Sy looked at the various camping equipment absently. She knew the basics but so much of this stuff seemed far too complicated for “camping”. When had camping involved taking most of the contents of your apartment outside so you could have all the “comforts of home”? She picked up a random box and pretended to look at it while the Were argued with the girl. They acted like family but Sy could tell they weren’t blood relations.
Finally the girl walked away and Sy took her opportunity. “Um, excuse me…” she said, positioning herself in his path. She had no idea Weres ran this place when she’d picked it from the Yellow Pages but had sensed it in the owner as soon as she’d entered.
After getting the map from Link, Sy gave him a small, flirty smile before leaving. She felt a lot of annoyance and hostility directed her way from the girl but she didn’t pay her much attention.
Back in her car, Sy pulled out her phone and started making the calls. “Yeah, I’ve got a place for this weekend. Don’t worry, it’s close and it’s secluded. I’ll scout it out but I think it will be perfect for the Blessing Rituals.”
As a new, and potentially temporary, member of the coven – a lot of the grunt work had fallen on Sy for this weekend. She didn’t really mind and pretended like she didn’t notice people checking up on her plans. She had reached out to this coven only a few weeks ago and, although she could out-power them all with her eyes closed, that wasn’t how one makes friends.
She checked her watch again and looked over at the tall building where her last passenger lived. She’d left the others in the car while she ran inside to call her up on the intercom. “I’ll be down in a few minutes!” had been the breathless reply Sy had received, ten minutes ago. At long last Tish emerged, carting enough luggage to last two weeks rather than the two days they would be out at the Lookout.
Sy pushed and shoved on the luggage – trying to squeeze it into her unyielding trunk but with two other passengers – there simply wasn’t room. Sy glanced around quickly and quietly muttered a few words. Whether the trunk suddenly got larger or the contents got just a bit smaller, Tish’s luggage finally slid into place and Sy smiled triumphantly. “Try that…” she muttered to no one in particular.
“This place is far too open…” Fueur said, her signature sneer on her face as she surveyed the area. “Who picked this spot again?” she asked looking directly at Sy.
“I’m sure it will be fabulous.” Neera said, her voice was soft and seemed to float. She placed her hand on Sy’s arm and smiled reassuringly at her. Sy merely nodded; in truth she was more annoyed by Neera’s platitudes than Fueur’s open hostility.
“Let us begin!” Anima, the leader of the coven, announced. “Symphony,” Anima was the only member of the coven who had not adopted Symphony’s nickname, “please help Janet in whatever way possible to be comfortable.”
Sy nodded and turned toward Janet with a smile. Behind her she heard Fueur whispering, “Comfortable? She’s like two minutes pregnant – how uncomfortable can she be?”
Sy had to agree with Fueur on this one but didn’t say so. She thought she heard Vale snickering before chastising Fueur. “So…twins?” Sy asked the freshly pregnant woman.
“Yes.” Janet reached for her non-existent belly and rubbed it tenderly. “We just found out a couple weeks ago and I called Anima right away – I want everything to go perfectly…” Janet never looked up from her belly the whole time she spoke so Sy was at liberty to roll her eyes.
“Right – of course.” Sy said finally. “Well why don’t we set you up over here…” Without waiting for Janet to come out of her pregnancy induced stupor, Sy started setting up a space for her.
The Blessing Rituals for Janet’s twins would have to take place just after sundown so they had a couple hours to set up the camp and settle in. Unbeknownst to the others, Sy was scanning the area and surrounding woods for any unwanted visitors. As she was looking around, she met Anima’s rich golden eyes and they shared a brief moment of understanding.
Anima was probably the most powerful of this coven. She could even give Sy a challenge if their skills could even be measured against each other. Anima was an elemental witch and a spirit user – the most powerful of all the elementals. Sy, on the other hand, had a familiar understanding of elemental use but did not specialize in it. Her power was deep rooted in her family and was far more diverse.
As night began to settle on them, the five elemental witches took up their positions around the fire Fueur had created. Even though she wasn’t an elemental user, watching them cast their circle intrigued Sy. Anima led Janet into the center of the circle with her and began with Vale, the Earth witch.
“Earth, we ask you humbly to come forth with a blessing for new life. To wrap these new babes in your warm embrace as you would a seed and cradle them until they are ready to be born into this world.” As Vale spoke, Anima lit the candle and the cold ground beneath their feet grew warm in response.
