Hill of Sidh
Novelist : Judit Elias
Nights in the little town in Victoria had
changed. The rural village had once boasted peaceful hours under the stars, but
that was no more.
“Hurry up, mistress Licorice,” implored
Licorice was incessantly shrinking down
books with magic and filling a big bag with them.
“We should go now,” Camellia said.
“But we must save all the research,”
replied Camellia’s twin, Cedric, who was carefully placing vials, full of
colourful liquids, inside a purse. “Cammy, come here and help me instead of
The little girl ran across the room to her
brother, but stumbled over one of the objects lying on the floor and fell, face
first, on the ground. Cedric rolled his eye.
“On second thoughts,” he said, “better
find another occupation that keeps your clumsy hands away from anything
Camellia stood up. She was used to
tumbling and bumping into things every now and then. She checked herself in the
mirror. Her face was covered in dirt but everything was in order: fuzzy red
hair tied down in two braids, two pointy ears and one big green eye in the
middle of her pale, child-like face. She would have liked to have human hands.
She had always found them so delicate and many-fingered. Instead, she was stuck
with her chubby three-fingered hands with terrifying claws. She filed them
daily but they just kept on growing. She redid one of her braids, which was
coming loose. Her hair was nice, she decided, she liked the colour and the
reddish shine it had, even in the dim light of the candles.
“It’s not easy to see where things are
exactly when you’re a cyclops,” she complained shyly.
“I’m a cyclops too,” Cedric pointed out,
“and I’m nowhere near as clumsy as you!”
Cedric was almost identical to his sister
but with unruly short blond hair.
“Stop it, you two,” said Licorice in her
soft velvet voice. “Camellia, won’t you please make sure our coats are ready?
It won’t take much longer.”
replied the girl, rushing out of the basement.
idea, my Lady,” mumbled Cedric. “That will keep everything in this room safe…
for a while.”
Licorice smiled. It was a lovely smile
which could have charmed any heart. The young mistress would have been pretty.
More than pretty, stunningly beautiful, with luscious curled ivory hair that
fell to her delicate shoulders, eyes highlighted by long lashes, a small pointy
nose and juicy red lips. She would have been a sight to behold if it weren’t
for her skin, hard and grey, dead and cold to the touch. Licorice wore a black
dress and gloves that covered her arms.
“But your sister was right,” she said. “We
Cedric sighed, frustrated.
“I still don’t understand why we have to
leave. This is your home, my Lady.”
Licorice stopped for a beat to look around
the room. This was, indeed, her home, full of memories she cherished. She had
been born in it and, despite her frequent travels, it had always been a place
to come back to. She could almost picture her father pacing in the little
basement-laboratory, always with a book in his hands, while she helped him. Her
father had been a brilliant mind, as her mother had been, but the memories of
her became more distant and blurred, for she had died when Licorice was a very
young child. Now Camellia and Cedric were all she had.
“There’s nothing left for us here,” she
said firmly. “And it may be… beneficial to leave now.”
Cedric raised his gaze. He had understood
what the mistress meant.
“Still,” continued the boy, “it feels
unfair having to leave in such a rush. We should fight back.”
Licorice appreciated her young servant’s
“We may have to,” she replied, going back
The voices from outside the mansion, the
angry shouts and screams, were getting louder and louder. Licorice could make
out most of what they said: ‘Burn the witch!’ ‘Slay the one–eyed monsters!’ She
could also smell the fire.
The townsfolk had finally entered the
manor. They were armed with torches, knives and any object they could use as a
weapon, and they destroyed everything in their path.
Camellia rushed into the basement with the
coats. Licorice instructed the twins to put them on and grab their bags. She
put on her dark veil. The mistress and the cyclopes left the basement, walking
up the stairs towards the voices.
“Come out of your hideout, witch. We know
you’re there!” shouted the mayor.
