The Witch Warrior Chronicles
By Crow"> and L.M Townsend
We re-wrote this story, it was formerly titled 'Ghost Writer' but we want to make a sort of on going adventure for the two main characters so we changed the name and have Ghost Writer as the first story in a series. There were some inconsistencies from the tenses, first and third person, but we've hopefully taken care of most of the problem. Feedback is most welcome on this.
Disclaimer: This story portrays women in love, and yes physically loving each other, ( in other words, "THERE'S SEX HERE!!!") so if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, you may want to avoid this story.
This story touches on one of the most heinous and violent times in history, the Burning Times when "witches" were tortured and brutally murdered, all (technically, anyway) in the name of a gentle carpenter from Nazareth. (Who, from all accounts, would have denouced such behaviour vehemently. I have no quarrel with him, just those who used the power of his name to cause harm) Still, there are no graphically violent scenes described in this story. Oh, yeah- there is a wee four-letter word or two in here.
Part One: Ghost Writer
Emmeline Cassidy looked over to the shadowy corner from behind the bar of her tavern, The Witchs Brew. Yep, she was there, just as she had been every night, sitting solemnly in the corner. Other patrons avoided that particular table. It was her spot, and Em didnt begrudge it to her - god knew the poor thing had been here so long she deserved her own spot. Em wiped off the bar, emptied the ashtray in front of her, then smiled and took the order of the next customer, temporarily distracted from the lone figure in the shadows. Em glanced back periodically throughout the night, as always, wondering what she was thinking and why she was there. Em often wondered if any of her patrons could see the ghost, or was that just her right as owner.
Em both loved and hated this tavern. Her father had left it to her when he passed on and it became her livelihood. She was small in stature with long silvery hair she wore in a bun, and years of hefting kegs of beer had left her well muscled. As many an unruly patron had discovered with dismay over the years. She had keeping this tavern for so long, it seemed it was all she knew. But there was a part of her which longed to simply walk away and start a new life. Em had seen the ghost - and others - here in the Tavern all her life. She could almost hear the spirit's thoughts, mirroring her own.
So many faces, so many different stories. Ive grown tired of listening to their woes of unhappy lives outside this place.
Em sighed, scanning the many familiar faces. Em knew everyone in the little town of Goldstone. Most of the people in this place had lived here all their lives; their families had been here for generations. One by one, they had made their way into the tavern at one time or another. All the dirty little secrets, the heartaches, the triumphs, the prejudices - Em was probably the most informed person in the town, but never let on what she knew.
The centre table was filling with what looked like a celebration. Em looked and saw they were from the Colton Publishing firm. Foxworth Colton was a canny businessman and his publishing house had recently expanded to encompass the acquisition and sale of rare antique manuscripts. Em assumed the women at the table were there to celebrate. They had a feeling of festiveness about them, though they held an expectant air, as if waiting for someone.
Celine reluctantly stepped through the door of the tavern, shivering in the autumn wind. She took the coat off her petite frame and shook her blonde hair down to drape her back. She hadnt wanted to go out at all tonight, but the "girls" at the small publishing company where she worked as a translator for foreign manuscripts had wanted to celebrate some of the girls having birthdays in October and Celine was one of them. Celine wanted to just go home, yet gossip was rampant in this small New England town and she couldnt afford to put them off anymore- especially when one of her co-workers was the bosss daughter. Only on the job in her daddys company for a month and already Amanda Colton had been asking the others about Celine. Unfortunately, Celine did not play the politics game. She went to work, did her job - and did it well - and went home, keeping her personal life personal. Dreading the grilling she knew she would receive about boyfriends and the subsequent "matchmaking" game she knew she would endure this night, Celine smiled to herself. Ah, if they only knew she thought.
Em watched Celine enter the tavern. Now there's a face I haven't seen in a long while. She thought, Celine Howe. Em knew Celine's father, in fact they had gone to school together. Jason was a really nice guy. He was so devoted to Susan-what was her last name? Em scratched her head trying to recall, well it eventually became Howe. Susan was a real beauty and Em could see how Celine took after her mother. It must have been so hard for Celine to grow-up without her, and her father, poor thing, he was so young when he died. Em watched Celine hesitate at the doorway. She followed Celine's gaze to the corner. She saw the ghostly woman stand up and walk toward the young blonde. I wonder if she could see her too. Em decided to keep an eye Celine and the ghost.
Celine's bright green eyes were drawn to a shadowy corner. She felt a slight chill, raising goosebumps along both of her arms. She saw nothing there, however, and dismissed the sensation as the residual chill of the night air.
In the shadowy corner another felt her fleeting glance and was startled. Something like hope sprung up from the one who sat at that table. No one has ever looked at her before and she was certain that young woman who had such a familiarity about her was seeing her. The ghost stood up needing to find out for sure.
Celine stood there for a moment longer gathering her courage - and patience - to approach the table where she saw her co-workers, already gathered and seemingly many drinks into inebriation. Again, she felt the sensation of a chill and again her eyes were pulled in the direction of the darkened corner. Celine frowned, wondering what was happening. She searched for the cause, allowing her gaze to wander to the empty table in the dimmest corner of the Tavern, feeling someone watching her, but not seeing anyone there.
A woman at the centre table stood and spoke up. "Celine?" Celine struggled with the impulse to turn and go back out the door. Instead, she planted a false smile on her lovely face and walked up to the noisy group at the table. Celine sat down next to Amanda who had been saving her a seat.
Celine felt a bit awkward with Amanda, it was obvious the way Amanda hinted at her desire to be more than just co-workers with the blonde. But the last thing she wanted to do was get close to anyone at work, especially her boss's daughter. She couldn't imagine letting anyone from work into her personal life, in this small town eventually word would get out, especially the way Amanda gossiped.
It seemed hours to Celine before she could politely stand and make her farewells.
"It's getting late," she said to everyone and no one. "I have to get going."
"Awe do you have to go?" Amanda pouted, as she twisted a piece of her auburn hair around her finger. "Stay for a while longer," blue eyes pleading.
Celine shook her head no, then said her good-byes and put on her coat, politely declining the pleas to continue the party for a bit longer. Celine turned her head and looked into the shadowy corner again, but whatever had caused the eerie feeling before seemed to be gone now. She turned towards the door and was hit full force by the unseen entity. Her green eyes glazed over and she could "see" the shimmering outline of a woman about her age. Celine nodded in acknowledgement - "everyone" knew The Witchs Brew was haunted - it was one of the old town legends and one that its owner, Mrs. Cassidy capitalised upon shamelessly.
Celine had no fear of ghosts or spirits - she had seen and felt them all her life, some more clearly than others. Apparently this was one of the stronger ones. With relief, Celine smiled at the shimmery being and nodded again. It must be so lonely, she thought. I wish there was something I could do to help her - she looks so sad
The spirit looked surprised. She seemed to reach out to Celine and Celine started to put out her hand to the ghost, then remembered the women behind her. She smiled again, apologetically then glanced towards the door, asking to pass by, hoping the ghost understood her unspoken request. The spirit hoped for something else.
"Celine are you okay?" Amanda asked.
Celine rolled her eyes, then turned and shook her head slightly, shaking off the trance-like state she had felt herself falling into.
"Yeah, yeah, sorry," Celine said. "Ill see you all on Monday." She turned and walked to the door, feeling the chill return and stay with her. It felt even colder than the pre-winter air outside. Unable to shake it off, Celine pulled her coat tighter and got in her car. She turned up the car heater all the way and began the drive home, unaware that she was not alone.
Celine arrived home and the first thing she did was turn on the computer. She then took off her coat and turned up the heat in the small apartment while she waited for the computer to warm up.
A black cat came running out of the bedroom, meowing and chirping her greeting.
"Galinthias," Celine said, delighted, as she bent and picked up the cat, cuddling her feline companion.
Galinthias twisted her lithe body to be put back down, then ran to her empty dishes on the kitchen floor, meowing her displeasure.
Celine chuckled and shook her head. "Okay, okay, Im sorry - but I had to go," she said, following the cat into the kitchen and opening the cupboard. She shook some dry cat food into a dish. "Believe me, I didnt want to - but if you want to continue to be kept in the style to which you think you deserve to become accustomed, then I have to keep this job. And that means doing stupid crap like tonight sometimes."
Her dish full, Galinthias turned to eat, ignoring Celines explanation for her long absence.
Celine smiled fondly at the cat and went to the other room, turning down the thermostat on her way. She still felt a little chilled, but nothing like she had at the "Brew" that evening. Shaking her head, Celine thought about what she had seen there, the image already fading to the back of her mind. She sat in front of the computer and signed on to the internet.
"Come on, Raven, please be on," she said, softly.
She remembered when she and Raven first met. Celines employer, Mr. Colton had taken possession of some rare old manuscripts with thoughts towards auctioning them off. There had been some concern over the effectiveness of the security system then in use. Although Celine was a translator, he asked for her help, knowing that Celine used internet resources to assist with her translating. Celine had gone on-line, looking for a security company to implement a new, more secure system. She found Ravens website and contacted her to inquire about her services and fees.
Celine found Ravens firm to be the most reasonably priced as well as the one most suited to the needs of her employer. Mr. Colton was very pleased and hired Raven to implement a new system to protect the valuable manuscripts.
When Raven came to Celines office, there was an instant attraction. Like getting hit by lightning, Celine remembered. Raven was much taller than Celine, her body was built like an athlete, sleek yet muscular. She like to wear t-shirts that were snug but not to tight with no bra underneath. Her hair was long and jet black, it flowed down below the middle of her back though she usually wore it in a braid. Her eyes dark chocolate brown, she said they were her father's eyes. He was part Cherokee. Celine had taken her to The Witches' Brew for drinks and Raven had been impressed that Celine stuck to sodas all night. She commented on this to Celine. Raven wasnt a fan of alcohol, though she did enjoy her Marlboros™.
The two women began chatting on-line, at first "officially" - Raven wanted reports on how the system was working. They then began talking about more personal things. A friendship sprang up between the women. Celine eventually felt confident enough to tell Raven about breaking up with her lover, Christine. Raven stood by, listening sympathetically and then shared her own sad story about Natalie.
The chats increased to every night, graduating into phone conversations but usually they kept chatting to save on the long distance phone bills, then the women began visiting each other back and forth. Over time, their friendship grew into romance and the deepened into love. They couldn't explain the connection, it seemed to transcended time and distance
The computer dinged, startling Celine out of her reverie. She looked up and saw Galinthias sitting in the kitchen doorway, washing her face. Celine smiled and turned her eyes back to the computer screen, not noticing the cat look up from her bath and slowly creep over to the corner of the room, sniffing. In that dark corner of the room, unseen by Celine, a shadowy figure stood and watched her.
"Raven," Celine whispered, she saw the screen name WitchiPoo the name Raven used on-line. Celine loved that screen name and her's too, Broomrider. She remembered when they decided to get them so they could chat away from work.
WitchiePoo: Hi, Baby. Glad you're home. I've been waiting for you. How'd it go tonight?
Broomrider: It was okay. Celine typed the words.
WitchiePoo: Did you talk about anything interesting?
Broomrider: Just the usual crap. Something funny did happen though. I felt a strong presence there. I think it was a female spirit. I kinda wished you were with me tonight. I miss you so very much - two days seems like a lifetime until I see you, Love.
Suddenly, words appeared in the message box, words Celine knew had not come from her lover.
Celine gasped. "Wh - Who is that? How do they know my name?" She looked at the screen.
Broomrider: Who are you? Celine typed out the words.
"I saw you at the tavern tonight." The words appeared in the chat box next to Raven's
WitchiePoo: Honey? It's me.
Broomrider: No, no - not you - don't you see the words?
WitchiePoo: Which words, Sweetheart?
Broomrider: Someone just typed "Hi, Celine" - that wasn't you, was it? Oh, please say that it was you!
WitchiePoo: No, I'm sorry, Baby.
Broomrider: Who are you????
"Celine please don't be afraid. I did not mean to scare you. I'm sorry."
"OH FUCK!" Celine grabbed her throat. She stood up went to the window and closed the blinds. She felt a sudden chill coming from the corner of the room. "What's going on?" she said aloud. Celine wrapped her arms around her body and went back to the computer to type.
Broomrider: Raven, I need to call you right now. On the phone.
Terrified at what had just occurred, Celine needed to hear her lovers voice. She waited for a response then grabbed the telephone and dialled.
"Hi, Raven is that you?" Celine said into the phone.
"Yeah, what's wrong Honey?" Raven heard the panic in Celine's voice and was worried.
"I don't know, someone Shit! Someone popped in on me on-line and they knew my real name. No one but you knows that. They said they saw me at the 'Brew' tonight."
"Okay, Sweetheart, what was the screen name?" Raven asked with a calm voice hoping it would help allay Celine's fear.
"That's just it, there was no screen name. It just appeared in the message box with yours. Didnt you see it?" Celine felt her panic begin to rise even more at the thought of someone watching her, even on-line.
