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"And this is your room Micko Boss."
I looked at the bedroom. Mr. Bah hadn't given us a tour of this place but it seemed like some sort of old fashioned hotel or something. Actually it reminded me a lot of his resort on Moreen Island but without all the old battered look to it. The room that he showed me was small. It was extremely small actually. It had a small window and a bathroom on the opposite wall from the door. There were two beds in there.
"Yes. You'll be sharing this room with Mason Wright."
"This room is way too small for two people," Mason stated, "All this magic, can't you concoct a bigger room than this? This is shit."
Mr. Bah shot Mason a look, "You are undisciplined."
"Is that what you'd like to call it? Feel pain."
At that moment Mason started to squirm. I was almost shocked when I saw him fall to the ground in the way he did. Mr. Bah hadn't even touched him but he was already on the floor. The others watched from the door almost in complete shock at what was going on. No one walked forward to help Mason. Even Rio just stood there watching his brother squirm in pain.
I had to run out at that moment and comfort him. I wasn't even sure why I felt it was my responsibility though. I just found myself on top of him.
"Stop!" I demanded Mr. Bah but quickly changed my tone, "Please."
Suddenly Mason's violent shaking started to ease up a little bit. He still laid on the floor though like some sort of wounded bird. My heart raced at the thought of this. Mr. Bah had this control that I couldn't understand. It was scary to be honest with you.
Bah let out a quick note, "In an hour Catalina will escort you all to the big hall for the orientation. You will NOT embarrass me."
He shut the door behind us leaving me there with Mason.
Mason's body was still shaking my and my arm grasped at him trying to tame that muscular frame of his.
"Get the hell off of me bra. Whatchu` think you doin`?" he asked giving me a pained look at that moment, "I didn't ask for your help. G`damn it."
He was giving me a hard look.
It was too hard.
"Look. I ain't trying to hurt you. That would be Mr. Bah."
I was shocked when Mason laughed a little bit. I was surprised that he had any sort of sense of humor.
He managed to get to his feet somehow. It looked kind of sick watching him do it. Every part of me wanted to ignore his rude behavior and help him but I just watched instead. He sat up on his bed and held onto his side. His breathing was heavy slow. Every inch of me was fighting the feeling of going over to him and holding him.
He put one leg up on the bed, "What the fuck ya lookin at?"
"I don't got nothing for you."
It was such a weird thing to say and I could have acknowledged it and made this even more awkward or I could look around the room. There was nothing to really look at in the room. The bathroom shower was barely enough for one person to stand in. I had never seen such a small bathroom in my life. I looked over at a single drawer that was in the room. It was piled with red clothing just like what we were wearing.
"What do you think the red means?" I asked him.
"Do I look like I've been here before? Did you see how much I was panicking to go through that god damn water?" Mason said.
I was kind of useless talking to him. I turned over to the drawer and closed it. I walked over to my side of the bed and sat on it. The bed was hard as a rock. This definitely wasn't a resort. This felt more like some sort of prison or something.
"I'm gonna kill that sonofabitch Bah," Mason stated coldly.
He looked serious. I could tell he was really in pain even to this point. Whatever Bah had did to him with just a word was really hurting him.
"You know magic?"
"If I knew magic you think I would have sat there and let him do that to me?"
"Can anyone in your family do that?" I asked.
"What he did with making you feel pain just because he said so."
"Well how you suppose you going to kill him? Tickle him to death?"
He laughed or at least that's what I thought Mason was trying to do. When he started the sound quickly transitioned into a groaning hoarse exhalation followed by him grasping onto his side.
"Don't make me laugh loser. It fucking hurts. What's your name again Boss?" he said, "The first name I mean."
"Micko we in for some bullshit. I don't know how much you know but the people on Moreen Island they tell nightmares about these Witchdoctors to scare children into behaving. This isn't Harry Potter and the fucking Sorceror's stone. That guy Bah is a murderer and he'll probably try to kill us the first chance he gets just for kicks."
"If we aren't dead yet."
He raised an eyebrow, "Exactly if we ain't dead yet. Now leave me the fuck alone for a minute. I want to rest. No way I'm going back out there clenching onto my side like a pussy."
He laid back down and laid away from me.
He seemed to be resting and all I could do is really stare at him. I didn't know what to think of him. He was a strange person and I was just immediately taken by him really. I watched him as he laid down sleeping wondering what it was about him that was drawing me in like I was. This boy wasn't good for me. Clearly that much was clear.
Either way who cared if he was good for me?
It was a little more than an hour before the knock came at our door. Mason jerked up from the bed and immediately turned to me. Luckily I was able was able to divert my eyes off of his back long enough to not look like a weirdo. At least I didn't think I looked like a weirdo. I ran to the door almost immediately and opened it.
"Are you ready?"
Catalina was at the door with the others. I looked over at Mason. He got up off the bed and continued to follow me out as well.
