There is a certain time when children cease to be cute, and instead become truly despicable wastes of resources, in Arlyle’s opinion. When they have lost the charm of innocence, and have instead become nothing more than pests, which shall not change with maturity, grace, or even the inevitable onslaught of death.

While many would find this a harsh assessment, young teenage magic users can very much fit this description. These five children in particular, riding towards the Witch’s spire, were apt examples of such terror.

They rode in on elemental spirits. Captured essences of air, earth, fire, water, lightning. Most likely tamed by their parents and teachers before given as pets, evidenced by their lack in care and maintenance. Even now as they dismounted, the spirits clashed with each other, cooped up and in close proximity to spirits anathema to each other.

The children did not care. They had spirits, the latest in fashionable robes, staffs that were top of the line, and an attitude that came with such riches. They sneered at the puny tower, another easy target for them.

The leader stepped forward, and spat. “Little witch, stupid witch, come out and play!” He shouted. His clothes were a bit finer, hair immaculately coifed to look like he just rolled out of bed, with a shiny new amulet to protect against anything Clissandra could have sent his way.

“They’re just kids.” Clissandra said.

“Who are going to hurt you.” Arlyle said. “Bethany, stay here.”

“I want to help!”

“Not right now. They’re big, they’re mean, and I can’t protect you if they all start attacking.” Arlyle said. “Please.”

Bethany smiled, and hugged her close. “Okay. Because you said please.”

Arlyle walked out muttering curses and threats to the niceties of language. Being nice twice over. What was she thinking?

The leader pointed at her. “Look at the dumb little grey girl!”

Arlyle debated ripping his soul apart then and there. But be nice, Bethany is watching. She took a deep breath, and nodded. “My name is Arlyle, the Scourge of Darrenfell. Go away, or risk the wrath of a goddess.” There. She said the threat before doing anything. She was being nice.

The five kids laughed. “Dumb little spirit thinks it can mess with us.” The leader said. “With me?!? Bergsten Calombine the Fourth?”

“Witch thinks she found something fancy.” Rowinda taunted. Her sister Gallopy snickered.

The remaining boys, Erovin and Bob kept laughing. They kept a tight grip on the spirits, ready to turn them loose at a moment’s notice.

“I don’t know why she thought you could stop me, tiny thing.” Bergsten said. “But go back wherever you came from, and we might not hurt you too bad.”

Arlyle took another deep breath, and tried being nice again. “The witch gave us tea and cookies. You five are mean and stupid. Last chance, le…”

Bergsten lashed out with his staff. A bolt of magical energy shot out, slamming into the goddess. She disappeared in a burst of light.

“Wooo!” He shouted. He danced back to his friends, smiling. “You see that? Did you see that? I got her good, right smack dab in the kisser!”

His friends crowded around him, slapping him on the back. “That spirit is toast!” “Not a chance against you.” “Go Berg!”

“Not nice.”

Bergsten stopped cheering, and looked back. Arlyle stood where she was, seething. Her clothes were singed, and curls of smoke rose from her skull crown.

Nobody.” She snarled. “Touches. The skull crown.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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