Stanley Part 3 - Witchcraft

1690


“Where are we?” asked Bunny, holding on tight to Gracie’s hand as they wandered through the landscaped gardens they now found themselves in.

Gracie looked across the lawns towards a large stone building with many heavily leaded windows. Hades Hill stood proudly in the distance behind it. She could clearly see a rookery in the trees to her right and Heyleigh dell was behind, as well as to the left of her. If her sense of direction was correct, the building she was now looking at should be Heyleigh Hall; the home of the Theawickes. The one she was seeing was not half as grand or half its size.

“Is this what happened to you, Gracie?” Bunny asked excitedly. “I’ve always dreamed of an adventure. Our Alan says going t’shop and back is about all the adventure I’ll ever get. He’s wrong, isn’t he, Gracie?”

“I suppose he is,” Gracie replied, staring down at the milky stone she was holding in her hand. It must be a magic pearl! She had seen ladies wearing pearls but she had never seen a real pearl up close before, nor had she heard of one with magic powers. She never imagined she would get to hold a magic pearl...or a magic anything come to that.

Gracie hadn’t expected pearls to be warm. All the stones she had known previously had been cold -– stone cold. This one, however, warmed the skin touching it. Where could it have come from? She didn’t have time to think about that now. The best idea would be to put it back in her pocket for safe keeping before it had the chance to do any more damage.

Shouts rang out over the gardens accompanied soon after by the unmistakeable chorus of baying dogs. Gracie and Bunny looked in the direction of the house where they could now clearly see an old man shouting orders at a young boy who was holding two straining dogs by their large and elaborately jewelled collars.

“C’mon!” exclaimed Bunny, dragging Gracie off towards the edge of the dell with him. “They're going to set those mutts on us! Run!”

Gracie did not need to be told twice. They both ran like the wind, but failed to make it further than a clearing in the trees at the edge of the dell before the excited hounds all but closed the distance between them.

“We’re not going to make it!” Bunny screamed over his shoulder. The terrain beneath their feet became steeper with each stride. “Can yer not get us out of here like yer did before, Gracie?”

Gracie reached for the stone in her pocket just as Bunny tripped over a fallen branch and crashed to the ground.

The dogs were upon them!

Bunny instinctively turned from where he lay face down on the ground and valiantly attempted to wrestle one of the ferocious blond-haired hunting hounds snapping at the space around him. He grabbed the animal’s ears and tried to push the frenzied creature away in an attempt to prevent it from savaging his already swollen and blooded face.

Horror-stricken, a helpless Gracie watched as the other hound approached her determinedly. Overwhelmed by panic, she turned and fled.

Gracie had not run much further than a few yards when she passed another fallen branch on the ground. Turning full circle, Gracie bent down hurriedly to snatch it up with the intention of using it as a weapon against her attacker. A living trap of sharp fangs and saliva sprang and sunk deep into her outstretched arm ripping the flesh apart.

Screaming in agony, Gracie lashed out at the second hound with the hand holding the stone. The animal instantly transformed into a skeleton, all flesh and life stripped from it.

The vicious snarls of Bunny’s fearsome combatant morphed into a half-strangled yelp as it turned tail and ran back in the direction from which it came.

Gracie wasted no time in running back to her brother and helping Bunny get back up on his feet using her uninjured arm with the magic pearl held tightly in her palm.

Bunny began to sob like a baby. His tears mingled with dirt and blood to give his usual baby-face a more sinister appearance.

Gracie studied his split lip and bloody nose, then plucked up the courage to confront her own injuries. The ripped flesh was puce, the puncture marks from the dog’s teeth were raised and weeping. Everywhere stung like crazy and seemed to be bleeding.

Despite their injuries, Gracie could not help but think that they had both got off lightly. She gave Bunny a cuddle and his sobs began to lessen. He is never going to grow up, not really, she thought to herself.

Gracie did not know how they had managed to get where they were, but they needed to get out of here and find some help fast. The thought of the damage the magic pearl was capable of scared her. Gracie was torn between the idea of throwing it away and using it again to somehow get them home.

They both heard crashing footfalls and panting as the young and unusually dressed boy joined them expectantly. He glared at them and then his expression turned to sheer terror and disbelief as his eyes fell upon the jewelled collar and bleached skeleton of the dog lying several feet away.

“Witchcraft!” The boy whispered under his breath and crossed himself.

Two other, similarly dressed and older men quickly joined him. Both echoed the boy’s reactions and actions. Still shocked from their experiences so far, Gracie and Bunny remained grounded where they stood.

“It tried to kill me,” offered Bunny in explanation. “We were doing no wrong. We only just got here and he,” he pointed a trembling finger at the young boy, “set them on us!”

Bunny looked like he was going to break into tears again.

“Yer were trespassing on His Lordship’s land!” accused the boy. “

“Wasn’t!” replied Bunny sticking out his tongue.

Gracie watched the exchange, unsure how they were going to get out of the predicament they now found themselves in. Things appeared to be going from bad to worse.

“I’m sorry about your dog,” she said apologetically to the boy. “I’ve no idea what happened to it but it were nothing to do with us,” she lied.

The smaller and more robust of the two men grabbed hold of Bunny. “You’re coming with us! Master Zachary knows how to deal with your kind!”

Bunny’s bottom lip trembled and terrified he turned to Gracie for help. “Don’t let them hurt me, Gracie,” he sobbed. “Use your magic to stop ‘em!”

All three men gasped with shock at Bunny’s words. Gracie had no choice, she would need the stone if she was to help Bunny. She reached into her pocket.
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4 Comments:
  • At 21 May 2010 at 07:46, Blogger Charles Gramlich said…

    Skeleton hounds. that's definitely cool.

     
  • At 23 May 2010 at 19:37, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    Thanks Charles, I love *cool* :)

     
  • At 24 May 2010 at 19:02, Anonymous Melissa said…

    Eek!! :) Love the ending! And the warmth of the pearl as opposed to the cold of other stones. This exchange made me chuckle:
    "Our Alan says going t’shop and back is about all the adventure I’ll ever get. He’s wrong, isn’t he, Gracie?” “I suppose he is,” Gracie replied.

    Loved this line:
    He is never going to grow up, not really, she thought to herself.

    And the whole scene with the dogs was great -- held my breath a bit.

    And that last line -- bloody hell! :D

     
  • At 27 May 2010 at 22:00, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    LOl Thank you Melissa!

    Bloody hell indeed :) Poor Bunny - looks like he's in a spot of bother...

     

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Whituth's living can't see the dead but psychic Elizabeth Whyte can see everyone: living humans, delayed souls, fallen angels, vampires and fae. She helps maintain the fragile peace between light and darkness in her work with RoYds, an unworldly refuge. But that peace has suddenly become fragile. Whituth's carefully maintained balance is tipping toward darkness. Now Elizabeth and her angelic allies must discover who or what is threatening both town and refuge before balance is lost forever

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