A Brush with Evil
BAYOU BRIAR POV
As I watched Emersyn leave my shop, a motherly feeling consumed me that I hadn’t felt in years. Emersyn and the brothers, Atticus and Tristan, were like my children. I hadn’t seen or heard from the brothers since the 1920s when we last buried Emersyn and I couldn’t blame them. I knew Atticus was hurting and seeing me would only bring those pains to the surface. But, oh how I missed them. And seeing Emersyn all these years later, back in the world, only made my heart swell with joy.
However, when she looked at me there wasn’t a single flash of deja vu or any kind of recognition in her eyes. She clearly doesn’t remember me and I was afraid of that when I stood next to her grave in 1927. It was the first time any of them took their own life and I knew, even back then, what that meant for her next reincarnation stage. But, what bothered me even more than that was… Why did she do it? Why did she end her own life? I shook my head, not wanting to think of that right now. It was far too painful to remember, even if it was over fifty years ago now. To me, it felt like yesterday.
I rounded the counter and grabbed my favorite pestle and mortar set, a few dried herbs of rosemary and thyme, some tiger’s eye and rose quartz stones, and headed back into my private room in the back. Seeing Emersyn after all this time only made me wonder if the brothers were close by. Surely they knew she was here. I need to find them. And conjuring their souls to me should do the trick.
My private room was just that: private. No other soul was allowed to step foot in my space, in fear that their energy would completely throw mine off. I only used this room when I needed to complete a more in-depth spell to conjure something or someone, but normally I would do a lot of my work in the shop itself. Most customers got a kick out of it, watching me intently and when they were pleased, I had a good day in sales. Oh, what these people don’t understand. The world has changed so much over the last several centuries. I remember when people were terrified of these things and people like me, but now they welcome us, wondering how they can learn.
Unfortunately, over the years most of the stories and eye witness accounts soon became legends and folklore throughout the world. What these people don’t understand is that there is so much more to the world than ghosts, demons, and spirits. They don’t have a single clue. And if they did, we’d be chased with pitchforks and torches once more. When people didn’t understand things, they immediately thought it was threatening, trying to control the outcome of a situation. That was one thing that hadn’t changed with people over the centuries. It was sad, really. I can pick up every single history book in the library and see a repetitive manner in all of them. The human race was ugly and even more so when they were cornered like a frightened bear.
I set my tools out on the small round table covered in a black table cloth as I took my spot before them. Arranging the stones around the pestle and mortar, I began tearing the dried herbs with my fingers into the stone bowl before grinding it with the pestle until it was the consistency of sand.
Whenever I used dried herbs in my pestle and mortar set, it brought me back to happier days when I was a healer in 14th century Scotland, the same time I first met Emersyn, Atticus, and Tristan. In those days, I was called a wise-woman, someone who practiced medicinal remedies with herbs and liquid concoctions. It was the very profession that taught me how to do all things with herbs and stones. And it was also the very lesson I taught myself on a fateful September evening, with said herbs, that helped me figure out how to save myself and the three people I call my children.
I swept my hands over the ground herbs in the mortar as I closed my eyes and put my intentions in my work. Atticus and Tristan’s faces came into my mind’s eye as I tried to remember every feature of them. Atticus was a very handsome young man with perfect cheekbones and a sharp jaw. His crystal blue eyes that turned metallic silver when he was angry swept through my vision. The bronzed skin doted in leaf imprints from all of his healing powers down to his dark brunette and unkempt hair. Now that his face was imprinted in my mind, I sought out Tristan next.
His honey blond hair buzzed tight to his skull and his chiseled jaw that made him and Atticus look like twins. Eyes of copper greeted me, a smile stretching up to his eyes that I loved so much. The infamous five o’clock shadow along his jaw was freshly trimmed and his equally bronzed skin covered in tattoos of his choosing from a needle were evident.
I missed my boys so badly that I felt a single tear slip from behind closed eyes and down my cheeks, landing in the ground herbs in front of me.
