Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Journey to Salem Village; a Forest and a Queen

Good afternoon,

 Today has been busy and filled with household chores and life in general. The temperature has continuously dropped and I am doing my best to stay warm. Snow is still on the ground though not as much as anticipated. that is not a bad thing at all.

 I am working on the third story in the series of The Witches of the Forest series. I hope to have it finished and submitted by next week. It will be as the first two are, seven to eight chapters long. This story will begin in days after the battle between Rachel and her brother, Eli and bring you to exactly where One More Forever ended. I am looking forward to seeing where the story takes me. I will give to you the first chapter and then tiny excerpts from each chapter to keep your pallet hungry for more.

 Please enjoy the first chapter of "Journey to Salem Village; a Forest and a Queen."


Journey to Salem Village; a Forest and a Queen

Sometimes, control over our heart seems more evasive then eternal life. For Rachel, keeping her heart in check had disappeared after Jacob had been consumed in the fires. The child they had made together was lost to the forest and the flames that scorched her body. Her mother had assured her that she would have the children we so deeply wanted. Two daughters would walk side by side, each doing battle with the evil that would be a part of their lives for as long as they dwelled on earth. The loneliness that swallowed her every thought grew with each passing day. She knew she would need to leave the forest to find companionship. Jacob, her only true love, taken from her arms by the very forces she sought to destroy, was gone forever. This was a time before Ellie and Karen, only weeks after she had given her brother to the demon.
 Leaving the protective covering of the forest would bring to her a sense of vulnerability she had not felt since the battle. Her powers would be lessened without the forest to watch over her. The outside world was not prepared to deal with her or any witches, for that matter. What is not understood was far too often met with fear and aggressiveness. Better to erase them from the earth than to try and understand what a witch truly was. She had neither the time nor the desire to explain it to those that chose to pretend they did not exist. She would seek out a man they possessed the qualities she desired for her child. Rachel packed her things and then called for her coven to meet.
 It took only a few hours for them to assemble in the cabin in the middle of the forest. Trees stretched out their boughs, touching one another until they had formed a tunnel that led from the outside world to the cabin. Guardians of the witches’ cabin, they stood ready to close and engulf anyone that was not part of the assembly. With their proven power to crush anything or anyone, they wanted only to keep the witches safe and were unafraid to sacrifice themselves to do so. They watched as witches from all parts of the outside world enter their realm.
  Rachel stepped outside the cabin to greet her faithful ladies and gentlemen. As she reached the edge of the clearing, trees, tall and strong, bent their heavy trunks towards the ground. Each bowed before the Queen of the forest. Rachel blushed as they touched the ground, creating a carpet of spruce needles, soft and long. She knew her status within her coven but none the less, was still awed at the forest itself giving reverence to her. She watched as each member of the assembly came through the opening in the forest. Each of them had a special gift that was theirs alone, save Rachel, who held nearly all of the gifts. Together, they made up the strongest coven of good witches ever assembled.
 The first to greet Rachel was Debra. She could conjure up nearly any “witches brew,” as those that feared them liked to call what she created. Her magic was vital should a witch become ill, whether it was by nature or a spell. She was second in line should anything happen to Rachel. She knew well her place and that she could only hold the position of leader until a true Queen was found again.
 Sarah, watcher of children followed close behind her. Her soul was gentle and her care for children of the coven was essential. She taught them the ways of the forest and what they would be called to do. Alone, the children were weak but as a group, they could stand their own ground against common enemies. Lila, keeper of the water wand and Ella, keeper of the “Book of Laws” bowed to Rachel as they entered the clearing. Timothy, keeper of animals of the forest, along with Matthew, warrior and protector of the Queen, filled out the group. Though the coven was over ten thousand strong, the eight that gathered in the woods this day were the strongest and most knowledgeable of covens. Rachel led them into the cabin and after serving all of them drinks, she stood before them.
 “I have gathered you all here today for a specific reason. I am leaving the forest today, in search of a mate. I know that sounds crude but I want to be open and honest with you. This is something that I am compelled to do from within my soul. We fought side by side when we went against my brother and we defeated him. During the battle, I lost a precious child that will never see this world. There are things of this world that we do not understand and we must bow to its laws as long as we take from the world. I feel there is someone waiting for me this very minute and I must go to him.”
 “My Queen, how will you find this stranger you seek?”
