Chapter 1: The Letter
I'm going to try and update this ever weekday, so hopefully I'll get this posted pretty regularly.
Cassandra's heart ached as tears rolled down herporcelain face, hot April sun shined down on the redhead but she noticed not. Before her buried deep in the dark earth was her father, Doctor Robert Cillian, soil piled high and fresh; only a few feet to his left lay her Mother who'd died two years previous. Alone, Cassandra was all alone in the world now, just a girl of eighteen with no family and very few friends; it wasn't that she didn't want friends just that everyone seemed to innately know she was different. She was scared. Reverend Carson had given her father – Salem's doctor – a wonderful service for which she was grateful, Flynn Carson and his wife, Eve, were good people and on the very short list of Cassandra's friends. Eve would no doubt keep a close eye on her as was the blonde woman's way, naturally protective and kind.
No matter how much she wanted to remain by her father's grave side she couldn't sit there forever, especially dressed in all black under such smouldering sun. Remaining any longer would only set the gossiping tongues of Salem wagging, gossiping was a sin and yet it didn't seem to stop them.
Determined to keep her head high Cassandra made her way home. Her family's house – well, her house now – was a dark blue color and stood out against the other dark brown and black wooden structures that made up the town of Salem, large up easily hidden by the thick woodland that surrounded them on all sides save for one that lead to the ocean, fishermen could be seen hard at work out on the bay.
The Cillian family wasn't excessively rich but since her father had been Salem's doctor they were certainly better off than those that lived in Kocker's Hole; the whorehouse was down there too. Easily she made her way across the market square, past the ever present gallows, into her home and removed her black bonnet, it seemed too quiet without the sound of her father or Nathaniel moving around in her father's office. She set it down on the dining table and sat at her father's sturdy but worn chair. Nathaniel had been the Cillian family slave but the man had never been treated as one, she'd grown up knowing Nathaniel as more of an Uncle than anything else. Her father had always been asking the dark-skinned man's opinion and they had eaten together as a family; much to her mother's annoyance. Nathaniel had been with her father out in the woods gathering herbs for his medicines when the savage animal had attacked and his body was yet to be found, Cassandra doubted it ever would be, to Salem he was just a slave and not worth looking for. She'd never see either of them again, never have her father smile at her or let her aid his work. Never go blackberry picking with Nathaniel again. Never be hugged by her father or smell his scent and that knowledge bough her tears back. They rolled down her cheeks like two dying rivers, her face turned red and slowly her eyes started to sting.
After some time Cassandra managed to get a hold of herself, her father had always taught her to be strong and brave, she was determined not to let him down. Robert had made sure she could control her emotions, she'd thought it strange growing up but she'd never questioned him. With a deep breath Cassandra dried her eyes on the back of her hand and rose to her feet to make tea, the hot liquid would help calm her body and her late father had believed tea could cure just about anything. Floorboards creaked slightly as she made her way to the dark wood kitchen to fill the kettle with water before setting it to boil over the fire. Deep breaths were all she could do to prevent the tears returning, soon enough the kettle had boiled and she carefully poured hot water into the white teapot and added the leaves generously. Cassandra set it down on a silver tray that had been handed down on her mother's side of the family for generations along with a china cup and tiny jug of milk then carried it through to the dining table where she had left her bonnet. Just as she set the tray down there was a sudden gust of wind that Cassandra could not explain, none of the windows were open, her cerulean eyes glanced around the simple but eloquent room yet nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. Suddenly her dazzling blue eyes found a small white envelope rested against her bonnet, it was addressed to her in her father's hand and had most certainly not been there when she'd come home. Cautiously she sat down and opened the letter, curiosity overtaking her concern that someone might have let themselves into her home, not that there was anywhere they could have hidden without Cassandra seeing or hearing them.
My darling Cassandra,
If you are reading this then I am gone. I hoped you would never have to find out this way but if I am gone and this letter has come to you then I died before the right moment to tell you came. I am so sorry for this, my child. Please know I love you and I never meant to keep it from you so long but Salem is a dangerous place for our kind. I only wished for you to be safe. You safe is all I have ever wanted.
I know this is hard for you to believe, daughter, had I not been raised knowing I would not believe either. I assure you all this is true, Cassandra. We are not like the rest of Salem, or indeed any Puritans, we are not entirely human. We are witches, you and I, just as my parents and their parents were. You Mother never knew, she would not have understood and believed us corrupted by the Devil himself. We might not be completely human but we are certainly not monsters or the Devil's servants. When I sailed from England to Salem I vowed to limit my magical use to only aiding those that would not heal with only my skills as a doctor, Nathaniel helped me hide it from everyone, including you. If I am gone Nathaniel is too, he and I shared a bond that can only be broken by death, he lives but you will never see him again. Nathaniel wasn't like us but nor was he human. I am so sorry to leave you alone in the world, my girl.
In times of great grief your magic comes to the surface because it is emotion based, I have been their to limit your power in the past but I cannot do it any more, I cannot keep you hidden, and so you must learn to control it for yourself. I hate that I have kept all this a secret from you but I believed it kinder to let you be like everyone else rather than living in fear of being discovered for what you really are, a True Witch. I experienced that fear my entire life and it is something I never wanted you to experience.
Cassandra's tears came forth a new, she'd always known she was different to everyone else, known there was something but she'd never had a name for it. Was this some cruel joke or was that difference really witchcraft? It actually all made sense. Her red eyes continued to read.
Cassandra, my darling girl, there is one thing you must know beyond all else and you must never forget it. Not even for a single moment because it could lead to your death. There are several witches in Salem, but not all can be trusted. Some would plot your destruction simply because they could. To satisfy their dark humour. Do not...
A knock came at the door, a sharprap of knuckles against the dark wooden front door that brought her thoughts away from her father's letter and back to the real world. Quickly she dried her eyes again and went to answer it.
Morgan Le Fay, the widow of Salem's last Magistrate, though her husband was long since dead she still had great sway over the people of Salem; much more than any woman should have had if the Selectmen were to be believed. No one could deny Morgan's beauty, short curly red hair never out of place and skin the color of milk, bright eyes and a sharp smile. Her dress was a pale green color most of which had been hidden under her long brown cloak. Morgan radiated authority and power, she was what every woman in Salem aspired to be.
“Hello, Miss Cillian.” Began the older woman with a look of sympathy. “I wanted to check on you during this hard time. Might I come in?”
“Of course, please.” Cassandra stepped aside to allow Morgan into her home before retrieving the tea tray. “I'll make a fresh pot of tea.”
The remaining water in the kettle was still hot so it didn't take long reboil it and bring the tray back through to the dining room. There she found Morgan reading the letter form her father, suddenly there was a great crash and only after hot tea splashed against her dress did Cassandra realise she'd dropped her mother's silver tray, china cups shattered on the floor into tiny shards and hot tea soaked into the patterned rug.
“Em... I … It's not what it looks like, I can explain. It's-”
Morgan cut the younger woman's blathering off with a raised hand, that smile still coated her face while Cassandra's eyes had gone wide with horror and panic. Morgan knew, knew what she was, something that Cassandra herself hadn't known until a few minutes ago. Salem took pride in killing witches, she'd be next, she was going to be hung or burnt.
“You're not alone, Cassandra.” The red-head’s mind grounded to a halt, a pause in her panic, blue orbs looked up to Morgan's own, wide and in disbelief. “Your father speaks of other witches in Salem and Robert is right, there are. I am one of them. You have nothing to fear from me, Cassandra.”
The younger woman couldn't quiet believe what she was hearing but her heart did calm somewhat in her chest.
“You are a witch?”
“Yes, Cassandra, I am. However, I prefer Sorceress, witch carries too much gender baggage. Robert is also correct that you need to learn to control what you are, Salem is not too friendly to our kind. I shall teach you about our craft, how to remain out of suspicion, it is the least I can do for you.”
Partly out of shock and partly out of fear of her own unknown power Cassandra thanked the older woman and accepted her aid, maybe she wasn't alone in this world after all. With a simple wave of Morgan's gloved hand the shattered tea tray gathered itself up and came to rest on the dining table, gone was the puddle of cooling tea on the floor as well as her dress and there wasn't even a faint line where the cracks had been on the crockery, Cassandra gasped.
“Oh that is just a parlour trick compared to what we are truly capable of, my dear.” Chuckled Morgan. “Come to my home tomorrow at noon, I'll tell you what you need to know and soon you'll be doing whatever you wish with nothing more than a thought.”
“I will, thank you, Missus Le Fay.”
The smile never fell form Morgan's face as she left Cassandra alone with her thoughts, she gathered the letter back into her hands and could have sworn there had been more after his warning that some witches couldn't be trusted but instead she just found his name signed at the bottom.
There was part of her that still thought this was all some cruel joke, but when she truly thought about it Cassandra could remember strange occurrences when her mother died. Doors and windows had opened randomly as she cried, the fire had even burst to life but her father had always explained it away and calmed her down. It had to be real, no trick could have repaired her tea cups and cleaned the liquid from her dress. She didn't want to think it true but it explained so much though her eighteen years, in the back of her head was a voice that told her to believe, that said her father's words were all heartfelt and true. Witches did exist... and Cassandra was one of them.
Chapter 2: Wolf Of The Woods
Cassandra had hardly slept all night, she just lay there in bed waiting for the sun to come up, she was filled with excitement and trepidation for what Morgan would teach her, for what she was capable of. Everything had happened so fast, she'd been a normal Puritan girl a day ago and now she was learning how to be a witch from one of the most powerful women in Salem, the rug had been pulled out from under her and Cassandra didn't know if she could stay upright. When the sun finally flashed through her bedroom window Cassandra rose from her bed to dress in one of her long black dresses, it was overly hot in the April sun but she was in mourning for her father, there would be a scandal if she left mourning so soon, not that she wanted to. The dress wasn't anything special, it had belonged to her mother when she'd been a girl, Cassandra had always been closer to her father than her mother and knowing what she did now the redhead couldn't help but wonder if it was because of the secret their shared.
She read the letter several more times over breakfast, almost as though the words would have changed between reads but each and every time it continued to state she and her father were witches. I must hide this, she thought once breakfast had been cleaned away, if anyone found it they'd have her up on the gallows before she could say a word so she quickly went to her bedroom and hid the letter under the loose floorboard beside her night table; she'd gotten lucky with Missus Le Fey but doubted she would be again. Forcing herself to focus on something other than magic Cassandra busied herself with tidying her father's study – he'd never been the tidiest of men – he had a great deal of books and artefacts from other cultures much like the Minister, Flynn Carson, which was probably why they'd been on such good terms. Robert had taught his daughter to read and write from a very early age and made sure she knew everything he did about the human body, her Mother had always been against such teaching since a girl shouldn't have done men's work but once her father had explained that he could teach Cassandra to be a midwife she'd calmed down somewhat. Robert had never finished his daughter's schooling in the medical art but old Missus Jamieson had turned young Cassandra into a skilled midwife in training.
When noon approached Cassandra slipped her bonnet over her long red hair and put on her cloak then made her way through the town to Morgan's home that lay on the edge of Salem beside the woods. As she crossed the square she could see a woman whose name she didn't know being branded on the forehead with an A, forever marking her as an adulterer, it had drawn a healthy sized crowd and Cassandra hated how her fellow towns folk claimed to be good people but congregated when pain was to be inflicted on others. They'd cut the woman's long auburn hair off and stripped her down to her underclothes to humiliate the poor woman, some even cheered as she screamed. There was nothing Cassandra could do for the poor woman, interfering would only land her in the stocks to be shamed as well, the redhead refused to watch though as though it were some kind of entertainment, she'd take no enjoyment from this woman's pain.
Due to the sceptical there were very few people in the streets as she made her way to Missus Le Fey's home, almost larger than any other in Salem and made of strong dark wood. The house alone had her in awe and just like the widow that lived there it radiated authority and power. Despite its grand size Cassandra still perfected her own across from the gallows, her father had built it with his own hands – and probably some magic as well – love had gone into the construction of that home but she couldn't sense any in Morgan's.
With a deep breath Cassandra knocked on the door, loud enough to be heard but soft enough not to appear demanding or over eager. A few seconds went by before a slave girl about the same age as herself answered the door.
“I'm here to see, Missus Le Fey.” Said Cassandra politely in a gentle voice with a soft smile.
“Of course, Miss. The Mistress is expecting you.”
The redhead stepped inside and glanced around quickly as the slave girl took her cloak and bonnet, the house was not what one would expect of a Puritan woman, art hung on the walls and bright colors littered the whole building. There were sculptures and beauty everywhere. Suddenly something descending the stairs caught her dazzling blue eyes and Cassandra looked over to find Morgan smiling down at her.
“Hello, Cassandra.” She greeted presently. “You're right on time. Come with me.”
Morgan held out her arm and Cassandra quickly rose up the stairs to take her hand, warm and smoother than a woman her age should have had. Slowly the young witch allowed Morgan to guide her through the house and up into her bedroom at the back of the house . The door closed untouched behind them and she found herself mighty puzzled. Morgan seemed to sense Cassandra's concern.
“Do not worry, my dear, all is well.”
That smile never seemed to fade from Morgan's lips and frankly it had started to concern Cassandra, almost as though there was something else hiding behind it. Still she watched and waited for the more experienced witch to show her the secrets of the craft. Morgan brought her over to a wall void of decoration and plucked a small pin from her hair which she used to prick her finger, blue orbs watched as Morgan drew a line on the wall in her own crimson ichor and then knocked thrice on the deep green paint, almost instantly the wall faded away as though it had never been there and revealed a staircase that spiralled downwards.
“Come.” Said Morgan again then grabbed Cassandra's hand.
T hey descended deep down and one by one wall sconces burst to life granting light and much needed warmth. The stairs t ravelled much deeper than the redhead had expected and she wondered if they were even still in Salem, just when she was about to ask how deep they were going a door came into view, large and pointed at the top with strange carved symbols. Without a word Morgan turned the handle and stepped aside for Cassandra to enter first. The room was a good size with no windows just grey stone walls lined with flaming torches and wooden supports in each corner, there were several desks pressed up against the walls covered over with potion vials and papers that held symbols Cassandra had never seen before yet were somehow familiar to her . Herbs hung from the rafters in little bundles and books rested on high bookshelves without a single speck of dust. One wall was entirely taken up by a large fireplace that lit the second they entered the room, every inch of the room had her in a sense of awe.
“It is a lot to take in, I know.” Morgan said as she paced the room, fingers scraped over some of the tables. “When I first started to practice I could not quite believe it myself.” There was single moment of silence before the older witch started explain. “Magic is about emotion and only by having control over our emotions can we gain power. The Puritans out there think we serve the Devil but they are wrong as usual. We serve ourselves, we are our own rulers. Potions, hexes, spells of all kinds, I can teach you to conquer them all but there is something that must be done first, something all witches must do.”
Cassandra said nothing, just waited patiently as Morgan perused her bookshelves in search of a specific tome, the room grew warm as the fire's heat continued to radiate, it's light bounced off the grey stone giving the room an almost supernatural glow, I wonder if that was intentional . Without warning a large book bound in jet black leather was thrust into her arms, heavy and without identifying feature save for the bronze locks keeping it closed but not locked.
“What is this?” Cassandra asked curiously as she flicked through the mass of blank pages.
“Some call it a Book of Shadows but I prefer Grimoire. It is to be your diary, the place you keep all your secrets as a Sorceress and your experiments. This is where you write your journey through the world of magic.” Morgan paused to watch the younger witch close the book and pull it tight to her chest. “There is one thing you must do though, one thing all witches must do. When you are home and all alone you must sign your name on the first page of this book, sign it in blood, your blood. If you do not the Grimoire is just a book that anyone can read, it has to be bound to you and only you. Once you have done this you will gain your familiar.”
“Familiar?” Questioned Cassandra with a furrowed brow.
“Yes, my dear, familiar.”
Morgan strode towards a small glass box lined in gold opposite the fireplace from which she took a large toad. She stroked it's slimy head tenderly as though it were a newborn kitten.
“This,” She held the toad up for Cassandra to see. “is my familiar and he serves no one but me, pure loyalty. A gift to aid us in our craft. You will only get one once you have signed your name.” The toad croaked and Morgan quickly set it back into its glass bed. “I cannot teach you to use your magic until you have gained your familiar, you must sign, you must write.”
“I will.” Said Cassandra softly as her eyes glanced down to the book still held close to her chest. “I'll sign.”
“Good. Once you have you'll be well on your way to greatness. Go now, sweet girl, begin your journey. Take a few days to grow used to your familiar.”
Cassandra didn't especially want greatness, she just wanted to understand and learn to control the tidal wave of magic she could now feel inside herself. Still she did as Morgan said and left with her new Grimoire. To the untrained eye it appeared nothing more than a book, a large one yes but still only a book, Cassandra knew the truth though, it was to be something very powerful. Something she had to keep hidden.
Slowly she made her way back through Salem's market and the young Miss Cillian purchased several vegetables and some fresh bread with the intention of making a meaty stew for her evening meal, Robert had loved his daughter's cooking. If she'd not sat a plate in front of him he would have forgotten to eat most days. After everything that had happened in the last week she needed some sense of normality, something boring and mundane. The streets were crowded now that the branding was over, a plethora of Puritans going about their daily lives, shopping and engaging in conversational niceties. Children ran through the streets playing and giggling and men slipped off towards the brothel in Knocker's Hole as nonchalantly as possible. Cassandra had always felt she was separate to the rest of Salem's people but she'd never expected it to be magic, strangely it was nice to know what it was even if it would more than likely get her killed.
The redhead had just started to slip off into her thoughts when a young man around her age with dark spiky hair bumped into her, he muttered a sorry mate over his shoulder as he continued on down the street. Seconds later she realised her coin purse was gone, he'd taken it, Cassandra came to a stop and looked back into the crowd but she couldn't see him anywhere. Most would yell and beg for someone to race after him but Cassandra had seen the young man – Ezekiel, she thought his name was – around Salem several times before, he lived on the streets and stole what he needed to survive; he needed the money in her purse more than she did. Also, if she did call out and he was caught Ezekiel's punishment would have been severe, brands and blood.
