Morgana didn’t want to go home.
Not yet. Not now.
Although thoroughly annoyed with Morgana’s antics, Sarah had promised to cover for her absence until morning. The sorceress had time. Who knew when she would have another opportunity to visit her coven after she left? The social season had already begun- it could be weeks, or months, until Morgana could afford to sneak off again. She had no idea.
So, the sorceress stayed with them for as long as she could, remaining in their peaceful sanctuary until long after the sun had vanished beneath the horizon.
In the end, Glitonea never returned. She’d quietly guided Morgana back to the sanctuary, vanishing alongside Morgause to some distant location.
That was fine. An explanation could wait. In the meantime, the sorceress had already learned a much more valuable piece of information. She’d finally realised. If Morgana used her magick properly, if she focused hard enough…
She could affect her surroundings.
Morgana wasn’t sure which objects she could manipulate. She didn’t know in what capacity she could do it, either. Morgana still had absolutely no idea what the rules were that surrounded this new sense of insight – but she knew that it was possible.
The sorceress was beyond eager to get started. The surge of power that had coursed through her in that cavern had been a rush unlike anything she’d ever felt. It had felt right.
Now she knew. She just had to connect. She just had to reach out. That was all she needed.
Morgana could figure it out by herself from there.
And if she could affect her surroundings…
Then she could command them.
Just like he did.
Morgana stared down at the rocks in front of her, her mind racing as a thousand thoughts echoed through her at once. She wanted to know everything. Everything there was to learn. Everything there was to uncover about magick, in every form that she could find. Morgana wanted it all. She was tired of being cut off and left to wonder about her own abilities. She was tired of being denied. The sorceress had finally found a place that could teach her, that could answer her every curiosity until she knew everything. Even if she had to figure the details out by herself.
This time, Millicent could not deny her. She would never be left in the dark again. As Morgana looked down on the nearest rock, the budding witch could feel a strange, growing sense of determination, an inexplicable hunger that rose up from the depths of her stomach.
She wanted more.
She wanted to do what they could.
Morgana exhaled, grounding herself as she reached for the heavy stone in front of her. Her eyes were trained on its cold, hard surface, her breathing focused and steady. From deep inside her, the sorceress began to reach out.
Morgana had witnessed Cenred manipulate the earth around him a dozen times in the past. She had seen him sprout stone barriers from the ground, protecting her and shielding her from harm. She had witnessed him pass through solid stone as if it was nothing. To Morgana, it had looked almost effortless.
That meant that she could do it, too. And a rock was not that different from a crystal. Morgana’s frown deepened.
Morgana grit her teeth, forcing her senses to extend and connecting to the flow of spirit around her. This was something that she had done many times as a child, out in the woods, together with Merlin. She knew how to do it. Morgana knew exactly how to reach out and feel the life that flowed around her. The sorceress could sense it all. The flowers that bloomed at her feet. The trees, stretching out high above her head and reaching for the distant sky. The grass, swaying gently in the night-time breeze.
Morgana focused, instinctively reaching out to the chunk of stone at her feet—
And found absolutely no purchase.
She didn’t understand. Morgana knew that it was there. The sorceress could sense the spirit that surrounded the pieces of stone. It flowed through them, connecting them to the world around her in the same way that spirit flowed through all things. But to her intense frustration, Morgana couldn’t follow that flow. She could not reach the stone. The sorceress couldn’t even come close. Something was denying her. Thwarting her. Blocking her path to her target, like Morgana was trying to push her way through a brick wall.
She couldn’t do it.
It wouldn’t budge.
“The key is willpower. Determination. Strength of character – I believe that you call it charisma in this age. It is quite simple, Morgana. Will for me to hear you, and I shall.”
As the stone lay there, completely motionless, the sorceress could feel a sense of anger overcome her. She would not be denied. Not in court, and not here. Morgana had never given up when something didn’t go the way she wanted. To the contrary; the harder someone was to control, the more determined she became to bend them to her will. The budding witch could feel that same drive, that same determination, as she looked down on the heavy stone in front of her. She could feel the energy build up in her body.
