For the hundredth time, I wondered why I had agreed to this. But it was far too late to back out now.
In the darkness, I could just barely see the old woman working her rituals. Her circle, however, was positively glowing with an eldritch light that somehow managed to attract attention without also illuminating anything around it.
Behind her, the rest of her shop was indistinct but looming with a presence that kept raising the hairs on the back of my neck.
Outside the window it was full daylight. And yet none of the sunlight on the streets managed to find its way inside despite the generous, and surprisingly clean, shop windows. The darkness was simply unwilling to be overpowered by something as ordinary as daylight. It couldn’t prevent the daylight from falling outside, but inside. Inside was its domain.
Why had I agreed? I was no longer sure.
I already had seen more than enough to convince me that her place as village witch was well and truly earned.
Now I remained caught as a fly on flypaper. Caught and hoping very much that I was not more akin to a moth and a flame.
Next to the circle, a cauldron bubbled with something simmering away. Its fumes were cloying. Each time they died down to an almost bearable level, she gave it another stir with the large ladle. I think it was the fumes that kept me still.
It certainly wasn’t loyalty to her, the town council, or my agency.
I was well past ready to flee into the daylight and attempt to erase the memories of what I had witnessed flickering in the unlight above circle. At times, it seemed as if the very fabric of reality had become worn thin and something was trying to reach through.
Reach through and steal my soul.
I could wish it luck then. Even I wasn’t so sure if I had one or not. As I stirred, I could hear my mechanisms humming with power, and ready to turn and run, carrying my metal limbs and body back to my maker. And yet. There was something fascinating about this whole situation that kept my attention and refused to allow me to leave.
Why was I here again?
I suppose that is the one hundred second time I’ve asked myself that question.
And it was clear that I was not going to answer.