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Something Wicked - Legacies


Nina
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Legacies

0

The Past

The wind whispered through the trees on either side of the game trail, causing shadows to dance in the pale moonlight. Absalom Walsh, of South Carolina, was not too keen to be out here in the night - especially with savages in the area - but not volunteering for the search party would have been a social disaster he could ill afford. His fortune and the fate of his family were at stake here; if they didn’t make a go of it in this unnamed territory it was back to England to face his debts, and that meant prison.

 

A sharp sound that wasn’t a stick snapping underfoot jerked Absalom back from his reverie and he shouted “Down!’ as he flung himself to the ground just as the guns of their unseen adversary shattered the night.

 

Absalom had landed on his own flintlock. He rolled over and, without even looking, discharged it in the direction of where the fire had come from. Others in the search party fired their guns as well and so it was with ears ringing and coughing from the powder smoke that the sound of steel on steel could be heard amid shouts and curses in both English and bloody Spanish.

 

The year was 1673, barley ten year since Absalom Walsh had sailed across the Atlantic to find his fortune. His goal then had been simple: acquire land and begin farming, then acquire a bride and begin a family. Goals he partly met.

 

Absalom had been the child of a tenant farmer in England and the only surviving son of eight. The Lord had seen fit to decide that the Walshes could no longer tend the land given into the family’s care and so they had been evicted and left with nothing. Absalom’s mother had died some ten years before and soon his father had succumbed as well to winter deprivation. Absalom was looking at destitution and a life of poverty and crime when happenstance arrived.

 

A young man by the name of Clairburn was traveling an English road when he was beset by robbers. The miscreants intended to take his horse and his money, and likely his life, however fate would have it differently.

 

 The stretch of road that Clairburn fell prey upon was in fact the remains of one of the many old roman roads which crisscrossed the land and at that very spot just off the road were ruins of what might have once been an ancient roman villa. Not much stood and none of it noticeable from the old road unless you were looking for it. Absalom had been looking and find it he did; an old man in London who had known his father had told him of these ruins and others like it that dotted the land. Places where items, artifacts, and even gold in the form of old coins worth much more for their age and origin than from the metal they were made of.

 

Absalom had scoured several of the ruins and found paltry for his effort; today he had moved on to this particular set in hopes of a worthy return for his efforts. He’d stopped in his search (search, not looting, for no cared for these places enough to protest, he’d told himself) for a bite of stale bread and hard cheese when he heard the horses. Crouching in the overgrowth, he spied the obviously well-to-do Clairburn and the three highway men accosting him. Ab knew that this was a lonely stretch and that the criminals were as like to kill as not, regardless of the chance of being caught. Absalom was not himself against a bit of larceny, but murder was beyond the pale and when the three drew sword and gun against the lonely one, something just snapped in the normally cool headed young man.

 

With a roar Absalom threw himself onto the road, grabbing a large fallen limb as he went, and charged the nearest highwayman. His roars startled the robbers and gave him opportunity: with a wild swing not at the highwayman but at the mouth of the horse, Absalom’s blow had the desired result. The horse, taken by surprise and painfully smashed upon the mouth and nose, reared up and threw the hapless highwayman from the saddle.  Letting go the makeshift club, Absalom followed through and jumped upon the man; with one hand he grabbed the thief’s pistol and the other smashed the man into unconsciousness with a vicious punch.

 

The other two horses, reacting to the pained bleating of the first horse, also bucked hard. While not enough to unseat their riders, it was enough to distract them for reacting to Absalom. Clairburn was forgotten and he took this moment to fetch a large horse pistol from the satchel hanging from his saddle. He drew this fearsome looking weapon and pointed it at the two men and with nary a warning let the flintlock fall on the filled pan. The oversized pistol roared to life, frightening the horses and the other two villains and while his shot hit neither, it gave Absalom time to aim the pistol he had taken onto the remaining two men. Seeing their fortunes quickly turned, they fled rather than risk death or incarceration.

