The Circle and The Stone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 6 (v.1)

Submitted: January 24, 2012

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Submitted: January 24, 2012

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Chapter 5

 

Rowsom Woods

The coven met as they always on the twenty first day of the moon, the time where the Maiden shone high above them in all her full glory. Thirteen in all gathered in recognition of her full appearance, forming a precise circle three cords wide, in a small clearing of the woods that sat at the edge of the haven of New Forest. They were only shadows of the once powerful New Forest coven that dominated the sparsely inhabited land in the south following the expulsion of the Craft from the north. That was over one hundred and fifty years previous, and yet they maintained there tradition but they had not been a ruling factor in the politics of the community since the time of the Uprising, the period that usurped their authority and left them in a self-imposed exile deep inside Rowsom Woods.

It was here on the banks of Big Creek that they now lived in relative peacefullness, as they created a tiny community all to themselves, solely governed by the old ways and now left alone by inhabitants of the haven of New Forest. The night sky began to slowly darken, as they began the Commencement Ritual that would introduce the opening of the circle, and the Drawing Down of the Moon. The High Priestess stood silently in the center of the circle, adorned in a flowing white dress that complemented her now graying long red hair. In her left hand, she held an ancient wooden bowl of salted water from Big Creek, and in her right was a smoldering brass incense burner, which saturated the clearing with the smell of frankincense. Her name was Maggie, and she held the responsibility for the preservation of the New Forest Coven as its current High Priestess.

The Purification of the Circle began as Maggie, with her tools in hand, turned to the south and left the center of the circle. She slowly began to walk its perimeter where the other twelve were standing, all evenly spaced apart in deep concentration, when she began her first incantation.

“By fire, by water, by earth and by air” she said in a firm yet mono-toned voice,

“Let our circle be pure and fair” and the coven all simultaneously answered her call

“Our circle will be pure and fair,” they said in the same voice. She repeated the call several times, walking past the full coven creating the powerful yet invisible circle that would serve to draw in the energy of the Mother high above. She returned to the center of the now closed circle, and slowly lowering herself on one knee, she carefully placed the bowl and burner back to their original position, one to the right and the other to the left of the small fire. She began to stare deep into the flames, watching the movement as they took on a life of their own, but one she could control, and as she raised her palms towards their heat, they began to rise and form a furious rhythm illuminating the faces of the other twelve in the circle. She turned herself away from the fire and addressed the rest of the coven.

“Let the fires rise to our maiden above” she commanded as they extended their arms forward and turned their palms over towards the goddess above

“We ask of your presence; Artimis, Athene, Dana, and Isis” she called out to the night sky “Fill our gentle circle with your wisdom and your light”.

The fire instantly subsided back to its innocuous state in the center of the circle, as a brilliant silver blue haze slowly began to form above. As it gathered strength near the treetops that began to emerge from the glow, it began to form an inverted funnel with its tiny points of light breaking through the dark and drifting down to the coven below. They were all looking up, with there palms towards the light, as the energy settled directly over the circle. It hovered above them for a few a moments, and as they all at once cleared their minds of all thought, the cone instantly closed in on itself and reformed from a single tiny point by an explosion of light of thirteen separate beams, all choosing a coven member to extend down to. It created a cone effect that lasted several moments as the coven accepted her presence in and around them. The brilliant point of light where the cone originated began to fade away as the beams themselves subsided into each member, giving them a power that was only used in the circle. She was drawn down to them by the ritual, but in Chevis she was always present and she sat invited, quietly outside the circle, observing as she did every moon since she could remember.

She fondly and not so fondly recalled all the faces of the previous thirteen, and who had replaced who when a member had passed to the other side, and though it was mostly by lineage, now again an exceptional witch would be born and at the proper time receive the invitation and initiation into the New Forest Coven. Maggie was one of those and Chevis was there at her birth, and at the same time her mother’s death and she knew it was the omen of a powerful witch as no others had died giving birth in over 75 years, and Maggie’s mother was the last. She learned the craft in the Coven of The Ash, which had been her mother’s coven, and she agonized at the tender age of fifteen to leave it and accept the invitation from the members of New Forest. It was Chevis who convinced her to accept and though other covens existed with in their community, the invitation was from them, and for good or bad, they were the most powerful ones in relation to the current state of the Craft, a state that even then was rapidly decaying. 

“I just don’t understand why they want me,” she had said to Chevis all those years in the past.

“Maggie, you have a special understanding of the craft, not just a few of the simple abilities that everyone else around you also has, your circle in this part of the community has closed, and now its time to open a new one” Chevis answered.

“Why can’t I open it here, with my friends and my family” she desperately asked. Her anxiety level was rising when Chevis rose on all fours and climbed on to her crossed legged lap, extending her self up to her pale face.

“The circle here is complete” she gently reiterated as she caressed her cheek with her tiny paw “And you don’t have to leave your family or your friends” she continued “But things for you will change, your prayer will be with them and them alone and you’ll learn their secrets Maggie, all their secrets and you’ll understand them, and in time you’ll add your own voice to their Book”

“I don’t care about their secrets, or their Book of Shadows, the Coven of the Ash is my home” She stubbornly interjected. Chevis had seen this apprehension in young Witches before, most were afraid that a calling to a full coven of thirteen was beyond their abilities, but it wasn’t her lack of confidence that Chevis saw; it was the feeling of betrayal of her mother, who died bringing her into the world.

“Your mother would be proud,” she gently whispered with a smile on her face. She looked into Maggie’s young gray eyes and gently began to stroke her long red hair.

