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Magic Unleashed

Unknown entities and the Daughters of Llyr. Trouble’s coming to White Haven.

Avery and the White Haven witches have finally found their grimoires and defeated the Favershams, but their troubles are only just beginning.

Something escaped from the spirit world when they battled beneath All Souls Church, and now it wants to stay, unleashing violence across Cornwall.

 

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On top of that, the power they released when they reclaimed their magic is attracting powerful creatures from the deep, creatures that need men to survive.

And then there’s the Witches Council. Thirteen covens spread across Cornwall, and not all of them welcome the White Haven witches.

Avery, Alex and the others find themselves fighting to save White Haven, their lives, and their friends.

If you love urban fantasy, magic, witchcraft, and a twist of romance, you’ll love Magic Unleashed.

Read on for an excerpt

– it’s pre-professional edit, just to wet your appetite!

Chapter 1

Avery stood on the cliff top looking out over White Haven harbour and the sea beyond. It was after ten at night and the moon peeked out behind ragged clouds, casting a milky white path over the water.

Alex stood next to her and sighed. “This is a crazy. I told you it was a waste of time.”

“We have to check. The old guy was insistent he’d seen something. He looked panic stricken.”

“He’d probably had a few too many rums.”

“You didn’t see him,” Avery persisted. “He looked white, and he said he’d only seen something like it once before in his lifetime, and that was just before a couple of young men disappeared and were never seen again.”Alex snorted, and Avery punched his arm. “I can’t believe you’re scoffing after all we’ve seen recently.”

It had been just over a week since the five witches had broken the binding spell beneath the Church of All Souls, the spell that had been cast centuries earlier by Helena Marchmont, Avery’s ancestor, and the other four witch families. This spell had trapped a demon and the Faversham’s ancestor beneath the church using a huge amount of magic. Breaking the spell had been difficult, but with the help of Helena’s ghost they had succeeded and released magical energy that increased their own power. They had then defeated Sebastian Faversham, with Helena’s ghostly help, rescued Sally, and regained Reuben’s missing grimoire. But Sebastian’s final warning had proved correct. Strange things were indeed happening in White Haven.

In the last few days a dozen reports of strange noises and ghostly apparitions had been the centre of town gossip. Lights had appeared up at the ruined castle on the hill in the dead of night, and one fishing boat had reported green lights in the depths of the sea, before they had hurriedly left the area and sailed for home.

And Helena had reappeared, if only briefly, in Avery’s flat. The smell of violets had manifested first, and then the smell of smoke and charred flesh, and Avery had yelled out, “Helena! Stop it!” Fortunately – or not – Avery couldn’t work out which she preferred, she couldn’t see Helena any more, but it was unnerving to detect her unique presence in the flat. She hadn’t resorted to warding the flat against her, but was seriously considering it.

Although Avery hoped these manifestations would settle down, she suspected they were only the beginning. And then that morning an old man had appeared in the shop. He looked nervously around, and then approached Sally, who in turn escorted him over to Avery as she sorted some new stock in a quiet corner.

“This is Avery,” Sally said cheerfully. “I’m sure she can help you, Caleb.” She gave Avery a knowing look and left them to it, Caleb wringing his cap as if it was soaking wet.

“Hi Caleb, nice to meet you. How can I help?” Avery adopted her friendliest smile. Caleb looked as if she would bite.

“I’ve er, got something to tell you that you might find interestin’.”

“Go on,” she nodded encouragingly.

“I hear you may have abilities others may not,” he said, almost stumbling over his words.

Oh, this was going to be one of those conversations.

She hesitated for a second, wondering what to say. “I may have, yes.”

“I was on that fishing boat the other night.”

Avery was confused for a second, and then realisation flashed across her brain. “The boat that saw the lights?” She looked at Caleb with renewed interest.

His hair was snowy white, but thick and brushed back from his face, falling to his collar. He had a thick white beard, and wore a heavy blue jacket despite the heat, thick cotton trousers and wellington boots. His face was covered in wrinkles, but his pale blue eyes were alert and watchful. He reminded her of the old sea captain from the fish-fingers adverts.