 

And that was how Absalom Walsh and Becket Clairburn met and became lifelong friends. Clairburn explained that he was on his way to London to buy passage for him, his sisters and their mother to the burgeoning colonies in an effort to escape persecution. He asked Absalom to join them and, having nothing to hold him in England, the young man did.

 

Now it was five long hard years since then and Absalom had claimed land in what would become North Carolina. He’d married and started that family he’d wanted. His friend had done much the same and had been blessed by luck beyond that. While Clairburn prospered, Absalom seemed cursed instead. His farm in North Carolina failed, forcing the family to uproot in 1670, moving south and away from the coast into the wilderness that would one day become South Carolina. For a time thing s looked up for the Walsh family but then sickness struck his wife and two sons, leaving him a widower with a daughter that was barely past her milk years.

 

But then, Becket Clairburn showed up in their township, bringing some of his luck with him. He had grown bored farming and had decided to come south to try his hand at something new. With him came one of his sisters, Ruth. Absalom remembered her as a foolish little girl who had acted and dressed like a boy, but over the years she had blossomed into a ravishing young woman. Ruth took to caring for Ab’s daughter Abigail and within a year had married Absalom, tying the fate of the two clans together for eternity.

 

Absalom and Becket had abandoned the toil of farming turn instead moving the fruits of others labor where it needed to be. Their overland shipping business was a success; with Becket still a single man and willing to doing the traveling necessary, Absalom stayed in the growing township to run the heart of the business and spend time with his family.

 

Then two days ago several nearby farmsteads had been attacked and burned in a night of terror: the men slaughtered, the women and children carried off. It was at first thought that savage renegade Indians had done the deed and search parties were armed and sent to track them. Absalom had obviously joined and so did Becket, who was present on one of the few occasions he found himself home. The search parties had fanned out traveling west but the group with Absalom had found a trail that led northwest and had followed the scattered, faint clues they’d found along the way.

 

In the heat and rush of the ambush, Absalom Walsh roared as he had once before. He shoved himself up to his full height, his rifle reversed to use as a club, and prepared to give as good as he was able before Spanish steel robbed him of life. But that wasn’t to be, for at that moment a body slammed into him from behind and, over balanced from the blow, the two men fell in a tangle of limbs. As the mercurial Fates would have it, the two had been on the edge of a ridge and so they rolled and rolled: spinning head over heels down the steep incline, gaining innumerous bruises and cuts and losing their weapons until, finally, they crashed in one last time against the bottom of the ridge and lay motionless in the darkness. Above, the sound of fighting continued. Absalom came to and after a moment of disorientation remembered that he’d been attacked. He grabbed at his sheathed knife only to find a strong hand on his wrist and his face inches from that of his friend. Becket had cut across his forehead and there was blood at the corner of his mouth, but it was his eyes that gave Absalom pause: they were not looking at him but rather beyond him.

Slowly Absalom looked back over his shoulders and saw a woman. At first he thought she was white then he realized that her color was her skin but paint. She was naked except for feathers in her long hair and tied at wrist, ankle, and waist; about her neck a coiled serpent of gold. As Absalom watched the woman he began to notice other form moving silently in the dark, painted as she but male. Silently they glided up the face of the ridge almost as if they were floating. Movement brought his attention back to the woman as she raised her hand to her mouth and blew something from the open palm into his and Becket’s face and the world went black.

 

 

I

The present

The doors to the foyer flew open at Dylan’s push as he and Silas, still holding hands and seemingly unaware that they were, moved quickly into the room.

 

Dylan glance around, quickly picking Evelyn out of the circle of kids. When she saw his face, she cocked her head to one side. "What is it Dylan?" she asked in a firm voice.

 

He looked around at all of them; Silas squeeze his hand reassuringly. "They don't have the Book. It's missing."

