"Quick, everyone inside" Theresa says "We can use protection spells to ward them off while we prepare"
"No wait" Delia says "Look"
They are just standing there, not moving. Their gaze fixed on the group.
"Why are they not attacking?" Emma asks.
They stand in the shade of the trees as the rising sun slowly illuminates the world around them.
They sun's rays reach and pass the house illuminating the women.
"They can't" Delia says.
The stare lasts only a few seconds longer before the 'darkness' turns and leaves.
"They will be back. Tonight." Hilda says weakly "And they will destroy us all"
"What do we do about her?" Theresa asks referring to Hilda.
The other older women looked at each other.
"There hasn't been a trial since the time of our mothers" Magnolia says "There is nothing we can do without the elders"
"We can't just let her go?" Delia says.
"She killed my mother!" Emma shouts.
"Silence, child." Magnolia replies sharply.
"I will answer for my crimes against our family. For now, I want to protect my daughter... and our future"
"Hilda is right" Magnolia adds "We need to prepare for a fight"
"How?" Theresa asks "Now that the ritual is complete, they control the elements. Spells aren't strong enough and they are untrained"
"Harriet is powerful. She just needs to apply what I taught her" Hilda says.
"So is Jenna." Magnolia adds.
"I've taught my daughter well" Delia says.
Everyone turned to Emma.
"I can't fight the darkness or whatever they are" He says.
Theresa walks up to him. "I don't think you have a choice." she puts a hand on his shoulder "We can train you. I watched your grandmother teach Mady everyday after school. We can teach you what you need to know"
"In 12 hours?" He asks
In the distance, the boys from yesterday are running to catch up to the women.
Theresa nods at Emma then turns to face the boys.
They're breathing very hard when they finally stop.
"Did.. did you see them?" Will asks.
"Yes, Wilmer. We did" Magnolia replies.
Nobody says anything. They are quiet.
"There is no time for this" Magnolia says "Everyone needs to be ready to train in two hours. We'll meet back here."
There are nods all around.
"Hilda" Magnolia turns to the defeated woman "we'll use your backyard if you don't mind. It has the most space"
Hilda just nods weakly before turning to return into her home.
Harriet hugs Emma and the girls before running to catch up with her mother.
"Right" Delia says "This is not how this ends"
Emma stands in front of the mirror wearing nothing but his cousin's panties. He was supposed to sort through the bags of clothes Theresa had dropped for him but after trying on and taking off a few bras, it turned into an inspection.
He is gently lifting the small mounds of flesh on his chest. He knows there is something wrong but he is not worried. It feels like a dream.
He uses a finger to pull the panties inspecting his junk. It is less than half its former size. He uses both hands to squeeze his face and then lets it settle. He is very good looking. But not handsome like he once considered himself. He is pretty. Everything is so different but nothing feels out of place.
'Why am I okay with this?'
He knows he needs some answers.
He slips on a small tank top and runs into the living room to find Perry sitting there. He is standing there wearing on the tiniest underwear and his nipples are visible through the tank top. He is frozen. Perry is frozen looking back at him.
"Get back into your room, young lady!" Theresa shouts.
He snaps out of it and turns around. He realizes that his butt is in full view now but he is too ashamed to do anything.
"Can we talk, auntie?" He says as he walks out of sight.
"What is happening to me?" He asks as soon as Theresa walks into the room.
"Oh honey" she says as she takes a seat beside him on the bed "What do you mean?"
"Stop pretending!" He quickly raises the tank revealing the petite breasts hanging from his chest "I have boobs!"
She starts to talk but he cuts her off.
"And I've seen the pictures around the house, Trisha wouldn't have fit in these" He says raising the tiny bra.
She smiles "Okay"
"You're turning into a woman and I've known all along that this would happen"
"How long?" He asks shocked.
She takes a breath "When I first started sensing you again, I sensed a woman. I couldn't understand that at first but it didn't take long for me to find a gender change spell in your grandmother's books. I thought for some reason, your mother had used that on you before you were born. Everything became clear last night."
"How did you know that I would change?" He asks.
"The closer we get to the ceremony, the former vessel's power gets weaker and the new vessel's gets stronger. I knew it was only a matter of time before your powers start counteracting the spell turning you back to normal. A beautiful woman"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Are you kidding? My story was crazy enough as it is. I didn't want you to freak out and run away. That's also why I had Harriet find you at the cemetery and put another spell on you. A calming one"
"That's why I've been so--"
"Yeah" She puts both hands on his shoulder "This is not something to be afraid of. It is a wonderful thing"
"I'm turning into a woman" He gave her a look
"You are a woman, Emma. It doesn't matter what a stupid birth certificate says. All that matters is what's in here" she presses her finger on his chest.
'I should be mad at this'
"You have to get Harriet to remove the spell"
"If you think you're ready, you can remove it yourself"
"Say these words"
She says a phrase in a different language which he repeats.
