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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
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A slice of Battenberg cake with a moist pink-and-yellow checkerboard interior and canary-colored icing sat before me at our secluded table at the Wolseley, along with still more contraband black tea. I lifted the lid on the teapot and drank in its malty aroma, sighing happily. I’d been craving tea and cake ever since our unexpected meeting with Linda Crosby at the Blackfriars.
Hamish, who was a breakfast regular there, had commandeered a large table at the bustling Piccadilly restaurant for the entire morning and proceeded to treat the space—and the staff—as though they were his office. Thus far he’d taken a dozen phone calls, made several lunch engagements (three of them for the same day next week, I noted with alarm), and read every London daily in its entirety. He had also, bless him, wheedled my cake out of the pastry chef hours before it was normally served, citing my condition as justification. The speed with which the request was met was either an additional indication of Hamish’s importance or a sign that the young man who wielded the whisks and rolling pins understood the special relationship between pregnant women and sugar.
“This is taking forever,” Sarah grumbled. She’d bolted down a soft-boiled egg with toast batons, consumed an ocean of black coffee, and had been dividing her attention between her wristwatch and the door ever since.
“When it comes to extortion, Granny doesn’t like to rush.” Gallowglass smiled affably at the ladies at a nearby table, who were casting admiring glances at his muscular, tattooed arms.
“If they don’t arrive soon, I’ll be walking back to Westminster under my own steam thanks to all the caffeine.” Hamish waved down the manager. “Another cappuccino, Adam. Better make it a decaf.”
“Of course, sir. More toast and jam?”
“Please,” Hamish said, handing Adam the empty toast rack. “Strawberry. You know I can’t resist the strawberry.”
“And why is it again that we couldn’t wait for Granny and Phoebe at the house?” Gallowglass shifted nervously on his tiny seat. The chair was not designed for a man of his size, but rather for MPs, socialites, morning-television personalities, and other such insubstantial persons.
“Diana’s neighbors are wealthy and paranoid. There hasn’t been any activity at the house for nearly a year. Suddenly there are people around at all hours and Allens of Mayfair is making daily deliveries.”
Hamish made room on the table for his fresh cappuccino. “We don’t want them thinking you’re an international drug cartel and calling the police. West End Central station is full of witches, especially the CID. And don’t forget: You’re not under Hubbard’s protection outside the City limits.”
“Hmph. You’re not worried about the coppers. You just didn’t want to miss anything.” Gallowglass wagged a finger at him. “I’m onto you, Hamish.”
“Here’s Fernando,” Sarah said in a tone suggesting that deliverance had come at last.
Fernando tried to hold open the door for Ysabeau, but Adam beat him to it. My mother-in-law looked like a youthful film star, and every male head in the room turned as she entered with Phoebe in her wake. Fernando hung back, his dark suit the perfect backdrop for Ysabeau’s off-white and taupe ensemble.
“No wonder Ysabeau prefers to stay at home,” I said. She stood out like a beacon on a foggy day.
“Philippe always said it was easier to withstand a siege than to cross a room at Ysabeau’s side. He had to fend off her admirers with more than a stick, I can tell you.” Gallowglass rose as his grandmother approached. “Hello, Granny. Did they give in to your demands?”
Ysabeau offered her cheek to be kissed. “Of course.”
“In part,” Phoebe said hastily.
“Was there trouble?” Gallowglass asked Fernando.
“None worth mentioning.” Fernando pulled out a chair. Ysabeau slid onto it gracefully, crossing her slim ankles.
“Charles was most accommodating when you consider how many company policies I expected him to violate,” she said, refusing the menu Adam offered her with a little moue of distaste. “Champagne, please.”
“The hideous painting you took off his hands will more than compensate for it,” Fernando said, installing Phoebe into her place at the table. “Whatever made you buy it, Ysabeau?”
“It is not hideous, though abstract expressionism is an acquired taste,” she admitted. “The painting is raw, mysterious—sensual. I will give it to the Louvre and force Parisians to expand their minds. Mark my words: This time next year, Clyfford Still will be at the top of every museum’s wish list.”
