The Pendleton Witches, Ghost Tales Mystery series

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Summary

England's most famous witch trial took place in Lancashire in 1612. Ten of the so-called Pendle Witches were hanged at Lancaster Castle, after being deemed guilty of witchcraft. Their ghosts reputedly haunt the village of New Church, which is where one of the witches is said to be buried. The Winter children can't pass up a good trouble- some mystery while traveling with their Archeological/Librarian Scholar father. On this trip, they travel to New Castle, England to solve the mystery of the Pendleton Witches and Gwen finds out some very scary and surprising results about her family history. Is this just plain Hocus Pocus or something real?

Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

The Pendleton Witches

The

Pendleton Witches

by

Patti Petrone-Miller


England’s most famous witch trial took place in Lancashire in 1612. Ten of the so-called

Pendle Witches were hanged at Lancaster Castle after being deemed guilty of witchcraft. Their ghosts reputedly haunt the village of Newchurch, which is where one of the witches is said to be buried.

Chapter One

“Can ye see it?” Esmeralda cackled, as she stirred the green liquid in the steaming cauldron.

“They will be here soon. We must be ready,” Bertha said, as she wagged one long fingernail in her sister’s direction.

“Double double, cauldron bubble

Witch’s finger, cat’s eye and tail of a newt,

Bubble bobble, witch’s boot

Make us wealthy, bring us loot!”

“Is that all you can think about Esmeralda? The town is about to hang us and all you can think about is coins? You gonna take it with you?” Bertha clicked her tongue. “Wasteful. Think of something that will make us come back so we can curse those who punished us.”

“So ye want me to make a summoning spell do ye? That’s going to take some time ye see. Ye will have to go into the woods and gather the necessary herbs I need. I can get the rest from the storage.”

Bertha rolled her eyes.

“Get up you lazy, good for nothing Sasquatch!” Bertha kicked her younger sister in the leg as she sat in the chair comfortably napping. “Don’t you be sleeping at a time like this you wasteful scoundrel!”

“Huh? Wha-?”

“Get up Marilyn and help us. We need a potion to drink before we hang. Now, I want you to go into the woods and bring back what Esmeralda needs to complete it,” Bertha said, in a shrill voice.

Marilyn slowly lifted her stout body from the chair as her knees creaked, then she bent backwards to give her spine a good crack. “Ah, there we go, nice as new again.” Marilyn’s deep voice cackled as she took a few steps to the table to get the list. She donned her pointed hat on top of her curly gray hair and placed her long black cape about her shoulders.

“Ah, it’s a wonderful night to go into the woods.” she said as it started to rain. “wonderful if you’re a duck!” she mumbled, closing the door behind her.

Deep within the woods as Marilyn picked her fill of the herbs for the potion, she heard the voices of men shouting in the distance. It wouldn’t be before too long that their necks were in a noose. The potion had to be made now.

She ran through the woods, casting spells to slow them down until she reached their cottage. Once inside, she handed the herbs to her sister Es-me as she stirred the liquid in the cauldron.

“Quickly sisters, gather round,” Es-me ordered, as she scooped the liquid into the ladle. “Drink, hurry.”

The three sisters Pendleton drank their fill then turned toward the door and waited for their capture. This time, they would be ready. As the door swung open, the witches disappeared one by one in front of their eyes. But before Es-me turned to dust, she cast her last and final spell that would haunt this place forever....

Chapter Two

“Lance, you have to see this,” Gwen exclaimed, as she read the story about the Pendleton Witches that she found in her father’s briefcase. This was going to be an interesting vacation in England. One she had been looking forward to, because she would get to visit with Aunt Lilith.

“Hey, let me see,” said Merle, as he took his seat at the kitchen table.

“All right guys, put that away. You can look at it after dinner,” their father said, as he placed a huge bowl of spaghetti on the dinner table.

Dad wasn’t such a great cook but he was quite the storyteller. Lance, Merle and Gwen thoroughly enjoyed taking vacations with him during the winter and summer breaks. This trip was a special one because they would get to visit with Aunt Lilith, who lived in the country.

“You three will need to pack for an English winter,” Dad said, as he unceremoniously plopped a dollop of spaghetti on his plate then ripped pieces of garlic bread off the serving platter and scattered them on their plates.

“What does THAT mean?” Gwen asked.

Her father raised a dark, furry eyebrow above his black framed glasses. “That means,” he pointed with his fork and a mouth full of food. “You need warm clothing and rain gear. It means it will snow or rain and you need to be prepared.”

“Oh that’s just great,” Lance chimed in. “Another wet winter. Thanks Dad. We’ll try not to become too bored. Why can’t we spend winter break at home this year?”

“You know, you’re lucky you can travel with me. Do me one favor and keep out of trouble while I’m working. And don’t torment your Aunt.”

Merle’s dark, bushy eyebrows furrowed in thought as he took a bite of food. Then he opened his mouth to show Gwen his chewed food, just as she had taken a sip of her milk.

“Oh, gross! You’re disgusting rat boy!” she yelled, as she nearly choked on the liquid. “I’m going to finish my meal in the living room. I can’t take you anymore! Next you’ll be farting and picking your nose! Dad do something!” she whined.

“Merle, you know how squeamish your sister is. I told you to stop doing that.” Dad’s eyes narrowed. “You know, I used to do that to your Aunt Lilith when we were young, and you’re grandfather used to swat me in the back of my head. Get the idea? Now apologize to your sister or you ride in the trunk of the car to the airport.”

Merle bellowed, “SORRY!” then, unceremoniously shoveled another spoonful of food into his mouth.

After their meal was done and the dishes were cleaned, they went up to their rooms to pack for another interesting trip. The pamphlet for the town of Newchurch was hanging out of Lance’s pocket as he made his way up the stairs.

Chapter Three

The taxi’s horn sounded like a bunch of screaming birds as the driver pulled in front of the door. He stepped out and opened the trunk to fill it with the suitcases, along with the empty rack on the roof of the car. Lance, Gwen and Merle grabbed their suitcases and handed them to the driver. They all crammed into the back seat as their father took his place in the front passenger seat.

“Oh, move over Lance! I have no room!” Gwen nudged her brother so he would move a bit closer toward the passenger side door.

Lance stretched up from the seat to pull the pamphlet from his back pocket. He wanted to survey it once more before arriving at the airport for their long flight to England. He sat and read through the story about seven of the ten Pendleton Witches that had been hung, and the three that managed to escape. The thought of heading to Newchurch to visit Aunt Lilith was becoming more exciting by the minute, especially now that they would be able to visit the town that’s said to be haunted by the Witches.

Once they were seated on the plane, the Stewardess held the microphone and explained the rules of the flight. Gwen placed the earbuds in her ears to ready herself for the inflight movie, which was “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” It was one of her favorites.

Lance and Merle had taken their assigned seats across from Gwen and their father in first class...there were perks to being the children of a famous archeology professor, who was also a librarian. The college paid for all their trips.

