The moon had shown its face for only a short while, leaving just enough light to navigate through the Wiccan district. Three hooded figures scurried from house to house like night scavengers, avoiding the nightly police patrol. Lights of red and blue traveled through the slums like predators, scouting for anyone who disobeyed curfew.
Heavy rain had plagued the Wiccan district for two days, reducing the soil to slushy mud. Quietly the slinking delinquents stepped through the sludge to the house that fit the description they were given. One masculine figure ran across the clearing between two houses to a run-down building that was entirely windowless. The manly figure quietly knocked on the rotten wood of the house and was replied with a similar knock from the inside. Signaling his accompaniment, each made the journey to the house without being spotted by the patrol.
A hidden door opened for the bundled figures, washing their cold faces with warm candlelight. A boy no older than ten stood at the door taking their coats, scarves, and gloves. Without a word he pointed to a small hidden door that was positioned on the floor. The prowlers, two women and one man, smiled at the boy and quietly thanked him by patting him on the head. Beetles ran across the floorboards as the three began to climb down the slippery stairs of the hidden hatch.
Once in the dank room underneath the house, the three were reunited with the rest of the coven elders. The high priestess hugged them all with genuine affection. She was dressed in her fine red robe, a symbol of her elite stature amongst the other elders. Alongside the priestess stood two men with blank, expressionless faces. Both understood the gravity of the actions they were about to perform.
In the corner of the shelter one hundred small red candles burned, positioned tightly together to conserve space. Each was lit with care and was crucial in connection with the spirit world. Each candle represented a previous elder of the Council of Six, the highest honor a Dark Wiccan could receive.
Sequestered in the old bomb shelter underneath the abandoned house, the six Wiccans had come together to contact an ancestral spirit. This particular spirit had come to the priestess and elders with great urgency, approaching them all in visions nightly. The stakes were high for contacting a spirit but none could refuse against the desperation of the message the ancestors had to reveal.
A bomb shelter was not the Wiccans’ first choice for a conjuring. Once, the elders had temples of their own where they could practice their magic freely, not in the secret of night. Their temples had once been large, but humble. In the old days their temples were simplistic, relatively barren in order to purge any sort of distraction from their practice. Temples once consisted of four concrete walls that protected the Dark Wiccan Covenant and preserved their magical way of life. The walls did protect for a while, but soon the Wiccans were overpowered and overrun with human interference.
From then on, the Wiccans had struggled to find a place of worship and conjuring. Houses were unsafe to practice in because of nightly police sweeps and magical detection triggers implanted within the walls of each home. Warehouses were unsafe because of the loudness of the conjurings. Eventually, the Wiccans found the bomb shelter of an abandoned house on the south side of the Wiccan district. The Humans were unaware of the bomb shelter so magic was cast without alarming the police.
After the six finished greetings each other the high priestess issued them all black robes and an individual red candle. She began the call to the ancestors by circling around the room. Each of the six followed her and loudly chanted in ancient tongue as they ended each full rotation. At the sixth circle the hundred candles flared up and contorted unusually. The Covenant stopped in their places and fell silent.
“I sense a prophecy,” said the priestess. She breathed in with delight and looked wildly around the circle. She was decorated in different types of piercings and intricate tattoos. A thick pentagram was carefully inked on her cheek. “The spirits will give me the prophecy.” She left the moving circle and entered into the center of it. She splayed her arms open to demonstrate her invitation for the incoming spirit.
The six worshippers began to circle again, but this time twice the speed. Each member was jogging around, forcing the candles to flail wildly. The chanting grew even louder as it resonated off the bare walls of the room. The robes of the other five swayed erratically as a sudden gust of strong wind came whirling around the room. At once all the candles were blown out. The smoke from the candles rose up, leaving a giant grey cloud in the air. The circle stopped as they waited for a sign.
A girl, the youngest of the six, stood trembling inside her robe. She had darkly tanned skin and luscious light brown curls. She was only a teenager but had shown extreme wisdom and skill in communication with spirits. It was an honor to be so young and placed in such a high rank among her people.
Her breath was uneven as she slammed her eyes shut. Using the sound of her own heartbeat she attempted to regulate her breathing, reducing her panting to a quiet inhale. The other robed chanters did so as well. In doing so, they created a room of complete stillness, an eerie silence that frightened even the priestess.
A sound startled the trembling girl. The sound was rich, thick in the walls of her eardrums.
The Priestess heard the sound too, turning her head quickly. At her rapid head movement she gave off a jingling sound from her rings that ended the silence. “Siblings, do you hear that?”
A thin bearded man said, “What should we hear, Sister?”
There was another silence as the Priestess searched for a name of the sound. “Water. The dripping of water,” she whispered.
Standing in the circle the trembling girl listened to the drops. The boisterous noise trapped in her ears, the thudding of droplets were deafening. Cupping her ears the girl called out, “I hear the drops! I hear them!”
COUNT THEM! COUNT THE DROPS!
The girl screamed at the sounds in her head, dropping to her knees. Curling herself into a ball on the floor the girl lay twitching, making small groans.
The tattooed woman smiled at the girl on the ground. She felt pride and excitement. It had been so long since the elders had contact with the ancestral spirits. The priestess was grinning at the euphoric sounds of water droplets. She called them out, “One….Two…Three…”
Suddenly the priestess gasped for air and lurched forward, falling to the ground. The music of her body piercings echoed off the walls as she wriggled and writhed on the cold cement floor.
The droplets stopped, releasing the girl from her suffering. Picking herself from the floor the girl watched the Priestess crash to the floor.
“Sycamore!” A girl shouted as she tried to attend to the priestess.
Another member, a man, grabbed the girl by the arm, “No! She must tell us what the spirits have to say!”
Loud cracking came from inside the convulsing woman’s body. Her body bent and knotted in ways that were unnatural. She screamed only once then went perfectly still. Her eyes flew open and she sat up in haste.
“A forced martyr
Rings they do spread.
I see circles three.
A fight to be free.
Revenge for the suffering and dead
Chosen one of two to guide
Danger and treachery abide
For he is to lead, it is said.
When she finished her body went limp and fell back to the floor.
Four of the robed individuals rushed to the unconscious woman's side. The thin bearded man hastily took out a small book from the inside of his robe. He hurriedly opened the notebook and flipped to a precise page with a red pen taped into it. Carefully he inked down the prophecy. He took a deep raspy breath and read the prophecy aloud again.
One of the men checked the priestess’ pulse– there was no heartbeat.
“Sycamore is dead!” He exclaimed with a sound of panic in his throat.
One of the women clenched her fist, bringing it to her mouth. “What do we do?”
As the elders fought amongst themselves the girl moved to sit on the floor next to where the priestess had spoken the prophecy. She listened to the bearded man scribing the prophecy. Under his breath be muttered the words ‘blood upon the stone’. Noticing the girl watching him the man looked down, “We have never had a spirit this strong before.”
“Is my Aunt dead?” The girl said in monotone.
“I am so sorry. She welcomed death in exchange for the prophecy.”
With tears welling in her eyes the girl turned her head away from the bearded man, “What do we do now?”
The man smiled at the girl, “We find the chosen one of two.”