The Sorceress’s Monkey

She rode on a golden palanquin, an albino monkey crouched upon her shoulder.
Four men carried the palanquin. Easily, they held it over their heads, out of the way of the multitude.
The multitude gave way. “The sorceress,” they whispered. It was an anxious whisper. She was evil, but no one could kill her. They knew she took people, but no one ever saw her snatch them. The ones who vanished had no families to report them missing; just abandoned wares swept up with the garbage the next day.
The monkey scanned the crowd, lips pulled back from sharp teeth. “I see,” he chattered.
“So do I. The girl with the black shawl?”
“Yes! I saw her first!”
“Perhaps.” The sorceress moved her hands and spoke soft words into the air. The palanquin didn’t stop, but a farmer nearby raised his head, his attention suddenly fixed on the young woman. He went to her stand.
“Can I help you sir?” The woman’s eyes were sad. She wore a mourning cloak.
“I’d like a scarf for my daughter,” said the man. He spoke slowly, the words coming from far away.
“Your daughter.” Her voice was a sigh. “Choose. All I have is here.”
He picked a green scarf and pressed a coin into her hand. As he did, her eyes grew dim. “Follow me,” he said.
“Yes.” The girl’s mouth moved, and her feet, but she slept even as she followed the man out the marketplace along the dusty road leading to the sorceress’s palace.
“They come!” chattered the monkey.
“Hush! Welcome,” said the sorceress, as the girl crossed the threshold.
The girl saw the monkey, and she woke, screaming. She reached for her dagger and flung it at the monkey. The monkey died, writhing in its own blood. The sorceress uttered a cry, then sank to the floor, dead.
“Why did you kill the monkey?” the man asked, when the spell left him and he could speak.
“One bit my daughter last year, and she died of it.”
Behind them, the palace turned to ashes and blew away.

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