First Chapter: Into The Darkness

Castle in the swamp.

A Powerful Witch Is Born

“Marie! Marie! She’s here. Come look.”
Marie Laveau opened her eyes and stared across the room at her sister. “Is she the one?”
“Come see,” Angela said, grinning.
“Is the child as I said she would be?”
“Stop with the questions and come see.”
Marie stood up. She hated to admit it, but she was nervous. For months, she had visions of a child who would be the perfect balance. A child of the Laveau bloodline who would possess dark magic, but also possess enough light magic to keep the darkness at bay. A child who would be unlike her and the other witches of the Snake Eye Coven.
Marie entered the birthing room. Witches surrounded the birthing bed, blocking Marie’s view of mother and child. They all looked in her direction when she entered the room. The delighted grins on their faces made her hope for the best.
Could this child be the one she’d foreseen? Could something good finally come out of their bloodline. Marie neared the bed where her great-great-granddaughter was holding a baby.
“Look Gram.” Sweat beading her forehead, Katherine held the baby up for her to see.
Marie stared down at the child. She was the one. Smiling, with tears filling her eyes, she reached for the babe. Finally, a new Eternal Witch was born. Marie held the naked baby to her bosom.
The child stared up at her, not crying, not moving, eyes full of wisdom. The child blinked and when she reopened her eyes, they’d changed from brown to black. She blinked again, and when her eyes opened this time, they were their natural brown color.
‘She knows,’ Marie thought, as she rubbed the baby’s cheek.
“Is she the one?” Katherine whispered.
“She’s the one, love.” To the other witches Marie said, “She is here, the future Eternal Witch, born with a veil over her face and a crescent moon birthmark on her wrist. She will be the perfect balance of light and dark magic. She will be the bringer of justice who will keep ALL witches of the bayou safe. Her mark will be the raven. For like the bird, her eyes are wise and she will see all. Yet, she will also bear the mark of the snake, to represent our dark coven. She will bring honor to our name for as long as she resides in this world and the other. Her destiny is not an easy one. It is our job to prepare her for her lonely journey. We will protect this one with our lives. We will share our wisdom with her. And when the time comes for her to leave this world and move on to the other, we will send servants to watch over her and help keep her focused on her goal.”
Marie turned to Katherine, “What will you call her?”
With tears in her eyes, Katherine named her child. “We will call her Celeste Laveau.”
“No. She must not have our last name. Those in this room will be the last to bear the Laveau name. No more children of our line will be forced to carry our name. I will not have them shunned by society and their own kind for our sins. We have cursed so many across this land that our name now strikes fear in hearts of men, women and children. We start anew tonight, with this child.”
Katherine nodded. “Then I will do like other women do and give Celeste her father’s last name. She will be called Celeste Dubois.”
A beautiful name for a beautiful witch.
“Blessed be Celeste Dubois, the Eternal Witch,” Marie said.
“Blessed be Celeste Dubois, the Eternal Witch,” the dark coven proclaimed as their snake familiars slithered around the bed while a raven cawed outside the window. Rain began to fall and lightning zigzagged across the sky as Celeste Dubois let out her first cry.