“Yes, the boat that saw the lights. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I remember only too well what happened the last time I saw them.”

“You’ve seen them before?” Avery said surprised. “Are you sure it wasn’t just phosphorescence?”

“I know what that looks like, and this was different.”

“Different how?” Avery said, narrowing her eyes and feeling a shiver run through her.

“The lights circled below the boat, even and slow, three of them, and then started to weave a pattern below us. The young ones were transfixed, but a wave crashed over the side and broke my concentration, but I could hear something.” He stopped and looked away.

“What?” Avery insisted.

“Singing.”

“Singing?”

“Strange, unearthly, hypnotic. I started the throttle and headed out of there, almost breaking our nets in the process.”

Avery knew she should laugh at his outlandish suggestion, but she couldn’t, he was so serious, and so absolutely believable. “And then what happened?”

“They disappeared. And I didn’t look back.”

“And the others?”

“Couldn’t remember a thing.”

“What happened the last time you saw them?”

“That was a very long time ago; I was only young myself.” Caleb looked away again, shuffling uncomfortably, and then lowered his voice. “Young men disappeared. Vanished, without a trace.”

“But, how do you know that was related to the lights?” Avery felt bad for asking so many questions, but she half-wondered if he was winding her up.

“They’d been spotted with some young girls, and, well, things weren’t normal.”

Avery blinked and sighed. “I know I’m asking a lot of questions Caleb, but why weren’t they normal?”

“They were last seen at the beach, and their clothes were found there, but nothing else. And no, it wasn’t suicide.” He rushed on, clearly not wanting to be interrupted again. “I think they want something, I don’t know why I think that, but I do. I know it. And it’s only a matter of time before they arrive, so you need to stop them.”

“How can I stop something I don’t even know exists?” she asked, perplexed.

“I have no idea; I’m just offering you a warning.” And with that he left the shop, leaving Avery looking after him bewildered.

She sighed as she remembered her earlier conversation, and rubbed her head. “It’s sounds like it’s out of a story book. Mysterious lights in the sea, weird singing, loss of memory. Sebastian warned us that creatures would come. What if our magic sent a wave of power out into the sea? I guess it’s possible.”

Alex nodded, his features hard to see in the darkness on the cliff top. “The old myths talk of Sirens who sing sailors to their doom, but the old guy’s story also reminds me a little of the selkie myths.”

“The seals which take human form?”

“Pretty much.” He turned to her. “The myths haunt all coastal communities; they were popular in Ireland, particularly where I was on the West coast. And of course here in Cornwall there are mermaid myths; they come looking for a man to take back to the sea with them to become their husbands and make lots of mer-babies.”

“Great, so green lights and mysterious singing under the sea could be a rum soaked hallucination, or maybe one of three weird myths.”

He grinned, “Or a few others we haven’t thought of, but I’ll keep watch for women shrouded in seaweed or seal coats shed on the beach.”

“You’re so funny Alex,” she said, thinking the complete opposite.

He turned to her and pulled her into his arms. “I don’t care how alluring they’re supposed to be, they wouldn’t be half as alluring as you.”

She put her hands against his chest, feeling the strong beat of his heart and the warmth of his skin through his t-shirt, and looked up into his warm brown eyes. She could feel her own pulse starting to flutter wildly and wondered if he realised quite what he did to her. “You’re very alluring yourself.”

“How alluring?” he asked, his lips a feather-light touch on her neck.

“Too alluring.” She could feel a tingle of desire running through her.

“No such thing,” he said softly. His hand caressed the back of her neck and pulled her close for a long, deep kiss, his hands tangled in her hair. Pulled so close to him, she felt his desire start to grow, and he pulled away, a wicked gleam in his eyes. “Let’s go back to mine. I’ve got better things in mind than standing on a cliff top.”

