“The-the what?”, I asked my face morphing into one of horror as my hand instinctively went up to clutch my stomach as I sat up on the cot, my feet touching the ground.
“The baby- oh dear! You don’t know do you, of course you wouldn’t it’s barely three weeks old. You’re pregnant, dear.”, She said, a warm smile spreading across her face.
“I’m sorry but there must be a misunderstanding. I’m not pregnant.”, The words rushed out of my mouth as my heart started thundering in my chest.
“I felt it when I touched you. I know it’s hard to digest but think about it why would I lie to you?”, She asked softly, pitying my state.
“I- can I please be alone for some time?”, I whispered.
I couldn’t hear her response but I heard the door shut. Her words kept ringing in my ears. My mind had become numb. I know she wasn’t lying. What business did a witch have lying to me? Oh goddess! I don’t understand. We- we used protection every time we had sex. This is not good. How am I going to fight with a literal life growing inside of me? One wrong move and it dies. I will be putting its life at risk if I step inside the arena but there’s no way, I can sit on the side lines and just watch the war unfold before me. Even if I survive and the baby is safe, I’m just eighteen, I can barely take care of myself how am I going to give birth to a baby.
I felt tears run down my face and I buried my face in both of my hands. I need Zaphrostine.
I don’t know when I had fallen asleep but the sun was setting when I had woken up. I rubbed my eyes which had become sore from all the crying. I still could not believe I was pregnant but I was much more composed now.
I walked out of the room to find myself in the same voodoo shop which was on the other side of the road when I had collapsed. The shop looked colorful and was filled with various items like trinkets, jewellery, old fashioned clothes, books both old and new, the floor was covered with carpets of various designs. There were no customers in the shop but I spotted the girl who had seen me fall behind the counter. Her black beady eyes found mine as she noticed my presence in the room.
“You’re up. How are you feeling?”, She asked me, making her way towards me. I could tell she was a woman of few words. She had the kind of aura that said she was strong willed and well grounded.
“I’m fine. You’re Fiona, right?”, I asked her. She nodded her head and I continued,
“I- thank you for saving my life.”
“You should thank my mama. It was her who saved you not me.”, She said, observing me carefully.
“Of course, but you took me to her.”, I said and waited for a few moments when she spoke again.
“Look you have to leave. If you’re hungry I can buy you a meal but then you have to leave. I just helped you because you were on the verge of death. Usually, we never entertain any rogues that visit New Orleans but I made an exception for you.”, She said.
“No! I need your help.”, I said in a panicked voice. I can’t go back empty handed now that I’ve actually found two witches.
“We can’t help you, Scarlet. We don’t meddle in the business of wolves anymore. That’s what has concealed our existence all these years and we’re not going to reveal ourselves now. Do not disturb our peace, Silver wolf.”, She said.
“You don’t understand, we’re doomed if you don’t help us. Till this morning, I was only hoping I could find a witch and now that I have found one I can’t go back empty handed. You are our only hope. Please, I’m begging you.”, I pleaded.
Her face contorted into one of distress.
“I can take you to Sylvia. That’s the only thing I can do. But her decision will be final. You have to leave immediately if she refuses to help.”, She says sternly.
I nod my head and ask her, “Who is Sylvia?”
“Our High Priestess, blessed by Hecate herself. I wouldn’t mess with her if I was you.”
It was late in the night as I followed Fiona through the French Quarter. Fiona had said that Sylvia would be available at night so we had waited till it was nightfall and after having a meal, we set out.
She came to a halt in front of a majestic gate of a cemetery.
“The guard witches will sense you once we enter the cemetery so be careful. They might try to capture you, don’t fight back.”, Fiona said and brought the hood of her long black cape down. She then raised her hand and flicked her fingers to the right. My eyes widened in surprise as the gate opened inwards. The visiting hours had ended and there was not a single person in the cemetery.
We walked through the cemetery as I looked around. The tombs were above the ground and in a neoclassical design. I saw us nearing a large chapel church. I saw two cloaked figures guarding the entrance.
