Home > Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(4)

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(4)
Author: K.F. Breene

“You say the words, and then we repeat them with you. As one,” Tessa said, slight irritation in her voice.

“Right. Got it.” I bent my face behind the paper to hide the heat in my cheeks.

The words of the spell sounded ancient on my tongue. Dry and crackly. My breath almost wheezed, as though I were being choked by the dust layering the original spell book.

The circle members—memories solid, all—repeated me word for word. As they did, another surge of energy rose between us, connecting us in this large thing we were doing.

I instructed Tight Bun to put in three of her ingredients, then grimaced when she let the steel bar clop into the water, splashing Beatrice. “Let’s be careful, ladies,” I chided them.

The next set of words, simplistic though they were, twisted my tongue in strange ways. “Stir once to the left, and immediately twice to the right. Feel the forces surround you. Feel the call rise within you.”

The air crackled. The pull on my ribs increased until it felt like something gushed out of the bottom of my ribcage and filled my center. I continued reciting the instructions, some of the words not making sense, as though a bad translation, some of them increasing the fervor of the room. Static electricity surged, sizzling up my spine. I watched those around me, their focus complete, their eyes sparkling with purpose.

All the while, the tick-tock of a clock sounded in my mind. There was no doubt now. My third eye was telling me to run.

I continued with the spell as fast as I dared, making sure to watch the women to be certain they followed the instructions to the letter. I couldn’t leave now, not when it was halfway finished. Something in me needed to see this through to the end. To maybe know for sure if I had what it took to inch my way into this life.

My heart sped up with each passing moment. Nearing the end, I increased the pitch of my voice. The strength of it.

“Drink,” I commanded the circle, raising my hands above my head. “Drink!”

The energy pulsed around me; power surged within me. I closed my eyes, getting caught up in the epic feel of it. Pulled and pushed a dozen different ways without physically moving an inch.

I heard slurping, everyone having at it. But while I was tempted to join in, my natural sense of caution invaded the moment. Logic was right on its heels.

“Wait. What is it we’re drinking?” I let my eyes drift open, fighting against the power and energy still ripping at me. “The instructions never said what the potion actually did—”

My words caught in my throat. Beatrice held the spoon to Gaunt Face’s lips. Another woman in a sack of a dress waited next to them, looking down at the cauldron with a greedy expression. The rest of the coven stood rigid in their places, staring vaguely with placid expressions, their bodies frozen in place.

Something…is…amiss.

That was probably the understatement of the year, made clear after Sack Dress found her place in the circle of Stepfords. As one, the women turned their heads slowly until their glazed-over eyes looked my way. They blinked, perfectly in sync. Waiting.

A translucent weave of colors, textures, and patterns drifted up from the cauldron. Tendrils twisted and bent, spilling over the sides. Whatever it was didn’t dampen the lip of the pot. No sheen spoke of wetness. It slid down the black metal like slow-moving water. Above the cauldron, more of it drifted into the air, unfurling like smoke.

Beatrice, as strangely still as a statue, held that spoon out to me.

The potion’s colorful textures, a fascinating blend of the ingredients that had gone into the pot, became solider and licked at the edge of the spoon before climbing up the handle like vines. Tendrils latched on to Beatrice’s arm, sliding up toward her face.

“You should shake that off, probably,” I said in a wispy voice with a heaviness in the pit of my stomach. Whatever spell I’d spoken to life was not the peaceful, fun-loving kind. Its intent was darker. More violent.

I sure wished I’d felt that before I’d taken part in all of this.

“No one better ever tell my mother about this. Her I told you sos are the absolute worst,” I muttered, willing my foot to step backward. To bring me out of the circle.

“You are bound to us,” the group said as one, their voices deep and coarse.

Fear flashed through my gut. I heard a tinkling of metal.

The door on the side of the room opened a crack and a face appeared, expression wary. His gaze slid over the group as I struggled to move backward.

“Help,” I said through clenched teeth, terror springing up. I could lift my foot, but it would only go forward. It would only carry me toward the potion that I had helped create. “Help,” I said again, louder this time.

His bushy eyebrows lowered over his eyes. “Ain’t no help for you now. About time, too. The fireworks are supposed to kick off any minute.”

“You are bound to us,” the group said together, their grating voices sending a shiver through my body.

The man at the door yanked his head back and shut the door.

He knew what this potion was supposed to do. And he was afraid of it.

“This is bad,” I said as a trickle of sweat dribbled down my cheek. Darkness throbbed in my middle. Blackness surrounded us, different than the Cloud of Doom outside the church, but no less potent.

I’d unknowingly added to the problem. And my time was running out.

The women blinked again, the motion even creepier because it was timed so perfectly, and my mouth dropped open. Their eyes were all white. Not rolling-into-the-back-of-their head white, either. Inhumanly white.

The potion was changing them, all right. Morphing them into something evil.

I had to get out of there.

Shouts erupted from the room next door. A loud, clear voice made it through to me. “Feel that, boys? Here she comes!”

I didn’t know who she was, and I wasn’t about to hang around and find out.

“You are bound to—”

“I heard you, I heard you.” I folded the paper quickly and stuffed it into my jeans pocket with my phone.

My phone!

The hope was dashed almost immediately. Who would I call and what would I say? I’m stuck in an invisible circle at a witchcraft retreat gone wrong, and a magical battle of some sort is about to kick off, so please put on your jetpack and hurry out here since any form of security is miles away?

Fat chance. They’d tell me to lay off the drugs.

“What do I do, what do I do, what do I do?” I asked as the fear started to rise.

A sizzling sound filtered in from somewhere outside of the church, like an egg frying on hot asphalt. More shouts from the other room. My ears popped with a pressure change. The energy buzzing within the room was supercharged.

A new force had sprung up. Outside somewhere, but aimed at the church. It occurred to me then that the intent of the potion was the opposite of the coven’s intent in brewing it.

“I’m cracking up,” I muttered, unsure of how I knew these things, or if they were even true.

One thing I did know: if I didn’t do something quickly, I’d lose myself to the magic that was taking possession of the others in the circle.

Chapter Three

“The intent is the opposite of what it should be,” I murmured to myself, my survival mode kicking in and my brain churning furiously. I was a problem solver. A data head. If I just let my brain toil on the problem for a moment, surely something would come up.

Something had better come up!

I eyed the colorful spectacle creeping across the floor toward my leg. The ladies at large insisted—yet again—that I was bound to them, but I ignored their voices and simultaneously blinking eyes. Instead, I thought over the details. The order in which the ingredients had gone into the cauldron and the group power that had melded them.

That power was still charging the air. Added to that was whatever was happening outside.

More shouts interrupted my thoughts from the main room. The women in the circle twitched. One jolted, her back bending at an odd angle. It didn’t break, but it looked like it would hurt someone up there in years. Yet her face was as placid as ever as she straightened up in a jerky sort of way.

No doubt about it—the potion was changing them from the inside out.

The colorful tendrils reached for me. Would they wrap around my legs and drag me toward the cauldron? How long before the coven shook off their paralysis and force-fed me?

   
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