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Read from the beginning

Let us begin!” Announced the troll hag closest to the front of the stage. 

She was the High Priestess and stepped forward to cast her circle and consecrate all within.

The other two troll hags moved away from the centre stage in opposite directions. Large woven baskets had been placed on the outskirts of the stage, one on either side.  The hags bowed in deference as they approached the baskets, laying their hands across their chest as they did so. In unison, they dragged the heavy baskets slowly towards centre stage. They lifted the lids of the baskets and let them drop backwards, revealing a luminous glow from within.

Inside each basket lay a pile of large glowing moon stones. One by one, the hags retrieved six stones from each of the baskets and placed them in a wide circle around the scorched pentagram on the platform that the Goldfire elementals had made. 

Finally, one of the hags removed the last glowing stone. This stone was larger than the others.  She carried it to the standing hag and knelt down on the stage before her. She raised the stone above her head with both hands as she presented it to her High Priestess.

The High Priestess looked down at her for a moment then nodded her head, at which the hag placed the final glowing orb on the floor in front of her coven leader’s feet.  Thirteen glowing stones were now placed in a protective circle on stage. One each to represent the thirteen full moons of the year, the final larger stone presumably represented the full moon tonight.

The two coven members returned to the circle carrying brooms fashioned from twisted tree branches with small twigs fastened by twine to make the brush.  Slowly and deliberately they began sweeping the ground within the stone circle to remove any negative energy. Once complete, the hags departed again, taking with them the discarded cloaks from the floor and retrieved small copper chalices from the open baskets.  These were laid swiftly on the five points of the pentagram and their contents were lit. This further served to purify the circle as well as being an offering to the Goddess. 

Thick smoke rose steadily from the cups.  The light evening breeze snatched the rising plumes of smoke, curling it into tendrils around the circle, and wafting it onwards to the audience. 

As I inhaled the rising smoke, I recognized the scent to be Dragon’s Blood with its somewhat sweet and soft fragrance not unlike patchouli, vanilla and spices. It is an extremely rich scent and does an excellent job of setting a calming mood to a space.  It is also used to increase the potency of spells for protection.

Now the High Priestess began the task of consecrating the space. She turned to her right and slowly walked the circle in a clockwise, or deosil direction as it is called. I have learned from past Mistresses, that moving in this sunward direction is considered to be the most fortuitous course for magic circles, turning from east to west in the direction that the sun takes.

I walk the circle once around to cleanse and consecrate this ground.” The High Priestess called aloud.

Once complete, she moved to the stone positioned in the cardinal direction of East at the side of the stage to call in the protective powers of Guardians of the elements.

“Hail Mighty Ones of the Eastern Tower, guard this circle with your power.
Powers of Air weave the round, between the worlds the power bound.” 

The High Priestess gave her command, then paused to draw the alchemical symbol for the element of air above the first stone with her right index finger. As her finger moved, an outline appeared in yellow in the air as if she were using magic chalk on a blackboard made from the surrounding darkness. The outline shimmered for a moment and then collapsed like ashes, falling to the moon stone below as she continued on her way.

“Hail Mighty Ones of the Southern Tower, guard this circle with your power.
Powers of Fire weave the round, between the worlds the power bound.” 

She stopped again as she reached the fourth stone and the symbol for fire appeared at her finger tip as she spoke and drew, this time in orange. Onwards she moved as the symbol crumbled to the stone beneath.

“Hail Mighty Ones of the Western Tower, guard this circle with your power.
Powers of Water weave the round, between the worlds the power bound.” 

Just as before, the symbol for water appeared in the air above the eighth stone as she spoke and drew, this time in blue. Onwards she moved as the symbol crumbled to the stone beneath.

“Hail Mighty Ones of the Northern Tower, guard this circle with your power.
Powers of Earth weave the round, between the worlds the power bound.” 

Finally she reached the twelfth stone and called in the last element of earth. As she drew again in the air, the symbol for earth appeared above the stone in green and crumbled like the others.

