The wizard lifted his arms, stretching them out before him, and whispered a word causing the candles on the floor to lights. The flickering flames made the burned patterns on the floor almost seem to dance. Though his arms shook slightly as they were outstretched, his voice was strong as he called forth the spirits of the four elements to come to his aid.
His long white beard blew gently in the ethereal wind that surrounded him. The cloth of his dark blue robes draped around him, showing all the constellations in the sky. Finally, with all his power gathered around him, he began to chant:
“In nomine Patris,
Qui vocat vos
inferno ex utero,
Veni ades mihi:
hoc est verbum meum,
As he began to recite the words again for a second time, the burned lines on the floor began to glow red. With the third recitation, the smell of sulphur filled the air. Finally as he intoned the final words forcefully, the red glow solidified into a large vaguely humanoid form. The creature, presumably a demon, had the torso and thighs of a man, but his knees bent backwards like those of a goat and ended in large cloven hooves. He had a man’s face, but larger and with large curved horns coming from his head. His skin was a deep blood red and was giving off steam as though warmer than the surrounding area.
“What is it this time Archaio?” said a deep gravelly voice, with hints of annoyance.
“I dropped my cane and my backs acting up and I can’t pick it up. Would you mind terrible getting it for me?”
Our town’s witch is the very best witch.
She knows everything there is to know about healing herbs and potions. When the priest’s son fell off the roof and broke his leg, she’s the one who set his leg and kept it from getting infected. She also had potions that made him sleep and forget about the pain. When all the village children got sick with spots, she went from house to house helping them get better. She taught the mothers about oatmeal baths to make the itch go away.
She wears her red hair in a bun that always seems to be filled with pencils, and feathers, and small bits of string. One time I swear I saw a lizard hiding in it. Her black dress is covered in pockets, which always seem to have some magical ingredients or pendant. The black hat on her head, and the black cat that follows her around everywhere just complete the image.
Our town is very lucky to have such a magnificent witch. Her charms keep our crops safe, her spells keep the wolves away from the sheep, and many a young lady knows that while her love potions are complete hokum, there are few lads, lasses, or otherwise who can resist a girl who knows one of Mistress Yaga’s secret recipes. Mistress Yaga never refuses anyone who comes to learn, so long as they work hard.
She’s helped young women in trouble, and more than one husband learned what it means to invoke Yaga’s wrath by raising a hand to their wives or children. Just ask the Smith, Mr. Kowalski. Rumour has it, that many years ago, he hit his wife after spending all his earnings at the tavern. At first Mrs. Kowalski hid the bruise, but one day in the market, a stray wind pulled off her scarf just as Mistress Yaga was walking past. All she did was look and nod quietly at Mrs. Kowalski.
The next time Mr. Kowalski went to the Tavern, his beer turned to ash as soon as he tried to take a drink. The same thing happened with the next glass and the next. In anger he punched out at a wall and was surprised when he nearly knocked himself out. You see, Mistress Yaga had cursed him so that every time he laid a hand on anyone else in violence, the same was done to him tenfold.
From that day forward, Mr. Kowalski became the gentlest man in the town. He wouldn’t even hurt a fly.
A few years ago, our town almost lost our witch.
A group of travelling priests found her in the forest gathering herbs. They recognized what the pointy hat meant and they ambushed her.
Tied up, they carried her to the center of town with a bag over her head, while singing hymns.
No one in town knew what they were doing as they gathered bales of hay and tossed them around the pillar where they had tied her up. Many of us gathered in the square, trying to figure out what they were doing. When they had a pile around the pillar, one of the monks began speaking.
He told the town that they had come as the town’s salvation, and that even now they had caught an evil witch who was sure to curse the town. As he spoke, one of the monks produced a torch and set fire to the hay. As it caught fire, a small child crept closer to get a better look and screamed!
“That’s No Evil Witch! That’s Granny Yaga!”
Sure enough, someone else recognized her dress full of pockets. Mr. Kowalski ran into the fire and pulled her out as the rest of the men swarmed the monks and threw them out of town.
The fire had already done some of its damage. Her legs were badly burnt.
For days the women of the town nursed her, laying cool cloths on her legs. It wasn’t long before it was clear that her legs below the ankle were infected.
Mistress Yaga called the smith and the tailor to her side. At her request, they removed the burned part of her legs.
Our town has the best witch. Did I tell you about her magic chair? It is a magnificent cushioned chair balanced atop two pairs of chicken legs that carry her everywhere she goes. Not bad for our Babcia Yaga.