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Witch Adventure Now

Witch Adventure Now
R. Brian Campbell

To tell the truth, I didn’t want this job, which was what I was attempting to explain to my potential client.  But, sometimes you have to take the lesser of two nasty problems.  I only hope I made the right choice.

“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t think I can help you.”

“But my children. The witch has them, and I dread to think what she may do, if someone doesn’t rescue them soon.  Even now, we may be too late.”   The man was pleading with me.  He looked desperate, and it was obvious that he dearly loved his children.

But he was also poor, which was where the problem lay.  “I understand, sir. I really do. And I sympathize with you.  But my fee-”

“I know I don’t have any gold or silver,” the man responded. “Or even much bronze or copper to speak of, but I can give you all the eggs, turnips, carrots and potatoes you can eat.  I can even kill a couple of chickens or butcher my hog, if you want.  I can do repairs around your place.” He looked at the packing crates I was using for a desk and chairs. “I can even build you some sturdy furniture.  Anything you want.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but-”

That’s when Prince Reggie burst into my office.  His face was flushed and he was gasping for breath.  I was confused. Reggie wasn’t the type to exert himself.  “Sir Garth! Sir Garth! I need your help!  A huge, two-headed dragon is terrorizing our kingdom.  It wants Princess Angelique! You have to help me!”

NO! So that’s what happened to Gem and Ni. I wasn’t prepared to deal with that dragon AND Prince Reggie at the same time. There was only one thing I could do.  “I’m very sorry, Reggie, but-”

“THAT’S PRINCE REGINALD,” he squealed.

“Yes, yes, whatever. At any case, I can’t help you right now because, as you can clearly see, I already have a client.”

“But-” Reggie said.

“But-” my new client said.

“As much as I’d love to help,” I asserted, before either one could speak. “You can’t possibly expect me to drop this fine gentleman’s case, simply because you have an urgent matter. All my cases are urgent.  This fine man had his children kidnapped by a witch, and I need to rescue them immediately.” As I was speaking, I was also ushering my new client out the door. “Sir, please wait outside the stable, while I gather my equipment.  Sorry I can’t help, Reggie, but you can’t expect me to bump you ahead of my current client.  Professional ethics and all that.  I’m sure you understand.” I pushed my client out the door and retreated into the stable.  “Give my regards to Angie.”

“That’s… Princess… Angel…ique…” Reggie mumbled at my back.

My assistant, Bart, was mucking out the stable as I entered.  He put down his pitchfork and jumped to attention.  “Do we have a new client, sir?”

“Yes, we do.” I answered. “Just a one man job, this time.  But I could use some help getting ready.

Bart pouted momentarily, then got straight to business.  He was a good kid. An orphan that latched onto me for the opportunity to eat semi-regular meals, sleep on the straw in the stable and the chance to go on the occasional adventure with me.  He has even proven quite useful on some jobs.  But in this case, having one more child along for the witch to kidnap would be more of a detriment than any help he could give me.  We would be both better off if he stayed behind. 

Bart saddled my warhorse, Valor, while I strapped on my broadsword and slipped on my Elven silver chainmail and hardened leather jerkin.  I thought about it for a moment, then decided to take my helmet. It was only regular steel, not magic-proof silver, but anything was better than nothing. 

“Your crossbow, sir?” Bart asked.

“Yes. And the silver tipped bolts. Also, the sling and silver projectiles, and my silver-bladed short sword.” When dealing with a witch, or any magic user, for that matter, there was no such thing as carrying too many silver-made weapons.  The Elven made weapons cost a fair chunk of my adventuring profits, but they were worth it.  I only wished I could afford more. 

I strapped the short sword to my hip behind my broadsword, took the pouch containing the sling and projectiles and tied it to my belt over my other hip. Bart had hung the crossbow and bolts from my saddle.  I glanced over the remaining weapons.  Nothing here that would be useful, so I was about as ready as I was going to be.

“Keep an eye on the place while I’m gone,” I told Bart.  “And watch out for Prince Reggie.  Apparently, Gem and Ni have taken up residence in his kingdom and he wants our help.  I don’t know which is more trouble, the dragon or the prince, but I’d rather not deal with either of them. So please don’t let him talk you into anything.”

“Yes, sir- I mean no, sir,” Bart stammered. “I mean-”

I smiled. “You’ll do fine,” I assured him. “I’ll be back soon.” I led Valor out of the stable and went to meet my new client.

