“Order...order!” Eleanora yelled over the loud protests from the coven of sister witches gathered in the great hall of her manor.
“What do you mean by, a 'witch-out'?” asked one of the sister witches.
“It means we are not going to be doing our usual witching tonight,” replied Eleanora pounding the gavel on the table as the protesters began to yell even louder this time.
“Order...I shall have order in this hall!” Eleanor yelled loudly as her voice echoed through the hall and reverberated off the walls.
The loud protests died abruptly as everyone went quiet and still, gazing at their leader. The most powerful grand high witch of them all, who was seated in front of them. Radiating so much power, flanked by her closest sister witches, Aurelia, Fiona, Helena, Isabelle and Annabelle who were twins.
“Why not?” asked another witch finally breaking the silence.
“Because we have been witching every year and I think it's time we take a little break” replied Eleanora.
“But why stop now Eleanora? We have been having so much fun over the centuries? Have we not?” asked another.
“I think what dear Eleanora is trying to say is that we need to take some time off to unwind and relax. It would give us time to rejuvenate ourselves to face the coming years” replied Aurelia.
“Precisely” replied Eleanora as she looked at her sister witches gathered in the hall.
“But, Eleanora, we get plenty of time off during the rest of the year to unwind and relax and rejuvenate?” asked Annabelle.
“Yes, but we spend it perfecting our skills our potions and our spells replied Helena.
“And recruiting and teaching new sister witches” cut in Isabelle.
There were a few nods of agreement from the crowd.
“I haven't heard anything as absurd as this in centuries!” yelled a voice from the back.
They all turned to see who had spoken, as a tall sister witch wearing a hooded cloak sat up from where she was sitting and started walking to the front. As she came forward she removed her cloak to reveal a long mane of flaming red hair, green eyes and cherry red lips.
Eleanora sat up as the rest of her sister witches sitting on either side of her gasped in shock.
“Sienna! What are you doing here? You were banished from the coven and therefore are no longer permitted to enter this great hall,” yelled Eleanora sitting down again.
“Nice to see you too, dear cousin! Did you think that would stop me?” asked Sienna laughing.
“I am still just as powerful as you my dear Eleanora!” she continued as she paced up and down like a lioness looking directly at each sister witch sitting on either side of Eleanora as she did.
“We have never failed to go about our witching especially on All Hallows Eve. We have always done it. Why are you backing out now? When we have only a few hours to go?” Sienna asked as she stopped right in front of Eleanora, looking straight at her.
“I will repeat what I said earlier, in case you weren’t paying attention dear cousin. It's time we took a break from all that!” Eleanora retorted her anger flaring.
“We are witches. That's what we do. What we are born to do. It's who we are. It's what we look forward to, train for, prepare for each year. Perfecting our skills. Perfecting our spells. Now you say that we aren’t going to do it this year? Do you think it's wise? Do you think it's fair by the young witches you've trained? Who are looking forward to going witching this year?” asked Sienna.
“It’s not as if I am putting a stop on witching for good. They will get their chance next year!” exclaimed Eleanora.
“Yes, it's always your way, your rules, isn't it cousin?” Sienna shot back seething with anger.
“Yes, the same rules you failed to abide by when you harmed an innocent. You went against the treaty Sienna. The oath we all took so long ago!” said Eleanora.
“He wasn't innocent. He was a thief. He stole a pig from a farmer!” yelled Sienna.
“He stole it to feed his starving family. You punished him for that. We never punish the innocent only the wicked, dear cousin. You knew that very well and yet you still did it!” Eleanora yelled back.
“It doesn't matter. All of them should be punished. They are nothing but a bunch of cruel, wicked, lying, despicable thieves and murderers!” Sienna continued.
“That’s enough, cousin. I don't want to hear any more from you. Please leave at once or I shall have you thrown out!” declared Eleanora.
“Fine. I'll leave. But hear this dear cousin. You haven't heard the last from me yet. I will have my day. I will have my revenge!” Sienna yelled loudly as she disappeared amidst a huge cloud of smoke sending the gathering into a frenzy as they started chattering and whispering amongst themselves.
Once the smoke cleared and the crowd settled down Eleanora pounded the gavel on the table once again saying, “This meeting is over!” stood up and stormed out of the hall followed by her sister witches.
A few moments later...
Eleanora was in her study seated behind her desk. Staring into space with Sienna's words playing over and over again inside her head when she heard a soft knock on the door.
“Come in!” she yelled.
