here are seven realms of existence, more than one of those are considered by those who know little of the Mysteries to be the realm of ‘Spirit’. Those same people, those who are well outside of the realm of the Fae and the Magus, are fearful of these realms and because of that fear rarely seek to understand them – unless of course there is some mundane and usually monetary gain to be had from such an association. Such are usually selfish individuals with a complete lack of self-discipline and certainly far less imagination than what humankind is capable of. I am a creature who walks all of these realms and yet few around me understand them – or me. Lovers, husbands – even my own children struggle to understand. Those who commune with Spirits or even and especially women who are deemed to have ‘spirit’ are viewed with a great deal of suspicion.
And so it came to pass that I was at one time gaoled for Witchcraft and consorting with Spirits in Port Royal. I was thrown into a cell to be tended by a gaoler who was aptly named, Igor Clubfoot. He was known throughout the Caribe for his penchant toward the most heinous and unusual tortures. Clubfoot was a disgusting, foul smelling creature that had a deep wet consumptive cough and frequent spiting of phlegm.
With every new prisoner Clubfoot would launch into a long diatribe on the complete inventory of his instruments that he used to question the guilty. Perhaps nothing was quite as bad as the foul smell, and gaol rats that ran through the darkest reaches of the cells both day and night. That they were as large as small dogs made them particularly formidable. When left to my own devices, I can fend off a rat, or any other creature, but within the gaol, when one is unarmed or worse, chained with iron, there is little that can be done. The rats would often snatch my food a’fore I could ever get much of it myself and so often I would go to bed hungry. Since I was in the cell nearest the rear to keep me safely hid from the other prisoners, or maybe so that Clubfoot would forget about me, the light rarely reached my cell.
One night, while Clubfoot was discussing with a sea captain about men that could be pressed into service, I espied the largest rat I had ever seen. Goddess knows that I am afraid of few things, but large rats are enough to give me nightmares! Screaming I pressed my back against the back wall of the cell. As an answer to my cry, the man who had come to see Clubfoot, whom I judged to be the sea captain, dashed to my cell. He looked at me to see what was the matter, but I could only shudder and point in the direction of the creature whose eyes fairly seemed to glow in the dim light of my cell.
Clubfoot, who had just come upon the scene, just laughed.
“Oh her!” he clicked his tongue, “She’s always complainin’, that one. But don’t feel no sympathy fer ‘er. A Witch she is, Cap’n. Let that l’il mouse eat a little of her and he’ll turn up dead right there.”
“A witch? Who says this?” the captain scoffed at the gaoler’s assertion.
“Many have seen her ply her trade, Captain,” Igor replied, “She talks to Spirits and even consorts with the Devil they say. Aye, I do think that there will be trial by water for her.”
I looked at the Captain who seemed to come to realize what every Witch knows. For if she is tried by water and water accepts her, she is innocent, but no less drowned and dead. If she can swim, as I certainly can, then it is taken as proof of Witcheries on the part of the woman. Then it would be only a matter of hanging or burning. What surprise would be in store for them to know that their Witch still yet would not die – because she carried the blood of the Fae.
“I’ll take her and six of the men here who can walk half-decent,” the sea captain said.
“Ya canna want that woman!” Igor spat, “I tell ya, she is a witch of the first order, Capn! Ye will be sorry for takin’ ‘er on for certain!”
“Then how the hell did any man catch her and keep her here if she’s so damned powerful?” the Captain growled at my gaoler, “I want her for the press, so you had best take her out of that cell.”
“Ye’re only entitled to take men for the press!” Clubfoot argued, “The Governor of Port R—”
“Damn yer blood, I’m pressin’ her! She’ll be me cook,” the sea captain spat. He then turned to me, “Can ya cook, wench?” he asked as I crouched in the corner, still terrified that the rat would return.
“Aye,” I answered him nodding.
The captain turned and glared at Clubfoot, “What be the wench’s name?”
“She says she don’t have one,” Clubfoot retorted indignantly, “But some in town call her ‘Fanny’.”
The sea captain raised an eyebrow as soon as my name was said aloud. My eyes met his and I remember that we had met on the streets once, months ago. Men are so transparent. For I swear that even then he had stared at me, just for what reason I had no problem in guessing..
The captain pointed to the lock, making it quite clear to the gaoler that his mind had been made up about his pressing me into service.
“Open it,” the Captain commanded.
“Ye’ll rue this day,” Clubfoot said, doing what the sea Captain asked of him, “This only proves that she has already bewitched ye, Cap’n.”
The Captain entered the cell and reached out a hand to take my own, raising me from the place where I was still cowering. For a long time he stared at me in the eyes, then assessed the rest of me from head to foot. I felt self-conscious being still clad in a dress that since my captivity was made far more of rips and tears than of actual cloth.
“Fanny,” he said, “my name is Captain Christopher Myngs and ye’ll have to work fer yer keep,” he explained as Igor Clubfoot assembled the rest of the able bodied prisoners. All of them together formed a pack of foul-smelling filthy dogs as ever there were, but what else could be expected in such abysmal circumstances?
“Thank you, Cap’n Myngs,” I answered, fighting the rising tide of wanting to hide my current state of dishevelment, “I’ll not do a thing that would make you doubt your faith in me.”
Although the man seemed to know precisely what he wanted, I knew that Captain Myngs’ act of kindness would most probably come back to haunt him. There would be hell to pay for certain for his having let not only a woman but a woman suspected of Witchcraft aboard his ship. No doubt once there I would be accused of every mishap and of having worked my wiles not just with magic, but with errant words. I would be accused of enjoying every cruel game imaginable and especially that of pitting one man against another for no other reason save my own amusement.
But then who am I to shatter their illusions about women of spirit? They might be right after all.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Fiction / Folklore / Mythology / History
Word Count: 1249