He was waiting outside the stable entrance, right where I told him to be. I glanced around. Thankfully, Reggie was nowhere to be seen.  “Now, Mister-”


“Now, Samuel, tell me about this witch who has your children. Uh, by the way, the children, their names wouldn’t happen to be Hansel and Gretel, would they?”

“No. Syras and Helena. Why?”

I shook my head. “No reason. I must have them confused with two other children. Don’t worry about it.  Now, what can you tell me about this witch?”

Samuel wrung his hands together. “It’s that witch from the Black Forest.  She used magic to tear the door off my home while we were eating breakfast this morning.  She had a huge wolf with her, and it blocked me in a corner, while she entranced my children and had them follow her away.  Can you help me?”

I nodded. “I believe I can.  I am familiar with that witch and know where to find her.  I’ll get your children back for you.”

“But your fee…”

“Yes, about that,” I responded, before he could finish. “This is my offer. Make me a proper desk and two chairs for my office. In addition, I’d like one dozen eggs, every week, until harvest time. Then, after harvest, I’d like one large roast chicken and a fresh baked loaf of bread, and your fee will be paid.  Could you afford that?”

The man smiled gratefully. “Yes, I could. Thank you, sir.”

“This won’t put you out? I don’t want to rescue your children, only to have them starve to death, because I took food out of their mouths.”

“No, no,” He assured me. “Your offer is more than fair. Thank you very much, sir.”

“Save your thanks until I bring your children back safely.  When I have them, where can I find you?”

“I have a small farm just south of here.” He pointed. “Just off the main road.  The children can show you the way.”

“Okay. Now, Samuel, you get back there and start work on my desk and chairs.  I’ll be back soon, with your children.”  I mounted Valor and turned him down the road leading towards the Black Forest.  I could still hear Samuel profusely thanking me, as I rode away.  One thing about poor people.  They may not have much in the way of money to pay for my services, but they are much more appreciative of any help someone gives them.  Nobles pay well, but they expect to be served, so the words thank you rarely crossed their lips.


The Black Forest lived up to its name.  No matter how sunny it was outside, the forest was a consistent twilight.   The witch’s hovel was just past Dismal Bog, another place that was well suited to its name.  The werewolf crouching on her porch howled as I rode up.  Good alarm system.  I dismounted, slung the quiver of crossbow bolts over my shoulder, set one in the crossbow, and waited.

I didn’t have to wait long.  A slim woman, dressed in a form-fitting black dress, stepped out onto the porch.  Her long, thick hair was white as snow, but her face looked barely middle aged. It was all an illusion, I knew.  She had been living and practicing magic in this forest since my grandfather’s time.

“Hello, Abigail.”

She smiled, revealing tiny, sharp-pointed teeth. Her eyes were black as night, with no whites. “Hello Garth. It’s been a long time. What brings you all the way out here?  Certainly not a personal visit?”

I shook my head. “Business.” A thought clicked in my head and I looked around, nervously. “Where is Salem?”

Abigail shrugged. “Prowling around somewhere.  You know her. She’s an independent spirit.”

Abigail’s daughter was a shape-changer, and easily as deadly as her mother.  Her absence was a loose end that I didn’t like.  Nothing to be done about it, though. “I hear that you’ve been kidnapping children again.”

“What can I do?” She replied, innocently. “You wouldn’t believe how many spells require children’s blood or organs to ignite them.”

“That may be so, but I’ve been hired to return the brother and sister you took this morning.”

The werewolf snarled menacingly.

I casually aimed the crossbow at it. “Tell Fido to sit and stay, or I’ll put a silver tipped bolt through its heart.”

Abigail rested a hand protectively on the werewolf’s head. Her fingers were long and thin, with nails nearly as long as the fingers they were attached to. “Don’t do that.  He’s my security system and he’s very hard to replace.”

“The choice is yours.” I kept the crossbow lined up on the big wolf.  “Why not make it easy and just hand over the children.  Then we can call it a day.”

“I have a better idea,” Abigail responded, with an evil grin. “How about a trade? These two in exchange for the orphan boy of yours.  Two for one.  It’s a bargain.”

I swung the crossbow around to point at Abigail.  “You keep your claws off Bart!”

The werewolf leapt, covering half the distance between the house and me in one bound. He was already in the air, meaning to cover the rest of the space in the next jump, when I brought the crossbow back around and fired.  The bolt hit it in the centre of the chest, slamming it back.  It struck the ground in human form, unmoving.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” The witch shrieked.