The door opened a crack and Annabelle stuck her head in saying, “pardon me grand high witch but the rest of the coven would like to speak to you before they depart.”
“I am not in the mood Anna. Please tell them I am unwell or something” Eleanora said.
“They are refusing to leave without speaking to you. Please come. They are gathered in the great hall” Annabelle pleaded.
“Alright, just give me a moment. I will be right there” she said giving Annabelle a reassuring smile.
Annabelle nodded and closed the door.
A moment later Eleanora walked into the great hall and took her place at the head table among her sister witches once again.
One of the sister witches stood up and cleared her throat and began to speak.
“Pardon us for summoning you here again grand high witch but we, all of us, couldn't leave without reassuring you that you have our fullest support in your decision to refrain from witching later tonight.”
“Yes, and we all took a vote and it was unanimous!” another witch stood up and declared, gleefully.
“However, I beg you to heed Sienna's threat,” said the one who spoke first.
“She's right Eleanora, we can't take her threat lightly. You know very well that she's just as powerful as you are. To deny that would be folly” said Aurelia.
“So, what are you suggesting my sisters?” asked Eleanora.
“The suggestion is to keep a lookout over the neighbourhood and the surrounding areas that we have all been assigned to and watch over anyone that might come to any harm at the hands of Sienna. Because we believe that she might be planning an attack” cut in Helena.
“Attack on whom? The villagers? The innocent?” questioned Eleanora slightly alarmed.
“No. On you my dear Eleanora” declared Fiona.
The crowd gasped at Fiona's declaration.
“Me!” asked Eleanora slightly agitated.
“I had a dream a few nights ago. I dreamt of you walking in the woods in the night and suddenly a shadow envelops you and your silk white gown turns crimson and the crimson liquid drips down as a steel blade falls to the ground also covered in the crimson liquid” Fiona said with a sad look on her face.
The crowd gasped as Fiona continued. “ I didn't want to alarm you. I didn't think much of it then. That's why I didn’t say anything. But after Sienna threatened you I couldn't keep it to myself any longer” she concluded.
“It’s alright Fiona,” Eleanora said softly reassuring her with a smile.
“So it’s decided that you shouldn’t venture out tonight” declared Aurelia.
“No, absolutely not. Threat or no threat. Danger or no danger. I am going out there tonight and that's final. I don't want to hear any debates about that!” announced Eleanora.
“Grand high witch, with all due respect, shouldn't you take Fiona's warning seriously?” asked one of the sister witches who had spoken earlier.
“Yes. I do take her warning seriously. Which is why I need to be out there tonight. I am not going to hide behind these walls like a coward and that's all I am going to say! Now, ladies if you'll excuse me, we have a long night ahead of us, so I suggest we prepare ourselves instead of sitting around here arguing!” Eleanora concluded as she stood up and walked out of the great hall.
Earlier that evening...
Drake walked stealthily towards the All Hallows Inn, hoping to grab a drink before heading out into the woods. He opened the door and walked in glancing about him and planted himself down on an empty stool at the bar.
“Slow night...huh Ed”? he asked nodding towards the Innkeeper.
“You should know. It's your kind that keeps most of my customers away, with your flappin' about all over kingdom come. Draining poor unsuspecting folks as you fly along from village to village. especially on a night like this!” retorted Ed.
“Hey that's not my kin and you know it. I, along with my brothers and sisters only go after the wicked, as stated in the treaty forged a century ago between us, the witches, werewolves, ghouls and ghosts. You can't blame me if some of the vampires from other blood-sucking families goes against the treaty? Can you...Ed?” Drake asked cocking his head with a cheeky grin.
“All right wise guy, what'll it be tonight?” asked Ed.
“The usual Ed” replied Drake as he reached into his pocket.
“Don’t worry your ale has been paid for tonight?” said Ed nodding towards the figure seated in a dark corner near the window.
Drake glanced towards in the direction where Ed was pointing and gave him a half-smile saying, “This must be my lucky night!” as he raised his mug of ale at Ed and walked towards the figure seated in the dark.
The fog had rolled in, out of nowhere when Eleanora made her way over to the riverbank. She managed to put some distance away from her sister witches as she wanted to be alone. Especially from Isabelle who had been dogging her steps ever since Sienna's threat.
She reached the river bank. Looking back she heaved a sigh of relief as she realised no one was following her. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply letting the cold night air fill her lungs.