“Do you really think so?” she innocently asked.

“I knew her Maggie” she answered “and yes, she would”

She looked away from Chevis and stared at the ground. She knew that she could trust her as she, and all others, new that she was a product in some form or another of the coven’s magic.

“Will I find out where you came from?” she slyly asked as she looked back in Chevis’ eyes. Chevis smiled and nodded to her, and for the first time she sensed the strength of her gift and felt the power she would bring into the New Forest Coven.

“Perhaps someday, but there’s more, much, much more,” she answered her again.

“What really are you Chevis?” she asked with a deep curiosity. Chevis continued to smile as she climbed down from her lap, sat in front of her and began grooming her left paw.

“A piece of Mother herself” she said as she looked up at her “and it’s her will that you move forward and grow, will you accept their invitation?” she asked. Maggie took a small breath, as she knew that once she accepted the offer from Chevis, there was no turning back.

“Yes” was all she said.

Chevis still sat outside the circle watching her lead the coven through some generally mundane works of magic, remembering that day when she brought the invitation to her and personally delivered the young witch to her future coven. She remembered her initiation ceremony in what was at one time the most powerful Coven in the land, and the day, only tens years later, when she became its High Priestess at the unprecedented age of twenty-five. She was powerful, and Chevis knew she was as strong as any of the original thirteen were, but it was only her, and one other, in the circle who had that level of natural ability: two of thirteen not thirteen of thirteen. They had slowly over a period of a hundred years gave invitations to those who really had no business in the coven, but there was no choice, it was a combination of week and adept members or no coven at all, as exceptionally powerful witches were simply not being born. She realized this odd connection between their plight, and the plight of the squirrels in the center of the forest, and tonight she was not there to simply observe the circle, she hoped she was their to save it, and begin the process of healing that would allow both worlds to once again flourish.

The Center of the forest was hers, and hers alone, and though the current coven knew of the story of the ritual that gave her Sentient's, it was her age that perplexed them, leaving her still somewhat of a mystery to them. They never asked, but tonight they would know the truth and what was left behind in the wake of the single most powerful work of magic ever performed; her own creation.

She continued to watch the circle as she began to sense Maggie’s presence in the Other World, and she could realize her strength in it but the others, with a few exceptions, were only vaguely present as most were simply looking in from the outside.

They began to finish their bidding for the evening when Maggie looked out from the center of the circle quietly acknowledging Chevis’ presence outside it.

“Tonight in this time of Diana,” she announced as she readdressed the coven “We will allow an outsider into our circle since the first time since the time of the Original Thirteen” The coven looked among themselves in a slight bewilderment of the new events that were about to embrace but they maintained their discipline with in the circle and allowed Maggie to continue.

“Our friend, our confidant, and our familiar has asked to enter us and address our circle, if any have an objection, speak now!” she bellowed. They all immediately realized that it was Chevis herself who asked to enter the circle, and no objection was even thought of, but several of them became immediately apprehensive of her presence and not out of spite of a non Witch entering in, but of a lack of confidence of being with in the same circle with her. She wasn’t simply Chevis, she was the last direct connection to the past and her magic needed no circle, no ritual, no study and no prayer. She was from the circle itself, and they had never experienced her power with in it. Maggie turned to the faces of the others and sensed their awe and angst and her surprise decree, but she knew Chevis would never have asked, only a few days previous, if it wasn’t of a nature that even she herself would be surprised at.

“We need to speak Maggie” Chevis had said to her as she had quietly approached her on the bank of Big Creek.

“Chevis!” she said as she jumped at the sound of her voice in her ear “You have to stop that! I’m getting old!” she said laughing as she turned towards her, but Chevis wasn’t smiling as she always had when she dampened her presence and allowed her natural instinct to take over, just as a cat would when it stealthily stalked its prey. She was somber and serious and she had a reason for her visit. She began to groom her left paw before she even spoke and Maggie immediately began to sense her emotions, as she could with all others, and she instantly began to smell the stale faint scent of mildew that always forebode a conversation of great relevance. Chevis looked back up at her and the scent grew further and Maggie’s face quickly changed its continence as she knew something was not right.

“What’s wrong” she asked her as she held in a panic of emotions.

“That’s the problem Maggie,” she answered with a small laugh at the irony of question “I’m not quite sure” and they sat on the bank of river as Chevis told her the secret of the squirrels that existed in the very center of the New Forest.

When finished her story, Maggie sat in shock at the reality of the center and in further amazement that Chevis had kept them a secret for all these years. She knew their were certain truths that Chevis held as hers alone and she understood the reason for it; She was alone in the world and a direct product of Mother herself, but now she looked into her deep blue eyes and she saw her in a new light. Chevis was not alone, she was now only unique, and the power of the Original Thirteen was beyond anything that she was ever taught.

“Why tell us now Chevis?” she asked.

“I’m only telling you” she briskly answered, as she held Maggie’s gaze “For now that is, and there’s more and that’s why you have to know the rest” Maggie sat quietly and listened as she continued.

“Their was never a reason to expose them to the coven, they exist in the center and they never needed our interference and they certainly never needed to know of the outside world, it would of done nothing but damage their beliefs” Maggie looked at her with a quizzical look on her face as Chevis then posed a question “How would you like wake up one morning and realize that your own existence was basically a mistake, and our society was nothing more than an error in judgment of the strength of a completely unknown power?”

