Her head was pounding as soon as the sun left the sky. There was a sudden shift in the winds and Devon knew that this was a sign of trouble. She had experienced bad migraines before, but this was powerful and painful. As she made her way to the house, the winds picked up and pushed her inside. She knew the wind spirits were trying their best to help, but it was unwelcome. For witches, like Devon, the spirits let their guards down and liked to play, but nothing could confuse the hasty winds bringing her closer to home. Something was wrong and though she feared the next day, she rushed to bed and prayed to the spirits that the storm would pass in the night.
The early morning journey to town felt longer than usual. Devon’s cart, filled with her own homegrown remedies, was no help, but there was a satisfaction in being the person that everyone looked to for solutions. Though she wasn’t an official doctor, when something was wrong, people turned to her, and that feeling of purpose kept her going after her mother’s death.
Her mother had been the town’s healer up until she had fallen ill and was unable to recover. Since then, Devon continued her mothers’ legacy of healing those who could not heal themselves. Her mother had taught her everything that she knew. As the only witches in the town, they kept their identities a secret. They had joined the church on Sundays to create bonds with the townspeople, but they never truly worshipped their God, and after her mother’s death, Devon scarcely visited the tiny chapel.
The village was small and not quite near the coast, but a day’s travel would bring you to the ocean. There were maybe two hundred people who resided in the community and no possible way for a new soul to not be the talk of the town. When Devon entered into the main town square, a young boy named Thomas ran up to her.
“There’s a new man here in town!” The boy ran off to tell the next person he could find. There was a buzz in the air as the people gossiped in the street about the strange man that was currently visiting.
As she walked to her first client, she joined in on a few conversations of the visitor. He was middle aged with a long thick dark ponytail. Teresa Sommers had been the first to speak with him when he arrived, and she said he had a Welsh accent but spoke proper English and sounded credible. He had asked to speak with the leader of the town and the pastor but nothing else.
After visiting a few of her usual patients, Devon entered the market to a bustle of commotion. The man had entered the center and was talking to the villagers who surrounded him. Devon moved towards her usual stall in the corner of the market square and started to set up. As she worked, she had heard him preaching that he was from God and that he was brought here to cast out the devil that lived among the people. She chuckled at the thought. A devil? Here? Not many people had the same thought as she, and when she met the eyes of the man, she dropped her gaze. Moments later, he appeared at her stall.
“Do you find the devil amusing, miss?” His voice, though calm held traces of anger. She quickly shook her head and he stared down at the produce and tonics. The man looked through her items and as she continued to unload her cart, she saw him turn away with one of her bottles.
“That will be two pounds, sir.” He quickly turned back to her and placed the bottle back in its case. He smiled at Devon before walking back towards the crowd he had abandoned. She noted that there was something odd about the interaction, but she was open for business and the people started to move toward her stall. She placed the bottle he had picked up under the stall and went about selling her products.
As the day went on, people gossiped about what the man had been talking about and what evil had been corrupting their lives. Everyone had something to say about the message, mostly trying to convince others that they were godly people. Mrs. Tarlen, the baker’s wife, was one of the last customers to visit her stall. She came to pick up her regular vegetables, but she asked if there were any leftover tonics she could take for her head. Reluctantly, Devon gave her the last bottle that she had placed under the stall. Mrs. Tarlen drank it immediately.
There was a moment before she collapsed when the man met Devon’s eyes and smirked. No one else had seen it, but as the woman before her fell to the ground, Devon let out a horrible scream. The villagers turned to her and the winds pulled at her dress. Run. They whispered. It’s not safe.
The world flew by as she ran towards her home. Her place of birth. The place her mother died, and where she thought she would also die, just not so soon. Run, they are coming. The voice sounded like her mother. The way she would talk before bed, hushed and soft. She could no longer stay here, and though the thought of leaving killed her inside, she knew she wasn’t safe if she tried to stay. They would think she had meant to hurt Mrs. Tarlen. She wouldn’t be able to convince them that her bottle had been tainted.
As she ran towards the woods, she turned back and saw a crowd, led by the man, set her home ablaze. She cried out, but the winds muffled her anguish and pushed her deeper into the green as the forest closed itself to hide her from those who wished her harm.