Hello, Hexen, Familiars and Satanic Dancers!
Why, you look lost, my dear! Come into my cottage! I’m just setting up a cauldron of, erm, soup! Don’t mind the cat, she does that sometimes, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Season of the Witch
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
It most certainly is! As October begins, so do the festivities within our writing. Now is the time to bring out your most witchy of characters and stories. Bring out the cauldrons, the brooms, the ramshackle huts with the spires and strangely smoking. Give us full moons, black cats, magic mirrors, and stolen children’s souls…
What is the season of the witch, and why is it named as such? Do witches grow stronger as the days grow shorter, the air colder?
Perhaps Autumn isn’t the season of the witch; perhaps a kind flower witch grows stronger in the spring. You don’t have to write about a literal season either. Solstices and equinoxes could be times of power for your witches. The time between three and four am is said to be the “Witching Hour” when supernatural creatures are at their most powerful. Walpurgis Night could also be a very fitting direction to take this prompt. The night is named after the Christian Saint Walpurga who is said to have fought against witchcraft. But the night is also said to be a time when witches gather on the Brocken to hold a sabbath. Whether you are for or against witches, it’s certainly a time for them.
The story of Hansel and Gretel was inspired by a real and terrible famine. Perhaps the season of the witch is not necessarily one in which magic is stronger, but instead one in which the fear and desperation of the world at large leaves children vulnerable to witches, or the terrible things their mothers might do to them themselves…
A witch doesn’t have to be a pointy-hatted, warty-nosed old lady. You could write about a good witch. Perhaps your story takes place in a fantasy world where male magic users are also referred to as witches too.
You could take this prompt in a more comedic and/or cute direction too. Perhaps the season of the witch is like hunting season for deer…except for witches. Maybe it’s the season of a tv show in which a witch features prominently. You could write about a teenager going through her “witch phase.” Or perhaps it is the season when the baby familiars are born, and it is time for a young witch to pick out a baby raven, or frog, or cat.
When things go wrong, people start to look for someone to blame. There have been many times in history when witches have been the wolf that angry mobs have cried. When someone—particularly a woman—has unorthodox views, or is outspoken, or simply seems a little off, their town often comes with torches. Perhaps this is not a season of power for witches, but instead one of fear and unrest in which they are persecuted.
In our modern day, even if someone is not directly accused of being an actual witch, they still could serve as scapegoat, and be accused of doing something they didn’t do. After all, witch hunts can be held when there is no actual witch…
Yes, very good choice. One of my favorite dishes on the menu. And, how would you like your witch seasoned?
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
Claudia leaned her forehead against the glass. Before the fog from her breath could obscure her view, she noticed protesters gathering with signs on the lawn outside her dorm. She groaned and closed the blinds. She could handle the crude comments from Internet trolls, but this? This was taking things too far. How did they find out where she lived? Maybe if she stayed at Sophie’s apartment for a few days, they’d get bored, and the whole situation would blow over.
Last week, she had thought the video was funny. Ironic, even. A little nod to Mother Nature. A little promotion of girl power. She guessed it was probably the WWHD (What Would Hecate Do) bracelet that pushed it over the edge. The Conservatives for a Better Campus group probably took that as a dig on their religious soapbox.
Slamming her drawers hard enough to knock over glass bottles on top of the dresser, she crammed some essentials into her backpack. She changed into a grey hoodie and black sweats—just like half of the other girls in her dorm wore. She started for the door but paused just before turning the handle. She could hear noise from the crowd outside. There must be more people now. How would she sneak past them? If they knew where she lived, they might recognize her leaving. Or worse, someone might have gotten into the building.
Thankfully, the hallway was empty when she left. Claudia wrapped her sleeve around her hand and pulled the fire alarm. The bell screeched, and irritated students joined her in the hallway. She ducked into the flow of people evacuating the building and followed them past picketers whose signs read, “Burn her!” and “Witch B Gone!”
It still didn’t add up. This was too large a response to one stupid viral video. Was there someone else orchestrating the whole thing? Someone who had a personal problem with her? She would still go to Sophie’s, but first, she would work a detection spell to figure out who was responsible. Then they’d learn what real witchcraft was like.
by Jesse Fisher
“Why are you so chipper today?” The sun kissed woman asked, looking at the person across the table. This companion was almost bursting with a glee that would have creeped out others.
