“Greetings, folk of the Solar Kingdom. Today we gather for the trial of Misses Titania Brown, a mundane—or so she was sentenced to be!”
As Sola made his little speech, Titania shut her eyes tightly. She had never exactly been one for Divination or Metaphysical Magic, but she had to communicate with the Cosmos, beg the divine to just let her die.
“Yes, she was sentenced to a mundane life,” Sola continued, “as she was not deemed royal by the Cosmos, nor was she deemed noble. She is a giantess after all…”
At this, the Solar folk jeered:
“A tainted folkian breed, indeed! Just filthy!”
“The giant race is too stupid to work with the Craft!”
A rotten tomato forced Titania’s eyes open. The Solar folk kept the tomatoes coming.
She found herself weeping, even though weeping would do her no good. Oh, why do the capital folk assume me stupid? For, I did once win the love of a dwarf, after all—the most clever of all the folkian races.
The crowd had grown very unruly in their disgust. Titania noticed that Sola, though he did hide it well from his folk, was annoyed.
“Sir William Castaway!” Sola could be heard calling through the noise of the crowd, “If you will!”
A dark-haired ‘mage’ made his way to the front of the crowd. Titania knew him all too well. She glared at him; it was so challenging not to say something, not to call him out for what he had done.
Sir William Castaway—Titania had known him simply as ‘Bill’ before—held his arms up high in the air and shouted, “SILENCE! The divine demands order in court!”
The crowd stopped their racket at once.
Sola continued, “My thanks, Sir Castaway. Now, it’s as I was saying: today we gather for the trial of Misses Titania Brown, a peasant and a giant who was found practising magic, despite the prophecy I received from the Cosmos. Indeed, she had been sentenced to a mundane life, and yet she acted against the will of the divine. Now, if this is true, then this act of treason, demonstrating a clear lack of faith, is deserving of a fate worse than death.
“But, as always, I am a fair king and emperor, and I believe in a proper trial. So, Misses Titania Brown, do you deny the allegations made against you? Or do you admit to your sins?”
Titania didn’t know what she should say. The wisest thing she could do was die, of course. Still, part of her wanted to make her true allegiance known. Part of her wanted to call out Bill for his disloyalty to the real prophecy, to what the divine really had to say about the fate of their world.
“Yer grace,” the giantess began, playing along with the monarchal tongue, “why are ya putting me on trial? When, instead, Sir William Castaway should be the one questioned, for he is the one who has truly gone against the will of the divine.”
Bill looked as though he was going to murder Titania, himself.
But instead, the ‘mage’ turned to his king and emperor, “Yer highness, I think it best to get on with the trial. This giant—who has already made such blasphemous claims about me, one of yer most faithful and loyal servants—she is clearly just going to plead innocent—when she was the one going against the will of the Cosmos, what with her illegal practice of magic.”
“Shut up, ya great git!” Titania bellowed. It would do her no good here, but at times the giantess found she did have the same temper as her eldest brother.
The folk of the Solar Kingdom looked appalled.
Bill’s eyes widened, as though deeply offended; “How dare ya insult me so, ya ruddy giant! I am a member of the Solar Allegiance!”
“Right. And for how long have ya been a member of the Solar Allegiance? A Moon? A fortnight? Yer only there because ya betrayed those who walk the Path of the Moon, those who listen to the true words of the Cosmos.”
Bill was trying to make himself look as disgusted as possible; “Filthy giant! It is those who walk the Path of the Sun who listen to the true words of the Cosmos!”
Titania decided, if she was going to die, it would not be without a fight:
“It’s funny—ya didn’t think that until a fortnight ago.”
“I have seen the light,” Bill lied, “and the divine has rewarded me greatly for it.”
“Ya didn’t ‘see the light’! Ya betrayed the Cosmos, and perhaps more importantly, ya betrayed yer family! Ya betrayed yer wife! And ya left yer son to fend for his rebel warlock self, all alone in this corrupt world!”