Soon enough she was back home and preparing dinner, vegetables were chopped evenly before being popped into a pot to soften while Cassandra set about dicing up beef. Once it was all in one big pot she left it over the fire to thicken, there was far too much for just her but Cassandra supposed she'd need to teach herself to measure enough for one rather than two.
The parlour was where she'd left her Grimoire and Cassandra sat down at the table with a quill and a sharp silver pin while dinner cooked . The book was easily a thousand blank pages possibly more and still had that brand new scent to it. Cassandra knew she'd sign it, there was far too much curiosity in her not to, however if she did she'd commit herself to being a witch for the rest of her life. Carefully Cassandra opened the Grimoire to the very first page and just looked at it for a moment, off white and blank. Just because I have magic doesn't mean I'm evil, I can use my power for good like my father. He helped people, I can too.
The eighteen year old picked up the little silver pin and pricked her left index finger, it stung but she ignored that small spark of pain as red came forth in a small pearl. A few drops drip, drip, dripped onto the page and then she dunked her quill into the blood drawing it upwards and wrote out her name in her neat handwriting.
Cassandra wasn't exactly sure what she'd expected, maybe a sudden burst of smoke that faded away leaving behind her familiar or maybe a strange box to just appear beside her as her father's letter had . She didn't know, but she'd certainly not expected nothing ness , For a time she just sat there with blue eyes glancing around the room in desperate search of something new but still nothing happened, even after the blood had dried Cassandra was alone. Had she done something wrong? No, she couldn't have, Morgan had said just to sign her name in blood and Cassandra had done exactly that. Cassandra Cillian, that was her name written in her own crimson blood, nothing could have gone wrong.
Later when she'd finished dinner and had indulged in a few hours of reading Cassandra was still familiar-less. Eventually, when the sun had long set, she gave up and went upstairs to change into her nightdress before clambering into bed and blowing out the candle. The book lay on her night table, something in the back of her mind told her to keep it close and with the importance Morgan had placed on it Cassandra wasn't about to let the Grimoire out of her sight. Maybe she'd wake the next morning to find a toad sat upon it.
Sleep took Cassandra easily, despite having done nothing overly taxing she was still worn out; excitement and trepidation had probably caused it. She didn't usually dream, or at least she never remembered them, but that night she found herself in the dark woods.
The silvery moon hung high in the sky without a single cloud in sight, wind danced through the trees around her and Cassandra felt at total ease, in fact she felt safe which was strange for such a dangerous place. One thing was for certain, Cassandra wasn't alone in that forest, something far off watched her, circled her, but there was nothing malevolent to it; if anything it was comforting. Blue orbs glanced around the thick trees quickly searching for whatever watched her but failed to find anything.
“Hello?” She called out but no response came. “Hello?”
Suddenly a twig snapped a few feet behind her and the redhead spun around, there was nothing there save for trees and air. Just as she was about to glance away two eyes came into view, only the eyes, nothing more. They were low to the ground like an animal's would be however, they didn't look animalistic, the orbs were a green-hazel color and had immense intelligence to them.
A powerful gust of air hit her and Cassandra started awake, she blinked rapidly in the darkness but grounded to a halt when she saw a gargantuan white wolf stood at the bottom of her bed. The redhead yelped and shuffled back against her headboard even though it would do little to help her if this wild animal chose to attack. Her heart pounded in her chest. Babum! Babum! Babum! Her eyes went wide as dinner plates, she had no idea how it had gotten into her house let alone into her bedroom without her noticing; wolves never came into Salem. Slowly the creature took a few steps towards her and Cassandra backed up further, then something strange happened, the wolf stepped backwards again as though attempting to calm her. She raised an eyebrow at that, wolves didn't back away from scared helpless prey. Her heart rate slowed a little and the teenager found the courage to really look at this white wolf, its eyes, green-hazel just like in her dream. This was no normal wolf.
“Are you... are you my familiar?” Asked Cassandra softly, she held out her hand and the wolf padded over to nuzzle it. That brought a smile to her pink lips. “You're not what I was expecting.”
The redhead patted the bed and let the wolf jump up where it quickly lay down with its head on her chest, it's breath tickled her neck. With the animal closer and clearly settled Cassandra ran her fingers through its long fur, she could see now that it was actually white dusted with grey. The creature seemed to like being petted and she could feel it calming as her fingers stroked through the fur on the top of its head. The wolf purred when she tickled behind its ears.
“Are you a boy or a girl?” Cassandra asked with a smile only for the wolf to flash her a look that said really? “Boy?”
The wolf barked. His fur was warm against her body and that feeling of being safe and protected only intensified the longer the two spent there on her bed.
“You're cute.” He didn't look to pleased at being called 'cute' but didn't object. “And I can't just call you 'wolf', you need a name, a real one for a fine upstanding gentlemen like yourself.”
He didn't make a single noise, just lay there with his head on her chest and those big green-hazel eyes looking up at her. Cassandra glanced around her room as she thought until she came across a book on her dresser, she'd taken it from her father's things a week ago. Puritans weren't supposed to have fairytales and such but Robert Cillian hadn't ever really played by the rules, the book was of old Arthurian legends. Tristan, her mind suggested but she dismissed it almost as quickly as it has appeared, her familiar didn't look like a Tristan. Lancelot? No, that wasn't just wasn't right. Then an idea burst forth in her mind.
“Galahad. Yes, that's it. Brave and noble Galahad.” He nuzzled into her neck and Cassandra took it as a sign he liked the name. “You can't just be Galahad though. I'm Cassandra Cillian you need to be Galahad something.” Another moment went by with the wolf watching her then she smiled again and tickled his nose. “Jenkins, Galahad Jenkins, that will be your name. Like it?” Galahad barked again which only made her grin and pull the creature closer. “Sleep now, Mister Jenkins, it's late and I didn't get much sleep last night.”
Galahad didn't object, just let the redhead snuggle him as she slipped off to sleep and used him as a giant fluffy blanket. She'd not expected a huge wolf but he was adorable and Cassandra had been dreading a toad; she hated those things.
Chapter 3: Blood Kiss
Sun shone in through Cassandra Cillian's bedroom window and woke her slowly, soft and gentle caresses that stroked along her cheeks to rouse her delicately. Rather than opening her eyes Cassandra instead indulged in a few moments of dozing while her fingers stroked through Galahad's white-grey fur, she could hear his soft breath so clearly he was still asleep and wouldn't mind being tickled like a little puppy. Slowly her tickles turned into strokes as she left his head and down his back. Fur gave way to smooth skin. That was when the redhead's eyes flew open to see a very naked man on his stomach asleep with his head rested on her chest, more specifically her cleavage. She screamed and pushed the white-haired man from her body starting him awake. His eyes blinked rapidly as he tried to focus on the world around him, suddenly he realised what was happening and held his hands out as non-threateningly as he was able; Cassandra averted her eyes from the naked man sat on her bed.
“It's alright, you're alright. I'm Galahad.” He told her in a deep and powerful tone.
Cassandra froze at that, her brow furrowed in confusion. Galahad? The wolf that had come to her during the night?
“You're the wolf?” She asked with her eyes firmly on his face avoiding the naked rest of him.
“Yes, I am. I must have changed in my sleep. I'm sorry, that doesn't normally happen. I had no intention of scaring you, Mistress.”
“Why are you naked?”
Jenkins chuckled. “Wolves do not usually wear clothes.” Well that answered that. “I can change back if you would be more comfortable. I am sorry, Mistress.”
“No!” She announced a little too quickly. “Wait here, I'll be back.”
Careful not to let her eyes wander over the older man she slipped from her bed and went to her father's room only to return a moment later with a pile of neatly folded clothes. When she held them out for him Jenkins seemed somewhat surprised.
“Here, you're taller than my father was but they should fit for now.”
He took the pile and set it in his lap to cover himself, it wasn't so much his nakedness that bother him it was that it bothered Cassandra.
“I shall be downstairs in the kitchen when you're dressed.”
With that the teenager was gone leaving Jenkins alone in her room to dress. She'd been right, he was a little too tall for the trousers she'd given him but the long off-white shirt hid that rather well. Jenkins' shoulders were a little too broad as well.
Cassandra couldn't help but smile when she saw him enter her kitchen, there wasn't a single inch out of him that looked out of place; almost as though he had lived in Salem for years. She couldn't deny he was handsome either.
“I'm glad they fit.” She said while setting a bowl down at the kitchen table. “Please, sit, eat.”
“Thank you, Mistress.”
Jenkins sat the small round table with his back to the door and pulled the bowl of porridge closer so as he could eat, it was nice to see him eat. The redhead returned to her teapot and poured him a cup, she added milk then set it down for him with a smile. For a time she just sat and watched as he ate, his back straight, she'd never seen a man look gentlemanly while eating before. Eventually her thoughts altered from his appearance to what he was, a Familiar, her Familiar.
“Go on, ask.” Jenkins didn't look up from his tea. “You clearly have questions so go ahead and ask them, Mistress.”
“Are your really my familiar?”
“Yes, of course.” He looked at her as though she were being ridiculous. With a breath Jenkins set his half drunk tea down and looked up at the young witch. “I am your familiar and as an Original Familiar – commonly referred to as just as Originals – I walk the line between human and animal.”
“Originals?” Cassandra's face grew puzzled. “That implies there's another kind.”
“There are two types of familiars, yes, my kind serve True Witches and the other - which we call Petties – serve the Soulless Witches. Petty Familiars only have an animal form and lack the same intellect that Originals have.”
“True? Soulless?” She was steadily growing more confused.
Jenkins took a breath. “Puritans believe everything to be black or white, one or the other, good or evil. In reality everything exists in a perpetual state of grey. True witches are born with their magic, it passes down in the blood from parent to child. That is what you are, what your father was. Originals only serve True Witches, that is the way it will always be. Then there are Soulless Witches who have sold their soul to the void in exchanged for their power, because they have no soul they quickly fall prey to evil. Your soul is intact so evil will find it far harder to get its claws on you.”
Knowing her soul was right where it should have been did wonders for that last shred of fear that hid away in the back of her mind. Cassandra opened her mouth to speak again but suddenly Jenkins hunched over in agony and let out a cry like a wounded wolf. She reached out to him but had no idea how to help. Was this me? Can he even eat human food? Jenkins hadn't protested but maybe he'd thought refusing would be rude.
“Are you alright, Jenkins?”
“No.” His voice was strained. “Part of me is... is still in the void because our bond hasn't been completed. You need to accept us as Mistress and Familiar.”
“How?” All Cassandra wanted in that moment was for his pain to end. “I signed the book.”
“No, that... that only showed your wiliness to practice your craft, it made you worthy of a familiar but you have not accepted me. Not fully.”
“Tell me what to do.” Concern filled her eyes.
“Bite your lip, make it bleed.”
“It's a mark of trust, you have to trust me.”
Cassandra nodded and knew that even after only a few hours of knowing him she trusted Jenkins and so she bit her lip until the stinging pain gave way to metallic blood. She could see him do the same and her curiosity bubbled to the surface again, Cassandra was just about to ask what was happening when suddenly his lips were against hers. It was chased but Cassandra could feel their blood mixing, then, without warning, it ended leaving her mind blank for a moment.
This time Cassandra didn’t question him she just obeyed and swallowed the mix of their blood, a rush of soothing warmth ran up her spine to the base of her skull. His lip healed as though the mark had never been there.
“Feel that warmth?” Asked Jenkins, his pain seemed to have just faded away and Cassandra would have been grateful for that had she not been focused on the fact he'd kissed her. The eighteen year old nodded. “That is me. I am a part of you now just as you are of me.” Jenkins shuffled forwards on his chair and took her hands in his. “We are bonded, by blood, by trust, and the name you have bestowed upon me. I will be by your side now until your last breath. I am your familiar, your protector, your companion and caretaker. I am yours, Mistress.”
Jenkins bowed his head a little which shocked Cassandra somewhat, when Morgan had told her about her toad Cassandra had never expected to end up with a tall and very handsome man pledging to remain with her for life. She took a moment to digest the information he'd given her, but Jenkins was patient and just sat there quietly with her until the world snapped back.
“I should dress, can't stay in my nightdress all day.” The redhead smiled and rose to her feet.
“Thank you for breakfast, Mistress. No one has ever cooked for me before.”
She didn't believe that. “Really?”
“Never. I don't actually need to eat so no one has ever offered me a meal. I've picked apples off trees and such but that is about it.”
Cassandra beamed. “Then you're lucky I like to cook, you'll be begging me not to sit bowls in front of you come the end of the week.”
With that she was gone, off to dress for another day in Salem. With Jenkins by her side Cassandra knew no harm would ever come to her, she was safe.
Chapter 4: The Magic Of Emotion
“Are you alright, Mistress?”
Was the first thing Jenkins asked when Cassandra returned to the kitchen from getting dressed, concern shone in his eyes. Her long black dress had a slight blue sheen to it and three-quarter sleeves, she liked it because the corset that particular dress actually made her look as though she had come cleavage rather than her usual flat chested appearance; she'd always been a little self-conscious of that.
“Hmm? Oh, yes, I'm fine. I've just been driven by excitement and a little bit of fear the last few days but I think that's starting to wear off and now I'm just tired.”
She sat down opposite him at the round kitchen table, he'd cleaned everything up from his breakfast, the place was practically spotless; it's nice to have a tidy man around the house. Galahad looked at her with such care, he'd truly meant it when he'd declared himself her protector.
“I apologise for scaring you last night, Mistress, however, we needed to have not only a physical bond but a mental one as well. That mental bond came from your dream.”
I have so much to learn, muttered the redhead's mind as she just looked at her familiar.
“You could have just introduced yourself, Mister Jenkins.” She told him with a gentle curve to her lips. Jenkins shook his head.
“No, I couldn't have, Mistress. Originals are not pets, we're... companions and protectors but because of our other form we can be frightening, look dangerous and savage to others, but you must trust me entirely. And you do.” Cassandra tilted her head a little, Galahad seemed to enjoy his long explanations and frankly she liked listening to his voice. “Out in the dark woods being circled by an unknown creature that might have lunged at any moment, what did you feel?”
Cassandra paused and found herself smiling.
“Safe,” she told him honestly. “I felt safe, Galahad.”
“Good. That is all any Original wants of their master or mistress.”
“If that's all you want from me I think I can manage that.” She rose to her feet to put out the fire and could hear people going about their morning. “I was told to take a few days for us to get used to one another, but now I'm thinking that if you are a man-” He cut her off with a grin and a sparkle in his green-hazel eyes.
“I assure you I am.”
Cassandra couldn't help but chuckle at that, most of the people she'd grown up with didn't have a very good sense of humour, sins and all that, but when it came to Galahad Jenkins she could tell he was going to be all sarcasm and quips. She continued.
“... a man all the time then we'll need to introduce you to Salem, otherwise tongues will wag about the doctor's daughter suddenly living with handsome older gentleman who is not her husband.”
“Well,” He stood as well and only then craning her neck to look at him did she realise just how tall he really was. “we wouldn't want to start a scandal now would we?”
“I think not. In fact, while we are out I'll get some cloth from the market and make you some better fitting clothes, a coat too.”
“I can remain in my wolf form if it would be easier for you, Mistress.” He offered but Cassandra was wholeheartedly against that idea.
“No, I like having you to talk to and if anyone were to see you as a wolf they'd likely try to kill you. I don't want that... and I like sewing.”
She could feel his eyes on her as she went to the door to get her cloak and bonnet from the peg and slipped them both on. She'd felt men's eyes on her before but where they had made her uncomfortable Jenkins' snuggled around her like an eternal protection. Once she was ready he offered her his arm which she quickly accepted and strode off to the market as though they belonged. Cassandra wasn't stupid she knew just about everyone they walked past quickly got to judging Jenkins and herself, it was in their hypocritical nature. Cassandra tried not to notice though, she only released her his arm to look through the cloth options set out before her, most was thick and either black or white – standard for the Puritans of Salem – but there were some other, more interesting spools of cloth blues and deep reds. Such cloth wouldn't be right for Jenkins' clothes though so she quickly set them down and only bought what she needed.
When Cassandra turned to link her arm with his she found him gone. Her cerulean orbs flashed around in search of him, I'd have thought it would have been easy to spot the tallest man in Salem. Eventually she came across Jenkins between two stalls on the opposite side of the street, he'd squatted down beside a young girl covered in dirt who could have been no more than nine. The child was underfed and clearly came from Knocker's Hole, possibly one of the prostitute's children. Cassandra didn't mean to stare, she just found herself watching the display before her, no one seemed to care or even notice the little blonde girl but Jenkins noticed. He smiled and said something the redhead couldn't hear over the crowded street but it must have been funny because the child grinned. From his pocket Jenkins pulled a shiny red apple and handed it to the blonde and for a moment Cassandra was confused, that certainly hadn't been there when she'd given him the clothes. I'm being stupid, he's a magical being. Of course he'd used magic, subtle but it was there, subtle and done out of the goodness of his heart. In that moment Cassandra knew she couldn't have wished for a better familiar. She could understand why her father had been so close to Nathaniel. Wait! Did Father have to kiss Nathaniel like I did with Galahad. The redhead set that thought aside when Jenkins rose to his full height and tucked a stray strand of oily blonde hair behind the little girl's ear. The little girl beamed up at the wolf before charging off towards Knocker's Hole with her ruby red apple. Cassandra could only smile as he returned to her side.
“I'm sorry if I kept you waiting, Miss Cillian.”
She'd not heard him use her name before he just called her mistress but she supposed it was because they were in public, she liked the way his voice made her name sound though, couldn't wait for him to use her given name.
“It's quite alright, Mister Jenkins. It was very kind of you to give her something to eat.”
“It was the least I could do, she was hungry.” He replied as though it were nothing.
Jenkins wasn't like anyone she'd ever met before. So many people had just walked past the little girl and most would have demanded she pay for the apple, Jenkins might have seen the gesture as simple and small but Cassandra knew it had great meaning and importance to herself and that little girl. Her wolf was a good man.
