"You need to chill Red" Liam rolled his eyes at me, his lips falling into a lazy smile, as he kicked the spilt vodka bottle to one side, perching in the seat MK had been occupying. I watched my sisters figure barrel out of the kitchen and didn't know whether to go after her or kick her ass till she matched her hair. Breathe Morgan, just breathe.
"You know what? After the night I had I really don't need my sister telling me the new leader of Amyranth has knocked her up or some shit" I bitched. I mean really, I'd just joined Amyranth for the greater good here, personal sacrifice and all that jazz, and she's crushing on the bad guy? My sister had shit timing to develop a fetish for bad boys. Like, really really bad timing. Urgh. I so did not need this headache on top of the actual one I already had.
"Morgan, you know your sister better than that" Liam shook his head at me. "Sit your stuck up ass down and have a drink with me."
"Don't think I haven't noticed you trying it one with her Mal. I just didn't think it was reciprocated" I grumbled. Man I really had a headache now. "She's..."
"An independent woman that's more like you than you want to admit. I have not knocked up your sister Red. She was with Tyler at Revenge one night" He shrugged, tattoos rippling "he was being a twat, so I was a gentleman and knocked him out for her, and sat with her for a drink. Big Deal."
"Always getting betrayed for the bad guys" I sighed mainly to myself, twisting a strand of ebony hair absently. God my head was pounding.
"I hate to cut in but I think we have more pressing matters to discuss. Morgan's initiation perhaps?" I looked at Sky, seeing a slender hand on her hip looking impatient. No sympathy vote then.
"Missing Raven?" I hadn't even realise I'd voiced my question out loud till I heard Sky's intake of breath before she finally took a seat opposite me, Hunter sliding into a chair next to her, eyeing his proximity to Liam before relaxing. Okay so maybe now wasn't the time to reminisce about the other members of their coven, stuck in Widowsvale. I wondered if they knew about the threat of a Darkwave, if they knew about Ciaran, about Belwicket, if they figured out the truth or just thought the English cousins were away on council business...
"You are not the only one making sacrifices"
Sometimes I thought I was making progress with Sky, sometimes I thought she was a cold hearted arrogant bitch, and by the tone in her voice, now was one of those times. She was not forced to come here, and I didn't exactly love having the cousins here. If she was that homesick, she could just drive back to Widowsvale to see Raven, but I knew she wouldn't. Sky was one of those that would suffer for good, even when you didn't need to. Twisted Bitch.
"Isn't it customary to celebrate an initiation?" Liam teased, leaning back easily, feet clunking up on the antique wood. I gave up telling him to get his skanky ass boots off my table. I guess this was all mine now. I was heir over Killian, and if Ciaran McEwan wasn't dead already, Liam would make sure he soon would be. Yet I would miss him. Yes, he had betrayed me again, but the last few years, although maybe pretend, were all I had. I would mourn the memory of him for whom I thought he could have been. A father, an artist, a businessman. His salt and pepper hair as distinctive as his canvasses. I would mourn the loss of those memories, but not the man himself. No the man was nothing to shed tears over. And tears enough had I shed today...
"Earth, Air, Fire, Water" Liam intoned. "Are you prepared to sacrifice for the altar in the name of the Goddess and the God her consort? To bind with Amyranth?"
"I am" My voice was dull even to my own ears as I began in auto pilot. "Earth – the body that defines us all, the earth of the Goddess herself"
An unknown figure dressed all in black came before me, athame in hand, the owl mask they wore concealing their true identity from me as they cut my hair, laying the twisted strands in a bowl made from earthen clay, marked with a pentacle, placed toward the Northern quarter.
"Air" I continued, unfazed "That the Goddess herself gives us to do her will, to hide the spirits of those who came before" This time a tall figure wearing the guise of a fox came forward, vial in one gnarled hand, wand in the other, capturing the air that escaped my lips, placing it in a bowl crafted from silk facing East.
"Fire" I gulped "to the divine life it brings and destroys, to the duality of the goddess herself" I watched as a masked Badger came forward, ritual blade in hand. A blade crafted by fire for this moment, still glowing red as it was pressed to the back of my neck. It took every ounce of strength I had not to cry out and show my weakness, as the blade was dropped in a wooden bowl and set upon the altar. The sting was indescribable, and my skin felt raw, though i daren't reach back and inspect the damage. I knew the blade was etched with the Amyranth seal and didn't doubt the very same etching was now burnt into my skin.
"Water" I hissed, fighting to keep my voice straight and ignore the searing pain."To regenerate all of us. Flowing through us like the Goddess herself. Blood of her blood"
This time I knew it was Liam approaching, chalice in one hand, the Amyranth athame in the other and I held out my wrist dutifully. This time tears fell but my lips made no sound as he moved to place the now full chalice west, as the elements decreed. A simple green cloth placed over the still bleeding wound was my only comfort.
"There is nothing customary to celebrate Mallory"
Sky's venomous tone snapped me out of my reverie, my hand instinctively going to the back of neck and I hid a wince. Yep. That wasn't going to heal any time soon, but I daren't use my magick. An Amyranth seal was unpredictable. To use magick on one embedded in my skin was likely just to cause more damage. Amyranth were weird like hat. Wanted you to hurt. Wanted you to endure what you were forced to remember.
"Your unusually quite Red" Liam chuckled.
"It's been a long ass day" I spat "And man are you adding to it. You want to celebrate? Go to revenge. Alone"
"Aww come on Morgana, we're a team now lass" He had the nerve to wink at me, humour lighting up the blue in his eyes almost cobalt.
"Consider this a team building exercise in independence" I smiled contrarily and he glared at me. Full on glared. "And my name is Morgan"
"Consider this a reminder then my dear, that you are no longer my equal. I am your leader. A fact you will do well to remember. I have the power of all of Amyranth at my dispos..."
"No. YOU don't. Ciaran McEwan does. You may have been ceromonised Mal, but until the day he dies or relinquishes power, no one but him can tap into the full power of Amyranth, not even you, oh great pretender. Even in his absence only his chosen heir of Amyranth can take over. We are very much unequal. I am a true High Priestess, I am the Sguirs Dan, and now I am an active member of Amyranth. You're just acting in charge. You're a blood witch with a title. So tell me Mal? Whose really leader material here?"
He stood abruptly, the chair clattering to the floor behind him as he damn near roared at me, and Mary K barrelled back in, alerted to the commotion. A slight flick of my wrist altered Hunter and Sky to keep still. Hunters arm shot out to keep MK at bay as well. I was vaguely aware she had changed into a black cut out mini dress and patent red Christian LouBoutins. Mine to be precise. Planning on skipping out was she? I was cut back from my reverie as calloused hands gripped my neck and I smiled. I actually smiled.
"You are all so stupid" I smiled as I was pulled to my feet, ignoring the need to gag as his grip momentarily tightened. "You forget who I am" I hissed and Liam's sneer actually faltered. "Do you even realise what you've done? I thought I'd let you figure it out."
I saw his mind kick into gear struggling to work out what I was on about. Ah there it was, the slow look of dread I was hoping for, the loosening of his grip against his will.
"You were not initiated till tonight..."
"Doesn't mean I wasn't already chosen Liam" I smiled. "You just gave me what I needed"
"Oh come now Liam, show me the courtesy I deserve..."
"You will pay for this..."
"Now Liam, is it really wise to threaten the new leader of Amyranth?"