• Published 7th Jan 2016
  • 893 Views, 66 Comments

Witchers Weed - Orcus



Just a few days before Hearth's Warming, an unnatural blizzard lays siege on Ponyville, bringing a strange character into town with it. Serendipity, Thoraxis and Petra's blind daughter, and her visiting friend, Charybdis, decide to investigate.

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A Moth to a Flame

"Closer... closer..." Striga spoke in a faint breath, curling his claws and arms inward as he had been doing for a some time now, until the shape of Serendipity approached him through the forest and gaining snowstorm. Once she was just in front of his true form, he lowered his arms. When he did, Serendipity's dull expression shook off and was replaced by a lively, sore-looking one.

"Ugh... what happened?" she asked as she rubbed her head and eyes, her own senses restored.

"Do not worry, you're safe," the Black Witch spoke in a comforting tone.

"S-Striga? Is that you?" she asked, taking her hole-filled hoof off of her head for a brief moment. "Wow... You won't believe this, but I saw something... I think it was a light, and now my head is... killing me. Is my mom or dad around here?"

"They are not, and you no longer need them, I'm happy to say," he said in a cheerful voice. "You may consider this to be my... Hearth's Warming gift."

"What do you mean by that?" she asked. Striga smiled as best as his true form could allow.

"You are what I have been looking for most of my life to find. You, Serendipity, you are my lost love."

"Wh-what do you mean? What are you talking about?" Serendipity asked, great confusion and distress swelling up in her voice; the fact she was still disoriented not helping in the least.

"What I'm trying to tell you is that... well... do you remember the story I told you about my wife? About Thysania?" he responded, before touching her chest with a claw. "Your black soul is the same as hers, only reincarnated. You are Thysania Aisling. But do not feel fear, for once I free your soul from your body and return her memories to it, you will remember who you once were, and we can be together once more."

"Free my soul from my- Striga, are you-"

"Sleep," Striga interrupted, waving his claw. Closing her eyes and going limp, Serendipity suddenly collapsed to the snowy ground, unconscious. Bending down on a knee, Striga gently picked her up and began to carry her deeper into the forest, passing by many hundreds of trees as he did. He finally stopped trekking through the woods as he reached his destination.

What stood before the Black Witch and his was a tall, twisted tree with a thin appearance and thick trunk, covered in dull brown, gnarled bark and long, winding branches lining it. The snow didn't seem to collect on its branches, which strangely still possessed leaves despite this time of year, and ones of a black-green color as well.

A witchwood tree.

Carefully, he placed the still-comatose Serendipity on the ground in front of it, and slowly went to his knees. Stretching a hand out, a small, smooth metal sewing needle suddenly formed in it from thin air, and he held it tightly and with much precision as he brought it down to Serendipity's unmoving shape. The tip of the object, upon touching the sleeping half-changeling's side, passed right through her physical body as though it was some incredible illusion. When it was pulled out moments later, it had an entity bearing such an alien geometry that it could only be described as semi-corporeal living light, attached to its tip, glowing a ghostly silver color. It was expanded longer the more the needle was pulled back.

The second the ethereal stream fully left Serendipity with a final tug, her body stopped breathing and went still as death. Bringing the half-changeling's life essence to himself, Striga cradled it in his other claw and looked at it closely; knowing what had to be done next.

He had been waiting hundreds of lifetimes for this moment. He was so very close now. So very close to reuniting with Thysania. To feeling her loving touch. To just gaze upon her as he remembered her all those centuries ago... but he knew he had to keep his mind focused in his work. Getting to his peg-like feet, he brought the ever-so fragile quintessence to the tree. Touching the base of it to its trunk, he held it in place with one claw, and used the other to hold the needle. With fluent, graceful movements he had used all of his life, Striga began to sew the soul into the tree as if it were thread. He was just moments away now. Just a few, meager moments away... just a few more stitches away, and then they would be together fore-

"Black Witch!" A voice shot out through the forest behind Striga in an echoing, enraged roar that made snow fall from trees with its sheer magnitude. The sap that ran through his body went cold with horror at sound, and he stopped his progress dead in its tracks.

