“Did it work?” Joey whispers.
At first, I am afraid to open my eyes, I squeeze Joey’s hand a little tighter when I do. I didn’t feel anything different happen when I cast the spell, I’d imagine something would happen, like a jolt or a phase of dizziness, but it feels as though we never left the library.
It’s only when I open my eyes that I realise that isn’t the case. I get a small glimpse of Amara walking across the Summit grounds before Joey pulls me to a side wall, out of view.
“It worked,” I confirm, glancing behind us as Joey peers around the wall. We’re to the left of the Summit stage, like a backstage, and we’re alone in a small passageway. “We won’t have long before she senses me. She smells Harmons like humans smell gas.”
“Uh, Theresa,” Joey mutters. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”
“What are you talking about?” I demand, moving him out of the way of the gap. I hesitate for a moment, terrified of what I’ll see, but I compose myself enough to look. Amara still wanders around the stage, talking to her audience of thousands that are gathered around the stadium, and though their presence confuses me, when I look down, I understand why they are here.
My heart beats faster as I see the bodies along the back wall, first I see my cousin Lucas, then my cousin Anna; all along that wall lies the lifeless corpses of the remainder of my coven; my family. I count ten. I don’t see Victoria.
“This witch stands accused of conspiring with Slayers to kill me,” Amara yells, her finger pointing to a blind spot. “She has been seen talking to them, summoning them, and even trading vital information with them. This is the reason that the Harmons can no longer be trusted, and why I had to do this. These are such dark times that are befalling our world, hopeless times, and removing the Harmon bloodline from existence will be in our greatest interest to secure our safety.” As the audience roars in agreement, Amara turns directly to the blind spot and scowls. “Do you have any last words, traitor?”
“Rot in hell,” says a voice.
Victoria. Joey attempts to stop me, but there is no stopping my rage, my desire, my will to save her. I run through the gap, bursting into the widen open light like a crazed madwoman. I see Victoria’s body fall to the floor before Amara sees me, her throat is slit with merely a movement from Amara’s fingertips. The metal from the shackles echo around the walls, and they pierce straight into my blood.
“No!” I cry. “Victoria!”
Amara stands still for a moment as she absorbs the magic from Victoria’s death. The stadium falls quiet at my arrival, and I am glancing at my fallen coven in despair.
“How did you get free?” Amara says, blinking at me in a panic. “Who helped you?”
“You killed them,” I say. “Murderer!”
“I did what was necessary,” Amara says. “I was saving your ritual for this evening, but now you’ve saved me a job.” Amara’s voice gets louder as she addresses her audience. “Theresa Harmon, the last of the Harmon bloodline, the last threat to our new world. Her ritual is a little earlier than planned but we will proceed regardless.”
I look behind me to see Joey mouthing frantic words and signalling for me to run back. I shake my head, turning back to Amara. She is using the audience as an intimidation scheme, to frighten me, to weaken me, to make me believe that no one cares. It is her greatest manipulation and it has worked on dozens of others. When humans are executed, the crowds cheer and scream, but when it’s one of their own, a wiccan, there is silence.
I only thought I’d be dying, that was her threat. I should have known it wouldn’t have ended with me; I should have been smarter. I could have protected them; I should have protected them. Now they’re all dead.
“You stand accused of treason against your Elder using potions of category A with intent to kill,” Amara shouts at me. “Treason against me is treason against us all. How do you plead?”
I look around the stadium, seeing blank face after blank face staring back. I remember this moment five years ago, I remember the same people gathered to witness one of Amara’s mad episodes, I remember screaming in agony as my mother was murdered right next to me while no one did anything. Nothing will ever change.
“How do you plead?” Amara repeats. “Hello?”
“Guilty,” I say. The stadium erupts into mutters. “I am guilty of making potions with enough explosive power to blow this stadium apart and I am guilty of wanting you dead.”
“Luckily for me I saw straight through you the moment you got yourself arrested.” Amara grins to herself. “It was a daring plan using six potions, though not the smartest. Nevertheless, you’ve admitted your intentions and the penalty is death.”
“Seven potions,” I mutter.
“What was that?”
