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The Witch's Heart

The Witch's Heart

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Emeline has lived for hundreds of years and has finally found some quiet solitude to endure her eternity. The only companion she’s had is a cat that recently found her and comes and goes as he pleases. She tells herself she’s fine with it, but when her powers tell her someone has crossed her boundaries and entered her forest, she knows she must do something about it. No one can know she’s here, but more important than that, she can’t let herself want to know another human ever again. Only heart break can come from that.

Liam doesn’t know why he feels the urge to return, life after life, to the same place he keeps dying with the hope that he can finally find answers. All he knows is he was cursed with endless deaths by a witch who was responsible for the death of his beloved wife centuries ago. If he can only make it to see the woman who haunts his dreams, he might finally discover a way to break the curse.

Intro into Chapter One

Emeline stepped outside her front door and breathed in the cold October air. She opened her senses to feel what was out there. The animals all went about their normal routines and the trees were still. As far as she could tell, only the woodsmoke from her own fireplace indicated there was a human in these deserted woods. That was just as she liked it. She stepped off the front porch and took a few hesitant steps to the right. The pond in the secluded clearing to the east held a pull for her. She’d almost drowned in it ages ago but had fought to remain alive.
At times like this, she wasn’t sure it had been worth it.
With the strength she constantly had to exercise within her soul to fight the longing to go back to the icy depths, she turned to the left. A storm was coming, and she needed to finish preparing for the long winter ahead.
She walked deeper into the forest where she could gather her herbs and a few of the rarer plants that would be needed for her healing salves and concoctions that helped her maintain at least a little bit of humanity. A long-haired, smoky-gray cat followed behind, acting more like a dog than a cat. Emeline wasn’t even sure if it was male or female since it never stayed still long enough for her to check, but she’d decided to refer to it as male. She’d refused to name it, not wanting to feel the connection to him in case he ended up dying and leaving her just like everything always did.
Cat was all she could bring herself to call the creature.
The cat seemed to be fine with that. Most times, he just lay, sprawled out by her fireplace. He never required her to feed or water him. Cat took care of all of that on his own. Emeline didn’t want to admit it, but she was happy the cat had found her.
Emeline pulled her threadbare shawl around her shoulders a little closer to her neck when the cool autumn breeze picked up. She listened to the wind, picking out the whispers it might say, but she heard nothing unexpected.
Her forest was still her own.
Emiline lifted the hem of her skirt as she stepped over the small stone circle she’d erected around her cabin. It wasn’t really a fence, but it did deter some creatures. The charm she’d placed on it also alerted her when something approached it. Not that many things did in the secluded forest. Cat was the only thing besides small rodents that regularly crossed it. Thankfully Cat took care of the mice that tried to make a home in her storage room.
As she put her foot down on the other side of her rock wall, before dropping the hem of her skirt, Emeline looked at the fabric. It was about time to make a new one. The sheep she had penned up not far from her stone cabin had produced ample wool that she had spun into yarn last winter, and more wool she could do this winter. She would weave it into a heavy fabric during the coming cold winter months.
There was an easier way, but she would never make that mistake again. Moving down into the valley where time continued to march on only reminded her of everything she’d lost and everything that had changed while she remained the same.
No, it was best for her to remain here, away from everyone and everything. Here, no one could hurt her ever again.