 

All the color drained from Evelyn’s face. “Go find Uncle, Dylan. Isis?” She looked around as the cat leapt up onto the back of a chair and meowed.  “The grounds.” The cat jumped to the floor and raced off past Silas and Dylan still standing in the doorway. It was only then that she remembered the rest of the kids.

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Jordan told herself she wasn't scared, only surprised by the sudden return of Silas and Dylan, right after telling the story about her mother maybe being chased by what may have been a bear. She gave Silas a scowl, flipping her loose braid of pale hair over a broad shoulder, just now realizing he hadn't been around for either Roach's or her own story.

She was about to ask Silas how long it took to go to the bathroom and if he needed Dylan to hold his hand, when Dylan mentioned the Book. At that, the impressively athletic teen girl's scowl was joined by furrowed brows, her voice low and terse. "You told him 'bout the Book, and the Cave and what all, Sy?"

When Isis meowed in almost demanding inquiry, Jordan noticed Banner getting tense. When she bolted out the door, Banner flowed to his feet instantly and seemed about to followed but halted at Jordan's sharp, "Stay!"

The big Kangal Shepard looked from the door to his mistress, then back again, chuffed, then sat on his hunches, still poised to moved. Jordan cocked her head, surprised. Banner would chase animals away from what he considered his territory, or anything he might consider a threat to her, but he didn't chase after cats or squirrels or whatever as a matter of course like most other dogs.

Giving Banner another considering look, making sure he wouldn't take off if she took her eyes off him, Jordan glanced over at Evelyn. "What's the big deal 'bout this Book? It was just old and Roach lost it anyway." Jordan frowned, her back straightening. "And how'd you even know 'bout it?"

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Dylan hesitated, glancing over at Silas. The younger boy squeezed his hand and then let go, silently indicating that he was fine; Dylan nodded faintly and then disappeared back into the house to fetch the older man. 

Silas moved a little nervously back into the room and sat down in one of the antique looking chairs. "I didn't tell them about the book. I mean, they already knew. They were looking for it. They thought it was in the box we brought back. Dylan said it's dangerous. . . but he didn't say how. He said that wasn't his story to tell, not entirely." He turned to look at Evelyn at that last bit, giving the girl the floor but also clearly putting her on the spot to catch the rest of the group up on whatever it was that was actually going on.

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"Okay, one...I didn't LOSE it," Roach retorted. "It VANISHED. I had it, then it was gone. And two...I thought there was something off about this whole thing! I would say I hated to tell you so, but I think we ALL know that's a huge lie. I LOVE telling you I told you so."

 

She thought for a second and shrugged. "Even though, I think in this case I didn't actually TELL you so, per se. It's the thought that counts. Anyway! This whole thing was just pumping us for info about the damn book, wasn't it? And the whole...altar of greyskull thing."

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Evelyn had that look; you know the one a deer gets when it’s caught in your headlights…yeah that one. She blinked several times as Dylan almost ran from the room; she frowned her mind getting overwhelmed with things she really was not ready for. Why didn’t he just…

 

“…And the whole...altar of greyskull thing." Rochelle’s words derailed her thought and she looked around at the Kids and at the confrontation  that was building.

 

“No,” she said, rapidly, soothingly, “I didn’t know about the chest until I arrived here yesterday, when Dylan informed me about your trip up to the Dead Ridge. The box by itself is bad, any thing from up there is bad.” Her face twisted in disgust as if she had just smelled something unmentionable.  “But the book, it is dangerous, evil." She shook her head as if ridding herself of the smell.

 

"I had not intended to thrust this upon you yet, I wanted us to be friends for a time, to let things grow naturally, but that isn’t possible now. You need to know; you deserve to know. “ She looks at the faces and then around the darkened room. They had dimmed the lights in anticipation of the scary stories and because that was what you were supposed to do at sleepovers.