As the hours grew and nightfall arrived, the plane was quiet as the passengers slept, all except Gwen. She wanted to know more about the Pendleton Witches. So while he soundly slept, she opened the carry-on compartment overhead and pulled out the paperwork her father tucked away in his brief case. Something was creepy about the town that they were going to vacation in; she could feel it in her bones. She had exemplary perception that way.

As she turned the pages, she saw an old photo of a small cottage in the woods. Gwen read the underlying paragraph her father had highlighted. She couldn’t wait to land and find out more.

Chapter Four

Aunt Lilith was anxiously awaiting their arrival at the airport. The children ran down to the luggage claim as the adults followed close behind. The airport was a hustle and bustle of people. Stephen saw his sister and waved for her to meet them. He had awoken with a severe headache while on the plane and wanted nothing more than to return to the house and lie down. “You allow them to run on their own in a strange place?” Lilith said, in her British accent as she caught up to her brother.

“They’re teenagers,” Stephen replied, as he ran splayed fingers through his messy hair and hoped to calm the raging pain inside his brain. “They’re old enough to be on their own, Lilith, you’d be surprised. Since their mother died, they’ve learned to be quite resourceful. I don’t worry.”

“Indeed.” Lilith added. “Teenagers already,” she sighed. “I never thought I’d see the day they would be this grown up. I have a car waiting for us outside as soon as you gather up your luggage.” She surveyed her brother with concern. “You don’t look well at all, let’s get you home. A nice spot of tea and some of my scones should do the trick until dinner is served.”

“I can’t wait to get home,” Stephen replied. “This is the first time the kids will see the old place. You wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on them while I rest then?”

Lilith laughed and waved her hand at him. “Not at all. It wouldn’t be the first time I watched your children.”

“Yeah, but they were much younger,” he replied as he grabbed the suitcases from the conveyor belt. The Winter children met with the adults with their own suitcases in hand. The excitement on their young faces meant only one thing...trouble. Stephen wasn’t ready for this by far, but he knew he had no choice. As long as the kids were in Lilith’s hands, they were safe. Just as long as they didn’t wander in too deep.

Their bags were packed in the limo Lilith had hired and they were on their way into the quietness of the English countryside.

The ride to the old farmstead was lengthy, about an hour’s drive from the airport. They traveled through the woods and mountains. The air was brisk and the sky was filled with cumulus clouds. The scent of burning wood wafting up through the chimneys filled the air. The roads that were higher elevated in the mountains had snow. It was weird seeing snow, Gwen thought, as she looked over the scenery that was England. Her thoughts led her to a non-formal British teatime and all the food she was going to get to eat. There was nothing like an English dinner either, she thought as she sat back and relaxed in the limo.

It wouldn’t be a vacation without a good mystery to solve, especially one that involved Witches. She thought about all the mischief they were going to get into and smiled to herself as sleep finally took over.

Chapter Five

The farmhouse loomed above the town of Newchurch. The view was beautiful. Aunt Lilith’s farmhand met them at the door and took their luggage inside. Adelaide, the housekeeper and cook showed the children to their room so they could freshen up before the meal.

“I’ve had Adelaide prepare a meal for you. Roast goose, you’re favorite,” Lilith said to her older brother as he removed his coat and hat, then handed them to her farmhand to hang on the coat rack by the door.

There was a roaring fire in the fireplace inside the large living room. It was a drafty place, and Gwen rubbed her shoulders for warmth as she entered the room.

“Oh you poor dear,” Aunt Lilith said. “Here, let me have Adelaide get you a sweater. This old house is quite drafty, and we don’t want you to catch a chill now do we?” Lilith said to Gwen as she walked toward the fire.

Adelaide helped Gwen into the sweater then brought in hot tea and scones to hold them over before dinner was served. Lance and Merle finally emerged from their new rooms.

“Dad! We saw something from the window in the bedroom when we were unpacking! It was awesome!” Merle offered when he sat down in the nearest chair. He grabbed a scone and took a large bite. “It was crazy, dad, you should of seen it!” he said, while spewing a mouthful of crumbs. He grabbed a hot cup of tea and began drinking it until it was finished.

“Can I have more?”

“Where are your manners, Merle?” Stephen chided.

“Please?” Merle asked.

Adelaide filled the cups a second time before leaving the room and checking dinner. The scent was making them all hungry after a long, tedious flight with chips and soda.

Dinner was just about ready and they were instructed to take their seats at the table. As they waited for the main course, they were served a fresh garden salad with home baked bread and a bowl of fresh, piping hot chicken soup.

The conversations were lively at best, but Gwen’s mind wandered to the tale of the witches, and she couldn’t wait to begin her search.

“What was it you saw, boys?” Their aunt asked as she took the white cloth napkin from her lap and dotted the corners of her mouth.

“Dunno, but it seemed a bit creepy hiding inside the fog,” Lance offered.

The scent of rain and or snow was in the air and the fog began to fill around the farmstead. It wasn’t at all that unusual to see fog in the winter or in the English countryside. It made things look eerie enough that you could actually hallucinate. The darkness of the night sky didn’t help either and could play tricks with your eyes.

“Don’t panic, Lance,” Aunt Lilith offered. “Things happen around here no one can really explain. This town is full of surprises.”

“Your Aunt is correct. I remember as a child, unexplained ghost sightings were always common, but once examined, no one was able to find anything to back up the stories.”

“Dad, can we go to the cottage tomorrow where the three witches who escaped death lived?” Merle wanted to know.

“After what you just saw? You want to see something that will give you nightmares for the rest of your life?” his father asked.

“I wouldn’t allow them to go there, Stephen,” Lilith quickly offered, as she placed her cloth napkin back on her lap.

Stephen laughed then wiped his mouth with his own napkin after taking a hefty spoonful of soup. “I don’t see the harm in it, really Lilly. It’s just a story, what harm could possibly become of it? As long as the three of you go together and no funny business.” Stephen winked at his daughter. “You keep your brothers in line okay? I’m depending on you.”

“Oh here we go again. We don’t need a babysitter, Dad, least of all her!” Merle whined.

Aunt Lilith didn’t seem too pleased at her brothers decision. There were of course, several bad incidences that occurred in the past two months and she was not at liberty to spill the information any time soon. They centered around the time of the witches’ disappearance. And they were certainly no coincidence. Anyone who ever lived in Newchurch was frightfully aware of the story of how the witches put a curse on the town’s people and threatened revenge.

“It’s now a museum I heard,” Stephen said. “Is that true?”

“Well, yes. I suppose it is,” Lilith added. “Just be careful, children, there are many things that go bump in the night, especially around these parts. Stay close together and don’t wander into the forest.”

That statement piqued Gwen’s attention. She had every intention of getting to the bottom of this story if it was the last thing she did.

“Okay, it’s settled. I will be at the Archeological department of the college tomorrow, so you dress warm and listen to Aunt Lilith. Make sure your phones are charged in case you need her or me for any reason.”

