-A Frau Totty Knochenspiel Story – (2078 words)
For the witches of Fenwick the black chicken or goat or rabbit or any animal black in color was considered of great luck. This stemmed from the ancient knowledge that the cat of black coloring was always of great luck. Such associations always bleed into areas close to the source. Those that feared the ways of the witch believed that because of the favor given by the witches to animals black in color that they must be evil.
So they began to counter that black animals were bad luck and white ones were good. Was any of this true or based on fact? Well the answer to that question I will leave up to you.
Now a witch could be classified as anyone who practiced the old ways – a healer who from hereditary knowledge knew the benefits of local plants and understood practical applications,. A farmer who planted by the light of the moon – one who followed the earthly logic that in the waxing moon you planted over crops and the waning moon you planted under and never on the new moon. A herdsman who benefited from the knowledge of when to move his herds or which ones to breed for the best stock.
Just about anyone who conducted their day to day affairs with the mind of how things have been done and worked but without the explanation as to why it worked. In other words they could not explain or prove their reasoning in anyway except it was nature’s magic. Still many others who paid no heed to this common sense way that nature works considered those that did to be of the witchy kind
Well most people over the centuries, whether they believed or not, made good use of the knowledge of the witches. So for many this knowledge was and still is an integral part of their day to day lives.
Nora was a Fenwick witch, who found her calling with animals. Her success was based partly on what her parents and grandparents passed down and common sense. That if you treat something well and with respect it will grow and thrive. No matter what color or species of animal or human.
Nora bred chickens and ducks for sale alive as well as for eggs and meat. All animals had their own magic and most was based on traits and characteristics common to the animal. When she slaughtered an animal for meat, very little went to waste. The feet would be used for flavoring soup the feathers for making fans or decorations. Black chickens sold for more as they were often sacrificed
Nora believed in the basic goodness of animals, at least the non-predatory animals. Chickens and ducks had their own pecking order but this particular time, one batch of chickens had one that was a bad seed.
As mentioned earlier most people who feared those who lived nature’s way or as witches do, felt the familiars of witches came in black. Black cats, black goats, black roosters. Black was the color to fear. This is just not always the case. Familiars came in all shapes and colors, just as evil does.
This particular batch of hatched chickens arrived with two black ones one white, one cream and three red. They were a fine brood of chicks and Nora was happy with their beginnings. It did not take long for the difference to begin to surface.
A chicken is of slaughtering age between four and six months so they grow relatively fast. This bad seed grew phenomenally fast. She noticed something different was going on when they were just a month old. By two months of age, the white rooster was big enough to mix in with the adults and did. Usually, adult chickens will tolerate the chicks training them about where they stood in the pecking order until they were big enough to take on their own battles.
This large white rooster soon surpassed the adults in size and strength. It seem to take its pecking by the other chickens personally and remembered who did what. Nora spent enough time with her animals to become familiar with most of them. Isn’t that what being a familiar is? So Nora had many familiars although most folks didn’t understand that idea.
This particular rooster became obsessed with Nora and if any chickens attempted to grab too much time with her, it would disappear before the next day. The other chickens began to fear it and when Nora came out to sit and read in the garden the chickens stayed well away. All that is, except the big white one.
One afternoon when the sun was bright and warm, the oldest of her cats brought her a mouse. Nora made a fuss about what a good kitty the old girl was and invited her onto her lap for some petting and praises. Isn’t that what a good farm cat’s job is – mousing?
The white rooster kept its distance from the cat but never took its eyes away from it on Nora’s lap as she sat and read. Nora just thought it was being weary of the cat as most of the chickens were. Few would come near to the cats.
Two days later Nora came out to read when she looked over to her favorite spot, the chickens were huddled around something. One thing everyone should know about chickens is they are omnivores and opportunists. If food presents itself, their nature is to make the best of it, no matter what form it takes. Even if it is one of their own.
When she reached the little bench seat and table she saw what was attracting them. It was her old mousing cat. She lay dead on the stones next to her chair. It was torn open and the chickens were doing what chickens do best eating at it.
Nora cried out and the chickens scattered. Tears rolled from her eyes as she bent down to pet her now dead eyeless cat. The white rooster hovered a few yards away, alone. The rest of the chickens having moved off to find other things to eat. She went into the house to find something to wrap her beloved cat in.
