Any Witch Way You View It

on December 3, 2011 in Fantasy

“I asked you for some proof of your wisdom and you give me astrology,” the king said. “If you wish to retain your cushy appointment in these increasingly enlightened times, crone, you had best do better.”

“Is there some problem with astrology, sire?” the witch asked.

“The problem is that you are either a fool, or a charlatan who takes me for one,” the king said. “Astrology is a trick of perspective. My own philosophers, learned men all, have explained to me that the stars we see as points of light on a plane are in fact celestial bodies separated by great amount of space, that there is no more relationship between two stars in one of your so-called constellation as any two other random points in the sky.”

“Is this so, sire?”

“It is a fact!” the king said. “Why, my chief philosopher says that if you were to stand at any other point in the cosmos and look skyward, you could gaze upon the same stars and not see a single one of your constellations. The distances from front to back would make them all wrong when viewed from any other angle.”

“This is why I make it a point to make my observations from here,” the witch said.

“Well, you’ll have to find somewhere else,” the king said. “I have decided to give your tower over to the chief philosopher, so that he may better continue his scientific observations of the heavens. I have not yet decided where to put you.”

“I see,” the witch said. “Well, if you will have none of my astrology, my liege, I do have other arts. Augury by observing the flight of birds, for instance. Has that been exploded by philosophy?”

“Not yet,” the king said.

“Then, if your majesty would please indulge me to look out that window for a moment?” the witch said.

“Certainly… good heavens!” the king exclaimed as a vast and shadowy shape like an enormous skull erupted from the distant treetops, visible just outside the windows. It quickly dissolved into a massive flock of cawing birds that swiftly winged away.

“Oh, we’re in luck… that was a big one. Now, then,” the witch said. “Did you mark in what direction the flock departed? The breeze is southerly, but the birds…”

“That was… that was a death’s head,” the king said.

“Points in space, sire,” the witch said. “As I say, the breeze is southerly, which might lead one to…”

“Forget the breeze! Tell me what this grim spectre portends!”

“That? Oh, nothing, clearly,” the witch said. “You see, that was just a trick of perspective. The birds’ positions relative to each other… well, if you had happened to see them from any other angle, they would surely have resembled nothing more than a random mass. As they were.”

“But I saw…”

“Yes, sire, indeed you did,” the witch said. “But consider! A flock that size must have been seen by dozens, scores of people, even people in this very castle. But only from your vantage point at the window would it have been possible to make out the grim spectre of death among the beating wings. It appeared to you and you alone among all who witnessed it. I’m sure your philosophers would be happy to explain how this means it can’t possibly…”

“Hang the philosophers!”

“Well, that’s probably going a bit far,” the witch said. “But if you’re in the mood to discuss their disposition, let us talk about the housing situation.”

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3 Responses to “Any Witch Way You View It”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Awesome! You almost have me convinced…

  2. Have you considered submitting to Escape Artists for their irregular flash fiction anthology casts?

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