 

However, when they arrived at Alex’s pub, The Wayward Son, Newton was at the bar sipping a pint of beer.

Mathias Newton was a Detective Inspector with the Cornwall Police, who also knew that they were witches. His history was as complicated as theirs, and although their relationship had started badly, they were now friends. He turned from where he’d been scowling into his pint, half an eye on the football highlights that were on the muted TV screen in the corner, and half an eye on the door. He was in casual clothing, his short dark hair slightly ruffled, and his grey eyes were serious. “Where have you two been?”

“Nice to see you too,” Avery said. She slid onto the seat next to him while Alex leaned on the bar and ordered the drinks.

Alex groaned. “Your timing sucks Newton. I had better things in mind than a pint.”

He just grunted. “Get over it.”

“You look as grumpy as hell,” Avery said.

“That’s because I am. We’ve had some odd reports at the station.”

Avery felt her heart sink. Not more strange things. “Like what?”

“Odd disturbances – noises at night, people thinking they’re being broken into, electrical shorts, missing items, but no signs of a break in.”

Alex raised an eyebrow and passed Avery a glass of red wine. “People report electrical shorts to you?”

“You’d be surprised what people report to us. But yes. We’ve had a flood of reports over the last couple of days. I wanted to know if you’d seen anything.”

Avery said, “Lots of rumours of weird happenings, but nothing concrete.” She related the story the old sailor, Caleb, had told her. “We’ve been up on the cliff top to see if we could see anything, but …” She shrugged.

Newton rubbed his hand through his hair, ruffling it even more. “I’d hoped things would go back to normal after the other night, but they’re really not. Briar and Elspeth have both had people coming into their shop sharing strange tales, and Elspeth’s selling lots of protection charms.”

“Really?” Avery asked. “I must admit, I haven’t spoken to them in a couple of days.”

“It’s my job to, Avery,” he said. He finished his pint and ordered another. “Have you heard about the meeting?” Newton was referring to the Witches Council.

She nodded. “Yes. It’s tomorrow evening at eight.”

To celebrate defeating the Favershams and breaking the binding spell, they had all met for dinner at Avery’s flat, but it had been interrupted by the arrival of Genevieve Byrne, another witch who organised the Witches Council, a group they hadn’t even known had existed until that night. She had invited them to the next meeting, actually almost insisted they attend, and after that their celebrations had taken a downward turn as they each debated the merits of whether to go. For Avery it was an easy decision. They’d been invited to something they’d been excluded from for years, and she had no intention of letting the opportunity pass by.

Reuben had not felt the same. “Screw them all, why the hell should we go to their crappy meeting?”

“Because we’ll learn something, Reuben,” Avery had answered, exasperated. “Aren’t you the slightly bit interested in knowing who they are and what they do?”

“No,” he’d answered belligerently.

“Well I am,” Briar said. “But I’m too chicken to go.”

“I’m not sure I trust her or any of them,” Newton said, “but maybe that’s the policeman in me.”

Alex had nodded in agreement. “I don’t entirely trust them either, but I agree with Avery and Briar; we should go. We need to have a stake in whatever’s going on around here.”

“Well unless anyone else really wants to go, I‘d love to go first,” Avery said. “Someone else can go next time.”

Alex rolled his eyes. “Just when I thought things might start to get back to normal around here.”

But at least most of them had agreed on attending.

However, now, in the warm comfort of the pub, Avery felt a bit worried about going and the reception she might receive. The other night beneath All Souls now felt like a dream, it if hadn’t been for the headlines that proclaimed the death of Sebastian Faversham in an electrical fire at the family home. A made-up report. He had actually died after being attacked by Helena’s ghost, her spirit made stronger by the extra surge of magical energy that pulsed through her like a bolt of lightning.

“Where?” Newton persisted.

“Some place called Crag’s End.”

“Where the hell’s that?”

“Around Mevagissey, somewhere just off the coast. It seems to be a very large private residence.”

He looked concerned. “I’m not sure you should go alone.”

