A Witch’s Fire – Chapter Three

Published March 3, 2015 by darksilvertree

Samiyah gasped, a bone deep chill seeped into her. Had she died? Someone laughed nearby. She looked around even though pitch blackness was thick around her. Her breath sounded muffled by distance. It came to her all at once. She remembered being grabbed and pulled. Her panicked mind was unable grasp she’d been pulled into the astral realm.

“Good. Good.”

Samiyah felt her skin prickle as a presence surrounded her.

“Now we can talk.” The disembodied voice seemed as far away as it was near, as feminine as it was masculine. It belonged to an old spirit, which didn’t bode well for a powerless former witch.

Samiyah whimpered as a bony finger tapped at her. Searing pain followed each touch as a new cut opened up. Biting cold seeped in and she shivered. “Why is it…so cold?”

“You’re dying child.” A gleeful laugh echoed in Samiyah’s ears. “Any minute now.”

“I’ve…done nothing to…you.” She felt her eyes sting and knew she had to be crying.

“No, though that matters not. You’ve cut off a limb that desperately wants to come back.”

If Samiyah concentrated she could make out a faint glowing outline; a twisted ghostly hand reached out and tipped up her chin.

“We can’t have that.”

“Trevor?” Samiyah’s voice wavered.

A full bodied laugh answered her. “That one.” Another laugh. “I’ve been with him such a long, long time. Waiting for you.”

 

Past events snapped into focus. Trevor’s sudden attention made sense; it wasn’t his. And she’d suspected he’d stolen her books on magic, was he also drawn to them because of this spirit?

“Is he alive?” Long-term possessions usually resulted in the host’s death. “Why wait…for me?” Her teeth chattered and her mind was quickly becoming sluggish.

A jagged smile appeared before her. “You always had your power child. But afraid like all mortals. Still afraid.” A blurry outline of its face began to appear. “I will use it. I will come back.”

Samiyah drew away. She was afraid but she knew she couldn’t let this happen. Using all the will she could muster, Samiyah pulled away from it; screaming as she felt its talons rip out of her skin. Childlike laughter accompanied Samiyah’s efforts, but she didn’t care. Even her doubts were forgotten because she had no time for them. She thought of her physical body, of going back to it. Samiyah grasped at the frayed ends of leftover magic and used them to drag herself back.

The spirit screeched. “You will not stop my coming.” “I’ve stopped worse.”

The spirits next words followed her as Samiyah as the astral realm disappeared around her. “You have fought nothing like me child.”

Samiyah came back into her body with a violent jerk. The momentum threw her into Oliver. His image was fuzzy but she hurried to her feet only to tumble over. A second later she was doubled over as pain rushed over her in a tidal wave. Flashes of heat shot through the numbing cold.

“Sam, look at me.”

Oliver’s voice was muddled and Samiyah saw him as if she were underwater.

“To Colorado,” she said in a hoarse voice.

 

“You need help.” His hurt temporarily forgotten.

Samiyah shook her head, or she thought she did, and repeated her statement.

“What the hell’s in Colorado?”

“Trevor. He’s going to…use it wrong.”

Oliver grunted and picked her up, carrying Samiyah in his arms. “I’m taking you to your sister.” He ran down the street, making her head pound. “You’re not making any sense.”

 

**

 

Katherine heard the cup drop, heard the echoing cracks as it broke, but didn’t feel it fall from her hands. She watched mute as Atian rushed over to Oliver. Katherine watched as he took off his jacket and draped it over her sister. Samiyah was speaking but they ignored it and Katherine tried to block it out, until she heard Trevor’s name. She’d only been eight when he met Samiyah, but something always felt off about him. And as she grew older she hated the way he treated her big sister though she never said so; she’d learned by then not to argue against something her mother approved of.

“That creep?” Her voice was raw with unshed tears. It seemed to explode in her ears.

Oliver looked up. “You know him?”

Out of habit she looked to her mother for approval. A dark part of her enjoyed seeing the looked of stunned hopelessness on Rhonda’s face. “He’s an old boyfriend of hers. From when she didn’t know herself.”

Oliver became so still Katherine wasn’t sure he was breathing. Then he moved so fast Katherine couldn’t stop herself from jumping. He gathered Samiyah in his arms and held her as if she would break.

Making sure Samiyah focused on him, Oliver asked, “Did Trevor do this?”

“Use it wrong.” Samiyah started sobbing and a dangerous growl ripped from Oliver’s throat.

“I’m guessing he’s why she needs to go ‘to Colorado’. Damnit.” Atian rocked back on his heels.

Katherine was shocked by his out of place swearing but she brushed that aside to take charge. She turned to her mother and said, “We need to get to Colorado. Or are you going to let him get away with this?”

She saw a strange emotion flash in Rhonda’s eyes, and then it was gone; her shoulders drooped.

“We can’t fly off to every city in the state, Katherine.”

She turned back to Oliver, careful to keep her voice even. “Can you fix her?”

“The bond is damaged.” His voice was calm and so low Katherine had to strain to hear. “But I’ll try.”

 

**

 

Samiyah’s world was filled with pain, garbled words, and the occasional “touch” from Oliver; just enough to let her know he was there, each time it felt like a salve to her metaphysical wounds. She wasn’t aware of how much time passed but her arms and legs responded more when she tried to push herself up. Her headache hadn’t receded but she couldn’t let that stop her. Samiyah gripped the counter and started to pull herself.

“Stop it. Right now.”

Her mother’s voice shocked her into letting go and she crashed to the floor. Her breath hissed out through clenched teeth. Rhonda knelt and rearranged pillows Samiyah hadn’t noticed. They were peach colored and decorated with tiny red beads, with price tags still on them.

“I have to go.” The words didn’t sound as firm as she wanted.

“No, you’re not running off after Trevor.” Rhonda didn’t look at her but Samiyah could hear the tightness in Rhonda’s voice. Had she been crying?

“It’s not about him. I don’t have time to explain.” She stood on shaky legs.

“You’ve gotten your sister involved. Make time.”

“Someone’s going to use my magic and they’re going to hurt people. I don’t have time,” she said, stressing the last words.

A door opened. “You, Sam, are going to stay right here and let your little sister handle this.” Katherine walked up to the counter. She didn’t look like the girl who grew up without ever having to lift a finger. She looked like she might even be willing to break a nail.

“You’re in even worse shape than me.”

Rhonda stood abruptly. “Surely there are witches there who can handle this.”

“We can’t risk them not being enough.”

“And you are?”

Samiyah squared her shoulders. “I don’t know but I’m going anywhere.”

Katherine gave her an encouraging smile. “Well, we should get going then.”

Rhonda looked helplessly between them. “Ashley, you don’t have any magic.”

Samiyah walked away as steadily as she could with Katherine beside her. She was not going to have the name argument when the world was in danger. If she lived to see her mother again, now, that was a different story.

A Witch’s Fire – Chapter Two

Published February 26, 2015 by darksilvertree

“For the best? That’s all you have to say?”

Samiyah shrugged. She wanted to say good riddance; no good had come of it. That wasn’t entirely true. Jaegar was a good thing. He’d become the father she never had; he took her under his wing when he should despise her. And what of Santiago, Oliver, Lyric; they were good things. But it didn’t change her fears of dragging innocent family members into this mess. She couldn’t save everyone. It didn’t change the fact that she had no human friends. And if she did, could she handle seeing them lifeless? Samiyah knew the answer and she knew this had been the right decision. Let Trevor find out for himself what it was like. Samiyah squared her shoulder.

Noticing the change in her demeanor, Jaegar let out a harsh laugh. “He didn’t steal anything.” He said it more to himself than her. He grew cold and spoke in a professional voice. “I’ll have someone track down your friend to disperse the energy safely. Then, we’ll be out of your hair for good.”

“Thank you. Don’t worry about the door, I’ll get it.”

She knew Jaegar wanted to say “you couldn’t fix this if your life depended on it”; instead he just grunted and left. Samiyah waited a few moments before approaching the fallen door.

Nudging it with her foot, she muttered, “Now how the hell am I supposed to fix this?”

 

**

 

“Trevor, pick up. It’s important.”

Samiyah paced as she tried calling Trevor for the fourth time. Eventually she sat where the front door still lay on the floor; angrily disconnecting. Her stomach churned and a nagging feeling told Samiyah it had all been an act. Trevor had known who she was before she let him in. And he’d come for her power. Samiyah knew if she hadn’t been so desperate she would’ve noticed that. Trevor actually helping her?

So, so stupid. She let her head drop against her knees.

