by Jane Doe
“Congratulations on completing your first spell.” Cordelia’s smile was small, hiding something I couldn’t quite place. “How does it feel to call on your magic and have it respond?”
It was moonlight alone that allowed me to see her delicate features from where she sat on the patio chairs. The leather chords around her neck were dark, but the silver charms that dangled from them glittered merrily.
A frown ghosted across my face and disappointment filled my bones. “I-I didn’t do that correctly, did I?”
“Not at all, but you tried, and your magic did respond.” She replied, patting the seat beside her when my sour expression deepened. “Come sit with me before we go inside and sort this out.”
“Everything alright out here?” Rowena’s flowery voice trickled through the small opening in the sliding glass door.
“We’re fine, just a bit of sigil magic gone awry.” Cordelia shouted back, but kept her eyes locked on my face. A slight twisting sensation in the pits of my stomach told me something was going on with the two witches. Rather than ask, I sank into the seat I once occupied and waited for her to speak. “Now, tell me. What did you do wrong?”
I skimmed the spell again and again until heat flooded my face and neck, followed by the embarrassment of missing something so blatantly obvious.
“I was supposed to paint the sigil on myself, not the porch.” I mumbled, closing the spell book, and peering down at it’s leather cover.
Cordelia’s hand on my shoulder was meant to reassure, but before she could speak the words Rowena’s voice floated outside a second time.
“Cordelia, could I have a word with you?” This time a head of auburn hair appeared from the darkness of the living room, barely visible beneath the moonlight.
Rowena wasn’t able to see her agitated expression, but I could. The gnashed eyebrows and pursed lips were off putting on a face as kind as Cordelia’s, and for the second time tonight my stomach twisted with the feeling that something was amiss.
When the backdoor slid shut behind her and the sound of their muffled voices faded, I turned my attention to the box of supplies she’d handed me. Within the mix of half-burnt candles, herbs, and oils was an old mirror. Other than being chipped at the corner, it was in decent enough condition.
“That’s why the mirror was in there.” I snorted incredulously, pinching the bridge of my nose when a chilling sensation danced up my spine.
Deep within the forest, I could feel them watching. The shadows were still keeping their distance, hiding from me after giving Breyona back her wolf. It didn’t matter how many times I asked why, there wasn’t a single whisper tossed in my direction. Rather than succumb to the anger that sprouted when they refused to answer my questions, I began flitting through the stack of spell books Cordelia left outside.
There was one in particular that caught my attention, mostly because of it’s cover. It was made from a pitch-black leather with an odd texture I’d never felt before. Each individual page was lined in silver so that they caught the light each time I turned to a new one.
Just as I found the first spell in the book, and realized what type of magic this one depicted, Cordelia was taking it from my hands and snapping it shut.
“Oh, no you don’t.” She shook her head much like Grandma did when she caught me gearing up to steal one of her sweets before dinner. “I can see the look on your face clear as day. You’re not ready for something a s complex as protection magic.”
Even Maya’s attention was raised by the stirring of magic in our veins, coursing through our body and leaving little pinpricks in its wake. It rushed through us, flooding my head with chemicals even stronger than adrenaline. As it grew to a crescendo, I knew it wasn’t coincidence I was drawn to that particular spell book.
For some unknown reason, I needed it.
Cordelia’s eyes never left my face, even when my hands twitched with the urge to snatch the book from her. I bit back the intrusive thought, swallowing it along with my h****r and surprise. There was a part of me ready and willing to tear it from her hands, no matter the cost. I wanted to stay far away from that side of myself, no matter how much I knew those spells could help.
The older and much more experienced witch could tell I was fighting an internal battle and captured my attention by clearing her throat.
“If you’d like to come inside, I believe Rowena is ready for you.” She said, her voice firm but not unkind.
Rowena was, in fact, not ready for me though I wasn’t going to openly question Cordelia on that. Instead, I turned my attention to the dozens of pillared candles scattered around the living room. On the living room table was the great leather-bound book I started reading my first day of training. I’d learned what Sigil magic was, along with Natural and a hint of Divination. Before I could swipe it off the table and get to reading Rowena appeared around the corner, heading from the kitchen where Grandma’s humming could be heard. There was a tension within her delicate notes that gave me pause.
