THERON II

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TWO.

EVIE

I stare at the woman I call mother, ashamed and dumbfounded. A sense of dread washes over me and with every tear that drops off Theon’s face, it increases tenfold. “What have you done,” I can’t even raise my voice at this point. Shock has begun to settle within my belly, bringing with it wave after wave of nausea.

We are in so much shit right now.

Deep, deep shit.

She shoves the wailing child into my arms, “I don’t know why you’re so surprised, Eve. I told you this was happening.” With the lift of one perfectly shaped eyebrow, she scrutinizes me, “You didn’t expect me to live, did you?”

I can’t deny that... I had numerous scenarios floating inside my mind and all of them ended with my mother’s head being swept clean off her body. Catalina would have never allowed this to happen if given the choice.

She scoffs, bitterly, “You think I am stupid? You think I would just knock on their door and demand that child?” She turns, walking down the long hallway that leads to the spellcasting room and I follow, not sure what else to do. Theon lays his head on my shoulder, his sobs slowing somewhat. “That is the problem with witches these days—always asking, never taking,” she grumbles, mostly to herself I assume.

It’s too casual though...

Too nonchalant.

I peer at the child within my embrace. How? How can she do this? His eyes are big, brown, and innocent. He hiccups, studying me just as carefully and I can’t imagine being able to look this kid in the eyes and murder him. Reeling in disquietude, I have to know, “But how—”

But my mother is not me and she answers my question, but not the one I am honestly asking—that would require a conscience... something she was never graced with. “I took him! I didn’t ask! I didn’t demand! I took what I wanted! And there was nothing any of them could do about it!”

“You took him right in front of them?!”

There is no hiding now.

There is no denying who kidnapped this child.

We are so fucked.

So very, very fucked.

“It’s time to reclaim our power, Eve!” She adds, mumbling an afterthought, “It’s past time.”

“Not like this,” I coddle Theon, rubbing his little back. He sniffles and sucks his fist and I can’t help but feel the need to protect one so small. “We are breaking at least twelve different laws—”

“LAWS WE NEVER MADE!” She whirls around, eyes steely and cold, “I have a responsibility, girl! I am to assure the survival and continuation of our kind but this—what we’re doing right now, what we’ve been doing for millennia now—isn’t living. Suppressing our powers? Hiding in the shadows? Why? For the mere comfort of every other race around us? It is not our fault they cannot handle our magnanimity!”

“We are breaking the laws of nature!” Nature—the one thing that gifts us these powers, the only thing we draw our magic from... and she is disrespecting it.

It’s blasphemous.

She flings the casting room door open with a wave of her wrist, “No. We are enhancing it. We are bringing it back to its former voracious glory.” She points to the stone slab set in the center of the room, “Sit the child down.”

The spellcasting room is exactly what it sounds like it should be. It holds our history, texts, and spellbooks; every potion known to supernaturals and every ingredient needed for said potions to be procured; magical artifacts and mystical plants and extramundane stones, gems, crystals, and a partridge in a fucking pear tree but what is at the center—the shining jewel of our collection—is this damn sacrificial altar she wants the child on.

And I can’t do it.

I shake my head, disheartened, “I implore you, mother, please. Don’t do this! They will come for him and we—”

“They will be too late.”

This information chills my soul and steals my breath. If they cannot make the short trip to Barbados in time to save Theon then that means this is happening tonight. And when the Ancients arrive and find this child dead all of our heads will be on the chopping block. They won’t forget and they won’t forgive and witches everywhere will pay the price for my mother’s hubris. I try one last time, desperation making me appear weak, “But it isn’t too late for us! We can turn this around! We can apologize! Say it was a mistake...”

She freezes, her icy glare shooting daggers straight into my soul, “Don’t be an idiot. Now, Sit. The. Child. Down.” My heart drops. She has made her decision and she is no longer worried about the Ancients, convinced this ritual will enhance our magic.

Reluctantly, I peel Theon off me, whispering lies of comfort to the little cub. He whimpers, his tiny fists clutching my shirt—holding on for dear life... a life my mother is about to take.

And for what?

For who?

Witches everywhere?

Pft.

“He isn’t big enough for what you’re wanting to do!” With seven hundred coven leaders and at least twenty members per coven, even if she drains every single drop from him, it will not be enough. It will not be nearly enough!

“I know that,” she states calmly. Too calmly... and I do not trust it. I tilt my head, curious to know what is up her sleeve, “What do you mean you know that?” She pushes Theon to his back, pulling the thick strap over his chest and attaching it to the opposite side of the altar.

He begins to cry again, so I run my fingers through his hair... Only this time, I cannot soothe him. His tear-filled eyes display nothing but cold and brutal betrayal and now I understand why he initially quieted within my arms...

He thought I was going to save him.

He thought he was safe with me.

But he doesn’t know...

He doesn’t know what it’s like to have a domineering mother—ruthless, selfish, and heartless. His mother was Catalina Bakkas—loyal, fierce, and loving. He will never have to prove his worth to her, never have to earn her praise, her attention, her love. He has a mother every child should, so of course, he cannot understand why I am doing what I am doing—why I can’t stop her, why I can’t stand up to her... why I am afraid of disappointing her.

She flips through the grimoire, skimming it with her finger, looking for the right spell, whatever the hell that is, “How many times must I repeat myself? Think outside the box, Eve! It is the most important lesson a High Witch should learn. We are never caged by our perceived impossibilities... but sometimes, that may require some creativity.”

I think I might just vomit.

“Ah,” she taps the book and smiles, “Here it is!”

Her hand hovers over Theon’s chest, her green eyes glowing violet with magic and determination, “By air and earth, by water and fire, move east and north bringing my only desire...”

I shield my eyes from the bright light that explodes over the boy, choking down the bile that threatens to expose my nervous energy.

“Blood like a river, let it flow, cutting and gorging, to the ocean it goes...”

The light lengthens and grows, expanding and consuming the young Ancient.

“Longer and wider and larger it grows, bending and winding and stretching from the tallest head to smallest toe...”

And as that light recedes and simmers to only a bare dimming ember, my mother’s final chant is nothing but faded background noise, overshadowed by the being on the altar in front of me.

“...Farewell to the child everyone knows!”

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