Morgana’s mind was made up. She would not lose to a rock, of all things. The sorceress reached out a second time, ignoring the rapidly growing sense of discomfort in her stomach. She simply grit her teeth, drowning it out. Morgana could taste metal as she brute-forced her way through, her spirit pouring into the heavy stone before her—
The sudden impact was enormous. Morgana could feel all of the air being forced from her lungs as her body was blasted backwards, hurled away from the rock and flung across the grassy clearing like a ragdoll. She didn’t have time to react. She didn’t have time to do anything. The sorceress hit the ground hard, letting out a cry of pain as she landed on her lower back.
It took a few seconds for the air to return to her lungs. It took even longer for the world to stop spinning. Morgana slowly exhaled, groaning in pain and frustration as she felt the beginning of what would turn into a massive bruise on her bottom.
And the stone still hadn’t moved. Somehow, that knowledge stung worse than her painful behind. The budding witch let out a soft string of expletives as she began to sit up.
As her vision slowly stopped swimming, Morgana could hear the sound of footsteps. A familiar figure came into view. The Huntress emerged from the surrounding trees, obviously drawn to the noise that Morgana had just made. Morgana watched as she stopped inches away from her feet. Monoroe looked down on her with an expression that lay somewhere between confused and suspicious.
“I felt that from thirty feet away,” she spoke. “What on earth are you doing?”
“Trying to move a rock,” the budding witch growled, frustrated. Monoroe raised a single eyebrow.
Because I want to.
But Morgana couldn’t say that out loud. She knew how it would sound. She groaned, rubbing the top of her nose as the taste of metal in her mouth worsened.
“You’re the one that said I had to learn the basics. It doesn’t get more basic than a rock.”
“I suppose,” Monoroe replied. Her expression slowly shifted into amusement as she looked down on Morgana.
“Is that what you were doing, then? Getting bested by a rock?”
“I wasn’t bested by anything,” the sorceress huffed. “I merely made a mistake-”
“Clearly. Unless ending flat on your back is part of your strategy.”
“It is not,” Morgana growled. Her annoyed expression led to a low, amused chuckle from her wild-natured companion. Monoroe leaned forward, extending her hand for the sorceress to grab onto. Morgana felt herself effortlessly being pulled to her feet.
“I know it’s possible,” Morgana huffed, dusting herself off. “I’ve seen Cenred summon entire boulders from the ground-”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “But if he can do it, I should be able to do it, too, right? I have enough spirit for it. You taught me the basics. I did the same thing as before- but the bloody thing won’t listen to me,” Morgana continued, growing more and more frustrated with every word that came out of her mouth. “I know it’s possible. I’ve grown an entire tree before. It can’t be that hard. I mean, I just grew a whole spirit crystal-”
“So why can’t I move this bloody rock?!”
Morgana hadn’t intended for that outburst. For a moment, she felt embarrassed at her own immaturity. It was very unlike her to get this worked up about anything. Especially in public. But for some reason, being unable to move that rock had completely gotten under her skin. Morgana couldn’t put her finger on why. But it had been enough to almost make her lose her temper in the process, like a child throwing a tantrum at being denied a toy to play with.
It was unsightly.
But she couldn’t stop herself.
And Monoroe didn’t scold her for it. She didn’t even seem to disapprove. The Huntress merely looked at Morgana, her lips pulling into an amused smirk as she placed a hand on her chin.
“Why you can’t move that rock? Oh, that’s simple. You can’t move it because you don’t have an affinity for it.”
For some reason, Monoroe’s words made the sorceress feel even angrier. She hated being denied. On instinct, Morgana reached out to the spirit that surrounded them. She ignored the throbbing sensation in her head as she forcibly tried to connect with the stones in front of her—
Before Monoroe’s voice abruptly pulled her out of it.
“Morgana. Stop. If the earth won’t let you, then the earth won’t let you.”
She had never heard Monoroe use that tone with her before. She didn’t sound angry. But the firm tone of her voice left no room for interpretation. Morgana could not continue. The Huntress wouldn’t let her.
Morgana slowly exhaled. She released her hold on the spirit around her, at the same time that her breath escaped her lungs. The sorceress could feel a wave of disappointment overcome her, fatigue finally catching up with her as her expression fell.
“I… I don’t understand,” Morgana mumbled, visibly deflated. “Why can’t I do it?”
“Why did you think you could?” Monoroe asked softly. The budding witch shook her head in response.
“Because… because Cenred did it,” she muttered, her voice filled with confusion. “He made it look so easy. I’ve always copied what I saw, I… am I doing something wrong? Am I not strong enough? Is that it?”
“No,” the Huntress replied. “It’s not a matter of strength, Morgana.”
