Season of The Witch -
Part Twenty Two
Author's Note: Look I'm being rather productive as of late. Sadly there's only three more chapters to go after this one but I don't think people will be disappointed. I'm hoping this chapter will help save Mary in the eyes of all her Haters. Oh and apparently, I'm burning through my cliffhangers left and right so I'm going to have to order some more :) I'd like to thank djkauf and Indy for the magical editing and everyone for enjoying this universe :)
“What the hell was that?”
I was a bit surprised at how calm Mary sounded when she said that. I also didn’t need for her to confirm what I was pretty certain I already knew. I was a little surprised that she knew the answer so easily though. I clicked on the light quickly and shined it in her face, seeing first a look of disgust and then annoyance.
“What” she said with a sigh. “Ok so this isn’t the first time I’ve heard a gun go off.”
Why didn’t that surprise me?
I opened my mouth to ask her how exactly but I didn’t get a chance. More shots sounded. It’s kind of strange really. I’m a kid who pretty much grew up watching action movies. In those movies, there were gunfights and explosions every ten minutes or so it seemed. I thought I’d be one of those people who kept a cool and calm head in a situation like that. After all, it never seemed to bother me when it was in the movie. Sadly, real life is nothing like the movies and hearing the deafening sounds of gunfire coming from your own front yard was not something anyone could possibly be Ok with.
I found myself shutting my eyes with each sound and squeezing Mary’s hand as tight as I could. Hey if they made me a girl, so what.
Mary uncharacteristically held me, letting me bury my head in her chest.
The shots kept going. First, it was in small bursts then they got louder. Just when I thought they weren’t going to end they suddenly stopped. The silence that followed was the scariest thing in the world. I waited a whole minute before letting go of Mary’s hand and another minute before I opened my eyes. I raised the flashlight, letting the beam fall on the door but Mary pushed my hand down. She also slowly slid away from me, motioning me to stay put. Why she got to move was anyone’s guess. She slowly slid across the floor though, inching her way toward the door. I kept my light on the back of her head the whole time.
When she was no more than halfway across the room, we heard the sound of a scuffle. It was followed a second or two later by the sound of running feet. Those feet were on the stairs a moment later, pounding rapidly up them. There was definitely more than one person. Mary stopped moving. When she turned to look at me, there was a look of fear on her face. It only lasted for a moment but it was enough to tell me that even though she was trying to act tough, she was about to piss herself too. I motioned her over to me but she shook her head.
“You out of your mind?” I whispered as low as I could but loud enough for her to hear.
“They come through that door and we’re done.”
Neither of us wanted to confirm who they might be. After hearing those shots though I think I had a pretty good idea who. I knew the Black Cross were desperate, I just never thought they’d pull anything as crazy as this. They actually went out of their way to invade Ravencrest and for what: me. I didn’t even know what these people were after but it was clear that whatever it was it was important enough for them to pull a stunt like this. It made no sense though. First, it was those two guys, pretty low key as far as I could tell, so why did they escalate. Was it because those two morons failed or was this their plan all along? The only thing that was clear was that they weren’t afraid to use force to get whatever it is they wanted.
I panicked. “We can go out the window. We can still….”
Mary shook her head. “Way beyond that point now.”
I didn’t want to admit it but she was definitely right. The best thing we could do was probably sit in this room and hope whoever it was didn’t think to check up here.
Mary had other plans though. She slowly got to her feet and moved toward the door.
“You’re not going out there are you?” I whined.
Yes, I whined. I was scared half to death thank you very much. She turned to me and sighed softly. “Did you ever have a pair?”
She turned back around and reached for the door. Whatever pair I did or didn’t have seemed to kick in at that moment. I jumped to my feet and rushed to her. I didn’t get there in time though because she opened the door. I’m not sure who was more surprised: Mary or the guy standing in the hall. He must have been the one we heard running up the stairs a few seconds ago. In all likelihood, he probably would have passed by this room, at least on his first sweep. I was hoping to be in the closet or out the window by the time he came around again. Mary completely blew that plan.