Liam parked the car at the base of the mountain near the hiking trail. He hadn’t been there before. At least not this time around, though the place was as familiar to him as if he’d hiked this trail yearly. He reached into the back seat and grabbed his hiking backpack and the waterproof jacket with a nice wool lining on the inside. It would get colder the higher he climbed and the deeper he went into the forest.
Liam unzipped his backpack’s front pocket to be sure his important gear was there. No one in their right mind would begin a hiking trip just as fall was transitioning into winter, but Liam had never really been in his right mind. He had a small, but sturdy tent, and a lightweight, but warm sleeping bag. With his waterproof fire starters and lighters, his water filtration straws, and the protein packs and ready to eat meal pouches, he could last a while. Hopefully it would hold him over long enough that he could get the answers he sought.
He locked the car, wondering if he would make it back to it. If he didn’t, someone would find the car and have it towed to town. They might find his body. He wasn’t sure what happened to his body every time he died.
Hopefully his foster mother wouldn’t be too upset when she received the bad news.
Liam shook himself, trying to be as positive as possible. Just because every other attempt had ended badly didn’t mean this one would as well.
He could always hope the woman in his dreams would remember him this time.
As he walked the trail with bits of sunlight streaming through the dense trees, he tried to remember the pathway from his dreams and shattered memories. The further he got into the forest, the more he wondered if he should have just stayed in the psych ward. At least this time, they had tried to cure him with medication and counseling instead of shock therapy or a lobotomy.
No one ever believed him, and after years of working with a psychiatrist, a part of him wondered if he really was delusional, or schizophrenic. His biggest mistake this time around had been telling his foster mother he could remember all his past lives. She’d gotten him counseling as soon as possible. Therapy after therapy was attempted, but the more things they tried, the more memories came back. Eventually, he’d been admitted to the psych ward.
Liam had tried fighting it for a long time, but eventually began to realize they would never let him out if he kept insisting it was all true. He had agreed to take the medication, even though it made him sick and drained him of most every emotion.
Eleven months ago, he had been released from the psych ward to his foster mother’s care. Of course, she wasn’t really his foster mother anymore. He had aged out of the system years ago. But she was a kind woman and had insisted she would be someone he could come to when he needed help.
Once she was sure he seemed normal enough and that he would continue to take his medication, she had helped him get an apartment and a job. Things had been going great, and he’d found he enjoyed his job and felt a bit of hope for his future. Then he’d woken from a dream a week ago with a vivid image of this trail and a sense of urgency.
Her face came to his mind again. He could remember so much about this woman in his dream. But not her name. For some reason it was gone. Maybe buried beneath all the hypnosis and medication, and therapy sessions.
She was out there somewhere. He had to find her. This time he would make it to her before he was killed again. There had to be some way to break what he was sure was a curse and he would find it. Some attempts only ended in death without finding her. Other times, he’d gotten so close. He’d found her nearly a dozen or so times already, that he could remember. She had never remembered him. Once he had found her and was less than twenty yards away before he’d been ripped apart.
Out of all the memories he had, he wished he could forget that bear. Some memories came and went. There were too many lifetimes of things he’d done. All of his childhoods blended together, but each time around, when he reached the age of sixteen, he started having nightmares about it all.
Liam closed his eyes. He didn’t want to think about his past. Any of his pasts. He could remember a few of the ways he had died. None of them were pleasant. Most involved extreme pain. The first one was the most painful, lasting hours as he absorbed all the vileness from the woman who’d cursed him.
Liam pressed his palms against his eyes, trying to push the memories and flashes of images out of his sight. Instead, Liam watched again with horror as his past self stood frozen with a knife pressed against his throat. In front of him, half the community stood at the edge of the water witnessing his wife’s murder. He’d screamed with rage as her body had been lowered into the icy pond to prove her innocence.
The horrid magistrates knew full well that if she was innocent, she would drown. If she’d managed not to drown, she would’ve been guilty in their eyes, and they would have burned her at the stake.
Of course, the truly evil witch had gotten away while Liam’s wife had been murdered by the courts.
When Liam had gone after the woman who had accused his love of being a witch, she had tried to seduce him, telling him they could now be together with her gone. Mary had done everything she could to convince Liam she was acting in his best interest. That she had saved him from a horrible wife and that she was so much better for him.
Liam’s rage had burst from him in a way he hadn’t expected. Memories of meeting out justice on Mary for her betrayal of his wife flooded his mind.
As Liam stood in the forest, looking at the trail he knew would take him back to that same pond where he’d lost his wife, his fists tingled in the same way they had when he’d wrapped his hands around Mary’s neck. He had squeezed until there was no more breath in the evil woman. When he released his hold on her, he feared retribution from the magistrates when they discovered the murder he’d committed. Before he could even move away from her, Mary’s eyes had gone black, and she sat up and reached for him. That sent fresh terror through him but gave him the fear-induced strength to keep going as he lunged for the knife he used for skinning the wild game he snared.
“One death is not enough for you!” he’d shouted as he plunged it into her heart. Instead of dying, Mary had slowly gripped the knife’s handle and pulled it out, covered with black blood. He stared at her in shock that she wasn’t dead and was frozen in place as she thrust the bloody knife into his own chest.
“So say you,” she’d wheezed out, somehow sounding louder than possible. “Your hatred gives me power. With my immortal blood now flowing in your own veins, I curse you with endless deaths.” Mary’s last words echoed in his skull once again as if she’d just pronounced it on him.
Liam knew what was coming since he’d relived this death in his memories over and over again. He placed his hand over his heart, wishing he could prevent the remembered pain, but it didn’t help, and he felt the same as when he’d first died.
All those years ago, Liam had tried to push himself away from the witch. It hadn’t worked and his chest had cracked from within as he fell flat to the floor, dying with agonizing slowness as her blood poisoned him. He couldn’t even turn his head to look away as he stared into Mary’s heartless eyes.
Before death finally overtook him, Liam felt his body moving. He caught sight of his dead wife, covered in white frost. She knelt to his side, tears filling her eyes and then she’d laid her head on his chest. Hope blossomed inside as he realized at least in death, they could be together.
The next thing he remembered was learning to walk as a young child in the same village next to the pond where his wife had been put to death. Mary had somehow given him a form of immortality, but he always died before finding his answers.
Liam stopped for a moment on the trail and looked in the distance toward the east. That pond was somewhere in that direction. He was certain of it. Even without the maps he’d studied online before heading out here, he knew this was where he had to be. Where he had to come looking for his wife. Why he felt drawn to this location life after life was beyond him. Perhaps it was all part of that curse Mary had placed on him.
No matter how hard he tried to fight it, he still found himself marching toward where his life had ended the first time. If he was lucky, perhaps this time his death could be the last.

Liam doesn’t know why he feels the urge to return, life after life, to the same place he keeps dying with the hope that he can finally find answers. All he knows is he was cursed with endless deaths by a witch who was responsible for the death of his beloved wife centuries ago. If he can only make it to see the woman who haunts his dreams, he might finally discover a way to break the curse.

Main Tropes

  • Fantasy and Magic
  • Fated Lovers
  • Breaking Curses
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