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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11. Well Rested

In the attic, the twins are pouring over the bubbling cauldron, dropping in the ingredients as required.  Vincent stood at the ready with a large wooden spoon whilst Ruby read out the instructions from the Black Craft.

“Okay, now stir that five times clockwise and once counter-clockwise.”

“Then what?” asked Vincent.

“We each add a drop of blood, stir it five times clockwise and counter-clockwise then the potion should be ready after it has turned a pale pink.”

“How are you getting on?” I ask as Vincent sets about stirring the brewing potion.

“We’re almost finished.” Ruby smiled.

 

Rowanne pulled out a couple of vials from the small closet and passed them to Ruby as she produced an Athame and speared her index finger before passing the knife to her brother and holding her bleeding finger over the cauldron’s rim.  As they healed each other with the silver side of the blade I completed the finishing step for them.

“There, now it’s pale pink.  Scoop some into the vials and let’s go wake your Mom.”

“You did good guys.” Rowanne smiled proudly.

 

Once the vials were filled with the potion the twins bolted from the room leaving Rowanne and I to trail down behind them.  When we reached my room, most of our family and friends had gathered round Sophia’s bed as Ruby and Vincent lifted her into a sitting position.

“What now, Billie?” Vincent asked.

“Open her mouth and pour it in.” I laughed.

 

We all watched with bated breath as Ruby poured one full vial into her mother’s mouth whilst Vincent stroked at Sophia’s throat, coaxing and guiding her to swallow without choking on it.

 

As if she was merely waking from a deep sleep, Sophia raised her arm and rubbed at her eyes before opening them.  She blinked in surprise at the gathering at the foot of her bed and her eyes widened in alarm at so many unfamiliar faces.  That’s when she started to scream.

 

We looked around to see if something unpleasant had crept in behind us but there was no one there.  Sophia just kept screaming even though her children tried to calm her.  It wasn’t until Nana sped past us all and clamped a hand over her long lost daughters mouth did Sophia finally stop screaming.

“I understand you’re upset, dear, but there’s no need to be afraid.  No one here will harm you.”

“H-he betrayed m-me.” Sophia stammered in a querulous voice.  “Dex!”

“We know, Sophia.  It’s okay.  You’re home and you’re safe.  We’re not going to let him harm you anymore.”

“Kids!” she cried, and the twins bolted to her mothers’ side.  “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry if I scared you.”

“We love you, Mom.” Ruby cried.

“We’re all together, everything’s fine.” Said Vincent.

Sophia gasped and turned to Nana, “Riona?”

“She’s right here.” Nana said, as Riona stepped forward.

“Brendan?”

 

Brian and I stepped forward as one, with his arm around me, whilst our aunt still searched the faces of those behind us for her little brother.

“We lost Dad in a car crash, Sophia.  The same one that almost killed Ruby.”

“Oh, yes, now I remember.” She said, her face falling.  “Ruby, you were in a coma.”

“No, Mom, I never was really.  Billie and her friends, they saved me.  They found out what Dad did.  He’d been paying a doctor to keep me asleep.  To make it look as if I was in a coma.”

“He did the same to me and you.” Vincent said to his mother.  “He couldn’t kill us.”

“But he couldn’t let us live either.”

“That monster!  That bastard!” Sophia moaned.  “He must be punished.”

“I concur.” Leonard growled from the back of the room.

“Mom, who are these people?  What are they doing here?” Sophia whispered.

“They’re our friends, Sophia.  They helped us find you and Vincent.”

“Oh, thank you.” She said, a tear pooling at the corner of her eye.

“How do you feel, Sophia?  Are you hungry?” Riona asked, sitting by her sister’s side.

“I’m a bit thirsty actually.”

“I’ll go get her some food.” Willem said leaving the room.

“Is there anything else you need, Mom?  Anything we can get you?” Ruby asked.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind a bath.” Sophia laughed nervously.

“Why don’t we give her some privacy, guys?  I’m sure she’ll want to get caught up with the twins.” I said ushering everyone out the room.  “If you need us, we’re right downstairs.”

“Thanks, Bill.” The twins chimed.

“Get her up to speed, okay?  Now she’s awake, we don’t have much time left to waste.”

“We’ll tell her.”

