• 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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Something Wicker This Way Comes

The moth-like creature of wood was kneeling on the snow below as the storm around him raged on, and an orange-furred filly stood before him. This was the final foal in town, and the sign on the white flame that danced above his open hand still did not show what he wanted. He was about to shoo the young pony away and give up for what he now knew was the last time, when something happened.

A white beam suddenly cut through the air, and the creature let out a cry as the beam went through its outstretched hand, severing the limb neatly, and causing the white flame to dissipate. As it plopped to the snow-covered ground below and the creature jumped back, a new, alicorn-shaped figure landed from the air, in between the small filly and creature.

"You..." the Black Witch growled, as vine-like tendrils began to extend from his injured arm, forming a new shape. "I knew you would find me sooner or later..."

"And here I am," Princess Luna said back. Turning to the filly nearby, Luna gave her a large glare.

"Run home, small one," she commanded. Nodding in agreement, the young earth pony quickly scrambled to her hooves, and dashed off. Returning her gaze back to the Black Witch, she saw he was just finishing regrowing his detached limb; which the vines had formed, and was now being hardened with bark.

"You have made a grave mistake coming to the physical world, Black Witch..." she spoke; her tone devoid of emotion. "Your nightmares end here."

"You'll never understand," the Black Witch replied, as he started to back up in the snow on his peg-like feet. "Nightmares must happen, Luna. With nightmares, one remembers what they must be wary of! With nightmares, it reminds one of the dangers of everyday life they must prepare for! They remind the guilty of their crimes, the foolish of their plights, the cautious an occasional peek to the possible future! Nightmares are a fact of life that must be beheld!"

"No, they are a scourge," she snapped back, as she paced closer to him. "I have helped ponies get though many of the nightmares you created, and they have caused nothing but misery."

"Without me, the responsibility for the balance of dreams will rest on your shoulders, Luna..." he warned. "...And you do not have the skill to do so, nor will you ever."

"Enough talk, Witch. Your reign of fear ends tonight," Luna growled, as her horn began to glow. The Black Witch started to chuckle, as if her threat meant nothing. With a glare, the alicorn sent out another mighty beam that burst through the air.

"You shan't defeat me this day!" he simply laughed, raising his wooden arms up, and letting the attack intercept it. The cyan stream of magic disappeared behind his three-clawed hands upon contact, completely absorbed like water before a sponge. Before Luna could reel back and let off another attack, the creature suddenly lifted his cape-like wings to their full, incredulous height, and unleashed a single thrust, propelling himself forward at an utterly supernatural speed. Stretching his claws out, he grabbed Luna by her head before she could even react.

"I can still fight!" he screeched, as his previously-hidden mouth opened into a monstrous, gaping, empty maw, like a snake unhinging its jaws. With a demented sucking noise, the startled alicorn could only watch as a her magic began to part from herself like a stream, and entered the being's gullet. Within seconds, she felt herself grow weak.

"No... no..." Luna sighed, feeling as her power left her, causing her to tire. Her eyes started to close, and the princess felt unconsciousness about to overtake her. But then, remembering just how much of a magnitude the importance of her mission was, a surge of strength returned and her eyes flashed a furious white.

"No!" she roared out in a rage-filled voice, a solid glow of white emancipating from her horn. Before the Black Witch could react, the glow turned into another deadly beam of pure destructive power, and had impacted against his side with massive force. The blast blew an enormous chunk out of the Black Witch's abdomen, scattering sticks and wood everywhere. Gasping, the being closed his mouth and let go of Luna, stumbling back several paces. He fell to one knee, clutching his severely damaged side as luminous, green, blood-like sap started to leak out heavily, staining the snow with its lime color.

Her strength and magic returned, Luna recovered quickly, and took several steps toward the Black Witch. Upon getting within a short distance of her foe, she could hear him speak something to himself.

"No... I've come too far to lose now... too far..." he whined, his voice degrading to a distorted whisper. "I have been searching too long... to lose her now... too important... cannot die... must see her again, like she promised..."

"Who have you been searching for?" Luna demanded to know, stamping a hoof into the snow. "Tell me!"

"No," he denied. "I'll not tell you... not ever! Her soul belongs to me, not anyone else! Me!"

Luna was about to attack once more, when suddenly the being before her let out an incantation.

"Aenit nemaxe!"

With that shout, the Black Witch seemed to explode into a brown cloud. To Luna's horror, upon getting a better look, she realized that every speck of that "cloud" was a small, individual, brown-colored moth. The thousands of flying insects scattered all over Luna's face in a violent swarm, blinding her before disappearing into multiple directions in the dark, snowy sky, leaving her alone before she could do anything to stop it.

Upon wiping the last of the remaining creatures from her face, Luna spun around, looking for her quarry with a glowing horn and fire in her cyan eyes. Soon realizing the obvious, the magic surrounding her horn dulled, and she let out a frustrated groan.

The Black Witch had vanished.

Turning around, Luna planted a hoof into the snow below her in anger. Sighing, she let her rage leave and started to take in a few breaths of the cold air; severely fatigued by the fight. Lifting her head, she then saw something in the dark that interested her.

It was a piece of the creature. His previously-severed claw, to be precise. Using her magic to lift it to her face, she saw its rough, wooden complexion up close, and the many wrapped and woven sticks that made it up. The luminescent, sappy ichor was still leaking from the end of the limp limb like droplets from a sink nozzle, dripping to the white ground below and staining it in its bright green, almost toxic color. The entire thing seemed to possess an aura that felt completely alien. It was like a mixture of a siphoning force, and raw, unrefined energy. One thing was certain though, and the Princess of the Night smiled in realization of it.

Now that she had a piece of him, she could track him.


Ding-dong.