“I certainly understand but…” She started, but Chevis immediately interjected,

“No Maggie, how would you feel” she said. She looked at her and began to realize her point.

“I’d feel all was for nothing, and our world was just a grand lie” she conceded to her.

“Exactly, but now they have to face that lie” she said and Maggie immediately changed her continence to one of concern for the creatures she knew little of.

“Why?” was all she asked.

“It’s their offspring where the problem’s beginning to surface” she continued “The last time I was their In Spirit was during their Celebration, which is our Harvest Moon,” She said as she began to smile “It’s wonderful Maggie, most of the conglomeration gather at sunrise in the very top of the Great Tree I told you of, and as the balance between the Maiden and the Sun becomes precisely perfect, they all once jump from its crown and glide into the clearing, and they only do it once a year on the Harvest to commemorate the first flight of the first sentient squirrel. It’s all in their oral history.” She told her.

“That’s astounding!” Maggie interjected “In an odd way, they twin our world”

“Precisely, they do twin our world and what effects them effects us and that’s where our issue is” she said as her face grew serious “The newborns are coming in to their world with out a spirit or soul and no thought. There not sentient Maggie, there simply animals, just as the squirrels around us are and they call them Outlings, but what’s worse  thirteen have been born, and thirteen is the number that’s in a prophesy from The First that only the spiritual leaders ever knew of.” Maggie’s mouth dropped at this revelation as she immediately new the implications of the thirteen, as it closely mimicked their own prophesy given to the Original Thirteen during their journey from the north.

“How can we, if it at all possible, stop it?” She asked.

“I don’t know yet but two of them, brothers actually, are coming here and when they’re told the truth of their world, and at least they’ll be prepared for us.” she finished.

She looked around at the stoic faces of the coven as she focused on the eyes of each member, and they told her the story of themselves and their story of late was simply one of the maintenance of tradition, and certainly not one of the strength and the scope that the previous covens commanded. Maggie had realized the limitations of the circle ever since her initiation into it, and she knew by pure feel that she had a gift that could never be rivaled by any other member, and she also knew she would one day lead them.

Chevis closely watched her with in the circle and more importantly she also observed the other twelve members, as she also knew Maggie was, and after a few slight moments of the announcement she rose up on all fours and approached the circle from the south, and she then firmly sat back down only a few from feet from its perimeter.

“In our beginning” Maggie began as she continued to address the coven “We drew down our Mother as we have done here tonight, but long ago we drew a piece of her down and we created her in physical form, and she’s still lives among us. We’re here in this circle because of her, and we remember the past because she’s our reminder, and tonight she’ll join us, and for the first time in our history we’ll have a coven of fourteen.”

She continued to look around the circle sensing the personal apprehensions of some of the others and yet at the same time a few of them were ready to welcome Chevis into the circle and one was excited by the prospect, and it was her who would eventually follow as High Priestess. Maggie turned back to the now tiny fire in the center of the circle and she reached for her staff. She raised it above her head as she did when the circle was ready to be broken and quietly walked counterclockwise around the inside of its perimeter, opening it for Chevis’s entrance. She made one complete pass of the other members when she arrived where she had started, directly in front of Chevis, and she looked into her old friends eyes and smiled. A small portion of silver blue haze of the circle ceased to glow directly between them and it was this portal where Chevis would enter.

“Welcome to our circle Mother Chevis” Maggie gently said to her and Chevis slightly bowed her tiny head, and as she acknowledged the invitation she rose on all fours and entered the circle. The entrance closed in on itself and a coven of fourteen was formed.

The outside world ceased to exist within the comforting folds of the moons energy, and Chevis was immediately impressed by not so much the amount of power that now surrounded her but the sheer depth of it. It was just as she sensed it and felt it on every normal day, but they had to draw it down and contain it through ritual, and she was a part of the unknown side of it as she was created from it, and it amazed her that they could actually control it. She looked the faces of the coven and she saw children barely on the verge of adulthood, Maggie’s red hair was the vibrant orange it once was and the wrinkles in her elderly eyes had vanished. They appeared within the circle as they appeared the first time they had entered for their initiation, and the newest member was now the oldest as she was initiated at the age of 30, and Maggie was the youngest as she was barely 15 when Chevis summoned her. She smiled at Maggie at this revelation and spoke.

“Well this is interesting” she said as she continued to look around. Maggie immediately began to sense her thoughts in a way she never could before and she realized that Chevis didn’t know of this odd effect within the circle.

“I can’t believe you didn’t know” Maggie said to her.

“How could I have” she said “The circle is a witches creation, and I’ve never entered one”

“It’s a gift from her we receive every time we form the circle, from the outside we appear as we normally would in here…” she finished by simply shrugging her shoulders.

“It’s absolutely wonderful!” Chevis exclaimed as she saw the faces of their youth.

“Yes it is Chevis” one witch piped in “and were honored to show you something you knew nothing of” she said as she slightly bowed her head towards her. Her name was Portia and she was the one who was excited at the prospect of Chevis within their circle. She also joined the coven at 15, only ten seasons previous, and she as all the others were was personally brought to the circle by Chevis.

“Thank you Tia” she said to her as she noticed that her long flowing dark hair and wrinkle free green eyes looked the same as they did outside the circle though her olive complexion was slightly lighter.

 

“The center is an incredibly powerful place and they knew it existed, and they also knew that it was the key to all the works of Sentient Magic that the Covens of the day practiced, and the spell that brought me into this world still remains a secret to this day.”

