“Kill her! Kill that blasphemous creature!”
“Kill that witch!”
“Kill… Kill… Kill!”
Celeste turned her lifeless eyes to the yawping crowd in the distance. She knew these people as she grew up with these familiar faces who were condemning her to death. Her village had turned its back on her. Their mouths were chastising her as if she was a wretched criminal who plagued the town, the same people with whom she cared and loved and shared joyous moments. She wanted to laugh and scream at the same time.
The covenant was right.
“Humans could never be trusted. Their greed will devour you. Their pride will tear you into pieces. There’s nothing to them but hypocrisy.”
And her sisters died of the same cause.
Funny how they all ended up with the same fate as the humans. Bitter tears started spilling on her bruised cheeks. It stung her eyes that she just wanted them closed forever.
The nimbus clouds started to dissipate throughout the elevated plain. The loud cheers were soon silenced by a clang of a sturdy sword unsheathing. Celeste returned her gaze to the man standing like a regal god of war in front of her. This man was the infamous Archduke of Levonne, Ezekiel Nicholas De Clarzus, ruler of the Northern Arkaean borders known for its constant wars. He was called ‘The Black Reaper’ and was feared by many. His golden eyes were flickering grievously as though it has seen prey. His medium-length raven hair was tousled by the wind as he slowly trod the grassy terrain.
She knew, he came to take her life.
“Mister, you have beautiful eyes,” she uttered in a croaked voice. “...The rarest of them all. The one who is loved by God.”
“Celeste Evergreen, I am here to execute you for your crimes,” came a firm baritone voice of the Archduke; not even batting an eye.
She fell into silence for a moment. “Crimes, huh?” A small painful smile formed on her lips.
She was dragged helplessly to the outskirts of town and was beaten till bruised, yet, she didn’t fight back. She thought the villagers would appeal for her innocence from the accusations of the Aristocrats who came to her place, but none of them stepped out… just unanimous screams of her damnation.
“Do you know any of my crimes, your highness?”
His face was glowering at the prospect of an unwanted question. You could see his abhorrence in conversing with people that he was about to kill. He never gave a damn about anything. It was visible all over his face.
“Is it because I’m a witch? A piece of advice, my Lord. You need to look more into your kind!" She hissed. “I refuse to die in this feebled state,” she mumbled to herself.
Determined, Celeste stood up with all the strength she had left—unmindful of her battered body. And with her magic, she broke the shackles that kept her movements limited. The knights who were guarding her side took a step back and pointed their swords at her.
Her long silver-white hair glistened as she released her remaining power. She was tattered and almost drained of her mana from torture but she would not go down without a fight. She gestured her fingers up and the ground started to rumble. The soldiers fell to their knees from the violent shaking.
The elements started their ghastly melody in response to their master’s call.
‘Oh, forest witch, the green caster... we hear thy plea. Woe is the man who stands before thee. We will tremble the land and bind the castle with our thorns. They will know of our master’s wrath as they forlorn!’
“It's the power of the devil!”
The tormented cries of the townspeople echoed as they witnessed the witch's power from up close. Screams of horror and panic thundered the area, and they began to run for their lives—saving themselves from the ravaging strength of the 'being' they once called a friend. But Celeste was done with their dissimulation. The unfamiliar rage of emotions was currently gripping her rationality. She felt no compassion nor affection for the ones who betrayed her and now desired her death!
Though the Archduke was unbothered on the other side. Grimmingly silent at the sight of the white witch's magic. He was never fazed despite the commotion she caused. Celeste swept the rest of the knights who were trying to get close to her by the huge vines of trees that uprooted from the ground, getting rid of those who stood in her way!
Coming close to the Archduke, she faced him with rage provoking the High Noble yet he just kept watching her with the same neutral demeanor.
"I hope our paths will not cross in the next life."
She saw a small smirk on his lips after hearing what she said and finally lifted his sword. A golden light transpired from the blade that quickly spread throughout his body. An incredible magic pressure was then felt within a vast radius. Normal human beings would not stand a chance to counter it, thus the people fell on their knees.
'A swordmaster’s aura.'
The Archduke was parading his might for the white witch to see who she was up against.
Her eyebrows furrowed at the sight of his monstrous power. She knew the ancestry of the De Clarzus family. The clan was divined by the blood of the 'Supreme Being' that was passed down from generation to generation of their blessed power. With her current condition, she would not stand a chance. Death was near.
“My Lord, please try not to create a crate if you’re planning to blast the place. The villagers rely on their farmlands,” shouted the man in black military uniform behind the Archduke to which she assumed he was one of the Archduke's men.
In return, the Archduke only threw a sharp look at the man and the poor guy shuddered.
“I’m just saying, my Lord,” the man sighed in defeat and ordered the soldiers to take the unconscious people away who didn’t withstand the aura that his majesty released. He adjusted his thick-lens eyeglasses. “Don’t put your guard down, my Lord. It’s the Forest Witch that we’re talking about. The mages had already extracted a great amount of her mana but she remained powerful.”
“You don’t have to remind me, Aron,” came a warning reply from the Archduke. One more word from him and he would have his head fallen before the witch.
“Y-Yeah... Alright, your highness. I’ll be, Uhm, going over there, and be sure to take note of your mightiness.” The man immediately moved away like a scared pup running for his life.
A flash of lightning disturbed the sky turning her focus back to the Northern Lord. Celeste struck first, swaying her hand like an orchestra conductor, and the earth protruded where the Archduke stood. He just simply leaped and glided into the air as he slashed his sword toward her. A jet of vibrant golden light broke through her defenses cutting the flesh in her abdominal area. She quickly held her stomach to stop the bleeding. His mana was far superior to hers.
Chanting was useless now, she had lost too much mana to heal herself. Her sunken eyes gazed at her opponent, with her free hand, she manipulated the vines to take hold of the Archduke's feet but to no avail. He just disregarded it with one flounder of his sword.
Celeste felt her whole body tremble as she coughed up blood from the swirling ache in her stomach. Yet she was still fighting not to lose consciousness even if she knew the end was near. "Just a little more..."
There on the grasses, she had collapsed with a heavy breath. Even with her eyesight dimming, she tried to put her last defense, commanding the Earth and tree vines to cover her despite the wavering mana within her body.
‘Master... oh, master!’ The weeping sound of her elements was ringing in her ears.
The Archduke walked towards where she was lying, in her weakened state she tried to strike him once more but he just deflected it with ease.
“Now you can pay your crimes in the afterlife, Witch of the forest,” he muttered, eyes full of contempt staring down at her. “The children you consumed will have their rest. Your lust ends here in filth.”
“C-Children? I’m innocent!” She wanted to defend herself, but her mouth just quivered open. Her senses were fading and she could not even comprehend what the people had been shouting around them in the distance.
The rain began falling as if the sky was mourning her forthcoming death. The face of her executioner replaced the gray sky. His golden eyes were truly as bright as the sun as he stared at the pitiful state of the white witch. She could see no sympathy on there. And with a swing of his golden blade, the Archduke entrenched her heart in cold blood.
With a wounded heart and soul, Celeste finally closed her eyes as her system gushed with bleak coldness.