When she returned the white rooster was standing guard over the old cat. He really was big and was beginning to surpass even her full grown roosters. He had been scaring the other chickens away who were coming back for more to eat when Nora had disappeared into the house. He stepped away slow as Nora approached. She watched him for a moment. He really was as big as or bigger than even her biggest roosters.
She wrapped her old mouser in a small table cloth, one that had seen better days, and held her in her lap for a few minutes. Nora had other cats about the farm but none as old and as favored as this one.
“Oh my sweet wonderful cat who will bring me little mice from the shed now.” She whispered, tears rolling down her cheek. Nora suspected a fox had done this horrible thing. She knew it was the way of the wild and of nature but it still hurt her heart. The white rooster approached Nora and settled down at her feet. Being the kind hearted animal lover, she only believed he was trying to comfort her. She leaned down and stroked the rooster’s neck and thanked him for keeping the other chickens away.
Nora carried her cat down to the bottom of the garden and dug a deep hole. She laid her gently in the hole, laid some nice sized garden stones over the top of it and filled the hole. On top she placed the largest stone she could find. Then the rest of the afternoon she spent carving a small mouse onto the end of the stick and pushed it into the ground next to the large stone.
The white rooster began to take up residence next to Nora’s chair whenever she sat out in the garden. Sometimes when Nora came out she would find a mouse or a rat near her chair and the large white rooster hovering over the top of it.
The first time Nora didn’t pay much attention to the gift. She knew the rooster had brought it and thought it slightly odd but gave him praise for a job well done. But by the third time she wondered in the goodness of her heart if the rooster had understood her when she had told her old cat who would bring her mice now. She felt she was blessed.
The white beast, for beast size is how big he was, took to shadowing Nora as she did her chores. Nora felt this was a lovely novel gesture by the white rooster, praising him when he came near. She hadn’t noticed how the other chickens feared the white rooster. She didn’t really take much notice when the goats showed trepidation when the rooster entered their large pen.
Nora was not blind except by her heart and thought something might be a miss with the big white rooster but only in the gentlest way. It was not until one fateful day when word had reached her of an attack on a young man from the village that she felt suspicious.
Now this young man had a reputation of being a little heathen. He had not just a few days previous to his attack been responsible for trying to herd Nora’s goats out of their pen through a break he had made in the fence. Nora had heard the commotion because goats are anything but quiet, when you need them to be, and ran out to see the young man laughing and running into the woods.
When she heard the news, at first she thought well it could not have happened to a lovelier young man. The next day when she went into the village to sell her eggs she heard in more detail that the boy claimed it to be a huge white bird. It had swooped down on him. The bird had blinded him in his right eye and would have done more damage but from the saving grace of the family dog. Or so the story went. The dog saving the day was only an assumption of the village for they had yet to find the dog who must have run off to lick its wounds.
The boy was screaming and babbling when he stumbled into the house of his parents bleeding from his eye, the back of his head and his arm. He swore the bird was the size of a cow with wings stretched wider than the height of two men. Its claws gleamed like polished silver and its eyes were the color or the shepherd’s morning sun.
Nora knew that the ranting of a young man injured and afraid would be exaggerated but she couldn’t imagine any bird that fit that description even in a smaller size. Eagles had been known to try to carry off children. Small children and babies but she had never heard of an all-white eagle and definitely not one that size.
Most of the village when they retold the story rolled their eyes or snickered when describing the size of the monster. Most chalked his grievous injury to his being up to no good as always. His parents were demanding that the beast be found and brought to justice by slaying it. Things soon quieted down and the boy remained safely hidden behind closed doors refusing to come out. All to the relief of the villagers and surrounding farmers who had suffered the mischief of the young man for so long.
Nora wondered for just a moment as she looked at her large white rooster. She remembered telling her now well established companion – the large white rooster – that that particular young man needed a good dose of his own medicine. No, she thought, it was all just a coincident, there is no way even a large rooster could cause that much damage.
It wasn’t until they found the boy’s family dog that people started showing a little apprehension. The dog was dead and badly injured. He had great slashes about his body. It had taken a week to find the dog and it was only by accident that it was found