 

 

 

For the remainder of the afternoon, the twins worked to help their Mom walk again and after lying in a bed for a couple of years, her legs have lost some of the muscles she used to have leaving her legs feeling weak.

“Don’t worry, it was like this for us at first, too.” Ruby kept reminding Sophia.

 

Finally I got my room back that night and was grateful to find it free of campers except one.  Riley.  He sat, shirtless, with Midnight purring away contently in his lap until I entered.  As I crossed the distance between us, the black cat got up from Riley’s lap, leaping lithely and marched over to the window ledge once more.

“Well, Mr Smith,” I laughed, “you look like you’ve been up to no good.”

“Do I?”

“I’ve been sharing this room with half of our guests and now its camper free.  What have you been up to?”

“I may have pulled some strings, asked some favours.  I figured you could use a camper/snore/head gear free night in your room before we head for the hills.”

“We’re not heading for the hills, Riley.  We’ll be back, one day.”

“I know, but, you do deserve to have your room all by yourself for at least one more night.”

“All by myself?” I asked, batting my lashes at him.

“Okay, not quite all by yourself.”

“Unless I decide to kick you out.”

“Will you?” he asked, unsure.

“No of course not.”

“So, when are you planning to leave?”

“Tomorrow night, I think.” I said whilst climbing into bed.

“What about Sophia?”

“She’s awake.  As long as Ruby and Vincent keep helping her walk, I think she’ll be back on her feet in no time.”

“Will you wait for the wolves to get here?”

“Yes, we’ll need them.  Strength in numbers, Riley.”

“Agreed.  Do you know where we’re going yet?”

“I’ll need to ask Nana.  I’ve seen this place in my head a few times, but I can’t remember where it is.”

“In your head?” he asked confused.

“When I was close to dying after Deseree’s attack I saw this place.  I’ve also seen it in a couple of dreams as well.  It’s this field of tall golden grass with a tiny abandoned cottage right in the middle.  The grass is tall enough to hide some tents.”

“Are you sure it’s not just something your imagination cooked up, Bill?”

“No, I’m sure it’s real.  I’d bet Nana knows where it is.”

“What if it isn’t real though?  Where will we go then?”

“I’ll talk to Torsten.  I’m sure he’ll think of somewhere.  He’s camped in most of the forests along the east coast.”

“Good idea.  Now, let’s get some sleep.” He said, turning off the bed side light.

Kissing him in the darkness I giggled and said, “This is the first time I’ve had you alone in my room since… ever.  We can sleep later.”

 

 

In the morning, Ruby, Vincent, Nana and Riona took Sophia out to help her get used to walking again so they walked to her little house down on Ivy Row whilst the rest of us prepared to leave later that night.  Brian, Rowanne, Dulcie, Matilda and Torsten all went out to buy in the camping gear whilst Leonard, Riley and I went about letting nearby covens know that we were leaving New York.

 

It was really only out of courtesy that we did this although most of the covens had already left town without mention.  Or at least, we hoped they had left town.  The abandoned homes show no sign of struggle or a fight.

 

Faith and Willem were left to warn everyone else.  Vampires, Werewolves, Empaths, Telepaths; anyone who belonged to the supernatural community really.  But there was a surprisingly short number left in New York.

 

When Rowanne and the others returned from the shops we started loading up the cars and trucks that had gathered along my street for our departure.  Once we’d packed up our belongings and added the luggage to the car, Brian went to buy food for our travels with Dulcie and Faith and to collect Dulcie’s aunt Laura whilst Rowanne, Torsten, Riley, Nana, Leonard and I planned what to do next.

“Have you given any thought where we should go when we leave?” Nana asked.

“I wanted to ask you about that, actually.  There’s this field that I’ve seen.”

“A field?” Leonard asks dubiously.

“I saw it when I almost died from Desiree’s attack.  It’s a field of tall grass with a cottage, an abandoned cottage, right in the middle of it.”

“Just a second.” Nana said, rising from her chair at the dinner table.

 

We watched as she disappeared into the secret room before returning with a dusty old book.  She placed it down in front of us and started skimming through the pages.  It looked like an old art book with lots of painting and sketches filling the pages.

“Is this what you saw?” she asked, pushing it closer to me.

