Chapter 15 – The Warlock

After several investigations without finding any clue as to the hiding place and intentions of the Witches of the Night, I decided to reread all entries about witches in the journal that introduced me to this world parallel to ours. I finally decided to investigate one that had me curious for a long while.

It spoke of a witch doctor and diviner that attended to his clients in an annex close to his home, in the village of Perre, in Viana do Castelo. It was a story that I knew since I was a child. In fact, for a few years, I passed by his “cabinet” every day on the way to school and saw the rows of cars parked next to it. At the time, neither my family nor I had a lot of faith in his abilities, but after all that I had recently seen and read, I thought I should reconsider.

One weekend, I told my wife I was going to Viana do Castelo to visit my grandparents. Actually, I did go by their house but didn’t stay long, and after, I headed to Perre.

When I reached the warlock’s house, I had a strong sense of déjà vu. The annex, across the road from his home, looked the same, as did the adjacent field. Even the rows of cars on both sides of the road were as I remembered.

I parked behind one of them and headed to the annex. There, people gathered in groups of families and friends, waiting for their turn. These seemed to have varied backgrounds since suits mingled with overalls and farming clothes. The warlock’s fame reached everybody.

I joined them and waited. Gradually, the groups went in and left. Everybody, without exception, emerged from the annex much happier than they had entered.

Finally, it was my turn. On the outside, the building looked like a small shed for agricultural tools. Nevertheless, when I went in, I felt like I had traveled back in time to the study of some Renaissance mystic.

One wall was covered by a shelf full of books, all of them looking very old. On the opposite wall, shelves contained bottles of potions with a huge variety of colors. The others, meanwhile, were almost entirely covered by tapestries with strange and mystical representations of the human body. Esoteric carpets, a brass telescope, and a mechanical planetary completed the decor.

Behind a desk littered with books and strange instruments I didn’t recognize, sat the warlock. Going with the rest of the room, he was dressed in long robes and had a metal tiara.

“You may sit down,” he said.

I sat in a chair across from him.

“Tell me, then, what brings you here?”

I confess I had forgotten to create a story to test the warlock. Then I remembered that that could be the story.

“I came here to test your capabilities, for my paranormal blog.” It wasn’t really a lie.

“If you pay, like everyone else, test me as you will. Where do you want to begin?”

We started with the basics. Without delay, he told me my wife and daughter’s name and birthday. Then he made a short summary of my professional life. Finally, he predicted my daughter’s academic achievements, but I would only be able to confirm them years later.

“Now I’d like to see your healing skills.” With a small knife I had with me, I made a small cut on my arm.

“That scratch isn’t really a challenge,” he said, stepping out from behind his desk and approaching.

Asking for permission, he put a hand on my wound. Then he closed his eyes and remained silent for a few seconds. When he let go, the wound had disappeared without a trace.

It was obvious that the man was what he claimed to be: a wizard. Perhaps he knew something about the Witches of the Night or perhaps he might even be one of its members.

“I hope you write good things about me… on your blog.”

He stared at me with a frightened look for a moment. Then anger came over his face, and he shouted, “Get out of here! Now!”

His tone left no room for argument and so I left, wondering what had happened.
Had his powers allowed him to see the nature of the blog I wrote at the time? (The most curious can find it in (Portuguese only))

Of course, I left the annex but didn’t abandon the investigation. I was determined to find out if the warlock could give me some clue about the Witches of the Night.

I hid the car in a nearby dirt road and waited for nightfall. Then I hid in a shadow and waited for the warlock to leave his study and go back home. With the number of customers he had that day, this only occurred around eleven at night.

Once he closed the house gate behind him, I ran to the annex. Using some tools I had brought and a few things I learned from the Braga urban exploration group, I opened the lock. As soon as I entered, I shut the door behind me, turned on the lights and started looking for evidence of a relationship between this warlock and the Witches of the Night.

I looked in the shelves, the desk drawers and behind the tapestries. I even tried to find any secret compartment. However, I soon realized that there was nothing there. The books were just for show, completely unrelated to the warlock practices. And there was nothing hidden, either.

Determined to get to the bottom of all that, I went to the rear of the warlock’s house and, taking care that there was no one around, I jumped the wall into the yard.

At first glance, the only light came from a window on the top floor. I started circling the house looking for a way to see into the interior. However, while searching, I noticed a faint orange light shining behind one of the basement windows.

I approached carefully and peeked inside. I found an almost empty room, except for a circle full of mystical symbols similar to those found in occult books and a wooden tripod on which rested a distinctly old book. Behind it, the warlock, now wearing ordinary clothes instead of the garments he wore earlier, seemed to recite what he read, although from the outside I couldn’t hear him. The basement must have been soundproof.

For about fifteen minutes I stood there, watching the man flipping through and read the book.

Suddenly smoke appeared in the center of the circle drawn on the floor. Gradually it grew, taking shape and gaining consistency until a bizarre creature appeared before my eyes. It had a humanoid form, with long black hair, while a row of horns lined up in the middle of its head and long, pointed ears rose from its mane. It goes without saying that its skin was bright red. In one hand, it carried a crow, and it was mounted on a crocodile.

The demon and the warlock spoke for a few minutes, but once again, I couldn’t hear a thing. Eventually, the creature began to draw mystical symbols in the air, toward the man. When it finished, it redissolved into a cloud of black smoke, which disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared.

It should be the ritual that gave the warlock its powers, or at least part of them.

The man closed his book and prepared to leave the basement. But I wanted to talk to him, so I decided to draw his attention and show him I knew his secret by hitting the glass.

He looked at me with a mixture of surprise and terror, but his expression quickly changed to one of resignation when he realized that there was nothing he could do. Through gestures, I told him I wanted to speak with him, and he asked me to wait.

Less than five minutes later, the front door opened and the warlock came out.

“Okay, you know my secret,” he said. “What are you going to do about it?”

“You are one of the Witches of the Night? Or know anything about them?”

The man looked at me genuinely confused.

“Can’t you see I’m a man?” he protested at last.

So I decided to tell him everything I had discovered about the Witches of the Night.

“I don’t know anything about it. I just learned to summon certain demons and bind them to give the powers I need, nothing more. I don’t even harm anyone. I just help people. And I don’t know anything about those fairies and other strange creatures you spoke of.”

The fear in his eyes told me he was telling the truth. Moreover, despite its relationship with demons, he really seemed to be helping people, even if he was making money from it.

I told him I was going to leave him alone, but that I would keep an eye on him. He thanked me and let me out of the yard through the main gate.

Once again, I returned home without unveiling anything more about the Witches of the Night. My only consolation was that I had found out that the reputation of the warlock I heard about since I was a kid was justified.

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