“Expect a call from Coutts,” Phoebe murmured to Hamish. “She wouldn’t haggle.”
“There is no need to worry. Both Sotheby’s and Coutts know I am good for it.” Ysabeau extracted a slip of paper from her sleek leather bag and extended it to me. “Voilà.”
“T. J. Weston, Esquire.” I looked up from the slip. “This is who bought the page from Ashmole 782?”
“Possibly.” Phoebe’s reply was terse. “The file contained nothing but a sales slip—he paid cash— and six pieces of misdirected correspondence. Not a single address we have for Weston is valid.”
“It shouldn’t be that hard to locate him. How many T. J. Westons can there be?” I wondered.
“More than three hundred,” Phoebe replied. “I checked the national directory. And don’t assume that T. J. Weston is a man. We don’t know the buyer’s sex or nationality. One of the addresses is in Denmark.”
“Do not be so negative, Phoebe. We will make calls. Use Hamish’s connections. And Leonard is outside. He will drive us where we need to go.” Ysabeau looked unconcerned.
“My connections?” Hamish buried his head in his hands and groaned. “This could take weeks. I might as well live at the Wolseley, given all the coffees I’m going to have with people.”
“It won’t take weeks, and you don’t need to worry about your caffeine intake.” I put the paper in my pocket, slung my messenger bag over my shoulder, and hoisted myself to my feet, almost upsetting the table in the process.
“Lord bless us, Auntie. You get bigger by the hour.”
“Thank you for noticing, Gallowglass.” I’d managed to wedge myself between a coatrack, the wall, and my chair. He leaped up to extricate me.
“How can you be so sure?” Sarah asked me, looking as doubtful as Phoebe.
Wordlessly I held up my hands. They were multicolored and shining.
“Ah. Let us get Diana home,” Ysabeau said. “I do not think the proprietor would appreciate having a dragon in his restaurant any more than I did having one in my house.”
“Put your hands in your pockets,” Sarah hissed. They really were rather bright.
I was not yet at the waddling stage of pregnancy, but it was still a challenge to make my way through the close tables, especially with my hands jammed into my raincoat.
“Please clear the way for my daughter-in-law,” Ysabeau said imperiously, taking my elbow and tugging me along. Men stood, pulled their chairs in, and fawned as she passed.
“My husband’s stepmother,” I whispered to one outraged woman who was gripping her fork like a weapon. She was appropriately disturbed by the notion that I had married a boy of twelve and gotten pregnant by him, for Ysabeau was far too young to have children older than that. “Second marriage.
Younger wife. You know how it is.”
“So much for blending in,” Hamish muttered. “Every creature in W1 will know that Ysabeau de Clermont is in town after this. Can’t you control her, Gallowglass?”
“Control Granny?” Gallowglass roared with laughter and slapped Hamish on the back.
“This is a nightmare,” Hamish said as more heads turned. He reached the front door. “See you tomorrow, Adam.”
“Your usual table for one, sir?” Adam asked, offering Hamish his umbrella.
“Yes. Thank God.” Hamish stepped into a waiting car and headed back to his office in the City. Leonard tucked me into the rear of the Mercedes with Phoebe, and Ysabeau and Fernando took the passenger seat.
Gallowglass lit a cigarette and ambled along the sidewalk, emitting more smoke than a Mississippi steamboat. We lost sight of him outside the Coach and Horses, where Gallowglass indicated through a series of silent gestures that he was going in for a drink.
“Coward,” Fernando said, shaking his head.
“Now what?” Sarah asked after we were back at Clairmont House in the cozy morning room. Though the front parlor was comfortable and welcoming, this snug spot was my favorite room in the house. It contained a ragtag assemblage of furniture, including a stool that I was certain had been in our house in the Blackfriars, which made the room feel as if it had been lived in rather than decorated.
“Now we find T. J. Weston, Esquire, whoever she or he may be.” I propped up my feet on the age blackened Elizabethan stool with a groan, letting the warmth from the crackling fire seep into my aching bones.
“It will be like finding a needle in a haystack,” Phoebe said, allowing herself the small discourtesy of a sigh.