This has been their favourite place. Sienna's and hers. They'd had often come here to bathe in the river during summer and to pick flowers and berries and herbs for their potions. She recalled sadly.
She was brought back from her reverie by the sound of breaking twigs behind her.
“So, you finally found me Isabelle!” she said.
“Hello Eleanora!” a voice said behind her.
She turned around swiftly at the sound of the voice to find a tall dark-haired handsome man standing behind her.
“Drake!” she gasped. He still managed to take her breath away, after all these years.
“What are you doing here?” she continued narrowing her eyes at him.
“I've come to kill you!” he declared as he flew towards her and grabbed her by the shoulders.
Later that night...
Sienna paced back and forth nervously at the entrance to the cave. Awaiting the return of her accomplice.
A few moments later she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Through the fog, she could see the outline of a figure walking toward her. She moved forward as the figure came near. She heaved a sigh of relief as she realised it was Drake!
“I hope you have some good news for me, Drake,” she said her green eyes gleaming with anticipation.
“He threw a small leather bag at her feet saying, “I always deliver what I am paid to deliver. I never fail!”
She bent down and picked up the leather bag and unfastened the cord. She put her hand inside and took the object out, examining it under the moonlight.
“Is this really hers?” she asked intrigued.
“Cut it out of her just after I drained her of every last drop of blood!” he declared.
“What about the other thing I asked you to retrieve?” she questioned, her green eyes flaring like fire.
Drake reached into his pocket and fished out a lock of golden hair waving it around playfully.
She leapt forward and grabbed it out of his hand laughing maniacally.
“It's finished. It's done. I finally am rid of her!” she exclaimed gleefully throwing herself at him and planting a kiss on his lips. He tightened his grip on her as he kissed her back.
She pulled back when she felt something stinging her chest. She pulled away from him and looked down to see he had stabbed her!
As she stared at him in shock, she finally realised what was happening.
She cried out, “Eleanora!” as she slumped to the ground. The bodice of her long white silk dress drenched in blood.
The figure now standing over her was no longer Drake but Eleanora!.
“I've come to kill you!” he declared as he flew towards her and grabbed her by the shoulders.
“So what are you waiting for? Just do what you came here to do” she replied gazing into his deep blue eyes.
Drake stood there glancing at her. She is the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on. Creamy white skin. Long golden mane. Light blue eyes and rosy lips. He had been besotted with her ever since the first day he saw her, long ago.
He loosened his grip and touched her rosy cheek gently saying, “I should kill you, for I got paid handsomely for it.”
“How handsomely did Sienna pay you?” she asked intrigued.
“Handsomely enough” he replied cheekily.
“So what did you do with the money?” Eleanora probed.
“I left it at the doorstep of the man I drained a few minutes ago” replied Drake.
“Drake please don't tell me you harmed an innocent?” exclaimed Eleanora.
“Believe me he was no innocent. He was beating his poor woman senseless, so I intervened.” He said waving a small leather bag.
“What's in the bag?” she inquired.
“The wretched man's heart!” Drake declared winking.
“Why did you cut his heart out?” Eleanora asked.
“Because Sienna wanted your heart as a price along with a lock of your hair” Drake replied.
“So you'd be requiring a lock of my hair?” she asked.
“Yes” replied Drake.
“Well, go on then, take it!” said Eleanora.
“I'd hate to spoil such a beautiful mane. But your cousin requires it” he said as he took out a small knife and cut a tiny lock of her hair.
“What else did she promise as a reward?” she probed further.
“A coven of witches to feed on!” replied Drake licking his lips.
“Did she now?” Eleanora asked wide-eyed.
“She most certainly did” replied Drake.
“Tell me something. How did you know that Sienna was planning to have you killed? Drake asked confused.
“Fiona had a dream a few nights ago. She dreamt that some dark shadow stabs me in the chest with a knife.” Eleanora replied.
She moved a little closer and placed a hand on his chest as she continued, “but, what no one knows is that I have had the same dream. In my dream, it's not me who gets stabbed. It's Sienna!”
“Is that right? So, you are out here to make the dream a reality?” he asked amused.
“Yes, and on behalf of my coven, I thank you, Drake, for looking out for us. For seeking me out and warning me,” she said as she took his hand and kissed it.
He pulled her to him and kissed her tenderly.
She pulled away suddenly and said, “you better go now before my sister witches come looking for me.”
“Be seeing you my witch!” said Drake kissing her hand.
“That's 'grand high witch' to you dear sir!” Eleanora said as she turned and walked away from him.