I’d noticed that she was not carrying a representation for each of the elements as she called forth the Guardians of the elements into the circle. My previous Mistresses would normally place objects inside their circles to represent the elements such as a feather for air, a small vessel of water, a stone for earth and a lit candle for fire or the like. I watched with avid fascination. The High Priestess was obviously blessed with some powerful magic.

With the second circle now complete, the High Priestess then bent down slightly and twisted awkwardly to remove an athame from a sheath strapped to her right calf. The fastenings around her calf and ankle were barely noticeable among the heavy leathery wrinkles of her skin folds.  As she held the athame  high for all to see, the moonlight caught its sharp metal edge creating a bright flash of light. 

For her third circumference, the High Priestess stooped and traced the outline of the circle with the tip of her athame, tapping each stone as she passed it in the same deosil direction.  As each stone was tapped, it seemed to be activated for its glow grew a little brighter. A shimmering silvery thread projected from the first stone and wove its way around the stone circle, connecting each stone as the High Priestess touched it. The stone circle was now fully illuminated on the stage rather like the ring around a lunar eclipse.

The amphitheatre fell deathly silent. There was no sound at all coming from the members of the audience. As I turned my head to look around, I could see all present were leaning forward in their seats expectantly, completely transfixed and most likely holding their breath as I was.

Lastly, the High Priestess stepped above the thirteenth moon stone, placing her feet on either side.  Across her drooping leathery breasts, she drew a fifth symbol. This time the outline shone in clear white and did not disappear.  A quartered circle to represent the fifth element of spirit. The symbol also represents a sacred space where the seven directions of east, west, north, south, above, below and within come together.

With the circle now cleared, consecrated and under the protection of the Guardians of the elements, the High Priestess continued with her circle casting ritual.

“On this night of the Thunder Moon, I call to the Goddess Hectate. Goddess of magic and the moon, patron of witches and queen of the spirit world. Shimmering Goddess of the Moonlight, guide me through the darkness of this night, enter my circle, I invoke you. Bless me and guide me in all that I do. Hail and welcome.”

Now the main event of the evening could begin, the beautiful ritual of Drawing Down the Moon. The act of pulling down the energy of the Goddess herself into the body of the High Priestess so she can channel a message for the assembled inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest.

The High Priestess turned her back to her onlookers.  She gazed at the moon above her for a time swaying gently as if in a trance. She then planted her feet firmly apart, stood still and as tall as she was able to in the centre of the pentagram symbol. She raised her arms upwards, high and wide. The tip of the athame in her left hand reflected a tiny spark like one of the stars above her.

As I looked on from my position low in the front row, the glow around the full moon seemed to swell, making it appear that the moon was balancing directly above her outstretched hands. It was as if she was holding the moon itself.

The High Priestess held her position firmly as she spoke again.

“Draw down the moon, draw down the power.
Great Goddess Hectate, this is thine hour.
Draw down the moon, allow me to see.
Blessed Goddess I ask that thee come sit with me.”

Immediately, the white glow from the moon began to descend into the cup shape the High Priestess had made with her arms.  In the blink of an eye, the High Priestess became a divine vessel for the Goddess herself. She glowed softly with the shimmering white light being poured down from the moon into her body.  Slowly, she turned round to face the audience and lowered her outstretched arms.

There in front of us all stood the embodiment of the Goddess Hectate. A Goddess who has power over magic and witchcraft. A necromancer who can summon the dead.

As I watched riveted from my seat, the High Priestess’ body and facial features took on those of the Goddess. Her form grew taller and leaner. The glow gave an ethereal substance like fluid satin robes cascading from one shoulder to the floor, cinched at the waist by a long golden cord. A large writhing serpent was draped around her neck and over her shoulders. She was breathtakingly beautiful with her long dark hair wavy hair which showed only a few strands of spun silver, alluding to her wisdom and age as the Crone. She had the type of beauty that befits a true Goddess of the night. A beauty with an eerie and dangerous edge.

Gentle movement caught my eye as the other two hags moved in behind their High Priestess carrying lit torches and stood back-to-back with her. This further added to the apparition before us of the Goddess having three heads, each looking in a different direction. The maiden, mother and crone in one form.

