Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chapter One: Forbidden

He comes to me nightly, hidden by the darkness. The world is quiet and the witches sleep. No one knows of our secret.

 I love him like fire. When he pulls me to him and our bodies meld, we become one being, overcome by power and intensity and heat.

We are prisoners, he and I, of our separate worlds--our separate lives. But in this place, pressed together so tightly that nothing in this world could come between us, we break our chains. We live for the night, because only in the dark can we be free.

He pulls me closer, tighter against his burning body, and whispers the same words I hear every night. "Corynne, my beautiful. Corynne, my only."
And I'd give up everything, every tomorrow after this night if he would only stay until morning.

But alas. He must leave before the witches wake and we are found. And so, just like all the nights before, he kisses me farewell before he fades once more into the blackness beyond my window.

"Until tomorrow, my love."
I am Corynne of the Sisterhood of Witches. No one of consequence, really, but by birth a sworn enemy of his people. He is Lothar, prince of Lyvenia. For hundreds of years, witches have been warring against kings for control of Lyvenia's throne. I have no interest in kings or thrones. Just him. Just us.

Our love, or any love for that matter, is forbidden in the Sisterhood. This woman is Galaea, the Witch Queen. She is our leader, a powerful woman whose name is feared throughout the land by nobility and commoners alike. Amongst the witches, Galaea's orders are absolute. Marriage, romance, love-affairs, love-making--these are all condemnable offenses in her eyes.

And in hers. She is the Great She. The one all the witches bow and pray to. The one who gives Galaea all power and authority over us.

She is our Goddess, Jyaell. When she walked among the living, she was the first queen of a new Lyvenia. Courageous, wise, and powerful. She led her people to prosperity without a man. All the kings who came after her reigned with violence and war.
Now she lives in the clouds and still rules and guides those who worship her.
Galaea claims to be her prophet, chosen as the Goddess's most faithful servant to hear the voice of The Holy She and to carry out her commands.

In the main hall, the witches gather to hear Galaea share the words of the Goddess. She preaches of the evils of men, that women are the superior beings and that men want nothing more than to enslave us and to steal our beauty and our power. It is beneath us to love or care for them. A man's only value is his seed; his true purpose is to give us children.
Or more precisely, daughters.

We live here, beyond the Alathean Forest, in a walled community secluded from the outside world. Men are forbidden from stepping foot inside these walls.
With one exception.

One night each year, on the eve of the summer solstice, there is a ceremony. All witches of breeding age must attend. Dressed in cloaks, each will venture into town to find an unsuspecting attractive man. The witch will entrance her quarry to follow her blindly back to the Sisterhood. There, she will mate with him to conceive a child. In the morning, the man will wake in the center of town with a headache, smelling of mead, with no memory of what took place the night before.

Each woman will pray and cry out to the Goddess, beseeching her for a daughter. Those who Jyaell chooses to bless will indeed conceive and grow with child.

If the baby is a girl, she will be shown love and given care by all of her sisters in our society, as the Goddess Jyaell commands.

But if the child is a boy, the Sisterhood has no use for him, and he may not remain inside of our walls.  

The boy's mother must leave the child in the forest to whatever fate the Goddess has in store for him. She must then return to the Sisterhood and atone for whatever sin she has committed to bring a son onto herself rather than a daughter. It is rumored that if a witch finds any pleasure in the ceremony aside from her duty to the Goddess and the Sisterhood, her thoughts will result in a son. The same is true if a witch despises her duty.

My birth was not a result of the mating ritual. My mother knew my father and in fact was married to him. She often speaks of what a wretched life it was. She was lonely, miserable, and weak. "It is as the Witch Queen says," my mother tells me, "a man lives to enslave you and steal your power for himself. He does not wish for you to know that you are stronger than he is. He will cast you down and keep you beneath his foot for as long as you will allow him."
    When I was very young, my mother left my father and brought me here, to the Sisterhood. This life is the only life that I remember. I try to strain my mind to go back to that time before, but it is only a grey fog. My mother tells me not to try, but instead to thank the Goddess daily for keeping those memories from me.

My mother's name is Amea and she is a well-known potion-maker in the royal city of Veradel. Unlike many of the witches, she and I leave home often to sell her concoctions in the marketplace. I am her assistant. She teaches me everything that she knows so that one day I can be like her. She tells me that I am a natural. One day, I will inherit her business and her most cherished possession--a large black book that holds the secrets to making the best of her elixirs and poisons.

Her booth is quite popular in the marketplace. I bring customers to her and most of them are kind and friendly towards me. Especially the men. They often compliment me or try to give me gifts that my mother refuses to let me accept. I used to wonder how someone who seemed so nice could possibly be so evil.

"You foolish little thing!" my mother would shriek. "How can you be so blind? Can't you see they only want one thing? Your beauty draws them and they will do anything, say anything, to take it and destroy your good name. Friendship is far from their minds. These men are good for their money and nothing more. Do you understand me?"

I tried to argue that I was only being polite, but she would not hear it. She forbade me from talking to any man about anything other than what we had to sell, and because I was a good and faithful daughter, I obeyed her.

Until I saw him for the first time. He was surrounded by his friends, laughing carelessly with them. And he was beautiful. I didn't know then who he was, only that I couldn't look away. My heart began to beat as though I were running, and I found it hard to breathe--or to remember to. Then he looked at me. His gaze lingered as his friends kept talking until one of them said his name. "Lothar." My heart beat faster still at hearing his name. I knew I would never forget the sound of it.