Just then the phone rang.

She answered it instantly, a flutter of hope made her heart beat faster. “Hello?”

“So you change your mind about me staying over?”

Samiyah ignored that. “You need to bury that talisman.” She ran her hands through her hair, grimacing slightly when she caught on a nap. “Or go to the nearest beach and throw it in the ocean.”

Trevor didn’t answer immediately. “How did you know? Your magic’s gone?”

“And I’m not holding a talisman or I’d do this myself.”

He chuckled. “You got me there. This isn’t your problem anymore.”

“I know. But the SBPD will be looking for it, and Jaegar Richter was my alpha.”

Trevor cursed profusely. “You pick nice friends.”

“It was the other way around. Do you see why you need to get rid of it?”

“Yeah,” he said, distracted. He took a deep breath and mumbled something. Then, in a more aware voice he said,” Yeah, I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”

Samiyah let out a relieved breath. “Thanks, Trevor. Be safe.”

She could imagine him smiling on the other side of the phone. “Of course. And you enjoy your life back among us regular mortals.”

“I will. Trust me.”

And her first act was to pay someone else to fix things for a change.

 

**

 

A week later

Samiyah sat at a local bistro, across from her mother. She hadn’t heard from Trevor or Jaegar and after the first panic filled days, she decided it was safe to move on.

“I gave it up.”

Rhonda sniffed and ate her salad as if she was a delicate bird. “Are you sure?”

Samiyah nodded. “I’m sure.” The words almost caught in her throat.

“Why?” Rhonda eyed her suspiciously.

Samiyah wasn’t sure how much her mother knew about Katherine’s condition. Or if she knew why Nathaniel suddenly disappeared, but no doubt she blamed her oldest daughter. Taking a deep breath Samiyah explained it all in a deadpan voice. She felt an uneasy sense of pride when retelling Katherine’s betrayal didn’t bring any tears. And a feeling of warmth replaced that numb space when she spoke of them fighting together. Samiyah ended by saying, “I don’t want to see where it goes next.”

Rhonda sat stiff backed. Her dark hair had been straightened and dyed to hide any grey. It made her pert nose and sharp cheek bones look even more severe. “I want you to take me to her. And then you stay away from all of us.” Her voice shook with anger.

“What?” She should’ve been expecting that. Why would her mother accept her? But tears still sprung to her eyes and she had to fight to keep them from spilling over.

Rhonda stood as fast as she could. She wore a skin tight white dress that ended just under her knees and matching heels. Samiyah wore a loose, stripped shirt and dress pants. She’d dug out her old “uniform” to impress her mother. Instead she felt like the school freak who dared to talk with the popular girl, thinking they could be friends.

“Take me to my daughter, and then leave us alone. Did I stutter?”

Samiyah shook her head sadly. She stood to follow and caught a glimpse of Santiago a few tables down with Lyric sitting on his shoulder, looking miserable.

 

Samiyah called ahead to Isi’s shop as they drove to Kissimmee. When Atian picked up she was happy to hear a friendly voice.

“How may I help?”

“I need to speak with Katherine.”

There was silence and then she heard a door close. “It’s been a year, why do you want to talk with her now? And why call the shop?”

“Because it’s been a year. Anyway, her mother wants to speak with her.”

If Atian noticed she didn’t say “our” he was smart enough not to mention it. “Alright. She’ll be here by the time you arrive.”

Samiyah ended the call and resigned herself to the tense silence. She felt the back of her neck heat up even though her mother hadn’t looked at her or spoken the entire trip. There was no point in trying to explain Katherine was not likely to give up her power. Not when she had the potential to control all the elements. That would draw otherworld creatures just like they’d been drawn to Samiyah. But there was no need to say that and make them both outcasts. She gasped as the air suddenly left her lungs. A burning ache spread through her chest as if she’d been punched. A magic induced wave of nausea swept over her and she felt like she was falling. Then, all at once, it was over. Samiyah checked to make sure they were still in the right lane and hadn’t caused an accident. She took a deep breath, and decided to ignore it. She was not involved in whatever was trying to happen. Samiyah spent the rest of the trip convincing herself the spell worked.

 

When they finally arrived Samiyah felt drained. When she saw big red hearts decorating the windows of Isi’s shop she had to repress a groan. Her mother stepped out of the car and Katherine came running out, a huge grin plastered on her face. Her skin glowed and her full hair bounced, but she still looked tired. Katherine stopped when she noticed Rhonda’s expression. Samiyah got out of the car and Katherine pursed her lips.

“What’s going on?”

“You’re coming home.”

Katherine brushed her hair nervously behind her ear, and then Atian came out. They shared a look and Samiyah knew her sister wasn’t going anywhere unwillingly.

“I will. When I’m better.”

“Katherine Hayden, I want you home now,” Rhonda snapped. “What will people think if they find out you’re involved in…whatever this is?”

Katherine stepped closer to Atian and took his hand. “I don’t care,” she said softly.

Rhonda spun on Samiyah. “This is your fault. Why did you get involved in her life?”

“You invited me to the wedding.” Samiyah couldn’t stop a laugh, it was full of ridicule.

Rhonda sputtered and she looked back at Katherine, looking at her like she was a stranger. Her normally stylish daughter wore a faded red tank top, jean capris and heeled sandals. Katherine’s brown hair was tied in a messy bun/ponytail. Rhonda made an effort to calm herself since she was obviously outnumbered.

“I’m okay. Atian and his family are protecting me.”

“Can they stop someone – something like Nathaniel?”

Katherine’s jaw clenched. Their mother definitely knew how to hit sore spots.

“Please give this up. Even your sister had enough sense to give it up.”

Katherine gave Samiyah a confused look. She nodded. It wasn’t how she wanted them to find out but the news was out.

 

Katherine held her head up. “I’ve never been her. That made you proud.” She pretended not to see Rhonda flinch. “I made coffee.” Katherine turned and walked back into the shop without waiting to see if they accepted.

Atian held the door open for them. Rhonda strode past him without speaking. Samiyah tried to walk past him but he stopped her.

“What happened?” His voice was full of concern.

“I can’t let people around me get hurt the way you did. Or Katherine.”

“That wasn’t you.”

“But you were there because of me. What if I can’t save you next time?”

Atian took a deep breath. “I’m not any safer because you won’t fight.”

“It doesn’t matter if I want to fight anymore, I can’t.”

Atian searched her face for any hint she was lying. When Samiyah’s expression didn’t change he turned away and his disappointment seemed physical.  Instead of following him inside Samiyah began walking down the street. She spun the keys around on her finger, trying to remember what it felt like before being a witch. She didn’t get very far before she heard whispering behind her. Samiyah ignored it and walked faster. Her knees grew weak and she stumbled. The whispering became loud enough she could almost make out words, though they were fuzzy. “It didn’t work,” she cried.

“What didn’t work?”

Her head snapped up at the sound of Oliver’s voice. It was too calm. His expression was closed off. As soon as her power left he would’ve known; it was the second time she’d thrown energy back in his face. She had no right to ask him for help. Samiyah started to respond and then cold, ethereal talons gripped her and yanked.

A Witch’s Fire – Chapter One

Published February 24, 2015 by darksilvertree

Trevor stared dumbfounded. Part of Samiyah wanted to bask in this moment; regrettably she couldn’t. One of the pack would drive by in an hour. They would know a stranger was here and, if they didn’t come after him themselves, they’d call Jaegar. This had to be done soon.

Stepping aside, she said, “Come in. Make yourself at home.”

Trevor walked by and she had to fight a grimace.

Her eyes watered from his cologne. “You haven’t changed I see.”

He wore a crisp white business shirt, black pants and leather shoes; the best money could buy. He gave her a smile she guessed was supposed to be charming. “Nothing wrong with that. You on the other hand. You’ve changed a lot.” He chuckled. Sitting down on the couch he stretched out his long legs, crossing them at the ankle. “So, what’s this problem you need taken care of?”

Samiyah started to pace. Every time she’d come to him with a problem flashed before her. She took a deep breath. She didn’t have to email him, she knew that. In a clipped voice she said, “You’re sure you can get rid of any problem?”

“Yes, Ashley,” he purred. “Can I still call you that?”

Samiyah almost agreed out of habit but caught herself in time. “No.”

Trevor put up his hands in mock defeat. “I haven’t failed yet. I suppose that’s why you’d call me over someone with less…history.”

“Yes,” she said as calmly as possible. “And the spell wouldn’t work with a stranger.”

“I don’t use-”

She cut him off with an annoyed look.

