In the past…
“That was a close call, next time we’ll take action much earlier.”
“What do you mean earlier? How would we know?”
“Our people were being persecuted on a grand scale. There wasn’t a best time to intervene. We should ensure that a failsafe is instigated to prevent it.”
“As always Glastonbury, you think your potions and incantations will do the trick.”
“You would suggest otherwise Beldevrie?” Glastonbury, the head of the White Cauldron Order gave the head of the Black Cauldron Order her full attention. As always, the warlock decried everything the White Order did and made fun of its plans. The warlock would rue the day. At least for now, they had thwarted the dark demon that wanted to take over both orders and the population of earth. They had stopped the menace this time, but the threat still existed. “You are aware, aren't you, that in centuries to come it will reappear and be stronger.
“I suggest when, and if, that time ever comes again, we act in the same way. Only a fool would waste resources at this time on such an idle threat. We did after all win.”
“Don't you see that our remedies of today will not be of any use to our predecessors?” Glastonbury had not enjoyed the uneasy alliance she had forged with the Black Order–it had been necessary to remove the threat to not only them but to the whole of humanity. “Of course, I hope it will not happen again. However, we will need to remain vigilant to ensure we do not have to combat both the ignorance of the masses and evil too.”
The Warlock gave her a pitying glance then cautiously replied, “Perhaps. You must do what you think is right. I will, of course, do what I think is fit–if, and I doubt it very much–the circumstance arises again.”
At the white witch’s look of disgust, Beldevrie flung back is dark cloak theatrically. “They won’t praise you for wasting valuable resources Glastonbury. It will weaken your defenses against my order.” Beldevrie had watched dispassionately as Glastonbury gathered more witches to her ideal of witchcraft. He felt that in the future, the world would change and more of her witches would gravitate in his direction. Greed seemed to be a habit that forged alliances to his black art. As it was always in the past, so it would be in the future. According to his councilor Golgolyne, in a couple of hundred years, they would far outstrip the white witches in numbers and that pleased him greatly. He could wait–what was a few hundred years between friends?
“I do not want praise. I want my people to be safe in their practice as should you Beldevrie...as should you.”
“If one or two fall by the wayside there will always be others,” he said in an offhanded manner. “Look at what I gained from this last fiasco–a coup I would say.” The warlock glanced over to one of his newer recruits of only forty years. Her death had made her what she was now–a follower of black magic. It was strange to him that she was an innocent at the time of her death–there were innocents in a battle. Fortunately, for the Black Order, the woman had decided to join his ranks on her way to the heaven the uneducated masses loved to talk of. In a rare offer, he gave her another chance if she chose to follow him in the Black Cauldron Order. Much to his surprise, she had consented. She was angry and irrational which meant she would easily fall for his tactics and charm.
“Yes a coup.” Glastonbury looked around her and felt pity for the many at the end that had succumbed to the black side of their art. For the White Order, they had the odd one or two that had followed their way. One in particular had been something of an accomplishment, especially knowing the identity of the father. “I hope this is a final goodbye Beldevrie.” As the light slowly descended the horizon, the head of the White Cauldron Order disappeared without waiting for an answer.
“And she says we use magic for effect.” Beldevrie chuckled and rubbed his hand as he looked forward to his order and his new recruits. Now, was as good a time as any for a party of celebration.
In many ways, the two special souls who had changed their alliances had been paramount in extinguished the evil threat that descended on them. The evil could not understand why they had not followed in its wake for they had been so vulnerable. Unknown to the two souls, a strange tryst had begun between them meshing their souls. As much as anyone in the two orders could, they had eliminated, for now, the heart of evil.
Increase Mather had been a professor of folklore and a legend for thirty years. As a boy, he had a fascination with the subject, which led him to the special study of the occult and magic. He liked to think of himself as something of an expert in the field of witchcraft. With a name like the one he had, it wasn’t surprising that he had developed that particular interest.
His name derived from a 1700’s Puritan who partook in the dreadful witch hunts when all hell let loose. However, his mother had been what she called a Wicca–a solitary one. She lived on a remote farm to far from the general population to join a coven. His father had been an easygoing man who had thought his wife’s fascination with witchcraft, something of a standing family joke. It was at the time of an influenza epidemic that threatened to wipe out an entire town that his mother used one of her potions to help the local doctor. For years afterwards, she received kudos for her participation in saving the population. It was then that Increase became inquisitive and wanted to find out as much as he could from his mother. Although he was embroiled in the subject, he never actually became a warlock.
Now, years later, he worked diligently in the bowels of the local library. He had worked there for five years choosing the solitary library work over a professorship at a prestigious university. The obscure workplace allowed him the freedom to follow every lead and snippet of information in his quest to understand witchcraft and all its ramifications. His books had provided much of his knowledge about the witches of both the Black and White Order. He was particularly interested in those that could command spirits, others that were shape-shifters, and worst of all, witches with the evil eye. Everywhere he went he watched for any signs that any of those around him might fit into any of those categories. From time to time, he would encounter someone who proclaimed they were a witch, but he had never encountered a witch who had what he called, special powers.
His studies stopped when he heard a quiet voice.”Professor Mather, do you think you could spare me a few minutes?”
Increase looked up to see a rather curvaceous blonde young woman standing in the doorway. Ah, if only I were thirty years younger. He recognized her immediately and smiled warmly as he took off his reading spectacles. The woman had attended a lecture he had given at the university some months earlier. Since that time, she had visited the library on several occasions to research her paper on the social crisis that occurred in Salem during the sixteen hundreds.
“Of course, of course Ms. Putnam, it will be a pleasure,” he said as he approached the girl.
Anne Putnam was a New Englander by birth and lived there most of her life until a tragic accident took the lives of her parents forcing her to move to the mid-west and live with her aunt. “Please Professor, I’d prefer it if you call me Anne,” she said blushing. “No one calls me Ms. Putnam unless I’ve been caught napping in class.”
Her smile and gentle tinkle of laughter brought a grin to the old man’s face. “Ok, I think I can do that if you promise not to fall asleep when I impart the information you want.”
“Oh, Professor really…you are never boring enough to send me to sleep. Quite the opposite, I find your talks riveting. I’ve often wondered why you hide away inside the library and not teach class full time.”
“Well Anne, call it a fascination. I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in my passion for most of my life. I’m really quite happy browsing through all these old books.” He gave the girl a kind smile. “Now, tell me what can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if you knew the backgrounds on a few of these people.” She held out a piece of paper and shrugged. “If you don’t maybe you can steer me in the right direction to find the information.”
Once the professor took her list, Anne watched as his face creased in concentration. He was a sweet man and very knowledgeable about the area of history she needed information about. Some of the other students called him an oddball and told her to stay clear of him but she didn’t heed their warning. There’s nothing wrong in not being interested in the social side of this small town.
The professor smiled and motioned toward the outer door. “Shall we go outside and partake of the lovely day?” While they walked, Increase mused over the names on the girl’s list. All the people on the list were victims of the witch hunters of Salem. If required, he could recite all their life histories but felt that the young woman would be better off if he only gave her snippets of information. That way she’ll have to do a little research herself.
Just as they stepped onto the manicured lawn, a large, brown, ancient looking hound dog ambled toward them stumbling as he neared. When the animal arrived at the professor’s feet, he sat down and looked up at the man with his hangdog eyes.
