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Magic and Mayhem: Wicked Is As Wicked Does (Kindle Worlds Novella), page 1

 

Magic and Mayhem: Wicked Is As Wicked Does (Kindle Worlds Novella)
 


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Magic and Mayhem: Wicked Is As Wicked Does (Kindle Worlds Novella)


  Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.

  This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Robyn Peterman. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Magic and Mayhem remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Robyn Peterman, or their affiliates or licensors.

  For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds

  Wicked Is As Wicked Does

  By

  Cherie Marks

  Acknowledgements

  Cover by Renee George

  Edited by Teresa M.

  My family is an amazing support! Thank you for giving me the time to devote to this book instead of feeding you and reading classic novels aloud to you. In my opinion, Dickens is overrated.

  Dedication

  Robyn Peterman, you are “good people.” Thank you for letting me play in your world. I had a blast, and I hope I didn’t break anything. You are one of the most generous people with your time, energy, and caring heart. I can’t thank you enough!

  Chapter 1

  Somewhere along the Mississippi River in rural Mississippi, 1986

  I opened my mouth to scream, and my stomach twisted at the sight in front of me, but no actual sound came out. They had my mother tied up. They were killing her, and all I could do was watch from the forest as my world turned black.

  If they’d just untie mother’s hands and free her from the heavy, wooden pole she was stuck to, she’d show them with the flick of her fingers just who was in charge. She was on a wooden platform above their heads, and she looked down on them like they were bugs she could squash in a fast second. I couldn’t wait until she got free, as I knew she would, and gave them what they deserved.

  My mother’s voice filled my head as if she were right beside me instead of on the other side of the clearing beyond the bushes behind which I was hiding. Don’t make a sound, Evelina! I would be very displeased with you if they discover you are near.

  It was her not-to-be-messed-with voice, and the message was clear that I should stay hidden and not use my abilities to flatten the people hurting my mother right then, even though I really, really wanted to. Could feel the power, hot and electric, surging into my hands. Would take them all out like dominos falling down on top of each other.

  No!

  Definitely not-to-be-messed-with voice, and I didn’t want to displease mother.

  “Oriona Hale, you have been accused of practicing witchcraft. What do you have to say for yourself?”

  Mother’s eyes could say so much with just a look, and right now, these people should be very afraid. She was about to send them running like mice. But they wouldn’t get away from her. She’d find every one of them, pull them from their hidey-holes, and turn them into dust. I had seen her do it before, and the anticipation of seeing it again began to build in me.

  Finally, my mother spoke. “Seriously? What is this? The fifteenth century? No, you idiots. You aren’t Puritans, and this isn’t Salem. Do you really believe you have any power over me? Accuse me, tie me up, hurtle insults at me. It doesn’t matter. In the end, you will beg for mercy, but like so many before you, you won’t get a drop from me as I jack…you…dafuq…up.”

  Gasps filled the air, but I smiled. This was it. This was when mother would fill the air with her magic, and the people would shake with fear of her. No one could scare my mother. No one would ever break her.

  One woman with a slick, brown bun at the back of her head stepped forward and shouted at mother, “You’re the fool! Maybe you’ve escaped in the past, but you won’t be so fortunate this time.”

  “I wouldn’t be so sure of myself, Maggie.”

  I was surprised that my mother used the woman’s name like she knew her. Did she know all these people?

  “Oh, I have every reason to be sure of myself. I’ve invited an old friend of yours. Someone who will know exactly how to handle you.”

  Though mother’s expression never changed, I felt fear rise in her. Often, I could sense her emotions, and for the first time, I felt uneasy. My mother was the strongest and most in-control person I knew, but in that moment, I picked up on her building doubt. That was a bad feeling, and I didn’t like it a bit.

