Walking With Shadow - Chapter One

Chapter One:
Our Reality

There was an ancient compass rose etched into the stone, with a simple table set up as an alter. The table was covered in white cloth, and at each corner of it was a stick of incense. Storax for Earth, Galbanum for Air, Olibanum for Fire, and Myrrh for Water. The center of the table had a white candle, Frankincense burning, and a diamond ring set in platinum. The compass rose pointed, of course, in the directions of North, South, East, and West, and it was here that each witch stood with their respective element.

North for Earth, East for Air, South for Fire, and West for Water. These points were marked with candles, colored to symbolize the Watchtowers of the Elemental Spirits. At each Watchtower was a witch, each holding an Elemental Relic and each guarding one of the elements hrough their physical form.

Sunstar, Snowfeather, Dewshine and Goldenrose stood in the circle. Sunstar took the red candle, the Southern-facing Watchtower, and around her neck glittered a garnet necklace to symbolize Fire. Snowfeather, the Air Elemental, took the East the blue candle, wearing a bracelet of blue topaz. Dewshine took the West at the sea-green candle, wearing a pair of aquamarine earrings. Finally Goldenrose, the Earth Elemental, took the North and green candle, wearing an emerald ring.

In the center was the diamond ring to symbolize the Spirit Element, and around it each witch had placed their wands. The ceremony had begun, and it was time for the girls to call the Goddesses.

Air, Fire, Water, Earth,
Elements of Astral Birth,
I call you now; attend to me!
In the circle, rightly cast,
Safe from psychic curse or blast,
I call you now; attend to me!
From mountain, desert, sea and sky,
We call the Old Ones,
Ancient and High!
Hail to Gia!
Hail to Aradia!
Hail to Hertha!
Hail to Tiamat!
Hail to Isis, queen of them all,
Hear our words,
Hear our call!
I call you now; attend to me!
This is our will, so mote it be!

There was no explosion, no great clap of thunder nor was there a blinding flash of light as rituals of these kind were often associated with, but instead a mere feeling of strength and power. The girls looked at each other using their psychic eyes to see everyone at the same time, and all at once the ceremony was over.

The diamond ring in the Circle had an invisible glow to it that could only be seen when one looked at it with magickal eyes, and it alerted them to the presence of the charged Spirit Element. The wands also seemed to glow with the magick of each respective owner, but the magick - for the most part, at least - surged from the witches themselves. The girls faced the Watchtowers and thanked their Goddesses for the power they had received, and then as a group thanked the Goddess Isis, the Spirit Goddess.

They did not speak aloud for fear of disrupting the flow of energy, but instead they each took a quill to parchment and recorded all that had happened. They would later paste these pages into a group-journal, or a Book of Shadows, for later reading. It was Dewshine who spoke first.

"What have we accomplished?" she asked, touching the Water Earrings.

"We invoked the Spirit Element." replied Snowfeather.

"We're stronger now than we've ever been." said Sunstar.

Goldenrose remained quiet in this conversation, for she did not wish to discuss powers and strength. Instead she was thinking about something she'd read in her favorite book; Lord of the Rings. Frodo had never returned to the Shire, as he would have wished, but went on to the undying lands. In this place of magick and elvish power he searched for something to fill up the void in his heart, the void where the Ring had once been. She wondered, if now that her Sisters were so powerful, that perhaps they could help her with some Trance-Work she'd been practicing.

She'd never been any good at it, for her mind always returned to the many stories and other such thoughts flowing through her mind, but she wanted help. She wanted to walk other planes and find the one in which Frodo lived. She wanted to help him for he could not help himself anymore.

She'd read many times over the books that said that stories of that nature were falsehoods of magick, and were nothing to go by. She believed this with all of her heart, but believed it only for this world. She believed that since there were so many planes of existence, and so many different possibilities, that perhaps J.R.R. Tolkien had written what his Higher-Self had seen first hand. She looked at her newly-charged Earth Ring and sighed. Gia swirled in it's emerald and diamond depths, and she could hear the soft voice of Mother Earth sing to her in a voice that only she could hear, but somehow it wasn't enough.

It wasn't enough to just have her faith. If that was what she could even call it anymore. She'd become so entranced in the Wiccan religion and so entrenched in the magick of everyday life that she'd forgotten what it was to be Catholic - her birth religion. She believed that God and Goddess alike were watching out for her, and that whatever being was out there waiting for her simply wanted her to believe. To believe in something more than herself.

She now wanted to help those on other planes, and if They were powerful enough to make it happen then she wanted to do it. She had read the book over and over again, seen the movie countless times, and had so firmly fixed the characters in her mind that she was now convinced that they were real in some form or another. She often discussed this thought with her Sisters, who agreed that for a story to have a true past and a true future as the world Tolkien had created, it might very well be one of the planes of existence in the limitless vastness of the universe.