We walked down the hall and it seemed like we were like Madeline or something. We walked in uniform pairings with Melody walking next to Catalina, me next to Mason, Brandon next to Rio and in the back were Angelica and her brother Victor. The hall was relatively quiet.
Rio almost immediately started with his questioning, "Where is Genesis?"
"He went on ahead with the other leaders of the Coven. Everyone should be in the meeting room now. Every few years the covens come together here to meet. Our coven is the only new coven so we have to come last."
"Why come we were never invited?"
"Internal strife. Also the others didn't believed we didn't possess strong enough power. It wasn't until Genesis was recognized for his ability that our coven became noticed."
"You say our. What is your last name Catalina?" Rio asked.
"Bah. I am the Aunt of Genesis."
For a moment I was happy that Rio was around. No one else would have asked the questions that he asked. I looked over at Catalina and could see a very narrow resemblance between her and Genesis.
Catalina led us down multiple steps of a twisted hallway. At the very bottom we came into a room. The room was structured much like an auditorium. It was an old fashioned auditorium though. It was the type that you may see at some historical retelling of Orpheus or another Greek Tragedy. The stage was circular and the steps were made up of stone. There were people sitting up on the steps and it seemed to be color coded for the most part. The ages of the people seemed to vary greatly. Some people were around my age. A few were very young looking and some were old looking. Nothing seemed to really stick out about these people but their colors.
I could count maybe a hundred or so people. I wasn't really sure by looking. The colors in the crowd was a heavy percentage of people wearing black. More than half of everyone in the room seemed to wear a black. Where the black ended were people who wore white clothing. Like the people who wore black the people who wore white sat close to one another. Then there were a handful of people who wore red. I could honestly count these people on two hands. The rest of the people had this very dark shade of purple.
"We don't seem so welcome do we?" Mason whispered in my ear.
I was shocked that he chose me to whisper those words to. When I heard them though I took notice of what he was saying. There were stares from the other people in the audience as Catalina led us in the room. The entire room was very quiet and still.
Catalina led us to the next to the other people who wore red. There were barely enough seats there for us to sit but somehow we managed. The other people who wore red paid no attention to us unlike everyone else in the room. I sat behind Rio and Catalina purposely trying to eavesdrop on the questions I was sure that Rio would be asking her. I thought that Mason would have sat next to his brother but instead he sat next to me. I took it as a pleasant surprise more than anything as he sat there. The stage was littered with colors and they were mixed about.
I noticed on the stage also was Genesis. He was the youngest looking one up there. They all had a very serious demeanor about it. No one seemed at all happy to be here. It just felt sad and heavy really.
"Feels like a funeral," Mason said.
I nodded. He was right and just as he said that it seemed like a widow walked into the room. It was a man wearing an all black suit. As he walked onto the stage applause started. I didn't know why everyone was clapping but I joined in. Mason looked at me like I was crazy or something. I didn't care.
"Welcome to the In-Between," the man stated, "I am Prince Isaac. For those of you who are new here I'd like to welcome you. For those who have returned I'd like to welcome you back. Every 4 years we get together in search of a new king. All the covens of the world are gathered together focusing on our four arts of magic. Casters in black, Divination in white, Talisman in purple and Sacrifice in red. The rules of the game are simple. In these walls your leaders will teach you about your craft. Beyond these walls there is a forest In-between. You can leave these walls at any point that you feel you are ready. If you are able to make it to the other side you will find your crown and be crowned king. Each member of your coven will be honored as princes and princesses until the next games. You will be awarded with wealth and a priceless honor."
The sound of it made me almost think twice about everything until this Prince Isaac finished what he was saying.
"There are no other rules to the game. If you manage to survive your lessons and are not killed by other competitors you are free to enter the forest at any point that you feel like you are ready. I cannot tell you what lies there. That is something you must see for yourself. However I promise that nothing in this castle is as dangerous as what is out there in that forest..."
We had managed to get outside of the room after the orientation. It was pretty much different "princes and princesses" coming up at that point wishing us good luck in these games. A lot of what they were saying was very solemn as though they were saying good luck to people who were going off to war. Was that what we were doing?
Sacrifice in red.
What did they mean by that?
When Genesis Bah met us after the orientation that was the first thing that came out of my mouth. I had just asked in a room that looked like it was some sort of classroom. Genesis had walked in and stood at the very front of the classroom when I had asked the question. I had it held back for so long that I almost forgot how afraid of him I was.
To my surprise Genesis answered me.
"Sacrifice is a form magic the ancestors of the Moreen witch doctors used. Everything we do requires sacrifice. The other forms of magic were all present in the room. The castors wore black. That is the most common form of magic. It is what people usually think when they think of witches. They use wands to direct elemental magic such as fire and ice. It's quite powerful. Many of those are European or American. Divination are those who can foresee things. It's a passive practice so often times the covens will link up with an aggressive coven for mutual support. The covens are often from Eastern Asia and South America. They are oracles who have to keep their mind pure and wear white. The talisman users wear purple. They seal their magic in what they call amulets. Most of them are from African or Native American. This is where Voodoo came from as sometimes they use dolls as amulets. Then there is us. The sacrificial magic practitioners. We are rare."
