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"Dark Covenant"


Prologue
Dark Covenant

By amahra

Prologue

For over a century, the land lay barren until the witches came. The ground was dead—full of decaying trees and slimy mud that covered the carcasses of animals like a foul-smelling blanket. The witches had escaped from North Berwick, Scotland following the harsh enforcement of the Witchcraft Act of 1562.

Crammed into a small wooden ship for months, they rocked to the turbulent waves of an angry sea until reaching the quiet shore of the New World. They brought with them centuries of earth knowledge in healing, herbs, and spirituality.

The witches cultivated the land into a livable masterpiece and named it, New Berwick. They chose a portion of the region and built their communities. They named it, Falcon Haven, after the birds that made its trees their home. A hundred years passed, and humans also settled there, but the witches kept their identity a secret.

The witches claimed that the earth spirit, Asase Ya, had appeared  before their high priestest in the form of a spider and had made a covenant with them—payment, the spirit had said, for their restoring the land. Asase Ya vowed to be their protector and benefactor for as long as they worshipped her and obeyed the covenant rules.

But Corina Brewer, a headstrong young witch, ignored the rules. She abused her powers—and led other witches into consorting with the dead, a practice forbidden to Covenant witches. 

Corina was rebellious even as a child.  In the winter of 1810, she and younger sister, Hollie, and best friends, Gunner Lenox and Amber Moore found an old bat cave; they sat cross-legged in a circle on the stone ground and held hands. An ancient spell rose from their lips that enticed the darkness.

They chanted until the lit candles floated several inches off the ground and a chilling wind stirred inside the cave. The candle fire glowed in the breeze like a pair of fiery red eyes. Hollie's mouth stiffened as she shook nervously and spurts of urine warmed her thighs. Amber's heart pounded; she squeezed Corina’s hand until the magic ring Corina was wearing sliced into her finger. But Corina felt nothing as her green irises rolled to the back of her head, and the white shone like two tiny boiled eggs. 

A huge snake-like stream of black smoke swirled several times around them. A pale figure emerged from the thick blackness and hovered above them. It had no arms or legs; there was no face—just wavering grey fogs inside the slits where eyeballs should have been. The top of  its head popped back like a flip-top cap, and a dark forked tongue slid from the opening. Hollie screamed and tore her hand away from Gunner. The figure shot back into the smoke and the cave walls sucked it in.

“Damn you, Hollie. You idiot,” Corina shouted. 

Gunner had tried to grab Hollie, but she was too quick for him. She bolted from the cave screaming. She never stopped running until she reached home.

***

“Corina is the evil one,” the senior witches once said of her. Though she proved a thorn in the Coven's side, the local council refused to banish her because they believed she was worth saving.

 “She’s young—a little patience is all the girl needs,” Hilda, an elder witch said to members of the local council. 

Hilda was short and stout in a grandmotherly fashion. She was considered by the student witches as their advocate. Whenever they got into trouble, they would run to her. She treated them as if they were her own children.

“Oh, that girl will be the ruin of us all, if we don’t do something,” Harriet said, slamming her palm down on the conference table. 

Harriet was tall and thin. She had a thick nose that sat in the middle of a thin wiry dark face with dark, close set eyes. Her mousey brown hair was pulled back in a bun. She despised Corina and resented her getting away with mischief that witches in Harriet’s day would have never dared.  She constantly snooped around trying to find anything she could on Corina and her fellow delinquents.

As young as thirteen, Corina proved dangerous around humans—especially those in the public school where she attended. She had this gift for being charming and sweet, but deathly cold at the same time. She had a stare that seemed to burn straight through you.

When she was sixteen, Brad Crawly, a mortal, dumped her for the new girl, a pretty redhead.  Corina seemed civil enough and asked Brad to meet with her one last time–to bring a friendly closure to their relationship, she’d told him. The next day in Art class, Brad casually got up from his seat, walked to the front of the classroom, stood next to Mr. Carter, the school master, and slit his own throat from ear to ear.

The blood splattered a jagged line across Mr. Carter’s face. In shock, Carter stumbled back against the wall and slid down to the floor. The children thundered from the classroom like a spooked herd of cattle—some screaming, and some vomiting in the hallway. Other students huddled together outside on the school grass shaking and crying.

Gunner and Amber watched as Corina just stood there in the classroom doorway looking at Brad lying on the floor, his head nearly severed from his body. Her cold eyes traced the stream of blood from his throat as it pooled under the desk and around the legs of the chairs. She cocked her head as if she were fascinated. Her stare seemed lifeless with eyes like marbles peering through the wooden face of a manikin.

As a young adult, her powers had grown stronger and her personality more sinister. Over the years, she and her small group of followers continued being rebellious and Harriet’s snooping paid off.  The group remained loyal to Corina with tight lips. But Hollie and a few others broke under intense interrogation, which included forcing their heads under water while chained creatures snapped their massive jaws just inches from their faces.

Harriet stood like the cat that just ate the canary. “I knew she’d bring trouble. But did anyone listen to me?”   

“Yes, yes, we know,” Hilda answered, “but you often made those accusations without merit.”

The local council had each of their living quarters searched. They found much evidence of forbidden arts; such as, books with human skin covers,  vials of blood, small animal parts, a severed hand, daggers with skull and cross-bone handles, and voodoo dolls that resembled a few of their human school teachers who had suffered unexplainable sicknesses throughout the year.  Not even Hilda could save them now as they stood before the Witches of Darmieth (The supreme high council of dead witches) who sat in mid-air with the tips of their red velvet and gold trim cloaks barely touching the white marble floor.

Hollie was no longer the quiet, silly, shivering little girl she’d once been. Though she broke under interrogation, she had hardened over the years and her only weakness was her fear and loyalty to her sister.

“You have disobeyed the rules of the sacred Covenant made by Asase Ya,” said Isadora, High Priestess.  “You have broken your vows,” said another; “shamed your families,” a third council member said.  “Provoked darkness upon your community,” said the fourth.”  “And defiled Mother Earth with forbidden magic.”  When all five had spoken, Isadora announced the sentence to the fallen faces of many witches, but to the delight of Harriet. 

“The Witches of Darmieth, find, Corina Brewer, Hollie Brewer, Amber Moore, Gunner Lenox, Isabella Wrighthorn…”as she read off the names, Hollie felt as though she were floating above the room with Isadora’s voice sounding far away. Her body hovered over the tops of windows, skid across the surface of the high walls, up to the colorful artistic ceiling of  humans  sacrificed to sacred dragons; up through the ceiling to the pale blue sky, where she sailed on a cloud before being carried away by a soft wind. Finally, she snapped back and heard  the last few names on the list, “… Rosie Stevenson, John Pepperwill, and Wendell Higgins have been found guilty of necromancy—and is hereby banished from The Mystic Circles with all coven rights and magic permanently terminated.”

“You think this is the end of me, you dead bitches?” Corina shouted as the other outcasts hurried past her.

“Careful girl,” Hilda begged, after seeing Isadora’s eyes blazing.

“Come on!” Hollie said, pulling Corina by her arm.

Corina stumbled along sideways, but looked defiantly over her shoulder wanting to say more. But Hollie continued pulling her until they reached the outside where horses and coaches waited with their belongings.

No longer under the protection of the Covenant, the outcast settled in Necropolis, a cemetery world where the worst of evil were buried, and where the undead roamed restlessly. After decades of dark art failure, Corina and her followers finally regained supernatural power from absorbing all the magic from the dead bones of the most powerful sorcerers of the ancient world. She founded a kingdom and called it Ironforge. For not even magic, outside her own, could penetrate her fortress.

In the early 1900s, after getting wind of Corina's powers, the Covenant witches cast a mystic shield around Ironforge, so that  Corina was confined within her fortress; however, if sign warnings were ignored and people ventured too closely, like a magnet, the wall pulled them into the stone and mortar. Human flesh made the wall stronger.

To the mortal eye, it appeared just a huge wall. Only the witches  could see the true horror. They could see thousands of beings, from the waist up—their middle body and lower extremities fused with the mortar in the wall. Each clothed in rags of their own century—their terrifying faces silently screaming—their arms flailing and struggling to pull free.

It was clear to Covenant witches that Corina’s powers had grown dangerously stronger. And that her anger had followed them into the twenty-first century.

***

High, in a secret tower of the fortress, Corina stood looking into a large cast iron pot that lingered a few inches off the floor in mid-air. A green fire blazed under it. Inside the pot, a brown liquid substance bubbled noisily as a mini transparent tornado swirled two feet above the liquid. Within the swirl was the region of New Berwick. Like the news, flashing from one part of the city to another, Corina could see people walking about, traffic bustling, deputies directing traffic, children playing on school grounds, bikers and joggers, sailing ships and low flying helicopters: Falcon Haven, Greyscott Falls, and Sheerfield City, all visible to her in virtual glory.

“My new playground,” she said, gazing into the swirl. 

Hollie, Amber and Gunner looked over at the dark queen, eager to hear her plans.

Corina’s green eyes glittered like those of a deadly snake. "Patience, My Darlings, patience.”
 
 


 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 1
Of Man and Beast

By amahra


Northern Greyscott Falls

Killing his infant son was the hardest part. Leaving him to rot among the stone statues—making that long journey home with the sweet scent of his little body still upon him, completed this sleepless nightmare. But this was a task expected of all fathers of his kind—something much needed and long overdue.  He was doing what his father and his father before him were too cowardly to do. 

River Porter’s deep brown eyes peered down upon the babe. Could he go through with it? Would he be able to run the six inch dagger through the tiny heart until the light went out of its dancing blue eyes?  Could he, once again, stomach hearing the faint gasp, witness the flailing arms and legs go still as the blood pooled around the lifeless thing that would have been his son?  

Really, it was the wish of his people that these babies were sickly, so as to claim a mercy killing. But fate would not have it so. Sick or healthy, they must all die. River would follow this law and be damned for it.

***
 
“Is Daddy going to be alright this time, Mom?” Becca Porter asked, trying not to let the cream-colored porcelain bowls slip from her hands.

She was nine—the youngest of four girls and was given menial household chores because she was so clumsy. Her mother attempted to change that by entrusting her with delicate things. Her father loved her and her sisters, but also resented them at times. Jewel looked up from the book just long enough to give Becca a sharp stare. “Just set the table," she said.

“Alright.” Becca dropped her head and moped back to the dining area.                                          

Jewel Porter lived in New Berwick all of her life. So very beautiful, she had captivated River the first time he laid eyes upon her. Six months later, they were married. Jewel served as a Sencha (Historian)  for one of the local covens.  Putting her spell book aside, she brushed her dark raven hair from her cheek with her delicate white hand.  The long wavy locks brushed against the fluffy pink pillow on the cot where she rested. Jewel was very protective of her husband and resented the daunting task that tormented him–that tormented all of the husbands and fathers of her community.

She had given birth just hours ago, but had dismissed the midwives. Not wanting to appear weak and sickly when River returned, it was important to her that he found the household functioning as usual—as if their infant son’s blood was not screaming upon his hands.

Jewel bled heavily and the pain tore into her loins. “I’m not going to cry this time,” she said softly. She forced the sea back into her eyes; it burned and blurred her vision. The room spun around and her breathing deepened.

Chelsea, seventeen and her eldest daughter, stood in the shadows of Jewel’s bedroom. She gasped at the sight of her mother who looked pale and weak.

“Mom, are you alright? You don’t look well.” She walked briskly across the room to Jewel and felt her forehead. 

“I'll be fine, Honey." Jewel placed her hand on her abdomen. Chelsea could see her chest rising and falling rapidly. 

“Shall I send for the midwives?” Before Jewel could answer, Abby and Dria, Chelsea’s younger siblings, rushed to Jewel’s side, bumping the cot so hard it moved an inch or so. They had overheard Chelsea's concerned for their mother.

Abby frowned. “Mom, what’s wrong?” 

“Watch it!” Chelsea shouted, “…and don’t crowd her!” The two stepped back immediately at her command—just as they were taught to do. Dria, the quiet one, stood glassy-eyed with her hands to her mouth.  Suddenly, a crash came from the kitchen that made them jump.

"Really, Becca?" Chelsea shouted.

“''I'm sorry,” Becca’s timid voice screeched, as she fumbled to pick up the broken dishes.
 
 ***
 
After River had cleaned up the blood, he wrapped the limp body in a blanket, (that was lovingly crafted by Jewel) and placed it in a tomb beside the other four infant brothers. He stood looking at the five coffins—his eyes filled, and he sighed heavily. He had daggered the oldest son in 1994, the second in 99, twins in 03, and now this one. Five nameless, lifeless, little heroes lying in a row like cartons of eggs on a bottom shelf in a run-down grocery store.  He tucked the red velvet knife case under his arm and pulled the heavy crypt door closed. After locking it, he made his way to his car that was parked just outside the tall, black iron gate.

River steered the silver SUV recklessly towards home. Above him hung a third quarter moon surrounded by glittering stars that winked down at him. Once he attempted to drive right through the steel railings and end his heartache–only to slam on brakes at the last insane seconds of that senseless thought.  But who else could do the killings? Jewel?  No–not my Sweet, her heart is too pure; and certainly not the girls.  

The winding road seemed endless as he tried desperately to make it home to the warming arms of his wife. As he drove, honeysuckle, the region’s perfume, kissed his face from the opened window.  He remembered the many stories his grandfather had told him about New Berwick: the place where his ancestors had married, built homes, fished, hunted and planted trees and gardens.

The land was full of forests, woods and creeks. Giant mountains loomed over the steep hills and valleys. There were barns, small ranches and mansions. Some mansions took up many acres and looked like small elegant castles. Beyond the swell of hills, rose fruit trees of apples, pears and peaches. The stretch of blue-green grass held plants of every floral color of nature’s beauty. Everywhere was white sparkling falling water.

The sky welcomed a host of indigenous and migrating birds, while the forests embraced its medium and small fluffy breeds. Silver threads of the river snaked throughout the region—insuring life to every species. As River’s eyes scanned the road-side portion of the territory, it was hard for him to believe that this land had not always been beautiful.

***
 
When River entered his house, the smell of his favorite dish, lamb stew, permeated the air. Becca saw him first and nearly knocked the pitcher of ice tea off the table.

“Honestly, Becca," Dria blurted.

Becca ran to him, grinning. “Daddy.”

River held out his arms and she fell into them. After hugging Dria, River looked towards the cot where he was certain Jewel lay. But to his surprise, she was standing looking radiant, dressed in dark slacks and a long-sleeved soft blue blouse that matched her blue eyes. River walked to her and gathered her in his arms. He kissed her lips, then pulled back a few inches and frowned.

“Honey, should you be up so soon? Remember the last time…”  

“I’m fine, Sweetheart…really." Then she said in a low voice, not wanting the children to hear, "I drank a potion.”

He nodded and looked over his shoulders to be sure she wasn’t overheard. “Jewel, you know that’s not only forbidden, but it's dangerous.”

“It was just a little snake blood,” she said, toying with him. “The snake hardly noticed. He slithered away as happy as a Lark." She grinned and pecked his nose with a kiss.
 
Before he could scold her, Chelsea burst into the room, followed by Abby.  “Mom, you’re up. Look at you," Chelsea said, her eyes wide.

Abby looked Jewel up and down. "What did you do? You look wonderful."

"Dad, she was so pale, and…and we were so scared…” Chelsea stammered.
 
“Your mother is fine. Okay? Stop worrying.” He kissed Chelsea and Abby on their foreheads. "I'm going to go wash-up for dinner."  He left Jewel's side and walked across the room to the bathroom. The children gathered around Jewel—each kissed and hugged her neck. With the girls on either side still holding on to her, Jewel managed to walk over to the dinner table.

River finished drying his hands on a paper towel and joined them. "Okay, let’s eat,” he said, rubbing his hands together.  He pulled out the chair for Jewel and did the same for his girls, then took his seat next to Jewel.  

Abby wasted no time after sitting down before blurting, “Dad, can I get a tattoo? Mom said I could if you said yes.” She fidgeted in her seat waiting for a response.

“I’ll think about it.” He took a big whiff through his nose.  “Wow—everything smells so good.”  River spooned lumps of lamb, carrots and potatoes from the large crock pot and placed it into his bowl.

"I cooked, Dad," Chelsea said.

River put a spoonful in his mouth. "Umm," he moaned, shaking his head with approval at Chelsea.

“Becca set the table,” Jewel said with chest-rising pride. Becca smiled while twirling the spoon in her stew.

Abby’s eyes shot up at the ceiling as her mouth formed a smirk before she spoke. “And…she only broke four dishes, a bowl, and one of Mom’s favorite tea cups.” Chelsea frowned and elbowed Abby while Dria giggled.

Jewel flashed a glare at Abby. “That wasn’t very nice Abby. And I hated that tea cup anyway,” Jewel said, looking sympathetically over at Becca.  “You did fine, Honey.”

“Yes, Sweetheart,” River said, “the table looks really nice. And I hated that old tea cup too. Good riddance."  He smiled at Becca and stuffed his mouth.

River was a thoughtful, kind husband and father. His goal, like most Porter men, was to have a son to carry the family name. He adored his girls, though sometimes he was bothered by their flashing bright eyes, and sunshine smiles, their giggles, the long white legs moving under them and their pale thin arms that would wrap around him whenever they greeted him at the door. These were all the things he’d never know from his sons whose bodies lay in a crypt. 

Jewel looked over at her tall, husky husband. She reached up and brushed a dark brown lock of his hair from his forehead. He turned to her and smiled with the oil from the lamb sauce shining on his thin lips. He and his brother, Dex had inherited their father’s wealth. They also inherited his good looks and had evolved from a good stock of fighting men.

Their great, great, grandfather, Merchant Porter, his three older brothers, and nearly a hundred other young men were the security force for the Covenant witches back in 1842. They were highly skilled fighters and were nicknamed Moon Crawlers because they could blend with the shadows and were famous for their almost invisible presence and feather-like movements among any given enemy. Many said they could ease past a nest of snakes and not get hissed.

The Moon Crawlers once destroyed an entire zombie unit that Corina had created to attack the Covenant witches. They entered the camp before her mystic hounds could scent them out. Corina was enraged. After gazing over the ash and bones of her defeated demonic army, she sought revenge.

It was nearly sundown, and the evening spewed its familiar scent of jasmine in the air. Merchant Porter, his brothers, and a few other Moon Crawlers enjoyed the night off celebrating one of their men’s wedding to a local beauty.  Corina sent a shape-shifter to impersonate one of the young girls responsible for bringing and serving a special dish. Only, this dish was prepared for the Moon Crawlers exclusively.

The shifter slaughtered two wolves—chopped up the meat and mixed in the human portions of a young boy. She emptied a vial of blood taken from the girl as she lay unconscious. After adding a mystic herb, water and goat’s milk, it was placed in an iron cast oven to bake. The dish was served to the bridegroom first. After serving it to the other Moon Crawlers, the shifter abruptly left.

Hours later, they found the girl who was still unconscious lying by the roadside with little memory of what had happened. She swore it wasn’t her they saw serving the food.  As the hysterical girl began to recover some of her memory, they noticed a deep cut in the palm of her right hand. The girl told them that on her way there, she had been chased by something that emerged out of thick, black smoke with crystal-like eyes and long bony fingers. They believed her, knowing how Corina operated, but had no idea what it meant.

Two weeks later while guarding one night, the Moon Crawlers, including those off duty, to the horrors of their families and the witches running for their lives, the men, one-by-one and sometimes in groups of threes and fours, began to turn into huge, vicious wolves. The witches managed to escape safely to a sacred cave where a spell protected them. But humans weren’t as fortunate. They were ripped apart—left with throats as gaping red holes and staring eyes that still held the full impact of their death.

The early morning sun was the first to witness what the full moon had done. It beat down on the men as they lay sprawled naked and horrified. They were covered in blood with human flesh still stuffed in their jaws or hanging from their teeth. Many woke in their homes beside the bodies of their wives, children, and parents.

The groom who was still on his honeymoon found his bride’s torn headless body in the next room. The sheriff and several townsmen carried him away screaming, “I don’t know what happened. I swear to Almighty God. You gotta believe me. I’m innocent.”

After being found guilty of butchering his wife, he was placed in solitary and scheduled to hang. But during a full moon, he escaped. At daybreak, they found pieces of the guards scattered on the floor, on shelves, on the desk, on top of filing cabinets. There were multiple bullet holes—all in the direction of the cell. The iron bars had been splintered like twigs. And there was a large bear-size hole where the door had been.

The curse only affected the males. Over the years, the werewolf population grew until they had to acquire their own region. They settled in Greyscott Falls.

The Covenant witches were powerless to undo the spell. It required the death of a young child. And this was against everything they stood for. However, before every full moon—and with the men heavily chained, the witches would send a thick mist with fake growling noises to mask the howling of the men, and to spook any outsiders who might venture too far into the region.

But River and the other fathers felt this was not enough. They decided on a more permanent solution. “The best course,” an elder wolf said, “is to end the curse by letting it die with us.” That meant all male children had to be eliminated at birth until the last werewolf died. It was hard to get the men to agree at first. River fought it as long as he could. It was even harder, almost impossible to get the women on board. But after years of witnessing the horrors their men faced with every full moon, they too agreed the curse must end.

However, not all of the pack agreed with the law. Tempers flared, lives were threatened and Civil war seemed imminent.

***
 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 2
North and South

By amahra

Falcon Haven

Beatrice Taylor was a direct descendant of the original witches who founded New Berwick.  Beatrice served as the Cainte (Master of magical chants) for her coven. She had been widowed for several years and lived with her only child, Barbara Morrison, son-in-law, Pete, and her adorable seventeen year old granddaughter, Kayla.

In the middle of dinner, Beatrice realized she didn’t have much of an appetite, so she excused herself and decided to settle down for the evening. But a phone call from Jewel put a glass of wine and curling up with a book on hold. She urged Beatrice to meet her at this underground library located on the outskirts of Greyscott Falls. It was run by a pale looking, blue-eyed, elderly man who dressed like a Gypsy. 

It was dark when Beatrice set out. She barely found the place that stood far off from the main road behind a cluster of trees. Jewel's Mercedes S-Class stood out among several cars and pick-up trucks that were parked in front of the building.

When she entered the little library, she found it lit with hundreds of candles that hung in mid-air just below the high ceiling. There were multi-color faded books that filled a bookcase wall unit that was the length of the wall and went from ceiling to floor. Only a few odd-looking people were seated at the round, wooden tables. The man dressed as a Gypsy stood behind the book-check counter. He had a creepy look in his eyes. He flashed a yellow smile, and Beatrice smiled back.

Jewel spotted Beatrice looking around for her, and she waved her over. Jewel sat at one of the wider tables with books spread out over it and some in piles. They were mostly old worn books with strange looking bindings. Beatrice smoothed her fingers over one of the books. It felt of a strange texture.
 
“What on earth was so urgent?” Beatrice asked. She sat across from Jewel and placed her handbag on one of the piles.

Jewel’s eyes were wide with excitement. “I really think I’m on to something,” she said.

“On to what?”

Jewel didn’t answer but opened the large ancient spell book. It was bound in human skin and was written in Hungarian. She read a spell in the dialect and interpreted it for Beatrice in English. When she finished, Beatrice's eyes were beaming.

"Does this mean what I think it means?" Beatrice asked.

"I may have found a way out of the infant killings."

“Great Jupiter! You think it'll really work?”

“It has to. I tried for years to convince River and the others to find a human doctor who would accept money, keep his mouth shut about us…and use the technology that could determine the gender during the pregnancy. That way we could terminate the male fetus before giving birth. But River said it was too dangerous."

“You couldn’t blame him.”

“No…I couldn’t. Many times fetus blood is kept to be used in experiments for various diseases. We couldn’t take the chance on our blood being discovered.”

“It would have been curtains for us all."

“That’s why this has to work.  But I can't do it alone. I'm a historian. I can do average spells, but this requires a real knowledge. The kind you have." She looked at Beatrice pleadingly.

"I'll be more than glad to lend my expertise. Of course. Did you think you had to ask?"

"Thanks, Bee. But, you can’t tell anybody about this book.”

“I won't say a word. Coven's Honor," she said, spreading three fingers over her heart.

***

Southern Greyscott Falls
 
“What do you want, Uncle River?” Matthew Porter, tall, husky and dark-haired like his father, stood wide-legged with a rifle in his hand.

“You’re not going to shoot your old unk, are you Matt?”

“I don’t want to, Uncle River. But if you take one more step, I’ll have to follow my dad’s orders.”

“I understand, son. But I just want to talk to your father.”

“He ain’t here.”

“Know when he’ll be back?”

“Nope.”

All right. Tell him I’ll stop by later.”

“Wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“I’ll take my chances. Nice seeing you. Tell your mother I said, hi.”

The twenty-year-old kept his rifle in both hands, pointed down at the ground and never took his eyes off River until he pulled off.

Matthew Porter was the son of Dex Porter, River’s younger brother. Dex and some of the wolf pack split years ago and moved closer to the hills. They had refused to kill their sons. They had preferred to simply ride it out, if it took a thousand years, one had said, to wait for the curse to be broken. They hated River and the other fathers who had made it a law to kill male infants. The southern pack, where Dex was from, called it murder, while River, along with his northern pack, felt it was more cruel to allow their sons to live under a curse–never able to have a normal life.

A few years after the law had gone into effect, one third still opposed. They were threatened with raids on their homes and their sons kidnapped and killed if they didn’t do the honors themselves. River had refused to go along with the raids and tried to talk his brother and the other holdouts into accepting the law. But Dex threatened to kill anyone who came near his home.

River told Dex he would never harm his nephews, and he would die before he’d let anyone else harm them as well.

“You’ll die sooner than that,” Dex told him, “if you don’t get off my property.” Dex said as long as River was killing his own sons, he was no brother of his. This not only put a strain on the brother’s relationship, but also their wives who were first cousins.

***
River drove around for a while to make it seem he had gone, but instead of turning onto the main road, he turned into a small, dirt road and eased into the shadow of a tall oak tree. He was right; Dex was home. His truck was parked near a pile of lumber.  Well, my lying-ass nephew...but...you were just doing what you were told.

River made his way back around the Hampstead creek and cut through the Norwick forest. He slowly pulled up to the house and parked. He sat for a while before getting out. When he finally emerged from the truck, he kept his eyes peeled for Matt. As he started up the long walkway, he spotted Dex and Matt walking out of their front door.  Both were holding rifles across their forearms—their faces stern.  River smiled as he approached them but wasn't surprised when their faces didn't mirror his.

“Dex,” River said, nodding.

“This is very brave of you, River,” Dex warned.

“Or stupid,” replied Matt.

River continued walking slowly towards them, then stopped and raised both arms out to the side and held them there. “I’m unarmed,” he said, letting his arms flop at his sides. “I just want to talk, brother.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“What do I call you then? We both had the same mother and father.” Just then, Dex's wife, Jan, came to the door with their youngest son, a seven year-old, and a bigger boy, about ten, at her side. River waved at them. Dex followed his brother’s eyes over his shoulder and saw them standing there.

“Go back in!” Dex shouted at his wife, then snatched his head back and stared at River. “You need to go, River. I mean it. I’m not going to tell you twice.”  Matt looked at his father, then back at River and raised his rifle.  River threw his hands up in front of him.

“Wait, Dex. I know you’re angry with me, with all of us. But there's something I need to tell you.”

“About what, Uncle—about killing me, my two little brothers?”

“Matt, look at me. You know better than that.”

“I don’t know anything, Uncle River, except, you need to go.”

“Dex,” River said, looking to him to disagree with his son. Dex just stood there with his rifle raised, his eyes cold and defiant. River took several steps back and said, “All right, Dex.”

He slowly turned and walked back down the path to his truck—his head down, watching his feet. Before getting in, he looked up and caught Dex's eyes. My brother really hates me.  River got in and pulled off. In his rear view mirror, he watched Dex and Matt entering the house. River’s eyes glassed over.

He wanted to tell Dex the good news about Jewel's new spell and how it could stop the killings. He had thought Dex would be happy; perhaps even forgive him for the past killings—welcome him back as his brother. But River guessed this was just an empty dream.

He thought about how close he and Dex had been growing up. Once as young boys, they had disobeyed their father, turned into werewolf pups and strayed too far into the woods. A young black bear attacked River and would have killed him had it not been for Dex’s quick action. As tiny as he was, he jumped on the bear’s head—digging his little claws and fangs into one of its eyes. The bear roared in pain, shook Dex off its head and fled. 

River hated that he couldn't tell his parents of Dex’s bravery without revealing their disobedience. But it was an event that bonded them for life. That is, until the Killing Law came.







 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher(Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 3
The Howling

By amahra



Sheerfield City

Fifteen year old Tiara Winters was missing. Her parents last saw her three days ago when they locked her in her bedroom as punishment for her involvement with a local boy. The next morning, the maid found the room empty and the French window pushed opened.

“This isn't the first time we've had to deal with a rebellious teenager," Sheriff Wayne Tilbert had stated earlier to a Sheerfield Bugle reporter. "Whatever it takes, we'll find her," he concluded.

Rose Tilbert, Wayne's wife, sat across from him at breakfast listening to the morning news.

“Isn't it just awful about that Winters girl?” Rose said, shaking her head.

“We’re not giving up just yet,” Wayne answered.

Their daughter, Veronica, seventeen, playfully punched the arm of her fourteen year old brother, Christopher. They sat at the table giving each other teasing stares; and then like little angels they closed their eyes and bowed their heads while Wayne said grace.

“Mighty and Merciful Father, we thank you for this food we are about to consume for the nourishment of our bodies. We thank you for this land, the plants and the animals upon it. Bless the farmers, the merchants, and the hands that prepared this meal. So shall it be.”

So shall it be,” Rose and the kids repeated in unison.

Wayne was a descendant of the Dominions, the last human group of immigrants to settle in New Berwick.  The Dominions arrived a little over two hundred years after the Coven. This group came to escape religious oppression and settled in the middle of the region, creating Sheerfield City. The group got its name from their late founder, James P. Tilbert who said God told him to dominate the earth with the Word of God…that there was only one God and one Book for the world, but that all other religions should be tolerated, because people deserved the right to make their own choices.

Nevertheless, new-comers or troublemakers as they were sometimes called were discouraged from practicing paganism. They were also warned by the authorities to stay in Sheerfield City and away from the neighboring areas where use of strange rituals were suspected.

Half-way through breakfast, Wayne’s phone vibrated on his waist band.

“Yeah, Ken,” he said, getting up from the table and walking a few paces to talk in private.

“Bad news,” Deputy Ken Carter exclaimed.

“The Winters’ kid?”

“I’m afraid so, sir. Looks like some kind of wild animal just ripped that poor kid to shreds.”

“Wild animal? There hasn’t been anything bigger than a jackrabbit around here for decades.”

“I know, but bears and wolves have been known to travel for miles looking for food.”

“Where was she found?”

“South of Greyscott Falls, in the Norwick forest.”

“What the devil was she doing out there?”

“You got me,” Ken said.

“Dear God!”

“Kids…who knows why they do anything these days.”

“Ok, bring her into the coroner and let’s find out what did this. And keep this quiet until we're sure it’s her. If it is, I don’t want the girl’s parents hearing this from anyone else but me. Make that clear to everyone.”

“Will do!  But it’s her all right. We know by the description of the clothing Mrs. Winters gave us.”

“All the same, let’s make it official,” Wayne said; he snatched the phone from his ear and then quickly spoke back into it.  “….and thanks, Ken.”  Wayne clicked off and straightened his face before turning around.  He stopped by the table and took a last sip of his coffee. 

“Is everything all right, Dad?” Veronica asked.

“Yes, Sweetheart.” He kissed Veronica and Christopher on the top of their heads and went around to Rose. She searched his eyes and then frowned. “Have a good day, dear,” she said, lifting her cheek to his lips.

