The Curse of the Orthana by Nick Tamboia

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Chapter 2: Of The Blind Hag

It was during one of these lows in combat with Coranith when Jadis’s thoughts returned to the Silver Apple Tree. That Tree of Protection. So long as it stood, its magic would repel her. It was something that enraged her and she desired a way to destroy it.

On one afternoon during this time, a black bearded Dwarf Jadis had nicknamed Iron Boot, because of the heavy clopping sound he made when he walked, came to deliver her a message.

He found her in one of the tall spires that overlooked her ever growing fortress, standing at the balcony railing, looking down at the courtyard far below as if amazed by the height.

Twice Iron Boot had announced himself, but both times the witch seemed not to hear him. She remained motionless, leaning over the railing looking down as if in a trance.

After a long while, the Dwarf cleared his throat and for a third time simply said, “My Queen.”

Jadis did not respond for a long moment, just remained as she was. Then to Iron Boot’s amazement, she climbed up and sat on the railing of the balcony the way a daring young girl would, swinging her legs back and forth as she looked down at the stone courtyard far below her.

Not sure what to make of this, the Dwarf just stood there watching.

“Do you think,” Jadis finally spoke, “that if I threw myself off of this railing, I would have time to poke myself in the chest with my wand before I struck the ground below?”

Iron Boot was shocked to hear this, and not sure how to answer, so he didn’t.

“And if I did have time to do that,” Jadis went on talking, “and turned myself to stone before I smashed into a thousand pieces on the ground below, would I feel it?”