The fire crackles and the sparks fly, attempting to reach the stars. Mesmerized, I almost stop listening to the wise woman telling the story of how the ancients had woven the cloak Gen wears, into existence.
“But first,” the woman says, “we must remove that mark you have, Geneviève.”
“How do we do that?” I ask.
“By performing a ritual. Because you have not yet reached your eighteenth birthday, it is possible to remove the impression. I must warn you.” Her voice softens. “It comes at a cost.”
I huff in protest. “Doesn’t all magic?”
“It’s okay, Maura.” Gen touches my arm, asking the old woman, “What is it?”
She smiles, revealing a front gold tooth, and raises her chin. “. It will sever all ties to your Dire wolf line preventing lycanthropy. You will become mortal, living a temporal life. However, you will still age slower than the human race, as you are Ladorielle born.”
I can see Geneviève hesitate. She licks her lips, taking in a deep breath. “Do it.”
The woman pierces a glare. “Are you sure?”
Gen nods. “Yes, let’s do this. If it gets Sonjah off my tail, I’m willing to do anything.”
“But you will lose your identity,” I assert. “I don’t like this. There has to be another way.”
“Maura, I’m not willing to run from her for the rest of my immortal life. Sure, I in a sense can live forever, now, but she can still find and kill me.” Gen looks down at her hands. “Or worse, I’ll live an immortal life like our alpha will, under her thumb.” She glances back to me. “No thank you, Maura,” she says, and her eyes veer back to the witch. “Do it. Do the spell.”
The old woman stands. “Very well.” She hums a song, as she mixes her ingredients into a mortar and pestle.
“Are you sure about this?” Arik asks. “My mother she’s half-light witch. I’m sure she could find another way.”
She looks over at the cloak that brought them to this strange new place. “Arik there isn’t any guarantee that we will ever get back to our timeline on Ladorielle, but Maura’s mother, Sonjah, is possessed by Sarmira, and she can be anywhere. There isn’t a limit to what she can do. Besides as long as you hang out with me, both of you are in danger.” She takes in a deep breath. “No, this is the right thing to do. And I’m doing this for me, and not either of you, by the way—in case you’re wondering.”
“The recipe is complete,” the wise woman says.
“I have only one request,” Gen says.
“And what would that be, my child?”
“What is your name?”
“Thermyah.” She smiles. “Now, are you ready?”
“Then take my hand.” Thermyah chants a spell.
A gust of wind flows through the campsite, fueling the fire. The ground shakes, and rain begins to pour from the clear night sky.
Gen screams as though she’s in pain. I jump up, but Thermyah stops me.
Arik catches Gen before she falls to the ground in a deep sleep.
“What did you do to her,” I demand.
“Merely what she requested. Fear not, she isn’t harmed. Taking her natural born ability can be fatal. Her mind will go insane, if she keeps the memories of what she once was. She will wake soon.”
“I know what you did. You gave her a memory stamp. My mother would do that to many people.”
Thermyah clucks her tongue. “Yes, well, they can pose as good spells, too.” She begins putting her herbs into a bag. “It’s better than being marked…hunted for eternity.” She finishes, saying, “My work is done.” Curving a wicked smile, she steps away, and disappears in the darkness of the night.
Geneviève stirs, distracting us. I kneel down moving the hair from her eyes. “Hey how do you feel?”
“Like I was smacked with a frying pan.” She rubs her temples before opening her eyes and sits up. Tilting her head, looking to Arik, then back at me, she asks, “Who are you?”