Chapter 1: Dark Baptism
‘Good morning, aunts. Ambrose.’
Sabrina entered the kitchen carrying a blue striped box. It seemed torn between excitement and anxiety. She took the chair beside me, momentarily setting the box aside.
‘Good morning, darling. How did you sleep?’ Hilda asked taking her eyes from the frying pan to greet her.
I lowered the Greendale newspaper to join the conversation.
‘Stormy, by the noise.’
Since arriving the night before, Sabrina had been agitated. Loud songs, staircase dancing, room bustle...
‘Since you mentioned it, Aunt Zee, I woke up a few times,’ she murmured, looking at some point on the table, avoiding eye contact. ‘It's an exciting moment in many ways.’
Something told me that this whole mood had a first and last name. But I preferred to think that her anxiety was due to her dark baptism. I left the newspaper to pay more attention to Sabrina.
‘I remember the week before my baptism,’ I replied. ‘It seemed like my life was finally going to start. I hardly slept.’
I swallowed my cigarette, attached to my finger tip, as memories of my own baptism came to me. That day, I received a gift and met my curse.
‘Excited for tonight, Zelda?’
Edward questioned as he handed me a glass with a military green content. It was a mixture of milk, eggs, rosemary, agrimony, a touch of vanilla, purge, tannin, and some garden herbs. It served to purify the body before the baptism of darkness. After a week of drinking it, I hardly felt the strong taste, but my stomach no longer seemed to accept it as well. I just couldn't say that it was due to the drink itself or the anxiety.
‘I haven't slept in a week. My life will finally begin.’
Edward grinned and put his hand on my head.
‘That's exactly what will happen, Zelda,’ he murmured. ‘You will sign the Book of the Beast, begin your studies at the Academy of the Occult Arts, and become a powerful witch, like all Spellmans before us.
He sat beside me at the table and opened Greendale's newspaper while sipping his cup of coffee. I sipped the green liquid, holding my breath, in a vain attempt not to suffer from the bitter taste. Vinegar Tom ran past the table and stared at me, waiting for food.
‘If he knew what he had in that glass, he wouldn't be so excited,’ Edward whispered with a laugh.
I rolled my eyes and got up to get food for my familiar. The dog ran after me and wagged its tail happily as it saw its pot be filled.
‘And where are daddy and mommy?’
The wizard lowered the newspaper and set the cup on the saucer.
‘They went for a black narcissus for tonight's ceremony.’
It was true. The goat would be an offering to the Dark Lord.
‘Did they get the mortal blood?’ I questioned again.
‘Of course, Zelda. At a mortuary, that's not missing,’ he muttered with a wink. ‘Now I have to go to the Academy. See you at night.’
Edward kissed my forehead and took his coat and hat from the young man before leaving the house. So I was alone with Vinager Tom and my anxiety. The next morning, I would go with Edward to the Academy and everything would change.
The bloody moon shone in the sky. Around me, only the darkness of the night and the trees accompanied me. But I could already hear the voices of the Coven's wizards chanting somewhere in the woods.
I took a deep breath as I saw a barrier of blue fire rise in front of me. Edward had told me that going through the blue fire was the last part of the cleansing ritual. He would not burn my body, only my soul. There was nothing to fear, so I crossed the barrier.
The clearing, lit by torches and a large bonfire, opened before my eyes. All the Coven's wizards and witches turned their gaze on me as the High Priest asked me to approach. I knew some of the wizards, but a pair of blue eyes, next to Edward, seemed to jump through the crowd. Who was he?
I shook my head. I had more to worry about. My parents were waiting for me near the stone altar.
A grave silence took over the clearing when I finally reached the altar. My heart was beating fast and I took a deep breath to calm down.
‘Welcome, daughter of the night,’ the High Priest's voice reverberated through the clearing. ‘Who delivers this young woman for unholy baptism?’
‘We, Your Excellency.’ My parents volunteered, prostrating themselves behind me.
‘Shoot it, brothers.’
My mother and father came to open the buttons on my black dress and remove it from my body, leaving me dressed only in the equally black second-skin dress. I carefully removed my shoes, becoming barefoot and in contact with the cold grass.
‘We are gathered in this grove, in the presence of the Dark Lord, with all the living and dead souls of our Coven, the Most Unholy Night Church. Kneel down.’ The priest commanded and I promptly obeyed.
The man dipped his thumb into a small chalice that contained human blood.
‘The Dark Lord teaches us. There is no other law than your own will,’ he murmured, outlining an inverted cross on my forehead. ‘The Dark Lord asks, do you want to be happy, young lady, and be free? Free to love and hate? Being what nature wanted, obeying only her laws and herself?’
‘Do you believe Lucifer, the archangel, who preferred to lose heaven to his pride?’
‘In exchange for this belief, you will receive powers that will allow you to serve the Dark Lord. Zelda Phiona Spellman, are you willing to abandon the Path of Light and follow the Path of Night wherever I take you?’
‘And will you put the Dark Lord above all others, whether your loved ones, your family, your friends, or your neighbors?’
‘Then it's time to sign his book.’
The High Priest offered me his hand to help me up off the floor. I took it and was soon standing and facing the Book of the Beast. The huge library was open and showed numerous signatures. The man picked up the ceremonial dagger and carefully cut my palm. The ardor, due to the adrenaline rush, was minimal, and soon a few drops of my blood dripped to the page of the book. The priest offered me a quill made of human bones and I used my blood to write my name in the book. Soon, in a neat and neat handwriting, “Zelda Spellman” was the newest signature of the Beast's Book.
‘It's done!’ The High Priest's voice echoed again, he closed the library and the ceremony was over.
The music filled the clearing, as did the happy voices of the Coven's wizards. After the ceremony, it was normal to have a party in celebration of the new wizard or witch. The goat was slaughtered as an offering to the Dark Lord, and they all used their flesh, toasted with human blood, and danced around the fire.
Coven members came to greet me gradually, but their attention soon turned to my parents. They had faith that I would be brilliant as Edward and I could not contradict them. It would live up to the Spellman family name.
‘Welcome to the Coven, Zelda!’ My brother approached with a happy smile and surprised me with a tight hug.
‘Thanks. Now let me go.’
The older one laughed and stroked my cheek before making room for me to better see who was with him.
‘Zelda, this is Faustus Blackwood, my mentor,’ he murmured, pointing to the blue-eyed man who had caught my eye earlier. ‘Faustus, this is my younger sister and my pride, Zelda Spellman.’
‘Delighted, Miss. Spellman,’ the man whispered, taking one of my hands and placing a kiss on his back.
I felt a rush of heat rise through my body.
‘Nice to meet you, Mr. Blackwood. My brother talks a lot about you.'
The blue-eyed man raised an eyebrow at my comment and shot Edward a funny look.
‘I hope your comments about me are as devilish as possible, Brother Spellman.’
‘Of course, Brother Blackwood,’ he replied with a sarcastic smile.
A wizard, looking about five hundred years old, behind the two of them complained of the delay. Faustus rolled his eyes at some offensive comment from the old man and turned to him.
‘She's not interested, sir,’ he muttered darkly. ‘I think you should go look at your reflection on the Sweetwater River.’
The wizard's eyes became dark and cloudy, and the next instant he turned his back on us and walked into the forest toward the river.
Edward shook his head no and let out a laugh.
‘Our future High Priest bewitching the elder sorcerers of the Coven in full celebration of initiation ... How profane!’
‘Praised be Satan!’ Faustus celebrated and was accompanied by some wizards who were close to us.
Blackwood looked around with a suddenly serious look and snorted. Edward and I were oblivious to what was on his mind, but I remembered my brother commenting that Faustus was good at reading minds. The blue-eyed man took off his own coat and placed it over my shoulders. The difference between our sizes was so evident that his coat was able to cover my body to the thighs.
‘Miss. Spellman, I think this is the time to retire,’ he said. ‘From this point on, wizards can become more ... attacked. Edward, let your parents know that Zelda needs to be early at the gym and should go home to rest.’
Edward frowned and seemed to focus around.
‘That's right, Faustus,’ he agreed. ‘Can you accompany Zelda while I warn our parents?’
Blackwood nodded. I snorted, torn between frustration and anger. I could defend myself and it was absurd that I had to give up my own initiation because some wizards didn't know how to behave. Let them retreat!
But Edward wouldn't listen to me, not when the order came from his mentor.
‘I understand your frustration, Miss. Spellman,’ he whispered and then winked at me. ‘Just don't kill the messenger.’
I raised an eyebrow at him and opened my mouth to answer him, but we were interrupted.
‘Let’s go, Zelda?’ Edward approached again and I agreed.
‘See you tomorrow, Sister Spellman,’ Faustus murmured with a slight bow. ‘I think the Academy will not disappoint you.’
His blue eyes flashed toward me and I felt a smile well up at the corner of my lips.
‘I really hope not, Blackwood.’
‘It's a birthmark.’
Hilda and I watched the dead body of the Kemper’s son. Ambrose showed us a mark on the inside of his arm, insisting it was a mark of the witch.
‘I thought the same, but I went to drill it, and...’
He took a syringe to demonstrate what happened, putting the needle in the boy's mark and then pulling it out. It remained intact.
‘It doesn't bleed,’ Hilda whispered. ‘So it's a witch’s mark.’
‘Or just blood pooled in the buttocks,’ I supposed, not wanting to believe the boy could be a wizard.
‘But if it's the witch's mark, and Connor was murdered...’
‘A witch hunter?’ Hilda interrupted Ambrose and then stared at me in terror. ‘It is possible?’
‘It would be good to warn the Council,’ the boy suggested.
I swallowed hard, averting my eyes to the corpse's face.
‘Another reason for Sabrina to come to the Church at night. To be protected. Covenless witches are easy prey.’
Sabrina and I argued the day before. She had shown uncertainty in following the path of darkness ... What she did not know was that even though she was mortal, she had no choice. The path of light was not an option.
‘I have prayed, Zelda,’ Hilda whispered. ‘I think if she wants to talk to someone, have an outside opinion...’
I gave her a cynical look.
‘Talk to who, Hilda? With the dark lord himself?’
She let out a wry laugh.
‘No,’ she replied obviously, then stopped to look at me seriously. ‘No, but with someone as close as possible to Him.’
I looked away from her quickly.
Was Hilda really suggesting that I talk to Faustus after years? For Satan... The things we did for our children.
I looked at her as she felt her gaze on me. She looked tense and slightly worried.
‘Finish embalming,’ I ordered Ambrose.
I didn't need anyone to have pity.
I walked upstairs and walked the steps that separated me from the phone. If it had to be done, it would be soon. I dialed the phone number of the Academy principal's office, turning the numbers with my forefinger. After three rings, a deep voice sounded softly on the other end of the line. I let out a resigned sigh.
‘Faustus, I need your help.’
Chapter 2: Academy of Unseen Arts
On her first day at the Academy of Unseen Arts Zelda's knowledge is tested.
Meanwhile, Sabrina finally prepares to go to the Academy.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
I entered the kitchen in time to catch Hilda handing Sabrina protective charms. The girl took them and put them in her pocket without question.
‘Honestly, Hilda, what next?’ I asked rolling my eyes. ‘Crystals? Sage?’
I poured my cup of tea, turning my back on her momentarily.
‘I was concerned, Zelda, that she was gonna get bullied,’ she said, lowering her voice to a whisper. ‘You know how cruel girls can be at that or any age.’
Sabrina took her place at the table, helping herself to Hilda's pancakes.
‘Don't worry about me, Aunt Hilda,’ she said, rolling a charm in her hands. ‘I can take care of myself.’
Of course she knew how to take care of herself. She was a Spellman ... and was created by me.
‘I know. Ooh!’
Hilda almost tossed the bacon on the plate in her hands as she started. She had an idea, apparently.
‘What if you take Salem with you?’ asked making me roll my eyes. ‘Or we can teleport him to you.’
‘Non sense. Only babies and ninnies take their familiars to school,’ I said, moving to the table. ‘Remember when you tried to bring you spiders? How all the other students laughed and called you names?’
I let out a short laugh, remembering. Hilda frowned.
‘Yes... I remember one in particular,’ she whispered irritably.
I sat next to Sabrina and gave her a happy smile, filled with the good memories of the Academy. I wouldn't let her be influenced by Hilda.
‘My years at the Academy were amongst the happiest of my life. The books I read, the friendships I cultivated. It was like being part of the most marvelous salon, arguing about ideas, philosophy. Your father and I would get into such debates...’
Such discussions were not always about academic issues and... We were almost never alone. Edward had a shadow and she ended up becoming mine.
Edward walked me to the entrance of the Academy. The seemingly abandoned building on the edge of Greendale, whose frontage contained the writing “Gehenna”, loomed before my eyes and seemed like a great hiding place for a school for young wizards.
‘Come on, I'll take you to the High Priest,’ Edward murmured, opening the doors of the Academy so I could enter. ‘He will give your curriculum with the subjects in which you are enrolled.’
I nodded and followed him into the building. The ruby walls, lit by a few lamps, lived up to the name Gehenna, or colloquially speaking, hell. Stairs rose into the walls and gave access to other environments. It would take me some time to get used to the ways. Edward led me into a room, in which a large statue of Baphomet stood and was illuminated by a solarium, a small opening in the ceiling. It was all so magnanimous and wicked.
‘The Academy was built according to the principles of sacred geometry. Each room is a perfectly proportioned pentagon that locks with the one next to it,’ my brother commented as he pointed to the surroundings around us. ‘No one knows how many pentagons there are, exactly. Some say an infinite number.’
The eyes of the other students followed us and I could see the comments whispered from all sides. I kept my head up and tried to ignore them. Soon they would all know who I was and would not simply be "Edward's sister". They would know my name and beg for my attention.
‘Welcome to the Academy of Unseen Arts, Miss. Spellman,’ the director and high priest greeted me with a handshake. ‘I prepared your schedule.’
The man handed me a small booklet of class times. I looked over the subjects and appreciated the subjects I would have; conjuration, demonology, sacred geometry, herbology, choir practice, Latin ... It seemed like a good start.
‘Edward, you're dismissed for your conjuring class. I make a point of accompanying Miss. Spellman to the demonology room.’
Edward bowed slightly and left the room. The High Priest rose from his desk and asked me to accompany him.
‘Your brother assured me that you would be ready for high-level discipline, Miss. Spellman,’ he said as we crossed the corridor. ‘That way I allowed you to be in the conjuring and demonology class. But if you ever feel that you are following or have any difficulty, let me know and I will review your grid.’
He wanted to be kind, but it sounded like a challenge.
‘I will not disappoint you, Your Excellency.’
The man gave a small smile.
‘I don't think so,’ he muttered, stopping at a double-door entrance.
He opened the door to the adjacent pentagon and the professor stopped his explanation to give us attention. The other students did the same, but their eyes focused on me.
‘I beg your pardon for my intrusion, Professor Stanley,’ the Priest said, and then put his hand on my shoulder. ‘I brought our newest student, Zelda Spellman. I leave it in your hands.’
The professor nodded and invited me to occupy an empty chair in the semicircle surrounding the blackboard. The director withdrew and Mr. Stanley returned to his seat within the semicircle.
‘Well, Miss. Spellman, we were talking about demons that are not submissive to our Dark Lord,’ the professor informed me of the subject. ‘Could you give me an example?"
I heard mocking giggles from some students. Apparently, someone from first year should not know about that. Unfortunately, for them, I didn't have a mediocre basic education like theirs. I smiled calmly and nodded.
‘Perfectly, sir. The Three Kings of Hell.’
Some frowned, while others looked surprised. A pair of blue eyes watched me closely, but I simply ignored Faustus.
‘That's right,’ the professor muttered without surprise. ‘And could you tell who they are?’
I confirmed it again.
'Beelzebub, lord of the flies, Asmodeus, lord of the plagues, and Purson, lord of the shadows.’
New surprised looks and frowns made up the facets of my colleagues.
‘Right, Miss. Spellman,’ confirmed without showing any feeling, but I noticed a slight irritation on his part. ‘And would you tell me how to conjure them?’
‘Well, Professor, like any demon, they can be summoned through a magic circle and a spell cast based on the pronunciation of their names.’ The man would interrupt me, but I moved forward. ‘However, they are not minor demons that can be summoned by novices. Only conjuring sorcerers can keep them in control within the magic circle. Now, nothing prevents two or more wizards from joining to conjure them.’
‘To banish them, just use a basic banning spell using their names. As with any demon. Or, my favorite, the combination of a witch-whistle and blinding powder for protection’ I finished.
Silence fell in the room until a slight applause filled the void. I looked at the clapping man and found Faustus. He gave me a slight smile and looked back at the professor, who was really angry now.
‘Great, Miss. Spellman,’ he whispered. ‘Now, let's get on with class...’
As I searched for somewhere to sit and eat my meal, I saw the faces smiling at me and some nodded as if approving. Within minutes, it was as if the entire Academy had learned who I was and I loved it.
A group of boys were huddled together at a table and they seemed to eat me with their eyes, I gave them a smile and before I could get closer to fraternize, I had my way interrupted. I had to restrain myself from crashing into Edward and knocking my tray over him.
‘From the comments I heard today, you did well in Professor Stanley Inquisition Zelda,’ he murmured and motioned me to a table. ‘Come on, you won't want to get involved with Billy's gang anytime soon.’
I snorted angrily and rolled my eyes before following his path.
‘Edward, you don't have to be all over me all the time,’ I whispered. ‘I feel like a baby. And you saw from demonology class that I can handle myself.’
He froze and gave me a surprised look.
‘I know you can handle it, Zelda. I just want to help and…’ He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably.
I took a deep breath and tried to calm down.
‘I really appreciate it. But it doesn't have to be like this all the time, all right?’
Edward grinned a little.
‘I promise to try to control myself. Just ... take care of yourself.’
I nodded my head. Edward always took great care of me and I understood him. If I saw him in a risky situation, I would also intrude. I admired him, knew that he was a formidable wizard and would make an excellent High Priest for our Coven in the future. But I just wanted to get a little out of its shadow and have my own light in that place.
‘I promise... And any problem, you'll be the first to know.’
He winked at me and grinned wider. I saw some girls sigh as I looked at him. Edward was extremely charismatic, intelligent and handsome, no wonder he was popular.
We reached the table indicated by him and the wizards and witches made room to sit with them.
‘The Spellmans will rule the world!’ One boy shouted from the end of the table, causing a wave of laughter from the others. ‘At least, the Academy is already in their hands. Be careful not to lose your post, Faustus!’
Faustus's velvety voice sounded behind me, causing me to startle slightly.
‘I'm not worried,’ he muttered, taking one of my hands and kissing my knuckles. ‘I will marry Zelda and join the family.’
I felt my face flush and shook my head, trying to escape the penetrating eye contact of Faustus's blue orbs.
‘In your dreams, Blackwood.’ The words slipped out of my throat and I couldn't help it.
The mocking began and the wizards laughed at Faustus.
‘Not even in your dreams, Faustus!’ Edward overcame the screams and that only made the laughs louder.
‘It would be so bad to be the wife of a High Priest, Miss. Spellman?’ Faustus questioned me, ignoring the clamor around us.
‘Well, I just don't see the point, since my brother will be one,’ I said impulsively.
The discussion drew even more glances, and the wizards seemed to be amused by the debate surrounding the high class of the Academy students. Because, at that moment, I noticed that this was what we were; the high echelon.
Faustus grinned. I felt something inside me warm and my heart quickened. Damn smile, damn blue eyes ...
He ignored the wizard beside me and pushed him to take his place.
‘Touchè, Spellman. But that, only time will tell.’
I flashed him a smile that I thought was seductive and he brushed a lock of my hair off my face, tucking it behind my ear.
It was as if no one else existed in this room and I was extremely involved until a female voice interrupted our game.
‘I wonder how a beginner knows so much about demonology...’ A dark blue-eyed girl stared at me in disgust, measuring me from head to toe. ‘If you somehow cheated, Spellman, your crown would fall too fast ...’
‘Shirley!’ Edward roared.
He would go on, but I put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.
‘I don't need to cheat, honey. I'm smart unlike some people,’ I muttered, wiping my mouth lightly with the cloth napkin. ‘And I don't have to prove anything to anyone. Now, if you already consider my crown, make sure it will not come out of my head anymore.’
The brunette practically growled. Was she jealous of Faustus? Oh, that would be interesting.
‘Faustus, could you be kind and help me find the choir room?’
His eyes practically twinkled and he rose quickly, reaching out to help me out of the table. I accepted his hand and he pulled me to him. I smiled at my new colleagues in a silent farewell and tossed my hair in Shirley's face. Soon we were moving away from the table under cheers and whistles.
Neither of us said a word as we passed the other tables, attracting every kind of look imaginable. With Faustus by my side, it was as if my power increased exponentially. And he looked as pleased as me.
When we stepped out of sight and took an empty corridor to the choir room, the blue-eyed man decided to speak.
‘I am flattered to be your chosen to participate in your Shirley revenge, since I like her as much as you do. However, I think this is the time when I need to warn you that Shirley's outbreak was not jealous of me but of your brother.’
I stopped walking and looked at him in astonishment.
‘What?’ I asked nonconformist. ‘And why didn't you tell me before? I left him there with that snake ... For Satan! Is she disturbed to be jealous of me? I'm his sister! How sick ...’
Faustus watched me with a satisfied smile.
‘Well, you have arrived and he has no eyes for her anymore.’
‘Wait!’ I asked to hear those words. ‘Did Edward get involved with that woman? And he worried that I would get involved with the wrong people. Quite frankly...’
The man laughed.
‘They formed a pair in Lupercalia last year, since then she stays behind him,’ he explained with a shrug. ‘But I doubt it's reciprocal.’
‘I hope it's right...’
We continued our journey to the choir room and Faustus sat beside me on one of the benches to wait for class to begin. I found it strange. He no longer had to stick to me, he could follow his own schedule.
‘Do you also do this discipline?’
He shook his head.
‘I have a free time now,’ he muttered in response. ‘Normally, during these periods, I follow the High Priest's routine, but today he will go to the Vatican Necropolis to find the Council, so I was released.’
‘You really will be our next High Priest candidate ... And you still make time to be Edward's tutor. Amazing for someone in the last year.’
I had to give my arm a twist. He gave me a smile.
‘Not as amazing as a beginner humiliating the Academy's most hated professor on her first day,’ she whispered as if telling me a secret, and I found myself smiling weakly.
‘By the way, what were you doing in a beginner demonology class?’
Faustus raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth doubtfully.
‘You're not enrolled in beginner demonology, Spellman. Your class is advanced, so Professor Stanley tried to humiliate you.’
‘So... That's why the High Priest said that...’ I muttered rhetorically and then tried to voice my thoughts to find out the sorcerer. ‘He told me that Edward persuaded him to put me in the conjuring and demonology classes, and if I had difficulties, he would get me out of the disciplines. But I didn't imagine that ...’
‘Edward was right,’ Faustus replied simply. ‘May I know how you had access to the information you used in class?’
I laughed and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.
‘I would take Edward's books hidden and read when no one was looking.’
He looked surprised, but broke into a satisfied smile.
‘Welcome to our Coven, Zelda. We needed people like you around here.’
Our conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the other students. The choir teacher came in and ordered everyone to take their positions and I stood waiting for instructions. The witch gave me a dismissive look and handed me a score.
‘Can you read the song, Spellman? I need to test it to know where to put you.’
Another test? Whatever.
I looked at the score, it was a basic song: Do-ré-mi. I had grown up listening to Edward sing it and play it on the piano. Not wanting to look smug, I took a deep breath and started.
‘Let's start at the very begining. A very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A-B-C. When you sing, you begin with do-re-mi ... Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-tiii ...’ There was a pause and I saw Faustus rise from his seat to indicate that the choir should follow me in the next part and they obeyed him promptly. ‘Do, a deer, a female deer. Ray, the drop of golden sun. Me, a name i call myself. Far, a long, long way to run. Sew, a needle pulling thread. La, a note to follow Sew. Tea, a drink with jam and bread. That will bring us back to do-re-mi-fa-so-ti-do-ti-so-fa-mi-re-do...’ The choir continued the choir of “Do mi mi, mi just so, re fa fa, la ti ti... while I finished the song. ‘When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything.’
As soon as we were silent, the teacher looked dumbfounded. But my eyes were focused on Faustus, who grinned at me. The choir itself seemed, in a way, lively.
‘Well, Spellman, I think your voice will have a prominent place in our choir,’ the teacher admitted when she finally found her own voice. ‘And, Mr. Blackwood, never run my choir again.’
Faustus raised his hands in yield and sat back in his seat.
‘Let's go from the beginning! Spellman, you set the tone!’
‘Spellman 2 x Academy 0,’ Faustus joked as we left the choir class. ‘I don't think even Edward could do that in a single day. But, I...’
I gave her shoulder a shove and we laughed.
‘Save your energy for tonight, Spellman,’ he sneered and I frowned.
‘What you mean?’
He looked as surprised as me.
‘From the harrowing.’
Faustus looked astonished.
‘I know Edward is strictly against the harrowings, but he should have warned you,’ he whispered irritably. ‘The harrowing is your initiation at the Academy. Senior students will take tests to test whether you are ready to study here or not.’
I sighed deeply. More evidence.
‘Will you apply my harrowing, Faustus?’
He was surprised by my question. Then he approached me, pressing my body against the wall, and whispered in my ear, making every hair on my body prickle.
‘Can you keep a secret, Zelda?’ I nodded, trying to keep my breathing regular. ‘Me too.’
He walked away with an open, seductive smile and winked at me. Son of a bitch.
‘I need to go find your brother for mentoring,’ he announced, tucking a strand of my hair behind my ear. ‘Just know that if I'm in your harrowing, I'll never allow anyone to hurt you.’
He turned his back on me and followed the hallway out of my sight.
Witches and Warlocks, welcome!
I want to thank you SO MUCH to everyone who read the first chapter, commented and gave kudos. You're a hell-sent!
Well... Prepare yourselves for the Harrowing!
Chapter 3: The Harrowing
Zelda's harrowing turns out to be more deadly than she imagined.
"But, Zelda, harrowings have always been a part of the Academy. They’re tradition,’ Faustus retorted. ‘You even participated in some yourself.’
He stood by his chair as I stared at him, near the door. We both knew how far a harrowing could go, and I refused to allow the weird sisters to take it to the extreme with Sabrina.
‘Spirited child’s play, Faustus’ I said. ‘I never killed a child!’
‘Other than your sister, who is in violation of her excommunication by coming here.’
Oh, did he want to fight?
‘I would contend that circumstances demanded it.’
‘And I would contend that the Church of Night is only as strong as its weakest member, and that a good harrowing forges the weak.’
I locked my jaw. Had he lost his memory?
‘My niece isn't weak,’ I snapped.
‘Then really, sister, what is there to worry about?’
His calm and defiant tone almost made me fly in his jugular.
‘What if it were your child being harrowed?’
His blue eyes flickered toward me. We both knew the answer. Faustus never spared his efforts when it was in his best interest.
I curled up against the white sheets and waited for sleep to come. It would be no use to be anxious for what would come next. It was better to rest while you could. I kept my attention on the ticking of the bedside clock. That would help me fall asleep.
Sometime later, the sound of the clock faded. My mind felt happy, could finally rest. However, a gust of wind made me cringe. I reached for the sheets to cover myself, but all my hands found was a smooth, hard, icy surface. I opened my eyes alertly and found the darkness of the forest. I was lying on the altar to which I had been baptized the day before.
So would this be how the harrowing would begin?
My breath was clouds of vapor in the air, it was a damn cold night. I hugged my own arms and waited for someone to show up. She was barefoot and in a thin nightgown, it would be unwise to run through the woods for no reason. It could be even more dangerous.
I closed my eyes and tried to sense the presence of other wizards. They were among the trees but kept close.
It was not long before they all came out of their hiding places, forming a circle around the altar. They were hooded in black robes and carried daggers in their hands. By their physical size, they were all men. One of them took the lead.
‘Zelda Spellman, your initiation begins now.’ A voice echoed through the night. ‘The thirteen witches of Greendale were hunted by mortals and fled into this forest. However, the hunters continued to pursue them and showed no mercy. Your mission tonight is to stay alive until dawn.’
I felt a chill run down my spine. They were kidding, right? They wouldn't really try to kill me...
The next instant, however, they proved to me that they were serious. The boy who had spoken jumped toward me and I had to jump off the altar to dodge him. His dagger dug into the altar stone right where I was. Everyone else followed him and I cast a confusion spell to gain time and escape into the woods.
I ran as fast as my legs would allow me, but the darkness and tree roots didn't make the task easy.
The night would be long. May Satan help me!
Edward made some last notes about our discussions in his personal agenda.
‘I think we're done for today,’ I muttered, stretching. ‘Enjoy that we're done early and go rest.’
The boy gave me a smile and rubbed his eyes.
‘Early?’ He questioned, pointing to the library clock. ‘It's past witch time, Faustus.’
Is it past witch time? I looked at the clock feeling a chill cut my spine. For Satan, it was not possible!
‘Edward, save the books and lock the library, please,’ I said, putting my coat on my shoulders. ‘I need to hurry.’
‘Fine ... But what will you do at this time?’
I was already away from the library when Edward finished his sentence. Just today, I was late! Cursed be Satan!
I ran as fast as I could into the girls dormitory and felt my chest sink as I didn't find Zelda in her bed. I looked around and all the other beds were occupied. That is, it would be the boys who would apply the harrowing. And I had the knowledge of a group that hated Edward enough to discount his sister; Billy's gang. I ran my hand through my hair, trying to control myself. Despair would not help. They wouldn't take her away from the Academy.
I walked over to the empty bed and searched her pillow for a strand of hair. It was not difficult to find the copper wire that contrasted with the white sheets. I took it in my hands and strode out of the room.
Academy runners have never seemed so extensive. Each step I took seemed not to go far enough to reach my goal. It was annoying! I broke into the conjuring room with my lungs on fire. I opened a chest, removing several candles from inside and placing them on the large pentagram drawn on the floor. He was wedged in the ground to facilitate our classes.
I lit the candles and sat in the middle of the pentagram with Zelda's wire in hand. With luck, the location spell would allow me to find her and soon I would be by her side.
‘Quid est occultatum in tenebris, venit ad lucem. Nihil perdidi in sempiternum. Veni ad me, Zelda Spellman!’
My feet complained of pain from stepping on broken branches and tripping over the roots of the trees at all times. Every dry leaf I stepped on seemed to echo and denounce my position. I was already completely sweaty and dirty with dirt.
He needed to think of a way to escape them. Trying to bewitch them was crazy, they were all seniors. He had only managed to use the confusion spell because they had their guards down, but now they should be better prepared for possible attacks.
I heard a scream near where I was and despair came over me. They were closer than I had anticipated. I tried to jump a log, but turned my foot on the landing and fell awkwardly to the ground. The pain ran through every inch of my body and I suppressed the scream that reached my throat. Tears took my eyes and it took me a few seconds to catch my breath.
I tried to rise to continue my escape, but my heel throbbed. Running was no longer an option and I kept dragging my leg precariously. I couldn't stand still and become an easy hurry.
The scream sounded about five meters away from where I was. I quickened my pace in the opposite direction of the wizards, but the darkness hampered my attempt. Not surprisingly, I tripped over a large root and was brought down again. My heel already warned me that I couldn't keep pushing him, so I tried to crawl into one of the trees. If I cringed and kept quiet, maybe they wouldn't find me...
A scream died in my throat as I felt something pull at my foot. It was my end. The man's arms pulled me to him and I waited for him to stab me. To my surprise, he just hugged me and kept us hidden in the shade of the trees. Her scent betrayed him before the dim light of the moon allowed me to see his face.
‘It's all right, Zelda,’ Faustus whispered.
His voice was soothing and I relaxed into his arms. Even though I was still being hunted, I felt protected.
Faustus ran his hands up my arms and I felt them warm and welcoming. He shifted to remove his own coat and placed it over my shoulders, hugging me again. My heel complained of the movement and I couldn't hide my discomfort from Faustus. He took my foot, not caring that it was completely dirty with dirt, and moved it carefully. Probably checking if it wasn't broken.
‘I think it's just a dislocation,’ he whispered. ‘I'll try to heal for you, okay?’
I nodded with a slight nod.
He took my heel with his hands and muttered some spell that I couldn't stick to. Relief began to spread through every cell of my body and I sighed.
‘Can you tell me what crazy they are doing to you?’
‘They said I had to run through the woods,’ I whispered, feeling my voice crack. ‘They tried to kill me with daggers, Faustus.’
The wizard's brow furrowed and I saw, even in the dim light, his face contorting with anger.
‘Listen, Zelda, this is not a harrowing. It's a reckoning with your brother.’
A rustle of leaves preceded the appearance of one of the hooded boys. He advanced on us with the dagger in hand, but Faustus restrained his attack by gripping his wrist tightly. Only then could the boy have noticed his presence. Faustus pulled his wrist toward us and elbowed him in the face, causing the sorcerer to collapse fainting beside us.
Faustus pulled the hood that covered his face. I didn't know who it was, but the wizard next to me seemed to know him well. He took off his hood with the boy's tunic and offered it to me.
‘Put it on,’ he said. ‘It will confuse them.’
I nodded and put on the hood. It was a really good plan, like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Faustus stood and helped me to my feet.
‘How is your heel?’
‘Better, thanks,’ I whispered back.
‘So, what do you think of a hunt?’ He flashed me one of his open smiles and I found myself smiling back. ‘I think the time has come for hunting to become a hunter.’
I positioned myself on the altar and waited for the sign of Faustus, hidden among the trees. The robe of the boy we felled allowed us to move smoothly through the woods, even if we passed close to any other Academy student. They seemed conditioned to look for me, any other wizard would go unnoticed. Faustus nodded to me and even with my heart pounding in my chest, I decided to trust him. I took off my hood and took a deep breath.
“Come on, guys! I am here!’ I shouted at the top of my lungs and let the echo of the trees do the rest.
Seconds later, I was surrounded. Wasting no time, they threw their daggers at me. I shivered slightly, but they stopped inches from me and turned to turn toward their owners. They tried to run, but were trapped on the ground by an immobilization spell. The daggers stopped an inch from their throats and the boys held their breaths.
‘What the hell...?’ One of them muttered.
‘Look down carefully.’
Faustus and I drew a magic circle on the floor the size of the clearing. As soon as the boys entered it, they were at the mercy of my spells and those of Faustus. However, they did not know of the sorcerer's participation. For them, I prepare it all by myself.
Faustus, who was staring at me through the trees, had ensured that it would make them respect me and never again dare to get in my way again. I looked away from his and we began to cast a spell.
‘Et revertetur ad terram quae fuit olim terram!’
The boys bodies were swallowed by the earth, leaving only their heads out, while the daggers fell inert on the lawn. They screamed in panic. But I found myself reflecting Faustus's pleased smile. I descended from the altar quietly and walked to the trees, leaving them behind.
‘No... Don't leave us here!’ Begged one of them. ‘Was just a joke, Spellman!’
‘Don't worry, honey,’ I muttered, stepping into one of their faces. ‘The High Priest will come at dawn to gather what is left of you.’
Without further ado, I let myself be swallowed by the darkness of the forest. Faustus greeted me with a smile.
‘You were amazing, Spellman,’ he whispered.
I shook my head.
‘Thank you, Faustus.’
He swallowed hard and I saw him lower his gaze to the floor.
‘I beg your pardon for my delay,’ he whispered. ‘I promise never to be late again, okay?’
‘You came, that's what matters. And still saved me. I am indebted to you.’
Faustus grinned and pulled me into a hug.
‘Finishing your first day at the Academy in debt to a wizard?! What a danger, Spellman.’
We laughed and he guided me to a peak near the clearing. We couldn't leave and let the boys fall prey to some wild animal, as much as I wanted to. Then we would wait until dawn and hope that the High Priest had already returned from his meeting in Italy to punish them.
We sat on the rocks and Faustus put his arm around my shoulder, bringing me close as we watched the first rays of the sunrise over the horizon. I should have been horrible, dirty, tousled hair, with dark sleepless... but none of that mattered. I had survived the trot and Faustus was with me.
‘You're still beautiful and you're right, Zelda Spellman, I'm with you,’ he whispered, taking one of my hands and kissing her back.
I grinned as I realized he was on my mind and he returned it with a wink.
Praised be Satan by Faustus Blackwood.
‘Give me a good reason not to expel them immediately,’ the High Priest demanded with anger in his voice. ‘You tortured psychologically and tried to kill a witch! That is inadmissible!’
The boys were all kneeling on the floor of the principal's office, completely soiled with dirt. Their faces showed the terror that a few hours trapped in the earth can cause.
‘She tortured us too!’ One of them tried to argue. ‘You have seen how she held us captive underground.’
‘As I see it, she was defending herself against a hoax that goes against the laws of our Dark Lord...’ he snapped and then gave me a small smile. ‘And did it magnificently, Miss. Spellman.’
I nodded and gave Faustus a knowing look. He kept close to me, but no longer showed the intimacy of yore. I looked back at the director, expecting him to give his verdict soon. I just wanted to get this over with so I could shower and sleep.
