The Hangman's Noose

Billie Black and her friends are closer than ever before to rescuing their loved ones whom were stolen from them years ago. A journey around the country proves perilous when the coven and their allies come face to face with their greatest enemies.

A band of men hell bent on killing all that is unnatural to them - Witches, Vampires, Werewolves and many other Supernaturals flee from their path or die at their hands.

Billie can't rest till she knows her lost loves are safe but new knowledge shows they are defenseless. Learning all they can about these men they seek a weakness a chink in their chain of command and only one man may show them mercy in spite of his beliefs.

Now Billie must lead them all to safety or perish in the Hangman's Noose...

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10. Alliance

The living room had become a whole lot more crowded since I was last in it.  Brian, Dulcie and Matilda’s crew had returned from their grocery shopping trip and were all gathered in the lounge looking confused as they watched Lexi, surrounded by her and Lee’s belongings, tap away on Google maps.

“What’s going on?” asked Dulcie.

“Lexi is going home.  She has her own coven to care for.”

“But why is Lee leaving?  He’s part of our coven now.” Brian said angrily.

“Right now Lee needs to be with his grandmother.  So he knows she’s safe.”

“We should be sticking together.” Argued Rowanne.  “Strength in numbers, Bill.”

“Lexi has to lead her coven, Row.  They don’t belong here.  And Lee will finally be able to start a coven of his own.”

“Look, if you need us we’re only a phone call away.” Lexi said, passing me the laptop.  “This is just something we need to do.”

“She’s right.” Lee agreed.  “If you need us we’ll be there for you.”

“Why don’t you strike up an alliance then?” Riona suggested.

“An alliance?” I asked.  “What you mean like Sister covens?”

“No, a Sister coven is another group of Witches related to ours by the bonds of blood.  They are not related.  An alliance is bound by magic and an agreement.  An agreement to always be there to help the others out in times of need and to offer support when it is required.”

“I think that’s a good idea.” Lexi agreed.  “Lee?”

“Yeah, I’m all for an alliance.”

“Bill?” came a voice from the doorway.

 

I jumped as Riley, Willem and Leonard entered the room behind me.  Riley nodded in the direction of the hallway, beseeching me to follow him.

“What’s up?”

“You’ve got visitors.”

 

He pushed open the front door to allow entry to Marlowe, Alexa, AnnDee and Wynter Cain.  They looked like hell.  Little AnnDee, a girl famous for her loud smart mouth, was quiet and shaken looking, she and her siblings’ clothes were matted with dirt and blood.

“Can we talk in private?” Marlowe asked.

“Yes, of course.  Come through to the kitchen.”

 

Leading the way through the house, Riley bringing up the rear, the last of the Cain coven followed me through to the kitchen.  The four siblings sat down around the beech wood table in the pale cream chairs as Riley helped me brew up some tea.

“We only have chamomile, I hope that’s okay.”

“That’s fine.” They acquiesced.

 

Under the kitchen’s bright light Marlowe’s sharp features were thrown into fresh relief.  Her chiselled high cheek bones, prominent chin and highbrow were what made the coven leader always look so intimidating.  She narrowed her eyes at Riley as he lingered in the kitchen, choosing to stand behind me whilst I sat at the table with the Cain’s.

“I would prefer if we were alone.” Marlowe said hastily in her icily angered voice.

“Whatever you have to say to me you can say in front of Riley.”

“I don’t wish to cause anyone alarm.”

“I’m pretty sure if any of Billie’s relatives or friends seen you arrive they’d be pretty alarmed already.” Riley said, pointing out their bloody attire.

“True, very true.” Marlowe agreed.

“Marlowe, what has happened?” I ask.

“We are leaving New York.  Just a few miles from where we live, another coven has been slaughtered.”

“Who?”

“The Canedy’s.”

“Never heard of them.” I said truthfully.

Marlowe’s brows shot up in surprise.  “I find that hard to believe.  They’re coven was almost as large as your own.  They were some very good Witches.”

“I’m sure they were.  Why are you covered in blood, Marlowe?”

“We have been disposing of the Canedy’s.”

“You shouldn’t have.”

“They deserved a burial.  It was the least we could do.  They helped us out a lot after the loss of my father.”

“I think what Billie means is, that it might not have been such a good idea to take someone so young as AnnDee to the Canedy coven’s home.” Riley pointed out.