“What exactly do you want me to do?” His shoulders were suddenly stiff and he sat up straight.

“I want you to get rid of my magic.”

 

He looked overwhelmed but she couldn’t wait for it to sink in.

“Do whatever you need to set up.” Samiyah went to her room. She knelt in front of her dresser and pulled out the bottom drawer. Underneath the t-shirts was a wooden talisman in the shape of a sphere. The only marking she’d made was a water symbol. Samiyah hoped that would make the transfer easier if she used a more flexible element. Using fire could quite literally blow up in their faces.

This will work out.

Samiyah returned to the living room, glad to see Trevor hadn’t run off on her. And he’d regained some composure.

“This can’t be the first time you’ve been asked to do something like this.”

“No.” His voice shook.

It was almost imperceptible but Samiyah had lived with werewolves too long. She had to resist taking advantage of it. Trevor wasn’t a wolf.

Trevor continued, oblivious. “They usually want an exorcism. I don’t think it will work.”

“It’s a good thing I thought of that.” She picked up a letter from the coffee table. “All the instructions are here. We have to do this now.”

“Why the need?” He skimmed over the instructions. “You’re an icon.” He snorted and said, under his breath,” Quiet little Ashley. Who’d guessed?”

Samiyah didn’t answer, either question. She kept glancing at the clock. Trevor looked up and noticed.

“Why now?”

“Spells become stronger under the moon. It’s not required and we don’t have that long.” She put as much emphasis on that as she could.

He stopped, considering. “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Samiyah began to push the couch back. Trevor surprised her by helping.

“Thanks,” she murmured as she turned to drag the coffee table out of the way. Once they cleared enough space she said, “Let’s get this over with.”

Trevor pointed two fingers at her and began drawing a pentagram. After circling three times a white light began to glow with Samiyah at the center. “Energy, leave her be. Do as I say. Cast away. You don’t belong here. Go, far away.”

As Trevor spoke, Samiyah channeled her magic through the pentagram. She felt her skin heat up with the comforting touch of flame, followed by a cool breeze and then a sudden feeling of solid content. As Samiyah’s magic flowed into the talisman she felt a strange pressure in her chest as it tried to return.

No. She made her inner voice as firm as she could, but she was cutting herself in half and she knew it.

“I demand you listen to me. Get out, get out.  Leave! Hear my shout for it carries my will.”

Trevor repeated the chant countless times. Each time Samiyah’s magical sense dimmed; until finally she couldn’t even sense Trevor’s energy, and it barely made a “noise” next to hers. She gave a nod and Trevor gave her a sympathetic smile as reversed the pentagram, releasing the magic.

“So mote it be.” The words sounded strange to her. Samiyah hadn’t considered herself Wiccan in so many years; hadn’t touched anything ritualistic in so long, but she needed this to work.

 

Trevor began to speak but Samiyah cut him off. She rushed into the kitchen and opened the cabinet over the sink. She kept the money she’d saved in a simple, cracked jar to keep Lyric from looking in it. The sprite would want to know what it was for. Thinking of it brought a tinge of guilt. Would she still be able to see it?

Samiyah pushed the thought aside as she shoved the bills into Trevor’s hand. “I’m really happy for your help, I am, but you need to leave. Now.”

“No dinner, Samiyah?” He grinned.

His attempts to be charming were irritating her. And she needed him gone.

“I’m not interested in romance. With you or anyone else. You need to leave, trust me.”

Trevor grew serious. He was insulted but right now Samiyah didn’t care.

“I think I’m entitled to know why?”

She grunted. “You didn’t care before.” As soon as the words were out she realized she wasn’t sure if they were talking about the same thing. Samiyah avoided looking at Trevor so she wouldn’t have to figure that out.

“I could be leaving. Like you want.”

The loud ring of her telephone startled them both. Samiyah had a very good idea who it was. “I’m-I was a witch. In a werewolf pack and who’s energy just disappeared. Now, put two and two together while you drive like hell.”

Trevor’s skin grew pale as he rushed to gather his things, a bag full of supplies she’d made sure he wouldn’t need. Any evidence could lead back to him, she knew that. Being a terrible boyfriend didn’t mean he deserved the rage of her friends if they thought he hurt her. Samiyah glanced nervously at the still ringing phone as she rushed him out of the door. As she watched him hurry down the stairs a small voice said she hadn’t seen the last of him. She sincerely hoped she was wrong as she finally picked up the phone.

“Hello?” she asked in an innocent voice, as if she wasn’t aware it had been on its last ring.

 

“Sam, what’s going on?”

She sighed. “I do have normal days.” At least now I will.

Jaegar growled. “Sam, I can’t…. Where are you? Who’s there?”

“I’m at home. Alone.”

“Where’s Lyric?”

“I let it go out.”

“Let it out or sent it away?”

Samiyah felt herself shrink down in guilt. “Either way I’m alone.” She controlled her voice, careful not to snap.

Jaegar growled again before hanging up. Samiyah sighed. She didn’t like lying to Jaegar but he’d leave on his own when he sees she was just another human now, right? Samiyah dropped down onto the couch. She rubbed her forehead and drifted off. Not truly hearing the phone hit the floor when it slipped out of her hand. This was the right thing to do. Yes, she would miss Jaegar and she hated to leave; being a part of his pack had been honor. Samiyah knew she didn’t belong there and the others treated her like a porcelain baby. Another wolf wouldn’t accept that unless they wanted to be stuck at the bottom; she had no choice.

It’s doesn’t matter. None of that matters anymore. She took a deep breath. I’m through with-

 

There was one loud bang on the door. Samiyah jumped to her feet. The next bang preceded her front door hanging off its bottom hinge.

“Are you out of your mind?” Her voice cracked, which would be more embarrassing if she wasn’t pissed.

Jaegar stalked into her apartment; and sniffed.

Crap.

“Did you run here?” She didn’t hide her irritation as she casually looked around for an air freshener. He didn’t need to know it wasn’t directed at him. When he didn’t answer, she looked up. He was standing where she’d been just moments before.

“What happened here?” Jaegar grimaced, his brows pulled tighter together than she’d ever seen them. He looked like he was in pain.

“Nothing. Just a cleansing ritual.”

He glared at her. “You’re lying, Sam.”

If Samiyah had a tail it’d be tucked firmly between her legs. She couldn’t speak. She just stared at the floor.

Jaegar made a noise that was almost moan. It rumbled out of his throat like the vilest curse he knew. “Who else was here?”

Samiyah’s voice was tiny when she spoke. She barely heard herself say, “Just an old friend.”

“Then why did he steal from you?”

She realized with a sinking feeling Trevor hadn’t returned the talisman. “How do you know that?”

He stared at her a long time, probably judging if she still deserved his confidence. She didn’t blame him.

Finally, he said, “There’s excitement here and your magic leaving.” He pointed out the door. “It’s faint.” He gave her a pleading look; one last chance.

All she could say was, “Maybe it’s for the best.” And pretend the betrayed look on his face didn’t shatter her.

A Witch Decides Her Fate

Published January 29, 2015 by darksilvertree

Twelve years ago

 

Ashley watched Trevor enter the mall and strut towards her. He had light skin and his sandy hair was ruffled stylishly in a way girls found attractive. Or at least that’s what the girls at their school thought.  She had to admit he dressed nice enough. He wore a light blue hooded jacket over a plain white shirt and dark blue jeans. But the physical attraction ended there. Her mother said it would come. She was still waiting. At least Trevor was entertaining, so she greeted him with a smile.

“Hey, Ashley.” He grinned, showing off.

“Hey,” she replied, trying not to cringe at her name. And trying not to notice he was smiling at the other girls; not her. “Decided to show up on time. Surprising.” She took a sip of her soda.

His smile disappeared. “When did you get so high maintenance?”

Ashley didn’t respond. He had a point. They met in eighth grade four years ago. Nothing unusual about him asking her out, except he’d never spoken a word to her before now. She would’ve turned him down, but her mom prodded her.

“Give him a chance. He was brave enough to ask in front of me.” Then she flashed him a smile that she usually saved for local reporters. She wore an expensive peach dress by some French designer paired with a diamond necklace and matching heels.

Ashley suspected that caught his attention more than she did but agreed to date him and went along with whatever he wanted.

“You’re right. Let’s just go in and enjoy the movie.”

He shrugged, giving her an irritated look. “Yeah. Let’s go.”

 

**

 

A year later

 

“Get a nice dress for prom.”

Translation: I have to spend an extended amount of time with you, in public. Look presentable.

