Witches

Annalise

I was startled awake in the morning to Marina calling my name out and standing over my bed.

“Good morning,” she said and tossed a simple walking dress at me. Harran woke up too and bleerily rubbed his eyes. “Your Highness.”

“Duchess,” he murmured. “Is the sun even up yet?”

“Yes,” Marina said, marching over to the windows and throwing open the curtains. “Get dressed, I need to talk to you.” I stared at her in disbelief.

“So you’re speaking to me now?” I said. She sighed and rolled her eyes.

“Clearly,” she mumbled. “We need to go to the temple, and we need Raymond and Athena too.” I sighed.

“Did you Dream?” I tried. She nodded. “Bad?”

“I thought I was going to drown,” she said. Harran rubbed the back of his head and looked at her.

“Aren’t you chosen of sea goddess?” He asked. I shushed him and went and sat down with her. “I’m just saying wouldn’t that make drowning difficult?”

“I was North, I think,” she said, “at least it was cold, and the sea was,” she shuddered, “angry and out of control, and then she said that The Dark Lady would fill the chaos.”

“Who said?” I asked. “Rana?”

“No,” she whispered, “no she wasn’t,” she shook her head, “I didn’t know her. She was all in black, and veiled, but I could see her eyes,” she exhaled. Harran was out of bed and dressed now. I looked at him.

“And she called Amina, ‘The Dark Lady?'” He said. She looked at him and nodded. “Oh, she’s a witch.”

“Calling people witches is rude, Harran,” I said.

“No,” he said and kissed me, “calling you two,” he pointed at us, “witches is rude, because you aren’t. But the tribes have witches, real ones. They commune with the newly dead, and heal and perform marriage and burial and naming rites.”

“Oh,” Marina said. “And they veil their faces and dress in all black?” He shrugged.

“Sometimes,” he said. “But usually only for official duties.” I stared at him. “What?”

“And they serve Amina?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “they serve the tribes. They don’t serve any god in particular. They’re aligned with Amina in some ways because of their rites of the dead.” Marina was staring at him. “At least one of my brothers will likely marry witches, it’s quite common for them to marry into chieftan families.”

“She said she’d grown bored,” Marina said, “and she had these eyes,” I looked at her. And Harran nodded.

“They all have nice eyes,” he mused. I elbowed him. “Not as nice as yours obviously.” Marina snorted. “You didn’t get a name?”

“No,” Marina said. “She was about my height, but that’s not guaranteed in Dreams. I used to Dream this one was ten feet tall.” She nodded to me. “She seemed to know me.”

“What do you mean, they’re aligned with Amina, but don’t serve her?” I said. Harran sighed.

“We don’t see The Dark Lady the same way you do,” he explained. “It’s not about Rana and Cornan having superiority, it’s about the triad being in balance.” I looked at him. “The Witches are as much a part of that as The Masteros. Being of the tribes they were able to mostly escape Brayton’s purges, but, well,” he shrugged. “It’s been a hard decade for all of us.” I looked at him.

“Are there many witches our age?” Marina asked eagarly.

“No,” he said, “only a handful.” I looked at him again, and touched his face.

“Ah,” she nodded, and then stood up, “I need to talk to Raymond.” She swept out of the room and then backed back in. “Thanking you for your help, Harran. Lisett, I am still angry with you, but a little bit less.” She bounced out.

“I should probably go with her,” I said and stood up, “by dinner tonight she might even like me again.” He laughed and kissed me.

“We can only hope,” he said, “do you want to send for a witch?” I looked at him.

“Yes,” I said softly, “and I trust who you choose.” He nodded.

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