“Now boy what are you doing here at this time of the day?” Increase reached into his pocket and pulled out a treat. “Here you go buddy,” he said. The dog immediately scoffed the morsel and looked for more, which made the professor smile. “That’s all there is old boy.” He reached out and patted the large head with a fondness that comes from genuine affection.
“Is he yours?” Anne squatted down and stroked the coarse fur. For his part, the dog stared at her for a few seconds before settling in to the caresses.
“No…I have no idea who he belongs to. He arrived from out of nowhere a few weeks ago and has turned up every day since. I find him either here, in the gardens or at my home begging for a treat. Then, he just sits and watches me until he gets up and leaves.” He patted the dog’s head and laughed. “He doesn’t seem undernourished does he? He must belong to someone locally but I don’t know who although I have my suspicions.”
“He follows you home?”
“Not exactly. He turns up at my home on the weekends.” He smiled at the absurd thought that floated into his mind before he put a voice to them. “If I didn’t know better I’d say he was spying on me.”
“Do you live far away?” Anne asked as her interest peaked.
“No,” he said pointing. “It’s the house that you can see on the hill.”
Anne stood up but kept contact with the dog’s fur. “Want me to make enquiries in town?”
Increase shrugged. “Sure if you’d like to. He’s a harmless old thing like me and I guess he loves a little company.” The old man chuckled and sat down on a bench under a large oak tree. “Now, shall we talk about your list?”
“Yes, please.” Anne sat next to the professor and listened intently as he began a description that brought many of the people on her list to life.
+ + +
“Sarah where the heck are you?” Abigail Parris called out. She shook her red hair that had the same simple, yet tidy ponytail that she had worn since a child. Her angular and determined features silently cursed the woman with whom she shared the small homestead.
Just as she opened her mouth again, Dorcas Good spun out from around the hallway door almost bowling Abigail over.
Under her breath Abigail muttered, “Six years old and she’s just like her mother!” Then in a controlled but louder voice asked,“Dorcas have you seen your mother?”
The girl’s baby blue eyes searched Abigail’s amber eyes before crinkling her nose. “Nope, not likely,” Dorcas said as she held up her index finger and gave it a few shakes. “Abby, you know she doesn’t like me running around the house.”
Abby gave the young child a long thoughtful glance. “What have you been up to today?”
Dorcas moved her hands to her side, raised her palms up and shrugged. “Nothing!”
Abigail had lived in the house with Sarah Good and her daughter for over a year and had seen the expression before. She’s into a prank or two. “Is this nothing something I need to know about?”
“Don’t think so Abby.” Dorcas had to smile for she knew the woman didn’t believe her as she blinked rapidly to try to look as cherubic as possible.
“Really…hmm, I wonder where Jules and Tekchuba are.”
Suddenly, the door opened and a rather flustered and grimy faced, short, stocky woman bustled in muttering incoherently. She proceeded to open every cupboard and drawer while shaking her head and mumbling. Abigail and Dorcas watched as the brunette woman walked around seemingly unaware that they were there.
“Can I help you with anything?” Abigail asked. She had seen this behavior before and recalled the last time. Drawers pulled open and emptied onto the floor and it took us hours to tidy up after her.
Brown, dazed eyes looked up and for a moment before Sarah’s brow creased when she realized who was in the room with her. “Oh, it’s you. What are you doing home…it’s only midday?”
Abigail growled slightly and shrugged. The woman aggravated her tremendously but she would get over it of that she was sure. “I have some news that I thought you might be interested in.”
Sarah straightened and tried to stretch her five feet two inches taller but was no match for Abigail’s five eleven. “Ok what?”
“I think I’d like you to answer my question first?”
“Why?” Sarah said with a guilty expression. “I’m not doing anything.”
“Now I know where Dorcas gets it from.” Exasperated, Abigail sat down at the kitchen table and moved some of the articles that the woman had thrown there.
Sarah glanced at her daughter. “What? What are you talking about?” There was no denying that the child was cute. For some odd reason she liked Abigail Parris and that puzzled Sarah for the woman was stuffy and self-righteous. It wasn’t all that surprising to when she considered Abigail’s upbringing. She always had to have all the answers first and that irked her.
“Sarah we need to talk and I need Baltazar. Has anyone seen him?”
The mother and child’s expressions mirrored each other and they both shrugged as they tipped their heads. “Just tell us the bottom line Abigail. Baltazar won’t mind and you can tell him later.”
Abigail decided that Sarah was probably right as she looked at the mother and daughter and with a serious expression. “It seems there’s been an incident in town. Johnathan Proctor has been meddling where we don’t want him.” She shook her head and gave a long sigh. “This can only mean that what we hoped wouldn’t happen has occurred.”
“He’s only a boy!” Sarah said. “Why? What does he know?” She eyed the other woman. “And how do you know?”
“I think you will also find that the local librarian has been snooping or should I say inciting the situation.”
“The old man who lives on the hill?” Sarah asked, scrunching her eyebrows together. “He seems so nice.”
Abigail had to wonder about Sarah at times. She really isn’t on the ball–not at all. It’s just as well that I always am. “Nice is ok, but we do know better...” She pierced Sarah with a serious look. “…don’t we?”
“What does the boy know?”
“He’s been putting everyone in these parts into his data base and checking them out.”
“He can’t do that,” Sarah said indignantly. “It’s… illegal. I told you that the computer thingys would be the main evil on earth. No one listens to me...do they? Can’t the boy find something better to do with his time?”
“I don’t know if it’s illegal. Until the authorities are notified and can determine if he is doing something against the law he can do what he likes–he obviously does.”
“How did you find out?” Brown eyes looked at Abigail in accusation. “Who else have you told?”
Abigail snorted in disgust. “I haven’t told anyone else. But I’m about to if I can find Baltazar. Where does that dog go? He seems to go missing frequently these days.”
“Most likely he’s trying to get away from you.” Sarah looked at her daughter. “Where is Tekchuba anyway? She’s usually here for all the gossip?” The child smiled innocently. “Come on Dor, what have you done with her today?”
“Are you sure? Last time you said that I found her locked in a cupboard?”
The child giggled and tried to stifle her laughter. Both adults gave her a grim expression and in unison said, “Oh no, not again!”
“You look in the cellar Sarah and I’ll go upstairs. Can’t you keep your child under control for just one minute?” Abigail flicked the child’s chin gently and grinned at her.
Sarah glared at the other woman and spat out, “I would if you didn’t meddle and helped her with those new spells.”
+ + +
A year earlier…
“She’s not progressed Beldevrie, I’m sorry.”
Beldevrie had long since kicked himself over accepting this particular member into his order. At the time, it had been a coup, but now more than three hundred years later, she was nothing more than a clumsy burden. In all that time, she still hadn’t mastered the simplest of spells. He toyed with the idea of sending her to the White Order for the fun of it many times. Old Glastonbury would love the challenge although with the additional baggage she had he doubted Glastonbury could cope.
“We have little time to prepare her. Have you done what I asked?”
“Yes. Can’t someone else go in her place? Surely there are others better able to carry out such a major task and better suited for the role of protector of our order.” Beldevrie pulled at his short, dark beard. He was especially proud of the fact that his beard still looked as it did the day he took over the order. What is that now? Oh yes, eight hundred years ago, how time flies when you’re having a blast.
