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  1. Stephen Kessel's Avatar
    Reading: Murder she Wrote, Enchanted Night by Stephen Millhauser
    Just Finished Reading: Lullaby Town, My Sister's Funeral by Stephen Bush, Peter Corros The Coast Road
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    #31

    Yeah

    Alyce's whole life hinged on what happened in the next few moments, and if she and Ezra survived then he had to carry out the ceremony to remove her powers and make her fully human.

    Still trapped on the bed by the herbs Alyce waggled her finger and more herbs fell from her fingers, then from her hand and then from her wrist. Just as she felt her wrist regain some movement she head Ezra approach. His heavy boots thumping on the hall floor and him calling quietly “Alyca, are you upset? I told you I would be back as soon as I could. You’re not still shy, are you sweetheart?”

    Fear filled her. Fear that Matthew would kill Ezra. Only her hand could use the power of the Sheridan witches, but it was enough. She willed her hand to move in the path of a spell and willed it to work. Alyce felt the burst of pure energy leave her fingers and her body jerked with the force of it making more of the herbs fell off, but she stopped the flow of power even as it started and she heard Matthew roar in agony. Ezra was close, too close. He was in as much danger, or more, from her if she let her full power loose as he had been from the waiting Matthew.

    In that moment Alyce knew she must not use the power to kill. Even Matthew she would not kill. The power was like an evil force, and her only desire was to remove it from the world for ever. And for that she needed Ezra, he lover and husband. Only he could cut off her hair and join her in burning it on a barren hilltop under a new moon, while reciting the ancient incantations needed to release the power of the Sheridan witches into the void.

    * * * * *

    Matthew felt a searing pain grip him and roared in agony and fell to the ground turning as he did to see how Alyce had managed to attack him. And even as he fell in agony his eyes popped at the sight of her body shaking and the herbs scattering onto the bed and the floor. "No," he roared, trapped in a web of pain that immobilized him, but seeing the herbs, all that was restraining the unimaginable power of the Sheridan witches, falling away from Alyce's naked body.
  2. adesray's Avatar
    Reading: Quo Vadis
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    #32

    Xwriter

    Using her new found powers, Alyce immobilized Matthew. When Ezra rushed into the room, he spotted her on the bed trembling with the effort of restraining Matthew. When he spotted Matthew behind the door, he was struck with awe.

    Even though she was able to weld her magic to restrain Matthew, the herbs still held her tongue bound. There was no way she could explain to Ezra what needed to be done. Frustration mounted and exhaustion began to set in as she continued to hold her finger pointed at the struggling Matthew.

    Her body needed to relax. The strain was becoming too difficult, even for her. She needed to stop the magic, rest and begin again. But if she did would that release Matthew enough so that he would get away?

    It didn't matter. She had to breathe. The burst of power slowed. Time seemed to shift as her magic receded. Alyce noticed the glow in Matthew's eyes, he saw her limitations. He knew she needed to rest. The grin that split his face spoke volumes. He was poised and ready. Question was would he use this moment to escape or to harm Ezra?

    **************************
    Ezra noticed Alyce's struggle. He could tell she wouldn't be able to hold on much longer. How could he possible help her? Since he'd entered the room, she had not spoken one word. Was it possible she couldn't speak?

    He rushed to her side and threw the herbs off her body. Finally, her tongue was released.

    "Ezra, I need your help."

    "Yes?"

    "I need you to restrain Matthew."

    "How?"

    "Look in my top drawer. You will find a small bag of herbs with a string around it. Place that around his neck."

    Matthew shook his head vigorously. He must know what was coming.

    Ezra did as he was told. As soon as the herb touched Matthew's body, he collapsed against the floor.

    Alyce's hand dropped to her side, and she sighed with relief. Then she said, "Now let me tell you what we have to do to make me human."

    No sweeter words had ever been spoken.
    A. Desray aka Felicia Rogers
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  3. #33

    Default The conclusion

    The trio of witches stared down at the man lying on the ground. He glared up at them, but the immobilization spell prevented him from speaking. Panthea, the eldest of the witches, nudged Matthew with the tip of her boot. Alyce had not believed she would ever see these witches again, yet they had come at her summons.

    "What will become of him?" asked Ezra.

    "He returns with us to London," said Panthea coolly. "For daring to steal another witch's power, his own will be stripped from him. The rest of his life will be spent in exile."

    Ezra crouched beside Matthew and gripped the front of his shirt. "If you come near Alyce again," he growled, "I swear to you, I will hang your guts from the Cornish cliffs."

    Alyce thought his words the sweetest she had ever heard.

    Though Matthew could not move, his eyes gleamed with terror. He actually appeared somewhat relieved when Ezra released his shirt and stood.

    "Come back with us to London, Alyce," Panthea urged. "The coven misses your presence at home."

    Alyce caught the scent of the ocean air, and felt the cold breeze sweep up from the cove below. She gazed at Ezra, seeing his tall, strong form outlined against the gleaming sea behind him, and felt a surge of freedom and joy she had never experienced anywhere or with anyone else. His own gaze bright and hot, he held out a hand. Offering it to her.

    She walked to him and took his hand. Their fingers wove together, and the heat of him traveled through her. He pulled her close, tucking her against his side. Only she heard his low exhale of relief.

    "This is my home now," she said.

    Panthea nodded. "As you will it."

    "I do," answered Alyce. She summoned her magic, shimmering and alive, and, with a wave of her hand, sent Panthea, Matthew and the other witches back to London. One moment, they stood before her, and the next, they vanished.

    The moment the witches disappeared, Ezra's mouth found hers. He tasted spicy and sweet, and her heart swelled with a dangerous joy.

    "My lady wife," he murmured against her lips. His hands slipped into her hair, cradling her. "I would have gone with you to London. I would have gone anywhere with you."

    "I have come to love this place." She pulled back enough to gaze into his eyes. "I have come to love you."

    Fierce happiness shone in his gaze. "Rough smuggler that I am, I can't give you pretty words. I can't cast spells and make rubies from salt."

    "I want none of that--"

    "But I can give you my love. Will that content you?"

    "It will, indeed." Then she kissed him, and neither noticed as the dusk fell around them.

    ***

    Snuggled into bed, with the covers pulled tight around them, Ezra marveled at the woman cradled in his arms. He wondered what blessed star he was born under to bring her to his life. It had to be a kind of magic.

    Magic. He pressed his lips to the top of her head. "Alyce, were we not to perform a ritual to make you human?"

    "So I had believed." She stroked his chest, and he had a difficult time concentrating on her words when her touch felt so wondrous. "I thought my powers were too strong for me to master them, yet I find that, the more I come to know them, the more I feel that I control the magic, not the other way 'round." She glanced up at him, her violet eyes shining. "I also rather think that having the presence of a courageous man close by keeps me grounded."

    "A courageous man? Or this courageous man?"

    His breath caught as Alyce shifted to straddle him. She placed her hands upon his shoulders and smiled. "This one, most assuredly. Now," she added, in a businesslike tone, "we must make the most of our true wedding night, for tomorrow, we've much business to attend to."

    Ezra did not much want to consider the intricacies of planning the next shipment of silk and brandy, but the livelihood of Portwith depended on it. On him. Glancing out the window, he was dismayed to see the sky turn pale. "We haven't much time left before the sun rises."

    Her smile was power and temptation, and utterly irresistible. She waved her hand, and the sky turned the deep indigo of midnight. "Now we have a few more hours all to ourselves."

    He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. "I am a lucky man, indeed, to have such a witch for a wife."


    THE END!

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing in the story! I hope you enjoyed yourselves--I know I did.

    Best,
    Zoë
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