‘I think a suspension will be appropriate until I permanently define what will be done to you boys,’ he muttered at last. ‘A month at home should put their heads in place.’
They rose from the floor and began to walk to the door. Billy was the last and most unhappy of all with the situation. He looked at me as if he could see my soul and then faced Faustus. As if the pieces of a puzzle fit together, his face raged. In the next second, he had jumped on Faustus, knocking him to the ground.
‘It was you, you damn!’
The spell sounded from my mouth without my thinking about it. Soon, Billy was asleep on the living room floor. Blackwood rose from the floor and gave me a grateful look.
‘Very well, Miss. Spellman’ the High Priest greeted me. ‘I think Billy will have to sign his expulsion letter as soon as he awakens from his spell. You are dismissed.’
Faustus and I left the High Priest's room in silence.
‘I didn't think anyone could catch him off guard, Faustus,’ I whispered.
He seemed surprised by my comment.
‘I was... distracted,’ he murmured, suddenly serious. ‘Thanks for putting Billy to sleep.’
‘It was a pleasure,’ I said, trying to get a smile from him, but it was in vain.
I jumped at Edward's scream and turned to face him as he strode toward us.
‘Are you alright?’ He asked, searching for injuries on my body. ‘I just heard what happened tonight... When I meet Billy and his gang again...’
‘They've been suspended,’ I muttered to calm him. ‘There's nothing more to worry about.’
He hugged me tightly, as if to prove that I was really alive and well. As soon as he let me go, he ran his hand over my face. His gaze lifted to Faustus and he frowned.
‘Was that the appointment you were late for?’ Edward roared. ‘Were you torturing my sister too?’
I put my hands on Edward's chest and pulled him away from Faustus.
‘Ed... Faustus saved me.’
My brother's gaze darted from Faustus to me and back at the other wizard.
‘Who says he didn't do it just to earn your trust, Zelda?’ He asked nonconformist. ‘He knew about your harrowing!’
‘Edward, calm down and listen to me!’ I asked. ‘He prevented Billy and the others from killing me! He warned me about the harrowing...’
‘Did he warn you?’ Edward chewed his own tongue in disbelief. ‘And why didn't he warn me or the High Priest? It was the right thing to do!’
I did not understand why Faustus did not defend himself. He knew Edward was wrong to make those accusations. Why not tell your version of the facts?
‘The High Priest was in Italy! And apparently you wouldn't believe it!’
Edward stepped back and shook his head. He pulled me protectively and pointed at Faustus's chest accusingly.
‘What did you do with my sister?’ He practically growled the words. ‘What spell did you put on her? Why is she defending you tooth and nail, Faustus?’
I pulled away from Edward to look at him.
‘He did nothing to me but save my life!’
I watched Edward lock his jaw, such was his hatred of the mentor.
‘Don't you dare approach my sister again!’
Without further ado, he dragged me by the wrist to the women's dormitory. He said he would wait for me to get ready and accompany me to my classes. Which ended my plans to sleep a few hours that morning.
I stepped into the shower feeling the water take all the dirt with it. But she couldn't wash away the part of my soul that was frustrated and angry that I couldn't choose, and be at the mercy of Edward's wishes, whether or not Faustus was around.
At that moment, I realized how much I had clung to the wizard in a single day. It was really bizarre...
I looked at my own hands, startled. What if Edward was right?
Faustus was talking to Ambrose about reducing his sentence. I was waiting for him near the door so I could approach him before he was gone. As their dialogue continued, I wondered whether or not to turn to him. I needed to talk to someone about the anguish that was taking me. It was already reaching my limit. As Faustus always had the power to understand me and, despite everything that happened, he was my High Priest, he was my best option.
He hurried to the young man in the room to get his coat and hat, but I stopped him by approaching and touching his shoulder. Faustus turned his face to look at me more closely.
‘Your Excellency. If you have a moment, I wonder if I might bother you.’ I asked and saw his frown. Then I brought my face close to his ear. ‘I’m in need of your spiritual guidance.’
He gave me a surprised look and I hurried down the hallway, waiting for him to follow me. After a few seconds, I heard his footsteps behind me and took a deep breath. I just prayed I didn't regret it.
I took one of the sofas in front of the living room fireplace and watched him close the office door as he passed. Then Faustus took the seat in front of me. His blue eyes studied me closely and I felt a tremendous nervousness.
Having to resort to him was the biggest sign of my despair.
‘It’s been some time since I’ve submitted to Satanic confession,’ I muttered, putting my hands on my knees, trying to take the anxiety out of me. ‘But I must confess to you now I fear my family is straying too far from the Path of Night.’
‘Indeed,’ he agreed, leaning back in his chair to extend my hand. ‘There can be no other recourse but to prostrate yourself before the Dark Lord. Go on.’
He looked anywhere in the room but me as I knelt in front of him to take her hand and kiss it. What despair didn't do.
I raised my face to look at him, but he still avoided my eyes.
‘I've fought to hold the Spellmans to the mark since Edward's death. But we're a fallen family.’ I moaned, feeling tears reach my eyes. ‘Half-mortal, house-arrested, excommunicated. There are times I feel I’m running a halfway house for wayward witches. I’m failing, Father. Failing the Church of Night. Failing you.’
That seemed to attract his attention and he gave me a quick look before lowering his head again.
‘Unlike the false God, the Dark Lord accepts our weakness. He knows we are made of flesh and failure. This is our nature, Sister Zelda.’
I didn't know exactly where he was going. But Faustus soon leaned toward me, propping his elbows on his knees to hold my hand in his own. Her blue eyes darted to the fireplace and hers to my hand and then to my face, focusing my eyes. It was so intense that I found myself holding my breath.
‘I, too, know fear… and suffering,’ he whispered, the feelings overflowing with his words. Then he looked down at our clasped hands. ‘While I await the fate and gender of my children, Lady Blackwood has denied herself to me.’
I widened my eyes. That was really incredible.
‘No,’ I muttered, unable to believe it.
He closed his eyes and nodded.
‘Yes... Many months now,’ he continued to look at me and, seeing his vulnerability, made me clench his hands. ‘To be forsaken, untouched. That is not the Dark Lord’s will for any of us.’
Heat rushed through my body with the look Faustus gave me. I tried with all my might not to let myself go, not to respond to the commands of my mind to comfort me. His fingers caressed mine, making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
He didn't deserve it. But... I couldn't think rationally with those blue orbs devouring me.
Gradually, he narrowed the distance between us, kneeling in front of me and then claimed my lips. The urgency of his kiss caught me so off guard that I found myself moaning low with excitement. His hands cupped my waist, pulling me against his body as I slid his hand to the nape of his neck.
He broke the kiss to look into my eyes for about a second and then joined our lips again. My body felt like it would burn at any moment and begged me to let Faustus get closer. My mind was too intoxicated to remind me that I should not give myself to him. But Satan knew how much I needed.
Faustus grasped my face with one hand and slid the other to my back, pressing with his own body to lean back. Second later, I was lying on the rug with him over my body.
Sending all self-control to Hell, I started to take off his suit.
I wanted him and I would have him.
Chapter 4: Top Boy
The race begins for being the Top Boy of the Academy of Unseen Arts. Faustus decides to compete with Edward to show him that he is deserving of Zelda.
Sabrina had the brilliant idea to participate in the Academy Top Boy competition. I particularly believed that she could be anything she wanted. But his candidacy seemed just another way to defy Faustus and mock the traditions.
She leaned over the books, sitting on the living room floor. I remembered Edward preparing for the Inquisition. Determination ran through his veins.
Hilda had been worried since Sabrina had signed the Book of the Beast to save Greendale. She seemed to disapprove that our niece was deepening into the path of darkness.
I took an old photo album from my Academy time. Nostalgia made me look for the picture of Edward in his time as a Top Boy. Always with your pose and your charisma.
‘Remember, Hilda? When Edward was the Top Boy at the Academy? How he dazzled the coven with his knowledge and rhetoric?’ I asked my sister, who was concentrating on her knitting. – Ahh… That appointment changed his life. It’s a straight shot from Top Boy to High Priest!
I changed the album page and found a picture of me with Edward and Faustus. Well, the Top Boy's job wasn't won as simply as I made it sound. Not at all, in reality.
‘Good morning to you, my young Warlocks and witches. I would like your attention, please.’ The High Priest's voice reverberated through Baphomet's pentagon and all the students gathered to hear him. The first assembly of the year would start. ‘Each new cycle at the Academy comes with the usual election of a new Top Boy, charged with being a spokesperson for students and teachers, as well as a much needed example for the rest of you. The session is open for student referrals.’
‘Edward!’ A voice overlapped to indicate my brother.
Many others started shouting his name and applauding his candidacy.
‘Edward! Edward! Edward!’
‘As candidate for Top Boy, the Academy recognizes Edward Spellman,’ the High Priest said, raising his voice above the excited students, which caused another wave of applause. ‘Would anyone like to challenge Edward?’
There was a moment of silence when everyone looked over his shoulder, looking for someone brave enough to try to oppose him.
I turned my head as I heard Faustus's voice reverberate through the pentagon and soon he emerged from the shadows to apply. She was as charming as I remembered, her black hair combed back and her bright blue eyes sparkling.
After my harrowing, Edward didn't allow me to interact or even look in Faustus's direction. We had classes in common, such as Demonology, however, the warlock didn't seem interested in trying to contact me. We became two strangers.
To my knowledge, Edward had kept Faustus as a mentor, and they were still meeting for philosophical study and discussion. Apparently, their only problem was me.
I emerged from the stupor into which I had heard clapping and whistling echoing through the pentagon. Some students shouted the name of animated Faustus.
The High Priest seemed surprised by Faustus's exposition while approving it.
‘The Academy recognizes Faustus Blackwood, who will join Edward Spellman in three challenges of witchcraft to be held in the Desecrated Church. The Inquisition, the Boil and Bubble, and the Conjuring. Followed by a vote. And may the Dark Lord be with you both. Dismissed.’
‘It will be a true battle of the titans!’ One of the warlocks commented during lunch. ‘We have been expecting a clash between the two years ago!’
‘Well, please!’ a witch intruded. ‘Obviously Faustus will win! He is a senior and tutor to Edward. No matter how powerful he is, Faustus knows more techniques...’
‘But Edward is the best conjurer the Academy has in years!’ Another voice was present.
‘This guarantees him only one of three challenges. Faustus has the advantage of the Inquisition.’
‘So the tiebreaker will be boil and bubble?’
I left the table because I couldn't stand the discussion of the wizards anymore. I headed for the library, hoping to find Edward. I knew he would be stuffed with books, trying to absorb as much information as possible until the first challenge.
I was still confused by the corridors of that place, but I already had a little more confidence about the paths I needed to take. I turned one of the corridors and was startled to see a couple kneading against one wall. I stepped back to get out unnoticed, but the man's eyes met me. Faustus kept the blue orbs fixed on me as he kissed a witch, who, astonished, was as red as me. He seemed to be able to see my soul. The air in the corridor seemed not to be enough and I turned my back on the path I had taken.
Why was I so angry?
My feet guided me to the library entrance and I almost knocked the doors down as I passed. The other students' eyes looked up at me, but I ignored them, striding steadily to the desk where Edward was. A wheel of students surrounded him. It felt like a political rally.
I pushed one of the boys facing Edward and faced my brother, feeling my blood burn in my veins. I hit the table with an open hand, drawing everyone's attention. Edward's eyes met me quickly and I noticed a slight worry take over him when he saw me upset.
‘Edward, you WILL beat Blackwood!’
Edward grinned and looked around at everyone.
‘You all heard Zelda! Let's start working to show Faustus who rules here!’
Screams and clapping echoed through the library, and the group dispersed to find content that would help Edward in his studies. I would help Edward win even if it was the last thing I did.
‘Correct!’ I murmured happily after the last question I had asked Edward.
We spent the rest of the day in the books. Most of the students had retired a few hours ago, but I kept firm to the promise to help Edward. From everything he was studying, I had searched for questions that might make up the Inquisition. He answered correctly and quickly all the questions I was throwing at him. It was amazing how he seemed to have no difficulty.
To my surprise, just before the witch's hour, he got up from the table and put his own coat on his shoulders. I gave him a questioning look and he just smiled.
‘It is the tradition of the Academy that the High Priest and future Leaders go out for a night of relaxation in a men's club; the Dorian Gray Room,’ he explained. ‘I must go find them. Thanks for your help, Zelda. Now, go rest.’
I nodded my head. A club for men? How archaic.
The scene of Faustus docking with the witch came back to my mind and I felt anger burn me.
‘Have a good time.’
Without further ado, I got up and left him behind in the library.
Edward was still annoyed that I was part of the Zelda attack, but he needed me as a mentor, so by mutual agreement we had a professional relationship. Now, with the dispute over being a top boy, the atmosphere seemed even more charged. But we were discreet enough that no one would notice. No one except Zelda.
I had spent days trying to get the Spellman out of my mind after her fateful night of initiation. I refused to see her as a trophy in the midst of our fight for egos, so I chose to respect Edward's will and get away from the witch. When Billy's gang returned and I could prove my innocence to Edward, I could get closer to Zelda. If I forced contact now, things would only get worse.
That afternoon she had caught me kissing an Academy witch. And I couldn't help looking into his green eyes. After all, I was trying to ease my tension with that girl because I couldn't have who I wanted right then.
‘Faustus?’ The High Priest's voice roused me from my reverie and I listened. ‘Do you feel ready for tomorrow?’
I nodded and poured all the whiskey from my glass before answering it verbally.
‘I am always prepared, Your Excellency.’
The Priest grinned and motioned for Dorian to refill my glass.
‘I was surprised by your application,’ he whispered, approaching me. ‘But I feel there's something more to your dispute with Edward.’
I swallowed hard and stared at him seriously.
‘What would it be, father?’ I asked, sipping from my glass.
‘I think a certain mentor does not want to make life easier for his pupil, as only a master would,’ he said.
I suppressed a relieved sigh and poured another considerable dose of whiskey. He was nowhere near the truth. Maybe it was better that way.
‘Given this, Faustus, I have an invitation to give you.’
I frowned and gave her more attention.
‘Which one, sir?’
‘Your performance at the Academy is impeccable and is without doubt the best student of demonology the institution has ever had,’ he muttered formally. ‘And so that you may accompany me in your studies to take my place in the future, I would like to offer you a position as a professor of demonology as soon as you graduate.’
My chin went to the floor.
‘But what about Professor Stanley?’
‘Don't worry about him,’ he whispered, waving his hand and then pouring himself a drink. ‘There is only one condition...’
I swallowed, waiting for his condition, but we were interrupted by Edward's arrival. The High Priest stepped away from me and smiled warmly at the newcomer.
‘Welcome, Mr. Spellman.’
The warlock bowed slightly to the elder and accepted the glass of whiskey Dorian offered him, before sitting opposite us on one of the sofas.
‘I apologize for my delay, I was preparing for the challenge tomorrow.’
‘No reason to apologize, Edward,’ the older one muttered. ‘But with your arrival, we can start the real party...’
With a light palm, the lights dimmed, seductive slow music took over, and several dancers in ordinary clothes came up to dance for us.
I watched them, not really paying attention. He was focused on the High Priest's proposal. What could be the condition?
One of the dancers approached and started dancing for me.
‘Enjoy, boys,’ the priest murmured, grinning at us.
The woman sat on my lap and moved her hip against mine. I wasn't really interested, but the similarity of that moment, to the moment Zelda had spotted me, brought the witch back to my mind. I needed to get her out of my thoughts.
A night of relaxation wouldn't hurt anyone, would it?
I got up from the couch and took the girl with me to one of the club's many private rooms. I indicated to the woman to sit on the bed and took off my coat, wasting a little more time to open the daggers on my shirt.
‘Tonight your name will be Zelda.’
Edward and Faustus took their seats in two pulpits positioned opposite, facing each other. They stared at each other as if fighting a mental struggle. The church was crowded; all from the Academy were present to witness the Inquisition.
The High Priest soon appeared and occupied his post between the two warlocks. Silence broke when the Headmaster raised his hands for the floor. The excitement was so thick in the air that it could be cut with a knife.
‘This first challenge tests the depth of knowledge of our two candidates. Questions are drawn from the Corpus Arcanum, the shared body of infernal knowledge that unites our faith and our craft,’ his voice reverberated through the room. ‘Mr. Spellman first.’
Edward straightened, awaiting the priest's question.
‘In sacred geometry, what configuration represents the perfection of our Lord Satan's design for his people?’
‘Correct, point to Edward!’ The principal smiled at my brother and then turned to Faustus. ‘Mr. Blackwood, what are the five books of the Lesser Key of Solomon?
What the hell was that? I glanced at Edward and he looked as confused as me. The level proportionality between the questions was really unbalanced.
"The books of the Lesser Key of Solomon are Ars Goetia, Ars Theurgia-goetia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and the Ars Notoria," Faustus replied without shaking.
‘Is correct! Point for Faustus.’ The High Priest considered, and from his features looked surprised. ‘Mr. Spellman, what is the date of birth of wizard John Dee?’
‘July 13, 1527.’
‘Correct,’ he said and turned to Faustus. ‘Mr. Blackwood, the year of death?’
‘Mr. Spellman, what was the year of publication of the Malleus Maleficarum?’
‘Precisely. Mr. Blackwood, what year did the Salem Witchcraft trial take place?’
‘Mr. Spellman, when did the Pendle trials take place?’
‘Mr. Blackwood, what's the date of Anne Boleyn's birth and death?’
‘Born 1501 and died 1536.’
‘Mr. Spellman, what is the cause of death?’
‘Mr. Blackwood, how did the mortals finally murder Father Gregory Rasputin?’
‘Poisoning,’ Faustus replied, and when he saw that the Priest would interrupt him, he added, ‘And beating, and shooting, and drowning. And finally, they destroyed the unholy reliquary containing its mummified heart.’
Applause filled the church. I was amazed. The two answered their questions without blinking. They were on an equal footing.
‘Due to their performance, I declare the first challenge over,’ the High Priest announced, and excited shouts took over.
I rose from my seat and ran to greet Edward.
‘Congratulations!’ I celebrated, but my brother was frowning.
He grabbed my arm and turned me so that our backs were to the audience.
‘There's no reason to celebrate, Zelda...’ he whispered. ‘I was lucky. If the question of the five books of Lesser Key of Solomon had fallen to me, I would not have been able to answer it completely.’
‘But no one knows that, Edward,’ I said. ‘Enjoy the victory and go get ready for the second challenge.’
He sighed in resignation, but nodded. Soon he was taken from me to be greeted by his fan club. I shot Faustus a sideways glance, he didn't seem to sketch any reaction to his tie with Edward. He just seemed focused on his own thoughts.
Faustus caught my eye and looked up at me. He let out a breath and diverted the blue orbs at the people around him. Many complimented him on his flawless performance, but he seemed oblivious. Focused.
What was going on in your mind?
‘Should I consider your performance today as a negative response to my proposal?’ The High Priest asked as soon as I entered his office.
‘No, father,’ I murmured. ‘I just assumed they would find suspicious... I intend to fulfill your request on the last test, Your Excellency.’
The director stared at me, searching for any sign of lies in my features. Finally, it seemed to give up.
‘Well, Faustus. I will give you the benefit of the doubt.’
‘You will not regret it, sir.’
With a slight bow, I retreated from his office.
The next night brought with it the second challenge. A large table occupied the entire front of the church. Countless jars of ingredients littered the horizontal wooden surface as a cauldron steamed in the center of the table.
Again, the pews were full and some students were content to watch the challenge standing.
As soon as the High Priest positioned himself between Edward and Faustus, everyone fell silent.
‘Welcome, Edward and Faustus,’ greeted the warlocks so everyone could hear him. ‘For this second challenge, you have to demonstrate your mastery of potion-making. You will each add a material component to the cauldron. Add the wrong ingredient, with the wrong phraseology, and the concoction will putrefy. The first to cause rancification loses. And as punishment, he will ingest the spoilage. Are you ready?’ Both wizards nodded. ‘You may go first, Mr. Blackwood.’
Faustus took a pot and removed the dry skin of a snake.
‘Molted skin of cobra snake. In the cauldron, seethe and bake.’
The High Priest looked into the cauldron to gauge the state of the potion.
‘The potion remains stable. Mr. Spellman, you may choose’
Edward opened a pot whose contents were milky and scarlet and poured it into the cauldron while chanting the spell.
‘Cool it with newborn’s blood, then the brew will be firm and good.’
‘Well done,’ the director considered as he watched the potion remain stable. ‘Mr. Blackwood.’
Faustus snatched a pot with a mummified hand and threw it into the cauldron.
‘The warlock's hand joins the potion to make a motion.’
‘Stable!’ The priest confirmed and looked at Edward. ‘Mr. Spellman.’
‘Blind white eye of cave-born shark. Brought untimely from the dark.’ he recited throwing an orb into the cauldron.
The boil went beyond what was desired and then simply stopped.
‘Putrefied’ The High Priest gave the verdict and filled a goblet with the damaged contents, handing it to Edward. ‘Drink, Mr. Spellman.’
Edward didn't make a ugly face, just poured all the liquid at once. Everyone waited with their breaths suspended. He looked good at first, but then turned to puke into one of the empty pots of ingredients. Just looking at the scene made my stomach clench.
‘The winner of this challenge is Mr. Blackwood,’ said the director, pointing to Faustus. ‘Tomorrow we will meet for the last challenge. Have a cursed night and may the Dark Lord be with you.’
Everyone started to leave the church when I decided to approach Edward. His face had turned a greenish hue and he still vomited from time to time.
‘Come on, Edward,’ I called, pulling him to one of the stools as he carried an empty pot with us. ‘Sit down until your stomach gets better to get back to the Academy.’
Faustus moved quickly among the table ingredients and manipulated them, oblivious to my family drama.
‘That was nothing, Zelda,’ he whispered, wiping his mouth with a handkerchief he carried in his pocket. ‘It would be worse if I didn't drink.’
I sighed as he refilled the pot with reddish liquid.
I looked at the figure approaching us. It was Faustus. He was holding a glass of yellowish liquid.
‘It's a pepto. It will improve your stomach.’
I took the glass from his hands and handed it to Edward. My brother poured the liquid and raised the empty glass to Faustus, as if toasting the warlock's aid.
‘Thank you,’ I whispered.
He nodded with a slight lift of his lips that could not even be considered a smile and withdrew from the church.
‘For the final challenge, both Mr. Blackwood's and Mr. Spellman's knowledge of demonic conjuring will be put to the test.’
It was the last night of challenges and there we were in the church again. Edward and Faustus traced their summoning circles in silence. It took a lot of concentration not to miss an inch in the shapes used. One mistake could turn the challenge into a catastrophe.
‘As we well know, the more complex and exact the sacred geometry used, the more impressive the demon they’ll be able to summon and safety contain within the circle’s circumference,’ the High Priest didactically explained to everyone who watched the sorcerers move slowly. ‘In your own good time, Mr. Blackwood, Mr. Spellman.’
‘We're ready, sir,’ Edward announced shortly after.
He and Faustus were in position and looked intent. I felt my heart racing, such was my excitement. Edward was the best with conjuration... But something told me that Faustus was hiding something up his sleeve.
‘Vos evoco, Mammon, unus ex septem duces inferos, comedentem et anima!’ Edward conjured the demon in a steady, clear voice as a gale swept through the church, making the flames of the torches that lit the place flicker.
The demon began to take shape and soon, Mammon, one of the seven princes of hell was ahead of us. The demon had a cadaverous humanoid form and roared at Edward. My brother was not downcast. The demon was not going anywhere, it was under his control.
I looked at Faustus and he seemed to conjure his demon in low tone. He gave me a look and a slight smile before finishing his spell. Seconds later, inside his magical circle, instead of a demon, was Billy, the former Academy warlock.
The startled and frightened screams mingled. What was he doing?
Billy seemed to be aware of where he was and tried unsuccessfully to escape Faustus's magic circle.
‘What a hell?’ The boy shouted irritably. ‘What kind of joke is this?’
‘Look to your side, Billy,’ Faustus pleaded, and saw the boy's eyes widen at the sight of Edward's demon. ‘If you do not cooperate, I will give you to Mammon and he will devour your soul.’
The boy nodded in horror at the possibility.
‘Whatever you want, man!’
‘Mr. Blackwood, such conduct is forbidden...’ the High Priest roared angrily.
‘I will make my intentions clear, Your Excellency,’ Faustus murmured without taking his eyes off the boy. ‘Billy, you're here tonight to publicly clarify some facts. You were in the group that apply the harrowing in Zelda Spellman on her first day at the Academy, correct?’
Billy nodded without understanding where he was going, but I could already imagine. For Satan’s sake...
‘I need verbal answers, Billy!’
The boy swallowed, frightened.
‘That's better,’ Faustus murmured with a small, satisfied, smile. ‘Could you tell us what happened that night?’
Edward was glazing at the boy, waiting for his answer. I looked around and everyone looked bewitched.
‘The boys and I agreed to raise the level of Spellman Initiation to a more dangerous level,’ Billy said, trying to contain the tremor in his voice, but beads of sweat were already running down his forehead. ‘She is Edward's unpalatable sister... And she was proving as unbearable as he... So we decided to... scary her.’
‘Scary her?’ Faustus shouted nonconformist and with a shake of hands, caused Edward's demon to shake. ‘You're not telling us the truth, Billy...’
‘Pardon! Pardon!’ The boy begged kneeling in front of Faustus. ‘We chase her through the woods and hunt her with our ceremonial daggers. We'd bet who could kill her first!’
Horror took over the faces of the Academy students. Few knew about my harrowing. But Faustus was opening the game with everyone.
‘And what happened next?’ Faustus muttered.
‘I do not know! We heard her call us and then she managed to surrender us,’ the boy claimed raising his hands in yield. ‘She turned our daggers at us and then left us trapped underground until dawn.’
‘Enough, Faustus...’ the High Priest roared.
‘Not!’ Billy shouted, as if begging to go on. ‘Have more!’
Everyone frowned. Minus Faustus, he had finally gotten to the point he wanted.
‘What is it, Billy?’ Blackwood questioned, his blue eyes sparkling.
‘I wondered how a beginner could have gotten away from us, come up with that plan so fast, and still bewitch more than ten warlocks in the last year,’ he commented with anger taking over his tone. ‘So when we got to the High Priest's office, I got it. YOU HELPED HER!’
‘Bravo, Billy. I clap, but you don't deserve it,’ Faustus whispered deathly. ‘How did you notice?’
‘I didn't understand what you were doing in the principal's office when we were taken there. The first tip was their dirty dirt shoes. You hadn't helped rescue us, so you had no reason to step on the ground,’ he said even angrier. ‘The second indication was Spellman's look at you. As much as you were disguising, Faustus, I understood everything. You were in the woods helping her! When I jumped on you, there was no doubt. She attacked me to defend you.’
Edward's demon made a loud growl and shifted angrily at his arrest. This scared most viewers. Billy paled in terror.
‘And you didn't think of inviting me for this harrowing?’ Faustus asked.
It was his final card.
‘You may be the prankster, Blackwood, but we knew that once you knew what we were planning, you would tell Edward's creep and the High Priest,’ he said, rolling his eyes. ‘In the end, you cheated on us anyway. TRAITOR!’
Billy tried to leap over Faustus, but the wizard banned him. Edward hurried to do the same with his demon and only silence remained in the Church.
‘Mr. Blackwood...’ The High Priest began his speech, but was interrupted.
‘Don’t need to talk. I will retire myself,’ Faustus said. ‘Congratulations, Edward, you are the new top boy.’
My heart was beating fast. He had given up being a top boy to prove to Edward that he was innocent.
Faustus stepped off the stage with blue eyes glued to me. A smile played on his lips and he looked pleased.
Unusually, clapping began to echo through the church, as did cheering. Faustus turned his gaze to the other students and followed his path in acclaim until he retreated from the unholy ground.
I looked at Edward and he looked as lost as me.
While one part of me wanted to believe that Faustus had done it all for me, another, the realist, insisted that he had acted solely out of brotherhood to Edward.
Nothing but that.
I was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the principal's desk, waiting for his return from church. I knew I had surpassed all Academy bounds by summoning Billy and still threatening him with a demon. But since the High Priest's condition for me to take the place of the Demonology professor was to let Edward win as Academy Top Boy, why not do it in style? I didn’t understand his motives, but I would not give up leadership for nothing.
The door being opened denounced the arrival of the High Priest. He came around the table and stopped in front of me, resting his hands on the tampon.
‘Even with your absurd scene, the students and Edward even demanded a vote tomorrow to define the Top Boy,’ he murmured, looking me in the eye. ‘You crossed the line, Faustus. But ... It proved that you possess what is needed to be one of the Academy's professors and High Priest. So even if you win tomorrow, consider our deal sealed.’
I smiled a little, not knowing the reason for his sudden change.
He held out his hand and I squeezed it. It was done.
Just like Assembly Day, everyone was gathered in Baphomet's room awaiting the outcome of the vote. We would soon find out who the Academy’s Top Boy would be. Although I was the cause of most of the comments that flowed around the room, no one had come to talk.
‘Faustus!’ Edward called me and I turned to see him pass through the crowd until he reached me.
‘How you doing, Edward?’ I greeted him.
The warlock put his hand to the back of his neck.
‘I need to apologize for the way I treated you,’ he said bluntly. ‘You saved Zelda, and... I was an imbecile.’
‘Apologies accepted,’ I muttered, and saw Zelda approach us. ‘If I were in your shoes, I would do the same.’
The witch gave me a seductive smile upon reaching us.
‘Ready to lose, Faustus?’ The redhead teased.
For some reason, I was pleased that we were finally back to normal and I could look into those penetrating green eyes.
‘If you're referring to my heart, I've lost him to you long ago, Zelda.’
She rolled her eyes trying to look nonchalant, but the reddish hue that took over her face gave her away. I thought it was lovely. I took one of his hands and kissed his back. I could deny as much as I wanted, but I missed how Zelda made me feel.
We were interrupted by the arrival of the High Priest, who had the result of the vote in hand.
Zelda squeezed my hand, which was still tied tightly on hers, and I smiled at her tension.
‘Cursed afternoon,’ the headmaster greeted us, showing a black envelope. ‘I bring the name of the newest Academy Top Boy. Without further ado...’
The High Priest opened the envelope and pulled out a white paper. He read the name and raised his eyebrows in surprise. I swallowed hard and felt Zelda tighten her grip on my hand.
‘This is an unprecedented fact at the Academy of Unseen Arts, it looks like we had a draw," he announced. ‘Thus, the new Top Boys of the Academy are Faustus Blackwood and Edward Spellman.
It took me a few seconds to absorb the information. Both? I exchanged glances with Edward who seemed to be as strange as I was.
‘I really didn't expect this...’ Zelda uttered the unspoken words of Edward and me, and then smiled mischievously. ‘But I think that means we have to celebrate twice, don't we?’
I gave her my best smile and she returned it with a wink. That woman would still kill me.
I was meeting with Coven's promising young warlocks and future Academy Top Boy, Nicholas Scratch, in the Dorian Room.
‘In my day, I was Top Boy at the Academy, and that appointment shaped me," I told them. ‘Taught me values I still uphold today.’
They nodded and smiled. Little did they know that my values were based on protecting, conquering and liberating. One day, they molded themselves around a witch.
And I lost everything for it.
Chapter 5: Hilda Spellman
Zelda and Edward are in England to halp their pragnant mother. While her father and brother need to take care of a client, Zelda sees herself as the only option for giving birth. Faustus appears by surprise and tries to help her bring Hilda into the world.
Hello my beautiful Witches and Warlocks!
I hope you are enjoying the fanfic.
Just a reminder, pay attention to the years in witch the chapters occur. Here we have a time jump. But next time we return to normal chronology.
Sabrina retreated from Faustus's office with the Acheron Configuration in hand. Soon the wizard's blue eyes twinkled in my direction. It was unusual for him to ask to talk to me alone.
‘Zelda, Lady Blackwood has miscarried twice before. This distresses us gravely,’ he murmured and I frowned without understanding where he was going. ‘But now that I sit here with you, I feel... comfort.’
I bit back a small smile, but couldn't stop one corner of my lips from lifting. I was seized by a sudden satisfaction. Almost as if Faustus had asked us to have a child together.
‘Sister Spellman...’ he resumed and I felt my anxiety grow. ‘Would you be a midwife to her?’
All expectation turned to frustration and I was surprised by his request. I really didn't expect this. After all... He wanted me to be a midwife of his children with Constance?
Either he lacked common sense or he was really desperate.
‘To Constance?’ I asked to be sure and he nodded. ‘Faustus, it’s been years since I’ve delivered a child."
‘If I remember correctly, you’ve never lost a babe, not once,’ he said, looking at me with an intensity that could see my soul. ‘Please, Zelda. Your High Priest is asking you.’
What more could I do? I couldn't deny him looking at me so deeply. The discomfort I felt was so great that I simply nodded, refusing to use words.
I had forgotten that Faustus had already witnessed a birth done by me... even though he had almost passed out.
A week ago, Edward and I landed in London. Since my mother was in her late pregnancy, my father suggested we stay with them until our sister was born.
I heard the knock on the door. I snorted putting my book aside and got up from the couch to go and get it. To my surprise, Faustus Blackwood was standing in the doorway. Always elegant and very well presentable. But there are many miles away from Greendale.
His blue eyes sparkled at the sight of me and I felt my body heat up. Ah, Faustus's effects on me were always instantaneous.
‘Good afternoon, Miss. Spellman’ he greeted me courteously. ‘Can I talk to your brother?’
I shook my head, leaning against the doorjamb.
‘Edward is not here, Mr. Blackwood.’
A deafening scream echoed through the house and I jumped. Oh no! Not now!
Without thinking about it, I closed the door in Faustus's face and hurried up the stairs. I crossed the corridor deftly and opened the door of one of the rooms without delicacy. My mother writhed on the bed as her huge belly, due to thirteen months of gestation, moved on its own.
I ran to take her hand and try to calm her down. She let out another scream and I tried to contain my own panic. I had never delivered a child in my life. But there would always be a first time for everything.
I put a damp towel on her forehead to wipe it off the sweat and ran to the bathroom to get clean towels and fill a bowl with warm water. As I returned to my room, I saw Faustus paralyzed on the doorjamb. It was pale.
‘Faustus!’ I hurried to him. ‘Why are you here? No environment for a man!’
He pointed at my mother and then looked at me unable to say a word.
What I least needed now was for him to pass out. Then I pulled him out of the room and leaned the door behind me. He looked out of stupor despite continuing airborne.
‘I heard the scream and I was worried,’ he whispered. ‘I thought I'd better come after you...’
I rolled my eyes. But I understood his concern. He would never have imagined that my mother's screams would be strong contractions. You should think of any kind of threat, not a birth.
‘Faustus, I need you to do me a favor,’ I muttered, trying to get him to stay focused. ‘Edward and my dad are in Riverdale. They went to visit a client... Blossom, I think it was the name. Go warn them that the baby is being born, please.’
He nodded slowly.
‘All right,’ he said, taking a deep breath. ‘I'll go there. Will you be all right alone?’
I gave him a small smile.
‘Faustus, if you stay here, I'll have two to take care of. Now go!’
Without blinking, he teleported.
I went back into the room, rolling up the sleeves of the dress. May Satan help me.
I felt my body shake slightly. I had never seen a woman in labor. How could Zelda stay so calm?
I looked around not quite sure where to go. What was the customer's name? Blossom?
A mortal walked down the street, seeming unhappy with what he read in his newspaper. It looked like someone informed. I should have known where the family lived.
‘Excuse me,’ I approached, barring his way. ‘Could you tell me where the Blossom family's residence would be?’
The man gave me a surprised look.
‘Did you hear about the tragedy too?’ Asked showing the news on the cover of the newspaper. ‘Nonsense... One brother killing the other. What world are we in?!’
I rolled my eyes. I was not interested.
‘Yes, yes… Tragic’ I agreed. ‘Now where do they live?’
The mortal slapped his forehead at his failure and pointed to a road.
‘You just have to move on and turn right,’ he said. ‘You can hardly see Thornhill, it's Riverdale's biggest big house.’
Without waiting for an answer, I hurried down the indicated path. Lucky for me, it wasn't that far.
The big black gates that guarded the mansion were open and authorities prowled the gardens. It was not difficult to enter the perimeter of the house and spot the Spellmans talking to a red-haired man. Next to them, a body lying in a pool of blood was covered in uniform mortals. It should be this Blossom.
I sneaked up on Edward, not wanting to make any fuss. As soon as I pulled his arm to call him, the wizard was startled. His brow furrowed.
‘Faustus? Why are you here?’
‘Your mother went into labor,’ I said. ‘You and your father must now return to London. Zelda is alone conducting the birth.’
Edward widened his eyes and nodded slightly stunned. Needlessly, he approached his father and whispered the news in his ear. Mr. Spellman gave him a worried look.
‘I'll go ahead. Finish the negotiations and take the deceased to Greendale, Edward.’
The younger Spellman nodded immediately. The father seemed to explain the situation to the red-haired man who agreed and approached Edward. Without reservation, Mr. Spellman walked away and when he could no longer be seen, he teleported.
