Fifteen years later
Mikey rode behind Gerard, his head bowed against the rain which pattered against his hat, the lower half of his face was hidden by a scarf, and though only the top half of his face was the only part of his body exposed to the winter elements, he was still freezing cold and desperate to find shelter.
The Town came into view quite suddenly. The heavy rain had been obscuring it until they were on the bridge leading to its gates, and Mikey sighed with relief at the sight of it, and the many houses and inns with candles burning in the windows. He slowed his horse to a halt behind Gerard’s once they reached the gates and two French soldiers stepped forward to deal with them.
"Halt!" The first called in a thick French accent. "Where do you come from masseur?" He asked as he held up a hand, as if this would be able to stop them from approaching. Gerard answered before Mikey could even open his mouth, and his voice was strong and unaffected by the chattering of his teeth.
"Hanua, just outside Frankfurt." He said proudly and the two French men smirked at each other.
"Sirs, we are looking for food and lodging." Mikey called down from his horse, his whole body tense as he tried to keep as much of his bodies heat in side his clothes. His patience was not as large as Gerard’s in these situations, and the soldiers could hear the desperation in his voice. They looked at each other thoughtfully, seeming to come to a decision without exchanging a single word.
"Passé." The first said to the soldiers working the gate, though he didn’t take his eyes off the brothers. Grateful that they had been seen as harmless Mikey called out thank you twice as they passed through the gates, the second being for Gerard who simply rode past with his nose in the air and his lips clamped shut. Mikey had never been fond of Gerard’s pride. He knew his brother was a good man in some respects; his heart was in the right place. But Mikey had always been much more innocent, and almost child minded compared to his sibling. This seemed to annoy Gerard some what, as he always had something to complain about where Mikey was concerned. It had always been this way, ever since their sister had died.
Mikey couldn’t remember much of that year, having been only seven. But he knew that Gerard blamed him for their sister’s death, because of not - so - magic - magic - beans and he was constantly reminded of this by little comments Gerard would mutter under his breath whenever things went wrong.
Mikey supposed the only reason he was even following his brother around like this, and conning people the way they were, was because he wanted to prove to Gerard that he wasn’t an idiot. That he was worthy enough to stop being reminded of the one terrible mistake he had made when only a child. That... and to write down the many interesting tales they heard whilst traveling. Gerard of course, had very different motives. Mikey knew the only reason Gerard did this was because of the money, fame and women it brought him. But that was just what Gerard was like; it was one of the only immature qualities about him.
Carlstadt was clearly not a very wealthy Town. Many of the houses were slanted, the roofs missing tiles, with chimneys that looked as if they would slide into the street at any moment. The streets themselves were slightly dirty, and Mikey was certain they probably would have looked worse if the rain hadn’t washed away most of the filth already.
The only people walking about the streets were French soldiers, and it made Mikey feel intimidated, though Gerard appeared completely unconcerned.
As they made their way towards the stables, they passed a beggar on the street, sat behind a wooden box with a slot in it for money. He called out to Gerard, begging for any change, but Gerard ignored him as if he wasn’t there. Mikey rolled his eyes at his brothers back and dug around inside his tunic until he pulled out a small silver coin. It wasn’t much, but it would be enough to buy a small bread roll, or an apple if the market still sold them at this time of year.
He flicked the coin into the beggars waiting hands and the man gave a cry of happiness, wiping the coin against his sleeve as he thanked Mikey over and over again.
"Oh thank you sir. God bless you. God bless you sir." His words spilled out rapidly in his haste to thank the man clad in all black, with a fancy cape and hat, and warm leather gloves. He was clearly a rich man and it was rare for any amount of generosity, so he wanted to show his gratitude. Mikey ignored his thanks as he rode past, not from arrogance, but from embarrassment. He didn’t feel that he deserved be thanked for such a small amount of money.
Gerard glanced over his shoulder as he heard the beggar’s thanks and rolled his eyes at Mikey, as if his brother had just done him a great injustice. Mikey looked back with innocent hazel orbs, blurred from the wet lenses of his spectacles. Gerard rolled his eyes again as he turned to face forward, annoyed by his brothers kindness. Didn’t he know most beggars were really just pretending to be homeless so that they could get money without having to work?
Mikey sighed and looked down at his hands, wrapped around the horse’s reigns. He had done something wrong... again. It seemed like what ever he did was scorned at in Gerard’s eyes. Could he do nothing right?
