Unnamed Traveler

-..three ladies voices so fine,

The hills were red with twilight, and in the woods beyond town the crimson-etched oak leaves vibrated with an eerie descanting song. Three voices were raised, songs with words beyond our ken rising to the heavens and falling into glens already shadowed by night.

tempers on em each one and all,

The traveler was lost and not from these parts, and heard the song but was not so clever as to take it for the beautiful markings on the poisonous butterfly. He knocked upon the door of the cottage, under the fading light beneath the eaves. The door opened and he was invited inside, polite as you please, as the song fell silent. The women were beautiful, though he could not place their age, and their gazes were brown and level and wise and filled with an emotion he could not name.

so ware your mouth drinking with them watch your cup drinking with them take your grace with them

They sat him down by the fire, and busied themselves with cauldron and kettle. Their murmurs were once more in a language he knew not, but their hospitality was unescapable.

“Thank you,” he said, and, “It’s very nice to meet you,” he said, but they did not reply in tongues he understood, and, “What sort of stupid people can’t understand plain English,” he said, and the three women smiled at him and pushed him back down into his chair. They were not strong, those pressing hands, but they pushed him down despite that, and into the woven chair he fell. They offered him a goblet, red and steaming, drawn from the cauldron over the fire and the hot water from the kettle.

Three witches; all both cruel and kind, drinking cups filled with tea, rosemary…and darrrk..red wiiine…-

The sun set. The song began again.