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by Anne Fields, Shauna Foote

Category: Dark Fantasy/Horror
Description: For the love of a life she once lived, for the friends she once had, one Wiccan woman will risk it all to change her destiny and the destinies of the ones she loves. Three close friends are reunited through fate and magick. Tormented by their haunted dreams and visions of another lifetime past, they are led on a quest to find their true selves and to change their destinies. But, little did they know that attempting to alter fate and time offers consequences they never could have imagined. Excerpt: Please, please, I need to know. Give me the answers that I seek." Hayden begged, speaking to the unseen powers of the universe. She'd not been one to plead, but these were desperate times. "Just breathe, relax," she whispered under her breath, willing herself to calm, anticipating the divine answers. Hayden cast the runes. Unable to look at them her gaze dashed towards Abby, watching her twirl her long brown curls with her fingers. Abby's dark eyes looked anxious. She creased her forehead, concentrating and waiting, just as anxious for the reading as she was. As the runes fell freely to the table, Hayden glanced down; their message quickly became clear to her. The way they laid, the way the symbols compared and contrasted to one another told her what she needed to know. Hayden gasped. "It's the same message," Abby said, dumbfounded. She sprang from her chair. Hayden sat stunned, her eyes squinted in study. "Vindicate the source," she muttered, feeling intrigued but stumped. Hayden flipped a tarot card from the formation she had already laid out. "The Page of Swords!" she exclaimed. Her hands ran through her hair in frustration. "I did the runes, the cards, consulted the ball and they're all saying the same thing." Hayden rose up, circling the table. "Hmm. Vindicate the source and it keeps showing an image of a young man."
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, 2010 2010
eBookwise Release Date: November 2010


Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [271 KB]
Words: 55896
Reading time: 159-223 min.


* * * *

Salem, MA Sept. 1692

"Maggie, hurry up," her best friend called. She watched as the sun set on the horizon. The blue sky turned a vibrant orange with a touch of red crimson.

"Coming, "Maggie followed Kate and their other friend Leah down a dirt path leading them toward the forest.

They carried baskets of herbs, picnic food, blankets, and Kate's Tarot cards. They turned off the pathway leading them deeper into Woodhaven Meadows, which had been their sanctuary. Kate brought them there every other night, teaching them everything she knew in the way of healing and her knowledge of herbs and spells, even the Tarot.

Maggie and Leah followed Kate as she took the lead through the thicket of trees. Maggie inhaled a deep breath, drinking in the enchanting beauty that surrounded her. She gazed wondrously as she stood small beside the numerous tall trees. Ferns, rich in emerald color and tone, swept endlessly through the forest. Pine and oak trees, seemingly to be over a hundred years old, had beautiful moss-covered roots that spread along the ground. The mossy bark, along with the purple and yellow wildflowers, created a stunning, magical world.

They soon found their spot by a huge trunk of an oak tree. They sat in the lush grass under the blossoming leaves of drooping branches. Kate and Leah opened the baskets and grabbed some homemade rolls. Maggie passed on the bread and opted for a ripe red apple.

Kate pulled out some sachets of herbs. "Okay girls, shall I give you a quick lesson?"

"Yes," Leah's brown eyes widened with curiosity.

"Let's start with the easy one." Smiling, Kate handed Maggie a bag.

Maggie opened it and pulled out a brown powder. She smelled it. "Cinnamon, right?"

Kate nodded. "Very good. You can burn the cinnamon as incense or use these sachets for healing, psychic powers and protection."

Kate took the bag back from Maggie. "Mix it with frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood, if you want, for stronger protection."

"What can we use for love spells, Kate?" Leah leaned forward, her eyes sparkling.

So boy crazy, Maggie thought, shaking her head.

Kate tossed her hair back in a hearty laugh. Her red curls spilled over her shoulders. "I know you won't let up on this one."

Kate grabbed a sachet and tossed it toward Leah.

Leah peered inside. "What's this?"

