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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3. Wet Witch

At eight we were mostly up, getting ready to celebrate Ruby’s birthday but she was so nervous she pretended to be asleep till eleven.  When she knew we wouldn’t buy the fake snores much longer she showered, dressed and had a late breakfast at twelve.

 

We were all gathered in the kitchen when she finally came down while Rowanne and Matilda snored head-to-head at the table.  There wasn’t enough room to swing a cat let alone my lunching coven.  When Ruby approached me I was standing with Riley to my right and Brian to my left while I gripped on to the last cup of coffee like it was my life line.

“So when do we go see… him?” she asked.

“Leonard and Faith are already on their way over to bring him back.  They shouldn’t be too long.” I answered tapping my nails against the mug.

“What are you gonna do once you get him here?”

“Question him again.”

“But what if he still doesn’t talk?  Are you going to keep him hostage until he does?”

“No, we’ll find some way to make him talk.  I’ll have Rowanne with me to try to coerce it out of him with her powers.”

“Then what will you do?  Hand him over to the cops?”

“I don’t plan on doing anything with him Ruby.  I’m just trusting my gut instincts and my gut is telling me to talk to him again.  Whether he talks or not I will continue to follow my instincts.” I said a little coldly.

 

The sound of the door opening and hushed voices coming from the hall made me charge through the crowded kitchen into the hall where I found Leonard and Faith dragging Dexter in with bound hands and masked eyes.

“Where do you want him?” Faith asked.

“In the room behind the fireplace.” I said pointing in the direction of the secret room.

As Brian entered the dining area he grabbed a straight backed wooden chair and handed it to Leonard before he entered the room.

“Why do you want him in here, Bill?” Brain asked.

“Keep your ears open you’ll find out soon enough.” he was about to turn away from me when I caught him by the arm.  “Do me a favor?”

“Sure, name it.” he said instantly.

“Keep Ruby out here.  I don’t want her getting upset, you understand?”

“I do.  You can count on me.”

“Thanks.”

 

Faith pushed the chair to the back wall where the brass podium and Black Craft once stood before shoving Dexter onto it.  They stood back and made room for Rowanne and I to get closer to talk to him.  With a flick of my fingers the fabric covering Dexters’ eyes twitched and then fell into his lap.  He’d washed since the last time I’d seen him but he was still wearing the same clothes… and they were reeking.  His sandy hair was a mess and more greys were seeping through, the bags under his eyes were larger and his skin was much paler.

“Do you know where you are?” I asked him.

“No.” he croaked.

“Do you know why you’re here, Dexter?”

“Yes.”

“We want answers.”

“Yes.” he said again.

“Where are they?”

“No.” he answered.

“No?  What do you mean ‘no’?” I asked calmly.

“No, I won’t give you those answers.”

“Why not?”

“Because they are safe where they are.”

“No, Dexter, you’re wrong.  They’ll find them and then they’ll kill them.  Do you understand?”

“They won’t find them.  I hid them well.”

“I know you’ve done the same to them as you did to Ruby.” he looked horrified at my knowledge.  “When she was still sleeping I held her hand and I asked her to show me them.  I saw them sleeping in hospital gowns in a hospital bed.”

“Not possible.” he shook his head, mumbling to himself.

“Possibilities are limitless with magic.” he continued to shake his head.  “Do you know what day it is, Dexter?”

“What?” he sighed.

“November 1st 2010.” he gasped.  “Do you know what that means?”

“It’s Ruby’s birthday.” a lingering smile appeared on his lined face.

“Which one, Dexter?”

The smile vanished.  “Eighteen.”

“And what happens today on her eighteenth birthday, Dexter?”

“Her powers.” he croaked again.

“That’s right.  She’ll get her powers today.”

“But not Vincent.  He’s still safe, you can’t get to him… still safe.” he mumbled like a crazy person.

 

I felt a jolt of shock shoot through me.  How could I forget?  It was his birthday, too, after all they were twins.

“It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t get his powers today.  He can still get them later.”

“No.” he said desperately.

“Yes, the legend goes that you have to be eighteen to come into your powers.  There is no time limit on when you can get them.  I’ve done it recently with someone else who was from another coven.  If I can do it for him, I can do it for Vincent too.”