“That’s what I said,” Alex said, looking across Avery’s head.

Avery twisted to look up at him. “Alex, I’ll be fine. Stop worrying. They’re all witches, I’m sure I’ll be quite safe.”

“We don’t know any of them.”

“We were invited. Stop worrying,” she said, as much to reassure herself.

“Someone should go with you,” Newton said.

Avery looked between the two of them. “Something is very wrong with the world when the two of you start agreeing. No. I’m going alone. Trust me. I’m a witch.”

Chapter 2

Avery eyed the house in front of her warily. It looked like a small castle, with three turrets and a stone tower. All it needed was a moat and a portcullis. She hoped boiling oil wasn’t about to be poured on her.

It was not the type of house she had expected, and although it looked sturdy and well maintained, the grounds were wildly overgrown and romantic, filled with tumbling roses, honeysuckle, and immense shrubs. Halfway up the drive she‘d wondered if she’d taken a wrong turn, but then the drive opened out and the castle appeared, silent and aggressive in the falling dusk light.

She turned off her van’s engine, trying not to panic, reverse and get the hell out of there. As she walked up to the front entrance of the castle, she noted only two other cars on the drive. She’d aimed to get there early and find her feet, but now she wondered if she should have arrived late and snuck in quietly.

The castle was slightly inland, set on the edge of the moor. The high walls and hedges protected it from prying eyes, and from the winds that would sweep in off the sea in this high position.

She was about to knock on the front door when it swung open in front of her, revealing a large entrance hall filled with candlelight and shadows. The floor was a chequer board of black and white tiles, and a round table was placed in the centre, on which was placed a vase filled with exuberant flowers, the scent filling the room.

She stepped into the hall, and a deep voice manifested out of the shadows on the stairs, making her jump. “You must be Avery Hamilton. Welcome.”

Avery squinted into the darkness and a shadow detached itself and stepped into the light.

The man the voice belonged to was tall and gaunt, and Avery estimated he was in his sixties. His hair was long, slightly unkempt, and streaked with grey, and he wore an old-fashioned velvet jacket and trousers.

He smiled as he came closer and shook her hand, his grip dry, bony and firm. “I’m Oswald Prendergast; welcome to my home.”

Avery looked up at him and smiled back. “Thanks for the invite; I hope I’m not too early.”

His sharp eyes appraised her, and Avery hoped she was appearing confident. She wasn’t at all sure she knew what she was doing here. “Not at all. A few have already arrived. Come into the drawing room and I’ll introduce you.”

Drawing Room? Avery felt she’d stepped back in time.

He led her up the stairs, the smell of furniture polish surrounding them. “I should warn you that some of our members were unwilling to have you on the Council, but I agreed with Genevieve. In the end we took a vote, and there were more fors than againsts.”

“Thank you, we – all of us in White Haven – appreciate it. My grandmother mentioned the Council to me, but I must admit, I thought she was rambling.”

“I remember your grandmother – of course I didn’t really know her, but she’s a fine witch. Anyway,” he said gesturing to the door on his left and pushing it open, “we’re in here.”

Avery entered a room that looked out to the rear of the house. Three large leaded glass windows filled one wall, revealing the gardens beyond, but it was the interior that really caught her eye.  Despite the fact that it was midsummer, a roaring fire filled the large fireplace and the room was stiflingly hot. Someone had thrown open a window to invite a wan breeze in, and in front of it stood three diverse individuals. There was an old man with a huge beaked nose and a shock of white hair and white eyebrows, and he wore a plum coloured silk smoking jacket and black trousers. Next to him was a middle-aged aristocratic woman with auburn hair, a long straight nose down which she peered at Avery, and she wore a chiffon gown. She reminded Avery of Margot from the sitcom The Good Life and she tried to keep a straight face. The next person was the one she least wanted to see – Caspian Faversham. He wore a smart suit and he turned and narrowed his eyes as Avery approached next to Oswald.

