“So, you threw a potion at her?” Curtis says in amazement, almost on the verge of laughter. “I would have loved to have seen that.”
“It sure pissed her off,” I say. “All her clothes were torn and her face was red. That potion is illegal to make without the Elder’s permission, you can probably guess why.”
“Yeah, because more than one could blow her to pieces,” he says, leading me down a stairwell. “Do you think you could make another?”
“With the right ingredients, sure, but getting it from a shop will be difficult. She’s probably already pulled it from the shelves.”
“Theresa,” he says, as we enter a bright, lit-up underground chamber far beneath the castle. “I can get you anything in the world.”
“Oh my god,” I say.
My eyes drift around the chamber like I’m on drugs. There’s so much, too much, my head can hardly contain the excitement. I run to the table stacked with herbs, witch herbs, and I start smelling them, each of them, naming them out loud as I move on to the next. I move to the table with the artefacts; medallions, statues, pendants, crystals, Bana crystals. I’ve never seen a Bana crystal in my life, my mother said they went extinct. I pick it up first, feeling its power ignite with mine just by the touch. Bana crystals are the most powerful crystals ever created, they form forcefields, just like the one around this castle, only a thousand times stronger. They aren’t replicas, or fakes, these are the real deal.
“How did you- Where did you- How is this-?”
“You could call me a collector of sorts,” Curtis says. “I collected them from all over the world. Some were stolen from Elders, some were sold to unsuspecting mortals as pretty mantlepieces.”
“Curtis, you have the first Elder’s pendant!” I say, admiring it carefully as I pick it up. “I can feel her, I can literally feel her. How is this possible? This is crazy.”
“I’ve never had a witch authenticate them,” he chuckles. “It’s not as though I had doubts, but it’s good to know.”
“Yes, they’re authentic,” I say, rushing over to another table, full of grimoires and journals. I pick up the books in my hands and I stare at him. “This is amazing. Does Sam know about this?”
“No,” he says. “And you can’t tell him, or anyone. They know that I use this chamber but because of the Bana crystals they protect everything from being seen. Only a witch and myself can see them.”
“You tied your power with Bana crystals?” I say. “And they work for you?”
“They’ve been working so far.” He smiles, proud of that.
“My kind thinks that they’ve been extinct for decades. Even Amara. Do you have any idea the kind of power you’ve got in this room? You have to tell the others about this, convince them, the covens wouldn’t stand a chance against this stuff.”
“No,” he says. “It’s better we don’t open that door.”
“Curtis there’s herbs over there that I’ve only seen in picture books.” I point towards a far table. “They’re not sold or grown or produced, the covens have nothing like that. They’re centuries old and preserved, I don’t even know how that’s possible but I’m telling you that in the right hands, they could literally do the unimaginable.”
“I know,” he says. “Which is why you’re the only person I’ve ever let close to them. I’ve got Elder pendants dating back a thousand years, I’ve got grimoires dating back a thousand years. Everything about the beginning of witchcraft is in this room. I’m giving you permission to use it, Theresa. Decode it. Find something useful that we can use. Then we can talk about telling the others.”
“Okay, fine,” I say, too excited to care. “I don’t even know where to start.”
“Start with this,” he says, walking over to me with a large, dusty book in his hands. “It belonged to the first coven. I’ve tried endlessly to understand their language, but I’ve gotten nowhere. Ancient hieroglyphics are not a passion of mine.”
I take the book from him, looking for somewhere to sit down. I find a step close to a pillar and I open the first page slowly. Just like Curtis, all I see is scribbled letters and badly drawn pictures indicating some kind of connection between a moon and the sun.
“Is this Latin?” I ask.
“No,” he says. “I can read Latin. I don’t know what it is. I was hoping you would.”
“Well, our spells are spoken in an ancient wiccan language that I can read,” I say. “But I’ve never seen or heard of this language. Maybe Hebrew? Egyptian?”
He shakes his head.
“It’s made up then,” I sigh. “It’s like old English and new English. Over time, the language changes. But this is before the ancient wiccan language. This isn’t from a thousand years ago; this is before anything.”
“The woman that I bought it from,” he says. “She said it was written by the gods.”
“Wait, there’s a passage here that I think I can interpret,” I say, keeping my finger on the words. “La taik beng, no, beang, oma-”
“Theresa, stop!” he shouts. “Don’t-”
“-samo all comost.”
Before I can comprehend what I’ve just done without thinking, the chamber walls begin to tremble. I stand quickly, clutching tightly onto the book-and the pillar-as the tremors escalate all around us. All at once, the ancient artefacts like up with a bright, green glow. The light bursts towards the ceiling, causing a portal of beautiful lights to entwine with the air. I walk towards the table.
“What are you doing?” Curtis demands. “Don’t go near it.”
“I know this sounds crazy, but I think it wants to show me something.”
“You’re right that does sound crazy.”
I put my hand out, slowly approaching the first Elder’s pendant as it bounces against the table. Slow, and even slower, I gently place my hand around the crystal, and then I gasp.
The sky is beautiful. An electric blue. I turn my head looking at it. I am standing in a field so green that it blinds me. The beating sun is high, heating me, sweat drips from my skin. There is movement. Large, white birds are falling from the sky in flocks of dozens. I stand helpless as they crash into the ground.
Hands grab my shoulders, twirling me around. Before me stands the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Her hair, as golden as the sun, floats around her face as though she is swimming. Her eyes are as green as the pendant she wears around her pale throat. She speaks to me in a language that I understand.
