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Warrior of the Witch Clan
Book Two
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-711-0
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 239 Pages
Published: November 2009

From inside the flap

In this second book of the Witch Clan series, Emma Silverlock is the current matriarch of her ancient clannad and has two new mentors for her ten year old, hybrid grandson. The first to come is John Little Fox, a Mohawk, ex-commando from the Korean Conflict, who gives Johnny his first taste of martial arts training. His next mentor is the mysterious Sidhe Master Shabriri and his assistant. In order not to violate world treaties, they conduct Johnny’s Sidhe training out-of-body, where he is whisked away in the night to all sorts of bizarre and grotesque tests of his mettle and shows an incredible resilience that’s hitherto unknown among the Sidhe who have visited this plane.

In Gwynydd, fae creatures are being murdered by human wizards from yet another parallel world called Logres, attacking fae shrines and stealing magickal artifacts. The Logrens have just stolen the Rift Wand, a means by which people can cross over to any parallel world. The Sidhe have mastered this for untold eons, but once the Logrens learn its secrets, there will be no world safe from their search for weapons to effect their Operation: Cosmic Storm. The Grand Wizard, Mordred VII and his henchmen have intentions of becoming the rulers of the multiverse.

Sidhe rangers fail to retrieve the Rift Wand from Logres. Their best hope of getting this out of Logres is Emma’s witch clan, posing as royalty from another plane, unknown to the Logrens, as “Atlantis”. The ancients prepare and give them artifacts of their own to accomplish their ruse. Johnny is further trained in his Sidhe heritage and learns more about himself and his mysterious, but absent father.

The world of Abred in the mid 1960’s is a violent and chaotic place. The American President has recently been assassinated and the world powers are poised on the verge of mutual, nuclear destruction. Mordred’s wizards want those warheads to hold entire worlds for ransom. No civilization in any universe will be safe. Neither will he allow the world that created these wonders to continue building more. The Earth is counting down to its own destruction.

In crossing over to Logres, they find a human civilization where wizards rule, witches are registered and people have been made to believe that they are in mortal danger of being murdered by the Forest Devils as portrayed by the media. Johnny enlists a gang of street kids in Ivory City to help them retrieve the Rift Wand. Getting Johnny in his clutches, Mordred rightly assumes the boy knows more than he is saying about the missing Rift Wand, and Johnny leads him into an inter-dimensional trap that only one of them will leave alive.

Warrior of the Witch Clan (Excerpt)


PART ONE

Stone Henge Dreams

Emma stood alone and barefoot in the circle of tall standing stones. The night was cold, and the full moon directly above her illuminated her single silver lock in the center of her fine, high brow. On the northernmost dolmen, a large raven cawed raucously in the moonlight. Before her eyes, a bonfire ignited to light and warm the confines of the holy place. Shadows of inky blackness detached from the menhir forming themselves into black robed women in tall, crowned, broad-brimmed hats who circled the stones clockwise while chanting. The raven flew to a space in front of the altar stone and transformed into a tall, ebon-haired, black-robed woman. She had been known for centuries beyond counting as the Morrigan, the Battle Raven.

"Sisters, summon our guests," the Morrigan cried. "It is time for our council to commence." She stepped forward and cast twine-bound bundles of sage into the bonfire, sweetening its smoke.

Fireflies gathered to the outer circle of stones and winked in their obscure patterns of dance. The flutter of tiny wings announced the coming of a four-inch tall, brown haired, barefoot man with sparrows wings wearing a white linen tunic with a miniature steel broadsword tucked in its sash.

"Sir Gregory of the Shining Sword," Emma announced the diminutive piskie hero.

The piskie bowed to her and the Morrigan and took his place, perched on a smaller stone before the fire. From the eastern gate of the stones came a tall, white-winged man in silvery armor. Planting his lance bearing his personal banner outside of the circle, he entered the space solemnly. The strong moonlight gleaming about his silver armor and snowy wings bathed him in ethereal beauty and brilliance.

"Our dear Brother George," she called out, "the dragon slayer."

The angelic man touched the hilt of his brilliant sword to his heart and bowed at the shoulders, holding out the flat of the blade to all present, and took his place by the bonfire. From the western gate of the circle came a spectral woman, who drew back her cowl from her head, revealing a silver crescent headpiece that circled her dark hair.

"The dark adept witch of the Formors, Sister Elvyra," she announced, beaming proudly at her old friend.

"Blessed be, sisters and gentle folk," Elvyra said, nodding to all present and took her place near the fire next to the piskie hero of her father’s world.

Two tall, crimson-robed figures strode silently through the southern gate of the standing stones and removed their cowls to reveal their long, pale hair and sharp, elongated facial features. The first of the two, who was fully seven feet tall, had stopped before her at the fire, bowing slightly and smiling, revealing an even row of white teeth with sharply pointed canines. The other of the pair of Sidhe males was about six inches shorter and maintained a space one step behind and to his left and glared silently at Elvyra and the piskie, who pretended not to notice.

"I’m afraid I do not know you, sirs," Emma said, looking to the Morrigan.