At that moment, he was having anything but a blast. Once more, they were forced into an uneasy alliance with the bitch that controlled the White Cauldron Order. Evil was threatening them again and she requested the same people that had helped in the last battle. So be it, she can have it gladly. Maybe my burden won’t come back.
“Bring Guy to me…I have a task for him.” He let out a long low groan and sighed. “Now, I need to speak with our witch here and explain what she needs to do.”
“You had better make it simple or better yet tell Dorcas. Something tells me that all of Sarah’s common sense went to the child when she was born.”
Beldevrie laughed at the slight–it was probably true. Sarah did have trouble with the simple things in life. When he saw the woman enter, he motioned her to him. “Sarah please come over here, I have a task for you…”
“Abigail, let me get this straight, you have no wish to do as I ask and go back to earth and help in this rather dangerous mission?” the leader of the White Order asked.
Abigail stared at the leader of the order whom she had no wish to anger. It had been her hope that after her last time on earth she could stay away from the physical world. “Glastonbury, I wouldn’t quite put it like that. Are you certain that the old evil is stirring again? Who brought you this information and have the followers of Beldevrie corroborated it?”
“As we speak Beldevrie is arranging for his own personnel to journey there with you. He fully understands and acknowledges the threat to our orders,” the leader said. “The information was gained at the expense of several of our singular witches. They sacrificed their lives for us to see that the threat is manifesting itself again. I have few choices Abigail and you have no choice at all. I’m very sorry my dear.”
Glastonbury was over three hundred years old when Abigail joined the order. The younger woman had proven to be a fine witch in every aspect and had since gained her own personal following second only to Glastonbury. There was no threat to her leadership however, for Abigail was still a very young woman and her time would come. Right now, they needed to fight the evil that threatened them once more–otherwise their order would perish in the wake of the malevolence.
“I’m a white witch and although I say it myself, I’m very good. Unlike the Black Order, I have choices Glastonbury. That’s what we pride ourselves on isn’t it?” Abigail’s quizzical amber eyes surveyed her mentor.
Glastonbury had a soft spot for Abigail, a brilliant student, but very self-centered. Her red hair allowed many a fine temper to erupt. One could say she was better suited for the Black Order, and Glastonbury was thankful she chose otherwise. “Yes, that’s what we have over the Black Order and I understand your concerns Abigail. Will you listen to a story and perhaps then you will reconsider my request?”
Abigail gave a slight nod of her head. “Go ahead.”
“As you know we were under threat once before. By good fortune or default, two people on earth made choices that brought about the dissolution of the evil before it had time to take any major control. You Abigail Parris were one of them the other was…”
+ + +
“Proctor, hey Proctor, where’s my assignment?”
Johnathan Proctor wished he were with his parents in Jamaica, taking in the sun and the beach. However, he wasn’t–he was the small town being hounded by someone that by looking at him, make him quake in his boots.
The obnoxious, large man loved to kick the smaller people around the campus. Dale Roundtree was a bully–probably always was a bully and now in university excelled in the status even more. By accident, Johnathan had left his computer terminal open with some sensitive information showing. Roundtree didn’t know what to do with it but had blackmailed him with that knowledge ever since.
Johnathan didn’t have any friends. He was the shy retiring sort who kept to himself. Nonetheless, the girls constantly hounded him for a date since he had the Latin looks that made him stand out in a crowd. He would rather spend the free time he had with his computer than have a girl on his arm. He had plenty of time to indulge that particular pastime after university or so his mother kept telling him–his dad was skeptical.
“Yeah I have it.” Pulling out the sheets of paper and handing them over.
“Thanks, I’ll let you know what the new assignment is after DeVille’s lesson later. Don’t go without me seeing you or you’ll be sorry.”
The thick set Roundtree laughed as he pocketed the notes and went to his next class. Jon speculated that he’d end up behind the gym smoking dope instead of going to class.
“Damn!” Jon spat out after Roundtree had left. He didn’t realize that someone was watching him.
“You should stand up to him–he’s nothing more than a bully.”
Jon swung around to look at the person who had seen him.
“What would you know?” Jon muttered, as he looked around, hoping no one else had seen the exchange.
Walking up to Proctor, Anne Putnam smiled at him. He was a strange cookie that could have a marvelous social life if only he didn’t prefer to be on his own.
“Oh, I’ve seen the likes of him before, want me to do something about it?”
Giving her a strange glance, Jon shrugged. “What are you going to do, put a spell on him?” Many branded the young woman as weird because of her insistent interest in witches and witchcraft.
“I wish…no, I was kinda thinking that maybe a little of his own medicine.”
“You’re going to give Roundtree a piece of his own action? Pull the other one it has bells on.”
“Hey, not everyone has to be physically strong to get the point across. I hear he comes from a stout puritan background and you know what they say about those ‘starches’–they still believe in witch hunts and the power of the supernatural.”
Perplexed, the young man wondered what the woman was actually going to do. “I still don’t understand?”
“Do you believe in magic, Johnathan?”
“Never really thought about it before. Why, do you?”
“Yes, it’s all around us if we know where to look. Want me to find us a witch and hex the man?”
The young man shrugged. “Do what you want, I’m out of here.”
Anne Putnam laughed at the man’s retreat. She had only been joking to try and make the upset man laugh, but the more she thought about the prank, the more she considered it a good idea. After all, Salem, where she grew up was soaked in witchcraft history. I wouldn’t be surprised if the folks around here thought I was one.
+ + +
Stomping around in the cellar, Sarah cursed her daughter and the white witch that had been her shadow for the past year. She had done as Beldevrie had insisted but hadn’t realized that the deal meant living under the same roof as a white witch. They had to pretend to be friends. She was a widow with a small daughter and her friend had come along to help pay the bills. The one redeeming feature was they had decided on a homestead far enough from the town to enable them not to have to live that close together. Fortunately, Abigail was of the same mind. She completely refurbished the old stables to her taste with her gift of creating spells.
Sarah, on the other hand, had taken over the ramshackle house. She tried several times to remodel the house as Abigail had done but was unsuccessful. Sarah had done more damage than good as her spells had a rather irking ability always to go wrong. She stopped trying when Dorcas howled that she wouldn’t stay in the house if her mother didn’t stop trying to bring the house down.
After the first century with the Black Order, she knew she was a disappointment to Beldevrie. She was still in the first class of witchcraft after being there for over three hundred years. Dorcas had progressed further than she had in the single year they’d been on earth. That was only because Abigail reluctantly took the child in hand and tentatively passed over some of the white witch secrets. Abigail had said it was safer–the safer part did not dawn on Sarah until much later.
Now, she was grubbing around in the cellar looking for the newest spell that Dorcas had cast on the other members of the household. Suppressing a grin of pride, she considered how clever Dorcas was for a six-year-old–or by the order’s years, three hundred and fifty six years.
What was in the cellar that hadn’t been there before that was the question?
Abigail, along with Dorcas holding onto her hand, checked for anything new upstairs, that had appeared suddenly. The child played around with spells that were far more portent then she was capable of and as usual, Tekchuba and Jules took the brunt of the young witch’s mistakes.
Although Abigail was annoyed at the situation, she had to praise the young child. She really was rather good at the spells. Certainly far more adept than her mother, who really should consider a career change –she was a hopeless case.
“Do you remember which spell you used today Dor?”
