The cautions I've added are for the story as a whole. The ones for rape and violence are relevant to this part of the story.
Cassandra Jane Starshine led the six other women out of the woods into the waning light of a partly cloudy early winter afternoon.
She laughed quietly for a moment as she stepped through the few inches of snow lying on the ground at the edge of the woods. She had originally intended to drive around the nearly twelve square mile woods, but at the last moment, had decided not to and had informed the other women that they would be required to walk though the large stand of trees to reach their intended destination.
They had grumbled about it, one or two had even whined, mostly the youngest girl, Appolonia Johnson. If she had not needed at least six others who were strong in the magical arts to found the new home place, Appolonia would not be here. To say that Appolonia had tested as being far beyond the ability and knowledge of the next candidate would be an understatement, Appolonia's power almost matched her own.
The seven women spread out, looking to the west from the fringe of the trees.
Of course, it was Appolonia who first spotted the reason for their picking this place as the site for their new town. Just under two miles away from where they now stood, all seven women could feel a major nexus point. All of them could feel all seven ley lines in the nearby nexus.
"Holy Mother Moon," Jeannette Williamson muttered, "That has to be the strongest nexus I've ever seen."
Pavanna Stellari chuckled, a low, sweet sound in the still air. "Not for me, I've seen one with eight lines and another with nine."
Appolonia sighed, saying, "I've seen two others with seven lines, but this one is significantly stronger than either of those were."
Cassandra smiled, nodding in agreement as she spoke, "This is why we came here, and why we went through the woods, not around them."
"So that we could see the nexus point from a distance without being blinded to it by full daylight?" Cheyenne Pevaroski asked.
"That was part of it, yes. What night is this, though?" Cassandra gently admonished the others.
"The first night of the full moon following the winter solstice," came the reply from Tanisha Shavanelle, "So it's drawing in the moon's power."
"Correct," was the response from Cassandra. "But there is something else, there are two spirits that seem tied to the area. Going by what I am feeling, the first spirit is from one of the First Nations tribes that wandered these lands before they were all placed on the reservations. The second has the feeling of Coyote, which is rather odd, as that is much more common in the Southwest, not here. Strange, indeed."
"So you feel me, do you?" came the soft whisper as a tall, slender female shape appeared in front of the very astonished women.
Veronica Kingsland shook her head, this was way more than she had been expecting.
Cassandra actually giggled as she replied to the spirit, "I know I can see and feel you, I'm quite sure Appolonia there can as well," as she pointed to the girl, "Perhaps Cheyenne, and I believe Pavanna. As for the other three, if you hadn't appeared, I doubt they would have known."
"They will learn to see and feel me as time passes, I am sure," was the spirit's return comment. "This land has been quiet for too long. I sense no harm in your hearts. In fact, all seven of you have come here seeking a place where all women and children can be safe from harm. I commend you for this desire. The land here is fruitful, the lake to the north has fish aplenty and the forest to the east provides many things."
Cassandra stood there for a moment, thinking, then asked the spirit, "Are you tied to the nexus itself?"
"Not specifically," the spirit answered, "but the power it holds, especially on a night such as this one, calls me."
The surprises weren't finished yet, it seemed, as the shape of a large coyote appeared a few feet in front of the women. "Before you ask," he said, "Yes, I am Coyote. Yes, I am usually seen in the far Southwest, but others believe in me, and places like this one draw me to them."
"You have no issue with why we came here, then? I would guess that you know what has happened to bring us here as well," Tanisha stated.
Both spirits stated that they had no issue with the women wishing to form a new community around the nexus. The female spirit informed the women that the First Nations peoples that had lived here before had called her Selena, First Daughter of the Moon.
"Well, actually, Selena is probably the closest to what any of you could understand, as my true name is very, very difficult to pronounce."
"We greet thee, Selena and Coyote, and give thee both thanks for allowing us to be here. May the light of the Moon guide us in our endeavours," came the formal response from the women of the coven, speaking as if they were one voice. It had happened a few times before now.
After a bit more idle discussion with the two spirits, the seven women trudged across the snow-covered fields to their new home. By the time that they all were standing around the point directly above the nexus, the sun was halfway down to the horizon and clouds had rolled in overhead. The moon itself would not be rising for a few hours, so there was very little light other than that given off by the cloud-blocked sun.