“Awesome, Dad! Thanks!” Lance happily chimed in.

“Don’t get too excited. While you’re out here you still have rules.”

“Madam, dinner is served.” Adelaide politely interrupted as she and Aunt Lilith exchanged worried glances. Just then, the doorbell rang. The door swung open. It was Margaret and Richard, their cousins from the north.

As they had taken their own seats at the dinner table, the chatter began.

Chapter Six

The wind blew a brisk breeze through the air as Gwen, Lance, Merle, Margaret and Richard walked down the long winding road toward the Newchurch Witch Museum. Gwen pulled her wool scarf closer around her face and shivered as the wind nipped at her sensitive skin. She had been used to the cold biting air and sometimes brutal storms of the States. This was the beginning of winter and the weather forecast said freezing rain and possible snow flurries.

“How much father do we have to walk?” She asked as they passed the quaint cottages of the village.

“We’re nearly at the museum, see? There’s the church.” Lance pointed as they kept at a brisk pace.

“You’re not used to walking many places in your country, are you?” Margaret couldn’t resist asking. “We walk everywhere, especially in this town since we don’t allow many cars on the cobblestone roads.”

Outside the Museum, three decorative witches sat next to the door to welcome anyone who dared visit. The children pushed open the door and went inside. It was a cozy place in a weird sort of way. An old woman was behind the counter where she had pamphlets and all types of souvenirs for sale.

Merle picked up a book about the Pendelton Witches, opened it and began to read aloud.

“Seventeen witches and three warlocks were accused of witchcraft. Three of the Pendelton Witches vanished into thin air, and promised to come back seeking revenge on all who condemned them.”

Lance gave Merle a wry grin. “Dad said we could do what we wanted as long as we stayed out of trouble, right?”

Merle nodded then said, “I know, we can visit the Vicar. I bet he knows what happened to them. Maybe we can even see their graves!”

“I’m willing if you are,” Richard replied. Unless you’re chicken?”

Who’s a chicken?” Lance approached his arrogant cousin. “We ain’t chicken. Never have been and never will be,” he said, as he poked at his cousin’s chest.

Gwen made her way through the museum shoppe. She spied something very interesting and picked it up to examine it.

“Ye might want te put that down, deerie. That was said to belong to Esmeralda or Es-me as her sisters called her. She was the most powerful witch in the forest.” The woman wagged a stubby, wrinkled finger in Gwen’s direction.

Gwen gently placed it back in its spot on the shelf and took a step back.

“What does it do?” she cocked her head to one side inquisitively.

“It’s a spell, that is. In the hands of a youngin’ like you, it’s dangerous. Conjures all kinds of evil. And ye don’t want evil here do ye?”

“No ma’am. But...can you tell us about the ghost that haunts this village? We came here in search of the ghost and thought someone might know something about it.”

The old woman shuttered, pulling her shawl closer about her shoulders and sat down on the wooden chair next to the counter.

“What yer brother just read on the paper is true. But ye may not like what ye hear.” She sat more comfortably and met the hungry gazes of the children as they gathered around her.

“The legend said eleven witches and three warlocks were hung by their necks until dead. Not a perty sight ye see, but it was necessary in those times when people feared what they didn’t understand. But, the three witches, Es-me, Bertha and Marilyn managed te turn into dust, they did, right before the townsfolk captured em. But I suppose ye shouldn’t be pokin’ yer noses about either.”

The woman had a very strong accent and Gwen had to listen closely, but she knew the gist of the woman’s warning, which made her more curious.

“Their graves are down by the old church yard. Vicar Charles has been takin’ care of em.”

“Thank you for the information. It was nice meeting you,” Gwen said, as she pinched her older brother on his sleeve nervously, and nodded toward the door.

“Ye kids be careful. I warned ye,” the woman said in a harsh whisper. “Many things go bump in the night in these parts and ye don’t want to be around when they do.”

“Ow! What’d you do that for!” Lance yelled in a harsh whisper, rubbing his arm as he was basically pushed out the door.

“Didn’t you listen to what she said? We have to go visit the Vicar and make it back home before it gets dark or Dad will have our heads on a platter. So stop playing around and let’s go.”

Chapter Seven

Just over the rolling hills, the church stood looming over them. It was already late afternoon as they opened the door to the entrance. Inside, the church looked like any other, old, dusty walls with stained glass windows. Up at the pulpit there were fresh flowers next to a statue of the Virgin Mother.

“Looks like he’s not here,” Gwen said. “We’d better head back. We can always come here tomorrow.”

“Wait.” said Margaret. “The Vicar is always here. He’s always here.”

They heard the sound of a man’s voice clearing his throat behind them. “Can I help you children with something?” He gave them a broad, warm smile.

“Come now, no one visits the good Vicar unless they want something. Sit down and tell me why you’re here.”

Vicar Charles was a short man, with a sort of animated look to his features. Not old of course, but somewhat in his early thirties. Far too young to be a Vicar if you asked anyone in Newchurch, he had brown curly hair and large green eyes that looked warm and trusting when he smiled.

The children sat down, looking at each other, prompting one another with a glare to speak on their behalf.

Gwen spoke first as her brothers looked down to the floor. Gwen might have been the bravest of them all, but was the smallest in size. She was of thin build with sandy blonde hair that resembled her mother’s. She was never mistaken as a Winter, the Vicar thought as he watched her step forward.

She cleared her throat before she spoke. “Vicar...we’re here because of the Pendelton witches.”

“Ahh! I knew it was something like that. You know, I get a lot of people visiting here asking that very same question.” He tapped a finger on his chin then motioned for her to take a seat as he began to pace in front of them.

“Scary story that one is. And I just bet you want to know all about them, don’t you? I can see how your young minds work, and I have just the book. Okay, follow me then.”

Lance pushed Merle out of the pew. “Don’t push me, jerk!” Lance moved aside to miss his younger brother’s blow. “Wuss,” Lance shot back as they followed the Vicar up the stairs to a long hallway that led to a library.

“No rough housing inside the church boys, you will be punished.” Vicar Charles said, not bothering to glance behind him as he walked them to the library.

Gwen glared back at her brothers, “Stop it you idiots. Dad put me in charge of you and you better listen.”

“I’m telling Auntie on the both of you if you don’t stop.” Margaret offered with a slight elbow nudge at Gwen as in jest.

Inside, the library was lit with oil lamps and filled with a few leather chairs to sit in. It was quite comfortable for a church library.

“I do apologize for the lighting. We get a few nasty storms that shut down the power and it takes a week for the electrician to come out and turn everything back on. It’s the ice storms that cause the problems,” he said, as he lit another candelabra before walking over to the tomes to pull out the book he needed.

“Sit down children, while I locate the book.” It was more of an order, but requested in a polite manner.

The Vicar thumbed through all the tomes until he found the one he wanted. He pulled it out and blew off the dust. It was a fairly large book with what seemed to have had old, dried, almost crumbly paper inside. It crinkled as he opened the pages inside its leather bound jacket. Vicar Charles placed it on the table and carefully opened it to the middle pages.