Beautiful african woman in the studio

Chapter One
The Eternal Witch

A sacrificial offering had been made.
Seated on the red circular rug in the tower room, Celeste Dubois peered into the silver looking glass that hovered inches off the floor. The snake insignia slithered along the silver frame of the mirror, its metallic form twisting around the runes carved into the setting.
Night had fallen in the crescent city. The sound of jazz music and laughter along with the smell of delicious Cajun dishes rose up from the city. Celeste inhaled, taking in the familiar scents and sounds of the city she missed.
The mirror was her link to her people. It kept her connected to a place she’d left eighty-six years ago. Though her soul had aged, the face she saw in the mirror every morning didn’t look a day older than twenty-three.
And never would.
She was the Eternal Witch. She couldn’t age. She couldn’t grow sick. The only thing she could do was protect. And right now, her brothers and sisters in magic needed her protection.
Celeste swiped her hand in front of the mirror, casting away the images of the French Quarters and instead focused on the witches who were calling to her. Two young witches were kneeling before a tomb in the city of the dead.
Her tomb.
Candles decorated the ground in front of the empty cement fixture. Celeste wasn’t dead. And her sisters and brothers in magic knew that. Still, her tomb was there as a reminder that help would always be available to them when they needed it.
And they needed it now. She focused on the two young witches, who were calling out to her. Their pleas were laced with fear and confusion. Fear, because their lives were in danger.
Confusion, because they didn’t know why the witch who was supposed to protect them was ignoring their pleas. Celeste wasn’t ignoring them. She’d just been a little preoccupied for the past few days… weeks… actually, she didn’t know how long it had been.
Time in the Eternal Realm didn’t work the same as it did in the Mortal Realm. And during her absence, her people had suffered. Tears streamed down the young witches’ cheeks. Their voices trembled as they talked.
The blood from the frogs they’d sacrificed coated their hands. They used it to draw a snake and what was supposed to be a raven’s eye on her tomb, Celeste’s spirit animals. Celeste’s anger rose with each word they uttered.
Though the tower window was closed, a gentle breeze blew against her skin, lifting strands of her hair as it swirled around her. It blew faster and harder as her anger mounted. She was accustomed to the bayou witches calling on her for trivial things.
They always wanted more money, more power, more this, more that. This generation of witches were the neediest she’d ever dealt with. Which was why most of the time she ignored their pleas.
Instead of being there for their every whimsical need, she’d slumbered, shutting out their cries and only awaking when something was truly wrong. This time, something was truly wrong.
It was the fear in their voices that had dragged her out of her dreamland. Pleas were rising up from all over the bayou and they were all calling out with the same grievance: Save us from Rip Van Warren.
Even children were visiting her tomb and pleading to be saved from Rip, the witch hunter. Unable to ignore their plight, Celeste had decided to find out for herself what was happening in her city.
What she was learning was making her blood boil. The wind picked up speed, swirling faster. According to the two young witches kneeling at her tomb, Rip Van Warren was the worst witch hunter her people had ever encountered.
So far, he’d killed over a dozen black magic practicers while stripping the power from twenty witches who practiced light magic. One of those who’d been stripped were currently kneeling at Celeste’s tomb.
Her name was Amanda and she was only eighteen. Tears caused the young woman’s mascara to streak down her cheeks. The poor soul was now powerless, unable to use magic because of this Rip Van Warren. How the hell was he able to strip magic from a witch?
Celeste had encountered many witch hunters over the years. None had ever had the ability to take a witch’s power. The woman went on to say that of the twenty witches stripped, thirteen had been children.
Celeste saw red.
He’d taken magic from children. Had he no soul? Did he not know that he’d forever shifted those children’s destiny? Unable to listen to more, Celeste swiped her hand in front of the looking glass.
“Show me witch hunter, Rip Van Warren,” she yelled.
The image of the two young witches slowly faded away and was replaced with the image of a male with short hair. He had his back to her. An eerie feeling settled over her. She shook it off and swiped her hand, needing to see more.
The image began to fade. What the hell? Celeste swiped her hand over the glass again and called forth his image. Nothing. He was protected by magic. Dark magic. Root witches were helping him.
What the fuck? Celeste balled her hands into fist, barely resisting the urge to punch the looking glass. It would only repair itself anyway. Standing up, she dusted off her black dress then proceeded to pace the floor.