 

“Why was it never recorded in our Book of Shadows, Chevis” Maggie asked.

“I really don’t know for certain,” she answered “but I sense that even they were in awe at the power of the spell that created myself, and I believe they believed it should never be practiced again.”

“Why?” Tia asked

“Magic performed in the center is uncontrollable, it’s simply to powerful and they realized that, besides all though they created me they never could control me, no one can, and they never expected that, after all, all I was supposed to be was a Sentient Familiar, not a part of the Mother herself.” She answered.

“They were afraid,” Maggie said with understanding... Chevis simply nodded in agreement and continued.

“And I was a mistake, one I’m sure they never wanted repeated”

The Coven continued to listen on as Chevis told her tale.

“Something else took hold in the center that night, and even I can’t really explain it but I’m not alone” she said “there are still other Sentient’s in the center”

She again watched the faces of the witches as she revealed to them the further truths of her existence. They sat stunned for a moment when Tia spoke.

“Who are they?” she simply asked

Chevis shifted her attention to Tia and answered the question.

“It’s not necessarily who they are, we’ll get into that in a moment, it’s what they are” she replied “and what they are squirrels, as sentient as you or I, and they’ve created a world for themselves over the past one hundred and fifty seven years. They live alone in the shadow of a massive tree, the size of which is unexplainable, and they’re completely oblivious to the outside world. You see to them, there is no other world but the one which surrounds the Great Tree”

“They no of nothing?” Tia said.

Chevis quietly shoke her head in response to Tia’s statement.

“As a community, no, but two members of the conglomeration, the two leaders I guess you could call them, are aware of an old legend and a prophesy of an outside world, but they and their bloodlines have kept it a secret since the time of the first sentient one”

“Why would the coven create them and leave them in there” a young witch named Polly asked.

“They never knew of the after effect of the spell because I never told them” she simply answered

“With all respect Mother Chevis” Maryanna, the Circles Second, began “Why did you keep them a secret, the Original Thirteen should have had a right to know”

Chevis addressed her and answered her question.

“They still had Sentient’s among them so in turn they were still being hunted by the Marksman of the north.” They began to recall the old stories of the Marksman and there quest for the blood of a sentient animal; they were the weapons of the governing powers of the day, a power that eradicated the craft because of the Sentient’s. They believed it was a “Godlike” power that gave an animal a spirit and a soul and the ability to think and speak, and though they tolerated the covens in the north this new ability they suddenly possessed was intolerable and they were driven out of the territories, and far into the south.  

“So I had to protect them” she continued “and the best protection was secrecy. I’ve watched them live and die, to many generations to mention; unlike myself they don’t live in pepertua, nor do they posses magic. They’re simply squirrels, sentient mind you, but squirrels nonetheless, and as of late it appears that the after effect of the spell is wearing thin. They’re young ones are being born with out thought, emotion or soul” she finished.

“So what does it all mean Chevis?” Tia asked.

“It means there dying Tia, simply ceasing to exist and that can’t happen. They twin our world, that much I’m sure of, and what happens to them, deeply affects us,” She flatly stated. “We created them, so therefore were responsible for them”

“What can we do?” Maggie calmly asked.

“Recreate the original magic that created myself and them,” She said as she watched the astonished faces of the Coven. They knew they were not capable of an act of that magnitude and some had already resigned themselves to accept the fate of the squirrels and whatever that may bring to them. All but Maggie and Portia averted Chevis’ gaze as she looked for a glimmer acknowledgement from them.

“This is the Coven of the New Forest” Chevis spoke out to them “And now it’s time for a change it because only three in this circle posses the power of the Original Thirteen, Maggie, Maryanna and Portia. That’s a fact, like it or not, but it is the truth” She finished. Portia sat silently and just looked down at the ground, as she was aware of the petty jealousies of her that circulated around the coven. She was young and powerful and the rest knew it, but she was not High Priestess or Circle Second, she was just another coven member but with extraordinary abilities and she had been ostracized outside the circle on more than one occasion all because of it. Maggie on the other hand, as High Priestess stared intently at the others awaiting any sign dissention amoungst them at Chevis’ bold statement. There was none. Chevis and Maggie exchanged glances in acknowledgement of a long overdue truth that needed to be spoken.

“Continue on Chevis, were listening” Maggie said, breaking the cold silence.

“As I said it’s a time for change, and the power needed to recreate that magic is simply not in this circle” She said looking about the current coven “As we speak two of them from the center are on the journey of their lives to find this place, and to find us. They don’t know of us and as I said, and all they have is an old legend of an outside world, and an end time prophesy. It’s this prophecy that’s bringing them here, it says: When thirteen are born, thirteen must be found. It comes from the first sentient squirrel and it was secretly passed down through his bloodline”

“How do you actually know of this prophecy?” Portia curiously asked.

“I overheard the two leaders arguing about it moons ago. You see one is called Keeper, he lives and exists in The Great Tree, and he’s their spiritual guide. The other is called Council and he’s the voice of authority, they’re both the direct descendants of the first, and the one who is Keeper exposed the legend and the prophesy to the conglomeration, much to the dismay of Council”

“Absolutely incredible” one witch quietly piped in as she shook her head in disbelief

“It is May” Chevis said as she persona7lly addressed her “They’re incredible creatures, and that’s why were going to fix whatever’s wrong in their world, and when we fix their world” She said as she again addressed the whole coven “It’ll heal ours”

“What do we have to do Chevis” another spoke up.

