“It’s time!” Isla handed Lesa a white envelope.
“It’s from Alpha Theta Omega Pi?” Lesa asked a bit sheepishly.
“Duh. Who else would it be from?” Isla plopped down on the bed beside Lesa. “Why aren’t you more excited?”
“I… I just didn’t think this day would come.” Lesa twisted the ornate gold ring on her right middle finger. Her mother had left it for her when she passed. Lesa’s mother said it was the key to the future and to keep it safe. Lesa wore it everyday.
“What are you talking about? You’re a legacy. You know they went easier on you during Pledge Week than the rest of us. There was no mistake you would get in.”
“It’s not that,” Lesa said. “I was hoping AΘΩΠ could tell me more about what my mother was like when she was my age. Now, it looks like I will finally get that chance.”
“Be happy, Lesa.” Isla wrapped an arm around Lesa’s shoulder.
“OK.” Lesa tore open the envelope. She took out a photograph of a group of girls in front of the AΘΩΠ house.
“It’s my mom!” Lesa exclaimed.
“What?” Lesa showed Isla the photograph. “Oh, how sweet.” The girls stared at the photograph. Lesa couldn’t believe she was in the exact same position her mother was in at her age. It felt both wonderful and confusing. How would her mother react to her joining AΘΩΠ? Would she be excited? Happy? Proud?
“This has to be from Kalida.” Lesa then read the letter that was sent with the photo. “We are pleased to inform you of your acceptance into the sisterhood of Alpha Theta Omega Pi! Please join us for the initiation ceremony this Saturday at 8 PM. We’re looking forward to your presence at AΘΩΠ. We’re Sisters, going to change the world forever!”
“Cute.” Isla opened up her envelope and quickly read her letter. “Mine says basically the same thing as yours. They probably send out the same letter to everyone.” She put the letter back into the envelope. “So, what are you doing to wear?”
Before going to bed that night, Lesa placed the picture of her mother with her fellow sisters of AΘΩΠ next to her on the bed table. She twisted the ring on her right middle finger.
“I promise I will make you proud, Mom,” Lesa said before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.
~ ~ ~
“Oh! We’re finally here!” Isla squealed with excitement. She and Lesa stood in front of the AΘΩΠ house.
“Look, what the cat dragged in.” Bow Harrington, AΘΩΠ president and resident snob, stood at the front of the door with her posse.
“Hello, Bow.” Lesa tried to remain civil.
“I don’t care if you are a legacy.” Bow came straight up to Lesa’s face. “There’s nothing special about you.”
“Nice to see you too, Bow.” Isla piped up. “Don’t you think you should act presidential at least once in your miserable life?” Lesa grabbed Isla’s hand and they pushed past Bow and her minions into the house.
“Whew! A few more seconds and I would have punched her square in the jaw,” Isla said.
“Forget her!” Lesa said. “Let’s enjoy this night!”
“I am 100% on board!” Isla agreed. The two girls pushed away any negative thoughts.
Women filled up nearly every inch of the house. There was music blasting, people drinking from red cups, and chatting excitedly with one another. It was definitely a time for celebration.
“Lesa! There you are!” Kalida, Lesa’s Big, had somehow found them in the crowd. She gave Lesa a hug and greeted Isla as well.
“If you excuse me, I’m going to find my Big and say hello to the others.” Isla disappeared into the crowd of AΘΩΠ sisters.
"Thanks for finding the photo of my mom, Kalida,” Lesa said.
“Of course. I knew I had to give it to you when I found it,” Kalida smiled. “I think Initiation is about to start. Let’s make us being sisters official!”
Lesa caught up with Isla in the living room. Isla’s Big, Taja, waved at them from the front of the room with her fellow veteran AΘΩΠ sisters. Bow took center stage.
“Greetings, everyone!” Bow exclaimed. “Tonight we officially welcome our new sisters into the best sisterhood the earth has ever seen, AΘΩΠ!” Cheers and shouts of excitement erupted from the crowd of girls. Initiation went on and Lesa and Isla couldn’t be more happier.
