I knew that I had to inform the Sanderson's of what I had found, but not after I explored some more. The circle of pine trees had touched me, as if it contained a form of ancient magic that drew me in, like Sarah's voice drew in children. When I had entered the circle, a huge feeling of peace crashed down upon me. I knew that, like the Sanderson's, I was destined to be wicked. But I didn't think about it for this moment. Instead, I kept my mind occupied on finding clues to who had lit that torch. And something deep down told me that whoever it was, this circle held a significant place in their heart.
And, truth be told, the circle also put a song in my head.
"You put your arms around me," I sang. "And I believe, that it's easier for you to let me go."
It was Arms by Christina Perri, one of my favorite songs ever written. I always had used it to comfort me during the bad times, and boy had it worked! Music held a certain power over me. It always had.
Even though the smell of gasoline from the torch was stinging my nostrils to the point where I thought I'd pass out, it wasn't quite enough to stop me from searching. I checked everything, tree trunks, under piles of leaves, even under small pebbles. I was almost ready to sit down in defeat, when my eyes caught something. There, in the pile of boulders, was a huge crack. And something black protruded from it. I set the torch down and made my way over to it. I had to climb three boulders to get to a suitable spot where I could pull it out. When I grasped it, my hand was encased in a velvety material. Taking it to be what I had saw in Winifred's meadow, I pulled it out. It came out easily. It was heavier than it looked, and I had to tighten my grip on it.
I stood up and spread it out. Why, it was a heavy black cloak. When I spread it out, the hood flew upward. I lay it down and ran my hand over the smooth material. My fingers touched something rough near the hem. When I pulled on it, a small splinter of wood that had been stuck in the material almost gave me a sliver. As I looked it over, I realized that it looked like the same exact type of wood the Sanderson's front steps were made of. Then, two and two came together.
Whoever had lit the torch had been wearing this cloak.
I stuck the splinter of wood in the safest place I could think of, down my corset. I then grabbed the cloak and threw it over my shoulder and retrieved the torch. As I made my way back toward the cottage, the sun began to set, illuminating the sky a brilliant orange. On my way, the air seemed to obtain a certain chill that blew against my exposed skin. It made me feel strange.
I was happy when I returned to see that one of the Sanderson's had lit a fire in the hearth. In the middle of the room, the cauldron bubbled over a fire as well. But there was no one in the cottage, well, not on the first floor at least. Winifred's book sat open on the stand next to the cauldron, the cloaks were hanging over their usual chairs and all three brooms stood in the corner. And If I knew the Sanderson's , they never left without their cloaks. The thing that got me was that Winifred's book was open, and the fact that I could hear no noise being emitted from the second floor . How did three witches just disappear?
To be sure that I wasn't just telling myself that there wasn't anyone home, I slammed the door closed, and loudly stomped my way across the room. I threw the torch onto the table with a bang, and I flung the cloak next to it. Still no noise.
"Winifred!" I shouted. "Mary? Sarah?"
Suddenly, I heard boots hit the floor upstairs. My head shot towards the stairway just as Winifred appeared.
"Where hath thy gone?" she hissed. She was all dry now, her hair brighter than bright.
"I went looking for clues to who tied to murder us," I replied.
Winifred eyed the table curiously. "And what hath thou found?"
I gently raised the hem of the cloak, just as Mary and Sarah came running down the stairs, giggling. What had they been up to? Winifred slowly approached the cloak.
"I hath found this cloak." I picked up the torch. "And this torch."
Winifred bore her front teeth awkwardly and took the torch from me. She held it at arms length, as if it would bite her or something. She then began to sniff it, only to draw back with a disgusted look on her face.
"What be that smell?" she choked.
"'Tis gasoline," I said, taking the torch from her. "A fire starter."
Winifred put her hands on her hips as she made her way over to the cloak. She then picked it up and began feeling the material, as I had. Mary and Sarah crept up behind her, and watched intently as she explore every inch of the cloak. "I hath seen this somewhere," Winifred admitted. "But where?"
Mary and Sarah both looked at each other. They then began to chant: "Remember, Winnie, remember. Remember, Winnie, remember."
"Hush, you fools!" Winifred screeched. "I cannot concentrate!"
As Winifred ran her thumbs down the hem of the cloak, I turned and looked out the nearest window. I swear I felt someone watching us, watching me.
"Kaytrina, where hath thou found this?" she asked.
I snapped back to her. "In the woods," I replied. "Beneath a group of pine trees."
Winifred pondered for a few moments. She then threw the cloak over the nearest chair and snatched the torch from me. "Mary! Sarah! Perhaps we ought to give this girl her gift!" she said in a high tone. Mary and Sarah began to giggle as they both bound up the stairs.
I looked puzzled. Gift? Oh boy! What nasty, evil things could Winifred have conjured up for me?
Truthfully, I didn't want to think if anything disgusting that Winifred could give me- the possibilities were endless. And the Sanderson's were, in fact, disgusting. Do you know whats on that vile shelf? Dead mans toes, the testicles of a bull, eye balls and ever dead spiders. I would know because I cleaned every one of those viles!
Just then I heard Sarah and Mary come back downstairs. They came up behind me and stopped. I was very weary to turn around, but, perhaps my gut was wrong. I turned around anyways.
What they were holding was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
It was a dress. A beautiful sky blue dress accented with black velvet. It also had silver corset laces lining the front. The whole beauty of the dress opened up onto a skirt of deep purple. It was renaissance style, with a little costuming thrown in.
"We hath made it for you," bragged Sarah.
"Well, Winnie did most of the work," said Mary with a half-smile.
Winifred looked pleased as Mary handed me the dress. I took it in my grasp, and, trying so very hard not to cry like a baby, I brushed my cheek against the soft velvet. It truly was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned, and to belive that three witches had given it to me! I couldn't help but shed a tear.
"Thank you!" I said, choking back tears of joy.
Winifred crossed her arms. "Well, we can't have thee running amuck in knickers all year," she remarked, her head high.
"Amuck!" squeaked Sarah. She then began to dance idiotically. "Amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck, amuck!"
Suddenly, Winifred's fist blew backward, smacking right into Sarah's middle. Sarah groped her corset and held out her tongue.
I wanted so bad to hug them all. But I held back. Witches didn't express physical love. I hadn't been taught that, but it looked that way.
"Well, you oaf, what art thou just standing there for? Try it on!" hissed Winifred.
I did. It fit perfectly. Oh, how majestic this dress was!
"It's perfect," said Mary, clapping her hands. "See, Winnie, I told thou that thee had the measurements right!"
"Hmmmm...yes, well, it wasn't very hard to figure out. She's a very small witch."
And for the first time, the word witch didn't sound ugly whatsoever to me.