  “Debra, I ask myself the same question and yet, somehow I know the answer. I will be drawn to him like hummingbird is drawn to sweetness. I will follow the essence that is him and bring him back here.”
 “Do you think that is wise, My Queen?”
  Rachel did not answer the question. She stepped into the middle of the half circle that her followers had formed. Reaching out, she took Debra’s hand and held it tightly.
 “You will watch over the coven while I am away, Debra. You will be safe here, I pray, and you will have these people that surround you as you protectors. I will…”
 “But who will protect you when you leave the forest?”
 Rachel turned and looked at Timothy, the man that kept a constant vigil over Rachel when she slept. He had been faithful to her long before she had become Queen.
 “I will be able to call on you should I find myself in peril, dear Timothy. My powers are lessened when I leave the forest, but they are not gone from me. I will have the ability to defend myself against the common enemy.”
 “Not all are common, dear lady and you; you are precious to this coven.”
 “I will call on you if I need to, Timothy. I need you to keep watch over Debra and the others. I entrust the witches of the forest to you. I know you will not let me down.”
 “When will you return to us?”
 Rachel smiled at Ella. “I wish I could tell you the answer to that. Hopefully, it will not take long to find him. As much as I wish that it were Jacob that I was going to see, the Gods and the forest have not ordained that for me. The child that would have been ours together was taken from me.”
 There was a scream that came from behind them. The scream was so loud that it caused the trees to pull back from the circle. A window shattered in the cabin, the glass spewing razor sharp shards of glass into the air. Witches ran to find shelter from the glass, some feeling the sting of its bite before they reached safety. Only Angelina and Timothy stood in the clearing now. A shield crafted by witches of long ago, held tightly in his hand, Timothy stood firm, the shield stopping any shards from striking him. Witches cried out as the glass cut deep into their skin. Blood ran down their arms and legs. Some hand the pieces of glass still stuck in their skin.
 Looking out from the protective burros they had found, the witches could see where the screams came from. Angelina was standing near the cabin, her mouth agape, the scream not as piercing as it was moments ago, still resounded throughout the forest. Tears ran from her eyes as she began to sway from side to side. She shook as if she were having a seizure, clawing at the empty air as if she were battling some unseen foe. Timothy ran to her side and shielded her with his own body. She went silent and collapsed in his arms.
 The glass all settled to the ground and the screaming ceased, the witches slowly emerged from their hiding places. They turned to one another and tried to help those that were hurt the worst. Lila used her water wand to wash away the blood and glass that had punctured the skin of the witches. She had been the least harmed by the shards. Matthew lay holding his hands over a wound in his leg that bled down his entire leg. Sarah and Ella worked together to keep the bleeding slowed as Sarah made a mixture from the moss and pines of the forest. She placed it on Matthews’s leg, pressing hard as Matthew writhed in pain. She saw the pain registered in his eyes and wished she could stop the bleeding without the pain.
  “This will hurt for only a moment, Matthew. It will stop the bleeding and begin healing the wound. I am sorry that I have to cause you more pain.”
 He looked at her and smiled through gritted teeth. He touched her cheek and Debra leaned in to his palm. “Do what you need to do, sweetheart. I trust you with my life.”
 Debra and Matthew had been lovers for many years. They met while learning the laws of the Wicca when they were children. Ella had been the teacher for more years than most knew. Her years were known to but a very few witches.
 Rachel knelt beside Angelina and laid the young witches head on her lap. Angelina was the youngest witch in the coven and yet she possessed one of the most powerful gifts; the seer that could forewarn or guide the coven by seeing what was to come. She was still learning all of the elements of her gifts. One thing she had learned early on in her life as a witch was that all things, past, present and future were still governed by certain laws of the forest. What was to be would be as long as the event was allowed to progress too far.
 “Angelina, wake up for me.” Rachel patted her cheeks and hugged her. “Wake up and tell me what you saw.”
 Angelina began to stir. Her eyes fluttered open and shut, a look of confusion set into them. She did not jump or jerk awake but rather slowly focused on Rachel and Timothy. Her voice was soft and kind as it always was when she spoke.
 “It came from out of no-where, Rachel. I can sometimes feel the visions coming to me. This one left me no warning at all.’
 “It’s alright, Angelina, you did nothing wrong.”
 Angelina stood and looked around her. Tears welled up as she watched her sisters tend to one another’s wounds. “Oh my, I caused all of this, my queen. I am ashamed that I did not have more control.”
 Rachel hugged her again, trying to give her comfort. “What has happened is done now. Their cuts will heal with time. It is far more important that you tell us what you saw. I need you to tell us what caused the scream.”
