Friday, September 4, 2020

Microstory 1445: Four Witches Stand

By the time the Mage Protectorate fell, there were three women who were largely responsible for saving the human race on Durus. Hogarth Pudeyonavic sent the Springfielders through the Deathfall portal in the first place; this much was common knowledge. It wasn’t until later that people learned that, had she not expedited the process with her machine, the portal still would have pulled them through, but it would have chewed them up, rather than swallowing them whole. She was also instrumental in protecting the town following the thankful disappearance of its first leader, Smith. Councilwoman Hardt was a true leader, and continued to protect the people, even after all the terrible things they put her through. Jayde Kovac was a young girl with immense powers, who ended the war with the time monsters, and rescued the entire current population of Durus in 2092 when all of the oxygen disappeared for thirty seconds. Other women were involved in helping make sure humanity survived, including Hilde Unger, but these three were the most famous. Well, not everyone saw it this way. Councilwoman Hardt was a carryover from the old world, she always went against Smith’s decisions, and she didn’t let men push her around. Some didn’t appreciate that. Though the truth about Hogarth’s actions eventually came to light, she would always be associated with the Deathfall, and would always be blamed for it. It didn’t matter what good she did, people could only remember the bad, because that was what certain voices screamed about all the time. Jayde was in the same boat, because winning the war came at a great cost. Experts could try to explain that things would have been much worse for them had they lost that war, but again, it didn’t matter. In The Republic, none of this would matter, because reason didn’t matter, because truth didn’t matter, because women didn’t matter. Kovac, Hardt, and Pudeyonavic were later collectively called The Witches of Durus, and they were destined to be joined by a fourth historical figure. They didn’t know who this fourth woman would turn out to be, but they were told she would one day spell the downfall of the Republic—which was true. They used people’s fear of this in order to justify their decision to forge the Republic in the first place.

The Witches, along with other women, had done—or will do—so much to hurt the world that a small group of men decided they could no longer be trusted with authority, or responsibility. They had to be controlled—nay, managed. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the right to be safe, happy, and free, but they needed to be told what to do, and they weren’t allowed to tell anyone else what to do. Even a mother could not be left alone with a child, for she may instill them with values such as equality, social harmony, or good trouble. Like, literally. If the man needed to leave the house, the children had to go with him, or the mother did, but she could not supervise without being supervised herself at the same time. Some husbands didn’t let their wives out of earshot, even if they didn’t have children, but that kind of thing didn’t happen until later. For now, the new system was just beginning. It started as a vision amongst a very select few, but they whispered their warped ideas to anyone who got too close to them, like a viral load to an unmasked person less than two meters away. It would have stopped here, but the republicans, as they liked to be called, had something major on their side. They were in charge of Watershed, and its dam. They controlled the water, and the moderate amounts of electricity that Aljabara had, and that was enough to give them the influence they needed to pretty much just dictate whatever they wanted. Their ideas would evolve over time, just like it did for any governmental body, but the basic tenets were clear: women can’t be trusted, and...well, I guess that’s mostly it. Under the new laws, you could do anything you wanted, save killing, stealing, being antisocially dishonest, or having a vagina. This was the way things were in The Republic, and they didn’t change for over sixty-five years.

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