Chapter One Hundred and Thirty Five
"Isn't that sweet," I commented, gathering my purse and the box of objects Linda had brought, "They have all the lights on for us."
Linda squinched her eyes shut for a moment. Then she opened them and said, "Um, Mom, I don't think we're the reason the house is lit up like a Christmas tree."
She had listened to the minds of the folks in the house and discovered something. I hadn't thought to do that. I hoped they weren't having troubles in the house.
I remembered when Gran had been murdered in the farmhouse kitchen, I had all the lights on, every last one, upstairs and down, day and night, for almost a week until I finally came out of my grief long enough to think of the astronomical electric bill I was creating.
I checked in to the minds inside the modernized farmhouse too and found ....
Many minds scurrying around searching .. for something hidden. Loudest of all was Amelia's mind, worrying, fretting .. "Where is it, oh where can it be ... all my fault .. that damn Stanley ... what was I thinking ... wait til I get my hands on him ..."
She always was a first class broadcaster.
"We might as well go in and see if we can help," I said calmly. Being a Vampire had really settled my nerves in so many ways. Things just didn't get to me the way they used to.
We went to the front door and knocked, then I rang the bell. No answer. Finally I just turned the star shaped knob and we walked in.
"Hi, I'm Iris," a young woman with wild wavy flaming red hair called breathlessly as she rushed past to run upstairs. She hiked up the hem of her black robe and took the steps two at a time. "I'll tell Amelia you're here."
"No need Iris," Amelia said from the upstairs landing. "I'll be right down."
Amelia clumped down the steps on chunky black high heeled shoes. The height of the heels and soles made them look very dangerous. I readied myself in case I would be needed to break her fall.
"What's wrong? Can I help you find something?" I asked after giving her a hug.
I didn't need to hide my telepathy from her, she knew all about it.
Another young woman walked past us almost bent double, studying the wood floor for all she was worth. "I think I found his trail," she muttered.
"Good to see you, Aunt Amelia," Linda said, hugging her Aunt. "I hope I brought the things you need to do the spell."
"I'm sure they'll be fine," Amelia said distractedly, " ... IF we can ever get the spell underway."
She looked at me blinking, realizing I had asked a question. "My wand is missing. Stanley has hidden it somewhere and we can't begin without it. We're all looking for it. Do you want to search too?"
"What was it made out of? Was it anointed?" I asked. I didn't want to run around the house searching but with my sense of smell I knew I could find it if it had some distinctive scent.
Through the dining room doorway I could see the modern art chandelier Char had given to Amelia to replace the one I had accidentally broken a while back. It wasn't to my taste, but it went with the wacky and wonderful modern art objects decorating the house.
"It was simple pine, made from that big twin pine in the back, the one that was hit by lightening a few years ago. You know the one?"
I did indeed, it had been the biggest tree on the property and had cost a bundle to get taken down after lightening had charred the whole north side.
Amelia added, "The wand was anointed with holy water from the St. Philomena church in New Orleans. And cured with rosemary oil. And rubbed with leaves from a trifolium. And kept in a woolen bag made from an old Icelandic sweater I re-purposed. Does that help?" she asked, wringing her hands as I lifted my nose and sniffed.
With all those distinct scents to go by there was only one place it could be. "The attic. It's up there with a ... very large squirrel?"
Did she have a pet squirrel? If she did it must be a record winning size from the pure blast of scent it gave off.
"The attic!" Amelia yelled into the whole house and seven pairs of shoes all thundered up the wooden steps to the attic. I followed behind Amelia worried she might take a tumble in her platform shoes.
We all crowded into the unfinished space. It had been used for storage when Gran had the house and it was used for storage now. From behind a pile of boxes I heard an angry chattering.
"Be careful," I warned her. "A frightened squirrel can be dangerous. Maybe we should just open a window and wait for it to escape."
"Thanks Roomie, but I have this covered," Amelia said, regaining her composure.
"Stanley, come out right now and bring the wand. You're not helping matters," she ordered. The four pretty witches behind her looked at each other, impressed with the flat tone of command in Amelia's voice. Amelia wasn't just a pretty witch, she was one of Hecate's Handmaidens and a thirty second degree witch, the highest level after Hecate herself.
From behind the teetering pile of boxes a man emerged holding out a wand on both palms like an offering. He was short and bushy haired, his wiry gray hair parted in the middle and up in two tufts like little ears. He had bulging fat cheeks, two huge front teeth and very wide hips supporting thick short legs. His suit was old, looking like something from a Dicken's play. His small dark eyes glittered in a most cautious way. I noticed his stubby fingers ended in pointed nails like claws.
"Sorry mistress, I was afraid you was going to send me back." He looked down, trying to look contrite, while ruining the effect by peeking up at her slyly to see if his act was working.
"I may well do that, but not tonight. Tonight I have other urgent matters to which I must attend. Stay up here and do not, for any reason, come downstairs until I tell you. Otherwise ..." she left off the specific nature of the threat.
"I know, mistress, it's back to the oak with tree with old Stanley. If you don't mind mind mistress..." his high pitched whining voice trailed off.
"I'll send Rose up with a jar of peanut butter," Amelia told him. "Now stay put and don't try anything like this again or I'll change your name from Stanley to Stew."
Somehow Amelia had turned a squirrel into this strange subservient but troublesome little man. He was a freak of nature and I could tell this would not end well for her or him. Changing him back was the only right thing to do, but I kept my opinion to myself. I was here on more important matters than a squirrel in the attic.
We all clumped out of the attic but not before I had seen Stanley turn around and display a magnificent tail. It twitched a few times, perhaps in anticipation of his peanut butter snack, perhaps in annoyance, then Stanley whisked out of sight behind the boxes again. Weird.
"Mom, did you see that?" Linda whispered to me on the way down to the parlor. "That guy was some kind of a squirrel!"
"I did see. I wonder what Amelia's gotten herself up to now," I mused.
The parlor was lit with white candles and the witches formed a circle. Amelia took the box from Linda and carefully took out the fragile blue wool shawl. She laid it gently, still folded, on the table.
"Oh my, isn't this lovely?" she said. "So old, so very old. It must have been kept in a cedar chest, kept from the damp, for hundreds of years."
She removed a broken watch from the box too, and a black silk hair ribbon. The ribbon was partially faded in spots to a purplish hue and it was falling apart. Amelia placed the watch and ribbon next to the shawl and said, "We can begin."
Amelia and the four pretty young witches, Rose, Iris, Daisy and Rue, began chanting, a sound that fell and rose like the tide rolling in from a vast ocean. The candle flames flickered to the beat of their words and the air grew cooler as the magic forces began rising in the room, swirling around like invisible smoke, carrying her intention to raise the past on the wings of their sweet voices.
The musical language was one I had never heard, yet it seemed as if I could try and in a moment understand it. Linda took my hand in hers, her fingers cold and tense. This was the moment of truth, now we would know the what had happened to Jure's wife.
more to come .... (Greetings Everyone .... THANK YOU for stopping by, always happy to see you. I'll be back next Sat with the next chapter ... til then stay well!)