Glancing around, she heard the negative response and continued her quest. If Glastonbury ever knew what she was creating, she was damn sure the leader of the order would have her ousted. Still, they were working with the Black Order so what could it possibly harm.
As she looked around the attic space, Dorcas stood looking out over the rooftop with her eyes glued to a spot. Abigail wondered what had caught the youngster’s attention and went over to look out for herself.
“I see it Dor…” Placing a gentle hand on the child’s shoulder, she turned her away and whispered for her to go and fetch her mother. It would take the two of them to retrieve this situation.
On the apex of the roof, stood a black as night figure that looked like a statue cast in iron. It resembled a weathervane but it was different–very different. A dragon’s head on a cat’s body gazed out over the horizon, oblivious to everything around them. That was where Tekchuba and Jules had disappeared. Dorcas had cast them into an unusual weather vane. How did the child accomplish such a fete? It was hard to change the composition of the physical form for even some of the most practiced witches but young Dorcas had the knack and she used it.
Opening the window, Abigail tentatively looked out over the roof. She really hated heights but someone had to go retrieve the object and bring it back into the house so that they could reverse the spell.
Slowly, with her eyes fixed on the object rather than the distance between her and solid ground, she made her way toward her goal. As she reached her destination, the wind speed suddenly shifted and she felt it tug at her with a vicious force.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Sarah knew of Abigail’s dislike of heights. It was for her a flaw in the perfect veneer that the woman seemed to transmit. Why did she always have to go it alone? Serves her right if she falls off.
“What does it look like?” Abigail retorted as she placed her hand firmly on the object. She pulled and tugged for several seconds but couldn’t release it. “It won’t budge.”
Dorcas, with bright blue eyes, watched as her mother climbed out the window and joined Abigail on the roof. Slowly, sidling toward the taller woman who was tugging at the weather vane, she finally arrived at her side. “Let me try.”
Placing her smaller but stronger hands around the neck of the vane, she tugged hard. Several attempts later, she had the object in her hand but as she did, several slates slipped and she felt herself falling toward the edge.
Abigail had been watching the tug of war and watched in slow motion as the woman slipped and began a descent that could injure her.
“Watch out, I’m coming.”
Reaching toward the smaller woman who had one hand clutching the object and the other a part of the roof, Abigail grabbed Sarah's shirt to prevent her from slipping any further.
“You’ll have to drop the weather vane and I’ll haul you up.”
Sarah stared into the amber eyes of the white witch. Does she know what she is asking? “You know I can’t do that. If it were Baltazar, you wouldn’t consider it either.”
Is she right? If it were Baltazar, would I have said drop the object? “Sarah, I can’t hold you like this for much longer. You’re too heavy.” The stocky woman wasn’t exactly a lightweight, and her shirt was starting to rip.
“Thanks for that reminder.” Pondering her predicament, she knew that Abigail was right–when wasn’t she? What of their friend’s fate? The damage that a fall of that dimension might inflict could be irreversible. Wishing it was otherwise, Sarah reluctantly released the weather vane and watched it fall to the ground with a crash.
Abigail held out her other hand, bracing her feet against the roof to stop herself from falling. Sarah grabbed the outstretched hand and once she was in a safer point, they both looked down. On the ground in was a mangled metal object that used to be their friends.
Both women gave each other a solemn glance until startled by the familiar voice that shouted up to them. “Watch what you send flying off the roof please, some of us walk around down here,” the affronted, superior voice of Tekchuba whined.
They smiled at the fact that maybe the falling from the roof had broken the spell.
Looking around, the two women anticipated seeing Jules stride after Tekchuba–she didn’t.
Scrambling off the roof, they both flew out of the attic space with Dorcas smiling and following them at a much slower pace. Adults, they do some strange things. Once outside, they had to pull up short so they wouldn’t kick the black cat Tekchuba that was smugly cleaning a paw in what appeared to be boredom.
“Jules, where are you Jules?”
Scanning the area, they both saw pieces of debris from the weather vane along with what they surmised to be their friend Jules.
“Look what you made me do?” Brown eyes accused as Sarah bent down to examine the pieces on the ground.
“Give me strength from inept and ungrateful black witches,” Abigail muttered under her breath.
As they both speculated on what to do next, a throat cleared behind them and they saw a tall blonde handsome man watching them digging in the dirt. To the man, one was much taller, her appearance chic and elegant in a casual way. The other looked like she had just mucked the stables with her clothing in a complete state of disarray.
Looking up at the intruder, they both groaned for different reasons. Abigail, because she hated the man and wished she could ban him from the homestead and Sarah because she wondered why every time he came around, she looked such a mess.
“Dare I ask what you two ladies are doing?”
Rolling her eyes, Abigail stood up and declined to speak leaving it to Sarah–after all, he was her friend.
“Oh Guy, how nice to see you we…that is we had a slight accident. Dorcas has been experimenting again.”
Guy turned to stare with his seemingly black eyes at the small child, who gave back the level glare without flinching. She however, moved closer to Abigail who put a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“You really should restrain her Sarah. We don’t want to bring attention to the homestead, do we?”
Sarah shamefacedly looked down at her leatherwork boots. She wished that just once, she could come out looking good in his eyes. It hadn’t happened yet but one day surely, one day she would.
“We’ve lost Jules.”
“Lost Jules? You haven’t,” he said as his eyes fixed on something. “I think the pathetic looking creature coming over the ridge with Baltazar is Jules. Did you send Baltazar out looking for her?”
“She is? Wow, that’s wonderful! Abigail, we haven’t a problem, it wasn’t Jules and Tekchuba on the roof after all.”
Brown eyes, ignoring his sarcastic description of their friend, sparkled at the news. Abigail shook her head wondering what Sarah saw in the malevolent man. He must be related to Lucifer himself.
“I’ll go check and you can apprise DeVille of the current status.”
Sarah motioned for Guy DeVille to follow her into the house and as she did so, he bent down and stroked the black cat’s ears.
“Nice to see you Tekchuba.”
The cat purred in satisfaction at the attention and licked the man’s hand. “Nice to see you too Warlock DeVille.”
Striding toward the paddock area, Abigail saw two figures turn into the grassland and then heard a small voice breathlessly shouting her.
“Can I come too Abigail? I don’t like that man.”
Staring at the child who was running as fast as her chubby small legs would allow, she wondered how strange it was that this child should have to live with the Black Order, when all her talents and her inclinations were toward the White Order. Glastonbury might be able to help the youngster at some stage, they would have to wait and see.
As the child came closer, Abigail dropped down, lifted her up, and placed her on her shoulders. “Let’s go see what Baltazar and Jules have been up to.”
Grinning, the child looked over to the two ambling figures, one a hound dog who always looked sad and tired but really wasn’t. The other was a three-foot tall dragon with an emerald green body and a tuft of blue on its head. This was the only dragon that couldn’t breathe fire, but she was great fun to have around, even if she was one of her mother’s mistakes. Jules really should have been a cat.
+ + +
Johnathan looked over the new data he had been correlating regarding the people in town. Other than the odd speeding citation, nothing much happened around here.
He had been fascinated in people’s daily lives to understand the social structure in the town–not to be a sneak. The current assignment he was working on was to gauge the social patterns in the area. However, he had gone further and actually had a working model on his computer that out stripped anything the lecturer had in his notes. He would take the data and use the information for graphical and statistical data, which should surely give him one of the highest marks in class. He wasn’t out to persecute or snoop on people he only wanted to prove his theories, he needed to delve deeper and had the facilities and knowledge to do so and he did.
