Unfortunately, the only way to get close to Amara is to get arrested. Unlike my cousin Victoria, who has direct access, I am the outcast Harmon. I haven’t seen or spoken to Amara since the night she killed my mother. She always sends someone to communicate with me when needed, or to pass on demands, but she has never had the guts to face me herself.
My choice of crime has to be horrendous enough to give me an audience with her. And I couldn’t think of anything more horrendous--and that would piss her off enough--than blowing up her fifty-foot egotistical statue. The statue of her rests in the centre of Renaissance Square and mortals are encouraged to take pictures of it and even stare at it when passing.
I wait until the area is clear of mortals and I stand several feet back before unearthing my first vial. I kiss it for luck and then I throw it through the air, aiming it at the base of the statue. Within a second, it explodes. The blast is unpreparable and it sends me flying backwards. My ears are ringing, my arms are bleeding and my head is spinning, but I keep smiling. Not because the potion works, but because I know it will really piss her off.
All around me, mortals are gathering, clapping and cheering. For the first time in five years, someone has taken a stand and protested, and for that they are both baffled and overjoyed.
“Someone has to do something!” I shout as Wiccans haul me from the ground. “Wiccans are against her too! Remember that!”
As they lead me away, I take one last look at the scorched earth where the statue once stood. It is now just a pile of fallen stone, reduced to nothing. Hopefully the real thing is just as simple to defeat.
The Wiccans push me into a black, window-tainted car. Two warlocks sit beside me while a female drives, one of them inspects my wrist.
“She has a dot,” he says.
“Really?” the woman mutters, eyeing me in the mirror. “She’s a Harmon, cuff her.”
The warlock places shackles around my wrists, locking them tightly. “These shackles will suppress your magic for as long as you wear them. You will not be able to perform spells or use any other method of power. You are under arrest. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I say.
“If you’re a Harmon, you must be smart,” the woman says. “Why would you do something so stupid?”
“You work for Amara; you tell me first.”
The woman scoffs. “Working for her is smart. She is our Elder, our leader, our Queen. To defy her is to defy us all. She has released us from centuries of suppression and embarrassment. Made us believe that we are worth something and we are significant. We owe her everything.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand a word you just said,” I say, glancing to the window. “I must have a head injury.”
“We’ll check on that upon arrival,” she mutters.
The remainder of the journey is in silence. Which I like. It gives me time to think, to properly think about what I’m doing. Technically, it is treason, and if I survive there’s a big chance I will be executed anyway. But then, as one of the last twelve remaining Harmons, can it be enough? A coven will need to step up, to appoint a leader, and the Harmons have always been respected among the Wiccans. I don’t recall Amara ever having a child, and so the Elder bloodline will end with her.
No more manifestation power. No more corruption. I am happy to die for that, if that is my fate.
The car pulls up outside the gates of Amara’s palace. She lives in a three-story mansion surrounded by protective charms, armed guards—as she takes no chances with her home—and even has guard dogs.
A guard allows the car through and the woman drives us to the entrance of the mansion, which is above at least a hundred steps. I am dragged out of the car by one of the warlocks and forced to walk the steps as shamefully as possible.
To my surprise, and the surprise of the patrol Wiccans, Amara greets us herself at the top of the steps. Her eyes are almost completely white as they bore into mine, her mouth twitches irritably.
“Elder,” the woman says, bowing down gently, along with the warlocks. “We did not expect you to be waiting. We bring you a prisoner, she is a-”
“I know who she is,” Amara says, silencing her. “What crime is she accused of?”
“She uh. . . blew your statue up.”
I smirk. “It was blocking my view.”
“You blew my statue up?” Amara says dimly, her eyes flickering with anger for one second before she composes herself. “How?”
“With a potion,” the woman says. “Thrown from ten feet away.”
“Hence the blood dripping from my head and arms,” I say.
“That must have been a mighty potion,” Amara comments. “It would require the ingredient of a category B.”
“Hm. You think you’re smart, do you? Was this an act of protest?”
“Mainly it was an act of impulse because I couldn’t see what was behind the statue.”
The witch places her hand to my shoulder and squeezes it so tightly that I hiss. “Permission to knock some manners into this girl, Elder?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Amara says, and the witch releases me reluctantly. “If I wanted her to be in pain, she would be. Within an instant. However, on this occasion it seems that I may be at fault. This is about your mother, isn’t it?”
I eye her furiously. “It’s about my entire coven that you killed for no damn reason.”
“Yes, I suppose I deserve that. For what I did, to your coven, to your mother, I am sorry, truly. I have extended my apologies for five years, by allowing you to meet with your cousin once a month. I even agreed to a grave. What more is there to say?”
“I want a reason,” I say. “I want to watch you try and justify why you ripped my entire life apart.”
“Then I suppose you should come inside.” She looks to my captures. “You may go now. I will deal with this personally.”
They agree, and the warlock passes Amara my bag. “Her bag, we have not checked it yet.”
Amara tightens her grip around it and turns, heading into the open doorway. I follow her slowly, my eyes not moving from that bag. The inside of the mansion is bland and colourless, much like the owner. The walls are grey, the carpet is rough and stained, each room has a lonely feeling, like death. Smells like it too.
