An Account of the Turning

A short story by Sasha Miller.

Publishing History

Timeline Notes

p14. An Account of the Turning

Many versions of The Turning exist and details vary according to the teller. The witches who were present refuse to talk about it. This account is from An Apocryphal Account of The Turning, author unknown.

There were Nine Times Nine of Witches to chant the spell, the steadiest and most experienced. Nine times nine more of the younger Witches waited in the shadows, ready to give of their strength to their sisters. At the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month the spelling began.1 In the center of their circle, a ball of mist gathered and solidified, forming a picture of the mountains to the south. The Guardian exulted, lifting her head in triumph, and the others of the Nine Times Nine exulted with her.

But the Guardian in her pride had read only so far in the scroll that told her what course of action to take and so did not discover the time-smudged warning the writer added. In the setting of the spell, not just the Nine Times Nine but each additional nine caused the Power likewise to increase manyfold, and this the Guardian had not read.

The ground began to tremble, great rolling waves of earthquake increasing in intensity until every Witch had to fumble for handholds to keep from falling. The mountains in the picture began to shiver and crumble. Dust rose, filling the air. More than one Witch faltered and caught lip between teeth, fearful of the terrible work being done that day. In the midst of the mountains, tiny figures in Karsten colors cried out as mountains rose and dropped upon them. A bridge, delicate as a spiderweb soaring between one crag and another, fractured and fell, and those watching knew that the Falconer’s Eyrie was no more.

p15. Then the Guardian heard a noise even more appalling than the sound of mountains overturning and men dying. She clutched for the Jewel that hung from a silver chain around her neck. But her hand never got that far, for the sound the Guardian had heard was her Jewel exploding into dust. A scream cut through the thickening air. The Guardian had only enough time to recognize it as her own before she fell dead, and others of the Nine Times Nine with her.

Many of the Jewels of those lesser Witches standing without the circle fractured or darkened but did not disintegrate, and with this darkening their minds dimmed also. Those who fared best were those younger Witches who, fearful of what the others had wrought, had closed their eyes and covered their ears at the last moment, just as the Jewels began to explode. The Power no longer throbbed through the dust-thickened air of the Hall. One Witch took a trembling step forward. “Who will lead us now?” she said.

Another looked up. She had been crouched, cowering beside a pillar. “You will,” she said, “for you were the first of us who was able to speak.”

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