“I warned you.  It should have stayed put and-” The shed beside Abigail’s house uprooted from its foundation and flew at me.  Valor reacted immediately, leaping out of the way.  I was a bit slower. As I ducked, a cornerstone clipped my helmet, ringing it like a bell, and knocking me over backwards. My crossbow went flying.

I staggered to my feet, my head pounding like a drum.”


“Don’t be so dramatic,” Abigail responded with a sigh. “It was only a shed. A small one.”


 “You’re upset.”


 Abigail crossed her arms and looked bored. “If you’re going to be like that, there’s simply no talking to you.  Maybe you should try coming back when you’ve cooled down.”  She turned to go back into her house.

I yanked the sling out of my pouch and slung a silver ball at her.  “Wait!”

The ball bounced off the doorframe next to her head. 

She spun around. “First you kill my security guard, and now you’re going to fling silver pebbles at me. How rude.”

“Me, rude? You’re the one who threw a house at me!”  I already had another projectile in the sling, just in case.

“You started it. You killed Arthur.”

“He attacked me. Wait a minute! Arthur? Wasn’t he the roving Friar that passed through town a while back?”

Abigail smiled wistfully. “Yeah. He came out here trying to save my soul.  Silly boy. He was cute, but he talked far too much.  I liked him better this way.  And now you’ve killed him. How am I ever going to replace him?” She looked me up and down, appraisingly. “Hmmmm…”

I swung my sling load of silver in a few lazy circles. “Don’t even think about it.”

She shrugged. “Just a thought.”

“Well, think again.” I stopped swinging the sling, but kept it ready. “Now are you going to give back the children, or do I have to take them from you?”

Abigail rolled up her sleeves.  “Don’t be silly.  Of course I’m not going to just give them to you.”

I was afraid of that. As I braced for the assault, I saw something moving, right behind Abigail. She must have noticed something too, because she began to spin around. But before she could, a large skillet came crashing down on her head.  Abigail crumpled to the plank floor of the porch. Behind her, holding a cast iron skillet, was a small girl, who was perched on the shoulders of a slightly larger boy.  The boy knelt down so his sister could get down.  She jumped off, letting the skillet fall to the ground. 

They came running to me.  I got them to stay with Valor while I checked on Abigail.  She was alive, but she was going to have a terrible headache when she woke up.  I carried her inside and locked her in the cage that I assumed had previously contained the children.  Once Abigail was securely locked up, I returned to the children.

“Hello, I’m Garth,” I introduced myself. “You must be Syras and Helena.”

“I’m Syras,” the boy said, unnecessarily, sticking out his hand.  I shook it.

“How did you get out of that cage?”  I had to ask.

“A pussycat let us out,” Helena supplied.

“A pussycat let you out?” Syras was already nodding in agreement.  I looked around.  “I think we’d better get going.” I helped them onto Valor’s back and slid on behind them.  It was a tight fit, but it would have to do.


Just before we reached the tree-line marking the end of the Black Forest, I saw a black cat strolling along a low branch ahead of us.  The children noticed it too. 

“There it is,” Helena squealed, pointing. “There’s the pussycat that helped us.”

The cat reached the end of the branch and jumped.  A young woman with long, black hair and luminous green eyes touched down in front of us.  Instinctively, I rested my hand on my silver short sword.  “Hello, Salem.”

“Hello Garth.  Nice to see you.”

“Is it?” I raised an eyebrow.  “Not that I’m complaining, but why did you release these children?  Your mother is going to be pretty angry.”

Salem smiled. “She’ll get over it.  I love my Mother, but I hate it when she uses children for her spells.  Especially these children.  Do you know that these two barely have anything, but they always leave a saucer of milk and some table scraps out for the neighbourhood cats?  I couldn’t let Mother hurt them.  I didn’t know what I was going to do, until you showed up.  Then I knew.  Make sure they get home safely.”  She turned and jumped. A black cat landed in the tree and began climbing.

“I will,” I promised.  “Thanks Salem.”  I shook Valor’s reins and we continued back to town.\


Samuel was ecstatic when I rode into his farmyard with his children.  And I was ecstatic when, several days later, my new desk and chairs were delivered to my office.  They were perfect and professional.  A large, four drawer desk, a simple, but solid chair for clients, and a larger one for me, with a high back, curved teak armrests and a down-padded seat.  And Samuel had a surprise for me.  Along with the desk, chairs, and eggs, he also brought a sign to go over my front door.  On the top was a reasonably accurate, though a bit overblown and heroic looking, carving of me astride Valor, broadsword in hand, and beneath it, carved in clear, bold letters: ADVENTURER FOR HIRE.