  The forest grew eerily quiet as a tall, thin man emerged from the tree line. His hair was black and combed with a part down the middle, every hair perfectly in place. He was dressed up all church-like. Like he was going to work in an office, and for just the slightest second, he seemed to glance in my direction, and a shiver rolled down my back. Without stopping though, he switched his focus onto my mother, and I only saw his back. It was her reaction that made me worry. Her eyes widened, and her lips parted. She definitely knew him, and her fear filled me up like a glass under a water faucet.

  “Oriona, it has been so long since we last met.”

  Even with the distance between us, I could see her lips tremble as she rasped, “Jethro.”

  “Ah, you remember me.”

  “Impossible to forget.”

  He didn’t speak for a moment, seemed to be gathering his thoughts before he announced, “Yes, I’ve been told I have that effect on people.”

  “You’re a sad excuse for a human being! Why are you here? What are you planning to do with me?”

  Again, he didn’t talk, as if he were trying to make everyone around him get more and more uncomfortable. It worked. He turned, and I could finally see the side of his face. He was pale and looked sick to me, but he wore a smile that seemed dangerous.

  “Believe it or not, I could not care less about you. I’m after different prey altogether, but you sure do make nice bait, witch.”

  “He won’t come for me. If he hasn’t in seven years, he won’t tonight.”

  I had no idea who they were talking about, but I wished he’d hurry up and get here, so they’d leave my mother alone.

  “No, probably not. You burned that bridge long ago, didn’t you?” He dropped his chin to his chest before snapping it up and turning his head in my direction. I knew he didn’t see me, but I suddenly felt like they all could. “But there is someone he would come for.”

  The wind picked up in an instant, and my mother’s hair began to whip wildly around her head. Her mouth tightened and her eyes turned hard as she shouted, “Don’t even think about it.”

  “Then, tell me where I can find him. I know you know. Otherwise, I’ll have to draw him out of hiding with the right incentive—say, one that’s about six years old, with a sweet, little face, and the nasty influence of a mother who’s a wicked, wicked witch.”

  This time, there was no doubt in my mind he was looking right at me, but I still didn’t move. I couldn’t make my feet do what my brain wanted them to. Though I knew I should, I couldn’t run at all.

  “Sweetie, don’t be afraid. Come out here, so we can help you,” the man shouted.

  The wind continued to swirl in great gusts, carrying my mother’s words to me, “Leave my daughter alone!”

  “Tell her to come out, Oriona. It will be much easier on us all if she does.”

  My mother’s voice echoed in my mind. Don’t move. He doesn’t really know where you are, child. Stay put. Help is on the way.

  “She’s gone. I’ve sent my familiar to carry her away. You’ll never find her now.”

  The man chuckled evilly, and I hunkered a little tighter to myself, wrapping my arms around my stomach. I really didn’t like him.

  “Something you should know about me, Oriona. I’ve grown
more powerful since we last met. I can still sense her nearby. Could probably find her without much effort at all. But I would prefer you call to her, so she’s not so afraid.”

  “Yes, you’re powerful—with stolen magic. No way am I going to hand her over to a monster like you.”

  A tsking sound came from the scary man, and I squeezed my hand over my mouth to hold in the squeak trying to slip from my throat. He turned and spoke to my mother once again. “I’m the monster? That’s rich indeed, witch. It is your monstrous behavior that has led us to this point. You cursed my family and left us for dead. My son will never be the same in the head because of you, and yet you call me a monster?”

  “You know what you did to earn my special attentions. Perhaps I should let your followers know just what kind of man they give their loyalty to.”

  “Let me assure you that you’ll find no sympathy from this group of people. They’ve all been wronged by you and your kind, and despite the lies you tell them about me, they’ll continue to do my bidding in order to exact their own revenge.”

  The magical wind died suddenly, but something must’ve been blown into the bushes where I was hiding because I felt a repeated brush against my leg. When I finally pulled my gaze away from the scene before me, I nearly jumped back and almost gave away my hiding place. Yet, the sight of the scraggly-furred, squinty-eyed cat at my feet had been completely unexpected.