When correlating the smallholdings just outside of town, he had stumbled upon something strange. One in particular didn’t stack–the Bishop farm.
It was a relatively small one, barely fifty acres of farmland, which was the home to two women and a child. Sarah Good, Dorcas Good, and their friend Abigail Parris–nothing appeared strange at first. It wasn’t uncommon for two women to run a farm today. However, Abigail didn’t run the farm she was a pharmacist and worked in the local pharmacy in town. The old man who had previously owned the shop retired a year earlier under unusual circumstances. All that he could find out was basic stuff about Abigail Parris–her birth, school records and university. There was nothing available beyond that on her finances or personal life.
That had made him suspicious so he did the same checks on Sarah Good and wasn’t all surprised when he found zilch about her too. The daughter was also an enigma. No matter what track he went down, they were more like a statistic than a real person was.
Having contemplated this, he knew that talking to the authorities was out of the question since they would probably find out about his illegal probing into the lives of the town’s residents however innocent. And, he had no evidence that the women and child had done anything wrong. Maybe he should go and visit the women and ask a few pertinent questions, under the guise of his assignment for the university–it wouldn’t be a false statement.
In the end, he didn’t know what to do and he didn’t know anyone well enough to help him make the decision. Maybe it is better to forget it altogether. It will be less trouble that way. As he considered that, he remembered his encounter with Anne Putnam. She looked the type who might love a little mystery.
“Anne Putnam I have a little task for you.”
+ + +
“The boy is irrelevant. He will find nothing amiss. Remember we covered everything when we came here,” Guy DeVille said.
Abigail was stroking the head of Baltazar as he lay beside her chair. He listened as intently as his mistress did for like her, he was not fond of the black Warlock,–they hated him.
“I’m aware that we think we thought of everything. But if he probes too deep….”
“You white witches are so cautious.” the warlock interrupted. “He won’t find anything. Now we have other matters to discuss. Zeb is coming.”
“Zeb…does that mean what I think it means?”
Sarah smiled as she thought of the rather ugly goblin that was the message bearer from both orders. Goblins had become quite invaluable for their middle of the road stance–they neither cared nor took sides in any dispute. Their only pursuit was to make a living mediating between the two orders.
Zeb was an affable character and loved to visit Earth. He said he found being in the sunlight stimulating after spending long periods in the dark caverns.
“Does that smelly creature have to come here?” Tekchuba whined as she sipped from the milk in her dish.
“I think he’s fun.” Jules preened back her small wings that allowed the dragon a modicum of flight as she countered the cat’s rude comment. Other than Sarah and the dumb Guy DeVille, Tekchuba was self centered and only tolerated the rest of them including Dorcas.
“Same here,” was the rumble from Baltazar as he continued to relish the gentle touch from his mistress.
“It usually means we have more news. Perhaps Beldevrie has finally convinced Glastonbury that the threat she perceived wasn’t a threat at all–was nothing more than petty bickering between witches.
“We don’t bicker in the white Order,” Abigail said glaring at the man. Even thought she didn’t like him, but a part of her hoped he was right. We really haven’t seen any evidence of the evil returning.
“Really? You could have fooled me. I thought all women bickered. Wasn’t it only women that perished the last time?”
Sarah listened to Abigail and Guy and shook her head. She knew the antagonism between the white witch and the black warlock could become quite fierce if allowed to continue. Dorcas was sleeping and she didn’t want her child disturbed.
“Enough! When Zeb arrives, we will know. When will that be Guy?” Abigail asked.
“Tomorrow afternoon,” DeVille snorted. A primal need rang out in his body each time he encountered Abigail Parris–it was getting stronger and stronger. Sometimes he didn’t know what he wanted to do most. Kill the witch or make love to her. Perhaps one day I’ll find out.
Continuing to spar silently with the white witch, his eyes connected with hers. “Tomorrow I have a lecture that I can’t put off. Make sure the both of you are here to listen to him. I’ll catch up with you in the evening to discuss the news and make the necessary plans.”
Standing up, he picked up his dark cloak and Abigail couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face. He looked rather silly and inwardly she laughed. The man was a fashion disaster, which had all the students on campus laughing behind his back.
As Guy left them for the evening, Abigail heard Sarah muttering under her breath. “I hate plans–they never seem to work out.”
Stifling a smile, Abigail had to agree for Sarah’s plans never did quite work out. Hers, on the other hand, had a better success rate.
Once Zeb arrived the next day, they would know what was happening and maybe they could all go back home. As she considered that, she wondered if she would miss anything about the last year on earth. She figured she’d miss Dorcas and Jules. Her eyes wandered to the woman who was still muttering, and realized that she’d miss Sarah too–in a strange kind of way. The woman was rather irritating and needed looking after when things didn’t go her way, which was rather regularly in her opinion.
Tomorrow they would know.
+ + +
Anne Putnam sat quietly drinking a Cappuccino at her favorite coffee shop, Starbucks. She was reflecting on the loss of her family. There were the odd times when she wallowed in her grief–thanks to her aunt that was becoming less and less.
Lisa Putnam, her aunt, traveled the globe for her company, as a logistics expert who was fluent in four languages. Never having settled down, she had been shocked that her older sister selected her as the guardian to her niece until she was twenty-one. At first, the thirteen year old girl had a difficult time with the thirty something woman. Eventually they found things that they both had interest. At the end of the semester, she was going on a month long trip to China with her aunt who had business there.
Having traveled Europe and most of America in the last six years, she had to admit she had been very lucky. Her aunt could have been a selfish bitch and dumped her in a boarding school but she didn’t. Instead, she found a decent housekeeper, Gloria, who became a mother figure for them both–or at least that is what Anne suspected. Gloria commented on some of her aunt’s girlfriends and Anne often wanted to ask her aunt if she was the reason none of them stuck around. Once Gloria said her aunt was too fussy and that she was never around to keep up a decent relationship. Whatever it was, she hoped her aunt would find someone to settle down one day and be happy.
“Is it ok if I sit with you?” Johnathan Proctor lifted his eyebrows to his forehead and waited for the woman to answer him.
“Sure, are you taking up my offer on the bully situation?” Grinning, Anne saw the embarrassment flood the handsome face. His attitude was a refreshing change from most of the handsome jocks she had met–they always thought they were God’s gift.
“Not exactly…I do need your help though.” Placing his espresso on the table between them, he dropped a manila folder in front of her.
Glancing at the folder then into his eyes, she thought she saw shyness as doubt seemed to creep across his face.”I take it you want me to read this?”
“Yeah, would you like another coffee…my treat?”
“Cappuccino would be good.” Anne picked up the file and opened it as Johnathan left to fetch another coffee.
A few minutes later, he was back with a selection of cookies too.
“You hungry?” Anne asked with a smile as she saw the selection. Maybe he has a sweet tooth.
“Not really, I thought maybe you might like to share?”
Selecting a chocolate chip cookie, Anne looked at the man in front of her. There was no doubt that he was the kind of man parents would love. He appeared to have everything except a sense of his own worth. Otherwise, why would he allow someone to bully him?
“What do you think?”
“What do I think?”