“No!” he moaned.

“Tell us where he is.”

“Never.” Dexter said venomously.

“How do you think Sophia would feel if she knew you were holding her son from coming into his powers?  Holding him from his family?”

“I am his family.” he said weakly.

“Do you really believe Vincent would see it that way?”

Dexter didn’t meet my eyes again.

“Just tell us where they are and this will all be over.”

“Never.” he whispered.

 

I turned to Rowanne.  “Help me.” she nodded in agreement.

Taking hold of Dexter’s hand he shook her off so instead she took hold of his knee.

“Dexter, they’re not safe.  You must tell us where Sophia and Vincent are.”

The dream like gaze started to come over his eyes which happened with most people when Rowanne attempted to influence them with her power.

He snapped his eyes shut tight.  “Mustn’t…” he mumbled.

“You know I don’t need to look into your eyes to make you talk.  My power works differently than you think, it’s easier when looking through the eyes but the other way isn’t impossible.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Listen to me, Dexter.” she whispered in his ear still holding onto him.  “Your old friends are very good at tracking down witches and leaving no trails behind them after they’ve done what they go out to do.”

“Then let me ask you something.  If you’re so sure that they can find them… why are you still holding me captive?” Rowanne looked up at me surprised.  “Because I’m the only person who knows where they are, I’m the only person who can protect them right now.  If you want them safe, then you should let me go so I can protect them.”

“How many of them are there, Dexter?”

“Lots.  But there are four ring leaders.” he answered, the dream like trance finally taking over him as Rowanne broke through.

“Who are they?” she asked.

“Zach Spangler, Dennis Dinsmore, Quinn De Witt and Alphaeus Stone.”

“Why did they start this?  Why do they kill witches?” Rowanne asked.

“Alphaeus started it.  He discovered his wife was one and he thought her evil so he killed her.  But his daughter, Maxine, saw him.  After she ran away he found out from others that she wasn’t normal either.”

“Was she a witch?” I asked.

“No, something else.”

“A Pagan?” Dulcie asked from the doorway.

“No.  She had a power but she wasn’t a Witch or a Pagan.”

“What kind of power?”

“She could read minds.  Listen to peoples’ thoughts.”

“A Telepath.” Dulcie spoke again, reverently.

“Yes.” he confirmed.  “He’s been trying to find her ever since, he almost caught her a couple years back in Nevada.  Don’t know where but she’d already moved on by the time he got there.”

“Did they ever catch her?” Leonard asked.

“No.”

“So it was because of his wife that he started hunting down Witches?” I asked.

“No, when he was in Nevada he discovered a small coven that had been protecting Maxine.  Using their magic to keep her hidden from her father.  He was enraged.  After killing that small coven he went on from there.  He said he’d only hurt those who hid her from him but it spiraled out of control and now he just kills all witches and anything magically or mythically created.”

“None of this sounds like some kind of religious cult like we’ve all been lead to believe, so why do they call themselves the Preachers?” Rowanne asked.

“Because other Witches started to hunt them down and the so called Preachers would do anything to throw you all of their scent.”

“How wonderful!” I say sarcastically.

“Other than the Pagans and those like Maxine, what else does he know of?”

“Werewolves.”  Rowanne gasped.  “He likes to collect their teeth.”

“Why?” she asked.

“He thinks the teeth have the power to kill the Vampires.  He doesn’t know it’s their saliva that is fatal to them.”  The Smiths all exchange nervous glances.

“You certainly know a great deal more than we originally thought.” I admit.

“I was in their company for a while.  I learned a lot.” he scoffed.

“Where do they live?” Rowanne asks.

“England.  I don’t know where, I never asked.”

“They’re British?” she asked.

“Mostly.”

“Is this Alpheus Stone English?”

“Yes.”

“What else can you tell us about them?” I ask.

“They are mostly made up of older men except for Quinn.  He’s not even thirty yet.  None of the others trust him much because they think he’s turning soft.”

“Soft?”

“They think he’s becoming a witch sympathizer.” Dexter rushed.

“But the others aren’t so tell me where Sophia and Vincent are.”

“Never.” he whispered.