“I will,” he responded; he gently touched her chin with his finger—a gesture that he appreciated her not asking about the phone call. Official business.

***

Wayne tried to force Ken's description of the young girl's body from his mind while walking to his car. As he drove, he clenched his teeth like he was going to be sick. There hadn’t been any kind of killings by people or animals in Sheerfield that he could remember. He had attended funerals of people who had lived a good life and simply died of natural causes, sickness, or accidental deaths, but not killings. He made a few official stops along Kingston road before reporting to duty.

After more than thirty minutes of driving, the quiet ride suddenly changed as Wayne turned the corner and was within blocks of the police station. He saw absolute chaos generating in front of the building. Wayne pulled up to the station, turned off the car and slumped down in his seat. A large group of people flocked and surrounded his car.

“What the hell?” he said.

Wayne pushed the door open and forced his way through the crowd. His every push was accompanied by town folks yelling­­­­—microphones pushed in his face from every angle and questions flying from more than two dozen reporters' lips.

“I have no statement!  Please!” Wayne yelled as he forced through and got within a few feet of the station door. One of his deputies opened it as he got close; hands reached through the slim opening of the door, grabbed several parts of his clothing and pulled him inside. The deputy quickly slammed the door in their faces. Wayne leaned against the wall and panted heavily. He turned around, spotted Ken and walked towards him. "Did you...?"

“No, and don’t ask me how they found out," Ken said. He looked down and then up into Wayne’s eyes, “I know you said you wanted to be the one to tell them. But they called and I had no choice.”

“Who called?” Wayne asked, resting his butt on the edge of his desk.

“The Winters,” Ken answered—his expression saying, who do you think?

Wayne blew a sigh. “How did they take it?” Ken didn’t answer and lowered his head.

“God help them,” Wayne said. He flopped down in his chair and tossed his car keys on the desk. Wayne watched the faces of his office staff as they continued their duties in silence.
 
***
It had been twenty-four hours since Tiara Winters' body was discovered. Close to midnight several hard bangs came on Dex Porter's back door.  He stumbled down the back stairs to the kitchen barefooted, clicked on the light and opened the door. Three of his neighbors stood like clay statues.

“What’s going on?” Dex asked, his voice gravelly.

Bret, Pete, and Jim rushed by him and stood near the kitchen counter.  Bret's temples were beaded with sweat and Pete and Jim had deep frown lines across their foreheads.

“Sorry to wake you at this hour, Dex. But this can’t wait,” Bret said. Pete and Jim nodded in agreement.

Dex pushed the door closed. "Ok, let's have it."

“It’s about that Winters kid,” Bret said.

Dex shrugged. “What about her?”

“It was no animal attack.”
 
Dex bit his bottom lip, and searched Bret’s face.

“It was Debra Carter’s boy, Raymond.”  Bret waited for a reaction from Dex.

“Keep talking,” Dex said.

“Deb is an alcoholic, everybody knows that. She ain’t been right since her old man drove a silver dagger through his heart some while back. She can’t be trusted to see to it that that boy of hers is chained down during a full moon.”

“This ain’t the first time he ran free after his transformation,” Pete said.

“What the hell do you mean this is not the first time? He’s killed before?” Dex voice rose.

“No!” Bret said quickly. “Before, it was just farm animals. People thought it was bears or mountain lions that crossed into our region. Of course we knew better, but like I said, it was only animals. So ..."

“Great Jupiter!” Dex said, running one hand over his face and pulling his chin. “How many others know this…and why wasn’t I told Deb wasn’t chaining the boy?”

“Because it was only animals at first.”

“But you must have known something like this could happen,” Dex said, looking from one face to another.

Matt was standing at the top of the stairs in his tee-shirt and briefs listening. He could have easily gone downstairs and filled in the blanks. Debra Carter was, indeed, stoned the night of the full moon. But the killing of Tiara was not entirely her fault. Raymond and Tiara had fallen in love. Or, at least they thought they were. He had revealed his dark secret to her. But to his and Matt’s surprise, she said she didn’t care that they were werewolves; she thought it was pretty cool. Tiara swore to keep their secret. Matt seriously doubted if she even believed it. Most humans didn't.

Matt told Raymond he was fooling himself if he thought he was no danger to her. Raymond said he would never harm Tiara.

“But it won’t be you harming her,” he told him, “but the thing you will become—the thing we all become.”

This strange fascination Tiara had for the dark side of her lover must have compelled her to meet Raymond in the forest that night. Perhaps he frightened her and she ran, but not far enough and certainly, not fast enough. Matt had tried so hard to stop her from meeting Raymond that he barely made it back in time to chain himself.

Matt shook his head listening to them trying to figure things out. He went back to his room and closed the door.

***
Meanwhile, the men grew nervous by the minute.

“Something has got to be done about that boy, Dex."

“Yeah, and what happens if the Northern pack finds out?” Pete said.

“You boys go on back home. I’ll think of something.”

“Well, I hope you do. The Northern pack’s been waiting for something like this to happen,” Jim said.

“Don’t worry. You boys go on, now.  I said I’ll take care of this.”

The men mumbled their thanks to Dex for agreeing to handle the problem as they filed out of the house.

“And remember, don’t say anything to anybody about this,” Dex warned.

Pete never turned around, but threw up a hand as acknowledgement of Dex’s warning.

After the dark SUV pulled off, Dex eased the door closed and flipped off the light. He stood with his back against the kitchen door and forced his head back hard against it. Raymond, you fucking little idiot. What have you done?

***
 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 4
Pandora's Box

By amahra

Jewel stood wide-eyed after opening the front door. "Dex?" she blurted.

Dex had not set foot inside of Northern Greyscott Falls, let alone his brother's house, in nearly a decade. "Plea...please come in," she stammered. Jewel awkwardly stepped aside, and Dex walked into the family room. The shock on her face turned into a frown when she thought better of his sudden visit. "Is everything all right with Jan and the children?" she asked, putting a hand to her chest.

"Jan and the kids are fine. I just need to speak to River. I saw his truck. So, I assumed..."

"Oh, yes, he's here. I'll get him." Jewel hurried off—taking the back stairs up to their bedroom.

Dex stood with his hands in his pockets and shifted from one foot to the other. He looked around, surprised how little the place had changed since his last visit. A few sticks of new furniture here and there, but basically time hadn't erased the warmth he had always felt when he entered his brother's home. On the wall of pictures, Dex almost smiled when he noticed a very colorful portrait of the two-brother family on the far end of the wall. They were so happy then. But years of feuding seemed to overshadow any love he felt for his older brother.

"Dex?" River looked like he'd seen a ghost.

Dex turned.

River's face lit up as he walked towards his brother. But there was no warm greeting from Dex.

"Is there some place we can talk more privately?" Dex asked, coldly.

River's smile faded; he made a gesture toward the den. He followed Dex into the room and closed the door.

"Sit. Please."

Dex took a seat on the sofa, and River sat in the big chair across from him.

"Would you like a drink?"

Dex shook his head no and then spoke. "I'm going to make this quick. I prefer you hear this from me." River focused attentively. "That Winters girl wasn't killed by any animal. She was killed by Raymond Carter; that's Debra Carter's boy."

"I know who Raymond is. But why would he do such a thing? Did the girl do something?"

"Well, according to Matt, the girl and Raymond were sweet on each other. He was stupid enough to trust the girl with our secret; and she was stupid enough to believe he wouldn't hurt her after his transformation. Matt feels just awful about..."

"Whoa! What do you mean after his transformation? Raymond killed her after turning?" River shot up from the chair and stared at Dex. "You mean he was running loose?"

"River, hold on."

"Holy shit!" He paced back and forth in front of Dex.

"River, don't freak out on me. I need you to sit down and hear me out."

River stopped pacing and blew his breath out hard; he took a few steps towards the chair and flopped down.

"Like I said, Matt feels bad about this."

"Why should he feel bad? Did he help kill the girl?"

"No! Matt didn't kill anybody. He's upset because he didn't warn us that an outsider knew our secret, and that Raymond was unchained that night."

"Great Scott!" River said, looking down at the floor. "I hope he killed her before she told anyone."

"I don't know."

"What else did Matt say?"

"Nothing, except Raymond feels terrible."

"As well he should. He's going to feel a whole lot worse with a silver dagger sticking out of his fucking heart."

"Now let's not go there. He's just a boy."

River chuckled nervously. "You think the Northern pack is going to care he's just a boy? What did the little son of a bitch have to say for himself? Have you talked to him?"

"Matt's got him hidden some place. He won't say where."

"Now look, Matt's my nephew and I love him. But he's heading for real trouble if he's helping that boy."

"I know, but they've been friends since they were tots. He was the first one Raymond called the day after it happened. Matt said he sounded out of his head and begged him to meet him at this little shack located off the edge of the forest. He said he found Raymond naked and bloody. He was cradling the girl's dead parts and crying his eyes out. Matt had to fight the boy to take her severed head away from him. Matt planted the body parts deep in the forest and covered them with leaves. Then he got Raymond the hell out of there."

"Who else knows about this?"

"Pete, Bret, Jim, now you. But they don't know where he is either."

River peered across at Dex. "Why come to me with this?"

"Because this kind of thing can't stay hidden forever. The Northern pack listens to you."

"...And you're hoping when it gets out, and things get ugly, I'll be able to stop it..."

"Exactly."

River scooted around in the chair and wet his lips.

"Dex, I got to tell you...the best thing all around is for this not to get out. This is exactly what the Northern pack was afraid of...the very thing they said might happen... that a younger generation couldn't handle this curse...that one night one of your immature sons or nephews would kill someone...and it would bring the Dominions, maybe the whole region, even outsiders down on us."

Dex stood up, and River followed. "If you think this incident is going to make me sorry I didn't murder my sons, you're sadly mistaken."

"I don't give a rat's ass if you're sorry or not. You made your choice, and I made mine." River shook his head. "This could mean war between the packs—with the Dominions waiting around to wipe out the victors."

"The question is which side would you be on, Brother?" Dex said the word brother like he had a bad taste in his mouth.

"I'd protect my family, same as you," River said in defiance.

Dex brushed past River, opened the door and walked out. River followed him all the way to the front door.

"Dex, wait!"

Dex froze but kept his back to River.

"I'll do what I can, but I can't promise anything. Just know whatever happens, I'll do everything in my power to keep Jan and the kids safe."

"I don't need you to keep my family safe." Dex grabbed the door knob.

Jewel, oblivious to the new tension between the brothers, shouted a cheerful goodbye, but Dex gave a quick wave as he bolted from the house. River watched him drive off. He wanted to kick himself in the ass for not taking advantage of his brother's visit. This was a rare moment for him and Dex to reconcile, and River felt he had just blown it all to shit.

***

Veronica Tilbert's phone buzzed among the books that were spread out over the school library table. She tossed her reddish brown hair to one side and put the phone to her ear.

"Kayla Morrison, where are you?" she demanded. Christa stopped writing and looked up at Veronica.

"I'm not coming," Kayla said, throwing her backpack and purse on the front seat of her car.

"What do you mean, you're not coming?"

Christa spoke up after hearing the one way conversation. "What does she mean she's not coming? This is an open-book test."

"I'll be back home in time to finish it." Kayla backed out of the driveway.

"But we were supposed to do it together." Veronica got a shush from Mrs. Randolph, the school librarian. "You need to be here," she said, lowering her voice.

"I'll call you and compare notes when I get back," she said, pulling onto Kingston Drive.

"What could be more important than you acing this test?" Veronica asked.

"I'll be fine. I've done most of it, and I'll finish the rest when I get back."

"Back from where, Kayla?"

"Stop being so nosy. I'm not ready to share that right now." Kayla made a left on Pledgemere Road that connected to Key Highway.

Veronica walked out into the hall with Christa following. "Okay, who is he? Is he cute? Have you done it yet? And was it good?"

"Good Heavens!" Kayla laughed.

"Don't answer, Kayla; she has you on loud speaker."

"What the hell, Ronnie?"

"Chill! I was going to turn it off as soon as you got to the juicy parts."

"Like hell you were," Christa said loudly.

"Just do me a favor, both of you. If my mom calls..."

"...You were with us at the library. Got it!" Veronica said.

"Thanks, bffs," Kayla said playfully and clicked off.

The twenty minute drive brought Kayla to the big road sign of Greyscott Falls, and her face melted into a smile. She had come here before by accident when she'd gotten lost. He frightened her at first—coming out of the woods that way. But the delight in his eyes when he saw her in tight jeans and sweatshirt, her honey blonde hair flowing over her breasts, made her know she could trust him. She couldn't get the dashing young man out of her mind. He was tall, dark and so hot. She hadn't spoken of him to anyone. Kayla wanted this sweet memory all to herself.

Turning south, she pulled onto Moonhawk Road and got out of the car. She walked a few paces and just stood there, looking off. This was the place where the crackling leaves under his feet had startled her. Where his tall handsome frame had glided towards her so smoothly and controlled; where his dark hair blew in the soft breeze...where he gazed at her with those sparkling blue eyes; and where his luscious tan lips parted to give her directions back to the main road.

Kayla kept coming back to this spot where she first met him. She didn't know his name, where he lived, or what he was doing that day alone in the woods. But she kept returning, hoping he'd drift by again.

She had written in her diary: I come back many times, but can never find my dark handsome stranger. How I dream of him touching my breast, his hands up my thighs, feeling his hot breath on my cheek and his gorgeous mouth on my lips...

Her continued reminiscing of that night became nearly six pages. And after several readings, she stashed the book in its usual place—well out of sight.

As she appeared deep in thought, her eyes widened as if she sensed a presence behind her. She closed her eyes and saw his tall, dark frame. She swallowed hard and hesitated to turn around, but did so slowly. She stopped dead, and a gasp caught in her throat. Kayla couldn't believe what she saw. It was worse than any nightmare she'd ever had—any horror movie she'd ever seen—of any scary story she'd ever read. She stood paralyzed and gazed into its milky white eyes.

Breathing rapidly, beads of sweat lined her forehead, and her head bobbed nervously. It was huge with a head twice the size of an average wolf. It was nearly as tall as a bear, and its paws were the size of dinner plates with daggers sticking out from each paw. She looked over at her car that was several feet away. Her eyes appeared to wonder if she could make it. Her feet felt like lead sinkers, and her mouth was like a dried fig. The silver and black wolf glared at her with eyes as lifeless as road-kill. Its mouth partly open, shone white fangs like daggers that were as thick as the smallest part of a baby elephant's tusk.

"Don't move," a soft male voice whispered behind her.

The wolf stood there looking to its right, then back at her, looking over its shoulder, then back at her again as if it were trying to decide whether to eat her or something more filling over in the brush. A smaller wolf could eat half its own weight a day. Kayla was five foot six and weighed 106 pounds--a satisfying meal only if it ate her clothes too.

Her legs grew weak as she weaved slightly. Finally, as if something had called to it from beyond the trees or perhaps it scented a more delightful meal, the menacing giant swiftly pranced away and disappeared into the thick darkness of the forest. Kayla was so shaken up, she didn't bother to know who had called to her from behind, or why. She dashed for her car and quickly locked herself in. As she fumbled for her keys, she jumped when a knock came on the passenger window. A man, who looked to be in his late forties, was tapping.

"Are you all right?"

She nodded yes and started the car. He kept trying to get her to lower the window, but she continued backing up until she got to the road; she turned and took off at top speed. Her hands were shaking so badly, she couldn't steer. Finally, she pulled over to the side of the road and rested her head on the steering wheel. A truck sped up beside her. She gasped when she saw that same man getting out of the truck. Then another man, on the driver's side, got out and followed him towards her.

Both men stared at her through the driver's window. She heard the older man's muffled voice through the glass.

"Are you all right, miss?"

"Yes," she said after cracking the window just enough for him to hear her clearly.

"My name is Dex Porter," he said," and this is my son Matt. Didn't mean to frighten you. We were just concerned."

Kayla finally calmed down and suddenly seemed eager to show her gratitude. She opened the door and nearly tumbled out of the car. She thanked Dex but kept her eyes glued to Matt.

"So, your name is Matt?" she asked. Matt nodded. "You...you probably don't remember me..."

"I remember," Matt said. "You were lost."

"Yes, aah...stupid me," she said awkwardly.

There he was, standing before her...her dark prince; he was even hotter in the bright sunlight. He wasn't wearing a jacket this time, and his shirt was tight with every bulk of his muscular body begging to break free. Was it his sweet voice she'd heard back there telling her not to move?"

"You look a little peaked," Dex said. "Would you like to come back to our house? It's just a little ways back. My wife could maybe fix you a drink of something."

It was music to her ears. She eased next to Matt and gazed into his blue eyes.

"Yes...yes. I...I think I could use a drink or something." At that moment, she faked being lightheaded and swooned; but the wrong man caught her.

"You better let me drive," Dex said, handling her like a delicate flower. He helped Kayla to the passenger side of her car and fastened her in. He pointed the car further south to his home off of Cooncan road with Matt following behind in the truck.
 


 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 5
Witches' Brew

By amahra

River stood by the window long after Dex had pulled off, still wanting to kick himself for not making better of their meeting.

“Honey, what happened?" Jewel said, walking over to him. "Why did Dex run out like that?”

River reached out and held Jewel gently by her shoulders. “Baby, Dex is the least of our problems right now. Something we’ve always dreaded, a showdown with the Southern pack.”

“No. That can’t happen. You and Dex won’t be the only brother against brother. It would destroy whole families.”

“I know,” he said, sweeping a lock of her hair away from her cheek.

“What did he say when you told him about the spell?”

“I never got that far.”

“You didn’t tell him?  But, that could have solved everything. The packs wouldn’t dare strike each other once they knew about the spell."

He dropped his hands at his side. “You sound as if you already know what this is about.”

“I’ve known for days. Jan was awakened by Bret banging on the door that night. She overheard the whole thing. Then she phoned me.”

River stepped back and frowned at her. “You knew about Raymond killing that girl and never said a word to me?”

“I wanted to, but Jan felt this incident would force Dex to turn to you. She thought this dilemma would bring the two of you together, and I went along with it.”

“Jewel, we’ve never kept secrets from each other. How could you go along with this?"

“Honey, I know. It was killing me not to tell you. But the thought of you and your brother putting an end to this feuding…working together… and…I’m really sorry.”

“Well, you and Jan's little plan didn't work, did it?” He walked off.

“River, River!” Jewel blew out a hard sigh and watched River walk slowly up the stairs. Becca stuck her little head out from behind the bookcase. Jewel gasped. “Becca, what on earth are you doing there? Why aren't you upstairs with your sisters?”

“Are you and Daddy fighting?”

“No, Sweetie. Come here.”

Becca walked swiftly over to her and held her around the waist. Jewel bent and kissed her forehead. “Daddy’s just upset about something. It’s nothing. Everything is fine.”

***

Jewel allowed River a couple of hours to calm down. When she entered their bedroom, she found him resting on the king-size bed, looking up at the ceiling—his hands folded behind his head. “I know you’re angry. And you’re right. I shouldn’t have kept that from you—no matter how good my intentions were." River didn’t answer. “Talk to me, damn it.”

He sat up, swung his feet off the bed and scooted to the edge. “You’re right. You shouldn't have kept it from me. But I overreacted. I was upset with myself for not using that time to reconnect with Dex. Instead, what did I do? Piss him off more. I shouldn't have taken it out on you.”

“Oh, Sweetheart.” She walked over to him.

He looked away from her. “I’m the one who’s sorry—a sorry excuse for a brother.”

“Now, stop it.” She slid beside him and put her hand on his shoulder. “Dex is just as much at fault as you are. I’ve watched you over the years time after time reach out to your brother and all he ever did was tried to cut you off at the knees.” She pulled his face to hers and kissed him on the mouth. “It’s time the women took over,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“I told Jan that I could keep the lid on this whole thing even if the truth about Raymond did get out.”

“You told her about the spell?”

“No. I told her that I guarantee that if she got Dex and Matt over here tonight, there would be no war.”

“Honey, are you sure about that?  You feel that strongly about the spell?”

“I do.”

***

Six o'clock that evening, Jewel sat nervously wondering if Dex would swallow his pride and come.  But she didn't have to wait long; Jan had made good on her promise. Jewel smiled when she saw the silver SUV drive up.  She greeted them at the door, then led them into the den. After everyone was seated, Jewel gestured to refreshments she had prepared. “Help yourself,” she urged.

“Thank you,” Jan said politely. She fixed two small plates and handed one to Dex, while Matt piled a plate of his own.

River poured bourbon. He brought the tray of drinks over to them and stood while the tray emptied—all but one. Jewel sat with her drink; after everyone had taken a few sips and appeared relaxed, she cleared her throat and spoke. “I’ve discovered a spell that can stop the infant killings.”

Ice stopped clinking in glasses. The sudden silence made the quiet ticking of the clock seem loud. Dex, Jan and Matt sat motionless like they didn’t quite believe what they had heard. River glanced over at Jewel and she glanced back at him.

“Did you hear what she just said?” River asked them.

“I heard," Jan said, "but I don’t quite know what to think. After years of living with this curse, can this be true?”

Jewel gestured to River. “Hand me the book."

He walked over to a mahogany table and lifted the heavy, thick book that he had to carry with both hands and placed it on her lap.

Jewel rested her hands on the book and spoke directly to Dex. “I can get rid of the moon curse, but I can’t repair the damage between our two families—that’s for you and River to figure out.”

No one moved or spoke.

Jewel sat back with a stern look on her face and folded her arms. "I can wait."

“Dex,” Jan said, her eyes pleading with him.

Dex hesitated, but stood. River got up and took small steps over to him. They shook hands, but River’s eyes filled and he pulled Dex to him and hugged him tight. Dex slowly raised his arms and gave him a quick squeeze, then slowly pulled away and flopped back down on the sofa. Jan patted his arm and Matt beamed a smile as wide as his face.

Satisfied, Jewel leaned forward and opened the book to a page she had tagged. “This book is called a Grimoire—an ancient text book of spells. It’s used all over the world by those who practice magic. They differ from culture to culture, depending on what kind of magic that’s preferred.”

Matt nodded to the book. “That book holds every single spell?"

“Yes. Except, this one is kind of rare,” she said, patting the human skin cover.

Dex looked bewildered. “You mean to say there is really something in that book that can undo the curse?”

“Not all of it; just part of it,” she said.
 
“If it doesn’t undo all of it, Aunt Jewel, then what good is the spell?”

“We know werewolves can turn at will any time except when there’s a full moon? I haven’t found anything that can undo the spell itself. But I can stop the turning during a full moon.”

“I can live with that," Dex said excited. "That means we'll have total control."

“How does it work Aunt Jewel?”

“Let me say this first," River interjected, "Jewel is taking an awful risk by doing this. She could be exiled from the Mystic Circle, or worst, she could have her magic taken permanently.”

“It’s this book,” Jewel said, touching it like it was something to be frightened of. ”It contains spells that require the summoning of the dead and human sacrifice. These kinds of spells are forbidden to Coven witches like me. Just having this book in my possession could get me charged with Necromancy. The penalty is, like River said, being stripped of my magic; but in ancient times, it meant death.”

“To our knowledge,” River said, “modern covens don’t believe in the death penalty.”

Then Dex spoke up. “If this spell keeps us from having to chain ourselves down like animals—we’ll keep your secret.”

Jewel released a faint sigh at Dex's words. “Thank you Dex. Now, I discovered what was used in the 200 year old spell. It was something in the meat pie served at the wedding to your male ancestors. The pie consisted of wolf meat, the flesh of a young village boy, a mystic herb, which name I can’t pronounce, and the blood of the witch who cast the spell.”

“Oh dear goddess! You’d have to kill a child?” Jan blurted, looking around for a similar reaction. But she found everyone, except River, staring at Jewel, as if hypnotized by what she’d said.

Seeing the look on their faces, Jewel said quickly, “I’m not a monster. That’s why I’m throwing this out to you. If…If it’s too much for you to handle—I’ll understand and... I’ll forget the whole thing.”

“We don't think you're a monster,” Dex said.  He looked at Jan and Matthew to give Jewel reassurance that they didn’t think that as well. Jan and Matthew nodded quickly in agreement.

“If we let you do this, we’ll all be monsters and yet, the idea of not turning every full moon…” Matthew cut off, shaking his head as if he desired that more than anything.

Jewel smoothed her hand over pages of the book. “But, that’s just it. We don’t have to kill the child to make this work—not really. If the child dies with the saliva from a werewolf bite in his system, he’ll come back to life.”

“But he’ll be a werewolf!” Jan snapped.

“Well…I didn’t say the spell was perfect," Jewel said innocently.

Matthew stood and smacked his knee. “I don't care—I say we do it!”

“Not so fast, Matt. One of us is going to have to keep an eye out for this kid as he grows up. He won’t know he’s a werewolf. Everyone around him would be in danger.”

Everyone but Jewel looked at each other. Then after a short pause, Matthew said…“All right, I’ll be responsible.”

Dex reached across Jan's lap and touched Matt's knee. “Really, Matt, you’ll do that?”

“Why not?  I mean--the kid won’t know it, but he’ll be giving up his normal life to save ours. I think it’s the least I can do.”

Jewel pushed the heavy book aside onto the sofa. “Then—it’s settled. All we need now is the kid. But who?” she said, laying a finger on the side of her face.
 
River and the rest engaged themselves in deep thought as well. Minutes ticked by.

Finally, Matt said… “If I’m going to be responsible for this kid, then I get to choose him.”  He pondered, then said, “He’s got to be someone strong, but not a bully...he’s got to be smart, no juvenile delinquent; someone...someone from a close and loving family.  He has to be outgoing, pleasant and gets along with everyone."

Everyone appeared to be racking their brains, when Matt snapped his fingers. ”I've got it, the Sooner kid.”

“The Sooner kid?” River asked.

“That’s right…the little Sooner boy…Russell Sooner,” Jewel said grinning. “I think they call him Rusty. He’ll be perfect.”

River's eyes swept their faces. “Does everyone agree?”

“Is he really all those things?” Jan asked.

"He's in Dria's class," Jewel remembered. "All the kids like him. I think Dria even had a little crush on him at one time."

“Then, I guess it's settled," Jan said. "Little Russell Sooner it is.” 
 
Dex stood up. “I believe this calls for a celebration.”

The room buzzed in agreement. River poured more drinks and brought the tray of half-filled glasses over to them. The glasses went up in the air—Dex worded a toast and the sound of clinking filled the room—but before the bourbon touched anyone’s lips, Jan said, “Wait! Who’s going to kidnap and bite this kid?”

They lowered their glasses and gazed at Matt. 




 

Author Notes Sorry for not posting in weeks. Ran into some problems with my editor of new book, "The Glass Cat Eye" that's due December 15. Hope you enjoy the chapter.

New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 6
The Awakening

By amahra

(Highlights of last chapter:)
The tension between River and Dex have finally ceased in the wake of Jewel's discovery of a spell that will stop the pack from turning every full moon.



The bright yellow light flashed, and Bob Wilson slowly eased his foot down on the brake bringing the black Jeep Renegade to a complete stop as the light flicked red.  He ran his tongue nervously over his bottom lip and rehearsed in his mind the disturbing report he was to tell Sheriff Wayne Tilbert;  something he should have told him a couple a years ago, but just needed more medical proof.

Bob was divorced and had an ex-wife and two adult daughters living in Boston. He and his ex still loved each other, but had just grown apart. He had been the coroner of Sheerfield City for over ten years and had seen his share of mysterious deaths. After years of fact-finding, only he and the victims knew the darkness of its truth.

Bob pulled up to the sheriff’s station and found that the only parking spaces left were reserved for personnel. He parked two blocks up and made a short walk of the distance with his long strides, thanks to his six-foot-three frame. Seeing unsuspecting Sheerfield City folks driving about and walking to and fro made him even more anxious about his report.  Eighty-two-year-old Mrs. Paddington could still walk her dog at her age.

“Good morning, Bob,” she said in her scratchy voice, “lovely day isn't it?” She stopped and cracked a yellowish smile—letting her little mutt shit on the sidewalk.

“Good morning, Mrs. Paddington, yes it is.”

She bent over wide-legged and scooped it up in a small plastic bag. “Bye now.”

“Goodbye, Mrs. Paddington.”  

Bob passed an officer coming out of the building. He stepped into the bustling atmosphere and gazed about looking for Wayne. A loud scuffle erupted in a far corner. A staggering drunk had taken a swing at a female deputy, and she, along with two male officers was all over the guy.

“Hey, Bob, I’ll be right with you,” Wayne's voice rose from across the room. He pointed his finger and Bob nodded that he understood. Bob walked into Wayne's office, took a seat on the guest side of his desk and waited for him to finish up a meeting with several of his deputies.

After about twenty minutes, Wayne walked in and greeted Bob with a handshake.

“Sorry about that, Bob,” Wayne said, walking around and taking a seat behind his desk. “I know I said I’d be free around this time. But ever since the death of the Winters girl, these phones have been ringing like mad. People are starting to get paranoid.”

Bob wormed around in his seat—wanting him to shut up so he could tell him of his findings, but Wayne rambled on...

“Nobody wants to believe it was an animal," Wayne said, "people got their own theories, you know.  They call up here swearing they saw wolves walking on hind legs, red eyeballs staring through their windows, witches flying around.” Wayne chuckled.

Bob faked a grin and Wayne went right on...

“I’m telling you, they’ve got my deputies hopping like little bunny rabbits. I’ve never seen the town like this before. Oh, but listen to me going on and on. So, what exactly brings you here today, Bob?”

“Werewolf.”

Wayne jumped slightly in his seat. “What did you say?”

“You heard me. Werewolf.”

“Are you kidding me? Have you gone mad too?”

“I’m sorry, Wayne. But the people here in Sheerfield should be jumpy. Oh, I’m not saying they’re really seeing those ridiculous things. But they sense something. And their senses are not wrong.”

“Bob, I don’t need this shit from you…not from you.”
 
“I’m telling you no animal killed that girl.”

“Keep your voice down,” Wayne said, sharply. He jumped up, walked briskly over to the door and closed it. “Why are you doing this to me?” Wayne dragged back behind his desk and eased down in the chair.
 
“What killed Tiara Winters was neither animal nor human.”

Wayne shook his head. “If this was coming from anyone but you, I’d toss you out of here on your ass. You’re a man of science. You can’t believe this. What’s happened to you…you been working too hard?”

“Oh, cut the bull-shit, Wayne. You know as well as I do what’s been living around us your whole life. But, you’re correct; I am a man of science. And one thing that’s certain in your profession and mind--is to recognize a pattern before drawing a conclusion. Am I right?”

“I’m listening?”

“When I examined Tiara Winters, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen such evidence. Remember the two tourists who were found ripped apart three summers ago?  Remember just recently, farm animals that were reported missing and the uneaten parts that were found?”

“Yes…and…”

“It was said they were attacked by an animal then too. I examined the bodies, what was left of them—each time, the same results…not animal, not human.”

“But you confirmed each time that it was an animal.”  He pointed a finger at his filing cabinet. "I have your reports right there!”

“Lies!”

“What?”

“Lies. Because I didn’t want to start a panic and have those demon killers or whatever they're called to start a war with our neighbors. I had to be sure…now, I am.”

“This is absurd. I’m not listening to this.” He ran his hands over the numerous papers and files on his desk. “You see all this work I've got?”

Bob just stared at him.  

Wayne fell back in his chair. “They’re called Grigorians. They hunt all things evil," he said in a low, soft voice. "Yeah, I remember. People started a rumor that werewolves had killed the tourists and there was talk of hiring the hunters to come and clean out the region where they were attacked.”

“Wayne, you and this whole town have lived in denial for years. As hard as you’re pretending, you know I’m right…don’t you?”

