Mean for the Holidays is nearing its end. I’ve only got one more short story before Christmas Day + It’s been a blast to write. When I started it, it was entirely different which is why I was forced to switch around the release schedule for this and Two Today. As I wrote Bad ritual, I found that it was going to be broken into multiple pieces as well, and I’m sorry about it but I didn’t want to overload you with content just because the week is ending. I’ll have links to the next parts, this one is pretty short as is the next one. I’ll be uploading Bad ritual Part Two tomorrow. Thank you so much + I hope you love it. don’t forget, this evening I’ll be dropping a new poem to the blog as well!
It is Wednesday, after all.
“I only wanted the best. I could have given them the best.”
Her voice sputtered, her last words spent hours ago. Patton tucked a frond of hair behind the woman’s ear. Despite her nature and their fundamental disagreements, she was once a human. It didn’t matter how she lived. She was no better than him now, just a corpse in a classroom. Similarly, Patton felt the cold touch of her skin warming up his own.
“It’s frightfully chilly in here, would you be so kind as to close the window?”
He waved at one of the apprentices that followed him around like a flock of lost goats. All them a skin’s width older than children, hoping to make some use of their newfound powers.
Of course, Patton lived in a different era. Anymore, the kids coming into his study were full of bravado and arrogance. Thinking their power was more suitable than anyone else’s. When Patton was a boy, he was taught Alchemy the way god intended. With a thick reed across his knuckles. You either did it the right way, the way it was written, or you were punished. Kids these days take too many liberties with their power.
It’s going to get someone killed.
“When you return, I want you kids to sit crisscross in a circle. Focus on your teacher.” The men and women stood behind him, kneeling over the woman and investigating the marks on her flesh. “No one laughed.”
He looked over his shoulder at the group of students, clamoring to see the corpse in its entirety.
The dead woman would have laughed.
Patton looked her over once more, determining the cause of the burns. It was an Ember, a powerful one at that.
“You see these here? These are powerful. Whoever took this witch down was a magus. Chaotic trace marks which make little sense. Tell me, can anyone identify the root element of this spell?”
“Sage?” A young woman called from the back, holding a notepad in her hand and scrawling his every word into it.
“No. Sage is a healing herb. It won’t cause damage to flesh. Not like this. Try again.”
“Sulfur?” A boy, barely twenty. His hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his gaunt flesh trying desperately to cling to his face.
“Sulfur, yes. Because it was demons.” Patton sighed. “Neither of those are correct. Sulfur is used in many practices, especially regarding the use of fire. However, one definite clue when dealing with sulfur augments is the terrible scent that will permeate a room. Sulfur with a lighter is bad enough, Sulfur Embers are dastardly.” Patton checked the woman’s eyes, inspecting them for cloudiness or scratches, to be sure they weren’t dealing with something outside of the student’s abilities to overcome.
“This woman was marred by an Oil based Ember. Incidentally, the same Ember she created. Her spellbook was stolen and turned on her with hatred. You can identify an Oil based Ember by inspecting the wounds.” He pointed at a large patch of burned flesh on her arm.
“It’s the pockmarks highlighting the burn.” Another voice called from the crowd, another woman, a few years older than the average in his class. She was peculiar, her hair curled, and thick-rimmed glasses sat upon her nose, threatening to fall off from the thin beam they were supported on. She looked like every witch Patton had killed before, only, more maintained.
“Correct.” He sniffled. “Oil-based Embers as you know, make up one of the three most common types of Embers. The second and third being Wood and Sulfur. Each of them denotes a particular use. The creation of a Witch Ember is a dedicated process, requiring a long-term decision. Their Ember is their first spell learned, most of the time, and it is their most often used spell. While based primarily in the Third Circle, an Ember is a special kind of spell which allows them to harness the Fifth Circle properties without using an element from the Fifth Circle.”
“With Wood garnering the most constant reaction, and Oil being the most erratic.” A voice called out from the crowd. Patton didn’t turn to identify it.
“Correct again. This was an Oil Ember, and whoever used it wasn’t a skilled magic user. You can tell by the arc of the damage. You see how it travels across her torso and left arm?” Patton pointed and traced the path of the burn from her hip to her arm, detailing the frantic and messy track of the burn. “It was chaotic and much too chaotic for a magus’ standards. As you know, the primary characteristic of Witch magic is that it is difficult to control. It feeds off emotion. If you look closely, you can denote the emotion that fueled a spell when observing the track marks that the spell leaves. For instance, with this Ember burn, you can see the tracking and the hasty ignition of the spell. Hot enough to burn upon impact, and that heat is maintained across the entirety of the mark. Should we investigate further?”
Patton heard one of his students groan behind him.
“Perfect. Let’s continue.”
If you’ve missed the last few stories, you can find them all here:
If you’ve enjoyed Mean for the Holidays, I’m so thankful. This project has been absolutely amazing + I am so lucky to be in this position. I hope that I continue to bring you content that you enjoy and come back to so often. Thank you for reading.
If you want to check out anything you may have missed, check out the website where everything is linked + you can see it all there.
If you’d like to follow me on social media to keep up with the many hats I wear, I encourage it + I’ll welcome you with a lotta love.
Life is not meant to be awful.