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A Witch's Tools

You wanted this. Keep reminding yourself of that.

You’ve been thinking about it for years. You did your research. You found a witch that carries a powerful reputation, highly regarded by its peers, and, and…

Now that you’re here, all the nervousness is catching up to you.

The masked witch moves with such strange mannerisms. The smooth and deliberate movements of its (well, they might as well be) hands contrast with the abrupt bird-like twitching of its head.

You lay on the table, anxiously fidgeting, while you watch it unpack its bag.

It’s not like you’re an expert on magical solutions, but you certainly did not expect the array of keys in many different shapes and sizes.

You open your mouth to break the silence. “No, uh, magic wands? Eheh…” A nervous chuckle.

The witch stops moving, fixing you with its mask’s unreadable stare. A chill runs through you, and you get the distinct impression that you insulted the thing that’s meant to be helping you.

An agonizing silence follows. “No,” it finally says, in a waspish tone.

It resumes unpacking its bag.

“Did you think me a wizard? Conducting the elements in orderly concert, without passion or taste? Perhaps that is what you really wanted all along, to be struck by lightning and burnt to ash. Is that it?”

You open your mouth to speak again, to apologize for the offense, but the witch continues.

“Nor am I a mage. Coyly flirting through the doorway to the Other Side, stealing power from the possible like some street urchin caught with their hand in a merchant’s pockets.”

The witch’s voice gets louder as it monologues, spitting venom in every word.

“I do not know what tools a sorceress favors, but permit me also to assure you that I am no moth-dancer whose carnal knowledge of mirrors puts any common harlot to shame.”

It seems to be working itself up into a fury as it goes down the list of magical practitioners it bears some grudge or another with.

“That you are still conscious and aware of this plane means I must not be a shaman either, those—”

The witch abruptly ceases its diatribe the instant it finishes unpacking its bag, perfectly resuming the strange, professional mannerisms of before.

“No,” it repeats, anger completely gone this time. “I am a witch, and the well-sharpened key is our tool. To unlock the mind and the flesh, no other will do.”

It chooses a key from those arrayed on the table, well-polished edge gleaming in the light.

“Now, no squirming.”

The key parts your skin, drawing surprisingly little blood as it sinks deeply into your chest. The cold metal slides inside you, and suddenly it feels far too long, impossibly long.

And then it clicks home, and with the turn of a witch’s wrist, you come completely undone.