Ashley looked up from the magazine she was reading. “Aren’t you supposed to ask me if I want to go?”

Trevor gave an exasperated sigh. “You never want to do anything.”

She wondered again just why he’d asked her out. Trevor seemed to like her less every day. He rarely even invited her over anymore. She was surprised he hadn’t just sent her a text saying ‘show up to prom’. But he told her to come over, so she did. After her father made sure Trevor’s parents were home. The fact that Ashley was eighteen didn’t matter.

“It’s polite to ask.”

“Get a dress or don’t.” He began checking his phone. “I could ask someone else.”

Ashley looked down, flipping through the magazine but not seeing anything. She knew who he meant. There were rumors of him being interested in Caitlin Roberts; a girl with straight, strawberry-blonde hair and amber eyes who was on the volleyball team. Rumors Ashley knew she was meant to hear.

“Fine. I’ll get a dress.” She whispered, trying not to cry.

“Cool.” Trevor didn’t look up from his phone.

 

The day of prom Ashley’s mom took her to get her hair done. She chatted away happily; more excited than her daughter. She showed her first one style and then another with a manicured finger. Ashley just managed to say no each time. A part of her felt guilty. She hadn’t spent any quality time with her mom since she was a child. So when her mom finally got frustrated and asked what’s wrong, she didn’t want to answer.

“Well?”

Ashley sighed. “I don’t really want to go.”

“But you can’t miss it!” Ashley started to protest but her mom said, knowingly, “You’ll regret it.”

Ashley self-consciously twirled her curly hair around her finger.

Her mother patted her leg gently. “You’re just worried about graduating. But don’t worry, you and Trevor will be going to the same college.”

Her mom kept talking but she didn’t hear her. It was true, she was going to college with her high school sweet heart. Ashley was now very certain she didn’t want that. That realization was followed by one she’d been pushing aside for five years.

“I don’t even want this,” she blurted out.

Her mother looked startled. “What do mean?”

“Mom, is it normal… to…not want a boyfriend?”

Her mother laughed, looking relieved. “It’s just nerves sweetie. You already have a boyfriend.” She smirked and whispered behind her hand, “Unless you’re already looking ahead.”

Ashley shrank in her seat. Is that all her mother thought about? “That’s not what I meant.”

Her mother smoothed down her dark hair, a nervous habit. “No, Ashley. Now, just choose a hairstyle. In a few days you’ll feel ridiculous about all this.” As an afterthought, she said, “Don’t mention it to Trevor. He’ll be crushed.”

Ashley thumbed through the pages silently, dejected.

 

**

 

Three Years Later

 

Ashley let the box fall to the floor. It was the last one from the moving truck. She looked around the skyline apartment. The walls were an off white, the carpets beige, the curtains would also be beige. Neutral colors because this wasn’t hers. Sure it may say Ashley Hayden on the lease but it was her parents’. Sure, she could move to Manhattan but she better be their perfect little girl.

“Have fun, but school is first,” said her father like the business degree was her idea.

“Just think in a few years you’ll be starting your own business. After you’re married, of course.” Her mom was giddy and already planning the wedding and reception.

Ashley grunted. She might as well be married already. She still had to cook dinner for Trevor, who was coming up from Florida. At least she would be on her own most of the time. Trevor hadn’t taken it well when she told him she was transferring after only one semester.

“So there’s a guy waiting up there?” It was the first time he’d looked at her that night.

She thought it was funny he accused her of being unfaithful. “No, nothing like that,” she said calmly, trying to keep the edge out of her voice.

“Then why? We’ve wanted to get into this school for years. Now you want to leave.”

No, my parents did. Ashley felt trapped. She fell silent though and let him keep ranting.

Now she was alone for the first time in her life. The thought made her extremely happy and she flopped down on the couch. Trevor could suffer take out.

 

**

 

A year later, multiple things happened that shouldn’t have. She began studying Wicca. When she discovered it, she’d been so excited she told Trevor without thinking. He responded by hiding the books she borrowed from the library. He claimed to lose them; leaving Ashley to painstakingly track down new books to replace them. She’d hidden it after that. Along with the fact that some things, namely Trevor’s, moved without her having to touch them. So when he came to visit she blamed it on bad memory and put up with his anger. Ashley couldn’t believe this is what she was supposed to want out of life. Thankfully Trevor kept this to himself, more for his image than anything else. If her mom found out, she’d probably comb the apartment top to bottom for anything that could even hint at witchcraft. Ashley found out soon enough that was the least of her worries. It started with reports of strange creatures, which were easily dismissed by most people but she followed the updates anyway. So she was already aware of rising water concerns. Like others she began preparing for a suspected flood. What she wasn’t prepared for was a feeling of sudden vertigo hitting her. One moment she was walking home from the corner store, the next she was face first on the ground. There was an unbelievable pressure trying to keep her down but she stood despite it. She saw a few people stop and then continue, uninterested. Later she would find out about the “impossible” island. Her interest was immediately piqued but she’d learned her lesson about sharing anything. Trevor was afraid and would not allow her to watch any new programs about the island while he was there. He may as well have been screaming in a storm. As soon as word came that humans could settle there as an act of goodwill, she sought a way to break her lease. It was expensive but she was sure it’d be worth it. She didn’t tell her parents, or Trevor. She only informed her job at a high end clothing store when she was approved for a small apartment. Her mother and sister would be horrified she thought with glee. Ashley sold most of the things her parents bought, saving the money. She stood looking out over the bay from her old apartment one last time before leaving; holding a picture of her grandmother, the only possession from her old life she’d keep. A week later a man would approach her with an offer. It wouldn’t take her long to accept.

 

Her adventure didn’t start immediately, but once it did it was nonstop and she often wondered if she’d made the right choice. And at twenty-nine, she was tired. Tired of seeing people she cared for hurt because of her. So she researched a way to remove her powers; slowly, quietly, for a year. And where that search would end convinced her fate had a very cruel sense of humor. In Denver City, Colorado there was a miracle worker who had a very high success rate. High enough she took notice. An amateur could tell that he was using magic, but what prompted her to contact him was his guarantee he could remove any problem. Be it mundane or magical. She signed it Samiyah Hayden, a name her grandmother had chosen and her own way of getting back. Of course he jumped at the chance to help ‘the greatest human witch’. If she couldn’t fix it but he could…well, that was self-explanatory.

But when he arrived and she opened the door, all he could say was, “Ashley?”

“It’s nice to see you again, Trevor.”

Paths Cross Again

Published January 23, 2015 by darksilvertree

For anyone new, this story follows “Box Thief”: https://darksilvertree.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/box-thief/

____

 

Three days earlier

 

Nevaeh watched Augustus step from an old hover car. Its windows were dark with dirt and it was made of a patchwork of different colors. She watched him shuffle with his head drawn in like a turtle’s. Pulling her hat down over her eyes, Nevaeh left the crowded café she’d been waiting at.  As if being so hard to find wasn’t bad enough, he was late. He approached a tall apartment building. Nevaeh signaled to Aniyah, who sat on a bench reading a book she’d bought just for this. It was used so that it would look appropriately worn. It hid a tablet she used to hack into the building’s registry and enter Nevaeh into it. She would then watch through the security cameras. Nevaeh waited until Aniyah sent her the code, before crossing the street. Through the glass she could see a luxurious lobby and it took effort to keep her face emotionless. Here in Sector Three poverty was rarely seen, and if anyone fell on hard times they’d probably be shuttled to an unnamed sector; unless they had connections or a large enough “rainy day” fund. She’d enjoy this. She took on an air of being unaware before punching in the code. The glass doors slid open and she strolled in, confidently. Some people turned their noses up but ignoring her would save their lives. Nevaeh inwardly grimaced at the sound of her boot heels clicking on the marble floor, but made it to the elevator without chucking them. Once she was on she asked, “Where is he?”

 

She got off on the second to last floor. Aniyah sent a code that would stop the elevator randomly on lower floors. She’d have to be done before they looked for a source. It was doubtful they’d find anything though, as soon as they got near their computers would be fried. Aniyah hadn’t yet learned the subtleties of being an assassin. The rooms on this floor were empty. She knew this because all the doors were open. It was possible Augustus knew he was being followed, but she dismissed that thought. Even he was smart enough to act sooner if he knew she was after him. Neveah was cautious as she passed. She hadn’t lived this long and learned nothing. Coming to the end of the hallway she saw a plain metal door. She left her shoes behind. They would dissolve so Neveah had no fear of them being discovered. She pressed her hands against the door. The lock made an almost inaudible noise as it slid out of place. She slowly turned the handle and inched the door opened just enough to see it was pitch black. The only light came from a computer.