The redhead opened her mouth but it fell shut again when she saw Theophil Hale quickly approaching with one of those dangerous glints in his grey eyes. Cassandra took Jenkins' arm.
“Always.” She could tell that was a promise.
When Hale came to a halt beside them Cassandra almost burst out laughing, Jenkins dwarfed the man. Theophil Hale had taken over as Salem's Magistrate after the death of Accolon Le Fey and liked to lord his power over just about everyone he came into contact with. Though younger than Galahad at around fifty-five the years hadn't been kind to him, deep wrinkles around his eyes and yellowing had started to take over the corner of his eyes; Galahad is more handsome . Theophil drug his eyes over Cassandra's young body lecherously and it made her skin crawl.
“Good day, Miss Cillian.” Greeted the Magistrate with hunger in his eyes. “And to you Mister?”
“Jenkins. Galahad Jenkins.”
The Magistrate nodded to himself a little, clearly he didn't like the familiar.
“Theophil Hale, a pleasure. What brings you to our little Salem? And to young Miss Cillian here?”
He asked conversationally but Jenkins wasn't stupid he knew he was being interrogated, and Cassandra knew exactly why. He'd been after her since the age of fourteen but her father had shut down the Magistrate at every attempt. Robert Cillian was gone now though and no one stood between Cassandra and Theophil; no one except her wolf.
“Mister Jenkins was a friend of my late father,” She lied smoothly. “they trained together and were good friends.”
“I live in the Carolinas but once I heard about Robert's death I wanted to come and pay my respects and to help Miss Cillian through this awful time.” Jenkins used a tone that Cassandra suspected could make a man dying of thrust give up his last drop of water.
“And you didn't bring your wife and children?”
Jenkins raised a single eyebrow. Could this man be any more transparent? How has the Mistress not accidentally murdered him?
“Unfortunately I have none, I've never been blessed with marriage or a family.” Cassandra's heart twinged at that.
Sensing he wasn't going to get much more information from Cassandra and her wolf Theophil brought the conversation to an awkward end left them be; the redhead felt herself let out a sigh of relief. Jenkins didn't say a word as they continued through the market, just let her brush the incident aside and go back to shopping.
When they got back to Cassandra's home she set about gathering her sewing things and a tape measure then had her wolf stand with his arms out. She fluttered around him measuring just about every single inch of him.
“Well,” she began from her knees, the measuring tape held up against his leg. “I knew you were tall but from this I'd say you were about six-foot-five, that's unheard of in Salem.
“You say that as though it were a triumph.” He told her.
“It is. There's a shelf in the kitchen I can never reach, I'll have to make use of that height.” Jenkins chuckled. “Hold your arms out for me?”
Jenkins obeyed without a word and Cassandra stood up to measure his arms; here was something almost domestic about the action.
“I've been wondering,” said Cassandra. “are all Originals wolves? If so, how do you tell one another apart?”
Jenkins liked his Mistress' curiosity, few of his past masters had ever shown such interest in who and what he was.
“No, not all of us are wolves, in fact we can be just about any creature from the largest bear to the smallest mouse.” He replied.
“Do you know what Nathaniel was? I'm assuming he was my father's familiar considering how close they were and my father's letter.” Done with her measuring she set to cutting out the sections of fabric.
“He was, yes. Had been since Robert was a child.”
“You knew Nathaniel?” She asked curiously.
The white-haired man shook his head. “No, regrettably not.” He slipped into that explanation tone of his. “Familiars are naturally protective so can end up being aggressive towards other familiars and their witches. When we shared our blood I got a sense of other witches that you share your blood with, your father, and along with him I got a sense of Nathaniel. It's a method of counteracting our nature and preventing unneeded aggression.”
“That sounds more like science than magic.”
“Maybe they're one in the same. And to answer your question he was a fox.”
Cassandra's lips turned upwards as she set her scissors down.
"That seems fitting.” Nathaniel had always preferred to remain inconspicuous and cunning. “There was something else I couldn't help but wonder about.” She told him a little awkwardly. “Did my father have to kiss Nathaniel?”
It wasn't that she was overly offended or repulsed by that idea, it was more that she wanted to know if it was something that always happened at the start of a bond between familiar and witch or if he'd had alterer motives.
“Yes. It's just the way the bond is done, has been for as long as Originals and Witches have existed.” His lack of further elaboration suggested he didn't know why and had never really questioned it. “Are you alright, Mistress?”
She was stood looking at the fabric cut outs and sighed.
“This is going to take ages for me to sew, you're so tall.” She turned to lean against the wooden table. “Is everyone in your family like that?”
Jenkins paused. “I have no family.” Cassandra's heart dropped.
“Really? No parents? No siblings?”
“I wasn't born so no. Familiars just... come into existence, it's one of those questions no one seems to have an answer to and I'm not especially interested in why. I know my reason for living so why is the how important?”
“Isn't that lonely though?” She asked softly. “To have no one?”
There was another pause where Jenkins refused to look at her, there was sadness in his eyes and then suddenly it was gone, his eyes met hers. She just wanted to cuddle him in that moment.
“I have you, Mistress.”
Cassandra's heart twinged. Not only was he bound to protect her but actually cared about Cassandra. She'd worried him acting as her caretaker had just been an obligation but now she could see he actually wanted to be there, actually be by her side.
“Yes you do.” She confirmed with a gentle smile.
“You could use magic to finish all this faster if you'd prefer.”
Jenkins was changing the subject, that was utterly obvious but Cassandra didn't call him out on it, she wouldn't force him to continue on with a conversation that clearly upset him. Instead, she let him pick up the fabric cut outs and act as though half of their conversation hadn't happened.
“I don't know how, don't know any spells.” She told him honestly.
Jenkins breathed out a laugh. “You might not need one. True Witches are more powerful than the Soulless. Magic is emotion so for simple tasks you wouldn't need a spell. Here.” He rested his large hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him and away from the table. “Close your eyes.” She quickly obeyed. “Imagine the thread unspooling and working its way into the cloth, joining it together. Breathe deep. Can you see it, Mistress?” His voice was so gentle and Cassandra could feel his breath on her skin.
“Yes.” She answered in a whisper.
“How do you feel?”
“Good, focus on that. Many overlook it but content is an emotion. Don't let your mind turn from the cloth for a second.”
Jenkins went quiet after that and just let Cassandra concentrate, he didn't remove his hands though and the warmth she got from him helped to continue her content feeling. She took deep breaths and felt a tingle in her heart that soon spread out through her blood stream, there was something both powerful and daunting about it but not a single ounce of fear.
“Open your eyes, Mistress.”
Cerulean orbs fluttered open as Jenkins removed his hands, on the table was a stack of shirts, a coat and everything else a Puritan gentleman would have needed, everything was rumpled but looked well made.
“I did it!” She beamed and jumped to hug him tight, arms around his neck and a huge smile on her face.
“You did, Mistress.”
Jenkins didn't know how to react for a moment, he wasn't used to being hugged, but he didn't resist the redhead. After a moment of awkwardness the familiar snaked his arms around her waist. She smelt of roses. Just as quickly as she'd latched onto him she was gone, back to a respectable distance but she continued to beam.
“I just hope they still fit. Go and try them on?”
“Of course, thank you.”
“Just leave my father's things on my bed.”
Her wolf nodded then vanished off upstairs with an arm full of clothing. She made quick work of cleaning away her sewing things and then found herself drawn towards her father's study. It was a mess, always had been, Robert Cillian hadn't ever been known for his ability to clean up after himself. The doctor was gone now though. Cassandra refused to cry, instead, she started to gather up his mass of books.
Chapter 5: Needs And Windows
Jenkins padded down the stairs – almost completely silently as was his wolfish nature – after changing into the clothes Cassandra had made especially for him, they fitted perfectly and didn't pinch his shoulders as Robert's shirts had done. It wasn't hard to find his Mistress in her late father's study, she was all the way up the ladder at the bookshelf slowly slipping tomes onto the top shelf, th e re was something almost regal about it and Jenkins couldn't help but stare for a moment. Flowing red hair and smooth porcelain skin. He took a single step forwards and the board squeaked.
Cassandra startled at the sound and spun around but quickly lost her footing and went tumbling to the ground, she braced herself for impact but it never came, instead Cassandra found herself cradled in her wolf's strong arms. Her cerulean orbs sparkled up at him, Jenkins was so warm, she could feel his heat slipping through her dress and into her soul; every single inch of him put her at ease.
“I didn't mean to scare you.”
Only when he spoke did Cassandra realise she'd been staring up at him. She mentally shook herself.
“No, it's alright. I've always been clumsy. Thank you for catching me.” Cassandra smiled shyly.
“It is my duty to protect you... even from yourself.” He said in jest before setting her down softly on her feet almost as though she were made of glass.
“Probably best I stay off the ladder for a while, Galahad. I'll finish with my father's desk and then I might write in my Grimoire for the afternoon, apparently that's something I need to do.” She couldn't help but notice he looked powerful and authoritative in his few clothes, very handsome . “What will you be doing for the rest of the day?”
“Is there anything you require of me, Mistress?”
“No.” She answered honestly. “You could read if you like, my father had quite the collection as you can see.” Cassandra gestured to the wall to wall shelf before them. “Help yourself.”
If Jenkins was going to live with her she wanted him to feel comfortable, wanted him to feel at home in her house rather than constantly believing he was nothing more than a guest. It was his home too.
He seemed pleased to have access to books of all kinds, Jenkins looked like the sort that treasured books and Cassandra was pleased to see she'd been right.
“I will, thank you.”
The redhead spied him out of the corner of her eye as he perused the large hardwood bookshelf while she cleaned the old ink stain from Robert's desk, he picked up a few tomes and flipped through their pages before setting them back down, eventually Jenkins decided on one bound in a dark red-black leather and settled down in the armchair by the fireplace at the far end of her father's study. Every movement Jenkins made was calculated and radiated power, if that was intended for merely a by-product of his wolfish nature Cassandra didn't know and in all honesty she didn't care, Jenkins was Jenkins and she liked him that way.
The ink stain proved difficult but eventually Cassandra managed to get it off the large oak desk and by the time she'd fished cleaning the study looked very different, Papers and books no longer littered the floor and every available surface. She'd got no idea what would become of the room without her father constantly working. Maybe Jenkins would like it? I could see him in here reading most nights. Quickly the teenager realised she couldn't simply stand there and stare at her wolf forever so she tore her eyes away and went into the parlour where she'd left her Grimoire that morning. For a brief moment she just stared at the pages, a rich scent combination of grassy notes with a tang of acid and just a faint hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness that she found soothed her mind. She didn't quite know what to write but Morgan hadn't said there was any set way to write in her Grimoire, it was to be her diary so surly she should treat it as such. With no set plan she dipped her quill into the small pot of dark sticky ink and then began to write.
I've only just begun my journey as a witch and find myself pausing to question myself on the smallest of things, I did not even know how to begin my first entry. I suppose I'll learn as time goes on though. I have only been a witch – well, known I am a witch – for a few days but already I think I've come to terms with what I am, It's nice to know, I think my body has always known what I am but my brain has had to wait eighteen year to catch up, it's a relief.
Morgan gave me this Grimoire and told me to sign my name in blood in order to bind it to me and to get a familiar. Cassandra Cillian, it's right there on the first page dry and crimson, I almost feel as though it's been there forever and I'm not entirely sure as to why. Morgan's familiar is a toad, I've not seen its human form, and my only fear when signing this book was that I would get one as well. I know it would have been more than just a toad but I hated the idea of that being my familiar, I've always hated toads, frogs as well, they're much too slimy and I don't like the negative connotation that comes with a witches toad. I had no need to worry though because I was blessed with a wolf, a beautiful and magnificent white wolf with bold eyes and a good heart.
He appeared to me in a dream at first and I saw his eyes before anything else, he instantly made me feel safe, even safer than my father ever made me feel and I cannot deny I have a sense of guilt about that but it doesn't make it any less true. When I woke up he that same wolf was at the bottom of my bed and even on all fours he managed to dominate the room, there was fear but it quickly gave way to that same calm when I realised who and what he was. That night I slept with his head on my chest, his fur was so soft and dusted with grey like something out of a story. And a story is where I got his name from, Morgan didn't tell me the name of her familiar but I think it's only right to provide him a name. Galahad Jenkins, Galahad because he's noble and brave and Jenkins because, well, there is no real reason I just like the name.
I don't really know what I'd been expecting of a familiar but a gargantuan wolf who turned into a naked man in his sleep was not it, looking back it was amusing though. He may appear to be an older gentleman but there is a huge amount of youth in his eyes that I think can rival my own, maybe it is his wolf nature. Beside eyes of youth he also has a large heart full of kindness, this morning I saw him feed a hungry child. Galahad didn't do it for thanks or to get into God's good graces but because it was the right thing to do, he seems to think it was nothing but I and that little girl know the truth.
Cassandra Cillian has officially performed her first magical act, with the help of Jenkins I managed to create some shirts, a new pants and a coat for him, I know it's simple and probably not that big a success in the grand scheme of things but it's more than I thought myself capable of. I could not have done it without Jenkins, he taught me it is all about emotion and I think with his guidance I could end up being a pretty decent witch.
It might not seem like it but I've been stopping and starting while writing this entry, I still need time to digest all I've discovered and on top of that I still mourn my father, he's only been gone for two weeks and until Jenkins came into my life I thought I would be alone in the world, he will not replace my father, no one could ever do that and I do not think Galahad wants to even try, but know I am not alone with him in my life. He says that he will be with me forever, that he's my caretaker and companion but I think I am as much his companion as he is mine. He seems as though he's been alone a long time and now that Galahad is with me I never want him to feel that again...
It had only just gone dark when Cassandra finally looked up from her Grimoire, it seemed she'd been writing a lot longer than she had believed. It was Jenkins that had pulled her attention from writing, he strode into the parlour, past her desk and went straight to the window that looked out towards the woods. Cassandra's eyebrow raised when he crouched down and stared through the window, the redhead was about to ask what he was doing when Jenkins suddenly rose to his feet and left the powder blue parlour. All very odd but Cassandra decided to ignore it. She went back to her Grimoire.
Speaking of Galahad, he just walked into my parlour, crouched and stared out a window, then left. I have no idea why but I get the feeling it will just be one of the strange things my familiar will do during my life with us bound together.
Once again Cassandra was pulled from her Grimoire as Jenkins walked straight back into the parlour opened the window and crouched down again. This time she had to ask.
“Jenkins, what are you doing?”
He rose to his full height. “Sorry, Mistress. I need to get to the woods and the window is the quickest and shortest route there.”
Cassandra's brow furrowed. “Why do you want to go to the woods?”
There was a pause where Jenkins tried to find the right words to explain.
“I don't want to go to the woods, it is a need.”
“A compulsion?” She asked cautiously.
“No.” Another pause, Jenkins took a deep breath. “Imagine if someone suddenly cut off all your hair, every single lock of that bold red just gone. You don't actually need it to to live, you're not going to die without it but it's part of you. It helps to make you, you.”
Cassandra grinned. “So you miss your fuzzy ears and tail?”
Jenkins sighed at her teasing but didn't actually seem annoyed.
“Yes, my fuzzy ears.”
That made her laugh. “Go on then, enjoy yourself.”
All thoughts of escaping to the woods seemed to leave him then as another thought took over.
“I can stay if you would prefer, Mistress.”
Cassandra shook her head. “No, it's fine. I'm sure our bond will tell you if anything happens and I don't want to take who you are from you. Go.”
“Thank you, Mistress.”
With that his clothes started to come off and Cassandra looked away quickly, it wasn't exactly like he was flaunting the fact he was undressing but the eighteen year old found herself hyper-aware of it. All she had to do was look back down to her Grimoire and she wouldn't have been able to see him even in her peripheral vision. Suddenly there was a faint white glow that made her look up, his skin radiated light almost like the moon and then it was almost as though he turned to water. His body fell in one smooth motion, his face elongated, his hands and feet turned to paws and fur grew rapidly. Before her was that majestic and magnificent wolf she'd woken up to. He glanced up at her and Galahad's head tilted just a little and the redhead couldn't help but lean over and tickle his pointed white ears; they really are fuzzy.
He barked in answer then backed up and charged towards the window, at the last second he leapt up through the window and raced off towards the woods. Cassandra sat there for a few moments, it was strange without him there, like some part of her was just suddenly gone but at the same time he was right there with her; she could practically feel the warmth he radiated snake around her. Even without being present he managed to wrap her in safety.
Suddenly her stomach rumbled, had it really been that long since breakfast? The noise was a gurgle and very unladylike, so much so she was actually grateful Jenkins wasn't there to hear it. Carefully she closed the Grimoire and clipped the little brass locked shut before she locked it and then stood, she quickly glanced out the window to see a white tail vanish into the mass of trees; that made her grin. Her stomach grumbled again and she decided to obey its demand and go get something to eat, Cassandra decided to leave a plate of bread and cheese out for him; a simple meal but she wanted to make sure he'd eat something. Dinner and an early night sounded good.
Chapter 6: The Sly Fox And The Cunning Witch
At first Cassandra didn't quite know what had woken her from her restful slumber and then she heard it, small squeaks coming from the hall by the stairs; footsteps. She could practically map them down the stairs and into her father's study. That has to be Jenkins, she thought to herself but her mind didn't sound that convinced, she almost never heard her familiar move about the house though, he was utterly silent just like a wolf hunting its prey. Cautiously she clambered out of bed in the darkness and went slowly downstairs in nothing but her off white nightdress . It's Galahad, it has to be Galahad. The words were repeated almost like a mantra to calm the sense of fear in the back of her mind. The redhead made her way past the parlour door and down towards the kitchen only to turn off into her father's study. Nothing. No one was there and nothing was out of place but Cassandra had grown up in that house, she knew every single sound it made, she'd heard someone moving around in there; she had! It would have been impossible for someone to sneak past her, the hall to the kitchen and her father's study was long and narrow, they'd have had to walk straight past her, she knew they'd not gone out the study window because it squeaked something awful, like a drowning cat.
“Maybe I imagined it?” She still didn't sound very convinced.