Oswald smiled at them warmly, “I’d like to introduce you to Avery, our newest recruit. Avery I believe you know Caspian, but this is Claudia Everley and Rasmus James.”

Avery presumed Oswald must know what had happened with the Favershams, but his tone didn’t betray it.

They older two witches looked at Avery with interest, but it was Caspian who spoke first. “Avery. I must admit I hoped never to see you again. I’m sure you’re aware that I was against your invite to this group.”

Avery could feel her anger rising already. “I hoped never to see you again either Caspian, especially after you killed my friend Gil and kidnapped my friend Sally, but here we are, having to tolerate each other.”

Oswald intervened immediately, his warm friendly tones disappearing. “Caspian I warned you. Your family’s behaviour in recent days almost meant you lost your place on the council, so don’t push your luck. Your probationary period is not yet over – you haven’t as many supporters as you think you have.”

“My father has died too Oswald …”

“But not by Avery’s hand. You know it was Helena’s fault.”

Caspian shot Avery a look of pure loathing. “You let her in.”

As much as Avery didn’t want to start a full blown argument, she was not about to be blamed for everything. “I don’t control her, Caspian! She’s not a pet.”

Oswald laughed bitterly. “You are a victim of your own crimes Caspian. Stop blaming others.”

Rasmus interrupted. “Spirits are wildly unpredictable, you know that Caspian. I suggest you let it lie.” His voice was deep and gravelly, as if it had been dredged from the bottom of the sea. “The Council advised your father against the course of action, and he insisted on doing what he wanted anyway. He brought it on himself.”

“Indeed,” Claudia said, finally speaking. “I am heartily sick of this vendetta against White Haven.”

Avery suppressed the urge to whoop with delight, and instead turned to Claudia and Rasmus, thinking she detected a twinkle of delight in Claudia’s eye that was swiftly hidden. “I’m sorry; it was not my intent to argue. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

They both shook Avery’s hand, and Claudia pulled her to the drinks cabinet. “Welcome Avery, let me pour you a drink. Wine, whiskey, brandy, gin and tonic?”

“Gin and tonic please,” she said, relieved to be away from Caspian.

“I meant what I said,” Claudia said, dropping her voice, “But others agree with Caspian. You may find you’re in for a tricky evening.”

“That’s ok, I’m a big girl,” Avery said, grinning. “But thanks for your support anyway. I’m very curious about tonight, and looking forward to meeting everyone, friendly or not.”

Claudia passed her drink to her, “This meeting doesn’t encompass everyone, just families or coven representatives, much as you are representing your coven.”

“I don’t know if we’re anything as formal as a coven,” Avery said.

“Whether you have declared it or not, you really are. And powerful too. We all felt that wave of magic you unleashed from beneath the town. It nearly knocked me over. Good job I was sitting down. I was watching a replay of Strictly Come Dancing – I was quite distracted after that.”

Avery laughed. “Sorry.”

Claudia waved her apologies away. “I live close to Perranporth, so I couldn’t see the effects, but I hear you lit up the sky – magically that is.”

Avery gasped. Perranporth was on the north coast of Cornwall, so the blast must have been huge – although no doubt those with magical powers would be far more attuned to it. “I saw it as an aura. It was quite impressive. I must admit, we had no idea it would be so large.”

“You had no idea your magic was bound?”

“No! We had no idea we had missing grimoires either. Did everyone know except us?”

“Only council members knew – no-one else. We insisted upon knowing the details if we were to support the Favershams’ request to keep you isolated. Many of us thought it extreme, but the Favershams are powerful. Or rather were, they have less influence now. But we didn’t know where your power was bound, or where your grimoires were either. That has been a mystery to everyone for centuries.” She smiled in admiration. “Well done for finding them. Helena’s power sits well on you.”

“Thank you,” she said, flushing slightly. “Before he died Sebastian suggested we would attract creatures to White Haven, and that we put everyone at risk. What did he mean?”

“That’s what we shall discuss at the meeting,” Claudia said, her eyes clouding with worry.

