“You didn’t answer my question.” Elise could feel Roark shaking with rage in her pocket and patted it ever so slightly to calm him. She could handle Cage Martin. She delicately twirled her finger beside her pocket and whispered. “You need to answer what you’ve been asked, or be sent on a perilous task. No harm needs to come to you, just do what you’ve been told to do.”
She felt the spell flow through her fingers and hit their target straight in the chest of Cage. He wiped at his shirt as if a bug had landed on him and cocked his head at her. “Did you say something?”
Elise bit back her gasp. Her spell hadn’t worked on him, just like the spelled bell above the library door hadn’t jingled when he entered the library. He had paranormal blood, either as a hunter or some other kind of creature. It was time to put all the cards on the table.
“Do you know what I am?” she asked as she stood tall and called the energy of the earth to surge through her body. If there was to be a fight this lovely fall morning, she was ready.
“Yes,” said Cage, narrowing his eyes a little. “You are the Witch of Apple Hill. You’ve gone by many names, but the folks of this town have known you as Glinda Pendergraph and now as her cousin, Elise Pendergraph, although you have lived her your entire life here, in this valley, as its protector. Isn’t that right, Theodora?”
Elise fought the urge to shiver at her given name. She hadn’t been called that since she cursed Apple Hill’s founding families.
“Are you a hunter?” asked Elise.
“Not if I don’t have to be,” answered Cage. “I would very much like to be done with that life. I’m hoping you’ll let me be.”
“What is it you’re asking?”
“It’s easy enough,” he said with a shrug. “Lift the curse on Apple Hill.”
Elise’s eyes fell to the ground. “I can’t do that. They took what belonged to me. My fight is not with you, Cage, and has been going on long before you decided to make this valley your home. Stay out of it.”
“They settled in a valley because they had nowhere else to go,” stated Cage. “They were scared, alone, and certain you would come back and tear them to bits, but they stayed because they had no other alternative.”
“They stayed because they are foolish, greedy, humans,” snapped Elise.
“Those foolish, greedy, humans have always taken you in as one of their own,” countered Cage.
“What do you know about it? You only just got here!”
Cage seemed to stand taller. “I was a boy of eight when you tore through the village seeking your vengeance. I comforted my mother when my father never returned from a simple hunting trip on the eve before Halloween.”
Roark jumped from his pocket and scrambled to Elise’s shoulder. She could feel his rage and knew he would soon take his true form.
“Call off your familiar, I mean no harm,” ordered Cage. “I am not my father.”
This time Elise’s gasp escaped her lips as everything became clear. Cage’s father had been one of the men that assaulted her in the forest. He had been one of the men who tried to take her virtue right before Roark had torn them all to bits. He had been evil.
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