The daughters of Aceredo had always been peaceful. Finding each other as the years went by, and growing as the crops they soothed in the soil, whispering sweet sonnets to the children of the earth. They bathed in the river, leaving wildflowers in their wake as they wandered the village with smiles for everyone they saw.
As the moon waxed and waned, their powers grew, and they shared the beautiful blessings they had been given with the people, ensuring that they had a good harvest every year, and that the water flowed clear. The village was the most peaceful in all of Galicia, and the people were grateful for the treasures that the daughters of Aceredo had given them.
Of all Aceredo’s daughters, the most powerful was Amapola. She wore poppies in her hair, and was the mistress of the the elements. When she smiled, the sun shone at its brightest, and her tears could draw the fiercest of storms to the village.
Amapola had lived in the village all her life, and as she grew day by day, so did the good fortune of the village. As she grew older, her focus became the village entirely. Amapola did not go out to dances with the many suitors that were available, but spent her evenings wandering the meadows and fields of the village, singing to the slowly growing crops.
Her parents would turn away disappointed men from their home, who came to call for their daughter, and while most took it well, there was one, who simply could not abide being told “no.”
Ricardo was the most eligible bachelor in Galicia. His father had made a lot of money in imports, and the family lived in a mansion that cast a dark shadow over Pontevedra. Ricardo was a bored and spoiled, so without the day to day stresses of earning a living to keep him busy, he took to wandering Galicia, in search of adventure and entertainment. He had heard of witches, in a small village, but like many outside of Aceredo, he didn’t quite believe it to be true, but he was bored, so he went to explore anyway.
It was there that he saw the magic of the daughters of Aceredo, and was enchanted by Amapola. He couldn’t take his eyes from her, and purchased the biggest house he could find in the village, so that he could be closer to her.
Ricardo was wealthy, and had always been able to get what he wanted, so he was certain that he could have the young woman too, but love is a complicated kind of magic, that even a witch as powerful as Amapola could never master, so Ricardo had no chance.
He tried for weeks, showering her with expensive gifts, inviting her on exotic adventures across Spain and around the world, even pleading as she walked by him in the street, but no matter what he did, or what he said, Amapola just wasn’t interested.
Her focus was her home, and Ricardo found that infuriating. Every rejection just made his longing scream louder within his chest. It was an unfamiliar feeling for the boy who had always got what he wanted, and he hated it.
The daughters of Aceredo had always been peaceful, never straying from their promise to care for the people of the village, until, one fateful night, it became apparent that peace was no longer an option.
It was a quarter past three in the morning, and Amapola was woken from her slumber by her father’s scream. The room was dark, and as she rushed from the darkness to the candle lit hallway outside of her bedroom, she suddenly missed the darkness, and all that it had hidden from her.
There was a trail of blood, coating the carpet, squelching under her slippers and soaking their soft fabric in crimson as she tore down the hallway towards the fading scream.
The door of her parent’s bedroom was ajar, and there were no more screams, just a faint gargle, and heavy, laboured breathing. Fear ripped through her body as she stared at the open door, desperate not to see what was on further into the room, but knowing that she had no other choice.
“Amapola.” The voice from inside the room chilled her blood with its callous cruelty. He sang her name as if they were playing a game. “Your mother and father can’t take care of you anymore.” She heard metal falling to the floor with a clang as slow, heavy footsteps advanced towards her. “You need a man to look after you now.” She recognised the voice, the insistence, the entitlement, the delusion. It was Ricardo.
The door swung back and he stood before her, his shirt dripping in blood as a manic smile flashed onto his face.
“What have you done?” She stared at his hands, soaked in blood as he lifted them to her face, the blood, warm against her skin as he tenderly stroked her cheeks. “What have you done?” She repeated, her voice shaking as her body shuddered at his touch.
“I’ve freed you.” He wouldn’t stop smiling and it churned her stomach. Tears formed in her eyes as thunder crashed in the sky. Lightning flashed and lit up the room behind him as rain began to pelt the windows. A storm was brewing as Amapola stared in horror at her mother’s body, strewn across the floor. Her hair was covered in blood, her beautiful face vandalised with the vicious trail of a knife. “Now I’ll take care of you.” He snarled.
