|Macbeth and the Three Witches|
The black orchid blossomed and the Red Witch cackled; her scarlet robes fluttered on the windy mountaintop as, head thrown back and throat exposed, she screeched with delight at Him trembling above. Vermillion hair cascaded across her heaving shoulders, blown asunder by the wind, and a solitary tear of joy trekked down her cheek to stain her robes.
The orchid’s petals expanded at each wave of laughter, stretching out in a spiral, each petal a perfect triangle. The pitch-black of the leaves bled out into the surrounding air, slowly weaving an atramentous corona that sucked the colour and warmth out of the environment; cautiously, the witch reached out and stroked the petals: a golden halo dripped from her fingertips, coming to a rest, floating, on the corona, encapsulating and halting it. The black orchid trembled with rage, its filaments standing stiffly erect, vibrating with the dark energy flowing through the flower; an ultrasonic screech tore from its centre to shake the floor of the mountain.
A hushed silence descended over nature and the wind halted; rabbits dropped dead as they fled foxes; eagles folded their wings and nose-dived into the ground, their beautiful wings crumpling, the ruined feathers forming a grotesque grave-marker; salmon began leaping out of the crystal-clear river to flop, gasping, on the stony bank. A solitary traveller consulting her compass found that it began erratically swinging around the centre; turning back on her path, she returned hurriedly whence she had come, throwing worried glances over her shoulder.
Above, He trembled with fear; his plans had gone awry, and the witch’s ambitions were slowly coming to fruition. The black orchid, known in an ancient tongue as Eternal Rage, signalled chaos for the paradisiacal lands; Michael, alarmed by what he saw, flapped his wings in terror and trumpeted loudly; the sound echoed across the various planes of existence and, slowly, the creatures of Heaven began to march home.
A film descended over the witch’s eyes, flecked with amber, as she absorbed the orchid’s energy, feeling it descend into her heart before being pumped out again with each powerful beat. Her red lips, dyed with the blood of a suckling pig, parted as she moaned softly with ecstasy. The flood of energy became a tsunami; her blood ebbed in her veins, slowly retreating into her engorged heart before crashing out again in a single powerful burst. She staggered with the impact, her foot moving backward to steady herself.
She slowly retracted her hand from the orchid, which was questing now for the life force which it had found so delicious. Stepping away cautiously, the witch raised her head towards the sky and emitted a piercing cry; a red kite, ranging the skies for prey, screeched back and, folding its wings, plummeted from the overcast skies to land on the witch’s outstretched wrist. It screeched lowly and contentedly, preening its feathers as the witch stroked its proud head. The kite was only allowed rest for a moment, before the witch cast it away from her with a cry:
“Fly, Blood, fly! Seek out my sisters, that we may marshal our forces and drive the machines of war to His gates. What has been foretold, will be!”
With a screech of comprehension, the kite beat its powerful wings and was soon just a speck in the grey sky.
Questing across skies near and far, in lands hot and cold, the kite sought out the rulers of the witching tribes, beseeching them to hear his mistress’ call, to heed her cries and assemble their armies.
The Black Witch, ruler of the Northern Roosts, instantly agreed to assemble; the witches of the roost were a primitive, warlike people: their queen giggled with delight at the thoughts of such a slaughter and, the message quickly communicated to her subjects, they gathered their wands, their bows and arrows, and their daggers, and flew south to the Red Witch’s queendom.
The Green Witch, king of the witching people’s only city, was loath to bow to the Red Witch’s summons. He had become fat and gluttonous over time; his city sat on the major trade artery linking several human and giant cities, and the taxes he imposed on the merchants travelling his roads bought him the richest of everything—foods, clothes, castles, women—, and he did not wish to leave this in order to undertake such a risky enterprise. A quick word from the kite, reminding him of the power of the Red Witch’s furious wrath, adduced the great king to gather his people and spread the word of the war.
The Blue Witch, hermaphroditic sovereign of the glacial tribes, plucked her golden harp and mused aloud on the kite’s pronouncements; he was a highly intelligent being who refused to act before having considered every possible angle. The promise from the kite that any land in Heavendom was hers for the taking, if he would but act with haste, was sufficient, however, to sway this wise ruler from her accustomed practices; calling out to his people, she mounted his broom and flew to the Red Witch’s gathering.
The Red Witch called a conclave of the four rulers. Seated in her cave around a fire, the four most powerful witches of the world discussed how best to use the power of the black orchid to topple Him from his mighty throne, from which he exercised such terrible, autocratic power.
The Black Witch jabbered and cackled, eager to launch an immediate war against Him; she raised her wand and cast meaningless spells wildly around the cave. They created a horrendous cacophony until the Red Witch, provoked, stepped up and slapped the queen; the sound of flesh on flesh echoed, and the Black Witch sat back down, cowed by the mighty queen.
The Green Witch suggested paying a powerful assassin to infiltrate Heaven and, biding his time, choose an opportune moment to strike and bring Him down; the Blue Witch, ever wise, argued that He himself would not have enough currency to pay someone to take on such a risky task. Countering with his own idea, the Blue Witch suggested that they mobilise the forces of the giants against the kingdom of God—thus securing an almost-certain victory, without risking their own forces. Ever awed by the Blue Witch’s pragmatism and oratory, the three witches bowed their heads in assent.
The High Queen of the giant people, Tessa, was currently nursing a brooding grudge against Him: he had pronounced that her congress with one of his angels was unholy. The queen’s fury would not be difficult to provoke. The Red Witch, the bravest of the four, elected to orchestrate their plans.