tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Witches of Ravenrook 04

The Witches of Ravenrook 04


*Purity is the skeleton we hang our sins upon*

Thanks to Shawhollow for editing the first half of this story - I forgot to send him the second half. Thanks to Talonwolf for helping with the idea.

(One month later)

I stood on the main roof ridge that ran down the length of the school. Thanks to the founder's flair for the exaggerated, I was over ninety feet above the rather rocky ground. I had the enchanted (I hoped) Mortuary Sword pointed in the correct direction with a stance that was, according to the internet, supposed to be the proper one.

Eden stood about ten feet away, farther down the ridge with a matching blade and a smile on her face. I would have been more worried about the smile except I had placed that there after some accidental contact climbing up the ladder to the highest attic had led to some serious making out and given her that facial signal of pleasure.

"Why do we keep doing this?" I shouted over the brisk breeze that constantly tried to pull me into a possibly fatal plunge.

"Because you need to know how to use a gentleman's blade, we needed some privacy to practice violence, space which this place provides, you won't leave Regina alone on campus and finally because I excel in enchantments of the wind which can save us both should we tumble down," Eden kept that eerie, yet familiar smile.

"Besides, I'm the one facing a sword meant to bind my essence in torpor; you will most likely survive a fall with a horrible mangling," Eden winked, "but don't worry about that - I'll catch you."

"Fine, this is my fault," I grumbled. "Give me a kiss for luck?" Eden walked carefully along the roof ridge to me, the lack of wind whipping at her skirt reminding me of her mastery of the air.

She used the flat of her blade to turn mine aside and stood before me. I wrapped an arm around her waist with my left arm, pulled her tight and kissed her lips. In the past month all the Witches had learned the sacred art of giving the appropriate kiss and Eden didn't disappoint me. She eventually smiled once more then back-stepped to her starting position.

"En garde!" I shouted and precarious battle was joined. I was by far the better combatant; a gift from my many ancestors no doubt. Our environment balanced us out somewhat; I took three spills down to the iron gutters that saved me a near-fatal fall and she stabbed me five times. I got even though – I cut her skirt off her body in three strokes. I had to place my hand on the hip so she could transfer the energy to heal her one wound that ran deep.

"There you are, damn it!" Regina yelled at me as she came up through the attic hatch. "For the love of all that's Arcane, Richard, would you stop making it so easy for these bitches to kill you?"

"What gave me away?" I sighed.

"Paradise is down on the 6th floor, pacing back and forth generating so much static electricity that dust bunnies are starting to stampede around her," Regina mocked.

"Where are the others?" I teased.

"Yeah, like I have the magical energy to keep track of any of the four just to have them block my divinations," Regina shouted over the wind from the attic entryway. Unlike Eden and me, Regina couldn't survive the fall nor fly and Eden was unlikely to spare the effort to save – both being dark witches didn't imply any sort of sisterhood.

In fact, there were tiny fissures in the relationship amongst the three sets of twins. Eden appeared truly to like me while Paradise was conflicted between powerful, raw and angry sex and simply being angry with me. Midnight was all into love-making; slow caresses, kissing and making the moment last while Twilight was driven by deep eye contact and matching intensity.

Outside the bedroom, Midnight was a coequal and, if not kind, at least considerate of me. Twilight treated me like a moronic one-trick pony and constantly was annoyed by my lack of an occult education. Spring was easy; she constantly advocated for the removal of my brain except for the motor cortex; she liked the sex - especially scarring me with fingernails and threads of fire (Ow!).

Autumn, aka Ice Maiden, had settled into being a passive lover and making me work for every orgasm but she paid me back by being patient and not condescending when I either missed, or didn't know, key pieces of information. So basically, I could count on Eden and Autumn to keep me alive and Spring, Twilight, and Paradise to want me dead – brain dead anyway. Midnight would remain indifferent.

"Let's go down," I sighed. "I wouldn't want Paradise's erratic electrical dust bunnies curling the hairs of some poor co-ed." Regina snorted while Eden floated to my side - show off. I sheathed my blade, wrapped an arm around and walked the balance beam style edge. Regina crawled out of sight and when she was clear, I followed suit.

I caught Eden studying me oddly, or more oddly than the soulless monster usually did, and she was searching the right words to some question.

