Shadows & Lights
All Rights Reserved; This publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part, nor transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy nor otherwise without the express consent of the Publisher.
Valiant Digital © 1995 in Association with Aberdare Multimedia © 2009
Copyright © 2006. Johanez Johnston
This First Edition Published in Canada in 2012 by Valiant Digital.
The author asserts intellectual property rights of all materials contained within.
It was much later that Saturday morning, when I finally managed to wake myself from a much-deserved rest. Ferule had wasted not a single detail with my wardrobe laid out on my dressing table. A solitary note lay on top of my message tray. The simple handwritten message read:
Professor Jutta Kriemhilde Liselotte Montay (nee Griffin)
30 October 1879 – 16 October 1930
Family, & Friends are asked to mark the recent passing of our
departed sister and mentor with a celebration of chronicles for
Tuesday 21 October 1930, Under the Harvest Moon
RSVP: V. Griffin - General Delivery,
5020 Talbot St, Port McNicol.
With a wave of my wand, I created more than five hundred copies, and left a note for Ferule to post them. To change even a single word, would have been an insult to her memory. I resolved to end the influence the Chamberlain had exerted upon the family and I would be marking our return from exile during the celebrations of the Sabbat. I wept, and my tears fell upon the cover of my volume.
“APERIO!” I whispered as a final tear dropped from my cheek. I opened the cover and whisked to where I had inserted the Oraculum. The document was untouched. Perfect in every detail, I stared at a singularly sacred piece of our family’s history. Without another glance, I placed the Oraculum back into the volume and closed the cover. I quickly finished dressing and headed downstairs to the kitchen. Ferule was busy cleaning and did notice me enter. Sneaking up on Ferule was nothing short of impossible, but I sensed immediately he was deeply lost in thought.
“Penny for your thoughts, Ferule?” I quietly spoke.
“Sorry, Mistress.” Ferule replied. “I have much to do today.”
“Is there anything left over from breakfast?” I asked. “I’m starved.”
“Then you should have had dinner last night, Mistress.” Ferule quipped. “It was your favorite.”
“I know, Ferule.” I answered back. “But from now on, don’t hold dinner for me.”
“Yes, it seems the three of you seem to always break your dinner plans.” Ferule mentioned with a wink.
While waiting for brunch, I decided that I would drop in on Deanna, Rachel and Valerie. Annie, Cathie and I felt that something was going on that the others were either to proud to ask for help, or too embarrassed to ask. I suspected that my reception may not be entirely welcome, but was willing to make my visit cordial. After eating, I decided to walk the few blocks to Deanna, Rachel and Valerie’s.
“Well, here goes nothing.” I mused to myself as I mounted the steps to the house that they called home. I paused before knocking, to the sound of a loud crash emanating from within the house. I decided instead of knocking on the door, to seating myself on the lone swinging davenport dominating the front porch. I heard more commotion from within the house, followed with several loud outbursts from who could have been no one else but an adult, probably Deanna’s mother, or was Rachel’s and Valerie’s. Moments later the front door swung open and Deanna fled down the front stair without even noticing I was there, with a second person close behind her but stopped to notice I was seated on the davenport.
“And just who are you?” The woman spoke in a very demanding tone.
“Hi,” I answered politely. “I’m one of Deanna’s friends from school. I’m Narissa.” I immediately felt the woman eyeing me up to try to learn more about whom I was, or even possibly if I was a threat to her, when Rachel came out onto the porch after hearing me introduce myself.
“It’s OK, Mom.” Rachel answered. “She’s a friend of ours.” I immediately felt overdressed, wearing a pleated skirt with a matching blazer, but Rachel made me feel welcome. My long red hair seemed to give Rachel’s Mother a sense of familiarity to herself as her own hair, though a little disheveled was near the same color and length as my own.
“We have something in common.” I quipped.
“Oh?” Rachel’s Mother asked.
“Yes, red hair seems to be a very special trait that only very few of us share.” I answered. I could tell immediately that my answer made her feel a little more at ease.
“Please, come inside.” Rachel’s Mother offered as she tried to quickly straighten herself as though doing so would make things less awkward. “And just call me Mom, it’ll be less confusing.”