“She’s seventeen, she’s not that young.”

“She’s still pretty young and looks pretty shaken up.” I added.

“We’re at war, Miss Black.  Niceties go out the window during wars.”

“So you think it was them?  You think it was the Preachers?”

“I have no doubt in my mind that they are responsible.”

“They’re getting closer then.”

“That’s why I’ve come here.  To suggest that you leave too.  You can come with us, if you want.  We have a safe house in Idaho.”

“I appreciate the offer but we can’t leave just yet.  I agree we need to move but not for another day or two.  My aunt Sophia is still in a coma.  We will have to rely on magic to waken her now.  But I can’t move her until she is awake.”

“I understand.  Do you know where you will go when you leave here?”

“Yes, I think I know somewhere safe.  If it’s no good, we have friends in South Carolina that will take us in.”

“The Crosse coven?”

“Yes.”

“Send them my regards.”

“I will if we travel there.”

“What do you plan to do whilst you wait for Sophia?”

“Prepare for evacuation.  I’m just about to take Lee Rockwell and Lexi Woods to her home in Arizona.  She needs to get back to her own coven.” I said, for what felt like the millionth time.

“Rockwell?  I thought that coven was extinct?”

“Not quite.  Lee and his grandmother, Liv, are all that remain.”

“I’d like to meet him, if that’s okay.  His mother and I used to be friends before she passed.”

“Of course.  This way.” I got up from my chair and led the way back to the living room.

 

The loud banter in the living room died away as everyone caught a glimpse of the Cain coven as they entered.  Some of my family looked a cross between frightened and disgusted, others looked worried and Dulcie collapsed onto the couch as the toll of so many people’s emotions bounced around the cramped room caught up with the Empath.

“Lee, there’s someone here who’d like to meet you before you leave.”

“Me?” he asked, departing the throng by the fireplace.  “Why me?”

“I am Marlowe Cain, you’re mother and I were friends during college.”

“You knew my mother?”

“I did.  I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you.  Do you know my Gran?”

“No, but I have heard a lot about her.  She’s quite a gifted Witch.”

“Yeah, yeah she is.” Lee smiled fondly.

“Billie,” came Riona’s voice, “we’re all ready if you are.”

“I’ll be with you in a minute.”

“What are you doing?” asked Alexa.

“Lee, Lexi and I are about to make an Alliance.  Would you care to join us?” I asked Marlowe.

“It makes sense.” Alexa said to her sister.  “We have been helping each other a lot lately.”

“But we don’t know the others as well as Billie does.” Wynter pointed out.

“If they are anything like the Rockwell’s and Wood’s I know of, then, I think we can trust them.” Said Marlowe.  “What do you think, AnnDee?”

“I think an Alliance would be good.  Well, it certainly couldn’t hurt, could it?” she said, pointedly to her elder brother, Wynter.

“I agree.” Said Alexa.

“As long as you make that pact quickly.” Said Marlowe.  “The sooner we get out of New York, the sooner I’ll breathe easily.”

“Riona?  Do you want to tell us what to do?”

“Yes, of course.  Everyone, step back, make room for the coven leaders.”

 

We moved into the middle of the room besides Riona who was holding an old cloth she had removed from the secret room behind the fireplace.  It looked ancient and dusty as she beat it quickly as we gathered.

“Okay, whose the youngest here?”

“I am.” Said Lee.

“Okay, Lee, you put your hand out first, then Lexi, Billie and Marlowe on top.  Now repeat after me.  I Lee of the Rockwell coven…”

“I Lee of the Rockwell coven…” Said Lee.

“I Alexandra of the Woods coven…” Said Lexi.

“I Billie of the Black coven…”

“I Marlowe of the Cain coven…” finished Marlowe.

“Do solemnly swear to endeavour to support and offer help to the other members of this Alliance and their covens in times of need or crisis.  We will banish fear or pride and ask for help in return when needed.  We will keep this pact forever and never waver in our duties or responsibilities for one another.  But most of all, we will not forget the bonds of friendship that holds this pact in place.”

“But most of all, we will not forget the bonds of friendship that holds this pact in place.” We four chimed together in unison.”

“Now, one at a time, I want to you to turn your hand palm up and say a word that you can connect with this Alliance.  This word must describe what you think is the utmost important meaning of your bond.  Why don’t you start us off, Marlowe?”