“First accept what Maggie and I are going do” she said as foreboding feeling fell over the coven “this is the last gathering of this coven as it currently sits. I’ll be summoning others into the circle and a new gathering will be shortly created” she flatly stated. They immediately understood the implication of her statement: Some of them would be replaced.

“It’s the way it has to be” Maggie said in agreement “it’s for the good of all and not just a few individuals”

“Who will be replaced?” Morgan, an adept but troublesome middle age witch, asked.

“Mother Chevis and I will make that determination” Maggie answered. Portia sat quietly as she could sense Morgan’s animosity toward her rise in the circle as Morgan knew she would be one of girls replaced, and she also knew she had no one to blame but herself. She had a quite distaste for Portia, but one that was also known to Maggie and Chevis, and she also knew that Portia would never be replaced; she was simply to powerful.

“Maggie” May began “I will step out of the circle at your request” she said as she bowed her head. She knew that she would have been asked as her abilities of late were waning into non-existence, just as several others in the coven were, and she began to understand that to help all of them sacrifices had to be made.

“Thank-you May” Maggie said in acknowledgement as she than addressed the coven

“May is not alone in her issues with the craft” she began “several of you are experiencing the same problem; your natural talents are disappearing. The very talents that brought you in this circle in the first place are quietly dying off and we also have to stop that from continuing on.”

“I’ve felt it from several in this circle” Chevis interjected.

“We will accept whatever choices you make” Portia said to her. Morgan’s temper almost came to a rise at her words. ‘What right does she have to make that statement’ she thought ‘she knows she staying with the new coven’

“Assume nothing Morgan” Chevis said to her as the others looked around as if they missed something, of which they did. Morgan stayed quiet and tried her best to suppress her thoughts.

Maggie disbanded the circle, and the last gathering of that particular coven came to a close. They had been the same coven for five years, none were added as none had passed, but now the change would be dynamic by design and powerful in nature. It was Chevis’ bidding; it was her will and the will of her mother and Maggie would see it to fruition. 

The small cottage that Maggie and Chevis shared lied nestled in a clearing on the banks of Big Creek. Chevis had lived here with every High Priestess since her inception, as in her early life they attempted more to control her than understand her, but even then she was far beyond the control of a simple coven. She lived their by choice and now it was a comfortable existence that hadn’t changed in over a hundred years; until today. It had been several days since the old coven had met and she and Maggie stayed more or less around their home discussing the future of the new coven.

“So mote it be” Chevis said signaling the end of there long conversation.

“So mote it be” Maggie agreed, and it was with those words that the fate of two worlds were decided. The small innocuous kitchen in which they sat served them well as did the lightly ornate white ash table the graced the bright space, it was comfortable and soothing, and it was where the core of the new coven would shortly meet.

“She’ll be here in a moment” Chevis said “and I can feel some apprehension in her” She finished with a slight laugh.

“I know” Maggie said with a grin “she’s honestly not aware of her full abilities”

“But you are” she said with a serious tone.

“I know she rivals my own Chevis, she may even now surpass it”

“I think in the circle she does” Chevis honestly stated “When I was in it I could swear I standing with Brianna herself”

Brianna was the first High Priestess of the Original Thirteen and the one who discovered and harnessed the magic necessary for Sentient Magic and without her abilities, there never would have been Sentient’s at all.

“That strong?” Maggie asked as she knew only Chevis could make that determination.

“Glimpses of it, yes” she answered. “But unlike Brianna she has us to answer to”

“Well, we can’t suppress her natural talents”

“No we can’t, to the contrary; we have to work with her to properly develop them” Chevis said “but she can’t go unchecked”

“She won’t Chevis, I won’t let that happen”

“I know”

Chevis looked up at the door across the cottage and opened it from the kitchen table in anticipation of the visitor’s arrival and a brief moment passed as Portia entered the cottage. She was quietly enjoying the midday’s warm sun with a stroll along Big Creek, content in her own thoughts and feeling the power of Mother above in everything around her, when she sensed Chevis’ unspoken summons. She turned up one of the many intertwining paths and quickly found her self approaching the cottage, crossing the clearing and approaching the entrance as it welcomed her inside.

“Come sit with us Portia we have matters to discuss” Chevis said.

“Thank you Mother Chevis” she acknowledged as she took a seat at the table.

“We’ve decided on the new coven” Maggie began. Portia knew she would a part of it but her stomach still turned a little in apprehension.

“And of course you’ll remain but in a new role” Chevis said to her with a re-assuring smile as Maggie grinned at the little girl that still remained deep inside the powerful young witch.

“So first of all we start here” she began as she held Portia’s eyes “Maggie will remain High Priestess but if you choose you’ll now take Second as Circle Maiden”

Portia had always sensed that in time she would assume the grooming role of a future High Priestess but she never imagined she would actually be Maggie’s protégé and she sat in stunned silence at Chevis’ proclamation.

“You’ve been brought forward to Second” Maggie said “Do you accept?”

“Yes, yes of course and thank-you Mother Chevis” she half stuttered as she bowed her head and accepted the coveted position.

“Good, so mote it be” Chevis said.

“But may I ask; what of Maryanna?” She said in regards to the now former Second as she regained her composure.

“She’s the first one I’ll see this morning.” Chevis began to answer “She’ll certainly remain with us and I need her today as she’ll accompany me on the summoning”

Portia realized by this act that Chevis would thwart any real hard feelings on Maryanna’s part, as the summoning was an act from Mother herself. She would also understand the logic in Chevis’ decision as she knew of Portia’s abilities and she would certainly feel honored to be invited on the spiritual walk as Chevis had never made the invite to anyone.

