Crone: Night of the Witches

Crone: Night of the Witches

Status: In Progress

Genre: Horror



Status: In Progress

Genre: Horror



Since ancient times Pagans have been dancing around their bewitching bonfires, but at the Blessed Bee Apiary, a new brood of coven wants to break with hallowed tradition by initiating a dark age of the Craft in which power is increased to global dominion by the ritual of blood sacrifice.
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Since ancient times Pagans have been dancing around their bewitching bonfires, but at the Blessed Bee Apiary, a new brood of coven wants to break with hallowed tradition by initiating a dark age of the Craft in which power is increased to global dominion by the ritual of blood sacrifice.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Deceitful Maiden

Author Chapter Note

Bryn Frost is trembling on the threshold of the gaping shadowy void of primeval witchcraft.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 31, 2017

Reads: 51

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: March 31, 2017



It was that time of year when leaves are dying; the branches of deciduous trees becoming starkly bare revealing long narrowing extensions of themselves which stab into the dull red sunset like varicose veins of melancholy thoughts which gnarl and twist their way through the hopeless empty appendages of disenchanted human souls.  The balmy vespers of summer were yielding to the creeping autumn chill that drains down from the Arctic in subzero pus oozing from an icy boil on top of the skull of Earth.

Doors and windows were being closed tightly.   Top blankets were being dragged out from musty closet stowage and placed unceremoniously at the foots of beds.  Somber gray gloom brooded on the darkening horizon of shortening daylight hours, seeping into the pedestrian subconscious like swamp hags crawling closer to beating numbing hearts along the crooked edges of lengthening shadows. 

The slight rapping on the outer door of the reception room might have been Poe's raven pecking.   Reclined in the worn executive chair that I had picked up at a second hand store on Fourth and Main, I somehow wasn't entirely motivated to leap up and dive for the door-handle in spite of the fact that, after coughing up the security deposit and first month's rent for this new office, I desperately needed a client.  The soothing rhythm of the freezing afternoon rain was lulling me to repose beside the flickering blaze crackling warmly in the small stone fireplace so I shouted, "Door's open! Come on in!"

The squeaky knob turned.   The old door creaked.  Then silence.

"I'm in my office!  Come on back!"

Soft soled shoes don't make much noise and the whisper of thighs in a skirt is even less audible.  A moment later her slight figure stood before me.   The shaded lamp on the corner of my desk cast a subdued yellow glow on her right side.   Her left was in shadow.  Ruddy reflections from the fireplace danced weirdly on her shadowed side.  How she wasn't drenched from the cold rain is a mystery that would be solved later.   At the moment my attention was heavily occupied by her rare mien.   I hadn't seen one like her since being tortured in vacation bible school at the Pentecostal Holiness church way down south in the little farm-town backwater of Chipley, Florida. She was covered from chin to wrists to ankles in a drab denim dress.  Her hair must have been very long because it made a huge bundle where it was tightly bound at the back of her petite head.   No doubt that luxurious auburn hair had been lengthening since birth because those zealously faithful fundamentalists in the Old South don't believe in cutting the hair of females.  

I had never seen such pale skin.   The blood coursing through the delicate web of her circulatory system appeared hazy blue.   Due to a prominent lack of mascara, her translucent eyelashes didn't seem very long, and without lipstick her thin flat lips were something less than appealing.   Barely an A-cup, the softness of her exquisite features is the only thing that prevented me misidentifying her as an adolescent boy.  Only feminine flesh can be that angelically gossamer. 

This young lady could have been a ballerina, except that the slow burn of Celtic independence emanating from her medieval aura would have obviated participation in any such regimented choreography as flitting about in a tutu.  At the time I didn't know much about witches, nor had I any idea that I was about to find out more about practitioners of the ancient craft than I consider healthy for a person to know; but, it was obvious to a trained observer like myself that the purity of her clannish bloodline had been carefully preserved through selective breeding since long before Hadrian started building a wall to delineate the northern boundary of Britannia.

I removed my patent leathers from my barren desk, sat up straight, and motioned the dainty dame to one of the two cheap metal folding chairs that temporarily served as a place for clients to sit.   She seated herself without a word, placing her modestly large Faux leather tote on her lap, then turned her Prussian blue eyes on me and blinked through the clean lenses of her tortoiseshell horn-rimmed glasses.

During a moment of uncomfortable silence, I waited for her to speak.  We listened to each other breathing.   I decided to break the ice, "You shop at Warby Parker, I see."

She stopped blinking and, in an eerily harmonic voice that hauntingly bespoke heavenly choirs, replied, "What's that?"

"Your eyeglasses," I returned with a gentle nod of my head, "the vintage look is sensible and economic.   You're obviously a woman of discretion.   I admire your unpretentious style."

It may have been wishful thinking on my part, but at the sound of my masculine voice boldly speaking the word 'woman' I thought I saw a rush of warmth flush her pale cheeks in faint pink patches.  She glanced bashfully aside, then back at me.  The ghostly complexion had returned.

"Thank you, I think, but," she unfolded a small sheet of paper that had been hidden in her palm, consulted it, then, "are you Mr. Frost?  Mr. Bryn Frost, the private detective?"

I was so enchanted by her melodic voice that I was incapacitated for immediate reply.   This served to provide me with deeper insight into her unique personage because she squirmed ever so slightly on the metal chair, blinked again and spoke more music to my ears, "I told the ladies at the front office that I was looking for Mr. Frost.  They indicated that I should walk up the hill to bungalow 13.  There's nothing on the door to identify this as a business location.   I don't see a name plaque on your desk.  I want to make sure I'm in the right place.   Is this the office of Frost Investigative Services?"