“Commitment.” She said, turning her palm over.

“Trust.” Said Lee.

“Loyalty.” Said Lexi.

“Friendship.” I finished, turning my palm over as well.

 

Riona stepped forward and draped the ancient cloth over our upturned palms and turned it over twice before tying it in a bow beneath Lee’s hand.

“This cloth was used to wrap the first born Witch of this generation” Riona said, nodding at me, “when she was born.  May her wealth and good will follow you as you depart.  May her strength and strong heart stay with you no matter how far you travel.  May her sense of home go with you so that you might find your way back to us some day.  Blessed be.”

“Blessed be.” We chimed.

“Now remove your hands from the cloth and Billie will put it somewhere she deigns is safe.  As long as it remains hidden and the bow on the cloth is not disturbed, the bonds of the Alliance will remain strong.”

“Well, I suppose we best get going.” Marlowe said as we shook hands.  “Good luck.”

“You too.”

“Good luck to you as well.” Marlowe shook hands with Lee and Lexi.

“I hope you get out of here safely.” Said Lexi.

“Thank you.  If you ever need us…”

“We’ll be in touch.” Said Lee.

 

After shaking hands with most of my friends and relatives as well, the Cain’s took their leave and promised they’d let us know that they’d arrived at their safe house when they did.  Lexi gave me back the laptop to study the location of her home before I teleported them to Arizona.  When I knew where to go we all gathered in front of the fireplace so everyone could bid them good bye as the twins approached me.

“Bill, we haven’t found a spell to wake Mom.” Said Vincent.

“But we think we’ve found a potion in the Black Craft that might work.”

“Excellent, why don’t you get started whilst I take Lee and Lexi to Arizona?  There’s plenty of ingredients in the secret room and I’m sure Rowanne will help you if you need it.”

“We’re ready.” Lexi said, picking up her backpack once again.

“They know you’re coming, right?” I asked, as Lee slung his bag over his shoulder also.

“Yes they’re expecting us.”

“Okay, then.  See you guys in a minute.” I called to the room.

 

Taking their hands in mine, I glanced at the computer screen once more and focused on Lexi’s home and blinked.  I knew I was successful even before I’d opened my eyes.  The humid air of Arizona warmed my skin as the others let go of my hands.

 

We landed on her front porch, right in front of the door.  A commotion from the side of the house made us all jump and we edged closer to get a look at what was happening.  Lexi’s family were packing a van and a couple of cars with luggage and their belongings.

“Dad?” Lexi called, leaping the porch railings.  “What’s going on?”

“Lexi?  Sweetie, we have to go.  There’s been more attacks.”

“Is my gran here?” Lee asked, hopping the railing after Lexi.

“She’s in my brother’s car at the back.  Oh, you must be Billie Black.” Lexi’s Dad said, looking stunned as I leapt over the railing too.  “Thank you for bringing my daughter back.”

 

Mr Woods looks younger than I’d thought he’d be.  He’s tall and lean like his daughter but has short straw blonde hair and pale blue eyes unlike Lexi who has long dark hair and green eyes.

“It’s no problem.”

“Liv has told us all about you.”

“Has she now?” I said, screwing my eyes up at the car furthest away from me.  “She really shouldn’t have done that.”

“She hasn’t gone into too much detail, don’t worry.  But we think we know what she has seen.”

“I’ll be fine, Mr Woods.  Just worry about your own coven, okay?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.”

“It’s fine.”

“Bill, what’s he talking about?” Lexi asked, alarm and worry rang clear in her voice.

“I’ll be fine.” I promised.

“What did Liv see?”

“I really have to go.” I said, stepping out of my friends’ reach.  “I hope you get out of here safely.  Good bye.”

“Billie!”

 

Blinking, I just managed to get out before Lexi could stop me from leaving.  I found myself in my bedroom with Nana and Faith still watching over Sophia, neither of them had seen the Alliance being made.

“Did everything go okay in Arizona?” Nana asked.

“Yes, they’re leaving actually.  Apparently there have been more attacks on covens nearby them.”

“They’re numbers must be growing.” Nana shook her head sadly.

“So are ours.” Rowanne said, making us all jump as she appeared in the doorway.  “My Dad thinks the pack will be here tomorrow.”

“That’s good.  How are the twins doing with that potion?”

“Just started.  Come on, they’re in the attic.”

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