 

“I think we should have a bit more light for this.”  Evelyn Wise blinked slowly and her head made a sort of nod in time with her blink and by the time her chin had risen and her eyes opened again all of the lights in the family room had come on banishing the darkness to the corners of the large room.

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The Darkness was gone, but not entirely, Hank noted.   The time for sharing fun stories seemed to have passed, as of course Roach got in her obligatory "I told you so."   "Yeah yeah, you were right, it was evil, but you still went right along, Roach."  He said with a sardonic smile.   

He looked to Evelyn, and shook his head.   Okay.  So clearly there's alot more going on than we know.   I'm not really against the whole friends thing, that does work better than not, but I would like some honesty from here on out.    Clearly you know more about what's actually going on, so maybe we can start there, and fill in the blanks as best we can??"

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"Hey, I never said I wasn't into it," Roach replied. She waved a hand at Evelyn and plopped down on a nearby chair.

 

"Normally, chin-operated lights would be freaky, but the bar's been raised. Lightning hitting altars in mineshafts, evil books disappearing...weird creepy vibes like we're being watched all the time..." She leaned her head back against the back and shut her eyes.

 

"Too much crazy in my life right now. Just someone, anyone, tell me what this is all about?"

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Silas' eyes, on the other hand, were wide as saucers at the supernatural display. Then again, he'd always been a pretty good mark for Roach's prank. He wasn't gullible - any more so than your average kid at least - but he tended to get caught up in the moment and not always think of things in a critical way. Dylan had been electric-ice shocking him every time they'd touched for over a month now and it had only occurred to him less than ten minutes ago that maybe that wasn't just a reaction to a crush. So Evelyn controlling the lighting of the room without the use of her hands or a remote definitely grabbed the attention of his hind-brain and had him wishing Dylan was still there. 

 

“This is the best story yet,” Quinn said suddenly, “and it looks like even Silas bought it.” She started clapping but Silas could tell she wasn’t happy or even amused -- she was mad. “Bravo, bravo. Even Roach and Hank are getting into it.”

 

Silas had sidled in her direction without even realizing it, seeking out the reassurance of his best friend. “Uh,” he said softly, “I don’t know exactly what that was, Quinn, but. . . I don’t think it was a Roach kinda trick.” He hesitated, about to mention something about Dylan’s effect when touching people and then blushed - probably no one else had experienced it, he realized. He looked towards Evelyn, brushing shoulders with Quinn now and regaining some equilibrium just from her presence. 

 

“Go on, Evelyn,” he prompted their host a little more firmly. He’d gotten past shock and fear now and he wanted answers. “I think everyone would like to know what’s happening and why.”

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At first Evelyn was a bit struck at the lack of shock or awe at her slight use of magic,, but then she realized that she should have expected, known,  that it would be this way. Known that these Kids would  except what they saw by the simple fact of who they were.

 

“Alright,” she said with a smile forming on her lips as she stood and moved over to the doors shutting them.  Then she turned and faced the kids who had all taken seats and looked at her expectantly “As I told you before my parents were killed, but it wasn’t in an accident, not a real one anyways. They were murdered.”

 

She paused dramatically, ”By witches.”

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Hank just looked at Evelyn and frowned.   "Why lie about it to us, if you already knew we'd been exposed to this strangeness?"  He knew it was probably a sensitive subject, and maybe justified, but he wasn't fond of liars, especially about something so serious.   He was raised on a healthy dose of honesty, and expected it from others too.   Roach had pranked him pretty often, before he sorta turned it around on her after awhile.   It wasn't that he disbelieved, but instead of relaying new information from her, he'd preface it with "Well Roach said..."  and quickly find out it was another prank, or often as not now, the truth.  

He knew he was too trusting at times, but he did really want to see the best in others.   

"Why would witches kill your parents?"   He could have made some smartass comment, and indeed, expected one from Roach at any moment.   Still his tone wasn't accusatory, just a sincere question out of concern.