“It is time.”
The woman just raised an eyebrow at this. The list of related ‘time’ things ranged, personal to the more objective stuff. Said objective stuff was more the stars and moon a lining so the other person could know what to wear for the next month. Then the first day of fall happens and the next ‘phase’ starts up. That explains the orange around the house.
With a way of this person’s hand a light moved from the top of their head down to their feet leading to a broom that was sweeping the house to fly to them.
“Oh that time.” The woman replied, going back to the breakfast that she was eating before asking.
“Opálení, I miss when you used to freak out over this.” The magic user said glumly.
“Zwitter, after like five years most of the stuff you do is just not as freaky.”
“Oh,” Zwitter let go of their broom and almost changed out of the skirt and outfit. “I was thinking about asking you if you wanted to join me this year.”
Opálení looked at them chewing her food. With a shrug she nodded.
“I’m fine with it but after this is over for the year you are going to wear nothing but bright colors until it is spring.”
“No buts Zwitter, if I’m going to give up my wardrobe for a season then so are you.”
Ash and Dust and Nothing (Ashcairn, of the Shaded Realm)
You can DM me on Discord for the details!
The long night
Logan sharpened his axe as he watched a moonless night batter the last vestiges of daylight into a long sleep. He wouldn’t see it again for some days. If he ever saw it again.
He peered into the woods beyond his makeshift camp. In the past few months, the animals of his forest grew restless. The days grew cold, and fires no longer held the warmth they should.
“When the light falters and the night creeps ever longer, along the pale wind those touched by the strange hunt.” His father, Luther, once told him when he was just a boy. His large hands squeezed Logan’s shoulders far too tight, but something about the old man’s disposition made him swallow the pain. “You ever hear the woods sing, run inside and lock the doors. Barricade them shut and permit no entry. Not even for me. Not until the day breaks over them trees.” Luther gave him a hard look. One he hardly recognized. “No witch may enter another’s home uninvited. Your mother protects us even now. Understand?”
“Yes, sir.” Logan managed to choke out. Not the slightest idea why his father was so afraid, but holding that fear all the same.
It had been some time since, but he never forgot that day. He never forgot the madness he now recognized in his father’s eyes. Eventually, the woods sang, and the pale winds came. He did as he was told and hated every bit of himself for it. Luther had it in his mind he’d take on a dozen covens himself. Just a man and an axe stood in front of his cabin. He died slow and terrible.
Logan had lived a lifetime since, but those days stuck with him. Sitting on the other side of that door listening to them torture the old man. Logan’s heart was branded with that weakness. So, he sharpened his axe and waited for the singing. A single man against the witches of the long night stood no chance. A bitter witch at the height of his powers? That might be a different story.
Expanding the Nest (Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
“Ruddreth belongs to the Sparrows now, understood?” Serennia leaned forward, hands planted firmly on the mayor’s desk.
“If you think I’m going to hand this city over, you’re sorely mistaken. I’ve dealt with bigger threats than you. You don’t scare me.”
“I highly doubt that.” Serennia stood up straight, a smirk turning the corner of her lips. With a flick of her wrist, a magical blade shot from her fingertips, slicing through the mayor’s chair a hair’s width from his neck.
The mayor swallowed hard, sweat greasing his brow. Serennia kept her gaze locked with his, unyielding. She knew he would break. It was only a matter of when, and how much she would have to push him to get there.
“What are you after? Do you want to depose me and turn this good city into some sort of criminal haven? A hub for you and your nefarious friends?”
“You don’t seem to understand. You’ll stay in office, and the city will be none the wiser. As far as they’ll be concerned, nothing within the government will have changed. But you’ll answer to me, and nothing will go through this office without my approval.
“As for making this city a so-called ‘criminal haven’,” Serennia continued, “I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. My Sparrows will be allowed to operate unhindered, of course. But I promise you that we will do what we can to eradicate crime from this city.”
“You expect me to believe that? That you’re staging a coup for altruistic reasons? Forgive me if I’m sceptical that a bunch of known criminals are trying to do good.”
“I never said my intentions were selfless. I have big plans for the Sparrows, and that involves both funding and resources. Something that only you can provide. And since I knew you wouldn’t do so out of the goodness of your heart, I decided to take matters into my own hands.”
“And what exactly are these plans of yours?”
