The Weaver’s Box: Part 3

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The Weaver’s Box

Part 3

For the next two nights, Sonsee curled up by her locked door waiting for Ana’s return. But the lonely days passed with only a visit from M’Lady who brought fresh clothes, food and water to wash up. Sonsee protested her imprisonment, but M’Lady was firm.

“Prayer and contemplation,” M’Lady replied. “Pray for humility and contemplate on that which has been ordained, on your new life as Priestess to the Mighty One.”

More like being a slave.

Sonsee’s mood alternated between hopeful, then angry, then distraught. All she could do was pace around her small dark room, finger the woven amulet, and wonder why she had been brought here.  By the end of the second day she knew every crack in the aging plaster wall, every scuff mark in the dirty floor. Behind the bed, she found scratch marks. Has someone else been imprisoned here counting the days. Next to them, she added her own marks. Surely my father would find me, surely he will come soon.

“Tell me about my mother,” Sonsee said when finally Ana returned. “I barely remember her name. My father forbade us to speak it, once she died.”

“Iona, we knew your mother as Iona. She landed on our shores many years ago,” Ana began. “She had been ship wrecked in a violent storm, she once told me. She and her friend Nanna had clung to boards and to each other until they came upon our island. With the last of their strength they kicked fiercely until they could swim to shore.

“There they built a fire to dry and keep warm. They were found by a Priest of our order. Your mother was tossing small blocks of wood and then speaking softly to Nanna. Intrigued, the Priest watched the two of them for a long time. Only after they finally fell asleep did he come here to find Lady Khyan.

“Things were different then. Lady Khyan was kindly and she welcomed those in need. So it was not a surprise to any of us when your mother and Nanna were brought to stay here with us. They had nowhere else to go. We looked upon them as sisters, not taking our vows but living as one with us in our community.

“Your mother was a Master Weaver when she came to us and she it was who set up our weaving shop. Nanna worked in the clay works studio, turning out finely detailed pieces in colors nobody had ever seen before. She said the magic was in the fire. It transformed even the most ordinary piece into something extraordinary.”

Sonsee fingered the ceramic shell attached to her amulet. Had Nanna made that? 

“I was your mother’s first student. And, oh Sonsee, the pieces she wove. Whether with the finest silk threads or rags, your mother made magic with every weaving. Her work was highly prized at the market. And that was where she met your father.

“We went to the market once every week, your mother and I. I was but a girl then, hardly older than you are now.

“But then lady Khyan died. Some whispered by evil magic, but I do not know. M’Lady was voted in, again I know not how for she was not well liked. Things changed. Lady Raichael, M’Lady, demanded higher and higher prices at the market and scolded us if we could not sell our wares.

“It was then that your mother and Nanna decided to leave the community. Your father wanted to marry Iona and she was smitten by him, too. She agreed. Nanna, well, she was like a sister to Iona and would not be left behind. So the two of them agreed they would leave together.

“When M’Lady heard of this, she was furious and refused to allow your mother out of the temple. Only Nanna could go to the market.

“Now it was not unusual for young men to offer a dowery, or more of a donation really, when a sister left us to marry. M’Lady had other ideas. She haggled and haggled with your father and when he finally offered enough, she agreed. Then she sent only Nanna, insisting Iona was not part of the bargain.

“That was when M’Lady threatened your mother. M’Lady wanted those tiles and even though your mother said they were but a child’s game, M’Lady insisted. The price of her freedom was those tiles and the knowledge of how to use them. Your mother refused and her room was searched, but the tiles were not found. That same day your mother was moved to this attic room, allowed to leave only when she taught her classes.

“M’Lady even set us to spy on her. That was when your mother started the amulet. I came upon her by accident when she was chanting a freedom spell while dying some wools. She begged me not to tell anyone. They would throw her to the crocodiles if they knew.

“Iona worked for many weeks on your amulet, but only between classes or when I was having a private session.  It was very strange because your mother sat on her stool weaving it, then unweaving it, then re-weaving it again. I never knew why. She was a master weaver and she was making such silly mistakes, then correcting them over and over again.

“And then one morning, she was gone.”

There was a long silence. Sonsee wondered about the marks behind her bed. Had her mother made them. One hundred days, her mother must have been locked in here 100 days.

“Were there other girls like me, held against their will.”