"Celine, Honey, maybe it's someone from work just playing a joke on you," Raven said hoping this was the case.
"Oh, hell, Raven - none of them have any sense of humour! No, someone someone is watching me - I can feel it," said Celine, shuddering, looking at the drawn blinds covering the only window in the room, then glancing back at the door, unable to take a full breath until she saw that it was locked.
"Do you want to go back on-line and try to find out who it is?" Raven asked.
"I don't know. Maybe," Celine thought about it. Well if they're on-line then I know they cant be here if not oh jeez! Its better to know one way or the other - and Ravens probably right - probably just some idiot playing around "Okay, you there."
Raven wanted to find out who was causing her lover such distress.
"Raven?" Celine spoke calmly.
"Yeah?" Raven already knew.
"I love you." Celine said.
"I love you too, Honey, very much." Raven hung up the phone.
Celine walked over to the kitchen and got a glass of water before returning to the computer. Her hands shook and she still felt eyes on her, but she was calming down slowly. Galinthias was lying peacefully asleep under the computer. If anything had been amiss, the cat would be wide awake and letting her know it. Celine sat back down at the computer and signed on again. She felt goosebumps rising on her arms and the back of her neck tingled, but she assumed it was apprehension.
WitchiePoo: Hi Love, you there?
Broomrider: Yea I'm here. I'm okay now. Thanks baby.
WitchiPoo: Anytime. Tell me what happened at the club - you said you felt a presence?
That was me.
Celine gasped. She felt goosebumps rising along both of her arms. She looked around the room, but saw nothing except Galinthias, still sleeping.
Broomrider: Why doesnt your screen name appear in the Instant Message box?
WitchiePoo: Hon, is that person writing to you now? All I can see are your responses.
Broomrider: Yeah, they are - you cant see them?
WitchiePoo: No, just you.
Celine got up abruptly from the computer and walked into her bedroom. She needed to be comfortable and she needed something to make her feel safe. She changed out of her jeans and sweater into sweats and a t-shirt, then went to the eastern wall of her bedroom, lighting the white candles sitting on a small table there. She also lit some incense and waved it around, whispering some sacred words.
Celine was a witch - or more properly, she practised the religion of Wicca. Celines mother had died in childbirth. Her father owned a small neighbourhood grocery store. He was killed when Celine was twelve in a botched robbery attempt and Celines grandmother Nana Grace took her in and raised her in the Craft. Her grandmother was the only relative left on her mother's side of the family. Nana Grace had been not only supportive, but a witch herself, as Celine's mother had been. Nana Grace was delighted that Celine showed a great talent at an early age. She also had a gift and a love for learning languages. When Celine graduated from high school and wanted to study abroad, they had found the money to send her to the best language school in Europe. But she came back to Goldstone when her father's mother Caroline took ill. Celine cared for her grandmother until she died two years ago. Celine didn't know why she stayed, maybe because she was destined to meet Raven.
Celine turned back around and headed out to the other room, she sat back down at the computer.
WitchiePoo: Sweetie you still there?
Celines fingers swiftly replied.
Broomrider: Yeah, just went to change and get a little protection. You know what I mean.
WitchiePoo: Yeah, Hon, I do. So what does this ghost writer have to say?
Celine laughed out loud. "Yeah 'ghost writer' is right."
Broomrider: Nothing yet. Im still waiting for a reply.
WitchiePoo: Okay, while we're waiting, I have my brother, Adam on the other line. He's checking things out now - you know what a computer whiz he is.
Raven sat at the desk in her bedroom trying to figure out how she or someone could pop in on a chat but could only be seen from one computer. She closed her eyes and pictured Celine sitting at home on her computer. Raven saw herself standing behind Celine, she had her hands on Celine's shoulders. Her hands seemed a bit more pale than her usual native tan. They were more translucent. She leaned down and wrapped her arms around her lover and whispered the words, "be safe my love."
Raven was what Celine termed a "natural witch." She never practised or studied magic like Celine did but she did things and made things happen. When Raven was a child she would go outside and talk to the animals and tree people as she called them.
Her father Jim Blackfoot, was said to have been the son of a medicine man, but he never spoke of these things to his daughter, he did say once that she had some of her grandpa's magic. She could see the spirits that wandered around, but she should probably not tell her mother. Raven's mother was not as supportive of her abilities. She was very orthodox in her beliefs. When Raven's mother Samantha first got together with Jim, she said she would only marry him if he gave up his Native ways and converted to her beliefs, which he did. It was Raven's grandmother and her younger brother Adam who understood Raven and accepted her gifts.
Adam possessed an understanding and a dry humour about everything. Raven, knowing of his computer skills had enlisted his help with her security firm. He had implemented her computer system, writing many of the programs himself. Raven hired him on permanently. He was the first of her twenty or so employees. Even now, Raven knew that she could tell him anything and he would not only understand, he would keep it to himself. She had, in fact, shared their grandmother's secrets with him.
Adam had laughed. "That explains a lot, Sis'," he had said.
Raven lived in the house she had inherited from her grandmother. She had been very close to her grandmother, spending summers and holidays in the big old house. When her grandmother died, Raven felt lost. She loved her parents and her brother, but she had been closest to her grandmother. Still, she was surprised when the house was left to her instead of to her mother.
Five years after her grandmothers death, Raven still had been unable to bring herself to go through her things and dispose of anything which had belonged to her grandmother. Eventually, she was able to give away the clothes. Grannys trunk, however, was sacred. Raven would not open it. Even though Granny was gone, it still felt to her like an invasion of privacy. Granny had never forbidden her anything, including the trunk, but Raven could not bring herself to cross that line.
Celine, however, had no qualms. In fact, she was drawn to the trunk. One day, when Raven was working, Celine opened it. Raven came home to find her reading from a book she had never seen before. It was a black-bound book like a diary. Raven glanced over her shoulder and thought at first that it was a recipe book. Then Celine had explained that this was Grannys "Book of Shadows" - her spell-book in other words. Celine was excited. Raven hadnt known that Granny was a witch but, thinking back, it all made sense. Granny had encouraged Raven to talk about the things that she would experience, the spirits and voices she'd heard. It was a real surprise because her mother was so conventional. Rather than being angry with Celine for opening the trunk, Raven sat down with her and went through all the things lovingly placed within it.
They found candles, jars of dried herbs, each carefully labelled, incense - all the tools of Grannys craft. And a letter. Raven opened it and to her surprise, it was to her.
My Dearest Raven,
If you are reading this, then I have crossed over. I promised your parents that I would not share these things with you while I lived and I have kept that promise. Your mother did not approve of the Craft, you see. Oh, my Little One! How I have longed to guide you along this difficult path! I have seen your Gift - it is very strong. Know, though, my Child, that I will always be with you. Read the Book of Shadows - it has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations - our family has always been powerful. Your own mother denied her gift, but do not judge her harshly; it is a difficult path to walk and you yourself may wish to walk another. My only quarrel with her was that she wished to deny you the choice. It is my hope that by the time you find this, you will be old enough to make that choice for yourself. Just to help guarantee that, however, I have enspelled the trunk that only another witch may open it. It is my hope that it will be you, my Dear, or one who will see to it that you receive this letter. All I ask of you is that if you do not choose this way, pass the Book on to your brother. He, too, is gifted, though not as strongly as you.
This is your part heritage, Raven. One of power and of magic. It is a proud heritage, despite what others may say or think of the Craft. There is so much more I wish I could tell you, but time restrains me. Read the Book - it is all in there. I will be very proud if you add to it your own spells and discoveries along this wonderful, if rocky path.
I love you, Little One. I always have and always will.
It was Celine who helped Raven understand her abilities and guided her to using them. Now Raven whispered a spell of protection, calling upon the Names they had found in Granny's Book.
Celine sat back in her chair, taking a deep breath, she glanced at Galinthias. The cat was staring at her, but her eyes Celine gasped. Normally Galinthias's eyes were deep green, Now they were a dark blue. Celine blinked and looked again and the cat's eyes were their normal green once again. Celine stood up with a sigh.
"Okay, I'm just a little freaked with this computer thing," she said to herself. Celine picked up her glass and took it to the kitchen to put it in the sink. She glanced up at the small window over the sink and screamed, dropping the glass, which shattered in the porcelain sink. There, grinning at her from the window overhead was a face, pale with burning black eyes, gleaming madly.
"What the hells is going on here?!" Celine cried, running back into the living room. She felt her heart racing and strove to calm it so that she could draw on her powers. She held out her hand and spoke. "Ye of evil intent must leave this place!"
"NO PLEASE WAIT IM NOT EVIL"
Celine took in a breath as she saw the words appear on the computer screen. "Who are you?" she asked. "Are you the face in the window?"
"Are you the one who saw me at the tavern?"
"Yes." The word appeared on the screen.
"Okay," Celine said, taking another deep breath afraid of the answer to her next question. "Where are you now?"
"Im here with you Celine."
"With me? Here in this room?" Celine swallowed hard.
Celine clutched at the small silver pentagram she wore around her neck. She had never felt so scared before. A spirit had attached itself to her and come into her home. She always kept a shield up around her house, but now she realised that her sympathetic acknowledgement of its presence had been interpreted as an invitation.
"What is it that you want from me?" Celine asked.
Celine jumped at the sound of the ringing phone. "Oh, Fuck!" She turned and grabbed the receiver. "Hello?"
"Hi, is everything okay? You were gone for a long time so I called back."
"Raven, Oh Goddess! I need you to come down here right away. Please?" Celine pleaded with her love, telling her about the cat's eyes, the face, everything.
Raven now listened intently to her lovers strained and fearful voice and made a decision.
"I'll be right there. Just hang in there. Im on my way." Raven said then hung up the phone.
She picked up the phone again and called her brother, frowning at the news he gave her about Celine's computer, which brought on a renewed sense of urgency to get to Celine.
Raven lived an hour and a half away. Her brother would take care of her cats while she was away and she could work from Celines computer for the next few days. Raven was a freelance security consultant, and although she maintained an office, she did most of her work from home, anyway.
Raven had enlisted in the military shortly after graduating from college. She rejected OCS (Officer Candidate School), instead becoming military police. After her Honourable Discharge, she enrolled in the police academy, thinking that her experience would be of mutual benefit. Her goal: detective. Instead, after she graduated from the Academy, the Chief of Police assigned her to a computer desk, running the entire computer system for the small-town Police department.
Raven complained, believing that the only reason she was assigned to the relative safety of a computer desk was because she was female. The Chief, however, told her that it was because she was the only officer competent to run the departments computer system. Looking at the other officers in the squad, Raven couldnt argue.
She spent a few years setting up and running the Police Departments computer system, then resigned, starting her own Security Consulting Business. She had built up the single woman operation into a very successful business and had several employees doing the actual legwork now while Raven often grinned and shook her head at the irony - she was still working behind a desk.
After Celine hung up with Raven, she set the phone down and looked around the room. She tried to sense where the entity was but she couldnt see or feel anything.
"Are you still here?" Celine asked, then waited for a reply on the computer.
There was none.
She was going to sit down on the computer chair but then thought, what if it, whoever it was, was now sitting there ? So she went into her bedroom and sat on her bed. Every hair on her body was standing up, strangely though she didnt feel like she was in danger and knowing that Raven was on her way helped Celine feel calmer. She wanted to know what its purpose in communicating with her was. Wasnt there always a reason for a spirit manifesting to a person?
Celine lay her head up against the pillowed headboard and waited for Raven to arrive. Somehow, she had a feeling that she wouldnt be hearing from the ghost for a while. As she waited, she drifted, whether to sleep or in trance she wasn't sure. She opened her eyes to a room she had never before seen. It was dimly lit and very cold. In the centre of the room was a wooden table and Celine gasped to see herself. She was naked and lying on the table, her hands tied to the bar above her head.
The door opened and they walked in one by one, the accusers, the "jury". They surrounded her and Celine, looking at their Puritan clothing felt like a turkey on Thanksgiving. Why am I seeing this? she thought, shivering.
They, the jury of men looked upon her with disgust. She was terrified. Then she heard the footsteps. Celine, had her head down and saw black shoes with brass buckles, they made a jingling noise as the man who wore them approached. Her eyes darted upward to see the face she had seen earlier in her kitchen window. She looked up as he walked through the door, his hair long and black curling down past his shoulders. His eyes burning like fire yet black as coal. At the sound of his voice, Celine suddenly found herself floating above the chamber, looking down at the scene below. She saw a young woman with dark hair, standing in the corner of the chamber, her head bent into a great black book.
"What do we have here?" The man with the black buckled shoes spoke, his voice deep and resonating throughout the chamber. "You were seen by many out in the darkness of night dancing with the rise of the moon. You were calling for him werent you?! Satan, you wanted to covenant with him did YOU? This be true you poor miserable creature?"
"NO! PLEASE IVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. PLEASE!" The woman that now laid in the place Celine was previously in yelled out with terror.