She sighed, maybe it had just been the house settling, maybe her father's death and all the secrets that had come with it had made her paranoid. Either way it was too early in the morning for such questions to possibly find answers; or is it still night? Yet another question Cassandra didn't know the answer to. Slowly she turned and shut her father's study behind her then made her way back to the stairs, just as she went to pass the parlour door she slammed into a solid white mass. She blinked rapidly to see Jenkins in just his black pants and white shirt; it was loose and untucked. His hair had gotten a little messy from being in the woods but she couldn't deny the casual look suited him, made him appear closer to forty than the sixty-five to seventy she'd predicted, not that he actually appeared his age of course.
“Mistress?” There was a slight concern to his voice and Cassandra found herself grateful for his care.
“Were you just in my father's study?” It wasn't an accusation but she needed to know.
“No, Mistress. I was in the woods when I felt your fear so I came back. Are you alright?”
“I heard footsteps.” Said Cassandra as she glanced back down the hallway.
“Could it have been your imagination or maybe the house settling?” The witch was thankful he didn't just tell her to stop being silly and dismiss the whole thing. “Let's put you back to bed and I'll search the whole house for you.”
“No it's alright, you're probably right and it's just the house. I haven't had too much sleep recently either.” She flashed him a smile lit up by the moonlight from the parlour window.
“Then you really must rest.”
Galahad linked their arms like the perfect gentleman he was and guided the redhead back up the dark wooden stairs and into her bedroom at the back of the house. He easily settled her down in the reasonably sized bed and tucked her in as though she were something precious. To Cassandra the room was pitch black but Jenkins could see like the sun was high in the sky, a handy attribute from his wolf side. Jenkins bid her a goodnight and turned to leave but she grabbed hold of his sleeve; he turned back.
“Where are you going?” She asked quietly.
“To sleep downstairs, Mistress.” He answered as through it were obvious.
“There isn't anywhere to sleep downstairs.” Well, there were two armchairs by the fireplace in her father's study but that was about it, certainly there wasn't anything comfortable. “Would you stay with me? You don't have to.” She added the last bit hurriedly.
“If that's what you want, Mistress.”
He didn't seem annoyed by the request but nor did Jenkins seem pleased; Cassandra's familiar kept everything very close to his chest. She shuffled across towards the wall that her bed was pressed up against to make room for the six-foot-five familiar to slip in beside her. The redhead quickly settled her cheek against his chest. He smelt of the forest, fresh leaves and soil, Cassandra couldn't get enough of that calming scent, all that safety Galahad made her feel came flooding back and forced out the tension.
“How were the woods?”
The witch snuggled closer into his chest, a hand rested in his left pectoral, for a man his age he was still strong and well built; not massively muscular but certainly powerful.
“Refreshing.” When she thought about it Jenkins actually sounded less tense than when she'd seen him transform hours earlier. “I met another Original, she seems pleasant enough.”
“No fighting?” From the way he'd described it Cassandra had thought that Originals attached one another on sight but maybe not.
“No, Mistress, no fighting.” He breathed out a soft laugh and then anticipated her next question. “She's a hawk, a Swainson's Hawk by the looks of her.”
“You're so warm.”
Cassandra didn't know if she was going too far but she just couldn't help cuddling even closer to Jenkins, her stomach was pressed firmly to his hip and flank, her knees against his thigh.
“Originals run hotter than most species-” He sounded as though he was going to say more but Cassandra's yawn cut him off. “Go to sleep, Mistress.”
“Cassandra.” She told him sleepily.
“You can call me Cassandra. We're friends right?” The white wolf nodded. “Then call me Cassandra not Mistress. You're my friend not my slave or pet.” Her eyes were closed now and sleep would soon take her.
“Very well... Cassandra.”
The way he said her name was heavenly, deep and powerful but also soft and gentle, it made Cassandra practically hum with happiness. Something surged inside her petite body, something she didn't have a name for.
Jenkins lay there with an arm around his witch keeping her close and protected, just when he thought she'd finally slipped off into the dreamland and he was going to let himself travel there to she spoke again, words quiet and muffled by sleep.
“Thank you for being my familiar.”
No one had ever thanked him for that before, Jenkins didn't really get any choice in who he was sent to, just the luck of a cosmic lottery. He'd had some stupid masters, kind ones and even a few dumb ones but no one quite like Cassandra Cillian.
With a smile he replied.
“I wouldn't want to be anyone else's.”
Morgan strutted into her secret workroom deep beneath her home, the fire roared to life the second she entered and she wasted no time pulling the toad form it's glass container. She pulled up her dress revealing her devil's mark, happily the toad latched on and started to suckle at her inner thigh. She was annoyed that was plain to see, deep lines set in her forehead and lips pressed into a thin line.
“She's befriended the familiar.” Morgan told the toad which wasn't actually intentional, it was more she'd said it and the Petty Familiar was the only thing there to hear it. “Let's it wander as it pleases like it were a person.” She paused a moment. “When I was in her house I could sense it, male and powerful, more so than any other I've come across. He might be just what I need, but at the same time there's something eerily familiar about his energy.”
Morgan found herself puzzled, she'd sensed his energy almost like a supernatural footprint the familiar left behind, she knew that energy but just couldn't place him. She'd not wanted to risk running into the familiar, she was a Soulless Witch and it certainly wouldn't have boded well for her to come across him without knowing which animal he was. The stupid Puritans of Salem would have thought it was the size of the animal that made them strong but that wasn't true, witches knew better, their true strength came from how closely they associated with their animal and how strong they had bonded to their witch. From his energy she suspected him to be a tiger, a bear or maybe a wolf, some kind of large, four-legged and fur covered predator, he had too much presence to be anything smaller but was also well hidden which made her think a tiger or wolf was more likely than a bear. His bond to the young witch was also much stronger than Morgan had anticipated it to be when she'd sent Cassandra to get a familiar. That girl has taken to him much too well, and that would make things extremely difficult for Morgan and her plan.
Suddenly she ripped the toad from her thigh and tossed it back into the glass box and then went over to one of her many bookshelves and pushed it open to reveal a long corridor made of dark grey stone and lined with cells between each attached proudly to the wall was a sconce proudly lighting the bars. Inside them were animals circling angrily, a snow leopard growled as she walked past, a pigeon hung in a birdcage so small it couldn't move a monkey was held in place by a heavy chain around it's neck and hands. Each Original tortured and in pain but Morgan didn't care. At the very end was a fox that met her eyes, this one wasn't afraid of her... not yet.
With a simple wave of her hand the fox became a man again, fur gave way to dark skin and paws changed to hands until Nathaniel was crouched naked on the floor; still his eyes met Morgan's.
“What have you done with Cassie!?” Demanded the tall black man as he surged towards the bars, Morgan stood there unphased.
Nathaniel had known Cassandra since the day she was born, he loved her, always would. Robert had been so proud when he'd told Nathaniel he was to be a father, so proud that he'd even felt it through their bond. Cassandra's mother, Elizabeth, had never liked Nathaniel, just seen him as a slave but Robert had loved the man like a brother, they'd been bonded since Robert was ten after all. Nathaniel had watched Cassandra grow and develop, he'd been treated like an uncle and he'd have happily given his life for the redhead; had he not been immortal of course. The fox didn't know what Morgan had planned for Cassandra but he needed to keep her safe, Robert was gone but Cassandra wasn't.
“Nothing... yet.” There was a glint in Morgan's eyes that Nathaniel didn't like the look of. “Our dear Cassandra is happy and safe, she's even become rather close to her familiar. Unusual considering
how little time they have known one another.”
Surprisingly Nathaniel laughed, a deep chortle Morgan hadn't been expecting; she raised an eyebrow.
“Cassie is protected.” He seemed to find some kind of relief in that.
“What?” The Soulless witch deadpanned. “Like you protected Robert Cillian? Foxes are suppose to be sly and cunning but I saw your attack coming a mile off. Now your master is dead and you are in a cage beside the other failures I've collected. And soon-” She turned to face the empty cage opposite Nathaniel's. “- this one will be home to Cassandra's new caretaker.”
“Why are you doing this?!” Nathaniel grabbed the bars and actually frightened Morgan into turning around but she'd never admit to that. “You've murdered your own kind and imprisoned their familiars rather than letting us return to the void to aid another witch. Why?”
Morgan growled. “My kind? The True Witches do nothing but look down on Soulless! You familiars do the same, you call them Petty like they're beneath you, like they mean nothing.”
Nathaniel shook his head softly side to side and looked at her with honesty.
“We don't call them 'Petty Familiars' because they're less than us, we call them 'Petty' because they mean nothing to their witches, nothing to you. Originals are more powerful, yes, but we mean more to our masters than being a living ingredient.”
“And yet every single one of you has failed that master. They're all dead because the Originals weren't good enough. Don't worry though, soon you will all be dead and free to seem them again.”
With that she turned to leave but paused when Nathaniel spoke again.
“We're immortal, we can't die.”
Morgan waved her hand forcing the tall black man back into his fox form.
“Not for long.”
Chapter 7: You Are Not Alone
A week and a half went by and Cassandra found herself confused. Morgan had told her that she wasn't needed in order for the young witch to learn her craft, apparently she'd sensed Cassandra's connection to her familiar and knew that if she interfered any more she'd actually hinder Cassandra's progress. The redhead hardly understood any of that but Morgan was the experienced one surly knew what she was doing, Cassandra also couldn't deny that Jenkins had helped her to do little things like making his clothing, boiling a kettle without the aid of a fire, just little things. What Cassandra didn't know was that every single words was a lie – well, maybe not every word. Cassandra could learn from her familiar – but she couldn't risk him knowing there was a Soulless Witch so close to his sweet redhead, the familiar would go on high alert, Morgan hated to admit it but she wouldn't be able to stand up to a familiar of his magnitude without the element of surprise; and she'd not even seen him yet.
Even though Cassandra thought it all very strange she didn't question the older woman and, rather selfishly, she wanted it to be just her and Jenkins, it felt right for the journey of witchcraft to be just them; maybe it's out bond? Galahad had become less caretaker and protector and more of a friend. Theophil had even started to leave her alone with was a mighty boon.
It was incredibly early in the morning, the Puritans would say ungodly, when a desperate series of knocks pounded on the front door, the harsh sound startled Cassandra and woke her quickly. The banging continued and she quickly hopped out of bed, on her way to the stairs she saw Jenkins appear in his wolf form from her father's bedroom – Jenkins' bedroom, that was still taking some getting used to – she jogged to the front door and pulled it open. Before her were three workers, two blonde men holding up a younger dark-haired one, the younger boy was covered in blood and crying out in agony.
“Get the surgeon!” Said Arthur – the taller of the two blonde men – frantically.
Cassandra didn't understand, her father was dead, there was no doctor in Salem anymore. She'd been trained by him though, maybe she could help Dancell. Quickly she ushered the them in, straight down the corridor and past the parlour into her father's surgery. Robert had built it along with the house many years ago when he'd first come to Salem but since his death it had been closed, dust had just started to gather on the large table they lay Dancell down on.
“Please, Miss Cillian.” Began the other blonde, Samuel. “Run and get Doctor Jenkins!”
Doctor Jenkins? What? Then it hit her, over a week ago she'd told Theophil Galahad had trained with her father as a way of explaining his presence, somehow that had filtered down to her familiar being a doctor. Suddenly the man himself appeared in his black pants and untucked white shirt, she could have sworn she saw the last of his fur receding around his fingers and claws turning into fingernails again.
“Miss Cillian, what is going on?” He asked in that deep voice, she'd gotten so used to him calling her Cassandra that 'Miss Cillian' sounded foreign. The screaming continued.
“Dancell has been badly injured, there's a lot of blood.”
“Please, doctor, hurry up!” Cried Arthur. Jenkins raised an eyebrow, doctor?
Without warning Jenkins was shifting the blonde men out the way and ripping open Dancell's bloodied pant leg to get a look at the wound. Cassandra had no idea how he seemed to know what he was doing.
“Dancell and us were looking for trees to cut to repair the docks, he slipped and fell, rocks went down with him and smashed his leg.” Explained Samuel with a look of horror.
Blood pooled from Dancell's leg, if he lost much more he'd have absolutely no chance of survival, Jenkins needed to stop the bleeding.
“Ca- Miss Cillian, I need-” She cut him off.
“My father's medical kit and a bowl of hot water.”
In seconds the redhead had pulled her father's kit from a cupboard on the other side of the room and tossed it to her familiar before racing off to get the water. When she returned Jenkins was up to his elbows in blood and had a hand inside Dancell's leg; Arthur and Samuel looked ready to faint. Crimson dripped from the table onto his leather boots but it was no longer gushing like it had been when they'd brought him to them. She set the bowl down.
“Miss Cillian, I need you to cut this for me.”
Arthur and Samuel seemed surprised that he'd asked her – the woman – for help but they said nothing and instead looked on praying their friend didn't bleed to death. Quickly Cassandra moved to cut the thread Jenkins was using to sew, when she snipped she saw a tiny glow of white-grey light inside Dancell's leg where Jenkins had his fingers over the artery. She could smell the magic, like snow that brief moment before a thunder storm. The witch and her familiar shared a glance, a look of knowing. Cassandra certainly wasn't going to say anything though. Jenkins was saving a young man's life, Cassandra had no idea how Salem believed every witch and every familiar to be evil, Galahad in that moment was a hero.
An hour later and Dancell had been moved to his home to rest under the watchful eye of his mother and Jenkins was on his knees scrubbing blood from the floor. The only reason Cassandra – who'd dressed since then – wasn't helping him was because he'd refused. When he was just about done she brought him a nice hot cup of tea.
“You saved Dancell's life today.” She smiled.
“Without my magic he would have died, the best doctor in the world wouldn't have been able to do a thing to save him.” Galahad stood and dried his hands of blood then took the cup from Cassandra and had an indulgently long sip. “His leg is broken and had severed the artery. His leg is still broken and will need to heal but the tear is healed.”
“Salem will never know I'm a witch and you're a familiar.” She told him assuredly.
“I didn't even know I was a doctor until an hour ago.” He flashed her a faint grin.
“Neither did I,” he took another sip of tea. “but I told Theophil you trained with my father, remember? Everyone he told would have just assumed you were a doctor, at least it gives you a legitimate reason to be here. How did you know what to do anyway?”
There was a pause.
“I've been alive a very long time, Cassandra, served masters who went into battle. I'm no doctor by any means but I have a pretty decent knowledge of anatomy and the magic helps.” She could see him start to think about his past, he always looked to the floor and swallowed hard when he did, she knew he was about to change the subject. “You look very nice, Mistress.”
“Thank you.” She smiled up at him. “It's Sunday, we have to go to church.”
“No, thank you.” He replied quickly as he set his empty tea cup down. “There's so much more to the world than God, he didn't build everything and he's not controlling everyone's life.”
Cassandra sighed. “I don't want to go either but you haven't been once in all the time you've been here and we don't want people to start talking, Salem tends to get a little accusation-y around people who don't go to church. Anyway, Reverend Carson's sermons are quite pleasant.”
Jenkins let out a long breath and just looked at Cassandra.
“If it's that important to you then we'll go. Let me go and change and I shall meet you by the front door.”
The redhead watched as he made his way upstairs, careful not to traipse blood through the house. Things had become rather domestic over the last week, almost as though he'd always been there with her and she didn't know if that was down to their bond or something else. Only when Galahad returned fully dressed and immaculate did she returned from her thoughts to the real world. There wasn't a single drop of blood on him except a tiny little dot on his right cheek. Cassandra grinned and wiped it away for him, she'd never get over just how warm to the touch he was.
“You can just not listen if you really don't want to be there, just look like you're paying attention.”
“I can manage that.”
He offered his arm to Cassandra and the two left the house for the church, people were congregating inside, they sat towards the back of the pews but not anti-socially so. The redhead spotted Theophil Hale up at the very front trying looking all powerful as usual. Reverend Carson stood with his wife, Eve, chatting about something Cassandra couldn't hear while everyone took their seats.
The sermon started and just as his Mistress had suggested Jenkins didn't listen to a single word, or at least not until twenty minutes in when he heard the name Cassandra had bestowed upon him come from Flynn Carson's lips.
“...Galahad Jenkins. Today he saved one of our owns life.” There was power in Flynn's voice, this man could change things if he really wanted to. “Before most of you were even out of your beds this man was working to save young Dancell WIlliams' life with the help of Miss Cillian. His skill and a little something extra are the only reason that boy is still alive. A little something called the Will of God.”
From the tone of his voice and the way his eyes had men Jenkins' Cassandra knew there was more to a little something extra but she didn't voice her suspicions at that moment.
“Our newest resident deserves not only an open welcome to our little Salem but a hero's welcome...”
Flynn moved on after that and Jenkins went back to not listening. It was rude, he knew that but he was over fifteen-hundred years old and in that time he'd had more than enough 'my religion is better than yours' and killings in the name of whoever the god of the week was. He was, however, surprised by Flynn's comments, but from the look he'd shared with Eve, or Missus Carson as Salem knew her, Jenkins knew she'd had something to do with it.
Cassandra managed to hold her tongue about the whole thing until Reverend Carson had finished and everyone started to file out of the building. There was a look of shock on his face when she grabbed Jenkins and tugged him off to the side of the room behind all the pews.
“What was that?” She asked quickly but in a hushed tone so as not to draw the attention of the few remaining people.
Jenkins raised an eyebrow, that's becoming an all to common occurrence, muttered her mind.
“I'm afraid I don't understand the question.”
“You and Eve, the look.”
The stunning redhead realised that sounded childish and jealous but she'd already asked by then and it was too late to take it back, also she wanted an answer. Galahad paused only for a moment before a look of realisation pulled itself onto his aged features.
“I apologise, Mistress, I forgot to tell you-”
“Tell me what?” She asked cautiously and tried to stay on the right side of asking rather than falling into demanding.
The familiar paused to look around for a second then leaned in so as only Cassandra could hear what he had to say.
“She's the hawk.”