Wayne put his elbows on his desk and rubbed his fists back and forth under his chin. Then he placed both palms on the desk and sat straight up in his chair. “Are you certain of this…I mean really certain?”

“I’m positive.”

Wayne sighed. “I heard rumors for years; everything in me doesn’t want to believe it. If it's true, how the hell are we supposed to fight this thing? Is it one, two…a herd?"

"It's called a pack."

"And what happens if the people get wind that their sheriff even half believes this. What am I going to tell my deputies? They’ll think I’m a lunatic.”

“Then, we won’t tell them. We’ll go and find these so-called hunters and let them destroy the monsters. Have the Grigorians bring one back as a souvenir. They'll believe us then. ”

 “But, I don’t know who they are, or where to find them.”

“I’ll help you.” Bob reached across the desk and touched Wayne’s hand. “I see you’ve awakened to this, Wayne.  You do believe me.  Don’t you?”

“If you're right about this. I pray to God I fall asleep and never wake up.

***




 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 7
The Awakening/Part Two

By amahra





(From previous chapters)
Jewel has a book of spells that contains one that will break the werewolf moon curse. But the book is demonic and forbidden to covenant witches, like Jewel and her friend Beatrice.  Also, now that Sheriff Wayne Tilbert is convinced that Tiara Winters was killed by a werewolf, he and Bob Wilson are off looking for the only ones to destroy them, the Grigorians, hunters of evil.

Beatrice dialed Jewel's phone number before stepping out onto the balcony for more privacy. She couldn't stop shaking. “Jewel, I think we’re in trouble,” she said, her voice trembling.

Jewel tried to keep the phone from slipping between her cheek and shoulders when she bent over to put the groceries in the trunk of the car.  “What kind of trouble? And who is we?”

“You and me, of course. It’s that book.”

 “No. The Covenantcy couldn’t have found out about the Grimoire. Could they?”

“Well—kind of, yeah,”

Jewel fumbled with her seat belt and then checked the rear view mirror before backing out.

“I…I mentioned it to Naomi…I was so excited,” Beatrice said. “ I swear I didn’t know she’d blab.”

Jewel hit speaker and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. “For Pete Sakes, Bee. Naomi is a high-level witch. She has friends on the council. What were you thinking?" She pulled out of the mall parking lot into traffic.

Beatrice kept looking over her shoulder to make sure she wasn't heard. “But she swore she would never say anything."
 
“Dear goddess. And you believed her?”

“Okay, don’t panic; let’s suppose she did tell them. No crime has been committed as long as you haven’t used the spell,” Beatrice said.

“You fool! Just having possession of that book is a crime itself. I told you that.”

“I know, but you could say you found it or something.”

“Great Jupiter! The council isn’t stupid. They know a Grimoire is no ordinary book just lying around waiting for someone to pick it up. There are those who have sold their souls to get their hands on the thing.  Shit!  I can't believe you did this.”

“I’m…I’m sorry…I…I didn’t mean to …forgive…me...so stupid…I… ”

“All right! Breathe. Calm down. Tell me exactly what Naomi said.”

“She…she said that…the council wants to meet with us.”

Jewel mumbled several curse words that weren't audible. "Did she say what it was about? Where? When?”

 “She just said she wasn’t certain—but that she’d call later with the details. Oh, Jewel, I’m so sorry. What are you going to say?”

“The truth… what else? Then I’ll throw myself on the mercy of the council.”

“But the council has no mercy when it comes to breaking Tenet rules, you know that."

“You better hope that they do, because you’re going down too. I gotta go.”

“Dammit!”

***
 
A cool wind parted the brown locks of Sheriff Tilbert’s hair and whipped the collar of his uniform shirt as he held tightly to the steering wheel. Bob sat on the passenger side staring out the window as the car rounded the curve on the dry dusty road.  A few rays of sun peeking through the dark clouds were the only hint that it was still day. Dead leaves swirled around the car like huge flies, and a tough sudden breeze blew from the east of them causing a windmill to squeak like a rusty, old door hinge.

“This place looks like something right out of a horror movie,” Bob said, straining his eyes to read the numbers on the old wooden houses.

“This was your idea,” Wayne smirked.

Bob had succeeded in talking Wayne into finding the Grigorians—a group of kick-ass tough guys whose specialty was fighting against witchcraft and supernatural entities. During the several weeks of their investigation, Wayne and Bob talked to about seventy people. Some stories about the hunters sounded believable and some sounded down-right cartoonish; people hailed them as everything from angels sent by God in human form—to a hard nosed biker gang turned vigilantes on a mission to save humanity.

It was told that when the Grigorians were needed, they would suddenly appear out of nowhere; and when their job was done, they’d vanish without a trace. Wayne got goose bumps listening to the local’s endless rants about the demons the hunters had encountered. No one was sure as to who they were or where they came from. Although the stories were conflicting, one thing remained constant throughout their investigation; Warren Campbell’s name kept popping up. He seemed the one man who knew how to get in touch with them.

The houses were all on the right of them; though wooden, they were sturdily built and mystery crept from each house as flickers of dim light streamed through the cracks of faded window shades. The grounds surrounding the houses were mostly dirt and stones—with a few patches of faded grass throughout.

Scattered trees filled with large black crows stood on the other side of the road. Behind the trees was a small gloomy graveyard full of grey wooden crosses with white chalk markings on each one. Just beyond the grave—a thick forest lurked with shadows of movements within the trees and on the ground. The wind whistled about them like a mystical, yet sweet song.

“That’s the house, there,” Bob said, pointing to a three story, grey frame.

The banging of both car doors seemed the only sound other than the wind as Wayne and Bob made their way up the walkway to a red painted door.  Wayne pulled the odd-looking door knocker up—a bronze colored metal hand; it was cupped and had a large head of a nail in its palm. A horrifying high pitched cry that made Wayne freeze swept from behind the door.

“It’s probably the TV,” Bob said.

Wayne banged the knocker lightly at first, and then pounded loudly and more vigorously after many moments of no answer. Quickly a shadow appeared through the curtains at the window. Then the shadow disappeared and the door opened to a crack; a tall slim figure stood with a dim light at its back.

“Can I help you?” said a graveled female voice.

“Good evening, Ma’am. I…I’m Sheriff Wayne Tilbert,” he said, trying to get a good look at the face, “and this is Dr. Bob Wilson—we’d like to speak to Warren Campbell.”

“He’s not here,” she said and closed the door. The two looked at each other and Wayne banged on the door and called to her several times before giving up. 

“Why, that rude bitch,” Bob said.

Half-way to the car, Bob looked over his shoulder and saw a shadow—larger than the woman who’d opened the door. It stood still behind the thin curtains. Bob got into the car, but kept his eyes peeled to the shadow in the window. Wayne pulled off leaving behind a long trail of dust. 

“Well, genius, what do we do now?” Wayne asked, squinting at the road ahead.

Before Bob could answer, a dark figure of a man wearing strange sun glasses that had tiny, blue lights blinking on either side of the frames appeared. He was draped in a long black leather coat and wearing black leather boots with silver points on the toes. He stood still and wide-legged in the middle of the road—the shadows of his hands at his side.

“What the hell…?” Bob said. 

Wayne mashed on the brake—coming within inches of hitting him. With long slow strides, the man made his way over to the passenger side of the car. Bob glanced quickly over at Wayne who slid his hand under his jacket and placed it on the handle of his gun. Wayne nodded an okay, and Bob lowered the window.

“Howdy,” Bob said.

But Bob’s pleasant voice didn’t match the wariness in his eyes. The stranger bent over and a long, blonde lock of his hair fell over his shoulder and stood out against the cold dark leather.

“What do you want with Warren Campbell?” his soft but sinister voice asked through clenched teeth that gleamed through a tight-jaw and olive face with a five o’clock shadow.

Bob looked deep within the glass frames and saw no eyes. “Are you Campbell?”

“No—but I can take you to him,” he said

“Just tell us where he is—we can go there on our own,” Wayne said—his hand still on the gun handle.

“Without me—there’s just one problem,” the man said, his dark glasses fixed on Wayne's face.

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“You’d be dead before your foot cleared the floor of your car.”

Bob glanced at Wayne...Wayne bit his bottom lip, and there was a short pause. Then Bob’s sudden movement to stick his hand inside his jacket made the stranger quickly fall back—his left side facing Bob—the right side of his long coat flew over his right hip and his hand held fast to his side. When Bob pulled out a card, the man took his hand off his side—allowing the coat to fall back into place. 

“If you see Campbell, tell him it’s urgent,” Bob said, poking the card at him.

The stranger stepped forward.  He took the card in his black gloved hand and glanced down at Bob’s name and phone number. He stepped back from the car and slid the card in a deep pocket on the outside thigh of his tight leather pants.  He said nothing but stood there and watched the car disappear in a grey cloud of dry dirt and swirling dead leaves.  When Wayne looked up into his rear view mirror, the man had vanished, and the sky was dark with the flapping wings of black crows.




 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 8
Body Heat

By amahra

A short summary for those who have just tuned in or been away for a while: Two witches, Jewel and Beatrice have discovered a moon cure so werewolves don't turn every full moon. The trouble is--the spell is evil and forbidden to covenant witches.  The high council may have found out about it, and Jewel and Beatrice could be in deep trouble.  Matters worse: Raymond Carter, a teenager, transformed and accidently killed his girlfriend during a full moon.  Sheriff Tilbert and Dr. Bob Wilson are convinced that what killed her wasn't animal or human and are seeking help from professional Hunters.  Meanwhile, seventeen year old Kayla Morrison, Beatrice’s granddaughter, has fallen for twenty year old Matt Porter.  But she has no idea her hot honey is part wolfie.  

This short chapter is part One.


Every month, Matthew Porter and his cousin Rick went deer hunting in Norwick Forest.  For years, this had been a dangerous undertaking since the northern and southern wolf packs were enemies and both hunted there. Many clashes had taken place at the very path Matthew and Rick were traveling. With Jewel’s discovery of a moon cure, and River and Dex posing a united front, there seemed hope for the packs to be as one again.

The forest was overrun with sweet succulent deer. The bears and ordinary wolves were long gone from the area. The werewolves saw to that. Walking through the forest, Rick continued to pester Matthew. “So, let me understand this,” Rick said, “the girl you didn’t want to have anything to do with for the past few months is now banging away at your heart strings?” He had tried for weeks to talk Matthew out of seeing Kayla. Members of the wolf packs had always been afraid of outsiders discovering their secret.

Matt appeared annoyed. "I told you at first I didn’t want to get involved with Kayla because of what Raymond had done to Tiara. But now, there’s a moon cure.”

“But what if it doesn’t work?  No one’s ever done it before.”

“It will work. It has to…” Matt’s voice trailed off as he deliberately smacked his shoulder against Rick’s—almost knocking him off balance. He rushed ahead of Rick who managed to catch up. “I didn’t mean to sound pessimistic. I just think you should take it slow with this girl…I mean, you know the risk of anyone finding out about us...”

Matt stopped and turned to him. “I know the risk. I’m not stupid.  You…you know, it’s none of your business. I’m sorry I even told you.” He whirled around and walked off.  Rick had to walk briskly to catch up again. “Matt, I’m your friend as well as your cousin. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything. Kayla’s a great girl, really.”

Matt didn’t answer. His attention was fixed on something else. But Rick continued on. “Look, as I said, Kayla is a great girl and all, it’s…”

 Matt shushed Rick. “Deer, two o’clock,” he whispered. 

Rick ducked down and slowly turned to see. 

The deer stood majestically and quiet. Its caramel-colored coat glistened beneath the sun; its keen ears flickering at the slightest sound, and dark eyes darting for danger.

“Is it yours or mine?” Rick asked in a hush voice.

“It’s yours, cousin. Take him."

Rick stayed bent down. He slowly moved behind a bush, stripped naked and got on all fours. His skin turned a deep brown and large hair bumps rose upon it. His body shook as if lightening had shot through his bloodstream. The bones in his back rippled and his biceps bulged. Eighteen years had made his shape-shifting more quiet. His bones cracked, outstretched and dislocated with ease.  Grey and silver hair spurted out all over his body, like a Chia Pet plant. His nose elongated, ears shot upward to a point; his fingers and toes stretched outward, and his palms and heels lifted off the ground; long fangs and paw-nails were as sharp as a razor’s edge.  His brown eyes rolled to the back of his head like someone had pulled the arm of a slot machine, and he zeroed in on his prey with new wolf-keen, light grey eyes.

Rick lowered his ears to the side of his head so the deer couldn’t see its points. He kept his head down and his paws were as quiet as socks on a plush green carpet as he eased forward. The deer kept grazing and looked up momentarily, then went back to pulling and chewing.

Strong, muscular hind legs sprung Rick forward, and he swooped in for the kill, but the deer bucked and kicked Rick in the ribs. Rick shook off the pain and bolted through the woods after it. They ran side-by-side for a few seconds, and then the deer made a quick cut to the left, leaving Rick tumbling in the dust. 

Matthew shot out of the bush and overtook the deer.  He inched up to it but careful not to get too close to its hooves; no matter how many times the deer cut to its left or right, Matt stayed dead on it.

The deer was running for its life, but to Matthew, it seemed all a game.  The two galloped out of the woods and across a wide open field, like race horses to the finish line—their thundering hooves and paws muffled by the soft grass. Matthew appeared to be running out of steam. There was a thicker patch of woods up ahead and it seemed a way clear for the deer to escape. Once it got into that thick, they would lose it for sure. The deer’s long strides and high jumps put several feet between it and Matthew, and dinner looked like it was going to be fish tonight, when suddenly Rick flashed in like a canon straight out of hell and side-swiped the deer;  it tumble uncontrollably—kicking up enough dirt as if to dig its own shallow grave. Before it could gather itself and recover, Rick pounced on it, sank his fangs deep into the back of its neck—breaking it. After the branch cracking sound—the sweet scent and taste of its blood put Rick in euphoria.

He and Matthew flopped down hard on opposite sides of their prize—blood oozing from its mouth; its eyes ghostly staring upward. Rick coughed and tried desperately to catch his breath. Matt lay with his mouth wide opened, sucking in all the air around him and sweating profusely. They both lay on their backs human and naked.

“Next time, I’ll be more…more in shape,” Rick managed to say.

“Next time, I’ll be... bringing...a gun.”
 
***
 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 9
Body Heat/Part Two

By amahra

WARNING: Sexual Content. Fanstory warning keeps self-deleting and raising the level.

(Seventeen-year-old Kayla Morrison is unaware that Matthew Porter is a werewolf)

Kayla smeared a fresh layer of pink across her plump lips. She flipped a blonde curl with her finger and flashed her long lashes at her rear view mirror. She and Matthew were dining at the family's cabin that stood on a hill just a few yards from the Porter mansion. Veronica and Christa had ambushed her into promises to brief them on her intimate evening with her handsome stud.

Kayla pulled her red Chevrolet Malibu up to the cabin and smiled when she saw Matthew standing in the doorway with a bouquet of flowers. He glowed when she walked up to him. She wore a strapless, soft blue dress and black high heel pumps. Sparkling blue earrings dangled against her long neck. A heavy dark shawl covered her delicate white shoulders. Kayla took the bouquet. "Matt, they're beautiful. Thank you," she said, pecking him on the cheek.

He took her wrap, led her across the shiny hardwood floor that had beautiful Indian rugs scattered throughout the room. She stopped and gestured to a large wedding portrait hanging above the cold fireplace. "Who are they?" she asked.

He stood beside her in front of the portrait looking proudly up at it. "My paternal great-grandparents. Great-grandmother got her dark complexion from her Indian roots."

"She was very beautiful," Kayla said, her eyes sweeping through the room. She ran her hand over the dark velvet sofa and seemed to admire the mahogany tables and antique Indian lamps.

To the far side of the room stood a decorated table with two white candles in tall silver candle-holders, sparkling dinner-ware and a colorful flower arrangement in the center. Soft music set the tone as it rose above the flickering candlelight.

"You seem impressed," he said. She nodded approval.

Matthew took her arm and escorted her over to the table and pulled out her chair. She laid her flowers aside as he busied himself like a high-class, polished waiter, and poured Mourvedre into two glasses, handing one to her. Then he put on mitts and lifted a large silver-like insulated platter from the hostess trolley and placed it on the far right of the table next to her. He then mixed a green salad and placed it on the other side of Kayla before taking his seat. She spooned the salad dressing which was an old family recipe and made a yummy sound after sampling it.

"Matt, everything is so wonderful, the table setting, the music, the food. Did you do all of this yourself?"

"Pretty much, except the food. My mom did that, of course."

Kayla lifted meat onto her plate next to her baked potato. "Um, this is delicious," she said after tasting the meat. "What is this?"

"It's Venison Medallions with whiskey, mushrooms, and horseradish cream sauce," he said placing a helping of the meat on his plate.

"Oh my!" she said after swallowing. "It's...it's..." she couldn't find the words.

"I know," he said, flashing a smile, "my mom is an excellent cook."

She took a sip of her wine and placed the glass at the head of her plate. "Tell me about yourself, Matt. I've learned so much about your family, but almost nothing about you."

"There's really not a lot to tell." He forked his salad. "Um, let's see," he said chewing. "Aah, you already know that my father inherited my grandfather's lumber mill. Well, I manage the sites. Making sure the right materials are delivered at the right place and on time. Overseeing the workers, stuff like that. Sometimes I'll replace a worker when we're short-handed."

She looked impressed as he continued.

"My dad insisted that I'd be General Manager. I told him sitting behind a desk was not my thing."

"So, you're an outdoor kind of guy."

"Basically," he said, cutting his meat. Kayla was surprised by his European style of eating--holding his fork in his left hand--his index finger on the back neck of the fork and cutting his meat with the knife in his right. She watched him cut, fork, and bring the meat up to his mouth several times as he answered her questions.

"So, you turned down a cushy job behind a desk for a job getting a little dirt under your fingernails."

"Didn't say I turned it down. I just don't sit in an office all day."

"You are actually General Manager of your dad's company?" Matt nodded yes and blushed. He appeared uncomfortable talking about himself. 
 
 "And you are how old?" she asked.

"I'll be twenty-one at the end of the year."

"That's awfully young."

"My dad's been grooming me since I was fifteen.  Enough about me." He leaned forward. "What do you do besides look incredibly beautiful over a candlelight dinner?" He slid his hand over and gently squeezed hers.

Kayla gasped at his sudden boldness. She lowered her eyelashes and smiled. Then she cleared her throat. "I'll graduate from high school this year. And I thought I'd work for a year or so before attending college. You know, give my head a break."

"And such a lovely head," he said, squeezing her hand. "Where are you going to be working?"

"I don't know. I haven't thought that far."

"I could get you something at the mill. What's your major?"

"Accounting."

"Accounting, huh?  We could use you in our front office."

"But, what would your dad say?"

"My dad? I'm General Manager, remember." He held on to her hand and stared at her.

"I don't know what to say."

"Say you accept."

"I do. Thank you." His gaze was hypnotizing. She stammered to find something else to say and ended with,”The food was...was delicious."

"Shall we take our wine into the next room?" he said. She nodded yes, and he stood, swooped around and pulled out her chair. Then he took both glasses of wine and led her into the adjoining room. He handed her the glass of wine and set his on the table near the sofa. "Do you mind if I remove my jacket and loosen my tie a bit?"

"No. Please do," she said, taking a sip of her wine.
 
The evening had been everything Kayla had hoped for; and for Matt, it went deliciously according to plan. They slow-danced to a long Kenny G solo and then stood gazing at each other. He couldn't get enough of looking at her, who by now was exhibiting a buzz from her third glass of Mourvedre. "No more for you, young lady," he said gently prying the glass from her hand. She playfully pouted and put a fist on her hip.

Matthew turned to set her glass down on the table; he loosened his tie more and opened the first few buttons of his shirt. When he turned to face Kayla, she noticed a tiny, strange animal tattoo on his throat. It had the face of no creature she had ever seen and wings the color of a rainbow.

"What's this?" she asked, reaching up and smoothing her finger over the tattoo. She pulled open his shirt collar to get a better look.

His face brightened as if her soft touch on his throat had lit a spark in him. "It's just a mythical creature I drew when I was a kid. I liked it so much, that I had a tattoo made of it."

"I like it too," she said, letting her finger slide slowly down his chest.

Matthew's blue eyes narrowed, and he moved in close. He put one hand at her back, the other hand grabbed her hair and he pulled her head back. He pressed in hard and kissed her passionately, forcing her mouth open with his tongue. She moaned and moved her soft body against his muscular frame. They continued to kiss while she unknotted his tie. It fell to the floor and lay at his feet like a motionless silk snake. He slowly unzipped the back of her dress that flowed past her plump hips and pooled around her high heels. She kicked the dress away and unbuttoned his shirt, guiding it past his muscular arms until it fell over the tie. He kissed and bit her neck while unhooking her bra, and she fumbled with the zipper of his pants.

His pants dropped to his ankles. "Um...no underwear, I like that," she said, sliding her tongue over her bottom lip. He grinned and kicked away his pants, slipped his feet out of his shoes and took off his socks. Matt stood gazing at her in her panties and stilettos--her breasts looking like two scoops of pink ice cream. "You're beautiful, baby." He swept her up in his arms and carried her before the fireplace and laid her there. He removed her panties and got between her legs. He positioned himself on his elbows and forced her mouth open once again with his tongue. She moaned with her mouth full of his tongue and his erection pressing against the soft mound of her sex. He kissed her neck and ran his tongue slowly down to a nipple and sucked it, then ran his tongue in little circles around the pink bud. She combed his hair with her fingers as he sucked each nipple.

Rolling her hips and panting like a cat in heat, Kayla gently guided his head downward. He ran his tongue over her abdomen, placing little bites along the way before reaching the ultimate pink bud of his desire. He circled it with his tongue and sucked it until she moaned and twisted uncontrollably. "No," she gasped. "Not this way. I want you inside me."

He stopped and looked up at her. Her eyes were little slits of passion, her breathing deep and heavy and her face flushed from months of wanting him. He pulled up and rested back on his knees. Her eyes widened when she saw how beautifully long and hard he was.

He touched her skin with the tip of his finger--tracing her long neck down to her breast bone--circling one pink nipple then squeezing it until her cheeks flared a bright red. He spread her legs wider with his knees then lowered on top of her. He slid into the wet sweetness of her body. She gasped and crossed her arms around his neck and closed her eyes.

Their lips parted and he took her mouth into his. She sucked in her breath when his massive erection sunk deeper into her. With the floor at her back, her mouth full of his tongue, her body full of his erection, there was no place to go but ecstasy. Moments seemed like hours as she buried her face in his neck while he stroked slowly and gently inside of her. She threw her head back--panting heavily. Soft music echoed in the background as the pumping of his hips had her head bobbing to and fro. He sped up the rhythm. She arched her back and said his name in a hush voice. She tossed her head from side to side--her blonde locks wiping the floor. Her beauty and passion released the beast in him, and his thrust became harder and more intense. "You're hurting me," her voice trembled. He ignored her and drew a red line across her neck with his razor sharp fangs. His eyes turned a misty grey, and his masculine moan deepened into a mild growl. "No, no," she told him. But he retraced the line again and again, deepening it with his fangs until a small trickle of blood oozed from her neck. He lapped it up like a cat licking its milk. The pain on her neck and the one in her groin, though devastating, seemed to heighten her passion.
 
"More," she pleaded, sucking in her breath--her eyes closed tight, her nails raking his back.  
 
He obeyed and repeated the erotic biting until her voice rose like opera as he quickened his rhythm--thrusting harder and harder--rocking them both into an emotional frenzy with inaudible utterance that needed no interpretation.  Matt fell to the side of her. Both panting and smiling widely. "That...was...un...believable," he said between breaths.
 
She giggled and put her head on his pounding chest. They kissed periodically while her phone played tinkling music every time her best friends left a text. And it rang constantly as her mom wanted to know where the hell she could be at this time of night. She ignored the phone and kept her head on his shoulder as he played in her hair. They talked for hours and then kissed once more before finally getting dressed.

***

"Oh Matt, I'm never going to forget this night...never," she said as they walked arm-and-arm to her car.

Stopping at the car door, she turned to him, he held her by her shoulders and kissed her. When they broke apart, he smiled down at her and brushed a honey-colored curl away from her cheek.

"Call me, so I'll know you're not lost again," he teased.

"I won't get lost," she said, playfully hitting his arm with her fist. He opened the door and she slid in. He bent down and gave her one last smack on the lips before she drove off. He stood until the darkness swallowed all but the two red lights
   
 









 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 10
The Bewitching Hour

By amahra

RECAP from previous chapters

(Jewel has discovered a moon cure; although the cure won't stop the werewolves from turning, it will, however, prevent them from turning every full moon. The biggest gift the spell yields is…  no more baby-killings. Just one problem: the cure is illegal because it comes from a spell book that is off limits to Covenant witches. Meanwhile, Beatrice blabbed to Naomi, a high ranking witch, about the spell book, and now she and Jewel fear they may be in trouble with the High Council of witches.  The penalty is permanent loss of magic and, at the sole discretion of the council...could also mean death.) 

(In this partial-chapter, Jewel and Beatrice have been called to a mysterious meeting by the local council.)

The room was dim with only a few sticks of furniture—the basics: a couple of chairs, a sofa, lamps and end tables with a water cooler in the far corner. The shades were drawn and the white painted walls were bare save one large framed picture of the council leaders. Their shadowy faces and haunting eyes appeared to follow Beatrice wherever she stood. She stared at the portrait as if those liefless stares bore stark evidence of things to come.

“Why haven’t we heard anything? Why are they torturing us?” Beatrice blurted. She seemed unable to tear her eyes away from the portrait.

Jewel  frowned.  “Worrying isn’t going to help, Bea,” she said. "Just sit down."

The room was nicknamed the White Room. Some said it was used like the White Throne of Judgment that’s talked about in the Bible; for witches were summoned there to be judged fit to remain in the Covenantcy.

Jewel and Beatrice had sat for two hours—wringing their hands, eyes darting, and jumping at the least bit of noise outside the room. Before leaving her house, Beatrice had tried to reach Naomi numerous times; but she never picked up or returned Beatrice’s calls.

Events couldn’t have been worst for the duo. And the weather outside began to match their obvious doom. River, Dex and Jan begged to come along and help with their defense, but Jewel told them that she and Beatrice would face whatever they had coming—that she didn’t regret one bit trying to free all of the men from the dreadful moon curse. Still, River’s mind raced as he waited breathlessly near his phone for word of the council’s decision.

In the long hours of their waiting, only one person had come to see about them; the woman said nothing, just stared at them and talked quietly into her cell phone and left. She did this twice.  Each time, Beatrice would sink a little more in her seat, while Jewel sat calm but quickened whenever the door opened.

“I wish they would just get it over with,” Beatrice said getting up from her seat and walking over to the water cooler.  “Great!” her voice rose, throwing up her hands. “More torture. My throat is dry and no damn cups.”

“Bea relax. Upsetting yourself isn’t good for either one of us.”

“How can you be so calm?” She said, moping back and flopping down next to her.

“We’ll make our case—and hope for the best.”

“I sure wish I had your confidence.”

 Another hour ticked by. Jewel closed her eyes and sat quietly, resting her head back against the wall. Beatrice paced back and forth and cursed the no cup water cooler under her breath. Suddenly the door swung opened for a third time. Jewel looked up, her eyebrows lifted when she gazed upon the murky faces of two men. One was short and stocky, the other, medium-height and thin. Beatrice rushed over and stood next to Jewel who had now jumped to her feet. The men walked around and faced the women. And with not a word spoken, grabbed Jewel and Beatrice and wrestled them to the floor.  

“Take your hands off me, you bastard,” Beatrice screamed, her foot nailing his groin.

The thin man cupped his crotch and fell to his knees; agony spread across his face.  “You bitch!"  he forced through clenched teeth. He backhanded Beatrice across the face. Blood spewed from her mouth as one side of her face smacked the floor.

“Bea, don’t fight!" Jewel pleaded.

Beatrice bit her bottom lip, but heeded the warning--allowing the man to flip her over face down.  She stiffened while he straddled her buttocks and pulled her hands behind her back. A tiny string of blood connected the bottom of her chin to the floor. After both were gagged and tied up, they were taken to an underground garage and forced onto the back floor of a truck that quickly sped away.  Lying back-to-back, Jewel used her fingers to comfort Beatrice during the long and jerky ride.

***
After what seemed like an endless journey, the car rounded a mountain three times. Each completed round took them a level higher until they nearly reached the top of it. The wheels spat gravel for several yards before coming to a complete stop. The women were taken from the car and hustled through the mouth of a cave where they were made to stumble blindfolded up a flight of stone stairs and into a deeper part of the cave. There, they were shoved onto the hard grey surface and left to shiver from the cold. Beatrice began moaning loudly through her gag until someone came and pinched her nose, cutting off her air.

***

Night turned into morning but not inside of the cave—it remained one huge shadow that hung over the women as they lay.

“Bea…Bea,” Jewel whispered while shaking her. Beatrice’s eyelids fluttered opened and her squinted eyes fell on Jewel’s naked body that was no longer bound.  Beatrice sat up—she grabbed her head. "My head is pounding," she said. Then with a look of confusion, examined her own nakedness. "Who untied me?  Where’s our clothes. Oh Jewel! What are they going to do to us?”

“I don’t know. Just try to stay calm.”

“Will you stop saying that? Aren’t you scared? I am.”

“Of course I’m scared: The very thought of never seeing my girls or River again terrifies me. But, Bea, I’ve got to stay hopeful. I've got to believe that the council will listen to reason." She sighed heavily. "Poor River; he must be beside himself by now."
 
“Nobody's worried about me. My daughter and just about everyone I know thinks I’m a crazy old coot anyway. They're probably saying...good riddance.

“Don’t say that, your daughter loves you—and what about Kayla? She thinks the world of her grandmother.”

“Well, maybe, Kayla.” Then suddenly Beatrice's forehead wrinkled as if she'd remembered something important. ”Wait a minute," she blurted. "You know they nearly killed me last night. Someone held my nose until I blacked out. I thought I was a goner.”

“You were making quite a ruckus; I guess they just wanted to shut you up.  Anyway, after they’d left, I crawled over to you and heard you were still breathing.”

“Oh, thank you, Jewel,” was all Beatrice could say before bursting into tears. 

Jewel reached and pulled Beatrice against her chest and held her.  “Now don’t. We’ll get out of this, somehow.”

"I’m so sorry. This is all my fault,” her voice trembled.

“Shush,” Jewel said, “we’re in this together.” She rocked Beatrice. One-by-one Beatrice’s tears rolled off her chin and raced down Jewel’s bare back.
 
 




 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 11
The Bewitching Hour/Part 2

By amahra


Recap: Jewel and Beatrice found a spell book that contains a spell preventing werewolves from changing every full moon. Problem is the book is forbidden to covenant witches. The penalty is permanent loss of magic and or death. In chapter 10, the women were brutally attacked, kidnapped and taken to a hidden mountain location. By next morning, they were untied, naked and left clinging to one another not knowing if the Council of Witches would show mercy or seal their fate.

(In this remaining half of the chapter, the women's well-being remains questionable.)


With bare feet slapping against the cold hard surface, Jewel and Beatrice were led naked through a long tunnel-like hallway and up a spiraling stone staircase. The staircase had no banister or railings; the higher they climbed, the more Beatrice whimpered. Jewel looked up at the enormously lofty ceiling that was draped with beautifully crafted spider webs and loaded with spiders.

“Eeeek!” Beatrice squealed as she smacked a huge one that hung from a silver thread just inches from her cheek.

“Don’t hit them,” a male voice scolded," they’re sacred."