“Thank You.” I politely replied, and walked thru the doorway and into their home. The inside of the house completely shocked me and was in complete contrast to the modest exterior. Every inch seemed to be filled with every conceivable cooking instrument, pot, and pan imaginable. I knew now why the commotion I heard earlier, seemed so out of place. Both Rachel and Valerie we busy trying to straighten a shelf that had just recently collapsed. I picked up a solitary fork lying on the floor some distance away from them. I quickly noted the artisan’s mark on it as I had seen this same mark every time I sat down to dinner.
“Cooking is not one of my strong points.” I giggled. Startled slightly, both Rachel and Valerie stopped collecting utensils and broke into laughter.
“Oh? Valerie quipped while stifling her laugh. “Imagine that.”
“But I do have other skills.” I mused, and I withdrew my wand. Standing back from the immediate area, Valerie and Rachel stood in awe following a quick swish of my wand and the toppled shelf righted itself followed by its previous contents beginning to bounce off the floor onto the shelving unit in an orderly fashion that would not be causing gravity to act upon them as easily. Another quick flick and the remainder of the immediate vicinity followed.
“There, much better.” I concluded and gave them both a wink.
“Oh my goodness.” Their mother reacted as I pocketed my wand. “Just how did you manage that, Narissa?”
“Our butler likes to keep his kitchen in order.” I answered. “I just imagined how he would have arranged everything, and made it so.”
“Well, it wasn’t necessary, but thank you.” Their mother replied.
“My pleasure.” I returned and then added. “May I ask where all of this came from?”
“It was all salvaged from a fire.” Valerie replied.
“May I ask whose mark this is?” I asked while pointing to the artisan’s mark on the nearest cooking pot.
“That was my husband’s mark, as it was his father’s before him.” Rachel’s mother replied.
“We have a full service set of his cutlery.” I stated.
“We know.” Deanna quipped, having just returned from outside.
“Your set was the last he ever made.” Rachel’s mother added.
“You mentioned a fire, Valerie.” I asked. “Was it the fire that destroyed the estate ruins we visited last night?”
“The very same.” Deanna replied.
“That was over forty years ago.” I noted with astonishment. “These all look as though they have never been used.”
“They have been restored, so that they may one day be used to service an estate such as it once was.” Rachel’s mother mentioned.
“You will have to pardon my ignorance.” I apologized. “Only a Domus would plan for such an event.”
“I am sure, that our Rector may one day issue the command to have the estate rebuilt.” Rachel’s mother replied. “Until then, we have a duty to ensure these are kept serviceable and ready to be used.”
“You do not need to be waiting any longer.” I spoke calmly. “The estate will be rebuilt and I have no doubt you will be the first to use these in the new kitchen.”
“Oh?” Rachel’s mother sounded surprised.
“Yes,” I replied. “But the estate is in such a sad state at the moment.”
“Only what remains above ground.” She stated. “The catacombs are still very much intact.”
“Catacombs?” I asked.
“Didn’t you know, Narissa?” Deanna answered.
“I guess not.” I replied.
“Mom,” Rachel interrupted. “Mind if we spend the afternoon at the bookshop?”
“By all means,” her mother answered. “I am sure you girls can tell Narissa all about the catacombs while you’re there.” Rachel’s Mom shot me a knowing look followed by a wink. I was immediately reminded of how Professor Montay always seemed to know more than she let on. Moments later Deanna, Rachel and Valerie had changed their wardrobes for something more respectable to be seen in public, and together we walked towards Karl’s Bookshop.
“And just what shall we do today?” Valerie asked.
“Maybe solve a few problems?” Rachel quipped, as together the four of us entered Karl’s Bookshop to find both Annie and Cathie swamped with customers.
“Let’s get busy and help out first.” I mentioned with the utter chaos greeting us. Together the four of us added to Annie and Cathie had the chaos restored to order in no time flat as we served the customers that had been waiting patiently. After the pandemonium came to an abrupt end with our restorative efforts, the six of us were able to enjoy some relaxation before restocking the shelves and putting everything back into the serene order that Karl always wished imposed. I noted however that Karl was nowhere in sight during the entire time, but did appear laden with a tea setting for eight as calm descended upon the now empty bookshop. Everyone sat around the reading table for a quick cup of tea.
“So, Cathie.” Valerie asked somewhat meekly. “Have you found your familiar yet?
