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🖤 Consorting with a Wicked Wizard
She found unexpected pleasure in paying a dark price
"Fucking bitch. That witchy fucking bitch," Jessica mumbled under her breath as she sped down the gravel road winding through a dark forest.
The coven had rejected her plea for help. They demanded loyalty and submission to the high priestess, which was something she simply wasn't very good at doing. Fuck them. She'd find another way to get the information she needed, and she knew exactly where to go.
He’d helped her once before with some obscure spells she couldn't quite figure out without guidance from an expert. A very, very old expert who'd been around the magical block a few times. Her payment for that lesson had been a bit unexpected and bizarre, but she couldn’t blame the old man for wanting the show she’d been required to put on for him. If it floated his magical boat and she got was she needed, then so be it. The shy part of her had died long, long ago.
The tricky part was finding his cabin again. He used magic to conceal it, so the path was never the same twice. It was a great way to keep enemies from sneaking up on him, but a terrible strategy if you ever wanted friends to visit. But, then again, Callum didn't have friends. He didn't want friends.
Jessica decided to wait until morning, so she headed back into the city to sleep at her apartment. Wandering the northern mountains and dense forests at night would be suicide. Many things hunted those dark woods — things she wasn't prepared to deal with yet.
The next day at sunrise, she loaded up her hiking gear and filled her backpack with supplies. It was hard telling how long it would take to find Callum's cabin. She only hoped she would be successful before nightfall. The thought of failing to find it in time made her shudder a little.
She parked her green Subaru on the side of an abandoned logging road at the base of the mountain trail she'd used last time. No one came out this way anymore. Funny how the bloody deaths of a few lumberjacks worked like magic to keep folks away from the trails in this part of the national forest.
She shouldered her pack and walked into the dense, dark growth of fir, spruce, and red cedar. The amazing scent of the trees and duff rose into the summer air as her boots kicked up dust from the trail. She only wished she had time to enjoy it.
She took one fork in the trail after another but eventually lost track of the way she’d come. The GPS map on her phone would help her get back, as long as she didn’t let the battery die. After wandering for hours, she stopped and sat on a small boulder to grab a snack and some water from her pack. To be honest, she was beginning to get a little worried. Should she turn back and head down the mountain?
Then, she remembered something her mother had once said. "You'll find what you're seeking when your mind stops peeking." She had dismissed it as another one of her mother’s ridiculous superstitions at the time, but she was desperate now. It was worth trying.
She turned around and began walking backward up the twisting trail, clearing her mind of all thoughts of Callum. She forced herself to stop wanting to find him and his cabin. Her eyes focused on the trees around her, the meadows full of yellow and white flowers, and the rocky path underfoot. She hoped she wouldn’t trip and break her neck.
The subtle scent of woodsmoke was her first clue that she was getting closer. She continued stepping back and back, following the smell as it grew stronger.
Finally, she risked a quick glance behind her, worried that the path to the cabin would vanish and shift again since it bridged the border between this world and a place she didn't fully understand yet. But, there it was, nestled between dense pine trees and barely visible. A tendril of blue smoke curled from the stone chimney and dim firelight glowed through the hazy windows. He must be home.
"Hey, you old sorcerer!” she shouted. “I'm back! I need your help again." She didn’t dare come closer, remembering his deep paranoia and proclivity for setting magical traps.
Callum peeked outside from behind the edge of a rough curtain covering one window. Once he saw it was her — and that she was alone — he stepped out onto his small front porch with an irritated grimace showing through his white beard.
"Do not call me that! I am not one of their dark kind, you stupid girl. What part of telling you to leave me alone and never return was confusing for you? Begone before I light your pretty hair on fire."
He turned away and began slipping back inside the cabin. But she quickly sent a probing plea into his mind, which startled him and made him spin back around. His eyes narrowed as he assessed her more closely.
“Well… look at you. You’ve been studying, you naughty girl. Your powers are growing,” he grudgingly admitted.
Callum looked around and peered into the gloomy forest behind her. He formed a symbol with his fingers, made a broad sweeping gesture, and mumbled something she couldn’t hear. Satisfied, he grumbled, “Come inside, then. It isn’t safe for us to be out here for very long.”
He went inside the cabin and left the door open for her to follow. She took a nervous glance back over her shoulder and quickly walked down the path to step onto his porch. With one last look around, she slipped inside and closed the door behind her.
The interior was dark and warm from the small wood fire he had burning. It was a little stuffy, but she was surprised that it felt cozy and smelled kind of nice. The scent of cedar and herbs hung heavy in the cabin. As her eyes adjusted, she could see his simple bed against one wall, a rickety shelf bursting with old leather books, a stout wooden table, and a dark workbench placed against one of the other walls. The firelight flickered and gently illuminated his creased face and piercing dark eyes.
“Why are you here? What do you want from me? I gave you more than enough of my time during your last visit.”
She laughed a little. “What are you complaining about, you dirty old bird? Yes, I appreciate what you taught me, and it was more useful than I ever imagined it would be. But don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy watching me earn those lessons.”
Callum snorted and glanced away. His bushy white eyebrows danced as he muttered, “Yes, yes. I remember. But that was all about energizing the magic and charging the wand. I don’t do such things for my pleasure.”