I sigh.  “Guys, let’s take a breather.” I said leading them all back into the living room.

“Shouldn’t one of us stay in there with him?” Leonard asked.

“It’s not like he can escape, Leonard.”

“True.”

“So what now?  He’s not going to tell you where Vincent and Sophia are.” Riley said.

“No, he really isn’t.”  I paced about the room as the others watched me, willing me to talk.  “All right, we’re going to have to let him go.”

“What!?” Riona shouted.

“He’s the only one who knows their location; he’s the only one who can protect them for now.” I explained.

“You can’t just let him walk out…” she blurted.

“No, I’m not just going to let him walk out of here and out of our lives.  So, I’m going to need a volunteer.  I need someone to follow him.”

Riona saw my logic and nodded in agreement.

“I would like to volunteer my help.” Torsten said raising a hand when no one else would.

“Are you sure?” I asked uncertain.

“Yes, if this helps to find your cousin and aunt then I would like to help.”

“It could be dangerous.  What if he runs into the Preachers?” Matilda said desperately.

“It is a possibility, Torsten.” Riona said on a more serious note.

“Well, I won’t have to worry because I am not a witch, I am not a mythical creature and I have no powers.  I am just a plain old human.”

“Guilty by association.” Leonard blurted suddenly.  “If they can find a reason for killing you then they will.  Yours will be guilty by association.”

“I have to agree.” Nana added.  “They’ll be merciless if they discover you.”

“I’m very good at staying hidden.” he promised Nana.

“Are you sure you’re up for this?” I asked him.

“Absolutely.  I only wish to help.”

“Thank you, you’re very brave.” I said gratefully.  “Rowanne, do you think you can wipe Dexter’s memory?  Just enough to make him forget about seeing Torsten with us?  He’ll have to stay quite close to Dexter to keep a constant eye on him.  Do you think you can do that?”

“I don’t see why not.” Rowanne answered.

“Then Torsten should come with me.  He’ll need some money in case there’s a lot of travelling involved.” Leonard said leading Torsten out of the room.  “Come on; let’s get your bags packed first.”

“I appreciate this, Mr Smith.”

“Not at all.” I heard Leonard say before they got to the top of the stairs.

 

Rowanne headed back through to where Dexter remained bound to his chair she placed her hand on his knee once more and took a fistful of his hair in the other hand to force him to meet her eyes.

“We’re going to let you go.  You’ll check to make sure that both Sophia and Vincent are safe as soon as you leave.  You’ll check in with them personally.”

“You’re going to let me go?” he asked disbelievingly.

“Yes.  You’ll also forget about Torsten, the young German man whom is our friend.”

“Who?” he asked.

“Good.” She smiled, pleased with herself.  “Don’t try to speak to Ruby, just leave her alone.”

“If you see the Preachers or hear of them near Sophia, Vincent or ourselves you will call us.” I added.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because we can protect them better than you.”

 

It didn’t take much convincing after that.  Leonard and Torsten had already made their way over to Declan Street to make sure Torsten had plenty of money for travel, sine we didn’t know how far he’d be travelling or how long for, before Leonard drove him over to the bus stop.  Once Dexter was cleaned up and his belongings returned to him, Rowanne, Ruby, Dulcie and I drove him over to the same bus stop.

“Ruby…” Dexter started to say.  “I only did it to protect you.”

 

Ruby wasn’t listening.  Ignoring his pleas she storms back to the car and slams the door behind her after climbing back inside my old VW Beetle.  Dexter didn’t even pay Torsten any attention as he turned up at the other end of the shelter so suddenly.  Leonard sauntered past, nodding at me to let me know all was well, before taking off with, gracefully, abrupt speed.

“Remember,” I started to warn Dexter as a bus to Manhattan drew close, “go straight to Vincent and Sophia.  Check on one and then the other, in person.”

He nodded weakly before climbing onto the bus behind Torsten.

“Are you sure about this?” Rowanne asked uncertainly.

“I told Ruby I’m going with my gut, so I intend to follow through with that.”

“Well, what do we do now?” Dulcie asked.

“We wait and prepare ourselves.”

“Prepare ourselves for what?”

“War.”

 

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