Serennia smiled. “A puppet shouldn’t concern himself with the matters of those holding the strings.”
Erykah paced along the backstage, looking over her notes. Nearby, Willow was playfully kicking her feet as she sat.
“Erykah, you look like you’re going to blow an artery or something.” Willow said. “You really should relax.”
“I can’t relax! This is a big deal!”
“You just have to make one speech. I’m the master of ceremonies. You’ll be fine.” Willow pulled out a pocket watch. “Speaking of which, I’m on.”
Erykah nodded and kept going over her notes, as her friend went on stage. As she recited what she wrote down, she heard Willow say her name.
“I’d like you to welcome our top graduating student and my good friend, Erykah Toadbarrow.”
Erykah winced at her last name. It was embarrassing. She should drop it. She walked meekly out on stage and adjusted the brim of her pointed hat.
“Hello students and faculty of Stromrose Academy of Magic, and honored guests.” Her dusky green skin darkened with embarrassment. “You may have noticed, I’m an orc. That probably doesn’t seem so weird now, but I was literally in the first class with female orcs to be admitted to this school. And a week after I attended, no one seemed to notice. Not once have I been treated differently than any of the other witches and warlocks attending class here. So, imagine my surprise that I am now the first Orc to graduate top of my class, and I was all, ‘Oh yeah, I guess that’s a thing.’”
Erykah was relieved that her comment was met with laughter.
“I have made some great friends here over the past few years. It’s been great. And now we close this chapter of our lives, and move on to the next one. Many of us have been admitted to advanced magic academies. Others will turn to finding employment as hedge witches or magical supply, or something along those lines. But I wish this class of new witches and warlocks the best in forging their way into the world. This is a big step for us, and I, for one, look forward to it.”
[Dm me on discord for more information!]
Wand Way Or Another
by Lee Strangely
Under the shadows of the thick dark clouds, the old church’s bell echoed across the foggy fields, reverberating past the gnarled trees and weathered tombstones. It called to the men below as they trudged through wet leaves and mud, with only their lanterns to see. Amory could hear their voices as they passed by. Occasionally she peeked out of the hole to check their progress.
When it seemed safe, her attention returned to the coffin below. She was easily able to tear apart the rotten wood. Dozens of tiny creatures slithered and crawled away once they were exposed, their absence revealing the intended occupant. All but bones remained, still clutching at a wrinkly black book. Amory wrestled it out of its brittle grasp.
Books like this one are known by many titles depending on their author. In common tongue, they are simply called Grimoires, an invaluable tool for younger, inexperienced witches such as herself. Unfortunately, such tomes are as hard to come by as willing teachers, if not harder. Most are often burned along with their captured authors, or buried with the few who went unnoticed up to their deaths.
The sound of the mob soon grew too close for comfort. Instinctively, Amory reached for the side of her leg, only for her blood to run cold. Early on, the mob had caught her by surprise, leaving only enough time to grab her shoes. Her wand was left behind in the flight. You see, casting a spell without a wand is essentially firing a gun without a barrel: it’s unfocused, and volatile.
Up above, the mob surrounded her. One man, who was either quite brave or dimwitted, approached. A loud snap came from the hole as he pointed his rifle down it. Instantly, everyone heard something akin to thunder, as a blinding blast shot up, knocking the man and several yards away. They all turned to the hole.
“Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble,” Amory muttered, stepping out with the book in hand, “Something wicked this way comes…”
Her other hand then pointed a skeletal arm in their direction, “IT’S HERE!”
Returning from the Grocery Store
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“I’m home!” Bellona called from the threshold of the apartment. “I bought the lemons—”
“Bellona, you have some explaining to do!”
Uh oh. Bellona hung up her hat. “What’s up, Cammie?”
Loud footsteps echoed from the kitchen. Cammie, Bellona’s usually-calm roommate, held a paring knife in one hand and her phone in the other. She pointed at the screen with the blade. “What. Is. THIS?!”
Bellona took the phone gently.
A social media post of security camera footage, tagged as a meme. A man in a messy plaid shirt and a woman in a pristine black dress and a nice hat crossed paths on a sidewalk. The man slapped the woman’s butt as she walked past. Then instead of the man there was a fish, flailing and suffocating on the concrete. The woman laughed as she walked away.
“Is that you?!” Cammie yelled.
