The Hunter Series - Penelope

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Chapter 4

Mum stared at me with a vacant expression. I couldn’t tell if she expected me to read her mind but my patience was running thin. I waited for her to say something. Anything.

“Well...?” I snapped.

Blinking, she shook her head slightly. “Do you promise to be open minded? What I’m about to tell you is hard for me to explain.”

I frowned. “What are you on about?”

“Just promise.”

“Alright! I promise.”

“Okay, then. A long time ago, in 1516, there was two sisters. Arietta, 22 years old and her younger sister Myra, 18. In those days it was unlikely any girl, aged eighteen, would be unmarried. This caused a stir amongst the men in the town. Arietta, however, was married with a child already. Myra watched Arietta fall in love, living an almost perfect life. A life she craved but never being satisfied with anything she had. One day, Myra finally got married. She thought she could have everything her sister has and have a perfect life too. Later into her marriage, she discovered she would never conceive a child. Always one step out of reach of happiness. Why was her sister better than her? It made her jealous, vindictive and she thought if she couldn’t have what she wanted, she would destroy everything her sister had. Myra spent years trying to split Arietta’s family apart but whatever problems thrown at them, they somehow managed to come out stronger.”

“Why are you telling me this? Who are these girls. Why do I need to know about them?” I questioned her.

“I’m telling you because they're family. Arietta would be your 13th great grandmother, born with several magical abilities. Myra was born with magical powers too. Their parents were not magical. They never understood or found out why they were chosen. Magic stayed in their blood. Any children they had was gifted with magic abilities and their children’s children. Arietta began the magical line but it created a ripple effect. Others were able to find their soulmate, like her. They were able to read each other's mind - not every soulmate has that ability. Arietta had the strongest powers known to the magical community. After her death, no other has wielded them since. Once magic was born, it caused havoc, creating new creatures across the globe. Anyone without a magical ability, humans, feared for their life. Until one day they all disappeared. Every vampire, werewolf, fairy, goblin, shape shifter and whatever else - all gone. Witches created another world. A supernatural kingdom called Enukeador. On odd occasions some find their way back.”

“So, let me get this straight. You are telling me that I come from a line of witches who started some messed up crap with the world?” I frowned at her. It was pretty unbelievable.

“Pretty much… oh and there is another thing I need you to understand.” She took my hand to show me the symbol on the inside. “This symbol means you’ve found your soulmate. This is do know from experience. When your father kissed my cheek soon after we met, it appeared from a jolting spark. None of my friends seemed to be able to see it. So, I asked them about it and they explained about the soulmate principle. I know you can't see but its a moon crescent with a star. It's a reminder each day of how much I love your dad.”

The mention of dad made my chest clench, reminding me of how much we both missed him.

“What does this all mean? If I’m a witch, does it mean I have powers?” I responded sceptic but it sounded pretty cool.

“It means you were born to do great things. You don’t have any powers until the awakening ceremony. You must understand, after the ceremony, the next 24 hours you’ll be vulnerable to dark magic. It will try to ensnare your mind and convince you to use your magic for evil. Once it's gripped hold of you it will never let you go.”

“Is that why you’ve not told me about this before? Do you think I won’t be able to handle it or something?”

I could feel my hand trembling from the hurt I felt. The thought of mum thinking I was a failure hurt much deeper than any wound.

“It’s not that, I promise. You're my little girl and I just wanted you to be safe and have a normal life. This will change your life. Being part of the supernatural community can be daunting. All us witches get the raw end of the deal. We’re always in the middle of some vampire drama.”

Vampire drama?

The words coming from Mum stunned me but I wasn’t sure why. I wasn’t entirely sure what consisted in these vampire dramas. I hoped to never find out.

“They always seem to need a Hennessey witch to do a spell… Though interestingly enough, Myra created vampires.”

“Why?” I frowned. “Why would you create something to feed on human blood? Not to mention the strength, inhuman speed and killing innocent people for their own amusement!”

“Myra didn’t intend on those things happening. She went searching for immortality and it came at a price. On a foggy night, All Hallows’ Eve, she concocted a potion. Supposedly, the answer to everything… Not long after taking it, she knew something was wrong when she started coughing up blood. Myra didn't know how to stop the process, or fix things. In the end her heart gave out and she died.”

“Not a very good immortality potion then. Did they find her?”

“They did many weeks later. The family organised a funeral putting her to rest. Myra was in the earth for only a few weeks before coming back one night; to find she could no longer stand in the light of day without burning. The potion had brought her back granting the immortality she desperately wanted but at a terrible cost. It also granted her incredible strength, speed and the ability to hypnotise people to do what she wanted. However, there were consequences for creating a creature against nature. There are certain herbs, like vervain, that burn and weaken vampires. People soon learnt to wear or ingest the herb because it stopped the vampires controlling them. The villagers who had once opened their homes to her could keep her out by not inviting her inside. The worst part of this new immortality was the hunger for blood. It became all she could think about. Myra had to find everything out the hard way and that included the blood lust and hunger. While she was still transitioning to vampire, there was a burning in her throat, struggling to breath, gasping for air. The sound of human heartbeat drumming in her head until it became all she could think about. Myra zoned in to the beat on the man's throat until her instincts broke free, completely draining him of blood. The first feed completed her transition to vampire. Although there are some vampires who only feed when necessary. A vampire must feed at the bare minimum of once a day otherwise they’ll die from suffocation.”