A deep, distorted voice said, “If they get anywhere near it again, you will pay.”

“Of course, sir. I’ve moved it to Mr. Dorsey’s office. He has a very advanced security system. They would need a small army to get in.”

“You’d better hope so.”

The video call ended abruptly and Augustus let out a shaky breath. He reached to turn on his desk lamp and Neveah lunged, spinning him around and grabbing him by his collar.

Yanking him to his feet with one hand, she asked, “What don’t you want us getting our hands on?”

He sputtered as his shirt tightened around his neck. His feet knocked against her shin. “You’re…a monster,” he choked out.

“I wouldn’t waste your breath, Mr. Calder.”

“No! He….”

 

Neveah tightened her grip. “I’m here now. What did you use at Oblivion?” she growled.

Augustus shook his head frantically. Neveah raised her hand to put it on his head and he began to struggle. He begged for mercy in gasping breaths.

She tilted her head and her smile returned, more unnerving than before. “You have one more chance.”

“Will I live?” His eyes were filling with tears and she felt disgust welling inside.

“No. But if you tell me, your death will be quick.”

He began to whimper and tears flowed freely down his cheeks.

“People like you should keep their heads down.” She placed her hand gently against his face. Tendrils of magic snaked into his mind. They searched for the information she sought. If anyone had looked into the office they might assume he’d fallen into a quiet sleep. His head lolled to the side.

And then suddenly he was screaming as her magic found its target. Information came to her in snatched pieces. It would only take ten minutes if she could get out in one piece. As she pulled her magic back, it burned his mind clean. Insuring that he wouldn’t remember her and that no one else could take advantage of what he knew. Neveah let him drop back into the chair. He was aware though he no longer had the means to understand his surroundings. She doubted whoever he answered to would allow him to live much longer anyway.

“Aniyah, are you there?”

“Yes.”

“Go home. I have someone to meet, I’ll see you there.”

Aniyah hesitated slightly and Neveah was almost touched by her concern. “See you there,” she said finally.

Neveah left, closing the door behind her.

 

**

Present

 

Mei-Lien stood slowly, the tantō still pressed against her throat. “Well, talk. We don’t have much time.”

Setsuna laughed. “You don’t get to order me around anymore, Mei-chan.”

She pursed her lips and tried to look upset but she remembered when he spoke with complete affection towards her. “We don’t have time,” she snapped. “Talk or move.”

Setsuna started to speak but the intercom on Dorsey’s desk began to beep.

“No one here could think he’s in his office.”

The sounds of running could clearly be heard. Setsuna had no choice but to lower his sword. Mei-Lien opened the window, prepared to jump. Setsuna grabbed her arm. He looked worried despite himself.

Why the hell not. She gave him no time to protest before gripping his forearm and launching them both out. They plummeted just as the door slammed against the wall. She slowed them down just enough that the fall wouldn’t kill them. Summoning a last minute shield she saved them from any broken bones. Setsuna’s breath came out in a whoosh. He glared at her. Mei-Lien grinned and tried not to show the effort as she stood. She was unsure of why she was showing off but she didn’t have time to figure it out. She took off running and hoped Setsuna could keep up. He still had what she’d come for after all. Mei-Lien made a blind dash to find her planned escape route. She turned a corner to see a woman thrown into an alley. The man who stalked towards her was a giant and had an unnatural green glow. She was caught between rescuing an innocent, or revealing herself. Having some magical ability from a young age would explain the window trick, but not this. And she’d shown in the past once she had her score nothing else mattered. But she had to. Everyday thugs, she had no problem with them. She knew she wasn’t a match for The Collective’s assassin.

 

They ran into the alley just as the woman began to raise energy. She saw them and it disappeared almost instantly. The man stopped. His head turned slowly. His lips pressed together in a tight line. Veins bulged in his arms. He spun faster than Mei-Lien expected. She barely had time to call up another shield. Her whole body shook as a green blast hit it; leaving behind a mucus-like film. She felt as if was touching her skin and she had to resist dropping the shield. The man grunted and fell to one knee. For a moment Mei-Lien saw the woman standing above him with a broken pipe.

Innocent my ass. “What are you doing here?”

The man was on his feet again. She ducked underneath his swing and landed a blow to his elbow. “I came to find you.”

That couldn’t be good. Mei-Lien took her brass knuckles out and slipped them onto her hand. “And you are?” She turned the electricity up as high as it could go, and then jammed it into the back of his already wounded knee.

“Right now?” She asked incredulously.

As the man fell Setsuna landed a hard punch to his ribs. By the metallic clang Mei-Lien knew there was a metal bar somewhere in his gloves. He drew his tantō and pressed it against the man’s throat.

“Do what you will, the collective will fall.”

Setsuna started to question him but both women shot him dangerous looks. His mouth snapped shut and Mei-Lien nodded towards the man. Setsuna’s expression was blank as he drew the short sword quickly across the man’s neck.

“Now, who are you?”

The woman glanced at Setsuna before saying, “Tamara.”

It could be her real name but it was common enough they couldn’t find her if it wasn’t.

“You have something Temple wants.”

Mei-Lien grimaced. “Not exactly.” She jerked her head towards Setsuna. “He does.”

“How important is he?” Her voice held curiosity but was still uncaring.

“Very important thank you.”

Mei-Lien found his response amusing, but she said seriously, “We can’t talk about it here. Let’s go, before the others catch up.”

“Others?”

Mei-Lien ran past Tamara, without answering.

Setsuna was on her heels. “What the hell’s going on?” he hissed.

He wouldn’t want to know, even if she could tell him.

Hayden Spells Trouble – Chapter Eight

Published January 20, 2015 by darksilvertree

Samiyah reached out to unlock the door to her apartment; and realized her hand was shaking. She didn’t know what she was expecting. Her wards were still in place. That scared her more than anything her imagination came up with on the way. Twice her protection had failed. She’d laughed at how easily Elanil got around it, but her stomach was wound so tightly it hurt. Jaegar wrapped her hand gently in his. He didn’t have to speak for her to understand the message. Whatever they saw inside they’d deal with together. He helped her unlock the door but he stepped ahead of her. As an alpha, of course he’d put himself in danger first. That didn’t stop a small part of mind from chafing. The feeling didn’t have a chance to grow.

Jaegar’s shoulders dropped and he let out a defeated sigh. “I should’ve known you’d be here.”

Samiyah heard Santiago laugh. She felt an overwhelming urge to cry and laugh at the same time. She ran around Jaegar to see Santiago wrapping a half conscious Katherine in a thick blanket. A woman had given it to her as payment not long ago. She’d taken it but hadn’t seen much use for it in the middle of summer. Now Samiyah wondered if she’d had prophetic abilities. She looked at Atian. He was better off but his skin was worryingly pale. His eyelids fluttered and his head jerked every now and then. His hand loosely gripped a cup of water that sat on the floor next to him.

“I lessened the shock as much as I could but they will need weeks to recover.”

Samiyah rushed to Katherine’s side, letting her sister fall against her. “As long as they’ll be okay. And as long as they won’t be staying here.”

Jaegar gave her a disapproving look from where he leaned against the door. Santiago scratched his head with a thoughtful look on his face.

“No. Absolutely not.”

Santiago chuckled. “No fear. It’s better that they returned home, and remained together.” The tea kettle steamed and he stood. From the kitchen he said, “They aren’t fully themselves now, but when they are it’ll be better for them to see a familiar face.” He returned and handed a porcelain mug to Samiyah. “That means you’ll have to make one more trip to Kissimmee. Once their better.”

Samiyah rolled her eyes as she helped Katherine drink. Inwardly, she was glad she hadn’t come home to find two corpses. She wanted to believe that her sister only needed guidance, especially with all the power she held. Not that she wished Katherine on Isi or her family. But their parents couldn’t handle this. The thought of their parents bought a grimace to her face.

“Everything alright?”

She looked up to see Jaegar intently studying her. “I’m fine, don’t worry.” She gave a quick smile.

He grunted, but let it drop.

 

**

 

Katherine was moved into the bedroom. Atian lay on the couch. A few hours later he was able to talk, but his temperature was rising.

“Where am I?” His eyes were tightly shut and he held his head.

“Safe. Enough.” Samiyah helped him sit up.

“Wonderful job,” Jaegar whispered sarcastically as he helped Atian sit up and drink.

