Tricked or Treated?byBlack Tulip©
Stretching her body to its full length, she lifts her arms above her head and starts a prayer none of them ever heard before.
Spirits of my ancestors hear my plea.
Spirits of my ancestors set me free.
Spirits of my ancestors grant me power,
make this time my finest hour.
I want this soul to love and keep,
till the everlasting sleep.
For long minutes nothing moves, nothing happens. All twelve people have their eyes glued to Tara where she stands in the center of the hollow, her hands raised to the sky, her face upturned.
Una feels the stones she laid out earlier biting into her knees and she shifts a bit, wanting to lean into Coyle. He is moving away however, getting away from the center, out of the pentagram and he motions for Una to do the same. She follows him without hesitation, fearing Tara has done something irrevocable.
Nobody really understands what is happening, but all are aware Tara has crossed some line. Their faces show their turmoil; not all of them sure she can do any real harm, but none of them is willing to take a risk. Una feels Leitis crawling towards her, hugging her for comfort when they are all shocked by the cold blast of wind that suddenly rushes through the hollow.
Una brings both hands to her face, her eyes wide with horror. No doubt all her friends have the same look of disbelieve and fear on their faces. In the middle of the pentacle a dark cloud is forming, emanating a coldness that's numbing their bodies and their minds alike. The air carries a faint trace of brimstone and Tara steps back from the smell. Before she can leave the pentagram however, the cloud has formed into the figure of a man. He is towering over the girl and grabs her arms, pinning them behind her back.
"You want this soul to love and keep, huh?" His voice is a deep booming sound and his laugh shakes the ground. "You should have checked which souls were near when you spoke your wish, girl. You forgot perhaps you called to the spirits from this world and the next alike."
He holds her arms with one hand, the other going to the front of her body, fondling her breasts. It seems that he is not aware of the other people, or else he doesn't care. Whatever the case, he lets his big hand slip down to Tara's thighs, his laughter booming out again when she tries to keep him out.
"You asked for this soul to love and keep, girl. Till the everlasting sleep. Well, you got me, and I don't mind, not one bit. Your flesh is warm, alive and feels deliciously soft."
Tara's face turns to a mask of fear when she realizes she summoned this creature. She tries to jerk free, but her squirming is in vain. The creature seems delighted with her writhing and in a few moments it's obvious why. He was just biding his time. The minute Tara starts moving her legs, he puts one of his muscled thighs between hers, preventing her from locking him out again. He yanks her arms and bends her backwards, her body nearly forming a half circle, presenting her body to his free hand.
Una watches in fearful fascination as he moves his big, dark hand across Tara's pale body. Fondling her lush breasts and moving down. Before he reaches her pussy Tara starts moaning. But it is not from pleasure.
"Please, no. You're hurting me." Her voice is soft, but carries in the hushed night. "You're so cold, so cold, you're freezing me. Please, let me go."
His only reaction is a soft growl. "No, you called me. You shouldn't have bothered me. Now we are bound together."
In the faint light of the candle, which is half burned by now, Una can see how Tara's body is getting paler by the minute. Her nipples are standing straight up, but it looks as if her lips are turning blue and she can hear her teeth chattering from the cold.
"Coyle, he's freezing her. She'll die." Una whispers nearly sick with fear. "We have to do something."
Without realizing it Una is inching forward, intent on getting Tara away from whatever it is, she has summoned. Before she can enter the pentagram again, Coyle pushes her out of the way however. In one swift movement he snatches up the quartz and throws a pinch of salt at the apparition.
"Let her go. She is matter and you are not." Coyle's voice rings out in challenge and he keeps the quartz in front of him.
Aidan rises to his feet as well and grabs the chalice with water while Kyna dives towards the bell. Una hesitates and sees Fergus take hold of the candle. There seems to be some vague idea to chase the spirit away by using the elements of the pentagram. She has no idea if it makes any sense, but it's probably all they've got.
It takes only seconds and Coyle is the first to enter the pentacle again. Immediately the spirit directs his gaze to this new living being. Una has the fleeting impression the spirit can only sense beings inside the pentacle, but the thought is soon lost amidst the turmoil of events.