She raised one dark eyebrow and smirked. “MmHmm… ok, let’s leave it with that story. I’m here for something more important this time. I didn’t want to bother you again, but the coven refused to help me. I wouldn’t be here if it didn’t matter so much.”
His eyes brightened and he chuckled. “Oh? Was it Gail who rejected your request?”
Jessica frowned. “I don’t know her damn name. But, she was the head witchy bitch. Is Gail snooty and bossy with a twisted mean face and stringy gray hair?”
Callum barked a sharp laugh, but then he looked away. He adjusted his dingy long robe and sat down on a simple wooden chair by the table. “She wasn’t always like that. But yes, that does sound like her. What did you want from them? I assume that’s why you’re here now.”
A mournful look washed over her face. “Someone I cared about was murdered a few years ago. The police stopped looking into it after several months. They said there was nothing more they could do. No witnesses. No real evidence. Just another one of the fucking mysteries they tuck away into their filing cabinets in some basement somewhere. I’ve been investigating it ever since, but I’m hitting a wall, too. Yet, I know that he knows what happened to him. He could tell me!”
He squinted his eyes and tightened his mouth. “Are you asking what I think you are? No wonder Gail ran you off. That’s dangerous territory for anyone to explore. Certainly too dangerous for a foolish young girl like you!”
She clenched her fists and moved closer to him. “I’m growing more powerful every day. You noticed it yourself. If you won’t help me, I’ll find someone who will, sooner or later. You know I will.”
He sighed and slumped in the chair. “Oh, I know that. You’re too damn stubborn for your own good. Are you seriously willing to risk your life for this person? This dead man?”
“I am,” she firmly declared. “He was the only friend I had. And, I think I was his only friend, too. His family is out of the picture. If I don’t solve his murder, who will? If I don’t get him justice, no one will.”
He stared quietly at her for a few moments, then apparently came to a decision. Exhaling loudly, he pushed himself up from the chair, rose to his full surprising height, and stood in front of her. With a sad expression on his face, he quietly said, “Ok, then. If this is what you want, this is what you will get. But I will receive something during this lesson, as well. You see, I lost someone I loved, too. I can never truly get her back, but what I am about to teach you will give me more time with her. You will see.”
He moved over to the dark workbench and brought down a large ceramic jar from the shelf above. Coiling some sort of wires around it, he slid it to the center and motioned for Jessica to come closer.
“Pay attention. Your situation will be different, but the spell is the same. I can’t promise the results you’ll be able to yield. You aren’t me, and he isn’t her. But, if you don’t fuck it up, you should have time to speak with him again. A few minutes? A few hours? No one knows. This is magic, not science.”
He moved to one side and wrapped the wires around two dark bolts screwed into the wooden surface. “Ok, I’m ready for you. You will be the conduit through which our power flows. I need to link you to the chains so the energy can feed the vessel. What remains of her is in there. I’ll manage the incantation, but you’d better mark my words and how I sing the spell. It matters. It always matters.”
Sighing deeply, Jessica walked over and leaned down to place her hands on the workbench near two heavy metal bracelets that were also connected to the bolts with thick chains. Similar ankle restraints were attached to the wooden floor below her, with wires trailing up underneath the surface.
Callum groaned wearily as he kneeled down on the floor and grasped one of her ankles. “Move your feet closer. I need to connect them to the cables as well, for the power to flow and fuel the magic.”
“Surrrre you do” she groused. “This setup seems totally legit. Explain it to me again. If I don’t know what you’re doing — and why — this is a pretty piss poor lesson. And it’s starting to feel like a dirty old man’s kinky dream come true.”
He slowly pushed himself up from the dark floor, and braced himself against the table to stand next to her. “Fine, fine. The excess energy we generate will replace what was lost when she died. Ok? Just enough for her to be summoned here and materialize. Trust me, you’ll be safe. I’ve done this many times before. But when you repeat the spell later, I’m certain you won’t have a rig like this. So, you’ll need to place your mingled sexual essence as close to the place of death as possible for the best results. The essence of your life creation magic will charge the spell and recharge his spirit. I hope you use a partner with a better attitude than yours.”
Her body tensed. “Wait a minute,” she growled. “What do you mean by ‘mingled essence’? This isn’t like before. That was different. You’re expecting me to have sex with you for this spell?”
He looked into her eyes silently for a minute. “Is our conjoined act one of the most powerful life magics? Yes. Yes, it is. Do you have to do this? Of course not. There are certainly weaker spells that will yield lesser results. But, that’s your decision to make.”
Jessica snorted her disbelief and mumbled, “Wow, big surprise.”
He glared at her. “You can also choose to walk away right now and never return. You are the one who asked me for a favor. Don’t forget that! You asked me for this lesson, girl. You need me and this magic, but you don’t seem to understand the price that comes with gaining such knowledge. Power like this is not meant for one like you.”
He reached over and began releasing one of her arms from the wrist restraints. She shook her head and hissed through her clenched teeth, “Stop. Ok, fine. Let’s do this. But, I swear to god, if you are deceiving me, I will find a way to make you suffer.”
He blinked a few times, then lifted the corner of his mouth in a sad little smile. “Oh, I believe that, little one. You remind me a bit too much of the one you will soon meet. And, believe me, she frequently made me suffer.”
He refastened the bracelet on her wrist and took a deep breath. “Let’s begin.”
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