Release that Witch Chapter 369
Steam billowed out of the bathroom's bathtub.
Wendy lathered the soap and rubbed it everywhere on the little girl's body: behind the ears, under the arms, not even sparing the area between her fingertips. Upon seeing the layers of dirt intermixed with foam slide into the bathtub, revealing the tender skin underneath, Wendy felt an unprecedented amount of satisfaction.
It had been quite some time since Wendy experienced this feeling. Back in the days when the Witch Cooperation Association was still fleeing for its life, every close call or scare and every newly awakened witch that had given up all hope was made well again under her care, recovering a state of peaceful normalcy. Leaf, Lily, even Nightingale all found their hope with her help.
Yet, ever since they had come to Border Town, the witches' lives had undergone a 180 degree change. No one had to worry anymore about any life necessities, as everything was now provided for them—of course, she had no problem with this, and was incredibly grateful for everything Roland had done for the sisters. It was merely the fact that there were no longer any witches that needed her care—even Mystery Moon had become open and carefree that led Wendy to feel a little frustrated.
Now, she finally once again had the opportunity to feel the joy of being a big sister.
"Close your eyes. I'm turning the water on."
"Okay," the little girl's voice quietly slid out, soft and graceful like a droplet of morning dew.
It must be said, His Highness' decision to give her a bath was truly genius.
The water ran past the girl's bangs and trickled down her back, taking with it the now ashy brown foam. Only after rinsing her body three times did the color of the water turn back to normal.
Without any set of clothes to cover it up, the girl's frail and emaciated body was completely revealed to Wendy's eyes. "What a poor, skinny child," Wendy couldn't help but think. Her spine could be seen protruding out of her back, her arm so thin that a single hand could easily grasp it, and her skin not white like her namesake but instead a pallid yellow revealing her years of living in hunger.
Luckily she was a witch, and as long as she was properly taken care of, it wouldn't be long before she could recover.
After rinsing her body clean, it was time for them to enjoy a bath. Wendy first tested the temperature and then carried her into the bathtub, the water quickly submerging and enveloping them. Though the water was near scalding, after enduring the slight discomfort and acclimating, one would soon be able to savor the joy and comfort of being cradled by its warmth.
Paper involuntarily let out a low shout, most likely because it had been a long, long time since she was last able to bathe in hot water. She tightly grasped Wendy's hands, and then gradually loosened her grip. Wendy then spun her around so that the girl faced away from her, letting her sit in her lap as she meticulously began to parse through the little girl's twisted bun of hair, strand by strand.
"When did you find out you were a witch?"
"Two... two years ago," Paper quietly replied, "I think in the winter, just like now."
"That's not surprising." Wendy smiled and continued, "Most witches awaken during the Months of the Demons. According to rumor, it's during this period of time that magic power is most abundant."
"Isn't it demonic magic power?"
"Of course not," she patted the little girl's head and said, "becoming a witch is a very, very normal thing. Asides from having the abilities to do some things other people can't imagine, we are no different from your everyday normal person. You should know that several hundred years ago, witches were even viewed as those blessed by the gods.
"In reality, the difference between witches and mortals was quite large, such as their superhuman physical abilities and sterility," thought Wendy as she replied, "but these things could be slowly taught to her at a later time."
"Then, what's magic power?" Paper asked shyly.
"Magic power is a type of natural energy, just like the sun's ever-present light." Wendy thought for a second. "Well, sort of. The sun has a time when it sets, but magic power is always there. All in all, you can regard it as an extension of yourself, an extension that's constantly growing."
"That's right, your magic power will grow as you do, becoming increasingly powerful. In order to accommodate its growth you must also increase the limits of your own body. Otherwise there will be a backlash." Wendy meticulously explained, "The church abused this very fact, claiming that witches were being devoured by the energy of the devil when in reality it couldn't be further from the truth. As long as you continuously practice your control of your powers, even if your magic power grows, there will be no need to worry about it harming your body. If you awakened two years ago, you must have already experienced a Day of Awakening already. Back then... it must have hurt a lot."
Paper gently nodded her head.
"Worry not though, now that you've arrived in Border Town, everything will be better." Wendy tenderly consoled her. "As long as you make the most of this time and practice, this year's Day of Awakening will be quick and painless."
Just as she was about to continue, the door to the bath was shoved open, revealing Lily running in with a towel in her hand.
"I heard there was a new sister? Where? Where? Mystery Moon's so anxious to see her!"
"It's obviously you who's anxious!" Mystery Moon, dragged all the way here by Lily, shot her a glare. "Why take a shower now? What if we have to use our abilities this afternoon?"
"Don't worry, there's no harm in resting for a day. His Highness probably won't need you for anything, after all, you're not Miss Anna."
"... You traitor!!"
Upon seeing the two barge in, Paper quickly shrunk her neck, the bottom half of her head submerging itself into the water.
"Oh, so this is the new witch?" Lily climbed to the edge of the bathtub and looked at Paper, eyes brimming with curiosity. "You look around the same age as me, but you can still call me big sister."
"Why would she call you big sister if she's around the same age as you?" Mystery Moon noisily interjected. "And how come you've never called me that?"
"They're both witches of Border Town," Wendy introduced with a smile. "You may think they are open, but when they first arrived here, they were both just like you... especially Mystery Moon, she wasn't much braver than you, always speaking with a very quiet and soft little voice."
"Ahem. I was just worried His Highness would look down on me for having such weak magic power." Mystery Moon mumbled to herself.
"His Highness has told me several times, your power has incredibly unexplored potential." Wendy shook her head. "As long as you finish reading and learning Elementary Physics, it might evolve into something surpassing your wildest dreams."
"Forget the books. She doesn't even understand all the words yet. She barely even passed the last examination." Lily interjected, shrugging her shoulders. "She even came to me at night asking me to help her with her studies. By the time she's done learning all the weird theories and formulas in that book, His Highness Roland will probably have already conquered and unified all of Graycastle and won't even need the witches' help anymore." Ignoring Mystery Moon's annoyed expression, her gaze turned towards the girl sitting in Wendy's lap. "Oh, that's right. What kind of power does Paper have?"
"... Melting snow." The little girl pondered for a while before replying.
"Anything else?" Lily curiously asked, "Can you freeze the melted snow back into ice?"
"No," Paper meekly replied, "and also... also I can make hot water cool really fast."
"Temperature manipulation then?" Wendy mused and said, "But melting snow is adding heat, whereas cooling water is removing it, yet the two processes can't be reversed, so it's probably not temperature control. Have you only tried your power with water?"
"With other things, the difference is very small."
"Try using this." Lily held up a basin full of soapy water.
The little girl cautiously placed her hand into the basin. Very soon, the steaming hot water began to cool. Then, before everyone's eyes, a change occurred in the murky soap water. The soap bubbles on the surface began to disappear, the white kernels of soap also vanished into thin air, and the basin was once again filled with pristine, clear water.