"Goldenrose, what do you think?" asked Dewshine. The Earth Elemental looked up quickly and blinked questioningly at her friend.

"Er...yes?" said Goldenrose, intelligently.

"Hun, did you even listen?" asked Sunstar.

"No..." replied the slightly embarrassed Goldenrose.

"We were discussing your idea about Lord of the Rings." said Snowfeather, brightly.

"It might be cool to see the story the way it really happened." added Dewshine.

"I was just thinking the same thing, you guys." said Goldenrose, with wide eyes.

"Really? So was I." said Sunstar.

"Me too." added Dewshine.

"Ditto." murmured Snowfeather, raising her hand. They stared at each other, their eyes wide with fear and wonder, and then they shared a four-way thought.

`Can they hear me?'

"Yes!" they exclaimed simultaneously.

The girls gasped at each other and then moved together toward their wands. Another gasp.

"It's like looking into a four-way mirror except you guys look nothing like me." said Sunstar. It was true, too, for though they all wore white ceremonial robes, though that was where the similarities ended.

Sunstar - who's real name was Anna - had curly burgundy hair that fell down past the small of her back. Her eyes were large and bright violet in color, almost unnatural. Her skin was lightly tanned, neither brown nor white but somehow a little of both. She was built like a dancer with narrow hips and a long, slim neck, but the Fire Elemental had never danced a day in her life.

She liked to play with her hair, putting it in fancy ponytails and strange manners of hairstyles that it seemed only she knew how to do. That night she wore it in the style similar to Sailor Moon (her favorite show) but because she had no bangs she had long cork-screw curls hanging in her face. She had glued a red butterfly to her forehead, where her psychic eye lay hidden, and wore thick, purple eyelashes. She and Goldenrose had been allowed to get dressed in the same room again.

This was, as Snowfeather would say, a "miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistaaaaaaaaaaake!"

Snowfeather, known also as Laura, had a short bob of black hair, and abnormally pale skin. Her eyes were brown in color, but they were so brown that they often looked black as her hair. She was a bit shorter than the others, standing at only 5' feet even, and although she was very pretty she was also a bit heavy in her hips. She - unlike most girls her age - didn't care, though. She liked who she was, and was so certain that she was created to look the way she did for a reason that the very thought of dieting or trying to change her appearance with makeup and hairspray was blasphemous.
The one thing she did wear to enhance her natural beauty was a single, mother-of-pearl feather that hung from her left ear. She'd found it in the woods one night when she was 13 and, as the story goes, she realized in that moment that she was meant to be a Witch. Since that night she hadn't let the stone out of her sight nor did she allow anyone to touch it.
Goldenrose (or Sandra) was built similarly to Snowfeather, save she was a bit taller and fuller in the bosom. She was the same height as Sunstar, 5'4", but she wasn't nearly as thin or graceful as her violet-eyed friend. With a short waist, wide hips and thick, strong arms, she was built for strength. She had never been into the whole "exercise scene," as she put it, so she was a bit heavier than she would have liked, and always seemed to be on a diet.

She had honey-gold hair that had hues of both brown and red mixed in. It was long, down to mid-back, but the front pieces were angled. It was as though someone had taken a dagger and sliced the front pieces, starting from her shoulders and working his way down. She also had long bangs, a mistake she'd made in a moment of self-loathing, and was now waiting (though non too patiently) for them to grow out. Her eyes were pale blue with gray mixed in, as though Mother Nature couldn't decide which color they should have been, and were always painted with black eyeliner and mascara. Goldenrose was a very image-conscious girl.

Finally there came Dewshine. She was known to those outside the Sisterhood as Monica, and was the tallest of the four. She stood at 5'6" with mid-length, blonde hair and green eyes. Her skin was tanned a shade of dirt-brown, giving her the appearance of a sun-worshiper. She had the type of skin that tanned in the shade. Her hair was cut similarly to Goldenrose's, save it was a bit shorter, and the Water Elemental had no bangs.

She was not only built for strength, with her broad shoulders and strong arms, but also for speed, with her long legs. She always wore her hair in ponytails, and the few times she wore it down it was always creased. She didn't wear makeup, but not for the same reasons Snowfeather had. Dewshine liked to move fast and plan things well, and while she was patient as she could be, she had little time to set aside for the daily tedium of applying things like mascara and lipstick. In her own words, they: "rub off and waste money" and, being a practical girl, she didn't use the beauty products often. Despite her similarities to Snowfeather in this respect, Dewshine admittedly liked makeup, and even wore it sometimes, but she just didn't want to do it on a regular basis.

"So..." said Snowfeather, after a while. They'd been silently studying each other for perhaps a little too long, it seemed, for now there was an awkward silence.

"Right." replied Goldenrose, fidgeting.

"What do you guys think?" asked Dewshine.