He pointed his finger at the dark-haired girl with the book. She looked up for a moment and Celine saw her eyes, dark and blue - like Raven's, she was startled to notice. Only Celine could not believe that Raven's eyes had ever held such terror - and loathing.
"You!" the man said to the young woman. "Read the name marked down upon the book. Read the charges so that they may be heard."
The dark-haired woman looked pleadingly at the woman lying on the table, then bent her head again and read in a trembling voice.
"Upon the night of the full moon it was said that the accused was seen wailing and dancing her head flinging to and fro her body gyrating as she dropped to the ground and proceeded to move in such a way that only the devil himself could be fornicating with her."
"Speak the name, for I must give the sentence soon," the man demanded.
The young woman looked again at the woman on the table. From above, Celine could see the dark-haired woman's jaw tighten and defiance spring up into her blue eyes. Now that looks like Raven, thought Celine.
The man struck Raven's look-alike hard and her head snapped back. "Read the name," he said, his voice dangerously quiet. "Or it will be worse - for both of you."
Still the young woman hesitated, looking at the prostrate woman. The next blow bloodied her nose. Celine winced and saw for the first time the woman on the table had a uncanny resemblance to herself. She found herself whispering, seeing the lips of her double moving at the same time.
"Do it. Just read the name. Let this end. Isn't that what you want, Reverend!" She smiled through the pain, then closed her eyes.
The dark-haired young woman bent her head into the book again and from her position above the room, Celine could see her tears.
"The name of the accused is Elizab - " before she could finish getting the name out, Celine's double on the table screamed in agony. Celine looked and saw the man with a red hot poker in his hand, grinning as the burn marks began forming on her double's body below.
"NO! STOP THIS NOW!" Celine cried out.
Raven was coming up to the apartment when she heard Celine scream. She pulled her keys out of her pocket and fished for the one Celine had given her. She opened the door and ran to Celine's bedroom where the scream came from. With a sigh of relief she wrapped her arms around the sleeping Celine. "She's only dreaming, a nightmare probably."
Celine's eyes shot open, she was startled for a moment then realised Raven was there.
"Ive got you, Honey." Raven said, now sitting on the bed beside Celine. She gathered Celine in her arms and held her close, speaking softly and soothingly. "Im here."
Celine was still groggy, trying to wake up. "Raven?" she said.
"Im here. I heard you screaming outside your window. Good thing you gave me a key love." Raven said feeling a bit calmer now that she knew it was only a dream and not some intruder trying to hurt her lover.
"Oh my Goddess, it was so real!"
Celine hid her face into Raven's chest.
"What was it, Honey?" Raven said, her lips brushing up against Celine's hair.
"I don't know I felt like I was really there, it wasn't me though, it was some woman. I felt I like I was her," Celine's voice was husky and her throat felt dry. "No, there were two women - and I think I was seeing from both of them. There was this man, this evil man. Oh, Raven, he was torturing he was torturing the woman strapped to the table, but he was also using her torture to torment the other woman its all so jumbled now, but it was so very real while I was dreaming it." Celine shuddered and pressed closer still to Raven, burrowing into the warm protectiveness emanating from the dark-haired woman.
"Okay, its over now," Raven said as she stroked her lover's hair. "Celine, Honey, I talked with Adam before I left. He told me that that it was impossible with the program we were using for someone to pop in on our chat without showing a screen name, and to only be seen on your computer."
Celine shuddered. "Let's go and look at the computer," she said.
Raven stood up with Celine and they went into the other room where the computer was still on and open to their chat. Raven looked at the words which had not appeared on her computer at home. She shook her head.
"What happened at the Tavern tonight?" she asked, sitting at the monitor, her fingers running swiftly over the keyboard as she ran a check on Celine's computer.
"I I saw a ghost - or something," said Celine. "I felt sort of sorry for her- she looked so sad, so lonely. She was standing in front of the door as I was leaving so I asked if I could pass and then I just came home and all this stuff - weird stuff- started happening."
"Okay," said Raven, finishing the check on Celine's computer and shaking her head again, puzzled - the computer was fine. "When you saw the face in the kitchen window, what did you do?"
"I got scared and I tried to cast out whatever was here. I felt something for a moment. Then the words appeared on computer screen and said it was not evil and that it had followed me from the tavern." Celine was talking a lot faster than usual. She was still a bit shaken from the dream.
"Please help me."
The words appeared on the screen.
"Goddess!" Raven said, startled, when she saw the words appear on the computer screen.
"Rave, I think that's who I've been talking to." Celine said as she walked over and stood behind her girlfriend.
"Are you the one who's been writing to me tonight?" Celine asked the computer.
"What do you want?" Raven asked.
"We have to stop him. He is still here, in this time, waiting What Celine saw in her dream was real. It happened long ago, but he waits to be brought back to this time so he can begin his evil anew."
"Oh shit, Raven!" Celine grabbed Raven's arm and felt her knees begin to shake.
"It's okay, Honey. It wont hurt you. Right?" Raven asked.
"No, I will not hurt you.
I cannot, even if I wished to, but I would never wish you harm, I promise. But,
he - he is another matter. I'm afraid. Afraid of him coming here. If
he finds me; he will find you."
"Who?" Raven asked.
"Him, Celine you saw him, he will come for me. Please you have to help me."
"Celine do you know who he
is?" Raven looked at her girlfriend.
"I-I think its the man from my dream," Celine closed her eyes. She felt the darkness, the evil emanating from the man in her dream. "If I believed in a devil, it would probably be him. I don't know who he is, though."
Raven closed her eyes briefly. She listened to the sounds in the room. She heard the humming of the computer and the ticking of the clock on the wall. Galinthias was sitting on the love seat behind her, she was purring softly. Then Raven heard or possibly felt a soft vibration coming from the corner of the room. Raven felt the hairs on the back of her neck begin to prickle. She opened her eyes and turned to where she felt the noise was coming from. She wasnt really sure if she heard it with her ears or with another sense. She just knew she could feel it. "There in the corner!" She pointed. She saw a translucent figure, it was hard to make out distinctive features.
Celine looked but saw nothing. "Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yeah, I can just make out the blurry outline," Raven said.
"Is that you in the corner?"
Yes, I'm tired though I need to gain back my energy. I will be back.
Raven watched as the ghost faded away. "Its gone." She sighed.
"Okay, so what do we do now?"
"I don't know. What do you say we get some sleep, it's almost four O'clock and I feel like I've been driving all night?"
Raven led Celine back into the bedroom to settle in for the night.
Both women settled into bed but Celine was still worried, she felt unprotected because Sarah managed to hitch a ride home with her. If Sarah could - maybe others could too.
"Raven? Don't you think it's odd that I brought some strange spirit home with me?"
"Not strange at all - remember that Samhain is approaching," said Raven, shrugging. "'All Hallows Eve' - the night when the veil between the Land of the Living and the Lands of the Dead is thinnest."
"Oh geesh, I didnt think
of that. I was so busy planning our retreat this weekend." They had been planning
to sneak away for a few days and go camping. Celine got out of bed and began
to pace. "What if that man comes here?"
"He won't, not while I'm here, anyway, you should re-shield this place with some wards though." Raven said as she watched her lover pace the room nervously.
"Good idea." Celine grabbed some oil from their altar and began to light more candles since the others had burned into a pool of wax. She lit the censer and waved it around the room. "Come on," she said to Raven.
Raven ever so calmly got out of bed and walked the room with Celine. At the window Celine placed a symbol mixed from the oils and chanted, closing that entrance to any evil entities. Then they proceeded to walk the house. When they got to the living room they both gasped at the sight of the cat sitting on an invisible lap rocking in the chair.
"Okay, it's okay, if it's truly not evil then it won't mind the oil that you flick at it," Celine said, then she looked at Raven.
Raven got the hint and touched some oil with her fingers, she thrust her hand at the chair letting the oil sprinkle off her fingertip. "Let no evil stay here. If you are untrue, be gone!" Raven spoke the words with power.
"MRRROOOOOWWWW!" The cat complained but did not move from the lap of the ghost.
"We're going to bed now so I guess you're welcome to stay as long as you intend no harm," Celine said as she grabbed Raven's hand and pulled her into the bedroom rather quickly. The chair continued to rock.
A few minutes later, the bedroom door opened and Raven emerged into the shadows of the living room. She laid down with Celine who fell asleep incredible fast, so she decided to go and have her self a chat. She looked directly at the spirit rocking in the chair and spoke.
"What is your name?" her voice was low and gentle.
Raven's dark hair shimmered in the half-light from the candles, still burning and lending their illumination from the bedroom door, which she had left ajar. The soft glow surrounded her like a halo. Celine lay sleeping in the large bed, her breathing quiet and even. The spirit strove to speak, but had no voice.
"Names have power," said Raven, taking a seat on the sofa across from rocking chair. The cat awoke and jumped down, leaping into Raven's lap, kneading into Raven's bare thighs. It had to have hurt, but Raven paid no attention. Her focus was completely on the spirit.
"We will help you, but if we are going to do this, I must know your name. Please."
The ghost stood up and walked into the other room. She waited by the computer.
Raven stood up and followed, she understood when she saw the ghost standing by the monitor. Raven sat down and turned the system on. Once the computer completed booting up, Raven opened up a word processor program and clicked on new document which gave a blank white page.
"Your name?" she asked again, as she pointed to the monitor.
"My name is Sarah." The words appeared on the monitor.
"Sarah, what is it you want from Celine? Raven asked. She felt a slight chill on one side of her body. The side that Sarah stood next too.
I know now that Celine was able to let me come with her because of her connection with
"How are we to help you? What must we do?" Raven asked, glancing back into the
bedroom. She saw Celine still sleeping, but stirring as if dreaming again.
Celine found herself in the tavern, walking around until she came upon a young woman sitting in a chair. Celine looked closely at her and recognised her from her earlier dream as the woman who had been strapped to the wooden table, her double.
"Hello, Im glad you could come," the woman said, smiling.
"Who are you?" asked Celine.
"My name is Elizabeth. There is something I must show you so you can break a spell cast so long ago," said the woman. Celine felt herself transported back, back in time and space. She travelled through a hazy fog, her vision blurred. She blinked and then opened her eyes.
She saw two women sitting on a blanket spread out under an oak tree on the hill overlooking the courthouse. At first she thought she was seeing herself and Raven - only somehow, Celine knew that this was Elizabeth and the ghost, which had followed her home from the Tavern. The ghost looked a lot like Raven. It then came to Celine - somehow they were all connected, it wasn't just coincidence. She realised too that the Tavern was the old courthouse! She recognised the hill, even the oak that was much larger in her own time.
Celine saw the two women laughing
while Elizabeth was braiding the other woman's hair.
"You are so beautiful." Celine heard Elizabeth whisper to the other woman. She watched as Elizabeth brought her lips down to the dark-haired woman's ear touching lightly. Celine felt a shiver and closed her eyes for a moment.
Elizabeth placed a kiss on the woman's ear. The dark-haired woman turned her head slowly as Elizabeth's lips move down to the woman's cheek and then ever so softly they began to brush the woman's lips. They deepened the kiss both moaning out in pleasure. Celine watched and felt the love that was so strong and pure between the two women.
"I love you so much Sarah," Elizabeth said with a sigh. Celine watched feeling like an intruder but she could not leave.
"I love you too," said Sarah.
Suddenly, Celine felt herself
pulled back to the Tavern room.
"I dont understand - " Celine started.
Elizabeth smiled at her. "The love you share with your Raven is the same love Sarah and I shared. Sarah followed you from here. We need your help, you and Raven's. You two are the last - so far - of our descendants. Now that you are together, it has begun."
"What has?" asked Celine.
Just then the Reverend appeared
in a bright flash. He looked at Celine with pure hatred. Celine gasped.
"You cannot save the damned. She is mine," he said as he grabbed a struggling Elizabeth. They both turned to smoke and disappeared.
Celine opened her eyes and jumped out of bed. She ran to the other room to find Raven on the computer.
"Raven! I think he has her!" Celine cried out.
"Who?" Raven turned and faced her lover.
"Elizabeth. The man in the dream he was a Reverend or something. He said we couldnt save her - she was his and she was damned."
Suddenly, the rocking chair stopped rocking and tipped over. Celine looked at Raven, grimly, knowing that she had upset their ghostly visitor.
The room grew very cold as the spirit drew in all the energy she could to manifest herself in a way she had never done before. The women's breath came out in puffs of fog. Celine was shivering and Raven wrapped her arms around Celine, seemingly unaffected by the frigidness of the room.
"Look," whispered Celine, pointing at the spirit. She was now as solid as she had been in life and at last she found her voice.
"I am Sarah Bishop," she said in a softly spoken voice. "We have to save Elizabeth. 'Twas him, the reverend who did those things to her. He has her and will not let her go."