“After that” she continued “Five more will be summoned and five replaced”

“Five?” Portia said.

“Yes five” she stated. “The High Priestess’ from each of the each Lesser Covens will replace Jay-ann, May, Patty, Cybil and Morgan”

They immediately knew that these were the best possible choices and Portia was quite happy at the last choice Chevis made. She and Morgan had never had much use for one another since Portia was summoned as Morgan had sensed her abilities right from her Initiation Ritual, and it was this petty jealousy that often interfered with the inner workings of the Coven. The loss of her certainly didn’t weigh heavy on Maggie’s heart either as she was the one Witch that she had a hard time controlling, her abilities were well honed and her magic strong, but her attitude and her distaste for Portia, Maggie suspected, was the reason for Chevis’ decision.

“That’s the exact reason” Chevis said to her. “You don’t need resentment towards your Circle Maiden” she finished.

Chevis ability to read minds, without the host mind knowing it was being read still occasionally caught Maggie off guard and Portia shifted here attention and immediately listened in on the unspoken thoughts as Chevis turned towards her.

“I won’t Mother Chevis” she said in response to a warning from Chevis about acting to smug towards Morgan.

“And it’s just Chevis, if you wish. Your Second now” she reminded. Her title of Mother Chevis with in the community was not necessary for any High Priestess or the Circle Maiden of the New Forest Coven to use when addressing her, and personally she really didn’t care one way or the other if any one used the title towards her, but she liked the idea that they all kept a central tradition.

All three, almost on cue, turned toward the door as a visitor suddenly approached and Chevis shifted a slight degree of attention towards it as they all immediately who it was. The cottage entrance again silently swung open as Maryanna stepped in. The room grew quiet as Portia looked down at the table cloth not making eye contact with her as Maryanna was a friend of hers and her defender with in the coven.

“Were glad you’re here Maryanna, please sit” Chevis said, extending the invitation.

She crossed the room as the door closed behind and took a seat with the three of them. She was only a few years younger than Maggie with long blond hair that was only slightly graying at the tips, giving her an intriguing look that off set her beep blue eyes.

“Tia honey” she began as she gently addressed her “I sensed it a few minutes ago, and if it’s Chevis’, I mean Mother Chevis’” she corrected as she glanced over to her “and Maggie’s decision, than there certainly is a reason for it” Portia continued to stare down at the table cloth as she hadn’t had time to contemplate the inevitable meeting. She slowly looked up at her and became slightly relieved at her gentle smile, and understanding continence.

“I’m sorry for intruding” she said to Maggie and Chevis

“Your not intruding and its not you personally Maryanna I think you know that” Maggie began “but Portia is now Circle Maiden, and I’m going to miss you as Second” she finished as she reached over and gave her hand a squeeze. She was sincere about missing her in her that position, as she was a close friend, but she was also High Priestess and in that capacity within this new coven; she was glad to now have Portia.

“Thank you Maggie and I’ll miss being your Second but I can understand it from a coven stand point. Her abilities exceed my own and I’ve always been aware of that; we all are” she said as she then readdressed Portia “and you Tia certainly have the power for the position”

“I want you to know that I still need you” Portia said as her eyes betrayed the strength that she attempted to exude.

“You always will” Maryanna reminded “But now your Second so therefore this new coven will have the proper respect for you in that  position” she finished as she turned towards Chevis and Maggie.

“I sense you know your changes?” she asked.

“Yes” Chevis said as she told her who would be replaced.

“Good” she said “I’m glad, because I have no particular use for Morgan myself”

“Just remember Maryanna, your no longer a Second and she can be dangerous herself” Maggie said.

Portia’s head immediately rose to full attention as her emotions rose.

“She will never harm you as long as I’m alive” she spat out with distaste. The room grew slightly cold at the moment she made her statement and Chevis herself felt the hair on her tail rise. The sudden dark energy that came forward with her words immediately subsided as it caught her and the other two witches by surprise.

“Tia” Chevis warned as she pointed her tiny paw at her “There's no time or room for pettiness, do you understand me?” she finished as she allowed her own emotions and abilities to momentarily rise to the surface. The natural air in the kitchen around became instantly frozen and Portia could see her own breath in her next words.

“I understand Chevis” she said as she again lowered her head. “And I apologize to you and Maggie” she finished. She hoped that in time her temper would subside, and she had honestly wished for it own more than one occasion and the icy coldness that suddenly surrounded them made her again wish for it even further. The natural magic that Chevis possessed almost scared her, but the ability of the two elder witches not to be phased by it amazed her more than anything.

“Very good” Maggie flatly said as the room returned to its normal temperature, signifying the understanding was also silently accepted by Chevis herself.

“You still have a lot to understand Portia” Maryanna added.

“I just don’t want to see them treat you as I’ve been treated” she said.

Maryanna looked into her bright green eyes and she sensed the pain that she was subjected to from some in the community; she always had, it was why she protected her.

“That certainly will not happen with me” she said to her as she glanced at Chevis and Maggie and the room again grew slightly cold. Portia looked into her and knew she would be fine and she also knew that her abilities were one of a very adept witch, and one that wouldn’t be toyed with. She just simply needed that re-assurance and Maryanna gave it to her.

“Feel better now?” Maggie asked.

“Yes, quite better actually” she answered with a grin as the room again returned to normal.

