Philo's Stories

"Lauren, Witch Queen of Cleveland"

the woman who had once styled herself the Queen of Witches was not feeling particularly like either of those things in this jail cell
her memories of magical battles felt as though they'd happened to someone else, someone to whom the rush of magic was not alien
she was only certain that one thing she could remember actually happened to her: sitting on a hill, hand in hand with the woman she loved, looking at the skyline of a city and the moon above it
the city looked nothing like the thatched roofs of the town out her cell's window
this mundane memory is out of place amidst a life of magic and rebellion

the Holy Paladin of Goodness and Light's plan to defeat the Queen of Witches was simple enough
by successfully deflecting her spell right back at her and casting a spell more powerful than it at the same instant, a feat that takes the combined powers of dozens of priest-wizards in tight coordination, the web of magical wards protecting her would shatter and allow the Church's forces to capture her
once they'd done that, they could relatively easily banish her soul to a world without magic, hopefully using up all of her mana in the process
separated from her home world and not bringing any mana with her, she would be unable to cast spells and use any mana she somehow found in a world without magic

"for your crimes against His Majesty, His Holiness, and the kingdom, for your innumerable blasphemies against our holiest text, and for your attempt to usurp the throne, we sentence you to removal of magic and imprisonment. we are not as cruel as you and shall leave you alive as a sign of our Lord's mercy" reads the Paladin from a scroll
"you, the Church's priest-wizards, rewrote the 'ancient and most holy texts' twenty years ago to cement your and the new king's control over the kingdom! how dare you accuse me of blas-"
"that will be quite enough. begin the ritual!" replies the Paladin, his magically amplified voice cutting through hers

the Church's forces tie the struggling witch to a ritual table as priest-wizards surround her to perform the ritual upon her
"I'll get youuu-" she shouts at her arch-nemesis before being abruptly cut off by the spells of the ritual
they untie her from the table and lead her away, all the fighting spirit gone from her eyes and actions

Lauren stares into her own eyes in the bathroom mirror
something is wrong with her face, but she isn't sure what
she makes a bunch of facial expressions; the face in the mirror answers her
she pokes herself in the cheek; yep, that's her alright
but something still feels wrong and, in that moment, something snaps in her mind and she realizes she has not always been Lauren
she remembers being a witch and swearing her revenge upon a knight in shining armor
it's so completely out of place from everything else she can remember that she'd convinced herself it must be a dream, but in this moment, she realizes that the opposite is true: that's the only memory that's truly hers and everything else isn't

no matter how much she yearns to be this witch from her one real memory, she is stuck in Cleveland, Ohio, with not even the barest hint of magic
unbeknownst to her, but known to Lauren as she wears the Queen's body and memories in the jail cell, only someone from a given world or plane of existence can use magic there, so all the mana she brought with her does nothing

"sometimes, I feel like a witch trapped in a world without magic" she says to her, no, Lauren's girlfriend
"how can you be so sure magic isn't real? how else would you describe how it feels to be in your arms?"
the trapped enchantress blushes at this
"you're right; it is magic, and I've bewitched you" she says, tilting her girlfriend's chin up with her finger
"you really have, you sorceress"
mana is transferred by skin contact and trust (some spellbooks use a word that can be better translated as love) and magic runs on belief, and there was plenty of all three between them
some of the Queen of Witches' mana flows into this ordinary girl's girlfriend and sparks into a spell
like lightning, magic searches for the easiest path to its end, and the easiest path to this end of being a witch and feeling the rush of magic again is to send her back and swap her soul for Lauren's
displacing someone from their world is much harder than restoring them, so restoring the Queen of Witches and Lauren to their rightful places is an end that would take vast amounts of mana and spellcraft to avoid

her eyes roll back in her head and she faints in her arms
Lauren wakes up in her girlfriend's arms and smiles
she doesn't know where she was or why she was in a stone room, but she knows for sure that she's back now

the Queen of Witches awakens in a jail cell and shatters the thick stone wall with just a glance
her attire transforms to a dark dress sparkling with stars that's far more fitting of her self-appointed title as she steps out into the light in search of the Holy Paladin of Goodness and Light
he and the priest-wizards of the Church had let down their guard and stopped maintaining the spells on the cell while Lauren's soul had inhabited her body
she silently mouths thanks to that girl from another world for making her revenge easier and being such a good steward of her body