"I was the daughter of the chief "witch hunter", inquisitor and judge of this area, the Reverend Bishop. I was born in 1632. My mother died whilst I was being born and my father never re-married. 'Twas up to me to take care of his house and prepare his meals. We had servants, but 'twas I who essentially served him in his house."
"I met Elizabeth when we were both thirteen. We met in Meeting one Sabbath and were both whipped for giggling after the service. Elizabeth seemed not to care, though. Nothing would break her, not even being given in marriage to a man with a heavy hand two years later. I would see her bruises and exclaim over them, applying poultices to the dark swellings, but Beth would merely toss her head and laugh."
"We met in secret and over time, we fell in love. I know a love that was not supposed to be. How I hated Elizabeth's husband, not only for hurting Elizabeth, but because he was permitted to touch her in ways I could only dream of, as evidenced by Elizabeth's growing belly. Beth had great dreams - we would run away and join the wild "savages" who had inhabited this land before we came. As soon as the babe was born, we would take it and raise it amongst the Indians. In my heart, I knew this to be impossible, but still, the game offered a tiny beam of light in our bleak world."
"Then, little Rebekah was born and Elizabeth grew ill - she had "fits" after the baby was born and nothing could be done for her. The Reverend forbade me to go to her or to see her at all. That didn't stop me - and to my shame, I wondered if that was why she was condemned. But no, 'twas Elizabeth's husband. He caught us one day and Beth was beaten without mercy. My punishment may have been even more horrific - I was forced to watch as my only love, the only light in my world, was tortured to death at the hands of my father."
"I will never lose the image of Elizabeth lying on that accursed table. He and the others had left the room I ran to her and held her tightly. The tears blurring my vision, I did not know how to help her. My love was dying and there was nothing I could do. She said she said everything would be okay and she begged me to just hold her until it was over. I held her and promised that I would always be with her. I wanted to confess everything to that evil man so I could go with my love, but she wouldnt let me. She told me she would wait for me here. She said something something I was to remember, but like so many other things, it had left me over the centuries. Something about us being together again a bond of blood and time and then her eyes closed and my heart died that very moment my Beth died."
"Then he came back into
the room and saw me holding on to my love. He was angry but I didnt care.
I shouted at him, 'Im a witch, too, Father, so damn me, you bastard!'
He growled at me, said I was just like my mother. Then he raised his hand and
I fell into darkness.
"Time passed so quickly after Elizabeth was-murdered. I remember little of it until I found myself lying in bed giving birth to a child that I would not see. I knew something was wrong. My husband whose hands were as heavy as my father's, like iron every time they would connect with my face or my stomach, he did something to me that morning. Something which brought the baby before her time. I was so scared and the blood did not stop. But I was glad that my father was not alive anymore, he would never see his grandchild, he would never again hurt anyone like he did my Elizabeth. I heard the cry of my little girl. I closed my eyes and spoke my last words, 'Mother Goddess protect this little one.'
"I opened my eyes and felt no more pain. I heard my love calling for me so I followed her voice. She was in the court house waiting for me. I started to run toward her. Then he was there watching, laughing. 'You really think you can have her? She is damned as you are now,' he said. Then he raised his hands and opened his mouth to speak but she jumped between us, holding him off and told me to remember her dying words.
'Though I am held within deaths grasp
my soul not yet set free
be this night my love
a protection over thee
keep ye safe inside these doors
unbroken spirit shield
until released by our blood
together as one in love
"Her last words were a spell to protect me from him," said the ghost, the tears flowing from her blue eyes unchecked. Celine was crying, too, Raven held Celine close as tears flowed freely from her green eyes.
"Oh, Raven, we have to help them," said Celine.
"Shh, don't cry," said Raven, soothingly. "We will."
"You two are the last of our descendants," Sarah said. "You are the only ones who can help. When Elizabeth spoke the protection spell, she placed a time for it to end. until released by our blood together as one in love forever sealed ' You two - our blood - have found one another, you love one another and now it's time to end his reign of evil. Tell me, in this time are you free to love one another and to practice the old religion, free of persecution?"
"Not exactly," said Raven, grimly. "But we are certainly more free than you were - not that it takes much to be freer - those were horrific times."
"Yes." Sarah agreed. "But 'tis comforting to know that it has grown less oppressive."
"The last known Witch Trial here in America was in 1692 in Salem," said Raven. "But even today in South Africa, old women are being called 'witches' and are being killed."
"So it has changed somewhat, but not completely," The ghost sighed. "Still, I would have been happy to simply be free to love my Beth."
"And so you shall. You two will be together," said Celine, her eyes far away.
Sarah gasped as she watched Celine drift off into trance. "Beth she was visited by theses trances all the time after the birth of her daughter. 'Twas part of her power. And her descendent has inherited that power," said the spirit. "My hope is renewed. Unfortunately, my energy is not. I must go for now, back to that limbo place which serves as sleep for spirits. I will be back." Sarah faded away.
After the ghost left them, Celine turned to Raven. "Okay, where do we start?" she asked.
Raven chuckled, nuzzling Celine's blonde hair, revelling in the lingering scent of the incense they had been burning.
"We start with going back to bed - it's almost dawn," said Raven. "Later this morning, we'll check out the Tavern. We need to find out a few things."
It was a hazy day outside, the
sun was hidden just beyond the clouds waiting to shine through. Raven parked
her truck outside the tavern. She and Celine walked up toward the entrance.
"Wow, can you feel that?" Raven asked as her hand touched the door.
"Yeah, I can. Funny I didn't feel anything like this last night." Celine said. Her stomach felt a bit queasy. "What do you suppose it is?"
Just then the door opened and Emmeline Cassidy poked her head out. "We're closed!" The woman started to close the door again when she heard a loud crash of breaking glass. "Oh, no! Not again!"
"What is it?" Raven asked, pushing past the woman into the main room of the Tavern, Celine close behind her.
"Its been going on all night," the older woman said, wearily, gazing at the new mess of broken glass and pooling alcohol. "Things flying around, smashing into the wall, shelves of bottles falling and breaking all over the place, moans and screams coming from downstairs. You know the place is haunted - it always has been. Things were quiet for a time, but for about the last year, its been acting up. Last night, it escalated beyond anything Ive ever seen before."
"I think we can help you," Celine said.
The woman looked at Raven and Celine and let out a sigh. "Come on," she said, leading them through the main room. There was a eerie silence suddenly as the women entered.
"We need to go downstairs I think." Celine spoke softly. She felt herself being pulled toward the back of the tavern.
"I don't like going down there. I usually keep it locked up." Em felt a chill. She already knew there was something down there, something bad, but not what - or just how bad - that something was.
"I'm Raven Blackwing and this is Celine Howe, I don't really know how to explain it but I think there is something evil down there. I know that sounds crazy, but - "
"Are you kidding?" said Em with a weary chuckle. "The Ghost told you, right?" She looked at Celine. "Oh, dont look so surprised - I watched her follow you out last night. Good old Sarah. Shes one of the good ones - her and the other woman - that man though - Ill bet hes the one throwing the tantrum."
"Youve seen them?" asked Celine.
"Well, of course," said Em. "And I know you, Missy - Celine Howe. Your father used to come in once in a while. He was a good man. I dont remember your mother - she wasnt from around here."
"And you are ?" asked Raven, one eyebrow raised.
"I'm Emmeline Cassidy - just call me Em. My father owned this tavern and I took over when he passed on. Ive been seeing Sarah and the other two for years, now. Was a bit surprised she left with you, though," said Em.
"Yeah, so was I," said Celine, quietly. She shuddered a bit, then looked towards the cellar door. "Hes down there."
"Then thats where we need to go," said Raven, grimly.
The two women waited for Em to unlock the door. Raven hunted around for a light switch, at last finding it. She wiped dusty cobwebs from her fingers on the leg of her jeans. The light was dim, but it was better than the inky blackness which had preceded it. Slowly the three women descended the creaky wooden steps.
The cellar of the Tavern was covered in dust, but oddly, there were no spider webs in the cellar proper. Just as odd, no sign of mice or rats either, which the women would have expected in the long abandoned cellar. No signs of any living creature were in evidence anywhere.
There was a damp chill which pervaded and a musty, sort of decay smell. Celine shivered. The damp seemed to penetrate even her heavy wool sweater and the smell of mildew was beginning to nauseate her; perhaps it was more than that.
Feelings of panic, terror, and despair battled for precedence within her.
"Oh, Blessed Mother," she whispered. "This is what they felt. His victims." The residue of horror hung in the musty air like the odour of burned flesh. Panic won out, and Celine raced for the stairs.
"Celine!" cried Raven, running after her. Not to be left alone in the cellar, Em swiftly followed the other two women. Only when Celine reached the door of the Tavern did her panic ebb. Once outside in the crisp autumn morning, Celine gasped for breath.
Raven reached her. "Honey, what is it?" she asked.
"Didnt you feel it?" asked Celine.
Raven frowned. She had felt something, but it was too horrendous to process. Raven blocked it from her conscious mind. A residue of the evil which had been perpetrated in that cellar remained there. "Okay," said Raven. "I felt it. But these things happened a long time ago."
"Its still there," Celine whispered, burying her face in Ravens shoulder. "That was the place in my dream. I know it sounds crazy, but - "
"Sh, no its not crazy," said Raven, soothingly as she stroked Celines hair gently.
"Hey, hey, you two," said Em, puffing breathless behind them. "This aint that kind of place - if youre gonna do that get inside before people get the wrong idea!"
Raven rolled her eyes at the woman, then gently guided Celine back inside the Tavern.
"Hey!" said Em, going to the bar. "How did that come on?" Celine looked at the computer monitor and saw her screen name, Broomrider in the instant message box.
Broomrider: Get out of there NOW! HE'S COMING!
"What the hell ?" said Em, incredulous. "Is this some kind of joke?"
"No," said Raven, grimly. "It's no joke. Come on - we have to leave."
The Tavern grew icy cold. The women's breath came out like puffs of fog. There was a sound, faint at first, then growing in volume. Footsteps and a slight jingling.
"Oh, Great Goddess - the buckles on his shoes," whispered Celine. "That was what they heard - one of the last things they ever heard."
As the sound of the footsteps grew louder, Raven closed her eyes. She heard the sound of crows cawing softly, then gradually growing louder as the entity approaching grew closer. As the crows grew louder, the footsteps faded, retreating, then ceased altogether and the room grew warmer. Once again, all was quiet.
"H - how did you do that?" asked Celine.
Raven shrugged, but even she shivered with the after-effects of the chill which had invaded the room. "I don't know," she said. "Come on - we have to get back."
"Hey, wait a minute," said Em. "I thought you said you were going to help."
"We are," said Celine, laying her hand on the older woman's arm. "But we have to wait until the time is right."
"When will that be?" asked Em, nodding.
"All Hallows' Eve," said Raven grimly.
"I have a Halloween party planned," said Em, thoughtfully. "Is there anything you can do to make this," she gestured to the mess of broken glass and spilled liquor, fallen shelves and smashed tables and chairs, "stop before you go?"
"Maybe you should cancel the party," said Celine, quietly.
"Are you nuts?" said Em. "Around here, Halloween is big business. It's not the production it is in Salem, but we had our very own Witch Trials right here."
"You sound proud of that," said Celine, slightly disgusted.
"Well it is good for business," said Em, grinning. "And I don't know what you're all so fired up about, Missy, seeing as your family is one of the oldest in town - like as not, your own ancestors burned a few witches."
"Or were burned," murmured Raven. "Come on, Celine. We have to get back."
"Please, Ms. Cassidy," said Celine. "Please, at least consider cancelling the party."
"That's out of the question," said the older woman, stubbornly crossing her arms over her chest.
"Please," Celine pleaded. "People could get hurt if you don't."
"Don't be ridiculous," said Em. "One thing I do know about ghosts is they can't hurt people."
"This one is different," said Celine, her eyes gazing far away at a scene neither of the other two saw. "He's not just a ghost. He's a a force. An evil force."
Em laughed. "You should hear what you sound like. Hey, you come to the party and start talking about that stuff and I'll give you free drinks all night - you can build the atmosphere. People get spooked enough, they drink more."
"Come on Celine," said Raven, almost growling.
"We'll be there," said Celine, sighing sadly as she and Raven turned to leave.
They got into Raven's truck and Celine turned to Raven. "She doesn't believe us, does she?"
"I just think she doesn't care," said Raven, grimly. "She knows more about this than she's telling."
"Let's just get home," sighed Celine. "I want to talk with Sarah - how could she know that he was coming just then?"
"What do you mean?" asked Raven.
"Sarah is within the protective wards we put up," said Celine, feeling her fear grow. "How could she sense he was -"
"Oh, shit! I don't know," said Raven, picking up on Celine's fear. "We've got to hurry back."
The women arrived back at Celine's apartment. Her hands shook trying to fit the key in the lock. Raven gently took the keys from Celine and opened the door. The place seemed untouched. The computer was on, however. Celine's cat, Galinthias was sitting in front of the screen, paws on the keyboard. When she heard the women come in, Galinthias jumped down and ran, leaving the instant message box open.
