Echoes: a Black Heart

by Tracy Davidson

read it in correct order

 

I am not an evil man, though there are many who would doubtless disagree. Including the young woman sitting on the rock in front of me. She has just refilled my goblet with wine. She thinks I am under her spell. As if I would actually drink a single drop of anything a witch put in front of me. Does she really think a man such as I could be so easily fooled? Perhaps my reputation has not yet reached these parts. I will have to rectify that.

She smiles at me, in what she assumes is a seductive manner. I am immune to her charms. Oh, she’s beautiful enough. If she were an ordinary girl I would have had her by now. Right here on these rocks. But she is not an ordinary girl. Witchcraft runs in her veins and I would not taint any part of myself with it. I am already tainted enough.

Those who are acquainted with my reputation call me ‘The Witchfinder’. I wasn’t sure about the nickname to begin with, but it has grown on me. For one thing, it’s certainly easier for these simple English folk to understand than my old title of Grand Inquisitor. And for another, it is what I do – I find witches. I have always been able to sense them, even as a child. It’s an instinct, a gift. I was born to hunt out the evils of magic and sorcery, to cut them from society. It is the witches who are evil, not I.

And I should know. For my mother was one of them. It is her blood that taints me. As a small child, I feared her, feared the potions she brewed, the enchantments she uttered, the way her eyes gleamed whenever she was plotting some new way to curse someone. As I grew, my fear turned to hate.

I was only ten years old when I killed her. It was quick and clumsy, done on a whim with no prior thought or intention. She barely had time to look surprised. Some instinctive urge took over me, made me hack away at her chest. When I exposed her heart, it was black. It crumbled away between my fingers. I had destroyed something evil. And in that moment I knew it was my destiny to continue destroying evil, wherever I found it.

Evil often hides behind pretty faces and comely figures, but it cannot hide from me.

The girl is still flirting with me. I pretend to drink from the goblet again. I could have had her arrested by now – my men are waiting in the trees for my command – but it amuses me to toy with her. To let her think she has me where she wants me. To let her enjoy one last bit of freedom. Before it’s my turn to have her exactly where I want her.

When I executed my mother, all those years ago, it was messy and inept. I have substantially refined my methods since. It is not just enough to kill a witch. The evil living within her must be purged first, her black heart unblackened.

That is the reason for the torture. Inflicting pain is a necessary evil. What I do sickens many, even those who fear and or hate witches too. But there is no other way. The fact that I personally get great pleasure from it is simply a fortunate bonus. And one I keep all to myself.

The girl’s eyes have changed, grown darker. She mutters something under her breath. It is time. I give the command and my men surge forward. The girl tries to run but there’s nowhere to go. She’s surrounded.

She knows who I am now. I can see it in her face. She has heard of me then. Good. That knowledge only adds to the fear. And yet, there is defiance in her expression too. I sense a greater strength there than I’d previously given her credit for. She will not be easy, or quick, to break. Which is exactly how I like it. It is my turn to smile now. The next few days promise to be very satisfying.

“I am going to save you Rachel,” I tell her. “Save you from the creature inside. Rid you of your black heart.”

She glares at me. “You are the only one with a black heart,” she says. “And one day it will burn. Along with the rest of you.”

I continue to smile down at her. Even though something inside me now feels uneasy. My mother once told me I would burn. Not in this lifetime, but another, hundreds of years from now. At the time, I put it down to her madness and cruelty, but now I find myself wondering if it could be true.

I shake the feeling off as I watch the young witch get dragged away. I don’t care about things hundreds of years away. I only care about the present. And it is Rachel’s heart that will soon be burning.         

 

 

 

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