The two of them stared at one another for what felt like an eternity though was probably only a few split seconds.
He recovered first. He was twice the size of Mary so it was no shock that he was faster. When he grabbed her, I had to force myself not to scream. He spun her around in his arms so quickly. His arms were thick with muscle; one went around Mary’s waist and the other around her throat. It happened so fast. The look of shock on Mary’s face probably mirrored the look of horror on my own.
“You, c’mere” he barked, moving his hand from Mary’s waist to beckon me over.
I was too scared to move.
Mary was like a pro.
The guy never saw it coming. Hell, I never saw it coming.
Mary slammed her heel into the top of the bastard’s foot. He had a second or two to holler in pain but was silenced quickly when she slammed the back of her head into his face. He staggered backwards, letting her go. Mary spun quickly, slamming the base of her palm into his chest. The goon was back in the hall but only for a moment. Mary grabbed the front of his shirt, pulled him into the room and straight into her knee. It was so quick and so fluid that if I blinked I would have missed the whole thing. As it was, I stood fish eyed as she dragged her unconscious assailant into the room. She deposited him by my bed.
“How in the hell…?”
She looked a bit sheepish. “My best friend is a werewolf.”
Like that was supposed to explain everything.
“Did Tracy suddenly become a ninja without me knowing?”
Mary rolled her eyes. “She made me take some self defense classes at the Harper Dojo, lucky I did, huh?”
She left it at that.
I wasn’t ready to let it go but didn’t really have the time to argue. A moment later, there was more running and two more bastards appeared. Thankfully, I had the light off because both of them stopped to stare into the room.
“Krueger” one of them snapped in a hiss. “Krueger you in there?”
“No one’s in there” snapped the other, pushing his companion further down the hall.
As soon as the two were gone, I let out the breath I was holding. I turned to Mary, realizing the small window we now had. “C’mon, let’s get the hell out of here.”
“In a sec” she said, bending down over Krueger.
I took a chance and turned on the light. Mary was rifling through the guy’s coat. Her search looked futile until she pulled out a wallet. She flipped it open. She pocketed his cash and took his ID. I’m not sure what the point to it all was but Mary seemed satisfied as she discarded the wallet. After tossing his wallet, she grabbed his wrist and pulled off his watch.
“Ok, now we can go?”
“You wanted to rob him?”
Mary groaned. “Did Melissa teach you anything?”
I didn’t know what to say to that. I wanted to tell her off but now was not the time to argue.
Mary waved the watch in my face. “We can use this to find out who he is, where he came from. Possibly even if he’s working with others.”
I wasn’t about to argue with that.
“Stay behind me” said Mary, taking charge.
She poked her head out into the hall, probably to see if everything was safe. Then she stepped out, ushering me to follow. As soon as I stepped out into the hall, I stupidly used the beam of my light to guide me. I swung it in a quick arc, cursing when I realized what I did. I clicked it off but it was already too late.
“Hey” shouted one of the voices from down the hall.
“Idiot” Mary hissed.
She gave me a shove, spinning toward the two men that were now coming toward us. One of them had a gun pulled.
“Move and I’ll shoot.”
The other knocked the gun down. “The boss wants them alive.”
“Both of them?”
“Bring the girl, remember?”
The gunner sighed and nodded. He quickly holstered his gun. Mary snapped into action at that moment. I’m not sure what kind of spell she used but it was fast. A quick rush of white light shot from her fingers. It hit the first guy just as he was putting away his gun. The light engulfed his entire body. It didn’t disappear though; instead, it seemed to cling to him like a transparent blanket. The guy was still conscious because his eyes were moving but it was like his whole body was frozen in place. Mary had a satisfied smirk. She turned to the other guy to do the same but he was faster. I’m not sure how he dodged her spell but when he did, it surprised her. Mary might be fast but that’s nothing when a two hundred pound man came charging at you.
