The Salem Mystique

High school is over and so is summer. It's
time for Billie and her friends to go to college.
As intended, Billie attends Salem Community
College with Riley and what secrets is Salem
hiding behind closed doors?
As Billie prepares for her first Samhain Ritual, she is
distracted by more than homework and family feuds. Two
mysterious German brothers show up in Salem, armed to the teeth.
Even with every faithful Witches eye upon them, she cannot rest
until she finds out their reason for being there.

A time for action is called as a small child is hurt and her
cousin, Rowanne, goes missing. Are the brothers to blame? And
why do these terrible things happen on and around the full moon?

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3. Education of a Wolf

Running down the slope after him I kept calling and shouting for him to come back.

“Ulric, wait!  Rowanne needs you, come back!  Ulric, I know you’re here stop hiding and show yourself.” I demanded noticing how impossible it should’ve been for him to disappear so quickly.  A little way off I saw a pile of clothes in the sand, clothes that the haggard man had been wearing minutes ago.  I scanned the long beach to see where he could’ve gone to.  I spun round and around but he never showed up.  I was about to give up when something, in the corner of my eye, about forty feet away caught my attention.  I turned to see Christian Hart standing on the beach under star lights.  He looked like he did when I’d first met him, extremely neat and well dressed as well as devastatingly handsome.  Tonight he was walking barefoot in the sand dressed in beige linen pants and a crisp white linen shirt.  He bowed to me and waved before walking away in the opposite direction.  This was the first time I’d seen Christian since Graduation day where he’d bolted on stage late to receive his diploma then bolted off right away before sprinting off school grounds.  According to Leonard he’d arranged for Christian to see a few of his shaman friends, the first one lived near the Rocky Mountains, the second in Tibet and the third in Budapest.  Leonard didn’t expect to see Christian near any of us for a good long time, so why was he showing up here just a couple of months later?

“Billie, where are you?” Riley called from the garden.  “Rowanne said you were going to get her broomstick from the garden shed.”

 

I teleported off the beach and into the garden shed where I should’ve been.  When I stepped out with Rowanne’s broom under my arm Riley looked at me curiously.

“I’ll explain later.” I said to him.

 

When I entered the living room, I left Rowanne’s broom beside my own and Riona’s, I found the guests forming a circle around Rowanne and the brass stand where The Black Craft was resting.

“Can we kill the lights and light the candles, please?” called Riona.

“Taken care of.” I said as Riley worked his magic, by killing the lights and allowing shadows to creep up the walls.  When it was dark enough I raised the candles into the air before snapping my fingers together where all the candle wicks ignited.

“It’s your turn, Billie.” said Nana stood next to me.

“My turn?” I asked shocked.  “What do you mean my turn?”

“You need to guide your cousin.”

“But nobody guided me.”

“Circumstances were different for you.  You’ve led a very different life from Rowanne and you’re the coven leader.  It’s time to take your place amongst us.”

“But Riona is still the leader.” I blurted pathetically.

“I’m stepping down tonight, Billie.” Riona said approaching my other side.

Riley clapped my back.  “You can do this.” he whispered into my right ear.

“I’ll introduce you.” Riona said stepping forth.  “May I have your attention, please?  Before Rowanne claims her powers I’d like to make an announcement.”  Everyone’s eyes turned from Rowanne to her mother.  “Today is my last day as your leader.  When I stand down my niece Billie will take my place.  To those of you who have not met her yet she is Billie Josephine Black, she came of age in May this year but due to choices on her parents behalf she was not raised the Wiccan way.  Thus the reason why she is late in coming into the role she will start to play tonight.”

“What!?” I shrieked.

“Don’t panic, Billie.” she said signaling for me to join her.  Tentatively I stepped forwards before she pulled me all the way into the middle of the circle with her.

“Tonight Billie will take my place now that I have chosen to stand down.  Not only is Billie wise she is also our ancestor, Josephine Aloise Black, reincarnate.” Riona said as shocked gasps rang out all around the room.  “I have faith in Billie’s judgement, wit and trustfulness.  We’re in good hands.”

 

Riona joined the surrounding crowd at Nana and Riley’s sides as the crowd applauded both my aunt and myself.  I closed my eyes and counted to ten when Josephine’s words came to me.  ‘You have to invoke your cousins power’, “How?” I asked.