“No, not yet.” Cathie answered, as she played with the spoon in her teacup.
“We know who her familiar is destined to be, but there are some serious problems associated with that.” I interrupted.
“Problems?” Rachel asked inquisitively. “What could possibly keep a familiar from being united with their witch?”
“The problem is that her familiar may feel it is unsafe for both of them to be united.” Annie honestly answered.
“And right now, we don’t even know where to look.” Cathie added. Moment’s later, Karl came into the reading room carrying what appeared to be a fur covered pumpkin under his arm.
“Does this affectionate creature belong to one of you ladies?” Karl asked.
“Jules!” Deanna exclaimed. “She’s been missing for weeks now.” The fur covered pumpkin leapt out of Karl’s arms and bounded directly into Deanna’s lap. “Where have you been?”
“Miss Deanna.” Karl spoke with a very firm tone. “The catacombs under the estate are not a place for any of you to be exploring.”
“Karl?” I now asked. “Speaking of the catacombs, how is it that you know about them?”
“Because that’s where I found him, Narissa.” Karl replied.
“And I think the lot of you need to be doing some explaining.” Uncle Vlad spoke clearly. My uncles sparkling blue eyes seemed to be rejoicing as to a recent discovery.
“I’m sorry, Master Griffin.” Valerie spoke clearly. ”We should have been more careful.”
“I don’t understand.” Cathie spoke.
“Everyone, please, just stop. What is going on?” I now demanded. The banter back and forth was so surprisingly quick, and incomplete that, only now was I beginning to comprehend all the pieces, the final pieces to a very large puzzle, a very old puzzle. My demand had everyone stop and remain silent. My mind raced back to the series of notes I had written on a scrap of parchment before I had been released from the binding my mother had placed upon me.
It was all about the power of three. Tres Virtus. It was all about the mistakes of the past not being repeated. To make whole what was once broken, to unite that which was separated, to release what had been bound, and the simplest of all, the curse. I figured it out. The only piece remaining was locked away within an underground maze of tunnels. Together with Annie, Cathie, Deanna, Rachel, Valerie, Uncle Vlad and Karl, I learned all that they knew about the catacombs. When the clock gently began chiming five ‘o clock, we all prepared to leave with a promise to meet after dusk. My mind raced as we leisurely walked towards home. The cool October wind blew thru my hair as though reminding me of the announcement for Professor Montay’s chronicles. Tonight of all nights, the prelude to the celebration of the Sabbat was to be probably the most important.
Cathie would finally be united with Bootee, and in doing so, complete the circle of Ferule and myself, and Annie with Loire. It was sad to think of how lonely Bootee must be having been waiting patiently for Cathie to find her. The time had drawn for Cathie to seek out Bootee and be united. Being together with not only Annie and Cathie, but now with our entire coven, I fought hard not to reveal my feelings of both anticipation and trepidation. Dinner was a struggle for me, as Professor Montay’s vacant dinner setting remained untouched. My mind wandered from the lavish dinner Ferule had prepared. My cutlery vaulted from my hand to the ceiling and my wand playfully bounced across the table like a hound seeking to find a familiar scent. A whishing apparition attempted to form and was almost immediately dispersed. My wand immediately retreated back to my hand and my cutlery floated gently back to the table with a gentle clatter.
“Why are we here, because we are here… Why does it happen, because it happens …Fate is but circumstances, while destiny is ordained…Haunted by the lives that you have loved, actions you have made, and promises broken… See a perfect forest thru the shattered trees that surround you. Carry my voice within you and we shall all rejoice with you.”
Distinctly, we all heard Professor Montay’s voice reach out to us. I needed to gather my wits about me, but the notes written upon a long abandoned piece of parchment continued to haunt me. Haunted by the voices the melody seemed to shout out loud. The promises made long ago and foretold in a prophecy, written by my ancestor and recited by quickly vanishing voices. I looked around the dinner table and could see the same expressions of joy reflected in everyone’s faces, but no one more than my great uncle’s sparkling eyes. It was now time to gather up the splinters and build a casket for my tears. I abandoned my plate as a final wisp of vapor dispersed, and fled to the sanctuary of my bedroom. I wept tears of both elation and poignant, as I spun my wand before they fell upon my pillow.
