The council of witches election is soon. As usual, the actual election night is not announced in advance. If you really are a witch, you already know when your opinion is needed, so no announcement is necessary. If you aren’t a witch, you aren’t eligible to vote.
All of the village is curious about the outcome. After all, rumor has it that our village witch is a contender. We aren’t exactly sure of what she is a contender for, mind you. Witches are a secretive bunch.
You don’t really want to meddle in the affairs of witches.
We can tell when an election approaches, though. One clue is the occasional bouts of arguments between invisible people that break out in public. Sometimes they sound like a formal debate, sometimes like campaign speeches, and sometimes like a classic domestic fight over meaningless (to us non-witches, at least) issues.
We are pretty sure our witch is a good witch. She helps when crops are blighted, horses are lamed, and people are injured. She attends most childbirths, and lays out most of the dead. So if she is running for some office within her council, we all support her.
Last night, she spoke in the town square. Since she began at close to midnight, not many of the villagers were paying attention. I happened to wander by on my way from Inn to bed, and listened for a bit.
“As I’ve said before, we must never back down before a baseless threat. We must be unafraid. Fearless even. The Dark Cloud faction cannot be allowed to see fear. If they sense an opening, they will seize control, and our corner of the world will be a much worse place.”
Her passion was evident, even if I had no idea what she was talking about.
“We must be ever vigilant. Rumors abound that one or more of us have been tainted by the Dark Cloud. We must watch our apprentices closely, to make sure they avoid the dark practices and remain untainted by evil. We made a good start by restricting use of eye of newt. Now we need to move on to frog’s tongue, and lizard tears. All precursors to a cockatrice must be watched closely. When elected, I will see to the needed surveillance spells…”
Heady stuff it might have been, but I was two thirds full of ale and my bed was calling. So off I tottered. I must have gotten turned around while listening, because I found myself in an alley that I didn’t recognize. Which now that I write that is odd given how small our town is. There aren’t any alleys at all. And yet, here I was, in an unfamiliar alley. I followed the unmistakable sound of fortunes being won and lost over some kind of excitement, and found a group of robed people pressed around a ring where some kind of strange cock-fight was going on.
Except these were not any sort of cocks I’d seen before. They were far more lizardlike, but stood on two legs, and lacked feathers except for large wings and along their tails. The pair were circling as cocks will, but seemed unwilling to look each other in the eye. The scattered intricately carved stone statues of rats and mice gave me the impression that I didn’t want to get any closer to this pit.
Besides, the unsavory sorts exchanging bets and shouting encouragement clearly were uncomfortable that I’d stumbled in. I decided that the best thing to do was to stumble back out again. A few minutes and one wrong turn later, I was back in the square, and the witch was just summing up.
“Finally, I say to you that this menace of underground cockatrice fights must end. We all must follow the example I’ve set and take all measures required to force the rings out of our towns and villages. When they won’t leave peacefully, we must take any measure up to and including burning the nest of iniquity to the ground as I’ve done here.”
Heh. I don’t think she wants to see what is in the alley.
Or more to the point, wants others to know what is in the alley.
Or wants me to know. Now that I think about it, I didn’t recognize a single person I saw leaning on the edge of the ring.
I’m so screwed.