“Yeah.” Bellona said, smoothing out her dress. “Why do you ask?”
“I— you—how did you—” Cammie stuttered. “He just turned into a fish! And you laughed and walked away!”
“Yeah? He deserved it. And it only lasted, like, thirty seconds.” Bellona moved into the kitchen and put the lemons where they went, right next to the rosemary.
“No, I’m not arguing that, but—Bellona!” Cammie’s eyes flooded with crazed bewilderment. “People don’t just turn into fish! Did—did you do that?”
“Do you turn that man into a fish?”
Bellona turned towards her roommate. She let her occult jewelry catch the reflection of the kitchen lights. The tattoos on her wrists were on full display. “Yeah. I did. Don’t tell anyone though, the Witch Council might wipe your brain if you do. Again, I mean.”
She turned away to pull something out of the fridge.
“You—you—” Cammie held her head with the hand without a knife in it. “You’ve been a witch? This whole time?!”
Bellona laughed. Arguably, cackled. She removed a small cauldron of now-chilled acid green liquid and put it on the counter. “I can’t believe it took you this long to notice. Now, how much lemon juice should I add to this seasoning?”
Oh No, It’s Her Again
By Marx (CW: Torture)
The fear and hate in the air was palpable. You could feel it. You could see it. You could smell it. You could taste it. And you most definitely could hear it.
“Burn the witch!”
“Burn the witch!”
The witch in question merely smiled from the stake. She could see the runes around her. They were the only reason she didn’t simply break her restraints. The hypocrisy didn’t escape her. But that wasn’t why she smiled.
However, she was drawn from her revelry by a demand she hadn’t expected from the priest. She responded in kind. “Why would I repent? To who? Your God? Your God cares nothing for you or any of this. But mine… Oooooh… mine will be drawn to it, like…” She grinned even wider as a giggle escaped her strained lips. “…a moth to a flame.”
“As you wish, so shall it be…” The priest said with a clear remorse for what he must do as the wood below the witch was set aflame.
The crowd erupted in spite and vindication as her screams began. One less witch to poison their village. One less temptation to poison their souls. But the celebration was short-lived. As her screaming turned to laughter and back into screams they began to realize the problem.
Soon the only sound other than the raucous screaming and laughing was the fire crackling as it attempted to consume its prey.
‘Attempted’ being the core word.
“While it clearly burns her, she heals too quickly. She will outlast the flames at this point,” said a calm voice in the crowd. “I would suggest funneling magic into the fire instead.”
“Silence, fool!” said the priest. “We only use what magic is absolutely necessary. Lest we be no better than the witches themselves.”
“I suppose it doesn’t matter, all things considered. I hunger.”
The priest turned to the voice. “Who are you, stranger? And what know you of this witchcraft?”
“You may call me Alexandros.” Easily waving away the runes, he smiled up at the burning witch, who smiled back. “Hello Sabrina. It’s been a while.”
Soulbound (The Will)
I know you can read this: you were so excited when you finally understood the letters that had eluded your understanding for so long. You wouldn’t forget them, even after these twenty years.
You’ve been gone for a long time, and I’m left to wonder if you know what’s happening in the world. Have you seen the turmoil caused by your choice to give in to destruction, or have you been blinded by it? It doesn’t really matter now. Soon, the door will give way and the crowd will get inside. Their chants of “burn the witch” don’t leave much to the imagination. My time left here is short. Perhaps I’ll feel a modicum of your suffering.
The truth is that I miss you. I want to see you again.
I’ve been thinking of a moment a few weeks after our wedding; I was reading a dictation on the transmutation of mana into obscure magic in bed by the candlelight, and you sat in the corner of the room just watching me. I had offered you a spot next to me, but you had said “it would ruin the view.”
I had thought then that you were being corny, since this had taken place after eight days of continual work, sleeping only about six hours a night. I had been less than appealing physically, so the comment caught me off guard since it came from you. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I miss your voice. Because it wasn’t my sunken eyes you were appreciating, it was how much I loved reading that stupid book.
I don’t understand how it’s taken me this long to realize this, but you really only wanted for me to be happy, didn’t you? For everyone that you love to be happy?
I happily burn for you: the demon I sold my soul to. I would do so one thousand times if it meant that I could feel your eyes on me one more time.
And I just want you to know:
I love you.