Warlock of the Coven

Karl Mitchell held his hand up in front of his face, eyes wide in shock and fear. The yellow sparks flew with each movement of his fingertips. His eyes slide first to his sister, then to his grandmother.

Kazia snarled. “How is this possible,” she ground out. Her face was pure anger and hatred.

“The Mother has deemed your brother as my successor.” Emilia fought back a smile, not wanting to push Kazia too far. The girl was dangerous even without the power that came from the backing of the coven’s elders. Her prayers had been answered and the volatile young lady would not be the next leader of their coven.

“But that isn’t possible,” Karl whispered. Even with the proof of his singed pants pockets, he refused to believe this was real.

Kazia lunged for her brother, fangs bared for attack. Karl, aware that any defense using his untrained and untested power could kill his beloved twin sister, tried to sidestep and avoid her — and ended up in his bedroom. He stood in awe of what he’d done, completely transfixed. He was stock still until he heard Kazia’s shrill scream and furious steps coming his way. Karl tried to focus his mind on getting away, but fear mingled with self-preservation and he made himself invisible. He wasn’t sure what exactly had happened until Kazia, flinging herself into his room at full speed, slamming into him, and threw them both into clothes dresser.

Kazia fought like a wildcat. She couldn’t see her brother, but she could sense where he was and tried her best to sever his head from his body. Her entire body went hard and she found herself floating three feet off the ground.

“That will be enough, Kazia.” Her grandmother’s ethereal voice boomed across their small house. Emilia wasn’t amused anymore. Despite the passing of the torch to Karl, Emilia was still the leader of the coven and the most powerful among their kind.

Karl’s body flickered once, then twice, before coming into view. He blinked several times in rapid succession, then stared wide-eyed at his hands. Emilia drifted slowly into the room, flames swirling angrily around her fingertips. Kazia struggled against the invisible chains that held her aloft. She snarled and howled, and tried her best to shift into the the puma that was her birthright.

Emilia frowned then hissed at her granddaughter. After the death of Karl and Kazia’s parents during the last uprising, Emilia had taken a strong hand in the raising of her grandchildren — sometimes at the detriment of the coven. She never regretted her decision, but she often regretted letting her daughter and son-in-law go off into battle to save the coven from the usurpers.

For centuries, their coven reigned over North America with an iron fist and a strong sense of fairness. And every couple of generations one of the smaller covens made a move to better their position. That particular coven had embraced dark magic and used it to conjure dragons made of fire. Flying through the air as a raven and eagle, the twins’ parents were easy targets. Both were dead before they hit the ground.

Emilia said a prayer to the mother for patience and strength. She’s reigned far longer than she should have. She threw a protective shield around Karl’s confused self and released Kazia. The angry teen landed on the floor with a thump. She hissed but was as yet unable to shift forms. “I was born to lead this coven, grandmother. The Mother has no right…”

Kazia’s face snapped to the left as Emilia slapped her as hard as her old body could manage. “The Mother has every right, you spoiled little girl! You would do well to remember that.”

Karl jumped at the sharp sound. He tried to move closer to his sister and maybe provide comfort but the shield and the hatred in her eyes kept him in place. “Kazia,” he started but he had no idea what he should say to her.

Kazia stood up still holding her stinging face. She’d never been hit before and she really didn’t like it. Without another word, she bared her fangs at her loving grandmother before bolting from the room.

Emilia released the shield from Karl and fell to the bed, exhausted. Karl hesitated for only a moment before going to her. “Grandmother,” he cried and prayed that she was okay. He was relieved to find the elderly woman breathing, though shallowly. She placed a hand on his face and smiled. Karl wasn’t the traditional choice, but he was exactly what this coven would need to survive in the coming years. Kazia was strong, that was for sure. But she was also headstrong and sure, and led primarily by her pride and ego — not through the hearts and minds of her people. And that would have been the downfall of the people they’d been chosen to protect.

“I need to go after Kazia, grandmother,” Karl said sadly. “She may hurt someone in this mood.”

“Kazia is to face the future she has chosen for herself. You must begin to train for the life the Mother has designated for you.”

“I can’t lead the coven, Grandmother. I don’t know the first thing about any of it.” He tried to pull away but the old woman’s hands were much stronger than they should have been.

“You think I don’t know that you’ve ignored your studies and training in favor of comic books and video games? I do know. And the learning curve will be excessively steep for you my wayward grandson. But The Mother knows best. She should not be forsaken, under any circumstances. Now help me to bed. Your sister has taken quite a bit out of me.”

Karl helped his grandmother to her back. He slid one arm under the woman’s legs and the other under her upper back and carried her to her bedroom. Once we was sure his grandmother was comfortably sleeping, Karl went to his room and grabbed his wallet and phone before jogging out the front door He had to find his sister.

