Chapter 2 The Witch
Evan charged forward, taking in the scene before him as he moved. Running toward him was a young girl. She had straight brown hair and brown eyes. A black woolen cloak flew out behind her as she ran, revealing the girl's simple pink dress with white lace along the hem, the neckline, and the wrists.
Chasing the girl was a woman. She had dark, wiry hair that looked charged with static. Her skin was white, almost the color of an albino, and her eyes were yellow and bloodshot. The woman wore a black dress and she seemed to glide along, as if flying.
A witch! Evan thought. Brandishing his sword, he moved between the girl and the woman. "Halt!" he commanded the woman, holding one hand out with his palm facing her.
The witch stopped and studied Evan. He was dressed in black trousers and a black shirt. A priest's collar encircled his throat and a thin red cross was stitched on his left breast marking him as a priest of St. Michael.
She made a sweeping motion with her hand. "Out of my way, priest. This is no concern of yours."
Evan was forced to disagree. "Oh really?" he retorted. "Then why are you chasing this girl?"
In response, the witch said nothing; she just spat at the priest and sprang forward. Startled by her speed, Evan made a wild swing with his sword and missed. The woman tackled Evan with an impact that knocked them both to the ground. They struggled for several minutes. To his surprise, Evan found the witch stronger than he expected.
James, Iriel, Brashani, and Daniel came up from behind. James held a whip in one hand and the reins of his horse in the other. Iriel had an arrow nocked in her bow. Brashani had no visible attack prepared; instead a bolt of fire was ready to be unleashed as he came forward. But seeing Evan wrestling with a woman, the wizard paused. The lady radiated slightly with magic; she might be a spellcaster like himself. Before he attacked, he needed to know more.
Iriel, however, had no such compunction. She fired her bow, grazing the witch's leg, and drew another arrow.
Daniel dismounted and ran toward Evan.
James rode forward and cracked his whip across the witch's back. Immediately she released her hold on Evan, her eyes growing round with surprise and her mouth dropping open from the sudden pain that shot across her back. Instinctively, she rolled to one side and transformed into a gray-furred rabbit.
Evan tried to grab the animal, but the rabbit was too fast for him and hopped away. An arrow from Iriel's bow sunk into the ground where the hare had just been.
Daniel gave chase, but the rabbit saw him coming and jumped into a nearby briar to elude him. Movement inside the underbrush grew fainter and told Evan that the witch-rabbit was retreating in haste. Soon she would be lost in the thorny bush.
Evan grimaced. He disliked giving up their pursuit of the witch yet little more could be done for now. The briar was too tangled and thorny for them to track their quarry. Standing, he sheathed his sword and faced the bard.