It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t- How could it be her? Sosostra was dead! She had died in Dragon Valley years before! How could she be there, at that moment in time, perfectly placed for Lucy to run into her? It didn’t make sense! It was too convenient!
Don’t look at me like that, I’ve told you before that I don’t have all the answers! If I had known… And that beggar! Was it possible that the beggar is- No. No no no, it just wasn’t possible. None of this makes sense! I’m not used to seeing things like- like this! My mind can’t handle it, that’s all. It must be. It has to be.
I just need to figure out a way to stop these vision or whatever you want to call them, and I’ll be able to-
“Why do we live out here? Do the other people not like us?”
“It’s difficult, Ella. If we went into a town they would see us as beggars and drive us out. Out here in this forest is the safest place for us, trust me.” Sosostra spoke out of experience, once having had the same idea as Ella was having now. She had tried to live among other people again, after she had left Dragon Valley, but nowhere had accepted her. She was sure that it was part of the curse, but Ella didn’t know everything that was involved yet. But now…Maybe today would be a good wday to tell her everything.
Ella, her great-granddaughter, merely pouted at the rejection of her ideas.
“Maybe they won’t let you in. I don’t look like you! I look pretty, like a princess!” A few nights ago Sosostra had taken Ella into the nearby town to look for food in the local community gardens. She hated stealing, but her stomach demanded more than the berries she found growing in the forest and a constant fear of eating a poisonous mushroom encouraged her to harvest someone else’s spoils. Of course, she knew that the curse wouldn’t allow her to die. She had thought that she was starving, once, a long time ago, yet here she was, alive and as well as one could be in her situation. Then there had been that one time a farmer had caught her stealing from his orchard. He had not been happy to find her picking away at his apple trees, and had shot her heart, throwing her over his fence into the adjacent river. The worst had been when a pack of hungry wolves had found her, tearing her body apart and feeding from her for days before finally satisfied that no more could be had of her.
Sosostra was no stranger to death, yet she had never felt the sweet finality of it. There had only been pain and agony, never any comfort or a release from her suffering. Ella had not yet experienced such hardship, and as reluctant as Sosostra had been in the beginning to raise her she was now determined to spare the child from such a fate. She knew that the curse would only allow so much, but she would do what she could.
Telling her everything she knew would be a good start.
“Have you washed your dress today, Ella?” The child nodded proudly, pointing towards a spot on her dress which had been covered in mud the day before but which was perfectly clean now.When Sosostra had taken Ella into the town the child had spotted a store which was open late. She had only taken her eyes off the child for a brief moment, but it had been long enough for Ella to walk into the store and run out again with an expensive looking dress in her little hands, the likes of which Sosostra barely even remembered. She had hidden behind a pair of thick branches, escaping her punishment.
She had surprised Sosostra when she had begun to take great care of her dress. Every day she washed any filth out of it in a nearby stream. It was a warm time of year and the wet cloth dried quickly, but Sosostra was worried that the child would catch her death if she wore a wet dress in the cold winter months. Or maybe she was relieved for her? No, she knew very well that the curse would not be finished with her while Ella had not produced an heir. The curse had to live on. Ella would not be allowed to die as a child.
“Why do we have to live out here, momma?” Sosostra’s heart warmed at the sentiment, knowing that telling Ella that she was not her mother would have no effect on the child. She had tried countless times already, but Ella needed a mother in her life and Sosostra appreciated the warmth the words spread throughout her.
“I told you, the villagers would see us as beggars and-“
“Not that, momma! I want to know the real reason!” Sosostra sighed, knowing that there was no lying to the child. Ella was clever as well as a gifted young witch, and would easily see through her lies.
Whether she liked it or not, the time to tell her everything she knew had come now.
“A long time ago a bad woman cursed our family…” Now that she had started she didn’t know how to continue. Her family’s fate was not easily explained, much less to a child.
Sosostra did her best to hide her emotions. She had come to love Ella as her own and didn’t want to taint the child’s view of her by telling her the entire truth. Not yet, but maybe once she was older…? “Someone in our family upset her, and she cursed us as punishment.”
“Why?” Sosostra sighed. She had no answer. “Why didn’t our family curse her back?”
“Magic has not always run in our blood, Ella. It is only since your mother that magic has been in our family.”
“Oh. Can’t we make it be over now?”
“I don’t have magic myself, but maybe you can…” She looked at the young girl, wondering if such a thing was possible. Could the curse be broken? Was it possible for her family to live free once again?
“I’ll make it be over!” Sosostra smiled at the broadly grinning child in front of her. Ella was so full of happiness still and she feared what this life was going to do to her innocent enthusiasm.
Oh God. I can’t-
I’m sorry. No, I’m fine. I’ve never experienced anything like these before, I can’t explain why these happen so frequently or with such clarity! But it certainly explains a lot, I-
Huh? Oh, that’s right, you don’t know what I have seen. I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse me, this is a lot to take in even for me.
Sosostra didn’t die in Dragon Valley, but for some reason Lucy found her after she had run away from the mad wizard’s home and was taken in by her for the duration of her pregnancy. She raised Lucy’s child… It explains so much! Why Ella was so well informed about our family’s history, why she chose that life for herself…
I’m sorry, what did you- Oh, right, you’re wondering what kind of life she led. Well, in our family, Ella was someone we didn’t really talk about. All the journals I found didn’t mention her often, almost like they were scared of her. As you know the mad wizard was a rather evil person and he passed that trait onto his second daughter. Ella was a criminal. And a gifted one, at that! Can you imagine the amount of destruction an evil criminal with magic can havoc? Oh, that’s right, of course you can! I have just told you Hope’s and Lucy’s stories after all!
I had always wondered why Ella chose such a life for herself, but if Sosostra raised her, eventually told her who’s fault it was that this curse began…. Yes, I think I understand what led her to his arms now.
Still, I don’t want you to think only bad things about Ella. Yes, she was dangerous, and yes, she was a bad woman, but if she hadn’t passed on her magical ability to my grandparent… Well, we’ll see. For all I know nothing is going to happen.
But let me begin again. You know that Ella was raised by Sosostra. Now let me tell you the part I did know.
The part where she willingly and happily hands herself over to one of the most feared criminal bosses of her time, and became his lover.