Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
Orosius’ Castle, the following Morning.
Enter OROSIUS, TILDA, VULPECULA, ETTY and JESSICA, and MAISIE with little VUSILLUS.
OROSIUS: Now ye are rested, let us hold a council:
I have been plotting the best course for you.
Your majesties …
TILDA: No more of majesties
And deference. We are but wandering folk,
And now your pupils, learning as we can.
OROSIUS: ’Tis well, for I have much to teach you all.
Witchcraft shall be your weapon, and a strong one.
The little lass hath an astounding power
The like of which I never yet have seen,
Which must be used with wisdom, and with caution.
With one word she could blast your enemies
And turn them all to dust – but in so doing
She’d lose her soul, becoming a dark witch
Who’d harm you more than the whole Thetan army.
Vulpecula, thou canst do good and harm
And hast done both; but hast thou often felt
When changing some poor rascal to a toad
That part of thee was changing for the worse?
VULPECULA: Aye, well I know this, and do try t’ avoid it.
OROSIUS: In such a powerful witch as Jessica,
At such a tender age, doing aught to harm
Would drain the good from her beyond repair.
’Tis both for her sake and for yours I warn you.
Yet we will find ways in which she can work:
She may create illusions to deceive
That harm her not, and what charms they shall be
After tuition in the magic art!
VULPECULA: Thanks for this timely warning; so ’t shall be.
OROSIUS: Ye all know well that witchcraft doth work best
When there’s a coven o’ three: crone, mother and child.
VULPECULA: Well can I play the crone, and here’s the child,
But who’s the middle member of the coven?
OROSIUS: Tilda, I sense some latent power in thee,
Ne’er used nor felt, but I can call it out.
Wilt thou allow me to turn thee t’ a witch?
TILDA: With all my heart: I have been feeling weak
Beside the might of my good mother-in-law
And the untutored strength of my dear daughter.
In our dire plight, let us use every weapon
Our armoury affords, to win the day.
OROSIUS: Etty, I find no magic powers in thee
Save that of charming men into thy bed
– A power that is by no means despicable,
For it allows thee great control of them –
And something more than that: the power of words
Which shall prove vital in the coming struggle.
We shall speak more of this; but now ’tis time
To school the others in the occult arts.
ETTY: So be it then, and I shall look on gladly
While my dear friend becomes a mighty witch.
OROSIUS: I said not mighty, but she shall have skills
And can draw on her daughter’s awful power
Like to a copper strip upon a steeple
Which draws the lightning, guiding it to earth.
(He waves; enter his Assistant, PIXEL.)
Pixel, I now do charge thee with this duty:
Prithee, conduct Etty to thy workshop
And teach her the great art o’ lithography,
How one may, with a stone, and soot, and grease
Print posters that arouse the folk to war
And others to confuse the enemy.
So wars are fought with words as well as arms.
ETTY: O joy! This is a task dear to my heart.
(Exeunt PIXEL and ETTY.)
Tilda, let us begin, while th’ others watch.
To start, a simple spell for a witch light –
A lamp upon thy hand, to see i’ th’ dark.
All spells have three components: first, intention –
Thou must envision what thou mean’st to make;
Second, the gesture; third, the words of power.
Mark what I do. I hold out my right hand,
Palm upwards; with my left I point to it,
And say the magic words, E tenebris lux!
(A Light appears above his right Hand.)
Now try thyself, Tilda.
TILDA: E tenebris lux!
(A small Light appears on her Hand for a Moment and vanishes.)
O but that burns!
OROSIUS: Aye, thou must think of it
Above thy hand, not on it. See ’t as cold,
Like to the moon, beneath whose chilly light
Witches exert their powers.
TILDA: E tenebris lux!
(A Light appears above her Hand, but quickly fades.)
OROSIUS: Thou must hold it in mind to make it stay.
But ’tis a good start. Say, Vulpecula,
Wilt thou show Tilda how to frame her mind
So that she keeps the light while she doth work
On what she hath to do?
VULPECULA: E tenebris lux!
(A steady Light appears above her hand, and continues to burn.)
OROSIUS: Jessica, canst do this?
JESSICA: E tenebris lux!
(A brilliant Flash of Light and a loud Explosion. All are thrown to the Ground.)
That was exciting, shall I do ’t again?
OROSIUS (picking himself up): It was astounding; but thou need’st the skill
To moderate thy power, lest we be blasted.
No matter, I shall teach thee quick enough;
At thy age learning comes with little work.
We have made a start: what wonders thou shalt do!