 The witches had all moved to encircle Rachel and Angelina. They were all aware that the scenario that had just erupted before them was brought on by a vision. Not always did chaos precede a vision but they knew if it did, there would be a battle of some sort coming. The coven was always ready to do battle to protect the forest and its queen, though being ready did not always mean wanting to fight. This, they did only to protect the world from the evil that lived right in its midst.
  “You will go to the outside realm, Rachel. I saw you leave the forest and enter the filth that abounds there. The man you seek waits for you to join him but there was a darkness that surrounded where he is. Demons and creatures born in the cesspools of a rotting society also wait for you. I am afraid for your safety and think we should all follow you to your destination.”
 “Tell me what you saw that made you scream in such a manner, Angelina. I need to know what I am about to face.”
 “A demon, not only from Hell but earthly, will come to you. It will take on the guise of love and friendship, but be warned, our queen, it will not be either. I saw it reach out it’s horrible hand and grab you. It took you to a place I am know of and yet cannot recall how it is I know this. I saw only a glimpse of where you go and that is what caused me to scream.”
 Angelina’s breathing became labored and sweat poured from her skin. Her eyes rolled back into the depth of their sockets, showing only the white of her eyeball. She stretched out her arms and opened her mouth to speak. Timothy and the coven closed the circle around Rachel, leaving Angelina on the outside of their protective ring. Her voice echoed through the forest, causing trees to stand tall and shake the snow from their branches. The ground was instantly turned white by the falling snow. Coldness, such as can only be brought by a winters chill, made the forest itself to shiver. The sisters and brothers of the coven huddled closely, warming their queen with their own body heat. The voice that came forth was neither the gentle tone nor sound of Angelina’s own speaking. There was no wind or windows shattering this time; there was only the voice.
 “I speak to you from a place forgotten by many and raised high on a pedestal by as many others. It is a place that you travel too, queen of the forest. The trees are young and still learning their place. The people are cold as the very snow that has fallen at your feet here today. To find what you search for, you must be prepared to fight for the right to conceive the child that is to be born.”
 Rachel pushed herself through the circle and reached out to touch Angelina. She pulled her hand back from Angelina’s body and saw the frost that had appeared. She rubbed her hands together to warm them. She wondered how Angelina’s body could cause such a frost and yet no frost was on Angelina’s body. What evil or good was at work here and how did it penetrate the forest.
 “You saw something, Angelina. Tell me what it is I am to do battle with.”
 “I speak for her, queen witch, but do not worry; she is safe and well. Where you go, witches and warlocks are hated and killed. The people will try and call out those they believe to be evil. You must not reveal your true self to anyone except those most trusted. They will know you as a queen and come to you. But remember this, your enemies, both mortal and those of the enchanted, will also seek you out and try to take your life. Though things have happened in your future, know that should you be killed, all that was shall no longer exist. Be cautious and do not linger longer than you must. Blend in and find this man who awaits you. Be done with your task and return to your faithful coven. Do not allow any more time to pass here. Go… and be safe.”
 As the voice faded, the trees opened their tops, allowing the sun to enter the clearing. Snow was melted and the trees drank the wetness in to their roots. Angelina fell to the ground, her body suddenly shaking from the cold. Matthew knelt and picked her up from the ground. He carried her in to the cabin and laid her on the bed. He covered her with blankets to warm her.
 Timothy spoke first. “I think that we have heard enough to know that you cannot pursue this “task”, as you call it, my queen. To do so might mean your death and we cannot allow that to happen.”
 “I agree with Timothy, Rachel. You must fight this urge and stay here in the forest where you will be safe.”
 Rachel looked at Debra and Timothy. She pondered their words as she moved towards Angelina. She had no doubt that their words could be true. She also had no doubt that she was going to follow through with her intent.
 “I thank you both for your concerns and I will not hide that I too have concerns. The fact remains that there is a queen to born and I will be to the one to carry her inside of me. If Angelina could see what was going to happen, then she has a window in to where ever it is I am going to. We have the connection that should allow us to communicate in some way. Should I feel the need, I will call on you to help me.”
 “And if we cannot hear you, Rachel, then what do we do?”
 “I will find a way, Matthew. For now, I need each of you to play your part in keeping the forest safe. The trees are where we are at our strongest and this is where we are best protected. I will go and I will find the man I seek. To not do so, I am neglecting my duties as your queen. I should therefore relinquish my power and my place as your queen to another, more fit queen.
 “There is no one more qualified to be our queen, Rachel. You stand where you are not only by your blood rights but because the forest has deemed you worthy to be our queen. That is good enough reason for us. We will do as you have asked of us and await your safe return.