“All right children, please tell me what you want to know.” He sat down and patiently waited. “I get many tourists in here so I’m quite used to this. Go on with you, don’t be shy.”

Gwen sat back and thought for a moment before she began to speak. Then whispered something to Margaret and they both smiled at each other, shaking their heads in agreement.

“We visited the museum store early today and there was an emerald crystal I picked up from the shelf. The woman said in my hands it would be evil. She said it was used for spells? What kind of spells?”

“You speak of Esme’s amulet. Was it green?” Vicar Charles sat forward in his chair as he questioned her. “Did it glow at any point while in your hand?”

He surveyed her expression, looking for any sign that the amulet had done what its purpose was supposed to do. Hoping for her sake, it didn’t.

“Well, I thought I saw it glow...”

Vicar Charles stood up and walked over to Gwen. He lifted her hands in his own. “You might be in grave danger, child. The amulet you speak of was used to make the witches vanish and turn to dust. It’s very powerful magic indeed. You never should have lifted it from the shelf.”

“Well she didn’t actually let me. I just picked it up because I thought it was pretty and different. I didn’t know what it was, Vicar. What am I supposed to do now?”

Vicar Charles looked at Gwen with grave concern.

“That stone chooses its owner. Let us just hope it hasn’t chosen you.” The Vicar worried for the safety of the children as he looked around the room at each one of them.

“Why?” Gwen prodded nervously.

“Because if it is you, then you are the one chosen to summon the witches back. That does not exactly bring me comfort my dear.” He sat back down in the chair and ran splayed fingers through his hair.

“I will have to consult with the rest of the church to see what this means.”

“But that’s just a myth!” Richard laughed and waved his hand in dismissal.

“Don’t be too quick, lad. I’ve witnessed many strange things around here that I can’t explain. I’d say the myth is leaning more towards something that is true in nature. This is not a joke.” The Vicar stood up and began to pace through the room.

“I am the watcher of the graves. It is my responsibility to make sure they are never desecrated or disrespected by kids just like you. I had better not see any one of you snooping without me present, or you will be in serious trouble. Do you understand?” He stood in front of them and looked at them one by one.

“If you disobey me it may very well cost you your lives.”

Chapter Eight

“Es-me was the eldest of the sisters. She lived deep in the forest where she raised her own children and grandchildren. She also taught them how to use their inherited powers. The people of the town stayed out of the woods because they often knew better. But once in a while some brave soul would wander in and never be found again.”

Did they know she was a real witch, Vicar?” Merle interrupted.

“That’s a viable question. Certain things would happen that they believed involved magic. Back in those days, everyone feared the Devil, so they assumed people were witches if they practiced with herbs or made elixirs. Even if they sincerely wanted to heal the sick. It was simple then, to just accuse someone of sorcery. It made it worse if the person under their care died. Witches were tried and if found guilty, they were burned at the stake in public.”

Lance glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearing dinner and it was growing dark outside. Aunt Lilith had warned them about things that go bump in the night so he was feeling a bit uneasy as he squirmed in the leather chair.

“We have to leave, Vicar. Our aunt is expecting us soon.” Lance finally blurted out.

“Who may I ask is your aunt?” Vicar said, as he glanced down at the book on the desk and flipped a few more pages.

“Lilith Winter.”

Oh, yes, I do know your family well. I attended school with your father, Stephen.”

Vicar Charles gently closed the book and paused in thought before he spoke. “I sincerely hope you five aren’t thinking about going into the forest...alone. It’s not a good idea.’ He said as he stood up to escort the children to the church’s front doors and back out into the biting cold air.

“Please come to me and inform me if you choose to do so. The spirits in there are said to be restless and I will have to be your escort. Now off you go before your aunt blames me for your tardiness.” Vicar watched them walk down the cobblestone road for a while before the wintery air had taken its toll on his weary bones and it forced him to close the doors.

The kids made their way down the road and couldn’t wait to get back home to Aunt Lilith and her good English cuisine. But deep in the forest, something evil was stirring.

Chapter Nine

“This is the one Es-me. I’m sure of it.” The ghostly figure loomed above Gwen as she quietly slept. “She is the chosen one. Look at the glow of her skin.”

“She’s too skinny.” Es-me cackled as she took her form by way of the family cat. “She resembles nothing like her mother.” Es-me walked around the bed then jumped up for a closer inspection of the girl who could conjure up all the magic and spin it right back to the witches. “I don’t know, can she be trusted?”

Es-me ran a long nailed, feline finger across Gwen’s head, pushing back the hair that covered her face as she silently slept. “Well, she doesn’t look like much, but she will make a nice vessel.”

“Be careful Essie. We don’t want to turn her, we want her trust us so she will agree.”

“Oh hush, you old hag.” Esmeralda snapped.

“Don’t you speak to me like that. I’m older than you and deserve your loyalty and respect!” Bertha growled back. “Just because you know different spells doesn’t make you the better witch.” Bertha shoved her ghostly finger in her sister’s face. “You remember well sister, whose idea this was from the beginning.”

“Stop it both of you!” Marilyn, the middle sister snapped. “You’re going to wake her. Stop fussing and say the spell!”

“Marilyn is right Es-me, say it before she wakes.”

Es-me took her place next to the bed. Spoke a short spell to keep Gwen asleep before she moved on to the one they needed.

Slight of hand

Twist of fate

Bring the witches back their weight

Revenge is near, that they fear

Witches cackle they will hear.

For when we come

They will run

Pendleton sisters, we will overcome!

The sisters watched as the green glow took over Gwen’s body.

She is the one, sisters. That I am sure of.”

Chapter Ten

Gwen opened her eyes and stretched. The sun cast a glimmer of light over the sheer curtain through the window. She blinked against it as she pushed the blankets back from her, then swung her feet over the side. The room felt chilly, even though the embers in the fireplace still burned to a warm glow. She grabbed her robe from the foot of her bed and shrugged into it. Margaret was still fast asleep in the bed next to hers.

Gwen stepped into her warm slippers and quietly crept toward the window then pulled back the curtain. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground that gave the town a magical glow that reminded her of Christmas time. She felt a bit strange. Not at all like her usual energetic self. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the fresh air of the country. No matter, she thought, her nose told her otherwise as the wonderful scents of pork belly, eggs and what she knew to be sausage filled the house.

“Wake up sleepy head!” She cried out and laughed as her cousin nearly jumped out of her skin.

“It’s morning already? Let me sleep one more hour,” Margaret said, as she pulled the blankets over her head and rolled away from the bright sunlight that now filtered through the room.

“You’re going to miss a good breakfast if you don’t get up.”

Margaret slowly pushed the blankets back then pushed her long hair away from her face. She stretched and pushed the blankets from her.