"What the " said Celine, cautiously going to the computer.
"Wow, that is one well-trained cat," chuckled Raven, who looked over at Galinthias, licking her paw and wiping her whiskers with it, just like any other cat.
"Babe, that's not funny," said Celine, staring at the screen. "You know we left the computer off this morning. Come and see this."
There in the instant message box, the women read the words.
CAS789: Sarah, you have to get them out of here - he knows they're here now.
Broomrider: Beth? Is that you?
CAS789: There's no time for that now - get them out of here!
Broomrider: Get out of there NOW! HE'S COMING!
"So Elizabeth was communicating with her through the computer - amazing. `Techno-spirits'," said Raven.
"Not so amazing - that's how we found each other, well kind of." Said Celine, smiling as Raven wrapped warm arms around her.
"Yeah, but they're ghosts," said Raven, shaking her head.
"Ghosts who love each other," Celine spoke softly. "Spirits without form to adequately express what they feel for one another - sort of like we were before we actually met. How sad."
"I guess I never thought about it that way," said Raven. "But now, we have found each other."
"Yes - again," said Celine, looking at Raven and smiling. "And, we have more than `adequate' forms to express our feelings for one another."
Raven raised an eyebrow and grinned. She glanced back once at the cat, who was still washing herself. She followed Celine into the bedroom and closed the door behind them.
"Are you okay?" Celine asked watching Raven trying to massage her own neck with one hand.
"Yeah, just a little tense after this morning. I'm okay though," Raven replied.
"Come here and let me do that for you." Celine patted the empty spot next to her on the bed where she had just sat down. Raven sat down next to Celine and pulled her dark hair around to the front of her shoulder to expose her neck. Celine placed her hands on Raven's shoulders and began to gently knead into the flesh, gradually making her way toward the centre of her back. Raven sat feeling the sensations of Celine's touch running through her body.
"Mmmmmmm, that feels so good." Raven moaned.
"I'm glad, it's actually making me feel good too, Baby. I miss you, I miss this," Celine said, softly, then brought her lips down on Raven's neck which elicited a loud gasp from Raven. Raven closed her eyes, her heart began to beat faster.
"Wha-what are you doing?"
"Well if you don't know, then I'm not doing it right." Celine whispered sending her hot breath into Raven's ear.
"Um-uh huh," Raven breathed out. "Oh, you're doing it right alright." She leaned back offering more neck for Celine to enjoy. Celine's hands slid under Raven's arms and to the front to cup both breasts which were covered by a brown cotton shirt with a logo from Xena Warrior Princess™ - both women's favourite TV show. Raven let out another moan. She closed her eyes and reached behind her, pulling Celine closer. She began to caress Celine's soft golden hair. Celine moved her hands down toward the hem of Raven's T-shirt. Her fingers slowly tiptoed underneath the T-shirt pulling it upward until Raven felt the cool air hit her bare nipples. But it was the touch of Celine's hands that got them erect.
"Oh that feels soooo good." Celine closed her eyes, her fingertips stroking along the tips of Raven's breast. Raven began to breath harder. She turned her head further back, her lips capturing Celine's. As the kiss intensified, Raven felt Celine's leg swing around so that she was able to straddle Raven's waist. This brought an "Oh Goddess!" from Raven's lips. Celine leaned forward, making contact with Raven's back side. Her legs tightening around the body of the woman she loved, the movement began creating moisture and need. She fell back on the bed bringing Raven with her. Raven moved down giving Celine more friction. She wiggled around a bit then decided she couldn't take it any more and turned over positioning herself on top of the smaller woman. Her hands went straight for the top of Celine's blouse. She fumbled a bit with the buttons unable to unclasp them. She looked at Celine who was silently pleading with her to get the blouse off her. Raven arched an eyebrow then grinned as she grabbed either side of the collar and ripped the material completely off exposing a pair of firmly hardened pink nipples.
"You are so beautiful," Raven said, gazing lovingly down at Celine before lowering her head and pulling a nipple into her mouth.
"OOOHHH!" Celine cried out arching her back up, offering more for her lover to enjoy. Raven flicked her tongue around the tip of Celine's nipple in tiny little circles. She moved her mouth to the other nipple doing the same thing. Celine felt Raven move her thigh in between her legs and pressed herself up to it, squeezing in and out feeling the need intensely.
"Oh Baby, I love you so much," Raven said as she moved her hand down and stroked along the waist band of Celine's pants until she was able to slide her fingers beneath the material. She found the elastic that held Celine's panties in place. Raven pulled a bit at the annoying material until she was able to brush along the inside feeling the soft curls that hid her treasure.
"OH GODDESS PLEASE!" Celine cried out.
Raven moved her hand to the side of Celine's hip, cruelly teasing her lover. Celine raised her head and bit down on Raven's neck.
Raven breathed in sharply. "Okay, okay-"
Celine arched up, pressing herself against Raven's thigh again. Begging with her eyes.
"Raven please," she whispered.
Raven moved both the pants and panties down Celine's legs and with Celine's enthusiastic assistance managed to get the obstacles off her body quick and easily.
"Your turn," said Celine, her voice had taken on a deeper tone that Raven knew meant Celine's arousal was now almost out of control.
Raven looked down at Celine and smiled.
Celine growled, meaning that Raven was taking far too long to disrobe.
Raven's smile grew wider. She loved it when Celine was like this. Hell, she just loved Celine, period. "Okay," said Raven, quickly pulling her beloved Xena™ shirt off before Celine got the idea of following her own example.
Now Celine's hands were moving of their own volition, pulling Raven close to her as Raven slid her jeans and underwear off. Celine looked up into Raven's dark eyes and saw the love they shared. She thought her own heart would burst from it.
Raven's hands moved over Celine's body, feeling like liquid fire against her skin. Raven made her way slowly, with agonising gentle tickles of her lips and tongue to Celine's inner thighs.
"My Love," said Raven, her warm breath eliciting a soft moan from Celine. Raven kissed softly, then began loving Celine with her mouth, her teeth offering gentle nips, her tongue creating a warmth within Celine which gradually grew until Celine felt as if she had swallowed the sun.
Suddenly the warmth burst and spread throughout her entire body and Celine found herself flying. She clung to Raven, who quickly slid back up the length of Celine's body to hold her close as Celine shuddered with the intensity of not only the exquisite sensations washing over her, but the infinite love which they felt for one another.
Raven was so overwhelmed with the feeling of love she felt for Celine, she felt her own body begin to respond, trembling with the sensations running through her. She caught her breath and tried to calm the excitement that began to build. Celine sensed her lover's arousal and the sudden pulling back.
"Oh no you don't," Celine whispered, her hands moving, seeking, and at last finding the silky warmth hidden beneath dark curls. She began moving slowly at first, gradually building up speed in response to Raven's own body movements. "You're going to come for me baby-"
"Celine please I I Oh Goddess Celine, I love YOU!" Raven felt the love so strongly coming from Celine. She begin to quiver and shake. Her body out of control in the hands of her lover. Raven closed her eyes and felt the tears coming. She knew from the very first time that Celine was the one, the other half of her soul. Finally after all this time, they found each other. Celine held her lover close, gently stroking her face and kissing away Raven's tears until both fell into a contented sleep. The last peaceful sleep they'd see for some time.
Emmeline Cassidy sighed as she sat behind the bar. She switched off the computer after reading the messages again. She knew the ghost was now taking refuge in Celines apartment. She had been seeing the ghost residence in this Tavern all her life, had in fact seen Sarah follow Celine out of the Tavern. She liked the two female ghosts, but that one! The Dark Man, as she had always thought of him, he was something else. Em suspected Celine was closer than even she knew when she called him more than a ghost.
She also hadnt meant to sound so querulous with them, but she was tired. She had been up all night, cleaning up after the Dark Mans temper tantrum - seemed he didnt like that Sarah had escaped the Tavern or something. And as for cancelling the party - well, Em learned a long time ago not to give in to bullies. The only way to deal with the likes of him was to stand up to them. She wasnt about to admit that, though - it wouldnt do to sound like a stubborn old woman. Em laughed at herself. Better to sound greedy and mercenary? she thought, shaking her head.
Still, Celine had seemed so sure that there would be trouble of some kind at the party. Maybe she should consider cancelling. No! Thought Em. I wont cancel. Guess I am just a stubborn old woman, after all .
Just then there was a banging on the wall. Em tried to ignore it, but it grew louder and more insistent.
"Aw, give it a rest, will ya?" said Em, irritably rising from her seat. A figure began to slowly materialise in the corner. "You. What do you want?"
Swirling mist took the shape of a young woman, shadowy and translucent. The woman pointed at the computer, then at Em. She smiled.
"Yeah -I saw that," said Em, grinning. The ghost shook her head and smiled, then nodded. "It worked. He was coming for them wasnt he?"
The spirits smile faded and she nodded, solemnly. "Why?" asked Em. The spirit merely shook her head. "Who is he, anyway? Why is he so angry? What does he want with Celine and Raven?"
The spirit frowned for a moment, then pointed to the computer monitor. Understanding, Em turned it back on.
He is the Reverend Matthew Bishop.
The answer appeared on the screen. Em felt goosebumps begin to rise along her arms. She was actually communicating with a ghost! Then she laughed. She was communicating with a woman dead for over 300 years - on the most technologically advanced PC available in the 21st century! The irony tickled her.
"Okay, okay," said Em, wiping her eyes. "Sorry about that - I get a little punchy when Im so tired is all. Reverend Matthew Bishop, huh? Seems Ive heard that name somewhere."
He was the most effective prosecutor of witches in this town during his time.
"Oh, yes, I remember now," said Em. "But everyone knows that most if not all of those tried for witchcraft back then were not really witches. Well, we know that now anyway."
So did the Reverend, even back then. It was politically expedient to remove all those who would cross him. Even me.
"Ah, so thats why youre here," said Em. "This was the old courthouse, wasnt it?"
And jail, torture chamber . It was an evil place. Your father did well to make this a place of revelry. It has almost removed the residue of those evil times.
"All but the cellar," said Em, quietly. The ghost appeared to shiver, then nodded slowly. "That was where well, that was where most of them died, wasnt it?"
The spirit shook her head then pointed again to the screen.
That was the confessional - the place where the Reverend extracted confessions. It was nothing more than a torture chamber. And he derived such pleasure from causing suffering!
"Regular sadist, huh," said Em, shaking her head. The ghost looked puzzled. "Sadist - someone who gets off on causing another person pain? You know, from the Marquis de Sade - never mind - you were before his time. I forgot."
The ghost nodded her head, understanding.
Sadist seems the correct term by that definition, though. He certainly did seem to get off as you say. Sarah was his victim more than I ever was, though.
The spirit looked angry and her form became more solid with the strength of her emotion. The room grew colder and Em shivered.
"What do you mean?" asked the woman.
The spirit spoke now, her voice echoed in the empty tavern. "Sarah was his daughter. Daily he tormented her. He made her read the charges against me. She dared not disobey, else both of our punishments would have been well, worse than what they were. My torture, which she was forced to watch, was his crowning moment. You see, Sarah and I loved each other," said the spirit.
"Ah, maybe thats why hes after Celine and Raven," said Em, nodding. "Homophobia knows no bounds - not even death."
The spirit shook her head. "No, its more than that," she said. "You see, Celine is my descendant and Raven is Sarahs - the last of our lines. And now, they are together."
"Which means ?" asked Em.
"It sets things in motion for him to return - their being together opens a certain door - one from which the Reverend might pass completely through into this world - the Land of the Living," said Elizabeth, grimly. "All he needs is now is someone to call him through. Then he will be able to manifest as I have - only his transformation to the corporeal world will be permanent."
"Thats just great!" said Em. "Thats all we need - another damn right-wing, fundamentalist! And this one doesnt just settle for spreading his poison from a pulpit - no, this one likes to torture people into compliance!"
"Dont worry, Emmeline," said Elizabeth, smiling. "Those two being together also means that we have the power to finally defeat him. Forever."
"Then lets just hope those two love-birds stay together - and alive," said Em, shaking her head as she bent to start cleaning up.
Celine awoke first and smiled. She gazed lovingly over at Raven. Raven slept, curled up on her side, her black hair over her closed eyes. Gently Celine brushed it back and leaned to kiss Ravens temple. Raven stirred, her eyes fluttering open, then she smiled.
"Hey," she whispered, pulling Celine down for a kiss. Celine returned the kiss, but just as it began to grow into something more, they heard the cat yowling in the other room. Both women leaped up, throwing on whatever clothing was handy and ran to see what it was.
The women could see through Celines windows that the sun was beginning to set. The room was dim since no one had turned on the lamps and they could make out a shadowy outline in one corner of the room.
"Sarah?" said Raven, starting to approach. The shadowy figure put up both hands to ward the women off. "Sarah, whats wrong?"
