“Whoso pulleth out this sword of this doll, is rightwise witch of this house,” your friend reads aloud.
The blade bearing that inscription has been rammed through the body of a doll lying, limp and tragic, on an otherwise empty altar in front of a dilapidated house.
You shudder. It’s clear that some kind of obscene ritual took place here. The breeze itself has stilled, as though holding its breath in anticipation of something, and yet somehow you catch a distant sound like the rustling of leaves or secretive whispers.
“Let’s get out of here,” you say, turning back toward the path that took the two of you to this strange glade.
You can’t find it. Your frantic eyes dart left and right along the tree line, but there is no sign of any path leading to or from this place.
“Maybe you’re able to turn down the allure of a cool sword in the woods,” your friend responds, “but I’d be kicking myself if we left without at least trying to pull it out.”
“No,” you insist, “there’s something really wrong about this place…”
She isn’t listening. Her hands are already on the sword’s grip, and with a gentle tug, the sword easily pulls free.
Oh shit. What does that mean?
The pierced doll peeks through one open eye, then bounds upright.
“You did it!” it says, the cheer in its voice suggesting that the hole in its belly doesn’t bother it at all. The doll turns and cups its hands around its mouth, shouting, “we have a new witch!”
The rustling and whispers from the trees explode into a wild charge of about a dozen celebratory dolls chanting “New witch! New witch!”
Many of the dolls congratulate each other on the success of their great plan while others gather around your friend to admire her.
You look toward her yourself, and she meets your eyes with a look of amusement and not at all the appropriate amount of horror.
But then she smiles directly toward you like a ray of sunshine spilling across your body, and you feel the tension start to drain from your muscles.
“Let’s just go inside and have my dolls brew some tea, hmm?”
Her suggestion is accompanied by an unfamiliar glimmer in her eyes, and you find yourself following her through the doorway without a second thought.
This house is going to need a lot of work, though.