And then the unbelievable happened. He stepped away from them and walked towards me. I forgot how to move my legs and they felt heavy and clumsy beneath me. I stood frozen as he drew closer to me.

"Hello." His voice was kind and easy. I forgot how to speak as well. I thought I must have looked stupid to him, frozen and gawking at him like I'd never seen a man before. "I've seen you here before with your mother. Do you come to the market often?"

I nodded dumbly.

"I'm Lothar."

I nodded again and said slowly, "I know."

He laughed, not unkindly. "And your name is..."

"Oh." I blushed furiously. Right. My name. "Corynne," I said, my voice shaking.

His smile was so sweet, so sincere. "That's beautiful."

Beautiful. That was a word I'd heard so many times at the marketplace from the mouths of flattering men. It was a word my mother had told me to beware of. From him it sounded different. It didn't make me swoon as my mother had warned it would. Instead it made me feel... powerful. More powerful than I'd ever felt before. I smiled widely at him and stood sturdier. Taller.

"Well met, Corynne," he said. "Maybe I'll see you more often."

"Maybe," I said. This time my voice did not waver.

Then we stood in silence with our eyes bound to each other's. It could have been a moment or a day. Time had no place where we were. And at last, I could breathe, better than I ever could before. I felt relieved, so relieved. Like I'd finally found a piece of me that I never knew was missing.

When he was gone, my mother turned on me.

"I saw you speaking to him. The way you were looking at him. Do you have any idea--any idea-- who that was?"

"No, mother, I just... he was just..."

"Just what?"

"Nothing, mother. I'm sorry. It won't happen again."

But I would see him again, every time afterward that we went to the marketplace. I looked for excuses to slip away from the booth and he and I found each other. Sometimes, I couldn't get away, so we would only glance at each other from across the square, pretending to be strangers. I told him how to find the witches' hideout, and how to find my window so he could see me at night.

There were so many times in the beginning that I felt terrible for what I'd done and for what I continued to do. I threw myself before Jyaell and begged her forgiveness for my sins, pleaded with her to tear these wicked desires from me. But I couldn't stop. Tearfully, I shared these feelings with Lothar. He calmly assured me that love could not be a sin. It was the greatest, most powerful thing in the world. "And our love," he'd said, "is unconquerable."
It felt so good to hear those words from him. I believed them.
And I stopped praying.

So, tonight he comes to me, just like every night before this one. We share our familiar greeting, but this night he is different.

"Corynne," he says and I revel at the sound of my name from his lips.

"Come away with me. I'm going to take you from this place."


"Listen. I think about this every moment I'm away from you. You can live with me at the castle. I want you to be my bride."

I do not tarry even for a breath. "Yes."

I dress quickly and together we slip out the window and over the gate. I listen but there are no sounds. Not a soul is aware of my escape other than Lothar and I. Not yet. Tomorrow will be different, but tomorrow I will be gone. I think of my mother and my best friend Keiry. I hope that someday they will forgive me. Maybe even forget me.
I wonder if they'll ever understand why I'm leaving. 

Lothar leads me to the place where his horse awaits us. I force myself not to look back as I step into my new life where love is no longer forbidden, but instead it is the only thing that matters, and I walk away from the Sisterhood of Witches forever.


  1. Hey!

    I came here after Van recommended this story over at the Keep and I'm glad she did recommend! This looks to be such an intriguing story.

    Gotta love the names. Lothar... Corynne... etc. Especially love the name of your goddess. Jyaell (sorry if that's spelt wrong).

    Also, interesting idea about the son being abandoned and the daughter being coveted which is obviously the complete opposite of other medieval stories where the son is the heir. Then I suppose if the characters are witches, it only makes sense.

    A great start! Looking at the URL, I see you started it last year and I wish I'd discovered this sooner. Can't wait for more!

    1. Thanks so much!!! You spelled it right ;) I have been working on this story for a while but only recently have I had the guts to advertise it publicly, and I could not be more pleased with the feedback. I really appreciate the comment and I hope that you enjoy the rest of the story.

  2. I think the Corynne is a teenager? She looks very young. You must have Inteen to make her do more adult activities, like try for baby, woohoo, or marriage.

    I see that Corynne belongs to the Sisterhood of Witches. So, do you have the Brotherhood of Warlocks too, or is magic only limited to women?

    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting! Corynne is indeed a teenager at the beginning of the story. At the time I wrote this, I didn't have inteen because it crashed my game. All of her "adult" activity was created through making out or posing. She becomes an adult about halfway through the story, and then she can actually woohoo and have babies.

      In my world, magic is available to everybody. It's in their blood. The Sisterhood of Witches is a faction of women who hate men and believe that only women should have power. But obviously Corynne disagrees with them ;) I never thought about making a Brotherhood of Warlocks. Lol

    2. I like your Sisterhood of Witches idea so much I may very likely adopt it in my medieval fantasy neighborhood. However, I may just do the Brotherhood of Warlocks. In my parlance, "warlock" does not mean "evil sorcerer". It means "a male sorcerer", because that's also the game's definition. Like the Sisterhood of Witches, the Brotherhood of Warlocks is an extremist faction of men who hate women and believe that men should have power in all areas of life. The Brotherhood of Warlocks may prohibit marriage between a man and a woman and only favor marriage between two men. New members of the Brotherhood are just friends of the existing warlocks and only become warlocks themselves, if they pass the Initiation Rite. The Initiation Rite is just 3 games of Rock, Paper, Scissors with the Head Warlock. The friend must win 3 games consecutively in order to be transformed into a warlock.

    3. Oh wow! I like it. I'm so glad I could inspire you :D