Jewel and Beatrice continued the seemingly endless climb towards an undisclosed destination. Finally, the journey came to an abrupt end, and another mouth of the cave welcomed them—but this time they would not be alone. There—in the darkness, as multiple lit candles floated twenty feet above them in midair, a hundred fellow witches stood draped in long, black cloaks--their faces buried deep within their hoods. Each held a single lit candle and chanted in ancient Greek. The fire wavered above the wicks as puffs of breath left their lips.

As the cloaked figures eased into a new position, shadows on the walls parted--revealing epic stories of an ancient coven.  Bold earth tone colors depicted bullhead men, dancing young girl figures and bulls with long, pointy horns. There were different farm animals, mostly cattle, and there were birds and snakes. Some of the figures looked to be stabbed or beaten with a stick.  Better crafted drawings of daggered-mouth dragons covered the ceiling and appeared to glitter above the flickering candle lights.

Jewel looked behind her and the men had disappeared. Beatrice trembled as she held tightly to Jewel’s arm.

A figure clad in a red hooded cloak stepped from the darkness. “Come forward!” the boisterous female voice demanded.

As the women obeyed, the crowd parted like the red sea and a new line of cloaked figures emerged from the shadows. But in their hands were no candles. Jewel swallowed hard and urine streamed down Beatrice’s legs when they spotted knotted cat of nine tails with tiny silver balls hanging from them. The chanting rose, and the cloaked figures raised their whips as the same voice demanded the women to walk towards them.  

 “Please!" Beatrice cried out.

Though Jewel’s body shook, she spoke boldly. “We demand a trial,” she said, her voice cracking.

“Silence!” yelled the red hooded one. "Move forward!"

The chanting rose to near deafening. Then Jewel's face turned ash-white when Beatrice suddenly straightened and strutted ahead of her. Jewel reached out and grabbed Beatrice’s arm, but Beatrice snatched away from her and continued her pace. One behind the other, they reached the line and waited; the black cloaks circled them and the chanting stopped. Beatrice stood with her chin still up, her lips tight. Jewel took a deep breath; she whispered each name of her girls and closed her eyes.

Suddenly the deafening chanting began again--as if they were cheering from the sidelines. The first blow buckled Jewel’s knees. She screamed as Beatrice stumbled over her from several lashes striking Beatrice's torso simultaneously. Another whip wrapped around Jewel’s neck. When the figure pulled it back, the tiny spikes on the balls nearly slit Jewel's throat.  Beatrice began to fight, but was kicked in the stomach and held down by several black booted feet and whipped mercilessly. Jewel managed to get to one knee, but was beaten down with slashes coming from every direction. Each whip sliced opened backs, buttocks, arms, thighs and legs that reddened and bled as the women's pleas were ignored. The silver balls glittered in the candlelight as whips were raised again and again, thrashing down and turning delicate white flesh into living raw meat.

“God damn you!” Jewel yelled. She reached out for one of the descending whips.  It cut a deep gash in her hand when she grabbed it.  She pulled the whip so hard the dark figure tumbled down into the circle. Jewel appeared winning at wrestling the whip away, until several fists pounded the back of her head. Jewel cried out and doubled over, but wouldn’t let go of the whip. Finally, it was snatched out of her hand, leaving a three inch slash in her palm.

Beatrice leaped from her knees and tried to run out of the circle, but a strong hand forced her back. She spit out a front tooth after someone slammed her face into the concrete. She lay semi-conscious protecting her face while the silver balls rained heavily down upon her.

Jewel curled into a fetal position covering her head, her teeth clenched. Blood oozed from every outward part of her body. The flogging seemed endless until the cloaked figures abruptly stopped all at once, as if they had been counting the licks to a certain number. At the command of the red hooded one, all stepped back into a perfectly straight line—the whips down by their sides—the balls still swinging and dripping little pools of life onto the cold, stone floor.

Jewel and Beatrice, who appeared too weak to move on their own were helped off the floor by still a different group of cloaked figures and led to another mouth of the cave; lying in their own blood—half-conscious, pieces of flesh hanging from every part of their bodies, their moans filled the enclosed space. They lay for several minutes—both crossing in and out of consciousness.

Beatrice slowly peered through puffy eyelids. The right side of her face was double in size. “Jewel, are you alright?” she asked, slobbering blood.

“I…I can’t feel my legs,” Jewel said. “Is it over? Are we alone?””

“I think so.”

“You…you sure we’re not dead? I feel dead.” Jewel graveled, passing out again.

Beatrice didn’t answer, but managed to raise herself. She crawled over to Jewel and placed her ear between her torn breasts.  Jewel’s chest barely rose and fell. Over in a far corner sat an old fashion bathtub, something right out of the 19th century old west. Beatrice pulled to her feet; unable to straighten herself, she stood slightly bent and stumbled over to the tub and steadied herself by holding on to the side of it. She dipped her hand into the murky-colored water then pulled it out and sniffed her fingers. “This is a familiar scent. I suppose they want us to bathe,” she mumbled to herself. She looked over her shoulder at Jewel who was still lying on her back, her eyes closed. She eased over to her, sliding a mangled foot behind her and tried to lift Jewel.  "Can you hear me?” Beatrice asked.

Jewel peeked up at her through purple, swollen eyelids and nodded yes. Then Beatrice helped her up and the two dragged over to the tub. Beatrice helped her into the water, then she climbed in.

“This scent is so familiar,” Beatrice repeated with a frown.

There was no room in the tub for them to stretch out their legs. They sat with their knees drawn up to their chins and water up to their necks. Beatrice splashed her face. She did the same to Jewel--patting her cheeks gently with her hand. But Jewel flinched when Beatrice's finger touched her swollen lip.

They lingered in the bath, resting their heads back and closing their eyes.  The strange aroma permeated the air. After a short while, Beatrice managed to get out of the tub first. Jewel soon followed; the bath seemed to revive them.  Jewel sucked in her breath every time the towel touched a wound. And there were numerous ones all over her face, neck, breasts, lower torso and extremities. Beatrice looked up from toweling herself and froze. “Where did that come from?” she asked pointing to a six foot mirror incased in brass lion paws, and a brass lion’s head in the center of it at the top.

Jewel gazed at the mirror out of the good eye. “Wasn’t it there before?”

“No." Beatrice answered.

“Well, may as well make use of it,” Jewel said limping over and standing before it.  She began examining her bruises, when Beatrice heard her gasp.

“What is it?" Beatrice asked, looking over at her.

Jewel stared as if something terrifying within the mirror was staring back at her. “Bea. Look. Hurry.”

“What?” Beatrice asked again, dragging herself as fast as she could to her side.
 
"Look!” Jewel repeated frantically.

Beatrice watched and her mouth slowly dropped opened; her eyebrows stretched so, they nearly touched her hair line. She stared as each cut and bruise slowly disappeared from Jewel’s body: All the way from her head, neck, torso, down to her feet. Hanging flesh vanished as new flesh appeared. And as both stood spell-bound, Beatrice’s body did the same. Not only were the bruises, cuts and discoloration gone, but the pain and swellings disappeared as well.

“What do you make of it?” Jewel asked, her voice barely a whisper.

Beatrice slapped her thigh. “I knew I recognized that scent,” she said.  “It’s Dragon Root—the most powerful magic healing herb.” Beatrice moved closer to the mirror and drew her lips back. Her knocked out tooth was back and not even loose.

“Bea, I don’t get it.”

“I don’t care. We’re still alive. Perhaps without our magic, but we survived.”

Just then, a head poked in from the doorway which made the women jump. “The council is waiting for you,” she said in a pleasant voice.

Jewel and Beatrice gave each other a solemn look.

“Let’s get this over with,” Jewel sighed.

She and Beatrice slowly reentered the place where they were nearly beaten to death. The mystery of the cloaked figures was revealed, and Beatrice sucked in her breath when she saw her friend Naomi among the crowd. There were no blood splashes on any of the cloaks, and no one was holding whips; there was no way of knowing just who had been involved in the flogging.

They were ordered to stand naked once more in a circle. Jewel and Beatrice seemed to sigh at the same time and took a big breath. The witches surrounded them and Jewel nearly choked on her own spit when one-by-one each of the witches kissed them: on feet, knees, genitals, breasts, buttocks and lips as the local High Priestess read from an ancient stone tablet: Then the Priestess stopped, looked over at Jewel and Beatrice and announced...

“By unanimous vote, you, Jewel Anastasia Porter and Beatrice Rena Taylor have been added to the Third Level of the Mystic Circle." Then she began reading from an ancient book. "There are three great events in the life of Mankind: Love, Death and Resurrection in a new body. And Magic rules them all.” She continued to speak the sacred words as several women brought special attire to the circle.

Naomi came over and put white frocks on them; another placed new shoes on their feet; still another wrapped them in a new cloak. Then Naomi, with a grin as wide as a three inch ruler, led them around the Mystic Circle as the High Priestess proclaimed to the great goddess, Asase Ya, that two new Witch Queens had been consecrated for her glory. Two magic knives, called Athame, were dipped into a silver chalice of wine and onlookers were informed, "That as the Woman is to a Man so is the Cup to the Athame.”

The Priestess had Jewel and Beatrice swear an oath of secrecy about what went on at the ceremony. “You are now married to your ceremonial dagger--the most powerful tool of our trade,” proclaimed the High Priestess as she handed each their customized blade. "You are both free to start your own covens. For, you are now bonded to a powerful circle. It enables us to combine our magic no matter where we are—living or dead. Congratulations,” she ended and kissed both women on each side of their faces.

The cave erupted in applause, flashing smiles, and cheers.

“Start the celebration!” a top council member shouted. 

Dozens of men in chef attire streamed through every opening of the cave with silver trays of vegetable dishes, fruit dishes, and pastries. Wine bottle corks popped and crowds gathered around Jewel and Beatrice like no flogging had ever taken place. Not one face gave away who actually did the beatings. And Jewel, as well as Beatrice, seemed reluctant to ask.

The celebration had moved into its second hour, when Beatrice suddenly pulled Naomi away from a small gathering. 

“Bea, what the hell?”  Naomi said, trying to keep her drink from spilling.

“Why didn’t you tell me this was about our initiation?” Beatrice scolded. 

“Didn’t you hear the priestess? No one ever tells. It’s tradition.”

“But Jewel and I’ve been worried sick for weeks. We thought you told them about the Grimoire.”

“Shish!” Naomi hustled Beatrice over to a dark corner. “Don’t mention that book here. Are you crazy? You trying to kill us?”

“Oh, relax. No one heard me.”

“Great Jupiter! Don’t you know where you are?” Then Naomi tapped her own forehead with the palm of her hand.  “Of course you don’t. I forgot. Bea, this place is loaded with magic. The walls will write whatever it hears if it’s asked by the right spell.”  She grabbed Beatrice by the shoulders. “Don’t say anything you don’t want known. Do you understand? And for goodness sake don’t mention my name if you say it.” 

“Yes…yes, of course. I… I’ll be careful. I’m sorry.”

Then Naomi’s eyes softened; she hugged Beatrice. “Now Honey, go on back and enjoy your party and remember,” she said releasing her shoulders and putting a finger up to her own lips. Beatrice nodded yes and Naomi scurried back to her little group. Beatrice eased her way through the cheerful crowd and looked for Jewel.








 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 12
A Race with the Moon

By amahra


(Recap)
Jewel and Beatrice have been missing for several days. In the last chapter, the women thought their possession of the Grimoire (forbidden spell book) had gotten them into deep trouble with the Witches Council. Kidnapped, beaten, then magically healed, the women found that their secret was safe, but that the ritual beating was a part of their elevation to witch queens. Jewel's love ones (particularly her husband River) are frantic not knowing what's become of her. In the meantime, River and his brother Dex have their own problem to deal with as the Northern and Southern packs face-off for Civil War due to one of the southern packs' young werewolves killing a teenage girl. A war (the southern pack fears) will expose them all and bring the wrath of the Dominions down upon them.


Gunshots echoed across the south eastern sky of Greyscott Falls as Dex, Matthew and members of the southern pack hid behind barricades with rifles blasting.

"Give it up, Dex!" shouted one of the northern men. "You haven't a cunt's chance in dicksville."

"Let's talk about this, Crane," Dex shouted.

Crane answered with a shot gun blast that whisked past Dex's head. Dex ducked down as the blast ripped through a near-by tree. Hundreds of rounds thundered from both sides. One of the southern men was hit in the shoulder. The man cried out. With bullets flying, Dex was unable to help his man who lay unprotected half outside the barricade.

"Wait!” Dex yelled. “There's no need for this. Let's talk, I beg you."

"Nothing to talk about. Give us the boy and we'll go."

Dex took advantage of the sudden halt; he ducked out and grabbed the wounded man by his boots and pulled him to safety. The man growled in pain as blood poured from his shoulder and dripped off his hand. Another pack member grabbed a rock, wrapped it in his pocket handkerchief and put pressure on the wound.

"Killing each other isn't the answer," Dex yelled.  "There's no reason to harm the boy either. He won't do it again. I've been trying to tell you, there's a moon cure."

"Don't know nothing 'bout no moon cure! Accept Raymond is the one who killed that Winters girl!"

"Killing the boy is useless," Dex shouted.

"Dex is right, Crane!"

"River...is that you?"

"Yeah!"

"I know he's your brother, but you better pick a side! You can't have it both ways!"

"Can't let you shoot my brother and nephew, Crane. Besides, the Sheriff already knows it was a werewolf that killed the girl! There's talk up in Sheerfield City about summoning the Shadow Hunters!"

The very sound of that name made hairs stand up on the back of Crane's neck.

"We're no match for Hunters, you know that," Dex yelled.

Crane's mouth suddenly went dry; he could hardly speak. He lowered his rifle and looked around at his men who stood frozen. They lowered their firearms and began to grumble among themselves. Crane eased out from behind his truck with the barrel of his gun pointed down at the ground.  Dex waved to his men, who also lowered their rifles, but stayed behind the barricades. Four of Crane's men joined him as Dex, Matt and River came out to meet them in the neutral zone.

"Why didn't you tell us about this so-called moon cure and especially about the Shadow Hunters?" Crane demanded of River.

"You didn't give me much of a chance. Jewel only discovered the cure a few weeks ago."

"That was plenty of time to tell us," snarled one of Crane's men.

"How was I to know you had planned a damn war? Before I could tell you about the cure, my wife's use of Black Magic was discovered and she could be in a lot of trouble as we speak."

"Have you heard from aunt Jewel, Uncle River?"

"No. It's been three days. And she's not answering her phone."

"What's this about your wife missing?" Crane blurted.

"I don't have time to explain--it's some bullshit witch thing. If Jewel hadn't been called to some council meeting, she would have used the spell by now, and there would be no way anyone could find out about us. But the way it stands now, all the Dominions have to do is wait for the next full moon and track where we'll be chained down. Then they'll have all the evidence they'll need to come down on us...all of us," River warned.

"So, you see if we start killing each other, there won't be enough of us left to defend ourselves against the Hunters," Dex said.

"What about that Raymond kid?"

"I'll see to the boy personally," Dex said. "I promise. I'll chain him myself until Jewel comes back with the spell."

Crane spit a mouth of tobacco and looked around at his men. Their once hard battle faces were now stunned with fear after hearing the name Shadow Hunters. Crane turned his attention back to Dex.

"All right." Crane said, his eyes blazing. "You make sure that kid is chained. If another one of your spoiled brats do something like this again...no one," his eyes zeroed in on River, "and I do mean no one," he looked back at Dex, "will talk us out of coming back here and finishing the job. I hope I make myself clear," he said looking over at Dex's men.

Dex stepped forward. "We don't take too kindly to threats, Crane," he said.

Crane stared at Dex. "You don't seem to understand the seriousness of what Raymond did."

"I know all right; but you don't seem to understand the devastation it will cause if you take the boy. It will start a war and expose all of us."

Crane spit another mouth of tobacco and wiped his lips on his sleeve. He looked as if he were in deep thought. He said nothing, then turned and motioned his men to leave. River watched Crane and the four men walk quietly back to the group. The group spoke among themselves for a few moments then all got into their trucks and sped off.

"Whew! That was close," Dex said, turning to River.

River slapped a hand on Dex's shoulder. "Damn close. But we did it, Bro."

The southern pack appeared relieved as they all moved from behind the barricades. They looked kindly towards River and nodded. He had sided with them and his brother against his own northern pack. One by one they climbed into their vehicles. Dex and River waved them off.

"Thanks, River," Dex said. "This could have gotten pretty ugly. I appreciate you stepping in."

"You don't have to thank me. We're brothers, and no one or nothing will ever come between us again."

Dex lowered his head like a little boy, and Matthew who hadn't seen his father and uncle this friendly in years, was lapping it up with a smile as wide as his face.

"Let us know if you hear from Jewel," Dex said before climbing into his truck.

"I will."

*****
River returned home to a worried Chelsey who had allowed little sister Abby to go out on her first date, and now she couldn't reach her by phone.

"I'm sure she's fine. I'm going up to take a shower. Has your mother called?"

"No. Dad, where can Mom be?"

"I'm certain both Mom and Abby will be home soon," River said, trying not to let on he was worried too. He turned to her after reaching the top of the stairs. "Call me when you hear from them."

"Okay."

The dark outline of the clouds blazed against the sky with every lightning flash. The rain beat down heavily upon the window pane. Chelsey paced the floor. Abby had called an hour ago saying she was on her way home. Chelsey debated with Dria if she should drive out looking for her. Just then, a car rolled up; it was not Abby but Benjamin Casey.

"What on earth is he doing here," she wondered out loud. Before Ben could knock, Chelsey opened the door.  Benjamin stepped inside. His brows were raised and his eyes unblinking as their intensity fixed on hers.

"Chelsey, I've got to speak to your Dad."

"Is it mom?" she asked. Her breathing quickened.

"No, Honey--this isn't about your mom. I'm sorry."

"Go get Dad," she ordered Dria. Dria hurried up the staircase. Chelsey stood looking at Ben, as if to read his face. Ben seemed careful to stand on the mat as water dripped from his shiny rain coat. Chelsey struggled to make small-talk until her father came down.

"Ben?" River said frowning as he hit the last step. "Let's go in here," he said, leading Ben to the den. Chelsey watched the door close. She tried Abby's cell phone again and continued watching for her at the window.

"River, I know I should have called, but I was in the vincinity, so I decided to stop in," Ben said.
 
River handed him a glass of scotch. "Here, this will warm you up." Ben took a big gulp of it and continued.

"The Dominions are planning a raid on us during the next full moon."

River gestured. "Sit."

"No. I don't want to get your sofa wet," Ben said taking another gulp.

"How do you know this?"

"I was shooting pool with a couple of them over at Renzo's,  and tonight I heard them talking."

"What the hell are you doing friendly with Dominions? That's dangerous, Ben."

"They don't know I'm a wolf. And someone has to make friends with outsiders. How else are we going to know what they're up to?"

"That makes sense," he said pulling on his jaw. "We've got three days before the full moon to find a more secure place to chain down."

"Have you heard from Jewel?"

"No. Nothing."

"But where are we going to find a place that can hold all of us?" Ben asked.

"I don't know. Damn! I wish Jewel were here. She'd know what to do."

"What about the other witches? They might help."

"I doubt it. Right now they're pretty pissed at Jewel for having that damn spell book."

"Then it's hopeless."

"Nothing is hopeless; look, we still have three days," he said putting a hand on Ben's shoulder. "I'll think of something."

"I sure hope so, River," Ben said shaking his head.

River walked Ben to the door, then stood in the doorway and watched him scurry through the pouring rain to his car.

*****
Just a few minutes later, Abby entered the house and big sister Chelsey was all over her.

River stepped between the girls. "All right you two settle down. Why didn't you answer your phone? Your sister was worried sick."

"I forgot to turn it on," she lied. "I'm not a baby," Abby said, rolling her eyes at Chelsey.

Younger sister, Becca, came down stairs to see what all the fuss was about. Then a great thrill came upon River and the girls when Jewel walked through the door. There was a considerable amount of confusing chatter among them as they all hugged her and tried to talk to her at the same time. River finally managed to quiet the girls in order for Jewel to explain her strange disappearing act for the past few days.

On the long travel back, Beatrice had helped Jewel manufacture a story for the girls. Satisfied with their mom safely at home, the girls went to their rooms. Overjoyed, however, was an understatement when River learned that Jewel had been elevated to a Witch Queen and in-line someday to have her own coven. The elevations had made Jewel more powerful. Being elevated also meant more freedom and independence from having to check in with the council about everything she did.

With only a few days left before the full moon and the Dominions' plan to raid the pack, Jewel couldn't be sure if this was enough time to prepare the moon cure. There was only one ingredient missing,  the blood of the little Sooner boy.






 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.


Chapter 13
Dancing With Wolves

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

(Recap of chapter 12)

A civil war between the wolf packs was thwarted when realized that such a war could expose them as werewolves and bring the wrath of the Shadow Hunters. Jewel hopes to have the moon cure in time for the next full moon. Also, Sheriff Tilbert, and his hundred deputies, plan a full moon ambush on an unsuspecting group of werewolves (hopefully, while they're helplessly chained down) and kill them all.


As Sheriff Wayne Tilbert prepared for the night raid, Bob Wilson was beside himself. Bob circled the floor nervously while Wayne sat on the corner of his desk cleaning his rifle.

"Wayne, for the last time ... this is a foolish move."

"We've been over this," Wayne said quietly, putting a spit shine on the barrel of his semi-automatic.

"For the love of God, man; these are not men, they're beasts. You're going to get your deputies killed."

"Will you relax? You've seen me with this baby," he said, patting his gun. "I can hit a deer right between the eyes at a hundred yards."

"Yeah, but that deer's not coming at you thirty-five miles an hour to rip your brains out of your head."

"Look, there'll be at least a hundred of us with shotguns and rifles. Stay here if you're scared."

"Scared? Is that what you think? Wayne, this is not about my being scared. It's about you committing suicide and getting those poor men with families ripped apart  and ..."

Wayne slammed the rifle down on the desk.  "What the hell do you want me to do, Bob? We tried it your way. We spent months looking for those damn Shadow Hunters and got nowhere. We had to bury that sweet young girl with no limbs and no head; her parents are still grieving out of their freaking minds; the whole town is in a panic. We are going to bring closure to that family's suffering tonight," he said banging his fist on the edge of his desk. "Now, I don't want to hear any more about it!"

"All right, Wayne," Bob said in a hushed voice. He lowered his eyes to the floor and gently bit his bottom lip.

Back at Greyscott Falls, Jewel and Beatrice could not complete the spell in time. They would have needed, at least, another week. So, it was left up to the women to protect their men. They found an old mine shaft and double bound the men with chains—carefully sealing the opening of the mine to silence the howling. The hardest part for the women was leaving their young boys whimpering and shaking with fear—having to experience the gut-wrenching pains of shape shifting for the very first time.

*****

The full moon lit up the night sky; the glare of it made Wayne's one hundred or so gunmen a bit weary. The fog was thick and fast like moving clouds as a long train of vehicles eased through it. The lower heaven seemed to tremble under the bright sparkle of the moon.  As if it knew the evil that it harbored.

Wayne had rejected the idea of asking a judge for a warrant to search their premises because his reasons would have been laughable. There had been too many fake werewolf sightings over the years to convince any Sheerfield City judge to take Bob's theory seriously. Wayne and his deputies couldn't go gang-busting into their houses. But he did have a plan. They would simply plant themselves throughout the wooded area and wait. If they encountered the beasts, they'd have enough fire power to take them down.

As they crossed into Greyscott Falls, the headlights went off, and the motors were cut as not to advertise their presence. They would make the rest of the journey on foot. Wayne eased out of his truck and waved signals to his men to take their positions. The thick forest separated the road from the packs' residential area. It was where parts of Tiara Winters were found among the leaves. Owl hoots and small night creatures spooked the men; gleaming eyes of small predators competed with the flashlights held by the men as they crept through the infamous Norwick Forest. They responded to each other's birdcalls that pin-pointed their stations. Wayne became frustrated when he noticed unwarranted movement within the shadows. It was Ben, one of his deputies, moving quietly but fast out of his position.

"Ben, where the hell you think you're going? Get your ass back to your station," he commanded.

"My flashlight went dead. I got batteries in the truck."

Wayne watched Ben's dark figure disappear.

Minutes ticked by.

"I don't think these wolves are anywhere near here. I think they're hiding somewhere. But where?" Dwayne asked rhetorically. "We're going to have to move deeper into the woods if we want to find them."

"I know.  As soon as Ben comes back.  I don't want to leave him behind."

Wayne kept watch over his shoulder, waiting for Ben to return. Suddenly shots rang out. Everyone's head jerked around at the same time.

"Who was that?" someone called out.

"It came from over there where we parked."

"Ben, you all right?" Wayne shouted. "Ben?" He yelled again.

"I'll go check it out," one of the deputies said.

"I'll go with him," said another.

Wayne and the others waited crouched down in the dark—a menacing moon lurked overhead, and thick fog covered them like a grey smelly blanket. Some of the men nearby got edgy, and Wayne softly called for them to stay calm.

"I don't like this," Pete whispered.

Wayne breathed hard. "We'll give them a few more minutes."

Finally, when Ben and the two deputies didn't return, Pete and Dwayne volunteered to join Wayne in looking for them. They eased through the woods, cringing at every step. The little bit of light that filtered in through the thickness of the tall trees illuminated the smooth metal of the rifles and even the buckles on their boots. Every rustling sound of a bush or tree caused their heads to snap around and their bodies to jump. After several minutes of walking, Pete stopped abruptly.

"Wait!" Pete ordered.

"Wait, what?"

"We're too far up. We parked back there," he said.

"What do you mean back there? They're up ahead," Dwayne insisted.

"No. I'm telling you, we passed it. I remember that tower," he said pointing back at it.

All looked back at the tower and began walking towards it. They stopped, and Wayne looked around, his face studying the situation. "Jesus, God, he's right," Wayne said. "This IS where we parked."

"Then where the hell are our vehicles?"

"There're gone," Pete said, turning in a circle.

"We can see that, genius," Dwayne snapped.

"Who the hell took twenty cars, vans and trucks without us hearing it?"

"Someone or something strong enough to move them, that's what."

The men eyed the empty spot where the vehicles had been. They glanced around at nothing, shaking their heads. An overwhelming urge to run was written on Pete's and Dwayne's faces. Only their macho bragging rights prevented them from scrambling like little pussies.

"There's no sense looking for them in this fog," Wayne said.

"What about our vehicles?"

"No sense looking for them neither. We better head back," Wayne ordered. "Whoever took our rides, could be watching us right now."

"Right—there's safety in numbers," Pete said, peering nervously over his shoulder.

Back with the group, Wayne broke the bad news.

"What the hell are we supposed to do way out here in the dark without a way back?" one of the men blurted.

"Someone could be trying to scare us."

"Well, it's working on me," one deputy said.

"Me too," several other men chanted, separately.

"Oh come on—you sound like a bunch of girl scouts," Pete said. "As soon as day breaks, we'll find the men and our rides and get the hell out of here. But right now, we must focus on what we came to do."

"Pete's right," Wayne said. "We'll just camp out here. Keep your eyes open and your guns sharp. There's a lot of little night creatures roaming about, so don't go shooting at the first thing that moves."

The men agreed and took their places among the bushes and trees.

Dark clouds moved across the face of the moon—the fog thickened and rose several more inches. Some of the men's eyes grew heavy, and they drifted off to sleep. Others took little cat naps, hugging their rifles to their chest.

As the long hand of the clock moved beyond twelve midnight, a haunting presence swept through the trees. An odd scent, distant snarls and outlines of strange figures formed in the shadows. An image long and oppressive disturbed a bush. Then an eerie silence fell upon the night. Panic settled among the men when some didn't return their night calls. Sleeping men's eyes flashed open—hands tightened on rifles. A large owl, like a warning, hooted loudly; it bolted from a branch—wings spread across the sky, and then disappeared into the dark.

Pete appeared to sense that something was wrong.  He peered around nervously like he was being watched.  He pulled his rifle in close to his body and upward. His eyes dotted back and forth then up; he gulped a lump of air when his eyes fell upon a monstrous silhouette high up in a tree. Its yellow eyes blazed back at him. Pete lifted his fire arm and aimed for the widest part of it. Without the aid of light, the scoop was useless for a head shot. He squeezed—the shot rang out over the fog; its beastly breath let out a scream that cut through the night like a wounded hound from hell. Being injured didn't stop it from swooping down upon Pete. Though it had the strength of ten men, Pete fought ferociously for his life—enduring fatal bite after fatal bite—blood squirting from his face and neck until the beast struck a stentorian blow that tore Pete's head clear from his body.

Pete's head bounced off a tree and rolled unnoticed into the fog near a deputy's foot. The deputy tripped over it and missed a shot to a dark figure rocketing towards him. Its fangs tore into the deputy, nearly ripping his face off before he could even scream. A gun shot blast struck it in the shoulder when it was spotted with the deputy's lifeless body still hanging from its mouth.

"Over there! Over there!"

Hundreds of gun blasts arrowed in its direction. Panic struck throughout the darkness with loud growls like roars of thunder.

"Over here! Over here!"

"How many are there?"

"I don't know! Just fucking shoot!"

More body parts sailed through the air. Piercing death screams—gunfire from every direction, several men dropped—many scrambled to find solid cover—behind trees, large rocks, under fallen comrades. Wayne's calls for order were ignored as he was knocked to the ground and trampled by fleeing men.

"Wayne! Pete! Where are you?" Dwayne screeched.

"Save yourself! Get to the road! I'll be right behind you!" Wayne shouted.

But Wayne had lied. He wasn't just trampled underfoot he was shot and coughing up blood. He tried to keep his head above the fog although the cool moist kept his mind clear. He flopped down on his belly. His wounded body mimicked his early Marine basic training—crawling under wire—in the mud, under fire; he gritted his teeth and pulled himself as hard as he could over the gravel and in the direction he'd seen all the shadows of his men go. Gunshots peppered the sky and footsteps thundered past his face—heavy boots striking him as he desperately tried to crawl his way out of the forest and into the clear.

Looking half dazed, he seemed to be moving much too fast to be sliding on his belly. Two shadows appeared on either side of Wayne; each had an arm and was pulling him through the fog, over bumps in the path: perhaps rocks, perhaps his dead deputies, maybe Ben. Blood poured from his chest wound. Wayne's head bobbed back and forth; then it went down for the last time and he was out cold.

His arms were released, and Wayne fell limp on his face. The coolness of the ground caused his eyelids to flutter. He slowly turned over on his back and gritted his teeth when a bolt of pain flashed in his chest. He looked up into the faces of two women he'd never seen before. They were covered in black hooded cloaks and were staring down at him with little or no expression.

"Who are you?" Wayne asked in a husky voice.

"You're safe, now. There'll be no more trouble as long as you all stay put until morning."

"We can't...can't"... Wayne coughed, and blood dripped from his lips.

"He's trying to tell you some assholes stole our vehicles," Dwayne said. He bent down and supported Wayne's head with his hand.

The women stood majestically, said an incantation and waved their hands in a circle three times. There was a loud gasp from the crowd of men when their cars, trucks and vans suddenly appeared. When Dwayne looked back at the women, they were gone.

"Witches! I knew it! They're the ones who did this," someone shouted.

"Yeah, let's get 'em!"

"No!" Wayne said faintly. "If they'd wanted to hurt us, they would have."

"I still think we should go after them!"

"Seriously, Joe?"  Dwayne smirked. "You really want to tangle with creatures that can wave their arms and twenty vehicles appear out of nowhere?"

Joe's chest deflated, and he looked down at his feet like a pondering fool.

The men stood gazing at their rides like they were trying to process what they'd just witnessed. They buzzed among themselves for a few moments and then dispersed, settling into their cars and waiting for morning.