They spent the rest of the night spending some quality time with the girls who really had become like sisters to them. Lesa thought was a perfect way to celebrate the sisterhood of AΘΩΠ.
“As much as I loved it here, I need to head back to my dorm.” Isla said to Lesa several hours later. It was early morning now, the celebration at AΘΩΠ house was quieting down.
“Let’s go. But first, I need to say goodbye to Kalida. Wait for me outside.” Lesa found Kalida in the kitchen helping another sister clean up.
“Lesa! I was just about to go look for you,” Kalida said.
“It’s fine. Isla and I were about to head home. It’s been great.” Lesa turned to leave, but Kalida grabbed her arm.
“You can’t leave yet!” Kalida said. “You’re going to miss Initiation.”
“Initiation?” Lesa asked. “Wasn’t that just what we celebrated for the last several hours?”
“That was the Initiation for everyone,” Kalida said. “But at 3 AM, we hold a special initiation, just for us, legacies.”
“A special initiation for legacies?” Lesa was a bit intrigued, but then thought of Isla. “I can’t leave Isla, though. It’s late and she…”
“I’ll have another sister drop her off at her dorm. She will be safe, Lesa,” Kalida insisted.
“Your presence is mandatory.” Kalida lost all her charm. “You will be there, Lesa. As your Big, you will do as I tell you.”
“Fine.” Lesa gave up. Looks like she had no choice in the matter.
“Lovely.” Kalida smiled then turned to another sister. “Can you make sure Isla gets home safely?”
“Will do.” The sister nodded and then left.
“Well, then, come along,” Kalida said.
“Let me tell Isla that I have to stay,” Lesa said.
“OK. Then come to the basement. We will be waiting.” Kalida left Lesa.
“Lesa! There you are! You’re not coming home?” Isla asked when Lesa came to the front of the house.
“No, I’m afraid not.” Lesa told Isla about the special 3 AM Initiation for legacies.
“Ah. The secret sisterhood within the sisterhood,” Isla sighed.
“I promise to tell you all about it tomorrow,” Lesa said.
“That’s fine. See you tomorrow!” Isla left with the AΘΩΠ sister.
“Time to get this over with.” Lesa made her way to AΘΩΠ house’s basement. She passed by a mirror on the wall and couldn’t help but stop and look.
“Mom always said I looked like her,” Lesa said. “I used to disagree since…”
“Lesa! What’s taking you so long?” Kalida came up the stairs and grabbed her arm. She practically pulled Lesa down the flight of stairs. “Bow’s so pissed! She almost convinced the Council that we didn’t have to do this.”
“We don’t have to do it, do we?” A small part of Lesa wished Kalida would say no and they could all go home.
“I think you’re going to want to do it. You’re finally going to get all the answers about your mother tonight,” Kalida answered.
“My mother?” Lesa asked.
“Follow me to the Initiation and find out.” Kalida said with a smile.
“Fine.” Lesa followed Kalida through the basement and to a bookshelf sitting in the dark corner. “Kalida, why are we staring at a bookcase?”
“The Initiation Room is this way.” Kalida pulled out a book from the middle shelf. She pressed the red button and the bookcase slid away to reveal a large wooden door.
“Whoa. We cleaned every inch of this house during Pledge Week,” Lesa said. “Didn’t know that was there.”
“It’s a legacies thing.” Kalida knocked on the door. It opened to reveal another legacy.
“We’ve been waiting,” the legacy sister said.
“We’re here now, aren’t we?” Kalida and Lesa followed the legacy sister deeper into the secret room.
“Whoa. What’s this?” Lesa and her fellow sisters had entered a large, underground chamber. There was a throne made of iron sitting in the middle of the spacious cavern. Fellow legacies of AΘΩΠ, including Bow Hamilton, stood behind it. They stopped chatting when they spotted Lesa, Kalida, and their third sister.
“The Cardinal Chamber,” Kalida said.