The ghost pointed in the direction of the kitchen. Raven walked over to the kitchen entrance and flipped the light switch. Nothing happened, but she could make out the cat, Galinthias, staring at the small window over the sink. The window was ajar and a horrible smell filled the room. Galinthias was crouched low, ready to pounce, growling at the window.
"Hey, Gil, what is it?" said Celine, coming up behind Raven.
"Shh," said Raven. "She sees something."
Celine frowned and tried the light.
"Doesnt work," whispered Raven.
"No kidding," muttered Celine. "What is that smell?"
"Dont look at me," Raven joked, trying to break the tension and the fear she was feeling.
"Funny," said Celine. "It smells like oh, gods! It smells like the cellar at the tavern!"
"Yeah," said Raven. "Only ten times stronger. Hey, did we do that window the other night?"
"I I dont remember," said Celine, biting her lip.
"I dont think we did," said Raven, grimly. "Damn! He must have followed us from there today."
"What are we going to do?" asked Celine, frightened. She moved closer to Raven. The taller woman wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer.
"Its okay - we have to get him out of here, though," she said.
Suddenly, the kitchen light came on, but only for a spilt second as the fluorescent bulbs suddenly flashed painfully bright, then exploded in a shower of tiny glass shards. Galinthias bolted from the room. Raven pulled Celine closer still, burying the smaller womans face protectively in her chest even as she turned her own face away from the flying glass.
All the ceramic canisters on the counter top began to shatter, one by one, like dominoes falling, spilling their contents. The cupboard doors banged open and shut, boxes and cans flying out. Dishes flew, smashing against the walls. The refrigerator door flew open and the contents flew out, hitting the walls and splattering them in a colourful display which rivalled a modern art exhibit.
The women heard the sound of glass shattering and a feline howl in the living room.
"Galinthias!" cried Celine, breaking away from Raven and running over the splinters of glass embedded in the carpet. Raven ran after her. Celine found her beloved cat cowering behind the couch and bent to pick her up, just as a heavy lamp flew over her head, missing her by bare inches.
The computer monitor exploded in bright flash, leaving the smell of electrical ozone heavy in the air. The television followed, blue flames spitting from where the screen had just been.
"Come on, Celine, we have to get out of here!" Raven cried, grabbing her and pulling her toward the door.
"Wait!" cried Celine, running for the bedroom. Raven rolled her eyes. Celine is beautiful, but panic just isnt pretty! she thought, following. She stepped into the bedroom and the door slammed shut behind her.
Inside the bedroom, all was peaceful and quiet. Celine sat on the bed, sobbing into Galinthiass black fur.
"Celine, Honey, come on," said Raven, gently. "We have to go - come on, Baby - it isnt safe here."
"He cant come in here," said Celine, looking up at Raven with tears in her green eyes. "Its consecrated by the altar and the magic."
"No, Love, he cant get in here but there are about half a dozen small fires out there that can," said Raven. "Not to mention the toxic fumes all those burning electronics are letting off. Come on, Sweetie. Bring Galinthias and lets go."
"What about Sarah?" asked Celine.
Suddenly, Sarah manifested as a shadow and anxiously waved them towards the window before disappearing again.
"See?" said Raven, pulling Celine to her feet. "Even Sarah says to go. Come on."
The women paused only to pull on some more substantial clothing and then went to the bedroom door. It was hot to the touch.
"Damn!" said Raven. "We cant go that way - the fires already at the door!"
"The window," gasped Celine, already feeling the effects of the fumes seeping under the crack of the door.
Raven opened the window and pushed the screen out. Already the women heard sirens rapidly approaching. She helped Celine through the opening, then grabbed the quilt from the bed, as well as her cell phone and wallet from the nightstand. Then she climbed through the window after Celine. She wrapped the quilt around the smaller womans shoulders. Celine still clutched Galinthias. Raven noticed the creature was more docile than usual. She had half expected the cat to have already jumped from Celines arms - probably leaving long gashes from her claws along the way - and run off. But no, Galinthias sat quite calmly in Celines arms, moving only to rub her face along Celines tear-dampened cheeks, as if to comfort her.
A fireman approached the women.
"Hey," he said, smiling sympathetically. "What happened here?"
"We dont know," said Raven, walking up to the man. "We just tried to turn on the kitchen light and all hell broke loose." Literally, she thought grimly. It wasnt exactly a lie, but Raven had no desire to try and explain that an evil ghost had come in through a hole in their defences and attacked them for reasons they themselves still did not understand.
"These old buildings," said the fireman, shaking his head in understanding. "The wirings all screwed up most of the time - probably a short in the system somewhere. Well, well check it out and see that you get a report for your insurance company. Must be a lot of damage - the neighbours called us and said that there were explosions."
"Yeah," said Raven. "Whole refrigerator blew up."
The fireman whistled. "Wow - that bad?" he said. Raven got the impression that he was impressed to the point of glee. Must be bored just covering calls from people with grease fires on the stove or rescuing cats from trees, she thought cynically. And speaking of cats, that one is acting very strange
Celine was somewhere else. She gazed off into the distance, still clutching Galinthias tightly, but the cat did not fight her grip.
"Is she okay?" asked the fireman, gesturing to Celine.
"Yeah, I think she just breathed in too much stuff in there," said Raven. "Shell be fine."
"Well, we got an ambulance on the way anyway - standard procedure," said the fireman. "We should check her out, just in case. Might be in shock."
"Probably," said Raven, sadly. "She just lost everything she owns."
"Yeah but at least she managed to save the cat," said the fireman. "You have no idea how many pets are lost each year - and how many stupid people we lose running back into a fire to save Fluffy." He shook his head.
"Galinthias is much more to her than a pet," said Raven. She knew the significance of a witchs familiar and was extremely grateful that Celine had Galinthias, especially after all this.
"I understand," said the fireman, nodding, though Raven doubted that he really did. "Okay, Im going to go and do my job - stick around for a bit. We may need to ask a few more questions." The fireman jogged off, leaving Raven and Celine. The other tenants of the apartments were standing around, staring at the women resentfully. Raven merely shook her head, ignoring them. She glanced over at Celine who was still staring at nothing, absently stroking Galinthias. The cat seemed to have fallen asleep in her arms. An ambulance pulled up and two attendants hopped out and questioned the firemen, then came over to Celine and Raven.
"Either of you hurt?" asked one of the attendants, a young woman with short blonde hair in a navy blue uniform.
"Nah, not really," said Raven, with a shrug. "A little glass flew around, but I think were alright."
"What about her?" asked the male partner, gesturing to Celine. Raven frowned in concern.
"I dont know - she may be in shock," said Raven.
"Well take care of her," said the woman, gently guiding Celine towards the ambulance. "You want to hold the cat?"
"No," said Raven, shaking her head. "Let her have her - I think she needs the contact right now."
"Okay," said the woman, again guiding Celine to the ambulance. Raven flipped open her cell phone, pulling a credit card from her wallet and began dialling.
Several frustrating calls later, she closed the phone and walked to the ambulance.
"She alright?" asked Raven, noting with mixed relief and anguish that Celine was crying, quietly. At least shes back with us, thought Raven.
"Yeah, shell be fine," said the blonde EMT, smiling and gently pushing Celines golden hair from her face. Raven raised an eyebrow at that and quelled the jealousy that threatened to make her deck the woman. Shes only doing her job right? thought Raven. Riiiight . Okay - get Celine out of here now. Tomorrow will be time enough to go over everything. Right now, I just need to get her away from here. Someplace safe.
"Can I get her out of here now?" Raven asked. The EMT looked at her, then grinned, quickly dropping her hand.
"Sorry," she said, understanding immediately.
"No problem," said Raven through only slightly clenched teeth. Then she grinned. "I do that all the time myself. Can we go?"
The EMT laughed out loud. "Yeah, no problem as far as were concerned. Shes fine, just a little lost there for a moment - perfectly understandable, given the circumstances. Just go and check with the firemen. They may have more questions for you."
Raven nodded and helped Celine from the ambulance. The two women approached the cluster of yellow-slickered firemen.
"Hey, can we go now?" Raven called to them.
"Just a minute," said one of them. Raven saw he wore a badge on his helmet and assumed he was the chief. "Thats a real mess you got in there. What the hell happened?"
Raven shrugged. "Like I told the other guy, all we did was try to turn on the kitchen light and all hell broke loose."
The chief frowned. "It looks like a lot more than that went on in there," he said.
"Hey, Chief, we found the problem," said the fireman who had first approached Celine and Raven. He grinned and nodded at the women. "Wiring, just like I thought. Chewed - looks like rats have been after all the wires in the place. The owners are going to have to fumigate as well as replace all the wires in the building. Meantime all these folks will have to find a place to stay. Building wont be habitable for some time. Tough finding a room right now, though."
"Tell me about it," muttered Raven. "Every place is booked solid."
"Yeah, this time of year - Halloween is big business around these parts," said the friendly fireman.
"Well, we have a room," said Raven. "Well be at the Motel 6 on route 54 if you have anything else."
"Whoa - way over there?" said the fireman.
"Only thing I could find," said Raven, refraining to mention that it was the not only the closest place with a vacancy, it was also the only place she called that allowed "pets" - and Raven knew that Celine would not stay where Galinthias could not stay with her.
"Well be in touch," said the chief.
Raven guided Celine to her truck and the two drove to the motel. Raven checked in while Celine waited with Galinthias. Raven still marvelled at the cats behaviour. They went to the room and Celine sat on the one double bed, finally putting Galinthias down on the floor. The cat hissed and ran under the bed.
"Now thats the Galinthias we all know and love," chuckled Raven, sitting next to Celine.
"Sarah," said Celine, softly.
"Honey, Sarah is just fine," said Raven, gently stroking Celines hair.
"No, I know - she hitched a ride with Galinthias," said Celine, smiling up at Ravens incredulous look.
"So shes here with us?" said Raven. "Right now?"
"Somewhere," said Celine, looking around at the standard Motel 6 décor.
"Okay," sighed Raven. "Why dont we try to get some sleep?"
"I dont think I can," said Celine, biting her lip to keep from crying again. "Oh, Raven!"
"I know, I know, Honey," said Raven, holding her. "But the fireman said it was the wiring - insurance should cover almost everything."
"Not not everything," sobbed Celine. "Not the pictures "
Raven thought sadly of the photo album, lovingly compiled by Celines grandmother who had raised her. The album had held the only pictures of her parents. And now it was gone.
"I know," said Raven, soothingly. "Honey I am so sorry."
"Its okay," sighed Celine, subduing the tears which threatened. "And youre right almost everything can be replaced. Its just things."
"I know, but they were your things," said Raven, still stroking Celines hair, calming the other woman. "Things youve worked very hard for. Its not fair."
"No, its not," said Celine. "But thats just the way it is. And speaking of work, I still have to go in tomorrow. I probably should try and get some sleep, after all."
"Cant you take the day off?" asked Raven. "I mean after all thats happened tonight, surely your boss will understand No, huh?"
Celine rolled her eyes. "No, not if I want the day after off - and I simply cant go in on Samhain," she said, laying back in on the paisley- patterned bedspread. "Theres too much preparation for what we have to do that night."
"True," said Raven. "You get some rest, then. Ill be right here."
"Youre not going to sleep?" asked Celine, already drifting off.
"Nah, Im not tired," Raven fibbed. In truth, she had decided to stay awake and keep watch - just in case.
"Kay," said Celine as she slowly drifted into nightmares from which Raven had to wake her several times until dawn.
Celine finally awoke and left for work. Raven stretched out on the bed and decided to sleep until Celine returned that afternoon. But Celine arrived back at the room hours before she was due, slamming her briefcase on the standard issue, bolted-down desk provided with the room.
"Honey whats wrong?" asked Raven, squinting at the smaller woman through sleepy eyes.
"Im fired!" growled Celine plopping down on the bed beside her.
"What! Why?" asked Raven, now wide awake.
Celine sighed and lowered her face in her hands. "I was called into the bosss office as soon as I got there. Apparently, they heard about the fire at the apartment complex. Seems the company owns the building and its going to cost a bundle to get it up to code. Since it was my apartment that started the whole mess, they wanted to know what happened."
"What did you tell them?" asked Raven, sitting up to wrap comforting arms around Celine.
"Just what I heard you tell the firemen last night," said Celine. "We tried to turn on the kitchen light and kablam - everything went."
"I take it they didnt believe you?" said Raven.
"Oh, no, it wasnt that they didnt believe me," said Celine. "The apartment was just the excuse for calling me into the office. It seems there have been rumours about my proclivities - and that is simply something the company cannot tolerate - their reputation is at stake."
"Your what?" asked Raven, quietly.
"You know - my preference for tall, black-haired beauties," said Celine, smiling slightly. "Of the female persuasion."
"They cant fire you for that!" cried Raven, angrily. "Thats illegal!"
"Actually, Sweetheart, it isnt," said Celine, sadly. "Not in this state."