  “You scared me, Clooney.”

  To make things even more unbelievable to anyone who happened to be watching, it opened its mouth and whispered, “Evie, time to go. Your mother sent me to get you somewhere safe, but we have to go now.”

  But his ability to talk didn’t surprise me at all. Clooney was mother’s special pet that could talk and even had his own set of powers. I’d known him all my life, and I knew what he could do, but I didn’t have to do what he said.

  I kept my voice small as I said, “No, Clooney. I’m not leaving my mother. They’re going to hurt her.” On cue, the sky began to darken even more and the clouds began to swirl. I’d never seen anything like it, and it scared me.

  “And then they’ll come for you and hurt you. Do you want that? Your mother doesn’t, so she sent me to take you somewhere safe.”

  I did want to feel safe again. Mother did sound like she’d be mad if I got caught. If Clooney could lead me far away and come back to help my mom, then everything would be fixed.

  With my teeth tearing at the skin on my lip, I nodded and took a step after Clooney as he began to run straight away from the clearing, but my mother’s scream stopped me before I’d gone another step. I turned back and felt my heart beat even faster at what I saw through an opening between two bushes.

  The woman named Maggie held up a knife blade that flashed when the moonlight hit it. She sounded like a dangerous snake as she shouted, “Enough! It’s time to do what we came here for. The witch must die!”

  A new voice spoke with a sweet, feminine sound that tinkled like a music box song, “No, Maggie. We need her alive.”

  But Maggie didn’t seem to hear her as she laughed low and evil and took a step forward, knife held high and ready.

  I couldn’t breathe as the woman started toward my mother. The knife’s blade looked as long as my arm, and I felt my powers begin to build like water charging toward the edge of a cliff. I was getting angry, and that usually meant I was about to have an explosion of magic. Probably, it would be bigger than I’d ever had before. The feeling starting to fill up my chest was getting heavier and heavier, and I couldn’t hold it back much longer.

  The wind started to pick up again, but this time, I was the one controlling it. I whipped it up to a frenzy and bushes began to pull from the ground and fly in a circular motion around the people, knocking some to the ground. They wouldn’t hurt my mother. I wouldn’t let them because I’d smash them to dust.

  “I won’t let you hurt her, you evil biiitch!”

  “Look! It’s the daughter! Grab her!”

  As they started toward me, I picked the wind up even harder, and they flew off their feet, falling flat on their stomachs, scrabbling at the ground to try to stay in place. Yet, like leaves in a breeze, they lifted and began to swirl round and round the trees. I lifted my hands and raised the bodies and objects higher until they were swirling around my mother, and she cackled with laughter at the sight.

  I felt so powerful in that moment, so proud that I could do this with my hands, with my magic. I was like my mother, and these people had called her a wicked, wicked witch. But nobody messed with her. That’s how I wanted to be. The kind of being others feared and never messed with. That’s what I’d be—a wicked, wicked witch, just like my mother.

  Yet, my powers were still developing, and my arms began to shake as they tired. I knew I couldn’t let go because my mother’s life depended on it, so I held on even as my arms began to feel like they were on fire. I felt tears streaming down my face, but through the misty view, I saw Clooney inching toward my mother on the platform.

  Yes! I could hold on long enough for him to reach her and free her. Then, she’d take over and give these people what they deserved for daring to bother us.

  But, even as I felt the strength of my created wind dip and spots began to swim before my eyes, I screamed with the effort to hold and spin the people in the air. I had to do this. I had to keep my mother safe.

  In the next moment, though, like the last drop of energy had drained from my arms, the wind ceased, and everyone and everything that had been in the trees dropped down, hitting the ground with a heavy thump. I fell to my knees, my breaths impossible to catch as my eyes seemed to have trouble staying clear.

  “Now, you will die, witch!”

