Fantasy Fiction posted March 29, 2019 Chapters:  ...15 16 -17- 18... 

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A debt to a goddess is paid...

A chapter in the book Renaissance of Enchantment

Chapter Five, Part 3

by Y. M. Roger

Somewhere else in the same city, Maggie and Addy are packing to meet Geoffrey and Stephen in the morning. Meanwhile, back in Alabama, The Refuge is preparing for their arrival.
Theo Atkinson mounted the steps to his front porch in a rather jovial mood this evening. The shift at the hospital was uneventful and his stop by the pub on the way home had helped to lift his spirits. He was looking forward to a quiet evening at home with his wife – surely Lyssa had the children in bed by now.
It was true that the twins were not his, but they were well-behaved and very respectful. They would be leaving for college soon – something that was not going to be cheap since neither Chris nor Clarissa had managed a scholarship of any kind. That really hadn’t been a surprise to him, but at least he and Lyssa would have the house to themselves.
When he’d first asked Lyssa to marry him, he did not realize she had children. Not that it was an unwanted surprise. Because, he had to admit, it had been close to enjoyable raising a child or children who did not require their environment be ‘just so’ and who were not seeing people and other things that weren’t there! Not to mention, he had never been stopped in a store or on the street by strange people wanting to ‘touch’ his daughter’s face. Yes, that was more than a bit unnerving on the few occasions it had happened with Marguerite.
Delilah’s departure nearly ten years ago left him reeling, but, looking back, he should have expected it. She was always a bit of a ‘hippie-type’ – into the ‘all natural’ and ‘Mother Earth’ mumbo-jumbo. At first, her descent into true lunacy had been when she’d begun treating their Maggie with kid-gloves, not even wanting to discipline her.