“Not if Diana uses her magic it won’t,” Sarah said confidently.
“Magic?” Ysabeau’s head swung around, and her eyes sparkled.
“I thought you didn’t approve of witches?” My mother-in-law had made her feelings on this matter known from the very beginning of my relationship with Matthew.
“Ysabeau might not like witches, but she’s got nothing except admiration for magic,” Fernando said.
“You draw a mighty fine line, Ysabeau,” Sarah said with a grimace.
“What kind of magic?” Gallowglass had returned, unnoticed, and was standing in the hall shaking the moisture off his coat. He rather resembled Lobero after a long run in the emperor’s Stag Moat. “A candle spell can work when you’re searching for a lost object,” Sarah said thoughtfully. She was something of an expert on candle spells, since Em had been famous for leaving her things all around the house—and Madison.
“I remember a witch who used some earth and a knotted piece of linen,” Ysabeau said. Sarah and I turned to her, mouths open in astonishment. She drew herself straight and regarded us with hauteur.
“You need not look so surprised. I have known a great many witches over the years.”
Fernando ignored Ysabeau and spoke to Phoebe instead. “You said one of the addresses for T. J.
Weston was in Denmark. What about the others?”
“All from the UK: four in England and one in Northern Ireland,” Phoebe said. “In England the addresses were all in the south—Devon, Cornwall, Essex, Wiltshire.”
“Do you really need to meddle with magic, Auntie?” Gallowglass looked concerned. “Surely there’s a way for Nathaniel to use his computers and find this person. Did you write the addresses down, Phoebe?”
“Of course.” She produced a crumpled Boots receipt covered with handwriting. Gallowglass looked at it dubiously. “I couldn’t very well take a notebook into the file room. It would have been suspicious.”
“Very clever,” Ysabeau assured her. “I’ll send the addresses on to Nathaniel so he can get to work on them.”
“I still think magic would be faster—so long as I can figure out what spell to use,” I said. “I’ll need something visual. I’m better with visuals than with candles.”
“What about a map?” Gallowglass suggested. “Matthew must have a map or two in his library upstairs. If not, I could go around to Hatchards and see what they’ve got.” He had only just returned, but Gallowglass was clearly eager to be outdoors in the frigid downpour. It was, I supposed, as close to the weather in the middle of the Atlantic as he was likely to find.
“A map might work—if it were big enough,” I said. “We’ll be no better off if the spell is only able to pinpoint that T. J. Weston’s location is in Wiltshire.” I wondered if it would be possible for Leonard to drive me around the county with a box of candles.
“There’s a lovely map shop just by Shoreditch,” Leonard said proudly, as though he were personally responsible for its location. “They make big maps what hang on walls. I’ll give them a ring.”
“What will you need besides the map?” Sarah asked. “A compass?”
“It’s too bad I don’t have the mathematical instrument Emperor Rudolf gave me,” I said. “It was always whirring around as though it were trying to find something.” At first I’d thought its movements indicated that somebody was searching for Matthew and me. Over time I’d wondered if the compendium swung into action whenever someone was searching for the Book of Life.
Phoebe and Ysabeau exchanged a look.
“Excuse me.” Phoebe slipped out of the room.
“That brass gadget that Annie and Jack called a witch’s clock?” Gallowglass chuckled. “I doubt that would be much help, Auntie. It couldn’t even keep proper time, and Master Habermel’s latitude charts were a bit . . . er, fanciful.” Habermel had been utterly defeated by my request to include a reference to the New World and had simply picked a coordinate that for all I knew would have put me in Tierra del Fuego.
“Divination is the way to go,” Sarah said. “We’ll put candles on the four cardinal points of north, east, south, and west, then sit you in the center with a bowl of water and see what develops.”
“If I’m going to divine by water, I’ll need more space than this.” The breakfast room would fill up with witchwater at an alarming speed.
“We could use the garden,” Ysabeau suggested. “Or the ballroom upstairs. I never did think the Trojan War was a suitable subject for the frescoes, so it would be no great loss if they were damaged.”