"Do you think – if it is possible – we could have children together?" she inquired. My hands went numb and slipped from the ladder rung, my mind blanked out and we fell.

At the last second I had enough sense to rotate so that I landed on my back and Eden landed on top of me. Regina was conjuring a dagger of smoke and shadow in a flash.

"Richard, what did she do to you?" Regina seethed with menace toward Eden.

"I asked him if we could have children together," Eden answered for me.

"You freakish Undead Nitwit," Regina grumbled. "We don't even know if you have wombs, but that doesn't matter because you don't have souls so there is no anchor for a child's soul to latch on to."

"But, if we could overcome that, would Richard want to lend his energy and – genetic material – for us to have offspring?" Eden persisted.

"I – um," I stammered as I helped us up. Eden kept looking for an answer. Her lower lip trembled slightly, her resolved cracked and then the tears started coming.

"I'm sorry," Eden blubbered, "I thought..."

"Wait and listen please," I called out as Eden ran for the attic stairs leading down.

"I'm a monster – I know it," she sobbed. 'Ah fuck'.

"No, that's not it," I walked her way. She moved a few steps farther away as I tried to get to her side. She finally relented but I could tell she'd been kicked emotionally in a place she didn't even know she had.

"Eden, I'm afraid of passing on my curse to another generation of Vandemeyer men," I looked into her red-rimmed eyes. "It isn't you, it is me," I said the words that were the death knell of far too many relationships but here I was saying them.

"So if you and I were sure the child would be a daughter, you would consent?" Eden hiccupped.

"I don't know," I tried to look concerned, "It would require lots of lots of hot steamy sex and I'm not sure you are up for it."

"I'm adamant about this Richard," Eden looked fiercely serious.

"I would need to give this careful consideration but for now I'll say 'yes'," I replied.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"Oh Goddess," Regina groaned and rolled her eyes.

"There are hundreds of thousands of parents who are monsters and don't acknowledge it. At least any offspring of ours will have that up on the rest of the world," I pointed out.

"I was raised by two warm, loving people and look how I turned out," Regina countered. Regina's inspiration for murder was being a 'normal' girl in an extended family of witches.

"Parents can't make you perfect but they can fuck you up royally," I said as we went down the stairs

When we got down to the sixth level, Paradise was waiting. She looked balefully at me and Regina and annoyed with Eden. Eden short-circuited a rebuke by running up to her sister.

"He said yes," Eden grinned.

"I know Sister," Paradise lectured, "I felt bombarded by your heart leaping with – joy."

"Yeah, that would be a positive passion your tiny little, lump-of-coal heart wouldn't understand, Lich-witch," Regina taunted her rival.

"He's not always going to be there to protect you Regina," Paradise threatened.

"So," I changed the subject, "who wants to be in the school play?" Paradise and Eden looked at me as if I had just switched to speaking in Dorian Greek.

"Oh, come on," Regina tapped my elbow, "You can play the Devil – you are a natural." At this point and time some sexual banter and innuendo would arrive but the twins fell flat and Regina was clearly not up further bearding the lionesses in less than well-traveled paths.

"He's the new teacher with a new play for us to take a crack at," I shrugged. "I might audition and see if participating fits into my class schedule."

"So, what is the Witches of Eastwick about?" Eden inquired. Paradise shook her head in dismay at her sister's continuing efforts to create her humanity on such sterile ground. The rest of us looked around only to find no one had the answer.

"Let's ask Shelby," I suggested. "She tends to know stuff like this."

"Are you implying the rest of us don't study?" Paradise accused me.

"Yes – yes that is pretty much what I've implied," I replied. "After all, I caught you and Midnight conjuring up some brain leeches to use on Ms. Turnblatt – not cool."

"The talentless read books – the powerful draw knowledge form the source," Paradise snapped back.

"Paradise, I'm still waiting for you to e-mail me that formula," Regina grinned hopefully.

"Come on now," I sighed, "when you drain the knowledge from somebody they lose it forever and that is devastating if you are an educator. Besides you are only getting the teachers opinions."

"When I read the book all I'm getting the author's opinions," Paradise countered. I had no pat answer for that argument.

"You've promised not to steal bodies and body parts," I tried. "Destroying her memory counts as a part of her being."

"Blah," scoffed Paradise. "What you really mean is that you will pummel me if I do this."

