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The Last Witch
About 16 years ago a war ended. The magic war, some call it. Or the final war. 20 years ago, the world was normal. Normal people in an advanced society with things like computers, phones, electricity. Then rumors started surfacing.
Beautiful, fantastical rumors. People's hearts were swept away thinking of such things. Wizards. Magic. Nobody truly believed, but everyone wanted to believe. Rumors kept surfacing. People wanted to believe. Then the rumors stopped being rumors.
Dart, a man with young features yet white hair appeared, wearing robes and casting spells on the news channels. Suddenly, the rumors were true. Following him came Myst, a woman of equal mystery and intrigue.
The humans learned about magic- real, honest to goodness magic. They loved it. Fools. There were two factions of these witches and wizards. Silver Moon, the faction led by Dart, and Dusk Storm, led by Myst. The factions never truly got along, but never had a war.
Within months it was clear why they revealed themselves- because a war so big would be impossible to hide. Humans started choosing sides, too. Families were torn apart, communities shattered.
That wasn't the big damage. A war using magic turned out to be truly cataclysmic. The world was ending. It lasted 4 years, human casualties in the millions. Of course, more humans, who couldn't actually fight, died.
Finally, one wizard had it. He surfaced. A wizard born of two factions. His power was immense, greater than any in history. And he wielded a wand. The only wand left in the world. It gave him so much power. Too much.
He ended the war. He didn't just end the war, he ended magic.
That day, every single person with magic died. He thought he was sparing the humans, yet gave no thought to what he left behind. Now, the streets are filled with the remnants of humanity, scavenging for food, shelter, anything. The sky has an eternal grey cloud cover. Hard to imagine a sun. or blue sky. Or color.
Smiles became currency, rare things to try to manipulate something for oneself. Everything had gone wrong thanks to that one wizard. No, thanks to magic in general. It was their fault, all their fault.
Vias bitter thoughts ended as she found something in the ancient apartment she was searching. A thin, colorless cloth, chewed by rats, covered in stains. Vias eyes widened. She was astonished nobody else had found this.
But looting had petered out as everything was taken. She almost hadn't gone. Good thing she did. She scurried back to her alley hole like a rat, passing people eyeing her warily. She caught to many stares at her new blanket. She took a long, looping way to her alley to avoid being followed.
It was a miracle she survived. Both her parents had died in the war, shortly before it ended. Back then, people were softer. They still had things like kindness, generosity, altruism. Today, if an orphan baby were alone, nobody would care.
For her first few years, she had survived by going between kind homes that cared for her, gave her an extra crust. Then people figured out the new order. The world didn't work like that anymore.
She slipped into the alley with her trophy and into the hidden sewer tunnel. Through there was a cozy little alcove, unseen and untouched. Her home. The sewers were long dry, of course. Nobody lived in the houses, it was asking for a theft. She dug in her things, finding her treasure, hidden carefully.
She pulled out a violin. It was rare and beautiful, completely unbroken and polished perfectly. She had it for a while and took flawless care of it. She pulled out the bow, graceful and fragile, and started playing.
When she played it, the world melted away. Everything terrible, her constant battle for survival, her malnourished body and grimy surroundings. The state the world was in. she thought of every care and felt it melt away, like magic. She opened her eyes and set down the violin, spotting a rat. It had frozen in place, but when the music stopped, it lunged for her food. What she had for food.
She leapt, smashing at it with her bow. She missed, but it ran for fear. She sighed and sat up, looking at her bow. She froze. It was shattered. She blinked twice in disbelief. Then she screamed.
When she stopped her sobbing, she carefully salvaged the worn strings and went up, in search of a new stick for it. She found many brittle, unusable sticks, but nothing usable.
As she rummaged in a particularly savaged area, burned and destroyed by magic, she found something.
A polished, beautiful mahogany stick. It was in prime condition, shimmering a reflection of more light than she thought existed. She took it and ran home, spending hours rigging it up.
Then she tried playing.
So, so well. She played for an hour, not able to think of anything but the singing wood in her hands. Then her stomach growled and she remembered reality. She sighed and played the final few notes, imagining what food she might find. Maybe she could catch a rat, or if she were lucky find some can of ancient food.
She put down the violin and opened her eyes. Then she jumped, eyeing a can of corn from the pre wizard age that was right in front of her. It was exactly what she had pictured. Witch corn!
She backed away. Had someone found her and put it there for some reason? If so, it was almost certainly poisoned. It was probably poisoned anyway. She panted, realizing she felt slightly tired, as if she had been jogging for 5 minutes or so.
She reached out and poked it, eyeing it suspiciously. It felt real.she picked it up and investigated, then opened it. Inside was canned corn. She sniffed it suspiciously. Smelled like corn. She wouldn't eat it. It was probably poisoned. And witch corn!
She stared at it for a few seconds. It was food. Not eating it contradicted almost all her instincts. But if it was poisoned, she would be sorry. And besides, it was witch food.
Witch food she had made.
But she wasn't a witch, so it couldn't be.
What if a witch made it, and knew where she lived? But there were no witches, and why would one care? Why would it be given to her?
Before she could stop herself, she downed the entire can. It tasted better, fresher than any canned food she ever ate. Witch corn! She knew it! It probably wasn't actual witch corn, right?