“We might want to tune up your third eye before you start, too,” Sarah said, looking critically at my forehead as though it were a radio.
Phoebe returned with a small box. She handed it to Ysabeau. “Perhaps we should see if this can help first.” Ysabeau drew Master Habermel’s compendium from the cardboard container. “Alain packed up some of your things from Sept-Tours. He thought they would make you feel more at home here.”
The compendium was a beautiful instrument, expertly fashioned from brass, gilded and silvered to make it shine, and loaded with everything from a storage slot for paper and pencil to a compass, latitude tables, and a small clock. At the moment the instrument appeared to be going haywire, for the dials on the face of the compendium were spinning around. We could hear the steady whir of the gears.
Sarah peered at the instrument. “Definitely enchanted.”
“It’s going to wear itself out.” Gallowglass extended a thick finger, ready to give the hands on the clock a poke to slow them down.
“No touching,” Sarah said sharply. “You can never anticipate how a bewitched object will respond to unwanted interference.”
“Did you ever put it near the picture of the chemical wedding, Auntie?” Gallowglass asked. “If you’re right, and Master Habermel’s toy acts up when someone is looking for the Book of Life, then maybe seeing the page will quiet it.”
“Good idea. The picture of the chemical wedding is in the Chinese Room along with the picture of the dragons.” I lumbered to my feet. “I left them on the card table.”
Ysabeau was gone before I could straighten up. She was back quickly, holding the two pages as though they were glass and might shatter at any moment. The moment I laid them on the table, the hand on the compendium dial began to swing slowly from left to right instead of revolving around its central pin. When I picked the pages up, the compendium began to spin again—though slower than it had before.
“I do not think the compendium registers when someone is looking for the Book of Life,” Fernando said. “The instrument itself seems to be searching for the book. Now that it senses some of the pages are nearby, it is narrowing its focus.”
“How strange.” I put the pages back on the table and watched in fascination as the hand slowed and resumed its pendulum swing.
“Can you use it to find the last missing page?” Ysabeau said, staring at the compendium with equal fascination.
“Only if I drive all over England, Wales, and Scotland with it.” I wondered how long it would take me to damage the delicate, priceless instrument, holding it on my lap while Gallowglass or Leonard sped up the M40.
“Or you could devise a locator spell. With a map and that contraption, you might be able to triangulate the missing page’s position,” Sarah said thoughtfully, tapping her lips with her finger.
“What kind of locator spell do you have in mind?” This went well beyond bell, book, and candle or writing a charm on a moonwort pod.
“We’d have to try a few and see—test them to figure out which is best,” Sarah mused. “Then you’d need to perform it under the right conditions, with plenty of magical support so the spell doesn’t get bent out of shape.”
“Where are you going to find magical support in Mayfair?” Fernando asked.
“Linda Crosby,” my aunt and I said at the same time.
Sarah and I spent more than a week testing and retesting spells in the basement of the house in Mayfair as well as the tiny kitchen of Linda’s flat in the Blackfriars. After nearly drowning Tabitha and having the fire brigade show up twice in Playhouse Yard, I had finally managed to cobble together some knots and a handful of magically significant items into a locator spell that might—just might—work.
The London coven met in a portion of the medieval Greyfriars crypt that had survived a series of disasters over its long history, from the dissolution of the monasteries to the Blitz. Atop the crypt stood Andrew Hubbard’s house: the church’s former bell tower. It was twelve stories tall and had only one large room on each of its floors. Outside the tower he had planted a pleasant garden in the one corner of the old churchyard that had resisted urban renewal.
“What a strange house,” Ysabeau murmured.
“Andrew is a very strange vampire,” I replied with a shiver.
“Father H likes lofty spaces, that’s all. He says they make him feel closer to God.” Leonard rapped on the door again.
“I just felt a ghost go by,” Sarah said, drawing her coat more closely around her. There was no mistaking the cold sensation.
“I don’t feel anything,” Leonard said with a vampire’s cavalier disregard for something as corporeal as warmth. His rapping turned to pounding. “Come on, sunshine!”