The witches were right; whatever attacked them didn't return. And whatever magic they'd performed also worked on Wayne. He had stopped coughing up blood, and the hole in his chest had closed. All that remained of his injury were his blood-soaked shirt and crusty blood stains on his chin and mouth.
*****

The daylight brought grown men to tears having seen the horrible way their fellow officers met their end. As they walked around, they saw blood-covered twisted bodies—heads with wide eyes staring up at them, and guts, brains and limbs hung from tree branches. Broken rifles and hundreds of shell casings sparkled among the stones on the ground.

"Wayne, over here." Dwayne called. With his eyes glassy, he stood over Pete's headless body.

Wayne took his time, stopped and sighed. "He just had a new baby. How the hell am I going to tell his wife this?"

"I gotta find his head." Dwayne's lips trembled.

"I think it's there—over there," Wayne said, pointing.

Dwayne walked a ways; he brought it back and placed it beside the body. Then Dwayne's eyes widened. Pete's hand was gripping something. He could see a part of it showing through his fingers. He pried his hand open and took it. It looked to be a piece of an animal's ear—black and silver fur. He brought it up to his nose and sniffed. Forcing back the tears, he smiled at Pete's last ditch effort to leave a clue. "A cop to the bitter end," Dwayne said, his voice cracking.

Wayne stood and pulled his phone from his waist and dialed. Bob's phone rang and he answered. "Bob, I'm bringing a sample over for you to analyze....No. I'm fine. I don't want to get into any details right now. Just wanted to be sure you'd be in the lab....Ah...about an hour....Okay. Right. Right. See you then."








 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsea, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law


Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's granddaughter

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Rose Tilbert....... Wayne's wife
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher (Chris) Tilbert.........Wayne and Rose's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 14
The Missing Link

By amahra


(Recap from previous chapter)

Sheerfield City’s Coroner, Bob Wilson, was disappointed when the werewolves’ dreaded enemies, the Shadow Hunters could not be located. Meanwhile, Jewel failed to get the blood of the young Sooner boy in time for the moon cure; and Sheriff Wayne Tilbert underestimated the wolves during a raid that nearly took his life, and did take the lives of many of his deputies, including his chief deputy, Pete Neilson.


As Illinois state police tried desperately to control the media frenzy outside of Saint Paul’s Church of the Dominions, hundreds of mourners packed its pews.  Caskets draped in the American flag lined the front of the sanctuary. And a large gold-plated cross towered over the pulpit.

"Mommy, which box is Daddy in?" three-year-old Tiara asked Lilly Neilson, Pete's widow. Lilly pointed and tearfully whispered the answer in the tot's ear.

But the child's question sent Wayne over the edge; he shot up from his seat and hurried off to the men’s room where he locked himself in a stall. His gut cry shook his body so, that he struggled to catch each small breath.

The bereaved loved ones had insisted that the service be kept short; and at the end of it, the families slowly filed out onto the street and into black limousines. One middle-aged woman fainted as her grandchildren clung to her bewildered daughter-in-law. Spectators were overcome as bagpipes played Amazing Grace, and Bishop Randall spoke comforting words from the Word of God.

At the burial site, a five-man rifle party gave the Three-Volley Salute to the fallen officers. The five men lined up with muzzles pointed over the caskets and shot blank cartridges into the air three times. After the flags were folded, white-gloved officers brought the flags and handed one to each surviving spouse and parent. Pete's widow held it tightly against her chest and wept.
*****

Later that afternoon, Bob Wilson called Wayne about the piece of ear Pete Neilson had ripped from his attacker.

“It’s an animal all right, but no animal God made.”

 “I don’t know how long we can keep a lid on this thing, Bob. There’s talk of werewolf buzzing all over the city. Before there’s an all-out panic, I think we need to give the search for the Shadow Hunters another try.”

“Now you're talking. When do we leave?”

“I’ll get back with you soon,” Wayne said, ending the call.

Still grasping the phone, Wayne’s eyes scanned over the many family pictures that were placed around the room and on the walls—as if imagining the pain they would have felt had it been his detached head and body that were buried.  He laid the phone aside and picked up a picture of his wife and children; he sighed and stared at it, as his eyes filled once more.
*****
 
“Sooner!”  Russell’s ten year old playmates yelled his last name from the sidewalk in front of his parent’s home.  Inside, Russell gulped down his milk, grabbed his baseball mitt from the floor by the leg of his chair and ran from the dinner table.

“Later!” Russell yelled back. It was a play on his name, Sooner or Later. Ever since kindergarten, it was how he and best friends, Mike and Todd greeted each other. It started as a tease, then became a personal greeting. No other kids were allowed to game-play with his name. That is, not unless they desired one of Russell’s knuckle sandwiches.

“Don’t stay out too late,” his mom yelled as Russell hit the door.

“Did you hear your mother?”

“Okay, Mom. Okay, Dad.”  Russell ran up on his friends, and they started for the baseball field.

The day was cool, but the sun was bright, and it lit up the shine on Russell’s dark, brown hair. He was an A student and very well liked in his school and neighborhood.  Rusty, as he was called outside the classroom, stood tall for his ten years and was very athletic. He was the only child of Tray and Caroline Sooner. Russell had a twin who died during childbirth. He’d always wanted a brother, and Mike and Todd filled that void.

Halfway to the field, the three picked up enough kids to overflow two baseball benches. Russell kept looking around and over his shoulder. For several weeks, he’d acted as if he thought someone was watching him—perhaps, stalking him. But when he would look around, whatever it was, had vanished. He’d shrug his shoulders and walk off.

Late one night, a noise woke him; he sat straight up and saw that his bedroom window was open.  Russell hit the light and snatched his play sword from the wall over his bed. He tipped around the room—his puppy brown eyes scanning every corner.  He opened his closet door and began poking around with the sword, and then he swished it several times under his bed. Appearing satisfied, he closed and locked his window before climbing back under the covers. He kept the sword by his pillow all night.

Outside, across the Sooners’ backyard, Matthew hopped away on one foot having landed wrong after leaping from the child’s bedroom window. 

"Damn!  Little asshole," he said, struggling to his truck. He leaned against the door and messaged his twisted ankle until he heard a bone snap.

On the way back, Matthew needed to come up with another excuse.  Certainly being surprised by a ten year old with a fake sword wasn't something to tell an impatient witch. He had never bitten a child before and had several arguments with Jewel when he tried to back out of it. As he pulled in front of his home, there were several cars and trucks parked in the driveway. One of those cars belonged to his uncle River. “What now?” he mumbled.  There was shouting coming through the door.  When he opened it, the shouting stopped and all eyes fell on him. Matthew limped across the floor.

“What happened to you?” his mom asked.

“Never mind that.  What’s going on?”

His cousin Rick stood next to Raymond and his mom, Debbie. Everyone seemed angry at each other, and Rick kept his eyes to the floor.

“Is it true?” Dex asked.

“Is what true, Dad?”

“Rick said it was you, him, Raymond and a few other young wolves who attacked the sheriff and his deputies.”

Matthew glanced over at Rick and said nothing. He looked around as if to gather his thoughts so he could speak. Before he could, Rick blurted... “I had to, Matt. They were talking about taking Raymond out and shooting him.  I … I had to tell them it wasn’t just him.”

“What I want to know is how did you get loose?” River asked.

Raymond’s mom, Debbie looked over at River. “I’m afraid, I did that. And I’m not sorry. The Dominions vowed to kill you all. I simply prevented it.”

“By turning our boys loose?" Dex yelled at her. "You could have gotten them killed!"

Debbie smirked. “Oh, I knew those idiots were no match for our boys when I found out they were going to use plain bullets,” she said.

“No match, except your son has half an ear,” River said sharply.

One of the Northern wolves spoke up. “Gee, I wonder where the other half went. Now they know our secret … you stupid bitch.”

Raymond jumped forward with a right cross to the side of the man's face, sending him thudding to the floor. “Nobody talks to my mother that way!”

 The man quickly hopped to his feet, but River stepped in front of him, while Dex held Raymond back.

"That's enough, you two," River snapped.

"I guess that's it," Dex said. "We've been exposed."

Jewel weighed in. “Maybe not. I can break that curse. I know I can.  If ...” she said sarcastically, looking at Matthew, “… I can get that certain little ingredient I need to complete the spell.”

“Matthew sighed, “I’m working on it.”

“You’ve had weeks,” she said.

Matthew appeared agitated. “Okay!  I’ll have it.”

“So this spell ...  it will really work?”  A southern wolf asked. “What is this ingredient? Maybe I can get it.”

“No need. Matt is going to take care of that.  Right Matt?”

“Yes, Aunt Jewel,” he said, tightening his jaw.
*****

To break the tension, someone got the right idea and sent out for beer, liquor and barbecue spare ribs. The crowd began to mingle and chatter; Jewel grabbed Matthew gently by the arm and pushed him in a corner. He limped along making a pain-face with every hop.

“What the hell, Matt? And what’s with that limp?”

“Look, the kid's not stupid. I think he suspects something. I just need a better element of surprise.”

“For a ten year old? Shit!  You’re a werewolf, damn it. I need that kid.” She looked under her lashes at him. "You're stalling."

“No I'm not. I’ll have him by the end of the week. I promise.”

With a look of uncertainty on her face, Jewel left Matthew and rejoined the others. He sat alone near the side entrance. Scotch on the rocks flowed heavily as laughter replaced shouting.  Matthew ran his fingers through his silky, dark hair; his deep blue eyes darted back and forth menacingly.  If Matthew's deep thought expression was any indication, Russell Sooner’s days as a normal little boy was about to end.









 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 15
Blood Moon/Part 1

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)

Sheerfield deputies, who were killed by werewolves, were laid to rest. Sheriff Wayne Tilbert is reluctant to make another move against the wolves without  the Shadow Hunters. And Jewel has put pressure on Matthew to kidnap ten year old Russell Sooner, the missing ingredient for the moon cure.
Jewel is certain she can save the wolves and restore the child.



Mid-April marked the beginning of Little League in Sheerfield City. The sky was cloudy, and a slight chill permeated the baseball diamond at Merryfield Park. Parents sat in their winter clothing and cheered on the home team of ten to twelve year olds. The crowd’s roar filled the air.  Russell Sooner played center for the Sheerfield Cubs; his pals, Mike, played first base, and Todd was its star pitcher.

Most of the crowd were on their feet. Todd leaned forward on the mound, and then did a full wind up for the pitch.

“You can do it, Toddy!” his father yelled.

Todd shot a low pitch that the catcher had to practically scoop out of the dirt.

“Ball one!”

The batter’s relatives yelled encouragements, as the Cub supporters held their breath. Todd nodded to the catcher, and then the wind up and the pitch; the ball barely made the catcher’s glove.

“Struuike!”

“Boooo!” bellowed the guest crowd.

Todd leaned forward. Silence fell over the field. Birds flew quietly over the crowd.  Todd stood a few seconds and gave nod of approval to the catcher, and then the wind up and the pitch.

The batter swung. It was a high fly ball to center field. Russell Sooner went back, and back, and back, and then a one hand catch brought the rest of the crowd to its feet.  The guest crowd shouted disappointments, as the Cub crowd went wild.

Mr. Sooner jumped so high, he nearly fell off the bleachers.  Mrs. Sooner hopped up and down—her  blonde ponytail whipping about, and the Cub bench resounding with ultimate glee.

“Two down and one to go, honey,” Mr. Sooner told his wife. "Way to go, Rusty!" he yelled.

The next batter was up. A hush spread over the park—and for good reason.  It was the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Cubs led by one run, and an earlier batter was still on base. The first win or loss of the first season game had usually set the tone for the remaining season. Everything was riding on this game. The batter had struck out earlier; so, the pressure was on.

The first two pitches were strikes, followed by name-calling aimed at the umpire by the guest crowd, and then death-like silence. The kid took a deep breath. He drew his bat back and glared at the mound.  Todd, looking more seriously than ever before, nodded approval. He leaned forward—the ball in his right hand resting against his knee. Then the wind up, and the 75 MPH ball flashed towards the batter. It was on the outside, but the kid stretched and got a good piece of it on the end of his bat that sent the ball flying high into outfield. The ball flew a little to the right. The right outfielder moved in.
 
"I got it! I got it!" Russell shouted.

The right outfielder backed off. Russell went back, and back, and back, but the ball soared over his head, over the fence and into the woods.  The guest crowd went ballistic as the batters rounded the bases.  Russell’s shoulders sagged.  He stared at the spectacle of heroes being hoisted and carried off the field. There was a small hole in the fence, and he slipped through it to search for the ball, though he didn’t have to. Perhaps, he just wanted to prolong facing his defeated teammates. 

The woods were dark with streaks of light shining through the tops of the tall trees.  Russell searched intently. The white of the ball stood out within the shadow of a thick bush. He made his way towards it.
*****

Hours ticked by. The stars were out, and the temperature had dropped significantly.

“Mrs. Sooner,  I promise you, we are doing everything we can to find Rusty,” Sheriff Tilbert told a hysterical Mrs. Sooner as her husband held her. “We have every deputy and hundreds of volunteers searching the woods right now.”

“Please. Please find our boy,” Mr. Sooner begged before breaking down and hugging his distraught wife.

“I will,” Wayne said.  He turned and walked out of their home.

Wayne had driven a quarter of a mile back to the station, when his phone rang.  He clicked speaker. "Hey, Bob. I could use some good news right about now."

"I'll let you be the judge of that. You remember that strange man we encountered that day when we were out looking for the Shadow Hunters?"

"Sure."

"Well, he contacted me. I told him about our werewolf problem, and he said the Shadow Hunters can't help us."

"What!  I thought they were supposed to be these bad dudes that went around battling evil."

"He said Hunters only deal with supernatural evil, like vampires, demons, or witches, and that werewolves are not evil. They're just a group of innocent men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and pissed off the wrong witch."

"Not evil, huh?  You mean ripping off the head and limbs from a fifteen year old girl.  And doing God knows what with the missing ten year old Sooner boy. Not evil? Is that the not evil he's talking about?"

"I'm just telling you what he said."

"Great! Son of a ...  So, what do we do, just let them run loose until they kill us all?"

"No. Here's the good part."

"Oh, my.  There's a good part. Well, that's nice to hear."

"Wayne, Buddy. Chill.  Now, this guy claims we can defeat them ourselves. Get this; silver nitrate kills werewolves deader than a doornail."

"Silver Nitrate?"

"Yep."

"How does that work?"

"After I got off the phone with the guy, I found this strange website and did some research of my own. According to this mysterious scientist whose name I can't pronounce, you drill a hole in the bullet head, pour in the silver nitrate and seal it with wax.  Once fired, it will hit the target and the wax will melt from the heat and release the fluid."

"Hmm. That sounds simple enough."

"Actually when the bullet explodes inside the body, silver nitrate is injected into the blood stream, damaging vital organs, causing instant incapacitation and a quick agonizing death."

Wayne's face lit up. "Okay, so ... so, where can we get our hands on this stuff?”

"That's the sweet part. They're going to help us the only way they can. They're sending us a whole truck load of everything we'll need, including armor and special weapons."

"Who? Who’s sending it?"

"Wayne, you sound like an owl. The Shadow Hunters, that's who. He said to expect, you ready for this one, the Death Dealer in a couple of weeks."

"Death Dealer?" Wayne chuckled. "He actually said that?"

"I'm just the messenger." Bob snickered.

"Aah, Man. This is too weird. Should we believe this guy? I mean, you think this is a joke?"

"You saw the man, same as I did. He didn't strike me as the court jester."

"Yeah, he did remind me of The Crow."

"So, are we feeling better?" Bob teased.

"Heck yeah! I'll have to try and take this all in, of course. But, hey, Bob. Good job, my man. Keep me posted." 

"Definitely."

Wayne clicked off and immediately dialed his acting chief deputy.  "Karl, contact every deputy, on duty and off duty; drag them out of bed if you have to—but tell them to meet me at the station. Pronto  ....  Yes, NOW!"
*****

It had been four days and four nights since Russell Sooner was reported missing. Mr. Sooner sat in the big armchair next to the fire place—his head bowed. He held a glass of scotch in one hand and an empty scotch bottle in the other.  Mrs. Sooner, who hadn’t spoken a word in days, stood like a statue by Russell’s bedroom window and stared out into the darkness.

Back at Greyscott Falls, Russell Sooner lay unconscious with a high fever and a nasty bite wound to his neck. The boy had put up quite a fight four days earlier after Matthew had turned human and pretended to rescue him minutes after the wolf allegedly ran off. He had kicked Matthew in the groin and cracked him on the head with a rock when Matthew tried to force the boy to go with him. Since time was of the essence, Matthew eventually put the feisty little tiger in a sleeper hold, and carried him off.

Deep in Norwich Forest, several minutes before the full moon, Jewel stood with the Grimoire opened to the moon cure spell, while Beatrice prepared the sacrificial altar. Further away in a mine shaft, the women double chained all of the males and left, sealing the opening of the mine behind them.

Russell groaned and softly called for his mommy.  Under normal circumstances, the child’s plea would have proved heart-wrenching for Jewel, had his life’s blood not been so crucial for the survival of the wolf pack.  The wound on his neck had begun to fester.  His baseball uniform was replaced with a white ceremonial garment which was drenched with the sweat from his fever. The child shivered and moved his head from side to side.  His neck wound pulsated like the beating of a human heart, and pus streamed onto the base of the altar. The smell from the wound choked the air.

"Beatrice, it's time," Jewel commanded. "Prepare the child."







 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 16
Blood Moon/Part 2

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)
Ten year old Russell Sooner was kidnapped while he searched for a baseball in the woods. His parents became frantic when Sheriff Wayne Tilbert, his deputies, and hundreds of volunteers failed to find the boy.  Under a full moon, the women chained the werewolves down in the mine shaft; and Jewel, with the help of Beatrice, prepared Russell for the spell—the wolves only hope for the moon cure.


In the thick tenebrous of Norwick Forest, Russell lay semi-conscious upon the altar and moaned. Beatrice dipped her finger into the crimson pool of werewolf blood and drew an ancient Greek symbol on his forehead—translation, doma, meaning gift.  

After Beatrice prepared the boy, Jewel lifted her Athame and held it up to the sky; the blade glittered in the moonlight. She brought it down, slit the palm of her hand and allowed her blood to spill into a wooden cup of potion. She passed the cup to Beatrice who placed it to Russell's resisting lips—holding his nose until he swallowed. Beatrice cleaned the Athame and returned it to the red velvet case.

Jewel opened the Grimoire to the spell that was written in Greek. She and Beatrice held hands and chanted the incantation.

*****

Deep within the mine shaft, the howling of the chained wolves echoed against the stone ceiling. Three women, Kelly, Rosa and Delveen who had faith in Jewel’s spell returned to the mine to witness the long-desired end to the men's suffering.  The full moon had taken its toll; the men thrashed about—pulling against the chains so hard, some of the rusty links dripped with blood. 

The women huddled against the wall as the men snarled two inch fangs at them—their irises turning a yellowish hue.  The women held fast against the near deafening howls.  But the sound of several chains spilling to the gravel floor sent them running for the only exit. 

Once outside, they locked the door and drove their van in front of it. They sat in the van holding hands and prayed to the goddess. Within a few minutes into their praying, several wolves violently shook the door—causing the van to rock. Then one by one, nails popped out of the door hinge; the women broke hands and screamed for Delveen to take off. The tires created a mini dust storm as the van jetted away. 

Because Jewel and Beatrice were Covenant witches, they were over their heads with this new spell. Only sorcerers knew the danger of using the spell alone; it had affected the moon and had given some older and stronger wolves more strength; doubled chains and a locked door could not hold them. Unknown to Jewel, a second spell was needed to mystify the chains before casting the moon spell; it was the same spell evil witches used to imprison demonic traitors.

The van wove in and out as Delveen's hands shook uncontrollably. Rosa’s paranoia, seeing wolves at every turn, didn’t help. Delveen eased on the brake while rounding a sharp curve, but lost control of the wheel when she swerved to avoid hitting a deer. She crashed into a tree and was knocked unconscious.  Kelly opened the door and jumped out of the back seat.  She tried opening the driver's side, but it was jammed. She jerked on it several times before it opened.  "Don't just sit there, help me!" She yelled to Rosa.

Rosa sat staring like she was frozen. Kelly reached across the unconscious woman and slapped Rosa across the face. Rosa appeared to come out of her weird state of mind; she scrambled out of the car and hurried around to help. They dragged Delveen out and lifted her onto the back seat. Then Kelly got into the driver's seat and turned the key—nothing happened.  She tried numerous times—but nothing.

"I think I saw something!" Rosa said, looking into the rear view mirror.

"What? What?"

"May .... Maybe I didn't. I'm not sure. Can we just go? Please!"

"I'm trying to, damn it!" Kelly snapped. After a few more tries, she leaned back. "I think its dead."

"No!  This can't be happening."

"It's ...  it's going to be fine."

"Fine? It's not going to be fine. No one knows we're out here; and even if they did, no one will come for us. Why did I listen to you? Why?" 

"I'm sorry. I got us into this. I'll get us out."

"How?" Rosa snapped. "You said there was no way they could get out of those chains."

Before Kelly could answer, Delveen eased up into a sitting position—blood streaming down her face. "What happened?"  she asked, grabbing her head.

"We're going to die. That's what," Rosa chuckled coldly.

They sat quietly in the dark with Delveen weaving in a daze.

*****

The chanting became more intense. The spell formed into a green mist, rose and hovered over the altar. Then suddenly the clouds parted, as if the moon had blown them away. Jewel's irises rolled to the back of her head and remained. They looked like two tiny boiled eggs in their slits. A thick fog gathered at the foot of the altar, and the boy rose several inches in the air. Lightning cracked the sky; thunder roared like a thousand bears in mortal combat. Rain came down—heavy as hail, tearing branches from trees. But the sacred altar remained dry; the green mist acted as its roof top—hard as concrete and slick as a duck's back.

The boy ascended several feet. Lightning lit up the sky as bright as daybreak; some trees caught fire and split in two. He rolled straight up into a standing position stiff as a board, in mid-air—his hands at his side—fingers pointing downward. His eyes flashed open: first all-white, then totally black. He grinned sinisterly, showing tiny sharp fangs. Then the rain turned to blood. It colored the clouds that moved across the moon—making it appear a crimson red. Another roar of thunder and a flash of lightning blew a car-size hole in the dirt a few feet from the altar. A red mass like a man-size blood clot rose out of the ground and formed into a body with no face. It floated over to the boy; without eyes, it appeared to read the child's forehead. Then the child willingly opened his mouth, and a hole in the creature's face sucked his soul like vacuuming white smoke from a chimney.

*****


Kelly and Rosa sat like statues and chanted to the goddess as the blood rain beat hard against the van, tinting the windows. Delveen had passed out a second time and lay on the backseat.

A startling bump hit the van like a ramming bull. The jolt knocked the women against the dash board. 

"What was that!?" Rosa shouted.

Kelly said nothing—just peered nervously around the car, not being able to see out of the windows. Then the van rocked back and forth, shot up in the air seven feet, and then slammed to the ground.

"It's the wolves! They're out! Great goddess, help us!" Rosa bellowed.

Massive paws wiped the blood from the windows; snouts, fangs and yellow eyes mashed against the glass. Kelly was a minor witch and didn't have strong abilities. She said an incantation that mystified the van, protecting the doors and windows. The wolves surrounded the van and struck hard blows against the panes and tried ripping out the doors, but the van held.

"Are we safe now?" Rosa asked.

"Not really! It will only hold a short while."

"What?" Rosa’s eyes grew wide as she stared into the beastly faces—their snarling mouths dripping Saliva. "Oh Kelly, we were fools to come out here. I don't think the spell worked."

Kelly reached into the glove compartment and pulled out three silver knives. "Here, take this. This will buy us some time."

"O' ... okay."

"You crawl in the back with Delveen. Any part of them that comes through a window, don't hesitate. You stab."

Rosa nodded. She let the seat back as far as it would go and climbed over and onto the back seat. She gently shoved Delveen to the floor. The blood rain continued to pour like every blood bank in the world had exploded over Grey Scott Falls. Rosa kept looking quickly from window to window, holding the knife up in her hand. She made little stabs in the air liked she was practicing.

Kelly straddled the center console, holding knives in both hands. She looked straight ahead, letting her peripheral vision take care of the side windows. The wolves saw the knives but were too driven out of their minds for blood to back off. They would simply have to feel that sting of death. Not being able to get to the women, enraged them and they started beating the glass again. The banging went on for nearly twenty minutes like bombs bursting in rapid succession, but the windows held. 

Lightning struck a tree and sent it crashing in front of the car.  The burning tree was totally ignored by the wolves that were too focused on devouring the women. Suddenly, a tiny crack etched into the windshield.

"The spell is fading. Get ready!" Kelly said, panting deeply.

Rosa's lips quivered as a small crack pierced the window to the right of her. "Mine’s cracking too," she said in a child-like voice.

"Okay, just do what I said."

Rosa watched tiny cracks slowly snake across the window like someone had speeded up a video of an invisible spider spinning a web. "It's crac...king."  Then the windows appeared like a poorly constructed road map. "It's really cracking," Rosa cried.

Kelly said nothing, but stared straight into the beastly faces as they pounded the windshield.  Every window began to look like crushed ice. And the women held their breath and tightened their grips on their daggers. The spell was still holding, but only by a thread.

Suddenly the back right window caved. The blood rain splashed through, blinding Rosa temporarily. Her eyes wide as saucers, she jumped back, exposing the unconscious woman.

Only one wolf at a time could fit through the small window. A huge dark paw shot in; it could barely reach Rosa. But the tip of its claws raked across her face. She gritted her teeth and stabbed the paw—sending the wolf howling back like an injured pup.  Another paw reached in and took a swipe--attempting to knock the knife out of her hand. Rosa sliced it open.  Another window caved. Kelly braced herself and cut the first snout that forced through the window. One by one the other windows followed suit, and a wolf was in every opening.  The women fought for their lives. Their silver blades glittered as they sliced and stabbed in every direction like lightning itself was defending them; claws and fangs slashed the women's hands and arms as they fought desperately to stay alive. 

Then everything stopped; the wolves rescinded.  The injured ones lay on the ground in fetal positions, shaking from the effects of the silver. The women were ankle high in blood that continued to pour through the shattered windows. Partly blind from the blood rain getting into her eyes, Kelly wiped her stained face with the back of her hand. She kept blinking as she waited for another attack. The wolves looked upon their fallen brothers, and then slowly turning their heads, glared at the women—baring the full length of their fangs.

"Shit!" Kelly whispered.

"Here they come!" Rosa said. But this time, she snarled right back at them.

Several wolves rushed towards them. The women readied themselves, but it was a trick. The wolves lifted the van over their heads—tilting it then shook it violently so the women would fall out through the windows.

"Hold on!" Kelly yelled. She dropped one knife so she could hold on.  Her hand started to slip. Quickly grabbing with the other hand caused the second knife to fall. It pinged when it hit the concrete.

"Delveen! No!" Rosa yelled as she helplessly watched Delveen’s limp body slide through the opening and spill onto the ground.

Rosa screamed hysterically and deliberately let go, viciously slashing a wolf. As he fell, she landed on top of him and rolled off.  He lay howling in pain.  Every muscle in Kelly's arm quivered as she tried to hold on. But her fingers weakened and she tumbled out. The wolves tossed the 4500 lb. Dodge Caravan aside like a toy.  They slowly surrounded the women, snarling loudly, their yellow eyes all aflame, and strings of saliva dripped from their opened mouths. Rosa held the dagger out in front of her and stabbed at them, but was attacked from behind. One sunk his teeth into her shoulder, while another slashed her arm causing her to drop the blade.  A group of wolves descended upon Kelly; she lowered her head and cracked her face into a cry, their hot breaths just inches from her head. She looked over at Rosa who was covered in wolves. Kelly tightened her jaw and waited for the first bite, when suddenly the blood rain turned to water and drove the blood out of her eyes. The wolves, still inches from her face, were frozen like some mysterious mechanism had switched them all off at the same time. They seemed in a trance.

They looked up at the sky with amazement. A red cloud slowly parted, revealing a sparkling white glorious moon.  They appeared to suddenly lose interest in the women; some turned about in a circle like they were confused. Some closed their eyes, letting the rain wash against their faces. When they opened them, their eyes were brown and blue again.  Rosa pulled away from her now bewildered attackers.  She scrambled to Delveen on her knees and gathered her up in her arms. Kelly crawled to Rosa's side. The women sat huddled and held each other as the beasts appeared to be mesmerized by the moon.

The wolves stood on hind legs with their paws in the air—then on feet with hands in the air. Their naked bodies were free of fur; their bones cracked, connecting back into shapes of men. Their opened-mouth smiles welcomed the full moon for the first time. They swallowed the rain as if it could cleanse their souls from centuries of bloodlust and shame. The thunder and lightning stopped; the rain became like a spring shower. The blood washed into the earth and disappeared.

*****







 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 17
New Beginnings

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)
Ten-year-old Russell Sooner was kidnapped and used in the spell to end the werewolf moon curse. Jewel believed she could end the curse and trick the demon that required the child's life. Unbeknown to Jewel, the downside of the spell was that it temporarily made a few older wolves stronger, causing them to break the chains and attack three innocent women. Luckily for the women, a minor spell and silver knives bought them some time, and not a minute too soon.


The Ford Explorer rounded the curve then picked up speed. Matthew Porter's elbow rested leisurely on the black, rubber lip of the opened window. The cool wind parted his thick, dark hair. The noon sky was full of birds as if nothing strange or unusual had happened the night before. As if no blood drops had fallen from crimson clouds—no thunder or lightning—no werewolves, no demons, and no women in peril. But it had happened. And Matthew, along with all the other wolves in Grey Scott Falls, was damn better for it.

He looked up into the powder blue heavens and smiled. Then his forehead wrinkled when he checked his speed after noticing red and blue lights flashing in his side view mirror. The white patrol car with Sheerfield City Police written in big green letters sped up beside him.

"Pull over!" Chief Deputy Dwayne Heller yelled from the patrol car megaphone.

Matthew hesitated.

"I said pull over, damn it!"

Matthew looked to his right before crossing the lane. He flashed his signal lights and the driver in the next lane, observing his dilemma, politely fell back. Matthew cruised over and onto the arm of the road. The flashing police lights made it easier for Dwayne to cruise over every lane. He pulled the patrol car in behind Matthew and scrambled out with his gun drawn.

"Turn the car off and unbutton your seat belt!" he yelled with both hands on his gun, his arm straight out.

Matthew turned the key, but left it in the ignition. He kept his eyes on the deputy in his side mirror and slowly clicked off his seatbelt. Dwayne eased up to the driver's window and motioned with his gun. "Keep your hands where I can see them."  Matthew placed his hands on the steering wheel.

"Keep your right hand where I can see it and unlock the door with your left hand, now!" Dwayne shouted, pushing the gun closer to Matthew's face.

"All right, all right," Matthew snapped. He slowly brought his left hand down and unlocked the door.

"Unlock the door!"

"I did already."

Dwayne opened the door, still holding the gun on him. "Get out of the car!"

Several police cars suddenly appeared and skidded to a halt. Doors flew open—one facing his van, the others blocked two of the three lanes. Miles of traffic slowed to a crawl. Buses, cars, trucks, motor cycles, and tractor trailers were all forced to use one lane. Many slowed down to signify.

"Keep moving people," an officer commanded. "Police business. Keep moving," he said, waving them on.

Matthew stood facing Dwayne. "Turn around and put your hands behind your head!" Dwayne ordered.

Instead, he took a step towards Dwayne and attempted to reason.

This misinterpreted action sent fellow officers into a frenzy.  "Step back!" "Get down on the ground!" Get your ass down. Now!"  "Keep your hands behind your head!" "Don't move!"  "I'll blow your damn head off," each shouted—their faces flushed their eyes wild and wide.