"...About?" asked Sunstar.

"About this whole `I can hear what your thinking' thing!" said Goldenrose before Dewshine could speak.

"Stop that." snapped the Water Element.

"Well, it can only be a good thing, right? I mean, how many covens get this powerful?" asked Sunstar.

"With only four members...well those girls in The Craft got pretty powerful." commented Snowfeather.

"In real life, Laura." muttered Goldenrose, rubbing her forehead.

"Right..."

"Guys, not the point. We can hear each other's thoughts!" exclaimed Dewshine. "This is a big deal!"

"True." murmured Sunstar.

"Really true, actually." added Snowfeather.

"What about the Fellowship?" asked Goldenrose, touching her ring. Not the Earthen ring, the one she'd called for Gia to charge, but another. It was a copy of the One Ring, and though it had all of the elfin runes and beautiful carvings it held none of the Dark Powers.

She'd been looking at it for a long time, silently reciting the poem in her mind, and the more time that passed the more power she felt return to the Earth. She'd called for it to improve herself, but now the thought of being strong enough to travel through dimensions and to change an age-old tale for the better...

"I wanna to help him." she murmured.

***************

Frodo gasped and shot strait up in his soft bed. He'd had the dream again. The story of the witches, dreaming about a world beyond what they knew and always growing in strength. He racked a hand through his thick, dark curls and moved slowly and carefully through the darkness. He sighed and licked his pale-rose lips, thinking intently on the details of each girl.

The thin, red-head, with the violet eyes...she reminded him of Bilbo's descriptions of elves. The raven-haired girl...she felt like she would only be a bit taller than he. Maybe a foot, if that. As for the two blondes, he didn't know what to make of them. Out of the two, he liked the green-eyed girl the best, with her haunting gaze and patient manner. It made him feel calm and safe, as if she would protect him with her life.

The other, the frost-eyed girl...he didn't know what to make of her. She was so unpredictable. In his dream he remembered feeling very close to all of them, and he knew things about them that he probably had no business knowing, but every time he woke up he could remember very little.

He moved quietly through Brandy Hall, not wishing to wake anyone up, and somehow found himself at the docks near the river. It was deep enough so that if one gazed into it they could see only their reflection, but not deep enough for a nice safe riverboat. He peered into the murky water and felt tears well up behind his eyes.
Deep enough to drown a hobbit...

"I could do it, you know." he said to his reflection. The lanky brunet stared at the mirror-like surface, feeling the hot tears spill down his cheeks. Sapphire burned into their reflection with a hue that often surprised even him with their intensity.

Now those eyes were full of pain and fear. Pain because another birthday was about to pass and he was still without his parents. Fear because he realized that night that this would be his life. He would never know what it was like to have the warm arms of a mother around him. He'd never again feel the kind and wise eyes of his father on the back of his curly mop of dark-chocolate hair, and he'd never know if they were proud of him.

He was nineteen now. While most hobbits were anxiously awaiting the days beyond the tweens, Frodo wished only to be a child again. To be innocent of things like death and pain and to just be with his parents. He would give anything to return to those days.

"I ought to do it." he said, coldly. His reflection seemed to smirk at him, taunting him with his own laughter.

"But you aren't going to." said a voice. Frodo gasped and spun around, suddenly feeling very foolish. His face was tear-streaked, only providing further proof just how far his heart had fallen.

"Gandalf...uh...what're you doing up?" asked Frodo, gazing at his feet. His cheeks flushed with shame and embarrassment, and he wished that it was he who was the wizard. `We may be into a forgetting spell later.' He found himself remembering. Where had he heard that?

"I should be asking you the same thing, Mister Frodo." Said the gray wizard. Frodo kicked the ground with his big toe and rubbed his hand over the back of his neck uncomfortably.

"It's not what you thi-"

"Don't take me for a fool, Frodo. I know very well what you were thinking about doing." said Gandalf. Frodo's blush deepened from a pale rose to a deep crimson.

When their eyes met again it was Gandalf who made the first move. The old wizard drew the hobbit into a strong hug. Stronger than his physique permitted, it seemed. It was in this moment in which he found himself buried in gray robes and strong but frail arms that Frodo allowed himself to cry again.

"Oh, Gandalf!" he cried into the wizard's robes. The old man smiled and patted the hobbit on the head comfortingly, and for a while he allowed Frodo to simply cry. Then he pulled away from his small friend, straitened the boy's shoulders and used his sleeve to wipe away the tears.

"Now you listen to me, Frodo Baggins." said Gandalf, sternly. "You must not yield to these thoughts."

"I-It's just so hard..." murmured Frodo.

"I know, my boy. But do not worry, for it will get better. You are destined for great things." The wizard and the hobbit shared a warm and familiar look, as though they'd shared the look many times before, and returned to the dark house.


End of Chapter One

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