“Patience, Leonard. We are not all twenty-year-old vampires!” Linda Crosby said crossly once she’d wrestled the door open. “There are a prodigious number of stairs to climb.”
Happily, we had only to descend one floor from the main entrance level to reach the room that Hubbard had set aside for the use of the City of London’s official coven.
“Welcome to our gathering!” Linda said as she led us down the staircase.
Halfway down, I stopped with a gasp.
“Is that . . . you?” Sarah stared at the walls in amazement.
The walls were covered with images of me—weaving my first spell, calling forth a rowan tree, watching Corra as she flew along the Thames, standing beside the witches who had taken me under their wing when I was first learning about my magic. There was Goody Alsop, the coven’s elder, with her fine features and stooped shoulders; the midwife Susanna Norman; and the three remaining witches Catherine Streeter, Elizabeth Jackson, and Marjorie Cooper.
As for the artist, that was clear without a signature. Jack had painted these images, smearing the walls with wet plaster and adding the lines and color so that they became a permanent part of the building. Smoke-stained, mottled with damp, and cracked with age, they had somehow retained their beauty. “We are fortunate to have such a room to work in,” Linda said, beaming “Your journey has long been a source of inspiration for London’s witches. Come and meet your sisters.”
The three witches waiting at the bottom of the stairs studied me with interest, their glances snapping and crackling against my skin. They might not have the power of the Garlickhythe gathering in 1591, but these witches were not devoid of talent.
“Here is our Diana Bishop, come back to us once more,” Linda said. “She has brought her aunt with her, Sarah Bishop, and her mother-in-law, who I trust needs no introduction.”
“None at all,” said the most elderly of the four witches. “We’ve all heard cautionary tales about Mélisande de Clermont.”
Linda had warned me the coven had some doubts about tonight’s proceedings. She had handpicked the witches who would help us: firewitch Sybil Bonewits, waterwitch Tamsin Soothtell, and windwitch Cassandra Kyteler. Linda’s powers relied heavily on the element of earth. So, too, did Sarah’s.
“Times change,” Ysabeau said crisply. “If you would like me to leave . . .”
“Nonsense.” Linda shot a warning glance at her fellow witch. “Diana asked for you to be here when she cast her spell. We will all muddle through somehow. Won’t we, Cassandra?”
The elderly witch gave a curt nod.
“Make way for the maps if you please, ladies!” Leonard said, his arms full of tubes. He dumped them on a rickety table encrusted with wax and beat a fast retreat up the stairs. “Call me if you need anything.” The door to the crypt slammed shut behind him.
Linda directed the placement of the maps, for after much fiddling we had found that the best results came from using a huge map of the British Isles surrounded by individual county maps. The map of Great Britain alone took up a section of floor that was around six feet by four feet.
“This looks like a bad elementary-school geography project,” Sarah muttered as she straightened a map of Dorset.
“It may not be pretty, but it works,” I replied, drawing Master Habermel’s compendium from my bag. Fernando had devised a protective sleeve for it using one of Gallowglass’s clean socks. It was miraculously undamaged. I got out my phone, too, and took a few shots of the murals on the wall. They made me feel closer to Jack—and to Matthew.
“Where should I put the pages from the Book of Life?” Ysabeau had been given custody of the precious sheets of vellum.
“Give the picture of the chemical wedding to Sarah. You hold on to the one with the two dragons,”
“Me?” Ysabeau’s eyes widened. It had been a controversial decision, but I had prevailed against Sarah and Linda in the end.
“I hope you don’t mind. The chemical-wedding picture came to me from my parents. The dragons belonged to Andrew Hubbard. I thought we could balance the spell by keeping them in witch and vampire hands.” All my instincts told me this was the right decision.
“Of c-course.” Ysabeau’s tongue slipped on the familiar words.
“It will be all right. I promise.” I gave her arm a squeeze. “Sarah will be standing opposite, and Linda and Tamsin will be on either side.”
“You should be worrying about the spell. Ysabeau can take care of herself.” Sarah handed me a pot of red ink and a quill pen made from a white feather with striking brown and gray markings.