No... no, not now... any time but now... he thought, slowly turning his head over his shoulder and seeing a familiar shape bearing wings and a horn land on the ground with a crunching of brittle snow. It was Princess Luna. She didn't take a single step before coming upon Serendipity's spiritless body that lied in the snow, her expression giving away that she was fearing the worst.

"What are you doing? What have you done to her, witch?" she demanded to know, lowering herself to the ground and lifting Serendipity's limp, lifeless head into her lap with her hooves, feeling no breath exit her mouth.

"I am restoring her to what she was before," the Black Witch responded. "She only is in the cocoon. I am releasing her from it."

"What... what is that..." Luna spoke again, looking to the phantasmal object he held against the tree's surface. "Is that... her soul?"

"Yes," he spoke. "And in a minute, it will be bound to this tree."

"I shan't give you that minute," the alicorn growled, gently cushioning the half-changeling's head as she gently let her soulless body lie back on the ground. "Let go of her essence. Now."

Hesitantly, Striga did as she demanded. The second his claw let go of the stream-like quintessence, it undid itself of its bindings with a small wriggle and instantly fled back to its original body like a magnet. Upon fully reentering her, Serendipity shuddered to life; chest heaving upward, coughing and gasping for air as if she had almost just been suffocated. As the alicorn saw her weak eyes close again, Luna looked back at the Black Witch; staring daggers at him with burning anger.

"You have gone too far this time..." she growled, stepping closer to him. "This... this is unforgivable."

"What you're doing now is unforgivable," he said back, as he began to pace around her like a fox, only to see the alicorn remain by Serendipity's side in a protective way. "Serendipity's very being was part of a plan I made over a thousand years ago. She is meant to be with me."

"I will make you regret laying your vile claws on her," Luna spoke as she bent over into an offensive position, unaware of a large bug flying up from behind her. Just before she could attack, the moth lunged at her with a shrill bleating sound, causing her to turn her head to the surprising noise as it impacted against it.

Augur grabbed onto Luna's face with an unyielding grip, beating his wings furiously. Quickly lighting her horn, she sent the moth spiraling away and hitting a tree with a small shockwave, dispatching the oversized insect, before it fell to the snow. The second her face was free, she saw the Black Witch reel back to unleash an attack. Knowing exactly what to do, she magically placed a brief, spherical barrier around herself, deflecting the oncoming green projectile of raw magic, which was sent back at Striga, hitting him directly and sending him slamming against a birch tree that lied behind him with enough force to break its trunk in half, sending the broken part crashing to the ground.

Luna jumped to the air, intent on finishing this fight, but the Black Witch, knowing what would happen if he were to fall now, reacted faster. With no mercy in his blank eyes, he sent his claw forward.

"Fall."

As the words left his mouth, Luna's attack was prematurely halted, and she sank to the ground like a stone, as if gravity itself had just forced her down. Grunting with effort, she tried to stand, but could not even move her head a centimeter an any direction.

"Luna... I never wanted to kill you, much less harm you..." he began, in an emotionless tone as he slowly made his way to her struggling form, lifting an open hand. "But this... this is too important to me. You are seconds away from taking her from me. Seconds away from leaving me alone in this miserable, wretched universe once more. I... will not allow this."

He started to slowly close his hand, wrapping his claws toward his palm at a snail's pace. "Crush."

With that word and action, Luna let out a muffled shriek as she felt her body curl unnaturally, and her limbs warp and twist in a way that caused excruciating agony. And she couldn't do anything about it.

"In every encounter I've ever had with you, I have refrained from using my full power. But do you feel it now, Luna?" he asked in his unwaveringly calm voice over her cries. "That's the feeling of your bones contorting. Shifting around. Bending. In a few moments, they will break. They will all break. In a few moments you will be shattered like glass, I will finish my objective over your broken, frozen whimpering, and then I will be gone with my prize."