"Before you stand Master Shabriri and Elder Shan of the Sidhe (Shee)," the Raven explained, "The Sidhe Master will be the boy’s mentor in days yet to come. The Elder Shan is his assistant. Where the Shamblynn has failed in preserving the lad’s Sidhe heritage, these will attend to it."

The crimson-robed males took their place by the fire, nearer to the altar stone.

Luminous yellow eyes appeared out of the shadows of the menhir on the east side of the henge, and the familiar form of a large coyote loped forward to be recognized. A wiry looking Indian brave, his head shaved at the sides with the hair in its center standing in a stiff cockscomb and a feathered roach attached, came up quietly behind him and waited.

"Brother, Coyote, the Trickster," she announced formally, as his baleful yellow eyes hooded momentarily in recognition. "I do not know this other who is with you, sir."

"This is the warrior I have chosen to train your brave in the ways of the Good Red Road, as we had agreed. He is of the Mohawk people, who guard the gateway to the east, and the great grandson of Sky Woman. We call him Little Fox." The brave stepped forward into the firelight.

Though shorter than Emma, his fierce hawk-nosed visage, and hard-sculpted body dressed in buckskin leggings were the picture of quiet confidence and pride, punctuated by the most startling blue eyes she had ever seen on a man, much less an Indian. He said not a word as he took his place next to Coyote around the fire, his sharp eyes taking in all the guests present in silent assessment of his surroundings.

Three crones had separated themselves from the circling, chanting witches to stand behind the Morrigan and the altar stone. As the firelight illuminated the shadowy recesses below their broad-brimmed hats, she recognized the face of her mother among the three. It was time for the council to begin deliberations, and all became silent as the Morrigan spoke.

"Is the council of allies here complete?" Raven asked the assembled group.

"Iktome, the Spider is not present," Coyote responded. "He has taken a new wife, and under even the best of circumstances, this is a mortal danger. He has asked the counsel’s understanding and indulgence in this."

"So, mote it be," the Morrigan said smiling. "May our handsome friend consummate his marriage in safety. We wish him well. Now, to business..."

The interminable meeting of this mixed cultural and racial multitude went on for hours, discussing future engagements, proper training and, at one point, an argument over who held the better part of their people’s interest over the absent unicorn.

"Enough of this bickering," Shabriri asserted. "This boy is not to be divided into parts. Even so, what claim or interest can the Formor witch or Annwn (Ahn-noon) fae make on our lad?"

"Our only claim is friendship," Elvyra said calmly, "No small matter, Sidhe. It was our lives we were ready to pay on behalf of those not of our own blood when the proud Sidhe were nowhere near to protect their own. Have a care."

"No small matter, indeed," the Master admitted. "May we humbly extend our gratitude to you both. But to the rest of you, know this..."

The Sidhe Master raised his hands to the night sky and traced a Celtic cross of light in the heavens.

"The lad is a Celt, of the plane of Abred," he said, and then embellished the cross with a shimmering circle of light. "And he is also Sidhe, of the eternal summer lands of Gwynydd (Gwihn-nihd). This is the Wheel of this boy’s life and destiny. The Celtic Wheel. Neither this pooka nor this savage have any part in that."

"I am no mere pooka," Coyote said with a low growl, "and through his great grandfather the boy shares blood with this savage. I would remind you that, of all the ancient peoples on this earth, the Celts have been known as savages and barbarians of old by the Greeks and, later, the Romans, only because they could not be dominated and shunned their concrete cities. But then, who better would understand the savages of North America? I am no mere shape-shifting faery, Sidhe. I am a Teacher to my own people, and my medicine is far reaching." He turned to address Little Fox, who stood quietly watching the Sidhe male doing his magick.

"Little Fox, raise your hands to the skies," Coyote instructed, "and blow across your palms to the wheel in the heavens."

After Little Fox had done as instructed, the four quarters of the circle filled with the colors Red, Yellow, Black and White.

"Behold the Medicine Wheel of this boy’s life and destiny," Coyote proclaimed. "His limbs do not fight among themselves. His blood does not argue in his veins. He is mixed medicine, but he is only one boy. All of us must fill our place in this wheel to make him a whole warrior, or he will not live long enough to honor any of us. Some have already bought his life with their own, and all life is precious."

All such argument ceased, and the focus was that it was in the best interest for all and the boy if he were fully trained with no parts lacking. The child had made allies in all realms, and the sacrifices of love would be respected above all things. The Rite of the Blessing Moon was complete. Emma let out a sigh of relief as someone tapped her shoulder and spoke to her urgently.

"Grandma, I can’t find my socks," Johnny said nervously. "I think they are all in the wash and I promised Mrs. Clark that I’d mow her back lawn today. Grandpa says to tell you the coffee’s ready."

Emma smiled at her grandson and stretched in her bed. It was always something with these menfolk, but then, they were her menfolk and she loved them dearly. She had made the boy her own since her daughter had given him up for adoption at birth. Lorry and Dave, along with Johnny’s new half sister, Linda, were doing well for themselves, many miles away in California. The unusual forces of nature surrounding the boy had nearly destroyed their family. It seemed as though the Fates themselves had decreed that her grandson would be her responsibility alone. Which was just fine with her and Willard.

