Magic, Mystery, a little Whisky, and a Cat

“A Cold Spring” Episodes 7 and 8

Witches and curses and magic–OH, MY! “A Cold Spring” is a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimy story of tragedy and survival.  If you’ve just discovered it and don’t want to wander all over the Interwebs to read previous episodes–scroll to the bottom for a pdf of Episodes 1-8.

Episode 7: Goblets of Fine, Old Wine

Goblets of very fine and very old wine delivered by a young and slightly inebriated La Croix cousin put an end to any thoughts of a clandestine rendezvous upstairs. Our duties as host and hostess called. At last, the long road leading from the forest to the castle lay empty and it was time to toast and mingle among our disparate relations. Copious amounts of wine and Scotch flowed from crystal carafes, and the murmur of voices grew to a cheerful din. The moon peeped in the western windows of New Castle Highmoor before our respective circuits brought us back together on the veranda.

“I’ve spent the better part the evening either tracing my lineage back to satisfy your relatives or tracing yours to satisfy mine. We should put it in a scroll; Morgan begat Duncan and Duncan begat Caedmon and so on and so forth.” Maddock sat his empty goblet on a handy tray and secured a full one in its place. “Do you ever wish we were normal human beings with short life spans and limited imaginations? At least it would spare us the intrigue of ancient curses and temperamental witches.”

It’s my last fond memory of The Time Before.

“If we were normal, we’d have been dead before we had a chance to meet again. I would remember you as a petulant pre-pubescent brat who thought it was funny to set the hair of elderly aunts on fire.”

“And I would remember you as the little snitch who told on me. It was difficult to concentrate on Aunt Clarissa’s lecture when her hair was still smoking. It’s my last fond memory of the Time Before.”

“Lucky for you Lucia stole the spotlight, or Aunt Clarissa would have thought up a proper punishment.”

A chill ran the length of my spine, prickling the hair on my arms and my neck. The festive lights, the chatter of conversation, the smell of a sumptuous dinner, and the subtle electromagnetic pull of the earth mirrored perfectly the night of Lucia’s Curse.

Episode 8: Hijinks in the Castle

The marriage of Lucia Darkmore and Avery LaCroix a thousand years ago had been my first formal event at Old Castle Highmoor. Even though I was relegated to children’s activities, the splendor of the affair boggled my mind. Now, when I think of that last night, hideous cold and blinding flashes of icy blue light blur into one terrible image. It was the night Lucia divided the long history of the Darkmore and La Croix families into two parts: The Time Before and The Time After.

I’d been awake, snuggled with Elderberry, my stuffed dragon. I resented being sent to bed so early. Noise from the party below rose to the bedroom. When I heard Maddock and several of the older boys creeping through the upper hallway, I supposed they were up to something interesting. Leaving Elderberry safely tucked between the sheets, I pulled on my stockings and purloined the shawl of my sleeping nanny. The young conspirators didn’t hear me follow them to the very edge of the stairway overlooking the foyer.

The wedding had been magnificent with festivities scheduled to continue for days, but children weren’t allowed out of the upper portion of the castle without an attendant. Below us, the dinner bell rang and guests filtered across the foyer into the dining room for a late supper. Scents of roast beef and succulent ducks started my stomach grumbling though I’d stuffed myself at the children’s meal earlier.

Maddock and his fellows gathered in a snickering knot, peeping over the railing on the crowd below. I crept closer.

Needless to say, I had no intention of abandoning such an interesting enterprise.

From Maddock’s outstretched fingers a green spark kindled. With a flick of his finger, he sent it spinning toward the crowd below. I peeped over the edge of the banister and was as delighted as the boys to see the spark alight in fusty Aunt Beatrix’s ornate hairstyle.  It smoldered at the very top of a mound of blue- tinted hair. A snap of Maddock’s fingers extinguished the spark leaving a spiral of smoke twirling from the unsuspecting head. The boys dissolved in muffled giggles and so did I.

Maddock twisted to face me and put his finger to his lips.

“Be quiet, Darkmore child,” he whispered. “Go back to bed.”

Needless to say, I had no intention of abandoning such an interesting enterprise. I shook my head and made a face at him. I believe I said something along the lines of “Make me, why don’t you.”

“If you must stay, be quiet or we’ll all be in for it,” he warned, his eyebrows knitted ferociously above piercing blue eyes.

He turned back to his friends. I sidled closer and dangled my bare feet over the edge, enjoying the entertainment. So intense was our concentration on the scene below and the hapless victims of Maddock’s masterful prank that we didn’t hear Aunt Clarissa approach. She descended on us like an avenging goddess.

Next Week

Episodes 9 and 10–“Icey Curses” plus “Jagged Rocks and Jolting Reality.”

Here’s the PDF of 1-8.

Use the navigation arrows at the bottom of the image to move to the next page.

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