“I made seven potions, one was used on your statue, five were retrieved from my bag,” I say, my lips twisting into a smirk. I reach into my top, pulling out a vial from my bra pad. “Lucky number seven.”
As Amara’s eyes widen in shock, my hand is thrashing through the air, the potion releasing from my palm as it smashes beneath her legs. The crack of the glass is the sweetest sound in the world. The explosion is the sweetest sight. It is contained to her body, catching it on fire and creating smoke so thick that it blocks her from view. I didn’t expect to still be alive after throwing it so closely, but perhaps because Amara is an Elder and not a statue, the potion works differently. There is a still a loud boom and the walls tremble from side to side, gravel and stone fall from the rooftop and land around my feet. The screams from the covens are synchronized. Everyone is on their feet, waiting for the end result.
I watch the smoke begin to subside, expecting to see scorch marks on the stone where Amara once stood. Instead, I see Amara. Her body intact, her clothes torn and burned, her face is red and her eyes are enraged as she exhales harsh breaths.
I do nothing but stare. It can’t be true. She couldn’t have survived that, no one could have survived that. That was the strongest potion ever made, it should have ripped through her tissue like paper.
“It’s not possible,” I say.
“Thanks to your coven, it is possible.” Amara laughs to herself as she observes her hands, she glances to the crowd for a short moment with a smirk, before turning back to me. “And with your death, I’ll be more than undefeatable, I’ll be immortal.”
She comes for me, and I begin to back away slowly, knowing there’s no escape. Whatever I try will be useless, that was my best shot, my only shot. I close my eyes, accepting my fate, and my failure; ready to join my cousins in their mortal state of the afterlife.
I open my eyes when I realise my heart is still beating and I am still panicking. Amara’s hand is halfway through the air but her head is tilted sideways towards the back wall. I follow her gaze to where a light shimmer is moving against the wall in a blue wave. The ripple moves in diagonal lines across the stone, creating an effect of illusive imagination.
“What the-” Amara begins, but before she has time to figure it out, the ripple twists itself away from the wall and turns into a lightening bolt that strikes her. The blast knocks her off of the ground, flying her twenty feet across the stadium.
Into the light of the stadium, charges a man dressed in black leather with short, dark blonde hair and a stultifying presence about him. He looks at me, and I suddenly recognise who he is. He is the Slayer that cornered me outside the herb shop, the Slayer that Joey described as being the most feared of all.
“Slayers!” someone screams.
Chaos follows. I don’t know where to go or who to help as the blue lightening strikes around the entire stadium. The leader, who introduced himself as Joe, seems only interested in Amara, as his accomplices that are moving too fast for me to see scare the covens senseless. They are running for their lives, stampeding in their hundreds to get to the entrance. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen wiccans run from something. They really are scared.
“Theresa!” Suddenly, Joey’s hand is tugging at my arm, pulling me away from the stage. “We have to go.”
“No,” I say, meeting the eyes of the leader who is blasting Amara with bolt after bolt, keeping her on the ground. “This ends today.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” the Slayer says, turning his full attention to me. “You’re coming with me.”
Joey lunges himself between me and the Slayer. Joey knows who he is, what he is, and he’s trying his hardest to act brave.
“Stay away from her,” Joey hisses. “Your fight is with the Elder.”
The Slayer is not phased, he grips Joey’s throat and throws him to the ground. When he looks at me, I swear the entire stadium is silent. I want to make sure Joey is okay, but I am in awe of the creature before me, as though I am physically locked to him. The Slayer puts his hand out, as a gesture for me to take it. I stare at it.
“Would you rather stay here and die?” he demands. “She’s taken enough hits to keep her power down for a minute at most. Take my hand if you want to live.”
Over his shoulder, I see Amara emerge to her feet. She is looking around at the battle, barking orders at the covens to fight back. Her eyes find mine, and I must choose a fate before she chooses it for me.
“You dare to attack us here!” Amara screams. “I will kill every last one of you soul-sucking parasites!”
The Slayer shows me his teeth in an impatient snarl.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I say.
“Too bad you don’t have a choice.”
He grabs my hand against my will, squeezing it so tight that I begin to feel faint. No, I am feeling faint. And fainter and fainter until. . . everything goes black.