The Curse of the Orthana by Nick Tamboia

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After her meal, she had gone out to the barn to feed the chickens before it got too late and while she worked there she decided that this would be her last night here in Old Nann’s cabin. Tomorrow she would pack herself up some clothing and supplies and start back to her parents’ farm. It was time, she thought, and realized that she missed her mother a lot.

Back in the cabin she walked into the kitchen, intending to clean up and make a small basket of snacks to bring with her into the root cellar for the night. The kitchen was at the front of the house and as she entered it, she saw, through the one window before her, a horse.

Alia froze upon seeing that, realizing that someone was here.

From behind her she heard a scuffing sound and turned around to see the plump man, the Witch Hunter, Jole standing there.

“Little Witch,” he shouted as he sprang forward, intending to grab ahold of Alia.

Alia yelped in fear and threw up her right hand in a defensive gesture. Instantly the large, hefty man lifted up into the air and shot backwards into the back living room, where he slammed into a wall, with a grunt.

Just as this happened, the backdoor flew open and Alia saw Kane, the Puritan standing there, smiling his pointy, silver toothed smile at her. “It was dumb to put the doors back on the cabin, girl. That was like advertising you were back.” With that he pointed at Alia. There was a snap, crackling sound like lightning, and a flash of light as a yellow bolt of fire shot out of the man’s fingertip.

Alia held her hands up again, deflecting the fire off to her left where it slammed into the wall with a massive impact, causing the wooden beams there to splinter and crack, as smoke filled the air.

Just as fast, Alia thrust her left hand out at the Puritan and a chair in front of her shot through the air at him.

Kane stepped to the side easily enough and the chair shot passed him to land in the grass of the backyard.

“My turn,” he then said as he thrust his hands out toward the girl. The remaining chairs and a table in front of him lifted into the air and shot at the girl with great speed.

Alia held her right hand up again and shoved the flying objects to the side, where they crashed into the walls and floor. Even as this happened, she thrust her left hand out, shoving Kane back out of the doorway.

Before the Puritan could recover, she darted to her right, running into the small side room, intent on climbing out of the window to escape.

“Impressive,” Puritan Kane said with a smile as he recovered from the powerful magic shove the girl had given him.

Just as he did so, the man standing outside of the cabin beside Kane shouted. “Hold it. Stop right there,” as he pulled his sword out. The man had seen Kane use magic, and that meant he was a witch. “I said freeze, don’t move, witch man!”

Kane didn’t freeze, he simply turned around to face the man, so fast that it was almost impossible to see. At the same time he pulled his rapier out from where it hung on his side and drove the point into the man’s chest.

The man grunted, but instead of falling dead, he instantly turned into a statue of himself, one made of salt, which a moment later collapsed on itself, falling into a shapeless heap in the grass before Kane.

Jole, having regained himself, and had staggered to the backdoor, saw what Kane had done, pulled his flintlock pistol out and promptly shot Kane in his back.

Kane sighed as he tilted his head to the side, his shoulders slumping as an annoyed expression crossed his face. “You should have pretended to be dead.” With that the puritan spun around and in one quick, blurry motion, shoved his right fist through the man’s chest.

Jole grunted as he bounced up and down, his blue eyes wide with shock as he looked down at the arm sticking out of his chest, and then up at Kane’s face. A moment later, he turned into salt, which rained down on the ground around Kane.

After a moment, Kane leaned down and dug the pistol out of the salt mound that had previously been the Witch Hunter, held it up and turned it over in his hand, examining it. “Mortals,” he remarked and tossed the pistol over his shoulder, no longer interested in it.

Instead of going back into the cabin, the man turned to the side and began walking that way as he shouted, “Little witch. Oh Little witch!”

By that time Alia had climbed out of the window and ran toward the steps that lead down into the root cellar, took them two at a time as she raced down them and thrust herself into the wooden door at the bottom.

It few open, and the girl spun around into the root cellar, slamming the door behind her.

From above her, muffled by the walls around her, she heard Kane chanting, “little witch. Little witch, come out, come out wherever you are.”

Alia didn’t craft a lock for the door as she had done before, but instead she used her magic to cause the farm of the door to seal itself to the door itself, creating a solid wall.

That done the girl looked around, trying to think, when her eyes fell on the trunk.

From behind her she heard someone walking down the steps to the cellar.

Quickly the girl rushed over to the trunk and knelt down beside it, looking at the lion head lock. “I know she said not to open you unless it was an emergency,” she said to the lion head.

Behind her there was a loud thump on what had once been the door. Startled by that, Alia let out a loud yelp of fear.

“Open this up, witch,” Kane shouted from the other side of the door. “Don’t make me do it. Don’t make me angry, you won’t like that.”

There was another loud bang on the door.

Frightened, Alia worked the latch of the lion head lock, fumbling with it for a moment before she finally undid it and lifted the top of the trunk, just as there was another loud bang from the door.

The girl glanced at it, just as she felt something fall in her lap. Looking down she saw it was a shoe. A woman’s red shoe. Before Alia could react to that, the shoe sprang off her lap all on its own and went tapping across the floor.

“What,” she gasped at that.
Another shoe, a pair of them like the type a boy would wear, sprang out of the trunk and went dancing across the dirt floor all on their own.

Shocked by that, the girl leaned up and looked into the trunk. It was filled with shoes of all shapes and sizes, some she recognized, others she had never seen before. Men’s shoes, women’s and children’s. There were boots, sandals, clogs, high heels and others she would someday understand were sneakers.

“Open this door,” Kane shouted from outside and there was another thump. “I need your soul girl. I need to feed off of your magic!”

Alia glanced from the door to look down into the shoe filled trunk. There looked to be enough room for her to fit in there, so she stood up, holding the top of the trunk up as she first put her left leg into it.

Oddly it sank down to her knee, which didn’t seem right. The trunk didn’t look to be that deep, and the shoes oddly seemed to move out of the way for her.

There was another loud bang on the door and when Alia looked to it she saw the wooden boards in the middle of it splinter.

Quickly now, she climbed into the trunk, feeling her body sinking down into the shoes as if they were swallowing her. Lower and lower she sank as the top of the trunk closed. She was partly afraid of that, but realized that it was either sinking into a weird trunk filled with shoes and hiding in it, or facing the demon that was pretending to be a man and wanted to eat her for her magic.

Just before the lid of the trunk closed on her, Alia both heard another loud bang on the door, and saw Kane’s fist explode through it.

Then the lid closed above her, and for a moment it was dark, and the girl felt herself sinking deeper and deeper into the trunk as shoes of various shapes and sizes wiggled and moved around her.

Just as she was wondering if Kane had made it into the root cellar and would open the trunk to look for her, she felt herself not sinking, but falling backwards.

This only lasted for a moment, and then she landed hard, on her back. After a moment she opened up her eyes and saw not darkness, but oddly, a lamp post.

Confused, the girl slowly sat up. There to one side of her, sitting in the lush green brush, was the trunk she had been in, it was actually standing upright, appearing like a giant rectangle doorway. Several shoes had spilled out of it and were hopping and dancing around in the grass before it.

From that, the girl looked around at her surroundings, realizing that she was now kneeling in the grass of a glade, surrounded by a forest, beside some random lamppost that was in the middle of nowhere.

“Where am I,” she whispered to herself as she slowly stood up.

She would soon discover that she was in Narnia.