“Narissa?” I heard my uncle’s soft tone as he gently knocked upon my bedroom door. I did not answer his call, as my tears continued to stream down my face.
“But why did it have to be her?” I shouted.
“It was her choice, my dear.” My uncle responded. “I could do nothing more to change her decision, than you could have done.”
“It was the price for my destiny?” I asked, while already knowing the answer.
“She knew her duty was fulfilled, and you had exceeded what she could teach you.” My uncle replied. “You have a task this evening, so do not tarry long, getting yourself prepared, my dear.” My uncle departed without another spoken word and I found myself having no more tears to shed. With a final swish of my wand, my tears joined the gently falling rain outside my window. I wasted no more time and quickly spun myself into my robes that Ferule had thoughtfully laid out on my dressing table earlier today, and I confidently stepped into the sitting room where both Annie and Cathie waited for me to emerge, also dressed in robes.
We walked to the sports field with our besoms in hand as the night sky shone brightly as the rising moon cast shadows and light around the clouds.
“Listen to your heart, as we approach the ruins tonight, Cathie.” I spoke softly. “It will guide you.”
“I have to do this by myself?” Cathie asked quietly. “Don’t I?”
“Yes, but we will all be with you.” I answered back. My robes flowed around me and reflected the light of the moon as though I was bathed in sunlight, and approached everyone waiting for us to arrive. Together we all lifted off into the moonlight and sped directly towards the old estate ruins. I spun circling clouds around us as we began to descend and finally landed.
The cackle of a raven announced our arrival to the inhabitants of the ruins. The loose stones under our feet echoed around us as Deanna led the way to the only known entrance to the catacombs beneath us. It felt a little strange to be stepping amongst the overgrown stones that were once a magnificent estate. It was Valerie who shattered the silent symphony of our hosts and drew a ring of salt around Annie, Cathie and I.
“Everyone ready?” Amelia asked.
“Ready.” We all responded. The others all stood with their besoms at staff length in a circle around us as Cathie, Annie and I initiated strong projections to each other. Almost instantly, we were torn from the ground we stood on and were greeted with the sight of the bright glowing eyes of a Necromancer Dragon. The shackles binding her to the rough stones surrounding us clattered against the floor and she let out a huge cloud of brimstone.
“Bootee, we release you from your prison.” I distinctly heard Cathie shout. There was no turning back now, as releasing the shackles was merely the first step in unlocking the bindings holding Bootee prisoner. I felt Cathie reach out with her mind and embrace Bootee’s thoughts without any fear. Bootee belched a huge fireball into the airshaft joining the chamber with the surface. It took a few moments for the cloud of brimstone that accompanied the fireball to clear.
“Welcome and thank you, Mistress.” Bootee projected firmly to all three of us. “It will only be moments before the ceiling caves in around us.” We sequestered ourselves directly beneath Bootee’s massive body as she curled her tail in to protect us. As if on queue, the ceiling of the chamber collapsed showering Bootee with rock and timbers as she continued to blast the falling debris until finally the moonlight bathed Bootee’s scales, after having waited more than four hundred years. With our wands drawn, we now waited for the guards that were sure to be nearby to show themselves. Bootee was the first to react and stormed out of the open pit that was once her prison. Together we scaled the broken fragments and shattered timbers where we finally mounted the rim. The guards waiting for us fled in terror as together we projected strong feelings of fear towards them.
“We must not tarry long, as they will return in greater numbers.” Bootee responded and we disappeared back into the circle of salt, but not before witnessing her spread her wings and flee into the night sky. I slumped onto the ground and passed out as I broke my projection to Annie and Cathie.
I awoke to the flashing of light smashing the night and the echo of curses being chanted. A superstitious feeling overtook me, with my head pounding while the ambush that had been orchestrated for us unfolded.
“Ferule!” I projected meekly. “I need you!”
Zoë and Tessa were slumped on the ground while Vijay and Valerie valiantly stood their ground. Annie was prone on the ground beside me, and Cathie stood frozen after being hit with a full body curse. Amelia, Nyssa, Rachel and Deanna all fell simultaneously as they were hit with stunning spells. With barely a conscious thought I cast a series of shield charms around our position and immediately projected a plea for help from Ferule, Loire and Bootee. A further series of curses now harmlessly bounced off the shield charms I had cast. I regained my feet and stepped outside the protection afforded by the shield charms as a barrage of stunning spells and curses harmlessly bounced off me. I advanced upon our attackers as I raised my wand against them. The only thoughts in my mind were on everyone else and what they meant to me.