When he reached Mary, his arm swing connected with the side of her head. The blow sent her sprawling against the wall. It wasn’t life threatening but I heard a snap as she went down.
He was on me before I could react.
The weight of his body slammed into mine dropped me to the ground immediately. The light flew from my hand and skittered somewhere behind me. He had a hold of my wrists and straddled me a moment later. Fuck. With everything that I’d gone through, all the times I’d managed to get away from these guys and now they had me.
“You little bitches think you’re so smart, throwing around your little spells,” he snarled, his mouth inches from my ear. “Where’s your magic now, witch?”
He leaned up to belt out a laugh and there was a loud bam. I never saw the bullet but the blood splattered all over my face a second later. His lifeless body toppled sideways, off me. I turned and looked at him, seeing the bloody hole in his forehead. Then I snapped around, not sure what I expected to see. What I did see was a welcome sight. Miss DeWitt was at the top of the stairs, holding a gun. Her body was half silhouetted in my flashlight beam. Her fancy sports jacket was gone, her hair was disheveled and she looked like she’d been through hell but at least she was alive.
“You girls Ok?” she asked, her voice sounded a bit strained.
“I’m good,” I said after a breath.
I heard Mary groan. “I think I broke my wrist.”
A moment later, Mary was at my side. She was cradling one of her arms close to her chest but she used her other to reach out toward me. I took her hand and she helped me to my feet. I still held that hand as the two of us slowly made our way down the hall toward our savior. I never thought I’d be happier to see her in my entire life. Here was the woman who only a few short minutes ago I was actually going to jump out of a window to get away from and now she just saved my life. How different a few minutes can make things.
“Are there anymore?”
Miss DeWitt raised her gun again and shot the one Mary froze. I didn’t snap around to see if she got him in the head.
“I knocked one out in the bedroom, actually.”
Miss DeWitt sighed and nodded. She started toward my room, moving with a stagger in her step. The woman looked absolutely exhausted. I didn’t see her go into my room but I did hear the gunshot. I was actually a bit surprised. I thought for sure that she might want to keep one of them alive to question but apparently Grace DeWitt was a “Take No Prisoners” kind of woman. She appeared out of my room a moment later, still slightly staggering. When she got back into the light, I noticed it wasn’t an ordinary type of stagger either. One of her arms hung limply at her side, still clutching her gun while the other was pressed firmly against her side. I didn’t notice it before because I was so preoccupied but her stark white blouse was now covered in red.
Most of it was centered around the patch she was desperately pressing her hand against.
“Holy shit” I gasped, rushing over. “You’re hurt.”
“Its nothing” she said through gritted teeth. “A flesh wound, I’ve had worse.”
It didn’t look like a flesh wound to me.
“You know a spell right?” I asked frantically. “One to stop the bleeding?”
She nodded, wiggling a finger. I saw a slight red glow to it. In fact, the hand that was clutching the wound was glowing red.
“We need to get you to the doctor.”
She shook her head. “No, we need to get you two to the Manor. It’s safe there.”
She staggered again but I was there to catch her. I put her arm around my shoulders and half walked, half carried her down the hall. Mary helped me when we got to the stairs. We made sure to avoid the body in the middle of the hall. At the bottom of the stairs there were two more bodies, one of them belonging to one of the guys who came with Miss DeWitt? I felt a little bad that the man sacrificed himself for me and I didn’t even know his name. Her other goon was in the living room, his body sprawled on the couch. There was a dead bad guy at his feet. A third dead bad guy was in the kitchen. Looking at the mess I couldn’t help but think how pissed my grandmother was going to be when she saw it.
Counting the three upstairs, that made six.
“Who are they?” I asked as Mary and I helped her into one of the armchairs.
Miss DeWitt winced before she spoke. “I thought they might be Black Cross but they don’t have any tattoos.”
