Years ago, a wizard was known to live in western Maryland. No one knew his name, so the people who knew of him called him the Braddock Wizard. The wizard drew his magical powers from nature. He was able to draw power from the mountains, the trees that grew on them, and the streams that flowed down them. He could also draw power from animals, but he avoided that. Taking magic from animals had an effect on them that he did not like. Many people enjoyed the outdoors where the wizard roamed. That was good for him because all of those people joined together to protect and preserve the environment where he roamed.
One day, the wizard came across a group of people hiking through the woods. He could hear them talking, but it was not the topic of their conversation that drew his attention. The conversation had an odd note and did not sound right to his ears. One of the people was especially agitated. The wizard could feel how nervous and troubled the person felt. That stayed with him. It reminded him that he had seen hikers crying earlier that month. He also saw hikers that had come to the area with a group only to break from their group and continue walking alone.
The wizard wanted to know what was happening. He traveled to the edge of the area he roamed and waited for some hikers. Two thru-hikers came along. He could tell that they were thru-hikers because they had stronger magic than people ordinarily carried with them. People hiking a very long distance built within themselves magic from being in nature and from their effort to hike so far. The wizard could sense the magic. The pair was made up of a man and a woman.
The wizard followed the pair as they traveled along the trail. He followed them all day unseen, but nothing happened. When the evening arrived, the hikers stopped and set up their camp. The wizard stayed with them. The sun went down, it became dark, and the hikers went into their tent to sleep. The wizard sat near them out of sight and kept watch. At midnight, the wizard felt unusual movement among the trees.
The wizard used magic to see clearly in the dark. He saw the South Mountain Witch. She was not a good witch. She prepared to attack the sleeping hikers. The wizard used magic to create a swarm of leaves and sticks from those that were on the ground. The leaves and sticks flew at the witch like a swarm of hornets. The witch used magic to build a ball of fire around herself and burned the swarm. She then used rock debris like bullets and shot them at the wizard. The wizard moved fallen trees in front of himself as a shield. Then, the wizard called water from a nearby stream and sent a powerful spray at the witch. Having seen it coming toward her, the witch immediately disappeared into the darkness.
The Braddock Wizard saved those hikers from the South Mountain Witch’s attack. The wizard thought that she must have figured out how to take magic from people. He thought that might have been the reason that he saw so many unhappy people recently. The witch did not care about the effect that stealing magic had on them. To help hikers, the wizard cast protective spells on them as they came through the area. However, some hikers arrived from the north and others from the south. Unfortunately, he could not be at both ends of the trail at once. The witch would surely find unprotected hikers and steal magic from them as they slept.