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Prologue - Part One: Rachel’s Story

By Denis Stepanov All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Thriller

Prologue - Part One: Rachel’s Story

On the morning of October twenty fourth, nineteen hundred and sixteen, the world of Catheryn (Cat) Delaware and her daughter, Rachel Delaware was at peace. In other universes, great wars were raging that would turn the twentieth century into the most destructive in the entire history of their worlds. Here the Great Century War had ended in 1901 with similar instability and rumors of more wars to come. For Catheryn, who had yet to shake the horrors of the war she had fought in and the brutality of the world in general, and for Rachel, who had been mostly sheltered from such horrors by her mother and grandmother, the world was about to change.

On the morning of October twenty fourth, nineteen hundred and sixteen, Franklin Cooper, Rachel’s uncle, had departed Cooper’s Landing with his best men and two boats to visit Cooper’s Island. From there, he intended to take his niece back to New Orleans. He was concerned that he might be too late. His mother had been caring for the girl for six years since Rachel’s mother had abandoned her. Frank had gained custody of her in a hearing two years ago after his brother, Rachel’s father, had been assassinated.

The girl’s lunatic mother had shown up then, disrupted the court with her accusations, and had barely escaped arrest by leaping out a window three stories above the ground and disappearing. She had moved to the top rank of suspects for his brother’s murder and a warrant had been issued that day.

He had no doubt she was Rachel’s mother. She looked like her and he recalled her from a spot of fun he and the boys had had just about the right time fourteen years ago. She was supposed to have been dead then but turned up later in a hospital and escaped from there before they could take care of her. Then nothing was heard of her for nearly nine years. It explained a lot about assorted failed operations and unexpected investigations though. His men had been given orders to kill her on sight.

As for Rachel, she was nearing her maturity. Witches tended to accelerate their powers then; but, as a warlock, he could bind her to his will if he wove the rituals soon enough. His witch consultants had assured him that the girl would be exceptionally powerful as she matured, and he would control her. As a blood relative it should be easy enough; but only if the rituals were done before she was too powerful.

Frank had hopes of catching Cat in the bayou if she came to get her daughter. He knew Rachel’s grandmother opposed his custody, but she was no significant obstacle. The mother had kidnapped Rachel once before from his brother when Rachel was in the city. She might attempt to do so again if he didn’t get to her first.

So he had come early and stronger than she would expect.

When the girl left the bayou this time, it would be for good and she would be a full-fledged orphan.

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