"Check my laundry basket in the summer kitchen, sweetie," she said. "I took them off the line last night and hadn’t gotten around to sorting them yet."

In a couple weeks, the thin blond boy with the elfin features would turn ten years old and was nearly as tall as she was, and every bit as tall as his cousin, Leona, who was already fifteen. His rapidly growing limbs were causing him no end of embarrassment, as he couldn’t seem to get used to how big he was. The clumsiness of this stage of his growth was making him quite accident-prone. She considered her dreams for a moment longer and then got out of bed. She had to get these men out of the house and off to start their respective days. Leona would only be here for a few more weeks of fostering in the craft before returning home for school. There was just so much she wanted to take her through.

Willard rubbed his bald pate with a large, gnarled hand as he looked over some drawings at the breakfast table with his coffee. He was in the process of finishing up an attic apartment for a neighbor across the street.

"I heard they already have a boarder lined up to rent that apartment," she said, grabbing a skillet and some boiled potatoes from the fridge.

"Yes, they do," he said. "I’m finishing the kitchen cupboards today, and I have his rental agreement for when he shows up later. Got a strange name though, John Little Fox, it says here."

Emma nearly dropped the skillet and set the bowl of leftover spuds on the sink counter.

"Little Fox?" she asked.

"Yep, that’s what it says," he said. "I met him once while we were still framing the walls up there. He don’t look like no Injun, though. He’s got eyes bluer than mine. A quiet little guy, probably all of five foot two in his cowboy boots. Real polite and kind of a soft-spoken sort. Hey, look at the time. I gotta get going, hon." He drained his coffee, kissed her and dashed for the door.

"Hey, Grams," Leona said, walking in and giving her a hug, "that wash we made of thyme, rosemary and marjoram seems to be doing the trick for my complexion."

"Well, keep using it and stay away from the sodas and chocolates, sweetie," she said. "That pretty face won’t take much effort at all to stay that way."

"Johnny thinks I’m pretty, too," Leona said as she straightened her long blond ponytail.

"Johnny thinks I’m pretty, dear," she said laughing. "Your cousin hasn’t learned to look at women from any other perspective than ’nice’ and ’not nice’. Naturally, to him, all the nice ones are beautiful. If he saw Doris Day treat her dog badly, he’d think she was a hag."

Leona laughed at the mental picture of her cousin as she took her seat at the breakfast table.

"The consequence to that," she went on, "is eventually he will try to make the distinction that if they are beautiful, they are going to be nice people, too, and we’ll have to school the boy well about that fallacy, now. Won’t we?"

"I know a few girls that would get that idea out of his head quickly," Leona said. "They’re pom-pom girls on our cheerleading team. With pom-poms out to here," she gestured in front of her bust, "and they think they own all the boys."

"What’s pom-poms?" Johnny asked, walking in from the summer kitchen. "Sounds like some kind of candy or something."

"Most guys seem to think so," Leona teased, "but actually, they’re the colored paper froofy looking things that girls wave at sports events. You’ll see a lot of that when you get into high school."

"Oh," he said. "What are we going to do today after I get Mrs. Clark’s back yard cleaned and mowed? I’ve almost got enough saved for a dozen new archery arrows for my bow."

"Good for you, dear," she said. "Maybe by your birthday, your Grandpa will help you put up a safe backdrop to go with your target, and you can practice in the backyard. Maybe your new friend will join you out there."

"I don’t have any new friends," he said, puzzled.

"You will have," she said. "His name will be John Little Fox."

"How do you know that, Grams?" Leona asked.

"Let’s just say a little bird told me," she said with a wink.

"Let’s just say the little bird was probably more like a large Raven," Johnny said with a wicked laugh.

"You really know your birds, Son," she said with a nod.

"My legs ache and my nose wants to bleed every time I even think about that bird," he said, referring to his ordeal against Mescalero magick a few short years ago in California..

"But you had danced so well," she said, laughing. "Think of it as winning your very first dance contest."

"What did you win?" Leona asked.

"I won an eagle feather, an Indian name," he counted, "and another chance to live a little longer."

"Cool," Leona exclaimed. "What name did they give you?"

"Panther Boy," he replied with a look of distaste.

"Like, in ’mountain lion’?" Leona asked. "Why that name?"

Johnny held his face close to hers, wrinkled his nose and bared his pointed canines and let loose with a snarl that would make any puma proud. Leona jumped back.

"You know," Leona complained, "sometimes it gets really creepy how well you mimic things. For a second, I thought you had transformed into one."

"It would amaze you what you think you see in a desert, Cousin," he said, chuckling as he took his place at the breakfast table.

"That’s fine with me, Cousin," Leona said. "The only animals I look forward to dancing with will be wearing tuxedos at my junior prom next year." She sat down at the table as Emma brought over the home fries and eggs.

Johnny finished breakfast and ran out to do his yard work and make his extra money. Leona and her worked together in the summer kitchen brewing ointments and tinctures for various remedies. Emma smiled to herself. After all these years, the dreams still took some getting used to.