Immortal Treasures by author SJ Turner ~ A Magical Story of Discovery & Determination

(EXCERPT)
She sets the utensils down and walks back over to continue tagging items. ”You know, great-gran Ancina left a tale behind of personally meeting Mr. Laurent.” Olivia’s head springs up, and her eyes widen as she listens intently. “Oh yes,” Clara confirms with a nod. “She claimed he saved her from being set ablaze by the town. But, of course, that’s merely a tale that has been passed down through the family. Although I believe it, there’s no proof it’s true.”

“Wait.” Olivia’s brows knit tightly together as she contemplates her grandmother’s words. “A vampire helping a witch?”

“Mmhmm. Gran Victoria swears her grandmother Annabel told her all about it, and you don’t get any closer to the source than that.”

“But I thought vampires and witches are enemies?”

“Indeed we are! Vampires are the true spawn of Satan. They would love nothing more than to tap into our magic, and by that, I mean drain it straight from our veins,” Patricia exclaims, dramatically slapping her forearm.

A snicker comes from the opposite side of the room, and Olivia cocks her head toward Helen. She may not have a comment, but she clearly finds Patricia’s remark amusing. Shaking her head, Olivia turns her attention back to Clara. “That tale makes no sense, Gran. It must be exactly that – a fable. Why would a vampire save an enemy if not to drain her of her magic?”

Slowly shaking her head, Clara shrugs. “No one truly knows. When I asked my grandmother the same question, she claimed that fate laid down its cards that evening. That eventually, time would reveal the connection.” She takes a deep breath, staring off with a brass timepiece in hand. “As for old Hattox, she didn’t get to tell the whole story to anyone. From what I can gather between old family journals and stories I’ve been told, she met her fate on old Gallows Hill shortly after. But, unfortunately, the story seems to end there with no record of where her body is.”

“Maybe this is it.” Helen gestures to the multitude of boxes with a smile. “Perhaps this is the connection fate had in mind. Maybe we’re meant to become rich from these vampire treasures.”

 

I Must Be Going Mad!

(EXCERPT)
Olivia sets the crate beside the bed and places the leather-bound book stamped Laurent on her nightstand. She shimmies between the soft cotton sheets, propping her back against the headboard and pulls the covers up around her hips. Once she’s comfortable, she reaches for the journal and drags it to her lap. Her hand smoothes over the worn leather, allowing the quiver of exciting fear to arouse her senses.

In the dim light of her room, the golden glow that trails under her finger is much more prominent as she leisurely traces each embossed letter. She draws her bottom lip between her teeth and gently opens the cover to reveal its contents. Her heart rate increases as her hand hovers over the first inscription, Julien Laurent—SOV.

The appearance of the same man’s face causes her to pause. Clearly, this is not my imagination. It’s so vivid that she could swear he’s standing right in front of her. His oval-shaped face is framed with jet black hair, and his deep blue eyes seem to be looking directly into hers. The cover slams closed as her hand flies to her chest, and she stares down at Mr. Green. “Christ! Maybe I am going crazy, but I swear it’s Julien Laurent that I’ve been seeing.”

Clara slowly steps back from Olivia’s cracked door and turns to her daughters. “Well, it does seem as though she has read something. I couldn’t distinguish what she was chattering to herself about, but whatever it was seemed to have startled her. That fear of hers is going to be an obstacle we’ll need to clear.”

“As soon as she’s asleep, I’ll whisper into her ear. Hopefully, I can dispel most of her fears and restore her need to pursue her calling,” Helen shrugs. “It worked to dismiss her nightmares when she was a child. I’m not sure I can ignite her passion for magic again without disturbing that block, but it’s worth a try.”

Folding her hand into the crevice of her elbow, Clara curls a finger around her top lip. “Yes, I agree. It can’t hurt to try.” She tips her head. “I’ll continue to add a little mugwort to her tea each morning for the next week. It does seem to have made her more receptive. Unless it really is just the journal that’s drawing her in.”

“Goddess help us,” Patricia grumbles, throwing her hands in the air as she stomps down the hall. “You two have lost your minds.”

Unaware of the audience outside her door, Olivia grabs her phone, sending Jimmy a message. ‘Hey! I haven’t heard from you in a couple of days. Is everything okay?’