She gave him a helpless look. “We need to call your mother.”

Atian smirked but it soon turned into a grimace. “It’s in my phone. If I still have it.”

“Only your spirit travelled to Queen Elanil’s domain. Everything is as it was two months ago.”

Atian started. “Two months ago.” His voice came out as a breathy whisper.

As Samiyah searched his pockets for a phone, she said, “At least I didn’t do as bad as that.”

“Knowing the truth will help. And he’s likely to forget once he falls asleep anyway.”

Jaegar crossed his arm, his jaw twitched. “How’s her sister?”

Santiago took a deep breath. “The herbs I placed in her tea allowed her to hold down the broth. She was drained, more than either of you. Because of the energy she wasted most likely.”

“And….”

“She needs solid food. They both do because time will catch up with them. But she needs it now.”

Samiyah jumped up. “She couldn’t keep it down!”

“You can’t do anything else?”

Santiago gave Jaegar a look of extreme patience. “If I could do that, they wouldn’t need weeks. It’s unfortunate but I can do nothing about it.”

He moved to the kitchen. Samiyah noticed his gate was slightly uneven. It was the only side effect of him coming back since he’d also gone willingly. She expected her fatigue to come back but she was too worried about the others. Atian tapped weakly on his chest. It didn’t take her long to remember she’d been looking for his cell phone. She took it out. First she tried the shop, and then called her home. Isi’s voice was frantic when she answered.

 

“Atian? Is it you? Where have you been? We thought…” her voice voice cracked and Samiyah thought she heard weeping.

She wished she could hand the phone to anyone else. “He’s fine, but he needs to be taken home. As soon as possible.”

“Who is this?” Her voice raised in pitch.

“Samiyah Hayden. I can explain it all when you arrive. Do you have a paper and pen?” She spoke in a forced calm as she gave her address. She explained Atian’s condition as briefly as she could. Isi was scared enough.

“I’ll send my daughters to come get him.”

Samiyah heard a thud as Isi hit something, and then a door slammed open. She took the phone away from her ear when they began talking. She didn’t need to hear their grief. It was her fault he was hurt. If only he hadn’t followed them.

“She’s talking to you,” Santiago said quietly.

Samiyah put the phone back to her ear in time to hear Isi say, “be there in two days.”  She took a deep breath before mentioning Katherine; rushing ahead to explain why and giving their parents numbers. Their mother would be more than happy to repay Isi, she was sure of that. “I’m sorry to ask this after, after what she’s done. But she did fight with us when it counted.”

“How long?” Understandably her voice had an edge.

“Until they’ve regained their strength. Then you can send her home.”

Santiago pointed to himself.

Samiyah made a face but kept her voice even. “Or you can send her back here. Either way, she’s no longer your problem afterwards.”

Isi made an irritated noise. “I owe you for getting my son back to me alive. I hope this is the last time our families are involved.”

“For your safety, I hope so too.” When she hung up she slumped down on the couch next to Atian. “I don’t envy you.”

He managed a chuckle.

“You should spend some time with her before she leaves. It may keep her from straying again.”

Samiyah shuddered thinking about what Alex would do if he got his hands on her now. She nodded.

 

Katherine was propped against the headboard. Samiyah came to sit beside her.

“So…how ya feeling?”

Katherine gave a harsh laugh. “Like I’ve been on the worst trip of my life.”

“You made it through okay.”

Katherine’s smile was tight. “He told me I wasn’t well. That I’m hurt worse than Atian.”

“He shouldn’t have scared you like that.” It wasn’t like Santiago to be so crass. She hadn’t realized he’d be so upset. This was the first she’d seen him this year. He hadn’t even been there to see what Katherine did, and she hadn’t told him. She should’ve known he’d find out regardless.

“I deserved it though, didn’t I? Everyone treats me like a doll.”

“They treat you like a hazard,” Samiyah said without thinking. To take the sting out of her words she added, “Put on your big girl pants and that will change.”

They both fell silent, unsure of what to say.

Finally, in a timid voice, Katherine asked, “I did…so much, even before I was in that place. Nathaniel always said I couldn’t so I didn’t. Can I keep doing that?”

Samiyah pursed her lips. It annoyed her that her sister acted like such a lap dog, but she’d leave it for another day. “He didn’t realize how strong you are. Be glad for small miracles.” Getting out of the bed, she said, “Get better first and then you can think of anything else.”

Just as she was leaving Katherine said, “I hope so. I’d like to go after Alex.”

Samiyah turned to see a hopeful smile on Katherine’s face. “Start smaller than a demon, Kat.” She shook her head. “Maybe once you’ve eaten you won’t be so delusional.”

Katherine’s laugh was brittle, like the sound of old paper crinkling. “You’re right. Call up one storm and I think I’m you. But one day.”

Samiyah gave her an encouraging smile though Katherine’s words unsettled her. “One day.”

 

**

 

Atian’s sisters arrived at dawn two days later. Both cast distrustful glances at everyone but tried to appear neutral. They were unaware of how obvious they were. Jaegar leaned casually against the wall with his arms crossed; clean shaven after Samiyah bought him a razor. Santiago lounged in the corner with his arms behind his head and his legs crossed at the ankles. Neither werewolf gave any sign they were aware of the sisters’ feelings. In a weak voice, Atian introduced them as Kateri and Sarah. Kateri, being the taller of the two helped Atian to stand.

“Thank you.” Her dark brown eyes were hard and unforgiving.

“Thank him,” Samiyah said waving towards Santiago.

He grinned and gave a quick nod. Becoming serious, he said, “Your brother was brave. He has more courage than others I’ve known.”

A prideful smile snuck out on both sisters. Sarah, a head shorter than both Kateri and Atian, gave him a light punch on the arm. Then her expression soured and Samiyah knew she’d remembered Katherine.

“Where is she?” Sarah wasn’t much taller than her, but she seemed to glare down at Samiyah.

“Katherine is in my room. She’s still too weak to move so Santiago will carry her.”

On cue he was on his feet and moving towards her bedroom. Sarah must’ve guessed he wasn’t human but the quickness of Santiago’s movements startled her. Her head jerked in his direction causing her dark hair to swing wildly. Kateri’s reaction was more subdued, giving the impression she was the older sister. By the time Santiago returned with Katherine, Sarah had regained her composure. Her expression softened when she saw Katherine’s condition. Her eyes were unfocused and her hair looked brittle even far away. Her dark brown skin had grown pale. Even Santiago looked sympathetic, though it was hard for Samiyah to know if he felt sorry for Katherine or if he only regretted that Katherine’s deterioration affected her. Samiyah talked to her often but she didn’t know if anything had gotten through. She couldn’t look at her sister now and Santiago motioned silently towards the door.

“Thank you. All of you.” This time Kateri’s voice was softer, more vulnerable.

Samiyah saw Atian’s hair slicked down with sweat; his brows furrowed from the effort of standing. She nodded and smiled but everything seemed far away. Could she have done it in their place? She forced herself to watch Katherine as Santiago carried her out. If this was who she saw after two months….She pursed her lips to stop a sound of dismay slipping out. This was the last time. She couldn’t bear this again. She didn’t hear the door close or notice Jaegar until he’d wrapped her in a hug again. His hold was gentle and lasted only until she looked up at him.

“Take as much time as you need.” His voice was stern but he was worried.

He reminded Samiyah of her father when she was younger. It made her laugh, and then she was crying. Jaegar sat her down on the couch. He stayed as long as he could, but eventually he had to return to work. Now that she was alone Samiyah pulled her knees up and leaned her forehead against them, wallowing.

**

 

Samiyah kept to herself for days at a time. She’d leave for a job, and then only the simple ones that had little chance of turning into something bigger. Jaegar or another pack member would come to check on her but she distanced herself as much as she could. Only the sprite, nicknamed Lyric for it’s constant humming, remained always at her side. Samiyah asked for Oliver’s number but only left a message. How could she risk hearing another false voice? She was still uncertain it had been faked. Which was worse, his pack hadn’t made it in time or he’d been rescued but was drawn back into danger because of her? Either thought scared her so much she found her old notebooks. They were from her time when she thought Santiago’s lessons would be structured enough for notebooks. The notes were in random order, but it didn’t stop her from looking for an answer. She wanted to get rid of her magic.

