Blue Witch

Watercolor & Digital

When the people walked from place to place, and lived freely, the fever could not find them, and they were happy and healthy. But the day they settled in one place, the illness caught up with them, and burrowed into their livers.

From that day they suffered, froze, sweated and died. And they believed that they had been cursed, and that there was a witch among them. And they found a young woman, who had been with child for longer than any woman they knew of, and they said, her belly is large, but the child never comes.

And a man said that he had heard the woman make the sounds of childbirth every night for a month, and yet in the mornings she was still heavy. And the people knew then that she was giving birth to the illness, and that she was the witch. And they took the young woman to the marshlands, and they drowned her there and drove a spear through her belly to kill the illness within. And when they had done this, they went home and they told their relatives, we are safe now, the witch gave birth to the illness but we drowned her in dark water and she will haunt us no more.

And the months passed, and the rains came and made the march lands grow so that everywhere the people went, the scent of decay was always in their nostrils, and the illness did not stop. And the day arrived when the king took his seat in the hall and all could see that his hands were shaking and his lips a bluish color, and that he would not know another moon. And when he died a few days later, they choose an old woman for their queen, and she said, the witch is not dead. She lives on in the marchlands, blue and clammy and swollen, and every night she gives birth to illness. And she told them they must abandon their fields and their houses and what could not be carried, and go far away from the lands of the blue witch.

And the people made up their bundles and took their children on their backs and said their goodbyes to those too weak to travel, and they left the land behind. And they travelled far and met other peoples, and some they fought and some they bred with, until they forgot that they had once been the people of the marshlands, and called themselves by many other names. But in all this time, they did not walk alone. The blue witch travelled with them, in their blood and livers, and every time they settled, she found a home in the still water of a pond or a well or a lazy river, and every night she sent her children out to feed.