Edward drove the car like he was in a ride. The potholes in the road were ignored and the jolts bounced Blossom's body into the rear cabin. I kept one hand on the roof of the car to avoid headbanging and with the other, clung to the door.
‘Edward!’ I shouted. ‘If it goes on like this, this car will have three corpses in very soon!’
He gave me a brief look. He looked anxious and nervous.
‘My little sister is being born, Faustus!’ He shouted back. ‘I can't miss it.’
I have never been so relieved to see the Greendale entrance sign. I just hoped to get all the funeral home and most importantly, alive.
In record time, Edward parked the car in front of the house and ran off. I followed him, ignoring Blossom. He was already dead, no need to rush to anything anymore.
He held my hand and we teleported to his parents' house in England.
The Spellman jumped the steps to reach the top floor and I had to hurry to catch up. He entered the room and I waited at the door.
Mr. and Mrs. Spellman were sitting side by side, staring in love at a small bundle in their arms. Edward approached to see the child and his face became a perfect representation of his parents. Zelda came out of the bedroom bathroom drying her hands with a white towel. Some red hair stuck to his face from sweat. But she looked as happy as she was relieved.
‘Mommy needs to rest, Edward,’ she murmured to her brother. ‘Let's leave her with daddy.’
The warlock nodded. Zelda took the baby from her mother's arms carefully and her gaze on the child was one of the most exciting things I had ever seen in my life. Her green eyes sparkled with fascination and her smile was so dazzling that not even the sunshine could beat him.
She approached the door with Edward behind her. I made room for them to leave and as soon as they passed into the hallway, they closed the bedroom door. Zelda stopped beside me and showed me the baby wrapped in the towel.
‘Faustus, this is Hildegard Antoinette Spellman,’ she introduced and the little girl sank into her arms.
Few blond hair adorned the younger Spellman's head, and despite her swollen face, she was a beautiful baby.
‘Want to hold on?’ Zelda asked, seeing me dumbfounded.
I vehemently denied it and she smiled.
‘I'll break up,’ I muttered with a smile.
‘They're tougher than they look.’
We both laughed and I stared at Zelda again, delighted with the child.
‘You'll be an excellent...’ I was going to say "mom" but I saw her eyes stare at me in surprise and didn't know if she would accept it as a compliment or not. After all, I didn't know if she wanted to be a mother. ‘...midwife, Zelda.’
She gave a small confused smile and laughed.
‘Thank you, Faustus.’
Without delay, she announced that she would bathe little Spellman, and Edward invited me for a shot to toast Hilda Spellman's birth.
I finished covering Constance's body just as Faustus and Prudence entered the room. As I turned to them, I could see the sorcerer's exacerbated seriousness. His eyes scanned the room and then focused on me. The intensity of his questioning look made me swallow hard.
‘Faustus, I'm sorry, but you were right. Lady Blackwood was too weak to bring your baby into the world.’
‘Baby?’ He asked with a frown, completely ignoring Constance's death. ‘I thought -- You said twins.’
Faustus stepped forward to reduce the space between us as he analyzed me. He could tell that something was wrong.
‘Something strange but not unheard of happened,’ I said, fidgeting nervously for lying to him. ‘One of your sons, the dominant one… consumed the other, the submissive one, in the womb.’
I turned my back to Faustus to walk to the basket in which the baby was and picked him up. Then I turned back to him, showing the child.
‘There is only one son…’ I held his gaze, hoping he didn't realize what I had done. ‘...fortified by the brother he consumed.’
Faustus lost a few seconds to assimilate all the information.
‘As it should be.’ he said at last, making me frown. ‘Let me hold him.’
He approached me with his eyes fixed on the baby and I handed him over carefully. Faustus admired the child caressing his face gently.
I watched him closely. He did not smile and looked at his son coldly, seeming only to calculate what magnificent deeds he could do.
If Faustus were still the young wizard I once knew, he could reveal the birth of his daughter and he would be glad for it. But the man in front of me was no longer the wonderful boy who once was.
Chapter 6: Lupercalia
Lupercalia begind. With the return of Billy's Gang, Faustus participates in the festival to protect Zelda. But anything can happen under a full moon.
‘I’m pleased to be in these woods with you again, Zelda.’
Faustus and I were lying in the middle of a clearing, facing each other. He caressed my hair lovingly, looking over the full length of my body slowly. I just followed his movements with my eyes.
‘Though it violates the terms you set. That we keep our relations professional’ complemented.
Darkness prowled us, but the moon lit us enough that I could see his blue eyes twinkling. Ah, the lust...
‘It is Lupercalia,’ I whispered. ‘One night of carnality won’t kill us.’
Faustus seemed surprised by my words and approached his face with a small smile.
‘No, I shouldn't think it would. Mm.’
In the next instant, he gently cupped my face and claimed my lips. I reciprocate urgently, grabbing his neck and feeling my body warm.
It would always be a pleasure to share a Lupercalia with Faustus.
I hurried into the library, hoping to find Faustus and Edward there. As soon as I found them sitting in two armchairs near the fireplace, I approached quickly. I touched my brother's shoulders to get his attention and then sat on the arm of his armchair.
‘Edward, will you attend Lupercalia?’
My brother choked on hearing my question and I saw Faustus look at me in astonishment.
‘By Satan! Have you lost your mind?’
‘What?’ I asked without understanding.
Faustus sat on the edge of his armchair to approach me, propping his elbows on his knees.
‘Lupercalia is a pastoral festival of lust and you are inviting your brother...’
‘WHAT?’ I jumped. ‘That's not it! I'm asking because I don't want to risk being his partner.’
The warlocks seemed to relax.
‘I will not participate, Zelda. Faustus and I have a lot to do,’ Edward replied and then looked at me seriously. ‘Are you considering participating?’
‘Considering? No,’ I said with a shrug. ‘I am sure I will participate.’
Edward closed his eyes and took a deep breath, rubbing his face.
‘Zelda, do you know what happens in Lupercalia?’ He asked with some impatience.
‘Sex, I know. So…?’
Faustus had already hidden his mouth under his own hand so as not to show the smile he could not contain.
‘You don't do that,’ Edward whispered awkwardly.
‘I can start anytime,’ I said, and faced Faustus, calling him with one hand. ‘Come here.’
Edward's eyes widened in disbelief, and Faustus flashed a seductive smile at me.
‘I'm starting to like the direction of this conversation...’ the warlock murmured with a wink.
‘Stop it,’ Edward said. ‘Do what you want, Zelda. As long as you don't do anything on impulse or feel obligated.’
I was surprised by his words but gave him a kiss on the forehead.
A girl from the group of Edward and Faustus rushed into the library and reached us, she was so out of breath she could barely speak.
‘They are back!’ She muttered as she finally breathed again.
‘You need to come with me now!’
I noticed the exchange of glances between the warlocks and we hurried to follow the witch.
Who would have come back?
My question was answered the instant we entered Baphomet's pentagon. I felt my legs weaken and leaned on Faustus. They are back. Billy's gang.
Zelda had become more agitated after the gang's return, which was completely understandable. But the boys didn't even have the courage to look her in the eye. Anyway, I decided to stay alert for possible reprisals.
I followed the group throughout the day and did not seem to take any suspicious attitude. However, when my patience had run out, I wanted to go back to my business and maybe watch the first event of Lupercalia, I heard a strange conversation.
‘You know what to do, don't you?’ One of them whispered.
‘Of course yes. We have reviewed this several times!’ Another raged. ‘Now stop talking about it. Nor can Edward, much less Faustus, know.’
I frowned. What would they do this time?
When they left the dorm to head to the pentagon that would welcome those interested in participating in Lupercalia, I followed them closely and pulled the last boy in line. Lexus didn't even have time to think, the next instant he was trapped against the wall of an empty room.
‘Good evening, Lexus,’ I muttered under my breath, gripping the collar of his shirt. ‘Tell me, what are your plans for Lupercalia?’
The boy flashed a cynical smile.
‘I won't tell you.’
It was my turn to smile. He didn't need to tell me, I had seen it all in his mind.
‘You have no use for me anymore,’ I whispered. ‘Tenebris somnus.’
I let the boy's body slip to the floor and dropped him there. I had to run.
The pentagon was full. Witches and warlocks courted even before the selection of the pairs. It was possible to feel the excitement exhaling in the air. I could not deny that I was anxious. I stared at the warlocks around wondering which one would be my match. To my discomfort, the most part of the warlocks belonged to Billy's Gang. I just wished I didn't fall with one of them.
‘Welcome everyone to Lupercalia, the Wolf Festival,’ the High Priest's voice drew our attention to the mezzanine. ‘Take your seats for the meeting.’
The warlocks walked to the chairs positioned around the pillar of red, black and white ribbons, and put on their respective blindfolds. I walked to one of the lanes and held the red tip firmly.
‘Ladies, when the music stops, sit on the wizard closest to you,’ he said.
So Edward, who was sitting in a chair in the corner of the pentagon, put his blindfold on and positioned the violin around his neck. Soon the violin chords filled the room and we started dancing between the boys' chairs. We kept up the pace as the music dictated, we looked like trained, synchronized dancers. It should be a beautiful sight to watch.
As the melody quickened, the witches began to move faster and I followed them, straying from their paths and tracing mine. The sensuality of the movements was accentuated and with one last spin, the music stopped and I swallowed hard to see that Lexus was the warlock next to me. Unable to turn back, I sat on his lap.
If regret would kill...
Before I finished my thought, the warlock removed the blindfold from his face and I found Faustus's blue eyes staring at me.
He grinned at me and pulled me closer to him.
‘Why did you impersonate Lexus?’ I asked, confused.
Faustus stared at me with unexpected seriousness.
‘We better talk somewhere else.’
We were in the library and Edward paced nonconformist.
‘Couldn't you just have warned Zelda?’ He asked irritably.
‘There would be no time,’ explained the other warlock. ‘I arrived at the last minute. Either I participated as Lexus to fool the gang or Zelda would have fallen with one of them, which was the goal.’
‘But, Faustus, what did they plan after this?’ It was my turn to intrude.
Faustus's blue eyes met mine and he sighed.
‘Lexus didn't know. I don't think everyone is aware of the whole plan,' he said, taking his gaze between Edward and me. ‘That's why it's good for me to go with you, Zelda. I can probe them and protect her if they try anything.’
It was my turn to sigh. Was that what he wanted to be my match for in Lupercalia? How frustrating.
‘It really seems ideal within the possibilities,’ Edward confirmed, surprising Faustus and me. I figured he would forbid us to participate. ‘But keep your hands away from my sister.’
‘You have my word,’ Faustus agreed, though I saw him fold his fingers behind his back. I smiled a little and looked into the warlock's eyes. Maybe things would not become more... interesting?
The forest prowled us, and the only illumination that allowed us to see was from the moonlight. That place still gave me the creeps. I took Faustus's hand a little more tightly and he responded by stroking mine with his thumb. The other pairs soon reached us and we awaited the instructions of the High Priest.
‘Witches, warlocks, congratulations. You already have their match,’ the Headmaster greeted us. ‘Tonight, you and your lover will go to the woods and reenact the Courtship. This means that each couple will enter the forest, the two will undress, anoint and lie under this blessed Lupercalian Moon, absorbing the power of Goddess Selene herself. Abstinence is encouraged in anticipation of the powerful extravasation that ends Lupercalia’ he paused for a moment to analyze our faces. ‘However, if couples want to unite, I'm sure the Dark Lord wouldn't object.’
A few cheering cheers interrupted the High Priest's speech, which just cracked a smile.
‘Each pair will receive an anointing basket for tonight. Milk and blood are for purification. Oysters and figs are for fertility and virility. The cherries are to deflower,‘ the oldest continued showing several baskets near the root of a tree. ‘Some advice: each couple should stay together all night. And, above all, do not deviate from the path. All kinds of lush creatures lurk in the woods during Lupercalia. Now, with the blessing of the Dark Lord, let the Courting begin.'
Faustus snatched a basket for us and hugged me sideways, guiding me through the woods. The couples laughed and hurried through the trees. We follow a different path from the others. The intention was to be as isolated as possible.
We reached a small clearing and Faustus stopped walking. He looked up and I followed his gaze. From there we could see the full moon shining for us. He smiled and I found myself admiring his face in the moonlight. He was truly a beautiful man. Faustus stared at me, spreading his smile wider and showing me his perfectly aligned white teeth.
‘I think this will be a good place,’ he murmured. ‘Do you agree?’
I nodded, delighted with him.
Faustus released me to set the basket down and grab a large towel inside to cover the grass. Thus done, he began to open his own coat so that he could take it off his body. I could spend the rest of the night watching him take off his clothes, but when he shot me a raised eyebrow and a shrewd smile, I understood that he expected me to do the same.
I nibbled on my bottom lip and took off my own coat as seductively as I could. As soon as the piece lay on the floor, I turned my back on Faustus and tossed my hair in front of him, looking over his shoulder. He was staring at me with a smile playing on his lips.
‘Could you help me open my dress?’
Faustus approached slowly and touched the zipper gently, pulling it down slightly. His hand intentionally touched my skin and I shivered at the temperature contrast between our skins. I squinted at him and he kept dangerously close, staring at my bare back.
‘Do you like what you see, Faustus?’
He flashed a smile that almost made my legs wobble and stared at me with his piercing blue eyes.
‘So much, Zelda.’
I smiled and let the dress slide down my body until it hit the floor. Faustus looked me up and down as I felt the heat take over me. Even with the lingerie, I felt naked in front of him and it gave me a certain nervousness. Not that Faustus was staring at me like a pervert, it was the other way around, it was like I was some kind of deity.
He seemed to come out of his stupor a few seconds later and tried to take off the rest of his clothes, heaping them into a pile next to us. I couldn't help but admire her turned abdomen. By Satan in Hell, the volume in his boxer almost made me hyperventilate. It would be a difficult night to maintain abstinence.
Faustus knelt on the towel and extended his hands to me. As soon as I caught them, he helped me kneel in front of him. He opened the jar containing blood and took a dagger, handing it to me. I swallowed as I took the artifact and Faustus noticed.
‘We need to rub the blood on our foreheads with the dagger and then we'll spread it with the milk,’ he explained gently. ‘Then we can store the daggers in the bottom of the basket.’
I nodded with a slight smile, dipping the dagger into the pot of blood and then rubbing it on Faustus's forehead.
‘By Lilith's Blood,’ I whispered.
Faustus did the same as I did and then he drew the dagger delicately over my forehead.
‘For the love of Lucifer.’
He took a handkerchief and moistened it with milk and then spread the blood laughing. I looked at him without understanding the reason for his laugh.
‘It's part of the ritual to laugh while you spread the blood,’ he clarified.
I laughed at the ridicule in it and took the opportunity to spread the blood off his forehead. Faustus looked into my eyes, still smiling and I felt my body warm up again. The blue expanse seemed to swallow me and bewitch me. I wanted to dive into his eyes and never come back. He stroked my cheek in a caress and tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear.
‘And now?’ I asked.
He sighed and pointed to the floor under our knees.
‘We lay side by side, soaking up the glow of the moon.’
Without needing more, we lay on the towel. Unusually, Faustus took my hand and brought it to his lips, placing a chaste kiss on his back.
‘Are you nervous, Zelda?’
‘A little,’ I admitted.
He smiled slightly.
I ridiculed his sentence with a snobby laugh.
‘Come on, Faustus...’
‘It’s True,’ he whispered seriously. ‘You're special, Zelda.’
I averted my gaze from the moon to admire his face. Faustus was smiling at me and I felt the excitement seize me. After what seemed like millennia of torture, he looked away to the sky and let himself be bathed in the moonlight.
For Satan, how I wanted that man.
It was hard to keep control with Zelda Spellman half naked beside me. But I would have patience and care. Looking into her green eyes felt like a trap, though. In fact, she was the embodiment of sin. I couldn't think of any details about Zelda that didn't appeal to me.
‘So what are your movements at those times?’
I burst out of my stupor at the Spellman question and raised an eyebrow, not quite understanding what she wanted to know.
She propped herself up on one elbow, giving me a privileged view of her black lingerie-covered breasts.
‘During the other Lupercalias, what did you do in those moments of contemplation?’ questioned again. ‘I doubt if you would spend the night admiring the stars.’
A nervous laugh escaped my lips. She was right. I leaned on one elbow just like her.
‘Well, I usually play a game that I call 'The Witch's Mark,’ I said.
She frowned but gave a small smile.
‘And what would this game look like?’
‘We have to search each other's body carefully for the witch’s mark we have hidden,’ I explained, slowly running my fingers over his arm.
‘Seems interesting. Why don't we play?’
I had to breathe deeply to not have an erection. Oh, the temptation...
I gave her my most seductive smile and she matched her height.
‘Well, if you'll let me start, I can demonstrate it in practice...’ I bargained and she immediately consented. ‘Then turn on your stomach, Zelda.’
Without question, she turned her back on me and rested her head on her arms. I carefully brushed her red hair off her back, tucking them away from her face, and she grinned, closing her eyes to appreciate my caresses. Someone liked to move their hair. I decided to save the information for later.
I brought my face close to his and let my nose lightly touch the back of his neck. She sighed at the feel of my touch and I smiled. Her sweet scent invaded my lungs and I allowed myself to be intoxicated. I laid a kiss on the nape of his neck and ran his entire spine line with his lips. My hands followed the path, outlining the sides of his trunk. By the time she reached the waistband of her lingerie, all the witch's soft white skin was shivering.
I suppressed the urge to nibble on her buttocks and began to gently massage her feet and legs. That would relax her a little. She distributed a few kisses down her thighs and then asked her to turn to face me.
She obeyed me and I saw her clouded eyes size her desire. But I wasn't done yet.
‘Faustus...’ she whispered and I knew she was asking for more.
I aligned our faces and admired their eyes. I loved to contemplate her. I ran a hand through her hair, straightening it, and she closed her eyes again. I kissed her chin and saw her part her lips, waiting for me to kiss her. And, Satan knew how much I wanted. But teasing her was so much more fun.
I let my lips slide down her neck as my hands skirted her waist. I paid special attention to the uncovered part of her breasts, kissing its full length and taking light nibbles. Despite the urge to tear her lingerie off with her teeth and take her breasts to me, I held on and continued to slide my lips down her belly. As I continued my journey, I could feel his muscles contract and his breathing quicken.
Unable to resist the temptation, I nibbled her mound of venus over her lingerie and Zelda started slightly. I was increasingly excited to see her excited. I wanted her. No matter how many women I had used to try to get her out of my head, none compared to Zelda.
I carefully separated her legs and kissed her thighs, teasing her to his groin. I lifted my head to see his face and his eyes were glazed on me. I brought my face close to hers, losing myself in the emeralds she called eyes. I let my head tilt toward hers and searched her lips.
A loud noise in the woods near us startled us. I looked around for possible threats. The sound of shifting foliage could be clearly heard. I frowned. What were they up to now?
‘Stay here,’ I said to Zelda, who sounded alert. ‘I'll check.’
I jumped to my feet and walked slowly to the source of the sound through the trees. There didn't seem to be anyone around. But pitch did not allow me to distinguish with certainty. I dug deeper into the woods to make sure the noise was no more than a clumsy animal. I tripped over something hard on the floor and crouched down to check. It was a stone slab in half. A chill ran down my spine as I put the pieces together and realized that this was a demonic seal.
I needed to go back to Zelda...
Her scream made me run as fast as I could. Zelda stood hunched as a demon loomed before her.
'Spellmaaan...' the demon regurgitated.
‘Ergo draco maledicte, ego invocabo luna ad adjure hoc servus. Tollere...’
Before I finished the spell, the demon turned toward me and somehow threw me against one of the trees. I slammed my back into the trunk and fell breathless to the floor.
‘Faustus!’ Zelda tried to advance as far as I was, but I stopped her.
‘Stay there! Don't get out of there!’
The demon tried to jump over her and was rebuffed, falling to the ground, smoking. He glared at me.
I got up as fast as I could and glanced at Zelda so she could look at the basket near her feet.
‘I made a circle of protection earlier, and as soon as we arrived, I covered it with the towel so it wouldn't be apparent,’ I said to gain time as the witch looked into the basket.
‘She can't stay in there forever,’ roared the demon. ‘For now, I will finish you, warlock.’
Zelda emptied an anointed pot and threw it at me. I took the pot in the air and prepared to arrest the demon. But first, I would need to think of a way to immobilize it. To my surprise, the demon yelped in pain the next instant, falling to his knees on the floor. "
Vita custodia," Zelda muttered the spell as she plunged one of the daggers into the demon's back.
Taking advantage of her cue, I opened the pot and recited the trapping spell.
‘Turpis et infernis in terris pariunt. Adiuro vos tamen hoc graecas munus.’
A gust of wind accompanied the moment when the demon disintegrated in the air and moved into the pot. As soon as I sealed it, it was over. I looked at the glass that contained some kind of purple sand. They sent a demon after Zelda. I felt the anger inflate on me. I wanted to kill those kids...
‘Faustus.’ Zelda reached me, drawing my attention from the pot. ‘Did you get hurt?’
I shook my head and caressed his face.
‘I'm fine. And you?’
She nodded and I showed her the pot.
‘As soon as dawn comes, I will take our companion to the High Priest,’ I said. ‘He needs to know they are summoning demons to chase you. But I think it's riskier to get out of here right now. They may have other pitfalls set.’
Zelda sighed but nodded.
‘You're right. By the way, your idea of the circle of protection was excellent,’ she whispered. ‘Thanks.’
I smiled and hugged her. My act baffled her and I smiled at that.
‘Come on, let's go back inside the circle.’
We lay back on the towel next to each other. The mood we had created had evaporated into the air with the demon's appearance, and Zelda seemed unwilling to restart our game. On the contrary, she seemed alert to another threat from the ground... or the sky.
I put my arm around her shoulders and pulled her to my chest. She straightened over my body, wrapping my arm around my torso. I took advantage of her closeness to stroke her hair with one hand while the other stroked her arm.
Shortly after, I heard her laugh quietly and run her hand over my chest. I looked at her with one eyebrow raised.
She looked up at me and they sparkled with amusement. Her hand lightly tapped my chest, over my heart.
‘I found your witch’s mark.’
I couldn't help but laugh. I hugged her tighter to me and she laughed at me.
‘You suck at this game, Faustus.’
I pretended outrage and she kissed me on the cheek. I shook my head and Zelda smiled before lying on my chest.
I watched her, not knowing how to quantify time, but her struggle with sleep was evident. She now made abstract designs on my chest with her fingertips to stay awake.
‘Zelda, you can sleep if you want,’ I whispered.
She kept her eyes focused on her own drawings, she was almost asleep.
‘I don’t want.’
I'd love to laugh at your blatant lie, but I assumed she would be mad.
She shook her head no and smoothed my mark.
‘I just don't want the night to end.’
I was surprised by her answer and hoped she was too sleepy to realize that my heart had been racing slightly. I placed a kiss on her forehead and hugged her tighter.
‘Me too, Zelda,’ I muttered. ‘But rest to endure the night tomorrow.’
She looked up at me and I saw the blush take her cheeks. Due to your approach, I could feel your heart racing. She bit her lower lip and then grinned before nestling back into my chest.
I kept fidgeting with her hair, allowing myself to get drunk on her scent until she finally stopped fighting and fell asleep. I pulled one end of the towel over her body, which had begun to cool with the dew of the night, and admired its relaxed features for a long time. She was beautiful and I was really looking forward to the last night of Lupercalia.
When the first rays of the morning illuminated us and I made sure nothing could hit Zelda, I pressed her against my body and allowed myself to fall asleep.
Chapter 7: The Hunt
Welcome to the last night of Lupercalia!
Hooded hunt wolves, witches hunt warlocks.
Are you ready?
The excessive bright started to irritate my eyes and I decided to open them to see the source of all the light. My first glimpse was of Faustus's face. He looked serene and peaceful, sleeping soundly. His hair was messy, but in an attractive way. I ran a hand lightly over his skin, removing the strands that fell over his forehead.
It was a cold morning and I cringed in his arms, pulling the fabric that covered us. Faustus should have covered us at night. He shifted and pressed me closer against him. I placed a kiss on his neck and he sighed.
His eyes opened slowly and soon the blue orbs admired me. He grinned and placed a kiss on my forehead.
‘Good morning, Zelda,’ he whispered, his voice slightly hoarse.
‘Good morning, Faustus.’
He hugged me with both arms, pulling me really up his body.
‘Just five more minutes and we'll go,’ he muttered, closing his eyes again.
I closed my own eyes to enjoy the moment we had. Again, the light bothered my eyes. The sun wasn't supposed to be so high at this time of morning... But what time was it?
I reached for Faustus's coat and pulled him close. Seconds later, I removed his pocket watch from him. As I reflected on the time, my eyes widened.
‘Faustus, wake up!’ I called and he was startled. ‘It's after two in the afternoon!’
The warlock stared at me in confusion and ran a hand over his face.
I sat in the gap between his legs and pulled his arms so that he sat down.
‘It's more than two hours! We have already missed two classes!’
He finally seemed to understand what I was saying and jumped up. We began to dress hurriedly, throwing clothes at each other. He helped me unzip my dress and flashed me a wink.
‘I usually prefer to help unzip, but I'll make an exception,’ he whispered seductively.
Once we were ready, we gathered everything in the basket and Faustus held it in his arm, holding the demon in the pot.
‘Come on!’ He asked and then hugged me tightly. ‘Lanuae Magicae.’
The next instant we were running into the Academy. Faustus was pulling me by the hand and we smiled like two idiots who knew they were screwed. We walked through the hurried corridors until we reached the High Priest's office. Faustus burst open the door.
Edward and the High Priest were talking and turned to see us.
‘Well, you’re finally here,’ the priest muttered, crossing his fingers. ‘I would ask Edward to come after you, even though I know it’s common to lose track of time during Lupercalia.’
My brother was glaring at Faustus.
‘It's nothing like that,’ the man next to me replied. ‘We were attacked by a demon tonight. We had to deal with him.’
‘And they were so far trying to ban you?’ Edward roared sarcastically.
‘Of course not. But you would also lose the time if you wasted your sleeping hours dueling a demon,’ Faustus countered. ‘The point here is this demon was summoned by someone from the Academy to attack Zelda!’
‘Calm down, boys,’ the Priest said calmly. ‘That is a serious charge, Mr. Blackwood. It’s well known that many beings frequent the forest during this period. Could you prove what you say?’
Faustus was getting annoyed and I shook his hand to try to calm him down. He shot me a sideways look and squeezed my hand in reciprocity. The warlock walked to the High Priest's table and deposited, without the slightest kindness, the pot containing the demon.
‘Feel free to question him,’ he challenged.
The Priest studied the container with interest.
‘I'll check, Mr. Blackwood. If your suspicions are confirmed, I will take action,’ he said. ‘Now, I advise you get ready for the next classes.’
Faustus bowed slightly to the High Priest and pulled me by the hand out of the room.
‘Let's get ready for the looks we'll get.’
He knew as well as I did that our disappearance should have caught the attention of the Academy students.
‘I'll meet you in fifteen minutes,’ he said.
I smiled at him and ran to my dorm.
‘Someone couldn't help it on The Courting night,’ a blonde girl muttered during choir class.
‘Who would stop himself by spending a night with Blackwood?’ a brunette countered with envy splashing in her tone.
I rolled my eyes and concentrated on the song scores we were going to rehearse. With Faustus by my side, no one had dared make any comment. Obviously, the eyes practically choked us in the afternoon, but we kept the pose without much difficulty. Now, alone, things were a little different.
‘Too bad it's his last Lupercalia,’ the blonde said again. ‘I bet he would accept an exchange tonight.’
‘Would he take two for one?’ The brunette added with an unbearable laugh.
I looked at both of them and smiled a little fake smile.
‘Why don't you ask him?’ I asked, feigning indifference. ‘I'd love to hear the answer.’
The girls' faces turned a reddish hue, and I opened my smile even wider, reading the scores in peace again.
I reached the library to start another tutoring with Edward and was not surprised to find him sitting in one of the armchairs near the fireplace. He was watching the deep fire. I took the seat in front of him and waited for him to look at me. Which did not take long to happen. He was serious. Excessively serious.
‘I believe the demon attacked my sister under someone in the gang, just as I believe it defended her,’ he murmured, looking into my eyes. ‘I just want you to tell me you didn't... hurt Zelda.’
‘Of course I didn't hurt her…’ I stopped the sentence as I understood the true meaning of his words. ‘Edward, I didn't have sex with Zelda.’
He continued to stare at me, waiting for me to change my answer, but when he saw the truth, he let out a relieved breath.
‘I know this will happen sometime, Faustus. Be it with you or anyone else...’ Edward admitted and for some reason the idea of another man touching Zelda bothered me. ‘I just wish she was well treated.’
I agreed with him.
‘If it happens, Edward, she will be treated like the queen she is.’
He grimaced and shook his head.
‘I need to get this scene out of my mind.’
I laughed and held out my hand. Edward squeezed it and gave me a complacent look.
‘Let's review some articles about arcane puzzles, okay?’ I proposed and he accepted promptly.
‘You look beautiful,’ Faustus whispered as we met in the woods.
I was wearing a big red silk tunic while he was wearing only a wolf's skin on his head. His bare chest caught my eye and I wasted a few seconds to admire him.
‘I'm looking forward to hunting you,’ I muttered, biting my bottom lip.
Faustus smiled at me and looked around intently.
‘I'll try not to get too far away from you,’ he promised, and I nodded.
Soon we had to go back to our groups. The High Priest had arrived to start the Hunt.
‘Welcome to the last night of Lupercália. Hooded hunt wolves, witches hunt warlocks. Hunting results will determine the following year. Will it be abundant or sterile? Fertile or infertile?’ he explained. ‘Tonight we hunt and get hunted, releasing our blessed spells into the night. Warlocks, are you ready?’ The boys responded with howls and the priest signaled them to spread and so they did. ‘And witches, are you ready?’ We shouted to confirm his question and then began our hunt.
Torches trapped in the trees allowed us to see the trails we would have to follow behind the warlocks, which made hunting easier and prevented us from getting hurt.
I spotted Faustus running ahead of me and pressed my pace to try to reach him. He got off the trail a few feet later and I clutched myself in the woods behind him. Soon, I lost sight of him. The torchlight could not reach us there, and I could not see Faustus anywhere.
‘Faustus!’ I shouted, waiting for him to come back. ‘Faustus!’
His call sounded a little further from where I was and relief took me. He was close. I walked the steps that separated us and came to a large clearing. I frowned at not seeing Faustus, while I was startled to recognize where I was when I saw the stone altar in the middle of the clearing.
My heart pounded and I swallowed, taking a few steps back. I needed to get out of there as soon as possible. As soon as I turned my heels to run, I freed my movements. Billy was standing in front of me and I saw his gang sidelong around me.
‘Welcome back to hunt, Spellman.’
‘Zelda!’ I shouted her name as I realized she was gone. ‘Zelda!’
The lack of response alerted me and when I intended to go the opposite way to find her, she emerged from the trees. Relief haunted me.
‘It's all right?’ I asked approaching her.
She nodded and ran her hand over my face gently.
‘I want you, Faustus,’ she whispered with a smile. ‘And I want it now.’
Zelda took off her hood and threw the cloak away. Her hand lowered the strap of the white dress she wore and then lowered the other, causing the garment to slide across her body to the floor. She was naked in front of me, waiting for me to grab her.
I frowned. Something was very wrong.
I grinned and held Zelda's face in my hands.
‘When you said you enjoyed wild sex, I didn't realize it, Zelda,’ I bluffed.
‘What do you think about wild sex in the trees?’
I let out an irritated breath and muttered a counterfeit. Zelda soon turned into Lexus. I took the boy by the neck and pinned him against a tree.
‘Where is she?’ I roared.
‘I don't know,’ the boy replied. ‘And no use trying to read my mind. They didn't tell me!’
I locked my jaw and pressed his neck harder.
‘What do they intend to do with her?’
‘What are everyone doing on Lupercalia's last night, Faustus?’ The boy laughed weakly. ‘But following old traditions, if you understand me.’
I felt the chill cut my spine. Shit!
I punched him in the face and the boy passed out. I dropped it on the floor and ran as fast as I could the opposite way. I needed to find Zelda.
I felt useless. No matter how much I struggled, I couldn't escape the boys' hands. One of them tied a gag in my mouth to keep me from screaming, while another tied my hands so I wouldn't use any spells. They dragged me to the altar and leaned over it, pressing on my back so that I couldn't escape. My breasts were practically crushed against the stone, resulting in a sharp pain in the area. I swung my legs in an attempt to get them off my butt, but two other boys managed to immobilize them.
I was at the mercy of that idiot.
He approached and removed my tunic, throwing it on the floor. Then he lifted the skirt of my white dress, leaving the skin of my hips and legs bare. His hand ran over the skin of my ass and he slapped me with an open hand. I suppressed the grunt of pain that reached my throat. I wouldn't give him that satisfaction.
‘Many years ago, tradition said that out of cordiality with fellow sorcerers, virgin witches should serve everyone on their first night,’ Billy muttered, and I closed my eyes tightly. ‘You should serve us, Spellman. But you decided to turn your body over to Blackwood!’
Another slap echoed through the forest trees and I felt the skin of my buttock throb and burn.
‘What should we do with you, Zelda?’
I stopped running when I realized I couldn't easily find Zelda. I was terrified of the idea of a collective rape. There had to be a way to track her. I closed my eyes and put my hand against one of the trees.
‘Ligna, qui omnia videtis et auditis quae ego oro ad auxilium tuum. Obsecro vos ut mihi et Zelda Spellman!’
I waited a moment, hoping the spell would work. To my surprise, footsteps sprang to my eyes, glowing with the moonlight. Just by seeing the direction of the steps, I already knew where Billy would have drawn her.
‘Well, Spellman, get ready to please us. And if you're a good girl, maybe we won't let you live?!’
The boy put his hands on the sides of my underwear and yanked it up my legs. No matter how hard I tried to move, his grips were too firm. His hands gripped my hip and I heard his zipper unzip.
I closed my eyes tightly, hoping for the worst.
A dull thud caught my attention and Billy's hands released me. I heard the boys screaming but couldn't see anything from that position. Seconds later, I felt my legs free and then my chest. Before I could try to rise, a pair of hands assisted me. As soon as I saw Faustus's face, relief came to me.
The warlock helped me remove the bonds from my hands and mouth. In the meantime, I could see Billy's Gang thrown across the lawn. Faustus should have used a banishing spell on them to get them all hit at once.
‘Are you alright, Zelda?’ He questioned, holding my face in his hands. ‘Did they hurt you?’
I shook my head and he hugged me protectively.
‘You traitor!’ Billy shouted at Faustus, getting back to his feet. ‘You should follow the old ways like us, Blackwood!’
‘I'm disgusted with your customs.’
I looked around and saw the other boys rise to join Billy.
‘Faustus...’ I tried to warn him.
He placed me behind his back so that I was facing the other half of the boys' circle.
‘You can't beat us, Blackwood,’ Billy yelled. ‘Give up and give it to the girl.’
Faustus didn't even seem to hear him.
‘Repeat with me, Zelda,’ he whispered and I nodded. ‘Dulce somniorum non est. Somnia, neque abeo abs te. Timoribus dominari. Timoribus vulte um.’
As soon as we finished chanting the words, the boys began to stare into nothingness and scream. Some threw themselves to the floor in tears and others scratched themselves until their skin peeled off their bodies.
It was an illusory spell. They were seeing their worst nightmares come true in front of their eyes.
I turned to Faustus and he wrapped his arms around me. Just then, I realized how much my legs were shaking. He seemed to notice my lack of firmness and picked me up, sitting carefully at the altar. I let out a breathy moan as I felt a burning sensation in the region hit by Billy's slaps. Faustus looked at me alertly.
‘Zelda ... What did he do?’
I looked up at him.
‘He didn't get to... You know,’ I muttered. ‘But he slapped me...’
Faustus's face turned a reddish hue and his frown closed. Before I could help it, he was over Billy, punching him in the face. It only stopped when the boy lost consciousness.
‘I want to kill him,’ he admitted as he returned to me. ‘If he had succeeded, Zelda... For Satan... I would never forgive myself.’
I held his face in my hands and pulled him toward me.
‘Faustus, you came, nothing else matters.’
Without further ado, I claimed his lips. The warlock seemed to be surprised by my attitude, but soon wrapped his arms around my waist and deepened our kiss. A revolution seemed to take place within my body. Faustus's lips were incredibly soft, but his skillful tongue was making butterflies fly in my stomach as warmth crept up my legs.
When we finally pulled together to breathe, Faustus smiled broad and genuine and I followed him. He stroked my cheek and straightened my hair.
‘Zelda...’ he began. ‘I don't want to stop kissing you, but the screams of these guys are driving me crazy.’
I laughed at his remark. He was right. We needed to get rid of those inconveniences.
The female dormitory was empty. Of course it would be, all the witches were enjoying the last night of Lupercalia.
I let out a breath. From all the expectations I had for tonight, being alone was not part of any of them. I straightened the teal housecoat over my matching nightgown and began to brush my hair slowly, remembering earlier ones.
