The Council – Part 2

The Council – Part 2

If you haven’t read the beginning of this story, you can find it here.

“But what will you do, Dametria?” one of the witches asks.

“I don’t know if I can take the blood link. It feels so wrong, so violating,” she says with a shiver.

“It wouldn’t be for long, just until we can carry out our plan.”

“It would still be a betrayal to the Resistance.”

“You wouldn’t be betraying the Resistance,” I reply. “There might be a way you could help us. Once the Council is defeated, it will be chaos. The transition of power back to the covens won’t be easy. We will need a good, strong High Sorceress on our side. We will need help separating those that were truly loyal to the Council, and those that just went along to save themselves. You can figure it out now, on the inside, before people are only telling us what we want to hear.”

Dametria is silent, but she straightens, like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She nods. “I’ll take the link…for now.”

The mood in the cave shifts. Witches are chatting hopefully, smiles on their faces, already trying to come up with a plan to take down the Council. I call everyone’s attention back to me. 

“We all have a lot to think about. We’ll perform the closing ritual now, so we can get back to our towns.”

Dierck steps forward and places a pink crystal about the size of my palm in the center of the cave. We link hands and begin to recite an incantation. As we do so, the crystal starts to glow. Warmth fills my body, the tingle of magic, and then a shimmering light flows from each witch’s heart into the crystal. After a few moments, we unclasp our hands and place them on our hearts. The crystal flares, the light dispelling any shadows in the dark cavern, and then grows dark again.

This ritual siphons off some of our magic into the crystal, combining our power and storing it up for when it’s needed. Not only does it keep The Council from getting that power, but it allows us to appear weaker than we are, to go unnoticed. The Council states they value those with great power, but the truth is they fear them. Anyone with great power is tapped to become a High Sorceress, so The Council can watch them closely.

Dierck places the crystal within the folds of his robe and walks up to me. He leans and whispers, “Do you think we’re ready for this?

“We have to be,” I respond.

The next night, I walk to my coven meeting as the full moon rises in the sky. I travel to the center of town, where a large bonfire crackles. Many witches stand around it shuffling their feet, hands raised toward the flames to keep them warm. No one speaks. I don’t dare glance toward Dierck or the other Resistance members in our town. Even when the Council isn’t watching, any number of witches would report on their own coven just to gain favor with the Council. When everyone has arrived, each coven gathers in a circle, twelve witches plus the High Sorceress, or Sorcerer in the case of Dierck’s coven, at the head.

When the full moon is at its highest point in the sky, my High Sorceress stiffens. It’s the only indication that the Council is now viewing us through her eyes. She places an obsidian necklace on a stand at the center of our circle. She returns to her place in the circle, and we recite the pledge the Council has demanded. 

We sacrifice our power for the good of all witchkind. 

The Council will protect us from those that threaten us. 

The Council will provide order and stability to the covens.

Black shadows rip from our bodies – evidence of the corruption of the traditional ritual that the Resistance performed last night – pulling half our power from us. With a jerk, the last of the shadows pull from me before flowing into the necklace. There is no flash of glorious light, only a writhing dark smoke that fades into the stones of the necklace.

At first it started out as this simple ritual, giving up some of our power to the Council, with the promise that it would be used for the benefit of all. There were those that spoke out against giving up our power, but we didn’t listen. We were scared of our enemies and there was such division, we couldn’t trust anyone but other witches. We needed a defense against the humans, and the Council promised to unite us in strength.

The Council made an agreement with the humans that witches would live separately from them. Since covens were spread all over the land, they had the humans give up a town in each region so that the covens could leave the human towns and live together. At first the humans refused to give up their homes, but the Council slaughtered them and took the town anyway, with their new power. After that the humans gave us the land we wanted. For awhile we lived in peace, giving the Council a modicum of power in case the humans decided to move against us. But eventually the Council got enough power to make a move of their own. 

My High Sorceress picks up the necklace and hands it to the next High Sorceress. The ritual repeats around the fire with each coven. When the necklace is returned to my High Sorceress, she places it into a wooden box with a velvet lining. She locks the box with a key that sits on a chain around her neck. She will deliver the box to the Council when they portal into our town tomorrow. 

As I watch each High Sorceress place a hand on the box, casting a protective spell on it, an idea forms in my head.

I awake the next morning in a cold sweat. I’m not even the one being asked to take the blood link, but I am worried for my friend and fellow Resistance member. We are like family to each other, and this is the first time one of us has had to go through the blood link. Not to mention, it has brought on nightmares of my parents’ deaths again.

I scrub my face and don my ceremonial robes. All the nearby towns are required to assemble for a blood link ceremony. It will be a long journey under the watchful gaze of the Council’s Eyes, as we secretly call those who have received the blood link. Even more intimidating is the presence of the Council themselves at the ceremony. 

I grab my broom before exiting my house, and walk to the center of town. Once all the covens have arrived, voices murmur the flying spell and we rise as one. Dozens of witches fill the sky, and we race toward Stormspire. 

Stormspire is much larger than my town, and is aptly named. We can see the large pointy towers in the distance well before we arrive. The town is crowded with covens. We barely manage a space to land. I begin speaking with those around me about how exciting it is to have another blood link ceremony. It’s all I can do not to choke on my words. 

As a portal flares to life in the center of the town square, all conversation halts. A group of thirteen witches dressed in black robes emerge from the portal. They wear layers of black beaded necklaces and black stone rings on their hands – the source of their immense power. They are adorned in black from head to toe. Even their eyes are disturbingly dark, as if their pupils are wide enough to obscure the color of the iris.

One-by-one each High Sorceress and High Sorcerer steps forward with their wooden box, unlocking it and handing the jewelry inside to a member of the Council. When this is done, Dametria steps forward. I’m relieved to see she shows no hint of hesitation when a member of the Council hands her a black goblet. 

She pulls a dagger from the folds of her robe and slices her wrist. She raises her arm over the goblet, allowing her blood to drip inside. When it is nearly full, one of the members of the Council reaches her hand forward and heals Dametria’s wrist. Dametria then hands the cup over to her. Each member of the Council drinks from the goblet, and it takes everything in me not to grimace.

Dametria then bows before the Council and recites the oath:

The High Sorceress shall govern her coven, as the representative of the Council.

With that, she stands, and the crowd cheers. Disgusted by it all, I plaster a smile on my face and clap.

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Thanks so much for reading!

– Clever & WTF

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