Before she could say anything else, another flurry of activity interrupted them.  Avery turned to see another few witches arriving, and she took a large gulp of gin and tonic to fortify herself.

Oswald tapped his glass and the sound echoed around the room, magnified by magic. “Welcome everyone. Please, grab yourselves a drink and let’s get this meeting started.”

They made their way to the room next door and sat around a long dark wooden table inlaid with arcane symbols.

Avery sat between Oswald and Claudia. Caspian sat opposite her, and she saw Genevieve Byrne enter and sit at the head of the table. She looked as imposing as she had the other night. The other witches were a mixture of male and female, young and old, mostly white, but there was also a black male witch, and young Indian female. As they all took their places, they glanced at Avery with curiosity, some welcoming, some not.

Silence fell and Genevieve spoke.”Welcome all. Thank you for coming today, I realise it is outside our normal meeting time, but events of the last few days made me act quickly.” She glanced around the room, and as her gaze fell on Avery she smiled briefly. “I’m sure you all felt the wave of power the other night. It was caused by the actions of the White Haven witches.”

There was a murmur as heads leaned close together, and Avery was stared at with renewed interest.

She continued. “I’m sure you’re all aware of our history. Helena Marchmont and the other witches of White Haven bound Octavia Faversham and her demon over four centuries ago, and then their grimoires were hidden to prevent them falling into the hands of the Witchfinder General.” A collective shudder seemed to run around the room. “These grimoires have now been found and the binding spell broken – hence the wave of magic we all felt. With the breaking of that spell many things have now changed. I have formally invited the witches of White Haven back to the Council, and they have agreed. Avery Hamilton, the descendent of Helena Marchmont, is our new member, and as such I’m sure you will treat her with respect.” Genevieve looked at each and every one of them in turn, some longer than others, and Avery noticed a skinny, beady-eyed male witch squirm and drop his gaze to the table, as did a young blond female. Faversham supporters Avery presumed. Caspian glared at her and then stared defiantly at Genevieve.

Genevieve said, “The release of the magic has placed us all in danger. As you all know, many creatures wander our Earth, some friendly, others not, and they are also drawn to magical energy. Our role is to keep our communities safe from them, and fortunately they mostly keep to themselves. But now … ” Her words hung on the air and Avery felt a flush of guilt. She glanced at Claudia, and then kept her eyes firmly fixed on Genevieve.

Caspian leapt into the silence. “So, once again I ask why Ms Hamilton and the other witches should be allowed into our council. They have caused enough trouble.”

Avery was just about to respond when Genevieve beat her to it. “Because, if they had been part of this council in the first place, they wouldn’t have been in the dark about the threat of releasing this magic. They would have understood their history.”

“I agree,” another middle-aged witch with grey hair sitting across the table said. “Nothing good comes of secrets Caspian. And frankly your family have had their own way for far too long.”

There were a few nods of agreement, but the room was otherwise silent. Genevieve frowned at Caspian. “That’s the last I want to hear of that Caspian. The White Haven witches are here to stay. They now provide us with our thirteenth coven, and we have missed that over the years. We all know the significance of that number. Any powerful spells we need to do in the future will now have a far greater chance of success with thirteen covens. Agreed?”

Avery felt a strange realisation settle upon her as she looked around the table at those who nodded their assent. They were now part of a much larger collective, and would probably required to be involved in decisions and spells previously unknown. That was daunting.

Genevieve hadn’t finished. “On to the important question. Has anyone noticed anything untoward in the last few days?”

A young woman of about Avery’s age nodded. She had long dark hair which fell in dreadlocks all down her back. They were kept off her face by a bright red scarf which was wrapped around her head in band. “St Ives has had several spirits manifest in the last 24 hours, most of them harmless, but a couple have been a little more malevolent. We’ve managed to banish most of them quickly. One however may need a little more time.”

Avery wondered who “we” was, and presumed at some point in the future she’d find out.

“If you need any help, let us know,” Genevieve said. “Anyone else?”