“Yeah, about the details inside the file?”
“Yeah?” The young man eagerly awaited her answer.
“I think you need to do more research.” She passed the file across to him then bit down on another cookie.
Disappointed, he gave her a hangdog expression before he collected his papers, and stood up.
“Where are you going? You haven’t finished your coffee or cookies yet?”
“You can have them. I need to do more research.”
The tone indicated to Anne that he was unsure as to what research or how he was going to go about it. If he had asked the professor, he would know all the details about the women in the folder. After all, they were on her list too and the professor had been a font of knowledge for her.
“Professor Mather knows all about the Salem people. If you want to do some decent research I’d ask him.”
“Salem people?” Johnathan’s face became perplexed as he stared at her. “What do you mean?” he asked as he waited for further explanation.
“You were at the lecture about Salem and you need backgrounds on the people involved. Though I think you need to add more than those three to your research–Professor Ranclay doesn’t take it well if you only do half the assignment.”
Johnathan watched as Anne Putnam sipped on her coffee. She didn’t get it at all, did she? History wasn’t what he wanted to know about. It was the people today.
“These people are alive here in this town today.”
Intrigued, Anne glanced up. She knew that her name caused a few chuckles in the lecture hall and when she thought about it…the professor had a linked another name as well.
Picking up her satchel, she rummaged inside and brought out her notebook. She scanned the names in her notes until she found what she was looking for–Jon Proctor.
“Johnathan, please sit down. You and I need to talk. Please tell me what you’re thinking?”
Smiling, the young man sat down and presented the facts, as he knew them.
+ + +
Sarah paced the hall. She wanted to go to the stables and see what Abigail and Dorcas were up to but her pride refused to allow it.
Looking at Jules, she immediately heard, “Oh no, not me this time Sarah, you promised.”
Sarah smiled at the dragon. She was cute in a reptile kind of way and all things being equal her mistake had brought about a pet for Dorcas. The dragon always went to sleep at the end of the child’s bed and was rarely far from her side. If Dorcas was in a mischievous mood, then Jules along with everyone else scattered, even Abigail.
“Jules, it’s really quite harmless. I just want to cast a spell on you that will have you float invisibly over to the stables. You can tell me what the two of them are doing. It’s simple really.”
“Sarah, please, not me. How about Tekchuba? She loves to snoop–especially on those two.”
It was true. The cat didn’t like either of the females. Sarah thought it was because they were a threat to Tekchuba’s superior standing as she saw it. Conversely, Sarah wasn’t a threat. She was far too dense to be on Tekchuba’s level, even if she was human.
Considering the plea she shrugged, Tekchuba would sense one of her spells and disappear until the threat, as she saw it, was over. The dragon on the other hand, was far too soft a creature to do that.
“I’m afraid it has to be you Jules. Tekchuba isn’t around or I would have tried.”
Sighing heavily, the dragon considered fleeing but knew it was useless. The black witch was, after all, her mistress and she had the power of control. Pity the feline didn’t ever think that.
Sarah opened the door to the study and entered. She walked to a circle drawn on the stone floor, and then stopped beside a pedestal holding a leather bound book facing the window.
“Stand in the circle Jules,” Sarah said as she flicked through the pages. This is going to work. It has to. Everything is so simple if I just give it a try. She began the incantation…
In time we wait, in time we hold, in time we change,
Let the flesh become the wind, let the weight cease domain
All the forces of the black magic come take your place
Make this but a shadow for my bidding
In flesh, become nothing Rise through the physical
In time, we wait, in time we hold, in time we…
“Shit!” Sarah exclaimed when she saw strangers coming through the gates of the drive. “What did they want?” Her mind was so totally absorbed with the newcomers that she failed to notice that Jules was no longer in the circle–she was nowhere at all.
+ + +
“Dorcas, if you want to be a white witch, then you have to concentrate hard and use the incantations correctly.”
“What’s an incantation Abby?” The child grinned, making the older woman wonder why she bothered–the child was so precocious.
Exasperated, Abby replied, “A spell, nothing more than a spell.”
Walking over to the volume of spells she kept on her oak desk, Abigail stroked a slim finger down her cheek wondering which one the child might recall this time. It was becoming increasingly difficult to prevent Dorcas from experimenting. At least this way there was some control. Knowing Sarah’s penchant for mix-ups, Abigail worried what would happen if she left the teaching up to Sarah. They’d probably have the whole town up in arms not to mention the world.
Sarah was a very capable woman in many respects. However, her skills had nothing whatsoever to do with magic, either black or white. The woman could cook, clean and was great around the farmstead. She had a wonderful way with creatures on the land and was friendly enough to make the nearest farmers help when the rains came. She was also a very good mother figure for Dorcas despite the child’s weird foibles. Putting those aside, no one could question the love that Sarah gave to her child. The woman was a wonderful homemaker and a terrible witch.
“Can I do a singing spell Abby?”
“You want to make people sing?” There couldn’t be any harm in that she supposed, not that she personally had ever seen the need to use such an incantation. But, this was a small girl and that would probably account for her fascination with a singing incantation.
“I’ll find one.” Flicking through the pages, she found just what they needed.
“Ok Dor, let’s see if you remember this, shall we.”
The small girl watched the woman attentively.
Silence spoken, words a token, spring in the tone
Let us sing alone.
Silence spoken, words a token, spring in the tone,
Let us sing alone.
“That’s the general spell Dor but you need to identify who you want it to apply too and then add the name.”
“I can do it, I can do it!” The child shouted in glee while clapping her hands.
“You…I want you to sing,” Dorcas said.
Abigail’s face turned sour for a moment as she wagged her finger in the child’s direction. “What did I tell you when I said I’d help you with the spells? Under no circumstances must you apply them to me. Never use my name in a spell.” Abby fixed her eyes on the child. “Do I make myself clear?”
Dorcas knew that Abby was mad. It reminded her of the numerous arguments that Abby had with her mother. Usually they made up and were friends again. From what she heard from her mother, Abby had a worse temper than the people who she battled the last time she was on earth. According to Sarah, Abby’s enemies chained her to a wall for days.
Sometimes, Abby frightened her but she was always nice afterwards. Not like that man who came to the farm with the funny cloak. Sometimes he was bad–real bad. He would kick her under the kitchen table when he didn’t think anyone was looking. Her mother liked him so she didn’t say anything but one day soon she would turn him into a frog and see what he thought of that.
“Yes. What about my mother?”
Abby smirked at the thought of a singing Sarah Good–it would be quite amusing except Sarah was tone deaf and no spell was going to change that.
“Dor, how about someone else?”
“Jules, Baltazar, or better still, Tekchuba…yeah, Tek doesn’t like us, so what about her?”
Admittedly, it was a tempting idea, but Abby knew a white witch couldn’t allow that to happen.
“Sometimes Dor we have to let people and creatures who don’t like us have their opinion and not make a fool of them just because we can. How about we think about it for a short time and I’ll show you how to levitate that stone over there,” Abby said pointing to a large stone. “What do you say?”
Dorcas considered the offer in spite of not knowing what Abby meant. If Abby were offering to show her, it would be worth it and later she would think about who she’d make sing.
“What’s levitate Abby?”
“Levitate…well it’s like hovering, I suppose. I’m going to make the stone rise off the ground and just stay in thin air.”
“Wow, come on Abby get on with it.”