“Yes, child, there were and are still. When Kyhan was the Lady, we all came of our own free will and only after reaching our womanhood, the age of  consent. But when M’Lady took over, she stopped accepting all who felt the calling, picking and choosing those with the most talent, those who would help fill her coffers the most. She said the others were a ‘drain on her resources’ and turned them away.

“But even that was not enough. Soon she spotted talented girls at the market and, if their parents were poor, she offered food and money in exchange. Many accepted. Those that did not found their daughters gone. Pirates were blamed but never caught. Most who were brought here became Priestesses, but those few that would not, well they have not been seen again. Sonsee, do as they say, you cannot escape here.”

“No. My father will get me out of here, I am sure of it. My father will find me.”

“No, child, your father thinks you are dead,” Ana replied, sadness in her voice. “He will bury you tomorrow.”

“But that cannot be. I am here and alive.”

“The Head Mistress told him you ran away from your man-servant and fell into the river. The crocodiles had ravaged the body they brought to him. The poor girl was unrecognizable. He had to believe her.”

“But that is a lie. Did Gryffud not tell him that?”

“Gryffud knew nothing of what happened. He was waiting for you in front of the school. He could not have seen what happened.

“The Head Mistress told your father that you ran out the back of the school and to the river. Then slipped on the muddy bank and fell in. She said that she and her nephew chased after you but the crocodiles took you first. She said she beat them away while her nephew jumped in to try to save you, but it was too late.”

Sonsee ached for her father and Nanna. And for herself. They would never come for her now.

Ana continued. “Listen to me. You must go along with them. Learn what they have to teach. Become one of us. It is your only hope. But whatever your mother taught you, do not let them know. Your best chance is to give them hope you will one day come to the visions and see what it is they want to know.”

“Weaving spells and divination? I know nothing of those things. Nor do I want to.”

“Then pretend. So you can live.”

 

 

 

Photo attribution: By Arturo de Frias Marques (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Weavers Box, Part 2

 

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The further Sonsee-array and the Head Mistress traveled through the underground passage, the more Sonsee’s stomach twisted. More than once, she clutched at the woven amulet, now glad she had worn it.  Or had the amulet gotten her into trouble? The Head Mistress seemed to have a powerful reaction to it, one Sonsee did not like. More than once, she wanted to turn and run, but the woman always stood one step behind, leaving little chance of escape.

“Sit!” The woman said when finally they reached an open chamber. It was cold down there, dark, and damp too, matching Sonsees mood perfectly.  She gave a small shiver before doing as the Head Mistress had bid her. And then the woman was gone.

Sensing this as her only chance, Sonsee hurried to the door hoping to make her way back through the tunnels. But it was locked. Maybe she could find an escape through the other door, the one the Head Mistress used to leave. But it, too, was locked. No windows and two locked doors.  Sonsee sat, resigning herself to wait. And wait. And wait some more.

When finally the door did open, Sonsee bolted for it. “I want my father,” she announced only to find herself faced with more darkness.

“Come this way,” a voice told her. A faint light appeared at the end of the corridor, and she walked toward it, not because she wanted to, but because she had no choice. But for sure, I’ll bolt the first chance I get. She was surprised to see a kindly middle-aged woman, one with a welcoming smile on her face.  “Greetings, my child, we have waited long to meet you.”

Confused now, Sonsee stepped into the well-appointed room to face the diminutive woman before her. The woman offered her hand and Sonsee took it. “I am Raichael, the Mother Superior, but you must call me, ‘My Lady’ for that is what the other Priestesses call me.”

The woman seemed harmless enough, but still Sonsee’s senses alerted. “Yes, M’Lady,” she replied. “But may I ask where Head Mistress has gone?”

“Why back to the school, of course. You are with us now.”

She lived with her father. She was not with anyone. Was this her new school? But before she could inquire further, M’Lady said, “Come I will show you to your room.”

“That is fine, M’Lady, but I think my father is expecting me. If you will find Gryffud, he will take me home.”

“This is to be your home now.”

“Then I wish to see my father first.”

“Oh, child, has he not told you? You are one of us. As was your mother before you.”

“No! I do not wish to be one of you. Now take me home.” Sonsee had used that same tone on the servants and they always obeyed, or told her father. Either way, she did not care. She wanted her father.

“Ah, child, you are so like your mother. Strong-willed. But you see what it got her.” Although her smile remained, M’Lady’s tone changed, “Because she left us for your father, she died in pain, leaving you to take her place among us as was demanded and ordained. Do not repeat her mistake.”