The spirit looks like a big, dark man, but his face is indistinct and where his eyes should be, Una sees twin flames of a cold blue fire. As the gaze passes her over she shivers from the cold that flows out. The thought of him touching her flesh has her nearly wailing in terror and she starts towards Tara again. No matter what, she can't turn her back on her, not now.
For the second time Coyle prevents her from entering the space in the center. This time by acting unexpectedly. He straightens to his full height but only reaches to the spirit's chin. His fist with the quartz in it reaches out. Maybe he thinks to use the power of balance or of summation. Una has no idea, but whatever Coyle has in mind it's not working.
The apparition laughs his booming sound again. "Are you challenging me? Me? Radu Abelescu?"
With a gesture of contempt he shoves Tara aside and turns all of his attention on Coyle. One hand brushes the salt from his shoulders and the other grasps Coyle's fist. Una watches in horror as she can hear the bones break and crush under the unnatural pressure. The spirit is crumpling Coyle's fist as if it's a piece of paper and Coyle's face is turning a sickly white as he cries out in agony. He is forced on his knees and Radu throws his head back to send a triumphant laugh to the skies.
Bebhinn has wrapped her arms around her knees and is rocking back and forth while moaning in terror. Leitis is close by her side with eyes wide in fear. Aidan and Fergus are hovering just outside the pentacle, hesitant to draw attention to themselves. Then Darren takes a lunge and pulls Tara out, just as Kyna uses the bell.
Somehow the sound of the little silver bell seems to break the tension. Radu whirls around but Kyna was smart enough to stay out of the pentacle and the spirit turns his gaze back to the only one he can detect, Coyle.
Kyna shakes the bell again; not sure why but at least it distracted the spirit the first time so maybe it will be enough for Coyle to get away. It's not happening however. The apparition seems to grow even bigger, but Una realizes he's merely taking a deep breath.
In a mighty sigh the spirit sends his glacial breath over Coyle as he wails his despair at being robbed off his female and Coyle's form slumps on the ground as the darkness dissolves in the air.
* * *
Shivering from the terror still buried inside these memories, the woman pulls her wrap over her shoulders and looks around to make sure she really is alone. She has never been back since that awful night. They sat there for hours, afraid to enter the pentagram, almost willing Coyle to stand up and come over. He never did. At daybreak they plucked up enough courage and found him frozen to death, his hand crushed to a pulp.
The local police were suspicious of foul play but there wasn't enough evidence to charge any of them with a crime. Una secretly thought they should have arrested Tara for manslaughter or something. After months of investigations producing nothing, they were all finally allowed to get on with their lives; what was left of them.
Una shakes her head and passes her hand across her eyes. She's not crying, but the memories are making her sad. She really loved Coyle and if it hadn't been for Tara - she sighs. They never could look each other in the eye again and all of them left the area within weeks after the police closed the case. As far as she knows they never contacted each other again.
Huddling in her purple wrap she goes over her reasoning once more. She has no clue if one of the others ever investigated further. Maybe she is the only one. She heaves a sigh. If so, it really is up to her to undo the harm they did in their ignorance.
Tara summoned this Radu and if she understands correctly, he will roam this world till Tara dies. Somehow Una doubts Tara will behave as if she is responsible. With a sigh she picks up the small backpack and swings it over her shoulder. It's not so heavy she has to strap it on properly and she gets up to descend into the hollow at the foot of the hill.
It's a beautiful October day, just like that other time. The air is crisp and spicy. It's early afternoon by now and she wants to be gone before sundown. She has no intention of reliving anything remotely resembling that awful night. All she really wants now is to test her little theory.
Quite by accident she found out Radu is a Romanian name and from there it was easy to find out Abelescu meant something to do with breath. She remembers how cold she felt when his blue gaze swept over her, even without really seeing her. And Tara's body had carried white spots of frostbite where the spirit had touched her. For a fleeting moment Una wonders if they turned into scars. She never saw Tara again.
She suspects Tara is still nearby though, as the bond between Tara and Radu was supposed to last till the everlasting sleep. Oh well, that is why she's here now, isn't she? Una steps into the hollow and stands for a moment, taking in the entire area.