I nodded, remembering the ones Baldy and Scar Face had.
I spared a slight moment to look at one of the nearest dead bodies but I couldn’t really see anything. Mary however wasn’t in the least bit squeamish. She walked right up to the body and bent down to take a look. She started rummaging about him, working at his collar. I think she was looking for a tat.
“This guy has this strange tat on his collar.”
“Describe it to me.”
“It looks like a curled black horn of some kind.”
Miss DeWitt cursed. “I was afraid of that.”
“You know the mark?”
She groaned in pain then nodded. “The Black Horn.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“A cult. They claim to be demon worshipers.”
“Demons?” asked Mary “as in actual demons?”
Miss DeWitt nodded again.
“What about the Black Cross then?” I asked.
She sighed. “I don’t think they were ever involved but the Horn wanted us to think they were. I should have known something was off, should have spoken up sooner.” She winced in pain. “The Black Cross has been gone for about fifteen years or so.” She muttered something incoherent to herself before speaking aloud again. “When your grandmother told me what your parents were up to in Africa I knew it didn’t feel right.”
I remembered something Mom said. “They haven’t found anything yet.”
Miss DeWitt nodded. “They’re not going to either. It was a wild goose chase to get them…”
She trailed off.
“Do get them to what?” I asked even though I think I knew the answer. It clicked like a light. “They’re after me aren’t they? They wanted my parents out of the way to get to me.”
“It’s a theory.”
“Why?” I demanded.
Miss Dewitt opened her mouth to say something but all that came out was a moan of pain. She was sweating real bad now and her bleeding was starting to seep through her fingers. Whatever spell she was using wasn’t strong enough to stop it. Mary saw that, too. She rushed over and looked at me, looking real worried.
“Kelly she needs to get to a doctor fast.”
I nodded. Answers could wait until later. We needed to help her.
Mary and I got on either side of her as we gently helped her to her feet. We slowly started to move her toward the door before she stopped us.
“Franklin has keys,” she gasped, barely audible. She pointed to the body at the base of the stairs. “Take his necklace too.”
Mary nodded, slipping away. She went to the guy Miss DeWitt pointed at. First, she pulled something from his neck then reached into his pocket. She came back over jingling keys. I caught sight of the necklace; it was exactly like the one my Dad gave me. I think I finally realized what it was and what its purpose was.
“Put it on” I told Mary.
She didn’t have to be told twice, slipping the necklace over her neck.
We started moving again after that. The front door was wide open so we didn’t have to worry about that. On the lawn, there were two more bodies, bringing the number up to eight bad guys. I looked at their three SUVs and couldn’t help but wonder how none of the neighbors had noticed anything. Sure, it was pitch black and the lights were all out but we just had a mini-gunfight, there were even dead bodies in my front yard.
“What about the neighbors?”
Miss DeWitt shook her head. “Norms, all of them. We have a plan in place….Wards…puts them to sleep.”
“All the Norms?” asked Mary, Miss DeWitt nodded.
Talk about your Contingency Plan.
We dragged Miss DeWitt to the black sedan in the driveway. Mary ran forward to open the back door and we slowly got her inside. I climbed into the back as well just to make sure Miss DeWitt would be ok. Mary ran around to the front, getting into the driver’s seat. She sighed heavily as she got behind the wheel.
“I’ve only driven twice…ummm….I don’t exactly have my license yet.”
I think all the color drained from my face. I made sure my seatbelt was extra tight. I tried buckling Miss DeWitt in but she shook her head.
“Ok, this might get rough,” said Mary as she started the engine.
The first thing she did was drive the car forward, slamming the garage door.
“Whoops” she laughed, putting it into reverse.
“Less crashing, more driving please.”
She whipped down the driveway, nearly smashing into the front end of one of the SUVs. She swerved at the last moment. I gripped the armrest for dear life. There was definitely no way I was going to let Mary teach me how to drive. Once out of the driveway though, her driving got a lot smoother.