"Hold your horses for half a franc sir." A young boy said politely as they rode into the stable. He was grubby from working with the horses all day, and he had the first few hairs of a moustache beginning to grow. He wore an old, patched up hat the same colour as his boots, and his long brown hair was tangled and ratty, secured by a band at the nape of his neck. If he had had glasses, he would have looked a little like Mikey had at that age. Only Mikey had been taller too, he had shot up as soon as he hit puberty, and was still a little taller than Gerard.
"Do you know the mayor of this Town?" Gerard asked in his mysterious voice and the boy nodded shyly.
"Of course, only serve for the best sir." He answered hesitantly, biting his lower lip. Gerard reached into his tunic and pulled out a crumpled envelope with his own wax seal.
"Give this to him." He ordered, handing the envelope to the boy who looked down and read the return address. His eyes grew wide and he looked up at the two strangers looking back at him,
"Th - The Brothers Way?" He asked in surprise and Mikey nodded as Gerard leaned forward into the boys face.
"Every second counts." He whispered and Mikey rolled his eyes, unseen from behind his rain soaked glasses.
"The witch comes in the very dead of night... when the moon is well hid... She comes out of the coldest... darkest blackness..." The middle aged mill worker gave a strange, high pitched wail and the Soldiers and towns folk who had gathered to hear the story all gasped and trembled. Even the mayor jumped a little. Only the two Way brothers were unconcerned, Mikey continued to scribble down the millers words onto the pages of his blank book, which he used to record all the tales they heard. Dipping his quill into the ruby ink beside him whenever the words ran dry.
Gerard stood in the corner, facing the wall with his hands on his hips, listening quietly to the old story.
"Her cry... could freeze the very blood in your veins..." The miller concluded in a dramatic whisper and Mikey raised his eyebrows to look at the man, even he seemed to be shaken by his story.
"You were right to send for us." Gerard said calmly, slowly turning to face the people watching him. "How many have seen the witch?" He asked casually. The mayor, a fat, balding man, turned to answer him.
"Every one who lives down by the old Mill stream has seen her." He said strongly. "It was a hundred years ago, the old Millers wife was burnt at the stake for witch craft and her charred bones were thrown into the river." He explained and Mikey looked up as he dipped his quill into the ink once more.
"Ah, ancient lore dictates that the Witches remains should have been sealed in a mirror lined box." He stated matter - of - factly, and the Mayors face went pale as he realized their mistake.
"Oh, well... many nights there after the children saw her walking around the river bank, beckoning them to her." He said in a quiet rasp.
"Ah, as did a good many did the Mill witch of Caster -" Mikey added, not relenting his writing.
"Yes, we know the legend." Gerard cut in impatiently, glaring at his brothers back.
"So you believe us?" A young woman asked, looking at Gerard as she spoke. Gerard looked her up and down and smirked lightly.
"Well, I believe anything you choose to tell me." He said sweetly, causing the young girl to blush and giggle.
"Come to my Mill!" The miller who had told the story cried suddenly. "Such ungodly horrors! Such Banshees shrieking!" He cried, jumping from his seat.
"Give him his medicine!" The mayor demanded, eager to quieten the old fool before he frightened away the brothers, although they showed no signs of being bothered. A woman sat behind the Miller seized his shoulder and pulled him back down into his chair, handing him a bottle of whisky which he eagerly drank from.
"Brothers Way, we're at our wits end. Please, will you help us?" The mayor asked in the same, quiet rasp. Gerard bit his lip and began writing down prices on a piece of scrap parchment.
"It’s complicated." He mumbled. "Mikey?"
Mikey dipped his quill into the ink as he looked up at the Mayor.
"Err... when you burn a witch, her soul burns eternally. You would need an arrow dipped in innocent tears - that’s child’s tears - to be shot directly through the heart to put out that fire." He explained quickly, chewing on the end of his quill as Gerard came to stand behind him, glancing at the untidy scrawl in the book for a second.
"Well, that’s the theory." He said, looking at Mikeys face. "Of course, this isn’t just any witch." He added and Mikey nodded his agreement, the two brothers looking towards the Mayor who was practically leaning out of his seat.
"It could be pricey." Gerard warned, but the Mayor seemed unconcerned by the price, too horrified by the extent of his witch problem.
"Is there anything you can do?" He breathed and Gerard strode over to him, dropping the price list onto his desk and turning politely away as the mayor scanned the numbers.