“Then what is it?”
The Huntress was taken aback at that question. For a moment, it almost seemed as if she didn’t know what to say. Morgana watched as the witch scratched her chin, her brow furrowed as she looked at the girl in front of her.
“Forgive me. I keep forgetting just how little you know,” Monoroe frowned. “It’s like watching a bear cub trying to climb trees without knowing how to walk—”
Instinctively, Morgana stepped forward, grabbing hold of the Huntress’s arm and cutting her off halfway her sentence. She could feel her heartbeat pick up, her lower stomach fluttering with nerves as she pleaded with Monoroe.
“Then teach me. Please. I want to know. I need to know.”
“To know what? How to climb trees?”
“All right, all right, don’t give me that face,” the Huntress chuckled, highly amused at Morgana’s expression. “I’m just messing with you. I know what you mean. Are you sure, though?” she continued. “Morgause has been wanting to teach you, too. Between the two of us, she’s the better teacher – are you sure that you want me to do it?”
“You use whatever tools necessary, Morgana.”
“Do you understand?”
“Yes. I want you.”
Morgause and Glitonea had left the sanctuary, deciding to travel to the quiet woodlands that lay south of Mercinul. Glitonea’s request to talk had come as a complete surprise. Her face had been grim, her brow furrowed and her expression filled with worry. The witch of Cornwall had never seen her friend act like that. Intrigued, Morgause decided to follow.
As it turned out… she did not like the topic at all.
“She’s been starved for a lifetime, Toni. Let her learn.”
“You didn’t see it,” Glitonea replied, her voice sounding incredibly wary. “She created spirit crystals out of thin air, Morgause. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s not normal.”
The witch of Cornwall scoffed at her words.
“So, she has a larger well of power than the average person. What of it?”
“It is not a well, Morgause. It’s an abyss. And it scares me.”
“It doesn’t need to. It happens in our… it’s not unusual.”
But the former priestess shook her head at her friend’s words.
“Morgause… No one should hold that much spirit. It’s unnatural.”
“What are you saying? That she shouldn’t learn?”
“No. But at some point in the past, someone looked at this child and decided not to teach her.”
“And I think they had a very good reason why.”
Back in the sanctuary, Monoroe had placed herself on top of a large rock. The Huntress looked almost giddy, her arms crossed and her feet planted firmly apart.
“I’ve never had an apprentice before,” she grinned. “Not for more than the basics, at least. This should be fun. Are you ready to start?”
“Yes. Please teach me.”
“Right! I’ll get straight to the point. The reason why you’re having so much difficulty moving that rock is because you lack an affinity for it.”
“What does that mean?” Morgana asked.
“Every witch is different, and connects to nature’s elements in very different ways. When one element calls to us in a way that’s stronger than the others, we can connect with them on a deeper level. You’ve seen how Glitonea acts around water, right?”
“She can command it that strongly because Glitonea has a natural affinity with water. A connection. It’s a deep, spiritual bond with one of the elements that allows her to draw strength from it in a way that she otherwise could not.”
“Glitonea can control the direction of water because of that connection,” Monoroe continued. “And she’s not the only one. Morgause uses the air flow around her to improve her dancing, and Tyronoe can control the shape of flames without needing a ritual circle. The reason why we can draw from those elements so strongly is because we have a natural affinity with them.”
“But what comes easily to one person is almost impossible for another,” Monoroe said, her expression growing serious. “There is always a balance. Because of that, every witch has an aversion, too. Glitonea cannot control the winds, no matter how hard she tries. Morgause passes out before she can ever complete a healing spell, even as a ritual. I wouldn’t be able to put out a flame if my life depended on it, and Tyronoe cannot connect with the earth, no matter what she does. There is always a balance.”
“That’s why you were having so much trouble with that rock,” she continued. “Do you understand? You’re not weak by any means, Morgana. You can’t do it because the earth won’t let you. You’re trying to command an element that you have a natural aversion to.”
“I can’t reach it?” Morgana asked. The Huntress shook her head at her.
“No. Not even if you force it. You saw what happened when you tried. But you have other strengths. All you have to learn to do is recognise them.”
“How do I do that?”
Monoroe smiled, hopping down from the boulder that she had been perched on. Her boots kicked up small clumps of sand as the Huntress landed right in front of Morgana.
“I’ll help you.”