“It’s time, ladies,” Linda said with a brisk clap. She distributed brown candles to the other members of the London coven. Brown was a propitious color for finding lost objects. It had the added benefit of grounding the spell—which I was sorely in need of, given my inexperience. Each witch took her place outside the ring of county maps, and they all lit their candles with whispered spells. The flames were unnaturally large and bright—true witch’s candles.
Linda escorted Ysabeau to her place just below the south coast of England. Sarah stood across from her, as promised, above the north coast of Scotland. Linda walked clockwise three times around the carefully arranged witches, maps, and vampire, sprinkling salt to cast a protective circle. Once everyone was in her proper place, I took the stopper out of the bottle of red ink. The distinctive scent of dragon’s-blood resin filled the air. There were other ingredients in the ink, too, including more than a few drops of my own blood. Ysabeau’s nostrils flared at the coppery tang. I dipped the quill pen into the ink and pressed the chiseled silver nib onto a narrow slip of parchment. It had taken me two days to find someone willing to make me a pen using a feather from a barn owl—far longer than it would have in Elizabethan London.
Letter by letter, working from the outside of the parchment to the center, I wrote the name of the person I sought.
T, N, J, O, W, T, E, S T J WESTON
I folded the parchment carefully to hide the name. Now it was my turn to walk outside the sacred circle and work another binding. After slipping Master Habermel’s compendium into the pocket of my sweater along with the parchment rectangle, I began a circular perambulation from the place between the firewitch and the waterwitch. I passed by Tamsin and Ysabeau, Linda and Cassandra, Sarah and Sybil.
When I arrived back at the place where I began, a shimmering line ran outside the salt, illuminating the witches’ astonished faces. I turned my left hand palm up. For a moment there was a flicker of color on my index finger, but it was gone before I could determine what it had been. Even without the missing hue, my hand gleamed with gold, silver, black, and white lines of power that pulsed under the skin. The streaks twisted and twined into the orobouros-shaped tenth knot that surrounded the prominent blue veins at my wrist.
I stepped through a narrow gap in the shimmering line and drew the circle closed. The power roared through it, keening and crying out for release. Corra wanted out, too. She was restless, shifting and stretching inside me.
“Patience, Corra,” I said, stepping carefully over the salt and onto the map of England. Each step took me closer to the spot that represented London. At last my feet rested on the City. Corra released her wings with a snap of skin and bone and a cry of frustration.
“Fly, Corra!” I commanded.
Free at last, Corra shot around the room, sparks streaming from her wings and tongues of flame escaping from her mouth. As she gained altitude and found air currents that would help to carry her where she wanted to go, the beating of her wings slowed. Corra caught sight of her portrait and cooed in approval, reaching out to pat the wall with her tail.
I pulled the compendium from my pocket and held it in my right hand. The folded slip of parchment went into my left. My arms stretched wide, and I waited while the threads that bound the world and filled the Greyfriars crypt snaked and slithered over me, seeking out the cords that had been absorbed into my hands. When they met, the cords lengthened and expanded, filling my whole body with power. They knotted around my joints, created a protective web around my womb and heart, and traveled along veins and the pathways forged by nerves and sinews.
I recited my spell:
Lost and found
Where is Weston
On this ground?
Then I blew on the slip of parchment, and Weston’s name caught light, the red ink bursting into flame. I cupped the fiery words in my palm where they continued to burn bright. Overhead, Corra circled above the map watchfully, her keen eyes alert. The compendium’s gears whirred, and the hands on the main dial moved. A roaring filled my ears as a bright thread of gold shot out from the compendium. It spun outward until it met up with the two pages from the Book of Life. Another thread came from the compendium’s gilded dial. It lit a spot on the map of England, then slithered off to a map at Linda’s feet.
Corra swept down and pounced on the spot, crying out with triumph as though she had caught some unsuspecting prey. A town’s name illuminated, a bright burst of flame leaving the charred outlines of letters.
The spell complete, the roaring diminished. Power receded from my body, loosening the knotted cords. But they did not recoil back into my hands. They stayed where they were, running through me as if they had formed a new bodily system.