The story was mesmerising. I asked in a daze, “So, our lineage created them... What happened to her in the end?”

“I don’t know. She must have travelled the world to create more like her. Those vampires created more too. With all those vampires around chomping on people, it mutated a gene in human DNA tattooing a Hunter Mark on selected people. It became their destiny to rid the world of vampires. Although, when they figured out there was more than just vampires, they pledged war on all. They massacred so many innocent lives in the witch trials, most of them weren’t even witches. The witches that did die were peaceful people. They used their magic to help others. The hunters didn’t care and made us their enemy too. They are bad news. Even now, in modern times, hunters won’t change and still continue to persecute us. You can understand how complicated all this is, huh. Can you see why I never wanted you involved?”

My lips rose to half smile half grimace. I needed to prepare for the worst.

“Mum, I’m a hunter.”

Mum’s eyes widened and gasped. “What?”

“I’m a hunter.” I repeated.

“I heard what you said but that’s not possible... How did this happen?” Mum’s voice rose in anger.

“Whoa, calm down. It was only ten minutes ago, you told me that I’m a witch and this tattoo means I have a soulmate. You can’t get mad at me for having secrets too.”

“I’m sorry. Please, tell me how this happened.”

“Do you remember how terrible I was as a teenager?” I asked.

“You weren’t that bad...”

“Yeah I was... After Jeremy died, I couldn’t cope with the grief. I remember taking it out on you all the time. Dad used to comfort you when you was crying after our arguments. You used to say how much you hated my behaviour. So, I tried to change by going to a counsellor. Things became a lot better. Do you remember?”

“Yes, I remember. Eleanor helped you through a difficult time and you still see her now. She brought you home after the incident at the pier.”

“Exactly, she helped me through a bad patch. Counselling was how I met Eleanor but she’s not just my counsellor... She’s also a hunter. She taught me everything I know about killing vampires. I was such a confused kid, Mum. All I knew was my brother died. I needed something to take the pain away. Eleanor trained me, shaped me to become a hunter, like her. When I killed my first vampire - I knew I wanted to keep it up. I became a better person...”

“You became a murderer! Do you see how bad this is? Would you think the same if a human went on a murder spree, killing innocent people?” Mum’s voice rose as she got increasingly mad.

“They are not people, Mum. They're already dead. They're monsters feeding on innocent people… Wait, why do I have to justify all this to you?”

“You clearly don’t understand. Hunting isn’t part of your DNA, it’s not who you are! You’ve been brainwashed into killing vampires. Hunters don’t need training, it is second nature to them and the urge to kill is as strong as the urge to drink blood like a vampire. You are going down a dangerous road. Letting yourself get caught up in the middle of this never ending battle.” Mum had to dab at the tears that ran down her cheeks. “I can see that this won’t end well for you if you continue to be part of their world.”

I stopped to think about the warning mum was giving me. To turn my back on the hunters for good. I’d lose my friends and my support links. I won’t see the people who have helped me through these tough years. It won’t be just some break like I’m having now. It would be permanent. Can I cut them out of my life so easily?

“I understand you don’t approve of what I am. You've got to at least admit I've become a better person because of them. I’m less angry and aggressive. I’ve done a lot of good in the community. We have support groups for people who have suffered because of vampires. Whether they are the victim themselves or the families that are left behind.” I said. My voice beginning to crack with the thoughts of my little brother being killed by one. “You can hate hunters all you want for what they’ve done to all the witches that died by their hands. But, you can’t blame me for joining them, not when I didn’t know what ran through my veins!”

“You’re right, I’m sorry. I’m glad you make time to help others. It’s one of many things that makes you special. You care about people. There is a lot of things that I wish I could do differently and I’m sorry that because of my mistakes you took the wrong path.” She said, her voice had lowered. “Can we forgive and forget?”

I took a few minutes to answer. “You can’t lie to me any more. I want to decide for myself whether witchcraft is for me. I want you to help me and guide me along the way.”

“I can do that,” she mustered up a smile. She pulled me into a tight hug. Mum muffled the sound of her crying and let her hold me. While dad wasn't due back for a few more days, she needed someone more than ever right now. It was hard to stay mad.

At the end of the day it didn’t matter what silly arguments my mum and I had. She will always be my mum. If a person can own up to their mistakes and apologise - surely they deserve another chance. Don’t you agree?

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