Cassandra remembered then, he'd seen a hawk the first time he'd gone out into the woods and probably a few other times as well. She'd never asked who the hawk was, the thought hadn't even occurred to her but Eve Carson was the last person she'd have thought of.
“But she's married to Reverend Carson, that would mean-”
“That Flynn is my witch, yes.” Cassandra jumped and turned around to see Eve and Flynn stood there with soft smiles.
Flynn could see the shock in the redhead's eyes and quickly tried to rid her of it.
“It's alright, Cassandra, I'm a True Witch as well.” A pause. “Not a very good one though, I think too fast, too many thoughts going on at once and for magic you need to be able to focus on a single thing at a time. I like to solve problems and puzzles with my head.”
“Can't get enough books on the subject though, he knows just about everything about everything.” Grinned the blonde.
“We didn't know how to approached you after Robert died.” Said Flynn sadly. “I know he never told you and we didn't know if it would be better to let you remain oblivious to your power.”
“Thank you, but my father sent me a letter after he died that told me everything. Well, cryptically told me everything.”
“Cryptic, that was Robert all over.” Eve had this mother hen sense to her and Cassandra couldn't help but wonder if all familiar radiated such a sense of safety.
“We don't wish to interfere, Cassandra, don't want to intrude. You have your familiar now, Jenkins can help you but you can come to me and Eve if you ever need to.” There was a glint in his eyes, something caring.
“Thank you, Reverend.”
“Flynn. True Witches don't bother with human titles save for husband and wife, but they're a privilege.” Flynn flashed a smile at Eve which was lovingly returned. The Reverend's attention turned to Jenkins. “Eve tells me you are a wolf, that must be quite a sight to behold.”
“It is just part of who I am, just as the hawk is part of your wife.”
“He's always been fascinated by familiars and their change,” began Eve pleasantly. “why those specific animals? What does it feel like to transform?”
Cassandra felt a sense of relief at the ability to talk freely with others, her whole body relaxed and started to find some tranquillity... then Theophil Hale appeared and it all got washed away. She sighed and knew Jenkins could feel her annoyance through their bond.
“Miss Cillian, might I borrow you a moment?”
The Magistrate asked polity but Cassandra knew all he wanted was to leer at her, still she could hardly say no. Reluctantly she nodded and stepped towards him. Galahad, Flynn and Eve pretended not to listen to every single word Theophil said.
“I know you've been somewhat shut-in since your father's death-” That was utter nonsense, she went out every single day and often chit-chatted with people. “-and you've had to open your home to Doctor Jenkins. So I wondered if you would like to join me for dinner this evening?”
The Magistrate's grin was too wide and showed off his jagged yellowed teeth, his nose was crooked from having been broken decades ago, to be honest he looked like a rabid dog.
The redhead's instant reaction was to say no and run back to Jenkins where she was safe but Cassandra knew she couldn't. She was eighteen years old, a woman not a child, and couldn't go charging to her familiar every time she got even a little bit scared or uncomfortable. He was her caretaker not her babysitter. The witch searched for something, anything, to tell him.
“Em, that would be lovely, Magistrate Hale, but-” Thankfully the blonde familiar jumped to her rescue.
“My husband and I have just invited Miss Cillian and Doctor Jenkins to dinner this evening, I'm sorry Magistrate.” There was a hardly there pause and then Flynn jumped in.
“You're more than welcome to join us Magistrate.”
Theophil's annoyance and disgruntlement was fairly obvious but he tried to hide it under a blanket of pleasantries.
“No, no. You enjoy your meal.” He flashed the teenager another grin that had her subconsciously leaning back into Jenkins' strong chest. “Maybe another time, Miss Cillian.”
No! Why can't you get the message? My father has said no since I was fourteen, how hard is it to understand? Of course no one could actually say that to Salem's Magistrate, not unless they wanted to find out just how much legal power he had.
The two witches and their familiars watched as Magistrate Hale left the church to do who knows what. The very second he was out of sight a sense of calm fell over the church.
“How long has he been trying to coax you into marrying him now, four, five years?” Asked Flynn as he stared off in the direction Theophil had left in.
“About that, yes.” The younger witch replied. “I thought he had finally decided to leave me alone, he usually avoids me when Galahad is around.”
Jenkins couldn't help but take a moment to wonder if that was the real reason she'd all but demanded he go to church with her.
“You should actually come to dinner tonight.” Said Eve. “Both of you. It would be good for you to spend some time with like minded people. People who understand. Eight o'clock.”
“That would be wonderful, thank you. Cassandra, shall we?”
Jenkins held out his arm for the redhead to take which she did quickly, Cassandra took every opportunity she could to latch onto her familiar; he grounded her. They bid Flynn and Eve good-day and headed off home.
Theophil stormed across the main square, he'd made it about half way past the gallows when the widow Missus Le Fay appeared in front of him, she had a habit of jumping out of nowhere and it scared him, though he'd never admit to that. That unnerving grin coated her features as it always did.
“Magistrate Hale.” She greeted.
“Missus Le Fay.” He said curtly. “I didn't see you during Reverend Carson's sermon.”
“No, unfortunately I have not been too well the last day or so. I've only just managed to pull myself from bed, though I pray to our Lord to forgive my lack of presence today.” Morgan was a skilled liar but even she could quite make that sentence sound truthful.
“As you should.”
“You look awfully downtrodden today, Magistrate Hale, has something happened?”
“No, of course not. Just a turned down dinner invitation is all.” Huffed the human.
“Oh, well, maybe the young lady will reconsider once Mister Jenkins is gone.” Morgan told him nonchalantly as she brushed a non-existent crease from her long dress.
Theophil's brow furrowed. “How did you-”
“Everyone in Salem knows of your desire to marry Miss Cillian.” She announced with ease. “Her father is gone but now Mister Jenkins is living with her. It is quite inappropriate of a young un-wed woman if you ask me. I dare say if the good doctor wasn't around she would already be Missus Hale and carrying your first child.”
That was all Theophil really wanted, something pretty to fill full of his seed and force to obey him, and Cassandra was far more than 'pretty'. Married to him Cassandra would be nothing more than his broodmare fulfilling a woman's one purpose.
“Alas,” Morgan continued. “Mister Jenkins is here in Salem and shows no sign of leaving. It's good we have a doctor again though. Good day Magistrate Hale.”
With that Morgan was gone, leaving Theophil stood there in a mix of confusion and frustration. The Magistrate might not have had any idea what Morgan was doing but she certainly did, everything was about misdirection.
Chapter 8: The Plague
Darkness had long since pushed the sun from the sky leaving the silvery moon as king, most were tucked up in their beds but not the residents of Knocker's Hole and not Magistrate Theophil Hale. Several people stood with flaming torches in a large circle of onlookers when Hale approached, in the middle he found the dead body of a young girl no older than twelve. Blood stained the poor girl's face where it had dripped from her nose, eyes and ears, her mouth lay open as though silently screaming. The Magistrate nearly threw up just at the sight of her; the horror.
“ What happened here?” He demanded of Christopher – the Night Watchman or sheriff as many refered to him, who'd called Theophil out of bed so bloody late – as he crouched down to peer at the corpse.
“ We don' know, Sir.” Came his quick reply. “ I'll send fo' Doctor Jenkins.”
“No!” Yelled the Magistrate which drew everyone's attention and he quickly forced himself to calm his tone. “ No, we don't wish to disturb the good doctor at such an ungodly hour.” He rose to his feet. “She'll still be dead in the morning.” He paused glancing around the hovel known as Knocker's Hole. “Put her in the Marsden warehouse, they're sailing everything to the Carolinas so it will be empty. I'll deal with any issue they have when Maxwell Marsden returns.”
With a nod Christopher and his younger brother John started to move the dead girl the twenty-five or so feet to the Marsden warehouse. Theophil made quick work of shooing everyone back into their homes, he'd truly got no idea what had caused such a horrid death for that young child but he hoped it wasn't contagious. Maybe that annoying bastard , Jenkins, will catch it and die. Less issues for me to get that pretty little cunt for my own. Ever since he'd saved Dancell''s life two weeks ago and Reverend Carson had announced it before the whole town, all the people of Salem had done was sing the white-haired man's praise. In fact, other than himself and possibly Missus Le Fay only Salem's cats seemed to dislike him. The man could do just about anything almost like Robert Cillian had, Theophil had hated him too; the day he'd heard Robert Cillian had died was one of the best of his life.
Magistrate Hale had just been about to return home when John called from an alleyway that he'd found another one, oh this isn't a good sign.
Jenkins and Cassandra slowly made their way towards Knocker's Hole, the familiar carried a reasonably sized but heavy black bag, Cassandra had hardly been able to carry it to the front door but Galahad didn't seem to have any problem.
“ Are you sure you want me here for this? People will think it strange that you've asked me to help, I'm a woman remember?” Oh Jenkins couldn't forget.
“You're a trained midwife and the daughter of a doctor, of course I want you with me. I may have medical experience but I wasn't shown by anyone, you might see something I miss. Also, you're the reason I'm Salem's doctor in the first place.”
He had her there, she had been the cause. However, in her defence, Jenkins had taken to the new occupation with a muted sense of glee, Cassandra was pretty sure that secretly he liked it.
They'd been woken reasonably early by a man named Christopher Kent, who had told them off the horrific deaths, Cassandra had been horrified but her white wolf had hardly battered an eye, then again, she supposed he'd grown used to death if the few hints he'd given about her past were anything to go by. When they entered Marsden warehouse there were more than the two bodies they'd been told about, four in total. Christopher stood by his brother John, in the middle of the room both wore sorrowful looks.
“Doctor Jenkins, you need ta find out what 'appened to 'em.” Said John as he covered a young man up with a sheet. “We've hidden these other two from everyone else. Would o' been panic otherwise.”
“Should Miss Cillian really be 'ere, Doctor?” Asked Christopher.
Jenkins ignored Christopher and instead crouched down to the first body that had been found, a twelve-year-old he'd been told was named Anne. This little girl had no one to mourn her, just a street urchin that not a single person cared about... and that knowledge broke Cassandra's heart.
“John, Christopher, I need you to make sure no one else comes in here and if you find any other bodies bring them straight here.”
“O' course, Doctor.” Replied Christopher before darting out the building, he'd seen all he could take.
“Have they all been found in Knocker's Hole, John?”
“Yeah, they 'ave.”
Jenkins nodded to himself as the other man left. For a time Cassandra just stood there in dead silence, she'd never seen so many deceased people and had never wished to; Galahad remained unphased. In that quietude though she started to notice something, a tingling resonating from the dead in soft waves, it was almost like the waves of safety that came from Jenkins but it certainly wasn't safety she felt, this was uncomfortable and harsh.
“What is that?” Her dazzling blue eyes flashed around the warehouse like she'd actually find the cause.
“I feel it too, Mistress.”
Cassandra had noticed that about her familiar, when he grew protective of her – well, even more protective than usual – he'd slip out of using her name and back to Mistress almost as though he'd forgotten she had a first name.
“It's... it's suffocating.”
“It's magic.” He informed. “This is the work of a Soulless.” Jenkins rose to his feet and placed both his large hands on her shoulders, his heat grounded her. “You are alright, Mistress.”
She couldn't help but lean into him, her cheek against his strong chest, not exactly a hug but more than just leaning against him.
“These people have been cursed, why would anyone do that? What could there possibly be to gain from killing a child?”
“I told you, Cassandra, the Soulless plunge into evil very quickly. They will kill just because they can. Also, I don't believe these people have been cursed.”
“What then? I can feel a curse, Jenkins.” Her blue orbs met his green-hazel ones.
“You are right, individually these people's deaths have no purpose but collectively it would cause a panic. I think they've come into contact with something that's been cursed rather than them themselves.”
“You're saying this is some kind of magical plague caused by a Soulless Witch?” Jenkins nodded. “Then there's nothing our medical skills can do to help Salem.”
“Do not despair, Mistress. Fortunately I am immortal and witches tend to have a resistance to plague curses.”
“That is hardly a bright side, Galahad.”
“I know but it means we won't get sick, means we'll have a better chance at solving this. I've not sensed any Soulless in the area, usually I pick them up straight away but so far I haven't, considering Salem's size the fact I've been here over month, I would have known about them by now, unless-” He cut himself off, seemingly turning to a mental conversation.
“Unless?” She prompted.
“Unless they're aware of me and purposely hid themselves but why would anyone bother? As long as they stay far away from you I'm no threat to them.”
Cassandra smiled. “My brave knight in furry armour.”
Three days later and the death count has risen to twelve, so far they'd all been confined to Knocker's Hole but the people of Salem had started to fear it would spread out to the rest of the town. Finally a meeting of the Selectmen had been called, all ten of them had gathered around a large ornate table. These men were the richest and most powerful in all of Salem, they were the ones that ran the town, the ones that were set in their ways and thought everyone else should think the same as them. If they'd known Jenkins asked Cassandra's opinion on a regular basis they'd have laughed him out of the room, these men though women nothing more than pretty little things whose only purpose was to give birth.
“... It has been three days and people are dropping like flies in Knocker's Hole! We have to do something.” Grumbled an old portly man.
“And what would you suggest, Mister Harris?” Said the youngest of the Selectmen at the far end of the table by the door; youngest only meant forty-nine. “Doctor Jenkins has only just started his examination of the bodies, we must give him time to figure out how to stop this sickness.”
“This sickness came on too quickly.” Began Theophil in a deep tone. “This is not natural, no plague just appears, people show symptoms and then die. The first bodies appeared in the space of a few hours and only now are we getting reports of symptoms. Does any of that sound natural to you?” There was a muttering as people agreed with the Magistrate. “There is only one logical answer for what is happening in Salem, a witch! A witch has caused this, doing the work of the devil and ending the lives of good, God fearing people. A witch whose only intent is to force us to suffer.”
“Then we must summon a witch finder!” Announced Mister Shaw from beside Theophil. “And soon.”
“We need the best though.”
“Mister Wells is correct,” Theophil rose to his feet and reached for his cane. “I'll send for Mister Jacob Stone post-haste.”
That was it, a witch finder was what they needed. With the witch dead Salem would be free of any curse and another of the devil's servants would hang from the gallows. The Magistrate grinned just thinking about it.
Chapter 9: The Witch Finder And His Unwitting Assistant
High noon saw Jacob Stone's arrival in Salem, his horse had rode long and hard to get there so quickly and was in much need of some rest. He dismounted his horse and tied her off so she didn't go wandering; he and Betsy had done that little dance more times than Jacob cared to remember. Dastardly mare, he could have sword the sandy colored horse did it just to annoy him. Almost the instant he'd dismounted a man with yellowed teeth and a cane topped with a silver raven appeared by his side, Jacob's first instinct had been to punch him but then he'd probably not have gotten paid.
“ Good day.” Greeted the slightly taller stranger. “I assume you are Mister Jacob Stone, the witch hunter.”
“I am yes, and I prefer witch finder to hunter, it sounds less like I enjoy killing. You are?”
“Theophil Hale, the Magistrate of Salem and the one who wrote and invited you here. A witch has taken over Knocker's Hole and released some kind of devil plague. People are dying left and right, our doctor is all but useless and I'm afraid that if this goes on much longer Salem will be a ghost town. We already have one woman in custody beneath the gallows, she lived between two of the victims, we await your judgement of course but we are prepared for her to swing.”
“No one is being put to death until I say so, is that clear, Mister Hale? You asked me to find a witch not to let Salem's paranoia lead to executing everyone in sight.”
Theophil ground his teeth together but nodded in acquiescence.
“Of course. Shall we get you settled at the boarding house, Mister Stone?” The Magistrate gestured off towards a large three-story building made of dark planks with a deep red door.
“ No. I want to see this so-called witch.”
Stone marched off towards the gallows without waiting for Theophil to utter another word, frankly he didn't care if the Magistrate even followed him. His long black leather jacket swished as he walked drawing some none too subtle glances. Jacob had seen gallows before of course but none that looked so regularly used, it made his skin crawl, but he ignored that fact in favour of making his way to the rusty iron cell beneath. There was indeed a young woman locked inside, auburn hair and dark grown eyes, pretty enough, she looked horrified and rightly so, her fellow townspeople wanted to kill her on the off chance she was a witch. Just outside stood a man, possibly still a teenager, dressed in ill-fitting clothes that bore more than one hole, his boots were wore dark leather and his hair spiked up randomly similar to how Jacob's had at that age. He handed the woman a cup of water through the bars which she drank quickly, clearly she'd not been fed since her arrest. It only took one look for him to know she wasn't a witch.
“ Here is the witch, Mister Stone.” Announced Magistrate Hale for which he only relieved a look of I wouldn't have guessed.
“She's not a witch, alright mate, she isn't!”
“Silence, boy!” Growled Theophil.
“He may be young but he's right, this woman isn't a witch. You can't fake that level of fear, she's just a normal girl. Let her go.”
“Are you sure, Mister Stone? You don't wish to examine her for a devil's mark at least?”
Jacob spun around to stick Theophil with a glare.
“I could but it would just cause more stress on this already terrified young woman. Let her go.”
Reluctantly Magistrate Hale nodded, his ego somewhat deflated, and snapped his fingers for the jailer to let woman go free. The cell door squeaked deafeningly but everyone ignored it in favour of the smile that erupted on her dirty face.
“Thank you, Sir. Thank you.” She turned to her friend.
“Go home, I'll get some food and be there soon.” He told her, pleased when she didn't fight him. With a thanks mate he boy strode off towards the market; Jacob watched him.
“... Mister Stone?"
Jacob's mind snapped back to him, had he been staring?
“Sorry, what were you saying?” He tried to look apologetic but in all honesty didn't much like the Magistrate and he'd only known the man for five minutes.
“ I said you should get settled, I'll take you to the boarding house.”
“ Actually, Magistrate, I'd prefer to wander Salem myself first. Have a look around and get my bearings, I only have the one bag and you've already pointed out the boarding house. Thank you but I've really taken up too much of your time already.”
Again Jacob didn't wait for an answer, just walked away from Theophil and off towards the young man with dark hair and an accent he wouldn't soon forget. He called out but Jacob found himself ignored, soon enough though Jacob slapped the boy on the back causing him to look up and finally acknowledge the witch finder.