Dorcas’ rapt face waited for the action. Abby had to admit that refocusing the child was simple and wondered what she was like at six years old.
As she tried to recall the spell, she heard voices from outside and immediately turned her attention there. One voice was Sarah’s but the other two were unfamiliar–unexpected and unwanted visitors.
+ + +
Increase Mather looked out toward the small farm that two women had purchased almost a year earlier. He considered that maybe they owned the dog that continued to follow him home for lunch. The animal was now resting on his porch, waiting for the usual snacks that Increase gave the hound.
The day before he was sure he saw the dog and another creature, which he couldn’t quite make out, lazily making their way to the farm gates. Perhaps it was time to visit his neighbors. Not that he was particularly the visiting kind, but he had heard rumors that the two women were solitary and kept to themselves generally–a trait that he didn’t think was sinister. Except in their case, there was a child involved that didn’t attend kindergarten. He heard there was some notion that she suffered from a disease that wouldn’t allow her to attend a public school. To him that was strange since he was sure he’d seen the child most days frolicking in the fields–she looked healthy to him.
Since he didn’t have any research to do, he decided it was time to research his new neighbors. Now, what shall I take them as a welcome gift?
Musing on the subject, he looked down at the dog and spoke softly. “I wonder if you do belong to them my canine friend. If you do, what are they really like?”
Realizing that the dog couldn’t answer him back, he stood as the dog barked at him. Chuckling, he tickled the dog’s ear. Maybe he does understand my words.
“Come on boy, let’s go see the neighbors. You can show me the short cut.”
+ + +
“Who are you? What are you doing on my property?” Sarah’s brown eyes glared at the two young people that had walked into her yard.
When Anne heard Johnathan stuttering out a reply, she took over. “We wondered if we could bother you to help us with a research paper we are doing one of our university courses.”
“A research paper you say? How would we be able to help you?”
Sarah eyed the young woman carefully. Obviously, she was the stronger of the two. The young man seemed totally out of his depth as his eyes furtively moved around the area. Just as it was when she was younger, women in this time were far superior to the men. A slight smile crossed her lips as she wondered what the old persecutors would make of women today.
“Well, it’s about lifestyles–we thought if you could answer some questions…” Anne trailed off when she heard a strident voice behind her speak.
“We don’t answer questions!”
Spinning on her heel, Anne gave the intruder a sharp glance. When she saw a beautiful small girl hanging onto the taller woman’s hand, Anne grinned–the child’s smile was infectious. “Really? Well if you could just look them over first, maybe you might be persuaded to change your mind?”
Johnathan felt eyes on him as he continued to look at the dirt around his feet. This isn’t going to be easy–there is no way I can do it on my own–not a chance in hell. By the look of this place, it could be hell. He noted the ramshackle farmhouse, the rickety gates, and the thunderous look from the tall beautiful woman who had appeared.
“I resent that,” Abigail said as she stared at the young man who looked up guiltily.
Can she read my mind?
“You resent what? That I asked you to look over the notes?” Anne was dumbfounded at the sharp retort. What did I say?
Sarah looked at Abigail and realized she had heard thoughts and she knew that didn’t sit well with her. Not much did with the white witch, but perhaps this time she had the right attitude.
“Sorry, we don’t believe in being research guinea pigs. If you wouldn’t mind leaving,” Sarah said. “The gate is over there. Please leave.”
“You heard her–leave now.” When she didn’t see either interloper move, Abby added, “Would you prefer I call the police and they can eject you? Either way is good with me.”
Anne gave the stern looking woman a hard gaze. She knew if it were only the gentler other woman she would have won her over. Now what do we do?
This time Abigail laughed at the absurdity–Sarah is gentler. Wonder what she would think, if she knew she was a black witch and could turn them all into toads or snakes or whatever happened with one of Sarah’s jumbled spells?
“Are you laughing at me?” Anne was annoyed with the taller woman. She appeared to read her mind. Maybe her theory wasn’t far short of the mark. They might be witches.
Abigail turned to make eye contact with the young woman. For a child, she was spunky unlike the drip of a boy she brought with her. He might be a looker but he certainly doesn’t have any backbone.
“Can I do it now Abby?”
All eyes turned to the child who spoke in a clearly happy voice–unaware of the tension around her.
“Not now Dorcas…we’ll do it later.”
Interested, Sarah asked, “What does she want to do?”I wonder what they’ve been doing. Then she suddenly put a hand to her mouth as she remembered Jules. Oh no, what has happened to Jules? Abby is gonna kill me if I did something bad to the dragon.
Abigail looked at Sarah as she spoke and then realized that something was wrong as she saw the horrified expression that cross the smaller woman’s face. What has she done now?
“Please leave.” Abigail motioned to the gate as she walked over to Sarah and hissed, “What is wrong?”
As the two older women talked quietly and walked away from the others, Dorcas looked up with an innocent butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth expression at the young couple. “Can I do it now?”
Anne and Johnathan looked at each other. Whatever it was couldn’t be any worse than the caustic tongue of the woman called Abby.
“Sure, I don’t see why not,” said Johnathan with a grin. He was much more comfortable conversing with the younger generation.
“What are your names?”
Shrugging at the innocent question, Anne said, “I’m Anne and this is Johnathan.”
The child grinned at them, and very softly started to sing. At least that was what the two onlookers thought she was doing–they couldn’t make out the words.
As they turned away, the child shouted for them to stop. Anne turned back and smiled at the small girl. She really is a cute kid and so nice.
“We can’t, you’re…” Anne put a hand to her mouth. She couldn’t believe it she was singing the words.
Clearing her voice, she tried again and this time Johnathan laughed at her. The child smiled widely as she clapped her hands together in glee.
“Anne, you need to get a life.” The young man’s eyes popped out of his head as he too sang the words. It reminded him of the old musicals his Gran had loved. He looked over to the child who was giggling so hard that she was virtually rolling in the yard.
“…Jules! You used Jules again! For goodness sake Sarah, don’t you ever learn?”
“Learn? How can I learn if I don’t practice? You do.” Both women were screaming at each other in whispered tones. What Abigail would really like to have done is cast her own spell on the black witch but she had sworn not to do so–no matter the circumstances.
“I did it! I did it!” Both women heard Dorcas shouting as she rolled on the ground laughing. Their eyes turned to the subject of her mirth and opened their eyes wide when they saw the young couple speaking to each other–they were singing.
“Dorcas…I told you later!”
“This is too much,” Abigail muttered as she stomped toward the couple who glared at her in anger and trepidation. “What is going to happen next?” She didn’t have to wait long.
Unseen by Abigail, two more bodies entered the yard from a different direction. The only thing Abigail saw was the pale shocked expressions on the couple’s faces, which she took as they thought she was going to murder them. “I’m not going to hurt you,” Abigail said in exasperation.
Unwilling to sing their words, the couple could do little but point to an area behind Abigail. When she turned to see what they were pointing at, she heard Sarah say, “We have a big problem.”
From the side of the house that was to the left of the driveway, came a tall old man. Neither Sarah nor Abigail had seen the man before but they knew him–Professor Mather. Their eyes darted to the right of the driveway where a short ugly goblin named Zeb appeared from the field and was ambling toward them–his timing was awful.
Sarah’s eyes bulged and Abigail shook her head in dismay as she muttered, “Famine to feast. Has someone painted a sign that says come on in at the entrance to the farm?”