 

An oil painting of a large field, empty except for tall golden grass with that tiny stone cottage in the midst of all the grass with a low stone wall all around it and very short gate.

“That’s it. Where is it?”

“It doesn’t exist.  Well, not any more it doesn’t.”

“What?  Why?”

“It’s an ancient old field.  The land belonged to the first Black family to come to Salem.  The first Witch of our lineage was born here.”

“Emma Black?” asks Leonard.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Well, why have I been seeing it?”

“I have no idea, dear.  May be your subconscious is trying to tell you something?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.  I’m sure you’ll figure it out soon.”

“Torsten, do you know of any good forests where we could camp?  Somewhere far away from New York?”

“Well, I don’t know about camping…” the young German began.

“It’s all right if there are laws against camping in some forests, Torsten.  We can put up wards to keep people away or to make us invisible.” Nana assured him.  “So don’t worry about breaking any laws.”

“Okay,” he laughed nervously, “there’s this really great forest in Virginia.  It’s called Bourassa.  Bourassa State Forest.”

“Virginia far enough away for you?” Leonard asks.

“Yeah, Virginia will be great.  So Bourassa… does someone want to get the maps out and start plotting a route?”

“What else needs done?” Leonard asks as Torsten and Rowanne leave to get the maps.

“Oh, well, we’ve still to pack up the secret room and seal it.  What about your school?  Will you need to fix anything there?”

“Don’t worry about that, it’s taken care of.”

“We should go feed again before we go out.” Riley added.  “It wouldn’t do if we’re on the road for so long to have a sudden snack attack.”

Leonard’s brows raised in surprise.  “Well, when Faith returns from the shops we can go out.”

“We’ll do it two at a time so they’re not alone.”

“Riley, we’ll be fine, honestly.  Rowanne’s pack will be here soon as well.”

Ignoring us, Leonard carried on, “Why don’t you and Willem go out now and I’ll go with Faith when she gets back.”

 

 

The day sped by too quickly for my liking.  The closer it came to the time we left, the less I wanted to go.  After helping Nana pack up the secret room and seal it shut, I gathered up the last of my things – The Black Craft and Midnight shut away in his box – I loaded them into the back of my little Beetle.  My Dad’s old car.  Midnight yowled loudly and complained all the while till I locked him inside.

 

Back inside the house, all my friends and family were gathered once more.  Nana looked out of sorts where she sat, not in her usual armchair by the fireplace but in the little squat chair that my Pops once used.  She sniffed loudly blowing her nose on one of his old handkerchiefs.  Suddenly I found myself with a lump in my throat.  This was going to be harder than I thought.

“Hey, are you okay?” Dulcie asked, putting her arms around me.

“No, this is tough.  This is harder than I thought.”

“We have to go, Bill.” Matilda said, putting her arms around me as well.  “It’s not safe anymore.”

“I know.  Nana?  Are you all right?”

“Oh, I’m just being silly.” She sobbed.  “I’m going to miss this place.  In forty years I’ve never been anywhere but here.  I only ever wanted to be wherever your grandfather went.  I think he’s still here don’t you?  And your father and mother too.”

“We’ll be back.”

“I know, I know.  It’s just… saying goodbye to this place is hard.”

“We were supposed to have a celebration when the twins and Sophia were finally awake.  When we were finally reunited with our loved ones.” I started, talking to the room at large.  “But it seems we’ve run out of time.  As soon as the pack arrives, we’ll be gone.  A day will come soon, however, when we’ll finally have no choice but come face to face with our enemies.  Not matter where we go, they won’t be far behind.  Its official, we’re at war.  I’m not going to ask you to lay down your lives, I wouldn’t do that.  So now I’ll give you a choice, go your own way and hide or come with me and live.  That’s what I intend to do.  Whether in forest or field, homeless or sheltered, I intend to go on until they catch up and then I will fight.  I will fight and I won’t stop till…”

“Does anyone smell smoke?” Ruby blurted.

 

What happened next took us all by surprise.  The room erupted into flames and there were screams as we were all sent flying.  Before my head collided with the dining room table, leading me to get knocked out I saw one face that chilled me to the bone.  One face that was smiling, a long toothy smile.  The face of Christian Hart.

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