Faustus and I watched the High Priest pacing his office.
‘They will spend the night trapped in the witch's cell and tomorrow they will be tried for their deeds,’ the Priest claimed. ‘If convicted, they will probably lose their powers and be excommunicated from the Coven.’
‘If?’ Faustus questioned. ‘There is no if. They will be damned, right?’
The Headmaster took a long look at Faustus and scratched his chin.
‘The possibility of being released is minimal indeed,’ he confirmed and turned to me. ‘I'm sorry for what you went through, Miss. Spellman. But soon, everything will be resolved.’
There was nothing more to say, so we retreated from the High Priest's office. I desperately needed a bath to get rid of all traces of the touch of Billy and his asshole friends. Faustus left me at the dorm door and said goodbye to me with a kiss on the back of my hand.
I sighed and threw myself on the bed, was frustrated. At the same time, I remembered our kiss in the woods and grinned, running my fingers over my lips. He said he wanted to keep kissing me...
‘My kingdom for your thought, Zelda Spellman.’
I sat on the bed hearing Faustus's voice echo through the pentagon. He was standing about two meters from me, watching me.
‘As if you couldn't read my thoughts...’ I muttered with a raised eyebrow.
‘Well, then my kingdom is yours,’ he said, approaching and stopping in front of me with his outstretched hand. ‘I supposed you wouldn't want to spend the rest of the night alone. Would you accept my humble company?’
I held his hand and he pulled me to him. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he wrapped my waist. His blue eyes made me sigh and he grinned. ‘
The next second, we were in another pentagonal room. Candles were scattered about the corners, the floor, and the furniture. A double bed with two bedside tables on either side, a wooden cabinet and a large bookcase could be seen because of the lighting of the flames.
‘Do you have a room of your own?’ I asked, still with my face next to his.
He flashed a bigger smile.
‘Being the Top Boy has its advantages.’
I raised an eyebrow and tiptoed to touch my lips to Faustus's. He took my lips and invaded my mouth with his tongue. One of his hands left my waist and plunged into my hair. I pulled him toward me and let out a breath as he felt his body against mine. He smiled against my mouth.
I jumped when Faustus scooped me up. I broke the kiss to laugh at his attitude and he stole a quick kiss before carrying me to the bed. He laid me down on the black bedspread carefully and leaned over my body to keep kissing me. My body was already on fire and I felt my legs tingle with anxiety.
My hands ran from his hair to the buttons of his white shirt and I began to unbutton each one without haste. When I had his bare chest available to me, I ran my fingertips down his abdomen. Faustus moaned low against my mouth and it was my turn to smile. He pulled away from me to rip off his shirt and lay back on my body.
‘Zelda...’ he whispered, kissing my neck gently. ‘Don't feel pressured to anything.’
I pushed his body to the side and mounted on his hip, which caught him off guard. But soon a seductive smile spread across his lips.
‘The only pressure I'm going to feel today is your body against mine, Faustus.’
I unzipped my housecoat and let it slide over my shoulders, tossing it somewhere in the room. I leaned over him to allow him a privileged view of my cleavage. Faustus looked at me with admiration and I felt fulfilled. I bit my lip to keep from moaning as he pulled my hip against his, showing how aroused he was.
His hands went into the hem of my nightgown and outlined my thighs, rising to my hips and playing with the sides of my underwear. I dragged my hands down his chest, watching his buds contract under my touch as I kissed his neck, not caring if I would leave marks.
Faustus sat on the bed, holding me in his lap and clamped our breasts. His mouth took mine in a ravenous kiss and I rolled in his lap to feel more of his bulk against my throbbing intimacy. A moan escaped our mouths briefly interrupting our kiss, but soon we were stuck together again.
His hands lifted the hem of my nightgown and I raised my arms to help him off. Faustus threw her away and swallowed hard at the sight of my naked swollen breasts. His hands took them, massaging them gently. I threw my head back to enjoy his touches.
I felt my back collide with the padding again and Faustus gave me a kiss before his lips moved down my neck, placing light kisses all over my lap. His hands still massaged my breasts as I lowered my own hands to unbutton his pants and unzip it. I touched his cock over the boxer and heard him moan against my chest.
He sprang to his feet and ripped off his own trousers, giving me a beautiful view of his half-naked body. I bit my lower lip as I admired him. What a man, what a warlock... And he would be mine.
Faustus lay back on my body and made a point of rubbing his hip against mine. The friction between our intimacies was already messing with my sanity. He smiled at the moan I let go and snapped one of my breasts, stroking the nipple with his tongue. I threw my head back and grabbed his hair, encouraging him to continue. His mouth ran to the other breast and his hand massaged what was free.
I rolled back against his hip, begging for more and Faustus returned with a lunge that almost made me see stars. Unexpectedly, he dropped my breasts and began to lower his lips down my abdomen until he reached my mound of venus. I was already on fire and just watching his movements. It was really exciting to see him between my legs and I already felt every hair on my body, bristling.
His hands slid down the side of my underwear and I lifted my hip to help him take it off. Faustus's blue eyes sparkled with wonder as he stared at my naked body on the bed and I felt my face heat up. It was the first time a man had seen me naked and the warlock looked delighted.
I smiled at his comment and he returned my smile. Faustus took one of my legs and began to walk its length with kisses. He grabbed my thighs and pulled me closer to him, teasing me with his lips. I felt his hot breath against my crotch and pressed the quilt beside me in an attempt to vent the anxiety. My eyes locked on Faustus's movements and he gave me one last look before dragging his tongue through my intimacy.
A loud moan escaped my throat and I writhed on the bed. Faustus massaged my clit with a merciless tongue, making lightning strikes through my body. My breathing changed and my heart pounded. For Satan, the feeling was too good. I put a hand to his hair in a silent request for him to continue and bit my lower lip to contain my moans.
I felt his tongue deepen in my intimacy and threw my head back. My hip began to move at the same pace as his movements and Faustus gripped my thighs tighter. It didn't take long for me to feel my belly twitch and a heat take my breath away. A loud moan escaped my lips as spasms seized my legs.
My breathing was completely ragged. Faustus released my legs and lifted his kisses until he reached my face. He slowly stroked my cheek and grinned before placing a chaste kiss on my lips.
‘You're beautiful, Zelda.’
I took your lips with mine. I needed him. I wrapped my legs around his hip and pulled him against my body. Faustus put a hand between my legs and massaged my clit. I let out a moan and he smiled smugly. I narrowed my eyes and let my hand travel down his chest and invade his boxer, holding his hard member between my fingers.
It was Faustus's turn to moan and it sounded like music to my ears. I started to jerk him off at the same pace as he continued his caresses in my intimacy until he abruptly pulled away. He took off his last piece of clothing, getting completely naked. I swallowed hard to see his huge penis. I bit my bottom lip in an attempt to contain the hardness that seeing him naked aroused in me. He smiled and I catch myself smiling back.
Faustus lay back on my body, keeping his legs between mine. He rested his own weight on his forearms and caressed my face, focused on my eyes. I felt his cock touch my intimacy and sighed. My heart was pounding and my breathing quickened.
‘Are you sure?’
I looked into the blue expanse of his eyes. Did he look ... nervous? Looking forward to it?
I smiled at him and nodded.
‘I want you, Faustus.’
He swallowed and lightly kissed my lips. I stroked his cheek with one hand and he closed his eyes to enjoy the caress. Then their orbs looked back at me.
‘There is a legend that when a witch gives herself to a warlock for the first time, they create a kind of magic bond. The old tradition had the belief that if this witch were offered to several warlocks at once, no bond would be created,’ he said, straightening my hair. ‘Would you risk create a bond with me, Zelda Spellman?’
I didn’t answer. I just lowered my face to his chest and kissed his witch’s mark over his heart.
‘We already have a bond, Faustus Blackwood.’
Faustus's lips took mine in a calm kiss and I matched the same level. My heart was beating fast and I knew it was no longer due to arousal for sex, it was something else. For Satan, what were we doing?
I felt Faustus settle between my legs and his cock touched my entrance. I held my breath, closing my eyes on impulse, but he noticed and broke our kiss.
‘Look at me, Zelda.’ I opened my eyes and Fastus pressed his forehead to mine to maintain eye contact. He bit his lower lip, probably holding back from invading me at once. Faustus began to move slightly, slowly filling me until he was completely inside me.
Our eyes did not deviate from each other. Our breaths were completely uneven, but our heartbeats seemed aligned. I grinned, was happy to be with Faustus.
He started moving again and we let out a breathy groan, but as soon as he filled me again, I threw my head back. His sensation inside me was amazing.
Gradually the initial discomfort faded and I began to roll against Faustus's hip, which in turn increased the speed of his thrusts. He hid his face in my hair and I hugged his neck. Our moans filled the room and I could only concentrate on feeling Faustus inside me.
I didn't want it to end. I begged my body to hold on longer. But with each passing second, the more our bodies indicated that we would reach our climax.
‘Faustus... Ah, Faustus...’ I moaned his name without the slightest modesty.
Faustus quickened his movements as he felt me begin to narrow around him.
‘Zelda,’ he moaned my name and I reveled. ‘My Zelda.’
As if they had pulled a trigger, I felt the orgasm snatch me and spasms engulfed my legs. Faustus followed me and spilled into me, collapsing over my body.
The escape from magic was so great that it blew out all the candles that lit the room, leaving us in complete pitch.
Only our quick breathing could be heard and I felt full, as if I had touched hell. Faustus hugged me around the waist and gave me a chaste kiss on the lips. I couldn't help the smile that sprang to my face and he smiled back. His eyes shone even in the darkness.
We let out a breathy moan as he left me. The sense of loss was present.
It was weird.
Faustus lay in the space beside me and pulled me to his chest. I snuggled close to him, wrapping my arms around his chest, and felt his lips touch my hair. I lifted my head to look at him and he gave me a kiss.
‘So I'm yours?’ I asked to tease him.
I expected an ironic response or a laugh, but he just hugged me tighter.
‘I hope so.’
I felt my face burn slightly and thanked Satan for being in the dark.
‘Good night, Faustus’ I muttered, unsure how to respond to that.
He smiled at me. One of those wide, rare smiles to see.
‘Good night, Zelda’ he whispered against my ear. ‘My Zelda.’
Chapter 8: Judgement
Billy's gang goes to trial. But things will not come out as easy as Faustus and Zelda hope.
The sound of the door closing echoed into the kitchen, then Sabrina's voice reverberated through the house.
‘Aunt Zelda? Hilda? You’re not gonna believe what happened at school today.’
‘Oh, we can imagine,’ I muttered as I watched her enter the room.
I was leaning against the sink holding a large envelope. I showed her, lifting him in the air. I held on not to fly Sabrina's jugular.
‘Do you know what this is?’ I asked, opening the letter to show her the contents. ‘I’ll tell you. It’s an Infernal Summons.’
‘A what now?’
Hilda went on to explain, seeing that I was losing my remaining patience.
‘Well, you've been charged with a rather antiquated offense, dearest. Breach of Promise.’
‘You made a promise to sign the Dark Lord’s Book of the Beast and then, when you ran in horror from your dark baptism, you broke it,’ I added irritably. ‘You humiliated our master in front of the entire coven, and now, you will be judged and tried in front of the entire coven.’
I threw the Infernal Summons on the table and Sabrina stepped forward to pick it up. She seemed incredulous with all that.
‘Never, in all my years, has a Spellman been summoned to the Court of Witches.’
Well, that was half true ... But there was no one there who could object to me. Just thinking about stepping in court again, my legs were already shaking.
And not even Satan would help us this time.
I woke up feeling a sweet scent invade my lungs and intoxicate me. I opened my eyes slowly, was feeling light and relaxed as I didn't feel in times. Red hair danced across my face and soon Zelda's face came into focus. Memories of the night before came back to me and I grinned. What a wonderful night.
Praised be Satan for Zelda Spellman.
Zelda should have turned around at night, for now I was hugging her back. Her countenance was serene and she seemed in deep sleep. I could spend eternity watching her. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. And waking up with her naked in my arms made me wonder if I hadn't died and gone to hell.
She shifted and I hugged her more tightly, pulling her against my body. Her white skin was so soft that I found myself stroking the curve of her hip just to feel it. I placed a soft kiss on her shoulder and rested my head on hers. I hoped that time would pass slowly so we didn't have to go back to our reality.
Unfortunately, reality knocked on our door, literally. The pounding echoed through the room and I snorted irritably. I would send the person away and return to the comfort of the sheets.
As carefully as possible not to wake Zelda, I crawled out of bed. I grabbed a blanket at the foot of the bed and threw it over the witch's body. I wouldn't leave her exposed to stares. I grabbed my pants off the floor and put them on. I ran my hand through my hair and cracked the door open.
To my surprise, the High Priest was waiting for me in the hallway. I frowned.
‘How can I help you, Your Excellency?’
The priest handed me two envelopes. These were Infernal Summons to testify at the trial against Billy and the other boys.
‘I advise you and Miss. Spellman hurry, the trial starts in an hour,’ he said.
Did he know Zelda was with me? I left the question aside.
‘Thank you, sir.’
The Priest nodded and turned his back on me. I closed the door and let out a breath. Since when did they make judgments in the morning?
I threw the envelopes on the bedside table and went back to bed to hug Zelda. I didn't want to wake her up for a damn judgment. I wanted to wake her up for sex, maybe, but not judgment.
I kissed her arm, shoulder and face. Zelda grinned and frowned before opening her eyes lazily. As soon as her green eyes spotted me, a smile spread across her face. It should be forbidden for a witch to wake up so splendidly.
‘Good morning, Zelda.’
She lifted her face and took my lips with hers. I returned her kiss voraciously, laying my body over hers. She broke our kiss and looked confused at my pants.
‘The High Priest was here,’ I said. ‘He brought our Infernal Summons to be witnesses at the trial.’
Zelda looked surprised and I saw in her eyes what I wanted to prevent: worry.
‘Will the judgment be tonight?’
I made an apology with my gaze.
‘I'm afraid he'll start in about fifty minutes.’
Her eyes widened and she sat on the bed alert.
‘For Satan, Faustus! Why didn't you wake me up earlier?’
I lay as I watched her run around the room to get her clothes.
‘First, because I just discovery it now,’ I said getting up to walk over to her. ‘And second, because I wanted to keep you from running away.’
She gave me a suspicious look and let her head fall to the side.
‘Unfortunately, we have no option.’
I held her face in my hands and caressed her cheeks with my thumbs.
‘I'm tempted to ask you to take a shower together,’ I whispered, reaching down to cup her waist, ‘but I'm afraid we'd lose time.’
Zelda grinned and placed a chaste kiss on my lips, then pulled back to get dressed. I let out a defeated sigh and allowed myself to admire her in those mere minutes.
As soon as she was ready, she looked at me uncertainly.
‘Faustus, can you teleport me to the dorm?’
I smiled at her.
‘Sure! If I let you walk in the hallways so seductively dressed, more warlocks would fall in love with you,’ I said, moving closer to hug her. ‘And I don't want competition, my Zelda.’
She let out a laugh that I found adorable.
‘Come on, my Faustus.’
My hands were sweating with nervousness. Even for an unexpected judgment, the pews of the Church of night were crowded. Somehow, the Coven members should have found out. The news ran fast between witches and warlocks.
Edward wasn't anywhere and I hadn't seen him since the morning of the day before. He should be there. At least I wish he was there supporting me. Faustus, who was beside me, reached out to hold my hands in my lap. As we would be witnesses, we were sitting in the front seat. Unfortunately, this allowed us to be close to Billy and his cronies.
They were sitting on the next seat with cuffs and chains that linked each other. To my relief, they seemed more concerned about the Infernal Three who sat at the back of the church stage.
‘We, the profane, gather here tonight in this sacrilegious Court to serve the Dark Lord’s justice. A deplorable crime has been committed against Zelda Phiona Spellman’ the High Priest announced as soon as the trial began. ‘Billy Bauer, Antonie Duskaxe, Norman Wildbraid, Allison Hawkspell, John Voidfury, Mason Bloodcaller, Petrus Saurpike, Leon Hoursegae, Ralph Fourcrest and Sollus Farrowaxe, stands accused before The Infernal Three, guilty of attempted mass rape.’
‘Warlock, stand!’ The Infernal Three demanded.
The boys stood up promptly.
‘When the accused is confirmed guilty, the warlocks will not only be expelled from the Academy of Occult Arts, they will be excommunicated from the Coven of the Church of Night and their powers removed. Condemned to live the rest of their lives as mere mortals,’ the High Priest proclaimed. ‘But after their death, they will burn for 99 years in the Pit, as our Dark Lord wants.’
Clapping came from the members of the Coven, which caused the Infernal Trio to beat their hammers for silence.
‘Accused, how plead you?’ One of the three questioned.
The boys bowed their heads and one by one pleaded guilty except the last of them.
‘Innocent!’ Billy roared.
His reaction caused startled shouts to fill the church. I swallowed and shook Faustus's hand. Of course, Billy wouldn't accept the penalty easily.
The Infernal Three hit his hammer again and soon everyone fell silent.
‘I call Billy Bauer to testify,’ the High Priest requested.
The boy showed off the shackles and the Priest released him to the pulpit.
‘Mr. Bauer, you have been accused of hunting and attempting to kill Miss. Spellman during the initiation harrowing of the Academy of Unseen Arts and expelled on the same occasion. Which you confirmed by being invoked by Mr. Blackwood during the Top Boy challenge. Now, you’ve being accused of coercing your colleagues into trying to hit her during the Lupercalia Festival; sending a demon to attack her and finally trying to commit a collective rape. And you still plead not guilty?’
I was very relieved to have the High Priest as the prosecutor. He would act as my lawyer, while Billy had only himself to defend himself. The boy flashed a smile that sent a chill down my spine.
‘Your honor, High Priest, Members of the Coven, I keep alleging innocence. About the demon, I know nothing about it. Ask the boys, they were with their own partners during The Courting. It is noteworthy that this type of entity is commonly seen during Lupercalia. The last accusation is the most slanderous, most unearthly. Lupercalia hunting night is the culmination of the festival and we have never been banned from orgies, but have always occurred. Miss Spellman gave us clues that he would like to participate with us. However, she changed her mind immediately when she noticed the presence of her boyfriend, Blackwood, who still attacked us with psychological torture spells. It's all a big misunderstanding, gentlemen. The evil ones are them, not us!’
I was shaking with anger and Faustus seemed about to jump over Billy to kill him. How dare he?
The church was in turmoil and even the Infernal Three's hammer could not calm everyone down.
‘We'll take a break and we'll come back with the next testimony,’ the High Priest decreed.
‘I hope the High Priest call me soon to testify,’ Faustus whispered with anger surrounding his tone. ‘I can hardly wait to dismantle the whole story of this boy.’
‘Faustus...’ I called him and he saw my distress. ‘What if they don't believe it? He practically took away our credibility!’
‘It's all right. It will be all right,’ he murmured firmly, holding my hand firmly. ‘You're a Spellman. And I never saw a Spellman lose.’
I knew Zelda would be next to be questioned, and I hoped that if I went in her place, I might be able to prevent her exposure.
I asked her to wait for me and I walked away to talk to the High Priest. He gave me immediate attention.
‘Put me to testify first,’ I said.
‘You're getting carried away by the excitement, Mr. Blackwood,’ the older one replied. ‘Miss. Spellman will have to tell you his version first because Billy made it look like you're a doormat of hers.’
‘Then summon the demon we have captured,’ I said. ‘He'll confirm that the one who summoned him was from Billy's gang.’
‘It's not that simple, Faustus. Now, calm down.’
I went back to Zelda and she shot me a questioning look. I just smiled at her, trying to pretend everything was fine, and I took her hands again.
The Infernal Three hit his hammer, ending the break.
‘I call Zelda Phiona Spellman to testify.’
I gave her hand a slight squeeze and she rose to follow to the pulpit. Anyone looking at her would see a fearless and self-assured woman. But I knew Zelda well enough to know she was afraid.
‘Miss Spellman, could you tell us the facts from your point of view?’
Zelda gave them a smile that would send Satan out of Hell to applaud and she nodded.
‘Your Honor, High Priest, Members of the Coven, two nights ago, while attending the Courting, in Lupercalia, with my partner, Faustus Blackwood, a demon came out of the woods and tried to attack us. In fact, we were aware of the risks of attack from supernatural beings during the Festival. However, gentlemen, the demon knew my name. He had been purposely summoned to attack me. Due to the incidents in my initiation and the fact that Billy's friends were participating in Lupercalia, it was easy to associate the attack with them,’ she said. ‘The worst, gentlemen, is what they did last night. As you may know, on the night of the Hunt, witches hunt warlocks. Well, I was hunting my date, but I got lost. To my misfortune, Billy, who was already expelled from the Academy, came along with all his cronies and they surrendered me. They intended to put into practice an ancient tradition we now call collective rape. And they would have succeeded if Faustus had not arrived on time.’
She gave me a grateful look and a kind smile. I could see in the faces of the people around them that hearing the story of Zelda's mouth made them more malleable. They seemed to have compassion on the witch.
‘I appreciate the testimony, Miss. Spellman,’ the High Priest murmured. ‘I now call Faustus Blackwood to testify.’
Zelda returned to her seat and I took over the pulpit.
‘Mr. Blackwood, could you tell the facts from your point of view?’
I nodded my head.
‘Your Honor, High Priest, Coven Members, on the first night of Lupercalia, I heard Billy's group plotting a plan to take action against Miss. Spellman during the festival. I approached one of them, Lexus Reid. But he could only tell me that the boys intended to be one of Zelda's partners. As was evident, they did not achieve this. So, on the night of the courting, like Miss. Spellman said, we were attacked by a demon. What they don't know is that I found a broken stone seal next to our camp. That is, the demon was actually summoned by someone and the instant we were there. Since Billy's cronies were in the woods, anyone could have set him free. Even Billy himself could have infiltrated the forest, as he had last night. Anyway, Zelda and I captured the demon and took him to the High Priest yesterday morning to find out the author of his summoning,’ I said, showing that the Priest was already aware of everything. ‘Last night I was separated from Zelda during the hunt and Lexus impersonated her, trying to trick me so I wouldn't go looking for her. But it was in vain. With a little persuasion, Lexus told me that they intended to put into practice the old tradition of the Academy's warlocks. It consisted of sharing a witch's virginity with the Coven's warlocks so that no bonds were created. I managed to track down Miss. Spellman in time. But you must imagine my fury and my indignation. I do not deny that I tortured them psychologically. I just wonder if they would do the same in my place.'
A sepulchral silence filled the church. Everyone was reflecting on the situation as I wished. Without further ado, I returned to my seat beside Zelda. The High Priest then took over the process again.
‘Very unworthy, the next evidence is in here.’ The High Priest lifted the pot, with the demon Zelda and I imprisoned, in the air for all to see. ‘The demon of the day of the courting.’
The priest opened the pot and muttered a summoning spell. It was not long before the Demon who had attacked us appeared before all. The demon sniffed the air and turned toward me and Zelda's.
‘Spellman... Warlock...’ he grunted and tried to move on us.
But the High Priest stopped him.
‘Demon, who summoned him in the woods?’
The demon laughed.
‘What matters?’ questioned. ‘I will finish you all soon.’
‘I command you to speak who freed you from your seal!’ The Headmaster's roar had been so loud that even the torch flames wavered.
The demon grunted and looked around.
‘The boy...’ he murmured and pointed to where Billy was sitting.
‘What did he want you to do?’
‘Take the Spellman.’ The demon spat the answer angrily.
I felt Zelda shake my hand and allowed myself to smile. Billy had been caught and was pale as wax.
Needlessly, the High Priest banished the demon.
‘I think we already have enough, your dishonors...’
His speech was interrupted by Edward's abrupt arrival. He brought with him Lexus, who seemed to struggle to try to escape. Edward muttered something to the Priest when he reached him and took a seat next to Zelda on the bench.
So your disappearance was due to that. He was looking for Lexus.
‘Sorry for the delay,’ Edward whispered to us, fixing his own social shirt. ‘He wasn't cooperating.’
‘I call to witness Lexus Reid,’ the High Priest's voice overlapped.
The boy shivered as he climbed into the pulpit.
‘What happened to him?’ Zelda questioned in a whisper.
‘We had a conversation,’ Edward answered simply.
If I was furious about what the gang had done to Zelda, I wondered how Edward was feeling. In their place, I would have killed them all.
‘Mr. Reid, could you confirm that Mr. Bauer and the rest of your group have acted against Miss. Spellman during the Lupercalia?’ The priest asked.
Lexus seemed to despair, looking everywhere, as if expecting someone to attack him at any moment. After a few seconds of hesitation, he said the words.
‘Yes, sir.’ His voice was shaky and suddenly he took on an angry face. ‘It was to fulfill the original traditions of the Coven! The Spellman should be divided! Should... Should... Should... But the traitor stopped us!’
‘Enough!’ the High Priest imposed himself.
Lexus was dragged to one of the benches and handcuffed to the others. It was completely crazy.
‘Your dishonors, I think you can give your verdict,’ the director said again.
‘Guilty!!!’ The Infernal Three said in unison and hit the hammer.
‘The court is suspended and returns to the shadows. May the penance be fulfilled!’
The trial was finally over.
We raised our glasses and toasted our victory that morning.
Edward and Faustus were sitting beside me on the pentagon table where we ate our meals while the rest of the Academy students prowled around us. By the time we got back from trial everyone was already aware of the process and the expulsion of Billy's gang. So we take the opportunity to invite them to toast our victory. The looks they gave us were divided between admiration, fear and envy.
‘Mr. Blackwood.’ The High Priest's voice overlapped the students' voices as he entered the pentagon. ‘In my office.’
Without further ado, the director turned his back on us and disappeared into the corridor.
I gave Faustus a questioning look, but he only sighed.
‘It was taking too long.’
He smiled slightly at me and left the table to follow the High Priest. What would have happened?
I knocked on the High Priest's door and he asked me to come in. He was sitting in his chair and asked me to occupy the chair in front of him. As I sat down, he propped his elbows on the table and crossed his fingers.
‘Faustus, I've been reflecting on your participation in the Academy. As agreed, as soon as you graduate, you will continue as Edward's mentor, assume the position of Professor of Demonology, and continue to accompany me to take my place in the future,’ he pointed out, and I frowned. ‘However, I've noticed a little sloppiness on your part lately. As your High Priest, I must warn you that your responsibilities do not allow you time for a fleeting romance.’
I raised an eyebrow defiantly. So it was about Zelda.
‘Are you suggesting that I move away from Miss. Spellman?’ I asked bluntly.
‘I'm suggesting you don't get emotionally involved,’ he explained with the simplicity that would say the sky is blue. ‘From now on, I will need you to accompany me to all my daily meetings and will only stay at the Academy for your classes and Edward's tutoring. It's time to delve deeper into Coven's affairs.’
I locked my jaw due to the irritation that affected me. I couldn't deny that he was offering me everything I ever wanted, but that would mean giving up Zelda.
Since when do you get carried away by a witch, Faustus?
I sighed. I could not give up now. Zelda would understand, I was sure.
The High Priest grinned.
‘Very well, my boy, I knew you would make the right choice,’ he muttered, rising from his desk to get his hat and coat. ‘Let's go now. We are late.’
I frowned. Wouldn't he even give me time to talk to her? Well, of course not.
I got up and he asked me to follow him. And I did it.
Chapter 9: Masks
‘You can't stay in bed for the rest of your life. You have school.’
Sabrina was sitting on the edge of the bed with a desolate countenance, clinging to her pink pajamas, as I parted the curtains on her bedroom window.
‘What if I see him, or if he sees me?’ She muttered without any mood. ‘It’ll be too much.’
I approached her and handed her a small vial, holding her hands next to mine.
‘Your Aunt Hilda’s made you a balm. To numb your heart,’ I said. ‘Rub it in you chest three times daily or as needed.’
I pulled back to sort out some clean clothes so she could go to school.
‘I don't want to stop feeling, I want to stop hurting,’ she whispered. ‘No, that’s wrong. I want Harvey to stop hurting.’
Who didn't want that?
‘There’s no balm for that. If there were, we'd be as rich as Midas,’ I joked.
‘What am I gonna do, Aunt Zee?’
Her tone had sounded so desolate and desperate that it almost broke my heart. I grabbed her clothes and walked over to her, sitting beside her on the bed.
‘Today, you’ll go to school, and you’ll talk to your friends, and you’ll sit in class and answer questions. And then, you’ll go to the academy. Then you’ll come home… and we’ll eat supper together. And then you’ll go to bed. And your Aunt Hilda or I will sit by your side until you fall asleep.’ I said, looking into her eyes. ‘And tomorrow… you’ll do the same, and it will hurt a tiny bit less. And the next day, it will hurt even less.’
‘After what I put Harvey through… how can I ever face him again?"
‘You...’ I started but caught. ‘I’m not sure. I’ve never been where you are.’
Sabrina was looking me in the eye, begging for answers. Something that really helped her. But how could I do this?
I ran a hand over her face, caressing her cheek gently. I rose from the bed, placing her clothes beside her on the mattress. I walked a few steps, but stopped before reaching the door.
I had never really been through what Sabrina was going through. I had never caused such pain on any warlock. I was just on the other side... with Faustus.
I dried a tear that trickled down my cheek without permission before turning to Sabrina.
‘Perhaps you just do, Sabrina. As bravely and as humble as you can.’
Dorian Gray’s Room was packed. Warlocks and witches, all formally dressed, circled between the couches and the bar, but their identities remained hidden under masks, while the dim lights helped maintain the mood of mystery. I just watched the movement of the mezzanine. I tightened my grip on the iron railing as a witch approached Faustus. He greeted her quickly and spoke to a warlock again. He was even more handsome in his black tuxedo.
We haven't spoken for months. After the trial, he walked away. He was almost never at the Academy and in our joint classes, nor did he look in my direction. He always seemed busy with his duties, running from one appointment to the next. Edward had commented that Faustus was deepening in the Coven's roots and had assumed his post as future High Priest.
Today, he was graduating from the Academy.
‘Ready, Zelda?’ Edward questioned as he approached.
I just nodded and took his arm to accompany him. We walked slowly down the steps while still keeping an eye on Faustus's movements.
Should I be there? Definitely not.
As if sensing my gaze, his blue eyes focused on mine. I felt my legs wobble slightly with the intensity of his gaze. Faustus seemed to glaze at me, and I allowed myself a small and seductive smile. Just as I would recognize him under the mask, so would he recognize me... We would recognize each other under any circumstances.
For the first time in months, the High Priest had allowed me to take time off from the Coven's duties. It should be a gift for graduating with honors from the Academy. All the warlocks and witches of the Academy seemed to have attended the celebration party in the Dorian Gray’s Room. It was crowded.
The masks didn't stop us from finding out who was under them. But it gave an excuse not to take responsibility for our actions that night.
Witches and warlocks constantly approached me to greet me. Some witches tried something else, but I politely dismissed them.
I poured my whiskey, oblivious to the conversation going on around me.
It all faded from my mind when I felt her presence. And even if I didn't make sense, the change in environment would alert me. Everyone seemed to have stopped doing what they were doing to admire the newcomers.
‘Edward has arrived,’ one of the warlocks murmured.
I looked up at the staircase and held my breath. Under the black mask she wore, hers green eyes shone toward me. Zelda was stunning!
The skintight wine dress fit her body perfectly, outlining her curves. The neckline that stretched below the line of her breasts made me feel uncomfortable in my own pants. The black gloves that covered her arms up to his elbows gave her a sophisticated look, while her red hair was half tied atop her head and cascaded over hers shoulders.
Zelda gave me a smile and I sent all my self-control to hell. I walked around the room, not bothering to bump into other wizards. I was focused on her and only her.
I dropped my glass on the tray of a waiter passing by and continued on my way.
I reached the bottom of the stairs at the same time as she and Edward. I put my hand over my heart and bowed to Zelda. Then I held out my hand, waiting for her to accept it. Not that I had given reasons for her to do that.
She gave me a suspicious look, but put her hand over mine. I placed a kiss on her glove and pulled her hand to put it on my arm so I could guide her. So done, she let go of Edward.
‘You look beautiful, Zelda,’ I muttered helplessly, and saw Edward frown. ‘Don't make that face, you look very handsome too.’
Zelda hid her mouth under her hand to giggle.
‘Thank you, Faustus,’ Edward replied, rolling his eyes. ‘Congratulations for the graduation.’
He reached out to greet me and I squeezed it.
‘Thanks, Edward.’ I pointed to the middle of the room. ‘Come on, they're all here.’
I hated to admit how much I appreciated Faustus's company. Seeing his influence on the other warlocks attracted me. He, in turn, had not taken his hands off me for a second since I arrived. We looked like a couple... For that night, under the masks, we could fake it.
The waiters began handing out champagne glasses to everyone and Faustus handed me one.
‘I'll be right back,’ he whispered in my ear and I nodded.
Faustus walked to the bar and climbed onto the counter, holding his own glass. Everyone began to cheer and cheer him.
‘I would like to thank you all for your unholy night,’ he began his speech and everyone fell silent immediately. ‘My years at the Academy are among the happiest of my life. The books I've read, the friendships I've cultivated, our festivals and ceremonies, the debates on ideas and philosophies... even my discussions with Edward.’ Everyone laughed at his comment and Edward rolled his eyes. ‘More than expected by the schedule, I learned the value of people, learned to take care of what really matters and above that, learned who matters. I feared for someone else's life, fought for justice, and gave my sweat and blood to keep her safe. But the Academy also taught me that even if you win, you are still missing something you could give life to have, and that was the hardest lesson of all.’
I felt a lump form in my throat and my eyesight cloud. I was relieved to be wearing a mask.
‘Are you crying, Zelda?’ Edward whispered in my ear.
I wiped a tear down my cheek and shook my head.
‘Of course not.’
Luckily, Faustus still had a few more words to say and that distracted my brother.
‘Besides, I just have to declare that you won't get rid of me so easily. I would like to propose a toast. Raise your glasses to the newest Professor of Demonology at the Academy of Unseen Arts... and soon High Priest. Hail Satan!’
The club became a buzz. Everyone raised their glasses and began to shout Faustus's name.
He jumped off the counter and walked over to us under applause and whistles. It was as if Satan had emerged from Hell and incorporated into him. Powerful, admirable and seductive. Perfect, I would say.
As soon as he reached us, Faustus pulled me into a hug.
‘You're an idiot, Faustus Blackwood,’ I whispered, my face buried in his chest.
He let out a humorless laugh.
‘I know, Zelda.’
I knew I wouldn't fix the damage I'd done, but I hoped my speech would show Zelda my resentment. Since she was still hugging me, I supposed she understood me.
I gave Dorian a meaningful look and he nodded, disappearing into the back of the bar.
‘Professor, huh?’ Edward questioned. ‘Will you have time to sleep?’
I let out a breath and realized Zelda was attentive to my answer.
‘Frankly, I don't think so,’ I said. ‘But don't expect me to make it easy for you. Because it will be the other way around.’
Edward grabbed Zelda's shoulders and pulled her away from me. I frowned at his unexpected attitude. She looked as surprised as me.
‘I don't want my sister to be cuddled with our most hated future teacher.’
We laughed weakly and I saw Zelda roll her eyes. Despite the joke, I knew Edward still bothered about my proximity to Zelda. Apparently he and the High Priest agreed on something.
The lively music that played stopped abruptly and I saw everyone frown.
‘What happened?’ Zelda asked, looking around.
The musicians waved to Dorian and adjusted their instruments. Soon, a slow song filled the room. I bowed to Zelda, which caught her eyes, and then held out my hand.
‘Miss Spellman, would you give me the honor of this dance?’
She froze for a few seconds and I looked at her for confidence. Finally, she smiled and took my hand. Promptly, I pulled her toward me, placing one hand on her waist and holding our hands together in the air.
Warlocks and witches made a circle around us so that we could move more freely. All eyes were upon us. But I only had eyes for her.
I led her around the room, dancing to the beat of the music. I kept her glued to my body. I didn't want to waste a second of that moment. I leaned my head against the top of hers and intoxicated with the scent of her hair. I had missed her. Satan knew how much.
We did not know what would await us when tomorrow came. We would probably act like two strangers again... because it was necessary, because it was the right thing to do.
I just wanted to stop time and keep Zelda with me forever.
But no matter how much I kept her safe in my arms, the music was over and we stopped dancing. Academy members applauded. At least that was what they should be doing. All my attention was on Zelda.
She lifted her head to look at me and I saw her cloudy eyes. We both knew our destiny.
Zelda shook her head several times as she looked deep into my eyes and turned away from me. I was surprised by her attitude and tried to hold her arms to bring her close again. But she swerved and hurried into the crowd.
After the initial shock, I ran after her. No matter what would happen tomorrow, our night was still far from over.
I made room between the warlocks and witches who were too drunk to get out of the way.
‘Zelda!’ I shouted as I spotted her at the foot of the stairs. ‘Zelda, don't go!’
She continued up the steps without looking back and I had to speed up to reach her. And for Satan, I could do it, even if it was the last thing I did.