Karl stood outside the brightly lit coven house for 5 minutes trying to decide what to do. There were at least 15 cars parked outside though there was not official coven meeting or event scheduled. He wasn’t sure how but he knew his sister was there. And the people in the 100 year old building that served as the home for their coven were people who though as Kazia did — that he, a male, had no right to rule. He couldn’t argue the point. No man had ruled their or any coven in the history of their kind. But as grandmother had said — The Mother knew best and she was not to be ignored. Deciding against confrontation he turns to leave but find the path blocked.

“Not going in?” The owner of the deep voice stepped from behind a bright red pickup truck and chuckled. “You realize she’s raising an army against you, right?”

“Stop being so melodramatic, Ray.” Karl rolled his eyes and walked past his friend, who immediately fell in step with him. Karl took a look back at the house then at his friend. “She is really, really pissed this time.”

“I heard. And she wants to rip your throat out with her teeth. Direct quote.”

“She’s my sister. She wouldn’t really…” Karl’s voice trailed off. Kazia was in love with the idea of ruling the clan. It’s all she’d ever wanted. All she’d ever talked about. She’d absolutely kill him to get back what she thought was rightfully hers. He shuddered. “I can’t do this, man. This wasn’t supposed to be me.”

“Don’t let your grandmother hear you say that. C’mon. Porter is waiting for you.”

The two teens took a sharp right and cut through the woods to the coven tattoo artist’s house. A gravely anti-social being, Porter only let you in if he was expecting you — and if he was in the right mood. Karl sighed. Word had gotten out and now, with Kazia out for blood, he had to solidify his place or risk being killed. Who knew how far his twin would go this time.

Porter was sitting on his porch in total darkness except for the bright orange of his cigar. Karl coughed as Portal blew a lungful of smoke in his face and laughed.

“Some warlock. I hope you’ve been paying attention, boy.”

Ray chuckled. “Unless they teach warlocking in comic books, Karl don’t know squat.”

“Get inside and choose a piece of leather to chew on. This is gonna hurt.” Porter spit just beyond Karl’s ear and stood up. He laughed out loud when Karl walked past him into the wooden shack with Ray close on his heels.

“Stop. Squirming.”

The needle pierced Karl’s brown skin rapidly. The outline of the coven’s crest stood bright against the muted colors that Porter applied during past sessions.

“I’m not squirming,” Karl whining and the warlock across from him pressed the needed a bit harder.

The grizzled middle aged man grinned widely as Karl unsuccessfully tried to hold his wrist still. “It’s okay to be scared, young warlock. The key is to move past it.”

Karl rolled his eyes and braced himself for the next round of pin pricks. He exhaled slowly, forced his body to relax and before he knew it he’d fallen asleep. The pain seemed to merely melt away.

The tattoo artist laughed quietly, stirring Karl. “I wondered when you’d let the power flow through you to ease your suffering. Sleep. And when you awaken, your marks will be done.”

Karl smiled and let himself sink, slipping seamlessly into a hyper-realistic dream. And though the dream felt real, his place in it did not. He reached out to touch the wallpapered wall nearest him and flinched as his hand passed completely through it. He stood there, staring at his hand as it took on a ethereal quality. His head snapped up at the sound of familiar voices yelling angrily nearby.

The louder of the voices belonged to his sister. Her declaration of war was why he had to be marked far sooner than he should. The coven had split into factions and the infighting was breaking grandmother’s heart. He inched closer to the voices, taking a chance and walking fully through the wall into a bright yellow room that he instantly recognized as belonging to one of the elder witches in the coven. He swallowed a sigh and watched his sister rant in increasing volume.

Since he’d begun his training to lead the coven, his power and skills had been unpredictable at best. His sister had been the one trained and groomed for this. And he enjoyed being the spare, out of the focus of the elders, left alone to follow his own nerdy pursuits. But now… he settled in and focused on the conversation taking place in front of him.

He was startled to find that the second voice belonged to Val, a decorated sentry within the coven. Kazia had been trying to convince Val to gather the other sentries to kill Karl. But Val, true to his position had pushed back at the notion. Though Val towered over Kazia, she stood toe to toe with him, hands balled into tight white knuckled fists that could strike at any moment.

“You know damn well that Karl will be the ruin of this coven. With the sentries on my side…”

Val cut her off with a swipe of his hand. “The sentries cannot and will not be used for intra-coven battles. You want your brother killed, you do it.”

Kazia reared back and hit Val in the chest, leaving a fist sized hole that went clean through him. Karl gasped and jerked awake, back in Porter’s house and away from his sister’s anger.

“She killed him! She killed Val,” he exclaimed. His confusion became real — the dream was as real as any memory. The smell of burning flesh lingered sharply in his nostrils. “I have to stop her. Now.”

Porter finished the wrist tattoos and covered them with Vaseline and gauze. Karl stood and, with fingers glowing from the power flowing through them, opened a portal to the last place he saw his sister. He stepped through with Ray and Porter at his back, and the battle had begun.