An Enchanted Forest Takes a Toll
A witch stood at the edge of an Enchanted Forest and cackled.
It was a pristine moment; a moment destined to go down in the fairytale archives forever and ever and a day. And perfectly designed. For the witch figured that if she gave a good cackle right out in public where enchanted creatures could hear, all would assume she had become the evil witch of tales and, quite frankly, leave her alone.
She was a tired witch, having spent many long years slaving away helping others. If she had settled down anywhere else, instead of this particular enchanted wood, she really could have done anything she wanted—and had a great deal more free time. But such a place is rather a needy spot as far as the world of enchantments goes, because of all the heroes adventuring, and princesses getting lost, and pre-witches going on quests to earn their real witch status. That meant a lot of scratches to be bandaged, dragon fire burns to cure, and water to administer to the shockingly underprepared knights and princes that never failed to become dehydrated.
As a whole, the princesses, princes, knights, and heroes were not the brightest bulbs in the shed. And the pre-witches, while a little better, were horribly gullible—not a great trait to take with you into an Enchanted Forest, which is, of course, designed to trick any trespasser.
As she stood surveying her small meadowed corner of the Enchanted Forest, she seriously thought about retiring. But she wasn’t ready to retire, not really. But if she didn't get a break from all things enchanted soon, she had a sneaky suspicion her ability to control her impulses would become a thing of the past.
Naturally, this was when a rather large knight on a stocky horse entered the glade.
‘What ho, fair maiden. Art though in need of rescuing?’ the knight asked. His voice had a muffled, ringing sort of quality due to what looked like a rather restrictive helmet.
‘Well, I’m a witch, so no.’ The witch didn’t mean to snap, but, as aforementioned, she was tired.
‘Ah,’ said the knight. Then, ‘Can I rescue you anyway?’
The witch cocked her head, and looked the knight up and down, before she said, ‘What for?’ Then she blanched; she must be absolutely exhausted if she was considering playing the part of the helpless maiden.
The knight twitched a bit. ‘It’s like this,’ he began, then launched into a sob story about how he was the prince of a nearby realm, and everyone kept asking him for one ridiculous thing after another. The farmer’s wanted a magic potion to regulate the weather. The fishermen wanted an enchantment to bring more fish up river. The fish wanted an enchantment to keep the fishermen away. But the last straw was when his chief advisor asked him to re-write the land’s tax code. That did it. He announced that he was off to rescue a maiden in distress, which was so noble no on could argue with it, and, well, BAM. Here he was. Talking to her.
‘I see,’ said the witch carefully, for she had come to a sudden, impulsive decision. The knight wasn't bad looking, and he seemed in need of a break. It was, after all, her job to help those who crossed her path. And, all things being what they were... well, he'd be back eventually. ‘How do you feel about the tropics?’ she asked him casually.
‘Never been,’ said the knight.
‘Me neither,’ said the witch. ‘Fancy a trip?’
The knight raised his visor in surprise. Then he narrowed his eyes. ‘Would you tell people that I rescued you?’
The witch rolled her eyes. ‘If I must,’ she said with a sigh. After all, the one thing she had learned after living near an Enchanted Forest for so long was that there was more than one way to be rescued.
And with that she rolled up her sleeves, performed the enchantment, and suddenly the knight was gone. The witch dusted off her hands, and turned down the path to her cozy little cottage. All was quiet. All was well. And if anyone else crossed her path, the witch thought to herself with a small smile, everyone seemed to like the tropics...