“What do you want, mate?”
“As you've probably guessed, I'm new. I was wondering if you'd show me around, you look like you know far more about Salem that people would suspect. I'm Jacob by the way, Jacob Stone.”
“ ... Ezekiel Jones, and what if I do? Why should I show you around?”
Jacob sighed and turned to face Ezekiel which forced the younger man to ground to a halt.
“I'll level with y a , Ezekiel. When the word witch starts to circle a town people get scared and start seeing them everywhere, after that the worst of the worst start to think hmm I could get rid of him forever and they make up stories about people they don't like to get them killed, others just want to cause chaos. I bet you know who creeps around at night, whose sleeping with who behind their husband's back, who the good people are and who those who just pretend to be good are.”
“And what do I get out of it, mate?” Ezekiel folded his arms over his chest.
“ From the looks of ya, I'd say you're a street kid, so is the other girl. What is she, ya sister?”
“Just a friend.”
“And how many other 'friends' do you take care of?” Jacob raised a questioning eyebrow but Ezekiel didn't answer. “You help me find the witch that brought this plague to Salem and I'll split the pay with you, deal?”
“Seriously? Surly you could find the witch on your own.” The thief looked at him with disbelief.
“I could yeah, but it would take far longer and this way I know that money would be doing some good. So I ask ya again, deal?”
“Yeah, mate, deal.”
Jacob held out his hand and Ezekiel shook it quickly. A thief with a good heart, the witch finder could make great use of that and those poor street kids needed that money. Ezekiel's clothing seemed to fit him – not well, but they did – and were made of a charcoal colored fabric that had frayed around the edges and lacked a few buttons, save for the color Ezekiel's outfit was in total contrast to Jacob's own long leather jacket and thick boots.
“What do you want to know?” Asked Ezekiel.
“I'll toss my stuff in the boarding house and then would you take me to Knocker's Hole? Let me see anyone whose ill.”
“I can swing that, I know Knocker's Hole like the back of my hand. As for the sick people, I can introduce you to Doctor Jenkins and Miss Cillian if you want, they're trying to stop this thing. I've been moving things about for him over the last few days, he pays well and Miss Cillian cooks for us most days, she's a good person.”
Ezekiel would have preferred to just steal but he couldn't deny that he'd come to respect Jenkins and Cassandra, the young redhead had befriended him rather quickly.
Jacob's introduction to Miss Cillian and Doctor Jenkins had been interesting, he'd never met a doctor willing to let a woman be his assistant before and frankly it was refreshing. Jacob had always hated the gender divide the rich men seemed to insist upon. There had been something off about the pair but he couldn't quite put his finger on it; he'd figure it out though.
Salem didn't seem to hospitable to strangers, he'd been flashed constant glances and seen them whispering. To Jacob, Salem seemed the sort of place they'd hang you for breathing, the sooner he got out of the town the better.
Nightfall saw Jacob and Ezekiel sat at the back table of Salem's tavern with a tankard each, the thief took swigs far faster than Jacob did.
“Slow down or I'll be carrying you home.”
“Nah, mate, I can hold my drink.” He set the half drunk ale down on the dark stained table then fixed the older man with a look of curiosity. “To say you're a witch hunter, you haven't done much, just chatted with the doctor and walked around town a bit.”
“I'm a witch finder not a witch hunter and I can't really go looking for witches until I know the town, and until I'd spoken to the doctor and his assistant there was nothing to say this is actually witchcraft. Doctor Jenkins seems to think it's natural.”
Ezekiel chuckled and his eyes shone in jest. “Unless he's the witch.”
“No he isn't. He's not like any doctor or man I've ever met but he's not a witch.” Jacob took another sip of ale. “Tell me, Ezekiel, what is it with you and stealing? The Magistrate would have you branded for that, nice big T on your forehead.”
“It's skill not a crime. I just do it okay? Have you seen everyone in Knocker's Hole, half of them can't afford to buy food. I have a talent for taking things right under people's noses, so I use it to feed the kids.”
“I'm not judging you, Ezekiel, in fact I think you're rather noble.”
Ezekiel's dark eyes flashed up to meet Jacob's blue ones, they were questioning him silently, no one had ever seen the good in Ezekiel before, never called him noble. Ezekiel liked to pretend he was selfish but in truth he was lonely, he'd never had a real friend, never truly belonged, but the way Jacob Stone looked at him Ezekiel started to wonder if he had a shot at making one in the witch finder.
The two of them said nothing after that, just sat in a pleasant quietude, there was a sense of peace for the witch finder and his unwitting assistant. Tomorrow would be another day and Ezekiel hoped there'd be something a little more witch-y to it.
Chapter 10: Hot Spring Shenanigans
It was almost eleven at night when Cassandra walked into the parlour to find Jenkins sans his shirt and shoes, the window lay open and the moon shone bright down on his pale flesh; his silver chest hair was the only indication of his wolfish nature.
“Have fun.” She smiled when he turned to face her.
“What will you do this evening, Cassandra?” She liked the way Jenkins always sounded as though he actually wanted to hear the answer unlike most men in Salem.
“I'm not really sure, maybe write in my Grimoire and then bed. Nothing important.” She paused for a moment. “What do you do when you're in the woods?”
“Explore, breathe in the nature. Sometimes I see Eve flying about." There was a pause. "Would you like to come with me? There's somewhere I think you'll like.”
“Oh, no, I don't want to intrude.” She gestured for him to go.
“You wouldn't be, you could never intrude, Mistress. Please come?”
He offered her his hand and for a moment Cassandra just looked at it. Who am I kidding, of course I want to go. The redhead grabbed her long black cloak then took his proffered hand and he helped her to climb out of the window so they'd not be seen, she glanced at the tree line for a second but when she looked back the large wolf jumped high through the window and landed beside her. Jenkins nuzzled into her thigh and then padded off into the trees slow enough for Cassandra to follow but fast enough that they wouldn't risk getting caught.
The sound of wind rustling through the trees was like a symphony to Cassandra, small insects chirped and bird cooed; there was something almost calming about it. Jenkins didn't stray too far, no more than five steps ahead of her even though she suspected he could have travelled a mile by the time she'd vanished from Salem's sights into the forest. Silvery moonlight shone down through the viridescent canopy as they got further in giving the woods a supernatural glow.
She'd not gone into the woods since her father and Nathaniel had died, too many bad memories yet somehow just by asking Jenkins had got her there, she'd not even thought of her father already deep into the tall trees. The forest was a dangerous place but she had no doubt that her wolf would protect her.
It became quickly apparent he was guiding her somewhere, his fluffy tail wagged as he darted around moss covered trees... and then she lost sight of him. Jenkins was just gone.
“Jenkins?” She called out as her eyes flashed around for him. “Jenkins, where are you?”
Suddenly a twig snapped behind her and Cassandra spun round just in time to see a large ball of white jump out at her, she screamed.
“Jenkins, don't do that!” She chastised, a hand over her racing heart, at least the familiar had the decency to look ashamed; unfortunately on a wolf it was more adorable that anything else.
Cassandra crouched down to tickle his ears, he'd not admit it but Jenkins adored it when she tickled his ears. The wolf shuffled closer and she quickly slung her arms around him, he smelt of fresh leaves again. A little over a month they'd known one another and Cassandra couldn't remember how she'd lived without him.
“Come on, you were taking me somewhere, I could tell. Show me, Jenkins.”
The wolf barked and returned to leading her but this time stayed beside her. They didn't have to walk too much further until they came to a cave opening – a sharp gash just big enough for the two of them to fit through – inside it was dark and cold, goosebumps coated her flesh but Galahad didn't even seem to notice.
“Where are we going?”
The white-grey wolf didn't answer just kept going until he reached the back of the cave; his tail wagged as he walked. Cassandra gasped.
“Jenkins, this is beautiful.”
Before her was a large pool that had heat radiating off it, a natural hot spring, part of the cave room had fallen in years or decades earlier allowing the moon to illuminate the back of the cave, it was a hidden paradise. Carefully she sat down by the water's edge, her dress and cloak bunched up around her waist and Jenkins quickly sat down beside her.
“How did you find this place? It's so pretty, no wonder you spend most nights in the wood rather than in your bed. Did you just stumble across it?”
The redhead turned her head to the side to see Galahad, he looked back at her but said nothing, of course he said nothing he was a wolf and annoyingly their bond – no matter how strong – didn't extend to telepathy. An idea popped into her mind and she easily threw her cloak around his fury form. Watching him change between man and wolf never ceased to amaze her.
“Thank you, Cassandra. I did stumble upon this place, yes, I was, em, chasing a squirrel.” Cassandra burst out laughing at that, she had to put a hand over her mouth when she saw his unimpressed expression. “Out of everywhere I've found in the woods I think this is my favourite, I had hoped you would like it.”
“I do, very much. It's almost as though magic created it but I can't sense any. After what has been happening in Salem I think we deserve some peace in such a tranquil place. You always know just what I need, Galahad.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Thank you. I'm going to get in, certainly beats having to boil water for a bath.”
'Get in'? Said Jenkins' mind quickly. As in bathe in there? That would mean... His thoughts never got to finish because his green-hazel eyes quickly looked away as Cassandra's dress fell to the stony floor, a few seconds later her smallclothes followed and he heard the sound of displaced water.
“Jenkins, this is fantastic, you should come in, the water is perfect.”
Cautiously he looked back at the pool to see the stunning redhead gliding through the water to a little ledge that looked made to sit on.
“You enjoy, Mistress, I'll stay here.”
“No, you have to. Come on, please? You found the cave you can't just sit on the sidelines.”
She had a point and Jenkins could sense through their bond that she actually did want him to join her, it was more than big enough for the both of them, he wouldn't have to get to close and risk becoming inappropriate. Reluctantly he let the cloak slip off his broad shoulders and stepped into the large pool. He couldn't deny Cassandra had been right, the water was just the right temperature and eased his muscles.
“Galahad, I can hardly even see you from over there, come sit with me. This ledge is huge.”
Knowing she'd not be satisfied until he gave in the familiar swam over to sit beside her; keep a respectable distance, Jenkins. Cassandra's red hair hung around her shoulders almost angelically, the tips were wet and stuck to the slope of her breasts, she truly was beautiful.
Suddenly water sloshed and splashed him in the face, Cassandra giggled.
“That's not funny.” He muttered with mock-annoyance as he wiped the water from his face only for a new wave to hit him, it was only then he realised she'd used magic rather than her hand.
“Yeah it is.”
“I warn you not to begin a fight you cannot win, Mistress.” He raised an eyebrow, of course he'd hardly finished his sentence before water struck him again.
War it was. Jenkins usually kept himself very prim and proper but Cassandra always managed to bring out the fun-loving side of him, the playful rascal. The older man thrust his hands out and a wave about a foot high surged towards her, it crashed into the witch soaking whatever was left of her dry hair.
“Told you I'd win.”
Cassandra laughed at him and swam to his side where she flicked her cupped her hands and lifted a small cup of the warm water up and let it drop over his head; the smile never left her face. Without warning she slipped her arms around his shoulders and cuddled into his neck.
“Thank you for this, Jenkins. It's so beautiful here.”
“You're very wel-” Her lips against his cut off the rest and Jenkins just floated there for a moment stunned.
“I'm so sorry, Jenkins. I-”
The wolf caught her mouth in a deep kiss, one hand slipped around the back of her neck to pull her close while the other sank into her wet red locks. She tasted of strawberries before he knew it he'd pushed her back against the rocks, without warning his mind snapped back and he leapt back as though he'd been burnt.
“I shouldn't have done that.”
“Yes you should.”
She clawed at his shoulders until his body was against her own, she arched into his touch when Jenkins let his hands rest on her hips. Her nipples brushed against his naked chest and he couldn't help the primal growl that escaped his lips. Cassandra saw his eyes darken with want it sent a shiver down her spine. His lips where at her neck in seconds, nibbling away and marking her as his. Jenkins gazed into her beautiful blue eyes, he could look at those eyes for the rest of time, so blue, so stunning, so awe inspiring. It was clear just how inexperienced Cassandra was when she kissed back, her lips parted and he took the opportunity to slip his tongue into her mouth and map every single inch as though he'd never again get the honour. Galahad's nails dug into her hips beneath the water's surface when she experimentally pushed her hips forwards, if he could have died she'd be the death of him.
“Tell me to stop, tell me to stop and I will. We don't have to do this.” The logical and proper part of his brain forced him to say.
“Why would I want that?” She asked as their eyes met, her lips pink and plump from their kissing.
He sighed. “Because you're eighteen, you have your whole life ahead of you and you could have any man you wanted.”
Cassandra smiled softly at that. “You're right, I could. I've never wanted anyone like I want you though, Jenkins. And it doesn't matter that I'm eighteen, if it were up to anyone else I'd have been married off years ago. I want you.”
As if to prove her point Cassandra let the warm water carry her legs apart and pulled him closer, his wolf half howled as their lips met again. This kiss was softer, far more gentle and done without urge, her fingers sipped into his wet white hair, nails brushed against his scalp as gripped her thighs to push them further apart.
“As long as you're sure.”
That was her Galahad, brave and noble, never wanting to force her into anything. She nodded.
There it was, express permission to touch her, to taste, lick and suck her. Jenkins' lips trailed down her neck as she leaned back against the dark rocks, his right hand trailed down her submerged lower half to her core. Cassandra gasped when a single finger entered her wet heat. Hormones surged through the redhead that quickly shut down her higher brain function and gave way to the rise of her animal self. A second finger slipped into her body as Jenkins pressed his mouth to her pink nipple, rosy bud raised in desperation for him. Each touch was like divine fire that Cassandra felt she wasn't worthy of, but as long as her wolf was willing to show her pleasure Cassandra would take it with glee. Three fingers had her letting out little whimpers that almost made Jenkins cum there and then. Galahad was the first to do this to her, the first to so much as kiss her, to give his darling witch pleasure; his ego surged.
Cassandra couldn't speak or think, every memory she'd ever formed found itself getting washed away leaving only the fire between her legs that threatened to erupt at any second. The redhead had never imagined anything could feel this good, she'd guessed it felt that way for men, that was why they did it, why the whorehouse had always been so profitable, but she'd never imagined anything could feel like this. Moans and pants slipped from her lips without permission and they just seemed to spur him on, almost like her juices waltzed on his fingers while his teeth teased her nipple. Something built and built like a volcano ready to erupt, her hands gripped his hair tight just to mess up his perfectly placed white hair; her legs fell further open letting Jenkins' fingers ravage her. His grip on her thigh was tight and would certainly leave bruising but neither cared in that moment, Cassandra's lungs couldn't find enough air as the edge came into view. It was steep and slippery at the top, Cassandra knew she could fall so easily, but would that edge lead to death or bliss? The witch didn't have to wait long to find out, just as his lips found her neck again she came with his name on her lips.
Jenkins watched as Cassandra's eyes fluttered closed and her head fell back, water dripped form his wrist when he brought his hand up to taste her. He hummed at her taste, Cassandra gasped when she saw just how much pleasure he took from licking her juices from his hand. Jenkins smiled at her and pressed another kiss to her soft lips so she could taste herself. Suddenly he grabbed her hips and pressed her hard against the black rocks.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“No.” She shook her head assuredly the peered down to his manhood. “Oh! Are all familiars so... well endowed?”
That got him to chuckle.
“All the ones I've had sex with, yes.”
Cassandra's eyebrows shot up.
“You've had sex with men?”
There was a pause but it certainly wasn't uncomfortable. “
“Familiars don't pay attention to gender as much as humans do.” With that his lips were on her own again.
Galahad lined himself up and filled his girl to the hilt, she was so tight, so perfect in every way that Jenkins had to fight not to cum there and then.
“Cassandra!” He moaned into her mouth.
From the size of him the redhead had been expecting pain but there was none, just a sense of euphoria that took all thought from her. Hands gripped either of her hips guiding her in their movements, it was new but Cassandra's body seemed to know what it was doing and so she let it take over. Jenkins breathed her in, lavender and strawberries, leaves and moss from their walk through the wood and raw musky sex, divine almost as if there was a celestial being in his arms. In the silvery twilight of the cave Galahad's fingers caressed his darling Cassandra's milky skin as if afraid a heavier touch would shatter the magic of the moment. They became one, one mind with one goal and purpose, utter bliss. Each touch of skin on skin through hot spring water was like electricity, a frenzy of static that sailed between their bodies like a leaf in the ocean. He kissed up the witches jaw to her earlobe and nipped at it with want, she tasted so good. The dark-haired man was close, so caught between the intoxication of his approaching climax and extending a moment he never wanted to end. So close, so near the edge ready to plunge over the cliff into the icy depths, so close. Suddenly Cassandra screamed so loud it was almost a sonic boom to his ears, he felt her walls clench around him as she came moaning and panting against his body.
“Jenkins, I want-” What did she want? Most of her brain had shut down and she'd forgotten how to talk let alone speak.
“What? Tell me and you'll get it.” Open mouthed kisses were pressed down her neck.
“I can... I can feel you holding back, don't. I don't – oh God – I don't want you to treat me like a witch or a human.” She looked him dead in the eyes. “Fuck me. Fuck me like I were a familiar.”
Jenkins' thrusts slowed in momentary shock.
“Are you sure?”
Cassandra nodded quickly. “Yes.”
A split second passed and then Jenkins ripped away from her and forcefully spun Cassandra around then back against the rocks, he entered her again from behind with a firm grip on her hips. Her whole body was so sensitive and he soon had Cassandra climaxing again with a cry and her hand shot over her shoulder to grip the back of his head.
Jenkins knew he wouldn't last much longer, his body cried out for release and when his deep thrusts grew erratic the familiar knew he was about to find his bliss.
Jenkins' heart raced in his chest as his hot seed filled her. A wave of utter pleasure washed over him.
For a time they just floated there in the warm water unable to speak. Scratches from the rocks covered Cassandra's back but she felt only euphoria.
He'd not intended to take her virginity when he'd guided her to the cave but he wouldn't have changed it for the world.