"Celine," said Raven, softly, her warm breath tickling Celines ear. "Come back with me."
"What what do you mean?" said Celine.
"Come home with me - for good," said Raven.
"I dont know, Lis," said Celine. "Id have to find a job and - oh. I have to do that anyway now, dont I?"
"Yes, you do - and it shouldnt be at all difficult for you to find something there. Come on Celine - theres absolutely nothing holding you here now," said Raven.
Celine snuggled closer, feeling the rightness of it, the safe feeling of Ravens strong arms wrapped securely around her and knew there was no place she ever wanted to be but there.
"Yes, okay - but after we do what we have to help Sarah and Elizabeth - and to stop him," she said, green eyes narrowing. "Its personal, now."
Raven chuckled and kissed the top of Celines head, happier than she had been in a long time.
"You got it," she said.
Em Cassidy prepared well for the party she had planned the following night. She even hired a professional "fortune-teller" for the evening. Hard cider would be the seasonal special for the evening, but there would be plenty of other drinks available - for a price.
Shaking her head, the older woman thought again of Celines warning and plea to cancel the party - but hell, she had already paid the fortune-teller and bought the extra supplies. Maybe I am greedy and mercenary after all, she thought. Ah, well, ghosts really cant hurt people, after all.
She looked up to see the first patrons of the evening walking through the door in costume. Raising an eyebrow, but smiling, she offered "Romeo and Juliet" the first drinks of the evening
Celine and Raven drove back to the apartment. Raven had called the fire department and had learned that the building was clear for the residents to enter in order to remove what belongings they would need until they could move back in.
Celine was surprised to see that the bedroom and its contents were untouched by the damage. She and Raven packed everything except the furniture in crates and loaded up the truck. They went back to the motel to prepare for the party at the Tavern later that night. Raven had tried to rent costumes for them but had found that all the costume shops were sold out.
"Its just as well," said Celine. "I have a feeling I think I know just what we need for tonight - can we go to the fabric store?"
"Well, sure, but I dont think we have time to whip up anything from scratch," said Raven, doubtfully.
"We dont need to," said Celine. "If we get into the crate that holds my clothes, I can make a few alterations and I think well have just what we need. Trust me?"
"Always," said Raven, smiling.
"Aw, come on, Andy," said the young man dressed in the yellow t-shirt and jeans. He had ash-blonde hair and grey eyes which sparkled with too much free hard cider. "Don't be such a chickenshit. Everybody knows the 'Brew' is haunted. I bet we can call up some real ghosts in this place."
Andy looked at his friend across the table of Halloween revellers. "No, man, I don't wanna," he said.
"Come on - this was where they killed all those witches - we could call up some ghosts and, like, give them a chance to tell their side," said the other young man. "I bet they'd look pretty gruesome, too - all burned up, their necks all crooked where they were hung and shit."
"Dude, you are sick," said Andy, shaking his head. "I don't want to see that stuff, Todd."
Todd stood a bit unsteadily. "Cool by me, Andy, but I'm going to see if I can find me a ghost," he said.
Andy sighed and stood. "Alright, I'll go with you - if I don't, you'll fall on your head and we'll be calling up your ghost."
The Tavern was filling rapidly, leaving Em with little time to pay attention to anything but her patrons and their demands. So she didnt notice when a couple of her more inebriated customers crept away toward the cellar door - which Em thought she had re-locked after taking Celine and Raven down there two days before
The two young men slipped away from their friends and made their way to the cellar door.
"Todd, it's probably locked," said Andy. Todd reached for the door knob and the door swung open.
"Oh, Dude! How cool is that?" said Todd. "See? The ghosts want us to go down there."
Andy shook his head and followed his friend. Todd reached over and flipped the light switch, turning on the light. The two made their way down the stairs. They reached the bottom and looked around.
"Todd, this is lame," said Andy. "There's nothing down here but a lot of junk. Come on, let's go back upstairs. It's too cold down here."
"I want to look around," said Todd, ignoring Andy's pleas. He walked around, touching various items.
"What do you think you're going to find, Todd, a body?" asked Andy.
"Nah, they'd have cleaned all that shit up a long time ago," said Todd. "Maybe a bloodstain or something - you can never completely clean up blood, you know."
"Yeah, I know," said Andy. He stood with his arms crossed in front of him, shivering. "Damn, Todd, it's cold down here. You about done?"
Disappointed, Todd sighed and rejoined his friend in the centre of the cellar.
"Yeah, I guess," he said. He looked around the room one last time. "I wonder where all the ghosts are tonight?"
"I don't know, but probably not down here - this is really creepy, Todd," said Andy.
"Yeah, I guess. Man, I really want to see a real ghost, though," said Todd, frowning. Suddenly, he raised his arms. "All spirits in this place, come forth to me!"
"Well, what do you think?" asked Celine, twirling to show off her handiwork.
"Nice," said Raven, tugging at the tight collar of her own costume. "Did people really wear these things? How could they stand it?"
She was startled by a low chuckle in the shadowy corner of the room. "Yes, we did," said Sarah. "You get used to it - actually, its all we ever wore - we didnt know any different."
"Sarah," said Celine, staring at the ghost as she emerged from the dim corner into the full light of the motel lamp.
"Its Samhain," said Sarah, smiling. "I can come fully into your world now, my friends."
"Oh, its not just that," said Celine, breathless, glancing over to Raven. "The resemblance - especially in those clothes "
Both women were dressed identical to the spirit which stood before them now. Celine had taken two black dresses which had hung in her closet for ages and with a little alteration had transformed them into Puritan garb.
"I would say the same of you, Celine," said Sarah, wistfully. "You are the very mirror of my Beth."
"I guess we should go," said Raven, quietly. "Will you be going with us, Sarah?"
"Ive no choice," said Sarah, sadly. "It is necessary that I, too, be there for this to be successful. But at least, perhaps, I will see Beth. I miss her so."
"I understand," said Celine. "Shall we?"
"I will meet you there," said Sarah.
Celine and Raven walked into the Tavern, greeted by a red and yellow silk-clad Harlequin, who bowed and led them to an empty table. Em came over to them, dressed as a 17th century tavern maid. She grinned and Raven wondered how much of her own hard cider she had already enjoyed.
"Seems I wasnt the only one with this idea, eh?" said the tavern-keeper.
"Spur of the moment," said Raven, wryly, sipping at the complimentary cider. It was good, she had to admit. "We didnt have much time for costume shopping since Celines apartment was destroyed."
"What?" said Em, quietly alarmed. She sat at the table with the two other women.
"It was him," said Celine, quietly.
Raven described the episode to Ems growing alarm.
"God, I didnt think I never believed that "
"What? Ghosts cant harm people, right?" said Raven, angrily.
"Im sorry," said Em. "And Im so sorry for your loss, Celine."
Celine smiled brightly at the older woman and clasped her hand.
"No, its alright," she said, looking over to Raven. "Because of it, something even better has happened."
"Oh?" said Em, smiling at the two, one eyebrow raised.
"Hey, careful," growled Raven, but she was smiling a bit herself. "This isnt that kind of place, remember?"
"Oh, pooh," said Em, waving her hand. "I didnt mean anything by that. It was a bad day. Congratulations, you two. I am truly happy for you. Both of you."
"Yeah, well, anyway," said Raven, looking around the dimly lit tavern. "Hey - is that door supposed to be open?"
"No!" cried Em, leaping up from the table and hurrying as fast as the crowd would allow to the cellar door. Celine and Raven followed. The three women looked down into the inky darkness of the cellar, the odour wafting up to gag them. Celine staggered back and was caught by Raven.
"Damn!" said Em. "I must have forgotten to lock it back up that day - I had a lot on my mind, you know."
"Yeah, I know," said Raven. "Do you suppose it blew open in a a draught or something?"
A loud moan from the bottom of the stairs answered her.
"Oh, nuts! Someone must have stumbled in the dark and fell - thats a lawsuit waiting to happen," grumbled Em. An unearthly, teeth-setting laugh rose from the darkness, raising goosebumps on all three womens skin. "Or not."
Celine looked dazed. She stepped forward toward the steps and Raven caught her and pulled her back.
"Hey, where are you going?" she asked. Celine shook her head.
"We have to go down there," said Celine. "If no other reason than that someone may be hurt and we have to help them."
"Celine are you crazy?" said Raven. "You know whats down there - thats no human being making those sounds."
"Raven, I have to," said Celine, trying to shake off her lovers firm grip. She stopped struggling for a moment and looked pleadingly at Raven. "You know we have to, dont you?"
"Yes, but " said Raven, frowning, trying to think of an effective stall. "We should wait for Sarah."
Celine stopped and nodded. "Yes," she said. "Youre right. We must wait for her - and Elizabeth. They will be here soon enough."
Sighing her relief, Raven led Celine back to their table. It had been claimed by another group, but Raven simply looked at them and they quickly scattered, offering hesitant apologies and nervous smiles. Only one of the group was drunk enough to offer resistance, but Raven quickly dispatched him, grabbing his hair and pulling him up from the chair. She tossed him in the direction of his friends and sat down with Celine and Em.
"Hey, want a job?" chuckled Em. "I could use a bouncer."
"Nah," said Raven, grinning. "Takes too much self control to not just slam him into the wall - the one across the room, that is."
Em laughed and Celine managed a slight smile. "Well, in the meantime, why not visit the fortune-teller," said Em, gesturing to a woman seated in the centre of the Tavern. She didnt look at all busy, simply sitting, shuffling some cards repeatedly, then laying some out, frowning and re-gathering them back to shuffle again. Em frowned.
"I am paying her a fortune and no one is even using her services," said the tavern-keeper.
"Maybe no one is in the mood for a fake fortune," said Raven, shrugging.
"Oh, shes not a fake," said Em. "In fact, she is one of the best at what she does."
"Yeah?" said Raven, her curiosity getting the better of her. She arose and approached the fortune-teller, sitting across the small table from the woman. "So? Tell my fortune."
The woman frowned. "Sarah?" she whispered.
Raven looked into the greenest eyes she had seen since gazing into Celines but a few moments ago.
"No," she said. "Im Raven."
"Im sorry," said the woman, shaking her head slightly. She smiled. "Well, what will it be? Love, romance, money - where do your questions lie?"
"Nah, I know all of that," said Raven. "Tell me about my brother."
"Your brother?" said the woman, frowning. "Thats impossible. You cant have a brother."
Raven chuckled. "Tell my mother that," she said, sensing someone behind her. "Hey, Em, I hate to tell you this but - " Raven noticed the startled look in the fortune-tellers eyes, then turned to see Celine.
"You you " said the woman, then she broke into a wide smile. "You two are here. At last."
Raven raised an eyebrow. "Elizabeth I presume?" she said, as a shadowy figure stepped out from behind the seated woman. There stood Elizabeth. She smiled.
"Yes," she said. "We have much to do this night. Where is Sarah?"
A black cat came running into the tavern, causing squeals as people dodged her determined path to the women standing by the fortune-teller. As if drawn by the crowd, others began to gather around the bemused woman and ask for their fortunes as Elizabeth, Celine, and Raven walked a bit away from her. Celine bent and scooped up her cat.
"Galinthias, what are you doing here?" she scolded. "How did you get here?"
Sarah suddenly stood before them. She smiled as Elizabeth gathered her into a long-awaited embrace. The two spirits stood there for several moments, gazing into each others eyes.
"Alright," muttered Em. "Break it up. People are staring."
"Let them," said Celine, brushing a tear from her eye. "Havent they waited long enough?"
"No, shes right," said Elizabeth. "We have work to do. Come."
"To ?" said Sarah, fearfully.
"Yes," said Elizabeth, firmly.
"Oh, Goddess," said Celine, turning pale. "We have to go down there. I think Im going to throw up."
"Later," said Raven, taking her arm and leading her to the cellar door.
Elizabeth took a candle and lit three others from it, handing one to each of the women and Sarah. "Emmeline, wait up here. This is not your battle," she said.
"Its my place," said Em, stubbornly lighting her own candle.
"Shes right," said Celine, a dazed look in her eye. "Shes the owner of this place now. She has to be involved in the banishing."
"Yes, but " said Em.
"Not to fear, old friend," said Sarah, smiling at her. "If all goes well, Beth and I will not need to be banished - we will be allowed to move on."
"Together," said Celine, smiling.
"Always," said Elizabeth, smiling at Sarah.
Raven rolled her eyes.
"Enough mush - can we get on with this, please?" she said, impatiently pushing the cellar door the rest of the way open. She felt around for the light switch, but found it didnt work.
"Careful," whispered Celine. "Remember what happened last time we tried to turn on the lights."
"Right," said Raven, grimly. "Okay, lets go."
They proceeded cautiously down the stairs, hesitant to feel their way for the shapes illumined by the dancing candlelight were ominous.
Celine found herself reaching back with her free hand and grasping Ravens hand. The strength of her soul-mates presence gave her courage to keep going. Raven squeezed her hand gently.