Dust kicked up in Matthew's face as he lay on the ground with his hands behind his head. They surrounded him with their guns drawn. More patrol cars rolled up, and the sound of a helicopter blade roared above him.

Dwayne holstered his gun and bent over him.  "You got any weapons on you?"

"No." 

He smoothed his hands up and down Matthew's faded blue jeans then squeezed the top of his boots.

"Any drugs? Anything in your pockets that can stick me?" he continued, turning Matthew's pockets inside out.

"No."

"Any weapons in your car?"

"Yeah. A rifle—hunting rifle."

Dwayne stood up. He brushed past one of the officers, walked over to the van, reached in and popped the hood. A stout officer raised the hood of the trunk, while another searched it. After pushing aside a blanket, some hunting knives, and other non-incriminating objects, the officer yelled, "Got it!" He held the Beanfield Sniper up in the air like he had won a trophy.

A tall female deputy scurried up to the front passenger side of Matthew's van and pulled open the door. Russell Sooner sat buckled in, with a dripping vanilla ice cream cone in his hand and dressed in his baseball uniform. "Hey little guy, are you all right?" Her stern police face melted when he flashed his baby blues and nodded.

*****

When Mr. and Mrs. Sooner got the call, they rushed to Sheerfield Holy Cross Medical Center where Dwayne had taken Russell for a routine victim examination. Minutes before the Sooners got there, Russell had sat quietly in the examination room in a teddy bear and balloon hospital gown, eating a cookie and had several medical personnel at his beck and call.

Mr. Sooner, who hadn't shaved in weeks, ran up to the nurse’s station. Mrs. Sooner, no make-up and wiry blonde hair (with its dark roots) hanging raggedly down her back, fell in beside him.

"We're here for our boy, Russell Sooner," Mr. Sooner blurted, panting heavily.

The nurse looked up from noting something on a chart. "Oh, yes of course, Mr. and Mrs. Sooner," Russell is in room three sixteen," she said pointing. They ran down the hall where they encountered an officer stationed outside the room. He looked at them sternly.

"We're Russell's parents," Mr. Sooner said.

The officer's eyes softened and he stepped aside. The Sooners entered the room where Russell sat side saddled on a tan hippo with pink toe nails, a smiling face and big brown eyes. The top of it was the exam table. The walls were light purple with a dark purple wall border scattered with little yellow daises. One wall had a painted green-leaf tree filled with blue Jays. The other, a painting of a toy doctor's kit. There were multi-colored chart holders on the doors of the wall cabinet. A male nurse who had just finished taking Russell's vitals for the third time, watched the boy's face light up when his parents grabbed him, smothered him with hugs and kisses—tears flowing down their faces. The nurse stood back and let loose a beaming smile.

"My baby," Mrs. Sooner cried.  Her eyes flashed up at the nurse. "Is he all right?"

"He had a slight temperature when he arrived, but it's normal now."

"Oh thank God," she said, kissing Russell's pink cheeks. Mr. Sooner joined in with a squeeze.

The staff on the children’s wing  was said to have cheered loudly after learning of Russell's safe return. After a few moments, the doctor entered the room and appeared to enjoy the Sooners' celebration. "Don't mean to interrupt, but I'm doctor Lorac," she said smiling and extending her hand to Mr. Sooner. He shook it, and then she reached past him and shook the hand of Mrs. Sooner.

"Doctor Lorac, I was just telling my husband that Rusty seems fine. And the nurse says his vitals are normal. Is there any reason why we can't take him home today?"

Doctor Lorac, looking quite serious, pulled up a chair and opened Russell's chart. Mr. Sooner scooted next to his wife and cupped her hand. Russell sat with his legs folded under him, sipping a juice the nurse had given him. The only noise was the wheels of a pushed, blue elephant medicine cart as it rolled by.
*****

Matthew sat handcuffed to a chair at the police station. Sheriff Tilbert and Chief Deputy Heller sat across from him while several deputies watched from a two-way mirror outside the room.

"Now, let's start at the beginning, shall we?"  Wayne said, attempting to wear Matthew down until he got the truth.

Matthew dropped his head and looked off. "I'm not telling that story again. Either charge me with something, or let me go."

"You're not going anywhere you pervert piece of shit," Dwayne said walking over to him with his fist clenched.

Wayne grabbed Dwayne by the shoulder and pulled him back. "No call for that.” Dwayne stepped back, but gave Matthew the evil eye.

"Now," Wayne said, "after you found him wandering by the side of the road, then what?"

Matthew blew out hard. "I told you. I asked the kid if he were lost. He didn't speak at first, just looked at me like he was in a daze or something. I asked him his name and where he lived, and he told me.  He agreed to a ride home.  On the way there, I ran into you guys... and now I'm here. End of story." Matthew flopped back in his chair and waited for a response.

“You want us to believe this kid willingly got into your car...a stranger...someone he's never seen before?” Dwayne interjected.

Matthew said nothing. He tapped his handcuffs nervously against the side of the chair.

"Stop that!" Dwayne ordered him.

Matthew sat still and stared off.

There was a long pause. Dwayne studied Wayne's face. Matthew scooted around in his chair and swallowed hard. Wayne stared at Matthew then sucked his teeth and said, "Let him go."

Dwayne's heavy voice hit a high note. "What!"

Outside the two-way mirror hands went up in the air, and mouths dropped.

"You can't be serious."

"Look, the boy doesn't remember a thing. The doc says there's no physical evidence that the child's been harmed in anyway. And this guy doesn't even have a freaking parking ticket. So, what the hell am I supposed to do?"

"The kid doesn't remember anything because Mr. Dirt Bag over there probably drugged him or something."

"We don't know that."

"Holy Moses!" Dwayne smacked his palm with his fist, and glared at Matthew.

"Let it go, Dwayne. I mean it.  If the kid remembers anything, and we need to arrest him--we know where he is. Oh, and that reminds me," Wayne said, turning to Matthew, "Don't leave town." Turning back to Dwayne he said, "Now, get his ass out of here." Wayne walked out of the door and into the gazes of disappointment. They stared at him as if he'd just turned Jack The Ripper loose in a whore house.

"Anybody got something to say to me?" Wayne announced, his fists on his hips, his eyes blazing over their faces.

The staff broke and scattered in multiple directions. Wayne stormed into his office and slammed the door so hard, a picture of the mayor slid off the wall.








 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield City and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield City:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield City
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield City Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org


Chapter 18
Silent Victory

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)
Thanks to Jewel and Beatrice, the moon curse is broken. The werewolves are in no danger of Sheriff Wayne Tilbert and the Sheerfield County Police discovering their secret.  The wolves can shapeshift at will, but are no longer slaves to a monstrous full moon. And Russell Sooner is alive and well—that is, as well as a little werewolf can be, and back into the loving arms of his unsuspecting parents.  At last, all seems quiet in New Berwick.

 
River Porter couldn’t get enough of the bright full moon. It was the beginning of a series of new nights for him and his wolf pack. Families of wolves camped out and sat around a crackling fire roasting lamb, guzzling beer, singing and rejoicing in their new found freedom from the curse of the moon, while their children played night ball nearby.  It was the first time the pack had witnessed what other creatures had known for centuries—just how beautiful and glorious the full moon could be without dreading its curse of shapeshifting, violence and bloodlust.

River took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The night air filled his lungs with ecstasy and the fragrance of joy. Jewel joined him on the patio. She placed her head upon his shoulder and spoke to him softly.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.  “The goddess has forgiven us and has granted me a son.”

River’s eyes glassed over.  A warm pool of tears streamed down his cheeks. Without looking at her, he slipped his arm around her waist and held her at his side. They stood blank-faced and gazed at the moon. He kissed her forehead many times as they listened to the high-pitched laughter of their nearby neighbors. Neither spoke for hours.
*****

On the edge of Norwick Forrest near Hamstead Creek, the young adult wolves held their own party away from the prying eyes of their parents. Interpol's rock classic, All Fired Up, defined the mood as a young blonde scooted by and shoved fresh cold bottles of beer into Matthew's and Kayla's hands, then pranced off shoving one into each hand that was reaching.

The night wind lightly brushed against Kayla's hair. Matthew threw his head back and downed his beer in one breath, then tossed the empty bottle into the trash basket. He grabbed Kayla and pulled her gently to his chest. She let the half empty beer bottle slip from her fingers to the grass. He parted his lips and took hers into the warmth of his mouth. She moaned and wrapped her arms around his neck. The torrid sounds of the rock album helped them lose themselves in the sweetness of their own world. He kissed her long and passionately. She broke away momentarily and rested her cheek against his chin. She pulled back a little and noticed his gaze.

"Why do you keep looking up and smiling? You act as if you've never seen the moon before."

"Oh, be... because I'm happy to be with the most beautiful girl in the world," he stammered, looking down at her.

"Then...shouldn't you be looking at me," she teased, cocking her head to one side.

He grabbed her by the waist and lifted her above his head. "You're right," he said, smiling at her. She giggled as he brought her down to earth.

He gently pushed her down on the grass--tumbling on top of her. His body pressed against hers and he smothered her neck and shoulders with multiple kisses. She ran her fingers through his dark hair and tightened them around the locks. She pushed him away playfully and pouted her full lips like he'd been naughty.

"I've missed you," she said. "I thought you were avoiding me."

"No. I just had some urgent family matters I had to deal with. I'll make it up to you. I promise."

She looked over at him and frowned. "I hope nothing too serious."

He sat up. She popped up and slid next to him. The light of the moon, mixed with the park lights, loomed above them. Earlier, Matthew had explained to his cousin Rick why he wanted to tell Kayla he was a werewolf, but Rick advised against it. He told Matthew that human girls simply couldn't be trusted with a secret--especially one as delicate as theirs. Matthew disagreed. He would wait for the right moment, he told Rick. Matthew was sure she'd understand. Their love for each other was stronger than any secret. I hope you know what you're doing, Rick had warned.

"Hey. Earth to Matthew. Come in," Kayla joked.

His mind snapped back to the moment, and he looked over at her. Then playfully pushed her back onto the grass and stroked the night lights from her hair. "I'm sorry," he said, flashing his perfect white smile.

"Where were you just then?"

"I was lost in the beauty of your love," he said, clowning.

"Liar." She playfully smacked his face, and they rolled about on the grass kissing and wrestling.
*****

Doctor Lorac was just about to have a nightcap when her doorbell rang.

“Who the devil is that at this hour?” she thought out loud.

She walked briskly to the door and peeked through the peep hole. It was Charlton Daniels, the young Pathologist from the medical center. She unbolted the door, undid the night chain and opened it.

“Charlie?”

“Doctor Lorac, may I come in? It will only take a minute. I promise.”

Doctor Lorac moved aside. “Of course,” she said. “Come in.”

He wiped his feet before stepping onto the shiny hardwood floor. She closed the door then gestured to him. “Please, have a seat. “  As he turned and walked over to the multi-colored sofa, she said, following closely behind him, “Can I get you a Brandy? I was about to have one myself.”

“Yes, thank you. And make mine a double if you don't mind," he said, giving the living room a good looking over.

Doctor Lorac frowned as she walked over to the Brookfield bar and poured Brandy into two short, thick glasses. She walked back and handed one to Charlton. After a few gulps, he leaned forward and gazed down into the glass; his eyes appeared to be searching. She eased down in a high back chair facing him and took a sip of her drink. He looked up at her.

“Doctor Lorac, you’ve known me a long time. I…I mean at least a few years.” He stopped and took another gulp. Doctor Lorac sat watching him under her dark lashes—her eyes fixed on his mouth. He continued. “What I’m about to tell you is going to sound crazy, I know. But I…I beg you to hear me out.”

“Charlie, what on earth has gotten you so overwrought?”

“Just hear me out,” he said, then drained his glass. “You know the Sooner boy’s blood sample you sent me?”

“Yes. What about it?”

“Well, I lied about the results.”

“What do you mean, you lied?”

“Two of the blood collection tubes were missing labels. I'm not sure what happened.  I checked the list and saw whose labels were missing. So, I went down to the children's ward, found the two kids and drew their blood again. Both hated being stuck a second time, by the way. If their little pouts could kill, I'd be dead."

“Okay, but you stated that Sooner's results were normal. Now, you're telling me you lied. Why?”

“I didn’t know what else to do.” Charlton looked at her sternly without batting an eye. “The truth is, Doctor Lorac, the blood is not human. I know it sounds incredible, but I tested it three times to make sure. And...and, I'm telling you, it's not human. I'm going to take it to the state lab and get their opinion, but I wanted to run it by you first." Charlton took a deep breath and waited for her response.

Doctor Lorac just stared at him at first, then she slowly placed her drink on the glass end table and shot up from the chair. “Charlie,” she said, walking swiftly to the door, “I think you should go home and get some sleep. And I wouldn't mention this to anybody else if I were you.” She pulled open the door and stood with the knob still in her hand.

Charlton rose, walked to the door and stood facing her. “Doctor Lorac, what I've told you seems ridiculous, but I can assure you…”

“Good night, Charlie,” she said, avoiding his eyes.

The night air breezed through the door as she held it open. Charlton lowered his head and eased by her. “Good night, Doctor Lorac. Sorry I bothered you,” he said. He walked slowly out into the night. She closed the door behind him then casually walked over to the kitchen nook, picked up the phone and dialed. She drummed her fingers on the counter as it rang.

The ringing broke through the dark silence of the bedroom. A sleepy Jewel rolled over from beneath the arm of her husband. She lifted her head from the pillow and turned on the light. She clicked the phone. “Hello,” she said in a whispery voice.

“Jewel, wake River. We’ve got a problem.”
*****








 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 19
Fright

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)
The wolves are enjoying their new freedom from the moon curse, quite unaware that another problem: A young Pathologist could reveal the Sooner boy's inhuman blood (He’s a little werewolf). This could derail everything Jewel and the wolves have done to keep their secret. Someone has to stop the Pathologist from getting that blood sample to the state lab.  A frightened Dr. Sally Lorac woke Jewel at mid-night with a phone call to warn her that the secret of the wolves could be uncovered.


Jewel blinked several times to clear her eyes.  She swung her legs from under the covers and sat on the edge of the bed. The fluff of the scatter rug slipped between her toes when she placed her feet on the floor. River quietly snored behind her. Half-awake now, Jewel switched the phone to her other ear. “What do you mean we’ve got a problem?” she asked.

“Charlie Daniels, the pathologist at the medical center, was just here. He was all pale and looked as if he’d seen a ghost,” Dr. Lorac said.

“You’re waking me …” she looked over at the clock, “… twelve o’clock at night to tell me you had a visitor?”

“Jewel, please. Don’t be ridiculous.  Just listen. Charlie has discovered the Sooner boy’s inhuman blood and …”

“What! You were supposed to take care of that.”

“I did, damn it. I switched a tube of my own blood.”

“Then what happened?”

“Somehow the label fell off two of the collection tubes—one was Russell Sooner’s and another child’s.  Charlie went back to the children’s ward and drew their blood again. So …”

“… Are you telling me that this pathologist actually tested Russell’s blood?”

“I’m afraid so. Jewel, I’m sorry. I really thought I had it covered.”

Jewel’s shoulders slumped. She left the edge of the bed, walked across the room and stood in front of the bedroom window. The temperature of the floor chilled her bare feet and woke her more. “It’s not your fault,” she said, running her fingers through her hair. “What are the odds that his blood sample would be in one of the tubes with a missing label?”

Dr. Lorac strolled over to the overstuffed chair and sat down. She leaned back and crossed her legs. “I’ll do whatever you want to make this right,” she said, grabbing her glass of Brandy from the end table. “Just tell me what you want me to do.” She took a gulp of her drink and waited for Jewel to answer.

“No, you’ve done your part.  As I said, it wasn’t your fault. I’ll tell River and we’ll take it from here.”

“You’d better hurry then. I told Charlie not to mention it to anyone. But from the looks of him a few minutes ago, I don’t think he can sit on this. He said something about taking the sample to the state lab.”

Jewel turned quickly from the window and slowly walked back towards the bed where River stirred. He lifted his head from the pillow and widened his eyes at her. “Who the hell is that at this hour?”

“Just a minute,” she said, crinkling her face at him.   "He’s got to be stopped, Sally.”

“Sally? Who’s got to be stopped?" River asked, yawning.

Jewel shushed him with a wave of her hand. She turned her attention back to Dr. Lorac. “When is he taking it to the state lab?”

“He didn't say exactly. They're closed on weekends.  He can't do anything until Monday anyway.”

"Thank the stars for that. It gives us just enough time to stop him. Thanks for the heads up, Sally.” Jewel clicked off and laid the phone on the night table. She flopped down on the bed facing River.

River sat up and put his pillow behind his back. “Now, can you tell me what’s going on ... and what Sally wanted that’s gotten you so spooked?”

“You’re not going to like this,” she said, shaking her head.

“Shit! Now what?”

“Something happened with the switched blood sample and Charlie, that’s the pathologist, tested Russell’s blood."

"How the hell did that happen?"

"Does it really matter?"

“And now he knows.” River said, avoiding her eyes.  “Anyone else know?”

“I don’t think so. Whoever he tells is not going to believe him. But, Sally thinks he might be planning on taking the sample to the state lab Monday morning.”

“Which means,” River said, looking off and staring deviously, “I have to keep that from happening.”

She playfully flashed her blue eyes at him. “I was hoping you’d say that, husband dear. Problem solved.” She slid under the covers.

“Oh, just like that, huh. I get to clean up the mess?”

“It’s so nice to have a wolf around the house,” she joked.

“Yeah, especially when witches screw up.”

She turned to him sharply. “You take that back.”

“Make me," he chuckled.

Jewel quickly sat up, grabbed her pillow and hit River over the head several times until he, all the while laughing, apologized.  He pulled the pillow from her hand and placed it back behind her. She clicked off the light. He gathered her in his arms, and they huddled together under the covers.

“What are you planning on doing?” she asked, snuggling up to him.

“I’ll call Dex, Rick, Matt and a few other wolves. See what we can come up with."

“You’re not going to hurt him?” Her voice was somewhat poignant.

“That depends on him.”

“River, promise me you won’t hurt him.”

River sighed, but said nothing.

Jewel's voice rose.  “River!”

“All right,” he said. “I won’t draw blood.”

“Is that the best yes you can give me?”

River kissed her on the forehead, rolled over on his side of the bed and pulled the covers up over his shoulder.  Jewel blew out hard, pulled the covers up to her chin and closed her eyes.
*****

The next day, in the afternoon, Dex, Matthew, Rick and six other wolves gathered in River’s house, in the clubroom, where they had been summoned earlier that morning.  The girls were at the movies, and Jewel was out with Beatrice baby shopping. The men sat on the dark, u-shape, sectional sofa—each nursing a cold bottle of beer.  River stood in front of them, leaning against the bar. He took a swig of his beer, then placed the bottle on the marble counter. His forehead wrinkled and he gently bit his lower lip before speaking.

“This better be good, River. I gotta get those trout home for dinner,” Dex said, smelling like a fish market.

"I have bad news. And I need you guy's help.”

“Oh shit! What is it now?” Dex blurted.

“Sally, Doctor Lorac to most of you, called Jewel last night with some depressing news." The men sat listening, swilling beer, their faces  turning grim as River slowly spilled the details.

“So, where do you want the body buried?" Rick said with a smirk.

"Negative. Jewel made me promise not to hurt him."

One of the other wolves spoke up. “You think this guy’s gonna just hand the tube over? What do you mean, don’t hurt him?”

“Of course we may have to hurt him. But I promised Jewel I wouldn’t draw blood.”

“You always do what your wife says?” a young wolf blasted him.

"If I don’t want to be turned into a little green frog—yeah."

"Haaah!" the men's laughter echoed beyond the room.

“I’m sure glad witchcraft skipped over my wife,” said another wolf.

"Yeah, but it landed on your mother-in-law. Isn't Mommy Dearest still living with you and Nancy?"

More laughter erupted and lots of high-fives at that remark. Everyone knew his mother-in-law called the shots.

“No wonder you’re home prompt every night,” Rick teased.

Matthew weighed in. “And all this time I thought it was Nancy making you toe the line.”

The room erupted with more laughter and hand slaps. The young wolf took the teasing on the chin and cracked a half-smile.

“All right, all right. Let’s get back to the problem at hand,” River scolded.

But then an older wolf took a stand. He stood with his chest out--his dark hair frosty with grey. “See, that’s what’s wrong with you young pups today. You’re not real wolves. Now, in my day, a wolf ruled his home. Take my wife’s mother. She lived with us for a while. And one day she opened her mouth once too often.  I grabbed her by the neck ...”

“And did you snap it?” a young wolf asked.

“Well, no. But she knew I wanted to.”

 “Aah!” The wolves yelled with disappointment, followed by loud laughter, boos and their hands waving the old wolf to sit down.

River banged his fist on the bar several times. “Okay, guys, guys, settle down. Now, this is important. This blood tube thing could affect us all. Please, fellas.”

“River is right,” Dex said. “And no more beer until the meeting is over.”

"Nah!" the men buzzed with disappointment, but finally sat quietly with ears tuned-in. River verbally laid out his plan, with suggestions coming from the other wolves. Nearly an hour passed--a little scheme was drafted, and the men, after guzzling more beer, soon left and went their way.
*****
The weekend faded quickly.  Monday morning rose with an orange sun. Charlton Daniels sat seven floors high in his luxury condo and sipped a cup of freshly brewed coffee while sitting at the table on his balcony facing a quiet creek. He kept twisting the blood tube between his thumb and fingers, looking at it like it held some deep, life altering secret. The ringing of his phone startled him out of his deep thought. He laid the tube by the sugar bowl and clicked his phone. Charlton frowned after seeing the name. "Doctor Lorac?"

"Charlie, good morning. I want to apologize for the way I acted the other night and to tell you that if you insist on taking the blood sample to the state lab today, there's a short cut that can get you there faster. I know you don't want to be driving all morning."

"Thank you. That's very kind. I wasn't aware of a short cut."

"It's a back road, behind Norwick Forest.  Not too many people use it. I doubt, even know about it."

 "I think I know where that is."

"With your GPS system, you shouldn't have any problems finding the lab from there."

"Thank you again, Dr. Lorac.  Awe, actually, I was just about to leave ... "

"Oh, of course. I don't want to hold you up. We'll talk later."


"Sure thing." Charlton clicked off and drank the rest of his coffee. He put the tube in a small brown envelope and slid the envelope inside his sports coat pocket.  He walked from the balcony to the back of the kitchen where he stepped into a private elevator and rode down to the garage.

Dr. Lorac immediately phoned River who was standing by. "He bought it," she said.

"Good, we're on our way."

*****








 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 20
Dead Man's Creek

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapter)
Jewel used ten year old Russell Sooner to break the moon curse.  A pathologist, Charlton (Charlie) Daniels, accidentally tested Russell’s blood sample when the fake sample was discarded.  Freaked out by the discovery of the boy’s inhuman blood, Daniels is on his way to the state lab to get a second opinion. This discovery would not only out Russell but would cast a net over the entire werewolf population. Dr. Sally Lorac alerted Jewel. Now the wolves are out to stop the pathologist from taking the sample to the state lab.


Charlton pulled out of the garage onto the quiet street. Up ahead, the caution light had been yellow too long for him to beat the red. He eased up to the light and stopped—his left elbow resting on the black rubber of the opened window. The light changed, and he drove a block, then made a left on Kingston Road. He drove several more blocks and made a right on Moonhawk Drive. Twenty minutes into his journey, his phone rang. He clicked speaker.  “Hello,” Charlton said without checking the ID.

“Charlie,” a husky male voice called.

“Ben. I heard you were back. How was your trip?”

“Ah—just fine."

"That's good."

"I ... um ... called your office and they said you weren’t coming in today. You’re not sick or anything?”

“Oh, no. I’m taking a blood sample up to the state lab."

"Boy. You're in for a long drive. No wonder you took the whole day."

"Not really. Doctor Lorac told me about this short cut behind Norwick Forest  ...”

“Norwick Forest? Doctor Lorac told you that?”

“Yeah.”

“You sure you understood her correctly? Sally’s lived here all her life. There’s nothing back there except a swamp and some dead trees. Doesn’t take you anywhere.”

“Are you certain?

“I’m positive. That’s why so many folks around here call it Dead Man’s Creek.  Check with her again.  It’s probably just a miscommunication.  Anyway, I’ve got to get to a meeting. But the only way to the state lab from Sheerfield is I-83 North—straight shot.”

"Eighty-three North. Got it. Thanks, Ben.” 

“My pleasure. Talk to you soon.”

Charlton, his face now devoid of expression, clicked off and laid the phone aside. Coming to a stop sign, he mashed his brake. While several pedestrians crossed, he sat staring through vague eyes--he flinched when an impatient female hit her horn. He spotted a 7-Eleven a couple of blocks away and drove there and parked. He just sat drumming his fingers on the steering wheel and watching people stroll in and out of the glass doors. He picked up his phone and placed his thumb on Dr. Lorac’s number, but laid it back down. He smoothed a hand over his flaming, red hair and blew his breath out hard. Then, as if someone had pinched his bottom, he jumped forward and started up the car, pulled out of the parking lot and back onto the street—heading for the road Dr. Lorac had suggested.

He endured numerous red lights, stop signs, old folks jaywalking with their metal canes, drivers stopping suddenly without signaling, slow moving farm trucks, sharp curves and deer crossings until he found himself on a dark, silent, long stretch of a road lined with tall trees. He slowed the car to a near crawl, turning his head right and left. There was nothing but blackness beyond the trees, and a stench like dead animal flesh permeated the air.

Something seemed to be pushing him on; perhaps, the hope that Ben had been mistaken. He drove deeper and deeper behind the forest. As he rounded another dirt curve, he noticed a red Dodge Caravan with the hood up, and a very attractive young woman bending over it. The tight Jeans she wore parted her butt cheeks well. Charlton stopped. The woman looked up and waved at him. She pushed her long, blonde hair away from her face and smiled. “Hey there," she said.  "I seem to have made a wrong turn, and then the damn thing just cut off on me. Sure could use your help.”

Charlton looked around him before he spoke. He stuck his head out the window. “Looks like I did the same. Ah … made a wrong turn, that is. Didn't you call someone?”

She shook her head. “Phone’s dead.”

“You can use mine.” The blonde beauty just stood there, her green eyes gazing at him. “I can, maybe, give you a ride," he said. "Where are you trying to get to?”

She put a fist on her curvy hip. "Grundy County."

“You really did make a wrong turn.”

“Tell me about it,” she said with a smirk.

Charlton struggled to gather his words. “Actually, I’m not very good at fixing things. I’ll be more than glad to drop you somewhere."

“It’s my dad’s car and he’d have a hell of a fit if I left it out here. Sure wish you’d take a look at it," she said, her green eyes dancing as a long, blonde curl sat S-shaped on one of her full breasts.

Charlton sighed heavily. He looked right, and then left again before checking the side and rear view mirrors.  The young beauty's eyes widened when she saw him backing out. “Hey!  You’re not leaving me here?”

“I’ll … ah … send someone back for you,” he yelled at her as he turned and tore out of there. Her obscenities echoed above the squeals of his tires as he soared off. After he'd driven about a quarter of a mile, he hit speed dial, then speaker.  Dr. Lorac’s phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Why the hell did you lie to me?

“Charlie, calm down. What’s happening?”

“I don’t know, and I’m not sticking around long enough to find out.” Charlton looked over at his left view mirror. The red Dodge was gaining on him like a shark after its prey. “Shit!” Dr. Lorac’s voice faded as he tossed the phone and mashed the accelerator.

Rounding a bend, Charlton braked just in time to make a sharp left turn. The wheels screeched loudly like a dog in pain, and dust flew up hitting the windshield, nearly blinding his view.  Two hundred feet behind him, the red Dodge swerved around the curve with ease, creating a mini dust storm.

There was a straight patch of road ahead. He was doing eighty, with the red Dodge still in close view.  Then another curve, and Charlton braked, but the car swerved out of control. He held the steering wheel, though every vein in his hands was popping up. The car shot across the lane and off the side where the wheels spat gravel until he managed to guide the car back onto the road. He looked at his side view mirror and the red Dodge was right on him.  He had a head start, but could he keep it—hold on to it until he was clear of this God forsaken place—clear to see street lights, houses, live animals, people again?
 
Charlton increased his speed, but couldn’t shake the Dodge. “Damn it!” he growled.
 
The red Dodge was coming, no--blazing. The two hundred feet became one hundred feet, fifty feet, twenty-five, a few feet, a few inches—then so close like a dog sniffing another dog’s arse.  Suddenly, the Dodge fell back, then shot from behind. Charlton swallowed hard, as he was face to face with his pursuer. Side-by-side, the two dragged raced, dust and dirt swirling around both cars. Charlton was eye ball to eye ball with Matthew and Rick, both dressed in black and wearing dark shades—but no green-eyed  blonde.
 
Charlton was leaning forward with both hands tightly on the wheel—his eyes flashing back and forth over at the teen wolves. His breathing was heavy: beads of sweat poured from his forehead, and the blue veins at his temple were pulsating as he watched the red Dodge inch closer to him.
 
“What do you want?” Charlton screamed at them. Rick, who was in the passenger seat, waved for him to pull over.
 
“Go to hell!” Charlton yelled, and he soared ahead of the Dodge. 

Matthew roared up and rammed him, forcing the car off the road and into the dirt. But Charlton fought the wheel as the car bounced up and down, hitting rocks and animal carcasses. His jaw tightened as he soared back onto the road. He slammed his car into the Dodge, catching Matthew off guard. Matthew swerved, but maintained control. The two cars rammed each other back and forth—whipping through turns like twin cars on a roller coaster track. Another hard ram from the Dodge forced Charlton onto the dirt, but this time, his car rolled into the path of a dark wooded area, missed several trees, and then finally side swiped a huge stump before coming to a halt. Charlton sat dazed for a moment—dust and dead leaves flying all around. He managed to unfasten his seat belt, but the damaged door wouldn’t budge. He kicked it opened and bolted.

Running through those woods was like a blind man stumbling through someone's backyard. Only the sunlight streaming through the top of trees provided any visibility. Panting hard, he stopped and turned, but there was nothing there, nothing chasing him, just the darkness all around—covering him like a ghastly, smelly blanket.

Then--suddenly from beyond the blackness came a sound like something moving fast. He spotted a deep hollow in a giant tree. He hid there and muffled his loud breathing.









 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 21
Dead Man's Creek Part2

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

(Recap from previous chapters)
On the way to the state lab one early morning to get another opinion about the strange blood  sample he took from the Sooner boy,  (he’s  a little werewolf) pathologist, Charlton (Charlie) Daniels, found out, quite by accident, that Dr. Lorac had lied about a short cut to the lab. Daniel’s curiosity got the best of him and he went anyway—ending up at Dead Man’s Creek.  After a failed ambush, he was run off the road by teen werewolf cousins, Matthew and Rick. Now he hides in the deep, dark forest in the hollow of a tree. Will he give up the tube of werewolf blood, or lose his life or mortal soul?


(Continued from part 1)

River's wolf vision made it easy for him to scan the darkness. A wicked grin etched across his face when his gaze fell upon the hollowed tree. “Hey Charlie!” he called from the distance.


Charlton's body grew stiff, and his breathing deepened. He stuck his head out and took a quick peek to his left, and then snatched it back inside the tree hole.

Hushed laughter surrounding Rick's voice rang from the shadows. "Chaaar ... leee," Rick sang out.

Mathew cupped his mouth like a megaphone. “Come out, come out where ever you are."

Charlton whipped his head to the right. Nothing but the dark stood before him. His pulse pounded in the veins of his neck. His lips quivered.

“We can smell you, Charlie.”

“Did you piss yourself, you naughty boy?” More hushed laughter like an Igor tickled that he ate a spider.