The wind howled outside, as Amapola’s tears fell, fast and devastating. Ricardo lunged forwards, his blood soaked hands tangling in her hair as he yanked her towards him for a kiss.
“You know I don’t like to be kept waiting.” He whispered, brushing his lips against hers. Amapola’s horror and sadness was growing into a rage. The wind invaded the house as the lightning began flashing madly in the sky. A gust of wind threw Ricardo backwards as Amapola let out a wounded, heartbroken scream, rushing to her parent’s bodies and falling to her knees beside them.
Ricardo finally got to his feet, fighting back against the strength of the wind, finally aware of Amapola’s true power as water began flooding the room, and her screams were drowned out by the rushing, rage filled winds. He stared back at what he had done, and ran for his life through the house.
Amapola stayed by her parent’s side all night, until the sun struggled into the sky, barely visible through the angry grey clouds. The daughters joined her, heartbroken by the sight of her grief.
For days, the storm held the villagers captive. The rain was relentless and the sky was filled with endless thunder. The streets were soaked, the fields flooded with her sorrow, but all Amapola could do was cry.
Ricardo watched the storm from his bedroom window, the knife, still coated in crimson was on the window sill, and every now and again, he would glance at it, unsure if it had been worth it.
As he considered his crime once again, staring out of the window, he noticed a crowd, struggling through the flooded streets. Ricardo looked down in amusement as they waded through the water, some slipping into the water as they went.
As he watched the growing crowd, he noticed, with a bit of nervousness that they were marching towards his house. Ricardo was the kind of man that had never really been taught the consequences of his actions, but as the stormed battered the village and the villagers began knocking at his door, panic set in as Ricardo realised that he would have to face up to what he had done.
Across the village, Amapola was despondent, surrounded by her sister witches in the blood drenched bedroom. On the bed, her parent’s bodies had been arranged and surrounded by flowers. Water flowed around their ankles as they stood vigil in the darkness.
“We have sent for him.” The witches said in unison. Amapola nodded, stroking her mother’s hair as they continued. “They have captured him.” Amapola left the room, the winds starting to calm as she strode towards the front door.
Cries from the crowd outside poured in as she opened the door, the sunshine soaked her face, and she smiled brightly as the crowd arrived before her, throwing Ricardo at her feet.
He scrambled to his feet but was pushed and kicked down by the baying mob, his face and arms covered in scratches and bruises as he screamed in pain.
“Make them stop.” He bellowed, reaching up to Amapola, she leaned down towards him, delighted at the fear in his eyes. “I’ll fix it.” Her fingers traced tenderly down his face as he began to cry. “Please Amapola, how much do you want?” He pleaded, reaching into his pockets and pushing pesatas into her hand hurriedly. “Just take it and make them stop.” She shook her head, throwing the money into the crowd. “Call them off, for God’s sake!” Amapola stood back and extended a hand to him as the people slowly backed away. He put his shaking, bruised hand in her own and tried to stand, falling back to the ground as he did.
“Now I’ll take care of you.” She said softly, waving a hand over his head. His body began to tingle, as a frame of golden light surrounded him. The people gasped as Ricardo’s body lifted from the ground. He struggled and yelled, but the light overpowered him, carrying him high above the crowd below who stared up in awe.
“What are you doing?” Ricardo screamed, thrashing around in the sky as the light carried him higher and higher. “Amapola, let me go!” The people stared in awe as Amapola pointed lazily towards the sun and let her finger drag in Ricardo’s direction.
“I’ve freed you.” She whispered. The light began to fill with flames, surrounding his body as he yelped in pain, struggling to no avail as the fire ripped through his body.
Charred flesh overpowered the fresh scent of flowers that usually filled the village. He begged for a few moments, as his body broke down, pleading for mercy. Ricardo’s screams echoed through the village as the crowd silently watched his body fall into ash, that broke free of the circle of light and flew away on the soft wind.
After that day, the village was peaceful again. The daughters of Aceredo gave their gifts to the people, and the people gave their gifts in return, but every year, on the 29th of May, they would gather for a feast to celebrate the daughters and their power.
Ricardo was forgotten, just a sprinkle of ashes, lost somewhere on the wind, but rumour has it, if you wander up the hill late at night, to the towering house he used to own, you’ll hear him, still sobbing and screaming in pain, as the odour of searing, burning flesh fills the air.