The witch climbed the bone tower, one laborious step at a time. Around and around she went, the wide pale stairs absorbing the sound of her touch. She ignored the receding tree line to her right. She ignored the yawning sky wrapping her in its embrace. These were illusions meant to weed out the weak and frightened. She had learned the hard way to to put them in their place.
What she did not ignore, what she could not ignore, were the softly glowing doorways that winked in and out every five steps. Those were real.
The doors were locked, of course. Their time had not yet come. But a locked door does not mean you cannot blunder through it. A locked door simply means you cannot escape once you are through. Even a child knew that.
The stairs began to narrow, both in width and height. The column holding one to another narrowed as well, slowly shifting from tree trunk to spindle. By the time she reached her bedroom at the top, she barely had to lift a foot, the column reduced to nothing.
She sank onto the bed, grateful she had once more withstood the lure of the doors. It was no easy task, to daily stroll past all that was and all that could be. Each memory teasing at her through the soft glow was real. Except those that weren’t, of course. How tempting to go back and embrace that which once made her laugh, or eradicate what made her sad. Indeed, what a pull it was to peek into her future and see if the dreams haunting her restless nights were harbingers or merely fantasy. The not-memories held magnificent pull. Those offered looks into other worlds and some of them were beyond belief. The rippling images tugged at the heart, promising adventures.
And of course, one of those doors led to the greatest question of all. One door held the secret of self. The piece of one’s soul that one never, ever, ever truly met. Legend held that if you found that door, and survived the journey through and back, you tapped into your birth root, the purest source of power known. But no one had succeeded in generations and the tale had become one whispered of around campfires.
Just as she was whispered of.
The witch laid back and stared up a darkening sky, watching stars shimmer into view. This sight was true. She made sure of it. Ever since she was a child, she loved staring up as black took hold and offered shivering diamonds of hope. And so she laid on her heavy down bedding, snuggled against velvet covers and silken pillows. She laid and she stared and she whispered the clue she had been given by the shade of a sister, so long ago.
“On the Inconvenient Equinox, the doors shall open.”
(To be continued)