spotted a pair of black marks on the white marble floor leading up to her couch. At first she thought that another cat had climbed into her apartment through the open door but there was something about these marks that were distinctly human. Someone was in her appartment. For the first time in her life Miranda felt naked. As the leader of the city guard she could defend herself, but she was rarely caught off guard and never expected anyone to break into her home. Careful not to alert her intruder she slowly reached for the sword hanging off of her hip. With her hand resting on the hilt of her sword, she calmly calculated her next move all the while cursing herself for changing into a sundress. In an instant she turned, drew her sword, and violent plunged it into the couch.
Surprised, Sarah muffled a scream as the Witch’s sword pierced the couch. She was certain that had she not moved from the couch to the hallway corner that she would be dead. The Witch moved inhumanly fast and for a split second Sarah thought that she looked just like an angel as she gracefully lunged at the couch in her white dress. With the Witch in the living room, Sarah knew there was no way she could make it to the front door now but she had to do something.
“I know you’re in here. Surrender and I promise that you won’t spend your time in prison limping!” the Witch yelled, swinging her sword around in an violent arc. The bedroom. If she could make it to the bedroom Sarah figured that she could slip out of one of the windows while the Witch was still searching the living room. She quickly spun around and squeezed herself through the gap left between the bedroom door. Sitting atop the dresser in the bedroom was the thing that had caused Sarah to risk her life, the Witch’s pendant. And Sarah realized that if she had to run she wasn’t going to empty handed -- she had come too far. Ignoring every impulse in her head telling her to leave, Sarah ran to dresser, grabbed the pendant, and threw it into her pocket. As she turned to face the bedroom window, she felt her right foot slip on the marble of the bedroom floor and fell helplessly to the ground. She kicked at the floor desperate to gain traction on the slick marble as she crawled towards the window. With her head ringing, she picked herself up and stumbled to the bedroom window. Knowing that she had only a few moments at best, Sarah threw open the window with reckless abandon and called out to Josh and Tim, patiently waiting below at the apartment’s front door.
“Hey, I’ve got it! Catch me, I’m going to jump!” she yelled. As she climbed out the window, Sarah screamed as a sharp pain cut across her back. Beneath the window, Tim and Josh closed their eyes as they watched Sarah fall from the window. When they heard Sarah still yelling the two boys opened their eyes to see her violently kicking at the woman holding her by the ankle. The Witch had caught Sarah. Fearing for his friend’s life, Josh ran directly under Sarah and prepared himself to catch her.
“Sarah, I’m ready. I’ll catch you,” he yelled.
“Let go of me you Bitch!”
Hanging upside down, Sarah pulled back her leg and firmly kicked the Witch in the head causing her to release her steely grip on her ankle. Now free from the Witch’s grasp, Sarah wrapped her arms around her head before falling into Josh’s arms. With Sarah in his arms, Josh now found himself falling backwards from Sarah’s momentum when Tim grabbed his back. The three children scrambled to regain their footing and ran out towards the city street. Sarah clutched at her chest. The adrenaline had made her heart beat faster than she had ever felt but it had also dulled the pain of the large gash on her back so she was thankful. She had made it out of the apartment, but the Witch would not be far behind and now Josh and Tim were in danger too.
“Split up!” she yelled as they ran through the city streets.
“No way!” both boys yelled back in unison.
“I’m the fastest, and the Witch is faster than all of us, so do what I say! I’ll get you your tickets, idiots!”
As they approached a fork in the road the three children nodded and went their separate ways, Sarah taking the more visible and obvious path. She started to panic as the sound of the Witch’s signature boots grew louder and louder. Sarah looked ahead and saw the small tattered booths that lined the streets, a familiar vestige of the slums. Breathing deeply, the smell of freshly baked bread with a hint of cinnamon began to overwhelm her and she couldn’t help but smile as the cobblestone beneath her feet started to crack and break.
Sarah could never forget this particular corner of the slums as every day, old man Barthanus’ would set aside whatever old scraps of bread were left from his bakery’s previous day’s sale for her and the other orphans; even though his shop barely managed to stay afloat. All she had to do now was make another right turn at the next alley and she would be safe. The sound of the Witch’s boots was deafening and Sarah could practically feel her sword cutting into her flesh again when she saw her hideout.
Sarah lunged and slid along the slime on the ground into a small drainage ditch at the end of the alley. She was safe. Ten minutes later Sarah found herself at the other end of the slums far away from the search she figured the Witch was no doubt organizing to hunt her down. In the distance she finally saw her goal, Gilroy’s Exotic Wares. Panting, she threw open the door to the shop and staggered to the counter of the dusty pawn shop and slapped the Witch’s pendant down on the counter.
“Three tickets, please.” she said between baited breaths.
“Didn’t think you’d actually get it. You’re lucky. I was just about to sell these. The parade’s almost about to start.” replied Eric Gilroy as he handed Sarah three red tickets. Without saying a word, Sarah turned and walked towards the exit. Grasping the door handle in her hand, Sarah paused and turned to Gilroy.
“Can you deliver something for me?” she asked. Outside of Gilroy’s shop Sarah handed Josh and Tim their tickets to the Flying Fish Airship Parade. When the two boys noticed Sarah only had two tickets instead of three they looked at her puzzled.
“Aren’t you coming, Sarah?” they asked.
“No. They’re just fish airships. And I should probably have this looked at” she replied, pointing with her thumb to the large cut on her back.
“I’ll go next time. I’m only sixteen. I have my whole life left to see that dumb parade. See ya’ later,” she said wiping away tears from her face. Walking back to the interior of the slums Sarah stopped for a moment to feel the broken cobblestone underneath her feet as she found herself at her favorite corner again. She glanced back at Barthanus’ bakey and smiled at the red sign that hung in the window that read, “Back in Twenty. Finally, gone to see the Flying Fish!”