Before Sonsee could protest, M’Lady had her arm around her shoulder. “Now come,” M’Lady said, this time with tenderness in her voice, “I will show you to your room and then we will dine together. I have much to tell you about your mother.”

 

The food had been good. Roast duck, potatoes and crisp vegetables, just the way Sonsee liked them. And the conversation was pleasant enough. Sonsee enjoyed M’Lady’s tales about her mother who had come as a young woman, barley older than Sonsee. Indeed, the M’Lady explained, Sonsee was “old” to begin her training, but begin she must.

 

Now with stomach full, Sonsee lay in her bed wondering: Had her father really sent her here? Is that why he had tears in his eyes? And was that the surprise he had for her? If so, she did not like it at all. I should have been asked, not told. And certainly not abruptly yanked from all I knew.

And what of Nanna? Where was she? What of her warning? There is only one way to to know for sure. I need to go back and see them, talk to them, even plead if need be. This was not the future I want for myself.

Sonsee waited until dark, then waited some more. She could not tell the time, so she waited until the Morning Star, her star, appeared in the window high above. It was not until then that she stepped quietly into her shoes and crept to the door. Careful not to make a sound, she tried to depress the latch. It did not budge. She tried again, harder this time, but it was no use. She had been locked in. First anger, then fear set in, then a sorrow so deep it hurt her bones. Will I never see Nanna again? Or my father? Her one last hope was the window high above her bed, the one through which she had seen the Morning Star. Climbing onto her bed and standing on tiptoes, she tried to look out. Too high.

Though her room was sparsely furnished, there was a desk. Hoping it would not tip on the wobbly mattress, she placed it on the bed and climbed up. With effort, she could hoist herself to see out the window. But the view dashed her last hope.

She did not remember climbing so many stairs, but she was now up in a tower, too high to jump down. Too high to even hope some prince would rescue her. She lowered herself back down only to have the desk come crashing over onto the mattress and then onto the floor. She landed safely on the bed, but she was sure the sound would wake the dead.

“Shhhh, they will hear you.” The voice on the other side of the door was hushed, but sounded urgent. “Be quiet. They are very dangerous.”

“Who are ‘they’ that would hurt me?” Sonsee asked crossing over to the door.

“M’Lady and the others.”

“Who are you?”

“Ana. I was your mother’s student and am now the Master Weaver.”

“You knew my mother?”

“Yes, she was kind and gentle. Always with a smile. She was a powerful weaver, too, a weaver of spells.”

Images of woven mats and amulets and tapestries flooded Sonsee’s brain. Prayer shawls, prayer mats, altar cloths. Mostly in lighter pastels, but also in vivid deep greens, mauves, and colors without names. Nanna called them “not this and not that colors” because that is what they were, not this color but not that color either.

“Your mother wove spells so strong that it frightened some and made others jealous. ‘Too powerful’ some whispered when she was not around. But I trusted her. She would never weave a spell to hurt anyone.”

“Why have they locked me in here like this? What do they want with me?”

“They want you to teach them how to weave spells. And about the tiles.”

Sonsee gasped. The tiles. She had forgotten about the tiles. Her heart pounded in her chest. Who was this woman? On full alert now, she asked, “What tiles?”

But Ana’s answer was re-assuring. “When your mother landed on our shore, she had divination tiles with her. Powerful ones, and like all divination tools, they could be used to change the future. Our Lady was Khyan back then and she knew not to press your mother about them. Kyyan knew that in her own time your mother would come to trust and teach us. But then M’Lady took over. M’Lady was young then, and ambitious. And, though your mother was barely more than a girl, M’Lady was envious of her. She tried to force your mother to give us her knowledge, but your mother refused. One day I saw your mother weaving in a way I had never seen before. When I approached, she said I was to tell nobody. She wove her own escape, I think, and we saw nothing of her again. Or of her tiles.

“After a time we heard she had married and was with child. That was when M’Lady cast her own spell and you know the rest.”

“M’Lady killed my mother?”

“I believe so, though I cannot prove it.”

“You need to help me get out of here,” Sonsee said as she heard Ana scrambling outside her door.

“They are coming. I will be back. Tell no one.”

