Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chapter 19

In the woods, protected by their circle, Faith sat with her legs tucked underneath her, her hand absentmindedly trailing back and forth over the ground. She looked up and saw her friends all sitting on the ground with her, their long legs sprawled in front of them. All of them looking at her with anticipation; Alex’s blue eyes, Nick’s black ones, and Chase’s grey eyes all met her gaze, all expecting her to have the answers.

The Three may have more power than her, but she was the one who was responsible for the banishing spell—the spell that would rid the town of the Dark Power forever. Talk about pressure.

Pulling herself up onto her knees Faith wiped her hands on her jeans, took a deep breath and spoke. “You’ve all learned how to call the elements, but as I’ve said before, most witches will typically identify more with one element over the others. I think it would be best if we determined who identifies best with a certain element. It might make our final spell—the banishing spell—more powerful.”
“How do we do that?” queried Nick.

Faith picked up a dead leaf off of the ground, “I wish there was a simple way of doing it, but the reality is that you kind of just feel a connection. Almost as if you don’t have to focus as much in order to call to that element, the power is just there ready for you to tap into it.” She twirled the leaf between her thumb and pointer finger and as she spoke she called to the Earth and the leaf changed from brown and brittle to a deep shade of green. “Did any of you feel like one element was easier for you to call than the others?”
“I…I think so,” Alex answered back.
“Me too,” Nick responded.
“Definitely,” Chase said. “Fire is mine,” and as if to prove his point, Chase cupped his hands together and without so much as blinking a flame burst into his hands.
Faith thought back to their first session in her aunt’s dining room when Chase nearly singed her eyebrows off. Fire was definitely his.
Chase extinguished the fire by closing one hand over the other and went back to looking bored—a typical Chase-like expression.

“I’m pretty certain that mine is water. Not that water is going to help us with anything, other than putting out Chase’s fires,” Alex said sheepishly.
“Yeah, I’m thinking that Air won’t do much other than maybe give the Dark Power windburn,” Nick added.
“Don’t think of it that way,” Faith admonished. “Just because those elements are easier to call doesn’t mean that you can’t call the others. Besides, it’s better for us that we each call a different element. It will make our spell stronger.”
“Yeah, about the spell, how will we know what to say?” Alex asked.
“It will come to you.”
“How?” Nick asked.
“It’s hard to describe,” Faith replied furrowing her brow in contemplation. “I guess it’s almost as if you’re remembering it. The spell is there in your head, you just don’t know it until you need it. Then, when the moment comes, it just spills out of you.”
All three of her friends looked at her skeptically. Faith laughed.
“You three should have a little more faith in your magic.”
“It’s not the magic I’m worried about, just the spell,” Alex huffed. “By the way, do we need anything extra for this spell? No dolls or blood this time?”
“Nope, I did bring some charms though. We should place them around the perimeter of the circle for extra protection.”

Faith got up, brushed off the dead leaves from her jeans and walked over to her book bag. She reached into her bag and pulled out six small bags. Thinking it was better to be safe than sorry, she did one final check of the contents of each protection charm: angelica root, blessed thistle, blackberry leaf, caraway, as well as some carnelian and chalcedony stones to protect against evil.

When she checked the third bag she noticed an extra stone, in disbelief Faith poured the contents of the bag into her had to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. Hematite. She hadn’t put that in there. She was positive. Faith spun around with a look of shock on her face.

“What? What is it?” Alex said scrambling to his feet to race over to his cousin, fear creeping into his voice. Nick and Chase weren’t far behind.

“Hematite. Someone put hematite into the charm.”
“Are you sure you didn’t do it by accident?” Alex asked.
“I’m positive, Alex. I swear.”
“Who would sabotage us?” Nick asked the group?
“I’d put my money on Reese,” Chase seethed, “That son of a…”
“Wait a second,” Faith looked at the stones in her hand. She held the shiny silver stone up and looked at it, willing it to give her an answer. She searched her memory for anything that seemed suspicious. Where had she seen the hematite before?
“What?” Chase barked.
Faith placed the hematite in her hand next to a piece of clear quartz. A piece so clear it looked like a diamond. Diamond and silver. A silver diamond ring. Oh God, thought Faith. No.

“It’s Robert.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“No, Alex, I’m not. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense…during my first week here my moonstone was destroyed. Someone in the house had to destroy it. Stones don’t just break on their own.”

The three boys sat in stunned silence, all of them searching their own memories for any evidence to Faith’s claim. Faith stood her ground.

“She’s right, Alex,” Nick finally said. “Think about the night of the Fall Ball. He was there walking around outside when we got back to the house and he seemed pretty out of it.”
Alex silently shook his head, “Broken stones and walking around the house are hardly enough to condemn a man who has lived in my house for my entire life.”
“There’s more, Alex. Remember when Reese was locked in your room? Remember how Robert was awake and we had to steer him away from the room? Well, when I went to go and check on Reese the next morning I saw scratches on the door to your room. Didn’t you see them? I forgot to mention them because we were busy holding Reese captive,” Faith smacked her head, “How could I have been so stupid?! There were…are marks on your door and the door jamb; like someone had been trying to pry the door open!”
“But, how? And why Robert?”
“It’s his ring, Alex. He wears a ring on a chain around his neck. It’s made of hematite and a clear quartz crystal. Remember how we thought that Reese was being controlled by the Dark Power? Well, he wasn’t controlling Reese, but he’s definitely controlling Robert. It explains so much,” Faith’s mind was reeling.
“When we did the scrying spell and it said that the Dark Power was in the house. It was! Robert was in the house!”
“Slow down, Faith. You’re making my head spin,” Alex said. “I can’t think.”
“The only question is, how did Robert get his hands on a ring like that?”
The four friends looked at each other.
“Did you see any mention of a ring in that journal?” Nick asked.
“The journal!” Alex and Faith exclaimed together.
Realization dawned on all four of them.
“The journal had that hole in the cover. Just big enough for a ring,” Alex said, sadness seeping into his voice. Poor Robert never stood a chance.
Faith placed her hand on her cousin’s arm. Robert might have been the housekeeper, but he was more like an honorary grandfather to Alex. Faith gave Alex’s arm a squeeze.

“Well, well, well. I see that I’ve been found out.”

The circle of four spun around toward the gravelly voice that had spoken to them.
A stooped old man walked toward the circle in the woods, the ring around his neck reflecting the weak rays of sun that managed to make it through the trees.

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