  I lifted my gaze to the platform and noticed with horror that Maggie had landed on level with my mother, who was still tied up tightly. Where was Clooney?

  Then, I spotted him, trapped under a branch that had flown free from one of the trees and had fallen down with the rest of the debris I’d had spinning high above just moments before.

  “No!” My voice came out as a croak and didn’t carry very far as I watched the scene helplessly.

  Maggie dragged herself across the platform. Somehow, the knife was still gripped tightly in her hand, and as she pulled herself to her knees, I could see her other arm hanging loosely at her side, useless.

  If I could just muster enough strength to knock Maggie from the platform, I could get to my mother and free her myself, but as I tried to call forth the warmth of magic, nothing came. I had nothing left, and my head dropped to my chin with the pitiful effort.

  I lifted my head when I heard Maggie say, “You’ve cursed your last, Or.”

  “That’s where you’re wrong, Maggie. I will live on in my daughter. Your daughter is long gone, but mine is more powerful than I could’ve ever imagined. She’ll carry on my work long after I’m gone.”

  Maggie growled loudly and leaped to her feet, knife raised above her head. A pained yell scratched from my throat as the knife plunged into my mother’s chest over and over until Maggie collapsed in a heap at her feet.

  As a red stain blossomed across her chest, her gaze searched the area. Mine blurred and it was like I was looking at her through the curtain of a waterfall.

  Yet, her voice filled my mind as she said, Gone but not forgotten, my child. Remember all that I’ve taught you. Be a witch who would make me proud.

  Then, I felt her slip away, and I knew she was no longer with me here. I laid on the ground, in the dirt, as sobs wracked my small body. I wanted my mother, and I would never have her again. I wanted to rip my aching heart from my chest, and all I could do was lay in the mud and cry. I wanted the world to stop, even as it continued to spin.

  I vaguely listened to the tall man’s voice as he shouted, “Now! We must gather her power now.”

  But, I didn’t care what he did anymore. The swirling sky began to sink in on itself, but the only thing I cared about was gone. Even as I watched the creepy g
uy raise his hands and my mother disappear into the clouds above, all I could do was sob. He’d taken my world and ground it beneath his foot, and all I wanted to do was go with my mother. I didn’t care what they did now. I just wanted to lay here until they all went away, and the world moved on without me.

  “The girl is next.”

  A small, tinkling voice said, “Jethro, she’s innocent. We can’t hurt her.”

  “You saw the extent of her power already. She’ll grow more dangerous than her mother, and I want those powers.”

  “You want her powers too? Where is this going to end, Jethro? When is enough, enough?” I recognized the voice. It belonged to my new worst enemy—Maggie. Hearing her voice was enough to bring me back from the dark place in my head. Suddenly, I knew I needed to pay attention.

  “When I’ve wiped every witch from the face of the earth.”

  The music-box voice asked, “What will you do then, Jethro? It won’t bring Cal back. You need to stop now. Oriona is gone. There’s no reason to push this any further.”

  “And we need the girl. Without her, we’ll never draw him out. You can’t have her powers…not yet. I get my revenge first.” Maggie’s voice grew closer as she stomped in my direction, and I tightened my fists, wishing I felt the warmth of my magic building there. I’d show her just what revenge looked like.

  The man sounded like he was spitting his words as he said, “Fine! We’ll take her with us, but as soon as her usefulness ends, I’ll have her powers. With that level of magic added to my arsenal, no witch will escape me ever again.”

  I felt hands pull me to a sitting position, but I refused to look at who dared put hands on me.

  Yet, it was the high, light voice that I associated with a music box that whispered, “Don’t be afraid, Evie. Just a little longer, and I’ll get you away from them.”

  For the first time, I looked up and met icy-gray eyes and the smooth skin of the person who spoke like bells tinkling. She had beautiful brown skin and shock-white hair. Small and thin, she reminded me of a fairy or something, and despite the nightmare of the situation, maybe I could trust her.

 
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