“Promise me your allegiance and you shall be spared.” I shouted towards the shadows, as one last final barrage of curses and spells harmlessly bounced off my robes. The attack ended as abruptly as it had begun. The men and women, who stepped forward, feared my wrath more than the Chamberlain’s. The power of love was truly a formidable defensive weapon. The others, who did not step forward with their compatriots, would soon be begging for my mercy as Ferule, Loire and Bootee descended behind the remaining attackers. The few who managed to defend themselves were instantly bathed in a cloud of brimstone from Bootee, and disappeared into dust and ash.
“Surrender!” I shouted. My mind was racing with feelings running thru my head. The silenced voices of half uttered curses mingled with the now gently falling rain. The smell of feces and urine permeated the air as fear of what I might do filled the thoughts of our former attackers.
“Forgive us, Mistress.” The first of many shouted. Their surrender and pleas for mercy formed their accepting the binding of compliance I had silently cast before the first plea had been spoken aloud.
“Your pleas for mercy have been heard.” A voice roared. Our attackers all knelt before me, as the ruins surrounding us seemed to come to life. In the span it took for Ferule, Loire and Bootee to spin themselves into clouds of brimstone and disappear, the ruins had begun to restore themselves. The mistakes of the past were now corrected. A Family member had been present to stand the ground we held sacred, and had only now broken a binding that had held the estate within its grasp. In a matter of minutes the overgrown ground I stood on was replaced with a soft grassy floor.
“Never again will you raise your wands against anyone who is a Member of the Houses Von Brougham.” I shouted. Instantly those who had surrendered vanished without a trace.
“We belong to the shadows. We belong to the light.” A chorus of voices echoed around me. “We belong to the ground we have fallen.”
“Close your eyes and try to dream. What ever you deny or embrace, you belong to the shadows and light of the ground you are now a part of.” I softly chanted. It was done.
The estate now had a permanent shield bound by volunteers who willingly accepted their fate than face my total wrath. I was now closer than I ever thought I might be to breaking the curse that had plagued the twenty-six generations before me. The road before me was now a mystery.
“Your thoughts betray you, Mistress.” Ferule spoke softly next to me.
“I know, Ferule.” I replied. “With the power of my convictions, there will no longer be any need for a member of my clan to sacrifice their life, nor afford to be innocent as we stand before our enemies.” The others soon began to revive from the attack we’d experienced. I stood amongst everyone as they all formed a circle around me. No one asked what happened to our attackers, and I didn’t offer any information either.
“It’s my life, and I just want to live.” I spoke softly.
“Lead us and we will lead the other houses behind you.” The others all spoke back to me.
“It is sad that blood had to be spilled upon this ground,” I replied. “I can feel something inside me say it is now time for the family to be united.”
“I feel it too, Mistress.” Bootee spoke softly from behind me. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. Dressed in a flowing black robe, I stared at Bootee in human form as a beautiful young woman with flaming red hair similar to the woman from the portrait hanging in the Lion’s Head Inn. She had been watching over us all along, hidden in plain sight for us all to see. Beside her on either side stood Ferule and Loire in the form of distinguished gentlemen.
“Well done, Mistress.” Ferule projected towards me with one last thought before they were gone. Ferule, Loire and Bootee slowly faded from view. With one final blinding flash of light, and Annie, Cathie and I were enveloped by the love from each of them. Bound in both mind and spirit, the three of us locked our minds together as we each in turn received the wisdom of more than five hundred years. Every charm, every spell, every tincture, every known binding instantly shared freely between us, along with a future ordained by the Oraculum was now a part of us. Only Annie, Amelia, Cathie, Deanna, Nyssa, Rachel, Tessa, Valerie, Vijay, Zoë, and myself stood upon the grounds of our ancestral estate.
“Oraculum de Tres Virtus, Ego teneo vos es alicubi sicco illic. Ego mos reperio vos totus. Ego sum tener, Ego teneo, tamen vel sic. Ego teneo a res vel duos, Ego philologus vobis. (Prophesy of the Power of Three. I know you are somewhere out there. I will find you all. I am young, I know, but even so. I know a thing or two, I learned from you.) I chanted aloud. In my mind I could feel the power beginning to emanate from the spell I had just cast upon the estate.