I jumped the steps so I wasted no time and finally reached her when I reached the upper landing. I knew if pulling her arm would hurt her, then I hugged her behind her back, preventing her from continuing to run.
Her body trembled slightly and I knew it was not due to our race. I turned her gently so that I could see her face, but she kept him down. I used my fingertips to lift it carefully. I pulled her mask up until I took it off. A lonely tear ran down her cheek as her green eyes met mine.
‘I thought I could... just for one damn night, pretend...’ she murmured in a choked voice. ‘But, Faustus, what are you doing?’
I didn’t answer her. All the answers would be tragic. I was breaking our hearts, wiping out all our possibilities before they even existed, treading glass and pretending not to hurt... We were damned and we knew it.
But not today.
I pulled her to me and claimed her lips. Zelda wrapped her arms around my neck and I hugged her tighter around the waist. The calm kiss became desperate and I felt my body beg for hers.
I lowered my hands to her legs and lifted them, Zelda understood what I would do and leaned on my shoulders to wrap her legs around my hip.
The next instant, I pressed Zelda's back against my bedroom door. She let out a surprised moan and I smiled. She hurried to take off my suit and I helped her toss it away. Her lips left mine to travel around my neck as she got rid of my bow tie and unzipped my shirt buttons.
I pressed my hip against hers. I needed to feel Zelda. I needed more contact from her. We moan with the friction. She was so hot and soft.
I gripped the hem of her dress and pulled it up. She helped me get the piece off and soon I had her breasts naked and swollen just for me. I slid my lips down her neck, down her lap, and finally snapped at one of her breasts while massaging the other with one hand. Zelda moaned and tugged my hair with one hand while the other scratched my back.
I wrapped my arms under her hip and held her blindly to the bed. I laid her down carefully on the mattress and admired her half naked body. I would never tire of doing that. I tore off my pants with the boxer and watched Zelda tear off her own lingerie in a hurry. Our despair for each other was our guide.
I lay back on her body and Zelda wrapped my legs around my hip. I claimed her lips for me and she responded with the same urgency. Without further ado, I entered her. We both moaned loudly. For Satan’s sake, she was so tight and hot. I had to hold on so as not to end our game too quickly.
Zelda shifted her hip impatiently, and I shifted again, drawing deep sighs from her mouth. She scratched my back with her nails and the mixture of pain and pleasure made me thrust faster. She let out a breathy moan as I bit her shoulder. It was the fair.
‘Faustus...’ she moaned and I felt her squeeze inside her. ‘Faustus...’
With one last thrust, we both reached orgasm and our moans echoed through the room. Every muscle in my body relaxed and I collapsed on Zelda. Our breaths were ragged and I could feel her heart racing.
I raised my head to look at her and she was smiling at me. I took her lips with an affectionate and calm kiss. She held my face in her hands and stroked my cheeks as she kissed me. I pulled back so I could admire her face. I wish I could record every inch of it.
I knew I would still see her. And a lot if consider that I would be her professor. But... It wouldn't be the same.
Her eyes stared at my face with the same regret I should reflect. I lay on hers chest, hugging her waist with my arms. She stroked my hair gently as I busied to hear her heart beat.
‘Faustus, I understand that circumstances are not in our favor now. But don't ignore me.’
‘I promise, Zelda. And, sorry for the last few months...’
She hugged me.
‘It's all right now,’ her whisper sounded almost inaudible. ‘We'll be fine, Faustus.’
Chapter 10: The Passion of Faustus Blackwood
A year after the masquerade, Faustus is invited to watch the play "The Passion of Lucifer Morningstar" in which Zelda will play Eve. However, to prevent Zelda's debut night from being a disaster, Faustus decides to take a drastic step.
A new chapter to celebrate Miranda's birthday!
As soon as I reached Faustus's office door, it opened and Shirley passed it. The witch stopped in front of me with fury in her eyes.
‘And of course it would be you. His ice-cold pet,’ she growled.
Without further ado, she hurried down the hallway. I glanced at Faustus as soon as I entered the room.
‘What was that all about?’
He rose from his chair with a small booklet in his hand.
‘Well, as you know, Zelda, the Academy’s presenting a morality play for the Coven's edification and diversion,’ he said brightly, his eyes sparkling. ‘As always, it's the...’
‘The Passion of Lucifer Morningstar,’ I said, and he smiled. ‘Yes, I played Eve, back in my day.’
‘Quite scandalously, if memory serves.’
We exchanged glances that spoke far more than we could say with words. If there was anyone who would remember the play as it actually happened, it would be him.
Me and Edward hurried into the Unholy Church. The place was completely decorated and a makeshift stage took up half the space, with large red curtains preventing us from seeing the backstage. The whole coven seemed to have attended that night. We took up two vacant seats at the front, which were reserved for us. The play was about to begin.
‘If we had been late, Zelda would kill us.’
I let out a breath.
Almost a year had passed since my graduation. Zelda and I saw each other at the Academy, but we hardly spoke. We ended up distancing ourselves, as we knew would happen. Edward served as a bridge to let me know about her sporadically. She was fine, as she said she would be.
Except for the stress that was going on with the play "The Passion of Lucifer Morningstar". She would play Eva. It seemed a lot more accurate to her to play Lilith, but I was sure she would be perfect in any role. She, however, was freaking out over the incompetence of a warlock who would counteract her.
A few days earlier, Zelda marched into the library, looking furious. Edward and I raise our heads from the books to give her attention.
‘What happened, Zelda?’ Edward questioned.
She threw herself into an empty chair beside her and huffed angrily, crossing her arms over her chest. She carried a booklet wrapped in his hands.
‘That Stuart asshole is the worst actor I've ever seen in my life,’ she roared, throwing her head back, letting her red hair form a curtain on the back of her chair. ‘What was the High Priest thinking when he decided he would be a good Lucifer?’
‘Think on the bright side, you'll stand out,’ Edward replied nonchalantly. ‘Faustus and I were already Lucifer, that is, all the good options have already been chosen.’
I laughed and shook my head. Zelda rolled her eyes.
‘And to think I'll have to pretend to be seduced by him...’ She closed her eyes and put a hand to her mouth pretending to be sick. ‘What a tragic end’.
I left my thoughts as I saw the curtains open. Stuart stepped in with another boy after him, who would be the False God. Brief applause greeted them.
‘What kind of God denies pleasure to his followers?’ Stuart muttered mechanically.
Only by that first speech, I could understand Zelda's frustration and fury.
‘The only God. The true God’ the other boy responded with a much better acting. ‘That all knows, almighty.’
‘But if God is unable to prevent evil, then He is not almighty.’
‘Heresy!’ Shouted the boy, tearing off Stuart's makeshift wings.
This, in turn, fell to the ground too dramatically. I ran my hand over my face trying to contain the shame. Hell, he was terrible.
When the curtains reopened, Zelda appeared on the stage. The fact that she was almost naked caused most of the audience to hold their breath. A few green branches covered Zelda's breasts and hips, that's all. Edward buried his face in his hands in disbelief. I, on the other hand, couldn't take my eyes off her.
She was perfect, as I imagined.
If Eva had Zelda's beauty, I wouldn't be surprised if Lucifer exchanged Lilith for her, for falling in love. I caught myself smiling in wonder.
Applause greeted her as the initial shock passed. Soon, the boy who played the false God came across the stage. Zelda bowed slightly to him, openly contradicted.
‘Listen, Eve, you shall eat freely from every tree in the garden, but you shall not eat from the tree of knowledge. For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’.
The boy pointed away where the tree would be and Zelda followed his direction with her gaze. Promptly, she nodded.
‘Yes, my Lord.’
The boy withdrew and Zelda remained onstage, turning to the audience.
‘Oh, what a cruel destiny... To have to lie under Adam and kneel before this one who says to be God. Two things I never wanted,’ she recited magnificently. ‘Maybe death is not so bad...’
Stuart reappeared onstage and Zelda's gaze darted to him. I knew she despised him, but her acting was so splendid that it was not possible to notice. On the contrary.
‘This is how the false God said: Will you not eat of every tree in the garden?’ The boy said in that ridiculous mechanical way.
‘Of the fruit of the trees, in the garden, we may eat, but of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, he said, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye shall die".'
Her voice sounded like music to my ears. To see her so perfect in contrast to that boy... it was blasphemous!
‘Of course you will not die,’ this time, he had spoken the text so fast that the words practically came together.
If the scene had taken place as they were playing it, Eve could easily take over Lucifer, seize his throne, and he would kneel before her.
When Zelda began to walk toward the tree of knowledge, a half-naked boy who was to play Adam appeared on the stage.
‘Eve?’ He called her. ‘Come on’.
He held out his arm, pointing behind the scenes, and Zelda followed the path, giving the boy a suspicious look and annoyed by his order.
As the curtains closed, some applause reverberated through the church. I refused to allow that idiot Stuart to ruin Zelda's night.
‘I have to settle a case,’ I whispered to Edward who just nodded.
I left my seat and left the Church as discreetly as I could. I skirted its full length and used a secret entrance in the back. The advantage of being a teacher now is that no one questioned why I was there. Taking advantage of the delay in changing scenarios, I searched for the useless Stuart. It was not hard to find it.
Praise Satan that Zelda is not around.
He was startled to see me and put his hands on his chest.
‘Professor Blackwood... What are you doing…?’ He didn't have time to finish his sentence.
As soon as he collapsed to the floor, I hid him inside a small room adjacent to the stage. I used an illusory enchantment and soon looked like Stuart.
It was show time.
I spotted Zelda positioned in the center of the stage and allowed myself to smile slightly before walking over to her. As soon as hers green eyes found me, I saw her frown. She realized there was something different. Before she could say anything, the curtains opened and she returned to the character.
‘Knowledge will set you free...’ I murmured.
‘Who are you?’ Zelda murmured looking me in the eye.
I couldn't help but admire her. Even more so close.
‘I am Lucifer. I've been called the Morningstar. We have a common enemy’.
‘He's a man, just like you,’ Zelda imposed herself and I swallowed, bewitched. ‘Why should I trust what you say to me is true?’
‘The False God knoweth that in the day that of the fruit of knowledge thou eatest, your eyes shall be opened, and thou shalt be knowledgeable of good and evil. He wants you to remain ignorant and naked in your garden,’ I said, holding her hands in mine and matching the intensity of her gaze. I took one of the apples from the tree. ‘You will be free from the petty tests of the false God. Taste the fruit, Eve. Rebel against those who subdued you. Be free.’
‘It's just what I want.’
I offered her the apple and she promptly picked it up. Zelda pretended to analyze the fruit, as if thinking about what she was about to do and its implications. In the next instant, she bit the apple.
She looked around, waiting for something to happen. I smiled at her.
‘The False God lied to you. The apple is not the forbidden fruit. I am, Eve. I can show you the truth’.
I saw in her eyes the moment she realized who I really was. Of course the change in acting would give me away, but I knew Zelda would recognize me. She would always recognize me, after all. The charm ceased to work for the person when he knew it was a spell. Soon I, Faustus Blackwood, was reflected in hers irises.
‘And how will you show me the truth and set me free?’
‘Oh Eve,’ I murmured, holding her hands more firmly against mine. ‘Give yourself to me and I will set you free’.
Without waiting, I pulled her to me, holding her tightly around the waist and claiming her lips. Zelda wrapped her fingers in my hair and then slid her hands around my face in a silent request that I not move away. If it was up to me, that audience would continue to watch our kiss for hours.
For Satan, how I missed the softness of her lips.
When the air became necessary and we had to move away, I could hear gasps coursing through the room. But that didn't matter. Zelda was looking at me intensely and I returned the same way.
‘Maledictus vir Dei et falsa iugo prebeo. Ad fidem tibi domino obscuro eo’.
Her pronunciation was simply perfect.
‘Coram me suscipies damnationem aeternam’.
I stared into the depths of her green eyes knowing she saw my blue ones. Intensity no longer described what was going on between us. Desire exuded through our pores, as did nostalgia and longing.
We were brought back to reality by the applause that filled the church and soon the curtains closed. Darkness enveloped us and I wanted to bring Zelda to me, but the other actors approached for the next act. We certainly would not participate in it.
I took Zelda's hand and pulled her into a hidden corner of the church. Pinning her against my body and the wall. She held my face in her hands, staring at me doubtfully in the look.
I just shut her up with my lips. That didn't matter now. She returned my kiss with the same urgency. I lifted her waist with my arms and she crossed her legs on my hip. I pressed her body against the wall, rubbing our pelvises for relief. Zelda moaned against my mouth and I bit my own lip not to do the same.
‘Do you want them to hear us, Zelda?’ I whispered teasingly into her ear. ‘They would have a nice show to watch.’
It was her turn to move her hip and make me contain the moan. She smiled and pulled my head to kiss me again.
We didn't have much time and we knew it. Then I grabbed the sides of the thin fabric of her panties under the branches of her costume and pulled them to tear them apart. Zelda gasped in surprise as the fabric left her body and fell to the floor. But, soon the surprise gave way to amusement and she ran her hands up the waistband of my pants.
Zelda stroked my cock over my clothes to torture me and I held my breath. My pants were tight and I needed relief. She unzipped and unzipped my pants, along with the boxer, just enough to give me the long-awaited freedom. Zelda wrapped my hand around my limb and started with back and forth movements.
I leaned my forehead against hers, closing my eyes tightly to avoid moaning loudly. Her hand was so soft. When I opened my eyes again, Zelda was staring at me with a satisfied smile on her face.
‘Zelda...’ I whispered against her face. ‘I need you’.
She took her hand off my cock and leaned against my shoulders, pulling my hip against hers with her legs. I snuggled into her doorway and almost moaned at how hot and humid she was. Without prolonging the torture, I penetrated it.
Zelda stuck her mouth to mine to avoid moaning loudly. I kissed her urgently as I began to move my hip against hers. She was tight as hell and I loved being inside her. I loved having Zelda in my arms again.
I gripped her hip tighter so that her back wasn't scratched against the wall and increased the speed of the thrusts. She threw her head back and I took the opportunity to kiss her entire neck, leaving slight reddish marks on her white skin. Zelda started rolling against my pelvis, asking for more and that's what I did.
She grabbed my back, scratching the fabric with her nails. I leaned my head against her shoulder, wishing there were less clothes between us.
‘Faustus...’ she moaned softly. ‘More’.
I loved when she moaned my name.
I no longer held back. It went as deep and as fast as it could. I needed to feel her. I needed her.
I felt hers muscles tighten and spasms begin to take over her body. I pursed her lips to keep our moans from echoing. With one last thrust, we both reached orgasm.
We spent time just cuddling against the wall. Our breaths were ragged, as was our heartbeat. I kissed her shoulder gently and lifted my head to see her face. Her cheeks were flushed and her green eyes sparkled. She was looking more beautiful every day.
Zelda stroked the back of my neck and slid her hands up to my cheek, caressing my cheeks gently.
With a sigh, I got out of her and we moaned low in frustration.
‘Can you stand up?’ I asked quietly.
She nodded and I released her legs carefully. I straightened my pants and she lowered the dress, running her hands to untangle it.
Whoever saw us would know we had sex for our state.
‘I'll cast an illusory spell on you so you can disguise it until you get your costume off, okay?’ I whispered and she nodded. ‘Uma autem specie non vídeo. Ut in pictura variatur libet’.
I had left Stuart's image as soon as the curtains closed, so everyone would recognize me.
‘I'll go first to disguise it,’ she whispered, and then took a deep breath before facing me with intensity. ‘But, Faustus, I need to know, why did you do that?’
‘Because I love having sex with you, Zelda,’ I said humorously.
She rolled her eyes, but her cheeks flushed slightly.
‘You know what I mean.’
I smiled at her and held her chin gently.
‘Because I refused to watch that bastard ruin your night and...’ I whispered, interspersing my gaze between hers eyes and her rosy mouth, ‘I couldn't bear to see him kissing you’.
Zelda closed her eyes and shook her head.
‘Faustus, I appreciate it, but don't start with that again...’ she practically pleaded. ‘We know it won't work. You have no time, you have your obligations... So do not involve feelings. Don't delude me with your words’.
It was like slapping him in the face.
‘You are right. It wouldn't be fair...’ I whispered. ‘Forgive me, Zelda. It was not my intention’.
She nodded with a sigh.
‘I know. But some things need to be said... some not’.
No more, she turned her back on me and walked away.
‘Where were you?’ Edward questioned as I approached him again and he frowned. ‘Did something happen? Your face looks terrible’.
Most people had already left the Church and the few remaining were waiting for the cast members.
‘It was nothing,’ I lied. ‘But I'm really upset that I missed the end of the play.’
Edward patted my shoulder lightly, as if that would comfort me somehow.
‘You missed the best part. I don't know what happened to that boy, but Stuart played the part very well in the penultimate part,’ he said, and I almost laughed. ‘He didn't even look the same.’
Stuart appeared from the back of the stage. He looked slightly stunned. I woke him up and modified his memories so as not to arouse suspicion. Some students greeted him with cheers and hugged him.
‘Zelda is taking too long,’ Edward commented with a frown.
‘She must be changing,’ I whispered after a sigh.
Edward gave me a suspicious look.
‘Faustus, were you...?’
Before he finished his question, Zelda appeared behind him and distracted him. Edward grinned at her and hugged her.
‘Congratulations, Zelda! You were perfect! Our Dark Lord would be very proud’.
She broke free of her brother, carrying a smug smile on her face.
‘Tell me something I don't know, Edward.’
They laughed. I just watched her. Needing to disguise it, I reached out, waiting for her to accept it. As indeed did. I brought her to my lips and kissed her fingers.
‘It was a beautiful presentation, Miss. Spellman,’ I muttered formally. ‘I resent missing the last act.’
‘Thank you for your presence, Professor Blackwood.’
She was a formidable actress.
‘I wouldn't lose for anything,’ I said courteously, then looked at my wristwatch. ‘Well, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my business. Have a cursed night.’
Without waiting for an answer, I turned my back on them and left the Church.
Sabrina had to replace Dorcas in the performance of the play. Seeing her on stage performing so magnificently, I reminded myself, so many years earlier.
‘Give yourself to me and I will make you worthy.’
Sabrina's kiss with Nicholas made us hold our breaths and I found myself glazed in the scene. The nostalgia was too great and I visualized myself and Faustus in those two young child’s.
I looked at Faustus and he seemed mesmerized by the scene. As if sensing my gaze, he turned to me and I saw his emotion reflected in the blue irises. I knew what was on his mind. He grinned and I wiped a runaway tear that ran down my cheek.
It was amazing how we, after all, could still be wrapped in the claws of the past.
Chapter 11: The Dinner
The High Priest will have dinner at the Spellman house. The arduous task of preparing the meal fell on Zelda. And when everything tends to fail, Faustus appears.
Hello, witches and warlocks!
Hope you all had a remarkable Yule!
Enjoy the chapter. Lov u!
The water was already boiling in the cauldron. I looked at the frog inside the glass and gave a small Machiavellian smile.
‘You cooking dinner?’ Hilda's voice echoed through the kitchen.
She approached me to look at what I was doing, looking surprised.
‘I am,’ I muttered, still focused on stirring the cauldron. ‘How do you feel about frog’s legs?’
‘Depends on the frog.’
‘Sister Jackson has decided to pick on me, Hilda. As if we were schoolgirls.’ I counted covering the cauldron with some brutality. ‘I turned the other cheek when she tried to kill me with a gargoyle, but then she teleported her familiar down my throat to humiliate me in front of all the students, and that I cannot abide.’
Hilda picked up the bottle with the frog inside to look at it.
‘Oh, the poor little familiar’s innocent.’
‘Is anyone truly innocent?’ I said, stirring the cauldron again.
The living room door closed and soon Sabrina appeared in the kitchen door.
‘Aunties, is Ambrose home?’
‘In his room,’ I said, turning to her. ‘What would you say to frog’s legs for dinner?’
Her face twisted into an expression of disgust.
‘Can't we just have pizza?’
Sabrina snorted and left the kitchen to go after Ambrose.
‘Ohh, yummy! Bit of pizza?’ Hilda whispered in my ear and I shot her a fierce look. ‘It's better than frog’s legs.’
I rolled my eyes. I didn't know if she was really sorry for the family member or just wanted to escape eating my food.
Hilda watched me cook from her high chair. She looked excited, chewing on a loaf of bread as blond hair fell into her eyes.
‘Remember, Hilda,’ I murmured, and hers big eyes stared at me. ‘Today we will have a very important visit. You need to behave yourself.’
She practically ignored me and reached for her leftover piece of dough from the pie in the oven. I sighed and handed her the dough to play with. It made her settle down a little.
I looked into the cauldron with the food and compared it to the picture in the recipe book. It didn't look the same. What would I have done wrong?
I couldn't spoil that dinner.
The High Priest would give us the honor of having dinner at our house and everything needed to be impeccable. I just wanted to hit Edward when I found out I was the one who would be responsible for making dinner.
My parents were traveling the world. Now that Edward and I were older, they let us take care of Hilda during the holidays. But who cooked at home was Edward, not me. Only when strictly necessary. I was busy taking care of Hilda.
I heard the doorbell ring and almost had a heart attack. It was not time yet! For Satan’s sake!
Hilda reached for something on the counter, but I shot her a serious look as I wiped my hands on a dish towel.
‘I'll answer the door. Don’t move!’ I ordered, watching her smile.
I hurried to the door and tried to straighten my dress and my hair before opening it. I was surprised to see Faustus standing in the doorway. I looked around for Edward and the High Priest, but neither was with the wizard.
‘I came straight from a meeting,’ he explained. ‘I hope you don't mind I coming early, Miss. Spellman.’
I felt my shoulders relax at that.
‘Come in, please, Mr. Blackwood.’
I made room and he bowed slightly before entering the hall of the house. I headed for the kitchen to make sure not to burn anything and not lose sight of Hilda. Faustus followed me.
I stopped short when I didn't find Hilda in her chair. Where had she gotten herself? I took a deep breath and tried to give Faustus the impression that all was well.
‘Faustus, could you look at the food for me, please? I need to get something...’
He opened his mouth, but I just kissed him on the cheek before running out of the kitchen. I needed to find Hilda soon!
I took off my jacket and folded the sleeves of my shirt before approaching the cauldron. I opened the lid and frowned at the contents. I stared at the open page of the book on the bench and looked back at the cauldron. It couldn’t be the same recipe...
I took a spoon and tried the contents of the cauldron. It wasn't bad... But it lacked seasoning. I heard a low laugh and looked around who would have laughed. Her blond hair and part of her face were exposed, though the rest of her body was hidden behind the counter. Hilda Spellman came out of her hiding place and approached me with a happy smile, which outlined her protruding cheeks. She raised her hands to me and I picked her up to sit her on the counter.
‘Well, Miss. Spellman, I will need your help to fix your sister's dinner.’
She just clapped her hands happily.
I had already turned the whole house over. I had looked into the wardrobes and under the beds. Nothing to find Hilda. I was already freaking out. I would need to ask Faustus for help and he was already watching dinner.
I stepped out of the basement and up the spiral staircase to the ground floor. I felt the sweat take my palms and I shivered slightly with nervousness. I didn’t believe I had lost Hilda just on the day of the High Priest's visit.
I walked around the room to enter the kitchen, already preparing my speech, when the scene that formed in front of me made me stop.
‘So what do you think?’
Faustus had Hilda on his lap and was giving her a small spoonful of food. He wiped her mouth with a handkerchief while she nodded happily. Apparently she had approved of the taste.
I leaned against the doorjamb and smiled as I admired them. It was lovely. Faustus would be a drooling father when he had children.
He put his hand over Hilda's and helped her stir the cauldron. She seemed happy in life. I had never let her near the fire and Faustus was making her wishes.
‘Are you teaching Hilda how to cook?’ I asked him to notice me.
His blue eyes found me and he grinned. Hilda in turn hid her face in his shirt. She knew she had disobeyed me.
‘I taught your brother and you at the Academy. I had to make my contribution to your sister too,’ he replied with a wink at me.
‘She loves to be in the kitchen with Edward,’ I told him and approached the cauldron. I frowned. It looked like another food. ‘What spell did you do?’
He laughed. Still holding Hilda in one arm, he took a spoon and allowed me to try it. The taste was really good. I didn't know what he had done, but it was much better.
‘It's delicious,’ I muttered, looking at him, impressed. ‘What did you put here?’
Faustus looked at Hilda with complicity.
‘It's a secret of me and your sister.’
I rolled my eyes and took Hilda from his arms. She gave me a pleading look so I wouldn't fight her and reached for Faustus, trying to get away from me.
‘No way, young lady,’ I whispered to her and she buried her face in her chubby hands. I looked at Faustus who was watching us trying to hide a smile. ‘Is ready?’
‘Yes, miss,’ he said, putting out the fire. ‘We just need to wait for the guests.’
Hilda began to thrash in my arms, wanting me to put her down.
‘What you want?’ I asked paying attention.
She looked at Faustus, ashamed of him. As if she wasn’t in his lap moments before. Hilda took a lock of my hair and began to wrap it in her hands.
‘Music, Zelda!’ She answered with her thin voice.
I set her down and she ran into the living room. Faustus unfolded his sleeves and put on his jacket again before following me to Hilda. She was on her toes trying to turn on the radio. I helped her put on the songs she liked and as soon as the sound took over the room she asked me to lap. I picked her up and reached out to dance with her as if we were going to waltz.
Her laughter reverberated as I twirled her. Hilda was a lovely child. Faustus, who had been watching us so far, approached and hugged me around the waist, taking our hands to dance the three together. His face was close to mine and I saw his amused smile as he guided us. Hilda was euphoric and was throwing her head against Faustus's chest to face him.
A scratching throat caught our eye, and promptly Faustus and I looked toward the sound. Edward and the High Priest were standing in the doorway of the room, watching us.
Faustus and I walked away and bowed slightly to the Priest. To my relief, Hilda imitated us.
‘It's a pleasure to welcome you to our house, Your Excellency,’ I murmured and pointed to the dining room. ‘Dinner is ready. Feel free.’
‘I appreciate the hospitality, Miss. Spellman,’ he said courteously, then turned to Faustus. ‘Glad you made it, Mr. Blackwood.’
The Priest's dismissive tone to Faustus didn’t go unnoticed by us.
‘Would you like a drink, your honor?’ Edward asked politely.
‘Yes, please, Edward,’ he answered. ‘A glass of wine would be ideal. I could arrange, Miss. Spellman?’ ]
I was surprised by your request. Edward serving him. I saw Faustus frown and cast a disapproving glance at the priest.
‘Immediately, Your Excellency,’ I said, walking away to go to the kitchen.
He offered me a small smile and turned to Edward.
‘Let's go to the dining room.’
As I walked into the kitchen to get the bottle of wine, I saw Faustus offer his hand to Hilda and guide her into the other room.
I returned to the room with the glass and wine to serve the High Priest. He headed the table while Edward sat on his right side, Faustus on his left, and Hilda occupied the chair clinging to the last. It was up to me to take the seat next to Edward.
I served the Priest the wine and he even thanked me, devoting his attention to the men at the table.
I sighed. It would be a long night.
‘Dinner was delicious,’ the High Priest murmured after wiping his mouth with his cloth napkin. ‘I appreciate your dedication, Miss. Spellman’.
‘It was a pleasure, Your Excellency,’ Zelda replied cordially.
Her gaze soon met mine and I saw that she was mentally thanking me. I just opened a discreet smile.
The little Spellman was propped against my arm, almost asleep. It was late for a small child, but she had to restrain herself to follow good manners. I was about to let her lie on my lap when Zelda rose to pick up the dessert plates.
Edward grabbed some liqueurs and small glasses to put on the table. The High Priest seemed to love the variety.
Zelda returned to the room, but before she could take her place, the priest stopped her.
‘Could you excuse us, Miss. Spellman?’
She seemed surprised by the request, but nodded.
‘I really need to put Hilda to sleep,’ she announced as if she hadn't been kicked out. ‘Excuse me.’
I helped her get Hilda on her lap and she left the room.
I gave the Priest a deadly look. What was the need for that?
‘What is it, Faustus?’ He questioned when he saw my countenance.
‘It's her house and you kicked her out,’ I muttered under my breath.
The High Priest sipped his Irish liqueur without bucking.
‘We will discuss matters of the Coven that do not concern her.’
I felt my face burn with anger.
‘She belongs to the Coven, so it concerns her, yes,’ I said.
Edward rose from the table and placed one of the small glasses in front of me, giving me a warning look.
‘Zelda knows her place inside the Coven, Faustus,’ he said firmly.
The Priest nodded and returned to the previous subject, ignoring my presence momentarily.
Dinner was closed and the house was quiet again. Hilda had fallen asleep a few minutes after I had taken her to bed, and now I was sitting on the bed reading. I was ignoring the annoyance it had taken me to be expelled from dinner by the High Priest.
I heard something slam against the window and frowned. I approached slowly to see what it was. I opened it, ignoring the freezing wind, and looked into the garden. Faustus was standing there, staring back at me. In the next second, he was gone.
What the hell?
I turned and he was standing in the center of the room. His face was swollen and his lip cut.
‘What happened?’ I asked approaching him.
‘Apparently, it is not a good idea to contradict the High Priest.’
I widened my eyes.
‘He hit you?’
‘Not directly... Someone does it for him,’ he said. ‘But it was worth it.’
‘Was it because you defended me?’ He stared at me in surprise. ‘I heard from the stairs. Thanks.’
Faustus shook his head.
‘It was the right thing to do, Zelda,’ he murmured. ‘Edward said you know your place in the Coven. So I want to make sure that you know that you are not serving that lunatic blindly.’
‘Faustus...’ I tried to trick him.
‘Promise you won't allow anyone to treat you like that again.’
He hugged me and I felt his chest muscles contract. I gave him a concerned look and opened his shirt without any modesty. Purplish marks spread across his abdomen.
I put my hands to my mouth in horror.
‘Faustus... What did they do?’ I asked, touching him superficially. ‘Do you want me to cure you...?’
Faustus held my hands carefully and kissed my fingers.
‘No need to worry,’ he murmured. ‘I told you it was worth it.’
His lips touched my forehead in a tender kiss.
‘I had a great time today with you and your sister. Thank you,’ he whispered. ‘Take care, Zelda Spellman.’
Without waiting for an answer, Faustus disappeared before my eyes.
Chapter 12: The Feast of Feasts
The Spellman family was selected for the Feast of Feasts draw. Zelda volunteers to participate to protect Hilda. Edward despairs about his sister being chosen and asks Faustus help.
But perhaps the desire for a warlock is greater than the Dark Lord's will.
Hello, my hellsends!
Prepared for the Feast of Feasts?
What a great way to start the year, isn't it?
Draw your roles and let the will of out Dark Lord be done!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
‘But no one’s starving anymore’, Sabrina muttered indignantly. ‘And we’re talking about murder here’.
I understood her revulsion for the ritual. But if it was our Lord's will, who would I be to deny it?
‘Ritual sacrifice,’ Ambrose corrected. ‘It’s slightly different’.
‘Since Hilda’s been excommunicated, only Sabrina and I are eligible for the lottery, which means that… I’ll represent the family at tomorrow night’s drawning". I communicated decidedly.
Once again, I would volunteer for the draw. Sabrina was a child and I wouldn't risk letting her serve as a sacrifice to the Coven. Never.
‘No, no, no. No.’ Sabrina questioned me, holding my arm so I wouldn't leave the table. ‘Aunt Zelda, you can't. What if you get picked? Aunt Hilda? Ambrose? Back me up here!’
As genuine as Sabrina's appeal was, none of us could look into her eyes and admit that the ritual was a carnage or that we should defy the Dark Lord and not participate.
‘We Spellmans are an endangered species,’ she continued even without support. ‘I lost my mom and my dad... I don't want to lose you, too.’
I felt the tears reach my eyes, but I held them back.
‘That's sweet, Sabrina… But your Aunt Hilda and I have participated in many lotteries over the years’ I muttered, pointing to Hilda, wiping her own tears. ‘…and the Dark Lord has never seen fit to reward us with being queen. I have no reason to believe this year will be any different.’
I tried to comfort her, but the truth was that we had no choice after all.
‘So please, the Feast of Feasts is happening, and like it or not, we are participating.’
I rose from the table, pouring all the whiskey from my glass. I was going to retire, but I realized that I would need more alcohol to prepare myself psychologically. I snatched the bottle of whiskey and retired to my room.
Once again, I would be fortunate whether or not I should sacrifice to the Coven. The nervousness I felt, however, was the same as the first time.
‘You got heavy, Zelda.’
Hilda and I were coming home after another day at the Academy. Edward had asked us to go to the mortuary after school.
My sister had just passed her harrowing and she was complaining that I had put it into practice.
‘You only got killed for a few minutes... There's no reason to do so much drama.’
I would not deny that I had enjoyed killing her and resurrecting her in Cain's moat. But she should consider herself lucky that I wouldn't let anyone but me hurt her. It would never allow, in fact.
As soon as we got to the bottom of the stairs, my eyes caught sight of lamb's guts trapped in the doorknob. I let out a long breath. That was why Edward called us.
Hilda stagnated in the doorway as she noticed the guts.
‘What is it?’
‘It's a message from the Council, Hilda,’ I said opening the door. ‘Edward!’
My brother was soon to appear in the hall and greet us.
‘I see you've found the reason for my call, Zelda.’
‘Can you explain to me, please?’ Hilda asked lost.
‘That means we were chosen for this year's Feast of Feasts,’ Edward explained gently.
Hilda's eyes lit up at the thought that the banquet was really about food and not a cannibal event.
‘The Feast is an annual demonstration of our devotion to the Dark Lord. Fourteen families are selected to take part in a draw and each family chooses someone to represent it,’ I explained. ‘An offering.’
Again, she looked excited. She still didn't understand what the banquet was about.
‘Well, the fourteen offerings are lucky enough to see who will have the honor of being the Queen,’ Edward went on.
Hilda's eyes widened and I thought they would pop out of their sockets.
‘It's a sacred tradition,’ I muttered.
‘It's an unnecessary bloodshed,’ Edward said irritably. ‘A barbarism!’
‘Our duty is not to question but to obey,’ I said. ‘Well, since only women are accepted, at the will of the Dark Lord, only we can participate in the draw, Hilda. So, I’ll represent the family tomorrow.’
She seemed surprised by my determination. But the point is, I wouldn't put Hilda's life at risk. She was still a child.
Edward paced the library. It was starting to piss me off.
‘The Feast of Feasts..." he muttered without stopping. ‘My family has been selected.’
I was surprised. They had not chosen the Spellmans for years. But now I could understand his concern.
‘Hilda or Zelda?’ I asked.
I felt every hair on my body prickle. Of course she volunteers… I couldn't imagine her throwing Hilda at the wolves.
Edward sat next to me and reached over to whisper.
‘Is there any way to stop her being chosen, Faustus?’
I let all the air out of my lungs, shaking my head.
‘Not that I know...’
He ran a hand through his hair and snorted irritably.
‘This tradition is ridiculous,’ the words spat irritably. ‘I won't watch my sister kill herself in front of the Coven and still be devoured...’
I put my hands on his shoulders, trying to make him calm down.
‘Edward, she wasn't selected. Calm down!’
‘But what if it is, Faustus?’
I felt my stomach sink. I didn't want to think about that possibility.
I took my place in the demonology class and stayed focused on the open book in front of me. I tried not to think about the draw that night.
‘Spellman!’ A brunette girl approached me, with a sneaky smile on her lips. ‘I hear your family has been selected for The Feast of Feasts.’
I looked up at her in mock boredom and looked back at the book.
To my annoyance, she kept standing beside me.
‘So who's going to participate? You or your sister's chubby?’ She asked venomously. ‘I hope it's her, to have more meat to eat.’
This time, I rose from my chair to meet her eyes.
‘What did you call my sister?’
The girl let out a little snobbish laugh.
‘Chubby,’ she repeated.
I pushed her by the shoulders and she staggered back. The rest of the room stopped what they were doing to look at us. Let them enjoy the show.
‘Tumet ex aere volare!’
Before she could cast any spells, her body began to swell to a balloon. I watched her float toward the ceiling of the room.
‘You crazy!’ the girl shouted. ‘Stop!’
‘Take it back,’ I muttered, arms crossed.
‘Never!’ She shouted, bouncing off the ceiling and swirling around the pentagon.
I shrugged, feigning indifference.
‘What a shame.’
With a wave of the hand, the girl flew toward me and I held her by the neck. With my free hand, I summoned a dagger from my purse. I dragged the blade across her face without really pressing to hurt her.
‘So I think I'll have to cut your jugular vein and offer the Dark Lord your body... what is the word?’ I asked pretending to have forgotten. ‘Oh, yes, chubby’.
I saw the girl try to struggle, but was unable. I kept quiet by lowering the blade to her neck. Light pressure was necessary for her to say what I wanted to hear.
‘I take back what I said!’
‘Miss Spellman!’ Faustus's voice echoed through the pentagon.
I dropped Mildred on the floor and turned to give him attention.
‘Yes, Professor Blackwood?’
He looked serious. Really serious.
‘May I have a word with you?’
I let all the air out of my lungs and followed him to the living room door. Mildred gave a victorious laugh and I looked at her again. The dagger flew toward her and passed beside her face. It shut her up.
