Children

Magic in the air

This week we begin a new series. Wendy was the youngest witch in the coven, yet she was the most wicked.

Wendy watched the 17 nervous apprentices; boys and girls, between 11 and 14 years, line up outside the house of the well-known witch, Amanda. Her house towered over the houses of the other witches and wizards. Of the 18 faces, only Wendy’s doll-like face was free of anxiety. Thirty-six eyes searched for a sign of the tall witch. It was rumoured that she was tough, difficult-to-please, and a hard task master. Training under her wouldn’t be easy.

The apprentices jumped like frightened frogs, as the main door burst open with a loud explosion. Amanda, dressed in a black silk robe, paused on the threshold; a few sparks issued from the wand she held. She stared at the apprentices, they trembled. Amanda watched as a girl wiped her clammy hands on her black gown, a boy’s hand trembling, while another coughed nervously, and a girl gulped convulsively...

However, the youngest girl, just 11, stared back insolently at Amanda who recognised the bushy-haired Wendy, nicknamed Wendy the Wicked; the notorious and naughtiest witch of the coven. Even older witches and wizards were scared of Wendy. One never knew when she would hex them. Her gentle looks were deceptive.

Rebellion alert

Wendy terrorised kids and blackmailed and bullied older ones into submission. The Coven Chief strongly objected to Amanda’s refusal to accept Wendy as her apprentice. The rule was that all apprentices were to be accepted for training.

Amanda sniffed rebellion in Wendy. She shook her head. This girl would be tough. Few other smells assailed her nostrils, mostly fear and terror. It was a bad sign. Fear spoilt the effect of the spells. It also slowed the learning process. Apprentices on either side of Wendy stood at a safe distance from her.

Amanda bit her lip. The apprentices were weak. She was sure most of them would fail the two-year rigorous training.

“I’ll be watching you. No funny business,” Amanda wagged a finger at Wendy.

“Follow me,” she instructed the scared group. Her black robe swished around her ankles as she stepped over the threshold of her house. Eighteen apprentices entered the house behind her.

They stood in the spacious hall, their backs to the wall. A lion’s head stared at them from the wall. Two wolf heads were mounted below it. The lion roared. The wolves growled.

Amanda’s eyes skimmed each student. She noted their heights and weights, the length of their arms and in particular the size of their wrists.

Amanda drew an arch in the air with her wand. The apprentices gasped. A circle of fire hovered in the air, burning bright. Eighteen wands were visible in the flickering flames. As the fire dimmed, ash fell. The wands hovered in the air, as though awaiting instructions.

“Wands, choose your masters,” Amanda directed the wands to their new masters. Wendy eyed the wands greedily. She wanted the largest wand.

A flower sprang out from the tip of each wand. The apprentices watched the wands move towards them. As the wands drew close, a few of them grabbed their wands. The flowers fell into their hands. Slower apprentices were whacked on their nose by the irritated wands, as they searched for their new masters’ hands.

To be continued...

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 12:06:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/magic-in-the-air/article29637133.ece

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