“Here,” Gwen said as she handed Margaret her robe. “You’ll need this, the house is chilly, and it snowed last night.” Margaret slipped into her robe and stepped into her own slippers.

The two girls walked down the stairs and into the kitchen where Adelaide was preparing the meal on the stove. The girls noticed the table had been set. Every fork and knife in the correct place beside the plate. There was a warm kettle of hot cocoa set on the table, steam was emanating from the lid.

Gwen heard her brothers barreling down the stairs and rolled her eyes toward Margaret. “The dorks finally woke up.” She watched them fighting and shoving one another to see who would get through the door first. They were stuck between the door jams, chest to chest.

The girls took her seats quietly as the two fought. Right behind them was Richard swatting at his hair and wiping the sleep from his eyes.

“That’s it boys, settle down,” their dad said as he pushed behind them, shoving them through the doorway. “What’s wrong with you? Suddenly, you’re in someone’s home, and you act like animals. Now sit down and wait for your meal.” It was an order that forbade any argument.

Lance took a seat and rubbed his hands through his dark curly hair as he yawned. Merle took the seat at the other end to save another lip lashing from his father. Richard sat next to their aunt. He didn’t care, as long as he had a plate of food.

“Good morning!” Aunt Lilith’s musical voice sang as she entered the kitchen, then barked orders off to Adelaide to get breakfast served before it was time for “late” morning breakfast; which was actually called brunch, and was usually followed by lunch, tea time, supper then dinner. One thing that was certain, Aunt Lilith loved to eat!

“What do you have on your schedule today children? It’s such a beautiful chilly day, you might want to take a walk through the town and see the sites? Or maybe take the sled on the hills and sled ride?”

“That sounds like a plan, Aunty, but I was thinking about going to visit the Vicar and take a walk through the woods actually. I want to see the snow in the forest.” Gwen said.

“You know the woods are not such a good place to venture through. Should you go, I want Vicar Charles to accompany you. I want to make sure you find your way back without getting hurt or lost.”

“Yes ma’am,” said Gwen. “The Vicar said the same thing to me yesterday. But I want to know why the woods are so scary in this town. It seems as though everyone we talk to says it’s haunted by the witches. It doesn’t look so scary to me.”

“Oh but it’s scary indeed my Gwen. It’s also very easy to become lost or be put under a spell. And you know how skeptical I can be when it comes to stories of that nature. But I have witnessed strange and unusual things that I cannot explain. I just don’t feel comfortable with all of you going in the woods without an adult.”

“We’ll be okay, Aunt Lil. We have each other, and we’ll bring safety stuff with us.” Lance offered. “I have a flash light, some flares, a map of the roads around here. We also have Margaret and Richard who know this town. And of course, we will have Vicar Charles with us.”

Aunt Lilith nodded then took another fork full of food from her plate.

“This is a good breakfast! It’s much better than when dad cooks,” Merle said with a mouthful of food, and not really paying attention to the conversation at hand. He just came for the food.

“Ow! That hurts!” Merle sputtered food from his mouth as his father’s hand came down over the back of his head.

“That’s disrespect, son. It would serve you well to remember you are a guest in your Aunt’s home. I would have expected more coming from you.”

“Sorry Dad, but this does beat your food by a mile,” Lance spouted with a grin, as he pushed his plate aside and wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve.

Gwen finished her plate and stood up from the table. “I’m ready to go if you guys are. Get your stuff, the Vicar is waiting for us.”

“Where are you kids off to today?” Their father wanted to know.

“The woods to see the witches’ cabin,” Merle said as he used clawed hands to amuse his father as he approached him. “Vicar Charles promised to take us as long as we had permission.”

“Make sure you stay together. If anything happens you call your aunt and skedaddle it home, understood? I will be at the university if you need me,” Stephen said with finality, as he stood up and dressed in his coat, hat and scarf. The handyman came around with the horse and buggy to bring him to the university in the next town over.

The Winter kids bundled up and made their way outdoors after Aunt Lilith insisted on another awesome hearty breakfast. The five kids walked down to the Abbey where they promised to meet with the Vicar for their walk through the woods.

“Ah, what is all that delightful noise?” The Vicar said to his comrade, Vicar Angus Williams, before he was rudely interrupted in mid-sentence by the cackling chatter of the children. “It would seem they have arrived, a bit late, but nonetheless...here.”

Vicar Charles raised his eyes heavenward and made the sign of the cross in front of him. “Lord, please give me strength and patience today.”

“Ah Laddie, don’t stress it. You need to be around kids. Will do ye a world o’ good.” Vicar Angus slapped Vicar Charles on the back. “Now be gone with ye.”

It was concerning to the vicar, that the sky quite quickly became alarmingly overcast and started to down pour just as the children entered the room.

“I think someone is angry,” Vicar Charles said.

“Could be the banshee again,” Vicar Angus said.

Vicar shook his head. “Certainly not that again, Angus, and please don’t scare the children.”

“Well just a thought ye know. It happened in the past ye know.”

“Indeed,” Vicar replied, as he placed his hands on the windowsill and watched the rain pelt against the ground.

“Bring the children some hot cocoa Angus, will you? I’m afraid it’s going to be a very long day before anyone can leave the Abbey.”

Vicar Charles felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end, just as the thunder and lightning clapped through the morning sky.

Chapter Eleven

The following day, Vicar Charles met the children outside the church just as he instructed them. The sky was clear of clouds and the sun was shining brightly. He had hoped this would be a promising day.

“Come with me, I have to show you something,” he said.

They followed Vicar Charles into the cemetery. The children passed by many graves, some were very old and unreadable. Some were broken in half but still standing. Some head stones had pictures of loved ones as a memory, while others had simple items set in front of them, like flowers, trinkets or cement statues.

There was one lone mausoleum that was marked with hexes and other types of holy trinkets among the many dead flowers surrounding it, that seemed as though they’d been there for a number of centuries. There were red roses, and black roses that were lying against the doorway into the mausoleum that were dried up. Someone write a poem that was nailed to the door. The writing barely legible.

“Here lies Esmeralda Winters. The most powerful witch that ever lived.” The Vicar said as he placed a small cross at the door then stepped back. “I don’t think she was as bad as they thought. It is my own opinion that all who were accused witches and warlocks were, in reality, innocent people who were healers and practiced holistic medicine.”

“Why are there so many holy medals and crosses?” Lance wanted to know, as he stepped forward for a closer look.

“Wait!” Gwen yelled out. Don’t get so close!” She grabbed her brother by the back of his coat and pulled him back. She felt chilly and shivered. “I just realized something.” The witches’ last name is Pendleton, right?”

“Correct,” Vicar Charles said.

“Our mother had the same last name, Vicar, does that mean we are witches and warlocks too?” Gwen was uneasy and didn’t want to step any closer than she already had.

Vicar Charles paused in thought for a moment, carefully choosing his next words before he trusted himself to speak. He stood next to Gwen, and said it as calmly and plainly as he could.