The two cloaked figures which upon stopping at the entrance were two women or witches.
“Stop! Is that a wolf I sense? Fiona why have you brought along a wolf?!”, The witch on the right asked in an enraged voice.
“She intends no harm. She wishes to speak to the High priestess.”, Fiona explained calmly.
“The high priestess is not going to be happy but fine go in.”, The other witch said.
They both narrowed their eyes as I followed Fiona inside. From the inside it looked like a regular Chapel but Fiona walked to the right corner of the church. Fiona raised her hand and with a flick of her wrist, a door side entrance revealed itself. The door opened to a set of stairs leading downstairs. The sides were lighted by fire torches on the wall. The set of stairs ended leaving us in a dungeon lit by the same torches. I followed Fiona and we finally reached two beautiful wooden doors but it had no handles. There were at least four witches standing in front of it.
As soon as we neared them, I felt an invisible force around my neck, painfully stopping my oxygen supply to my lungs. I felt another force pinning my hands to my back.
“It’s a wolf!”, I heard someone shout.
“Stop! She means no harm. I swear on my life.”, Fiona shouted.
As soon as she had said that, the force on my hands and neck vanished and I fell to the ground, gasping for breath. Fiona helped me up once I had regained my breath and I saw one of them warn Fiona.
“You’ll be held responsible if she acts up.”
Fiona nodded and the witches let us in. I found myself standing in a room surrounded by rock walls and ceilings adorned with candles and torches. In the centre of the room was an island of stone rested against a narrow wall. The symbol of Hecate was drawn on the wall and there were candles placed before it on the stone.
We stood in the underground room for a few minutes when I heard three pairs of footsteps entering the room from a right tunnel. A woman wearing a long black silk dress with a red cape with golden embroidery walked in. She had a perfect oval face, full lips, long lashes, dark eyes and her black skin was flawless. Her curly black hair was hanging down her shoulders. She didn’t look a day over twenty. Her presence was hard to go unnoticed. Behind her walked two other girls, their faces covered by their cloaks.
Her hard eyes stared back at my ordinary brown ones and she said, power underlying her silky voice,
“Silver wolf, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I need your help.”, I said, not backing down from her intimidating stare.
“Fiona, did you not tell her?”, She turned her head to look at Fiona with an accusing glare which was enough to make her cower.
“I-i-“, Fiona stuttered.
“Yes, she did. But I am in dire need of your help.”, I cut in.
“What kind of crisis is it that is making a silver wolf, the strongest of the wolves, asking for our help?”, She asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“A man named Rednax has gathered an army of rogues and declared a war on us.”, I said.
She scoffed and said,” We cannot help you. Fight your own battles. You must know, we don’t meddle in wolf business anymore. I want you gone from New Orleans by tomorrow morning.”
She turned and was walking out of the door.
“What if one of your own was involved?”, I said, gritting my teeth, she was getting on my nerves now. She didn’t even listen to my entire story before deciding to storm out.
This seemed to make her stop in her tracks and said with her back turned to me, “Do you listen to yourself? None of witches would dare to interfere in your petty wars.”
“Then how do you explain wolves turning into fucking vampires?”, I asked clenching my fists.
She whirled around and with a deathly glare stormed towards me.
“You better not be lying, girl.”, She said gritting her teeth.
“I’m not, Sylvia. Why don’t you ask Fiona in what state I came to, New Orleans?”, I said sharply, narrowing my eyes.
“Give me your hand and let me see for myself.”, She said and held out her hand.
I placed my hand in her hand and she closed her eyes and started whispering a mantra. Her forehead creased as she drew her eyebrows closer together. Her grip on my hand tightened and she started speaking the mantra louder and louder. Her hand gripping mine started shaking violently and then she suddenly stopped. She opened her eyes and slowly looked me in the eye and in a shaken voice she said,
“I’m calling for all the help I can get.”