The seven women were stunned by the power of the nexus. Even without the moon's effect, there was a huge amount of power available. They were all shaking their heads at it. Add in the possible effects of the moon itself, plus the two spirits' abilities, and it was utterly amazing.
They spent the next few hours making careful preparations for the spell that they intended to cast at moon rise. Pavanna, Cheyenne, Veronica and Tanisha walked out from the nexus for a distance of 1.5 miles, then used their powers to draw invisible lines extending 1.5 miles to either side of where they stood. These lines would create the borders of their new town, a square with each side being three miles in length.
Cassandra, Pavanna, Cheyenne, Veronica and Tanisha all had apps on their phones giving info about moonrise, moonset, and other things. Once the four women had 'set' the lines, they returned to the nexus point and rejoined the other three members of their coven.
The seven women stepped into their respective places around the nexus point just as the moon showed the faintest trace on the horizon. Cassandra began to chant, the others following along as the chant continued and the power coalesced around the group of women.
At the apex of the chant, in the seventh repeat of it, the power flared out to all sides, reaching to those lines the four had drawn earlier. The light given off by the power spreading out from where they stood could be seen by all of them, this was far stronger than they had ever done.
The light arced across the night sky, reaching the center point on each of the four sides, then to the corners of the square they had drawn. The light touched the ground all around the prospective town at once, sending another flare of light up into the night sky as the spell finished.
The first ward of protection had been laid. There was quite a lot of work still to be done, but between them, they would handle it.
The spell didn't stop there, though. It kept going into the ground, down to a depth of just over two hundred feet, where it hit bedrock.
Cassandra, or Cass as she asked people to call her, was a fairly strong type A personality housed in a body that was lush and curvy, notwithstanding the fact that she was barely 5'4" in her stocking feet. A page boy style shading from bright red through to silver was the cap on her beauty, many a man had approached her over the years to say that her hairstyle fit her usual businesswoman image to a T.
She was carrying a fair bit of extra weight nowadays, that was what happened when life got too busy to do things like exercise daily. That didn't stop males in many places from trying to chat her up when they saw her, even some that were only adults in the law's eyes, not her own.
Because she had known that they would be hiking through the woods and to the site itself, Cass had ordered the women to dress appropriately. She was clad, therefore, in a pair of comfortable well-worn faded jeans tucked into hiking boots and a men's flannel shirt tucked into a rather obvious feminine touch, the pale pink cable knit sweater one of her daughters had made for her for Christmas six years ago.
The final touch was a women's parka not quite fully zipped up and a toque that matched the sweater pulled down over her ears.
Her wideset grey eyes scanned the area around the nexus. It never hurt to be aware of your surroundings.
Pavanna was the closest to her in actual age, four years younger than Cass' 43, with a bit of silver in her waist length auburn locks and bright green eyes. It was usually kept it in a neatly tied pony tail, but occasionally she let it hang loose, drawing men like moths to flames.
Pavanna found that funny, as men held no attraction for her at all. In fact, she and Veronica Kingsland had been in a relationship that had lasted for over ten years so far. Pavanna's only major difference in style was the ear muffs, currently pulled back so she could hear people talk.
She was tall and slender, standing 5'11" in her stocking feet, with a career in business law behind her. She would take care of legal things here.
Veronica was 37 to Pavanna's 39 and slightly shorter; except for Veronica being ash blonde with blue eyes, the two women could have been sisters. What made it more interesting was that, when they met, Pavanna knew almost no English and Veronica spoke no Italian.
They say love will find a way to communicate and in the case of Pavanna and Veronica, it surely had. They spoke freely in either language now.
Veronica had been a dispatcher for the emergency services in a town about a thirty minute drive from the city of Philadelphia. She had usually worked twelve hour shifts, sometimes longer when a major incident of one kind or another would occur in that semi-rural town.
Cheyenne, 33, was the middle one age wise of the seven women. She was half First Nations through her mother, specifically Blackfoot, but her father had demanded she be raised in town like a 'normal' white girl, even though her ancestry was clear to all from the moment of birth.
Cheyenne's mother, Stephanie, often called Songbird by tribal members for her sweet voice, had put up with her husband's desires and demands until Cheyenne was twelve. One night, in the wee hours, Steph woke to find Alan was not in the room and heard some sounds coming from their daughter's room just down the hall. She threw on a robe, then went to find out why the noises were coming from Cheyenne's room.