 

 

Photo attribution: By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Weaver’s Box-part 1

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She sat staring at the flame, as had her mother before her, and her grandmother, and their mothers and grandmothers for countless generations before them.  Each flame was different and she wondered what this one would bring.  Her eyes softened their vision and she reached out to cup her hands around the candle itself. Cool, it was, cool and smooth, like precious white stone, only softer. The flame flickered then flared and dipped to the right, calling her attention back.  As she stared, the flame grew more intense, expanding its light now until the corona filled the entire cave.  Ah, yes, it was happening, that old familiar floating sensation.  She allowed her eyes to grow softer still and then she saw it, the dark tunnel that brought the Visions. 

The Weaver’s Box

Part one

Sonsee woke with a start. The sun was still below the horizon and classes were hours away. Yet there seemed an urgency about this day, like something needed to happen and happen quickly. The word “ordained” came to her, but from where she knew not.

Sonsee brushed back the silken coverlet and allowed her body to drink in the damp morning air. Sonsee-array was her full name and it meant Morning Star, so she did what she had done every birthday morning since a young child. She slipped her feet over the edge of her bed and sat up, looking for Venus, the morning star, as it shone through her bedroom window. It did, as it had every birthday morning since she could remember.  A good omen for her 13th year.

She once again marveled at the changes that had taken place in her body.  Boney straightness had taken on curves and a budding chest promised much more to come. Just the week before her body had given forth the most important sign of all. She was a woman now. Life held so much promise.

Why am I so unsettled, she wondered as she rose to cross to the window and, for the first time, noticed a wooden box on her nightstand. A treasure box, she thought as she carefully took it in both hands. But who had put it there? Certainly not her father. His presents were always lavish, gold or silver, and usually covered in fine jewels. Sonsee had always wondered if he was trying to make up for something, perhaps the loss of her mother, his adored wife.

Her mind drifted back to the day they lost her, ten years ago, the day of her brother’s expected birth. But of a brother who was never to be.

“Take the child’s life, but save my wife,” her father had roared at the doctors when the child would not appear, its head too big for its mother’s small pelvis. And they had tried, but it was too late.

Her mother lived only long enough to call for her most faithful servant, Nanna. Then, hugging Sonsee tightly to her chest, her mother had looked to Nanna and whispered, “Raise this child as if she were your own. Protect her. You know what to do.” It was Sonsee’s earliest memory.

Sonsee returned to the box. It was not jeweled, but old with a patina that told of the many loving hands that had probably caressed it over the years. It was not from her father. Could it be from Nanna?

Sonsee turned the box to inspect it and it was then that the light of Venus reflected off the copper bands holding it together. She had never seen such a beautiful color, deep and rich, yet delicate. It seemed to draw her in.  The copper latches were not ornate, yet they were elegant. Such a contrast to the rich and luxurious life Sonsee-array had known.

“You have found it then.” Nanna, tall, dark-skinned, and with silver streaking her ebony hair, stood at the door smiling at her. “It was your mother’s. It is yours now. Open it.”

Fingers trembling, Sonsee pulled back the latch as Nanna sat on her bed beside her. “Be careful, don’t spill it. And do not let your father know.”

“Why?” Sonsee asked as she pulled back the lid.

“There is magic in there and your father believes your mother was killed for it.”

Her questioning eyes darted to Nanna’s. She had never heard this before. “But she died in childbirth.”

“There are many ways to kill, many ways to make bad magic on those you envy, those you hate.”

“I do not understand, Nanna.”

“You will in time. Now, are you going to open your mother’s box?”

Carefully flipping the top back, Sonsee saw something woven. Imbedded in it were beads and a carefully crafted sea shell was attached with threads.  She lifted it. There were braided ties and bronze embellishments hanging off the bottom.

Nanna took the piece and placed it around Sonsee’s neck, securing it in the back. “Your mother was a master weaver. And she knew the art of weaving spells. This was hers, an amulet with a spell of great protection. These things are not to be worn lightly, but only when one is in need.” Nanna lifted the piece from over Sonsee’s head. “There is more in the box.”

Sonsee smoothed her nightgown over her lap and pushed it down forming a trough. Into it she poured the contents in the box, wooden tiles, black on one side but with pictures on the other.

“They are for Scrying, but you must know this: Any tool for Scrying can be used to change the future too, if you know how. They are very dangerous.”

The girl brushed her hands over the tiles, looking first at this one and then at another. She barely heard Nanna’s words until they cut through her revelry. “Sonsee-array, look at me! ”

Startled, the girl looked up.  “Never, never ever tell anyone about them. Do you understand me?”

She had never seen her Nanna so stern, so demanding before. “Yes,” the girl replied. “Never.”