 

My spark of magic warmed me from the inside out, letting me see what I had to do.  Taking a step in front of Rowanne, who stood in front of the brass stand, I asked her, “Give me your hands.”  Doing as I’d asked she held her hands out over the book and I sandwiched them between mine which made them look like she was in prayer.  The spark within burned and connected us through our touching hands as it flew through me into her.  I knew she felt it because she shuddered in my hands.  After a few minutes the spark came back to connect our hands once more and brought with it Rowanne’s own spark which had been buried deep in the dark recesses of her soul.  My spark returned to rest by my heart as I felt Rowanne’s do the same, when I knew she was ready I placed both her palms firmly on The Black Craft.

 

I didn’t feel the rest of Rowanne’s experience but I held tight to her wrists as the sparks flew through her connecting her spark of magic to our family craft.  She wouldn’t have ownership over it like I did but we were all connected to the Craft.  I felt Josephine’s nudge and I connected with Rowanne again by placing my hands over hers and connected with the sparks flowing through Rowanne into the book and back again.  It was only a brief moment, a flash, I saw what her power would be.  Josephine told me not to worry, that the little glimpse I saw was actually very natural in this procedure.  ‘If you ever come across a witch where you don’t see that little glimpse that is when you should worry’ she said to me.

 

When the sparks subsided I removed my hands from Rowanne’s to let them rest by my side as Rowanne too raised her hands from the book.

“Well,” Riona started, approaching me from behind, “what did you see, Billie?  Do you have any idea of what Rowanne’s power will be?”

“It’s, um, some sort of mind control.”

“Mind control?” Rowanne asked excitedly.

“Not in the normal sense though.” I warned.  “It’s more like you can leave an impression on others’ minds, you can’t outright control them.”

Rowanne shrugged.  “Either way I’ve got my power right?”

“Right.”

 

As people began to surround and congratulate her I ambled out of the way to the side of the room where Nana stood.  “I don’t understand.  Why was it different for Rowanne?  Why did I have to help her?”

“Yours was different because you are the first of your generation.  You had to find the spark on your own, now that you’re coven leader it is part of your duties to help find the spark within those coming into their magic.”

“So yours was like mine?”

“Yes.  It was the same for Riona, also.”

“So every time someone comes into their magic I’ll have to help bring out their spark?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure I’m ready to be the leader?  I’ve still got a long way to go…”

“You’re ready.  You can’t still be so unsure after what you just did for your cousin.”

“You really believe that?”

“I believe in you.  Trust me, Billie, if I thought you were unready or undereducated I wouldn’t put you through this.” she said.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m just going to get some air and clear my mind.”

“Okay, don’t wander far though.  She’ll want to go up on her broom soon now that she can.”

“I’ll just be in the garden.” I said over my shoulder.

 

I picked my broom up as I went out the back door and as soon as I was out of sight I teleported back to Penn Gate once more.  I was relieved to find myself in Riley’s home where now only Leonard resided.

“Good grief, Billie.” Leonard said as I appeared in front of him in his living room with a scotch in his hand.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” I said.

“What are you doing here?  Isn’t this your cousins birthday?”

“Yes it is.  But I had to come ask you something.”

“What’s so urgent?”

“Where is Christian?”

“He’s in Tibet.”

“Are you sure about that?” I asked as he looked at me nonplussed.

“Yes.” he drew the word out.  “He called me only a couple of hours ago from Tibet to let me know how he was doing.”

“You get regular calls from him then?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Have you ever looked back at your calls to see the number he was dialing from?” When he continued to stare back at me blankly I said, “Leonard, check your calls because I can assure you he’s not in Tibet.”

“Have you seen him?”

“About twenty minutes ago on the beach next to my aunt’s house.”

“What was he doing there?”

“I didn’t talk to him so I have no idea.”

“What did he do?”

“He was standing about forty feet away, I only noticed him ‘cause I was looking for someone who’d run away from the party.  He just bowed to me, waved and then walked off in the opposite direction.”

“How did he look?”

“He looked well, you know, healthy.  He wasn’t dressed in his usual garb but still as neat as he was when I first met him.”

“That’s it?  He just took off?” he asked crossly.

“Well, I thought it was rather unusual that he turned up at all.” I said hotly.  “I also find it worrisome that he turned up at my aunt’s house.  I mean, how would he know where to find me?”

“Who’s to say he was looking for you?”

“I find it a little hard to believe that he coincidentally runs into me just next to my aunt’s house.  Especially since he’s supposed to be half way around the world.”

Leonard sighed.  “Hmm, yes that is peculiar.  I’ll try to track him down first thing in the morning and find out what his recent activities have been.  I’ll contact you if I find anything of interest.”

“Thanks, I’d better get back to the party.”

“Nice night for a party.”