Sarah looked at Abigail and held her breath–they were in deep trouble. What’s she going to do to make this right?
+ + +
Zeb told Abigail and Sarah what they needed to know. Once he had gone, Sarah smiled at the three visitor’s who still hadn’t done more than drop their jaws and wait for sense to take up it’s rightful place in their eyes. Anne and Johnathan were loath to speak for they might still be singing and neither one of them wanted to make a fool of themselves any more than they had already.
Abigail assured them that she had taken care of the singing problem in two ways–she had broken the spell with a reversal incantation and sent Dorcas to bed. By sending the child to her room, she hoped that at some stage Jules would show up.
The professor had taken the seat offered him in the kitchen and never moved. His eyes were agape and his mouth moved every so often but nothing came out. Looking toward Abigail who was making tea he wondered if he might have done the same thing if they reversed their roles.
“What are we going to do with them?” Sarah whispered.
“I know what I’d like to do with them but it would go against my ethics. You, on the other hand, wouldn’t have a problem with ethics, now would you?” Abigail gave Sarah a speculative glance–would she or wouldn’t she.
“Well, of course …it’s true that I don’t have the same ethics as you but…”
“Yeah, but what? If you don’t have a clue, we know who will. Don’t we?” Abigail said taunting the woman. She had to put up with the incompetent witch for far too long. She closed her eyes and sighed–Zeb’s news wasn’t going to make things easier.
The two women’s bantering stopped when all eyes turned to the professor. In a tone of wonder and interest, he said, “It was really a goblin?”
When she heard Sarah speak, Abby rolled her eyes and thought about reviewing her ethics to take care of the situation.
Unconcerned about imparting sensitive information, in warm voice Sarah said, “Oh yes, Zeb is a goblin and quite an affable one at that. He can tell a decent story….”
“Sarah!” Abigail growled effectively shutting the woman up. She then directed a hard stare to the others in the room. “Professor Mather, what exactly why were you coming to our home?”
“My dear, I was bringing home your dog and I thought I would welcome you as my closest neighbor,” he said as he dragged out a rather ragged looking brown package.
Sarcasm dripped from Abby’s voice. “We have been here a year and today of all days, you wanted to come over and welcome us. Is there a large arrow pointing to our farm that says this is visiting day by any chance?”
Abby knew they had to do something before DeVille came. Knowing his warped mind, these poor souls won’t see the light of day for several centuries.
“No my dear but I do a great deal of research and …”
Pointing to the other two intruders, Abby said, “Research–you wouldn’t by any chance be in collusion with those two, would you?”
The professor turned to glance in the direction of Anne and Johnathan. Shaking his head, he smiled at the two sorry looking youngsters. He was certain they were just as frightened as he was. Age has a way of making you a little more self reliant in unusual circumstances.
“No,” he said shaking his head. “I do know Ms. Putnam since. I helped with her research recently.” He didn’t see the point in lying. The women might be capable of far more complicated things than casting a spell that made people sing, along with visitations from goblins.
“I see, what was the research?” Sarah asked. As usual, Abby had done all the talking but she had a mind of her own too and wanted to know as much as possible.
“The Salem trials and the unfortunate victims,” the professor said.
Sarah gasped and Abigail nodded her head in understanding.
“Really and did you find out anything interesting?” Sarah asked.
Johnathan, adding to the conversation, said, “Depends what you call interesting?” The women scared the hell out of him and he wondered why he opened his mouth. Then he looked at the professor and knew the man gave him a boost of courage.
“Yeah, it does,” Anne piped in for good measure.
Sarah caught Abby’s gaze. Abby was giving her the chance to explain in whatever way she wanted. “You said you wanted to ask us questions for your research project–was that it?”
“In a way, yes,” Anne said giving the woman a tentative smile. While Sarah seemed gentle to her, the other woman, with her dark appearance and manner, appeared to embody evil.
“Go on please, what else,” Sarah said.
Since it was his idea in the first place, Anne turned to Johnathan who said, “I found out that there are few records of you or Dorcas.”
Angry at the boy’s prying, Abby moved so she stood directly in front of him. “So you are the Johnathan Proctor who had the audacity to check up on us. What gives you that right?”
The boy shrank back. The tone of the woman’s voice coupled with the words that indicated she knew him was a puzzle–he’d never met or seen her before.
“Abby, please. Becoming angry doesn’t solve anything, does it?” Sarah implored. “Besides, Guy will be here soon and he will decide what to do.”
Closing her eyes briefly, Abby knew she should let DeVille take care of the mess. But, she couldn’t do that. Ignoring Sarah, Abby turned to the three others in the room and assessed them all with a protracted gaze. It will be up to them. Gulping in a deep breath, she made a decision.
“You can come with me and I’ll explain certain elements of what’s happening here. Or you can wait with Sarah and take your chances with Guy. It’s your call?”
The carefully modulated words implied little and the steady and calm amber eyes gave no indication of what the ramifications of each scenario would be.
Sarah placed a hand on Abby’s arm as she stared at her in shock. What is she doing? “Leave this to Guy, it’s for the best.”
“We shall see, won’t we?” Abby whispered.
Professor Mather knew there were messages passing between the two women that he should understand–his mother was a Wicca after all. How can I tell if one is good or bad? Who practices the white and who the black? Though in a household, his understanding was that the two branches did not mix in anything. Is this an evil household or a good one?
Anne didn’t like the Abby woman. She felt safer with Sarah. Although, the mention of someone called Guy, did put a new spin on the situation.
“I’ll take my chances with you,” Johnathan said as he stood up and stared at Abigail. It is my chance to understand and I’m not going to miss it.
Abigail gave him a shrewd glance and motioned for him to go to the door leading to the yard. “Anyone else?”
Professor Mather glanced at Sarah and then to Abigail–neither gave anything away. “I’ll come too.”
“Ok, let’s go then.”
“What about me?” Anne spluttered. She hadn’t decided yet.
“You can follow if you want. If not, I’m sure Sarah will make your stay pleasant until Guy arrives.” Abby then turned and left the house with the two men in tow.
Staring at Sarah, Anne asked, “Who’s this Guy person?”
As she wondered how to describe Guy, Sarah laughed. A description of the man was quite difficult when she considered the situation. “Oh Guy’s just a guy. You might know him since he’s a member of the faculty at the university. He teaches archaeology.”
“Professor DeVille? Is that Guy?”
Sarah’s expression became puzzled as she saw the distaste cross the younger woman’s face. “Yes, do you know him?” she asked cautiously.
“Do I…he thinks he’s God’s gift to women. No way do I want anything to do with him. I’ll take my chances with the she-devil out there.” Anne quickly exited the room and shouted to the three figures that were just getting to the stable where Abigail’s rooms were.
As the young woman left to join her friends, Sarah wondered what she meant. She smiled as she thought about the last comment that the young woman made. Although Abby was a hard task person, underneath she was as soft as putty in your hands. She however, came across as very soft but deep down she could be as hard as nails. It really wouldn’t have worried her too much if Guy had taken care of the three interlopers. It is his job, after all–to clean up any loose ends we might have. He was one of Beldevrie’s best warlocks and knew it too, which only added to his charm in Sarah’s eyes.
“I wonder how Abby’s going to stop him finding out about them.”