I turned to Miss DeWitt. “We’re taking you to the hospital.”
She shook her head. “Too late…go to Manor.”
“No, we’re going to get you help first.”
She smiled. Her lips were starting to turn blue. That plus her pale skin and sweating, didn’t look too good at all.
“Mary, drive faster,” I said with some urgency.
“But the speed limit…”
“Fuck the speed limit,” I snapped.
She put on the gas.
I reached over and took Miss DeWitt’s hand, she gripped it tightly. “I wanted to tell you how sorry I was for being such a pain in the ass.”
She shook her head. “You’re a good girl…shouldn’t have judged…not the same.”
“Not the same as what?”
Miss DeWitt’s words were broken and jumbled. She wasn’t even making any sense now. It was clear that she was slipping.
Her grip on my hand started to get loose.
I started to tear up. “You need to stay with us….just a little longer…please.”
“The Orb…” she croaked. “You have to…stop…bad thing…have to stop….”
All the pressure on my hand was gone. I watched as the life slowly drained from the Inquisitor’s eyes.
“Mary” I said through tears. “Mary, it’s too late…we were too late….”
Mary turned her head slightly. “Shit. What now?”
“I don’t know” I sobbed then remembered. “She said go to the Manor.”
Mary sighed. “Ok hold on. If anything else happens, I am so not going to church anymore.”
As soon as those words came out of her mouth, an SUV slammed into the side of car. The world spun around me. Metal grinded on metal as the car flipped more than once. I think I was screaming, I know Mary was screaming. There was a burning pain in my chest then the world went black.
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was the fact that I was waking up at all. When someone flips over several times in a car, they don’t generally expect to wake up. The last moments of consciousness I thought for sure I was either going to be a vegetable for the rest of my life or worse, dead. I guess whatever Powers That Be that were out there were looking out for me. I was eternally grateful to them that’s for sure. Unfortunately, all of that hinged on the fact that somehow part of their plan for me involved me being strapped to a bed in some dark and scary place.
It’s definitely not the best way to wake up from an accident.
As far as I could tell I was uninjured, save for the chaffing of my wrists as I futilely struggled against my bonds. Whatever it was that was holding my wrists wasn’t abrasive but it was tight enough to cut into my flesh. It hurt like hell too. I tried to gauge how long I’d been here but as far as I knew it could have been from a couple of minutes to hours. I’m sure it wasn’t more than a few hours though. For one thing, the room was still dark and for another I was certain someone would have noticed those dead bodies by now. Of course, they’d also notice that Mary and I were missing and that Miss DeWitt was…I couldn’t even bring myself to think about it.
There was this hollow pit in my stomach for a woman I despised so much and yet owed my life several times over. I didn’t know if she was married but she had a daughter and if I got out of this, I was going to tell her how brave her mother was. I was also going to give her the biggest hug imaginable. Hell, everyone was getting a hug. I might even hug my mother’s stupid cat. All of that was a mute point at the moment though because I was currently still strapped to a bed.
I tugged on the restraints again but all I got out of it was more pain.
For the umpteenth time I also tried to see if I could see anything. Of course, that was also a mute point because like the rest of the town the room was pitch black. I guess I could have kicked and screamed but that would solve nothing. So I continued to struggle in hopes that I might miraculously loosen one of my bonds. If the miracle were to happen then it was first a way out of this room and second where to find Mary. I might not like her but the two of us were in this together now. There was no way I was going to leave her here to these bastards.
Where the hell were these people anyway? Who captures someone and then completely ignores them?
As if to answer my question, I heard a click behind me. I tried to turn my head but my neck was kind of stiff. Sure, I didn’t get hurt in the crash but I was still pretty sore. The click was behind my head, off to the left maybe. As soon as I heard it, it was followed by the telltale sign of wood scrapping against rock. It was a door opening. I sighed; finally, I was going to figure out what the hell was going on.