“Now” Chevis began “First Maryanna I apologize for not inviting you here today but I was going to wait to talk with you on our summoning”

“Our summoning?” she queried.

“Yes, I want you come with me in the morning”

“Mother the summoning to the coven is yours alone, it comes from Her” she said in surprise.

“Not really” Chevis said almost dismissively “It’s actually my choice”

The Maryanna and Portia were surprised at her revelation as they had always been taught that the invitation to the coven was a direct act of Her and one only known to Chevis herself, and in a sense they were correct; only she knew who would be called to the circle.

“But what of Her role in the choices?” Portia asked.

“She left it mostly up to me over the last hundred years with the exception of your self and Maggie to be honest” she answered, “Mother called you to the circle, and as I just said she directly called Maggie, but she hasn’t called any others since and nor did she call Maryanna; I did. I chose her myself with, and with those exceptions every other member. It was a matter of the coven surviving in some form or another or not surviving at all” she explained “and tomorrow Marryanna, I want you to join me as I need you, and it’s not simply a symbolic gesture, one designed to appease you as Maggie and Portia think” she said as she turned to them with a sly cat grin “I actually need you with me, I need harmony with the other covens, after all; I’m asking them for all there High Priestesses’” she finished.

It instantly made complete sense with Maggie and Portia since Maryanna was quite well liked and respected with in the community. She had ability, an innate human ability, to interact and relate within their small society and she personally knew every member of the five lesser covens and the husbands of those who chose to bind. She was in a small sense the face of the New Forest Coven.

“And then, Chevis?” Portia asked.

“We create a new Coven, one that will be capable of re-creating the magic of the Original Thirteen” she stated.

“Is it possible?” Maryanna now asked.

“It has to be” Maggie answered.

“I’ve felt it” Portia sheepishly said as she lowered her head. They looked at one another in slight amazement and Chevis spoke first.

“Tia, are you sure?” she warned.

“Yes Mother” she began as she raised her head, “sometimes, when I’m alone on the banks of Big Creek it calls out to me, the other world breaks through into ours and it speaks. It let’s me feel glimpses of the true power of Her, and the magic needed to create a Sentient” she finished, exposing the true depth of her latent abilities.

“How come you never spoke of this before?” Maryanna asked.

“I’ve had enough trouble with the rest; no one needed to know” she answered with some embarrassment.

“In this new coven, all will need to know Tia” Chevis said.

“I had no intention of keeping it to myself forever, I just never thought it was necessary to tell anyone, the Time of the Sentient, I thought, was over” she simply said.

“Do you know the magic?” Maggie cautiously asked.

Portia remained silent and shook her head no.

“But you felt it” she said.

“Yes” she acknowledged.

“And that’s our start” Chevis proclaimed.

“Mother” Portia said as she turned her attention to her, “you must feel it also”

“It’s all I feel, it’s flowed around me and through me every moment of my life, but I’m still a Sentient, and I can’t create what created me” she said.

“That always was an odd twist with you Chevis” Maggie said to her. “You have abilities that far exceed any of ours, and small piece of Her lives in you, but you can’t give the very life that was given to you”

“I was a mistake remember” she reminded “I was only to be a sentient cat”

Portia’s mind suddenly began to swim with thought at her words, and she instantly felt far removed from the kitchen. She was traveling out and away from the small scene in Rowsom Woods, finding herself drifting at a great rate of speed towards an impending emptiness. She had experienced this in the past, but it was usually when she was alone as she had just explained only moments ago. She sat tranfixed at the table as Chevis instantly diverted her attention to her, sensing her spirit leave. The two other witches looked to her, as they felt Chevis change her spiritual continence, and saw Portia sitting dead still, staring straight ahead, momentarily lost in another world.

“Tia?” Chevis gently coaxed, but she said nothing as all three brought their full attention to her.

“Tia” Maggie reiterated.

“She’s on the other side” Chevis quietly said to them as she sensed her far off spirit.

The other world approached and she crossed the barrier between both, the emptiness was suddenly filled with thought and emotion, most of which she could never remember when she returned, but a single thought was now allowed to permeate her mind. As fast as she was there, she found herself gone from it, and Rowsom Woods became familiar again as she settled back in the kitchen. She looked out them as Chevis sensed her return.

She sat in silence and in slight shock at the thought she was allowed to return with.

“Portia” Chevis slowly said “are you all-right?”

She continued to just stare at them when she finally spoke.

“Mother Chevis” she said in a shaky voice “You were no mistake, you were created by design: Your own mother just told me”

They all sat in silence at her revelation, and Chevis suddenly found herself questioning her own existence. She was a mistake, and she always knew it, she was told that from her Mother herself; the very one who now told a young powerful witch that it was not the case. She regained her composure and spoke.

“Tell me what she said”

“She said no words, she only showed me” she answered, “I can’t explain it” she finished as she gained control of herself.

“What does this mean Chevis” Maggie asked.

“I simply don’t know” was all she answered.

 

The following mornings summoning did not go as well as expected, as Chevis and Maryanna found opposition to the breaking of the lesser Covens, but the High Priestesses of each simply could not resist her summoning. They knew it was an opportunity that they couldn’t possibly turn down, as the magic in there owns covens was almost none existent. It was the other witches in these covens that raised a voice of opposition, not to Chevis, but to the New Forest coven. They quietly questioned the Summoning, as Maryanna was present with Chevis, but they resigned themselves, under protest, to accept  Chevis’ bidding. She directed the first four to Maggie’s home for a gathering in the afternoon, along with those who remained in the New Forest coven.