“My boys, I call to thee. Mama Briar wants you to come home. I have news.” I waved my hands over the ground herbs, still picturing their faces in my mind but it was short-lived when I heard the bell above the front shop door chime and an overwhelming feeling of uneasiness swept over me, immediately breaking the bond between me and the boys.
Standing up, I covered my set up altar with part of the table cloth and left my private space.
When I entered my shop, I saw a gentleman with long midnight dark hair and mocha-colored eyes standing there looking around at all of the contents I sell. He was dressed in all-black attire, shin-high black leather boots that were untied, and the color of his soul matched. He made me very uncomfortable but if he was able to walk through the front door, then perhaps he means no harm. Perhaps, he’s here to be healed. I’d seen that many times over the years. People who spent years practicing the dark arts of magic and conjuring no longer wanting to be in the darkness and they’d end up here, where I could help them into the light.
“Hello, young man,” I greeted him with a warm smile, stepping farther into the shop and away from my private room. “How can I help you?”
His returned smile was warm but it made me feel uneasy so I put on a poker face and felt the guy out.
“I’ve heard a lot about you and your shop, Ms. B,” he spoke with such authority that it actually intimidated me. “I thought I’d come check it out.” He looked past me and towards the curtain that separated my private room from the shop floor.
I instinctively stepped in his view, feeling as if I needed to protect my space from him. What were his intentions here? Who is he?
“I hope they were all good things,” I replied, trying to keep his attention from what was behind me. “What can I help you with, sugar?”
He grinned, the smile reaching his eyes as he stared at me.
“I’m here about Emersyn,” he stated matter-of-factly.
Every hair on my body stood on end at the mention of her name. What does he want with my sweet Emersyn? And, how does he even know about her?
I laughed nervously. “I don’t believe I know an Emersyn. I’m the only one who works here. Perhaps you’re thinking of the other herb shop a few blocks away.” I knew there wasn’t an Emersyn there, but I had to get him out of here so I could get back to my private room and reach out to the brothers. I may need their help much more than I thought I did.
His dry laugh echoed around me, poking at my skin like needles as he began circling me.
“I know you know about Emersyn. She’s back again, isn’t she?” He reached out and touched the necklaces around my neck, making me stand stiff as a board. “Don’t make this hard on yourself, Briar. Just tell me where to find her and I’ll be on my merry way.”
I gulped, keeping my eyes straight ahead. I knew that looking at him would only give him more power.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about. Honest.”
He tsked me, shaking his head. “I was afraid you were going to make this difficult on me.” I watched as he reached into a small pouch that hung around his neck.
I had no idea what was in there but I knew it couldn’t be good, so I began stepping away from him, hoping to find a protective stone before he got to me.
But, I wasn’t so lucky.
He blew a white substance into my face and I immediately felt paralyzed, my brain beginning to fog over. I was no longer in control of anything.
“You’re going to bring Emersyn back here and you’re not going to tell her a thing about her past. You are going to stay out of my way and not contact the brothers for help. If you do, I will come back here and do much worse to you.” He grabbed my chin, forcing me to stare up into his mocha-colored eyes. “Do you understand what I’m saying? When you wake up, you won’t remember me being here but you’ll follow my terms.” He released my chin, pushing me back into the counter where my back smacked hard against it but no pain was felt. His finger came up and snapped in front of my face as he stated, “Somnum.”
My eyes became extremely heavy, but the last thing I remember going through my mind was knowing that he knew Latin and just told me to sleep. Who the hell is this man and how does he know these powerful incantations?
Darkness took over my vision at the same time I felt my legs give out beneath me, my body lowering to the warm wood floor. And even though my body and eyes portrayed that I was sleeping, my mind was still wide awake.
The man’s footsteps were heard walking away from me, getting farther away, when I finally heard the familiar chime above the door. He might think he won, but he has no idea who he’s dealing with. He messed with the wrong wise-woman.