woman in the tower window was not what he'd expected, and yet exactly
what it seemed that she should be. She was taller than many men, lithe,
angular of bone. Her black hair was trimmed into an oval shape: it fell
over her shoulders in a heavy, unrippled cloak that shone against the
lusterless black brocade of her robe. Her eyes seemed pale under heavy
brows, and her fingers, holding the draperies aside, were long and tapered.
Her skin and lips were pale, her face youthful and angelic. She seemed
terrible and remote, and she did not smile."
had a slender, boyish figure in black trousers and a shirt of white
homespun wool, and she looked up from her gardening with a quizzical
expression, wiping dirt from both hands onto a leather apron. Her face
was curved, her blue-black hair pulled back into a knot. Her eyes, strikingly,
were mismatched: a green like early leaves and a brown like still water.
She unsettled me...."
also known as the Hag of Wolf Wood and the Witch of the Black Tower,
has lived alone in her keep for centuries. She is rumored to be cruel
and deadly enchantress, and it is true that not one of the brave noblemen
and valorous soldiers who set out to rid the world of her has returned.
she has only one eye that the other socket is a glowing coal that sees
through all disguises, that her teeth are filed to points and that her
fingers are tipped with claws. She snacks on plump babies. Mothers in
Lyonesse, the kingdom over whose heart Wolf Wood sprawls, threaten their
children with her legend. "Be good," they say, "Don't
stray in the woods. Don't be out after sunset, or the Witch will get
you. The old Witch who lives with bats and snakes and rats and horrors,
who eats beetle salad, who killed everyone in the Black Tower centuries
a beautiful princess held static, there, they say -- the last daughter
of the King who once ruled Wolf Wood. The Witch holds her frozen in
ice, rubs her wrinkled old hands and gloats over the girl in the castle
that should be hers. Any number of brave men have gone to rescue the
princess. It's said that when she awakens, the terrible forest that
the Witch raised up around the old castle will fall into dust, andLyonesse
will be made whole again.
yet to be done.
the old Witch waits in her castle, with the tapestries of carrion crows
and serpents on the walls, and works her evil spells and casts her curses
to who knows what end?