“Is everything alright?” I questioned, craning my head to catch a glimpse of Grandma.
Rowena’s auburn hair and flushed cheeks got in the way. “Of course everything’s alright. There’s an electrician on the way. I’m quite sure you blew the fuse box.”
“I was referring to Grandma and…” I frowned, trailing off when I saw no sign of my dad’s bulky frame. “Where’s my dad at?”
“Out here!” I heard him shout and spun around to see the front door wide open with my dad standing just outside. Before I could ask him what he was doing, he nodded his head in Grandma’s direction and grunted, “…don’t look at me, look at the witch in the kitchen. She’s the one that kicked me out.”
For a second I thought he were referring to Rowena, but then Grandma’s voice snapped back.
“I wanted you out of my d**n hair. You were hovering so close I could barely think.”
Dad snorted and narrowed his eyes, sending his bushy eyebrows colliding into one another. “Yeah, well you got what you wished for, didn’t you?”
“No.” She tossed over her shoulder, “I can still hear you.”
A gust of wind tore through the house, promptly slamming the front door in Dad’s face.
“Well, wasn’t that convenient?” Rowena said cheerfully, a glimmer of pride in her eyes as she glanced at Grandma. I had no choice but to follow as she shooed me back into the living room. “Now, now. Don’t worry about your father, he’s perfectly fine. Your grandmother’s barred him from entering the house, it seems.”
“It’ll wear off in time.” Cordelia added, gathering the small stack of spell books in her arms before pausing at the stairs. There was a glimmer of light in her eyes that felt familiar yet foreign at the same time. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lola.” Without so much as a nod in Rowena’s direction, she went upstairs and slipped into her bedroom.
Rowena gave no notice, or at least she pretended not to. She didn’t need to glance in the direction of the stairs to tell me she too felt the tense air between them. Left with more questions than answers, I had no choice but to turn my focus to the large textbook propped on the table.
The next magical types in Rowena’s book were Divination and Elemental.
As I dove into the first paragraph, I found myself instantly missing my best-friend. Breyona had said if given the choice, she’d pick Divination as a magical skill. The further I read, the more I respected the subtle yet incredibly powerful magic form.
Fragments of the past and future were just within reach for the witches able to practice Divination. Most needed a reflective surface like a pool of water or even a crystal ball, but others more powerful need only sheer will and determination. Divination itself was incredibly accurate, but it was the future that could change on a whim.
Where Divination itself was considered a passive form of magic, Elemental was its complete opposite.
The two women that had chased Brandon, Clara, and me through the streets came to mind, stirring up a feeling of dread that left me with a dry mouth. I could still feel the heat of her flames and hear the rage in her voice when she realized we managed to thwart them.
Clara had mentioned that Elementals were rare, coveted amongst witches to the point that they would send them off to be specially trained and raised by other Elementals. The entire thing felt wrong even back then.
The number of elements and the ways that they could be manipulated were near endless, varying in power from monstrous waves to small sprinklings of hail.
I’d been neck deep within the thick cut pages when I noticed grandma’s small form flit from the kitchen and out the front door. In her hurry to take the plate of cookies in her hand outside, she’d left the front door cracked. Try as I might, I couldn’t help but listen in on their hushed conversation.
“Anything? Anything at all?” Grandma asked, growing more urgent the longer Dad was silent.
“I’m not feeling much of anything…well, except for the usual pain.” He replied with a gravely voice, noticeably rougher than usual.
Grandma slipped inside and closed the front door, her expression solemn as she shook her head at Rowena and darted back inside the kitchen. The clank of pots and pans rattling against one another d*d out her quiet muttering. Rowena’s lips fell in a sympathetic frown, and with her high cheekbones and elfish features, she appeared much younger than her mid-twenties.
“Rarely do spells work the way you intend the first few times.”‘ I caught her telling grandma in a hushed voice. “You’ll get the hang of it; I know you will.”
When she emerged from the kitchen I pretended to be hard at work, craning my head back over the book even though my mind no longer cared for the handwritten words. Only for a couple of seconds could I pretend to be oblivious to the failed spell my grandma had tried. Eventually my nagging curiosity won out, but before I had the chance to ask, grandma came into the living room. Her hands were full of baking supplies along with a large tote on her shoulder.