The brambles and hazels are still there, bigger and more jumbled and the place is even more secluded now. But it still is a beautiful spot. Una leaves her backpack near one of the hazel trees and slowly walks around. At first she is merely absorbing the place, but after a while, she starts to notice how silent it is. No insects, no birds, no breeze to ruffle the colored leaves. And even more significant, it's cold.
It's been a warm autumn day, the sun has been shining down on the hollow for most of it and it should be nice. But the temperature in the middle of the depression is decidedly lower than Una expected. No, that is not true. She actually expected it to be cold. There were too many cases of people who died of exposure in these hills over the past ten years. She always suspected they died from cold, his cold. As all deaths occurred within walking distance of this hollow.
Since Radu was called inside the pentacle she laid out so many years ago, she thought he would be tied to the spot. And perhaps Tara had to stay close as well. Her stone figure had confined him and the circle around the whole as well, but they were no doubt broken long ago. One dislodged stone was all it took to break the protection. She can't even find one of the many stones. They have all disappeared beneath the grass and moss that covers the floor of the hollow.
Una is confident she can contact the spirit from this place however. With care she makes her preparations. She empties the contents of her backpack on a flat piece of rock and picks up the silver chain first. It makes a sparkling circle, securing the place for the ritual Una is about to perform. She knows there is a risk, but she feels too responsible for all those poor girls who died over the last ten years. Besides, she believes herself to be a proper witch now. She should be able to restore this particular bit of balance.
Inside the circle she rebuilds the pentacle, using new stones she picked up on her walk across the ridge. She doesn't need to lie out all the elements. That looks nice but is no more than a symbol and not necessary for what she is about to do. Cautious to leave everything in place Una steps out of the circle for a moment. Surveying her handiwork she takes a deep breath, nervous but determined and as she expels the breath she lets her wrap slip from her shoulders and steps back in.
She is still slim, her hair is a shade darker, but otherwise she looks almost the same. She's not wearing that ridiculous robe; plain jeans and a lavender sweater are just as serviceable. Her feet are firmly planted on the earth, encased in black ankle boots with hardly any heel, giving her a good grip.
As she closes her eyes and focuses her attention inside, her hand grips the tiny bell, dangling from the slim chain around her neck. She needs only a few moments to clear her mind of everyday clutter; practice does that for you. Her blue eyes are clear and have a faraway look in them when she opens them again, looks at the pentacle around her feet and pulls her athame from its sheath at the small of her back.
Deliberately pointing in five directions with the ceremonial knife Una dedicates the pentagram, naming all elements and their important properties, ensuring she is guided and balanced for what she is about to do. Next she points to the center and speaks softly.
Spirits of my ancestors hear my plea.
Spirits of my ancestors set me free.
Spirits of my ancestors hear my request
to put a wandering soul to rest.
Calling Abelescu was wrong and more,
pull him back into the core.
Una stands perfectly still, waiting for a sign, something to tell her she did it right. She is hoping she sent the horrible apparition back. She knows Tara will probably never thank her, but she doesn't care, not really. All she wants is to erase that night as much as possible and restore the balance for as far as she can.
While she stands there, waiting for something, the face of Coyle suddenly swims in front of her eyes. Afraid to disturb some delicate balance all she dares to do is blink a few times. She is desperate to get rid of the image that's been haunting her for years now. She waits for a long time. Finally, when the shadows start to lengthen she knows it's time to leave.
Weary she brushes the back of her hand across her forehead, the athame still clutched between cold fingers, her shoulders slumping in defeat when she jerks upright. Suddenly a soft wind rustles among the dead leaves, breaking the silence of the dying day. As the air touches her, she shivers in the icy current.
Una keeps still, holding her ground inside the circle, her eyes straining to see something, anything happening. Outside the hollow the beautiful autumn day is slowly ending, but here the shadows are already driving the sunlight away. But it's not all natural shadows. Fear coils inside her when she realizes the spirit of Abelescu is gathering itself in front of her.