“Yes.” I said conversationally.

“What’s the matter, Billie?”

“My aunt stepped down from her seat in the coven tonight.”

“Oh, I see.  You’re taking up her chair now that you’ve come of age.”

“Mm hmm.  I’m the new leader of the Black coven.”

“Congratulations!” he gushed.

“Thanks.” I said walking back to the hall.  “I’m sorry it took me by surprise so I’m not particularly in a celebratory mood.”

“I understand.  Go off and enjoy the rest of the party.”

“Thanks.  Good night.”

“Night!” He called as I teleported back to Rowanne’s garden with my broom under my arm.

 

I arrived just in time before the partygoers poured out of the house to see Rowanne fly her broomstick for the first time.

“Ready, cousin?” Rowanne asked excitedly as Dulcie, Brian and Matilda followed her out.

“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”

“Are you kidding?  I was born for this.” she said happily.

“Would either of you ladies like to ride with me?” Sam asked approaching Matilda and Dulcie.

“Is it safe?” Matilda asked.  “I mean, how are we going to fly without being noticed by the mortals?”

“My mother cast a spell so that people won’t notice.” Rowanne explained.  “Come on, let’s go already.”

“In that case, yes, I would love to ride with you.” Dulcie said mounting the rear of Sam’s broom.

“Damn, I wanted to go up!” Matilda said disappointedly.

“You can come up with me.” I offered.

“Really?”

“Why not?”

“You’re on!” Matilda said excitedly clambering on behind me.

“Wait, what about me?” Brian asked upset.

“You can come on with me?” Rowanne offered.

“You know what,” Brian started unsure, “I’m good here on the ground.”

“What?!  Do you think I’m going to drop you off?”

“I think the safest thing for me to do is avoid answering that question.” Brian said coyly.  “I’ll be eighteen next year, I can wait till then.”

“Wuss!” Rowanne called over shoulder as she shot off the ground.

“Hold on tight now.” I instructed Matilda as we followed Rowanne into the indigo sky.

 

We rode high towards the clouds before diving in the direction of the ocean until we were so close that our feet dragged along the water’s surface.  Matilda clung tightly to me as I circled in the air to turn back to the shore line.

“Do you want to fly over to Winter Island?” I asked when the others joined Matilda and me.

“Sounds good.” Said Sam.

“I’ll race you.” Rowanne said excitedly.  “Last offer, Brian, do you want to come?”

“No, thanks.  I think I’ll just stay here.” he said.

“Your loss.” she said before bolting off in the direction of Winter Island.

 

Winter Island wasn’t too far from my aunt’s house and as long as we kept to the skies we were safe.  The trip was shorter because Rowanne insisted on racing there but wasn’t too happy when Sam beat her with Dulcie at his back.  We swooped and dived on our brooms amongst the tree tops and came to a halt where we found a small patch of people camping nearby.  A little way off from the crowd of campers, hidden by the trees was a solitary tent with two men sitting at a picnic table attending to their dinner.  One was rough in his features with a crew cut, an in growing beard and thick bushy eyebrows.  The other was more delicate with pale clean skin, brown hair hung down by his jaw and high cheekbones.  Although one was older and rougher looking than the other they both had other features that made them look really similar.  They each had harsh square jaws, a prominent nose and gangling long arms.  The younger one was more pleasing to look at than the older and I had to guess, with their similar features, that they were brothers.  But what drew my attention to them the most was the pile of guns and ammo stashed in a bag at the front of their tent.  I silently flew down to the branches of the nearest tree and signaled for the others to join me then pointed out the bag of weaponry.

“Who do you think they are?” I whispered.

“Well, one of ‘em looks like a soldier.” Rowanne whispered back pointing to the official looking dog tags around the older man’s neck.

“Yeah, but why would they be here?” Dulcie asked.

“Could be hunters.” Matilda offered.

“I don’t like it.” I whispered again.

“Neither do I.” Said Sam.  “No hunter would need that kind of artillery and as for the soldier theory I don’t think it fits.”

“Yeah, but the dog tags…” Dulcie pointed.

“I hear ya, babe, but it just doesn’t fit.”

“Aren’t there any official types or park rangers somewhere?” I asked.

“There should be someone.” Sam said gazing around the trees.  “If we could at least attract the attention of that group over there they might alert the authorities for us.”

“Hey, what does that say on the bag?” I asked pointing out the white print upon the black material.

“I think it’s a name.” said Dulcie.

“D. Kohler.” Matilda said.

“What?”

“Kohler.  D. Kohler.  It’s like the initial of the first name then the surname.”