Anima turned to Airia and nodded. “Air, please come to us and caress our bodies and souls with your gentle breezes. Bless the babies our sister is carrying with your nourishment and fill them with your sweetness.” Airia’s voice was carried off in a small gust of wind before Anima had a chance to even light the candle. Air had made her presence known.
After lighting Air’s candle, she moved to Fueur and nodded to her. Fueur flicked her fingers and lit her own candle. “Fire, come forward and shield these foundlings and their mother with your protective flame. Warm them and comfort them so that they may grow strong in the womb.” Fueur’s flame surged up a few inches causing Janet to stumble back a bit in surprise. Fueur smirked in response but was triumphant.
Next Anima turned to Neera. “Water, my dearest, bless this woman and her babes on this night. Let your waves and currents guide them safely through the pregnancy and into the world so they may be delivered onto us in time.” A gentle mist fell from the sky around them but the flames never flickered once.
“The four elements have come forth to give you and your children their blessing on this night Sister.” Anima said, holding Janet’s hands in hers. “Now I call the final element, that of Spirit.” Anima looked toward the stars. “Spirit, gentle Mother of us all, please honor these children with your blessing. Cradle them and love them, take them into your embrace and bestow upon them the gifts of health and life. We ask this on this night most humbly.” A trickle of fog started to form at their feet – slowly spreading further outward until everyone was standing in it. As Sy looked down at it, she noticed it had an iridescent glow to it; it was almost gold like the strands of Anima’s hair. The fog closed in around Janet and soon had wrapped her in a tight coil that might make most people afraid but Janet merely smiled as she felt all the elements swirling in and around her.
The Blessing Rituals a success, the witches closed the circle and began to talk and chatter amongst themselves. Janet grew tired quickly and retired while Sy hung back a bit from the others. She barely knew them and there was a fair chance she’d be moving on before spending much more time with them anyway.
Not being distracted by chatter, Sy felt the presence before the others did. She walked to the edge of the clearing slowly, not wanting to alarm the others and cast out her net. Her eyes were half closed as she concentrated on the human crashing through the wooded area just outside the clearing. He was frantic and terrified of something. She ignored the human – he was of no threat to them – and cast still further to find the source of his fear.
She felt the giant wolf’s mind snap to hers as she zeroed in on him. Though separated by space and trees, the two stared at each other for several moments until the wolf broke off pursuit of the man.
She’d barely broken contact with the wolf when the man stumbled through the trees. He was out of breath and covered in dirt. “Wolf…” he muttered, though Sy was the only one close enough to hear him.
He stumbled forward, barely catching himself from falling from exhaustion. Sy knew the others were closing in, most would be caring and compassionate toward him – offering him comfort and aide but she knew Fueur was already preparing a snide comment or two.
After several minutes, they learned his name was Alex Garza and he was out here with his girlfriend at a cabin, though he couldn’t even begin to figure out which direction the cabin was. He’d been getting a few things from the car when he’d seen the large wolf and had been chased deep into the woods. He’d been running since barely after sunset – almost two hours – and had taken dozens of twists and turns through the woods before he came on the clearing and the wolf suddenly broke off pursuit. Anima looked at Sy quizzically after he mentioned the last part but Sy didn’t respond.
“I should call Clarissa…” Alex muttered, feeling around for his cell phone. The others had gone off to cast another circle of protection around the camp ground – leaving Sy to tend to Alex. “Oh crap..” he said when he came up empty handed. “I must have lost it in the woods while I…” he shuddered. He looked at Sy expectantly. “Can I borrow your phone?”
Sy shrugged. “I don’t have a cell phone actually.”
“You don’t have a cell phone?” he asked incredulously. “Who doesn’t have a cell phone?”
“Me.” Sy replied, trying to keep the snark from her voice. She’d been asked that question many times before but she rarely had need of a phone at all.
Alex was unconvinced, like she was intentionally holding out on him, but finally shrugged. “What about them?” Sy followed his line of sight to the circle of witches and watched with bemusement as his eyes went wide. “What are they doing?!”
“Protecting you from the Big Bad Wolf.” Sy said with a chuckle. She left him sitting there in befuddlement and joined the others.