… “and the long lost daughter reached out for her father, but he turned away and…” Hmmm… It makes me think of… of…
Last Christmas, when Taïga painted… What was it now? A big City… Ah, the City – Falls Harbor! She is so talented, she made me think of someone… can’t remember who though…
‘I got it! Finally!’ Granny jumps out of her armchair. ‘Taïga’s paintings are just like Magnus’s! And her eyes too!’ … OMG! Her eyes… I have to contact Shasta – NOW!
‘Shasta… are you there?… Shasta… are you there?…Shasta… Shasta are you there ? ******** ANSWER!!!’
Shasta can feel her crystal ball calling. It’s not as powerful as Granny’s palantír, but it’s hers and they are connected. Thank the goddess Leonardo won’t be back until late this evening… Quickly she makes sure the butler isn’t around before she sneaks out of her room and up into the attic.
‘Yes, I’m here, Mother. Don’t get all excited like that – it’s not good for your heart. So, what’s the urgency?’
‘Don’t you have something to tell me?’
‘Tell you? Why?’ Oh My God. She knows I’m pregnant!
A flood of relief washes over Shasta, but Granny insists: ‘About Taïga?’
‘… about her skills in painting…’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about…’
‘… and then we have the color of her eyes…’
‘What about her eyes? Her eyes are perfectly normal!’
‘Not exactly… The color is changing, they are becoming more and more … green… each day…’
Oh no! There were no signs when I first left her with Mother… ‘OK, I get it… This cannot be discussed like this, we have to meet.’
‘Yes, Shasta. You must come here immediately.’
‘But Mother, I can’t…’ Oh my, I can’t tell her I’m held prisoner in my own home… ‘leave Rowan!’
Oh.My.God… I knew it! It’s been right before my eyes all the time! How come I didn’t guess sooner? Old Missy will throw a fit when I tell her!… IF I tell her… ‘I’m on the next plane to Monte Vista. I’m flying out tomorrow morning.’
Shasta breaks down… Well, it was just a matter of time anyway… And maybe her mother can help her with the baby… But we can’t meet here, if Leonardo overhears us – and he will…
Shasta sneaks out during the afternoon sonnellino. Granny gets down to business immediately. ‘Why didn’t you tell me Taïga is Magnus’s daughter!?! Don’t you understand how dangerous this is, me not knowing?’
‘Mother… There’s something else I have to tell you.’
‘I don’t think now is the right moment to…’
Granny is flabbergasted.
‘That’s, eh, good news.’ Granny tries to be positive. A third child? After a son? That’s never heard of before. I have to read up on this… ‘Now let me look at you! You seem a bit tired…’
She’s even more shocked when Shasta falls into her arms crying. ‘Sooo… Calm down, it will all work out…’
Shasta sobs uncontrollably. ‘No, it won’t be OK! I’ve been… I’ve been…’ The words stumble out of her mouth, but somehow she manages to tell her mother about the Black Sabbath , the demon, being held hostage at home and Leonardo’s strange behavior…
Granny is terrified, there’s only one way to save both Shasta and the unborn child, and that is to strip her daughter of her powers. She closes her eyes and touches Shasta’s bulging belly. Evil radiates from within… ‘Yes, I can feel… life… But we’ll have to work fast.’
Granny explains what they must do to save both Shasta and the child.
‘Go home and dress warmly. We need to conjure the Sacred Totem… I’ll meet you there.’
Shasta and Granny are working fast, connecting to the Sacred totem.
… using the energy liberated to teleport.
In a matter of seconds, they are on a snow covered hill. ‘Mother, we must…’
‘We can’t talk about this outside.Wait until I’ve opened the secret door.’
‘A secret door?’ She’s losing it – a secret door, in the woods… nah…
But to Shasta’s surprise, the earth gives way and she can see stairs leading down into the blackness. She did it!
‘… so I wanted to show you this.’
‘The remains of Yggve Darkling, Magnus’ maker. Your great-great- great grandmother and her cove took him out in 1779. Magnus was hurt in the process, he got severely burnt. He swore to revenge Yggve and has hated us ever since.’
‘And what about the urn?’
‘It’s protected by magic and the spirits of the witches in our ancestor’s cove will forever see to it Yggve’s soul stays inside.’
‘I see… but Magnus, he didn’t seem to hate me! He was the most fantastic lover I’ve ever had!’
Granny can’t bear looking at her daughter. If only she knew… Shall I tell her? No. Maybe later. Much later… She clears her throat. ‘Does he know about Taïga?’
A reluctant ‘No’ escapes Shasta’s lips…
‘Good. He mustn’t find out, or he might come after her… There’s supposed to be a passage here somewhere…’ Granny’s hands touch searchingly the cold, wet walls. ‘Ah… Here it is. Follow me!’
She steps through an almost invisible crack in the stone.
Shasta opens her backpack and quickly changes into her witch dress. She catches up with her mother who has lighted the black candles on the altar with a magic word.
‘Are you ready?’
Shasta is scared, but nods. ‘Is it the only way? I mean losing all my powers is rather drastic!?!’
‘It is… Or your child will be born a demon – or worse! Now drink.’
Shasta lifts the black flask to her lips and sips. Yuk! She grimaces then drinks it all. She squares her shoulders and lifts her chin. ‘It’s too late now. Let’s finish it.’
She follows her mother into the middle of the huge pentagon…
Granny starts on the magic formula and suddenly Shasta is thrown up in the air…
Both witches fall to the ground, emptied by the powerful spell. A black cat with glowing red eyes hisses as it is forced back when it tries to step into the pentagon.
Granny wakes up first, and she sits by her daughter’s side, waiting for her to awaken. After what seems like an eternity, Shasta stirs and rises.
‘How do you feel?’
‘I don’t know… Empty…’ She touches the small bump and smiles. ‘The baby seems to be all right! Let’s go home before Leonardo notices my absence! Oh, and thank you Mother…’
Together they stand in the middle of the Pentagon, holding hands while Granny chants the return spell.
Leonardo has woken up from his drug induced nap. ‘Where’s your mother? She’s not in the bedroom!’
‘I don’t know. I just got home from school.’ Leonardo swears under his breath and hurries back upstairs.
He gets ready to go out and look for his wife when Shasta comes out of the bathroom.
‘You scared me!’
‘Where were you?’
‘In the bathroom, darling. Why?’
‘Oh, nothing…’ He has the decency to look sheepish. ‘Just… Don’t go out without telling me first.’
Leonardo walks out of the bedroom. She listens to his footsteps descend the stairs before she lets out her breath.
I did it! We did it! She lets herself fall into an armchair, and with a smile on her face she caresses her little bump. He said I can go out!
Part I – End of Chapter 54