The Seer And Her Advice
The woods in Coratham are the kind you dream of when that faceless stranger is chasing you through the dark. They are a dull gray, they bear leaves only a few months of the year and are surrounded by equally dreary hills and wind that whispers the words of the dead in your ear. The small country isnt known for a beautiful view or particularly nice weather. Its not a place young girls dream their prince will whisk them away to, nor is it a land where spooky campfires inspiration originates. If a country had a personality Corathams would be as dull and unexciting as its fog covered landscape.
Despite all this, on a particular day not too long ago, a moderately attractive young lady could be found apprehensively following a path deep in the woods a few miles west of Traft. She was obviously not a resident of the parts seeing as all the citizens of Coratham were of one race, all with sleek black hair and deep brown eyes. This girl was not particularly dark skinned, but she was a shade deeper than most Corathamans could possibly be due to the intense fog that covered the hills and made the country feel like an eternal early morning.
The broom she carried over her shoulder was another oddity that raised questions from all the folk. She delighted in her response to that question more than any of the other inquiries about her home or marital status (there wasnt a young mans attention she hadnt accidentally captured). Im a witch. She proudly proclaimed. This was always met with an awkward silence or laughter because the stranger had assumed it to be some joke that they didnt quite get, but would laugh at anyways. Tiffs answer to their disbelief was to mount the broomstick and explode up into the air, leaving the onlookers to tell stories of the wandering witch to all the town folk for days and never being believed.
Tiff would have preferred to fly to the cottage nestled deep in the thicket in order to avoid the frightening sights and sounds of this seemingly unnatural countryside. The fog never lifted and the wind rustled the branches of the trees directly behind her when she was trembling the most causing her to sprint for a short distance before turning back to check if she was safe.
Theres nothing to be scared of. A small brown sparrow fluttered to her shoulder. She was a golden brown, much like Tiffs hair, and had become very accustomed to perching on her traveling companions left shoulder. The cottage is only a little further. If were lucky shell be hospitable like all the others weve met and wash your clothes. Youve been wearing this dress for far too many days. It was true; the black dress was beginning to feel rather dingy and looking in very bad condition. The condition of her clothes did not bother Tiff as much as the rucksack on her shoulders. The papers were really starting to add up. At first, she had only clothes and food and water, but eventually she was hauling around very large notebooks containing all the results of her research and interviews, two years worth.
Spree was fluttering up and down, here and there with the excitement of meeting another witch. Tiff had been happy to have the bird come to her and request the chance to come along. It was true that she didnt have much to speak with the sparrow about, but Sprees presence was enough to stop Tiff from being lonely for two years and for that she was tremendously grateful.
Tiff didnt see the cottage until she was very close. It was older than any of the buildings in Traft had been. (The architects that designed the buildings in Traft were so old that theyre great grandchildren were in their late years of life.) Tiff cringed at the sight of the under maintained shack and its collapsing roof and broken windows. This cant be the place, Tiff thought. There really was no use in lying to her self in this manner because the sad fact was she could feel the magical aura emanating from the dilapidated structure. It was very strong, actually. She was beginning to feel very dimwitted for not recognizing the magic sooner. The citizens had all said the woman was an astounding fortune teller and that her predictions had never once been wrong in eighty years. Tiff was always skeptical of tales that included prophecies or mind reading. Every so-called-witch she had met thus far who had claimed to be psychic was always a fraud. Tiff had enjoyed giving the fakers a taste of real magic by levitating objects or using a potion to turn her self invisible.
Her mother would have been disgusted with the way she sometimes flaunted her magic at the self-proclaimed seers. Spree often told her not to over do it when denouncing the con artists, but the idea of someone lying about what they were and receiving payments for pretending to see something they didnt infuriated her. She knew that she could never stop the profession of fakers without traveling the whole world and proving everyone of them to be a liar and that wasnt her goal. Her goal was a difficult one, though. Historical research on all the witches that were left among the world was a difficult task, after all. During the Dark Ages the magical community all but disappeared. The villages that were once nothing except witches and wizards were abandoned and the race began to live either in human communities and pretending to have no powers or lived alone in solitary.
400 years later there were only a handful of magical people and barely any historical documents. Tiff was not to let an entire people just disappear. If the stories of their lives could be written, the instructions for spells all jotted down in books, maybe one day a boy or girl would be born with strange abilities and read the books and be the first witch for a new generation after centuries passing without magic. Wouldnt that be something? It was true that most magic had to be passed from parents to child and because of witches marrying people that lacked magical blood soon no one would have a trace of magic in them, but since no one knew how witches came into being, there was a chance that some day after all the witches had disappeared a new witch would be born and start it all over again. Maybe then everything would turn out different.
Tiff hesitantly raised her hand to knock on the door. She had the fantasy of the seer womans voice calling to her before she knocked saying, Come in, Tiff. That would certainly put aside all doubts in Tiffs mind. She waited ten seconds, half believing this would happen before finally knocking. The womans voice was that of someone very ill and bedridden. Tiffs assumption was right on the mark. The ancient woman was under many layers of covers in her bed at the far side of the room staring at the ceiling.