The corridor was empty when Faustus closed the door so we wouldn't be heard.
‘If it's about Mildred...’ I began, but he cut me off.
‘I heard what she said about your sister. You did well to defend her.’
I raised an eyebrow at him. So what did he want to talk to me about?
‘Okay... So what can I do for you?’
Faustus's blue eyes flashed and I saw them darken. It was really a dangerous question. He closed his eyes and shook his head, probably taking the impure thoughts from his mind.
‘Edward told me that you will participate in the draw today.’
I lowered my head, staring at the floor so I wouldn't have to meet his eyes.
‘Yes... I couldn't let Hilda participate. She’s a child.’
He let out a restrained laugh.
‘Your motherly side is profanity, Miss. Spellman’
I shook my head and waved my hand.
‘She's my sister. It's my duty.’
Faustus nodded and sighed.
‘Are you nervous?’
‘No. It's an honor, isn't it?’ I denied trying to look firm.
He tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear in a way that was too intimate for the professional relationship we had now.
‘Yeah...’ he whispered without conviction.
‘Well, if I'm chosen, at least you can literally eat me,’ I joked.
He flashed a sad smile.
‘I prefer the figurative sense, Zelda, with you alive and moaning in my arms,’ he murmured, surprising me. ‘Now let's go back to class I need to dump Mildred.’
The draw was about to begin. The fourteen candidates climbed onto the church platform and positioned themselves in front of a lighted candle. They all wore white to be pure and worthy to the Dark Lord. Zelda was stunning in a lace dress with few gold details.
The High Priest appeared before them in a shining golden cassock. If the witches intended to draw our Lord's attention, they would lose to the priest's extravagance. I went unnoticed in my discreet black clothes.
I was positioned next to the High Priest as I would take the draw box from his hands for the women to choose their roles.
‘Today we celebrate an ancient tradition. The Feast of Feasts reminds us that even the humblest of us can be raised to the presence of the Dark Lord’, the High Priest's voice reverberated through the Church. ‘And that Coven's survival matters more than each witch's individual life.’
Edward, sitting next to Hilda, rolled his eyes. I never cared about that particular tradition, but when someone you care about is in danger of being chosen, it was really disturbing and grotesque.
The Priest handed me the box and as soon as I picked it up, I felt a chill run down my spine. Something was wrong with that box. I opened its lid before approaching it to the witches in case there was a trap. Inside were just the papers. Nothing else.
So why was I feeling that something was wrong?
‘Sisters, may the will of the Dark Lord be revealed.’
I passed the witches' front with the box and each one snatched a paper for herself. When Zelda took the paper, it was as if the box had suddenly become light. I gave her a worried look and she just smiled a little at me, oblivious to my thoughts.
I turned my gaze to the Priest discreetly and he kept his focus on Zelda. It was as if he already knew she would be the one. The Queen.
If the box were bewitched...
The Priest clapped two hands.
‘Boreas, north wind, I summon you,’ I whispered the spell.
Before the papers touched the candle flames, a sudden wind from my spell caused them to fly from the witches' hands. Some managed to catch them again, but I moved on to Zelda, whose paper had fallen to the floor. Pretending to be just chivalrous, I snatched her role and the witch beside her, discreetly reversing them.
‘Thank you,’ Zelda whispered as I handed him over.
Now I would know if the High Priest had premeditated intentions or not.
The candles, whose only flames were rattled by the wind, remained lit, and soon the witches set their papers on fire.
I felt my heart hammer in my chest from expectation. Zelda, no. Zelda, no!
To my relief, Zelda's role just flew off. However, the paper that belonged to the next witch, which I had reversed, blew white smoke.
I swallowed hard. Zelda was supposed to be the Queen.
I looked at the High Priest and he was serious. He even looked annoyed. What the hell?
‘Adeline is the queen!’ said at last.
Applause reverberated through the church as the witch seemed truly happy to have been chosen. Zelda frowned at her, unable to really understand her joy at being sacrificed.
The priest raised his hand and everyone in the church stood up.
‘Eternal life to the Queen of the Feast!’ He proclaimed and everyone repeated his words. ‘Kneel before the Queen!’
I knelt down and watched as the rest of the Coven did. The priest's facial expression no longer showed the frustration of yore. But I would keep an eye out.
The Coven was already dispersing. They would probably go home to fast and prepare for the feast. Zelda was greeted by the brothers with hugs. Not that she let them see that she was relieved that she wasn't chosen. She kept in mind that it would be an honor if the Dark Lord chose her, oblivious to the fact that tonight she had almost been chosen, but by someone far more human than our Lord.
Edward approached me and hugged me. I frowned at his gesture, slapping him lightly on the back.
‘Thanks for switching roles, Faustus,’ he whispered.
He pulled away and I looked at him in surprise. If Edward had noticed, I wondered who else would have seen me reverse roles. The High Priest should know, no doubt. But I wouldn't say anything. Otherwise, it would be confirming that it had altered the result of a tradition of its own accord by going against the Dark Lord.
‘Don't tell her,’ I said.
Edward just nodded and went back to the sisters. Hilda looked powdery, excited that Zelda would not be killed and devoured. I could not deny that internally I felt the same as her.
Praised be Faustus Blackwood!
Does anyone have any theory about the High Priest and his suspicious actions?
Chapter 13: Curse
Faustus returns from a meeting with the Witch Council in the Vatican Necropolis and finds Zelda in a dangerous situation.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The entire faculty of the Academy was in Faustus's office. I already knew them, of course, but was finally being formally introduced to them as a professor. Most didn't seem to care, though, Shirley's ferocious gaze practically skinned me alive.
‘Sister Zelda. If I am the hand that molds our young pupils’ minds, these are my fingers,’ Faustus murmured, waving to the other professors. ‘This is Brother Machen, Sister Carswell, Brother Lovecraft, Brother Bierce, and Sister Jackson.’
He walked to his desk, stopping behind her so he could observe the surroundings.
‘Hello. So lovely to meet you in this new context,’ I greeted them politely with a smile.
‘As my wife Constance did before her death… Sister Zelda will be teaching ancient tongues and sacred scripture.’
Judas's cry reverberated around the room, and I saw Faustus's angry look at Prudence, who was trying in every way to calm his brother.
‘And may I say how honored I am to be working alongside you,’ I continued, aware that attention was waning from the crying. ‘After my brother Edward's death, I never dreamed I'd be once again teaching at the Academy.’
‘Prudence, what's wrong with my son?’ Faustus questioned in annoyance. ‘Why is he crying?’
The girl should have replied that he cried for being a baby. It was completely natural. But since she had inherited his father's temperament, she would respond with the same coin.
‘How am I to know?’ She retorted with irritation. ‘Though you treat me like a wet nurse, Father, I am not one.’
‘You forget yourself, Prudence. I’ll treat you as I please,’ the warlock countered brutally. ‘Now quiet baby Judas.’
Fed up with the scene they were playing and hoping to calm Faustus's spirits so that he would stop destroying his daughter, I walked over to Judas's cart. I put my hand on his chest, massaging it lightly.
‘There, there, you cherubic little devil’. I whispered, looking into his big eyes.
He promptly calmed down.
‘What did you do?’ Prudence asked, impressed.
‘Reflexology to calm him,’ I explained, still focused on the boy. ‘Have you been giving Judas goat's milk?’
‘As you instructed, yes.’
I felt Faustus's gaze on me and unable to resist, I raised my head to look at him. His blue eyes sparkled with fascination with my dexterity.
‘Sister Zelda, you are a hellsend,’ he whispered.
Here I was, back to Greendale. I had spent a few weeks in the Vatican Necropolis negotiating with the High Priest and debating the directions of the Church of Night. The night was cold, snow covered the green fields, and a few flakes fell from the sky. I put my hands in my pockets and kept walking across the field.
I frowned when I saw something orange stand out in the distance in the white. A sudden unease hit me and the agony grew in my chest. There was something wrong.
I ran as fast as I could toward the point. But my feet sank into the snow, hindering my steps. As soon as the closed forest was over, I found myself on the bank of the Sweetwater River. In the middle of the frozen surface, unconscious, was the owner of the red hair I had seen. Zelda.
I swallowed hard.
I stepped on the thin ice to assess if I could stand my weight. As it held steady, I kept walking carefully toward her. My heart pounded in my chest. What would have happened?
I heard the ice crack and a chill ran down my spine. In the next instant Zelda's body plunged into the river. Throwing all the way up, I ran as fast as my legs allowed me. It could not be carried by the chain. If it were, I could hardly reach it.
I tore off my coat, tossing it over the ice, and dove through the open hole in the surface. Her body was just over three feet away, and I could reach her without much difficulty. I pulled her against my body and surfaced again.
I crawled across the ice holding it until I felt it was already stable. I wrapped her body in my dry coat and ran to the river bank.
I laid her on the floor and put my ear to her chest to try to hear her heartbeat. They were weak, but she didn't breathe. I started the cardiac massage, hoping she would wake up. I took her lips against mine and gave her as much air as possible. Getting back to pressing your chest.
‘Come on, Zelda! Wake up!’ I begged.
I kissed her again and aired. She coughed against my mouth and I pulled back so she could expel all the water from her lungs. She moaned in pain and opened her eyes slightly. The green immensity of his irises met me for a second and hers eyelids closed again.
‘Zelda!’ I shouted, running a hand over her face. ‘Zelda!’
She was passed out.
There I could do nothing.
I pulled her into my lap and hugged her body with all the strength I had. ‘
Seconds later, we were at the entrance of the Church of Night. I didn't know what was going on and I didn't know who to trust, I had to take her to the one place I knew would be empty by now.
I took her in my arms and carried her to the church altar, depositing her body there. I put my hands on her chest and closed my eyes to concentrate.
‘Malum habitans in putetis asciscendum fuisse. Maledictio est. Tantibus super óculos eius.’
I opened my eyes and waited for the spell to take effect. Tension had taken every inch of my body, and I felt the anxiety build higher and higher, as did the despair. I touched her forehead and held her hands against mine.
A sigh escaped Zelda's lips and relief took me to see her eyelashes move slightly. I pulled back to look at her face more closely. Her eyes slowly opened and she frowned. Confusion framed hers features. I brushed the wet hair off her face and she finally looked at me.
Zelda tried to get up quickly, but groaned in pain. She put her hand in her head and lay back down. Her breathing had changed with the effort.
‘Faustus?’ She whispered weakly. ‘What happened?’
I shook my head.
‘I ask you,’ I said. ‘I was in the woods when I saw you passed out in the middle of the Sweetwater River.’
Zelda hugged her own body, shivering from the cold. However, she seemed more concerned with finding out what had happened.
‘I only remember leaving the church after the black mass,’ she murmured.
Zelda made the effort to try to sit back down and I held her by the waist to help her. So done, she threw her legs off the altar.
‘Wasn't Edward with you?’
She denied running a hand through her wet hair.
‘The High Priest asked him to go to the Academy after Mass. They had business to discuss,’ she said, looking down at her own clothes and then at mine. ‘I suppose I fell into the river, we're both soaked.’
I nodded my head.
‘The ice broke before I reached you in the middle of the river, so I dived and pulled you out of the water.’
I walked to a fireplace on the wall opposite the front door and lit it. I turned to Zelda and she was taking my coat off her shoulders as she stared at me.
I pulled the knot on my tie so I could take it off. It was no use stay with our soaked clothes. Zelda took off her own coat, putting it on the seat as I unzipped my shirt buttons. I watched her try to zip up her dress and moved forward to help her. Her skin, still cold and goose bumps, came within reach of my fingers the instant I was lowering her zipper. White, immaculate and soft, as I still remembered.
I pulled away immediately so as not to feel the temptation seize me and undressed again. When I was just with a boxer, I was able to look at Zelda again. She had her back to me and was wearing a navy blue lingerie that contrasted with her skin.
Zelda glanced at me over her shoulder and smiled sideways.
‘Faustus, it's not like you've never seen me naked in your life.’
I smiled back at her.
‘It's still a pleasure to admire you, Zelda.’
To occupy my mind and ward off lustful thoughts, I dragged a rug in front of the fireplace and searched for blankets. Zelda sat on the rug and I put one of the blankets over her shoulders.
‘Is there anyone who wants to hit you, Zelda?’ I asked, resuming the previous subject.
‘We're not at the Academy anymore, Faustus,’ she answered simply, and I rolled my eyes. ‘I have enmities, of course. But no one who had stimulation or the power to do it.’
I grabbed a bottle of wine that the High Priest used to use in ceremonies and snatched two glasses.
‘Maybe someone wants to hit Edward through you,’ I suggested.
She seemed to think about the possibility. Edward was growing inside the Coven and his rise could bother someone.
I sat next to her and poured our glasses, handing one to her and taking another for me. She thanked me and sipped her glass.
‘Your brother is untouchable, Zelda. But you and your family...’
‘Are we weak, Faustus?’ She questioned, challenging me with her eyes. ‘Is that what you were going to talk about?’
‘You were never weak,’ I said. ‘I was going to say that you are his weaknesses.’
She threw her head back and sighed.
‘Now, suppose it have nothing to do with Edward. Could it be a random attack?’
I shook my head.
‘I don't believe that is it. Someone cursed you and takes you to the middle of the river to be found,’ I pointed out. ‘If it were random, it would have some clear purpose or they would kill you right away.’
I stagnated for a second as I reviewed my words. Someone took her to the middle of the river to be found... and I was just passing by. Was Zelda supposed to be found by me? But why would anyone use her to hit me? We barely kept in touch...
‘Faustus?’ I awoke from my stupor to hear her call me.
I looked at Zelda and she was frowning at me.
‘What were you thinking?’ She questioned again, and when she saw that I would deny it, she went on. ‘I know you. Your gaze was far away and slightly desperate.’
I smiled at her.
‘It's nothing, Zelda. Just worried about you.’
She gave me a suspicious look but stared back into the flames of the fireplace. I continued to watch her, fear taking over me... What if she was a target because of me?
Time passed and the bottle of wine emptied. Zelda seemed lighter and more humorous now. She leaned against my shoulder and I wrapped my arm around her body.
‘Faustus?’ She called and I looked at her face. ‘Do you want to play a game?’
I raised an eyebrow curiously.
She grinned and I saw her cheeks turn reddish.
‘I call it "Witch’s mark."’
Unable to avoid it, I laughed. She accompanied me, throwing her head back to laugh.
‘It's a good game,’ I muttered with a smile.
‘But you are terrible.’
I narrowed my eyes at her, though still keeping the smile. She shrugged, feigning innocence.
‘Really? So come here.’
I started tickling her waist. She laughed as she tried to take my hands off her. Finally, she fell to the side and I pinned her under my body. I swallowed to see her so close. But before I walked away, Zelda lifted her neck and touched my lips with her own. I put my hand on the nape of her neck to support her head and deepened the kiss.
All the hairs on my body were bristling and heat ran through every inch of my skin. Excitement became evident as I felt my member stiffen inside my boxer. The effects Zelda Spellman had on me...
She caressed my cheek fondly and I broke the kiss to look at her. Her heavy lids gave her a sensual look, even more seeing the reflection of the fire in her irises. However, I knew that meant she was sleepy. And she should be tired after the attack.
I lay beside her on the rug and pulled her to me. Zelda snuggled into my chest and immediately closed her eyes. I placed a chaste kiss on her forehead and ran a hand through her hair as I knew she liked it and saw her smile.
‘Have sweet dreams, Zelda.’
Her body soon relaxed and her breathing became deep and rhythmic. Carefully, I adjusted the covers over her body to keep her warm.
Concern for her was still latent. Regardless of the attacker's intentions, I wouldn't risk leaving her vulnerable to another attempt. I wrapped my arms around her body and pressed her against me.
‘Qui affecto protego, mixtisque iubas serpentibus et posteris meis stirpiqu.’ I would protect her.
I tried to move, but something held me back. The attempt earned me an even greater grip. It was heavy. My hands groped blindly for what lay over my body. It was soft and warm. A breath of warm air against my neck made me frown and open my eyes lazily.
Faustus slept soundly over my body. His arms wrapped around my waist as his face remained sunk in my hair, and his legs were between mine. I moved my hip involuntarily, trying to lighten his weight, but it only made his pelvis touch mine. I sighed at how excited he was for someone sleeping.
He moved his own hip to straighten, causing another friction. I bit my bottom lip to keep from moaning. It would be very pathetic.
I looked into his face, trying to make sure he hadn't done it on purpose. But Faustus was still asleep. It looked serene. I stroked his face lightly so as not to wake him up.
Even after so many years, Faustus kept reappearing in my life unexpectedly when I needed it most. I hated him for it. I hated it because it made me feel vulnerable. And I could take care of myself.
His eyes slowly opened, revealing the blue irises that always seemed to have the power to see my soul. He smiled when he saw me and buried his face in my neck, where he placed a chaste kiss. After a sigh, Faustus leaned on his forearms and partially lifted his weight off me. We close our eyes and sigh as we feel the meeting between our pelvises again. Heat spread through my body.
‘What were you dreaming, Faustus?’ I asked, running my hands over his chest.
He flashed a seductive smile.
‘I thought I was still dreaming.’
‘Maybe...’ I whispered.
Faustus brought his face close to mine, his lips brushing mine without actually touching them. In the next instant, I propelled my hip to the side, throwing it against the carpet and riding his hip. His surprise gave way to lust and I saw his eyes darken. He ran his hands over my face and tucked my hair behind my ears. I claimed his lips and Faustus deepened the kiss urgently.
I forced my hip down and rolled against his pelvis. I shut his moan with my mouth, trying to stifle my own. He held my hip to guide my movements. The heat waves only increased when I felt how hard he was under the boxer.
I left his mouth and slid my lips over his neck, chest and abdomen. I glanced at Faustus and he looked ecstatic and anxious. I lowered his boxer, giving his member freedom. I saw Faustus swallow hard and gave him a mischievous smile before licking his full length and kissing his glans. He bit his lower lip expectantly and watched him swallow hard.
Without torturing him anymore, I grabbed his cock and slid my mouth over him. He didn't contain the loud moan that came from his throat. My hand, which remained at the base, stroked back and forth with the space I couldn't reach.
He couldn't look away from me, resisting the urge to close his eyes and throw his head back. I was moving his mouth slowly in an attempt to drive him crazy with my tongue. I sucked and licked like it was the most delicious thing in the world.
His effort to keep his hip to the floor was noticeable, avoiding at all costs giving in to the urge to move it against my mouth. One of his hands stroked my hair, not pressing my head, just fidgeting with the strands to encourage me to continue. Understanding what he wanted, I increased the speed of movement. He moaned loudly and threw his head back.
It was wonderful to subdue him like that.
When he looked back at me, his eyes locked on mine. I took advantage of eye contact to gently drag my teeth as I moved my lips slowly to tease him. Only then I increased the movement speed again.
His breathing was fast and I knew he was holding back. He stroked my hair to get my attention. I stopped the movements and gave him a victorious smile. His whole body was tense and he looked desperate. I moved my face to his and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips.
‘You'll kill me,’ he whispered hoarsely.
Soon, he pulled me to stick our lips. I needed him. Satan, I really needed.
Faustus ripped off my lingerie with impressive dexterity. I smiled and bit his lower lip, excited by his urgency. One of his hands ran to the middle of my legs and I moaned softly as I felt his fingers trail all over my intimacy. Two of his fingers slowly penetrated me and I broke our kiss to moan. He kept moving as I clung to his shoulders for balance.
He took his fingers off me and pressed his cock into my intimacy. I looked into his eyes expectantly as he crawled into me. I loved to feel him slowly penetrate me, to feel him fill me and mold me to him. Hard and hot.
I began to move against him swiftly from the unreasonable need I felt for him. He shifted his hip to crash harder against me. I leaned over him, still focused on the firm thrusts, and spread kisses over the exposed part of his neck.
Our moans seeped through the church. No matter how many times we had sex, I would never get tired of Faustus. The chemistry we had... was perfect.
I felt my insides twist against him, denouncing the principles of my orgasm. I didn't want to finish it yet, but I realized that he was also holding back so that we could reach the summit together, and I decided to stimulate him.
‘Let it come, my Faustus,’ I said against his ear.
A loud moan escaped our lips just as he filled my insides with a sharp, precise thrust. The spasms seized us and I collapsed on his chest.
Our breaths were ragged and I could hear their rapid heartbeat.
‘Yours?’ He asked with a smug smile on his face.
‘If you're still dreaming, who knows?’
He hugged me against his body.
‘If it is, I don't want to wake up.’
Unfortunately, we always woke up from our dreams at some point.
As soon as we got up the courage to get up, we put on our damp clothes and Faustus adjusted the church to hide the vestiges of our fleshly lust. Even if anyone did, we did nothing that our Dark Lord would not approve of.
The first rays of the sun rose in the sky when Faustus offered to take me home. He was afraid that someone would attack me on the way again. I accepted because it would be comfortable to have your company longer. He put his arm over my shoulder and we walked all the way to the Spellmans Mortuary, hugging each other.
As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, he released me. His hand cupped mine and he placed a kiss on her back.
‘Take care of yourself, Zelda.’
I gave him a small smile.
‘You too, Faustus.’
He nodded and indicated that he would wait until I entered the house. I waved at him and up the stairs at last, into the house.
I knew Faustus would teleport to the Academy the moment I disappeared behind the door. No need to peek out the window.
As I was reaching the stairs to the bedrooms, Edward's voice echoed from the living room and he appeared in the hall the next instant.
‘May I know where you were, Zelda?’
I turned to him to look him in the eye. He was leaning against the living room doorjamb with a cup of tea in his hands. His countenance was serious.
‘I don't understand how this can be any of your business, Edward,’ I said, turning my back and climbing a few steps.
‘I was worried,’ he murmured slightly annoyed.
I stopped at the first landing of the stairs to face him as serious as he was.
‘Was your concern so great that you sat in your chair drinking tea?’ I asked with irony. ‘Well, my dear brother, I was attacked tonight, cursed and nearly drowned in the Sweetwater River. But it was your concern saved me. Thank you.’
‘Good morning, Edward.’
I dropped it back and went to my room. I knew he wouldn't bother me anymore, for now. But it would make me a quiz when I woke up hours later.
At the same time, I knew I had been too hard on him.
Faustus stirred my mind. I was confused and annoyed that I couldn't resist him. So seeing Edward try to control me made me lose control.
I took off all my clothes, took a hot shower to ward off the cold, and put on my burgundy satin nightgown. I slid under the covers and laid my head on the pillow to try to rest.
I heard my bedroom door open and close delicately and then a shadow tiptoed over.
I sighed and looked at Hilda standing beside my bed.
She had a mischievous smile on her face and tried to hide it with her hand.
‘The boy who brought you... is your boyfriend?’
I frowned and sat up straight on the bed.
‘No, Hilda, he is nothing to me,’ I said straight.
Her shoulders slumped and she seemed to lose her euphoria. But then she looked back at me with a dreamy look.
‘Well, he looked like your boyfriend,’ she insisted, sitting on the edge of the bed. ‘I saw you through the bedroom window. He brought you home, was hugging you and gave you a kiss on the hand. So romantic...’
I ran my hand over my face.
‘Hilda, have you been reading those novels again?’ I asked. ‘Go to sleep. You confused things.’
She rose from the bed and let out a breath.
‘Maybe you got it mixed up, Zelda,’ she whispered.
No more, she left the room, leaving me with a huge question mark in her head. But it was no use raising expectations, my relationship with Faustus was too dysfunctional, and in the end, there were only a few pieces left to mend.
A week had passed since the mysterious attack. When I told Edward what had happened, hiding Faustus's participation, he decided that I should not leave home. Except when accompanied. Apparently I would only have my manumission card when they found out who was the author of the attack.
‘A cursed night to all,’ the High Priest's voice echoed through the church as he closed the black mass.
That was another exception for Edward, I attend mass.
The church was theoretically the safest place I could be. At least that was what Edward believed. I had my caveats, after all someone from Coven could have attacked me. What could stop him from doing it again? The High Priest? Edward himself? Faustus, perhaps? The point is, I would have to get out of there sometime.
Anyway, I was not worried. I was attentive and would be able to protect myself if any threat appeared.
Warlocks and witches were already leaving the Church without any hurry. Some formed small circles to talk about amenities. Edward stood up beside me on the bench to talk to the High Priest. Faustus accompanied the masses as an assistant to the Priest and was standing behind him. The three had a little intimate conversation and finally Edward nodded.
‘Zelda,’ he murmured as he approached me again, ‘the Priest asked Faustus and I to accompany him to the Academy.’ He wants to discuss something with us. Can you leave alone?
I rolled my eyes and gave him a bored look.
‘Of course yes.’
He gave me a kiss on the forehead and gave me a worried little smile.
‘Be careful,’ he whispered.
I nodded, rising from my seat to pull myself out. The sensation of being observed was present and I looked up at the altar. It was no surprise to find Faustus's blue eyes focused on me. He pretended to be focused on what the High Priest told him, but his gaze drifted over the elder's shoulder to reach me. I could almost see the beads of sweat appearing on his forehead with the strain of watching me leave the church alone. After the scare he'd taken at saving me, I couldn't blame him for being worried.
The outskirts of the church were busy yet, so I had no problem moving. As I entered the forest to follow, however, I felt a chill run down my spine. The cold air was sharp, though the snow had stopped falling. But my feeling had nothing to do with the weather.
My feet sank into the snow which would take me twice as long to get home.
I froze as I heard a rustle of leaves behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw nothing suspicious in the darkness. I frowned and walked toward a clearing. If someone was following me, I could see her in a more open space. Among the trees, I was easier prey.
I hurried into the middle of the clearing and looked around. The silence of the night was the only thing that accompanied me. The moonlight couldn’t reach every point of the forest, but it allowed me to see it. There was no one around.
As soon as I walked back, the rustle of leaves returned and I looked back. The movement only increased and I swallowed, preparing for what might come.
Relief overwhelmed me as I saw Faustus come out of the trees. He stared at me and I saw his shoulders relax. Without hurry, he approached me.
‘Shouldn't you be at the Academy?’ I asked as he removed some snowflakes from his own clothes.
‘I was worried and I make a excuse to the High Priest,’ he replied with a calm look. ‘I wanted to make sure you got home safely.’
I raised an eyebrow with mild amusement.
‘I can take care of myself, Faustus.’
He grinned and started walking beside me.
‘I know that... But I die if something happens to you, Spellman.’
My ironic laugh reverberated through the clearing and he looked at me with some curiosity, as if he didn't understand why I laughed.
‘Well, please, Faustus... Dramas never made your style.’
He stopped walking and I did the same to face him. He looked dumbfounded and slightly irritated.
‘I'm not being dramatic,’ he countered. ‘Or did you never notice?’
I sighed, still staring at him with humor.
Faustus smiled a smile that I would think was affectionate and approached me until he was a few inches away. I felt his breath against my face and his eyes stared at me with intensity.
‘That I love you, Zelda Spellman.’
I simply stagnated. My stomach sank and I felt my heartbeat, ragged.
What was he talking about? It was a joke? For Satan in Hell...
‘What?’ that's all I could say.
He let out a happy laugh. Probably from seeing that it took me by surprise.
‘Is it so surprising that I love you?’ he asked without waiting for an answer. ‘You’re everything to me, Zelda. Was always. The hardest thing I ever had to do was let you go. Would you not accept to be by my side forever?’
What was happening? What was he saying? I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. It was not possible. Why now?
I looked deep into his eyes and he was really waiting for an answer from me.
‘Don't you love me, Zelda?’
His hand went up to my face and he started to caress it. However, as soon as he touched my skin, I saw in Faustus's place a cadaverous figure and it triggered the memories of the other night. For some reason that thing impersonating Faustus was thrown away from me.
I remembered. I remembered Faustus, or someone pretending to be Faustus, approaching me after Black Mass and then making me pass out.
That think who had attacked me rose from the icy ground. It had returned to assume the form of Faustus.
My name echoed across the clearing and I spotted Faustus running toward me.
Another Faustus? Satan, tell me this is the real one!
The clone leaped toward me, but Faustus pushed him with his own body. The two began to roll on the floor and I could no longer distinguish who was the real Faustus and the fake.
I pulled a cord out of my pocket and began to braid it between my fingers. ‘
Abi in malem cursem.’
As I spoke the words, the two Faustus began to lose their movement and soon, were trapped. One away from the other.
‘Zelda?’ One of them asked indignantly. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Protecting herself from you!’ the other replied irritably.
‘Shut up!’ I asked and they both stopped growling at each other to face me. ‘Now... How will I know exactly who to ban?’
‘Ask a question that only the true Faustus would know... that is me, in this case.’
The other rolled his eyes bored.
‘Okay,’ I agreed. ‘Faustus, where is my witch’s mark?’
One of them straightened confidently.
‘In the same place as mine. In the chest, over the heart,’ he answered quickly.
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. It was the right answer, indeed.
The other Faustus let out a good-humored laugh, then flashed me a smile.
‘You know I'm bad at the game...’ he murmured teasingly. ‘So I think I'll have to keep looking for your brand.’
I smiled back at him. That was my Faustus. I released him from the imprisonment spell and he wasted no time grabbing his clone by the neck. He undid his illusory spell and soon the cadaverous figure was before us.
‘Who summoned you?’ Faustus asked angrily. ‘Who asked to attack Zelda using my image?’
The corpse just laughed devilishly.
‘You know, Blackwood... And you know the reason...’
Faustus locked his jaw and I saw his face turn a reddish tint. I was furious. ‘
Turpis et infernis in terris pariunt. Et furantur verba haec locutus sum vobis Laetitia’ I said the spell to banish the spectrum. ‘Punctum baculus parit maledction. Adiuro tamen hoc graecas munus.’
Soon he crumbled into the air, leaving only me and Faustus in the snow. But the warlock seemed trapped in what was going on inside his own mind.
‘Faustus?’ I called for him but there was no answer.
I took his hand to get his attention and he finally seemed to come out of his stupor. Faustus grinned, trying to show me that he was fine, but I could see in his blazing eyes that he was still furious.
‘Thanks for the protection spell.’
It seemed to appease his inner demons momentarily. He was surprised.
‘Did you know?’ He asked.
I nodded my head.
‘I realized as soon as we woke up at church,’ I said. ‘What kind of witch would I be if I didn't realize when I was bewitched?’
He shook his head and laughed. Without my waiting, he hugged me.
‘I was worried,’ he murmured, placing a kiss on the top of my head. ‘But you knew how to protect yourself.’
‘Sort of,’ I whispered. ‘Your spell allowed me to see that thing's true identity and unlock the memory of what happened in the previous attack.'
Faustus frowned and pulled back just enough to look at me.
‘They also used your image to approach me and bewitch me. Whoever coordinated the attack knows you well and knows me to the point of knowing that I would not suspect you. I should have realized for what he said…’ I lowers my voice to whisper the last part. ‘But I think I wanted to believe it.’
‘What did he tell you?’
‘Nothing important,’ I lied. ‘He said just enough to get closer.’
He nodded and pulled me to him again.
‘At least now, I know where your witch’s mark is,’ he joked.
I slapped him lightly on the shoulder.
Faustus laughed and placed a kiss on my forehead.
‘Let's go?’ He asked and I nodded. ‘I'll leave you home.’
We walked through the forest, hugging each other. Faustus remained quiet throughout the ride. He knew who had triggered the attacks and as much as he was pretending to be calm, I could see in his eyes that he was focused on taking revenge.
At the same time, I was quietly thinking about what Faustus's clone had told me. Nothing was real... But the way I reacted to that was... Ridiculous! I should have realized the scam. Faustus felt none of this for me. Just as I felt nothing for him... Nothing.
As soon as we reached the Mortuary steps, Faustus released me.
‘Do you want to come in?’
He shook his head.
‘I have to go find the High Priest,’ he murmured, and I noticed the repudiation in his tone as he spoke of the Priest. ‘I made a lame excuse to come after you, now I have to go to the Academy.’
‘What did you tell him anyway?’ I asked curiously.
‘Just that... I had something important to do.’
I gave him a surprised look.
‘Something more important than heeding his command, Faustus? Are you crazy? He must be furious!’
Faustus took my face in his hands and placed a chaste kiss on my lips. Which surprised me.
‘I don't care,’ he whispered seriously. ‘But I promise I'll solve it all, Zelda. They will not attack you again.’
I nodded at the intensity of his blue eyes, not understanding the relationship between the High Priest and my attack. Unless... But what would he get out of it?
When I was going to question him, Faustus teleported and left me alone with my thoughts.
I opened the doors of the High Priest's room brutally. I wanted to kill him. But first, I would allow him to try to explain his reasons for attacking Zelda. Although I can already imagine his claim.
I had gone to the Vatican Necropolis with the mission of relaying information from the Coven, and was given to me the task of marrying the daughter from one of the counselors. It was a guarantee that I would be the High Priest of the Night Church in the near future and, in return, the Council would have a bond with me.
I had not accepted the deal immediately. I asked for time to think and they agreed.
Evidently the High Priest learned of this and decided to get rid of the only person who could be a hindrance in the deal: Zelda.
Or maybe it was a test... To see if it was for her that I was asking for time to accept the deal. And I'd fallen like a chump to save her the other day and run after her that night.
But the cards would be put on the table.
To my surprise, only Edward occupied the room.
‘The High Priest called us only to warn that he would be away from the Church of Night until the Yule, to settle some negotiations,’ he explained, holding out a sheet of paper. ‘He left your assignments in writing during that time.’
I took the paper from his hand, feeling the anger inflate on me. He had run away!
But I'd have to go back... And when Yule arrived, I'd be waiting for him.
Oh, this High Priest ... Hate defines.
But who almost infarcted with false Faustus's declaration of love?
Chapter 14: Legitimate
Faustus invites Zelda for a date. Hilda is surprised to find that Blackwood and her sister are together, and Zelda asks her not to tell Edward. Alienated, Edward invites Faustus to spend the Yule with the Spellman.
Faustus and I played chess in his office. As he remained focused, I felt a latent restlessness. Some points needed to be clarified.
He made his move, moving one of the stones and turning the hourglass. It was my turn.
‘Faustus, I was called a wanton hussy today. Apparently, there’s a faction in the Coven that believes our relationship is inappropriate,’ I commented and he frowned. ‘I don't particularly care what a gaggle of withered hags thinks about me. What’s important is what I think. And I must admit, I don't quite understand who or what we are to each other.’
‘I’m your High Priest. You’re one of my disciples,’ he said simply, and I smiled a little. ‘My son's Night Mother.’
I narrowed my eyes to slits.
‘And when the fancy strikes you, I'm also your… night maiden,’ I said. ‘I have no shame or regrets. But I must have clarity. Do you intend to make me your Top Lady, as it were? It would certainly silence wagging tongues.’
Faustus put his hand over mine in an attempt to comfort me. His big blue eyes were glued to mine.
‘Sister Zelda, there is a mourning period we must respect in the eyes of our Coven.’
I gave him a small smile. I was no longer the stupid girl he had fooled so many years before.
‘You're right, Father Blackwood,’ I whispered, taking my hand under his own. ‘Wiser to respect decorum. Until you’re had enough time to mourn, we shall be all business. That means, as much as I enjoy our trysts, no more secret assignations or flagellations. That is, until you’re ready to make us legitimate.’
I made my move, jumping three of his stones. Staying in check position. So, I turned the hourglass over. It was his turn.
I had just come out of the bath. The cotton robe kept the cold from reaching my warm skin. I took the towel off my head and started drying it strand by strand.
I was startled to see Faustus in the middle of the room. I put my hands in my chest to control my rapid beats.
‘Faustus, what are you doing here?’
He grinned at me from head to toe.
‘At the moment, admiring the beautiful reception,’ he murmured.
I threw the towel at him and rolled my eyes, picking up the comb to brush my hair.
‘You know what I meant...’
He walked over to me and took the comb out of my hands, starting to comb my hair. I closed my eyes to enjoy his gesture. I loved when he touched my hair.
‘What brings me here is a question.’
I closed my eyes and tilted my head back a little, while he combed the strands delicately.
‘What kind of questioning?’ I asked.
Faustus left the brush on my dressing table and carefully turned me by the shoulders. His blue eyes twinkled and I smiled reflexively.
‘Would you like to go out with me tomorrow?’
I blinked a few times trying to understand his question. Did he want to go out with me?
‘Like a date?’
Faustus nodded with a smile.
‘What do you say?’
I pretended to consider. But it was strange.
I put my hands on his face and looked into his eyes. Was he really?
‘Yes, Zelda, it's me.’
‘Just making sure,’ I muttered, still sliding my fingers down his cheeks. ‘Are you serious?’
Faustus laughed and stroked my arms.
‘I've never been so serious,’ he replied. ‘I think it's time to we’d a formal date.’
‘You won't have to do any work for the High Priest?’
I knew it sounded ragged and I was. It was unusual that after so much time and all that had happened, Faustus would invite me out.
‘I have a much more flexible schedule now that he's gone,’ he said. ‘I'll be all yours if you want.’
The thought of having him just for me made a shiver run through my skin and heat ignited my body.
‘In this case, I agree to go out with you tomorrow.’
