Chapter 13: The Third Witch (from The Bones of Stars)

Chapter 13: The Third Witch
Adit gripped Ethan’s hand in his, wondering whether his grin signaled happiness at having cracked a good joke or joy at being, in fact, a witch. Finding no clue in the frank blue gaze, he settled for – “Shouldn’t that be ‘wizard’?”

“Warlock, actually”, smiled the tall blond witch. This left Adit no wiser as to whether he was serious or joking, but Hsimah had no such doubts.

“Ah. The third. But naturally.” He inclined his head in Ethan’s direction. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Yo.”

Yvonne groaned dramatically, sighed and heaved herself out of the depths of the sofa. “Yo. The boy says ‘Yo’! We dress him up, we take him out, and this is how he behaves, the wretched, wretched boy!” She pummeled him on his stout upper arm in despair. He caught her shoulders in a one-armed clasp and mussed her hair with a large hand.

“She loves me,” he told Adit and Hsimah confidentially. Yvonne hrrumphed. They all stood about while an awkward silence descended on the group. Adit looking from one to the other, Hsimah eyeing the three others speculatively, Yvonne pouting, Hyun worried, Ethan beaming from ear to ear. Finally, Hsimah cleared his throat as prelude to speaking. Everyone turned to him.

“So. Three witches. A full coven.”

Ethan reached over and pulled Hyun into his other arm. Then he looked Hsimah in the eye and nodded once. “Aye, Sir.” He managed to appear protective, bashful and proud all at once. Hsimah held his eye for a while. Then he inclined his head in silent acknowledgment. Adit watched this exchange carefully. Clearly some sort of understanding had been reached between the two men that escaped him for the moment. He cleared his throat.

“So are you three really witches? What is a coven? And how can it help me find Akshat?” The flat tone in which the three questions were delivered alerted everyone to the fact that he was beginning to lose his patience; in fact, he was very close to losing his mind. He was almost sure that coming here with Yvonne had been a huge mistake. So far, nothing of great importance had been revealed, no-one had suggested even one course of action towards finding his brother and now here was this tall blond man claiming to be a witch! What was a witch, anyway? Adit and Akshat had stopped reading fiction at age 9 when they discovered that it was not fact. They were not, unlike many of their friends, raised on a diet of fantasy and magic and had trouble identifying heroes and heroines of popular fiction that their peers referred to by first names. Nevertheless, the past few months had certainly brought home to the twins the existence of things they would earlier have firmly labeled ‘fiction’ – and ‘fantasy’ at that. Still, it was one thing to accept your own and your family’s powers, and quite another to find witches in America: where they had specifically been sent to get away from the all that.

Hyun shrieked and broke free from Ethan’s hold. She raced across the room straight towards Adit. Astonished, he stepped out of her way just as she hurtled past him screaming ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. She threw herself into a chair in front of the laptop in the middle, tapping keys furiously. Numbers and images flew over the screen in a blur. She muttered under her breath, gasping and putting her hand to her mouth as her eyes followed the blurs at lightning speed. Utterly baffled, the room full of people gaped at her trying to track her arms as they snapped from laptop to laptop, the fingers clicking on the keys in a non-stop clatter. Suddenly she reached over, pressed a key and whirled about to face them all.

“See!” The command snapped all eyes to the laptop her slender arm pointed at.

 

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