"Its okay," said Raven, noting how the candles glow gave Celine a certain ethereal beauty. Like an angel, thought Raven, admiringly. She noticed that the spirits, Elizabeth and Sarah were translucent in the candles soft glow.
At last they were all at the bottom of the steps. Raven looked around, setting her candle down on a dusty barstool which had been relegated to the cellar for the sin of a loose leg. No doubt, it had been Ems fathers intent to fix it - "some day". Celine wondered just how much of this stuff had been put here against that "some day" which had never come. She also reflected on how many "some days" she had put things off for - grateful that her new life with Raven was not one of them.
If we ever get out of here, she thought grimly. Ill think twice about putting things off, Mother, I promise I will
All of a sudden, a foul wind blew through the cellar, blowing out all the candles. Celine felt strong arms wrap around her waist and relaxed slightly, though she was gagging on the odour of the wind. A maniacal, unearthly laughter filled her ears and though Celine clapped her hands over them, she could still hear it loudly. She realised that the sound was in her head and nearly panicked until she heard Ems voice.
"Cease and desist!"
There was an eerie silence for a moment, then the laughter returned, louder and more derisive.
"You think your puny claim on this building can stop me, you sinful woman?" came a booming voice. The wind returned, stronger than before and worse-smelling. Em was knocked back, hitting the stone wall hard enough to knock her unconscious. Suddenly, Sarah and Elizabeth were visible. A glow surrounded the spirits and filled the room. Raven looked to Em and saw two young men lying there - the Reverends vehicle to this world.
"No, but I can, Father," said Sarah, quietly.
Celine and Raven saw him, then. An imposing man, tall and clothed in black. His eyes were piercing, black, but filled with an unholy fire and his face was cruel, if handsome. His hair was long and coal-black, hanging well past his shoulders. His skin was pale as milk. He smiled and Raven saw the madness in him.
"So," he said, quietly, but the threat remained in his voice. "Sarah, my Sarah. Have you not learned in all these centuries that you cannot defeat me? Why, look at you, Girl - you still tremble in my presence. Give it up."
"No," said Sarah, defiantly, her dark eyes meeting his for the first time ever. "Father, you are evil and I have come to stop you - for all time. You will never again cause harm to those I love."
"Love?" laughed the Reverend. "What do you know of love, Girl? You are damned - the damned know naught of love - only of sin."
"Excuse me," said Celine. "What is this sin you keep talking about?"
"Celine!" Raven hissed, trying and failing to pull Celine back behind her.
The Reverend smiled in delight.
"Why, my Child, sin is anything which is against the laws of God and nature," he said, almost gently.
"Like, um, the torture of innocent people?" said Celine, her eyes narrowing.
"None of them were innocent!" boomed the Reverend, angrily slamming his fist down on the rickety barstool, smashing the wood to splinters and sending the candle flying across the room. "And you know it!" He pointed to Sarah. "You! You wrote the names yourself and the charges."
"Just because it was written didnt make it true, Father," said Sarah, quietly. "I am ashamed of what I did."
"That is because you are a sinner and damned, just as they all were," said the Reverend. "That is why you are bound to this accursed place."
"No," said Elizabeth, her eyes flashing. "That is why you were bound to this place. Sarah was never bound here - she was free to move on whenever she wished. She was waiting for me - only you cursed me to remain. Sarah wouldnt leave because I was here so I placed a spell of protection over her as long as she was here - so you could not harm her."
"You see?!" cried the Reverend, gleefully. "You were guilty of witchcraft!"
"Yes, I practised the old religion," said Elizabeth, defiantly. "So did Sarah and so did her mother - your wife! But never did any of us work to cause harm or worship some creature out of your Book called the devil."
"Yesss," hissed the Reverend. "I knew of their betrayal."
"Is that why you killed my mother?" said Sarah, angrily.
"Your mother died in childbirth," said the Reverend, shortly.
"Yes, after you beat her into her birthing pains!" cried Sarah.
Suddenly, Celine was transported back in time. She saw the whole scene before her .
Sarahs mother was screaming, weeping vehemently.
"Noooo!" she cried as the Reverend landed another blow to her huge belly.
"You will not defy me, Woman!" he said quietly, the very calmness of his voice as he landed blow after heavy blow upon the woman sending shivers through Celine.
Suddenly, the woman fell, blood trickling from her mouth, her eyes rolling back. Celine saw her spasming as the birth pains came.
"You monster," she whispered weakly. "You would call me witch? Very well, you bastard. Then a witchs curse I will lay upon you never will any male child be born of your line and all of your descendants will die in childbirth until your line dies out. No male child will be born to your line so that the taint of your evil blood, your evil name will die out in time."
The Reverend cursed and took his hat, leaving the house and returning with the physician.
"Reverend," said the man, quietly. "Shes dead."
"What about the child?" asked the reverend.
"I dont know," said the man, scratching his head.
"Cut it out of her," said the Reverend, coldly. "I must see if it If it is a son, it is worth salvaging."
And so, Sarah was born from her dead mother, cut from her still-warm body. The baby squirmed when the cold air hit her, then mewed like a weak kitten. The Reverend looked at her in disgust.
"A girl," he spat. "Never mind - find a wet-nurse in the village. I suppose its my Christian duty to try and keep it alive. At least long enough to baptise - all females are vessels of original sin - I must do whatever is necessary to quench that sin - keep it alive until I can drive out its demons by the holy water of baptism."
"Yes, Reverend," said the physician. He put on his hat and wrapped the infant tenderly in a blanket. "What about her, Sir?" The man pointed to Sarahs mother.
"Ah, poor woman," said the Reverend. "She was quite mad, you know - had a fit. I couldnt stop her. She just kept throwing herself to the floor."
The physician eyed faded bruises - shaped like hand-prints - but said nothing. Instead, he covered her with a sheet from the bed.
"Ill send some women over to prepare the body," he said. "And well start digging the grave - would you like for me to send for another minister to preside - ?"
"No," said the Reverend, harshly. "I will conduct the services. But the women to prepare the body and men to dig the grave - that will be quite welcome. Thank you."
Then the physician left with little Sarah and Celine saw no more .
"He did - he killed her!" cried Celine.
"Silence!" roared the Reverend, pointing at her.
"Along with over forty other innocent people."
Raven looked over to where Emmeline Cassidy lay. The older woman sat up slowly, rubbing her head. She looked at her hand and saw blood there. A figure stepped out from beside her.
"Mother!" cried Sarah. The woman smiled at her and nodded.
"You!" roared the Reverend again, pointing at the woman.
"Yes, Matthew, its me Rachel," said Sarahs mother, smiling - but her smile to him was not so nice. "You tortured to death over forty innocent souls. And the only evil in this village was you. Yes, I walked the old path - and even after you killed me, I came to my daughter, teaching her the old ways. But I was not evil - nor were any of those you murdered for your own foul purpose."
"All were evil - all were sinners!" cried the Reverend fiercely, but the women could see that he was losing momentum in the face of this powerful adversary. "You corrupted my daughter with your evil ways!"
Rachel smiled. "'Your' daughter, Matthew?" she said. "Sarah was not your child."
"Witch and adulterer!" the Reverend said with a hiss. "Is there no end to your sins, Woman?"
"Matthew, the only sin was yours," said Rachel. She looked around at the dusty cellar. "Here, in this place, where you tortured so many is where you yourself will pay for your sins."
Suddenly, the room was filled with people, all wearing the garb of three hundred years ago.
"Abigail Gideon," said Sarah as one woman stepped forward. "You tried to make her confess to hexing your pulpit - because you lost your sermon notes for that Sabbath Meeting and couldnt remember what you were speaking about. It wouldnt do for the Reverend to look so foolish, now would it? So you used a hot poker until she screamed her confession. Then you hanged her in the village common."
Sarah recited the names of each of the souls who had suffered at the Reverends hands and the women saw that she held a black book from which she read, scratching away upon the pages with a quill. She looked up at the Reverend. "Now, the truth will be read - and recorded, as I should have done then."
Celine, Raven and Em listened to the litany of the Reverends victims and his crimes against them, horrified at his cruel tortures.
Then Sarah closed the book and Elizabeth leaned over to Raven and whispered, "Get Celine and Em out of here - and clear the building."
"What about them?" asked Raven, gesturing to the two young men, still unconscious. "What about you?"
"Dont worry about us," said Elizabeth, keeping one eye on Sarah. "And those two are now beyond your help. Just get everyone else out - please, Raven! Theres not much time left!"
Raven gently but firmly took Celine and Em by the arms and led them swiftly up the stairs. She turned back once and saw the people slowly advancing on the Reverend, he himself cowering back in fear.
Swiftly, the women closed the door of the cellar just as howls of terror and pain began to sound from the now dark cellar.
"Alright, Everybody - the partys over!" cried Em.
"Awww, come on!" cried one of the patrons. Raven stepped up to him, grabbing him by the throat and escorting him none too gently through the door, noticing that the sky was turning pre-dawn grey. She turned to the other patrons.
"Whos next?" she said, grinning. "Come on - its way past two am - Ems gonna have trouble with the liquor board if you all just dont get out - you want to see this place closed down?"
The patrons stopped grumbling, most apologising and thanking Em as they passed her on the way out.
"Yeah, yeah," she said. "Well do it again next year."
"Hey, I think my buddies are still in the bathroom," said one young man. "They been gone a couple of hours "
"Okay - well just let them sleep it off in there then," said Raven, escorting the young man none too gently by the collar out of the door. She looked at Em and shook her head. Em nodded slightly, catching Ravens thought. Those young men would probably not be seen again.
Finally the Tavern was clear of patrons, all of them getting into the vans Em had hired to ensure that none of tonights guests would drive drunk. The fortune-teller gathered her things and left after them.
"I gotta charge ya extra on account of I went over time, Emmy," she said, then smiled. "Ahhh - forget it - I havent had so much fun in ages - consider it a Halloween gift."
"Thanks, Barb," said Em, smiling.
The Tavern was empty. It had taken all of ten minutes, but to the women caught in the urgency of the situation, it felt like hours. Em looked around, suddenly struck by a sharp sadness she couldnt quite define.
"Come on," said Raven quietly, leading the other two woman out to the empty parking lot. The sky was turning lighter, the grey tinged with pink. It was going to be a beautiful sunny day, Celine thought, cradling Galinthias in her arms.
Suddenly there was a loud BANG! The women looked back and saw the Tavern in flames.
"Oh, no!" cried Em, starting to run back. Raven and Celine grabbed her and held her back. Em shook her head. "Thanks. Dont quite know what I thought I was going to do about it."
"No problem," said Celine, smiling sympathetically. "I know how you feel."
"Oh, yeah," said Em, again shaking her head. "You know, I had a feeling ah, never mind. Im going home. You two need a lift?"
"Just like that?" asked Raven, one eyebrow raised. "Dont you think you should wait for the fire department?"
"Nah. I just cant watch it you know," said Em, sadly.
"I do know," said Celine. She hugged Em and the older woman left.
"Come on," said Raven as the sound of sirens appeared.
"But dont you think someone should be here when the fire department arrives?" asked Celine as Raven led her to her truck.
"Maybe, but not us," said Raven, opening the door. "Theyll remember us - and I really dont want to deal with all that. Come on, Baby, get in."
Celine turned and watched as the old wooden building collapsed into the hole that had been the cellar. Raven raised an eyebrow. Then understanding dawned.
"Come on," she said gently, helping Celine into the truck. "Well watch from over there." She pointed to a hill where a huge old oak tree stood.
Raven drove over to the hill and parked. Celine got out and Raven pulled an old blanket from the back of the truck, spreading it under the tree. She and Celine sat, arms around each other, watching the firemen swarming over the already smouldering remains of the tavern. Celine lay her head on Ravens shoulder.
"Do you think theyre " she asked softly.
"I dont know Love," said Raven, kissing the top of Celines fair head.
"I hope wherever they are, that theyre together and happy," said Celine wistfully.
"Count on it." The two women looked up and gasped, then smiled as Sarah and Elizabeth materialised. "We wanted to thank you - both of you."
"Yes," said Sarah, smiling happily. "If not for you, we would still be trapped."
"What about ?" asked Celine.
"He has gone to the place he prepared for himself," said Elizabeth.
"You know, if not for you two, I may never have found the courage to confront him," said Sarah, smiling. "You showed me I could be strong, that I could do what was right. By finally telling the truth, I have set myself free. Here - take this and guard it. It is the true record of the Witch Trials here."
She handed Celine the black book.
"I will keep it safe," said Celine, gravely.
"Well do one better - well publish it," said Raven. "That way, the truth will be known."
"Then we are truly free," said Sarah, happily.
"So, its over?" asked Celine, hopefully.
"No," said Elizabeth, smiling happily. "Its only the beginning."
The spirits embraced, gazing lovingly at one another, then leaning in to each other, their lips met. The kiss broke and they smiled at their descendants and walked off towards the rising sun, hand in hand until they disappeared.
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