Charlton’s eyes rolled back and forth. His forehead wrinkled as he slid a shaky hand to his crotch. It was wet. “Fuck."

“Funny thing about wolf noses, Charlie,” Dex said, posing against the hollowed tree where Charlton was hiding. Dex leaned around. “Boo!” 

Charlton's spit caught in his throat as he crumbled to the bottom of the hole. “Jesus Christ! Who are you people?”

"Just give us the tube,” Rick said.

“And … we’ll let you go," said Matthew, raising his arms out to the side. He and Rick stepped into view and stood ten feet in front of him.

“You! Both of you!" Charlton pointed his finger at Matthew and Rick. “You’re the ones in the red van that ran me off the road. You could have killed me.”

River eased into a stream of sunlight. “Nobody wants to hurt you. Just give us the blood.”

“But, what do you want with it?” It’s just blood." He gave a nervous laugh. "I … I mean--"

“You know what's in that tube," Dex said,  "that's why you're taking it to the state lab. So, don't play stupid."

River clenched his teeth. "Hand it over, Charlie. Now!"

Charlton stood straight up and stepped out of the hollow of the tree--an I'm not afraid of you smirk crept upon his face. “Or what?”  he said, staring right at River.

"You kidding me, right?" asked Dex.  "Don't you like your heart where it is?"

“You've got guts. I give you that,” River said. “It’s a shame, in about five seconds," he gave a quick nod to his right, ”they’re going to be hanging from the mouths of our friends here.”

“What do you mean?” Charlton said, squinting his eyes. "What friends?"

Six men withdrew from the blackness.  Piece by piece, they stripped off their clothes.

“Wu' … what are they doing? You’re not going to let them rape me? Jesus Christ!” Charlton broke, got in three good steps, before  River dashed, grabbed him and shoved him hard against the tree.  “You try that again, and I will hurt you.”

Charlton stood--not so brave now. He looked past River and kept his eyes on the men. A lump rose in Charlton's throat. River turned, his face brightened.  Aroused by what was about to happen, his chest rapidly rose and fell as he watched his six brethern go down on all fours—their eyes turned a deep yellow. Their skin darkened as fur grew out and covered their razor-bump skins. Bones cracked like trampled tree branches and faces elongated. Six inch fangs and claws sprang into place like fruit rapidly growing on a vine. 

"Holy Mother of God," Charlton said, making the sign of the cross.

The wolves' howls scattered the buzzards out of the trees, and land scavengers shot in all directions. The wolves' paws, big as saucers, slowly inched toward Charlton. He slid down the tree like every muscle had left his body. Trembling with his knees up to his chest, he reached into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out the brown envelope with the tube of blood and handed it to no particular person.

“You think we should let him off that easy?” Dex joked, turning to River.

“Nah." River grinned. "How about making him play fetch with our friends?”

"Hm ... they don't seem to be in the mood," Dex said, looking over at them.  The wolves stood, saliva stringing from their mouths, and the yellow balls of their eyes glaring at Charlton through tiny slits. "Let's just send one over to pick up our little package."

Charlton jumped forward. "No! Here." He placed it far from him on the ground.

"Go and pick it up," River ordered.  "Or I'll have them to rip your face off."

"All right! All right!  No need for that," he said. He crawled over, picked it up and scrambled back to the tree. He stretched out his arm with the envelope in his hand. 

One of the wolves, his black fur streaked with silver, pranced over.  He stopped in front of Charlton’s outstretched arm and stood. Charlton turned his head and shut his eyes tight. The wolf bypassed his arm and moved in a few inches from his head.  He leaned in, curled back his lips and ran the tip of a fang across Charlton's face. The red line ran down his cheek. His shoulders shook. “Please, please.  I don’t want to die. Just take it.”  His eyes were still shut tight and a terrible smell rose from his trousers.

The wolf stepped back, took the envelope into his mouth and trotted away into the darkness followed by a string of the other five.

“Remember, we know where you live and work,” River said. He, Dex, Matthew and Rick strolled off into the forest, leaving Charlton alone and shaken. 

Back to where the red Dodge and other Vans were parked, River stopped and opened the brown envelope he'd taken from the wolf. He pulled out the tube of blood, let it fall to the ground and smashed it under the heel of his boot. He tossed the envelope and raked his heel across some brush to clean the blood off. Then he turned to a naked teen wolf, who was getting dressed, and smacked him upside the head.

"Hey! What the hell --?"

"I told my wife I wouldn't draw blood. You made me break that promise."

"You said to scare him."

"He was scared!  Don't you know human shit when you smell it?"

"Haaaaah!" The other wolves laughed.

 "That crazy bastard really thought we were going to rape him," said another wolf.

"After he saw what we were really capable of, I bet he wished we had," Matthew said.

Their laughter filled the air. Several car doors banged. There were the sounds of tires crushing gravel, then total silence.
*****

Chalton stumbled through the woods. Using his hands outstretched to feel his way, he looked more like the Frankenstein monster than a man searching through the dark.  At one point, he scrambled away from one of his own shadows.  Seeing his car up ahead, he ran to it, smacked the hood with a wet kiss, then jumped in.  After several turns of the key, it choked and went dead. He called Ben for help, but within minutes of talking with Ben, dropped the phone from his ear. He twisted his mouth at Ben’s rapidly firing questions squeeking out of the ear part.

He yelled down at the phone. “Damn it! Just come get me!"

“All right. Ah … underwear, pants and a shirt. Okay, I’m leaving now.”
*****

 
 
 
 
 










 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 22
Dead Man's Creek Part3

By amahra

(Recap from previous chapters)
Dr. Lorac warned Jewel and River, that pathologist, Charlton Daniels, planned to deliver a tube of werewolf blood taken from the little Sooner boy to the state lab. The wolves, headed by River, tried to trick Charlton by positioning a beautiful woman pretending to have car trouble in his path. When Charlton grew suspicious (based on a phone call from his unsuspecting friend, Ben) two teen werewolves, Matthew and Rick, ran him off the road. Charlton escaped into the dark mysterious woods and hid in a large hole of a giant tree. River, Dex, Matthew and Rick remained human, but their friends shape shift into vicious wolves right before Daniels' eyes, and terrorize him into handing over the tube of blood--plus, keep his mouth shut. Having soiled his undergarments, bleeding and dirty, Charlton calls his friend Ben to pick him up and to bring clean clothes.


(Continued from part 2)
It was well in the afternoon when Ben drove off 49-South and onto the dark road leading to a dead end. Ben remembered the place well. As a boy, acting on a dare from his friends, he had biked there one Halloween night.

Ben squinted, looking left and right through the sun beaten windshield. All he had gotten from a hysterical Charlton was that he'd been run off the road by some fiendish characters. Ben slowed down and searched for skid marks as a clue to where Charlton could be waiting. A few more minutes, and it was checkmate. There were dark tire markings leading into a forced path in the woods. He pulled off the road and followed the artistic tread marks through the soft ground—dead leaves and gravel crunching under his own tires. As his car inched deeper into the wooded area, it was as if the sky had blinked from daylight to night. Ben's jaw dropped as he peered through the sudden darkness. He swallowed hard and mumbled to himself. Then a stream of sunlight lit fresh scrapings on several trees that acted as arrows pointing him to a stump. He blew a gush of breath at seeing Charlton's damaged, grey Buick sitting like an abandoned junked car. Ben eased up and parked.

He got out of the car and walked up to the Buick. Charlton sat with his forehead resting on the steering wheel. When Ben tapped on the window, Charlton jumped back and his nose flared. Then his shoulders eased down. Charlton cracked open the door.

"Ben, thank God. I wasn't sure you'd find me." 

Ben wrinkled his nose. "Yo ... you all right?"

"Yeah. Did you bring the clothes?"

"Sure. I'll get them."

Ben hurried back to his car. He reached over the driver's seat and brought out a dark cloth shopping bag. Charlton was standing on the outside of the car when Ben returned and handed him the bag. Charlton walked to the back of his Buick and peeled away his clothes. Ben looked away as he changed.

"I know you have a lot of questions," Charlton said. He tossed aside his soiled underwear.  "I'll try to explain on the way back."

"Sure thing, Charlie.  I'll go start the car," Ben said, walking swiftly by him.

Ben slid into the car, started it and rolled down all the windows. Charlton finished dressing, walked over to Ben's car and got in. Ben slowly backed the car out. Charlton stared into the blackness where he'd been held captive by the wolves. He shut his eyes until Ben was clear out of the woods and back onto the road.

Ben drove for several minutes in total silence.  There was not even a radio sound or phone ring that broke through this quiet barrier. Ben looked over at Charlton several times, but neither spoke. Ben tried to whistle, but only air and spit came out.

"I know something happened." Ben said. "And I'm trying to be patient. You call me, scared out of your mind. I drop everything to come to this God awful place. Find you dirty, your face bloody and smelling like piss and shit. And you're just going to sit there?"

Charlton tapped his knee with his fingertips at a fast tempo.

Ben took his eyes off the road. "I'm in the dark, here, Charlie, help me out," he said in a high pitched voice. Ben put his focus back on the road and a sharp curve that was coming up ahead. There was another long silence. Ben’s jaw tightened and he shook his head. Charlton stopped tapping, and he stared, as if he were in another moment of time.

"Your Dr. Lorac is a liar. My life's been threatened. I ... me," he poked a finger into his own chest, "had living proof of that age-old speculation about the strange inhabitants living among us in this town. Now it's gone. And to tell you more, would only have me committed to a freaking institution. Plus, having you, my best friend, see me like this." His eyes filled. "I really appreciate you, Ben. But that's all I can safely say right now."

"Jesus Christ." Ben ran a hand over the side of his face. "It's okay.  You've seen me worse. Remember when I got drunk that time at my bachelor’s party and puked all over everybody? Remember?" Ben forced a laugh, but Charlton's face remained stone.  

"Just answer me this," Ben said in a more serious tone,  "did what happened to you out there have anything to do with your going to the state lab this morning?"

"Yeah, I never made it, though. But that's only the tip of the iceberg."

"You can trust me—"

Charlton glanced over at him. "I'm not dragging you into this. It's too dangerous."

Ben turned his head slightly to look at him.  Charlton's eyes were glazed and his face was grim and pale. "Whatever it is, you don't have to carry this by yourself. You know that," Ben said.

Charlton looked down at his lap.

Ben turned his full attention back to the winding road and then said, "Okay, if you think you can handle it."

The rest of the journey was again, in complete silence. Ben pulled up to the front of the condo and Charlton got out. He turned sharply and stuck his head through the window. "Thanks Ben." He turned and walked off.

Ben watched him a little ways, and then yelled through the open passenger window, "Don't worry about your car. I'll have it picked up." Charlton never turned, but threw up his hand. Ben watched the well-dressed doorman flash a smile before opening the door. Charlton walked in and Ben drove off.

Inside his condo, Charlton tossed his key card on the mahogany antique desk in the bedroom and made a beeline to the shower. He clicked the shower knob and then shed Ben's clothes. Under the heat and steam, he closed his eyes as the water flowed down his hair and face, his chest and stomach, his buttocks and thighs—turning brown at his ankles and swirling into the drain. He lingered there under his private water fall like he needed to wash River and the wolves off of his skin—as if the steam could erase the yellow eyes burning into his, its wet snout on his face, the coarse fur brushing against his brow—Its daggered fangs at his throat.

He stepped out of the shower and stood naked before the mirror. He smoothed a finger across the red line on his cheek. He jumped at the sound of his phone. He grabbed a towel and put it around his neck as he walked to the Chest of drawers where his phone lay. His top lip curled when he saw Dr. Sally Lorac's name. He hesitated, then picked it up and clicked on.

"Go to hell, you Bitch!"

He clicked off—threw the phone on the Chest of drawers, walked over to his bed and plopped down. He placed the towel aside, put one hand behind his head and closed his eyes.

He shifted his body many times in his sleep—eye lids fluttering, head snatching left and right, body jerking. He sprang up, taking in a noisy gush of air into his lungs and looked around his bedroom wide-eyed. The phlegm in his chest made his cough sound like a choked car motor.  He eased his head back onto the pillow. Goose bumps peppered his body because the central air had kicked on. He had been asleep for several hours, and it was still light.

*****

Dr. Lorac called Charlton multiple times and left messages. But none were returned.

Weeks rolled by, and Charlton had not reported to work. Dr. Lorac inquired and learned that he had called out sick.  A few days later, Charlton walked into the office of Dr. Jim Brighton, the Sheerfield Medical Center's chief of staff, and handed over his resignation.  He had accepted a prestigious position at a leading hospital in another state, but asked Dr. Brighton not to disclose his whereabouts. It was agreed in writing. Ben was the only non-relative who knew where he'd moved.

Although Ben never got the full account of what had happened. Charlton had made it was clear to him that Dr. Lorac was involved. Ben remained very distant  towards her, but kept a professional relationship.

Dr. Lorac had learned in a phone call from Jewel how Charlton was made to turn over the tube of blood. After she was told the details, she made an excuse to get off the phone and ran to the bathroom sink. She splashed cold water on her face, and then stared into the mirror open-mouthed.

It had been weeks since Charlton left. She still moped around her apartment. At eleven o'clock, she closed her diary and rested her back against the fluffy pillows. She had just patted a tear from the corner of her eye when Beethoven's 5th symphony sprang from her phone.

She quickly picked up. "River."

"I hope I didn't wake you."

"No, not at all."

"I never thanked you for the heads up. This could have been disastrous for the wolves."

There was silence on both ends. Then she said, "I feel awful about Charlie."

"We had to, Sally. We weren't really going to hurt him.  But we --"

"I know, I know. It couldn't be helped. I just feel so badly for him. She sighed. "My head is killing me. I've got to get some sleep." She yawned.  "Is Jewel still up?"

"Yeah, in the shower."

"Tell her I said good night."

"I will.  And Sally, try not to worry. I'm sure wherever he is, he'll be fine."

"Sure. Good night."
*****










 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 23
Dream Walker

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

ATTENTION! FanStory fans. This is my last post for a few weeks. I have to devote some time to marketing my book, The Glass Cat Eye, and work with my editor on rewriting The Animal Doctor to get it ready for publication in December. It’s been hard for me to concentrate on Dark Covenant. So, I have to lay it aside for now. But I will still be reading you. Thank you for your support. Bless you all.
 
(From last chapter) Poor Charlie found out about the werewolf blood and was tricked by Dr. Lorac into an ambush at Dead Man’s Creek. He was run off the road and forced to hide in a mystical dark wooded area where the werewolves frightened him with death unless he turned over the tube of blood. Left, without transportation, battered and soiled, he called best friend Ben to come (with fresh clothes) and pick him up. Angry and scared for his life, he turned in his resignation at the medical center and left town for good. The wolves were happy, Ben was sad, and Lorac dreaded her part in the whole incident.



New Berwick remained uneventful for many months. Then a heavy rain, unusual for the summer season, fell steadily for nearly two weeks. But it stopped as suddenly as it had begun. Strangely, no rainbow formed above the clouds—only darkness and a slight chill in the breeze.  Mystery invaded the hours with birds disappearing, leaving their nest full of dead chicks. Dogs barked at the sky; cats developed unusual bad tempers, and people flooded the emergency center with injuries from squirrel attacks. 

Wild animals were the first to notice the change, and it was not the time to be near any forest in the New Berwick region.  People stayed indoors wrapped in their superstitions—only leaving when they had to, and even then they were extra cautious.  Many people in Sheerfield County wore wooden crosses that were blessed and passed out to members after church services; others carried silver snuff boxes stuffed with smelly herbs to ward off evil. The witches had seen these nature changes before, though not for many decades; still they were worried.

Many nights came and went, but one night a young man lay dreaming. Alone in his bed, he tossed and turned—first mumbling something inaudible and then flipping his head from side to side.  “No. No,” he said loudly with his closed eyelids fluttering.

Then the covers mysteriously scrolled from his chest to the foot of the bed, and his T-shirt rolled up, revealing his tan muscular frame.  Small impressions were made on the soft spots of his abdomen, like invisible lips pressing in on him. A captive of his slumber, he smiled and moaned throughout the night.
*****
 
Jessie Carter leaned over his laptop at work and yawned.  On his desk was a computer, monitor, a phone and headset, family pictures, lamp, a business card holder and lots of pens and scratch pads.  His large cup of coffee with lots of cream and sugar was lukewarm.  A Luxury Retailer of the Year award hung on the wall above his desk.  He had been a top real estate agent for Blue Hurst Realtors for more than six years.

Karl Bergess, a fellow employee walked up and rested his arms on the partition. “Hey, Jess—rough night?”

“Ah, man.”  He yawned again. “I’m not sleeping well. I keep waking up in the middle of the night. Never had trouble before.”

“You look beat.” He grinned. “Okay, who is she?”

“No. Karl—I’m serious, man. It’s not that. I’m … I’m having these weird dreams.”

“What kind of dreams?”  Karl turned his head quickly and looked over his shoulder. “Shoot. That’s my phone.”  Backing away he said, “We’ll talk about those dreams later.”

"Okay."

By lunch time, Jessie’s tired look was very noticeable. His yawning was seen as embarrassing to customers.  His superior took him aside and suggested he should go home and get some sleep. Jessie apologized and swore it would never happen again.

On the way home, he couldn’t stop thinking about his dreams that were in pieces and quite fuzzy in his head. He thought out loud, “Oh, no. I can’t go to sleep.” He had forgotten his girlfriend, Rebecca, was coming for dinner. He couldn’t postpone it. He could say he was sick. But her being a nurse, knowing her, she’d want to come anyway and take care of him—even spend the night. It was only one thing to do, take some No Doze. 

As soon as Jessie got home, he washed down two pills, changed his clothes and started cleaning the apartment.  He prepared the steaks and broke apart leaves of lettuce and spinach—added other ingredients; then carefully blended a family recipe for the dressing.

When the doorbell rang, the apartment was spotless. The table was set, including beautiful crystal-like candle holders and white candles. The aroma filled the air. He opened the door and as soon as she stepped in, she lifted her cheek and he kissed it.

“Um,” she said coming into the living room. She looked around—her eyes sparkling. As she talked of how wonderful the place looked, he handed her a glass of wine and told her to be seated while he finished preparing the sauce.  The kitchen was separated from the living room and dining area with a wide picture-frame counter and bar stools.  They could still see each other and talk.

“Sorry it took me so long to invite you over,” he said measuring a table spoon of butter, “but the place was a mess and things at work—well, it’s been really busy lately, which is a good thing, I’m not complaining. Busy means money.” He chuckled.

“This makes up for it, honey. Everything is lovely.” She took a sip of her wine and crossed her shapely legs; her six inch heels made them all the sexier. She smoothed her blonde hair away from her face and watched as Jessie busied himself in the kitchen. 

“You know there’s something hot about a man up to his elbows in flour,” she teased.

He looked up and grinned.  “All done.” He lifted the bowl, brought it to the table and set it down. “Come and get it,” he said.

“Hmm smells good,” she said sniffing the air. He pulled out her chair, but before he sat down, he said, “I forgot something.” He walked over to his CD collection, pulled out an Isaac Hayes love album, and loaded it in the player. He scurried back and sat facing her.

They ate and toasted each other—drank, talked and laughed.  And Sir Isaac, as Jessie and Rebecca playfully called him, set the mood for what was to come next; shoes, heels, panties, shirt, briefs, bra and other articles of clothing made a trail from the dinner table to the master bedroom. Isaac’s deep baritone voice, an empty wine bottle, half-filled wine glasses marked the end of one part of the evening, but all had definitely contributed to the next phase taking place just a few feet away.  

Rebecca, on her knees in the middle of the bed, struggled to see through the blur caused by the wine. But as her vision appeared to be clear, the color of her cheeks changed from rose to a pale lifeless hue.

“What the hell is that?” she snapped

“What?” he asked, lying comfortable on his back.

“That,” she said, pointing at his body. “And that?” she said again, pointing to his neck.

Jessie jumped up from the bed and with his back to her, checked his body in the mirror.

“What the hell?” he said, looking at hickeys and bite marks all over his abdomen and neck. “I don’t know where these came from.”

Rebecca hopped off the bed. “And I guess you don’t know how you got those scratch marks on your back either.”

He turned his back towards the mirror and his mouth swung open. “I … I don’t understand.”

“You don’t understand? You bastard." She walked around naked snatching up her clothes; first, putting on her panties, and then struggling to snap her bra. When she was fully dressed she snatched up her heels and walked to the door bare-feet.

Jessie, naked from the waist up, scurried after her. “Honey, I swear to God, I don’t know where these marks and scratches came from. It’s not what you think, I swear.”

Her face was fully flushed and her eyes filled. He tried to block her from going out the door, but she shoved him aside, swung the door open and stormed out.

He watched her stomp down the hall and turn the corner. Then he closed the door and went back to the bedroom to examine his body again. But when he looked, the hickeys, bite marks and scratches were gone.  Where did they go? This is crazy. The phone ring made him jump. He picked up.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hey, Jess, sorry I was so busy at work today, I didn’t have time to get back to you. Now, you said something about some dreams?”

“Man, forget the dreams. Something’s weird is going on with me. I … I don’t know if I’m going crazy or what.”

He told Karl everything that had just happened between him and Rebecca and the marks on his body.

“Damn, that’s some dark shit.”

“I swear I haven’t been with another woman and that’s the truth.”

“Wow. You think this has anything to do with the dreams?”

“Man, I don’t know.”

Karl said, “I have an uncle who’s into a whole lot of paranormal stuff—dreams, nightmares, tarot card, Ouija board; you name it, he can tell you about it. He claims God told him over twenty years ago that he was to devote his life fighting evil. When I was little, I remember our family treating him like a leper. If you’re up to it, I’ll give him a call and we can go over there tonight.”

“I’m so desperate for answers. Your weird-ass uncle sounds good to me.”

“You want me to pick you up, or you want to meet me there.”

"Is it far?”

"It's on the other side of Midcalf."

"I'm not familiar with the area."

“Okay, I’ll be there in thirty.”
*****

When Karl drove up, Jessie was pacing in front of his apartment building smoking a cigarette. He dropped and crushed it under his foot—then climbed in the front seat.

“You sure your uncle can help me?”

“Well, I told him as much as I could over the phone. He didn’t say he couldn’t.”

Jessie cracked the window and pulled a cigarette from the pack. He lit it and was careful to turn his head towards the window when he exhaled. It was nearly ten o’clock at night and the ride became bumpy as they crossed the railroad tracks leading to the outside of the city.

The longer Karl drove, fewer and fewer houses became visible from the roadside, until one house far away, sitting all alone with only a thick wooded area as part of its backyard appeared. It sat high, and it looked like a lighthouse all lit up and shining over a vast sea of dirt and gravel.

Karl drove up and parked. He got out and walked around to the side.  But Jessie just sat and hesitated to exit the car. Karl threw him a puzzling glance, and Jessie opened the door and slid out. Jessie stood by the car examining the outside of the house.

Karl said, “You going to stand there with your thumb up your butt or are you coming?”

The men walked up to the door and Karl knocked lightly. The door opened and a slightly balding man about 5’8’’, fat and round stood grinning.

“Come in, come in,” he said, stepping aside.  “Just have a seat anywhere you think is comfortable.”

He closed the door and followed Karl and Jessie into a little room that looked like a Gypsy palm-reading parlor. A round table sat in the middle of the floor. It was covered with a round beige table cloth—on the side was a porcelain lamp with a worn pink lamp shade. The two dark wood chairs had carvings of strange angel-like creatures. Different colored tall Bean bags were scattered throughout the room. Over in the far corner was a reader’s end table, and above it—a wall book shelf lined with tattered cloth-covered books.

“Uncle Ward, this is Jessie—Jessie, my Uncle Ward.”

“Glad to meet you, sir,” Jessie said extending his hand.

“My pleasure,” Ward said shaking it. “Karl told me of your problem. And I understand there are some dreams?” Ward said gesturing for them to sit.

Jessie told Ward about his strange dreams. After he’d finished, Ward pulled on his chin and paced a bit in front of the table. He stopped, glanced at Jessie, and then paced again. Finally, he stopped and spoke.

“This is more serious than I thought. Have you ever heard of a succubus?”

Jessie looked at Ward with a frown. “No, can’t say that I have.”

“It’s a female demon, traced back to medieval legend,” he said walking over to the book case and pulling a book from the shelf. “Up until now,” he said, “I didn’t think it really existed.”

Ward walked back to the table and placed the opened book before them. He turned it so Jessie and Karl could get a good look at a sketch by an artist who claimed he’d seen one—although Ward and other paranormal experts were skeptical.

“That’s really a Succubus?” Jessie asked pointing his finger at the page.

“No one truly knows what one looks like—only that it appears in dreams in the form of a beautiful, voluptuous woman in order to seduce men usually, but not limited through oral sex. The male counterpart is the incubus." Ward raised his eyebrows, then he said, "Sex with one of these things is said to be quite intense."

“Far fucking out,” Karl blurted and grinned.

His grin soon faded when he looked over at Jessie who had flopped back in the chair stone-faced with his mouth open.

Ward frowned at Karl. “For God’s sakes, this is not funny.”

“I’m sorry Uncle Ward, I didn’t mean anything. I just thought—”

“Why is this thing after me?”

“I don’t know, son. But that’s what we need to find out.”
*****
 

 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 24
The Evil Within

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

Sorry for being away so long; I had to work with my editor on rewriting 21 chapters of The Animal Doctor. Thank you for your patience. Hope you will enjoy the latest installment of Dark Covenant.

(Recap from July's installment.)
Jessie Carter has been complaining of nightmares. His best friend, Karl Bergess, takes him to his Uncle Ward, an expert on the supernatural, to see if he can shed light on what's happening to Jessie. Uncle Ward tells them he thinks it's a succubus: A demon who seduces men by putting them in a deeper sleep, making them think they're dreaming while it performs intercourse and or oral sex on their victims.  Karl thinks it’s funny and cool, but Jessie isn't laughing. Uncle Ward sympathizes with Jessie and tells him he'll do his best to find the information he'll need to: Number one-- to discover what the demon really wants, number two--to know why it chose Jessie, and number three--to learn how to stop it.


(From July chapter 23)
“That’s really a Succubus?” Jessie asked pointing his finger at the page.

“No one truly knows what one looks like—only that it appears in dreams in the form of a beautiful, voluptuous woman in order to seduce men usually, but not limited through oral sex. The male counterpart is the incubus." Ward raised his eyebrows, then he said, "Sex with one of these things is said to be quite intense."

“Far fucking out,” Karl blurted and grinned.

His grin soon faded when he looked over at Jessie who had flopped back in the chair stone-faced with his mouth open.

Ward frowned at Karl. “For God’s sakes, this is not funny.”

“I’m sorry Uncle Ward, I didn’t mean anything. I just thought—”

“Why is this thing after me?”

“I don’t know, son. But that’s what we need to find out.”
*****

 

Uncle Ward saw Karl and Jessie to the door and promised Jessie he would find out all he could about the nightly visits from the Succubus. When Uncle Ward closed the front door, Jessie and Karl stood outside looking at each other in amazement because of the many clicking sounds they heard coming from the different locks Ward used to secure his safety. After hearing the final click, they turned and slowly walked to Karl's car and got in.

"Dude, that was some creepy shit my uncle just laid on us. I can stay the night if you want," Karl said buckling his seat belt.

"I don't mean to sound like a pussy, man, but would you? I'd appreciate it."

"Make that two pussies. That shit freaked me out too."

"You know," Jessie said. "I don't remember hearing all of those locks when your uncle first opened the door."

"Um, neither do I. Maybe your story freaked him too."

"I guess."

The ride back to Jessie's apartment was silent. Karl had glanced over at him several times during the drive and found him quite occupied with his thoughts. Karl wanted to make conversation, if only to discover just what Jessie was thinking, but thought it better to remain silent until he could, at least, contribute some answers to the mystery of the succubus and its torment of Jessie.

Back at the apartment, the men remained silent, with the exception of some small talk; after brushing his teeth, Jessie bid Karl goodnight and went into the bedroom, leaving Karl to slumber on the living room sofa.

The sofa was a bit uncomfortable and Karl found it hard to fall asleep. He turned on the TV for some late night entertainment and soon dozed off.

The next morning when Karl woke, he rose and walked into the kitchen to make coffee. He stood in the doorway yawning and scratching his butt and observed Jessie staring out the window.

"Good morning," Karl said after a wide-mouth yawn.

Jessie never answered, but stood like a statue as he continued to stare out the window.

Karl walked over to the kitchen sink and reached above it for the cabinet's knob. "How was your night?" Karl asked while looking around in the cabinet for the coffee can. He took the can down from the shelf then half-filled the glass coffee maker with water. As Karl measured the coffee grounds and added the desired amount to the filter, he continued looking over at Jessie. Karl pushed the on switch button and took down two coffee mugs and placed them on the counter.

"Hey, Jess, you all right?" There was a pause.

"Why shouldn't I be?" was the cold and almost robotic response.

Karl walked over and placed his hand on Jessie's shoulder and gently pulled him around to face him. Karl was taken aback, and he swallowed a lump in his throat at the sight of Jessie's face that was dark, with eyes as lifeless as a shark's just before it bites.

"For God's sake, dude, what's up with you?" Karl snapped.

Jessie's lips moved, but another voice, gruff and whispery said, "I'm not Jessie."

Next door, Mrs. Bingham, after listening a few seconds with her ear to the wall, phoned the police while her husband stood at her side.

"What is your emergency?" the dispatcher asked.

"Send the police. No. Not for me; it...it's my next door neighbor, ah...ah Mr. Carter...ah, Mr. Jessie Carter."

"Okay, Ma'am, calm down. What about Mr. Carter?"

"It's...it's awful. Oh, dear God," she said, turning towards the sounds coming through the wall.

"Okay, Ma'am...Ma'am. I need you to focus on talking to me. I'm sending help as we speak."

Mr. Bingham grabbed the phone. "It sounds like someone is killing him. We can hear furniture crashing, and glass breaking and, Jesus; I've never heard a man scream so."

"Do you know who's in there with him?"

"No. But please, he needs help. I'd go in myself, but my wife ..."

"Absolutely do not go in there. The police will be there shortly."

"No, I won't," Mr. Bingham said.

"Don't leave your apartment; and lock your door."

"Yes, we will, but please hurry."

"Help is coming, sir."

As soon as Mr. Bingham clicked off, he and his wife placed their ears to the wall, but heard only groaning.

"Hear that?" Mr. Bingham said to his wife, "I think he's still alive."

"Thank God," she said.

Five minutes later, several police officers filed down the hall. Then the building manager came with the key to Jessie's apartment. First, a policeman's knock and call out then, when no response came, the manager used his key to enter the apartment. The Binghams peeked out and then entered the hall only to be told by police to stay back. By this time, several neighbors had gathered in the hall and were commanded by an officer to go back to their apartments until police found out exactly what they were dealing with.

Mrs. Bingham poked her head out of the door. "I think he's still alive. We heard groaning," she said.

"Please, ma'am, let us do our own investigation," an officer cautioned her, "and stay inside, ma'am, please."

But no sooner had the police entered the apartment, the Binghams and other tenants crowded in the hallway and stretched their necks to see what had happened.

The kitchen was in shambles, appliances on the floor; the table overturned, chairs scattered around the room; the coffee grounds and black coffee mixed with blood on the floor; and there was blood on the walls, ceiling and splatters of it on the stove, cabinets and refrigerator. There were broken dishes and shattered glassware everywhere. In the middle of it all was Karl. His face was bloody and twice its normal size; his eyes were swollen shut, and there were deep slashes on his face, neck and torso. Karl's legs and right arm were twisted; he held his side with his good hand and seemed to jerk with every breath he took. His T-shirt and underwear were ripped--soaked with blood and his left shoulder looked like it had been in a meat grinder.