Tossing the phone on her bedside table, she pulls the string on her lamp, allowing her mind to play in the shadows moving across her wall—something she loved doing as a child. The full moon’s glow passes through the rustling leaves outside her window, creating an array of dancing figures. Similar to that of a shadow puppet show, the drama unfolding is left entirely to her imagination. The wind shifts the tree limbs, creating new images so quickly that her mind can barely keep up. A cat sitting on a branch, a bird in flight, creepy hands, a man sitting on the window ledge.

Fear shoves her stomach into her throat as she bounds forward. “Solas air!” she yells, turning the light on as her head flips from the wall to the window. Her hand falls to her chest. “Christ!” she gasps, staring at the open window. “I could have sworn someone was sitting on that ledge.”

She darts for the window, pulls her burgundy drapes shut and takes another look around. Finally deciding that no one else is in her room, she slowly makes her way back to her bed while checking over her shoulder. Sliding under the sheet, she lies back on her soft feather pillow and pulls the string on her bedside lamp. As she closes her eyes, she sighs with relief. ‘That’s it! No book, no shadows, no more imaginary men! Just sleep, Olivia.’

The Unbinding 

(EXCERPT)
Patricia lights three incense on the mantle while Clara stacks the wood on the hearth. Elizabeth stands back for a moment, muttering under her breath and checks the area before waving Patricia forward. “That should do it. I believe we’re about ready to begin. If you could like the fire, please, dear.”

“You got it, Lizzie.” Ignoring Elizabeth’s dirty look, she winks at Olivia and flips her hand toward the neatly stacked wood. “Flamma!” As the wood ignites, Helen hangs the cast pot over the flames and steps back, grabbing two of the ingredients from Clara’s hands. “Shall I give the water a bit of a kick?” Patricia wiggles her fingers toward the pot. “You know, add a little heat to that baby,” she grins.

Olivia can’t help but chuckle, watching Elizabeth tense as she closes her eyes and shakes her head with a feigned smile. Patricia is undoubtedly doing everything in her power to irritate the high priestess, and Elizabeth is doing everything within her power to ignore the attempts. “No, dear. That won’t be necessary. The water is already beginning to simmer.”

“Alrighty then. I’ll just sit with Olivia and let the rest of you do your thing.”

But before Patricia can walk away, Clara holds out two small jars of liquid. “Not so fast. It’s your job to deliver the dragon’s blood and clove oil. Once Helen has delivered her offerings, you’ll add three drops of each to the pot, calling out your element, and you’ll take your position when required. Understood?”

The corner of Patricia’s mouth tightens as she nods. “Yeah, I got it.”

“Look, I know you don’t like these ceremonies, but I need—” Clara stops herself. “No, Olivia needs all of our strengths right now.”

“I said I got it.” She lowers her gaze and quietly joins her sister, watching as Elizabeth draws the invoking pentagram in the air above the altar. She then takes one of the glass bottles marked verbena and counts to nine, dripping it into the simmering pot above the fire. “Goddess, we ask you to help us loosen these binds that hold Olivia from the gifts you’ve granted her.” She waves her hand through the steam in a circular motion, then pushes it skyward. “I come to you with the power of air.”

As the air element, etched on the bricks below, begins to glow a brilliant yellow, Clara steps forward. She drizzles tiny pieces of vetivert root into the pot and opens a small satchel of soil. Pouring the pouch into her palm, she rubs her hands together, letting the granules fall into the simmering water as she speaks. “I offer my strength from earth and air.” Then, just as Elizabeth had done, she waves her hand through the steam in a circular motion and pushes it skyward before stepping aside.

The earth symbol shimmers a vivid green, and Helen steps forward to join Clara, emptying the lemon juice and rose water into the mix. “I come with the strength of water,” she says, moving her hand over the pot in a stirring motion.

Blue illuminates the water symbol around the pentacle, and Helen shifts to the side as Patricia moves toward the altar. Then, just as Clara instructed, she adds three drops from the first jar and three from the next. Finally, she holds out her hands and looks skyward. “I bring the power of storm and fire.” Thunder rolls above as the fire sign glows red.

Clara takes the large wooden spoon from the side of the altar and begins to stir the pot. Three times to the left, then three times to the right before carefully resting the spoon across the top of the bubbling brew. She then pulls a small anointing flask from her pocket and dips it into the mixture. “Come kneel here in the center and place your binds in front of you,” she says, gesturing to the ground just in front of the altar.

Olivia takes the knotted rope in hand and points to the center of the etched pentacle. Her eyes flit to her grandmother’s. “You want me to stand inside there?”

Clara lights the tall white pillar candle and places it on the mantle before turning to face her. “Yes. You are the focus.”

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