The forest again began to thin as they approached the area where the Coven of the Ash resided.

“Well Mother Chevis, the worst of its over” she said in quiet reference to this coven, whose members rarely ever had an issue with the New Forest coven.

“I know” Chevis began “and you don’t have to call me Mother Chevis”

“I like tradition” she countered as Chevis looked up to her and smiled.

“That’s what makes you a powerful witch” she said

“But not like Portia, Chevis” she said as she slipped up in her own traditional mind

“She has a true power”

“And one she’s not yet aware of”

“I think she is” she began as they continued into the covens area, “she just doesn’t know how to harness it yet, it confuses her; she’s told me that before. She’s also afraid of it, to a degree mind you, as it really has given her nothing but grief”

“Which is partly why you and I are here together” she said.

“I know, and I hope Maggie and the new coven, will bring it out in her”

“No, you’ll bring it out” Chevis said to her “she trusts you, and so does Maggie and so do I. Maggie can teach her all there is to know about the Craft, and I can bring her closer to Her, but neither of us can control her alone. I thought Maggie could but after her revelation about me? I realized that she really does have the power of Brianna herself.”

“I know, Maggie told me your thoughts on her, but honestly Mother; I’ve always sensed the latent abilities in her”  

“That’s another thing that makes you strong; you have an uncanny ability to sense the Craft”

“Thank-you Mother Chevis, and your choices are correct.”

 Chevis laughed at her comment as Maryanna gave her a wide smile.

An afternoon fire began to light up there nostrils and they knew the coven was only moments away, and at this point there surprise Summoning was no surprise at all, as word spread about the community. They knew Chevis would come and summon the High Priestesses, but the real reason would remain a mystery for the time being. As they approached the coven’s home, the clearing began to slowly form, and their small homes that lined it perimeter became discernable and distinct. The Old Ways were stronger in this family branch than in the other lesser covens, as it was the Coven of the Ash in the time of the North, that helped the Original Thirteen flee to the Lost Territories. They maintained tradition as well as they could, given the times, and they really were the only true friends that the New Forest coven could count on. The other covens would attempt to assume control at any opportune moment, if it presented its self, but it never would as long as Chevis was still alive. Together, they walked into the clearing, and without announcement, those who were simply enjoying the afternoon turned towards them with welcoming eyes. A male member grinned and walked across the space, welcoming them to their home.

“Mother Chevis” he said with a genuine smile “Welcome” he finished as he came upon them. He stopped short and kneeled on one knee as he slightly bowed his head and extended his hand, palm up, towards her.

“Thank-you Loch” she said as she placed her paw in his hand. He was the husband of Leigh, the High Priestess and the one who would be shortly joining the New Forest Coven. He knew the other husbands in there coven and he felt honored to join them, and though Chevis had not officially gave the Summons, he knew, through word, that his wife was about to join her. The Coven of the Ash was a wonderfully small community, and it produced Maggie after all, as he was always proud to point out, but the connection to the New Forest coven, the history between the two, always gave him a deep sense of

spirit. And it was this spirit that would propel them both forward into the folds of Maggie’s coven. He rose up and stood at full height, nearly two and half cords, and sporting long brown hair that fell unceremoniously down his back, he turned his attention to Maryanna.

“And welcome to you Maryanna” he said with a perfect smile.

“Thank-you also Loch” she returned.

“Can I assume you know why we’re here?” Chevis asked with a playful innocence. He slightly lowered his head and felt a little embarrassed at his own unspoken assumption, but he knew.

“I’m sorry Mother Chevis for any thoughts” he quietly said.

Chevis grinned to herself and looked over to Maryanna, who herself was smiling.

“What you heard is true” she said “I’m here to summon to your wife”

Loch smiled inside, not so much for himself but for Leigh, as he knew she was as powerful, if not more, than most in the New Forest coven. Chevis had looked over her for initiation several years ago, it wasn’t her abilities that turned her away, it was just the opposite; the Coven of the Ash needed a powerful High Priestess. She knew that every strong young witch couldn’t join Maggie’s coven, it would leave a void in the community as a whole, but today was far different. She was needed.

“Let’s go find her” he said in a false nonchalant way, raising his head with a grin.

Leigh was apprehensively waiting, as she had been for most of the day, for Mother Chevis’ arrival. She knew, as all who were about to be summoned did or they would have never been summoned at all, that she was coming for her.

“Leigh” Ashley, her circle maiden and Second, said to her only hours previous, “Mother Chevis and the New Forest coven need you, you know that” the tenderness that Ashley gave always gave her comfort and on this particular afternoon; she needed it.

“I know, and I’m fully prepared to accept the Invitation, but its here that occupies my mind, and it’s you that concerns me. Your about to be High Priestess and I can’t be here to always help you” she said as a small tear began to well up in her eye.

“Leigh, I’ll be fine. This isn’t White Willow or Dark Oak or White Ash for that matter; we’re the Coven of the Ash, and we’ll always remain as siblings to the New Forest coven; we understand them and they us. They’re a strong part of us, and now a shortly a part of you” she gently pointed out.

“That’s always been a part of the problem; our separation from the community for New Forest” she sighed.

“What community?” Ashley began “a community of true witches? A community that’s worthy of the Original Thirteen? Give me a break! White Willow gathered at the last few Maiden Moons in community! Not in Prayer! They rarely practice anymore and


© Copyright 2019 chris r adam. All rights reserved.

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