A Nanny Fairy Tale

Chapter 3: Who likes witches?

Sir Niles went back to the campfire, where Fran was awake and waiting for him.

'What happened? I heard voices and I don't suppose you were speaking to yourself. Or talking to God… Are you one on these knights who think angels keep coming and passing messages to the chosen ones? We had a guy like this in my village, once. I was very little and don't remember him very well, but I do remember he was not used to wash himself…'

Niles seated and extended his arms to warm his hands to the fire, while listening to her. His hands were trembling violently, both noticed, and Fran stopped talking, her eyes travelling from his hands to his face.

'I've found what I've been looking for', were his quiet words. His glance was lost in the flames. 'I discovered it may cost me more than I ever thought'.

Her voice had a quiet tone, now, too. 'That's what some wishes do to you. You pursue them, and when you get where they take you, you're so far from where you began you feel afraid'. She smiled at him, 'Even big and brave and strong knights who wash themselves regularly'.

He smiled faintly. 'My qualities mean nothing with no purpose. I wished a purpose. It came. I'm afraid to accept it. I'm afraid to reject it, too'.

And that witch won't let me any other options, he added to himself.

'Don't be sorry, yet'. Maybe it will turn out just fine'.

The knight doubted it. No good would come from a woman who behave like the one he had found moments ago.

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Sir Niles didn't sleep all night, and was ready very early to take this herb collector to the Castle. His idea that she would make a good impression on King Maxwell was reinforced in importance once he had a witch to discuss with the King. Witches were herb collectors, too, and he hoped he could mess the borders between them in the head of the King, what would guarantee a good reception once the blond arrived.

He was sure she would go soon to the Castle, as she had told him.

What meant he trusted her.

Oh, boy…

Niles was expecting to find the blond witch waiting for them on the edge of the forest; this way he would be sure she was truthful when she promised him to come again.

But she wasn't there.

Fran noticed the longing glance he threw around when they exited the forest and waited until he finished taking his horse from a nearby barn. He offered the horse to her, but she refused, preferring to walk besides him.

'Your purpose was supposed to meet us there?', she decided to be direct about it.

'I don't know. She is quite mysterious', he answered with no hesitation.

'Oy', she said and stopped walking, her hand over her heart.

'What was that?', he stopped too.

'Is she a witch?', she resumed walking.

He couldn't walk or talk for some moments, and then resumed walking and cleared his throat to speak. 'Probably. What do you know about them?'

'They are snobbish, that is what I know. They do exactly what my people do – convey some words with some herbs and cure people. But they give so much ritual and importance to it they made it seem something spiritual. It makes people mix things and fear any one that seem involved in it'.

'I see'. They were side by side, now, and he didn't look at her. He was feeling guilty, because this mix of things was exactly what he was intending to do when he introduced her to the King.

'I don't really dislike them, but their methods make people look funny at me and my family…'

'The King doesn't trust them himself', the urge to be sincere with her was strong.

'I've heard of it. That tragedy with his wife is very well-known'.

'It's good you know about it. It's a very tough subject'.

'I'm good with this kind of thing, don't worry. I'll be good to our King'.

He smiled. 'That's what I believe'.

'And I can be good to you, too'.

He looked at her with a deep frown.

'If you need any help dealing with your… purpose'. She put a hand on his arm. 'I'm sure she will come to you, again. And I know you wish it, even if you're not sure it is a good thing. That's what they do to people'.

Niles gave her a thankful smile, she smiled back and both were happy, because they had an understanding: they were already friends.

Obviously, when they crossed the village to reach the Castle, people commented the surprising news that Sir Niles, the Clever, was finally taking a woman with him.

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Sir Niles entered the main room of the Castle and looked respectfully at the King. 'I bring a visitor for you, Sir', he knelt down briefly.

'You mean a prisoner'.

'I always mean what I say, your Majesty'.

'But you went to the forest expecting to find two out-laws. What happened?'

More than you'll ever know. 'One of them, the elusive one, was able to escape. However, I was able to communicate with it, and made it clear I wanted to negotiate peacefully'.

'Communicate? What do you mean by that?'

'Don't worry, Majesty, it was not a common conversation, but…'

'I don't like magic, Niles'. The King interrupted, looking at him sternly.

'There were days when you liked it'.

King Maxwell was pale in a moment, and went to sit on his throne. 'They're past and over. I had my share of magic in life, Niles. It brought me happiness and a routine with beings that don't appreciate good feelings. We had this Court full of Fairies and Magicians and Witches. What did it bring me? Tragedy and disgrace. Those people are evil!

Niles waited for the wave of emotion calm down a little, and got closer to the King. 'Maybe it is time to think some things over…'

'You know I don't like witches, Niles. One of them killed my wife!'

'We don't know this for sure'.

'I know enough!'

Niles realized his words were not enough to make the King see things like he wanted. It was necessary some action. 'Well, abut the visitor… She is a herb collector'.

'Another witch?! Niles, what the hell…'

'You'll judge by yourself. Sir'. And with that Niles went to big door of the room and called Fran.

King Maxwell got up and walked to her, already fascinated. 'Who are you?'

'Haven't you told him yet?', Fran turned to Niles, and back to the King. 'I'm Fran Fine, a fine herb collector!', she said and let out a nasal laugh that made the King flinch and smile at the same time. 'And you must be our gorgeous King Maxwell…', she resumed with a swing of her hips.

Niles observed attentively until the King took her hand and kissed it, asking for details about her life.

They hit it on the spot, as he had guessed.

Noticing he was not required anymore, Niles excused himself and got out of the room.

He was never wrong. He was the Clever. He had seen how Fran was the right choice to interest the King in a woman, again, and in a sweet and decent woman.

Was it be possible he could be wrong in this case of the blond witch?