She was his now. They were each others.
Chapter 11: We Need To Talk
Twigs crunched underneath Ezekiel's feet as he traipsed after Jacob Stone through the forest that surrounded Salem, golden sun rained down on them and there hadn't been a breeze in since late the previous evening. Ezekiel may have traipsed but Stone moved purposely, every single step was sure and determined. His eyes took in every tree, saw every house built close to the tree line.
“What are we even doing out here? We haven't had breakfast yet!” Ezekiel huffed, clearly more focused on the lack of breakfast than anything else.
T he thief had been moaning on and off for a good thirty minutes and – much to his surprise – Jacob had managed to hold his tongue, but he was hungry too and needed to concentrate. Jacob sighed but didn't stop.
“Ezekiel, there's two kinds of witch, True and Soulless. Original Familiars serve the True Witches and have a thing about wandering around the woods at night. If I can find some evidence of that then I know it's a True Witch and not a Soulless. I'll know what I'm dealing with.”
T he thief's brow grew a tad bewildered. “This is the woods, mate. Loads of animals go prancing about the place on a daily basis. How are you gonna tell a familiar from the actual animal? And I'll tell you now, mate, I'm not going into some den to get eaten.”
Jacob sighed again – that was becoming a common thing around Ezekiel Jones – and finally stopped in favour of turning to the younger man.
“ We won't get eaten.”
“Everyone says that until a bear or a wolf or something else ends up munching on their leg.”
The witch finder smiled at that, Ezekiel may have been young and annoying but Jacob liked his sense of humour and that scoundrel of a grin. The older man pushed all those thoughts from his mind rather quickly though and the two went back to his searching the woods for evidence of Originals. They carried on in silence for a time with Jacob pausing every now and then seemingly to sense something. Ezekiel just kicked up leaves until he decided to pipe up again.
“You gonna tell me how you know a familiar from a hungry predator?”
There was a pause, small but hesitant.
“... I have a sense for these things-”
“You sense witches?” Ezekiel cut him off with curiosity. “ Oh, wait! Are you a witch?”
“What? No.” Jacob spun around to face the thief that had become his assistant, two days they'd known one another and somehow they'd become reluctant friends. . “ I'm not a witch. I trained with a monk in China, he taught me the difference between True and Soulless” Ezekiel watched with curiosity when Jacob rolled up his sleeve to reveal a bold pattern with symbols he didn't recognise in charcoal black. “ This... I'm not exactly sure what it is, it's a sort of magic ink given to me by my master.”
“What's it do?” Asked Ezekiel.
“It lets me sense other magic and familiar energy, interpret it. It ain't always clear, sometimes it's thick as mud. It also protects me from hexes, spells and curses.”
“Cool!” Ezekiel peered closer. “Can I have one?”
“D... Did you just listen to a word I said?” He asked with annoyance. “You know what, never mind. Come on.”
Ezekiel continued to complain and question until Jacob shushed him, he'd found something. Ezekiel had watched the older man go silent and solid as ice, his eyes had fallen shut. Absolutely nothing happened or at least to the thief nothing happened but clearly Stone felt something. The witch finder knew two Originals had been there, one winged and one with paws, however, all signs of their energy had faded away though and couldn't be tracked; a pure concentrated power throwing him off.
After his assistants' complaining Jacob had just given in and let Ezekiel drag him to the tavern for breakfast. For a time Jacob had sat there and watched Ezekiel as the two ate, there was such life in the young man but clearly he'd had a unforgiving hard life. The boy didn't have any parents and hadn't for a long time, he'd most likely grown up alone with only himself to protect him, from Ezekiel's clothing Jacob knew he'd never had money which was why his sticky fingers had become so well used. However, despite all of that the witch finder could see that Ezekiel was a good man deep down; even if the thief didn't want to admit it. They couldn't sit there all day though, Jacob rose to his feet and wiped a hand over his face.
“Come on, we need to go to Knocker's Hole. I want to see if I can find evidence of either of those familiars.”
Ezekiel sighed and leaned back on his chair. “Can't we rest for a like five minutes?”
“You've just had breakfast – which I paid for - and been sat here for like a half hour. We've got work to do, Ezekiel.”
The thief was starting to regret his deal with Jacob Stone, that money sounded too good though.
“Fine.” He breathed then rose to his feet, then snatched the last scrap of toast from his plate. “Lead the way.”
Jacob did just that, he marched out the building with Ezekiel trailing behind, highly reminiscent of that morning through the woods. The Puritans of Salem stared as they headed towards the poor area by the docks known as Knocker's Hole, the witch finder and his assistant ignored them though; there was no point staring back.
The dusty streets of Knocker's Hole were packed with people to the point that they could hardly walk a foot without brushing against someone else. Soon they past the brothel, a large red painted building with two whores stood outside enticing men inside. They didn't bother with Ezekiel, they'd seen him around since he was a kid and knew he had no money for them; Jacob was different.
Grinned a blonde prostitute in a hardly there burgundy dress. She slipped her hands over his chest and up the hard leather lapels of his coat.
“Want to come and play with me?” She said in a sickly sweet tone.
“Lovely offer, darlin', really, but I have work to do.” Carefully he removed her hands from his person. “Maybe another time.”
Stone had never paid for sex before and he'd got no intention of starting any time soon.
“Shame.” The blonde actually seemed to mean that. “Next time should be fun.”
The leather coat clad man didn't respond to that just carried on down the street, Ezekiel raced after him.
“Turning down Mercy huh, mate? That's unheard of in Salem. Everyone wants Mercy.”
Stone peered over his shoulder at his new friend.
“She's popular with you then?” He said offhandedly.
“Nah, I don't have the money to be wasting in the brothel and... I'm not exactly interested.” Ezekiel added the last bit a little more quietly.
“Me neither.” Came Jacob's quick response. “I like a woman that wants me not just for my money.”
“Yeah, sure.” Ezekiel muttered a half-heartedly.
That tone gave Jacob pause but he didn't cease his movements, cautiously he glanced at the thief with questioning in his eyes but he didn't say a word.
Jenkins set his knife and fork down on his empty plate as he watched his Mistress up on her tiptoes as she tried to reach a jar from the top shelf; the shelf she'd never been able to reach properly much to her annoyance.
“Let me.” Said Jenkins as he shot to his feet.
“No, it's alright.”
Easily the jar slid off the shelf with a tiny gust of magic and landed in her awaiting arms, Cassandra could help but smile up at her wolf as she set it down on the counter.
“I'm obsolete.” He breathed with mock sadness which only caused her to giggle.
“Never.” Cassandra's lips pressed to his, warm and sweet, perfect didn't come close to describing the redhead. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Jenkins pulled her close to his chest, arms snaked around her waist as he pressed her against the dark wood counter. He pressed open-mouthed kisses to her porcelain neck.
It amazed Cassandra that Jenkins always tasted of tea no matter what time of the day she kissed him, all warm and inviting.
One large hand cupped the back of her head while another caressed her hip wantonly. There was love in every touch, every brush of skin. Her arms wrapped around his strong shoulders, his scent, his closeness, all of it made her feel safe and loved.
Suddenly someone banged on the door so hard that it vibrated through the house and nearly forced Cassandra from her skin. Reluctantly they broke apart from one another and went to the front door, Galahad pulled it open only to find the witch finder and young Ezekiel, both looked confused.
“Doctor?” Said Jacob with a furrowed brow and then it all seemed to slip into place for him, a tiny grin lifted his lips upwards into a smile. “Doctor Jenkins, Miss Cillian, we need to talk.”
Chapter 12: Diamond
… We need to talk.
Those words sent a zap of fear through Cassandra body but Jenkins stood tall and unafraid, the Original truly was her rock. Mister Stone could have meant anything though and Cassandra wouldn't let herself go and jump to conclusions. Calmly she invited Jacob and Ezekiel into the parlour as though they'd got no possible idea what the witch finder cold have been talking about; the thief seemed just as confused as Cassandra herself. Jenkins vanished off back to the kitchen to make tea while Cassandra tried desperately to calm her nerves, she'd heard the tales of witch finders and the trail of death and destruction they left in their wakes, the horror. Burnt, hung, she didn't know how many had been put to death under the orders of a witch finder? The only evidence having been rumours.
Jenkins returned promptly with her favourite tea tray and set it down on the parlour table. He could feel his beloved redhead's nerves.
“Do you have more questions about the deaths?” The white-haired man asked in a serene as possible tone. “Unfortunately we've gotten no closer to the cause of the plague, but we will. It's still contained to Knocker's Hole though witch is a minor boon.”
How does he do that? Cassandra asked herself. How does he stay so calm?
“That's not why we're here.” Said Jacob which only earned a why are we here look from Ezekiel. “You know, Doctor Jenkins, we were in the woods this morning and I picked up the energy of a four-legged Original, so imagine my surprise when we went back to the Marsden warehouse only to come across the exact same energy. There's something in this town throwing off my abilities, something that wants to blind but I ain't stupid and I know what you two are.” Jacob pointed a tanned finger at Cassandra. “The Witch,” he gestured to Jenkins. “and her familiar.”
In an instant Jenkins was in front of his Mistress, his body blocked her from sigh and a warning growl rumbled deep in his throat, Ezekiel's eyes went wide when he saw the older man's nails turn dark and grow long like claws.
“Relax.” Jacob told the familiar quickly, his hands raised as he took a few steps back in an attempt to calm the powerful supernatural creature before him. “I ain't here to hurt either of you, alright? You're a True Witch and an Original, I know ya didn't start this. However, I think if we work together we can find out who did. First I need to know who the other familiars and True Witches are, we need all the help we can get.”
“Are you sure she's a witch, mate?” Asked Ezekiel, he'd been so quiet that they'd almost entirely forgotten he was in the room.
Finally Cassandra peeked out from behind her tall protector, which he didn't seem overly pleased about but she wanted to be strong.
“Mister Stone is right, Ezekiel. I'm a witch.”
It felt both good and horrifying when she said that aloud. She felt Jenkins reach full alert, it travelled through their bond and into her soul. The town could have been on fire but she would have felt safe.
“Whose the winged Original?” Asked Jacob.
“We're not just going to tell you.” Cassandra told him quickly. “They have a right to privacy.”
“Mate, she's got a point. Does it really matter?”
Ezekiel wasn't sure how he'd fallen into the world of witches and whatever the hell an Original but he did know they couldn't just go around asking people to reveal their deepest darkest secrets.
“How about a compromise?” Suggested Jenkins, clearly the voice of reason.
“We'll ask them if they're willing to talk to you.” Finished Cassandra, they might not have had the talent of telepathy but they were certainly on the same wavelength.
Jacob couldn't argue with that – if roles had been reversed he'd have been reluctant to just give up the names of his friends to a witch finder – and left with Ezekiel without complaint.
T he second that Cassandra's front door closed she let out a breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding, it almost burnt her lungs. Jenkins encompassed his arms around her tiny waist and held her tight.
“It will all be alright, Mistress. I promise.” His voice was deep and protective, so much so that the redhead couldn't help but lean back into his strong chest.
“If they figured out what we are then so could anyone else. What if Theophil finds out? He already hates you and is just looking for a reason to get rid of you.”
“I know you're scared but I'm here. My soul purpose is to protect you.” Galahad leaned in to kiss the sensitive spot behind her ear. “Mister Stone has something magical about him, you said it yourself as soon as we met him, that's how he discovered us. I'll protect you, I'll keep you safe, always.” Those weren't empty words or just a comfort, they were a vow.
Cassandra smiled. “What would I do without you?”
That got a chuckle from the white-haired man.
“If you didn't have me I'd doubt you'd be aware of your power so you'd probably be a lot safer.”
Jenkins spun his darling redhead around to face him and cupped her cheek with a large hand, his thumb softly caressed her porcelain cheek. Jenkins' deep eyes locked with her cerulean ones, and before she knew it Cassandra was leaning into press her lips to his.
“I need to return to Knocker's Hole.” Said the familiar once they'd finally broken apart. “You should stay here and rest.”
The witch shook her head. “No, I can;t sit here and worry while people are dying, Galahad. I want to help, need to help.”
“Of course you do, you're a brave hero after all.” A glint shone in his green-hazel eyes.
“No I'm not.” I'm not, I haven't done anything heroic in my life.
“You always have been, it was the first thing I noticed about you and the first thing I admired.” He pressed another quick kiss to her pink lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Morgan stood before a large lump of dark coal in her hidden sanctum, light from the fire was all that lit the room, it's delicate movements danced over the dark grey stone walls. The Soulless Witch had been annoyed ever since she'd found the Magistrate had brought a Witch Finder into Salem, her Salem, however, she highly doubted Jacob Stone would ever suspect her. The plague was doing its job and acting as a complete distraction for not only the witch finder but the two witches and their familiars as well. Thoughts of them had been pushed to the recesses of her mind though as she'd turned her attentions to the last stages of her plan, hence the coal lump.
M organ mixed her ingredients slowly, just a pinch of wormwood added at the end from her personal garden. With a steady hand she tipped the black-green liquid over the coal from it's little silver bowl and watched as it pooled outwards, she could feel heat lick at her skin as the concoction warmed and changed from black-green to a bold purple before it transformed to a translucent goo that was absorbed like a sponge into the coal. The redhead grinned, everything was starting to fall into place, soon she'd have exactly what she wanted.
“Just a little longer.” Morgan muttered to herself.
T he silver bowl was cast aside still coated with the last remnants of black ooze and Morgan took the slime covered coal into her hands, strangely cold considering the heat she could still feel on her face. With absolute ease she wiped at the mineral, the rocky like outer shell slipped away revealing a palm sided uncut diamond, clear and heavy.
“Hello my little friend, I've got plans for you.”
Chapter 13: Unity
A tad awkwardly Flynn and Eve sat in Cassandra's house alone with the witch finder and Ezekiel. Everyone had elected to sit save for Jenkins who almost always remained standing; just something the redhead had noticed. The Reverend and his familiar had agreed to talk to Jacob Stone rather quickly which had surprised Cassandra a lot more than it had her wolf, seemed they were well aware of the strange concentration of magic in Salem and it had started to concern them.
“The Reverend's a witch?” Said Ezekiel with surprise the second he and Eve had walked into the parlour.
Flynn smiled. “Would anyone suspect the Reverend of Salem, really?”
“Ahh, perfect cover, I get it. Nice.”
“Yeah, great.” Began in a slightly disgruntled tone. “ Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Salem's got a plague that certainly ain't natural, right doc?”
Jenkins nodded. “Yes, but you should know I'm not actually a doctor, the town just assumed I was. Just Jenkins is more than fine.”
“ Alright, Jenkins it is.” The younger man nodded to himself.
Sensing their little group was heading for a tangent Flynn pushed them back to the matter at hand. He ran a large hand through his brown locks.
“ There are two Soulless in Salem, we used to outnumber them three to two until Robert's death.” Jenkins couldn't help but look to the woman he loved and her sorrowful look. “ Salem has a reputation for witches but there's actually very few of us here.”
“So who are they?” Asked Jacob quickly. “I haven't sensed them, then again I think I'm kinda useless until we figure out why there's so much magical energy in Salem.”
“ Salem is on a ley lines.” Cassandra offhandedly.
“ That's not important right now, Flynn and I have always know who the two Soulless are -”
“Neither of them have been into town while I've been here, at least not close enough for me to pick up on.” The wolf certainly didn't like the idea of Soulless witches running around Salem, near his beloved Cassandra.
“ Like I said, there are two. Thomas, he's fairly harmless, evil hasn't quite gotten to him, he lives in a cabin in the woods and keeps himself to himself. He only made his deal to save his family but they left him when the wife found out what he'd done. Thomas is only dangerous to himself.” Sadness flashed across Flynn's eyes.
“And the other?” Prompted Stone as he slumped down into the chair between Ezekiel and Eve, his scuffed leather coat flushed outwards at his waist.
“ That would be the widow of our last Magistrate-”
“Morgan's a Soulless?” Cassandra cut him off with shock. “I was going to ask for her help.”
“Morgan?” Jenkins asked suddenly very serious, his face turned stoic and Cassandra almost winced when she saw his shoulders tense. “ Morgan Le Fay? Please tell me she's not been living in this town.” He turned to the red-haired witch almost apolitically. “ Cassandra I let you leave this house unprotected.”
“ You know her?” Jacob was suddenly up on his feet again, brow furrowed.
“ Yes, she,” Jenkins sighed. “we've met. I... I served a man a long time ago. A True Witch similar to you Mister Carson, he was better skilled with his sword than magic, and Morgan Le Fay hated him because he got to rule and she didn't, because he was born with magic and she wasn't. Morgan... killed him, I failed Arthur I won't fail you, Mistress.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” Cassandra gestured for Jenkins just to slow down. “Arthur? Morgan Le Fay? I thought her name was just some strange coincidences or a bad joke, she can't actually be King Arthur's sister. Can she?”
There was a brief pause.
“Yes, Cassandra, she is. Long ago Arthur named me Sir Galahad and had me as one of his knights.”
“Creepy.” Muttered Ezekiel but everyone in the room either didn't hear him or ignored the thief.
“I named you after yourself.” Cassandra said quietly and Jenkins easily took her into his strong arms then pressed a delicate kiss to her forehead.
“ If any of our resident witches are causing the plague my money is on Morgan.” Admitted Flynn.
“But she helped me after my father died.” Cassandra said from the comfort of her wolf's warmth. “ Is she really evil?”
“Cassandra, my love, her heart is black and cold as ice. If there was ever any good in that woman it faded centuries ago.”
“But she encouraged me, she gave me my Grimoire and told me how to summon you.”
“Cassandra, you have to trust me.”
She nodded and went quiet for a moment. Cassandra knew he only wanted her to be safe. Jenkins was right, of course he was, the man was far older and far wiser than Cassandra herself. She didn't want to see Morgan as a Soulless but she'd always known there was something strange about her deep down. Thinking about it Morgan had pushed her away pretty fast after she'd gained Galahad.
It was Eve that broke the silence.
“She's not been into town all that much since you got here, Jenkins, and not at all since Stone showed up.”