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"I didn't lie," Evelyn said as she shot a look at Hank that almost had a physical effect, metaphysically pushing at him so that he couldn't help but flinch, "I just did not tell you everything, as at the time I did not think it was necessary and could even have been harmful." She looks around at everyone else and her cheeks redden, "My apologies if anyone else has been offended such was not my intent."

 

She paused and straightens her skirt, that simple movement brings her dress into focus and it was as if for the first time all of the kIds notice that unlike them she was dress in blouse and skirt while all of them were dressed in jeans or shorts and various shirts. "Since you seem to have accepted that witches exist and that my parents were killed by a group of them I will explain why, you see, we, my family, are also witches."

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"Okay, nope," Roach said. She stood up out of the couch, shaking her head. "Fucking nope. I don't...I don't care how big your wand is, or what kind of...mythical creature gonad is in the core of it. Okay? Cards on the table, I'm still not convinced this is not some epically elaborate hoax. The lightning is the only thing that's fucking my brain right now, and...I don't know, like a van de graaff generator hidden in the cave wall somewhere..."

 

Again she shook her head. "Just because I'm hearing you out doesn't mean I'm buying it. Like the trick with the lights? Trivial. A remote control in your pocket. Someone in the next room over at another switch. Hell, circuit breaker. If you want ME to buy into this, really buy in, you'd better be ready to...I don't know...conjure up a dragon or something. Something I can't explain. And I'll warn you, I'm really good at explaining shit."

 

After a second she grudgingly added, "Sorry about your parents though, if you legit lost them...witches or whatever."

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"Good 'bout makin' excuses you mean," Jordan muttered.

 

Jordan had been stunned into wide-eyed silence by Evelyn's display and explanation. She wasn't dumb, but she was far from technically and scientifically adept, she knew.. She'd been tricked and pranked by Roach plenty, she pretty much just assumed Roach was lying as a matter of course, even if she had no clue how or why.

The big blonde shifted awkwardly in her chair, eyes going from the redhead to the lights and back. Roach seemed to know how Evelyn did what she did, if it was a trick, but Jordan wasn't so sure. It didn't feel planned to her, and why'd she do it in the first place? And witches? She'd seen the Harry Potter movies, but hadn't read the books, and certainly didn't think they were real or anything. Or hadn't. 

 

There was strange stuff happening lately, if not as much as some of the others were making out.

"Witches. Okay, I dunno what that mean, I thought we were 'sposed to say Wiccans now, or something," Jordan said, giving Evelyn not quite a doubtful look, but it help more than a hint of puzzlement. "Sorry 'bout your ma and pa. But what's the big deal 'bout the box and book and stuff? It's just a box with some old stuff in it. Weird, but it didn't... y'know, feel weird or nothing, felt just like a box with stuff in it."

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Quinn looked caught halfway between screaming and crying as the weight of everything that had happened today finally crashed down with 'witches are real'. It wasn't that she necessarily believed that, but the whole day had just been too much. She'd come because Silas had asked her to and then he'd run off the first time Dylan left the room and then came back and now all of this. She knew if she said anything it'd just make things worse and even worse that that, she'd be agreeing with Roach. 

She felt an arm circle around her shoulder. She jumped slightly but relaxed when she realized it was just Silas. "Why don't we listen to more of the story? Doesn't seem like we have enough pieces to make a full bridle yet." He winced as the words came out, but years around Quinn meant you ended up speaking in horse at least part of the time.

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Evelyn couldn't tell if they were making fun of her, or maybe they already knew more than she had ever suspected. She was out of her depth, her training had only begun when her parents and the Circle had been killed... emotions welled up, her vision blurred from the tears she refused to let fall 

On 8/8/2020 at 7:59 PM, Rochelle McKendrick said:

Again she shook her head. "Just because I'm hearing you out doesn't mean I'm buying it. Like the trick with the lights? Trivial. A remote control in your pocket. Someone in the next room over at another switch. Hell, circuit breaker. If you want ME to buy into this, really buy in, you'd better be ready to...I don't know...conjure up a dragon or something. Something I can't explain. And I'll warn you, I'm really good at explaining shit."