Faustus's smile widened on his face. But it wasn't a seductive smile, it was a truly happy smile. He held my waist and gave a light kiss on my lips.
‘See you tomorrow, then. I come to pick you up at sunset.’
I nodded and he released me slowly. His hands held mine and he kissed them.
‘See you tomorrow, Faustus.’
He winked at me and disappeared.
‘Are you going out, Zelda?’
I was just finishing up my hair when Hilda passed in front of my bedroom door.
‘I will,’ I replied succinctly and then I stood up so she could see me in full body. ‘What do you think?’
I had chosen a navy blue dress with a generous V-neck and black heels. I would take a black coat if it was too cold wherever we went.
‘You look beautiful!’ complimented clapping. ‘Where do you go?’
‘I have a date,’ I replied, looking in the mirror again.
‘Is it with that boy who brought you here the other day? It's him, isn't it?’ She asked euphorically. ‘I knew you were a couple...’
‘Less, Hilda, less’ I asked putting my red lipstick. ‘And I want you to promise that you won't say anything to Edward.’
The blonde seemed to lose her joy and looked at me confused.
I let out a breath.
‘He doesn't need to know.’
She rolled her eyes.
‘Who is he anyway?’ She asked curiously. ‘Do I know him?’
There was a knock at the door and Hilda ran to answer it. I followed her unhurriedly. I looked up from the top of the stairs when she opened the door and found Faustus. She practically froze.
‘Professor Blackwood?’ She asked in a small voice.
Faustus gave her a funny smile.
‘Good night, Miss. Spellman,’ he greeted her kindly. ‘I came to get your sister.’
Hilda started waving her hand in the air, trying to point to the stairs. She was still in shock.
He looked at the top of the stairs and found me. His smile widened and his blue eyes flashed toward me. He looked mesmerized as I walked slowly down the steps.
‘You look stunning, Zelda.’
Faustus was formally dressed in his black suit and tie of the same color. But he kept his arms behind him, hiding something from me.
He approached when I was already going down the last flight of steps and offered me a hand to help me. Faustus kissed my knuckles and winked at me before revealing what he was hiding in his other hand. It was a bouquet of red roses.
I was surprised by the bouquet, but I gladly accepted it.
‘It looks like a tradition among mortals,’ he whispered. ‘I thought you would like, although they don't compare with your beauty.’
I smiled smugly.
Hilda was astonished at the door. There was a lot of information for her.
‘Let's go?’ he asked unrelated to my analysis.
I nodded and he took my hand to guide me out the door. I stopped beside Hilda, who was amazed, and handed her the roses. She seemed to be awakened from her stupor, but still monosyllabic, trying to understand everything.
‘Put it in a vase with water,’ I ordered.
She didn't have time to answer, and in the next instant, Faustus and I went through the portal and I closed the door.
I allowed myself to laugh at Hilda's reaction and Faustus also seemed to enjoy it.
‘So where are we going?’ I asked.
Faustus let his smile spread across his face.
‘Close your eyes.’
I raised an eyebrow at his request, but heeded it. He positioned himself behind my body and covered my eyes with his hands. I laugh at your attempt to be mysterious.
I felt a chill in my belly and my feet left the ground, for a second later, to be fixed on the plane again. I held on to his arms to keep my balance.
‘Ready, Zelda?’ Faustus whispered in my ear and I felt a chill go through my body.
I nodded and he removed his hands from my eyes. The sea opened before us, with small waves spreading on the fine white sand. We were a few feet from the beach, on a lawn. Coconut palms prowled us and gave us privacy if anyone was nearby. From that point, the sun set for us, orangeing the whole horizon. It was really beautiful.
Faustus took my hand and guided me through the coconut trees. Not far from where we were, lying on the lawn was a white towel and a basket over it. He made us sit there and so I did. From this point we could admire the sea and the early evening without anything disturbing us. And the weather wasn't cold like Greendale.
‘I thought leaving Greendale would do us good,’ he murmured. ‘Come to a place where nobody knows us...’
He took my hand and placed a tender kiss on his back.
‘It was a great idea,’ I muttered, ignoring the warmth running through my body.
Faustus opened the basket and took out a bottle of white wine and two glasses from there, serving them abundantly.
‘Where are we, Faustus?’
‘We are on a small island in the Caribbean, Zelda.’
I opened my mouth to try to say something, but nothing came out. I grabbed my glass and poured a generous sip of wine.
‘I had no idea you could go that far with teleport. At least not with anyone together,’ I said at last.
‘It all depends on the power of the warlock or witch,’ he considered sipping from his own glass and then holding my hand firmly. ‘We can go anywhere in the world. All you need to do is wish, Zelda.’
I smiled at him.
It even seemed a lie that Faustus and I were finally on a date. I looked at him and he seemed to want to read my mind. I bit my bottom lip and then stretched, just enough to reach his lips. I placed a chaste kiss on them and returned to my seat.
Faustus kept his eyes closed a few more seconds and then stared at me with his blue eyes flashing.
‘I just wanted to make sure this was real,’ I muttered, waving my hand in the air.
He grinned broadly.
‘It's very real, Zelda,’ he whispered and raised his glass. ‘A toast to us.’
‘To us,’ I murmured and touched his glass with mine.
I wanted to stop time at that moment. There, no one threatened us. There, was no High Priest to rule on Faustus or to order entities to hunt me. There, we could have peace and enjoy each other's closeness.
Our shoes and coats were piled on the lawn. Zelda absorbed the faint light of the sun, taking advantage of it with her eyes closed.
A song, soft as a lullaby, began to echo and was probably from some deadly group that was deep in the coconut forest. Zelda shook her head in rhythm as she sipped from her glass. I jumped up and offered my hand to her, flashing my most seductive smile.
‘Zelda, would you give me the honor of this dance?’
She broke into an embarrassed smile and I saw her cheeks flush. Finally, she left her cup on the floor and accepted my hand. I pulled her toward me, wrapping my arms around her waist as she hugged my neck. Soon we were dancing slowly.
I leaned my forehead against hers so I could admire her eyes. The last rays of the sun allowed the emerald green to glow brighter. I wanted to dive into their depths and never come back. Her childish smile seemed to light up her face.
There wasn't a single inch of Zelda that didn't look appealing to my eyes. She was perfect.
I remembered the last time I had her in my arms like that; my prom. At that time, we had no idea what we were doing other than hurt ourselves. The possibility of being together didn’t exist because I had many obligations and could not ask her to wait for me.
But now, looking deeply into her eyes, I could see a future with her. More than passion, sex and secrets. We could share dreams, a family... love.
Zelda was made for me, like Lilith for Satan.
Then, with her in my arms, I claimed her lips, slowly and passionately. She was so close to me that I could hear her fast beating. I knew I wasn't worthy of her heart, but I'd give mine in her hands in the blink of an eye if she wished.
When the last chords sounded, I picked her up and ran toward the sea. Zelda screamed when she understood what my intention was. But I needed to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
I laughed like a child, while she struggled. My feet sank into the soft sand and the lack of a base made Zelda grab me and hit me at the same time. It was fun to see her so desperate.
Seconds later, I felt the water splash on my legs and I sank them into the sea. Zelda now clung to my neck as if her life depended on it. If I let her go, she would still hang on me, such was her effort not to get wet. I held her tightly against my body and threw myself backwards into the water.
She let out a scream that was drowned out by the sea. When I emerged, I brought her with me. She tossed her red hair back like a mermaid. At first, I thought she would hit me. Contrary to my expectations, she grinned and splashed a large amount of water in my face.
‘You owe me a new dress,’ she whispered good-naturedly.
I smiled at her and pulled her to me by the waist. Zelda wrapped her legs around my hip and wrapped her arms around my neck. The immensity of the night was the only witness of that moment. I let my head hang toward Zelda's and kissed her lips. She matched the kiss with intensity and I felt warmth coursing through my body.
I was glad that Satan allowed that Zelda to enter my life again. And fighting all odds, I wouldn't give her up this time.
We left the water when Zelda started shivering. I had brought towels for ourselves, wondering that we could venture into the Caribbean waters. Zelda and I were sitting on the white towel and we were wrapped in each other. She was pouring the wine from her glass so quickly that her cheeks were already reddened. She was divine, from my point of view.
‘Shirley once sent Edward a box of chocolates. But he suspected they might be bewitched and gave it to a boy she hated,’ I said, watching her closely. ‘Guess? The boy doesn't get out of her foot. He was completely in love.’
Zelda let out an infectious laugh.
‘He doesn't tell me these things.’
‘Of course not. He has to be perfect, an example, for you’ I muttered.
She blew out a breath and admired her empty glass. I took the bottle and filled our glasses again. Zelda thanked me and took a sip before letting her gaze run to the horizon. I admired her in the moonlight. I ran my hands through her damp hair, slowly stroking it. She closed her eyes to appreciate my affection and I found myself smiling.
‘What are you thinking, dear?’
She opened her eyes to face me and rested her head on my shoulder.
‘I'm remembering the night of the Courting of the Lupercalia we participated’ she whispered. ‘It should have been like this...’
I let out a light laugh.
‘No demons showing up to hinder us, no gang of lunatics behind you, no jealous brother... But without any games,’ I pointed out, seeing her smile.
Zelda put her hand over my heart, where my witch’s mark was. I put my hand over hers, keeping it there. I remembered the hunt day, after all the commotion, when we had our first night and Zelda kissed my mark. It was the most intimate act of my life.
‘What are you thinking, Faustus?’ she asked raising her eyes to mine.
‘About our bond.’
She was surprised and I saw the redness on her face intensify. Her gaze strayed from mine, facing the sea again. I figured she didn't want to talk about it and I didn't insist.
‘Do you feel?’ she whispered some time later, looking at me again.
Hers green irises vibrated because of the fear in them.
‘I do,’ I admitted. ‘Do you?’
The bond, for me, was like an awareness of Zelda. I would always feel it when she was around and was more sensitive to her feelings, as if I caught them even from a distance. Before Zelda, I believed that the bond story was merely a myth. After all, I had never seen a couple who shared one. But as a warlock, I should have known that anything was possible. Especially when it came to Zelda and me.
And after all those years, the bond has remained intact. It was unbreakable. Neither the false God nor Satan could change that.
I lowered my face towards hers and claimed her lips. Zelda grabbed the back of my neck, pulling me against her. An electric current ran through my body and I felt it ignite. Wrap one hand in her hair to prevent her from moving away.
Having her in my arms made me feel euphoric inside me. However, a terrible fear seemed to accompany me. Fear that something went wrong, as it always did.
It was the risk that comes with us whenever we have something to lose. And now I had.
As soon as we got back to Greendale, Faustus and I were wrapped up in each other. The cold didn't seem to affect us; the heat that came from within us kept us warm. I wanted to drag him into the house and tear off his clothes, but I figured Hilda was waiting for me awake.
I let out a breath.
Faustus guided me to the doorway, still hugging my body.
‘Thank you for today, Faustus.’
He smiled and looked sideways at the side window of the house. His arms wrapped around me and he took the time to whisper in my ear.
‘We're being watched.’
I broke into a small smile and sighed.
‘It's Hilda, don't worry,’ I muttered, waving my hand in the air.
‘Who said I'm worried?’ he asked without waiting for an answer. ‘Zelda, I would kiss you in front of the entire Coven. It wouldn't be your brother that would inhibit me.’
I raised an eyebrow.
‘And why aren't you doing it now?’
He flashed a seductive smile and held my face in both hands before claiming my lips with his. Soon the quiet kiss became more urgent and I wanted to hit Hilda for hindering my chance to have sex with Faustus that night.
We parted when the air became necessary, but I kept him close to me, feeling his breath against my face. Every cell in my body begged for his.
‘We should have had sex in the Caribbean,’ I whispered.
He laughed against my mouth and placed a chaste kiss on my lips.
‘We’ll have other opportunities, Zelda,’ he murmured, stroking my cheeks with his thumbs.
‘I hope you were right.’
Faustus kissed my forehead.
‘I'm always right.’
We laughed and I slapped him lightly on the chest.
‘I'll try to scape to see you tomorrow,’ he whispered.
I pulled him in for one last kiss and he smiled as we let go.
‘See you soon, Zelda.’
‘See you soon, Faustus.’
As soon as he disappeared, I went into the house. Hilda was sitting on the stairs, wearing hers pajamas, staring at the floor.
‘What's wrong, Hilda?’
Her eyes watched me and a smile took over her lips.
‘How was it? Did you have fun? Where did you go?’ she dismissed to question. ‘He kissed you, didn't he?’
I wanted to laugh at her last question. But for Hilda, a kiss was already very intimate. If she knew we'd been having casual sex since I was 16, she'd be horrified.
I occupied a space on the same step as she.
‘It was great, I had a lot of fun. And we went to watch the sunset in the Caribbean’ I told it as if it was nothing.
Hilda opened her mouth in amazement, her chin on the floor.
‘In Caribbean?’ She asked rhetorically. ‘How romantic! I had no idea that Blackwood could be romantic...’
‘And... we kiss.’
She gave an excited shout and hugged me tightly.
‘So, are you dating?’ she asked with shining eyes.
I laughed at her question and shook my head.
‘No, Hilda. It was just a date.’
‘But you like him!’ Hilda practically screamed with euphoria. ‘Zelda Spellman, you are in love with Faustus Blackwood!’
I covered her mouth with my hands.
‘Shut up!’ I ordered. ‘Want to wake up Edward?’
Hilda looked at me with a frown.
‘Edward isn't here yet, Zelda.’
It was strange. Edward was not home late. Maybe he was busy at the Academy. Without Faustus there, he should have more tasks to do.
‘Well, let's go to sleep, Hilda,’ I murmured.
She flashed a smile.
‘Let's go. So you can dream about Mr. Blackwood any longer.’
I shot her a death glare, but she was too excited to notice. I closed my eyes to calm myself and then went up the stairs to the bedroom. I didn't want to dream about Faustus, I wanted him there, with me.
I stopped for a moment and faced Hilda. What if she was right? Had I made the mistake of being in love with Faustus?
I walked the halls of the Academy feeling really happy. I had asked Zelda out to be sure of the risks I would take. Ever since the High Priest had put her at risk to force me to make the deal with the Council, I started to wonder how I felt about Zelda. Would it be worth it to jeopardize the opportunity to be High Priest for her? I've been around this conflict so many years before. But this time, the Priest was not there to scold me for trying to have both.
And I was happy.
Before I could enter my room, I spotted Edward crossing the hall. He carried the suit jacket over his shoulder and smiled confidently. I frowned. What was he doing at that hour?
‘Edward?’ I called and he looked at me from afar.
The warlock approached me with slow steps.
‘How are you, Faustus?’
I smiled at him, aware of his ignorance.
‘Better than ever. And you?’
Edward shrugged, though holding back the smile.
‘Shirley was distracting me.’
Apparently, I was not the only one to take advantage of the Priest's absence.
I shook my head. He always tangled with Shirley, even though he knew she was in love with him and would not leave him alone later.
‘Well, be careful on the way home,’ I murmured, opening the door to my room.
Edward gave me a small nod and when he intended to turn his back on me, he looked back at me, as if remembering something.
‘We’ll have to attend the Academy Yule ceremony, since the High Priest will be back the next morning,’ he explained and I frowned. I always attended Yule at the Academy along with warlocks and witches who had no family or preferred to hang around. ‘In the meantime, we'll light the fireplace first. And I would like to know if you would not like to spend the night with my family.’
Spend Yule with the Spellmans? Or rather, with Zelda. It seemed like an excellent idea.
‘It would be an honor, Edward. I appreciate the invitation.’
‘Brilliant!’ He murmured happily. ‘See you later.’
Without further ado, he withdrew and I entered my room. Unusual, your invitation, but perfect.
Faustus had not come to visit me and if someone asked if I was waiting for him, I would say no. Of course not. He should be stuck on some Coven commitment.
I lay under the covers and opened the satanic bible. It was always good to review our Lord's teachings before going to sleep.
‘Sorry for the delay, Zelda.’
I looked up and there was Faustus Blackwood. I smiled at him who corresponded the same way before sitting on the bed and lying on my lap. I took the book out of his face so I could see him better. He looked tired.
‘Hard day?’ I asked, stroking him cold cheeks.
He closed his eyes with a caress. His skin was so soft it even impressed me. I put a hand to him hair and clutched it to its black strands. Faustus just sighed as he settled in my lap.
‘The children at the Academy are harder to handle than you think,’ he whispered. ‘That added to some Coven members demanding to know about this week's black mass.’
‘The responsibilities of the High Priest's life are not easy,’ I murmured, still attentive to him.
He broke into a small smile.
‘I wish the title came with the charges,’ he replied and then opened his eyes to look at me. ‘But tell me, what were you doing?’
I showed him the book.
Faustus smiled again. His eyes were downcast and I realized that he was exhausted.
‘Could you read a little for me?’ He asked softly.
I smiled at him, stroking his face again. He closed his eyes immediately. I opened the book with my free hand and began to read the passage where it had stopped.
‘But of the fruit of the tree, in the garden, the false God said, 'Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye shall die'. The False God lied to Eve, because he desired to keep her naked and ignorant in his garden. But our Lord Satan, inhabiting a snake, gave Eve the knowledge, and set her free.’
When I looked at Faustus again, he was already asleep. His regular breathing and relaxed countenance betrayed him. I closed the book and placed it on the nightstand. Faustus was completely askew, with his legs hanging off the bed. He would wake up with pain all over his body.
‘Faustus,’ I called out gently. ‘Faustus.’
He opened his eyes slowly and looked at me confused.
‘Lie down straight,’ I asked.
Faustus nodded and I helped him to seat in the mattress. He took off his shoes and jacket before lying in the space I had made for him in bed. To my surprise, he hugged my waist and rested his head on my breasts. He could make it look like I was the softest surface he'd ever experienced in his life.
In seconds, he was completely asleep again.
I threw the covers over his body and turned off the bedside table lamp. I wrapped my hands back in his hair and he pressed me tighter against his body. Faustus managed to be possessive even in his sleep.
I bent my head to place a kiss on the top of his head and hugged him to sleep as well.
Who would say I would be happy to share a bed with Faustus without sex?
I woke up irritated by the sunlight. It wasn't really bright, but the least light bothered me. I looked down to understand the pressure in my chest and found Faustus still off. I ran my hand through my own hair to tame it and yawned. I could enjoy his proximity a little more. I closed my eyes again and pressed him against me.
The bedroom door burst open and I started. As soon as my eyes found Hilda standing in the doorway, watching us, static, I motioned for her to speak quietly. I knew she must be freaking out inside.
‘He's asleep,’ I whispered. ‘What's it?’
‘Edward needs your demonology book,’ she whispered back, covering her eyes.
I rolled my eyes. What did he need my book for at this time of morning?
Carefully, I lifted Faustus's head from my chest and set a pillow in place, dragging myself on the mattress so as not to wake him. I got out of bed and looked for the book on the shelf. I found it as soon as possible, running my hand over the dust cover, and handed it to Hilda.
She had to take one hand from her eyes to get the book and looked at me anxiously.
‘We just sleep, Hilda,’ I muttered seriously. ‘Now, get out.’
Hilda chuckled slightly, her cheeks flushing, before moving away from the door for me to close it.
I approached the bed and saw Faustus slowly opening his eyes. He seemed completely disoriented. I sat next to him and lightly stroked his hair. He reached out an arm to squeeze my thigh.
‘Where did you go?’ He asked in a hoarse, failing voice.
It sounded more like a regret than a charge.
‘Edward asked me for a book,’ I explained, stroking his face.
He sighed and took an impulse to sit on the bed.
‘Sorry I slept yesterday,’ he murmured, scratching his eyes. ‘Your voice... It felt like Lilith was cradling me.’
I smiled and leaned over to give him a chaste kiss on the lips. He had messy hair and I fixed it with my hands. He smiled with a pat.
‘You don't have to apologize,’ I replied. ‘You were tired... and it was nice to have you around.’
Faustus grinned and raised an eyebrow.
‘Nice?’ He asked seductively. ‘I can come closer, if you wish...’
‘I do,’ I admitted. ‘But not now.’
‘You have to go, don't you?’ He asked and I nodded with a sigh. ‘Well, I have to go too. I have to be at the Academy before Edward.’
He put on his shoes and reached for his jacket to put it on. He walked around the room so he could see himself in my mirror. She straightened his hair as best he could and then turned to me.
‘What do you think?’ He asked.
I pretended to look closely at him, bringing my hand to my chin.
‘One thing is missing.’
I walked over to him, held his face gently in my hands and stole his lips for me. Faustus hugged me around the waist and pulled me against his body. It was a calm and slow kiss. Something unusual for us.
I pulled away slowly and his eyes studied me, as I had done with him earlier.
‘How can you wake up so magnificent, Zelda Spellman?’
I laughed and laid a chaste kiss on his lips.
‘Just go before I don't let you go anymore,’ I whispered.
Faustus bit his bottom lip and I saw his blue eyes darken.
‘I'll be back soon so you won't let me go, Zelda.’
He blinked one eye and disappeared into the air. I let out a breath. Now I needed to get ready and prepare for Hilda's puritan questions.
‘Enjoy Yule and don't forget to keep your fireplaces on! Have a cursed night and may Satan be with you.’ I said the words that would end the black mass. ‘Praise Satan!’
‘Praise Satan!’ A choir echoed in response.
I left the altar with Edward after me. Without the High Priest, we covered him in the performance of black masses. Many of the Coven's warlocks and witches withdrew shortly after the mass ended, but some witches approached me before I could reach Zelda.
‘What a beautiful warlock our future High Priest will be,’ one of them murmured, rubbing my cheek.
‘Already married, Mr. Blackwood?’ Another witch questioned squeezing my biceps.
‘No, ma'am,’ I said respectfully, trying to dodge it.
‘Oh… What a coincidence!’ Said a third witch. ‘My daughter is available!’
I wanted to laugh in disbelief. It was not possible.
From where I was, I could see Zelda's face next to her sister on one of the benches. She hid her mouth with her hand so that no one would see her laugh at the scene I was playing. Her green eyes glittered in my direction. For Satan in Hell, she was beautiful.
I looked at the witches around me and smiled kindly.
‘I'm sorry, ladies. But I'm already committed,’ I said, and seeing Edward laughing, I pointed at him. ‘But my pupil is single and looking for suitors.’
Like lionesses, they advanced on the warlock and left me alone.
I approached the Spellman sisters who had already risen from the bench and were waiting for their brother to leave the church. Zelda grinned while Hilda was flushed. The younger witch looked anywhere but me, and seeing me close, walked away. Was she running from me or giving us privacy?
‘Do you have something to tell me, Faustus?’ Zelda asked with a raised eyebrow. ‘Who are you committed to, may I know?’
I opened the best smile I had and if there weren't too many people around, I would have kissed her.
‘I'm committed to the most beautiful witch in the Coven. Her skin is white and soft, her green eyes look like two shiny emeralds in which I could easily get lost, and her hair is a shade I've never seen before, red as fire. The personality is unparalleled, strong as only Satan knows how to be, independent like Lilith... Not to mention the body... Wow, if you saw it!’ I stopped my performance for a second. ‘Oh, but you already see her. Every day when looking in the mirror.’
Her face was slightly flushed.
‘I didn't know we were committed,’ she whispered, looking away.
I grinned at her and put my fingers under her chin so she would look at me.
‘Only if you want, Zelda.’
I took her hand and kissed her back. She looked at me suspiciously.
‘Are you serious?’
‘More serious, impossible,’ I said as hard as I could.
I wanted Zelda to know that I was serious about whatever we had. I took a small black box from one of my vest pockets. I saw the moment she stared at the box and then at me.
‘It's your Solstice gift,’ I answered her mental question. ‘But I ask you to open it only after Yule.’
She took the box from me, completely surprised.
‘Zelda...’ Hilda called quietly. ‘Edward is getting rid of witches!’
I was surprised. Was she covering us?
Zelda hid the box in one of her coat pockets and Hilda joined us. She gave me a small smile and waved a hand.
‘Good evening, Miss. Spellman’ I greeted her.
‘Good evening, Mr. Blackwood,’ she stammered back.
Her gaze darted from his sister to me and then back. She looked enthusiastic. Zelda rolled her eyes.
‘We'll continue this conversation another time,’ she whispered.
I just nodded. Edward approached the next second, annoyed.
I gave him a smug smile.
‘See you tomorrow, Edward,’ I muttered, ignoring his moodiness. ‘Have a good night, ladies.’
Hilda nodded again, holding that same small lively smile. Zelda smiled warmly, even pretending to be the usual rigid figure. But I knew her well.
No more, I let them go. The next night we would all be reunited for the Solstice.
Chapter 15: Yule
Faustus celebrates the Yule with the Spellmans. He and Zelda try to disguise their relationship so that Edward doesn't notice, while Hilda helps to secure them.
In the following morning, under Zelda's negative premonitions, Faustus will face the High Priest.
‘I swear, Aunt Zelda, I didn't put out the log.’
I looked at Sabrina, sitting in the front chair, skeptically.
‘Oh, I see, so it is a mere coincidence that the Yule log, lit to keep away all unearthly things, including spirits… was unlit at the exact time you decided to convene with your mother’s ghost?’
‘Uh-- I know how it looks.’
‘And tell me, why tonight,’ I asked interrupting her. ‘of all nights, on the eve of the Solstice, did you suddenlly feel the need to contact your mother?’
‘It wasn't sudden, Aunt Zelda,’ she claimed. ‘I saw my mom trapped in limbo and I wanted to release her.’
‘If that's true, why in Satan’s name, didn't you tell us? We could have helped you and Diana.’
‘You would have done that?’ She replied in surprise.
‘Of course. Diana was my brother's wife,’ I replied with conviction. ‘Honestly, Sabrina, sometimes I don’t think you understand the meaning of family at all.’
In fact, Diana and I never got along very well. But that didn’t mean that I would abandon her to her fate.
‘Ambrose, love, er, did you find anything?’ Hilda asked when the boy entered the room.
He was carrying an artifact to detect entities and spirits.
‘I checked every room and closet,’ he murmured, still attentive. ‘If some malevolence got in whilst the Yule log was out… Hm. They left once Aunt Hilda re-lit it.’
‘Or they’re very adept at hiding,’ I whispered. ‘Either way, so much for a peaceful Solstice.’
I knew very well what could happen badly when Yule log went out. I felt the fear take over me just to remember. May Satan protect us.
The Pentagon had fewer than twenty warlocks and witches who decided to stay at the Academy during the Solstice. Some had no family, others preferred to spend the holiday with friends, and they would be welcomed at the Academy. The corridors and rooms were covered with ornaments and gave a more familiar look to anyone who passed by.
The students were sitting on cushions scattered on the floor, looking closely at Edward and me.
‘Remember, the Yule log is not a decoration, it is a protection,’ I announced as Edward lit the fire in front of the Academy students. ‘It must burn continously from now, through the shortest day, through the longest night, until dawn.’
‘Otherwise, Satan knows what malevolent forces might come down the chimney,’ Edward added. ‘Creatures with deadly intentions...’
‘So, let's keep the log lit, shall we?’ I spoke again after seeing the frightened faces of the students. Everyone nodded vehemently. ‘We wish you all a cursed night. Praise Satan!’
‘Praise Satan!’ they shouted back.
They talked to each other again, carrying glasses of wine or some snacks in their hands. They would be fine that night ... I hoped. I had always spent Yule with them and feared they could bring the Academy down without a supervisor.
Edward put his hand on my shoulder and I paid attention.
I nodded and we left.
Edward opened his door and gave me space to enter. I took off my hat and coat and hung them on the hangers before I followed him into the living room. Zelda had her back to us, placing the last ornaments on the Yule tree. She was beautiful, as always. A black dress covered her body up to the middle of her thighs and outlined her curves.
I contained the urge to run up to her and hug her.
‘Happy Yule, Zelda,’ Edward murmured for her to notice our presence.
As soon as she turned to us, a smile spread across her face.
‘Happy Yule, Edward,’ she said. ‘For you too, Mr. Blackwood.’
I nodded, avoiding looking at her cleavage.
‘Where's Hilda?’ Edward asked.
‘Where else?’ Zelda replied rolling her eyes. ‘In the kitchen, of course.’
Edward went to the kitchen and as soon as he was out of sight, I approached Zelda. She presented me with a broad and happy smile, and I hugged her around the waist, placing a chaste kiss on her lips.
‘Happy Solstice, Zelda.’
She cupped my face, caressing my cheeks with her thumbs. Her green eyes sparkled and I knew that if I continued to look at them, I would never let her go.
‘Happy Solstice, Faustus,’ hers soft voice whispered.
I put a streak of ginger hair behind her ear so I could see her face in full. Satan, that would be the best Solstice I had ever had in my life.
‘Why go to the living room, Ed?’ Hilda practically shouted from the kitchen. ‘It's more pleasant here!’
It was the cue we needed to get away. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Hilda Spellman was covering us in an indiscreet way. But at the same time, a part of me wanted Edward to discover us so that we no longer had to hide my relationship with Zelda. I knew I needed to tell him. And that was what I would do, as soon as I settled the accounts with the High Priest the next morning.
After dinner, we gathered around the fireplace. I removed the grill that covered it and Edward knelt to light the Yule log.
‘And now, the Solstice blessing’ Edward announced getting back on his feet.
Zelda took my hand and I took Edward's, who took Hilda's. Soon we closed a circle in the room.
‘May the log burn, may the wheel turn, may the evil spurn, mey the sun return’ we said together.
I squeezed Zelda's hand slightly before letting go and she gave me a small smile. During dinner, she had sat next to me and we had our hands tied under the table for almost the entire meal. Hilda seemed the only one to notice and her face was constantly flushed.
‘What do you think of a chess game, Faustus?’ Edward proposed when we sat on the couch.
‘It's getting late, Edward,’ I murmured. ‘I don't want to be inconvenient.’
The warlock shook his head.
‘Sleep here, Faustus’ he suggested and I heard Zelda choke somewhere in the room. ‘Tomorrow we will have to be at the Academy early to welcome the High Priest. It would be nice if we arrived together.’
‘If you insist, I accept the invitation.’
Hilda let out a nasal laugh and I heard Zelda tell her to shut up.
‘Great!’ Edward celebrated. ‘I'll get the board.’
Zelda approached me and offered me a glass of whiskey. I accepted it and toasted her glass. I was very surprised that she enjoyed the bitter drink. She sat next to me and Edward pulled out a small table to support the chess board, taking a seat in front of me. Hilda handed her brother a glass of amber liquid and sat beside him with two knitting needles.
‘As a guest, I will allow you to choose between white or black stones.’
‘Always black, Edward,’ I murmured, smiling sagaciously.
‘Will you give me an advantage, Faustus?’ he asked with an eyebrow raised in challenge.
‘If you interpret that way, who am I to contradict you?’
Edward laughed at my arrogance and we started the game. Whatever the situation that led me and him to dispute in some way, it became a battleground on which our egos prevailed. It was as if we had to prove to ourselves that we were better. I used to beat him for having more experience. But day-by-day, Edward became more competitive.
Zelda watched us closely, slung over my shoulder. This was already an excellent incentive to beat Edward. I would hate to lose in front of her.
Time seemed to us to pass quickly between moves, but for Zelda and Hilda, it seemed like an eternity. The youngest girl was knitting quickly while Zelda was now entertained with a book.
She rested her head on my shoulder and I, taking advantage of Edward's concentration, placed a kiss on her forehead. Her green eyes met mine and she smiled, before turning her attention to the book.
I felt strangely comfortable. As if I were in my own home, with my family. Well, if all went well, this is what they would be in the near future.
I had my concentration dispersed when I heard a loud snore coming from Hilda. She had fallen asleep sitting, the knitting needles resting on her lap. Edward looked as surprised as I did. I looked at the clock and was surprised to see that we had been playing for over two hours.
‘We'd better put them to sleep and go to rest,’ he whispered. ‘Do we finish the game later?’
Them? In plural?
I looked at Zelda, still leaning on my shoulder, and she just snored softly. She had fallen asleep at some point with the book ajar in her lap.
‘Okay,’ I whispered back.
‘I'll take Hilda,’ he murmured. ‘Can you take Zelda?’
I almost celebrated. But I remained serious and agreed with a nod.
Careful not to wake Zelda, I put my arm around her back, holding her around the waist, and rested her knees on the other arm to pick her up. Soon, I was standing with her in my arms. Zelda just tilted her head to rest on my chest and continued to sleep. I took the opportunity to observe her serene face. She was beautiful under any circumstances.
Edward took a few moments longer to pick up the youngest girl and I decided to watch his effort. Then, he guided me up the stairs. His steps were slow and careful. I could carry Zelda for the rest of my life, without needing all that effort that the brother showed.
‘If I had known the night would end this way, I wouldn't have had so much to drink,’ Edward quipped.
As soon as we reached the top landing, he pointed to the door to Zelda's room and continued down the hall. I slowly pushed the bedroom door with my foot and went through the portal with Zelda. I laid her on the bed and she let out a low grumble. I took off her shoes slowly and placed them aligned on the floor. So I threw the covers over her body and took some time to admire her. I stroked her face with the back of my hand so I wouldn't wake her and smiled.
‘Good night, Zelda,’ I whispered.
I placed a soft kiss on his forehead and left the room.
Edward appeared in the hall seconds later, stretching his arms.
‘Sorry I'm late,’ he whispered. ‘Come on, I'll show you the guest room.’
He walked me to a room at the end of the hall and opened the door for me. The room was very similar to Zelda's, but without props and neutral colors.
‘Good night, Faustus,’ Edward murmured. ‘Make yourself comfortable.’
I broke into a small smile. He had no idea that I already felt that way.
‘Thank you, Edward. Have a good night.’
He nodded and left the room, closing the door behind him.
I took off my clothes, hanging them on a chair in the corner of the room, and dragged myself under the covers, wearing only my boxers. I turned off the bedside table lamp and the darkness welcomed me.
I wanted Zelda to be there with me. I wish she was with me always. And it haunted and delighted me in the same proportion.
My thoughts went back to the conversation I would have with the High Priest. I felt my blood boil just remembering what that man had done to Zelda. All for a test or to force me to accept a marriage? It was ridiculous!
Tomorrow, I would finish this.
I rolled over in bed for a long time. I would be lucky if I could sleep that night.
I heard the bedroom door slowly open, the steps of the person who had invaded the room were silent and fast. I felt the covers beside me move and soon Zelda was glued to my body. Feeling her bare skin against mine made me warm.
I hugged her waist and Zelda held my face with both hands before claiming my lips. I took one hand up to the back of her neck so she wouldn't pull away and deepened the kiss, letting my tongue explore her entire mouth.
I rolled over in bed, without breaking the kiss, which had become urgent, and lay on her body. Feeling her breasts against my chest, made my member automatically harden.
Satan, I loved feeling Zelda's warm and soft skin.
Unable to resist the temptation, I slid my hands to her breasts and heard her moan, grabbing my hair. My fingers massaged her breasts with delicacy and dexterity. My mouth left hers to join my hands and she sighed as she felt my tongue surround her nipples.
When my lips ran to her other breast, I took her hands out of my hair and pinned them over her head, while the other one slid into the middle of her legs. I pulled my face away from her breast to study her face and she was flushed. Even in the dark, I saw her close her eyes and she moaned loudly as she felt my fingers caress her clit. Zelda tilted her head towards my face, in a silent request for me to kiss her. But I just brushed my lips over hers lightly, to tease her.
She tried to loosen her wrists to touch me, but I held on, just concentrating on her countenance before my caresses. My fingers slid through her intimacy and she moaned as I slowly entered one of them. I bit my lower lip and closed my eyes briefly, before opening them again. Zelda was always ready for me. Wet and hot and tight like Hell.
I moved my finger to continue stimulating her and she could only gasp in response.
She seemed surprised when I took my finger out of her and was about to complain, but her body tensed when she felt me pressing two fingers into her intimacy. I released her wrists and she promptly grabbed my back, while I re-introduced my fingers. Little by little, I increased the speed of the movements and she wiggled against my hand in an agile and precise way. I stimulated her clitoris with my thumb when I realized that she was close to orgasm and I felt her insides contract. The euphoria came with spasms, and she melted with a loud groan.
I wished Edward and Hilda were asleep.
I kissed her again and she grabbed the back of my neck, pulling me as hard as she could against her. I didn't care about bullshit like oxygen at that moment, I just wanted her. Hoping to catch her off guard, I reversed our positions, leaving her on top.
I sat with my chest glued to yours. I caressed her face and placed a chaste kiss on her lips. I held her hip firmly with one hand, while with the other I guided my member to her entrance. Carefully, I pressed our hips and I groaned as I entered her. Zelda rested her hands on my shoulders to get some firmness and she let herself slide until she had me whole inside. Her eyes were slightly closed and I heard the sigh that escaped from her mouth.
Satan, she was beautiful.
I moved my hips slightly and we both groaned. I grabbed her waist and helped her move her hips slowly. That position allowed me to go deeper and I wanted to enjoy every inch that I dragged inside Zelda. But she didn't have the same patience as me, and little by little she started to roll against me with more freedom and speed.
