Sight Unseen

Shota watched.

The sweet sound of fresh water flowing all around her, she watched.

The waters of her realm were her windows to the world. There was no place, no dream, no land Shota the Witch Woman could not See.

Save one.

She turned, long practice allowing her to move with her scrying dish without spilling a drop. To anyone watching, it would seem she was stepping from thin air into a valley bathed in moonlight.

The stars winked at her, reflected in the water she used to See, the night sky looking back at itself.

She concentrated, drawing on the power of the moon.

But, as always, the water remained an inky black.

Shota the Witch Woman had never seen the kingdom of Rothenberg.

And like a cat denied cream, a panther denied prey, she wanted to.

Badly.

The enchantments stamped into the very foundation stones of the kingdom walls prevented all magic, any magic from breaching the Margrave's domain. For Shota, it was a blind spot, a sucking hole, a gaping maw of nothing.

Sometimes she imagined turrets and towers, a magical, magicless world of wonder.

Other times, she thought it drab, dreary, clinging to the cliffs with brittle roots.

But she did not know.

Would never know.

Would never go there.

She flung the water from her scrying dish, taking pleasure in the slashing slosh of it soaking the ground.

Perhaps the wash women of Rothenberg made the same motion early in the morning, dumping dirty pails of water out windows, over walls.

Perhaps they carried water for cooking, or water for the Margrave's bath. Did they tromp up stone steps or shuffle on wood floors? Were there carpets in the palace? In the peasant houses?

Did they know they were grey, magicless people? Did they dress brightly?

Closing her eyes, Shota made her way blindly to the brook's edge, guided by the sound of the water, her second Sight straining just beneath her skin. She sank to her knees on the thick moss of the embankment, submersing her scrying dish to refill it, the water cool around her wrists.

The nobles would wear rich fabrics and furs, ostentatious jewels. No, the kind of people that would shut magic from their lives would not be able to appreciate the beauty of simplicity. They would be loud and vulgar, and glaring.

Gilded words would drip from their tongues as bile lodged in their throat. Not so different from the nobles of other kingdoms she had Seen.

She had heard rumors of their Law of Right and Good.

The king that would enforce such a law would be small and squinting, a rat of a man. There would be shirking, shrinking woman, and those who flushed red with anger, constantly choking on their own impotent rage.

And there, in that place, Shota would not be Shota the Witch Woman.

She would be merely Shota.

Fabric would itch her skin, dust would coat her dreams, and the water would no longer whisper the world's secrets in her ear.

She would never go to Rothenberg.

She lifted her scrying dish, this time tipping it to gently pour the water within back into the stream.

Some things were best left sight unseen.