“We need to prove it's her though, right?” Asked Ezekiel who still sat in the empty chair the witch finder had occupied only a few moments earlier.
“ We'll watch her, see if anything strange is going on.” Began Eve in a suddenly determined tone, almost as though she were a military general. “Cassandra, Jenkins, try to end this plague, if it keeps going like this there won't be anyone left alive in Salem save for you two, me and Flynn.” Her beautiful blue eyes flashed over to the witch finder and his young assistant. “Stone, Ezekiel, it would be best if the two of you play dumb about Morgan, just carry on as you have been doing.”
No one was quite sure how the hawk familiar had taken over the role of leader but they weren't going to complain, the strange little group they'd become couldn't fault her plan.
Chapter 14: Plague Infested Waters
Cassandra carefully dabbed at the forehead of a young man affected by the plague, over half of Knocker's Hole had been afflicted and the red-haired witch wasn't sure if she and Jenkins could put a stop to it before it claimed yet more innocent lives. Suddenly one of the newest to fall ill began to cough violently so she quickly helped him to sit him up.
“It's okay, you'll be alright, John.”
John Kent, the younger brother of Christopher Kent – Knocker's Hole's head night watchman – had started showing signs the day before and things had quickly gone from bad to worse for him. John usually had a slight tan to his rippling body but the plague had sent his skin a sickly white, poor man was covered over in cold sweat and looked to be on Death's door. The younger Kent brother weakly smiled up at her before his eyes slipped closed again and pulled him back to that feverish dozing.
“Miss Cillian!” Called Jenkins from the other section of the warehouse they'd been using to store the dead, the sudden noise actually made her jump.
Cassandra tucked the scratchy blanket up around John to help keep him warm and then went to her beloved wolf side. She found him crouched down beside one of the recently deceased, just her face uncovered. Jenkins and Cassandra had spent most of their time trying to find some kind of magical solution but had any luck... not yet.
“What is it, Galahad?” She asked softly.
“Look at this.”
Jenkins gestured to the dead woman's lips and the cracking around them, deep and jagged, under bone-white flesh the blood vessel had turned a muddy black; Cassandra just hopped that the young woman hadn't suffered too long.
“What am I looking at?” Cassandra bent down just a little to peer over Jenkins' shoulder.
“Is it me or do her lips look more affected than the rest of her body?”
“Yes.” She had to admit. “But we already ruled out the food and water, it's connected to the rest of Salem. It can't be something they ingested or all of the town would be sick.”
There was a pause and then Jenkins' brow furrowed.
“Oh, I'm an idiot!”
Still crouched down the wolf spun to face his witch, a look of realisation coated his green-hazel eyes.
“It's not the water, it's the well they're drawing it from.”
Galahad shot to his feet, in an instant he towered the redhead and she nearly swooned, there was something powerful about his hight, Jenkins had so much strength in his tall stature but every ounce of it served her. Sometimes she felt as though Galahad put her on a pedestal and even though that made her feel special but she doubted she'd ever shake the feeling that she didn't deserve it.
“How many wells are there in Knocker's Hole?”
“Just the one... and the first victim was found next to the well.”
“That's why it's contained, Oh I've been an idiot! We need to cover up that well, send Christopher to get Magistrate Hale would you?”
“Of course.” She nodded.
Within the hour the Knocker's Hole well had been covered over and fresh water had started to be brought in from the next well over. It wouldn't cure the sick but it would certainly stop anyone else getting infected. Unfortunately for Jenkins his witch and their friends discovering the source of Salem's plague had only made the town even more determined to find and kill the witch. Theophil wouldn't rest until someone had swung, that man was all black on the inside.
In the dead of night Cassandra and her strong white wolf found themselves stood by the covered over well in the middle of Knocker's Hole, she he'd a small ball of floating white light in her hand as she peered at the dark stones for marks At such an early hour no one was around, everyone was tucked up in their beds.
“I can't see any sort of markings.” Said Cassandra with her beautiful blue eyes still on the well's grey stones. She sighed. “I was sure that was how she'd done it.”
The red haired witch had been studying curses and hexes ever since the plague had begun – where Jenkins got all those books from she didn't ask – and most of them required symbols to be carved into the cursed object. Daylight would have made things much easier but they couldn't risk that, especially with every person in Salem out for witch blood.
“Morgan wouldn't have left any obvious trace of witchcraft.” Jenkins told her as he glanced around to make sure they were still alone.
“But there has to be some kind of symbol, maybe it's on the inside of the well?” Cassandra mused aloud. “Galahad, you're taller and stronger so you'll be able to see better.”
“No, you just don't want to hang upside down in a cursed well.” He smirked.
“Guilty.” Deadpanned Cassandra which earned her a low rumbled mmm , but he didn't complain. “Please?”
Still he said nothing just pulled off his dark coat and handed it to the woman he loved once she'd put out the ball of light in her hand, after a quick look to the damp almost grimy layer of dirt at the very to of the well Jenkins took off his white shirt as well. Cassandra would have been lying if she said she'd not taken in that particular view with glee. It almost amazed Cassandra when she saw him support himself almost competently upside down in the well, he had the body of an older gentleman but he had the strength of ten men and the grace of a wolf.
Everything went quiet after the Jenkins summoned his own ball of white light into his hand, the only noise being the occasional grunt as his shuffled to get a look at another part of the grey well. Suddenly from the corner of her cerulean orbs Cassandra saw fire, a torch held by one of Knocker's Hole's night watchmen. There she was stood in the middle of the street at two o'clock in the morning holding the clothes of a man who was not her husband and who was also upside down in a well holding a ball of light. It looked suspicious to say the very least. Panic shot up the witch's spine and radiated through her almost like blood in it's veins, they couldn't explain why they were there without some reference to magic. Before she knew what she was doing Cassandra had thrown the clothing at Jenkins' legs only to knock him off balance and send him down to the bottom of the well. Holy shit, was the last thing she heard of him before the inevitable splash; thankfully the white light went out.
“Miss Cillian? What are ya doin' out 'ere in the middle of the night?” Asked George, the night watchman.
George was fairly new to the watchman job and had a good heart, also he wasn't too bright.
“Oh, em, I was just waiting for Doctor Jenkins.” She said a little too quickly and glanced around, they weren't too far from the Marsden warehouse. “We tend to the sick during the night as well as the day, another poor soul has just died and I... I couldn't see that again. The doctor sent me out here to get some fresh air and wait for him while he moves the body.”
“Not another one, people are droppin' like flies around 'ere. It's cold out tonight, Miss Cillian, ya should be inside all warm.”
“It's alright, George, really. I can wait for the doctor to walk me home.”
“I could wait with ya, if ya like?” He raised the flaming torch a little higher as he spoke.
Cassandra appreciated George's kind heart but there and then she needed him to just continue his rounds and leave her alone, Jenkins wasn't going to be happy when she got him out of that well.
“Oh, that's alright, George, you've got work to be doing.”
“Nah, no problem, Miss Cillian. Come on, the doc won't mind walking back on his own. It's late and ya should be in bed, young lady like you shouldn't be refused her beauty sleep.”
The young man – only a year or so older than Cassandra herself – clearly wasn't going to take no for an answer, he wanted to do his gentlemanly duty and the witch knew her only real choice was to let him; I'll just have to come straight back.
“Alright, thank you, George.”
The sandy haired man held out his arm for Cassandra to loop with his and she did with a smile. As they walked away she glanced over her shoulder to see the faint light reappear in the well bottom. Oh, he's really not going to be happy.
Chapter 15: When It Rains It Pours
George dropped Cassandra off at her house and bid her goodnight before finally leaving her be, she offered him a pleasant smile then shut the front door and raced through to her linen closet from which she pulled the largest towel she owned, Jenkins was going to need drying off once she got him out of that well. Cassandra shut the closet door and headed back to the front door but ground to a halt when she heard the surgery door shut, the redhead spun around to see her massive white wolf soaking wet at the end of the hall.
“ Oh God, Galahad I'm so sorry.”
Jenkins didn't bark or make any noise of any kind, he just padded purposely towards the witch and shook himself violently dowsing her with water. With a sigh Cassandra wiped at her face with the dark towel only to find that in that instant he'd changed back into the six-foot-five man she loved. Jenkins was still dripping wet but completely naked and his hair spiked up at odd angles.
“ Thank you for the bath, Mistress.” He said with a faint smile of jest.
“ I'm sorry, Jenkins. I really didn't mean to, I just panicked.” She wrapped the towel around his shoulders and Jenkins started to dry off his hair.
“ It's alright, Cassandra.” He pressed a quick kiss to her cheek before he went back to wiping himself down with the towel.
“Wouldn't it have been easier to stay human rather than a wolf though?”
“I couldn't help it, someone knocked me head first into a well. I had a choice of landing on my face or my paws, also it's easier for a wolf to get through Salem unseen than a very naked man.” There was a brief pause. “On the bright side I found a symbol on my way back up.”
In a faint puff of smoke Cassandra conjured up a quill and sheet of paper that she held out to him.
“What did it look like?”
Jenkins wrapped the towel around his waist tightly then took the proffered paper and quill, he set it down on the table; Cassandra watched over his shoulder. Two thin lines with a dot on the end of one while the other had a hook.
“I've never seen anything it before, have you?” Her beautiful blue eyes flashed up to her wolf.
“ No, sorry, I'm not a witch though so I don't really remember the symbols, I'm a familiar, I can't cast curses.” It still confused the redhead as to how his magic worked. “ I need to get dressed, it's freezing out there.”
Cassandra nodded and watched him walk off clad in only the dark blue towel she'd given him, her neck itched where small droplets of water were rolling down her skin but she knew she'd deserved that.
In the parlour Cassandra pulled out the books Jenkins had somehow gotten for her and started to flick through the pages in search of the strange symbol but nothing even remotely similar jumped out. It didn't help that she kept yawning, her eyes stung and it was probably best to go back to her search once she'd had some sleep. With a gentle wave of her hand the pages went blank hiding all evidence of witchcraft from her home, they couldn't just leave that sort of thing lying around. On her way up the stairs all the candles and the fire faded out in perfect unison to settle the Cillian house into slumber. Cassandra didn't quite like that, the Cillian house, it had been correct when her father was alive but Galahad lived there now, it was his home too, the Jenkins-Cillian house? She didn't know and maybe it wasn't actually that important in the grand scheme of things.
The redhead stopped when she got to Jenkins' room – which had once been her fathers – the door lay open and she couldn't help but watch as he pulled on fresh pants. All she wanted was to fall into bed and get some real sleep but she couldn't resist going to her brave wolf and snaking her arms around him from behind. His skin was like ice when she pressed her cheek to his naked back, highly unusual for an Original but Cassandra could already feel the first hint of heat returning to his body.
“ I'm sorry for pushing you in.”
He spun around with Cassandra arms still around him and rested his chin on the top of her head, he held her close.
“ I love you. And you're falling asleep, let me tuck you up.”
With a flash of strength Jenkins lifted her up with a single arm and carried his redhead into her bedroom easily. Softly the familiar set her down and unlaced her dress, it fell to the floor in a pool of dark green fabric, that man could unlace a corset with more skill than she could and Cassandra had been wearing them all her life. The two of them settled down in bed and Cassandra instantly cuddled into his strong chest, amazingly his body had heated back up in just those few moments from his room to her own.
That was how she fell asleep, safe and in the arms of the man she loved.
Theophil Hale waltzed through the streets of Salem like he owned the place, as magistrate he practically did, that didn't last long though because as he turned towards the market a strange pull ensnared him and demanded he head for the large graveyard behind the church. The fifty plus year old man tried to fight it off but the compulsion was just too strong. Soon he found himself forced to a small line of trees hidden at the far end of the graveyard where he found Morgan stood waiting for him.
“Missus Le Fay? You did this? Witch!”
“Oh do be quiet you pathetic little man .” She could see him try to run but her magic held him firmly in pla ce. “I need you to do something for me.” Morgan took a step closer. “ Tell me about Doctor Jenkins, what does he look like? What does he act like?”
“He's older than me, white hair, very tall.” He had no idea why the hell he was telling her all of that, his mouth just seemed to open and let information pour out against his will. “Miss Cillian calls him Galahad.”
Morgan's eyes went wide, it couldn't be, not after so many years, but Galahad wasn't the sort of name one would just pluck out of thin air. It made sense for why she'd sensed a four-legged familiar too. Her brother's guard dog was back.
“And Cassandra, how dies she seem when she's around him?”
“That little whore follows him around like a love sick puppy. She adores him.”
“Of course she does. Go on home, Theophil, and you're not going to remember any of this.”
T he magistrate nodded, memories had already started to bleed away from his memory as he slowly shuffled off back into the streets of Salem. Out of every Original in existence why did it have to be her little brother's dog that showed up during her most important spell. There was only one thing for it, Galahad had to die. But how was she going to kill an immortal.
Chapter 16: Blood Rain
After discovering the strange symbol in the Knocker's Hole well Jenkins and Cassandra had made quick work of taking it to Reverend Carson and his wife, Flynn had a huge collection of magical books; some ancient and some newer. Jenkins had intended to stay and help Cassandra, Flynn and Jacob Stone but Eve had convinced him to go to the basement with her and Ezekiel had just tagged alone behind them.
Small balls of white light floated in the place of wall sconce on the grey walls and part of the stone floor had been covered over yellow flaw, on the other side of which was the west wall covered over with knives, bows, swords and even muskets. Eve had herself a little armoury. Despite being the basement the room actually seemed rather warm. T he blonde familiar had dressed in long dark pants, a huge no in the world of Puritans but it was fairly certain their little group hadn't fallen into that category for some time.
“ Thought you lot had magic, what's with the weapons?” Asked Ezekiel from the stool he'd commandeered.
“ We do, Mister Jones.” Began Jenkins without taking his eyes from the wall of weapons; Eve could see he was impressed with it. “However, at the end of the day we are more than just a guardian or a caretaker but soldiers. One cannot always rely on one's magic, Mister Jones.”
“ He's right, Ezekiel. And it will be nice to have someone to really spar with.”
T he hawk familiar spun around back to her wall of weapons and took down two swords one of witch instantly found its way into Jenkins' hand.
“ Personally I favour a projectile like a crossbow or a flintlock but since you're actually Sir Galahad I'd be honoured if you'd do battle with me.”
“The honour is all mine.”
Ezekiel watched from the corner by the stairs as Jenkins and Eve spared, he knew nothing about sword fighting or combat of any kind but he did know style and finesse when he saw it, Ezekiel was a thief after all. It was fairly obvious that Jenkins had decided to go easy on the hawk but he was still too good for her to have any hope of defeating him. Gleaming swords swished through the air and clinked against one another when they crashed together, small groans escaped Eve's lips when he dodged her attacks or he forced her lunges to knock her off balance. Eventually Jenkins got her pined so as she had her sword arm twisted around behind her back and his own blade at her throat, Eve couldn't have moved even if she'd wanted to. Suddenly there was clapping and Jenkins released the other Original, they looked up to find Cassandra, her fellow witch and Jacob Stone stood beside Ezekiel.
“ That's amazing, Jenkins. I've never seen anyone beat Eve, especially so easily.” Grinned Flynn, who'd sat himself on the stairs.
“ It's to be expected,” Began Eve as she carefully placed the swords back up on the wall. “he's one of the first Originals, I'm a baby compared to him.”
“You are no less talented though. I have been using a sword for over fifteen-hundred years, had you been armed with your preferred weapons the outcome would have been much different.”
Jenkins flashed her a smile, one of those warm hardly there ones that people found infectious, Eve nodded her thanks for his gracious attitude. Once he'd straightened his clothing Jenkins went to his beloved Cassandra and wrapped her in his arms, he kept her close.
“Did you discover anything in regards to that symbol I found in the well?”
“Yes.” Beamed the redhead. “Flynn's collection borders on a library, it's wonderful. He's even got some books that may be older than you are.” Jest lingered in her silky voice and Ezekiel snorted.
“ From what I can tell the symbol is actually two separate symbols that were joined together approximately two centuries ago to start a similar plague in Denmark, only it was a corrupted True Witch that started it and managed to curse an entire river.” Flynn paused for a moment there, how many had died all those years ago in Denmark? “They come from Scandinavian magic and roughly means blood rain. We're not exactly sure what spell she used to attach it to the well but I'm pretty confident we can destroy the mark. With it gone the plague should die in its hosts too. It'll need to be removed by a witch though.”
Ezekiel's face grew puzzled. “Why can't Jenkins or Eve do it? The doc is always down there since everyone's sick.”
“Because they're Originals.” Explained Stone. “Familiars can't cast or break curses.”
“Eve, we're going to go remove that symbol.” The blonde hawk nodded to her husband before Jacob started to speak again.
“Ezekiel, it's time to put your skill as a thief to good use. Cassandra is going to distract Morgan, invite her to tea and we're gonna to take the opportunity to sneak into her house and have a look around. Ain't gonna have long though.”
“No.” Said Jenkins suddenly and drew the attention of the whole room. “I'm not leaving you alone with that woman.”
“Jenkins,” Cassandra sighed. “you know she can't see you. God knows what Morgan will try if she finds out you're here-”
“And we don't know what she'll do to you.” He cut her off abruptly. “She's evil.”
Cassandra loved that her brave wolf was so protective of her but she needed to do this, they all needed to know whatever it was that Morgan was up to and if she didn't distract Morgan Jacob and Ezekiel wouldn't have been able to gather clues. It had to be the two of them, Originals left an energy trace behind and she'd have no doubt warded against other witches.
“ You'll sense if I need you, right?”
Jenkins nodded honestly. “ Yes, of course.”
“Then go to the warehouse and take care of the ill and if I need you, then can come running like the hero you are.” She flashed him a grin, the grin that Jenkins could ever say no to.
T he white-haired man knew she was correct, if Morgan saw him she might have accelerated her plans. He'd be on edge for the rest of the day but Jenkins could live with that, but if Morgan dared lay a finger on his beloved redhead he'd rip her apart, he might have come across as a fine upstanding gentleman but on the inside he was still a wolf, and wolves protected their pack.