I pushed my hips against hers and threw my head back as I felt an electric current pass through my body. The room was filled with our groans. Zelda hugged my body and I grabbed her waist, spreading kisses over her shoulder. Unexpectedly, she demanded my lips and only then did I realize how thirsty I was for her.
She rode on my hips with more speed and strength, and I turned my hips slightly to reach other points, willing to make her dizzy. Her orgasm was not long in coming and when her lower abdomen contracted, squeezing me inside, I also reached my orgasm. We broke down in loud moans and she collapsed over my body.
We were too breathless to say anything, but words were not necessary. I was so happy that I couldn't even quantify.
Zelda laughed lightly and touched my lips with hers. After a slow loving kiss, she stroked my cheeks and I brushed some unruly hair off her face.
‘Did you think you were going to get rid of me so easily today, Faustus?’ She whispered.
I opened a smile and gave her a quick kiss on the lips.
‘All I wanted most today was you, Zelda’ I replied with my best seductive tone. ‘But your brother would not allow me to sleep next to you in bed.’
‘Good thing I put a spell to isolate the sound in the room when I entered, then.’
She laughed and leaned her forehead against mine, hugging my shoulders.
I grabbed her hips to get out of her, but she held on tighter against me.
‘Just stay a little longer,’ she asked in a whispered voice.
I released her hips and hugged her waist, bringing her as close to me as possible. I stroked the white skin on her back feeling its softness. Zelda laid her head on my shoulder and I distributed kisses over yours.
‘Faustus...’ she murmured without detaching herself from my shoulder. ‘I have a bad feeling.’
My smile faded and I frowned. But I couldn't worried her. I carefully pulled her away by her shoulders, so I could look into her eyes. The green expanse, always confident, was vaguely cloudy. I stroked her face and put a lock of her hair behind her ear.
‘You have nothing to worry about, Zelda,’ I murmured with a smile. ‘Will be all right.’
‘Do you promise to be careful?’
Her fear was almost palpable.
‘I promise,’ I replied, looking into her eyes.
Zelda nodded and hugged me again. I lay on the bed, bringing her with me. Inevitably, I got out of her and we both let out frustrated moans. She sighed and settled over my body, laying her head on my chest.
‘May I put a protection spell on you?’ She murmured.
I laughed and hugged her tightly, placing a kiss on her head.
‘Zelda, I don't need all that.’
‘Are you sure?’ she asked aloof.
I stroked her hair to soothe her and her muscles relaxed visibly.
‘Yes, dear,’ I murmured in her ear and she shivered. ‘It's gonna be okay.’
Zelda raised her head and gave me a chaste kiss on the lips, before lying back on my chest. I hugged her waist and left a kiss on the top of her head. I stroked her ginger hair again and she curled up. The sweet scent of her hair invaded my lungs and the comfort it brought me, made sleep come.
Only with Zelda in my arms, I would be able to sleep peacefully.
I walked the halls of the Academy with firm steps. It was time to settle with the High Priest. I burst open his door, ready for anything to come. I stopped suddenly when I saw the Dark Lord standing in the middle of the principal's office.
Despite the surprise, I bowed to him.
‘Faustus Blackwood...’ he called my name. ‘You must choose between the high priesthood and Zelda Spellman.’
I frowned. ‘Forgive me, my lord,’ I tried to answer without seeming unwise. ‘But I don't see why I can't have both.’
The Dark Lord laughed.
‘You can't have both, Blackwood. If you choose to do it, you will lose both.’
My heart hammered in my chest. What the hell?
‘I choose both,’ I challenged him. ‘I will not give up Zelda or the priesthood.’
‘Then you will have nothing.’
The floor opened at my feet and the darkness welcomed me.
I sat on the bed feeling the dread seize me. My breathing was fast, my heart was racing and I felt sweat running down my forehead. Zelda's green eyes appeared in my vision in the next instant and she held my face in her hands.
‘It was just a nightmare,’ she whispered with concern. ‘It's okay, Faustus.’
I nodded slightly, trying to calm myself. It was just a nightmare. Everything was okay.
‘Sorry’ I asked in a broken voice.
Zelda smiled at me and pulled me into a tight hug. She started to caress the hair on the back of my neck, while I nestled my head on her shoulder.
‘Want to tell me what you dreamed of?’ she asked lightly.
I shook my head. I didn't want her to know. If she combined her concern with the omens of my nightmare, she wouldn’t sleep anymore.
‘It was nothing,’ I lied. ‘I only dreamed that Edward beat me at chess.’
She laughed lightly. Her laughter was a sound that I appreciated a lot.
‘May I lie on your chest?’ I asked like a sly child.
Zelda seemed to be surprised by my request, but accepted it. She lay down again and I rested my head between her breasts. Her hands continued to caress my hair and suddenly, all my fear evaporated. I concentrated on listening to the rhythmic beating of her heart.
The Dark Lord was wrong. I would not miss anything. As long as I had Zelda, I would have everything.
I woke up the next morning feeling my head throbbing. I had slept little because of the sex and Faustus's nightmare... and perhaps there was some connection with whiskey.
To my surprise, the warlock's blue eyes watched me intently. He stroked my face lightly and I let my head hang to enjoy his affection. He stretched his neck and placed a chaste kiss on my lips. I ran a hand through his hair to tame it and he sighed with satisfaction.
‘You woke up early...’ I murmured.
Faustus broke into an overwhelming smile.
‘I have to find your brother so we can face the beast,’ he replied good-naturedly.
He looked incredibly well for someone who had a troubled night and would have a complicated conversation ahead. I knew he had lied about his nightmare, but I would respect his desire not to tell.
‘Well, we better get up,’ I said. ‘After all, I have to get to my room without being seen.’
When I intended to get up, Faustus pulled me by the hand, causing me to return to his arms. His lips took mine and I appreciated his morning greed.
I wish we had time for another round.
‘I'll meet you down there in twenty minutes,’ I murmured, dodging his arms.
I picked up my turquoise silk robe that I had tossed on the floor the night before and put it on, so I wouldn't go naked in the hall. I opened the door carefully and made sure no one was around before I hurried to my room.
Upon entering the kitchen, my first sight was of Faustus reading the newspaper and drinking from his cup of coffee. I walked over to him and slid my hands over his shoulders, until they reached his chest, hugging him from behind. His perfume exuded from his neck along with the fragrance of freshly showered bath. It was intoxicating. Faustus smiled and abandoned the newspaper, lifting his head and giving me a quick kiss.
‘Good morning, dear,’ he murmured tenderly.
‘Good morning, Faustus.’
A scratchy throat caught my eye and I looked up to find Hilda flipping pancakes over the pan. Her face was flushed, but she kept a small smile on her lips.
‘Good morning, Hilda’ I greeted her.
She just placed the pancakes on two plates, serving Faustus with one of them and placing the other beside him, where I was supposed to sit.
‘I'm glad you got a taste for gastronomy, Miss. Spellman,’ the warlock murmured to Hilda. ‘You cook very well.’
Hilda's face turned red and she gave him a small embarrassed smile.
Edward came into the kitchen shortly afterwards, which took away some of my freedom with Faustus.
‘Good morning family!’ greeted.
Faustus raised an eyebrow.
‘Not yet, Spellman,’ he quipped.
My brother smiled at him and hurried to kiss my face and Hilda's.
As soon as the two devoured their pancakes, they quickly rose from their chairs. Edward sent two air kisses to us and walked to the living room. Faustus placed a kiss on my forehead and I wished him good luck. To my surprise, he approached Hilda and gave her a quick hug. My sister was static with something he said and her face flushed.
Soon, the two warlocks left.
I picked up the newspaper Faustus was reading and tried to concentrate on any news that might disconnect me from my latent bad feeling.
‘Edward has to be very blind to not see that you and Blackwood are together’ Hilda let out while sitting next to me with a cup of tea. ‘You don't disguise it! You both keep kissing each other... And I saw you leaving his room this morning.’
I lowered the newspaper just enough to look at it.
‘We had sex, Hilda,’ I said seriously. ‘There's nothing special about it.’
I knew it would inhibit her and her face turned red again. I took advantage of her moment of silence to sip the contents of my cup.
‘And how it was?’
I almost choked on the coffee.
‘It was excellent, Hilda.’
She giggled and stared at me, dumbfounded. I rolled my eyes.
‘He likes you very much,’ she murmured with fascination. ‘His eyes even shine when you're around... and yours too!’
‘Now, Hilda, stop all that romanticism.’
‘It's not romanticism and he called me sister-in-law. This already indicates a stable relationship between you...’
‘What?’ I asked to make sure I didn't hear wrong.
‘When he went to say goodbye, he said: "see you later, sister-in-law",’ She said with a nasal laugh. ‘If he proposed to you, would you accept, Zelda?’
I shook my head and laughed briefly, which made my head throb. Hilda and her romantic fantasies.
‘Drop the nonsense,’ I muttered. ‘Now, find some potion to help me with this unbearable headache.’
Edward and I were waiting for the High Priest's call outside his office. Apparently, some students were talking to him. As soon as he was free, I would ask to speak to him privately.
‘Have you decided on the Council's proposal?’ Edward asked.
I blew out a breath and nodded.
‘I will not accept.’ The warlock frowned and looked astonished.
‘But, Faustus, that guarantees you the high priesthood,’ he countered. ‘Will you take the risk?’
I gave him a determined look.
‘I don't need an arranged marriage to have the qualities of a High Priest,’ I murmured. ‘Let them choose me for everything I did for this Coven and the Dark Lord.’
Edward smiled wily and raised an eyebrow.
‘What's her name?’
I shook my head, trying to understand his line of reasoning.
‘What you mean?’
‘Faustus, don't try to deny it. I've known him for years. I know you are willing to do anything to take the position of High Priest,’ he pointed out wisely. ‘If you are not accepting the marriage, it means that some witch has bewitched your heart. Am I wrong?’
I laughed briefly. If he knew that the witch in question was closer to him than he imagined, he would not ask.
‘You’re right, Brother Spellman,’ I agreed with unnecessary formality. ‘I'm in love with the most beautiful witch in our Coven.’
Edward raised his eyebrows in surprise and smiled.
‘Is she worth the risk, Faustus?’
I return his smile. I had asked myself about it a few days ago and now I had the answer clear in my mind.
‘Yes, Edward. Much more, I would say.’
The warlock patted my shoulder lightly, as if that were an incentive.
‘Now, tell me, who is the woman who stole your heart so overwhelmingly?’
I felt my smile widen just thinking about Zelda. Apparently, my conversation with Edward had come before the one with the High Priest.
‘I really needed to talk to you about it, Edward...’ I communicated and he frowned. ‘The woman is...’
The door of the High Priest's office burst open and some students went out into the hall. When the priest appeared at the door, all my mood was gone.
‘Faustus, we need to talk privately,’ he announced and turned his back on me.
I blew out a breath and followed him into the office, closing the door behind me. The priest remained standing behind his desk and I followed the protocol of standing too.
‘I think you have already decided to accept the Council's agreement..." he started, but I interrupted him.
‘I will not accept it.’
The High Priest's eyes slit and met mine.
‘Are you going to give up the high priesthood, Mr. Blackwood?’ he asked with disgust in his voice. ‘Are you going to throw years of devotion down the drain for a... Spellman?’
I locked my jaw and fisted my hands, trying to relieve the urge to punch the warlock in the face.
‘I know you tried to kill Zelda! I know it was you who sent the specter after her and still used my image for that,’ I accused irritably. ‘Now, I demand that you explain your reasons for this!’
‘Demand?’ he ridiculed. ‘I've been in your place for years, boy. Believe me when I say I would do you a favor by ending that witch's life.’
I frowned, preventing my own urge to fly in his jugular vein.
‘What you mean?’ I questioned, resigned. ‘Have you lost your mind?’
‘Faustus, when I was about to take the priesthood, I had my way crossed by a witch, but I was smart and made the right choice,’ he concluded. ‘But your heart was always weak before that witch. Always challenging me for her...’
I laughed humorlessly.
‘She left you, didn't she?’ I said. ‘The witch chose another one, but you boast that you have assumed the priesthood!’
He shook his head.
‘She chose a Spellman... Edward is a miracle of that relationship; intelligent, polite, cunning, greedy... It’s like I was at his age,’ he whispered proudly in his tone. ‘As Zelda Spellman, it is a reproduction of the mother with the father's personality. Inedible.’
The High Priest was proud of Edward and hated Zelda for the same reason. Now I understood his pretexts to provide opportunities for the warlock to grow up within the Coven. It wasn't just his talent...
A chill ran down my spine when I understood the whole situation and my ironic laughter reverberated through his office.
‘Your intention was never for me to become the High Priest, was it?’ I asked incredulously. ‘I only served to help Edward get here. Teach him everything I knew so that he would be the one ultimately chosen. You didn't cause all this to make me give up on Zelda, on the contrary, you wanted me to choose her, so you have a reason to disqualify myself from the Council!’
The Priest seemed to be surprised by my reasoning.
‘You really didn't come here for nothing, Faustus. You’re cunning,’ he murmured without denying anything I had said. ‘Indeed, the will of the Dark Lord is for Edward to ascend as High Priest. But you were always wanted for the job, so I had to improvise.’
‘You told the Council that you needed to establish relations with them and demanded a marriage that you knew I would create resistance. So you threw Zelda in my way, so there was no chance of I accepting the deal,’ I concludes. ‘As soon as they discarded me, you would present Edward as the best alternative.’
‘Exactly,’ he agreed.
‘How can you?’ I asked at the limit of my patience. ‘I am your son!’
Almost no one knew about it, only the older warlocks of the Coven should remember. After the death of my mother, his wife, the priest ignored the fact that he had a son and threw me into the Academy so that I could manage on my own. I stood out and grew up in the Coven without his help. But the high priesthood was mine by birthright.
‘I would prefer Edward to be my son!’ he roared, taking something from his drawer. ‘I really wish you hadn't discovered everything, Faustus. Now you know too much and I will have to get rid of you. But don't worry, the next one will be your dear Spellman. I don't know what you told her, I can't risk it.’
He tried to hit me with a dagger, but I managed to dodge it in time to see it stick in the door. I would die before I allowed him to get close to Zelda again. Before I could pronounce any spell or go into an arm fight, Edward threw the door open. He was panting and looked alarmed.
‘There's something wrong!’ shouted.
A chill ran down my spine as I felt the presence of evil. There were many. In the next instant, a demon appeared behind Edward's back.
We were under attack.
Chapter 16: Everything has a price
The High Priest is dead, the Yule log has been mysteriously extinguished, and the Academy has been invaded by demons. Edward and Faustus seal the Academy to prevent the threat from escaping and chaos from dominating Greendale.
Meanwhile, Zelda uses her knowledge to try to save her brother and Faustus.
Warning: Prepare paper tissues and your hearts.
‘You don't know what I'm capable of’ Sabrina shouted.
‘You’re a 16-year-old child, not some grand magus,’ I snapped at the edge of patience.
‘And you’re not my mother, Zelda, so stop acting like you are!’
It was like taking a stab in the chest. I looked at Sabrina feeling my heart break in a thousand pieces. I felt my lower lip tremble at my disappointment.
‘Oy! You do not speak to your Aunt Zelda like that,’ Hilda reached us to scold Sabrina. ‘Not ever!’
I shot her a quick look and looked back at the girl. Her meddling gave me the time I needed to recover.
‘It’s fine, Hilda. You heard her. She’s not a child, and I’m not her mother. She's a grown-up witch now, and it's time she learned how the world, the realms, really work,’ I mumbled in the coldest tone I could. ‘Everything has a price. Edward learned that lesson. I learned it. It’s your turn now. And don't come crying to me when it all blows up in your face.’
That price could be high. And yet, sometimes, we were willing to pay it.
I jumped on Edward to get him out of the front line. The attack from outside the room grazed me on the side of the chest and I hit the floor. I turned to the entity and it was no surprise to see the demon enter the room. The High Priest was lying on the floor, his body taking on a black hue. He had been hit hard by the attack.
‘Warlocks, don't try to resist. My brothers and I will take this place and soon, the rest of this city’, the demon regurgitated.
I took Edward's hand, ignoring the pain that was taking over my body. We needed to banish the Demon as soon as possible.
‘Satan copiis eo daemonium et excoquam ad valem flammam mitto’ we recite the spell together.
The demon disintegrated in the air to our relief.
‘Edward, we need to start emergency procedures,’ I called out, squeezing the side of my body and rising with difficulty. ‘Let's seal the Academy. We cannot allow other demons to escape from here.’
He nodded and held my hands.
‘Ex spiritibus enim sie te aeris. Qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo clavem ad. Ostium ligate Diabolum hunc! Hoc captionem et daemonium ab grandus cincinno,’ we cast the spell.
‘The Yule log should have unlit,’ I supposed, letting go of Edward's hands. ‘I'll go to the pentagon to check. Look for students and watch out for demons. As soon as we meet again, we will find a way to ban them.’
‘I was working on my Acheron Configuration, I can use it to try to trap them,’ he suggested.
‘It might be a good idea,’ I agreed. ‘Just be careful.’
We rush through the corridors and split up at a certain point. I was lucky that I didn't run into any demons on the way to the pentagon that was supposed to harbor the Yule log. As soon as I entered the pentagon, I saw the Yule log unlit, as I imagined. A little smoke escaped through it. Whoever had unlit it had done so recently. I would kill the culprit.
I lit the Yule log again without much difficulty. Now, nothing would enter and leave the Academy.
I felt a sharp sting in my chest and lifted my shirt to assess the damage. A black line slowly branched across my abdomen. I tried to heal myself, but it was in vain. I was being possessed by hellish poison and there was nothing I could do. I would have little time until it reached my heart and ended my life.
I was pacing my room. My bad feeling didn't go away. I could only hope that Faustus would send me news soon. I knew what the High Priest was capable of and feared the worst. My consolation was that Edward would be around.
‘Zelda,’ Faustus voice filled the room.
Its spectral shape appeared before my eyes and I felt a brief relief. But any trace of the feeling disappeared when I saw him collapse on his knees, holding the side of his abdomen tightly. I ran over to him, feeling useless because I couldn't touch him.
‘Faustus, what happened?’ I asked feeling the desperation take control over me.
‘The High Priest is dead, Zelda. But I didn't kill him,’ he added when he saw that I had opened my mouth to interrupt him. ‘The flame of the Academy's Yule log lit and a group of demons invaded here. Edward and I seal the Academy and we will try to ban them.’
I covered my mouth with my hands in shock.
‘Did one of them hit you?’ I asked pointing out to the wound he was trying to hide.
He nodded slowly, regret taking over his face.
‘I tried to defend Edward from attack and ended up getting hit,’ he explained. ‘But it doesn’t matter. I just wanted to warn you that I don't know if any demons managed to escape before our spell. So stay home, safe. Please.’
I nodded, not knowing exactly what I was agreeing with.
One of the psychopomps appeared at my window and I felt my heart racing. We didn't have much time.
‘Heal yourself before going after them, Faustus.’
His blue eyes twinkled in my direction and then he looked away at the floor. I missed a heartbeat when I understood the meaning of his gesture.
‘Faustus... You already try, didn't you?’
He nodded slowly and I felt my vision cloud over. It couldn't be true.
‘I just wanted to see you one last time...’ he murmured, his eyes focused on mine. ‘Zelda, I...’
Our connection was interrupted and Faustus disappeared without being able to finish his phrase.
A hot tear ran down my face, but I tried to wipe it off. I refused to let him die. I needed to do something.
I ran to the bedroom door, opening it violently and running down the hall.
‘Hilda!’ I shouted. ‘Hilda!’
It didn't take me long to find her in the kitchen. She seemed alarmed with my screams.
‘What is happening, Zelda?’ questioned taking the thermal gloves from her hands.
‘We have to save our brother and Faustus,’ I roared. ‘So, listen carefully what we will do.’
My spectral encounter with Zelda was interrupted by the arrival of another demon. For Satan’s sake, they were really hunting us.
‘I followed the delicious smell of your blood, Warlock,’ the demon approached. ‘I'll put you to sleep, so you won't feel any pain when I devour you!’
I struggled to my feet, ignoring the pain. That demon didn't seem aware that Edward and I had sealed off the Academy and that only we knew how to undo the spell, so they could get out. He really wanted to devour me.
Before I could think in a spell, Edward appeared at the door, breathing hard.
‘Elementa mundi. Tene hoc chaos. Sanguinem terraete dique perdant.’
In the next instant, he threw the Acheron Configuration to the floor and imprisoned the sleeping demon.
I gave him a confused look and he put a hand on the back of his neck. Reacting only to pick up the arcane puzzle on the floor.
‘Sorry,’ he whispered. ‘This is my fault.’
I frowned, but I had no time to lose.
‘Let's look for others, quick!’
We ran as fast as possible to the main pentagon. We had to find the students. As soon as the statue of Baphomet came into view, it brought devastation with it. Blood covered the floor and part of the walls. The bodies of half a dozen students were lying on the floor. Edward crouched down next to one of them to check his heartbeat.
‘It's weak, but he has a pulse.’
‘We have to banish the demons soon, Edward,’ I murmured, going over to another student. ‘Only then can we get these children out of here to heal them.’
I looked up at the warlock and, hidden in the shadows, I thought I saw Hilda. I shook my head and looked again, there was no one there. I should be going crazy... or just dying.
A loud noise came from some room on the upper floor. We looked at each other and nodded at the same time. I gathered the students together while Edward ran to the kitchen to get a pot of salt and we teleported them to the dorm. We spread the salt around the pentagon, forming a protective circle in the room to keep them safe, and we hurried to look for the other demons.
‘We need a plan, Edward,’ I whispered, feeling my body getting more and more stuck. ‘If we go to them with nothing, we will be killed.’
‘Let's split up to lose them. It's our best chance,’ he proposed. ‘I will look for the missing students to send them to the dorm.’
‘I've got your back. I will attract them.’
He agreed and I stayed as far away from him as possible. I arrived at the choir room and hurried to the material closet. I took a bottle of black ink and drew a pentagram with banishing symbols on the back of my hand, so I wouldn't need a magic circle to banish more than one demon at a time.
So done, I snatched two plates and started hitting each other.
‘Come on, demons. Come and get me!’
Three of them appeared and surrounded me.
‘Warlock, do you intend to free us or will we have to torture some of your colleagues?’
He was bluffing, trying to make me think they were keeping the rest of the students in prison. I knew well that they would not spare them as they did with those we found in the Baphomet pentagon.
‘I intend to send them back to Hell!’ I shouted.
The demons laughed.
‘A dying warlock trying to compete with us... Pathetic.’
Something changed in the atmosphere of the Academy and I knew that the seal had been undone. What was Edward doing? The demons seemed to notice the same and tried to go through the windows of the pentagon, but they were repelled, being thrown into the middle of the room again.
‘A protective spell?’ One of them growled angrily.
Taking advantage of his distractions, I began to chant the torture spell.
‘Ardrelamastro, martarastar, frocus!’'
The demons fell to the ground, their screams reverberating through the pentagon. Gradually, they began to dissolve in the air, until they disappeared completely.
I sat on the floor, feeling the pain in my body increase exponentially. Each spell I used seemed to hasten the poisoning process in my body. I wouldn't be able to last much longer that way.
But I needed to look for Edward to find out what the hell he had done. I focused on evaluating the spell around the Academy and the seal was re-established.
I walked holding the side of my body, trying my best to reach up Edward. He ran into me a few runners later.
‘Faustus, what did you do?’ he asked indignantly.
‘I did nothing. I thought it was you.’ He denied it and I swallowed hard. ‘Edward, who else knows the Academy's protection protocol?’
‘No one!’ He replied, trying to think of something. ‘I found the others and left them in the dorm. They were with me, Faustus. Nobody cast the spell.’
I held my breath.
‘It was an outsider,’ I deduced, heart in hand. ‘Edward... Tell me that Zelda didn't know about the protocol.’
The Spellman looked at me with a frown.
‘Only you, me and the High Priest knows,’ he concluded.
‘Did you have it noted?’ I asked feeling the sweat running down my forehead.
He didn't have to tell me any more. On her first day at the Academy, Zelda had told me that she picked up her hidden brother's books. If she had kept that habit, she would have known the Academy's protocol.
She was there.
I shouldn't have contacted her! Shit!
I looked down the hall, trying to locate me. We were close to the principal's office. I needed to stay alive just long enough to get Zelda out of that place. I hurried into the room with Edward on my heels. I looked on the High Priest's bookshelf for the safe book he kept there. I opened the cover of the book and took the small vial in my hands.
‘Faustus, is that what I'm thinking?’ Edward asked. ‘If you take that, you'll die!’
I removed the cap from the vial and sighed when I saw the purple liquid. It was a potion that took all the pain out of the body. I could run, fight and cast as many spells as I wanted, even if I was on the edge. I just wouldn't feel it and it would kill me.
‘I will die anyway, Edward.’
I turned the contents in my mouth and swallowed the potion in one gulp. The analgesic effect was instantaneous. Now I could take some demons with me to hell.
‘So, Hilda, what did you see?’
She rose from the middle of the circle of candles that we placed in the room. Her face was pale and her eyes were wide.
‘Too much blood, Zelda,’ she murmured in a shaky voice. ‘But I heard Edward say they're alive.’
‘And Faustus?’ I asked feeling my heart beat faster.
‘He was with Edward. He seemed to have difficulty making some moves, but he was fine.’
I let out all the air in my lungs, relief running through my body. He was alive. Praise Satan!
I needed to think about how to help them. It wouldn't do any good to enter the Academy to become another target. First, I would need to undo the seal that the two made, make sure that no demons escaped, enter the Academy and reseal the seal. Then, create a trap taking advantage of my unexpected presence and try to banish all the remaining demons at once.
At that moment, I thanked myself for keeping the habit of stealing Edward's books and notes. I knew which spells to use to undo and reseal the Academy's seal.
I looked into the kitchen and walked over to Hilda's garden. I took a mandrake from one of the pots and put it in a bag. My sister looked at me confused.
‘In case you need a distraction,’ I explained, taking her hands. ‘Come on, Hilda. I will need your help for one more thing. Lanuae Magicae.’
The next instant, we were at the entrance to the Academy building. Hilda looked at me doubtfully, not knowing exactly what to do.
‘I will undo the seal, but I can't let any demons escape. So I need you to hold a protective spell up while I go in and rework the seal,’ I explained and she swallowed. ‘Understood?’
‘But, Zelda... I can't...’
I held her shoulders tightly, looking her in the eye.
‘Hilda, you are a Spellman! You can do anything you want!’ I encouraged her. ‘You can do it!’
She gave a small nervous smile, but I saw that she was a little more confident.
‘I'll do my best, Zelda.’
I smiled at her.
‘Start’ I asked.
‘Qui affecto protego mixtisque iubas serpentibus et posteris meis stirpiqu.’
She continued to chant the spell and I started the protocol to undo the seal.
‘Aeris spirituum sunt. Qui omnipotentiam notum omnibus praeter intum amet. Ingressum dimisit hanc fraudem incidi. Et clausum quia conprehensi.’ It was undone. ‘Lanuae Magicae!’
Soon I was inside the Academy's pentagon.
‘Ex spiritibus enim sie te aeris. Qui omnipotentiam tuam parcendo clavem ad. Ostium ligate Diabolum hunc! Hoc captionem et daemonium ab grandus cincinno.’ I redid the spell as quickly as possible.
The seal was restored. Now, it was time to put my plan into practice. Wasting no time, I ran to the conjuring room.
Edward and I ran around the Academy looking for Zelda. I could only hope to find her before the demons. If something happened to her, I would never forgive myself. She was there because of me.
I turned one of the corridors and saw Zelda standing in the middle of a pentagon. Relief washed over me and I quickened my pace to reach her. As I approached, I realized that something was wrong. When I walked through the door to the room, a demon grabbed Zelda from behind, holding her face with his hand without delicacy. Zelda's eyes were empty and she didn't show any reaction.
Another ten demons occupied the circumference, trapping Edward and me in the pentagon.
‘Now, warlocks... Undo the spell that holds us here or we will kill this witch that seems so valuable to you,’ the demon that held Zelda spoke.
I shot a look at Edward. He looked strangely calm. Why was he calm? Zelda could be killed!
‘Okay, demon. Hand her over and we’ll get out of your way,’ I tried to bargain.
The demon laughed in response.
‘You are in no position to negotiate, warlock.’
I watched out of the corner of my eye, Edward slowly walking away, walking backwards towards the wall. I frowned. Had he thought of something?
‘Faustus!’ Zelda's voice echoed in my mind and I looked at her, innate in the demon's hands. ‘It's not me! I need you to lean against the wall. Fast! In three, two...’
I ran towards the wall and pulled Edward with me. As soon as we touched the surface, all the demons seemed to be drawn towards the fake Zelda and the ground gave way. Everyone fell into the lower pentagon, coincidentally, in the conjuring room, right on top of the pentagram carved on the floor.
Zelda was in the corner of the room and was chanting the banishing spell.
‘Elementa mundi. Tene hoc chaos. Sanguinem terrae te dique perdant.’ me and Edward join in its charm. ‘Elementa mundi. Tene hoc chaos. Sanguinem terrae te dique perdant!’
The magic circle shone and the demons let out agonized screams before disappearing into the air.
It was done.
From the top floor, I saw, through the big hole in the floor, Zelda rubbing her forehead. She looked tired from the effort, but she was also relieved.
Before I could relax, I felt another presence approach us at high speed. The being passed me and Edward so quickly that we didn't even see him, we just felt the displacement of air messing up our hair. He flew towards Zelda, ready to attack her. She was distracted and would be easily reached.
Zelda's gaze lifted to the demon and I saw the surprise on her face.
I raised my hand in his direction and simulated a squeeze. The demon stopped his advance, writhing in the air, just inches from Zelda.
‘I, Faustus Blackwood, son of the night, evoke the fire of the abyss!’
In the next second, the demon was enveloped in blue flames.
‘Ater ignus, fusce fume. Te evoco ut potentium tuam monstres. Cuppidibus flammis hic veni. Caelo sub isto, harc arborem consumo. Lucem tenebrasque tuas monstra.Impetuum tuum evoco ad devorandum. Hanc arborem ac omnes hospitas devora.’
An excruciating scream echoed through the pentagon as it ignited in a huge ball of fire. Soon, the flames went out, taking the existence of the infernal being with it.
I blew out a breath, trying to recover from the overuse of magic. It was the most powerful and exhausting spell I knew. But I would use it again if it was necessary to protect Zelda.
I let my eyes go to her and she looked back at me. As opposed to relief, I saw her frown and her face looked concerned.
I tried to run to her, but my feet didn’t obey me. My body felt stuck. I struggled with petrification and forced my legs to keep moving, walking down the steps to the bottom floor. My feet dragged and I needed to hold on to the rail to leverage my body forward.
I looked down. There was so little left.
I could already hear her voice echoing. Her light laugh filled my heart and flooded my mind with euphoria.
However, I was so out of my mind that I could not say with certainty whether her words came from the conjuring room or if they existed only in my memory.
But it didn't matter, for her, everything was worth.
Lowering my head turned out to be a stupid idea when my vision started to cloud and the voice that I so dearly cherished became distant, almost extinct. I held on to the rail with all the strength I had, which was not much.
Against my will, I stopped to breathe. A hook in the chest made me squirm. I didn't need to look at the place to know that my blood was already coloring my clothes and spreading across the floor I stepped on, forming a scarlet trail. Beautiful and funereal.
I squeezed the wound, ignoring the thick liquid that was taking my fingers. I begged my body to hold on until I reached my goal.
I hoisted my body up again with all my strength and threw my feet against the bottom steps. Getting to the bottom level was such a relief. I dragged myself to the door of the living room, ajar, seeking support in anything I encountered along the way.
Her voice was so clear now that I felt tears reach my eyes. It was a great regret that I didn't have the strength to use words. All I wanted to do was scream her name. Over and over again.
So, the door was in front of me and only it separated me from my final destination. I reached out to take the door handle and... with a crash, the world went black.
I had failed. It was what my mind said.
I was so close and... I had failed miserably.
The silence came and I imagined that it would be my companion for eternity. But I was wrong. Through the pitch, a whisper sounded far away. I thought it was a trick played by my mind. However, her voice was insistent, calling my name over and over.
Oh... how adorable he sounded when spoken by her lips.
Was this the hell they had promised me?
I forced my eyelids to open when I felt a contact with my chest and a sweet scent invaded my lungs. The first glimpse that blurred vision allowed me, filled my chest with euphoria. The red hair spread over my chest, while her head rested on my heart.
If she could hear mine, for Satan, I could feel hers. Fast, accelerated... Perfect. It was the most beautiful sound in the world; her heart beating.
‘Look at me,’ I asked with the strength I had left.
It was just what I wanted. Everything I needed.
She was startled by my precarious and failing voice, but she raised her head and looked deep into my eyes, as if it were the last time she would do it.
For me, the feeling that took me was the same as the first time I saw them.
It was her initiation. She had turned her face towards me and I held my breath when I saw her eyes. They were green in a way that I had never seen before.
More beautiful than the dew-covered fields on a spring morning. Deeper than the limits of the seven seas. Truer than promises could be.
Intense. Hopeful. Gentle.
In a tone that no one else in the world deserved to possess.
In that single instant, there was no doubt; one look from her had justified my whole existence.
Immersed in the greenish immensity, from which tears welled up, I was happy. Everything I needed was there, right in front of me.
I wished to memorize every millimeter of its features; the pink tone of her lips, the delicacy of her porcelain skin, the softness of her hair, her sweet smile, her velvety voice, her perfume and oh... her eyes.
If immortality had a color, it would have the tone of her eyes. Because when they closed and their shine died out, there would be no reason to live forever.
Lucky for me, I wouldn't live to see that day.
I just wanted to admire her longer. But I knew that I had already taken all the time I had left.
‘Zelda, I... I...'
Tears streamed down her face without reservation and she placed a long kiss on my lips.
‘Don't say anything that you would only say because we are in this situation,’ she whispered in a choked voice. ‘Say after I save your life.’
Her hands, covered with my blood, took my face and I smiled in her funeral sadness. There was no more pain. Why would there be? If I died now, I would die happy. In the arms of the woman I loved.
I got to see her before the end and it made all the difference.
His eyes never opened again and despair came over me. He couldn't die. He could not.
‘FAUSTUS!’ I shouted desperately.
I looked around. What could I do?
I spotted the mandrake, which I had used to create my clone, left a few meters from where I was. If I could use it in an enchantment to transfer my powers to her, could I pass the poison from Faustus's body?
I concentrated on a summoning spell and the mandrake flew into my hands. I lifted Faustus's shirt to assess his wound and much of his chest was black. The poison was almost reaching his heart. I put one hand on his wound and the other on the mandrake. ‘
Et radix vester esset figure, Et idem est intus. Quod est venenum occidit animam absorbet et radix,’ I whispered the spell.
I was the mediator between Faustus and the mandrake, so the poison needed to pass through me to get out of the warlock's body. The palms of my hands burned and I felt uneasiness go over every inch of my skin, but I ignored the pain. I would save Faustus, at any cost, even if it was the last thing I did.
‘Zelda! What are you doing?’ Edward's voice echoed through the pentagon. ‘Stop it now!’
I shot him a fierce look.
‘I'm saving his life! Ask me what you want, Edward, less to let him die.’
‘You will kill yourself!’ He shouted, approaching me.
In fact, the spell would end up killing me if I didn't have enough power to perform it. My body would be consumed by the hellish poison.
I prayed that Satan would help me save Faustus.
‘If my life is the price for his, I'm willing to pay.’
It stopped him from walking to try to stop me. Amazement took on his features.
Before Edward said anything, the time around me stopped. My brother was petrified.
What the hell?
The scent of sulfur entered my lungs and I looked away, finding the Dark Lord standing six feets away.
‘Do you offer me your life in exchange for enough power to save the life of Blackwood, daughter of night?’
I nodded vehemently, feeling a tear run down my face.
‘Yes, my Lord.’
‘You forget, child, that your soul already belongs to me. So I see no reason to seal a deal...’
‘Tell me your price!’ I shouted at the height of despair. ‘I will do what you want, my Lord, just ask.’
A breath of air escaped through his nostrils.
‘I will give you enough power to save him, daughter of night. But in return, I demand your free will.’
‘My free will...’
I would no longer be able to act as I wished...
‘I demand your free will, your right to choose, and complete control over your soul, body, actions and feelings, only once.’
‘Only once?’ I asked to make sure.
There was nothing to think about. It was a meager price in comparison to Faustus's life.
‘I take the deal, my Lord.’
He nodded and raised a hand in the air. A burning on my back made me bend over and take my hands to the spot. I pulled on my shirt to see what it was about and found three red marks on my skin. I had heard of it; it was the devil's claw. The mark of Satan's dominion over me and a reminder of my debt to him. It soon disappeared from my skin, but I knew it was embedded in my soul.
In the next instant, he disappeared. Then, time went on again and Edward let out a breath.
‘Do you love him, Zelda?’
I let my gaze run to Faustus and relief washed over me. The blackness that took over his chest regressed, while the mandrake darkened. The spell was working.
‘Yes...’ I whispered. ‘I love Faustus.’