There was a hunter in her city, killing some witches and stripping others of their magic. And to top it off, she was unable to spy on him because he was protected by powerful dark magic. Whoever was helping him would soon wish they’d never seen him.
She would make sure of it. Before she ended the traitor, she would make he or she suffer greatly for what they’d done to their own kind. First, she wanted to know more about Rip Van Warren.
Why was he in her city?
How the hell was he stripping power from her witches?
And who did he answer to?
The snake symbol on her mirror ceased slithering, returning to its original position on the frame. Celeste swiped her hand over the glass. It turned black and would remain that way until she needed it.
She strode to the corner of the tower where her potions were. If she couldn’t spy on Rip from where she was, she would use a luring spell to bring him to her. It didn’t take her long to find all the ingredients such a spell would require.
After mixing them together, she grinded them into a powder with her mortar and pestle. Methods of torture danced around in her head as she worked. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on this hunter.
It had been years since a witch hunter dared enter her city. She’d done to them the same thing she was going to do to Rip. She tortured them until they went mad. Then she sent them back into the real world.
The real world wasn’t fond of those who went mad. Those hunters now resided in mental facilities, where they told anyone who would listen about their travels to the Eternal Realm and the dark witch who lived there.
No one believed them of course. And no one would believe Rip either. Celeste ceased grinding and stared down at the white powder that was slowly turning gray. Once it was black, it would be ready.
While waiting on the powder to grow stronger, she moved to her bookshelf to find her shadow book. It was right where she’d left it. Her pet snake, Zombi, was wrapped around it. She lifted the snake up to move him away from the shelf.
His body wrapped around her arm. No matter how hard she shook her arm, she couldn’t shake him loose. Oh well. With Zombi’s black form wrapped around her arm like a piece of jewelry, Celeste took her shadow book over to her potions counter and flipped to the spell she was looking for.
The Luring Spell.
For this spell to work, she needed something that belonged to her prey. Celeste whistled, then remembered that she’d placed a hatch on the tower window.
Damn it.
Sighing, she walked over to the window, opened the hatch and stared out across her land. Though it was night, the sky was red, due to her anger. Celeste took a deep breath and whistled.
The wind blew. Leaves rustled. She smiled when the caw of her raven, Irene, reached her ears. Irene soared across the sky and landed on Celeste’s shoulder. She stroked the bird as she talked.
“Irene, I need you to breach the veil and journey to the Mortal Realm.”
Irene cawed.
“No, not to Vegas, you naughty bird. To New Orleans. Find the witch hunter, Rip Van Warren.”
Irene cawed twice.
“I hate hunters too. This one will soon reside in our dungeon. I need you to bring me a strand of his hair. Don’t dally. I must finish this spell before midnight if I want him here by morning.”
Irene flapped her wings twice before flying off. How sad was it that Celeste envied her favorite raven? It must be nice to be able to leave this realm. Celeste stared out over her kingdom.
Everything her eyes landed on belonged to her for as long as she was the Eternal Witch. Here, she was queen, the ruler of her four staff members that voluntarily dwelled within this realm and the creatures who resided in the forests.
Unlike her staff members, she hadn’t volunteered to be here. She was chosen. Born with a veil over her face, she was told from an early age that this was her destiny. And because this was her destiny, her whole life was spent preparing for this.
Unlike other girls her age, she hadn’t been allowed to date. Dating led to too many distractions according to her mother, Katherine Laveau. She wasn’t allowed to have friends. Friends became attachments that would be hard to leave behind when it was time to become the Eternal Witch.
All her life she was told she was the perfect witch. According to her ancestors, being born with a veil over her face meant she had the ability to control both light and dark magic without being consumed by the latter.
Dark magic or root magic as her great-great-grandmother, Marie Laveau, liked to call it, was something most witches only used as a last resort. Use it too often and it would turn your soul dark.
That was what happened to her mother’s side of the family, the Snake Eye Coven. Celeste loved her mother and her aunts, but they’d spent most of their lives hurting others rather than helping.
They’d looked to Celeste to right their wrongs. Witches like Celeste were born with the ability to practice both forms of magic without jeopardizing their souls. Or, at least, that was the lie Celeste had been told all of her life.
Her ancestors were wrong. She was no different than them. She wasn’t able to practice dark magic without being consumed by it. It was slowly diminishing the light inside of her and the sad thing was, she didn’t care.
