Volume 1 — Prologue
While dusk dyed the world red, something was burning.
As if it were a watchfire, the searing blaze spawned a suffocating column of smoke that pierced the heavens.
The smell of burning flesh.
The words of a prayer being read.
The clanging of a church bell.
The cheering of the crowd rang around the square, with the flame that burned away evil in the center.
From the front of the crowd, I watched the burning witch. While I was cheering at the sight of her sobbing and writhing figure…
“The river overflowed from unbelievably heavy rain. The flood killed many people and washed half the fields away. I hear it’s all that witch’s fault.”
The voices spread from the center of the crowd, from one agreeing, “scary, huh…” to a shrill voice yelling “give my family back, you murderer!” A stone flew through the air, just barely striking the squirming witch.
“It really is scary, huh… I’ve heard about witches only in gossip lately, but one was actually this close… where the heck was she hiding…? She kidnapped babies to use as sacrifices, right? I heard there was a mountain of corpses in her hideout.”
“It’s the Knights of the Church who found the witch’s lair, you know. They usually look like they’re just lounging around, but when it really matters, you can definitely depend on the Church for help. Only god can stop the witches’ demons.”
At last, the struggling, writhing, and screaming witch ceased to move, her figure a lone shadow amidst the brilliant flames. Sure serves you right, doesn’t it, witch?
Inwardly celebrating, I smirked.
“Hear me, believers!” the priest who burned the witch and recited the prayer proclaimed.
“Here, we have triumphed over evil! The vile witch who practiced sorcery, summoned
demons, and spread terror and chaos is no more!”
“Hooray!” the crowd exulted.
Cheers of “long live the Church!” rang through the air, as the fire flared with the crowd’s enthusiasm.
It was the year 526.
In this world, witches practiced the well-established art of sorcery…
While the emerging art of magic was still in its infancy. (1)
(1) See Terminology for the definitions of the terms “magic” and “sorcery”. They are also given in chapter two.