 

After a second she grudgingly added, "Sorry about your parents though, if you legit lost them...witches or whatever."

 

The girl they called Roach, Rochelle, her tone, the nuance of her words the diction she used all caught Evelyn as if the other girl had cast a spell. Anger flared, drowning out everything else others were saying. Hands in her lap fingers moved without thought into contorted positions and her lips moved words barley a whisper came,  "Doubtful night, born of fright..."

 

"Young lady! That is quite enough." The voice startled everyone for no one had heard the doors open and Evelyn jerked upright and stiff at her Uncles intrusion.

 

Warren Clairburn, a pair of wire framed reading glasses balance on his nose, stood in the doorway to the foyer, Dylan right behind him. The older man all eyes on him stepped into the room. At Jo's side Banner stood up and leaned into her he didn't growl but a sound rumbled deep in his chest. "Miss Johansson, the box is dangerous because it was used to hold the Devil's Book, and other tools of black magic. Things that will be explained in time." As he spoke he strode the rest of the way into the room coming to a stand still in the center of the rough circle the Kids made in their seats on the sofa, chairs and floor.

 

Slowly he turned and his fatherly smile took everyone of them in looking into the eyes of each of them, giving them visual reassurance that they were safe. All except Evelyn who stared at her hands her cheeks red with shame. "Yes our, family is one of witches, warlocks, magi and wise-ones all names for the same thing, often misused always misunderstood. The wicca are an old cult, dedicated to a mostly dead religion and while some of our kind followed their ways we are not all Wiccan by any means. For instance I am Episcopalian. Modern Wiccans are a mish mash of old ways and modern spiritualism which give comfort to those who believe in that sort of thing. But by and large they are not witches inthe true sense that they don't work real magic."

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Not quite ready to take an adult on face-to-face, Roach stayed focused on Evelyn. She flapped her hands around and said, "Wingardium leviosa. See? I can do it too."

 

Then she looked at Warren and spread her hands. "It's America. You can believe whatever you want. But we don't have the book anymore so...that means we're done, right? Don't need us for a black mass, or a voodoo chicken thing, or whatever? Because...this has gotten way out of hand. Jokes are jokes, but actual belief in magic is something that is holding humanity's advancement as a species BACK. Every day I read about 'magical thinking' being used to undermine and discredit actual scientific education. Like, oh, did you know the flat Earth is back? Thanks for that. That's awesome. Great job."

 

Roach put her palms to her temples and visibly tried to dial back the anger and bitterness that had crept into her tone and expression. It didn't work very well, but she had at least tried.

 

"Sincerely though, thanks for the pizza. I, uh...I should probably go. Before Hermione puts a jinx on me or something."

 

She winked at Evelyn.

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"Tactful as ever, Roach," Silas said with just a touch of a glare. "You're the one that insisted someone stole the book from you. All the rest of it besides the point, don't you want to know why?" 

Fighting Roach straight on never got anywhere. Heck, being nice to her most of the time only sort of got anywhere near the realm of 'friendly' from her, in his opinion, but she was smart and asked the good questions. Silas really wanted her to stay and really wanted her to learn how to not unload on people just 'cause she was scared or irritated or whatever. He thought he might be able to get the first, the latter was a work in progress that'd been going on for years now.

"Look, you're probably the smartest person I know besides Hannah, and she's not here anymore. Can you just listen? You might be able to see something or get something the rest of us don't. Not askin' you to believe, jus'. . . listen and think about things," he finished a little lamely for lack of a better way to put it. 