“Well, finally,” Bow huffed. “We’ve been waiting here forever.”
“Sorry. But we’re all here now!” Kalida smiled. Bow didn’t smile back.
“I still think this is a bad idea.” Bow threw Lesa a disgusted look. “We don’t even know what she’s capable of.”
“You know it wouldn’t work until Initiation,” Kalida said.
“Can someone tell me what’s going on?” Lesa had to step in. “What’s the Cardinal Chamber for?”
“You poor dear. You really do need your Big.” Kalida embraced Lesa. “After your mother died, who’s there to tell you about your destiny?”
“My destiny?” Lesa asked. “Well, I was planning on becoming a third grade teacher. There’s nothing more noble than…”
“We’re not talking about human destiny, stupid,” Bow interrupted. “And to think you’re a legacy like me.”
“Then explain it to me.” Lesa chose to ignore Bow and focus her attention to Kalida. “Tell me, Kalida, as my Big, what the hell is going on here.”
“It’s my honor.” Kalida curtsied.
“Kalida,” Lesa said. “Be serious.”
“Oh, I am.” Kalida straightened. “You see, you, like everyone else here, is the heir to one of the fourteen preeminent bloodlines. We come from very influential and powerful families with long histories. We’ve been forced underground and lock away our greatest powers ever since the Trials. We created this space to gather and bide our time. Your mother was more than just a sister of AΘΩΠ and its president, Lesa. Your mother was the Cardinal of our Coven.”
“Cardinal of what?” Lesa could barely wrap her mind over what Kalida was saying. “The Trials… do you mean the Salem Witch Trials?”
“It was a horrible time for us,” Kalida said. “But we survived. We’re here and now with you back into our fold, we’re ready for the destiny that has been laid out for us. The earth will cease to exist as we know it. We will build a new world where we will rule!”
“No. I… I don’t want this. I… This isn’t what I signed up for!” Lesa turned to run away, but a few sisters had snuck up behind her and blocked her exit. They grabbed her and pulled her to the throne.
“Be excited, Lesa!” Kalida called out. “It’s time for a new beginning!” The sisters forced Lesa into the chair. Lesa stared at the congregation of sisters that now encircled her and the throne.
“Don’t worry, I was against this from the start,” Bow said. “I said we didn’t need you or your bloodline. Your mother abandoned us because she didn’t believe in our cause anymore. She thought it would be best to forgive and that revenge wasn’t the answer. How pathetic.”
“But we do need you,” Kalida insisted. “We’ve tried all these years to unlock the power that was sealed here. We could have had if your mother had stayed. But we needed all fourteen bloodlines. You complete us, Lesa.”
“No! Please, this is not right! You don't want to do this!” Lesa pleaded. “You have a choice!”
“Not right? After what they did to our ancestors?” Bow demanded. “They deserve all this and more. You’re going to help us do it.”
“I can’t!” Lesa cried out. “Please! You don’t understand! I can’t help you!”
“She wore the ring.” Bow ignored Lesa and pointed out the ring on Lesa’s finger to Kalida. “You know it’s hers.”
“The Cardinal’s ring,” Kalida agreed. “Lesa, you’ll need to put it into the throne to unlock the power our ancestors have kept hidden away.”
“My ring.” Lesa looked down at the ring. On the armrest she spotted a hole where she assumed the ring would fit in perfectly. Her mother’s words echoed in her head. “The key to our future.”
“Why can’t we just pull it off her and open it ourselves?” Bow asked.
“You know it doesn’t work that way,” Kalida said. “Only the blood of the Cardinal can open it. And she has to do it willingly.”
“I won’t do it,” Lesa said. “I won’t.”
“Don’t be so haste in making a decision.” Bow came close to Lesa. “You haven’t heard your choices, yet.”
“What choice? I already told you I won’t. I know this isn’t what my mother wanted.”
“You either do as we have asked you to do,” Bow said. “Or we kill her.”