"No," I said after a deep breath. "No more. If I can't argue the peaceful course of action, I'm going to sit back and let karma take its course, Paradise, I swear."

"You are lying," Paradise growled.

"No..." I reached out and patted Eden's tummy, "I'm certainly not going to be beating Eden up and you are her twin sister – any trauma you go through will transfer into Eden, so I can't think like that anymore."

"You really believe she can do it," Paradise paled fearfully (which was hard for her wane complexion), "you really think she has a chance – why?"

"Of course I hold out a small hope," I explained. "By Shelby's explanation you six are some of the toughest witches in New England, I'm a freak beyond natural reason, Regina is one of the most creative magical types any of you have seen, life magic is Shelby's purview and Alyssa Monroe can tell us all kinds of medical labs we can go to get all kinds of reproductive help."

There was a long silence before Eden grappled with my right arm and began weeping. The weeping, plus my declaration, seemed to put Paradise in a whirlwind of conflicting emotion. Her sister was so happy she was crying and Paradise's mind with its atrophied receptors for positive emotional input was causing her to jerk and flutter.

"This is the part of the play were the Vandemeyer male mocks those who are burning him at the stake?" Regina laughed. "We keep forgetting you are stupidly unafraid of death."

"I don't need to be afraid Regina," I steered Eden for the stairs, "I know you've got my back." The other two women glided along beside us as we trundled down to the 1st level for a late afternoon snack.

I check the school on-line site for the drama sign-up. I was far from the only male applicant for the five male roles. I could only convince Regina to give the play a shot as well. We were passing the Central Library's main door when a voice called my name.

"ello Richard," flowed forth this refined, feminine London accent that I knew well.

"Lady Everest Marlowe," I turned and did a half-bow. It took me a second to realize that the only one happy and stress-free was me. My witches glared at Everest and she had this frozen smile aimed their way.

"Who is this – woman?" Eden dug her fingernails deeper into my shirtsleeve.

"Lady Everest was the daughter of my host and mentor at the School of Economics last semester," I clarified. "She was my guide around town and they pretty much treated me like family."

"She's a witch," Regina enlightened me. "Now what are the odds of that being a coincidence?"

"I'm not a pathetic little witch, scrawling on cave walls and tree bark in order to invoke some infantile cantrip – I'm a Theran," Marlowe declared.

What the fuck? What was the fuck was a Theran and what was that ego trip running down the women I knew? Hell, Everest had always been kind to me – treating me like family.

The girls were not impressed by Everest's proclamation. In fact, it really seemed to piss them off.

"Let's see what will be scrawled on the tree bark once you step beyond the school bounds, you malevolent corpse-weevil," Paradise hissed.

Wow, what does one have to do to an undead witch to rate the term 'corpse-weevil? Everest shifted her weight onto left hip and placed her other hand on the hip there meaningfully. I knew this one.

"Okay girls – remember, I can't see shit," I whispered.

"Oh please, Lilith, Mother of Monsters give us strength of will amongst the witless," Paradise said before weaving a secretive enchantment over my senses.

"Oh Hell's Belles," I groaned. I had thought Everest had a wand or something. Lady Marlowe had on an elaborate set of forest green armor inlayed with gold, some sort of pistol-like object on her right hip, half-made of glass and a medieval style sword sheathed on her left hip.

"Everest, do you normally go about so armed and dangerous?" I questioned.

"Don't worry about this little SNAFU, dear Richard," Everest patted my left bicep and causing Regina to flinch back. "I'm not here for you; quite the opposite, you'll see."

"You should leave this school," Eden growled, "before we make you leave."

"Everest, these are my school friends if you want to get at them you will have to go through me," I stated in the nicest way possible.

"Eden, Paradise and Regina, Lady Marlowe was a good friend to me in England. Our relationship was platonic but she took me to her London flat and her father's country home and a cottage they had in Northern Scotland," I declared. "Can't there be peace?"

"Does it occur to you 'dumb Richard', that Marlowe may have known what you are?" Paradise snipped.

"Of course I know what Richard is," Everest surprised me. "His Mother is an ancestral ally of my household."

"Wait – what – Richard is half-Theran?" Eden perked up with renewed hope.

"Whoa, what's a Theran?" I sputtered. "My Mom died in a car wreck when I was ten for those who don't know it yet. My Father and I buried her and did everything else that goes with a funeral."

