The mixture of smoke and rancid steam drifted off the cauldron to curl around and envelope Sigrid Juliane’s body. The forest air was cold and her robe was thin, so despite its unsavory smell, that of the smoke and the steam was a welcome embrace. Most of the contents of the cauldron weren’t so bad on their own: honey, tomato leaves, lavender, some goat meat, and a bunch of water. Many of the other ingredients, though, Sigrid would never eat. They included snails, a few amphibians, entrails of four different animals killed in very specific ways, an entire bible, and, worst of all, cilantro. Sigrid hated cilantro. The vile liquid had taken on a milky, green opacity, which Sigrid counted as a good sign, because that’s how witches brews always looked in the movies.
She had never tried to summon the Beast before, in fact, this was her first act as a witch. When she had first decided to become a witch, most people tried to correct her, saying that the correct term was “Wicca.” She had read the Wicca wikipedia, that’s not what she wanted, she wanted to be a witch. She wanted the power and the purpose of being in league with the Beast. In exchange she would give her soul (she wasn’t using it) and perhaps her body (nobody else seemed to have a need for it) unto the Beast. First, though, she had to summon him. She had read everything that she could get her hands on about witchcraft, unfortunately a large majority of it was written by witch hunters and men of the cloth. These sources didn’t provide a whole lot of helpful information, and promised a lot of retributions that, frankly, sounded like threats made as compensation for impotence. The most helpful source, she had found, had been Yahoo Answers. There were all sorts of helpful tips by people that said they were experts. The idea that it might not work at all had never crossed her mind.
The recipe had called for poems of bitter, unrequited love. She watched the sonnets that she had found dripping with angst on some teenager’s blog sink slowly into the opaque liquid and she went over the checklist in her head; there was only one thing left to do. She sprinkled in the final ingredient of poison oak leaves, held her talisman high in her left hand and repeated the sacred words.
“Ego credulus. Credo in internetium legere omnia.”
She lingered on each word as she said it, tasting and savoring the power of each syllable. When she had first seen the words, they had struck her as odd. For example, the word “internetium” seemed strange in there, but the guy who posted it claimed to be a Seventh Stage Black Belt at the Warlock Academy, and she didn’t know a single word of latin, so he knew better than she did.
The directions had told her that she may have to repeat the words quite a few times before the Beast appeared, encouraging her to bring as much poison oak as she could carry, to avoid having to go find more when she ran out, and having to start all over again. However, she had only shouted the words the third time when, into the poorly lit clearing stepped the Beast. She had expected horns and a goatee. He didn’t have either of those things, but he was definitely not a man. He was nearly eight and a half feet tall and covered with thick brown hair, what else could he be but the Beast? As he entered the clearing, the Beast looked startled, and came to a stop, staring at her with wide eyes. Perhaps, she presumed, he was startled by the great potential of power that he sensed in her, or perhaps, the summoning spell had pulled him out of some other activity.
Regardless of why he looked at her the way he had, she didn’t want to waste his time, “My Lord,” she said, dropping her arms and bowing low over the cauldron. “I am honored that you would grace me with your presence and heed my proposition.”
She stood back up, and the Beast took a small step backward, sniffing the air, probably checking to make sure she had all the right ingredients in the pot, she thought, glad she hadn’t skimped on the frogs.
“I wanted to pledge unto you my soul in exchange for the power and privilege of joining your ranks,” she said, stepping from behind the cauldron. The Beast took another small step backwards but still didn’t say anything.
She had been worried that it might come to this, that the Beast craved more than just her soul. She was prepared though. She pulled the tie on her robe and let it fall open. “If more you desire, my lord, then come and take it, my body is yours.” She shrugged the robe off of her shoulders and it fell into a clump around her feet, exposing her smooth white skin to the pale glow of the fire. The Beast didn’t move, he just shifted his eyes around the clearing.
They stood like that for a long while, but when it became clear to her that the Beast was not going to approach her, she reached down, a little hurt by the rejection, and grabbed her robe from the ground. As she slipped it back over her skin, which had begun to prickle in the cold, she said “Or if my soul is enough, I don’t want to continue wasting your time.”
She took a step back toward the cauldron, and watched the Beast. He stood there for another moment, then turned and disappeared silently back into the darkness.
When Sigrid Juliane told the story of that night to anyone that would listen, she referred to it as the night that the Beast agreed to give her power in exchange for her soul. Since then, she said, she had felt more powerful and had noticed that her sense of smell seemed to be more sensitive. Nobody believed her.
When the bigfoot told the story of that night to his large, hairy buddies, he referred to it as the night he stumbled on a crazy human woman in the woods. Everyone, of course, believed him.
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