Blightful Night

This is a standalone story (as all of my stories tend to be).

It’s part of a set of ideas rolling around in my head, which call themselves “The Song of the Blighted Branch”. If you want, this could be a sequel to an earlier piece I wrote, The Blighted Tree. But every part of the Blighted Branch is its own tale. After all, each of us misfits, all of us Blighted Branches, we are our own stories.]

This is what is happening to the Elders in my village, my village which fears a Blight in the trees, which has started to see every shadow and every unusual curve as a thing of that Blight. We love trees; but now we fear them, because the harder we look for the Blight, the more we see it everywhere.

(Try this experiment: Pick one of the colors in the visible spectrum of the rainbow. I tell you now: that color is everywhere. Consider the idea. Ask yourself: “Is that color everywhere”? Now go about your day, and see if you see that color. Ask yourself: “Is that color everywhere?”)

A vast Oak grew in the center of our village in a single night and day; magic it is, and that’s indisputable. The Elders sit and watch it; they lament, and they make speeches, and they stare at the leafy invader.

Food is brought to them, and sometimes they remember to eat it. Water is brought to them (and none for the tree, but still, it grows, it grows.) They’ve fallen asleep by it (and how long can village’s most wakeful guards patrol all night and guard the tree during the day? Not long; thus my belief that I can escape soon. Especially since I’m not suspected. Yet.)

They’re sure that the Blight will be here, with the coming of this unwanted vegetation. I’m sure they’ll find the Blight—on the tree, in the shadows, in the heart of anyone they fear.

(And in their own hearts, of course; that’s part of why they yell so often, to drown out the sick sounds of the heartbeats within themselves.)

Nevermind the fact that the Blight might not be here at all. They don’t like that explanation, and they’re certainly not going to let the fact that the tree is beautiful, shadeful, hale and healthy get in the way of what they hate, what they fear, and what they want to think.

They thought they had banished the Blight, but the Blight comes back.

Strange thing, that.

We call the spell of exvocation a “banishment”, but that’s like calling something “medicine” versus naming it “poison”. Some chemicals will always kill you, some will usually help you heal, and some might do either one, depending on the medicine, the illness, and the person. Any wise-woman will tell you that.

If you cast a spell of Banishment hard enough, and will it strongly enough, and want it bad enough, something will happen. And if, instead of seeking a clear look at the Universe upon which you wish to impose your will, or making the precise calculations which lead to certain sorcerous outcomes, you simply fling force at the problem as hard as you can…

…your initial errors (like misusing prayer, like overcalculating your opposition) might multiply dramatically.

Your Banishment, used with sufficient unwisdom, could become a Calling.

Magic is an extension of Will.

Magic can do the impossible, but that takes tremendous effort. More likely, Magic will mutate your wish, or will perform as much of it as possible, as best it can.

Wish away something that isn’t there, wish it hard enough, put enough energy behind it…

….and both Magic itself, and the human imagination, might make it come into being.

As for sending it away…

There are things which yearn for nonexistence; pebbles which have gotten tired of the wash of the sea, ideas which have been abused until they’re worn out. There are things which are relatively indifferent about the whole affair; fires are often fine burning brightly, then dying away.

But something you’ve just called forth?

You’re the one giving it life.

You might think you’re feeding it the aforementioned poison, but maybe you don’t understand the thing as well as you suppose. You make it bigger and bigger in your head, and then you wonder why it acts as though it’s being fed and watered and nurtured.

Your Will gives it shape. Your Fear twists your will.

It’s hard to relinquish a fear. I respect that. It’s hard to let go.

But if you hug the fear tight, hold it with all the strength you have, do not be surprised when it returns your grasp, and wraps you tight within its infinite embrace.

~Jeff Mach


If you want to know what else I’ve said about this.

It originated when I wrote a counterspell to a curse.

Then I wrote a chant of disquiet.

Then this short story about the curse of banishment.

And finally, the beginning of the tale of of the appearing tree.

This story, like all tales of The Blighted Branch, is dedicated to the eternal memory of Isaac Bonewits; his name will never be forgotten nor erased so long as I can think and speak.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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