"How do you feel?" She asks concerned
He doesn't reply. He is trying to process everything that's happened over the last few days.
"I'm really a woman? I'm a chick, Oh my God, I'm really a chick" he says very quickly, panicking.
"Emma, try to stay calm"
"Oh God, I even have a girl's name. I'm a witch"
"Well, witch is one word for it"
"You're talking about spells and shit!" he shouts.
"Okay, I need you to stay calm" She places a hand on his.
He inhales and exhales multiple times.
"What am I going to tell Su?" He is crying.
She hugs him. Eventually the tears turn to sniffles.
He breaks the hug "Am I going to be okay?"
She uses her thumb to wipe the tears from his face.
"You will" She says. His crying stops "I promise"
They sit there for a few minutes before Theresa breaks the silence.
"Do you know what we have to do now?"
"We uh.. we have to go train for the--" He pauses "Oh my God, we're getting attacked"
"I'll be okay" She hugs him again "Don't you worry"
They sit there for another minute before Theresa tells him he needs to get dressed.
"Do you want to wear your old clothes?" She asks concerned.
He thinks for a bit "No it's fine. I already picked something out"
Emma walks into the living room wearing cargo short and a loose white tee and almost panics when he sees Perry sitting there.
Perry stands "I'm so sorry, I should have told you I was coming over"
He freezes again remembering the incident.
"It's fine." Emma replies.
He smiles. "I thought I'd accompany you to the training"
"That's sweet, but you don't have to"
"I want to"
He doesn't reply.
"I thought those were fake" Perry is looking directly at Emma's chest.
He looks up at Emma "Stop what?"
"Stop staring at them" He replies shyly.
"And stop being so nice. And while you're at it, stop treating me like a girl"
"Well, aren't you a girl?"
Emma doesn't say anything.
"Will heard from Stacy" Perry continues.
Emma stays silent.
"Well I think you're really beautiful"
"Stop it!" Emma yells "Just stop. I have a girlfriend!"
"Yeah, does she know about this?" He retorts almost immediately.
Emma stays silent for a bit before turning around. "I don't need anyone accompanying me anywhere. I'll see you there"
Perry shocked. He takes a breath. "Sure thing" And just like that he's out the door.
Emma sits in the passenger seat of his Audi as they make their way to the Creighton residence. They thought it better that he not drive to avoid any complications with his driver's license.
"This is such a mess. Su is never going to recognize me. My parents are never going to recognize me" He says looking into the passenger mirror. "How am I going to explain why I suddenly have tits"
"I don't mean to add to your problems but you're not done changing"
"I'm not?" He asks turning sharply.
"Not even close. It's going to take at least a week" She says with her eyes on the road
"So" he grabs his breasts "these are going to get bigger?"
"I am so screwed" He adds hopelessly.
"Look, we'll figure something out. Let's just focus on stopping the darkness now"
Before long, Theresa is parking the car next to two others. They walk through the wooden fence and are eventually in a large open space behind the huge house.
The three older women are drinking something out of a tea cup on the veranda. Harriet is sitting in front of a small fire near Jenna and Stacy who all have their eyes closed.
They look like they're meditating. Or praying
"Finally" Magnolia says walking up to them "Sit down"
"Here?" He asks.
She gives him a look after which he drops to the floor crossing his legs.
She carries a bucket of water and drops it in front of him and instantly, he can feel it. He can feel the motions of the waves in the bucket and he can feel himself getting stronger.
He takes a deep breath and then opens his eyes.
"What was that?" He asks.
"You just channeled a source." Magnolia replies smiling "How do you feel?"
"Amazing. I've never felt anything like it" He is smiling broadly.
"There is no other feeling like it" She tells him "I want you to keep channeling while I tell you a story." She takes a plastic chair, siting near him before continuing. "The all-mother made us vessels but we are not the only ones she gave power. It was always her intention to share her power with this world. There are others in the world with this gift. Most of them, have left this path and forgotten what they can do if they speak her language. Maybe it's for the best"
"More like us?" He asks still feeling power surging into him.
"Yes, witches the world calls them. Among those witches, there was a group. The all-mother blessed them with her gift which they used for all sorts of horrible things. They transformed her gift and even found a way to make themselves live forever like she did but that wasn't enough. They wanted more power. They asked for that but the only power greater than the one she had already granted them was the power of the source of life. When she refused, they attacked her and she fled. They pursued her for years until they finally caught her and injured her badly. She managed to escape again and that is where our story begins. When they found her, they discovered that she had already passed on the great gift. They killed her but before they did, she cursed them that the light will forever be their undoing. They called themselves the order or the final circle but over the years, they started being known as--"
"The darkness" Emma interrupts.