“When you get home today, we will start your lessons on spell weaving. For now, we must put these away.”

Together they stacked the wooden tiles in the box and placed the woven amulet on top.

Just then there was a knock at the door. “Sonsee, my daughter, are you dressed?”

“Just a moment,” Nanna replied as she handed Sonsee her velvet robe and then shoved the treasure box under the bed covers, fluffing them up so the box would be well hidden.

As she slipped the robe on, Sonsee admired the contrast of her translucent mauve dressing gown against the deep green velvet. Colors had meaning to them. And vibration, Sonsee knew that. She sensed that in each color there was a promise, perhaps a spell to be woven. Was that what Nanna wanted to teach her?

“Coming,” Sonsee called to her father and with the grace born of her station in this world, Sonsee opened her door to greet him.

Breakfast passed as it most often did. Her father was a man of few words. Some thought him too melancholy, too stand-offish. But Sonsee knew better. He had been a loving father, teaching her many things, always tucking her in at night.

Sonsee rose from the table. “I must get ready for classes now,” she said as she started to leave.

But her father stopped her, taking her hand in his. “Sonsee-array, you have become a woman, I hear, and a beautiful one at that. Each day you remind me of your mother more and more. She would be proud today.”

“Thank you, father.”

“When you get home, I have a surprise for you, so do not dawdle.”

“No, father, I will not.”

He stood and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and then he did something she had never experienced before. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. “I am sending Gryffud with you today. And everyday from now on. Daughter, there are those that would harm you if they could. Gryffud will keep you safe.”

Then it seemed he pushed her away and, with tears in his eyes, he turned and walked out of the room.

This had been her second hint that day. Was something bad going to happen? Perplexed now, the unsettled feeling returned. Sonsee returned to her room where Nanna had set out her clothes. But Sonsee did not want to wear the blue Nanna had chosen for her. She wanted to wear deep green. It was her mother’s favorite color, she knew. And set off her green eyes. If only I had red hair, she thought. But instead she had her mother’s deep copper skin and raven black hair. Still, as she surveyed herself in the mirror, she liked what she saw. Womanhood. What would it bring? With a smile, she turned away and called for her Nanna.

But it was Gryffud who appeared when she opened her dressing room door. A sense of foreboding seemed to emanate from the man, darkening her mood once again. She did not like the him. He was gruff, and bulky, and, well, not at all like the servants she had known. Crusted, that was the word to describe him and she wondered why her father had said there were those that would hurt her and set this man to protect her. She had never known real fear, but now she felt its grip tighten around her. Then she remembered the amulet. Nanna said it was for protection.

“Just a minute,” she called to Gryffud as she raced to her bedroom. Once inside, she gently closed the door and reached under her covers. The treasure box was still there with the amulet inside. There, better, she thought as she slipped it around her neck.

The walk to school was peaceful enough as Gryffud trailed closely behind her. But he had not been allowed past the foyer. Sonsee watched as he pounded his fists and threatened the wrath of her father, but no argument would convince the Head Mistress otherwise. “She is safe with us,” the woman insisted. “No harm will come to her here. Now sit and wait.”

As the two were arguing, Sonsee slipped through a side door and to her classroom. There she and her friends discussed what girls have discussed over the ages—boys, and clothes, and parties. They would all be coming of age this spring and potential husbands would be paraded before them. Most of the girls favored two of the boys, both strong and able. But Sonsee-array thought she favored another. Quiet, sensible, and buried in his books—just like her father.

One lesson drifted into another as morning turned toward noon and finally lunch came. Leaving their books and papers behind, the girls headed for the solarium, talking and giggling all the way. Sonsee was right in the midst of the chatter when she saw the Head Mistress beckon to her. What now? Had Gryffud done something to embarrass her? She’d be talking to her father when she got home, that was for sure.

But it was not Gryffud on the woman’s mind. “Where did you get that?” she asked as she pointed to the woven amulet.

“It was my mother’s.”

“Where is your mother that she let you wear such a thing to school?”

Blushing and shuffling her feet, Sonsee-array wondered if she had transgressed. “She’s dead,” Sonsee replied. “My Nanna gave it to me.”

“How old are you?”

“Thirteen.”

“Have you had your first bleeding time?”

“I have. Last week.”

“Come,” the woman said, “We must see someone.”

Sonsee turned back toward her classroom, but the woman grabbed her by the shoulder digging her sharp fingernails in.