“How dare ya say such a thing! Filthy creature! Dirty rebel witch! Low-life peasant!”
As Bill broke out in disgust, so did Sola, and the other members of the court. The crowd followed in suit.
Bill had to silence them again: “ENOUGH! I’ve had enough of this nonsense! I will no longer stand here and be offended by this… this… monster!”
“Bill, we shared meals together!” Titania pleaded. “We lived in the cottage together for three suns!”
But Bill wasn’t listening; “Do ya, Misses Titania Brown, a piece of low-life rebel scum, admit to practising magic against the will of the divine?”
Sola was looking rather impressed with his new servant; a small but satisfied smile crept up his terrible face.
“I admit to practising magic,” Titania started, “but not against the will of the divine. Rather, in alignment with the will of the divine—the true prophecy—the Lunar Prophecy.”
At this notion, the capital folk were utterly disgusted:
“Oh, how could she say such a thing?”
“The moon is no goddess; she is but a magical tool!”
“The giant has been corrupted by the curses of the Underworld!”
“The crone and her batty ways must have gotten to her!”
“I say we burn this piece of rebel scum!”
“Burn the witch!”
With this notion, the crowd began chanting, “Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”
Titania was shaking with fear.
The chants grew louder; “BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!”
Both Bill and Sola were looking very impressed.
“Sir William Castaway,” Sola began, the crowd still raging, “will you do the honours?”
For a moment, there was hesitance in Bill’s eyes.
“Don’t do it, Bill!” Titania begged. “For if ya do, ya will have truly betrayed yer own! Not just the cause ya once fought for, but yer family as well!”
Bill was still clearly hesitating, for even though Sola was gesturing towards the torches, he had not yet moved. His sea-green eyes fixed themselves on Titania.
“Please, Bill! What would Helena think? And yer son! What example are ya setting for the little warlock by—”
“Enough!” Bill snapped. The once-rebel-warlock was now picking up one of the lit torches and walking towards the giant.
Upon reaching her, bound to the rood—a cross that bore the sun with the face of a man, his new god—Bill, or rather ‘Sir William Castaway’ pulled a flask out of his pocket.
“I reckon I’ll be able to get more of this, eh, yer grace?” he checked with Sola. “This stuff wasn’t easy to attain—we were living like monks over there.”
Sola chuckled; “Do as I say, Sir Castaway, and you shall live a good life, with all the finest rewards.”
And Bill dowsed Titania in alcohol.
The crowd was again chanting, “BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!”
Titania was desperate; “Bill, please! You are about to commit the unforgivable! Zelena will never take you back! Not after this!”
Bill was getting really close to her face now.
Titania noticed how he did not look anything like the man she had once shared a cottage with. He was, somehow, different. Something about his eyes.
“Why would I need to go back into hiding with that lunatic of a woman when Emperor Sola offers me all this here in the capital?”
“Because its right! Bill, ya know its right!”
Bill shook his head, and his voice dropped to a whisper. Titania could still hear him over the crowd. “Ya will soon learn, Titania, in this world, it’s not about what’s ‘right’; it’s about what’s smart. To keep on living as an illegal rebel warlock? It may be ‘right’, but it is certainly not smart. It’s smart to serve the empire. It’s smart to walk the Path of the Sun.”
Titania couldn’t believe what she was hearing; “But Bill—the Cosmos! Ya will be in so much trouble with the divine—and the divine is the true ruler, more powerful than any emperor.”
At this, Bill looked up at the sky. Was he reconsidering? But the warlock merely muttered the words, “May the Cosmos forgive me!”
And he took one last look at the giant and held the torch out towards her rum-dowsed clothing.
Titania knew it was best to just die. She knew what awaited her in the dungeons at Suicide Island was worse, much worse. She tried to resist letting any magic leak out of her. Could she save herself from being burnt to death? Probably. But it would all be in vain when her mind was destroyed in the dungeons.