Hayden Spells Trouble – Chapter Seven

Published January 15, 2015 by darksilvertree

Katherine ran her hands over the pink satin dress she wore. It was finer than the expensive designer dress Nathaniel bought her. Yet it was so much simpler; having only three layers instead of a dozen more with pounds of lace. The sleeves were made of a clear silver material that flowed as she moved. She realized she liked this one much more. A second later, remembering why she was so fond of it. It was her mother’s dress. As a child she’d sneak into her mother’s closest and stand on a stool to try it on; every time imagining the perfect wedding. She imagined that her mother would be relieved, after already failing with one daughter. Now Rhonda could have the son-in-law and grandchildren she wanted. What was wrong with what they wanted? Her happiness at seeing the dress quickly turned into bitterness. She looked down at her hands and saw the bright green gloves she was supposed to wear at her wedding. The white lace was full of moth holes. Her dress was in the same condition. Katherine had the sudden urge to smooth out the wrinkles in her dress. The more she tried, the worse it got until she collapsed into a crumpled pile. Angry tears streamed down her face. Her life was supposed to be simple. She wasn’t the one who wanted adventure. It was always Samiyah who said “want more, want more.” But this was her “more” and look how it turned out. A part of her even wished that Nathaniel hadn’t been such an ass. Then her sister had would be out of her life. She’d be a trophy wife and starting a family. To hell with Samiyah if that wasn’t good enough for her. She a glimpse of faded blue jeans.

“Go away,” she snapped.

 

**

 

Samiyah pushed aside the fog that appeared. She took hesitant steps forward. Before long she heard Katherine’s voice, unsurprised at the anger she heard. She did pause when she finally saw the state her sister was in. Katherine’s hair was unkempt. Knotted in a way she’d never allow under normal circumstances. Her eyes were red from crying and full of hatred. Samiyah tried not to take it seriously but part of her shrunk back, sure this wasn’t entirely Elanil’s doing. Katherine stood and she felt something stronger than should’ve been possible. A blast of wind hit her. It felt like a punch. Once she got over the shock she heard Katherine speaking.

“Can’t you leave me alone?”

“I did. How many years did I leave you alone?” She walked forward.

Katherine called up harsh winds to push her back. Thunder crashed around them.

I can deal with this. Samiyah tried summoning a flame but Katherine snuffed it out. She tried moving forward. A streak of lightning came down but instead of hitting the ground, it hovered. Katherine shouldn’t have this much control. “Your bad decisions keep bringing me back. And all I’ve done is help you.”

Katherine let the lightning bolt fall. She laughed as the explosion threw Samiyah back. “All I hear is how strong you are. I’m sick of hearing about it.” She watched as Samiyah pushed herself up with one arm. The other, along with most of her body, was burnt. “And it’s all a lie. Pathetic like you’ve always been.”

Every word she said made Samiyah less and less inclined to end this peacefully. Normally she wouldn’t care but not after having a friend turned on her. Or after having flying heads with razor sharp teeth tear her apart; illusion or not. She reached out for Oliver. He allowed her to use his healing ability. But when she reached for his hate, he tried to block her. They both knew she didn’t hate her sister.

I won’t let you turn into that.

She took too much pleasure in Katherine’s irritation to respond immediately. Then you better find us. Not caring for the consequences she sent her magic against Katherine’s, taking control of storm. Or so she thought. Samiyah calmed the wind enough to throw a fireball towards Katherine.

Katherine clapped her hands together and a torrent of rain came down. Samiyah could manipulate weather but her element was fire. She suspected Katherine could control that too, but didn’t want to give up anything. Samiyah’s only advantage was her training.

 

She avoided more lightning bolts by watching Katherine’s movements. Until she went to move and couldn’t. A bolt fell, stopping right above her head. Samiyah watched through rain slick hair as Katherine approached her.

“Help? Is that what they call meddling now?” She touched Samiyah’s face and her whole body felt like it was on fire. “Did I ask you to sneak onto my fiancé’s property? Even when I was a kid you stepped in. You were never happy with my decisions.”

“You never made a decision in your life. I bet you return your clothes if mom doesn’t like them. And, oh yeah, Nathaniel wanted to kill you!”

“Shut up.”

The pain increased and Samiyah gritted her teeth. She couldn’t believe any of this. How dare Katherine control her? Santiago’s warning was a dim reminder at the back of her mind.

“I don’t want much. I just wanted you gone. But you had to come back. You’re the one who wasn’t happy at home.” She threw Samiyah backwards. “So why couldn’t you just stay in your little crap apartment?”

Samiyah summoned all her strength to break Katherine’s hold. Before she could react Samiyah lifted her into the air. Did her sister have any idea of her own guilt? She’d wanted to believe Katherine would stop thinking of herself, especially after Elanil’s attack. A mistake like everything else she’d done. Samiyah formed a flame sword.

“Is that supposed to ‘scare me straight’?” She laughed.

“Give me one reason not to?”

Katherine smirked. “You wouldn’t!”

Samiyah’s face was hard. “It would solve a lot of immediate problems.”  She felt detached. Her voice didn’t sound like her own. She had to fight a smile when Katherine’s expression became terrified.

Samiyah, stop. Please.

 

She heard them behind her.

“You are doing what she wants. Do you really believe your sister capable of this?”

Samiyah grimaced. She shouldn’t. “Is her power a trick?”

Santiago paused. She didn’t need a magic bond to know he didn’t want to tell her. Eventually he said, “With guidance she could.”

That should be enough. Katherine was dangerous enough as an unwitting pawn. Samiyah couldn’t let her gain control over the elements. She felt a hand on her shoulder.

“If you are willing to do this, why fight Queen Elanil on what she is willing to do?

This isn’t real. Oliver’s voice was firm, but she didn’t care.

Her feelings are.

She heard Atian say, in a hesitant voice, “She doesn’t want this. It’s this…place.”

Samiyah turned to look at him. “How do you know?”

“She told me. In a way.”

They were interrupted by a surge of power from Katherine. The storm intensified. Nothing could be heard over the wind and rain, and thunder. Samiyah raised her sword. Santiago grabbed her wrist with a firm hand. Oliver growled, placing himself between the two sisters. She noticed he’d grown smaller as her fear of him receded. He gave her a warning look, ears flattened. Samiyah jerked her arm away from Santiago. She let the sword die but a burning started in her chest; spread to her stomach.

So we let her go again? No consequence? Her jaw hurt from being clenched so tight.

Samiyah saw Katherine smile and for the first time she could say, she hated her. She was gathering energy for another attack when Atian passed her. He walked towards her at a casual pace. Samiyah pulled Katherine away. She’d kill him.

He turned to mouth, “Trust me.” He approached Katherine and gently held her hand. Atian whispered in her ear and the thunder quieted to a low rumble.

Samiyah started to relax and Oliver moved to her side. Eventually the rain stopped, followed by the wind. Samiyah’s shoulders dropped and the sprite finally wrapped its arms around her neck. Its wings disturbed her hair with a light breeze. Grudgingly Samiyah let Katherine down. Atian held her as if she were glass. Samiyah turned away and froze.

 

“Humans are such persistent little monsters.” Elanil looked bored. With a flick of her hand their surroundings changed. A courtyard of ice sprung up around them. Elanil floated and landed on a wicked-looking rose statue. Vines twisted around it; red tinged icicles hung from its thorns. “Aren’t you tired of playing hero?”

Samiyah was tired of it all. Her games and this realm. She did want to go back to her crappy apartment and stay there. “Let’s just get this over with.”

Elanil actually laughed. A flurry of arrows raced towards them. Behind her, Atian started praying. Samiyah didn’t know if that would help against the queen.

“Hide,” she whispered to the sprite, not paying attention to where it went.

She burned the ones she could and Santiago deflected the rest. There was a flash to her right. A silver elf lunged at her but Oliver’s jaws clamped around his waist, and then flung him aside. The ground bucked beneath them. Santiago held down Atian and Katherine. Samiyah held onto Oliver. More elves rushed them. She protected them with a ring of fire that stretched over their heads. Any elves who risked jumping over were torn apart by Oliver and Santiago.

“You have to help.” Samiyah glared at Katherine.

She started to protest but Atian nodded. She pursed her lips. Samiyah lowered the fire in random spots. Katherine hit whatever moved with lightning. Suddenly Samiyah’s fire went out and Elanil landed in front of her. Oliver jumped. She froze him.

“That was fun. But it’s time for you to go now.” There was no trace of humor on her face.

“Let him go.”

Elanil raised her hand. Samiyah heard his mental cry of pain. Her hands clenched. As if that were a signal, Katherine summoned a twister that lifted Elanil into the air. Santiago focused it so they weren’t endangered.