"How much?" He gasped, sounding almost suffocated as he looked over at Gerard who shrugged. The Mayor looked around at the frightened faces of the town’s people and sighed, holding out his hand for Gerard to shake.
"You've done the right thing." Gerard grinned as he gripped the Mayors hand.
"I hope so..."
The old mill was a small, rickety building made of wood with a water wheel turning slowly at its side. When Mikey and Gerard arrived it was night fall and a cold mist drifted across the ground, surrounding the mill and the house beside it where the Miller and his wife lived, giving an eerie feel to the area. Gerard, as usual, walked confidently to the Mill as Mikey gently urged the frightened Miller onward. The man was truly petrified, and Mikey wondered if the witch was real, if people actually had seen it. Of course, Gerard would laugh at such thoughts and tell him to stop being so childish.
Once inside the Mill the two brothers went about their usual charade. They donned 'magical' armor and gave the Miller some to wear to, which he put on in haste, looking around with nervous eyes the whole time. Gerard pushed some chickens out of his way and wiped a patch of floor clear of hay before producing some white chalk from his pocket and drawing some made up symbols on the floor, the Miller retreating to a corner and watching them whenever his eyes weren’t darting around the room.
Meanwhile, Mikey loaded a cross bow with arrows dipped in 'baby tears' and then pulled a large round shield out of their bags. It was a magnificent piece of armor; it could cover the whole of someone’s torso and was made of fine steel, set with shards of reflective glass. Gerard took this shield from him and handed it to the Miller who sat upon a haystack.
"Whatever you do, stay behind that shield." Gerard warned the frightened man, who clutched the shield tighter at these words. Only his head could be seen as it covered the whole of his sitting body.
"It reflects the powers of evil..." Gerard added as he and Mikey pulled their weapons out of their bags. Swords, pistols, daggers - they had them all. The Miller sat shaking as he watched them.
"... Most of the time." Mikey looked over at Gerard, there was no need to frighten the Miller further, but Mikey didn’t say anything. He would be a fool if he did. Instead, he gathered his crossbow and began winding up the string that would set loose the arrow. Talking as he did so.
"Right, surprise is absolutely crucial, the witch mustn’t suspect our presence until we're absolutely -" Mikey was cut off by an ear splitting screech, wind blasted through the Mill and the chickens ran about in a frenzy, flapping their wings and running for cover as the Miller coward behind his shield.
"Ready for her." Mikey finished at the same time as Gerard. They grabbed their weapons and ran to the back of the Mill, the Miller following them. "To your positions!" Gerard shouted, the plan having been discussed before hand. The three men turned to face the witch, holding their weapons and shields up. But then the wind stopped, and slowly they lowered their items, looking up in confusion. The doors were open, but there was nothing there. They spared a glance before all of a sudden the doors slammed shut and the whole building began to shake and tremble, sending the chickens into another state of panic. The Miller whimpered and raised his shield over his head to protect himself from the falling debris.
"She's trying to knock the place down!" Gerard cried, running to the double doors of the Mill and kicking them with all his might. Mikey joined him, the two of them kicked at the doors but they were too thick, they barely even rattled. And then a second wail filled the air - a wail that did not belong to the Miller and the brothers turned to face the cloud of rags drifting down from one of the ceiling beams. As the fabric slowly drifted aside a face was revealed, the mouth open wide as the wailing noise came from it. The skin was old and grey, half melted from the bone beneath. The teeth were yellow and rotting, the hair of the witch white and wispy, most if it burnt away. The Miller was speechless in horror; Mikey and Gerard however, were not.
"RUN!" Gerard yelled, racing to the side and diving over a bale of hay, swiftly followed by his younger sibling, sending chickens sprawling. The Miller came to his senses and raised his shield, staggering to the side as he whimpered.
"She's here, she's here!" He choked Mikey and Gerard back on their feet, making sure their weapons were loaded and ready for firing as they yelled instructions to the other. The witch walked towards them, slowly, as if in a dream, her feet planted firmly on the ceiling as she walked upside down, her clothes drifting behind her in long tendrils of moldy grey cloth.
The Miller was running about the floor, screaming for dear life, his shield once again above his head. Gerard dived from his spot behind the hay and grabbed a hold of the Millers shirt.
"Get a hold of yourself man!" He shouted, throwing him into the pig sty in the corner of the barn. He then stood beside Mikey who had also come out of his hiding place and brandished his sword as Mikey aimed with the crossbow.