There were a couple more strange reports. The beady-eyed male witch said there had been reports of howls at night on Bodmin. “Something is there. We have no idea what yet, but we’re monitoring it.”

Almost everyone around the table had noticed increased spirit activity, and Avery felt she should share about the activities in White Haven and the report of the strange lights in the sea.

There was a gasp of concern around the room at her news and Genevieve narrowed her intense gaze at Avery. “When?”

“Probably a couple of nights ago now. Just one report about lights in the sea, but there’s some at the castle too.”

Claudia leaned forward. “Lights in the sea are very worrying, Avery. Sea creatures carry their own power that’s very different to ours, and the power they exert on humans is significant. You need to start searching now.”

Avery was confused, and slightly embarrassed. She felt out of her depth. “But what are we looking for?”

“Unexpected behaviours, such as people behaving out of character, strange obsessions, and unexplained absences.”

Avery nodded. “We had a few theories, but weren’t really sure if we should take it seriously.”

Rasmus spoke, his voice unexpected as he’d been silent so long. “Not many of you young ones will have experienced the lure of the mermaid, but trust me when I say they are evil, dangerous creatures.”

“Mermaids?” Avery asked. “Is that what this is? We thought of them, but also considered Selkies.”

“Possible, but less likely,” he said.

“Mermaids are very powerful, very frightening beings,” Claudia said. “We all need to be on guard against them.”

“There have been a few mermaid encounters over the years in Cornwall,” Rasmus continued. “Many are romanticised.”

“The Mermaid of Zennor,” Avery said nodding. “We’ve all heard of her.”

“Yes, she entered the village of Zennor disguised as a beautiful lady, bewitched the men and ensnared young Mathew Trewella. He followed her and was never seen again. Then, many years later, a ship cast anchor off Pendower Cove and a beautiful mermaid asked the captain to move his anchor, as it was blocking her way back home where her husband Mathew and her children were waiting. The captain weighed anchor and got out of there as fast as he could. And then of course there are mermaids who lure men to their deaths with their singing, much like sirens of the Greek myths, and then there was the village of Seaton which was cursed by a mermaid because a fisherman insulted her. The sea rose and sand swallowed the whole town.”

The table had fallen silent and all were now watching Rasmus as his dry voice captured their attention.

“Have you ever met one Rasmus?” a dark haired witch sitting across from Avery asked.

“Once, as a young man, a teenager. I was poking about in the tidal pools, collecting seaweed and things for my mother’s spells, when I heard singing and caught sight of a flash of silvered tail. I squinted, blinked, and then a woman appeared on the beach, literally just appeared out of nowhere, her eyes a shining green. She beckoned to me, singing all the while with her hypnotic voice, and without a second thought I followed her as she walked into the sea. And then my brother shouted, sending a well timed curse at her, and she disappeared and I never saw her again.” He looked up, his vision returning to the present. “Mind you, it was a long time before I went back there again.”

“If mermaids are returning to White Haven, it’s likely they’ll turn up in other places too,” Claudia said.

“Maybe not,” Genevieve argued. “White Haven is the only place which has magic hanging over it.”

“Children of Llyr,” Oswald said, shaking his head, his eyes haunted. “They’re always trouble.”

“Llyr?” the young blond witch asked, the one Avery presumed had sided with Caspian.

“The Celtic God of the Sea. He represents the powers of darkness, and fought the children of Don, the powers of light. Llyr’s son is Manawdyan – or in Irish myth, Manannán mac Lir – Son of the Sea. They are dark old gods, best left sleeping. Their children are the mythical creatures of the sea – the mermaids, selkies, water spirits, serpents, the Kraken, Leviathan, the Hydra, and others.” Oswald turned to Avery. “Let’s hope your magic has not stirred the depths of the ocean, or trouble will indeed come.”

If Avery hadn’t fully understood the threat of the magic they had released before, she did now, and she felt her throat tighten. The spirits that were now rising in the town could be just the beginning.

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