"Ginseng powder," Kate said. "It has many uses but you can use the root to attract love." Kate looked down at the ground with a devilish grin. "You can also make it into a lust enhancing tea."

Maggie watched Leah's eyes widen. "Oh, Kate! Don't give her any ideas! She'll end up having every man in the village lusting after her."

They all laughed. Maggie gazed at her friends with joyful appreciation. They were the sisters she never had, the friends she had always wanted. She loved them and would gladly give her life for them. Maggie had a sense of wholeness within their presence. She knew she belonged with them. Even at sixteen years of age, Maggie believed they would be friends for life. She couldn't fathom living her life without them in it. Especially Kate.

The silver moonlight glistened and filtered down through the trees. The girls enjoyed their secret time together in the woods. Kate continued teaching them the various types of herbs and what their uses were, but had yet to teach them advanced spells.

Perhaps that would be tomorrow's lesson, Maggie silently hoped. She knew she had lots to learn before she could even come close to Kate's standards.

Maggie sat listening as Kate read Leah's fortune with the Tarot cards. She looked on, admiring the talent of her best friend, her kindred soul. She couldn't help but be enamored by Kate's innate understanding of things. She seemed so wise beyond her years--an old soul.

The village just wasn't prepared for Kate's unique gifts. To some, she was considered a red-haired rogue, to others a deviant, not willing to conform to the beliefs and rules set by others. Her unwillingness to go to church, and her own spiritual beliefs would make her a target for the witch hunters, Maggie feared.

Branches cracked in the dark shadows of the forest. They turned, startled, as a figure appeared. Maggie gasped. She clutched her hand to her chest when the figure stepped into the moonlight.

"It's Colin!" Maggie breathed heavily. "You scared us half to death."

Colin's soft, boyish features hardened as he hurried toward Kate. He gripped her wrists pulling her up against him.

"Do you have any idea the magnitude of your actions?" he scolded her and pointed toward the Tarot cards. "Anyone can find you in these woods and find out about you!"

Maggie stood beside Leah; their hands gripped tightly together. Their gazes danced back and forth between Colin and Kate.

Kate shook her head. "So what if they do?" She shrugged.

Colin ran his fingers through his feathery brown hair, frustrated by her coolness.

"Do you want to end up like those other women? Hung, or better yet, burned at the stake?" He shook his head and grabbed her by the shoulders. "I will not lose you to them Kate. I will not lose you over stupid concoctions and spells. I love you."

Kate stared softy into his eyes. She stroked his cheek with the back of her hand. "If you love me, then you'll accept me. I won't change for anyone. I'm not doing anything evil here."

Colin pressed his forehead against hers.

Maggie watched the pain etched on his face, the fear tightening in his body. It was clear, to her, that he would rather die than be without her. She, too, felt that same magnetic draw toward Kate.

A flash of orange flames flickered in the distance, catching Maggie's attention.

"Kate," Maggie whispered. "Someone's out there."

"Get down," Colin whispered.

They all listened, breathing quietly so they could hear the voices approaching. They crouched down, huddling together while Colin took a quick peek from behind the tree.

"Damn! It's the witch hunters," he breathed heavily.

"Oh no," Leah's voice quivered.

Maggie's legs tingled. "This can't be happening," she panted, her breathing erratic. "How? Why would they come for you?" Her stomach fluttered.

Kate clasped her hands against Maggie's cheeks. "Nothing's going to happen, all right? They might not even be after me."

"I can't lose you Kate; the thought of it sickens me." Tears welled in her eyes.

Maggie locked her gaze on Kate and her porcelain features showed no signs of breaking.

Damn, she's strong, Maggie thought to herself. The hunters might very well be tracking her and yet she refused to let fear overrun her senses.

"Maggie, Leah, pack up your stuff," Colin ordered. "We won't give them anything to use against you."

Colin grabbed Kate, holding her tight against him, for fear he might never hold her again.

Oh God, Maggie cried to herself. This can't be happening. If there was a possibility of losing Kate she would stop at nothing to save her.

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