“I know you’re there,” I said as I heard faint footsteps enter the room.
The person didn’t answer. Instead, they shuffled closer. There was something off about their movements like they were either walking with their legs together or they were wearing a really long dress. I heard a flick then saw a small light. The light moved up over my shoulder and then got brighter. A second later, I smelt wax burning. Whoever it was just lit a candle.
The person shuffled closer, bringing the candle with them. They were at my side a second later. I saw not a dress but some kind of nondescript black robe. I couldn’t see the person’s face but I saw the hand holding the candle. It was on the smallest like a girl’s and just like a girl’s there was nail polish on the fingernails. I knew the brand too, it was called Sparkle Blue. It was Maggie’s favorite brand actually; in fact, it was the only kind she wore. My heart caught in my chest at that revelation. Maggie was in fact the only person I’d ever known to wear Sparkle Blue.
No it can’t be. It just can’t be.
“Mags, is that you?”
The girl holding the candle shuffled again, this time moving slowly so she was standing at the end of the bed. I saw her whole this time. Her body was small but her face was covered by a large black hood. She reached up slowly with her free hand and pulled the hood away. To say I was shocked to see my best friend’s face staring back at me was an understatement but I was even more shocked by what I saw. It was her all right but she definitely wasn’t herself. Her skin was very pale and her eyes, there was something wrong with her eyes. Her usual blue sparkling eyes looked gray, dull even. Her smile was gone too. In its place was this blank, dour expression. It was the girl I knew and loved but there was nothing left of her that I knew.
“Impressive isn’t it” sad a cold voice from the dark.
I half expected the speaker to come from behind me but instead he stepped out of the shadows in the corner, his tall body framed in the candle light. That freaked me a bit to know that this guy had been in the room with me this entire time.
He walked up to Maggie and ran his hand gently across her cheek.
“Magic is remarkable isn’t it?”
I lunged at him, pulling my restraints to the limit, the leather cutting into my wrists. I think I drew blood.
“What the hell did you do to her?”
He chuckled. “Me, I’m hardly the type. No, Miss Wilkes is not under my spell though I am quite pleased with the results.”
I finally dropped back down to the bed, the pain too much.
“Who are you?”
“Now that’s the proper way to meet someone,” he said, a melodious tone in his voice. “You may call me Talbot.”
“I’m not pleased to meet you.”
He scoffed. “Well that was rude.”
“So is kidnaping.”
He laughed. “Touché”
“So you’re the boss then?”
He laughed aloud, he laughed for quite some time actually. When he finally stopped, he spoke. “I’m a boss of many things I suppose but this operation is not one of them. I’m here as an observer, nothing more. I was curious about you; I had to see for myself what makes you so special.”
“Well what did you find out?”
“You’re definitely special, I’ll give you that. I can see why He wanted you all those years ago, how he still yearns for you now.”
“He? Who’s He?”
“I’m not at liberty to say,” he said, waving his hands about theatrically. “It’s all this and that. We were told to come and so we did. We are also told that if you willingly cooperate then no harm will come to you or your friends.”
“Then let them go.”
He scoffed. “That depends solely on you.”
I knew what he wanted me to say and even though I was going to regret it, what choice did I have. They had Mary and now it seemed they had Maggie as well. Too many people had already died for me; I was going to lose two more.
I nodded. “If you promise not to hurt my friends I’ll do whatever you want.”
There was hysterical laughter in the darkness. It didn’t come from Talbot and it definitely didn’t come from Maggie. A third figure was in the room, one that apparently had been here all along as well. They stepped into the light, wearing another black robe too.
“See I told you she’d cooperate if you pushed the right buttons” said a voice, an all too familiar voice.
The person stepped closer and dropped the hood. “Isn’t that right, girlfriend.”
The face staring back at me was Sophie.
Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF
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