Her fairy voice was the sonic equivalent of milk and honey.   The elusive hint of her Gaelic accent transported me hundreds of years back through time to a secret mystical garden of earthly delights.   With a monumental effort I dragged myself from the soothing spell of her intonations thereby returning to the present moment and the subject about which she was addressing me.   I cleared my throat, " Uh, yeah, well, I just signed the lease agreement day before yesterday.   The lettering artist hasn't been round to paint my name on the door yet.   As for a name plaque for my desk, that's something I'll relegate to my secretary....that is, as soon as I hire one.   I'm currently interviewing for a secretary.   I thought you might have been my four O'clock."

I wasn't interviewing for a secretary.   I didn't have the money to afford a secretary, but I wanted things to look good to this potential client.  You know what they say about first impressions.  It was now my elegant visitor's turn to seem bewildered, so I answered her question directly, "Yes, I am Bryn Frost of Frost Investigative Services.  You are in the right place.  Private detective Frost, the selfsame, entirely at your service, ma'am.  How may I be of assistance to you?"

She was mute for another moment or two, so I gently prompted, "You want to employ the professional skills of a private eye, but the subject of your inquiry is a delicate matter?  No need to be embarrassed.   I assure you my integrity and discretion are worthy of your trust.  You want me to check out your new boyfriend, make sure he's not hiding a licentious past?   Or is it that you suspect your husband of being unfaithful?"

I didn't labor vainly under the plebeian misconception that my fair visitor was the type of woman to permit herself to suffer from either one of these inconveniences, but I wanted to get her started talking, help her relax and lay it on the table for me.  Some think this provocation type approach is a devious underhanded tactic.  They call it reverse psychology.  I myself consider this method a subtle form of mind probing, entirely ethical and worthy of the modern shamus.

  "Nothing so tawdry, Mr. Frost.   I'm not married, nor am I vulgar enough to have a so-called boyfriend.   Please forgive my lack of focus.   I'm not used to being alone in a bungalow with a strange man and I have never consulted a private detective before.  I'm not entirely sure about how to begin."

"Why don't we start with your name.  You know mine.   How about telling me yours?"

"Yes, of course, I'm Tamsyn McBane."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss McBane.   How may I help you?"

She gripped the straps of her tote and squirmed again, "I, well, the truth is, Mr. Frost, this is very difficult for me.   I've been driven to desperate measures, otherwise I wouldn't be here.   Meaning no offense, of course.   I'm sure your profession has its merits and I'm sure you're very good at what you do."

"No offense taken, Miss McBane.   However, the fact that you wouldn't be here consulting a private detective unless you thought it absolutely necessary naturally leads me to be interested in knowing how you found out about me.   I won't get my feelings hurt if you simply picked my name out of the Yellow Pages."

She smiled a little.  This, I deduced, was a good sign in my favor.

"No, Mr. Frost, I didn't pick your name from a phone book.   A friend of mine, a member of our cov--, uh, our social group, yes, well, she, Narcissus Ravenwing, told me about you.   She knows something of my difficulty and she recommended I bring my problem to you.  She had known of you through another friend, I don't know him, who would have been wrongfully prosecuted for a crime he did not commit had it not been for your keen detective skills uncovering the truth and vindicating him.   His name is Michael Hammond."

"Ah yes, I remember the case, from about two years ago.  One of this town's most prominent matrons called the police to report a break-in.   Some of her jewelry had been stolen and Michael, due to a petty theft on his record from a few years prior, had come under suspicion because he was employed as a groundskeeper at the matron's mansion which is located in the well-to-do Tiara Park neighborhood on the north side of town.

"Michael had only himself to vouch for his whereabouts at the time of the crime, yet when questioning him, I was able to ascertain that, though he had been home alone on the night in question, he had also been doing some online shopping.  Upon further investigation, I discovered that he had made a couple of credit card purchases during the same time frame that the jewels were stolen.   This helped get Michael off the hook.   A tip from one of my informants revealed that a ring of burglars from out of town had been working Tiara Park that week, so I immediately checked with a local car rental business where I found that a Cadillac Escalade had been rented to Newt Thompson which is an alias of Norton Thomas who has a number of first-degree larceny arrests, though none resulted in convictions.   The rented SUV containing a pearl necklace belonging to the Tiara Park matron was discovered in an alley in a seedy part of town, but the jewel thieves have yet to be located.

"Most likely they were out of the vehicle fencing the jewels when police swarmed around the rented automobile.   From a lookout position, a fire escape or window perhaps, the culprits saw what was happening and made their escape.At any rate, yes, I was able to fully vindicate Michael Hammond of the crime."

"Which is why you came so highly recommended to me, Mr. Frost.  It is my hope that you will be as successful with my dilemma as you were with Mr. Hammond's."

"I shall do my very best for you, Miss McBane."

"Please, Mr. Frost, call me Tamsyn."

"Delighted, and you may call me Bryn.  Now, Tamsyn, in order to empower me with the information I need to help you, it is of the utmost importance that you be completely honest with me on every particular.  Hold nothing back.   Tell me everything you know, for instance, were you about to say 'coven' a moment ago when you caught yourself and replaced that word with 'social group'?  Friends with names like Narcissus Ravenwing are often members of witch covens."

This time I knew for certain that I saw her pale cheeks flush with faint pink patches for the primary reason that this time they weren't so faint.  She seemed reluctant for about twenty seconds, but then her strength of character prevailed.   With a deep breath which she sighed out with a relaxing of her tense shoulders, Tamsyn McBane began an eerie narrative in which she stated the facts of her dilemma as she knew them at that time.

© Copyright 2017 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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