In a fluent movement, the Huntress circled around Morgana, stepping behind her as she placed a hand on her hip. Morgana could feel the warmth of her fingers through her clothes. Monoroe had always been quick to touch, from the moment that Morgana had first met her. But the sorceress didn’t mind. She let Monoroe take hold of her hand, watching as the Huntress lifted it into the air.
“Ground yourself,” she spoke. “Focus on the world around you. Every element of nature can be found in this clearing, even fire. You can take your time. Don’t try to force it, like you did earlier,” she continued. “You need to let nature guide you. Don’t try to command it. Simply follow your instincts and move towards whatever speaks to you the most.”
Morgana tried. But she didn’t know where to begin. Her eyes flicked back and forth between the tranquil pond and the embers of the distant campfire. A thousand thoughts raced through her mind at once, distracting her from her surroundings. How was she supposed to tell?
“I don’t know,” the sorceress said, audibly frustrated. Monoroe raised a single eyebrow in response.
“You need to focus-”
“I am,” she huffed. “But it’s not like there’s a sign that tells me where to go! How am I supposed to tell? I’ve healed before, so- so it could be water? I think? I don’t know.”
Morgana could hear a low chuckle from behind her.
“Well, there’s your problem. You’re trying to reason it out.”
“So don’t. Stop thinking.”
Monoroe’s grip on her waist tightened. Morgana could feel the Huntress’s breath on her neck as Monoroe leaned in, her body pressing against her back as she whispered in her ear.
“…I… don’t know how.”
“I’ll guide you. Close your eyes.”
She did. The sorceress could hear Monoroe’s voice behind her, her presence sending strange shivers down her spine as she held onto her.
“Magick isn’t logical, Morgana. It’s emotional. You need to let your instincts guide you. Not your mind. You need to learn to stop thinking and listen to your body.”
“Focus on your senses… and accept where they take you.”
Slowly, Morgana’s breathing slowed down. It became deep and slow, the rhythm of her own breath guiding her as she reached out to her surroundings. She could feel the energy beginning to flow through her as she did so. Millicent had always explained it as drawing strength from the earth. Borrowing nature’s energy and, when the spell had finished, giving that energy back to the earth.
But it had never felt that way to Morgana. From the first time she’d used her magick, she’d been able to feel the life that flowed around her. She could feel the energy flow from everything. The flowers that grew at her feet. The trees that stretched out above her, together with the birds that nested on its branches.
The tadpoles that swam in the small pond next to her.
She could feel it all.
And, stronger than anything else…
She could feel her. Morgana felt the presence of the Huntress, her body pressed against Morgana’s back as her fingers gently held onto her shoulder. She could sense the enormous flow of spirit around her. She could smell the earthy, herbaceous scent of sage drifting through the air.
She could hear her soft, even breathing; could feel the warmth of Monoroe’s breath on her skin. The soft touch of her fingertips as she softly brushed past her neck. The gesture sent another strange shiver down her spine. Morgana could feel herself slowly turning around, her breath growing heavier as she was drawn to the woman behind her like a moth to a flame-
She did. Monoroe let go of her immediately, circling back around as she gave her a strange, almost sly grin.
“Did you find anything?”
“Oh,” she said, barely fazed. “Well, sometimes these things take time. It’s usually done alone, anyway, to minimise distractions. I’ll leave you to it.”
“I… yes. That would be best.”
At Morgana’s rattled expression, Monoroe’s tone grew gentle.
“Don’t worry. You’ll figure it out soon enough. Just don’t try to force your will onto the earth again, all right? You’ll get hurt next time.”
With that, Monoroe left her alone. Morgana watched as the Huntress turned away, leaving the stone-marked clearing without another word. Morgana was left on her own as she disappeared between the surrounding foliage.
It wasn’t until Monoroe had long vanished from sight that the sorceress finally allowed herself to breathe. The breath escaped from her lips in a soft, drawn-out hiss. Her heart hammered in her chest. A thousand thoughts coursed through her head at once, scrambling her mind and turning it into chaos. Morgana was frantically grasping at another explanation. Any other explanation. Any different angles that she hadn’t thought of.
But the sorceress came up empty.
She couldn’t reason it out. Her emotions wouldn’t let her. Morgana instinctively knew.
Out of everything in that clearing..
She knew exactly what she had been drawn to the most.
Thank you SnuffyBucket for the Witch Way Up poses! ❤