Chapter 1 Richelle
Paimon’s and Richelle’s Book.
I knelt at the lake’s edge drops of blood falling into my reflection as I tended to the wounds on my face as gently as possible. My black wavy hair was pulled back from sun-kissed skin and the blue of my eyes was bright enough it showed even in the water’s reflection. I touched the wet cloth to the cut above my left eye cleaning it before holding the cloth to the wound until it stopped burning. I moved onto the split lip which had already started to scab over. My entire face hurt, the left eye nearly swollen shut, but my body hurt far worse. I had been beaten badly by the man I called husband. I had been born to a family of natural green witches but I had never gained any real use of the magic they taught me, I could use small things but nothing of note, and nothing that helped me in my situation now. When I turned twenty-one, the ages for witches to come into their power I had felt the rush, the magic coursing through my veins, I had been thrilled when I told my family. So they tested me and when I failed horribly to show any gifts of their line they married me off to the first male witch that would have me for the price they wanted.
I found out on our wedding night just how much of a monster they had married me too. I was given the first beating of my life and raped when I tried to run, all because he didn’t like how I had smiled at other men during our wedding. The situation had been horrifying, scarring, even now I had nightmares, I flinched every time his hand drew near to me, when he drew near I cringed inside. Obedience and pain was all my life consisted of now four months into my marriage I was getting to the point I didn’t think I’d survive the year. This beating had been over the fact I had gotten his hopes up for a child and failed him. Last month I had no period, and when I feared I might be with child I took herbs to help be sure I would not. I had tried to convince him I had only been late because I was worried I was a horrible wife and by the end of the beating he believed me.
I hated him, I thought of running but he was a skinwalker, a powerful one, and if I dared cross him I would never know who would be the one that would come after me. The idea of killing him crossed my mind as well, but then I would be hunted for murder, not to mention end up in hell for the crime. So I took the beatings, hid until they were gone from the others in the village even though a few knew, no one ever dared to help me. It wasn’t a crime, distasteful but not a crime in the day and time we lived in. The witch trials sent most of us into hiding, and while my situation was a nightmare, being a single woman was risky as well, while married to him, being beaten by him, I was considered far too weak and humble to be a witch. By birth, I would always be a witch, but with the power inside of me locked away for some reason I was weak.
I finished tending to my wounds, rinsing the cloth out I let it soak up fresh clean water to hold over my swollen eye.
The day was sunny with only a few passing clouds, a light breeze of a storm heading in some time tonight or tomorrow was calming. I laid back on the bank of the lake, grass tickling the side of my face as I looked out over the water tucked under the shade of a large oak tree growing right against the water’s edge. “What I wouldn’t give to be a bird today.”
A soft chuckle had me jerked upright and narrowing my good eye at the man who was crouched not far from me.
“Thomas you scared me!” He grinned and sat down a good distance from me the grin leaving as he studied my face.
“Again he ruins you.” I turned away from Thomas to look over the water. I didn’t need to see him to know what he looked like. He wasn’t an ugly man by far, but not one of those men that makes you stop and stare. With sandy blond hair that was nearly brown, hazel-grey eyes, and stubble covered chin. Thomas was a few years older, nearly thirty, he worked the forge in the village and some other small crafts but it was slow right now with very little needing tended to so he had more time off. He was one of the few humans who knew about the witch factions in our world and just how real we all our because his mother had married a witch. Thomas had been born human, which happened sometimes with mixed parenting.
“Yes.” I didn’t elaborate. I never liked being caught so soon after a beating when everything inside me was still raw emotionally.
“You should speak to Jane.” I shook my head then turned to look at him.
“You know he would kill me if I spoke to a Demonic witch. Not to mention what he would do to jane in fear she would do something against him. He’d kill us both, and you if he knew you even spoke to me like this.” Thomas’s voice turned angry.
“You don’t deserve this.” I knew my expression was one of pity, for his sake, not mine.
“Life isn’t fair.”
“Richelle.” He moved as if he would come to me and I held up a hand warding him off.
“It’s my fate Thomas, he’s my husband it’s done. I won’t put my friends in harm’s way.”
He slammed his fist on the ground. “And we won’t just stand by and watch you be abused!” Thomas had found out after the second beating what was going on, and after each time he grew more and angrier. I had known him and Jane all my life, the three of us thick as thieves, and Jane loved him far more than just friends. “I’ll be alright.”
Thomas only shook his head. “No. No more Richelle. This has to stop. If you don’t talk to Jane I will. You already speak of wanting another life, not even a human one, I want to see you take the next step.”
I blinked at him, he thought I was considering killing myself. I would be the first woman to do so when pushed by abuse, and likely not the last. I wasn’t that type of person however, I’d already considered it, held a blade to the soft skin of my wrist and trembled while crying as I thought to end it all, after what seemed forever the blade had been thrown aside, and I’d decided to fight and keep my life for as long as fat allowed. “I won’t Thomas I-”
I was cut off by another voice as Jane stepped around the tree and into sight. “That’s right because we won’t let you.”