Steph opened the door to find that Alan had her daughter pinned to the headboard and was in the midst of what could only be rape. Steph grabbed the iron floor stand lamp that stood near Cheyenne's door, stepped into the room and used it to knock the bastard out cold.
Once that was done, Steph ran to retrieve her cell phone, dropping the stand lamp on the floor and partly over the bed itself. When she came back, she informed Cheyenne that she was calling the police and told her if he moved, she was to use the stand lamp to knock him out again.
Twenty minutes later, the bastard was in cuffs and being hauled out of the house on a charge of statutory rape of a minor child.
Steph put the house up for sale and moved back to the reservation, where life might be rough but you usually knew what was what. She spent the next several years teaching her daughter traditional ways and beliefs, ways that brought Cheyenne closer to Wiccan magic over time.
When Cheyenne had met the others in New York a few months before, she had a fair understanding of First Nations magics, specifically those that were shamanic in origin. Meeting the other women allowed her to see that there were other ways that complimented her beliefs.
Cheyenne typically dressed in buckskin, mostly dresses, but had worn heavy buckskin pants and a matching shirt and vest today. She almost always carried her shamanic tools with her, as she did today, as they were often useful in the preparation of spells the women would cast. The only item beyond her buckskins and her tools was the lightweight parka, the cold and winds out here didn't bother her much at all.
Her raven tresses fell to her hips, long and loose. She would only tie her hair back in a pony tail if it was absolutely necessary.
Like Pavanna and Veronica, Cheyenne was tall, standing 5'10" in her stocking feet. She was also quite fit, running five miles every morning.
Tanisha was the next youngest, having just turned 29 on the day after the winter solstice. Tanisha was a proud young black woman who had come out of the ghettos of New York and had managed to find work in one of the many financial oriented businesses in that city.
She was average height, just a hair under 5'6" tall with shoulder length straightened midnight hair that often seemed to appear blue in spots.
After about six months of working in the business, someone had said something about a particular stock that was beginning to lose its oomph on the public listings. She casually mentioned something about another stock and set off an argument that lasted the rest of the day. What made it interesting was that, early the next morning, she was informed that they were working on her idea and she was getting a pay raise.
That turned into her eventually having her own suite in the office as a new broker, with the powerhouse of the firm behind her.
She put her little insights to good work over the next eight years, amassing a fortune in the neighbourhood of seven billion dollars. At that point, she decided to retire and find other things to do with her life, which eventually led to her meeting one of the other women.
That meeting had been with Pavanna and not long afterward, Tanisha had met the rest of the group. That had happened two years ago.
It was her money that had led to the group's decision to make their own way and place out in the world, a place they could call home.
Jeannette Williamson was the next youngest, having met the early members of the group about a year before Tanisha found them.
Jeannette was a pretty young woman of not quite 26 years of age, 5'3" tall, slim but pretty enough that men followed her everywhere.
She came from a WASP family that claimed ancestry back to before the early pioneers had left for the new lands of America. In fact, she could, if called upon to prove it, show her ancestry going all the way back to the times of Brian Boru, an esteemed name in many Irish homes.
It wasn't truly clear, but one of the lines in her ancestry was marked as a broken line. When she asked the woman in her family who had put all of the information together over a period of about five years, she was told that that line marked an illegitimate child from the great Brian.
She had been interested in Celtic mythology for several years, as well as magic and had some rudimentary knowledge of the mystic arts.
Then she met the group, and in a few short visits, learned that what she knew of magic was just a tiny fragment out of the whole. Over the years since then, her knowledge had expanded to the point where she was the third most powerful member of their little coven.
The last member of the coven was also the youngest. Appolonia Elisabeth Johnson was two months shy of her 20th birthday.
Appolonia, like Pavanna, Veronica and Cheyenne, was quite tall, an even 6' in height with long, flowing dark chestnut coloured hair and very pale blue eyes that brought ice to mind. She had a ready smile and a great willingness to learn, which helped her out within the coven.
Her family was mixed Greek and Celtic, mostly Greek, but she had apparently thrown back to a Celtic great-grandmother on her mom's side.
Like everyone in the group except for Cheyenne, she was wearing heavy jeans and a flannel shirt inside a heavy parka.
She was still a neophyte in the knowledge of magic, but the raw power she could use or add to a spell was on the level of 'what the fuck?'.
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