“Grandma, you heading out?” I inquired, catching her before she could flee out the front door. The promise I made to Emilia came to mind. “I had a favor I needed to ask you. Do you think you could get in contact with Chris? One of the trainers wanted to offer him a job. I know he most likely won’t take it, but I told her I’d try.”
Grandma paused, and from the way her slender eyebrows lifted, and lips parted, she hadn’t expected me to ask that particular question.
“I’ll give it a shot, but knowing Chris I’ll have to threaten him first, and threats are much less effective when sent through the post.” She huffed, a disgruntled look crossing her face though I knew she missed her old friend. Moving away from her cottage hadn’t been what she wanted, but she’d done it for me.
“Any particular reason you’re in a hurry to leave?” I mused, slowly closing the book in my lap. It would’ve been useful if I could figure out how I did that trick with the front door, but my magic seemed more than happy to lay dormant now that I had use of it.
Grandma had her hand on the doorknob and was in the process of opening it when she said, “Claire’s friend is getting married tomorrow night and she asked if I’d help with the desserts. I have a lot of baking to do and very little time to do it.”
Momentarily forgetting the odd exchange between her and Dad, I felt surprise morph my face.
“Someone’s having a wedding in the middle of all this?” I gestured to the room around us, even though my true meaning rang clear. There wasn’t a single one of us here that could forget the events that transpired just the other day.
Grandma tilted her head ever so slightly, her eyes relaxed and understanding. “If you can’t count on love in the midst of tragedy, then what good is it?”
Those were the words she left me with, because half a second later she slipped through the front door and instantly began bickering with Dad. The two of them were quick to leave, putting down the road in Dad’s beat up Nissan.
“Don’t you dare…”‘ I called out to Rowena, who was in the process of fleeing as well. “What kind of spell was she trying to do?”
“I’d tell you not to repeat this, but your grandmother will find out either way. She’s a very intuitive witch, I’ll give her that.” The red-headed witch sighed, shrugging a shoulder as she settled onto the couch. “She was trying to heal your father’s leg. It’s tricky magic, but he was more than willing to act as her test subject.” A softness filled the depths of her mossy eyes, “…from what I’ve heard, Flora has a fondness for dancing. I can only assume your father has access to the same information, and what better place to dance than at a wedding?”
Any chance I had at studying was tossed out the window since all I could think about was my dad and a woman who had just woken up from a decade long coma dancing the night away at a strangers wedding. For a moment, I was dumbfounded. Things had changed so much–become so complicated in such a short amount of time that I was just now realizing I hadn’t even begun to process it all.
As I stood from the couch and gathered my things, my mind was a haze of denial and acceptance. It was Holly’s name on Rowena’s tongue that freed my thoughts and brought my attention back to the present.
“I thought I’d tell you before you left, Holly is progressing quite nicely since you found her that therapist. I know it’s only been a few days, but she’s actively trying now in a way she hadn’t been before. From what she’s told me, even her nightmares are beginning to ease up.”
It was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible week, one that was made worse on the drive home when Asher mind-linked me to let me know he and his team of warriors would be moving out tonight. There had been an altercation between some Vampire’s and Alpha Bran’s warriors, both of which were much too close to our borders.
I had only a few short hours with Asher before he had to leave. It was a naive hope that our time would be relaxing, free of stress or worries about what might come next. Not only was I terrified at what Alpha Bran had in store, and worried for the Vampire’s I swore to protect and defend the pack against, but I quickly realized I had another problem the second I opened my bag and looked inside.
Some small part of me noticed it had felt heavier when I slid the strap over my shoulder and left the house Rowena and Cordelia occupied, but I hadn’t given it any thought.
Staring down at the pitch-black cover and odd textured leather, I tried to recall when I’d slipped the book of Protection magic into my bag. I was more than positive I hadn’t, especially considering the look Cordelia had given me—the one that told me she knew how badly I wanted the book.
Yet here it was, perched on the countertop of Asher and I’s house, practically begging me to flit through the silver lined pages.
Alpha Asher by Jane Doe
Author: Jane Doe
Native Language: English