Behind him, as he continued to utter these threats, Serendipity was almost fully returned to consciousness. The first thing she heard upon awakening were pained shouts coming from somewhere in front of her. Agonizing screams that forced her addled mind into thinking clearly.

"Writhe, Luna," the sound of Striga's voice suddenly went out. "Writhe... cry out... No one, pony or otherwise, will help you..."

"S-Striga... please, don't... hurt her..." Serendipity tried to mumble, but weakly. Through the still air the Black Witch more than heard her soft voice, and his unfeeling expression melted as he registered her words. His insectoid head spun around, his feathery antenna waving about, and saw the young half-changeling attempting to stand up on shaky legs, losing his entire focus on Luna as he saw her shape.

In that moment of hesitation, Luna, now in control of herself again, acted. Her horn lit up as she let out a malevolent roar, and she lashed out with a diagonal, cutting beam that slashed right through Striga like a hot knife through butter. At first he felt nothing, but when he noticed a fine line of sap bleeding out from just underneath his raised left arm, leading to just above his right shoulder and then around to intersect where it began, he knew what had happened.

"Oh," was all he spoke, before the two pieces of him separated; his upper half sliding off and landing on the ground nearby with a sickening plopping noise while his lower part fell backwards with an audible thud, both heavily leaking their precious, internal, vivid green liquids into the snow like ichor.

Stumbling to her hooves, Luna looked to the bisected remains of the creature as his upper, and still animated half tried feebly to crawl to where Serendipity was still trying to stand, using his only remaining arm to do so. He was letting out loud, tortured gasps as he made each stroke, clearly showing how utterly damaged he had become. He was still too far to get to her in a short amount of time, and Luna made sure he never did as she approached him and flipped him over onto what was left of his back with a still-sore hoof.

"This... this ends here, Witch," she panted, staring into his wide, blank, shocked eyes with her own, burning ones. "I'll make sure you never hurt another innocent soul, ever again."

"No... please... no... no..." Striga begged in an absolutely terrified, choked whisper as his words slowly descended into barely-coherent words, large tears falling from his face and quickly freezing onto it from the frigid temperature that surrounded them. "Too far... I've come... too far... die now... all for... nothing... pain... agony... alone... alone..."

"Luna," Serendipity spoke up from just ahead. Raising her head, Luna looked into the approaching half-changeling's clouded eyes.

"Serendipity, are you alright?" she asked.

"I'm fine, but... don't... don't kill him. Don't kill Striga," she said, as she got closer.

"I don't have to," the alicorn responded. "He's going to pass on his own in a few moments."

"Can you save him?" Serendipity said again, prompting a wide-eyed look of surprise on Luna's face.

"Why would you want that?" asked the princess.

"He... doesn't deserve this," she went on, strength returning to her voice. "I know you know that. You have to."

"He tore your soul from your body! He almost ended your life!" she argued, her voice rising.

"He told me why he wanted to do it, and it wasn't to kill me," Serendipity went on, giving Luna a pleading look. "Please... please, just save him. I can try to reform him or something, but please just don't let him die. I'm begging you."

Luna looked back to the unresponsive Striga, who was now barely twitching and looked to be mere minutes from bleeding out, sighing in discontent.

"Very... well," she muttered. With a quick utilization of magic, she telekinetically lifted Striga's lower half from nearby to where he lied, connecting it with the rest of his wicker body. One spell for healing and plant growth later allowed the wood to grow and twist around each other, stopping the sap leakage and attaching both halves together in the process, as repaired as she could make.

"Is he... alright?" Serendipity asked, walking closer until she felt his wooden hide touch her leg.

"He is alive," was all Luna said. Serendipity lied down in the snow beside him, and felt his alien body to see if he was in one piece.

"Thank you," she spoke softly after she was done examining him, trying to look up to the Princess of the Night.

"Thank me after what happens when he wakes up," the princess scoffed in return. "Now, come along. I'll help you get him back to Zecora's hut. Your family must be worried sick."

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