Excuse me, are you the seer, maam? Tiff entered only a few steps into the room. Spree whispered to her to just go in. In truth, Tiff hadnt expected this woman to be a witch anymore than the other would-be-seers she had encountered. The woman had such a strong magical aura that Tiff was scarcely able to look at her.
Yes, dear. She coughed hoarsely before leaning over to the side of her bed and spitting into a tin can. It seems Im much sicker than I predicted. She laughed at her joke. Tiff didnt understand that it had been a joke until Spree repeated it and stressed the word predicted.
Then thats your first wrong prediction as far as Ive been told. Tiff said, closing the door. She crossed the room, passing a typewriter that appeared fairly new. Tiff had used a typewriter once before and found it very frustrated. She couldnt see what was so nice about it.
You dont like it? The elderly woman croaked.
Excuse me, maam?
The typewriter, youre thinking about how much you dont like it.
She was stuttering. This was unbelievable. Could it be a guess? Perhaps Tiff had made an ugly face when looking at the typewriter and the old lady was good at reading expressions. No, that was impossible. The ladys eyes were closed.
I dont mean to invade the privacy of your thoughts, but I cant really help it, you see. I can only allow one person near me at a time or else I hear and see every thought in the room. Thats why I asked Samantha, the nice village girl who takes care of me, to leave when I saw you were coming. Wow! That was the only thought that came to Tiffs mind. She placed leaned her broom against the table at the center of the large room and placed her bag in a chair before pulling another chair beside the bed. My name is Sophie. And what might your name be? Tiff opened her mouth to answer and stopped. If the lady could hear all her thoughts, then why should she even answer? You answer because its the proper thing to do. If I were to, by chance, meet another person with my talents I suppose we could just think to each other, but I think I would still enjoy talking.
And I would feel rude if I didnt let you speak. Speaking is something very unique to man, unlike all the other creatures on this earth. Spree seemed to be offended by this comment and pecked at Tiffs ear. Your little friend isnt your average sparrow, you know? A bewitched animal normally doesnt stay that way very long. Whoever put the spell on your friend must be a very strong witch.
You cant see who did it? Tiff asked very confused.
I dont know everything, dear. I can hear thoughts and I can see visions, but I cant see the answer to a riddle (unless I listen to the thoughts of the man who asks the riddle), nor can I envision the answer to an arithmetic question. In 75 years of being burdened with this gift I have yet to perfect it.
Im sorry. I shouldnt have assumed so much.
Well, we learn from our mistakes. Its a good thing. Now, you came here for a reason, didnt you?
Yes, I wanted to record your story and get instructions for any spells you might know.
Well, Im afraid youll have to be disappointed. I wont live long enough to give you my lifes story and I certainly cant tell you how to see the future. I dont know how I do it. Tiff couldnt believe what she was being told. Had she really traveled the countryside for the last three weeks to get this answer?
Maam, please, you have to tell me your story. Dont you know what this means? She could feel tears in her eyes. She had been disappointed so many times by fake witches for the last few months and now she was face to face with a real seer! She couldnt just be turned away like this!
Tiffany Nicole, what I have for you is much more important than my boring life story. What? Tiff wiped her tears away and composed her self. Ive had visions of you for the last few weeks. Ive been debating exactly what I should tell you about and what to withhold. Your first thought is that I should tell you it all because its your future. If I tell you about it, you may not make the same choices. Tiff was leaning close to Madame Sophie, hanging onto every word. I have three pieces of advice Ive decided to give you. One, dont be afraid to have a little mischief. Trust me. There are so many things you can discover when you break the rules.
Two, its okay to forgive those that hurt you. Dont let your pride make you keep a grudge. Sometimes you can be hurt and wish the person who hurt you would disappear forever, but thats not the way to go. Mistakes are made; remember that you can learn from them.
And lastly, hold onto your memories. Theyre what tell us where weve been and can help you decide where to go. When youre alone in the darkness you must hold onto your most precious memories and do not let them be tainted. Madame Sophie fell silent. Tiff assumed she would say something to make all of her words a bit clearer, but she didnt stir for many minutes and at last Tiff could see that Madame Sophie had used her last breaths for her benefit.
She sat by the woman for a long time pondering all she had been told. She pulled the blanket over Madame Sophies face and searched for wood to start a fire with. She fell asleep in a chair by the fireplace and had dreams about a little house in the mountains and of her mother flying across the sunny skies. Dreams about her mother would only lead her to cry when she woke up, but while she was still dreaming she was as happy as she had ever been.
This was the second time Tiff had seen someone die, the first being her own mother when she was fifteen; she was nineteen now. If Sophie had decided to dig her way into Tiffs mind she would discover how sad and alone Tiff had been since the passing of her mother. Sitting by the fireplace, before she dozed off, she fantasized about Madame Sophie finding her memories of her mother and giving her one more piece of advice. She wished Madame Sophie would just tell her where to find a book that had all the research already done, so she could just quit this traveling-the-world business. Theres no easy way out. She reminded herself. Spree asked her what she meant, but Tiff didnt hear her, she just drifted off to her dreams.