Camelia took her brother’s hand and
squeezed. The shout had come from the ballroom, and they had to go through that
room if they wished to leave the mansion. Licorice didn’t slow her pace. They
crossed the hallway and entered the large ballroom. The high ceiling, adorned
with images of clouds and angels, was lit by torches. They were met by a sea of
“You should pay for your crimes! We have
come to finish your heinous life!”
“Look at the monsters! Oh, what horrible
“Burn it all to the ground!”
Licorice raised one of her hands and the
townspeople fell silent.
“We are leaving,” she said in her soft
voice. “Please, let us through.”
The faces before them looked indignant,
and the townspeople started shouting again. The mayor took a step forward.
“Lady Licorice, you stand accused of
witchery and evil. We have come to apprehend you so that you may stand trial.”
The young cyclopes looked at their
mistress, who stood proud and silent.
“You have all seen it! By her silence she
admits her witchery!” roared one woman. Several
cries of agreement came from behind her.
“If that is so…” the mayor said, “I
sentence you to die in the pyre. And may you find salvation from your evil
ways. Catch her!”
Licorice didn’t raise her voice, it was
more like a whisper, but everyone heard her clearly. She didn’t even look at
them, as if the whole conversation was of no interest to her.
“As I have said, we are leaving. You will
let us through.”
“We cannot let you leave,” shouted one
And for the first time Licorice paid
attention. She took a step towards the villager who had spoken and pierced her
with a freezing stare.
“This town is cursed,” she said,
pronouncing each word carefully. “You should leave now.”
A hush fell over the room. It was just for
a few seconds but to Camellia it felt like an eternity. Someone grabbed her arm
and pulled her away from the others. It was a tall man who was holding a big
knife, pointed directly at her neck.
“I am not afraid of you!” he said,
although his voice trembled. “I’ll kill this unsightly monster myself!” he
“Let her go!” roared Cedric, mad at the
sight of his sister in danger. He had already dropped his bags and would have
charged towards the villager if the mistress had not placed her delicate hand
on his shoulder.
‘Unsightly’, ‘monster’… Camellia had
actually been called worse names. She used to be very upset by them when she
was younger, but now she didn’t care. The big knife, however, scared her. It
must have been used to chop meat and, although it was clean, her fine cyclops
senses could smell the metallic scent of blood on it. It made her shudder.
“You will let the girl go,” said Licorice,
her voice firm.
The man drove the blade closer to
Slowly, Licorice removed her gloves. She
could hear the townsfolk gasp in fear. Those who stood closest to Licorice
began pushing back, panic in their eyes. Under the gloves, Licorice’s arms and
hands were pure skeleton without any flesh.
“I told you.”
“She is indeed a witch.”
But Licorice paid no attention to the
comments, which were becoming even more rage-filled than before. The mistress
stretched out both arms and muttered some unknown words. A flash of light
surrounded her palms, the blaze became brighter and brighter, accumulating in
her fingertips, and a beam shot towards the knife. The man screamed in terror and,
when the brightness dimmed, he could see that the blade had disappeared
completely, leaving only the handle in his hand.
Camellia took advantage of his confusion
to bite the arm that grasped her, as hard as she could. As she felt the grasp
loosening she pushed and ran to her brother’s side.
The townsfolk couldn’t contain their anger
“We must kill her!”
“Kill them all!”
The people charged. Forks, axes and
burning torches pointed towards them. Two purple flames burst out of Licorice’s
palms. The violet fire engulfed the townsfolk and, although it didn’t burn, the
people screamed in confusion and fear.
“The mistress is so powerful,” mumbled
Cedric in his sister’s ear.
Camellia nodded. She could feel her heart
thumping with excitement.
“With her, there is nothing to fear,” her
brother said, squeezing her hand.
The townsfolk were too scared to move.
“Let’s go,” said Licorice, not even looking
back. The witch and the one-eyed monsters walked towards the door and left the
mansion, never to return again.