As her mortal skin and flesh caught fire, she cried out in pain, praying the Cosmos would take her quickly and easily.
The crowd was only growing more excited by watching the giant burn; “BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!”
Her flesh was burning—boiling—melting away. So badly did she want to use magic—to make it stop.
Don’t do it, she told herself, just let yerself die.
“BURN THE WITCH! BURN THE WITCH!”
She howled in agony; I really am going to die, aren’t I?
But just as she realized this, just as her mortality was becoming fully apparent, it kicked in:
Titania could not stop it, nor could she believe it. She was sounding quite a bit like her lost love in thinking this, but she felt the divine flow through her. The Cosmos’ energy, it could not be stopped; it rolled through and out of her body, taking the fire along with it.
The flames that had once been burning her to ash erupted from every part of her and hit the folk in the crowd. In a mere moment, the folk standing at the front of the crowd went from chanting, “BURN THE WITCH!” to crying out in pain, themselves, for now they were the ones on fire.
This included Bill, howling in agony, as he dropped to the ground and began rolling around, attempting to put out the fire. Try as he might, he could not put out the flames; he continued to burn.
Titania was only left covered in nasty-looking scars, but otherwise, her body had remained in tact. The chains that once bound her to the rood had vanished. She was now—she could not believe it—free!
Except she wasn’t free. Even though it seemed as though she had won, she had, in fact, lost. Oh, if she had just let herself burn to death, then she would have won the trial.
Sola was clearly very appalled by his citizens burning—all because of a rebel witch giantess, too! Quickly, he held his staff high in the air and waved it around. He only had to do this thrice before a great rainstorm appeared out of nowhere, putting those who Titania had set on fire, out.
And this rain was no normal rain; for it did not rain in the Solar Kingdom. Any of the burns from which the Solar folk would have suffered were instantly healed by the magic water. Titania’s scars, however, remained perfectly in tact.
“She is a witch then,” Sola concluded. “Misses Titania Brown is found guilty, as she was found using magic to, not only escape the trial, but to attack the Solar citizens.”
“Yer grace!” Titania gasped, “I didn’t mean to! It just sort of happened!”
“Nothing ever ‘just sort of happens’,” Sola argued. “There is always underlying meaning and correspondence—especially when it comes to the Craft. And besides, you should not have had these powers of sorcery in the first place. You should have shown up for the draining ceremony.”
There was nothing Titania could do, really. To attempt to use her powers to fight Sola then flee the capital—this would be useless; for Sola not only had the powers comparable to that of a god, now that so many of the folk of New-Camelot had drained their magic; but he also had the Solar Allegiance to fight for him. Even though Titania was a giant and a witch, she was powerless here.
“Sir William Castaway, will you bind Titania and take her to the dungeons?” Sola asked, although it was really just an order. “From there, you can read the rebel’s mind and design a map fit to scar her.”
“Yah, o’ course, yer grace,” Bill obliged, looking all too happy to do just that.
Before Bill had the chance to put Titania in another bind, the giant felt herself—she could not believe it—shrink. Smaller and smaller she turned, until she was just the size of a large pure-bred folkian.
At first she thought Sola had cast some kind of evil spell on her, but then she remembered what Zelena had said: “We must remain faithful to the Cosmos. If we lose our hope, we will lose our magic entirely, and anything else that makes us special.”
And Titania had lost her faith; for it felt as though the Cosmos had punished her, by forcing its energy to flow through her, when she had only needed to pretend she was a mundane and die! Now she had lost her giantess stature, as well.
Bill pointed his new golden wand at Titania and—“Vinctum!”—Titania was, once again, bound. And the man who had once been a member of her coven escorted her into the Solar Castle and down into the dungeons, where she would await her fate worse than death.
Author’s note: The Trial of Titania Brown takes place in the setting of my high-fantasy story. It was written with the intention of giving you a peek into my world, New-Camelot. If you want to explore New-Camelot further, for a small donation, you can start reading an early-bird version of my manuscript today.