"Who did this to you, Mr. Carter?" a female officer asked.

"Not ...Carter," Karl wheezed out with blood bubbles forming from the side of his mouth.

"You're not Carter?" asked the female officer. "Then who are you?"

"Did Carter do this to you?" another officer asked.

Karl gagged, coughed up dark red blood and then blacked out.

The police were not certain of how many people besides Carter were involved in the attack. The statements detectives got from the Binghams and other tenants on the floor were quite similar; that is, Jessie Carter had lived there for over two years and that he was a very nice and quiet young man.  "Don't know why someone would want to harm such a nice man," said one of the tenants.

"Never had a moment's trouble out of him, the whole time," the tenant manager had told the detective.

“Coming through, coming through,” the paramedics shouted to officers who backed up against the wall and out of the way of the fast moving gurney.
Mrs. Bingham got a quick look at the unrecognizable battered man.

“God be with you Mr. Carter,” she said.

“We’re all praying for you, dear,” another tenant said.

The police, who routinely kept details of a crime from the public, allowed the tenants to continue to think it was Jessie Carter on the gurney. The police had deliberately kept tenants away from the TV reports on Jessie Carter being the suspect, until they could get a statement from each who lived on his floor.

The paramedics work feverously on Karl, inserting IVs, administering oxygen, and checking his vitals. He would need lots of blood and they had to get him stable before reaching the hospital for him to have even a slim chance of surviving.
 
At the hospital, Karl had to endure ten and a half hours of surgery just to stop the bleeding and repair his many broken bones, with more surgeries to come. Doctors were puzzled to why he hadn't died given the damages to his organs. The surgeon told his family that he probably wouldn’t last the night. But that they were flying in an expert that had had success with patience in near death conditions. The doctor told them to pray.

An APB was put out on Jessie. His picture hung in every county sheriff’s office and Illinois police station with a statement--Armed and Dangerous. The media made a plea to the public: "If you see Jessie Carter, do not--we repeat, do not try to apprehend him, but call 911. His victim, twenty-five year old, real estate agent and fellow employed at Blue Hurst Realtors in New Berwick has been rushed to New Berwick Shock Trauma with life threaten injuries. We'll have an update of this terrible incident as soon as police release more information. Now, back to you, Elaine."

"I knew there was something fishy about him," said one of the tenants on his floor to a detective. "The quiet type, always staying to himself. They're the ones you've got to watch," she concluded.

"I could tell the minute he handed me his deposit and first month's rent and I handed him the key that he was trouble," said the same manager they'd questioned before. "I should have listened to my gut."

Where was Jessie Carter? And why had he so viciously attacked his best friend? Karl's Uncle Ward believed he knew. Now, finding Jessie before the police did was crucial.

 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 25
Demon At Large

By amahra

OPTIONAL!
ATTENTION: A synopsis is located below in blue for those who are new or fans who need to revisit past chapter highlights.


(Recap from chapter 24)
Karl Bergess has been viciously attacked by his best friend Jessie Carter who is possessed by a demon. Karl has been rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police, unaware of the supernatual element, puts out an APB on Jessie.


ICU- New Berwick Memorial Hospital

"Honey, please wake up," Karl's mom pleaded. Tears dripped from her cheek and fell upon Karl's fingers while she held his hand tightly against her quivering lips. After enduring hours of surgery and given multiple pints of blood, Karl had been placed on a ventilator so his body could rest from the extra stress of breathing--allowing it to heal better. He was badly swollen from his elbows to his hands, also his torso and from his thigh to his ankle. The IV served for his round the clock medication as well as fluids and food.

Karl's eyelids fluttered often, and though there was evidence of brain activity, he gave no response when spoken to. Only immediate family members were allowed to visit, one at a time. Detectives Joe Moss and Donald Reading came by the hospital earlier, but had left disappointed because Dr. Covington refused them access to Karl for questioning. Since Detectives Moss and Reading were familiar with similar cases involving victims like Karl, they were under the impression that he could communicate information to them through the movement of his fingers. But Dr. Covington had sternly assured them that given Karl's extensive injuries, that was impossible.

Karl's sister-in-law, Lois, and his nephew, Rodney, were patiently waiting to see him next. Lois wanted Karl's mom to have all of the time she needed.

"Mom, why is the hospital always so cold?" Rodney asked.

"Hospitals have to maintain thousands of life-saving equipment, honey, that function better in a lower temperature than most people aren't used to. If they kept it too warm, the equipment could malfunction."

"Oh."

"I have a jacket in the car. You want to go and get it?" She fingered in her handbag for her car keys.

"No. I'm good."

A hospital housekeeper tipped-toed into Karl's room to empty the trash; she didn't want to disturb Karl's mom who had knelt by his bed, holding an opened Bible and praying.

Quite unexplainable, the hospital had received an unusual amount of emergency patients in just three days. Karl had become their 405th patient. Unlike larger hospitals in Illinois, this was a strange occurrence for the small New Berwick region. People were basically very health conscious and major accidents and crime were practically non-existent.
*****

At about 2:15 pm, Jewel's phone rang. River and Dex had gone deer hunting and the girls were hanging out at the mall.

Jewel answered. "Hello."

Ward Burgess hesitated for a moment then replied. "Jewel, it's me, Ward."

"I know--long time. How've you been?"

"Ah, well... I--"

"Never mind, I know that tone. What do you need? You know I'm always here for you, Ward."

"And never think I don't appreciate it, dear." He sighed, "God, where do I begin?"

Ward told Jewel about his nephew Karl's friend, Jessie and the night the two came to see him about Jessie's dreams. He told her about his theory on it's being the work of a succubus, but said he never thought the demon would move on Jessie so quickly. He also told her what had happened to Karl and the extent of his injuries. He said he'd wish he had been more aware of the dangers so he could have warned Karl to stay away from Jessie. Ward needed to find Jessie, but didn't know where to look.

"Great goddess, honey, I'm so sorry."

"I have to find Jessie before he hurts anyone else."

"I wish you had called me sooner."

"I thought I could help him. I let Karl down...God if he dies--"

"Ward, stop. We can fix this."

"Oh, Lord, Jewel, that's what I needed to hear."

"First, let’s find Jessie. I can cast a locator spell. Is there any way you can get me something that belongs to him: a hair brush, sock, shirt, anything?"

"I know where he lived, but don't know if I can get into his apartment without his key. I'm not a relative, so I don't think the manager will let me in."

"I can get you in. Just get over there then call me."

"Okay, I'm leaving now."

Ward clicked off and grabbed his truck keys from the dining room table. He took considerable time unlocking all the locks on the front door then bolted to his black and silver Lincoln Navigator parked in the garage. On the way over to Jessie's apartment, Ward put in a call to his sister, and Karl's mom, Nancy Burgess hoping to hear good news. Nancy whimpered on the phone and told Ward that Karl was still unconscious and she believed the experts were giving up on him. Ward told her to hang in there and to keep praying and that he'd check back later.

When Ward arrived at Jessie's apartment building, lightning lit up the sky and it began to rain; this was never a good sign to those like Ward who dealt with affairs of the supernatural. The doorman smiled and held the door open for Ward and he nodded and approached the desk where the security guard looked up from a book.

"Good afternoon, sir, can I help you?"

"Good afternoon. I'd like to see the manager please."

"Is he expecting you?"

"No. Tell him I'm the uncle of the victim, Karl Burgess, and I have to get into the apartment to get Karl's things."

"I don't know. Police are still going in and out of there. They said they didn't want anybody up there. But I'll try."

The guard picked up the phone and spoke with the manager for less than a minute then hung up.

"I'm sorry, but the manager said a detective instructed him not to let anyone in the apartment. I kind of knew he wouldn't. Some of Jessie Carter's relatives came by a couple of days ago and he didn't let them in either."

"Thanks for trying." Ward turned and walked away from the desk. "Shit," he said under his breath. He phoned Jewel.

"Yes, Ward. Are you in?"

"Hell no, I'm not in. The damn manager says the cops don't want anybody in the apartment. So, now what do I do?"

"I said I'd get you in there didn't I? Now go back and insist on seeing the manager."

"What!"

"Trust me."

"Okay," he said with a sigh. Ward walked back to the desk where the guard was back to reading his book.

"Something else, sir?" the guard asked looking up from under his glasses.

"Tell the manager I really need to see him. It's very important."

The guard appeared reluctant, but called and relayed the message. He hung up the phone. "His office is down the hall to your right," he said pointing.

"Thank you." Ward called Jewel while walking down the hall.  "Jewel, I'm about thirty feet from the manager's office. What do I say?"

"Nothing--just hand him the phone."

"Hand him the phone?"

"Hand him the phone, Ward."

Ward walked up to the door and knocked. A short, chubby man opened it and stood in the doorway. A whiff of garlic hit Ward's nose. The man was chewing and tried to swallow whatever he was eating so he could talk. "Can I help you?" the manager asked.

"I'm Ward Burgess, Karl's my nephew. I need to get into Jessie's apartment and get my nephew's things."

"I can't do that sir. I'm under strict orders from the police department not to let anyone in there."

Ward held out the phone to him and stood dumbfounded.

The manager frowned and asked, "Who is it?"

"It's important, sir. I think you should speak with her."

The manager took the phone. "Hello?" he said, looking annoyed. Seconds into listening, his whole expression changed; his eyes grew wide and fixed. Holding the phone at his ear, he turned and slowly, walked over to a wall, pulled from it the master key--turned and walked back and faced Ward. "Seven twenty-three," the manager said like a bad recording and handed Ward the key.

Ward grabbed the key, shaking his head and smiling at Jewel's awesome abilities. He boarded the elevator and rode it up to the seventh floor. He read the numbers on the wall with an arrow pointing right. Jessie's apartment was third from the end. Ward opened the door to darkness and a foul odor. He hesitated for a moment, wondering if the demon was still inside. He swallowed a lump in his throat and straightened his shoulders. Walking softly and looking around corners, halls and passing dark rooms, he tried walking swiftly past the kitchen--not wanting to see where Karl had nearly died, but stood a few moments anyway--his eyes glassy.

Then he made his way to the bedroom. He walked past the bed and gasped loudly when he saw his own reflection in the mirror. He quickly recovered, holding his stomach and continued walking to a chest of drawers and picked up a hair brush; he also bent down and grabbed up a sneaker and the T-shirt lying next to it. He put the brush inside the sneaker and wrapped the sneaker in the T-shirt then stuffed it into his jacket pocket. An unfamiliar noise startled him. Ward high tailed it out of the apartment, down the hall and pushed the button on the elevator.

Once he got back to the office, the manager was still standing near his desk stone-faced with the phone to his ear. The man couldn't let the phone go, so Ward grabbed his hand and put the phone to his own ear. "Jewel, I've got everything."

"Good. Give him back the phone."

First, Ward slid the key into the manager's shirt pocket then returned his hand. After slowly handing the phone back to Ward, the manager suddenly snapped to himself and the frown lines returned to his face. "Look, Mister," he said to Ward, "I can't let you in, and that's all there is to it... You'll just have to take it up with the police department."

"I clearly understand, sir. Sorry to have bothered you."

The manager closed the door and Ward chuckled as he made his way down the hall. Before he got to the door, the guard called out, "Sir, you need to sign out."

"But I never signed in," Ward said walking out the door grinning. "Jewel, baby, I love ya." he said to himself.

The guard looked at the sign-in sheet then scratched the side of his face.

*****


(Synopsis)
The prologue... The 1562 Witch Act forced witches to flee Europe and come to America.  With their magic, they cultivated the land. Humans moved there hundreds of years later, forcing the witches to hide their identity. The 1800s...Covenant witches are not evil, but those who consort with the dead are evil sorcerers and covenant witches kicked them out of the coven. The sorcerers got revenge and turned human men into werewolves by sacrificing a human boy. The covenant witches got revenge on the sorcerers by casting a spell that confined them to their castle for hundreds of years.

The 1900s...Covenant witches refused to undo the werewolf spell because it required a human sacrifice. So the men decided to kill themselves off by killing their male off-springs. Some wolves refused to kill off their males, causing a split between the packs, creating a northern Pack and a southern pack, which also divided two werewolf brothers... River Porter and Dex Porter.

The late 2000s...A southern pack wolf kills a young human girl--this threatens to bring demon hunters down on the packs and start a civil war between them.   River’s wife Jewel Porter, a covenant witch, found a spell to break the moon curse by sacrificing a boy's soul after a werewolf bite to his neck then bringing him back to life, but now the boy is a werewolf but doesn’t know it. The spell works, but a hospital worker discovered the boy’s inhuman blood that could expose them all.  The worker is ambushed by werewolves on the way to the laboratory. They chase him into a dark wooded area where they terrorize him and steal the blood sample. All seems quiet in New Berwick for a while until a succubus seduces Jessie Carter and has sex with him.  Jessie is later possessed by that demon and attacks his best friend Karl Bergess who is now in ICU and not expected to live. 

 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 26
Finding Jessie

By amahra

OPTIONAL!
ATTENTION: A synopsis is located below in blue for those who are new or fans who need to revisit past chapter highlights.



(Recap from chapter 25)
Karl Bergess has been viciously attacked by his best friend Jessie Carter who is possessed by a demon. Karl has been rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police, unaware of the supernatual element, puts out an APB on Jessie. Ward, Karl's uncle, has to find Jessie before the police do to prevent him from harming anyone else.  Jewel, however, can help find Jessie, but needs Ward to bring her some of Jessie's  personal items so she can cast a locator spell. In the last chapter, Ward was on his way to Jewel with Jessie's  hairbrush, T-shirt, and tennis shoe.



Jewel held the phone to her ear with one hand and pulled aside the window drapes with the other. "Ward, where the hell are you?" She asked, while peeking out the window.

"I've just turned onto Raven's Court."

"What's taking you so long? You left Jessie's place over an hour ago."

"I stopped by the hospital and looked in on Karl. He's no better, Jewel. My sister's a wreck."

"You don't sound like you're doing so well, yourself."

"I'm hanging," he said with a sigh. "I should be there in a few."

"All right."

Jewel clicked off and walked into the dining area to make preparations for the spell. She unfolded the map of Illinois on the table and ran her hands over it to smooth out the creases. After lifting the heavy Grimoire from her desk, she placed it on the map then opened it and thumbed through the pages until she found the spell. Jewel repeated the ancient spell over and over in her mind.  Casting spells was a very delicate matter, and she knew how easily things could go awry if even a single word of an incantation was omitted or misspoke.

Twenty minutes later, Ward pulled into Jewel's driveway and parked. Walking to the house, Ward squinted from the bright sunlight; he didn't see the pair of skates lying in the path of the front steps. He stumbled over one of them--skidded a few inches then landed feet up on the concrete.

"Shit!" he yelled out, looking around to see if his embarrassing dilemma was noticed. After picking himself up, he snatched up the skates and stomped up the steps.

 Ward gave the door three swift kicks. Jewel walked to the door and looked through the peephole. She opened it to Ward standing and gripping a skate in each hand.

"You know I almost broke my ass stumbling over these damn things?" he said brushing by her.

"Dear goddess! Are you hurt?" she said taking the skates from him. Her eyes scanned over his body.

"No. Just my pride," he said pulling the small bundle from beneath his coat.

"I've told Becca a dozen times about leaving her skates all over the place. Are you sure, Ward?" her eyes still checking him.

"I'm fine. Here," he said handing her the bundle.

"Wait, let me put these away." Jewel walked over to the closet and placed the skates inside. She walked back and took the bundle and gestured for him to follow her into the dining area where everything was set up for the spell.

Jewel sat at the head of the table, and Ward sat at her left. She unwrapped the T-shirt and placed the hairbrush and tennis shoe on the table with the shirt. Four candles had been placed on the map--each representing north, south, east, and west.

"What if he's not in Illinois?" Ward asked.

Jewel didn't look up from her task. "Then we'll use another map," she said. "We have to start somewhere." She collected a few strands of hair from the hairbrush and dropped it in a bowl that had colorful, ancient markings on it. With a pair of sheers, she snipped part of the shoestring in half and cut small pieces of fiber from the T-shirt and dropped them into the bowl with the hair. She lit all four candles with a silver lighter that carried a strange gold marking.

Jewel picked up her ceremonial blade. "Give me your hand," she said extending her own to him.

"What!"

"I need your blood."

"Why my blood?"

"Because you're the one who’s looking for him."

Ward hesitated, but put his hand in hers then turned his head and squeezed his eyes shut.

She lifted his hand and held it over the bowl.  With her blade, she cut a line across his palm then cut back in the same line.

"Aah," Ward forced through clenched teeth. He opened his eyes and watched his blood flow into the bowl as Jewel chanted words in Hungarian.

After Jewel had finished repeating the words, she handed Ward a towel. "Here," she said, "put pressure on it." Ward pulled back his hand and placed the towel over the cut and pressed until the bleeding stopped.

Jewel took one of the mystic candles, lit the bloody items and placed the candle back in its place. Then she placed both her hands above the bowl and said an incantation--her face turning white as chalk. Blue veins rose on her temples and wormed down the sides of her face to her neck. Ward's eyes widen at the sight of her. Then he gasped when the items in the bowl made a loud sizzling sound and blue smoke rose and hovered over the bowl. The blue smoke formed into a tiny multi-colored serpent that crawled out of the bowl. Jewel ended the incantation, and watched it slowly slither across the map heading straight to Ward.

"Whoa--what's it doing?" he said jumping back from the table.

"Relax. It has your blood. It won't harm you."

The serpent continued inching towards Ward. It stopped, reared up like a miniature cobra and hissed at him then it turned and crawled south of the map. It traveled slowly--straight lining and swerving until it reached a certain area. It stopped, froze, then burst into flames and disappeared--leaving a bloody symbol on the spot.

"There!" Ward said, pointing his finger.

"I know that area. It has lots of unexplored caves. No human can survive there."

"Then we better get going, if we want to help him," Ward said.

Jewel's eyes seemed to smile at him. "I'm impressed. After what he did to your nephew, you still want to help him."

"That thing isn't Jessie. I don't believe he'd ever intentionally hurt Karl. And I feel responsible for not being able to help him when he and Karl came to me that night."

"I know how you feel, but it's going to take more than just you and me to go out there and get him."

"Can't you conjure something up?"

"Ward, I'm a witch not a goddess. These things take time. I can't just pull stuff out of thin air."

Ward's face drooped and he flopped back in his chair. Jewel walked over to him and placed her hand on his shoulder. "I'll get River and Dex to gather up some of the wolves. They'll find him and bring him to me. Then I'll be able to cast out the demon."

Ward looked up at her, and his face appeared to brighten.

"But first," she continued, "let's see what I can cook up to help your nephew."

Ward's smile nearly took up both sides of his face.




(Synopsis)
The prologue... The 1562 Witch Act forced witches to flee Europe and come to America. With their magic, they cultivated the land. Humans moved there hundreds of years later, forcing the witches to hide their identity. The 1800s...Covenant witches are not evil, but those who consort with the dead are evil sorcerers and covenant witches kicked them out of the coven. The sorcerers got revenge and turned human men into werewolves by sacrificing a human boy. The covenant witches got revenge on the sorcerers by casting a spell that confined them to their castle for hundreds of years.

The 1900s...Covenant witches refused to undo the werewolf spell because it required a human sacrifice. So the men decided to kill themselves off by killing their male off-springs. Some wolves refused to kill off their males, causing a split between the packs, creating a northern Pack and a southern pack, which also divided two werewolf brothers... River Porter and Dex Porter.

The late 2000s...A southern pack wolf kills a young human girl--this threatens to bring demon hunters down on the packs and start a civil war between them. River's wife Jewel Porter, a covenant witch, found a spell to break the moon curse by sacrificing a boy's soul after a werewolf bite to his neck then bringing him back to life, but now the boy is a werewolf but doesn't know it. The spell works, but a hospital worker discovered the boy's inhuman blood that could expose them all. The worker is ambushed by werewolves on the way to the laboratory. They chase him into a dark wooded area where they terrorize him and steal the blood sample. All seems quiet in New Berwick for a while until a succubus seduces Jessie Carter and has sex with him. Jessie is later possessed by that demon and attacks his best friend Karl Bergess who is now in ICU and not expected to live.

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



Chapter 27
Necropolis

By amahra

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.

(I'd like to thank all of my fans who kept up with the book and gave constructive feedbacks. This book is ready to undergo some tough professional editing and, if I know my editor, lots of rewriting. But the core of the book will remain the same. And my signature style of writing will remain also. I won't be posting for a long while, but will be reading. So, I'm not going anywhere. Again, thank you.)


OPTIONAL!
ATTENTION: A synopsis is located below in blue for those who are new or fans who need to revisit past chapter highlights.



(Recap)
Using a locator spell, Jewel and Ward have discovered that demon possessed Jessie is hold up in or near some unexplored caves not far from Ironforge--a very dangerous area for mortals. At the end of chapter 26, Jewel has promised Ward that not only will she get River, Dex and the wolves to help find Jessie, but also to help his nephew, Karl recover from his injuries.

*****


Karl coughed up yellowish mucus; despite that, he was showing great improvement thanks to a smelly, brown liquid Jewel had given Ward to pour under Karl’s tongue.  Because ICU patients were constantly monitored, it was impossible to get near Karl unnoticed. So, Jewel made Ward an invisibility cloak to wrap around himself.  After visiting hours, he had entered Karl’s room and administered the potion. 

Ward enjoyed being invisible. However, the magic was only good for ten minutes after he’d wrapped himself with the cloak, so the timing had to be perfect. He had performed the task in about seven to eight minutes. With a two minute window left, he was tempted to plant a wet one on the lips of a cute nurse he'd seen on his way out, but thought better of it.

It was an hour after Ward had left, that Karl sat up in a daze. The doctor was called immediately and was equally as astonished as the ICU staff. Karl was coughing up an awful lot of mucus, but after each hour continued to improve.  What they didn’t know was that the substance wasn’t just mucus, but infirmities pouring out of him.  The staff assistants worked steadily throughout the night changing Karl’s wet hospital gowns, bed sheets and covers. By morning, the excessive mucus had diminished and Karl had completely recovered.

Ward pretended to be ecstatic when Nancy called him the next day with the good news. He had his nephew back, and his sister had her sanity back. Now, if he could only find Jessie, the world would seem so much nicer.

A team of doctors, buzzing among themselves, left Karl’s room and went back to their separate units. Karl’s recovery was the talk of the hospital. Two of his doctors—Dr. Covington, a surgeon and Dr. Stover, an MD headed for the elevators.

Dr. Covington pushed the elevator button. “This one is definitely for the medical books,” he said.

“I’ve been practicing medicine for nearly twenty years and never seen anything like this.”

“I was on my way to lunch before I was called to Mr. Burgess’s room. But now, I think I could use a drink. Care to join me?” There was a three second silence. “I’m buying.”

Dr. Stover grinned. "What are friends for?” The floor number lit up over the elevator and the metal frame parted.
*****

River and Dex picked up the last of the wolves who had eagerly volunteered their services in the search for Jessie.  River pulled his black Durango SXT out of the last pickup’s driveway followed by Dex in a red Chevy Silverado. A train of several cars and trucks lined up behind Dex and headed for a place no mortal had ever gone. It was a place near Ironforge—a demonic place called Necropolis, a cemetery world of the evil dead and undead. The only difference between the two was that the evil dead stayed put; if you didn’t disturb their grave, they didn’t bother you. The undead, however, needed no incentive.

The short caravan of vehicles journeyed through black mud and thick foot-high fog, crushing dead animal bones and human skulls under its wheels as they traveled closer to the dark caves. The stench caused Dex to roll up his window and place a handkerchief over his mouth and nose. He turned to Matthew who sat in the front passenger seat.

“Damn, I hate the smell of death.”

Matthew stretched his eyes and fanned the odor away from his face.

By mid-day, the wolves had traveled well inside of Ironforge and parked their cars and trucks several hundred feet from the nearest cave. There were seven caves within fifty feet of each other. Doors swung opened, and each wolf got out with a handkerchief tied over his nose and mouth--giving them the appearance of 1800s western bandits.  Many carried ropes as a safety precaution and pepper spray for possible encounters with reptiles, large wood rats, or bears. Because of the spread of civilization, many animals had made those dark underground dwellings their home. The wolves were instructed to be mindful of sink holes and discouraged against squeezing through tight openings inside the cavern; sometimes it was easier to squeeze through, but often impossible to squeeze back out.

 River waved his arm at them. “Spread out in groups of threes or fours and search each cave,” he said, his words muffled by the cloth. “If you see anything, one of you come out and shoot a spark into the air.”

Spark guns were their only means of long distant communication. Phones were useless in that area.  One of the older wolves was to stand by the vehicles and wait for the signal that Jessie was found or that someone was in danger. Then he was to run in and get River.

Dex, Matthew and River entered a cave together. The entrance was engulfed with impenetrable blackness. River watched their shadows dissolve into the black, and the musky taste of the air clogged his throat. He and Dex carried old fashion bronze carbide lamps used decades ago by miners. Matthew wore a light mounted to his helmet.

The red, dirt path snaked a quarter of a mile into the underground. The cavern that had never witnessed sun or moon looked as if time had stood still. Its shape was ovoid—the walls smooth from the floor to a ceiling that stretched a hundred feet up to giant stalactites and the bat roosts. River’s boots hit against loose stones that littered the floor. Stale air filled his lungs; yet, the darkness beyond his senses felt intriguing. Water dripping into water, and crickets chirping surrounded him like a noisy blanket as the chilling gloom appeared to swallow everything within. Large cones hung from the ceilings and even hard hats were no guarantee against injury from falling rocks.

As they journeyed further, they came across frigid pools of stagnant water. River wondered what was around the next boulder, and just how far did the path go? Under Dex's boots, loose stones shifted making the noise of the disturbed rocks echo against the stone walls.  The lights caused some parts of the cave to come alive—snakes flashed under rocks, insects scattered, small mammals scurried, and the light bathed the path up ahead in a glimmering orange glow.

A great shout came from behind.

“River! River!” the old wolf yelled out of breath. “Come quick, they found that guy, Jessie and he’s meaner than a grizzly bear woke from a nap.”

River, Dex and Matthew followed him to the exit.  Outside, River saw the wolves pouring into one of the middle caves.

“In there,” the old wolf said pointing.                                                 

River ran in with Dex and Matthew right on his heels.  A little beyond the mouth of the cave, mounted lights on the wolves' helmets flickering against the cavern walls made Jessie's shadow look like a ten foot black monster.  The wolves had him surrounded and he was growling like a dog and hissing like a pissed off cobra.

Before River could give a command, one of the wolves charged Jessie who stood wide-legged, his body leaning forward, arms bent at the elbow and fingers spread apart. When the wolf came within reach, Jessie lifted him over his head and threw him against the wall. Other wolves charged and one-by-one, they were batted several feet into the air, some went crashing into the dense walls--many landed hard on giant boulders, while others were sent skidding across the jagged rock floor.

River’s voice had been drowned out by the commotion; now that many of the wolves lay nursing their wounds, they heard him clearly yell, cease your attack.  He inched towards Jessie with his palms facing out--a no threat sign. Jessie stood foaming at the mouth, his eyes blood-shot and wild, following River’s every move.

“Jessie.  No one’s going to hurt you.  We’re here to help you.”

River began to move in closer, but Jessie shot into a fighting stance and River backed off.

“Okay. Jess. Okay. I’m going to stand right here. But I need you to listen to me. I know you’re still in there somewhere, Jess. This thing isn’t you.”

“There is no fucking Jessie!”  several voices echoed from Jessie's mouth.

“You’re in there, Jess.  We know you’re in there. And we know you want to come out, but you've got to fight it, Jess. You've got to fight it.”

“THERE IS NO FUCKING JESSIE! ” the voice thundered against the walls causing the entire cave to tremble like an earthquake—and the wolves to tumble over like duck pins. Giant cones and rocks fell from the ceiling, injuring some wolves, and barely missing others.

Recovering from the fall, River started to rise, but flopped back down and gasped at the sight of Jessie's face that began to melt. His nose and mouth washed into each other, and his eyes oozed out of its socket like lava. His head waved into his neck and neck into his shoulders and torso, and legs and feet, until he was nothing but viscous goo.  Then an eerie silence hung in the air, and all eyes remained fixed upon the pool of goo--when a woman rose out of it and stood majestically.

“Who the hell are you?” River shouted.”

“No need to get up,” a male voice rang out from the blackness. Gunner, Hollie and Amber strolled into view.

“Yes, at her feet is where you belong,” Amber said.

“You pathetic two-footed beasts," Hollie scolded. "Look upon the queen of darkness."

They strolled over and stood next to Corina who appeared the very image of her tall, slender shadow; she was dressed in long-flowing black--from her neck to her wrist, to her feet and out into a long train. She raised her hand, the cave lit up like a day sky.  And behind her, fifty feet away--stood a vast army of the undead.

River's face dropped. “Holy, Mother of earth.”



***** The End of Book One *****


(Synopsis)
The prologue... The 1562 Witch Act forced witches to flee Europe and come to America. With their magic, they cultivated the land. Humans moved there hundreds of years later, forcing the witches to hide their identity. The 1800s...Covenant witches are not evil, but those who consort with the dead are evil sorcerers and covenant witches kicked them out of the coven. The sorcerers got revenge and turned human men into werewolves by sacrificing a human boy. The covenant witches got revenge on the sorcerers by casting a spell that confined them to their castle for hundreds of years.

The 1900s...Covenant witches refused to undo the werewolf spell because it required a human sacrifice. So the men decided to kill themselves off by killing their male off-springs. Some wolves refused to kill off their males, causing a split between the packs, creating a northern Pack and a southern pack, which also divided two werewolf brothers... River Porter and Dex Porter.

The late 2000s...A southern pack wolf kills a young human girl--this threatens to bring demon hunters down on the packs and start a civil war between them. River's wife Jewel Porter, a covenant witch, found a spell to break the moon curse by sacrificing a boy's soul after a werewolf bite to his neck then bringing him back to life, but now the boy is a werewolf but doesn't know it. The spell works, but a hospital worker discovered the boy's inhuman blood that could expose them all. The worker is ambushed by werewolves on the way to the laboratory. They chase him into a dark wooded area where they terrorize him and steal the blood sample. All seems quiet in New Berwick for a while until a succubus seduces Jessie Carter and has sex with him. Jessie is later possessed by that demon and attacks his best friend Karl Bergess who is now in ICU and not expected to live.

 

Author Notes New Berwick, Illinois is comprised of four regions: Falcon Haven, Northern and Southern Greyscott Falls, Sheerfield County and Ironforge.

Main Characters

Northern Greyscott Falls:

River Porter....... Main Character
Jewel Porter....... River's wife
Their daughters....Chelsey, Abby, Dria, and Becca

Southern Greyscott Falls:

Dex Porter.........River's brother
Matthew (Matt) Porter... Dex's son
Jan Porter ....Dex's wife and Jewel's cousin/sister-in-law
Raymond Carter.. Dex's neighbor
Debbie Carter... Raymond's mother

Falcon Haven:

Beatrice ....... Jewel's best friend
Kayla Morrison.. Beatrice's niece

Sheerfield County:

Wayne Tilbert....... Sheriff of Sheerfield County
Reece Tilbert....... Wayne's wife/Sheerfield Bank president
Veronica (Ronnie) Tilbert...Wayne daughter/Kayla's BFF
Christopher Tilbert.........Wayne and Reece's son
Christa......................Veronica and Kayla's BFF
Bob Wilson..................Sheerfield County Coroner

Ironforge:

Corina Brewer...............Sorcerer
Hollie Brewer...............Corina's sister/Sorcerer
Gunner Lenox................Sorcerer
Amber Moore.................Sorcerer

Supporting Cast

New Berwick residents


Art Work: Her Eyes by Diane Azdamar at dianae.cgsociety.org



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