"Is that why they looked at us like they did?" Mason asked.
Bah looked over at Mason. It was clear they didn't get a long but it was also clear at this point that we were all wondering the same thing that Mason was.
"All magic comes from a dark and dangerous place. However Sacrificial magic is seen by the others as the darkest form of magic."
"Blood magic," Brandon stated.
We all turned to Brandon who was behind all of us. He had been quiet up to this point. How did he know that?
"Brandon's right," Bah said, "It is also called blood magic. We go to very dark places get it. We go death to get our power."
Mason looked hesitant, "How come you can control people with just using your words? What kind of magic is that?"
"A sacrifice was made," Bah said.
Bah laughed at him in his face. I could tell by the look on Mason's expression that he didn't take that well. Mason looked like he was steaming at that point.
"The worst kind," Bah said, "It will be a while before you can experience anything like that but I'll teach all of you all I can and all you can handle."
"We weren't the only ones who were dressed in red. There was another group dressed in red," I remembered looking thinking back to the auditorium.
"They are the Bayou coven from Louisiana. Make no mistake they'll kill you at the very first chance they get."
The last question had come from Angelica. Her voice was whimpering.
Almost as though Angelica was embarrassing her Melody quickly shook her head, "They won't get close."
I took a deep breath. The idea of killing and death was getting all to real to me. I looked over at Angelica and saw how afraid she was. Her brother was holding her close but she was still shaking. She was scared beyond belief.
Bah smiled as though entertained, "Actions speak louder than words, Melody. You'll have the chance to show me. However be warned now that the Bayou coven has practiced Sacrificial magic for generations. We are brand new. They have a sole stake in sacrificial magic until we came and they'll want to take that back. Blood magic takes...a toll on the human soul sometimes."
"What if I don't WANT to learn this?"
I turned to see the voice coming from Mason.
I had to admit that Mason had huge balls. Even with what he knew Bah was capable of he still managed to challenge him any chance that he got.
Bah didn't make Mason bang his head into the wall or make Mason's stomach cramp up like before however. He just laughed.
"When they come for you," Bah said in a quick and solemn tone, "And they WILL come for you. You are going to want to know how to defend yourself."
That night I woke up screaming. I didn't know what that I was dreaming until I felt Mason's hand on my shoulder. He shook me at that moment. I was shocked to wake up and see him standing there over my bed. He was shirtless and his eyebrows were raised in a state of shock. I opened my eyes and looked at him. Our eyes connected and there was something so gentle at that moment. I didn't even think a guy like him could even be gentle.
"What the fuck is the matter with you?" he asked.
I shook my man.
"I just had a bad dream."
He threw me back down on the bed and rolled his eyes, "What the fuck? Did you not hear the type of threats we heard today. You can't just wake up in the middle of the night screaming because you had a bad dream. I thought something was seriously wrong with you."
"Didn't think you cared..."
"Don't be a smart ass. I don't give a damn. I just know if they get you then I'll probably be next," he said shaking his head, "Now shut the fuck up so I can get come sleep."
I sighed and rolled over loudly, "How can you sleep at a time like this?"
"Easy, close my eyes and count sheep."
"More like sacrifice sheep."
He got up at that moment and grunted loudly, "That's exactly what I needed Boss! I needed an image in my head of dying sheep."
I turned and looked over at him. I had meant it as a joke but I saw a sort of panic in his eyes as he stood there. He was so handsome. I couldn't help but to make my way over to where he was standing. I realized that he was looking out of the window. I joined him looking outside the window to see what he was looking at. There was a large courtyard covered by heavy fog and beyond that fog was a field of trees. I couldn't see anything beyond that.
"I had a life outside of that forest," he told me, "It wasn't no grand scheme. It wasn't perfect. Truth be told it was a little fucked up. My brother and I can't stand each other. My mom was an alcoholic since my sister died and my dad ran off the first chance he got. Oh yeah, it was a real fucked up existence but it was mine. It was what I had for me. We never had a choice in this."
It was the first thing he mentioned of the outside world.
"I thought you said you knew that. Your parents never hid it from you."
He nodded, "And somehow that doesn't make this any easier."
He walked past me and sat back on his bed.
"It's funny how the moment we realize that we are more powerful than we ever thought we were in normal life is also the moment that we realize just how hopeless we are."
He laid on the bed and turned over to the wall, "Yo, go bed kid."
"What was it? Just spit it out."
"You're not in this alone."
I don't know where that came from. He never said that he was in this alone. I was just sitting there thinking about what was something that I would have wanted to hear from someone in a situation like this.
There was a silence for a moment. A part of me thought that he was asleep now facing that wall and he hadn't even really heard what I said to him.
After what seemed like forever his voice trailed into my ears, "Thanks. Now go to bed."
For more of this story please visit www.crushedcrown.com and please leave comments!