 

But that left them open to the other elves. They closed in while he was distracted. Katherine wasn’t skilled enough to divert her energy into a shield. Samiyah started too when the elves were suddenly thrown into the distance. The smell of fresh dirt and moss became overwhelming.

“Let her down,” ordered an imperious voice.

Santiago and Katherine let Elanil down. He made sure she didn’t drop but settled gently. She glared at them individually. When Queen Ysmyrlda appeared the look deepened into a scowl.

“Give me the book. It belongs to my people.” Her voice had a musical lilt, and it held bestial fury.

“And who protects them while it is in my hands? You?”

Ysmyrlda did not respond. They lunged at each other; striking and leaping away and then back again. Elanil’s angry snarls echoed around them. It made Samiyah’s hair stand on end but she ignored it to focus on Oliver. Happy tears sprung to her eyes when she could still sense him.

Santiago placed his hands on the ice. It started to glow but quickly faded. He grunted. “It needs to be her.”

Samiyah spun on her heels. “Elanil, unfreeze him right now. Or we’ll never have to worry about winter again.” To add weight to her threat she hurled a fireball pitcher style. Her eyes widened when it struck Elanil directly in the back. She looked over to see that Katherine’s expression mirrored her own.

Elanil let out a scream of outrage and dived at her. Ysmyrlda tackled her into the ground instead, her knee in Elanil’s back. A magical pulse shot through everyone. An answering roar came a few seconds later. The ground shook as the winter fae came to defend their queen. Ysmyrlda sent out her own summons. Chaotic fighting soon surrounded them. Samiyah did her best to stay near Atian and Katherine. Despite her best efforts, they were separated anyway.

 

Samiyah ended up with her back pressed against Oliver. Cold seeped into her bones. She reformed her flame sword but they had swords of their own. Sparks flew as their magics fought for dominance. One elf’s caught her with a sudden thrust. Samiyah tried twisting out of the way but it opened a gash along her side. Pain made her right side seize up and she fell over. Her body felt as if it were freezing and burning simultaneously. Before they could run her through, she levitated them as far as she could and flung them backwards into an unsuspecting group. Her arm ached but it was dull compared to everything else. She forced herself into a sitting position to heal. Then, the earth shook as something charged her. Samiyah looked up to see what looked like a troll dog rushing at her. She couldn’t dodge so she tried lifting it. A sharp pain shot through her arm, followed by a crack. Her vision spun and she struggled to stay upright. A surge of magic made her light headed. She managed to focus long enough and saw  the “dog” was floating. Along with all the creatures regardless of what side they were on. Santiago stood at the center, his expression as close to anger as she’d ever seen. He turned them towards him and then drew the queens forward.

Ignoring their outraged expressions, he said, “Stop this. You are not children.”

“Who do you think you are to speak to me like this?” Elanil demanded.

“I am unimportant, but this senseless fight is hurting many I hold dear. Stop this. What good is it to have the summer elves’s book? It holds the balance that is beyond you to change?” He looked at both of them with a piercing gaze.

Elanil laughed. “If queens don’t have the power to make a change, what can you do?”

Her words were meant by the dying screams of winter and summer elves.

“Stop!” cried Ysmyrlda.

“Everyone is affected by your decision. Will you continue, Queen Elanil?”

Her jaw twitched but she held her head proudly as she said, “No. I will return the book.”

Santiago set Elanil down. Her feet touched the snow in mock daintiness.

 

As soon as his magic released her she darted towards him. Santiago tried catching her again but she was expecting it, and dodged. They crashed into each other; her hand squeezing his throat.

He didn’t struggle. Only said, “My words are still true.”

His words echoed around them, though Samiyah was sure he hadn’t raised his voice. She waited tense. Her breathing was harsh against the tender skin of her throat; already bruised by the dropping temperatures. Elanil released Santiago’s throat. She rose so slowly it seemed she was considering killing him anyway.

Instead, she turned to Ysmyrlda. “This is too much trouble. I suppose you can have it back.” She tried to appear bored. She held out her hand and the book appeared. Elanil strode casually towards Ysmyrlda. When she got close she whispered something, a grim smile on her face.

Ysmyrlda’s expression had been cautiously hopeful. Now it was closed and she gave a brief nod. She came to Samiyah’s side. “We may go now.”

“What about them?” Her hand stayed on Oliver. She gritted her teeth against the cold burn.

Ysmyrlda turned her head. “Release his spirit, Queen Elanil.” The formal title was spat out.

She sneered at her but waved her hand dismissively towards Oliver. Samiyah didn’t relax until he began to thaw. He shook the remaining ice from his fur.

Samiyah finally turned to Ysmyrlda and bowed her head. “I’m ready to return.”

Ysmyrlda sniffed but took Samiyah’s hand. A light engulfed them. It brought the smell of fresh flowers and the warmth of summer.  All in all, it was a much gentler journey than her first trip through a portal.

 

**

 

Only Lady Adelphi waited for them when they returned to the chamber.  “Have you succeeded?”

“For now.”

Those words held more foreboding than Samiyah thought capable. And Lady Adelphi’s next words sent chills down her spine.

“We will summon her once the time for winter has passed. And we will trap her. This will be the way of things.”

They bowed their heads in acknowledgement.

“Queen Ysmyrlda, should you make any attempt to take advantage you will share her fate. And you.” She glared down at Samiyah. “The council has discussed your fate at great lengths. Your teacher has broken one of our most important rules and it has led to disaster. Your willingness to help remedy the situation has granted you a reprieve. Don’t come to our attention again.”

She nodded though her hands felt clammy and beads of sweat had broken out on her forehead. Lady Adelphi searched her face for a long moment before turning to leave. She moved with the grace of a calm brook, her head held high. Anyone else would think she was unconcerned with her surroundings. Samiyah knew she would be watched until she left.

“I am surprised you are here. I thought you had run in fear.”

Samiyah only shrugged. She didn’t tell just how close she’d come to doing just that. “I said I’d help.”

Ysmyrlda cocked her head. One, thin finger tapped against her chin. “Yes…you did. I hold your promise fulfilled.” She paused as if she were thinking of thinking of something else to say, decided Samiyah wasn’t important enough, and then left.

Samiyah sighed. Her body felt heavy and her head pounded. She wanted to fall to the floor. Instead, she gritted her teeth and turned towards the council room door. Her exhausted mind only half recognized that the torches were snuffed out as she went.  When Asha opened the door, Samiyah was in near darkness again.

“You’re alive.” Her voice was full of relief.

Samiyah noticed she didn’t say “hurt”. No one could return unharmed after a trial like that. Though no one had stated it, Lady Adelphi’s words made it clear Samiyah had been tested. And she’d passed only by the skin of her teeth. She perked up suddenly. “You were worried, Asha? I mean nothing to you.”

Asha’s dark brown eyes became clouded with memories, but all she said was, “Your pack leader was very worried about you.” She stepped aside to let Samiyah go by.

 

**

 

Jaegar wrapped Samiyah in a hug, her face smothered by his shirt. She beat weakly against his arms. He noticed eventually and released her. She took huge gulping breathes and eyed him wearily.

“I wasn’t gone that long,” she said when she could speak.

He tried composing himself. He ran his hand through already disheveled hair. That did more to make Samiyah alert than anything else. Jaegar kept his hair short, neatly trimmed and now it fell almost to his ears. His shirt was also rumpled and one side was untucked. For someone who went to great lengths to keep a tame appearance, he might as well be sporting a full beard too. All he had was a face full of uneven stubble.

“How long has it been?” She almost didn’t want to hear the answer.

Jaegar stood up straight. “Ttwo months.”

Samiyah’s delirious, sleep deprived mind wasn’t too bothered at first until she remembered Katherine and Atian’s spirits had travelled to the fae realm also. Without any idea what was about to happen the shock may have been too much. “You have to take me home.” Her voice cracked though she tried to hide her sudden urgency.

Jaegar searched her face before nodding. Samiyah concentrated only on following him out; refusing to let any thoughts of failure enter her mind, yet. She was so focused on this she didn’t immediately notice two glowing blue eyes looking up at her. It wasn’t until the sprite grew to its original size and wiggled its way out of her shirt. Samiyah sputtered, trying not to get mad. She’d said hide afterall.

“And who’s this?”

“Sprite?” She shrugged helplessly.

He gave her a look that said “we’ll talk” and turned on his heel. She sighed and carried the sprite like a child. It looked around in wide-eyed wonder but the council building had quickly lost its appeal to her. As Samiyah got into the suv it floated around, exploring. It didn’t seem fazed when Jaegar sped off.

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