“Kill her?” Lesa was confused. Bow motioned off to someone at the sides and a couple of sorority sisters brought in an unconscious Isla.
“Isla! What the hell have you done to her?” Lesa demanded. They laid Isla’s body on the ground in front of Lesa.
“She’s fine. She’s just under a sleeping spell,” Bow said. “And that’s all it’s ever going to be if you make the right choice.”
“She dies either way doesn’t she?” Lesa said. “Isla’s not a witch like you.”
“We could spare her,” Bow said.
“Kalida, this is insane! Please tell me you’re not onboard with this whole thing.” Lesa hoped her Big would be on her side. She hoped Kalida would see this was not how to do things.
“Sorry, Lesa. But Bow’s right. It’s either you do as we say or Isla takes the big sleep.” Kalida stood firmly beside Bow.
“Time to make your decision, Lesa,” Bow said. “I think you’ll make the right choice.”
Lesa looked at Isla’s sleeping form. She couldn’t harm Isla. She didn’t want to harm anyone. She was her mother’s daughter though, and she knew what she had to do.
“Fine,” Lesa relented. “I’ll do it.”
“See? I knew she would come to our side!” Kalida said with glee.
“Tick tock, Lesa.” Bow tapped her wrist. “Time to get things moving.”
“Okay.” Lesa took off her ring. She hovered it over the hole in the armrest. “But I feel like I have to tell you all something first.”
“What now?” Bow said impatiently. Lesa looked up at Bow, Kalida, and the other heirs of the preeminent bloodlines. She smiled.
“My mother told me about you,” Lesa said. “She told me about this place. She told me that one day, it might be up to me to save everyone.”
“Can you get to the point already?” Bow asked.
“My mother, your Cardinal, knew her history and the destiny her bloodline had, she couldn’t risk having her own biological child. So, she adopted me when I was three months old.”
“What?” Kalida looked shocked.
“Wait!” Bow leaped forward to try and stop Lesa, but it was too late. Lesa plunged the ring down into the hole and twisted. There was a loud click and dark smoke spiraled out from underneath her. The sisters tried to run away, but the smoke wrapped around their ankles and pulled them to the ground.
“Lesa! Lesa, help me!” Kalida reached out to her. She managed to grab onto the leg of the throne.
“I can’t, Kalida,” Lesa said. “I tried to warn you.”
“Ah!” Kalida screamed and the smoke pulled her harder. Kalida lost her grip and disappeared underneath the throne.
The other sisters clawed, kicked, and screamed out for help as they were dragged under.
“Lesa! You’ll pay for this!” Bow screamed as she too was dragged underneath the throne. When they were all gone, Lesa ran to Isla, who had woken up from the spell.
“Lesa? Is that you?” Isla asked groggily.
“It’s me,” Lesa confirmed. “Are you okay?”
“I think so.” Lesa helped Isla sit up. “I remember one of the sisters was supposed to take me home. She offered me something to drink first and the next thing I know, I woke up here. Where are we?”
“In a secret room in the basement of AΘΩΠ house,” Lesa said. “There’s actually a lot I haven’t told you.” Lesa told Isla the truth about her mother, the AΘΩΠ house, the preeminent bloodlines, the power they sealed away underneath the very ground they stood on, and the ring.
“So what happened to them?” Isla asked.
“My mother told me, the original heirs of the preeminent bloodlines wanted to ensure that their bloodlines remained pure as they believed only the purest of their blood should inherit their power. If someone who wasn't an heir of the Cardinal were to try and unlock the powers, it would destroy not only their power, but the families as well, since a bloodline had been unpurified. Thus for generations, they tried their best to remain as pure as possible.”
“But you said your mom said she never had any biological kids, right?”
“That’s right. They’re not going to be threats to our world any longer.” Lesa and Isla had made their way out of AΘΩΠ house. They began their walk back to their dorms.
“So that’s why you wanted to join AΘΩΠ,” Isla said.
“It was my destiny.” Lesa stared up at the dawn sky. “I think my mom would be proud.”