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Rochelle rounded on Silas, her eyes narrowing slightly...but Silas had one attribute that really annoyed Roach. She couldn't really get mad at him. The little shit was just...earnest all the time. Earnest and harmless and...kind of doofy. There should have been videos on the internet of him slowly falling asleep, or skidding on his own hands and feet as he tried to stop running on linoleum. Hell, maybe there were.

 

Moreover, she didn't see any reason to waste her time here anymore. For a second she'd hoped maybe there'd be an actual explanation, but now it was all Devil Books and magic. For a second she'd almost been ready to just let that happen but...ugh. Hearing even just a little was like nails on chalkboard.

 

"We don't have what they want, Silas," she protested. "What's the point?"

 

He just lifted his eyebrows and gestured at Mr Clairburn...wordlessly reminding her that there was exactly one way to find out.

 

Goddamnit.

 

Roach sighed and went back to sit back down on the coach. "Fine. Sorry to interrupt." She pantomimed zipping her mouth shut...then unzipped it and added, "Go ahead. No more from me." Then zipped it again.

 

 

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Jo pressed her muscular thigh back against Banner's solid mass, a hand kneading the thick ruff about his neck with firm reassurance, humming low in throat to quell the Kangal Shepherd's warning rumble. It took a bit, but Banner finally quieted, though he stayed standing, tight to the oversized girl's side. Her hand moved from his ruff to scritching his ears.

 

Jordan's mouth gaped when Roach agreed to be silent and listen, more surprised by that than their new neighbors claiming to be witches. Roach was many things, but subdued was not one of them. She shook her head in wonderment, blond braid flipping over a broad shoulder, then turned her attention back to their hosts, offering them an awkward, apologetic shrug.

 

"Sorry Mr. Clairburn, 'bout mixin' up Wiccans and witches and what all." To be honest, it still wasn't all that clear to her, except that one could do real magic, it seemed, and the other couldn't. She wanted to ask about the box again, if she should bury it or wrapped it up in a blanket or something to stop it... leaking... bad... magic? or whatever, but he said he'd talk about it later and she didn't want to interrupt, but she still had one more thing she wanted to ask. "If I can, can I ask one thing more, sir?"

Mr. Clairburn gave the strapping young woman a patient nod. "Of course, Miss Johansson."

"Jordan, or Jo, I guess, sir. Missus Johansson is my ma. Right, so, what yer sayin' is that being a witch, it's something yer born to? Like, you hafta have the natural talent for, er, magic, it's not sumthin' ya can just learn, like maths or the like?"

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Clairburn smiled again showing his white gapped teeth, “That is a very good question Miss Johansson,” he said as his eyes slid over to Evelyn.

 

The teen nodded, “Yes and no, Jo,” Evelyn answered the other girls question drawing all eyes back to her. “If you don’t have an ancestral connection, a bloodline,  I guess you could call it, then no you can’t just learn magic at your whim. If you are connected, however, then yes you can learn how, to a degree, without instruction. On the other side of the coin if you have no bloodline to fall back on while you can’t just pick up a grimoire and start casting spells, you can be taught by someone with a bloodline connection.” 

 

“It isn’t as simple as it sounds,” injected Mr Clairburn, “and there is magic involved but yes you can be taught how to work magic. But magic is not what you think it is right now. It is very serious and complicated, and it is dangerous.”

 

“Ha!” Roach barked a laugh; she couldn’t help herself. “So, you’re telling us that you can teach us how to be witches,” she gave Clairburn the side-eye, “or warlocks?”

 

“No, not exactly. Even if some one without a bloodline were taught how to craft, that would not make them a witch. To be a witch you have to have the bloodline.” Evelyn answered Roach taking over from her Uncle once again. She spoke with confidence, “However, in your case, you could already have taught yourself to craft if you had known and believed. All of you could have and can.”

