“I don’t like the idea of this.” Piper had told me when we signed up for the witching game.
I should have listened, but then again as she would tell you I never listen to her. Many of my great ideas had gotten us in trouble over the years. There was the time I decided we should sneak out and go to a concert. That one lead us to being stuck on the side of the road when Piper’s cart broke down. There was also the time I suggested we throw a huge house party when my parents were out of town. How was I supposed to know that my parents would come home early? The witching games had to be my worst idea.
The witching games were a three-part series of events that proved who was the best witch in the realm. It was a life or death event, but back then I was full of myself and thought neither I nor Piper would get hurt. The three events were different each year, picked by the queen and king. Each day for the three-day event, the queen stands before the people and announce the days event.
I was twenty-one years old at the time of the last witching games. I had always dreamed of entering the witching games, but the royal family was forbidden from entering the competition. Piper being a lady of the court was also forbidden from entering.
I still remember the words I used. “Let’s use fake names and use a glamour spell to change our looks so no one can recognize us.”
I had the idea as I was getting ready for bed. Being my head lady-in-waiting Piper helping me take off my restrictive dress. It was a two-person time consuming job to remove my dress and to kill the time Piper and I would talk about everything under the sun.
Piper was against the idea, but she came with me when I signed up. She wanted to keep me safe, which lead her to sign herself up for the witching games too. Once you sign the list there was no way out of it.
The witching games were held in the grand arena which was in the capital city of Aria. My mother was sitting in the royal box seat. My seat beside her empty, she had believed me when I told her I was sick. She stood, raising her hand to silence the crowds announcing the first game will be potion making.
There were fifty contestants during the first event. We were each given a card on which kind of potion we were to make. My card had said a love potion while Piper’s was a memory potion. The small tables in front of each contestant held many ingredients and a jar.
It took me less then ten minutes to make my potion, which put me in the top ten out of the twenty contestants that were left. Piper finished her potion in half my time, giving her the first-place spot. Oh, how winning that first contest changed her. The girl who was once nervous of the witching games now led to her downfall.
The next day was the second contest. My mother stood, once again in her box seat. She didn’t even need to raise her hand to silence the crowd for they were waiting patiently. She announced that the next round would be familiar training.
Familiar training was out lawed around the same time as the fall of Aria, but back then it was a popular form of magic. With familiar training a witch will try to bond with a familiar and the more dangerous the familiar the more points the witch received. The best witches can do familiar training in minutes.
Within a minute I had a bear familiar at my side. I could have done better, but that would have given me away. Bear was perfect, not too flashy like a lion or tiger, but still high ranking. Piper who was not the best at familiar training was only able to familiar train a dog.
The girl beside me made the mistake of trying to familiar train with a tiger which was too difficult for her. The familiar attacked her, killing her. I still see her sometimes when I close my eyes, even after all these years. I still remember the way the blood turned her long blonde hair scarlet red. Those sea blue eyes that the day before was filled with light now haunt my dreams.
There was ten of us left after the second contest with Piper in third place and I in second. That day we lost six people when they were attacked by the familiar’s they conjured. The other four were unable to even make a familiar appear making them disqualified.
The last contest was a fight with magic. While it was not necessarily a fight to the death there were casualties. Each witch would be paired with another and would fight using magic spells until one of two things happened, one witch would give up or one witch would die. The pairings will keep happening till there was one winner.
The first round ended with no blood shed. When the losing witch got pined by her opponent she gave up, not wanting to give her life. The next round was between Piper and another witch who I vaguely remembered from the other contests. Piper won, but she had to do so by killing the other witch. She showed no remorse about killing her. Later when I talked to her before my match she talked as if she felt nothing.
The more death and blood I saw the more I wanted out. I thought of telling someone who I really was, but then I would have gotten Piper in trouble as well. As I spoke to Piper, I made up my mind, I would lose my round. I would just give up quickly.
As I stepped into the arena I stood before a girl who looked to be my age. I gave her the first chance at attack, which she decided would be a good time to use fire. It pushed me back, but only a few steps. In returned I used wind to push her back a few steps as well. I let her pin me with her next move when she threw a rock half her size at me.
I didn’t watch the next match. I changed back into my princess clothes with the help of magic and a timid kitchen maid. I made it to the royal box in time to see the next match between Piper and another witch.
Once again Piper killed, giving her a spot in the final. She was covered in blood, and she had a dark look in her eye. This was not the Piper I grew with. Something had snapped in her, making her into the monster who was enjoying killing.
I tear up when I think about what happened next. While Piper was blood thirsty, her opponent was even more so. They called her Bloody Mary, for she took joy in hurting and killing her opponents. She had not planned to be at the witching games, but with a last-minute schedule change she was able to make it last minute three days earlier. Had I known she would be there I wouldn’t have signed up or even let Piper get that far.
I didn’t see the last round. Instead I jumped up from my seat and ran to the arena, out running all my guards. I got there just in time to watch Mary give the killing blow to Piper. Her glamour disguise disappeared in that moment, revealing to everyone that Piper had been the competitor after all.
Life changed for me after that. The witching games were banned to appease the royals who were mad one of their own died. Within a year I was married off to a prince of another kingdom. My mother suspected my involvement but being unable to prove it she let it go. I believe the marrying me off had been my mother’s way of punishing me for what had happened, and I didn’t blame her.
Here I am now, an old witch. No longer queen for I passed that title down many years ago. Still I wonder about what would have happened if I had listened to Piper in the beginning.