“The three witches are your family descendants, Gwen. It is for this very reason that I must do my best to protect you. Look at the plaque on the door. See what it says?”

“The sisters Pendleton are related on your mother’s side of the family.” He placed his hand on Gwen’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. I will make sure nothing happens to you.”

“I will send them back to their graves if they harm our sister.” Lance charged up to the door with his fists clenched.

Gwen rubbed her hands up and down her arms. The air was getting chilly. She felt strange, tired and something else she couldn’t put her finger on, as unknowingly the witches spell on her had already begun.

“We have to protect Es-me, you understand. She is most powerful, children. We need to keep her locked in her resting place, and make sure no one opens the door to let her out,” the Vicar ordered.

“You mustn’t do anything to disturb the grave,” he said, as he turned toward the children.

“We are walking deep into the woods where the three sisters lived. It will be dangerous if you don’t follow my rules.” Vicar Charles pulled his collar closer around his neck, then tugged on his wool gloves.

This is the very place that hasn’t been visited in a very long time except to close and board it up. They tried burning it down, but the witches put a very strong protection spell on it.” Vicar Charles pulled a wool hat from of his coat pocket and tugged it down on his head and over his ears.

“It was the townsfolk, who lived back then, who were afraid if they entered they would never return. The forest is a scary place so we must stay together at all cost.” He grabbed his flashlight and opened the bottom of it to make sure the batteries were inside correctly. Then he closed it and flipped the button to make sure it lit up. Once he was satisfied, he began to walk.

“But we’ll be safe with you, right Vicar?” Merle queried, as he swallowed the bile that was forming in his throat. He thought he’d be ready for this, but was beginning to have second thoughts and just for a moment wanted to go back to the comfort of Aunt Lilith’s home.

“Of course you will. I will have the bible with us, a cross, some holy water and our faith. Rest assured children, I will make sure nothing happens to you. Now shall we go? We have to return before night fall.” Vicar made the sign of the cross over his chest then kissed the bible in his hands before turning toward the deep woods and into the hands of the Pendleton Witches.

They walked through, to a path that led into the thickly lined forest. Inside, they saw small wild squirrels jumping through the trees and heard the screeches and whistles of the birds. So far it didn’t seem so scary. The Vicar found a long stick laying on the ground that he used as his walking stick, and also to poke through the bushes, making sure nothing unexpected jumped out. You couldn’t be too careful in the woods and you had to be prepared.

It was a beautiful, brisk sunny day and the sprinkle of snow made it look even more inviting. Vicar Charles was quite confident nothing bad would happen and if it did, he was prepared to do whatever it took to keep them all safe.

Chapter Twelve

“It would seem that Esmeralda is trying desperately to confuse us,” Vicar said, as he turned away from the window in the library of the Abbey. The children were sitting in the chairs sipping their hot cocoa. The day before led them nowhere, only in circles through the forest. It was by a miracle that Vicar was able to find their way back before nightfall.

“Vicar, can you tell us the story about the ghost that wanders?” Gwen asked. “I want to know everything about Esmeralda Pendleton.”

“All right.”

Vicar walked over to the shelves and pulled out another dusty book. He held it away from his face as he blew off the dust and sat down in a nearby chair then opened it.

He pulled his eyeglasses from his pocket, wiped them clean with a cloth then placed them on his face. He sat back in the chair with the book on his lap, facing the inquisitive little buggers. He would get no rest as long as the Winter children were here to disturb his peace.

“Are you quite sure you want to hear this?” he said, as he glanced at their little cherub faces over the top rim of his glasses.

“Yes. We really do, please Vicar?” Margaret pleaded.

“Oh, all right, but if this story scares you, remember, you can’t blame anyone but yourselves.”

“We understand completely,” Gwen replied.

“All right then,’ Vicar said, as he settled once more into his comfort zone, then opened the page.

“The story began on All Hallows Eve in the woods. There was a hunter who saw Es-me walking to her cabin. He followed her without being detected, and inside he saw something brewing in a large black cauldron. It seemed, as the years passed, that the three Witches were really Healers according to some college scholars and historians. They used plants from the forest and herbs they grew in their own garden to help the sick. But the hunter saw something different when he peered through their window and accused them as conjurors.”

Vicar paused to take a sip of the hot tea that Miranda, the keeper of the Abbey, had served him. She added two more logs on the fire, then left to tend to her daily duties.

The room was getting warmer as the rain outside continued adding a spooky feel to the story. Lightning cracked in the distance as the thunder roared. Vicar gave a concerned glance in Vicar Angus’ direction. They knew what started the storm. They’d opened up Pandora’s box, after they had sworn never to do it again so the witches would remain locked up and guarded just as he promised. But the hauntings created a stir in him that he couldn’t ignore. He had to do something to put the three witches to rest.

“Remember children, you promised your Aunt Lilith you’d behave this time. So no wandering without me. I know how you want to solve this mystery, but I fear this is something you will need my help with. You must promise to listen to what I tell you.”

Vicar placed his cup down on the table next to him, with a trained eye on the children, before he continued. “The hunter ran back to the village yelling to get the attention of the townsfolk. Since this was many years ago, people were afraid of witchcraft. They were afraid of something they didn’t understand. Witchcraft was related to black magic, you see, and that wasn’t what the three sisters did at all. You could say they performed white magic. Good magic. Healing magic.”

The sisters were basically like physicians, you see. They wanted to help the sick and dying, but they never thought past that. They trusted the townsfolk, but instead were accused.”

Vicar Charles sat back in the chair and rubbed his chin with his fingers in thought. “The witches and warlocks practiced medicine. They used herbs and plants from their very own gardens, which is why most of them were loners. Some of them were better than doctors, and still the people spat at them.”

The children sat entranced as they listened to the Vicar’s voice and the sound of the crackling fire.

The wind began to howl. The Vicar glanced toward the window as a branch from the tree started to scrape at it. He hadn’t heard the wind howl like this in years, or the lightning so wicked. The last time it was just like this is when they performed the binding prayer on the witches. He never forgot that sound. It was a screech, and a cackle that lasted a few minutes and was gone, and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end as he felt a chill near down to his bones.

Vicar picked up the phone to call Lilith. He wanted her to know the children were safe, and as soon as the storm ended, he would have Vicar Angus bring them home safely in the carriage.

Chapter Thirteen

I can see it now,” said Es-me, as she glided through the air. “She will understand our ways, and know, by the time we finish with her,” she said in her deep cackling voice.

Marilyn caught up to her sister. “We will overcome. We must if this is going to work in our favor.”

“We’re not fairy godmother’s you know. We can’t flick our wands and make things better. We will have to convince the girl, and that won’t be easy.” Es-me said plainly, as she stirred the liquid in the cauldron through the magic of her wand.

Bertha turned her attention across the room. She flicked her wand and the flames in the fireplace grew higher. The cauldron bubbled as the sisters chanted. The invisibility spell around the cottage was in place. No one would know they were here.