“I am going to get my books,” the girl explained, trying to twist away.

“Leave them. You will be back.”

But she never was.

 

 

Part 2 here

Kian and Aidan

 

 

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Late fall passed into early spring. Jimbo finished the cabin and moved in before the first snowfall. “Cozy as a bug in a rug” was Aidan’s comment. Rustic, cozy, and “just Jimbo’s style.”

Things had returned to normal for nearly everyone. Only Owen experienced anything “weird.” He had been walking through town when he spotted Kian with deep black hair, the kind of black that reflected blue in the moonlight. He called after her, but the woman disappeared around the corner. Seconds later, he rounded that same corner, but the woman was gone.

Perplexed, he called Kian that same evening to ask why she had ignored him like that. Kian only said, “You must be seeing things. My hair is still red.”

A doppelganger was Jimbo’s explanation. Aidan just shrugged and said, “Now if it was Raven with red hair I would worry.” The incident was forgotten.

Work on the Book of Knowings continued at a slow pace. Tied up in Washington DC, Aidan could only get away on weekends. It was then that he and Kian poured through the Book, but it was all mundane—births, deaths, years of drought, years of plenty.

Finally bored with the everyday, Kian decided to search further back and randomly chose a page for Aidan to translate. But he could not. Both language and alphabet were unknown even to his cadre of experts. So Kian decided to do what she had done as a child. She took the page in her hands and let the vision come. It was a long tale about a Weaver’s Box.

The first part of The Weaver’s Box will be presented next week.

 

Photo attribution:     By Ji-Elle (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Willing Sacrifice: Chapter 32

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CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

October 31st

Samhain

 

Kian stood at her dining table as the others stood with her.

“Here, here!” Owen declared raising his glass of champagne. “Here’s to the Ark. Home at last.”

“Here, here,” the other three replied raising their glasses to meet his.

“And here’s to my parents,” Kian added with a strong touch of sadness in her voice.

“To Red and Cat,” the other three replied before lowering their glasses and taking a sip.

Kian had found the champagne in Jacob’s cellar when she and Owen had gone back to remove the Ark from its stone sarcophagus. It was twenty years old and, they suspected, intended to toast the return of Red and Cat all those years before. It seemed fitting they should open it now.

“So,” Aidan said to Jimbo when the three had taken their seats at the dining table once again, “you thought more about my job offer?”

“Hey, buddy, not that I don’t appreciate it, but business suits are for jerks. But you can call me anytime you need your sorry ass saved,” he added before dishing up a double helping of mashed potatoes. “Who woulda’ thought it? Scotty sitting in Power’s old seat. A director for the FBI. Congrats, man.”

Aidan took the potatoes from Jimbo and served himself a large portion before handing them to Kian.

It did not take a psychic to know what was on Aidan’s mind. He wanted her to move to D.C. with him. He had even talked about marriage. But she wasn’t ready to leave her Hudson Valley home. Not now. Maybe not ever. “So,” she said turning to Jimbo. “How’s the cabin coming?”

“Too slowly.” Jimbo served himself three generous pieces of roast beef. “It’s those assholes in that building department of yours. Shit, half the stuff they’re making me put in, I’ll have to rip out before I can live there.”

“I know,” Owen replied. “They made me hard-wire smoke detectors just to put in four lousy steps. Outside, no less, on my deck. Jimbo, pass the gravy, can you?”

Kian took the bowl of stuffing from the sideboard and passed it to Aidan. “So I take it nobody’s found any evidence of the demon.”

“Not in any of the local reports,” Owen said.

“Nothing’s come into the FBI,” Aidan added.

“Good, I don’t sense anything either,” Kian said.

“Well with nobody to feed it anger or fear, it should dissipate soon enough,” Jimbo commented. “Power and Raven are gone, nobody knows about it but us, so I think we have seen the last of the demon.”

“One last toast then,” Kian said raising her glass. “Here’s to us and to getting back to normal.”

“To us and to normal,” they all replied.

 

 

 

The old lady sat huddled over her crystal ball. Stooped with age, Power’s mother had never intended to outlive her son. But she had intended to see a grandchild born, a legitimate grandchild. All she had was some half-breed. One he fathered on Raven, a whore he picked up on K Street, no doubt. Still, when you want something you make due with what you have. And I want that Ark.

The old lady tapped her withering fingernail on the crystal ball, then pushed her wheelchair back as she picked up the telephone. “Bring me the girl.”