"The Brothers Way do not fear you!" He shouted boldly, the Miller crawling to his knees and watching on in horror from his spot in the sty. The witch cackled loudly and used her magic to send Gerard flying into the wall. Mikey let fly with the cross bow but the witch moved just in time and the arrow hit the beam behind her. The witch laughed again and this time it was Mikey who went soaring through the air and landed heavily on the floor.
Gerard was on his feet first, brandishing a silver cross infront of his face, his eyes tight shut.
"She's powerful Mikey; don’t look her in the eyes!" He cried, yelling out as the cross he held set alight, the flames almost licking at his hands as he threw it to the floor. Mikey didn’t hear and finally managed to locate the crossbow which he had dropped when he hit the floor. He picked it up and jumped to his feet, aiming at her as Gerard drew his pistol.
"Don’t look in her in the eyes!" Gerard repeated, but it was too late.
"What!?" Mikey cried, trying to take aim.
"Don’t look her in the eyes!" Gerard repeated, but he too was already in eye contact with the witch. "Shoot her in the heart Mikey!" He shouted, feeling something take over his body.
"I - I can’t, something’s wrong!" Mikey cried, causing the Miller to squeak in terror. Slowly, their bodies tense and arms shaking, the two men began to turn to face each other, gritting their teeth and fighting over the witch’s control.
"Fight her Mikey." Gerard choked out between clenched teeth.
"I'm trying Gee...she's too strong..." Mikey groaned, the Miller looking between the two of them as he trembled, whining to himself.
"No...We’re...brothers....dammit...." Gerard managed to stutter out, now aiming at Mikey who was aiming at him in turn. "We're....the....Way....brothers...."
"AAAGH!" Mikey suddenly broke free of the control, spinning behind a beam and taking aim quickly, letting the arrow fly and this time it met its target. The witch screamed in pain as the arrow pierced her heart. All three men hid behind bales of hay as the witch spun round in circles, suspended in the air, her clothes making it appear as if she were turning into a cloud. There was a large explosion, and then when the men looked again her clothes were a steaming pile of rags on the floor, snakes hissing as they crawled out of the cloth. Mikey ran over, drawing his sword and stamping on the snakes as Gerard came over and slashed at them. The Miller tried to stumble over but Gerard turned and pointed his sword at him.
"Stay back - Back! She's trying to escape!" He cried and the Miller stumbled back, nearly falling over in his haste.
"All souls take periodical forms, and when they fail - " Mikey brandished a fist full of dead snakes at the Miller who was once more creeping over. "They find places to hide. Place these -" Mikey thrust the snakes into a black sack and pulled the neck tight, handing it to the still shaking mirror.
"In a mirror lined box. Bury it far from any river and your witch shall be gone." Mikey gave a mock bow as the Miller nodded his understanding.
"Your a very brave men." Gerard said casually, clapping a hand onto the millers shoulder.
"B - Bless you.... Bless you b - brothers..." He whispered, looking between the two men in awe, before looking at the bag and going to leave, stopping when Gerard pulled him back.
"Err, we had a meager, minor agreement." He reminded him and the Miller gasped in realization.
"Oh yes! Yes of course." He dug around in his pockets until he located the bag of gold given to him from the mayor and handed it to Mikey. "Err... she... she is dead?" He asked in a whisper, pointing at the bag with a trembling finger. Mikey smiled and nodded.
"She is yes, very." He said kindly and Gerard gripped the Millers.
"Yes of course she is." He said brightly, escorting him out of the Mill. Gerard stood and made sure the Miller was out of sight, running towards the down yelling 'she's dead' before turning back to Mikey.
"That one was a bit of a nightmare." He said, exhausted. Mikey glared at him and Gerard frowned. "Don’t give me that look." He snapped.
"I was a scholar once Gee." He said moodily and Gerard scoffed, sauntering over to him as he talked.
"Yeah, and now your famous, all the girls know your name - what do you want? An apology?" Mikey had no time to answer before the witch came screeching down from the rafters once more. Mikey gasped and tried to jump out of the way but was knocked over before he had chance, the witch then swung backwards and knocked Gerard off his feet too.
"AGH! YOU BLOODY IDIOT BOB! DID YOUR MOTHER DROP YOU WHEN YOU WERE BORN OR SOMETHING?" The witch shouted, in a very male voice. The sound of a man laughing came from behind some hay and a blonde haired man appeared, holding a rope which suspended the 'witch' from the roof.