"But they are still mere humans and you have what they seek. We're not going to let them take you, any of you" Magnolia says smiling "Now I think you have channeled enough. I want you to will for the branches of that tree to shake"
"Will for it?" Emma asks confused
"Witches have to chant to make things happen. As a vessel, you can will a thing to happen. Try it"
He looks at the tree in the corner of the yard. He takes a finger and moves a tress of hair away from his face resting it behind his ear. He is temporarily distracted by his hair that is almost at his shoulders but he quickly regains his focus.
He looks at the tree intently imagining that it's blowing in the wind and suddenly it explodes, sending bits of wood everywhere.
"What the fuck?!" Stacy screams as wind and wood fly past her.
"Language, young lady!" Delia yells.
Jenna is picking bits of wood out of her hair. Before long everyone is laughing. Even Hilda for the first time that day.
Magnolia smiles "Next lesson, restraint"
The group is taking a break. Jenna and Stacy are resting in the shade, Harriet is reading a spell book and Emma is sitting with Theresa.
"Why are you even reading that thing?" Emma asks Harriet "We don't need it"
"You won't always be a vessel, young lady. One day you will perform a ceremony and you will need spells to use your powers" Magnolia says.
"And besides" Delia adds "Not all things can be achieved by willing it. For example, anything that changes nature can only be done with a spell"
"Oh my God, you sound like grandma" Stacy rolls her eyes.
"You grandmother was a wonderful teacher" Delia says turning to her daughter.
"Really? Cause dad said you hated learning from her"
"You father said a lot of things Stacy. Wasn't always true"
"We should continue. We still have a lot of ground to cover" Magnolia says as she stands.
Over the next few hours, Emma learns to manipulate the energy around an object to affect it even when you're not near it. Hilda is especially down during this lesson because she had used this technique on her two best friends a few hours earlier. But she is by far the best at it so she gives the lesson.
When Emma grabs a bird out of the sky, they know he's gotten it.
"You're very good at this stuff" Harriet tells him the next time they're resting
"Yeah" Jenna and Stacy say in unison.
He's come to like these girls. Facing destruction has a way of bringing people together.
"I'm sorry my mum did that to you" Harriet says saddened.
"Yeah, I would have loved to have grown up with you as a girl" Jenna says smiling.
"Yeah, me too" Emma replies which catches him by surprise.
"Maybe you'd have wanted to be a cheerleader unlike these two" Stacy says.
They all laugh and for the first time, Emma feels like he belongs. He has a place in this town, with these girls.
The moment is short-lived because the training continues.
Delia teaches them about sigils. Symbols with the power to do different things. When they talk about the sigil of restraint, the group goes silent.
It is almost dark when she is done teaching them how to draw the easier sigils and showing them how it can be drawn on anything, even a palm and activated after contact using it's activation command. Unlike spells, activation commands can be said in any language.
"It's almost time" Hilda says.
No one says anything.
"Whatever happens, you stay together" Magnolia tells them "The circle is stronger when together. When you will together, those are the strongest you will ever be. Harriet, Emma, you are at a disadvantage because of your limited source. You must keep your torch and flask with you at all times"
Everyone stays quiet for a while and you can sense the nerves as they all sit on the veranda.
"What now?" Emma asks.
Soon the sun is gone and Emma's heart is beating. It is dark and the moon and stars are missing in the sky. After a while, they notice that the heavenly bodies are blocked by clouds in the sky.
The house loses power and the lights are gone.
It is pitch dark and very quiet, the only sound the crickets in the bushes. Harriet flicks her lighter open and her torch is lit. Emma places a hand on the cover of the flask ready to shatter anything that appears.
But nothing happens.
One hour later, nothing.
A while later, the group hears sirens on the main road. They run up to the road. Police cars are speeding past them. Ambulances and Firetrucks follow.
Magnolia walks up to the neighbor who is standing outside his house.
"What's going on?" She asks
"It's a mess" He replies "The community center just caught on fire, there are three people dead already and many more injured. And to make things worse, the lights are out in half the city. No idea why"
She steps away from the man. She turns to leave. Suddenly Emma is in pain, a horrible headache and it seems like he's not the only one.
"Bring the vessels to the old temple" He hears a voice say. He is in excruciating "Do it, or everyone in this town dies"
And just as quickly as it began, it is over.
"What the hell--" Stacy begins to say
"Did everyone hear that?" Delia asks.
There are nods around the group.
"It is just like it was last night and all those years ago" Hilda says with a scared look on her face.
"How did they do that?" Magnolia asks.
"There are stories" Theresa starts "of seers that can see into a person's mind and even put thoughts in there"
"How is that possible?" Magnolia asks
"It doesn't end there. They can even make the brain think it's going through something. Eventually the body starts reacting to those attacks"
"How do we beat that?" Delia asks.
Everyone is silent again and the hopelessness sets in.
"I don't know" Theresa says finally
I just want to thank everyone for all the feedback. I really appreciate it. I hope you still enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoy writing them. As always, let me know what you think
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