She takes me into a small study, which I presume is her private office. The room is decorated with paintings of angels and gods, conquering battles against all forms of creatures across the universe, mainly dark figures in scary hoods. There are at least a dozen paintings, all of them in different sizes, and all of them different faces.
“The battles of our true ancestors are most fascinating,” Amara says as she takes a seat behind her desk and motions for me to sit opposite. I do, hesitantly. “It’s good versus evil crap but with powerful meaning. The first god, Apostus, he attempted to fight the demons alone. Even though he was immortal, he wasn’t strong enough. He knew he had to stop them, the demons were becoming too powerful, they were corrupting the universe, turning lifeforms against each other. So, in a bid to create an army, he declared himself mortal so he could reproduce with lifeforms on other planets. He created an army of children, of demigods, that went on to produce children of their own, angels. Together, gods and angels alike united together and forged a power so strong that it built the demons their very own hell, where they have been trapped for millennia. And Apostus, having declared himself mortal, made the ultimate sacrifice, for he died a natural death, while his children and grandchildren ruled the universe in his place as immortal patriots of good.”
“Interesting story,” I say.
“Story?” she gasps. “It isn’t a story, Theresa. Apostus gave up his immortality to save the universe, because he knew he had no other choice. The angels and gods came here centuries ago to repeat the cycle. To declare themselves mortal and create an army. An army strong enough to stop a true evil. We are that army. We are the descendants of Apostus.”
“I came here to hear your justification of why you murdered my mother,” I hiss. “Not to hear about gods and angels.”
“Because making sacrifices for the greater good is crucial. Your coven would have tried to kill me that night had I not done it. If they had succeeded, then the repercussions would have been severe. You would have continued to ignore the evil that is coming, and without me you have no chance of stopping it.”
“From where I’m sitting you are the only evil in this world.”
“It’s not this world that I am talking about,” she says. “It’s below us. Far below us.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The reason that the gods and angels created us was because centuries ago they predicted that the demons would rise again. Demons, Theresa. Beings more powerful than I or any god alone, beings that will turn every planet into fire, and they will come back stronger than ever before. According to the ancient prophecy, when one Elder gains the power of a thousand Elders, the demons will come. You think what I’m doing to the world is bad? It’s nothing compared to what’s coming. And it is coming. The only way to prepare the covens was to take the world back. It was the only way.”
“No.” I shake my head. “Murdering millions of innocent people, children, isn’t the only way. Changing the world to suit your own selfish ego, isn’t the only way. The mortals didn’t have a clue about us, we lived peacefully, they lived peacefully. It worked.”
“Did they live peacefully, Theresa?” she questions, tilting her head. “They killed each other, bombed each other, experimented on each other, tortured each other. They only cared about money, nothing meant more than that. How sad is that? How pointless? I made the world better; I gave them better choices. Now, no life is taken without good reasoning. Without the idea of money, they are happy. They don’t have to worry about the next government betrayal or a terrorist attack. With magic out in the open, they will feel safer, especially when this world turns upside down.”
“You can’t blame fictional demons for this,” I say. “You’re delusional. Truly. And this is dangerous for us all.”
“No, the Slayers are a danger to us all.”
“What is your obsession with them?” I mutter.
“When the demons come, the Slayers will stand with them,” she says, with her eyes narrowed. “They will turn against mortals and they will set this world on fire for their masters. There are thousands of Slayers in the world, they might even outnumber the covens, and if I don’t try and take them out now then we will lose the ultimate battle.”
“That’s what you’re calling it?” I start to laugh. “The ultimate battle? For god sake.”
“I need your help,” she says. “You, Victoria and the other ten Harmons, you are the key to saving this world. I need you to undergo a ritual to access your bloodline’s power. From your mother, to her mother, and so on. Between twelve Harmons, that can be up to a hundred ancestors. We need that power.”
“No, you need that power, because it’s what you’re addicted to.”
“This isn’t about me!” She bangs her fist down onto the table and shakes it. “This is about all of us. Every species. Every god damn species known to existence. I can’t defeat the Slayers alone and I sure as hell can’t defeat the demons alone.”
“Just like Apostus,” I say, my eyes widening with sarcasm. “Ah, I get it now.”
“This is not a joke, Theresa. We are in danger.”
“I agree with you on that. You are the danger. You are greedy, selfish and you have never put the covens before yourself. You never even gave them a choice! Well I’m sorry but I would rather the entire world be raised to ash by the demons than help you.”
“You’re right,” Amara says. “I never gave them a choice. And I’m not giving you one either.” She turns to my bag and unzips it, holding out the vials in her hand. The side of my mouth twitches angrily. “Did you really think I wouldn’t see right through you? This is treason, and the punishment for that is death.”
“I had them on me when I blew up the statue, you knew what potion I used. This doesn’t prove anything.”
“It’s evidence to prosecute.” She shrugs. “It’s very brave of you to be your mother’s daughter. But just like her, I can end your life without even blinking.”
“You can’t even end a sentence without blinking. You do it often, it’s disturbing actually.”
“The rituals begin in two days,” Amara says. “If I were you, I’d start preparing to say your goodbyes to the remainder of your coven.”
“Do I get the fancy guest suite?”
“I’m sure you’ll find the dungeons to be exactly to your liking.” She towers over the desk, her face hovering close to mine. “Try to enjoy your last two days alive.”