"Hehe, sorry Frankie, slipped." He chuckled and the witch, or Frank, waves his arms around in annoyance.
"Get me down already!" He shouted as Gerard and Mikey got to their feet. Bob laughed again as he lowered Frank to his feet who untangled himself from the roped and choked a little, pulling the mask of melted flesh off his face to reveal his real face underneath.
"God awful smoke!" He snapped, looking somewhat humorous with his fake rotted teeth in and witch hair still on. Wearing a dress. "Ya' know just once, just once! - I would like to be benefited for my performance!" He whined. Bob laughed, strolling across the barn.
"Hey Bob, watch out for the -" Bob suddenly went flying through the air, hitting a wall after stepping on a strange springed board. "Snap board..." Mikey finished with a sigh, Bob getting to his feet with a sheepish chuckle. Frank however, was still having a bitch fit.
"We do all the flying, the scaring, the burning - what do we have to show for it?" He demanded, pulling the dress off to reveal a metal plate strapped across his chest where the arrow had gone in. Mikey ignored him, so Gerard answered, counting out the money in his hand.
"One tenth, just like God." He smirked, Frank barely listening as he continued to strip of his witch costume.
"Yeah exactly, one tenth, and for the other nine tenth's all you have to do is ride into town and smile." He said acidly, glaring at the two brothers. Gerard shrugged, still rooting through the money bag.
"So? That’s the cost of your labor." He said simply, Mikey darting around the barn, clearing up.
"Well, there are two of us." Bob pointed out, coming to stand on the other side of Gerard as Frank and placing a hand on his shoulder. Gerard looked between them with a frown. "Two times ten..." Bob hinted. When Gerard didn’t say anything he continued. "We want a twentieth." He said simply and Gerard’s jaw dropped.
"A twentieth!" He cried.
"Each!" Frank added quickly and Gerard scowled at them, but they held his stare and he sighed.
"Fine." He consented. After all, they were his two best friends, and he needed them to pull of the cons. So, reluctantly, he gave them their coins and they instantly relaxed. "Now." He said brightly, wrapping an arm round each of their necks and strolling casually past Mikey who was sat on a bale of hay, the bags packed.
"So, here’s the plan, you two go and rest for a couple of days and then meet us in Hamburg, Mikey knows a tale there about a bridge troll -" Bob gasped in excitement and looked over at Frank.
"Bridge troll! Graaaargh!" He cried and Frank scowled.
"Hey! How come he gets to do the monsters and I have to do the girlie whirly creepers?" He complained. Sensing another fit Gerard left Bob where he was and kept his arm round Frank as he strolled towards the barn doors.
"You my friend, have talent. You have range." He said brightly, Bob bounding over to interrupt.
"And what do I have Gee?" He asked eagerly. Gerard hesitated, thinking before clapping a hand on Bobs shoulder and grinning.
"You my handsome friend, have heart." He said confidently. Mikey rolled his eyes from his perch on the hay, fiddling with the silver cross.
"And you Gee have enough bullshit to - Agh!" He dropped the cross as he accidentally pressed the switch on it and set it on fire. Gerard spared him a glance before turning back to Frank and Bob.
"You want the truth of it boys? Your just gonna have a short brutal battle and then you die, my talent and subdifusers make it all worth while." He grinned, causing the two friends to roll their eyes and leave the barn. Angrily, Gerard stalked over to Mikey and held out the bag of coins.
"Your half professor, oh -" He pulled the bag back just as Mikey went to take it. "Or would you prefer this in magic beans?" He asked. It was a low blow, but Mikey took it in his stride. Used to it.
He lowered his hand and looked down at the cross on the floor.
"I think I'll take the beans thanks Gee." He said quietly. Gerard was quiet for a moment, looking at his younger brother in surprise before scowling and hooking the money bag onto his belt.
"Stupid." He snapped before storming out of the Mill.
A/N: Yeeeah... I've kinda made Gee an arrogant arse in this xD That is partly in keeping with the film, but also so I can add my own teeny little story line along with it. Just to add my own spin on things, which isn’t too obvious yet but hopefully will be in future chapters :] Sorry it took so long to update, this is pretty difficult to right cos' I keep forgetting stuff from the film and have to rewatch it xD Its getting pretty tedious, but ya' know - fun xD
Any who, rate and review and etc :P