In the Eternal Realm, years went by without anyone needing her for anything other than a love spell. Inactivity led to boredom and boredom led to discontent which quickly turned to anger and resentment.
Resentment led to her trying out dark spells to pass the time. The harder the spell, the more she worked at it until she perfected it. She excelled at dark magic. It made her feel powerful. It temporarily filled the hole inside of her.
The hole created by a destiny she didn’t ask for. She was the Eternal Witch. Only a Laveau witch could hold that title. And though her last name was changed to keep her from being shunned, she was indeed a Laveau witch.
And she was the first in over a century to hold the power to be an Eternal Witch. And only an Eternal Witch could protect the bayou. It was not a destiny she could ignore. Her ancestors expected her to always be fair and just in her punishments.
Often times she was. Yet, there were times when she wanted to destroy them all, every witch living in the bayou. She wouldn’t, of course. It was her duty to listen to their pleas. It was her duty to protect them from those who sought to destroy witchcraft.
Yet, true threats rarely came to the bayou these days, leaving her alone in this realm with nothing to do, no one to protect. Day after day she listened to the witches who visited her tomb and left her sacrifices.
Their cries were always for things that mattered not. They prayed for love, yet did not want to work on their relationships. They asked for fortune, but did not want to get a job to attain it.
Sometimes she assisted them. Yet, even when they got what they wanted, they still asked for more, never truly satisfied. Unlike her, they had freedom. Unlike her, they had loved ones they could see, talk to, touch.
Unlike her, they could experience the taste of gumbo and dance to the sounds of jazz music. They were wealthy in the ways that mattered most, yet they were ungrateful. They wanted the sky, but did not want to reach for it.
Which was why she often ignored them, choosing to sleep instead of spending each day listening to their incessant complaints. Celeste stared out over her barren land. There was a time when flowers bloomed there.
The sky was once blue and the rivers used to flow with sparkling water. No longer. The realm was linked to her moods. The more she came to hate this place, the darker her mood turned.
Now, her once beautiful realm was draped in a red haze. Most of the rivers had dried up and the flowers no longer bloomed. Though her servants, Kalina, Andre, Joseph and Patsy, tried to cheer her up, their attempts were futile.
They all had each other. They were all married. They had someone to turn to when they had a long, trying day. She had no one, except her pets and her magic. She was alone. The Eternal Witch, pure of heart and body, had no one to call her own.
And that made her bitter. When Celeste had been training to be the Eternal Witch, her cousin Kalina had been training to be her servant. While Celeste was forced to avoid others, Kalina was allowed to date, to have a normal life.
That was how her cousin met and fell in love with Andre, who gave up his freedom to reside in the Eternal Realm with Kalina. How freaking romantic was that? And Patsy and Joseph had been married for years before volunteering.
They’d wanted to get away from society. Most people disliked them both for falling in love with each other. Joseph was black and Patsy was white. And for years they were forced to hide their union from the public. Joseph was Celeste’s uncle and Patsy had always been like a second mother to her.
When given the chance to embark on this journey with her, they agreed instantly. And so far, none of them had regretted their decision. Only her. There was that bitter feeling again. Celeste spent almost every waking moment regretting being chosen.
A lone tear slid from the corner of her eye. Before it could make its way down her cheek, Celeste wiped it away. The strong don’t cry. That was a mantra her mother drilled into her early in life.
The strong rose up, they fought, they persevered. And when threats came to their city, they retaliated. By any means necessary. Celeste tossed her long black hair over her shoulder. Standing around and wishing for things you couldn’t have was something the weak did.
She was the crescent city’s Eternal Witch, the most powerful witch alive. She didn’t need trivial things like love, romance, sex, and a family. All she needed was power. And she had that in abundance.
Celeste returned to her potions’ station to find her mixture had turned a dark gray color, almost black. It was almost ready. It wouldn’t be long before her raven returned with a strand of her enemy’s hair.
Soon, she would have a new prisoner, giving her something to do to pass the time. Before morning, Rip Van Warren would be a resident in the Eternal Realm’s dungeon and he would feel her wrath. Celeste smiled as Zombi slithered up her arm and rested his head on her shoulder.
Soon, her life would have purpose again.

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