But if Gwen was strong enough in mind and spirit, she would be the only one who would know. The sisters Pendleton grew more anxious by the day. The spell would only last a few more days and they had to work fast.

Chapter Fourteen

Deep within the forest, the animals were restless. Vicar Charles wandered through the tall trees in search of the cabin. He was certain he was in the correct vicinity. They’d been walking for two hours. That couldn’t be right, he thought as he stopped to take a good look around.

“I think we’ve been walking around in circles, children. I need to take a rest and think for a moment.”

Lance had stuffed some snacks and drinks in his backpack from Aunt Lilith’s house. He opened it up and began distributing to everyone. Vicar Charles sat on a large rock and rubbed his face with his hands. Exhaustion had taken over, but he knew if he didn’t stop the witches now, the binding spell would be broken.

He took a long sip from the water bottle he carried, then turned it in his hand as he surveyed the land.

“I’m positive it was this way.”

“Maybe you just thought it was this way, Vicar?” Richard said as he opened the map.

The forest was busy with the sound of chirping birds for the most part, until the sky darkened. Vicar Charles craned his head upwards. They weren’t going to stop him this time, he thought.

“Let’s go Children. I know which way we have to go now.”

Chapter Fifteen

“We’re almost ready Es-me. The time is near. Get the book of spells. We must say the incantation if this is going to work, but we must work fast sisters.”

Bertha and Madelyn donned their cloaks and hats. They took the liquid from the cauldron and poured it into several glass vials.

“This should work well,” Bertha said. “It’s time.”

With a simple flick of her wand, Es-me raised the brooms that had been stored in the musty shed behind the cabin. The moon was full, perfect for flight.

The sisters jumped onto their brooms and sped into the night.

Somewhere in the forest, Vicar Charles and five children were being led on a wild goose chase.

Chapter Sixteen

Beads of sweat formed on Vicar Charles’s forehead. He wiped it with a gloved hand. The children were tired and complaining. They wanted to find the cabin, but didn’t want to walk any further.

“We must move quickly children, before nightfall.”

Vicar Charles was nervous and lacked the confidence in what he was destined to do. He had to protect Gwen at all costs even if it meant his life for hers. He looked at her sweet, innocent face and was reminded of her mother. She was kind and compassionate. She never allowed her lineage to run her life, nor was she ever bullied over it.

Annabelle Winters was a strong force in Newchurch. She kept Es-me far away from her daughter.

The sisters Pendleton could kill her. Vicar knew this to be true. He heard a sound not far from where they were, calling out to him. He looked through the clearing and saw Vicar Angus. He was carrying a flashlight and waving it at them.

“Over here, Charles! You’re going the wrong way!”

“See I told you he didn’t know where he was going,” Richard said, as he poked Merle in his side with an elbow. “Maybe next time he’ll read the map.” Vicar turned and stared at Richard in a threatening manner.

“And maybe next time, I will leave you in the woods by yourself!”

Richard swallowed the lump that formed in his throat. He knew the Vicar meant every single word he said. He lowered his head and looked toward the ground. “Sorry, Vicar. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“Good, now can we please move along?”

They caught up to Vicar Angus.

“What took you so long?” Vicar Charles asked. “I would have expected you hours ago. We’ve been lost in here all afternoon.”

“Aye, I thought as much,” Vicar Angus said. “Maybe if you read the map?”

“Yes, yes, of course. I was certain we were heading the right way. I didn’t need the map. Apparently I was wrong.”

“This forest ain’t like it was when we were kids, you know that Charles,” Angus said, as they started to walk again.

Vicar Charles turned back and counted heads. Once he was satisfied there were five walking directly behind him, he started moving at a steady pace alongside Vicar Angus, who seemed to know the way, much better than he did.

The path they had taken was rather like a park setting. The trees lined the path, rather than being an obstacle, and they didn’t block the sun like the overhead canopy on the other side of the forest.

Vicar Angus detected the scent of burning wood, “We must be getting close. The woodchoppers cabin is just up ahead. We can rest there for a bit before we move on.”

“Yes, that would be nice,” Vicar Charles agreed, “But not too long. We have to complete our journey,”

Vicar Angus shook his head in agreement. But his facial expression said something else to Vicar Charles.

“Come children. We don’t have too much farther to go.”

Gwen seemed relieved as she quickened her pace. She felt tired, but drawn to the cabin. She looked back at Lance who was nearly on her ankles. “Are you okay?”

“I think so. My feet hurt.”

“Mine too, and I’m so hungry and tired.”

“We’ll be fine once we get there.” Lance gave his sister a reassuring smile.

They reached a fork in the path. Vicar Angus’s nose led the way. Charles swore he had a nose like a bloodhound. His tracking skills were beyond belief. Angus led them straight to the cabin. The Woodchopper was outside, chopping wood.

Vicar Charles never really knew his name. He chopped wood and hauled it to the abbey, that was all he knew. The man paused and looked up. A broad gin filled his features. “Ah Vicars, what brings you this far into the woods?”

“The children wanted to take a little field trip,” Vicar Charles said, as he tried not to look worried as the sky started to darken again.

The Woodchopper tipped his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow. “I suppose you best come inside. Looks like a storm brewing again.”

Vicar Charles gathered the children into the cabin where it was nice and warm with a blazing fire in the fireplace. There was food cooking over the flame. Smelled like beef stew. Vicar couldn’t resist the scent any longer as his stomach began to gurgle and churn.

“Are ye hungry? I have plenty to eat. Enough to feed an army.”

“Yes, that would be very generous of you...?”

“Markus.”

Vicar Charles smiled, “Markus, thank you.”

The children sat on the furniture that was provided at the wooden table. Markus ladled the stew into bowls and placed them in front of them.

Markus had a dull ache in the pit of his stomach. He knew why they were out here. He looked over the children, one by one. They weren’t fighters. Too weak, too simple. Not powerful enough to stand up to the witches. No, he thought to himself, he would have to carry that burden once more and join them in their journey. It wasn’t going to be easy. It was a dangerous game they were playing, and one they should walk away from if they had any sense.

Chapter Seventeen

After resting, they packed up. Markus and Angus joined them. Vicar Charles was most grateful. What he didn’t want the children to know, was that he feared something bad would happen and he wouldn’t be able to protect them.

It was mid-afternoon when they headed back out into the woods. This time Markus led the way. “We need to stay together and as quiet as possible. We don’t want to disturb the forest.”

“What do you mean?” asked Gwen. “You can’t disturb a forest, that’s silly.”

“Oh you’d be surprised at what you can disturb. There are many things in here that can’t be explained. People go missing all the time in here.”

“What happens to them?” Gwen asked again as she caught up next to Markus to walk beside him.

“It’s the witches, they say. No one really believed they just disappeared. No one found their bodies, you see. From what legend tells us, two sisters turned into dust that day in the cabin, but Es-me simply disappeared.”

“Well, they must be dead by now right? It twas so long ago?”