Serendipity awoke with a start, snapped out of her sleep by the ringing noise of her tolling doorbell. Making haste, she slipped out of the covers on her bed and felt her way to the front door, pushing back her disheveled mane with a hole-filled hoof in the process.

"Hello?" she asked, upon putting her ear to the wooden object that separated her from the outside.

"It's Striga," the familiar voice on the other end replied, in what sounded like a weakened tone. Sensing something off and wasting no time, Serendipity unlocked the door and opened it.

"I apologize... for returning this early..." he asked for pardon, as he stumbled in.

"You sound hurt," Serendipity immediately pointed out in a concerned way, closing the door after he entered. "Are you alright?"

"Just got attacked by a timberwolf on my way here..." he chuckled wearily. "It's but a flesh wound."

"Flesh wound?" she asked. "Those things have teeth that are... like... the size of fence pickets!"

"How do you know?" he asked back. "I thought you said you were blind."

"My parents told me," she answered. "I've heard enough descriptions of them to get a good picture in my head."

"Well... I'm just going to go to my room and... bandage myself up," Striga said again, shuffling past her, and letting his cold, wet cape brush against her white, chitinous body on the way down the hall.

"Just let me know if you need anything," Serendipity brought up, before he could disappear behind the corner. He didn't respond. Sighing with discontent, Serendipity trudged off to her room and back to her bed, instantly reentering the peacefulness of sleep soon after rolling under her covers.

Entering the guest room, Striga approached the middle of it and sat down. Pulling his large, wide-brimmed hat off, it revealed the unearthly wooden appearance of his twisty, wicker-woven head. It had the eyes, ears and overall shape of a pony, but any being that had a good look at him this moment would surely tell he was not one. His "horn" uncurled from its spiral shape, revealing the two feathery moth-like antenna he actually possessed, and after lifting a part of his cape, he peered at the still-festering wound in his side. Placing a hoof to it, he focused some of his power, closing his white, pupil-less eyes in the process, and soon the damage was reversed back to the way it was; new wicker branches folding and weaving over the spot, covering it once more.

Flying down from where he had bedded down on the wall, Augur glided to the ground in front of his master, sympathetic to his plight.

"Oh, my small, loyal familiar... why must this happen to me?" he asked the moth in a whisper in a depressed whisper, looking down to the furry insect. "Thirteen-hundred years I've waited... thirteen-hundred years... and she is nowhere to be found! And now that fool Luna has appeared, just to hinder me that much further, or be the death of me if I am not careful! She will ruin everything! Oh, woe is me..."

The oversized bug flew onto his cloaked shoulder, giving its usual, wide-eyed look to his master. He lifted his head up and looked into the glowing compound orbs of his smaller friend, slightly comforted by his companion's expression.

"Do you have an idea of who else is left, my friend?"

It nodded its head. Just as it did, a memory returned to Striga from earlier in the day.

"That other foal... the Charybdis filly that belongs to that pony Longinus, and his kelpie wife... yes, I missed her! Do you think she is the one?"

The moth shook its head in disagreement, confusing the Black Witch.

"Not her? What do you mean?" he asked. "If not that final child, then who?"

Quickly rising to the air with several beats from its large wings, the moth moved its foremost pair of small, thin legs in a gesture that beckoned Striga to follow. Without a word, Augur then turned about and went to the door. Going to it with him, the Black Witch opened it for his pet, and the two entered the hallway of the house.

As he walked, Striga slowly shifted from his pony-shaped form to his true, tall, bipedal, moth-like visage, shedding his cloak in the process. To his earnest confusion, instead of leading him to the house's entrance, the moth stopped by the closed door of Serendipity's room. Striga shifted an unsure glance toward his familiar, clearly not following.

"You... you think it is her?" he asked in a voice faint enough to be mistaken for a puff of wind. "She isn't even a foal. Though, she does have a few abnormalities that would make others wary of her... Are you saying that you think this is true?"

The moth nodded its head rapidly, more so than his pet typically did when conveying a statement. Sighing silently, the Black Witch faced the closed object, and like a phantom, simply walked through it as if it was not there at all. Looking around upon entering, he soon saw who he was now, apparently, looking for.

Serendipity was sleeping uneasily on her bed; her body twitching in an agitated fashion, while a tense expression covered her face. Whatever she was dreaming of; which was surely one of the countless works Striga himself had created, she was clearly not enjoying it. After he loomed over her body like a gargoyle for a good few minutes, Striga finally bent down on one knee by her side, and opened his hand.

"Ammalf amina," he breathed. As soon as his words were spoken, the vivid shape of a white wisp appeared over his three-clawed palm, barely illuminating the nearby surroundings. To his great surprise, the flame flickered toward Serendipity the second it formed, drawing the hand it belonged to closer to her. There was no draft in the room, and that factor only made this straining moment that much more heavily intriguing.

Could it be? the Black Witch thought to himself giddily, with hope rising in every fiber of his being. Could it... really, truly be?

The claw was now within inches of her restless, but still-sleeping form. The moment the white flame, now fully, visibly bent in her direction harmlessly touched her chitinous skin, it suddenly flashed jet-black. The second Striga saw this, he knew what it meant. He knew who he had found, and he couldn't help but succumb to the irresistible urge to say the three words he had been dying to utter for over a dozen, long, grueling centuries in a whisper that reeked of euphoria and relief as he closed his hand over the black fire.

"I found you."

Hearing a voice, Serendipity's head shot up from her bed in a pant. Quickly, she sent out a pulse of magic in a paranoid manner, but saw nothing was in the room with her. Rubbing her forehead with a hoof and letting out a large puff of air from her mouth as she remembered the nightmare she had awoken from, the half-changeling lied back down, placing her head onto her pillow.

Closing her unseeing, red eyes a final time, Serendipity slowly reentered sleep, and soon knew no more.

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