“Hi Emily.” Jessica bounced up to the table with a boy in tow. It was yet another one. It seemed like she was going through the entire student body. No doubt, enjoying the full college experience. “This is Jacob. This is my roommate.”
Emily managed to say, “Hi” before Jessica dragged the poor boy off somewhere else. Emily downed her latte and watched. Then she closed her book with the thought that her history class was not as much fun as she thought it would be. Heinrich was a serious historian and he expected no less from his students. She gathered her things.
She was due for her Thursday afternoon workout with the man. He was teaching her the saber, which he said was still a fit weapon in some corners of the modern armed forces. She thought she might have a few sharp questions for him as well, like why he picked on her in class. Far from being the teacher’s pet, he seemed to expect her to do twice as well as any of the others. It was not fair, she thought, as she happened to look up.
There was a rather plain looking young girl surrounded by a dozen young men and women who all looked like the pick of the litter. They were doting on the girl’s every move and every word, like she was some sixties guru who knew the secret of life. Abby was the name that came to Emily’s mind, and it did look a bit like some cult worship. She shook her head and prepared to turn away, when Abby looked up and caught Emily’s eye. Abby smiled and waved at her. Emily returned some sort of smile and walked to the door.
Before she got outside, Emily felt a sudden intense urge to run back, throw herself at Abby’s feet and tell the girl how beautiful she was. Emily only paused briefly before she stepped out for some fresh air. The girl was not that good looking. Maybe Emily loved her, but Abby was not that good looking. Flabby was maybe a better name. And anyway, she did not love her, she loved Pierce.
Emily staggered to the science building and found Pierce. “Kiss me,” she said. “I love you, I don’t love Abby, even if I do. I would do anything for her, I mean you. Pierce, you.” She felt intoxicated, but fortunately, Pierce knew what to do. He carried her most of the way and kept talking to her to keep her mind focused on him.
“Where have you been?” Heinrich yelled as soon as they stepped into the gymnasium.
“Hello, Santa,” Emily said. “Why are you such a mean teacher and such a nice man? How can that be?”
“She’s bewitched,” Pierce spoke quickly.
“Here, set her down, here.” Heinrich cleaned off a bench with a sweep of his sword. Fencing gear and a stack of towels scattered across the gymnasium floor. Pierce set her down gently, and Emily smiled up at them.
“Two nice men. The one I love and,” she paused to think. “The one I don’t know about. Those are very complicated feelings.” While she babbled, Heinrich concentrated and rubbed his hands hard together. “Did I mention that Abby is wonderful?” Heinrich touched her and Emily went unconscious.
By the time Lisa arrived with Latasha and Libby along as requested, Emily was beginning to come out of her stupor.
“Put these on,” Heinrich spoke to the women without any preliminaries. He handed each an amulet that held a small blue stone on a golden chain. “These were hard to fabricate on short notice, but they should afford you some protection as long as you don’t get too close to the witch.”
“Witch?” Lisa asked.
Heinrich nodded. “And a very powerful one who is not even fully grown. She had Emily swooning, though Emily resisted.”
Pierce helped Emily sit up and Emily confirmed the words. “I fought it, but the urge to become an Abby disciple was very strong.”
“Like amplifiers for the natural resistance you have. That is one of the things your goddesses forgot.”
“What, to make us witches too, like the council?”
“No. I have no such power,” Heinrich said and pulled out his own blue amulet. The women saw where he chipped away pieces of his own stone to make theirs. “But my resistance to magic is generally stronger than yours and I have some ability to reverse some of the things a witch can do.”
“Thank God for that,” Emily said as she stood and began to feel more herself. Abby no longer had any hold on her.
“We need to find this witch and put an end to whatever scheme she has in mind.” Libby spoke in a calm and serious voice.
Heinrich shook his head. “She probably does not yet know what she wants.”
“Witches don’t understand sense,” Heinrich took a deep breath before he explained. “Magic is a skill, a talent like any other. A surgeon will not save every patient. A lawyer will not win every case. So magic will sometimes be a bad thing even when the intentions are good. But once a witch turns to the dark side, if I can use that term, they no longer respond to reason. They only respond to power and getting what they want. Great power over nature and people is worse than any drug ever invented. The darkness can be hard to resist.”
“And right now she sees us as a competing power and a threat. She may be hard to find.” Lisa drew her own conclusion.
“I would not worry about finding her,” Heinrich countered her thinking. “She will show herself as soon as she figures out what she wants. She will also look for a way to neutralize your threat and then we will all be in the soup.”
“Hey.” Emily noticed something. “Pierce is wearing an amulet, too.” It was just as blue as the others. He smiled for Emily and showed her.
Lisa finally put her necklace on and nodded. “There may still be a link there or a lead to the zombie lab,” she said. “But Pierce, if you find anything suspicious, call.”
Pierce showed the knife in the inner pocket of his jacket. “I’ve been practicing.”
“No!” The women all shouted at him, Emily loudest of all.
“There is one other thing.” Heinrich interrupted. He was thinking on another track. “The witch herself may be connected to the zombies. I smelled the magic when we fought them.”
“Something to think about,” Lisa said.
“I don’t like witches,” Libby shivered.