“Some might say,” Markus said, as he adjusted his backpack. “Most people believe she returned from the dead. That she must have used a spell to make her immortal.”

“We’re getting close.” Angus said. “Remember, children, stay together no matter what happens. We are entering unholy ground.”

Beyond the next clearing, the dilapidated, weather worn cottage stood. The roof had collapsed on the far end; vines had grown all around it and up the walls. It was near hidden beneath the canopy of brush that surrounded it. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d never see it.

Vicar Charles raised his hand for the children to stay back. “I must move forward with Vicar Angus to make sure it is safe. Es-me Pendleton is a very smart witch. She can’t be trusted even if her spirit is alive and well here.

Vicar Angus poured a circle of salt around the children. “This is for protection. Don’t leave this circle.”

He slowly walked forward with Vicar Charles and Marcus. They paused when they could move no further. There was an invisible wall they were unable to pass. A protective bubble. They looked at one another then back at the children.

“Run!”

The children left the safety of the salt circle, but Vicar Angus threw the salt behind them as they ran. Cackling laughter followed from behind as the wind picked up almost akin to a tornado, as branches hit the children in their faces. Gwen swiped at the branches as best she could but they continued to whip at her and cut her face.

The rest of the children ran behind. Vicar Charles looked behind him and in one swift instant, Gwen was swept up into the air. Thunder roared and lightning cracked as he heard the familiar cackling laughter. The witches were on their tails.

He ran back to the spot where Gwen was taken. “Let her go! It’s me you want!”

Esmeralda swept down toward him on her broom. “Oh no it isn’t. It’s the girl we want!”

Gwen was screaming from somewhere above them. He was terrified for her as the wind picked up and blew him backwards. The sisters laughed as the loud clap of thunder drew down from the sky. They called down the lightning that struck a nearby tree, bringing it down to the ground with a crackling heavy thud that forced the ground beneath their feet to shake.

As the wind whipped, Vicar Charles struggled to find Gwen. He saw her on Bertha’s broom, fighting to escape her grip.

Markus ran forward holding a vial with green liquid. “Here,” he said to Vicar Charles, “Drink this! Hurry.”

He drank the liquid, then tossed the vial on the ground as he began to float upwards.

“You’ll never get her now. I put a spell on her that will bring us back.” Es-me screeched.

“Gwen! Can you see me?”

“Yes Vicar, I can! Help me!”

With one flick of her wand, Es-me sunk the Vicar to the ground.

“You don’t understand! None of you did! We were never the bad ones! We helped heal the sick! Then accused as witches?”

“I know!” Vicar Charles yelled up to her through the wind. “I was your keeper! I kept you safe when no one else would!”

“Then you understand why we have to keep the girl?”

“No. I don’t. Please take me instead.”

“You would give your life for this girl?”

“Yes!”

The wind continued to blow. Whipping tree limbs from the trees, and sending leaves about. The sky cracked and there was nothing Vicar could do except plead and pray.

He looked up at Gwen, who stopped struggling. Her aura had turned a bright green as if they were ready to take her soul and toss her body to the ground.

In that moment, Gwen began to float away from Bertha Pendleton. The thunder and lightning ceased as did the wind. She looked down at Vicar Charles and the rest of them, almost angelic, and said, “Don’t be scared. The sisters mean you no harm. They need me, Vicar, and in time you will understand.”

“No! You let her go you ugly hag!” Lance bellowed up to Es-me.

“It’s okay, Lance, step back. It’s okay,” Gwen said calmly to her brother, then smiled.

Gwen looked at the sisters. “Are you ready?”

“Yes, child, we are ready.”

The sisters drew in a breath and sucked in all the green smoke that surrounded Gwen. She closed her eyes and spread her arms out to the open sky.

“Nooo!” cried Vicar Charles.”

Slowly but deliberately Gwen was sent down to the ground by Es-me, and into the Vicars arms.

She was drained and nearly lifeless. Tears filled his eyes. He had to do something to save her.

Es-me looked down at her. “Thank you Gwen, your ancestors would have been proud.”

She focused her attention on the Vicar. “Charles, your family has been our guardian all these years. They knew the truth even as the townsfolk came for us that day. Our friends died that day so we wouldn’t.” She flew down to the ground and remained in the safety net of the cabin.

“We created a spell to make us immortal so we could be released and our spirits laid to rest, but as innocents, not as witches. Gwen freed our souls so that now we may rest. It was her destiny all along. Whether she did it now or in years to come, we would have eventually found her. Thank you Charles,” she said. Then she and her sisters disappeared.

Chapter Eighteen

Back at Aunt Lilith’s home, the children packed their suitcases. It had been a long two-week vacation and they were looking forward to going home. This adventure brought Gwen and her brothers closer than they had ever been before, because they realized they nearly lost her.

Not one of them spoke about the incident. Dad would never take them on another trip again. So they vowed to keep this one quiet, but be more prepared for their next adventure.

They said their good-byes with tear-filled eyes to the cousins and Aunt, but Gwen had another stop to make before they left.

Gwen knocked on the double wooden doors of the Abbey and hoped she didn’t miss Vicar Charles. He said he was taking a long holiday after this, but would keep in touch with her.

The door opened and there he stood with a huge grin.

“I thought you were going to leave without saying good-bye.”

“Not a chance,” Gwen said, as she hugged him.

“I will not forget what you did, Vicar. You saved my life. But it was my own stupid curiosity that got us into trouble.”

“Ah, but that’s what I like about you, Gwen. You are more like your mother than you can imagine. She would be very proud of you. If it wasn’t for you, the sisters Pendleton would still be haunting us. Your will power and compassion put them to rest. It was you they needed all along. Now off you go. I’m sure your father is waiting. I promise to write and stay in touch.”

He hugged Gwen and said, “Now, promise me you won’t get into any more trouble?”

“Promise.” she said, with fingers crossed behind her, as she skipped down the road back to Aunt Lilith’s.

Above her in the sky, the sisters flew on their brooms. They were her new Guardian Angels and as long as she had them around, nothing would happen to her...or so it would seem.

“We have things to do, child. Are you ready?”

Absolutely! I wouldn’t miss this for the world!” Gwen replied, as she hopped on Es-me’s broom and flew into the sky.

The End

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cristina337: Oh wow, what a series! Started with book one, and by the next day I have read them all. I just couldn't stop reading :)

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cristina337: Oh wow, what a series! Started with book one, and by the next day I have read them all. I just couldn't stop teading :)

Elaine June Creech: Really good so far but please give us more as its getting good

Ray Ane: Very intressting can't wait for the update

Beauty101: Great story I love the characters and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more !

Kathleen: Lizzy protected the baby with her life she was soooo determine and kept her secrets great read.

Rachael: Okay so I've read about 150 stories here on this app, and many more on others. But I honestly had trouble putting this one down. It has a nice mystery twist to the romance and the whole story was unique. The characters were easy to understand and not too many. The whole story I was able to fly th...

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.