The Witches could not find the Mayor in her office. Mary Clark did not like to do the paperwork, so she usually let Ba’al do that while she worked in the field. The found her taking care of The Cactus, which she had learnt to appreciate during the battle against the night crawlers – not to be mistaken with the worms, which had already been defeated thanks to Merlin’s help -, in which The Cactus was instrumental to defeat the monstrous winged creatures. Merlin was helping her water the gigantic plant when the Witches approached.
“Good evening” they greeted, while bowing towards Mary Clark. They then greeted Merlin. “Sir”.
Mary Clark looked inspected them with suspicion. She had never tolerated the formalities well, and wondered what the Witches, who had not even formally introduced themselves and had insisted to stay isolated, would want from her.
“Hello” she greeted, in a dry tone.
“Good evening” Merlin greeted back, in a nicer tone.
The two Witches seemed uncomfortable by Mary Clark’s tone. Mary knew that, but would not let her guard down. They might be citizens of Fiery Creek, and she might be the Mayor, but that did not mean that they could get anything from her, and that was a point that she wanted to make clear. The older one of the Witches, who, the Mayor noticed, was barely out of her teenage years, was the one who spoke.
“We have been sent to you because the first High Witch of the Fiery Creek Witch Akelarre has been elected, and she would like to have a private meeting with you” she said.
When Mary stayed silent for a few seconds, the younger Witch, who seemed a lot less confident with the task, expanded on the previous explanation. “The High Witch is the representative and chief of the governing body of a Witch Akelarre, and…”
Mary Clark interrupted the speech. “I understand what a High Witch is. If she wants to meet me, she can come to do so herself. Go tell her that”.
The younger one was surprised. “But…!”
The older one spoke more confidently. “The High Witch is one of the most skilled and powerful authorities in the magic community, Ms Clark. Surely her wisdom and powers will help you with the… irregular conditions of this town”.
“I haven’t said she cannot meet me, I’ve just stated that she can do it in my terms”.
The younger Witch was going to reply, but the older one made a signal with her arm. They bowed and left without saying a word. Merlin looked at the Witches as they left. When he couldn’t see them anymore, he spoke.
“You want to be on good terms with the Witches, Mary. They know stuff” he told her.
Mary sighed. “Merlin, I appreciate your words of wisdom, but I am no fool. I am not going to blindly follow some plan that everyone knows, except for myself”.
“And you’ll do well!” Diane shouted from the distance.
A group was coming with her: Ba’al, Erin Pyp, John Fier and the Italians, led by Alba Luca, were all with her. Mary scrutinized the group, and guessed that this was all Diane’s doing.
“Prophecy?” she asked.
Diane nodded. “The High Witch is going to make a show of power in an attempt to intimidate you. We might as well do the same”.
“What about… them?” Mary asked, pointing towards the Italians.
Alba Luca walked forth. “Mary, cara, let me introduce you to my family. This is my husband, Andrea. This is my son, Stefano, and that is the rest of the clan” she said as she rubbed a teenager’s head. He seemed a little older than Diane and her friends.
The High Witch made her appearance with five other Witches. They were all powerful, Mary noticed. The Cactus did not like their presence, and was noticeably rigid – I mean, if that is something that can be appreciated in a cactus, anyway -, and its aura was quite distinct from what it had been until then. The High Witch was noticeably surprised.
“Didn’t expect this…” she muttered to herself.
The Witches were all wearing combat garments: fully black clothing, leather tops and pants, with high boots that went up to the knees, and black hats that protected them from the sun. They also carried staffs, wands and other magic items with them. But the High Witch new how to adapt to each situation, and gave a wide smile.
“Greetings, Mary Clark. I am Isobel Paris, the first High Witch of the Fiery Creek Akelarre. I am the representative of all Witches in this city, and would like to introduce myself to you”.
“Welcome” Mary Clark pronounced, trying to stick to the protocol. “As Mayor of Fiery Creek, I, Mary Clark, welcome you all to this town”.
There were a few seconds of silence, and then the High Witch took over. “In order to ensure peaceful cohabitation with every other neighbour of the city, I would like to address a few subjects. The Akelarre has acquired a piece of land in the town. We would like this area to be off-limits for the rest of the citizens”.
Mary Clark thought about it. “It shouldn’t be a problem, as long as the Akelarre respects the Fiery Creek town law”.
“So be it” the High Witch conceded. “There is also other… urgent matters that I would like to discuss, in private, if you were so kind to accompany me”.
Mary spoke in a tone that denoted authority. “If there is any, as you call it, ‘urgent’ matter, I’d rather discuss it with trustworthy members of my community with me. They can undoubtedly help us find the solution to those issues with their perspective and power”.
The High Witch looked at all of the present, predominantly to the teenagers. She shook her head lightly. “You should know that we, the Witches, possess Higher Wisdom that everyone could benefit from. I have to insist”.
Mary Clark barely managed to hold her anger. “Look, I’ll be damned if I follow some plan without knowing the details, or having the consent of my friends and family. I don’t trust any so called ‘mysterious-higher-wisdom-ultra-plans-for-the-salvation-of-all-of-humanity’, and never will”.
The Witch nodded. “Thank you for your answer” she responded, in a serious tone. She gave a last glance at the teenagers, a detail that Mary did not fail to notice, and then the Witches left. Ba’al and Diane approached.
“That is going to mean a lot of trouble” Diane said.
“We will manage somehow, as we always do” Mary answered.
“Will we, though?” Merlin asked.
“Count me in” Alba Luca said.