Your Magpie. The words whispered across his mind again, but he would not allow them to disturb his good mood this evening. Such was one of the reasons he’d had a few beers after shift. But Theo couldn’t help himself, it was like the memories sucked him down into a tunnel and he couldn’t climb out.
He froze before placing the key in the lock, remembering how Delilah had really gone off the deep end with her growing over-protectiveness of their Magpie. And he’d stood by, silently, hoping that things would turn around as that protectiveness morphed into paranoia. It was a paranoia Theo was convinced that Delilah invented in her head – a paranoia that someone or ‘some ones’ were watching her. Watching Maggie.
Which is what eventually led to their split or what Theo had called their split. It was his assumption or, better yet, his guess that she’d had enough or maybe even snapped. Either way, following one of their big arguments, she had left in an angry huff, the slamming of their front door on her exit the last he ever saw or heard of her. It had been the same argument from at least ten times before: Delilah begging him to take them somewhere far away where no one knew them. That something was coming for Maggie. That Maggie wasn’t old enough yet to know or to defend herself – whatever that had meant.
How did she expected him to do that? He needed a job. They needed a steady income – income that provided health insurance, especially with a pre-teen girl.
Theo tried to brush away the memories with another shake of his head as he unlocked the front door. He paused for a moment, leaning his forehead against the front door as he felt the pain inside once again.
She left him, left them.
And Theo tried, at first. He took all of his vacation and worked from home for a while to take care of his Magpie. But Delilah never returned.
Slowly, he began to not only resent her leaving, but he was frustrated with all of the responsibilities that came along with Maggie. He signed up for the task of ‘child rearing’ as the bread winner not the hand-maiden. And that was especially true when, within days of the whole womanhood thing around age thirteen, Maggie started ‘seeing things’ – not just animals, but seeing people that she would speak to! And her ‘sightings’ were not limited to home – they could be anywhere they went.
Enough. He would not dwell on this anymore and ruin his good mood. He had closed that chapter of his life for good and refused to go there anymore. He had a good life now. Delilah was a distant memory; Maggie was safe and under professional care; and he had Lyssa to warm his bed.
He felt a sly smile creep across his face as he took off his jacket, imagining exactly how they could warm that bed this evening. Those beers certainly had his body and his mind primed for a steamy evening.
“I know I’m a little late, angel.” Theo spoke as he hung his hat on the wall. He removed his tie and unbuttoned his shirt as he took a step toward the den entrance. “But I thought we could–”
The sight that greeted him as he rounded the doorframe took away his words and his thoughts – all thoughts save those of prayer.
“Good evening, Mr. Atkinson.”
The deep, hypnotic voice was spoken from behind him – the speaker much taller than himself – and its cadence rolled over and around him in an invisible vise, physically trapping him. He struggled to breathe as he found his feet cemented to the floor.
Before him, Lyssa sat, unmoving, in one of their chairs. Her eyes were wide with fright – her tears falling down her countenance. She seemed unable to move or speak just like himself.  
“I believe we need to talk about your abandonment issues.” That voice. Oh, God, that voice – it made his blood run cold, especially as it transitioned to a sinister chuckle next to his ear. “You know, your abandonment of a gift from the gods?”
A warm breath trailed down his neck as the man? Creature? He wasn’t even sure as all he could see was black hair out the corner of his eyes before he squeezed them shut. Whatever it was, it took a deep inhale near his neck before pulling up and away.
“Just as I suspected. Simply human.” A large hand reached up to touch his face from behind, and his eyes flew open as more memories of the past slammed into him, triggered by the scent of that hand. It smelled of the oils Delilah had used incessantly throughout the house – lavender, peppermint, cedar, thyme.
The hand was almost too perfect, too silken. It smoothed a slow, deliberate path back along his cheek and into his hair, and he watched in horror as claws began to extend from the ends of the fingers there.
Lyssa screamed in her mouth, unable to release it as she watched the unbelievable sight before her. Her body was racked with her sobs, her children in the upstairs bedroom at the forefront of her thoughts even as she watched her husband under assault.
Theo fought to move, to do anything, as his tears rolled over those claws and dripped a cold cadence onto his collar and upper chest. All he could manage was whimpering as his muscles vibrated with his exertion – exertion to make them respond in some way.
“You never even bothered to follow up on her, did you?” That hand fisted a handful of his hair and jerked his head to the side exposing the neck.
Theo’s mind raced as his world tilted. His eyes no longer focused on Lyssa, he searched for an answer to the question that could possibly save his life. He moaned and tried to speak – to ask this man, this monster, exactly to what he was referring…
He felt a rough tongue on his neck, a slow swipe over his pulse there. And a deep, rumbling growl rolled up the length of his back. “You just walked away and started over.”
The thing behind him stood to its full height, although it never released his hair. For the briefest of moments, Theo felt his hopes soar. Perhaps he would be able to talk to…
Suddenly, the perfect vision of a young, beautiful Maggie being held by a bright and lovely Delilah flashed across his mind, obscuring even his sight of Lyssa before him.
That is Isis’s gift to you.”
The deep voice was cold again, and Theo’s body tensed. Suddenly, the wonderful vision was broken, replaced by the other clawed hand – the one not grasping his hair – holding an ancient dagger with a tyet crowning its hilt. The hand held the blade so that Theo could see the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that adorned the blade.
“And this is mine.”
A scream tried to emanate from Lyssa’s body – her face reddening from the strain. Theo had only time to blink once before the razor sharp blade sliced across his neck.
“Because even your blood disgusts me, filthy animal.”
Those smooth, silken words followed his body’s collapse to the floor. A pair of expensive men’s dress shoes and slacks stepped over him and squatted in front of him. The hand holding the dagger – no evidence of claws on those perfectly manicured, male fingers – reached out and wiped the blade on his shirt. Even though Theo could focus on the blade as it moved across his sleeve, he could not make his eyes focus on the face of the being.
Still unable to move, Theo watched the dark stranger – yes, it definitely looked like a man from this angle – approach Lyssa. The figure leaned over far enough to reach her chin, angling her crying face up toward himself.
Immediately, she gifted him with one of her radiant smiles, one that did not at all match her tear-stained face. Then Lyssa just seemed to fall asleep. Her body slumped toward the ground, the remains of happiness still etched in her features.
But that really wasn’t of concern to Theo Atkinson as his vision blurred and became tunneled. No, as he cried through the pain of his life’s essence leaving his body, he could only mourn the fact that he really did not understand why...
Why, after all the good he’d done in his life, was one mentally unstable teenager worth his death?

to be continued...

**The tyet, sometimes called the knot of Isis or girdle of Isis, is an ancient Egyptian symbol that came to be connected with the goddess Isis. In many respects the tyet resembles an ankh, except that its arms curve down. Its meaning is also reminiscent of the ankh, as it is often translated to mean "welfare" or "life".

Theo Atkinson - Maggie’s birth father
Delilah Atkinson - Maggie’s birth mother, disappeared when Maggie was about ten.
Lyssa Atkinson – Theo’s current wife
Maggie - Marguerite B. Atkinson. Maggie is Rosemary’s great-niece.
Rosemary - (deceased) Rosemary Fenna, Sister of the World Wide Hecate Order (WWHO) and Guardian Protectress of The Refuge
Demetrius - tall, mysterious male resident of The Refuge, marked for death (perhaps more) by the WWHO


Thank you for reading me and taking the time to get to know Maggie!

Image of 'Tyet Knot from the Tomb of Tutankhamun' from Tour Egypt []

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