 

She let her gaze make the rounds, taking in all the Kids she had hoped to make friends before this came to fruition, alas that was not to be. “While none of you have the bloodline, which would make you a witch, all of you have ancestors who had entered covenant with my family. That is why you all are here, why your families have lived here for generations, or moved back after leaving to live elsewhere. You may not have a bloodline but Blairsville is in your blood.”

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"So some sort of ancient pact binds our families to this area, to your family, and yours is a family with a heritage of magic.   Why would our families make such a pact with yours, and what exactly does such a pact mean for all of us now?"  Hank asked quietly.   

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Silas squeezed his arm around Quinn; he could feel how tense she was and was worried she was going to storm out or break down with everything going on. It was just all so strange and she’d already had a rough day. The only reason he’d had the courage to try to go talk to Dylan alone earlier was that he knew she was here and that if things went wrong he’d have a shoulder to lean on - and not have to talk her out of retribution like Roach.

When Emily had dumped him, Roach had a number of suggestions on how to feel better - one of them had even been legal. Emily’s social media got hacked and pranked pretty hard, but while Silas had asked Roach not to he’d been honestly touched at the show of friendship. He suspected Dylan didn’t have social media accounts to hack, anyways.

His eyes tracked over between the two at his thoughts; when he looked to Dylan he smiled in an invitation for the young man to come join him and Quinn. Dylan smiled back and sidled quietly around the room behind Roach to reach the pair and take Silas’ free hand in his, lacing their fingers together again. 

 

Quinn pulled away from Silas and started to roll up her sleeping bag. “Quinn?” Silas asked.

 

“I’m going home,” she said stiffly. “I’m not okay with indulging in fantasies, especially from people who should know better.” She glared at Mr. Clairburn before grabbing her backpack, clearly about ready to leave. 


 

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"Miss Hollins, you shouldn't assume that you know all there is to know about the world we live in, that everything you have been told, read, or taught is true." Mr Clairburn was speaking gently not in a lecturers voice, more like a caring uncle,

 

"I don't blame you for being...," he paused," no, not scared,  doubtful. You're young, too young really to have this heritage dumped on you suddenly without warning. You can leave, but if you do just know that you are in danger, it isn't the kind of danger you probably imagine. It can take many different forms. But you, all of you, are part of Evelyn's Circle, that was decided by powers none of us can comprehend long before any of us were even born. We will do anything in our power to protect you even if you want nothing to do with us."

 

Evelyn stood and moved over to Quinn a pleading look in her eyes, "Please stay Quinn, we need you. I need you. I have no right to ask you I know you don't know me, but I need you. At least stay and hear the story. Please?"

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Roach scooted over and patted the couch beside her.

 

"C'mon over here," she said. "If I have to stay, you have to stay. We can be all rational and skeptical and plot against the rest of the world. You know, like we do."

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And with Mr. Clairburn playing the ‘you’re too young to understand’ card, Quinn had officially had it. 

 

“Yeah, you only ‘have’ to stay because Silas puppy-dogged you into staying so he could hold his new boyfriend’s hand,” she snapped at Roach, making no move to join her on the couch. Silas flushed painfully red and gave Quinn a hurt look. She missed that stare as she rounded on Mr. Clairburn.

 

“It’s one thing for a kid to have weird ideas and beliefs, but it’s quite another for you, a supposedly responsible adult, to encourage that,” she said sternly. The other kids had seen Quinn ramped up before, and had known she’d face down adults and horses alike if she felt it necessary. “I don’t know what you think you’re getting out of this, but I can only assume you’re taking advantage of your niece for inheritance-based reasons.”

 

She suddenly dumped her bag and backpack on the floor, whipping out her phone. Turning it on as she spoke, she readied an SOS to Beau, but didn’t send it. “But I will stay anyway,” she added, holding her phone in a pointed threat. “If nothing else, I can offer testimony at the eventual child endangerment trial. You’re nuts if you think I’m just going to let you do whatever this is to Evelyn.”

 

Apparently Mama Bear had found another cub to protect.

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