"So that she still exists must be excellent news," Eden smiled up at me and pulled me in for a kiss. "Mythological, Therans are known as Atlanteans – Thera being the island that held the city of Atlantis."

"So suddenly my Mom is/was an Atlantean? No way in hell – certainly she could have told me something before she died," I shook my head. "You just fucking with my head, aren't you?"

"Richard, I'm not messing with you – over that. Father and I wanted to see matters work out differently here but we could hardly keep you without causing a stir – your Mom still being alive and all."

"My Mom can't be an Atlantean – she's from Westchester for the love of God!" I nearly screamed. "Take it as fact – they don't like immigrants in Westchester and by immigrant I mean anyone not in the US before 1800?"

"Of course she is still alive," Marlowe pampered my confusion. "Therans are highly spiritual and are essentially immortal. Even half-Therans are long lived."

"What? Is everyone freaking immortal now, damn it!" I was getting way off my center.

"I'm not immortal," Regina smirked. "In about twenty years you will be facing your Maker too."

"Thanks for putting me on an even keel," I growled to Regina.

"I'm not sure about that," Everest hinted. "His Mother's quest for that answer to Richard's – dilemma - is what drew my Father's notice."

"He's ours," Eden snapped. Paradise stood close by her sister, showing her support.

"How about you telling us what you are doing on this side of the Atlantic?" Regina patted my lower back to reassure me.

"Nothing I want to discuss in front of those not of the spirit," Everest informed them. "Richard, we can talk over dinner, or maybe, afterwards?"

"The Six are under my protection," I bluffed, "and Regina goes where I go."

"We are not under your protection," Paradise hissed. "At best we are unsteady allies."

"That's right you Nutty Nim-nuts," Regina gave a dry chuckle, "he was only trying to offer you some help against a freaking Theran. Good luck going it alone."

"Interesting," Everest remarked, "I'm going to the theater to check things out. Richard can tag along if he likes but the rest of you are inconvenient distractions."

"Thanks Lady Marlowe," I said carefully; I would have liked to let the anger take over but something was telling me that my English friend was only showing the placid surface of a very deep lake,

"But I feel obliged to stay with my current company."

"Of course Richard," Everest sounded incredibly polite without being condescending though the looks she shared with the other witches was without the warmth she shared with me.

(Dinner Talk)

Gathering all six of 'my' witches was normally difficult but Eden and Twilight were surprisingly supportive. I concentrated on getting Shelby Ravenrook to sit down with seven dark witches including the one, Regina, who killed her mother. She came the moment I broke down and mentioned the word 'Theran', then she was eager – over eager as it turned out because there was already another Theran on the island; one the rest of us didn't even realize we knew about.

"Listen, I can't believe I'm asking this because I still feel it is my duty here to keep the six of you from killing and abusing Regina, Shelby and the human inhabitants, but what are you eight going to do about Marlowe?" I started off our conversation.

"Therans aren't – necessarily – more powerful than true witches," Midnight lectured, "but they can be hundreds if not thousands of years old.

"That's a lot of magical lore they could have absorbed. Also, they are all born 'in-between' – you know, the region where your ancestors and other bound by your curse, are trapped. This allows all true Therans to freely travel between worlds with a thought. Half-Therans can't do it innately but they have a talent for Apportations," Midnight concluded.

"Translation; the Six can take Ms. Marlowe," Regina explained, "but that doesn't tell us why she's here."

"And we do need to know," Shelby grudgingly agreed with her Mother's murder. "I'll send to my coven to get more information on her."

"Well, are there other tombs besides the one for the Six? I have the Mortuary Blade and Alyssa has the Grimoire, but the other four remain down there, right?" I questioned.

"There is the Seventh Tomb," Midnight stared at Shelby. "Who is in it?" Shelby seemed evasive but the rest of us were intense.

"I don't know everything but the 13th member of the coven volunteered to be the anchored to the sight to keep the rest of you trapped," Shelby became defensive. There was a moment of contemplative silence.

"You mean the female Abenaki shaman," Regina said.

I was getting a feeling for how Shelby's buddies operated and what terms they misused.

"When you say volunteered you really mean she got suckered into the deal, right?" I quizzed Shelby.

"I wasn't quite like that," she sniffed, "it was because she was the oldest and her people were failing so she was the natural choice."

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