“It has begun,” she says. “The fall of our kind. Soon, we will create an army big enough to destroy the demons. You are the first, you must protect them.”
“How do I do that?” I ask back. “I am merely your child. I am no god.”
“You are stronger than you think,” she says. “Here, take this.” She takes off her pendant and places the chain around my throat. Seeing her without it is strange to me, she has never taken it off. “With this, you will be more powerful than the gods themselves. It will protect you, and teach you. When the first coven arises, you will lead them, Samara. Some of their children will try to challenge you for leadership, but you are worthy.”
“I am not worthy of immortality though,” I say.
“You know that is a sacrifice that must be made,” she says. “Your child will be different from all others. If you wear this pendant when you have your first born, that power will be in their blood for generations with or without it. Remember, you are the daughter of a god, the rest are merely children of angels.”
“Nephilim,” I say. “It has not worked anywhere else, why would it here?”
“Because this world contains magic all on its own,” she says. “It has created the human. A being capable of amazing things. Of love, peace and ultimately, the host for our species to continue. For us to survive. Over time, our kind will only get stronger with the wiccan race, and we will one day be able to face the demons that have cursed us.”
“But I will not be alive to see it,” I say. “I will never see you again.”
“Yes, you will.” She touches my face, smiling at me warmly. “There is a place for all those born of the pendant’s blood. A place that can never die.” She looks over at the fallen angels, and she takes a deep breath. “I believe in this. I believe in you. You will make our worlds right again.”
“Goodbye, my daughter. Be brave. Be strong.”
Her particles begin to detach and her body fades away into the air. I feel a sadness overwhelm me, knowing I will never see her again, that she left me here to be mortal and lead a coven that I have yet to meet.
In the next second, I am standing on the grounds of Amara’s mansion. Only, it’s different. The house is bigger, older, brighter, and the gates are now stone walls that form a perimeter around it. Amara’s mansion is an abbey, probably the first ever built. I did that. I built it from magic.
I am waiting for something. I am waiting for them. Finally, they come. After so many years since my mother brought me and the angels here, the first coven exist. I am still to have my child, but the other angels, now reduced to mortality like me, haven’t wasted a second.
The faces of the next generation greet me with awe and fear. Some are older, some are young, some are terrified, some are confident. I count fifteen of them. They have been raised by their human parent and their angel parent, somewhere close to here. But they have been raised to know exactly what they are. And so it begins.
It all fades away, and now I am screaming. I have never felt pain like this in my life. I didn’t know pain like this could exist. I am sitting against the wall of a cave, sweat covers my entire body. My legs are wide open and a woman is yelling at me to push. As the daughter of a god, I was not born, I was created from her flesh. My mother did not go through this torment to have me, if she had I doubt she would have put me through it. I curse her as I scream. I curse them all. I curse them for abandoning me, for leaving me with hardly any instructions. This world has brought nothing but suffering and grief to me. All that exists are violent wars and man fighting man for land or honour. I can’t change it. I know my purpose is greater, and there are beings out there that must be my main priority to stop, but I can’t help but feel connected to this world. I can’t help but want to protect it. I am the one that is changing.
I push the baby out of me, and I hear her cries for the first time. A girl. My daughter. My pendant burns my chest at her arrival but I do not wince. The first time I see her, it is like everything I have ever been taught is wrong. Something warm flutters in my stomach, there is a need to protect her, to care for her, to never allow anything in this world to harm her. I didn’t know what it was then, but I know it now. It is love. She is beyond my duties, she is beyond my loyalty, she is the missing piece to my long and also short existence. She looks so strange, wrinkled and bloody, but her eyes are as sharp as the glow from the candlelight. When I hold her, time stands still.
“And out of the darkness, comes a girl with the light,” I say.
I gasp again. My eyes open to today, and I am terrified of meeting with it. I drop the pendant from my fingertips, and the light fades to nothing. I take a deep breath as I meet Curtis’ eyes from across the room.
“What did you see?” he says quietly.
“It’s real,” I whisper. “It’s all real. Angels. Gods. Everything. I was her, Curtis. I saw through her eyes, I could read her thoughts, I felt everything she felt. This pendant started it all. It wasn’t just worn by Elders, it created the Elders.”
“Amara wears one that’s similar. So, somewhere down the line, this pendant must have become lost and they replaced it with a powerless replica. It belonged to a goddess. It’s not even from this world.”
“That makes no sense,” he says. “If this pendant is that important, why would they misplace it?”
“I don’t know. It’s a portal to the past. With the right spell, I think I could look even further back. What if I could become the goddess instead of the Elder?”
“No, no, Theresa, no,” he says. “It’s dangerous. Everything in here is dangerous. Just forget about it, okay?”
“Curtis, don’t you want to know how the war began?” I say. “What happened between the gods and the demons? It could be useful.”
“We’re fighting Amara, not demons. I should have never showed you this room. Just forget all about it. Let’s go.”
I click my tongue against my teeth as I return the book to a table. I wait for him to turn his back and I quickly pick the pendant up and I stuff it into my pocket.
He’s right, it is dangerous, but at the same time it’s necessary. I’m not even a blood relative of the Elder but it allowed me to connect with it, it allowed me to see what it wanted to show me. Any other witch would have been killed. I’ve never been much of a believer of angels and gods but after experiencing the world through Samara’s eyes, I can’t deny it. And I certainly can’t forget about it.
There is a bigger plan going on out there. Bigger than we could ever imagine. And no one but me has a clue about it.