 “Thank you, Matthew and I will return to you all. Watch over Angelina and do not worry for me as I will be fine.”
 Rachel gathered her things and without another word, she walked out the door. The trees once again bowed to their queen. Some reached their branches out and touched her skin. Rachel felt the surge of energy given to her by their touch. She knew she would be taking part of the forest with her. This gave her comfort enough to follow through with what she needed to do. Debra had walked with her to the opening in the trees. She watched as Rachel stepped out on to the cement. No sooner had she touched her feet to the hard surface, a wind swept through and began to blow her hair around. They both knew this was not a force born of anything mortal. The winds began to sweep Rachel off of her feet. Struggling to free herself, she reached out to Debra but failed to grab her hand.
 “I will be fine, Debra! The wind will take me where I need to be. Listen for me and know that I love you all dearly!”
 As her words faded into the wind, Rachel suddenly disappeared from Debra’s sight “Be safe, my queen,” Debra whispered.
 As the winds died down, Rachel found herself standing in the middle of a town square. People rushed by her, pushing her and knocking her to the side. Her surroundings told her she was not in her forest any longer. The trees were only half as tall as when she had left there. Some things looked the same but the cabin was smaller. She walked to the door and went inside. A fire was burning already and she warmed her hands by the heat. She heard shouting outside the cabin. Glancing out the window, she saw four men dragging a woman behind them. They shouted as the woman fought to free herself.
  “You will die this day, Witch! We will string your neck up and watch you die by the rope. Your body will be burned so that no more of your kind can exist!”
 “No-o-o-o-o-o-o, please, I swear to you I am not a witch! Somebody told you wrong and I should be free!”
 “That will not happen today or any other day, witch! The fire shall consume you and Salem will be one less evil resident. So say I and all who witnessed your spells!”
 As Rachel watched, horrified at the sight before her, suddenly she recognized where she was. She was now in Salem, Massachusetts, right in the middle of the witch hunts. The year was 1692 and she realized she was not dressed for this time era. She opened the closet and found it to be filled with clothes. Dresses and under garments of the time line she stood in. The door burst open as she was taking one of the dresses out to wear. She moved back against the wall as the door was slammed shut.
 “Please, dear woman, I know you are of good heart. Hide me from those men, lest I die at their hands. I beg of you, save me!”
  Rachel stared at the young woman, clutching her daughters hand and pressing against the door. Part of the teachings given by Ella was the accounts of the Salem witch Trials. She knew the names of some of those accused and put to death. The age of this woman caused Rachel to remember such a young woman with a child.
 “Sarah, Sarah Good?”
The woman turned quickly to look at Rachel. She spoke in a whisper now. “How is it that you know my name when I have never set eyes on you before this moment?”
 “Tell me how you knew to come to this home for refuge and I will answer your question.”
 “I felt the essence of one such as me. The home has an aura that surrounds it. Only those gifted with the magic can see it.” She reached out and touched Rachel’s arm. Closing her eyes, she seemed to breathe in the air surrounding Rachel. “Ah-h-h-h, you are a powerful witch. I can feel your strength through mine own skin. I will not allow them to come to you. Stay where you are, Witch, and pray for the soul of my daughter and I.”
 Saran opened the door and peered out through the crack. Seeing that the crowd had vanished, she grabbed her tiny daughter and exited the cabin.
 “Wait, don’t go out there! They are going to kill you and imprison your daughter.  Please come back in here.”
 “Shush witch, lest they know you. We need you to save our souls before they kill the entire coven. Go back inside and wait for him. He will guide you to safety until your task is finished. Be careful who you speak to and trust none but Johnathon. Close the door now for they are returning.”
 Rachel heard the crowd returning, their words the same as before. “There she is, with her accursed daughter. They will not elude us any longer.” She watched as they seized Sarah and her daughter. “This time, Witch, you will stretch on the end of a rope. Take the youngster to a cell while we hang her mother until the evil within her is dead!”
 “We will do as you have spoken, William. Be assured this witch is dead before morning’s light.”
 Rachel closed the door and stood silent. She tried to take in all of what had just happened. She wondered why it was here that she had to be. What was her purpose and how could she help any of those accused of being witches. Mostly, she wondered when and how she would meet this Johnathon.
 “William, the man said,” she whispered to herself. “William Stoughton, one of the most influential men of Salem’s witch hunts… I hope you rotted in Hell for what you did here.”
 The loud slam outside made Rachel jump and wrap her arms around herself. The sound of the floor door being released under the feet of the accused was a sound she would never forget. Rachel sat in a chair and cried for Sarah good and her tiny four year old daughter.


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