When the power had retreated, I swayed slightly. Ysabeau started forward.
“No!” Sarah cried. “Don’t break the circle, Ysabeau.”
My mother-in-law clearly thought this was madness. Without Matthew here she was prepared to be overprotective in his stead. But Sarah was right: Nobody could break the circle but me. Feet dragging, I returned to the same spot where I’d started weaving my spell. Sybil and Tamsin smiled encouragingly as the fingers on my left hand flicked and furled, releasing the circle’s hold. All that remained to do then was to trudge around the circle counterclockwise, unmaking the magic.
Linda was much quicker, briskly walking her own path in reverse. The moment she was through, both Ysabeau and Sarah rushed to my side. The London witches raced to the map that revealed Weston’s location.
“Dieu, I have not seen magic like that for centuries. Matthew told me true when he said you were a formidable witch,” Ysabeau said with admiration.
“Very nice spell casting, honey.” Sarah was proud of me. “Not a single wobble of doubt or moment of hesitation.”
“Did it work?” I certainly hoped so. Another spell of that magnitude would require weeks of rest first. I joined the witches at the map. “Oxfordshire?”
“Yes,” Linda said doubtfully. “But I fear we may not have asked a specific enough question.”
There, on the map, was the blackened outline of a very English-sounding village called Chipping Weston.
“The initials were on the paper, but I forgot to include them in the words of the spell.” My heart sank.
“It is far too soon to admit defeat.” Ysabeau already had her phone out and was dialing. “Phoebe?
Does a T. J. Weston live in Chipping Weston?”
The possibility that T. J. Weston could live in a town called Weston had not occurred to any of us.
We waited for Phoebe’s reply.
Ysabeau’s face relaxed in sudden relief. “Thank you. We will be home soon. Tell Marthe that Diana will need a compress for her head and cold cloths for her feet.”
Both were aching, and my legs were more swollen with each passing minute. I looked at Ysabeau gratefully.
“Phoebe tells me there is a T. J. Weston in Chipping Weston,” Ysabeau reported. “He lives in the Manor House.”
“Oh, well done. Well done, Diana.” Linda beamed at me. The other London witches clapped, as though I had just performed a particularly difficult piano solo without flubbing a note.
“This is not a night we will soon forget,” Tamsin said, her voice shaking with emotion, “for tonight a weaver came back to London, bringing the past and future together so that old worlds might die and new be born.”
“That’s Mother Shipton’s prophecy,” I said, recognizing the words.
“Ursula Shipton was born Ursula Soothtell. Her aunt, Alice Soothtell, was my ancestor,” Tamsin said. “She was a weaver, like you.”
“You are related to Ursula Shipton!” Sarah exclaimed. “I am,” Tamsin replied. “The women in my family have kept the knowledge of weavers alive, even though we have had only one other weaver born into the family in more than five hundred years. But Ursula prophesied that the power was not lost forever. She foresaw the years of darkness, when witches would forget weavers and all they represent: hope, rebirth, change. Ursula saw this night, too.”
“How so?” I thought of the few lines of Mother Shipton’s prophecy that I knew. None of them seemed relevant to tonight’s events.
“‘And those that live will ever fear
The dragon’s tail for many year,
But time erases memory.
You think it strange. But it will be,’” Tamsin recited.
She nodded, and the other witches joined in, speaking in one voice.
And before the race is built anew, A silver serpent comes to view And spews out men of like unknown To mingle with the earth now grown Cold from its heat, and these men can Enlighten the minds of future man.
“The dragon and the serpent?” I shivered.
“They foretell the advent of a new golden age for creatures,” Linda said. “It has been too long in coming, but we all are pleased to have lived to see it.”
It was too much responsibility. First the twins, then Matthew’s scion, and now the future of the species? My hand covered the bump where our children grew. I felt pulled in too many directions, the parts of me that were witch battling with the parts that were scholar, wife, and now mother.
I looked at the walls. In 1591 every part of me had fit together. In 1591 I had been myself.
“Do not worry,” Sybil said gently. “You will be whole once more. Your vampire will help you.”
“We will all help you,” Cassandra said.
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