She shrugged. It was food, and a lot of it. She laid down and her body remembered she hadn't slept in a while. She woke up a few hours later and snuck out, running about doing her things. She forgot about the corn.
She got back with some grass she had found. Not much of a meal, but it was edible. She got out the violin and it's new bow and played, wanting never to stop. The new bow sounded so serene. She hurled all her thoughts into it. Food. Warmth. She tried to go on but felt so tired, so she set it down. In front of her was food.
Not just ancient cans, or moldy bread crusts from a time past. Food. a plate with potatoes, carrots, meat, some green things, and a cup full of something white. Beside it was a thick, beautiful blanket. Sooo thick. Soft, and fuzzy, and warm. Perfect. She stared for a moment, then screamed.
When she was finished screaming she eyed the food. Then she poked it. She slowly bit a potato. She wanted to close her eyes and savor it, but she couldn't let her guard down again. She couldn't resist- she ate a little. She was going to keep the rest for later, but remembered the rats and smiled for an excuse to eat it all.
Then she curled up in the new blanket and slept. When she woke up she just sat there. She didn't know what to do now. She had never had enough food she didn't need to worry about more. She could play her violin, but she was feeling slight suspicios of it's new bow. She paused. What if it was doing the magic? No…
But… she pulled it out and experimented, keeping her eyes wide and imagining a toy like the one she had as a child, a little teddy bear. Sally appeared. She shrieked and hid behind the blanket. Witch Sally! She slowly peered out and picked Sally up. Holding her felt good. Via realized she felt tired again.
Did she just do magic? How? She picked up the bow again and stared at it. It did magic. She should destroy it! But she couldn't… it was her bow.
“Magic… I did magic… am I magic?” she breathed the last words, instantly denying them. Suddenly light flashed from her hand. She didn't see her sewer cave, she only saw a man and a woman.the womans dark hair looked just like hers, and the mans black eyes reminded her of shattered reflections of broken glass she had seen. They wore odd robes and stared right at her.
“Via,” the woman said, “I am your mother. I don't know how, or if you found this, but if you're alive, you are the Last Witch.”
“M...mother?” they didn't show any recognition.
“I am from the Dusk Storm faction. Your mother is from the Silver Moon. nobody knows, of course. The world is about to end. A freind of ours has had enough of the war. We all agree. Hes going to destroy every wizard on the earth soon. None of us will survive, he can't specify who lives and dies.
“He is the most powerful wizard in the world because hes one of only two. Children of both factions. His spell won't touch you, because you have to much power.”
He mother nodded, “we don't have much time. Embrace your magic. Do whatever you can to find the wand, it will give you extra power. We love you, so much. Be careful, to much magic will kill you. Be careful. Fix the-” they both disappeared and she opened her eyes to her sewer, panting.
She was a what? Magic was what broke the world in the first place! She stared at the bow. It must be the wand…
It sparkled slightly, as if mocking her. She wanted to snap it. She threw it onto the witch blanket instead.
Fix the what? Did she have to ask? Fix the world. She couldn't. She turned resolutely from the bow. She couldn't. More magic would just break the world more. Magic was an evil thing.
She didn't know what to do next.
Inevitably, she took out her violin and started playing again, careful not to imagine anything. But the melody wasn't enough. She needed more- craved it more than anything. She needed magic. A growing hunger in her was screaming for more magic. Muted, faint.
No. She could not, would not do magic. She would ignore the yearning.
One week later she cast another spell.
She quickly realized she couldn't stop. She could just use it to fix things. So she started small, making food appear for others, undoing the destruction from the war. People got curious quick. They recognized the magic. They wanted it gone.
Her heart burned. Magic wasn't an evil thing! It was good, it could help- it had poisoned her mind. She knew that wasn't true. What was happening to her? She didn't care. She could fix it with more magic.
She was reconstructing a building when a group caught her.
“WITCH!” the word burned, stung for a moment. Then she absorbed the burn and felt caught on fire, swept up in the good burn, the magic burn. Yes, witch! She was a witch! She yanked the bow across the string and fire exploded from it, not catching anything.
She felt no fatigue. She felt alive, only alive! Nothing could stop her, she was a witch!
They held shards of glass like weapons. She laughed. Fools! She kept playing and one lunged for her. With a thought, she sent him crashing into his companions. With another, a boulder fell on them. Her eyes sparkled, burning, wider and wider. She played faster and faster and faster and then- nothing.
Blackness. That was all she felt. A dark embrace as she floated away.
Hours later she woke up and the ground beside them, a migraine pounding beside her eyes, surrounded by scorched cement and rubble.
What had she done?
She was a witch. She was killing, destroying, and she had to die. Burn the witch. But she couldn't leave things like this. She couldn't just leave like a coward. No magic pressed at her mind, but she picked up her violin one last time for a goodbye song.
The mournful tune overtook her and one by one, she pictured all the ruin her people had caused. Each hit her heart like a knife and caused a flash of pain as she cast the spell, but she pressed on. One note after the other, one tear after another.
She reached the climax. The last note she would play. She pulled the bow violently, concentrating every fiber of her being on it and visualizing wit all her focus the world as she saw in torn pictures and sad stories. Her vision and mind shattered into a thousand fragments and the blackness took her forever.