Jane was a red-headed demonic witch who’s green eyes danced with a powerful light with every breath she took. When her full powers had come in a storm had struck the village to the point the humans thought god was going to destroy us all. Her face was perfectly symmetrical and delicate in its features while the woman who wore them was the farthest thing from delicate. Her dress was similar to mine, a simple wool cloth with a simple leather overdress to help prevent tears in the simple cloth. “Jane…”
I held a little fear in my voice. I had made sure never to let her see me like this, acting as if everything was normal because if anyone was going to kill my husband it would be Jane. “You should have told me Elle.”
I winced. “I know.. But I couldn’t let you hurt him, I don’t want you to be hunted or punished because you want to help me.”
Jane growled at me. I blinked at her. “WE ARE FRIENDS!”
Her shout had me shifting away from her slightly. I didn’t fear her but over the last few months, I had been trained to avoid anyone that was angry or shouting. At my moment she froze and paled, taking my action as me being afraid of her. “Elle… Oh Elle I’d never hurt you.”
I looked down, feeling shame that even for a moment my body betrayed me. I glanced up when I heard Thomas move to go and wrap his arms around Jane who was now silently crying. “This has to end Elle. He’s going to kill you. If he killed you... I’d kill them all I swear it.”
I paled then. I knew she would, she never broke her word. “But you can’t, we can’t go after him Jane. He’ll do anything and everything he can to hurt or kill all of us if we try. I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to either of you.”
Thomas’ voice was soft. “Don’t you understand we feel the same way?”
I hung my head as I nodded. “I understand. But there is nothing we can do.”
Jane’s voice while soft held inner strength to it. “There is one thing. We bind you to a demon.”
My head jerked up, eyes wide as I looked at her. “What!?”
Even Thomas was looking at her oddly. “Only demonic witches can bind to demons. Elle’s not a Demonic witch.”
Jane shook her head and pulled from Thomas to walk closer to me, kneeling down on the grass she tucked her dress around her legs like a proper lady. “Not exactly. The demonic witch lines are the only witches with set contacts in the demon world that we can form contracts with. All we have to do is find a free ranged demon of enough power to bond with you and protect you.”
Thomas and Jane shared a look before they both looked to me. “It’ll work Elle.”
I wasn’t as sure as Jane. “Won’t this cost me, my soul?”
Jane took a soft breath before answering me. “It might, depending on the demon and the deal he or she wants to make. But we can go through a demon broker to find and place you with a demon that won’t be after your soul, will just cost something extra.”
I twisted the wet cloth in my hand. “If he catches us…”
Jane shook her head reaching out to grab my hand. “He won’t. We will do it tonight. He left for a few days to visit his mother right?”
I nodded. “Good then you come home with me and we do this tonight. So when he comes home he can’t hurt you anymore.”
Thomas nodded in agreement. “You have to Elle. I can watch your home to be sure he doesn’t come home early.”
Jane smiled at Thomas. “Good I’ll send my familiar with you if trouble happens you send him home to me and we can hide Elle till we finish.”
I blew out a breath looking at both of my best friends. “You are both risking everything for me.”
They smiled and Jane pulled me into a hug. I was stiff for only a moment then I gratefully sank into the first human contact I’d had in months that wasn’t terrifying. I hugged her back tightly. “You’d do the same for us and even have. We may not be blood Elle but you are more than a sister to me.”
I felt tears sliding down my face for the second time today but this time they were happy tears. “I’m one lucky witch.”
They both laughed softly at me. “So are we.”
I looked up at Thomas at his words and nodded. We didn’t stay much longer, Jane summoned her familiar, a hawk and sent him with Thomas to my home as we headed to hers. Janes lived with her parents still but when they took a look at me they asked nothing, only welcomed me inside. This had been a second home to me as a child and one I preferred over my own, her parents were much more loving and accepting than my own had been. Jane took me down into the basement of her home, using a small enchantment she opened a door to their workroom where all their spells were done, worked on, where they conversed with their demons.
The workroom was caved into the ground below the basement supported with hand carved stones, the work was extremely detailed, part of their families’ history written into each and every stone. The set up for the summoning of the Broker demon seemed rather simple as I watched her set it up. A summoning circle was placed on the floor with symbols writing between two rings. She copied everything from a book using runes, sigils, and writing, that I didn’t recognize as any known form because all of this was not taught from my faction of magic. Finally, she was done, Her father came down and joined us before Jane was going to start, to check over her work but he frowned nothing the symbol she had placed at the center of her summoning circle. “ Jane. Why are you using this? This isn’t one of the demons we work with. “
She sighed. “I need to find a broker demon for Richelle, and this is the only one in our family history. She doesn’t want to barter away her soul.”
Her father nodded. “ I understand.” He gave me a kind smile. “It’s too late for our family, all of us are tied to one demon clan or another but this way we can see our family when our time ends and all of us stand together for all time.”
I smiled at him. “I’d rather be stuck with your family than mine.”
He chuckled lightly and ruffled my hair. “Perhaps you can. Go ahead Jane I’ll be here to back you up.”
Jane had me stand next to her as she started the summoning. I didn’t understand a single thing she uttered but when the last word fell from her lips power flared in the room, thick black smoke and the smell of brimstone came up from the floor. Before our eyes, the smoke took the shape of a man, the glow of red eyes was the next physical feature to come from the smoke.
“It has been a long time since a Bynnying has summoned me.”
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