“Kohler?  That’s not American, they must be foreign.”

“German, I’d dare say.” Sam noted.  “What should we do?”

“We can’t stay here forever, the spell will eventually wear off and then they’ll be able to see us.”

“Well, why don’t you send the bag of goodies to the other campers?” Rowanne suggested.

“She can’t.” Said Sam.  “The spell has only indirectly blinded them.  They will see us if we draw attention to ourselves.”

“What do you suggest we do then?” Rowanne said haughtily.

“Back to the skies.” I said pointing upwards before launching myself and Matilda from the tree we had perched in.

 

When Rowanne, Sam and Dulcie were back on their brooms they met me high in the sky where I informed them, “We can’t do anything tonight.  All we can do is watch them.  They may be passing through, possibly, hopefully.  We only act if we feel they are a threat to us.”

“We can work out a rota of shifts.” Sam suggested.  “We each take a night watching them.”

“That sounds good but no Witches under eighteen.” I said.

“Of course not.  Anything else?” he asked.

“No.  The night is almost over, so I guess I’d better take you guys home.”

Dulcie yawned.  “Yeah, I’m beat.”

“I think I might hit the hay as well.” Rowanne joined in.

 

My hair whipped back into Matilda’s face as I lunged forth on my broom.  She clutched onto my tank top for dear life as I led the way on the race back to the beach.  My landings had improved dramatically as I gracefully sidled off the broom when we landed.  As Riley, Nana, Dulcie, Brian and Matilda readied themselves to leave they started to say goodbye to Rowanne and the other party guests.  After I gave Rowanne one last hug goodbye I held my hands out to those I’d be teleporting home.  First stop was to Nana’s home where I left Nana, Brian, Dulcie and Matilda before teleporting out again after saying our sleepy goodbyes.  My next stop was to Christian’s old house in Emerald Court, I hadn’t been here since the night I was almost sacrificed to the first vampire Hugo Moon.  I wasn’t expecting to find Christian here after seeing him in Salem but I was curious to see if there was anything out of the ordinary in his house.  When I turned to see Riley gazing at me questioningly I explained.

“When you couldn’t find me earlier I was on the beach.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I went out to tell Rowanne to come inside and she said she needed her broom so I went to the shed to get it for her.  I was about to go into it when I saw a shadow on its side and when I found out who it belonged to I chased after him.”

“Christian?”

“No.  It was Rowanne’s father, Ulric.  He ran away and I kept calling out to him until I saw the clothes he’d been wearing piled in a heap on the sand.”

“Why would he strip?”

“To transform, I imagine.” Riley glanced at me nonplussed.  “Remember what I told you when I was in the hospital.  Rowanne’s dad, her uncle Ralph and her aunt Daryna are all werewolves.”

“Oh.  I guess he didn’t come back then?”  I shook my head.  “So why did you want to come here?”

“Before you called out for me I was about to return when I saw someone else further off in the distance.”

“Christian?”

“Yes.  He was just standing there barefoot in the sand, gazing at the moon.”

“What did he do?”

“He bowed then waved before walking off in the opposite direction.”

“You disappeared again, later.  Nobody noticed you go, only I did ‘because I saw you teleport once you were outside.”

“I went to see Leonard.” I said taking hold of Riley’s hand to teleport us back to our dorm.  “I know he’s been keeping tracks of him and I was curious as to why he’d be here.” I said falling down on my side of the bed.

“What did he make of it?” Riley asked as I pulled off my clothes.

“As far as he was concerned Christian had been where he was supposed to be all this time.  I asked him to see if he could find any reason as to why he’d be here.”

 

I was just about to pull on my night dress when a loud sharp keening noise penetrated the still night shortly followed by several yips and barks before falling into silence.

“What the hell - ?” I said in shock.

“Must be Ulric and his pack.” Riley explained.

“Damn mutts.” I heard Midnight say through the link.  “They make my skin crawl.”

“Is it really necessary to make that noise this late?” I grumbled.

“Is Ulric German?”

“Half German, half English.  Strange name, right?”

“Mm, it means ‘wolf ruler’.”

“Seriously?  He must be a pure born werewolf.”

“Yeah, his brother must be too.  What was his name again?”

“Ralph Howell.”

“Ralph, seriously?” He laughed a little.

“What’s so funny?”

“It means ‘wolf counsel’ or sometimes ‘red wolf’.  I guess they’re a proud wolf family.”

“Must be.”

“Okay, let’s get some sleep.  We’ve got a lot of homework in the morning.”

 

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