The darkness is almost formed like a man when she sees the twin blue flames where its eyes should be. This time she is inside its sphere so it can detect her. And it does. The icy stare rests squarely on her face but to her shock there is no extra cold. Not like she remembers it. The blue flames lick their way over her body, almost like tracing her pattern.
"You are not her." The booming voice sounds questioning.
"No. I'm not her. I'm sorry."
Una is not sure why she says that, but she feels truly sorry for the spirit. He never asked to be pulled back to this plane. Tara trapped him here for her own purpose.
"Yes, you are. I can sense it." The spirit coalesces further. "Why are you here? Sending me back?"
Una lifts her shoulders. "I don't want you to kill any more people. Responsibility maybe, guilt, who knows?"
The sudden laughter surprises her and the shaking of the ground that follows it is a bit frightening. But so far the spirit of Radu seems rather friendly. She keeps a hold of her bell however.
"Nonsense. You're not responsible. That other one should be here. But she's a scared chicken. No blood in her veins either. Pffft." The spirit makes a dismissive gesture. "But you have. Hmmm." He makes a noise as if he is sniffing the air, catching her scent.
"Have you ever seen her again? Tara I mean?" Una knows she should probably not be talking to the spirit, but she is too curious.
The apparition laughs softly. "Tara eh? I never knew her name. Thank you for telling me that. And no, she managed to avoid me. Stayed away from this place. I could sense her near sometimes, but never close enough. And the last time has been a long time ago now." It sounds almost as if he sighs.
"Will you leave now?" Una tries to divert the spirit from Tara's existence and she wants to know if her prayer will be enough to send him back.
"How bad do you want me to?" The deep voice sounds seductive. The darkness edging a little closer. "You are taking a big risk, you know that, don't you?"
Una nods and swallows. The air is chilly, but still nothing remotely like the glacial storm that froze Coyle to death. To her surprise the shadows stop deepening and it looks like there's a man standing behind a veil. A big man, broad shouldered, dressed in ancient clothes, the blue flames in his eyes no longer so terribly intense.
"Are you going? Please? It was a mistake to call you. Can't you just go? You're only making your slate grow longer by killing more people. You know that."
Again the low rumbling laughter shakes the ground. "You make it sound almost easy. I'll miss the warmth of living bodies though. What will you do to persuade me?"
The voice sends a shiver along her spine and Una feels her body come alive. She bites her lip and has to remind herself to keep her hand on the bell shaped pendant. She mustn't forget that. It's her only defense now. The spirit has been talking to her and she realizes she has been tricked into staying till after sundown.
Angry with herself she opens her mouth to end the conversation, but the spirit is quicker. As the last rays of the sun disappear behind the hill, the veil in front of him rips apart and for the first time Una sees his face clearly.
He is dark haired, dark eyed, dark skinned and he wears leather garments. And he is sexy as hell. Una feels weird for thinking something like that when face to face with a deathly spirit. But it's true. She can feel her blood throbbing through her veins.
"Yes, I know." He chuckles and reaches out to her. "I like you too."
"No." Una staggers back and raises her hand to ward him off. Too late she realizes the gesture made her let go of the pendant.
For a moment unsure she hesitates. She vaguely motions the athame but before she can grab the pendant again the use the bell, the spirit has closed the space between them. Big hands close around her arms and she opens her mouth to scream.
"I am pleased to meet you too." His lips seal her scream inside and he pulls her body against his.
In the back of her mind she wonders that his touch is not cold, she will certainly get no frostbite marks from his fingers. On the contrary. As his kiss deepens, she feels his hands travel across her back, stroking her buttocks, pulling her closer. And where his hands have touched her, she can feel her skin burning.
As if they have a will of their own, her arms wind themselves around his neck and she presses her breasts against his chest, wanting to feel his broad body. She doesn't understand this sudden need, but it's powerful and she gives in with a small moan. Her hands are soon roaming across his chest, undoing laces and straps when she encounters them.
When the kiss ends she bends back her head a little to look up to him. The movement brings her hips in closer contact and she can feel his arousal. A gasp escapes her lips and the sudden smile on his face sends hot sparks through her body.
"Ah, you have true warm blood in your veins. Lovely. You have no idea how cold it is on the other side of the veil." He bends his head and kisses her neck.