A sadness seemingly imposed by the curse began to lift as though the autumn winds blowing thru my robes had the power to dispel the curse by itself. Together, the seemingly forgotten notes I had scratched upon that abandoned piece of parchment joined with their voices as we stood bathed in the moonlight. It was done. The way it needed to be. From beyond the wall of doubt, my voice cried out and led a chorus as natural as any hymn. I could feel it from inside me. The others joined with me as though seeking to summon every living member of the family to the estate by virtue of our hymn. It was all I could hope for, to have everyone not only witness the estate restoration, but also to gather with purpose.
To gather in celebration of chronicles of one whom had been our eldest sister, and longest serving Adjudant. The eleven of us now represented the newest generation of leadership for the family. The feelings I had coursing thru me, did little to stop me from thinking of my tutor and her gifts of patience and wisdom she had afforded me.
“Narissa, what do we do now?” Amelia politely asked while I had been lost in thought.
“We wait.” I replied. “Professor Montay’s Chronicles will be held here.” We did not have to wait long as silhouettes of pilots on besoms began to fill the sky. The moonlight streamed thru cracks in the clouds. The very first to arrive had been the Concierge and Maître d’ Hotel of the Lions Head Inn with what appeared to be their entire staff. With them, the portrait was soon hung in the most conspicuous place in the main foyer overlooking the main staircase. Much as it had been for the last fourteen years, the portrait shimmered as we all witnessed it being re-hung.
“Good evening, Mistress.” Principal Marriott’s voice greeted me. Her Emerald Green robes flowed around her as the entire Linwood staff queued behind her. The sea of emerald green was breathtaking. And soon the colors of all the houses began to arrive, along with a procession of heavy lorries.
“Look, there’s my mom.” Rachel quipped as we all saw her dismount from the leading lorry,
“Good evening, Mistress.” Rachel’s mother greeted us all. Her grey robes floated around her as a number of others arrived with her. With no further notice, she began directing both the waiting lorries and people to unload them. We soon found ourselves being sequestered into the main hallway of the now restored estate, and we found the time for some respite as furniture began to arrive. The ornate fixtures, richly colored wood tables and chairs, bookcases, and so much more, began a steady stream into the estate. The sheer number of people astounded me more than anything else, along with the colors of the rainbow paraded before us. Every house was represented with their seemingly bottomless source of labour as Lorry after Lorry arrived, was emptied, and left the estate, only to return a short time later fully loaded. The entire choreographed performance lasted well into the early morning hours, before the last lorry had been unloaded.
“That was quite a performance.” Vijay quipped.
“But more importantly, is where did all this come from?” my uncle interrupted. I couldn’t help myself, but give my uncle a huge hug as I finally noticed he was there. “You ladies should at least retire for a moment’s rest before everyone arrives for Jutta’s chronicles, after dusk this evening.”
“I agree.” I answered, as everyone else added their own nods. Escorted by my uncle, we all finally ascended the grand staircase. I could not help but take notice of the furnishings directly inside the open doorways we passed. The windows on the entire upper floor on the east side of the main hall reflected the dim light of the dawn before we finally found an almost exact copy of our suite at the house.
“I bid you all good morning, ladies.” My uncle bade to us as he closed the door behind him. Not caring about anything more than a pair of warm pajamas, and a soft pillow to lay my head. I could not help but notice my dressing table had everything I had wished for, as though Ferule had personally attended to it.
“You should know by now, Mistress,” I distinctly heard Ferule’s voice. “I have no intentions of leaving you unsupervised, though I fear I may no longer be able to anticipate your needs as well as I have in the past.”
“Ferule!” I shouted excitedly. “But, I saw you…”
“You saw my other half, Mistress.” Ferule replied, interrupting me. I now understood the simplicity and deviously simple curse and how the layers to keep it at bay had been applied to it by my ancestors.
“I thought I’d never see you again.” I wept aloud as I gave him a huge hug. “I’m glad you’re back.” Ferule hugged me back, though I feared I might no longer be rewarded with the smell of brimstone welcoming my mornings. Wearily I soon found myself diving into soft pillows and the welcome slumber they induced.