Quail flushed from their nest don’t look where they’re flying. The gunmen could care less about their path through the field, about what was underfoot. Pushed doggedly forward, Yuli had them curving to the left before straightening them out again. Sending them crashing right through the threshold of a fairy ring. It was a near-perfect circle of spongy, white mushrooms.
They froze in place the second their waterlogged boots squished into the dirt within.
Julia’s breathing was heavy–as though she were the one being chased–but it didn’t stop her from whistling as Yuli stalked over. They copied her whistle perfectly. Both of the gunmen stared with pinprick pupils. Since they were unable to speak, she answered for them: “You ran right into one of my binding hoops.”
The only movement from the gunmen came from pounding hearts and churning guts. With two humans encircled, the witch could only be performing a Consumption. She’d run them right into one of the most gruesome deaths a person could experience. They knew it all the way down to their souls.
The light came from the mushrooms first. It spun around the fairy ring, orbiting the ritual’s unwilling participants like circling sharks before crawling down their throats and through the gaps under their eyelids. Then it exploded. It swallowed the field in a blaze. The Consumption raged, spewing hot white murder; white transformation, white union.
It didn’t take long for the Consumption to run its course and for the glow to die down. Its fading buzz mixed with and then became drowned out by a wail.
The woman with the pheasant aspect was crying. Both of them were on the ground, mummified in swaths of grass. But very much alive. When the other had stopped his ragged panting, he began to struggle against the vegetation but it was useless. He shot Julia a dirty look.
Julia’s laugh was joined by a foxish snicker as Yuli deftly pulled their firearms from the tangle. “What’d you think I was gonna do? That Consumption wasn’t between you, it was between the grass and all the algae on your clothes! C’mon,” she patted Yuli’s head, “let’s go find the rest.”
I don't deserve it (yet) but I went ahead and bought Stardew Valley as a treat. Putting in WorkTM in the mines because I want Krobus to be my roommate lmao