On the table the candle flame guttered and died swathing the hovel in darkness. Light was slowly seeping in through the tattered curtain that partially covered the one tiny window. A stale smell of urine filled the air. Curled in a foetal position on the rotting hay mattress he lay shivering under his torn blue travelling cloak. For three days and torturously long nights he had lain there as the witch’s poison coursed through him, its magic ravaging his body. He had writhed in agony as his youthful body once so athletic twisted and contorted in spasms. A fever had followed and now he lay exhausted and spent- just like the burnt out candle. Sleep, restful sleep, finally came.
When he next woke, bright sun was filtering through the curtain casting shadows on the wall. Unaccustomed to his new form, he stumbled as he tried to get out of bed. Slowly, holding onto the meagre pieces of furniture for support, he made his way to the door. A clean breeze of mountain air swept through the room as he opened the door, its unoiled hinges protesting loudly at the sudden movement. After his dark confinement the sunlight hurt his eyes but not as much as he had anticipated. The world outside looked to be layered in a filthy lace curtain. With a sigh he realised the potion had ruined his sight as well as his body.
Beside the door a walking staff stood propped up. Wrapping his twisted aged hand round it, he slowly ventured outside towards the spring. He needed water – both to drink and to wash with. The foul smell of himself was turning his stomach. Every step was agony as he made his way slowly down the narrow twisting dirt path to the pool and the fresh water spring that fed it. Through a hissing fog he could just hear the birds singing in the trees and the occasional rustle in the undergrowth beside the path. Eventually, sweating and breathless from the exertion, he reached the pool and sank to the ground at its edge, longing for a drink of the cold clear mountain water.
As he bent over the glassy surface of the water, the witch’s curse dealt him a final stinging blow. His true reflection stared back at him from the watery mirror. The youthful good looks, strong athletic body and bright blue eyes. His all too familiar self. Tears fell from his now milky blue eyes.
From her room at the top of the keep the witch witnessed the whole scene in her crystal ball. Seeing her spurned lover reduced to a twisted ancient looking imp brought a malicious smile to her lips. As she watched him remove his cloak she realised though that she had made a mistake. The silver Celtic knot brooch with the dragon entwined in the knot had still held his cloak in place. For as long as he remained oblivious to the brooch’s true identity and power she was safe.