The crowd gasped.  My mouth fell open.

Abruptly, all of the coyotes in the amphitheatre began barking erratically.

Goosebumps raced up my spine.

It was at that point that I had no doubt that the Goddess Hectate had indeed arrived.

Hectate took in the amphitheatre with an intense gaze. As her eyes swept swiftly over everyone, she seemed to linger when she came to me. Her gaze seemed to bore deep into my soul. It was like a stab in the heart. I looked away quickly and shrunk back on my seat.

When she began to speak, the barking subsided and a hush fell over the amphitheatre once more.

“Dwellers of the Enchanted Forest, I bring you a warning of grave danger. In thirteen moons from this night, a dark warlock living in the mundane world will come to destroy the Enchanted Forest and all who dwell within it. This dark warlock will bring many terrible monstrosities with sharp teeth to tear down the forest and eat into the earth. There will be fires, the ground will shake and roar like thunder as if a volcano were erupting. There will be total devastation for he will not stop until nothing is left.”

A level of panic, the likes of which I have never seen before exploded as the assembled elementals, guides, otherworldlies and forest creatures began shrieking with fear.  Some clung to each other crying, some clung to themselves rocking and wailing while others began running around aimlessly howling.

 “What are we to do? What will become of us?” All the voices shouted.

The Goddess continued calmly with her prophecy …

“There is one among you who can prevent this. I brought her to you.”

She extended her right arm and drew it up slowly pointing directly at me!

My eyes bulged. My heart began beating fiercely in my chest.

“This is the Witches Familiar. The one named Zephyr. It is within her destiny to save the Enchanted Forest.”

And with that, the Goddess was gone. The white glowing light evaporated and the High Priestess slumped to the floor.

That was also the moment the swarming began.

A surge of bodies from all directions crushed in on me.  Hands tried to grip me. A few caught hold and I felt desperate nails dig into my flesh and pull at my hair.  I bit and snapped at them and hissed and tried to fend them off but for every hand I managed to release, three more appeared in its place.

I was surrounded by faces, imploring me with their eyes.

“You must save us, you must, we beg you!”  They all pleaded.

I felt the weight of them all pushing in on me.  My legs buckled and feared I would be trampled to death.

Suddenly, Mikon was by my side.

“Use your power!” He yelled in my ear.

I tried to focus on my feet. Nothing. I was so scared I couldn’t think straight.

I was trapped in a moving mob. I could barely breathe. I was being squeezed so tightly. My feet left the ground and I felt myself being carried towards the platform by the frenzy around me.

“DO IT!!” Mikon’s voice hissed nearby.

Large heavy shapes began landing on top of the frenzy as more of the forest dwellers lost their minds in the panic.

I felt myself slip downwards towards the floor.  Towards a stampede of hundreds of feet.

“Zephyyyyyrrr!!” Mikon’s desperate call was much further away now.

I landed with a bump on the ground. Feet kicked me as they scrambled around. I felt the weight of creatures standing on me as they were swept along in the flow. They stood on my tail, my back, they kicked me in the stomach, my ribs and finally they stood on my head. I could bare it no longer.

Nooooooo!”

It was a guttural scream. I didn’t recognize the voice that came from deep within me.

The scream jolted me into action. My feet were tingling again. This time the tingles travelled fast. I felt a ripple of power tear through me. The red mist descended once more. I released.  ZAP!!

The reaction was instant.

Above the roar of the rampaging mob, unearthly blood curling screams could be heard as my sudden electrical discharge sent dozens of creatures flying off me. I was engulfed in a plume of pale blue smoke, much larger than when I’d zapped Ezran earlier.

Creatures on the periphery of the plume began holding the crowd back with their arms and gaped at me in awe. I was in a very small but clear space. I was able to stand. The plume was beginning to dissipate. The surging forward began again and I could see my protective boundary beginning to fail.

Suddenly, Nikon was beside me once more.

“This way … we need to get to the Emperor’s chamber.” He insisted.

I didn’t need telling twice. I turned and pushed my way after him as he disappeared into the fray.