RP:The Harvest Moon

From HollowWiki

Part of the Through A Glass, Darkly Arc

Summary: Summoned by Valrae, a number of witches of Lithrydel gather in Rynvale to discuss the threat posed by Henry Cramer and his people. They agree to stand together, not flee: they decide to form a coven.

Shrouded Decaying Trees, Rynvale

Now you can just make out the tops of the tree's poking defiantly above the fog, it is a most peculiar sight as if they have simply sprouted from the fog without roots and in the case of a few of the smaller ones without any trunks at all! All of the trees appear to have a strange purple tint in the gnarled branches and the leaves are the sickliest brown-green tone, giving the forest a feel of autumn but not the pleasant harvest season you may remember, but a slow decaying time of death. You ponder on how horrible it would be to be stuck forever decaying, rotting away without ever feeling the final release from that torment that death could bring as you journey onwards.

Part 1: Moon Rise

Valrae || The moon rose full and round, it’s wide and bright face orange as it peered down on the fog filled forest. The summer heat that had slowly been releasing its grip on the island of Rynvale had not touched the boughs or mist shrouded shadows of the clearing that would hold a secret gathering of witches. The air was chilled and smelled of dark, damp earth and dying leaves. Shadow and pale moonlight dappled the unmarked path and thick, rolling fog covered every inch of forest floor. Once those few who have received invitation near the clearing, the wards that guard it allow the light of ritual fire to be seen, distorted through the curling mist of the night. Valrae has gone to great lengths to bespell the private space, a naturally formed oval of eternally dying trees. The forest floor was even and cleared of debris. Witchlight winked through the branches that inclosed the space like a protective, natural curtain of multicolored leaves. Candles dripped wax on stone. An old but sturdy looking oak table rested to the north of the place. It held fruits, wine, meats and cheeses underneath statutes of a goddess cupping a thumbnail moon and a god with the horns of a stag.

Valrae || The fog had been cleared from the space but smoke from incense of sage and winterbloom curled in the cold air. Though the night of Valrae’s rebirth had seen most of Cenril’s oldest and most prestigious elders and crones dead, the remaining few performed the ritual cleansing as those who were called here entered the space. Cloaked in ritual robes of black, the eldest wields her blade and asks, “You who stands on the threshold of this anointed site, have you the courage to enter? For know it is better to fall on my blade and perish than to make the attempt with fear in thy heart." Those who answer, "I tread the path with perfect love and perfect trust." are passed through the cleansing smoke and ushered onward to the awaiting small crowd of witches who had come before them. Valrae flutters from one invited guest to the other, offering small words of welcome and directing most to hastily constructed seating or refreshments of wine and finger foods. In truth, fewer than twenty five people have been invited. Only those whose names were found on the list that marked them for death that had been found in the book of a witch hunter.

Valrae || Allowing those who were not part of the craft inside ceremony and ritual was unorthodox, especially frowned upon by the elder witches, but Meri was made the exception on this night. Suffering the indignity of a civilian witnessing another ritual was eventually prefered over the hot blooded debates they’d found themselves in otherwise. They were made to answer and pass through the smoke just as any other witch. When it was clear that all who had been invited were inside the clearing, Valrae stood in the center and waited for a hush to fall over the small crowd. Here, among the carefully selected, the Red Witch is not glamoured or disguised. Her face is her own, made up with kohl dark lined eyes and red stained lips. Her golden hair is an untamed waterfall of curls that trail behind her like a stream of sunlight in the dark moody night. The witch has worn a ceremonial shift dress, thin and white, underneath her scarlet ritual robes and her feet are bare. Under the moon and cloaked in her power she was as luminescent as the glittering stars. “Blessed be!” Valrae addresses those gathered. “While the circumstances aren’t ideal, I’m very honored to stand among this congregation of witches.” Though her nerves were raw, her voice rang clear and her chin held high. “Before we focus on what comes next, I’ve invited Uma to lead myself and other keepers in a small ritual.” The witch waits to be joined in the center of the prepared circle.

Hudson | Witches Uma Abelin, Mayor of Cenril, and Joanie, official secretary to Hudson Landon and his Cenril crime syndicate, enter through the smoke. Uma is wearing black robes, though Joanie wears red, like Valrae. They warmly greet others who pass through the smoke. Joanie immediately finds a glass of rose, and immediately approaches Lanara, whom she decides should be her friend. "You know how to party," she addresses the younger woman, a wizened sparkle in her eyes. On her end, Uma is helping move things around a little. She is setting up a small folding table, on which she arranges five candles. The reason for this becomes clear, after Valrae announces her.

Hudson | Uma is honored to have been entrusted with calling the elements. Her relationship with Valrae, to say the least, is complicated. On the one hand, Valrae is a fellow witch, a highly competent one too, and her fellow woman-at-arms when the time had come to raise the barrier that kept Cenril safe. Uma hadn't really known the woman until she'd resurrected her, and then they'd only sent a woman to her death and colluded to defraud Larket. Some ice breaker. They have a strong mutual respect but they should be close friends. There's the issue of Alvina Landon, though, the non-witch Uma had befriended first and whose husband Valrae had once slept with, and the issue of Hudson himself, who makes things complicated in his own right. Just because things are complicated doesn't mean that Uma wants them to stay that way, though. Valrae choosing her to lead the ritual makes Uma feel like maybe she's not alone. Uma had taken a moment to graze on some snacks, but when summoned she wipes her hands on her robes and approaches Valrae and the table with the candles. "Thank you, Valrae and Joanie," Uma says, and retrieves from her robes her wand. "Let us all now call down the quarters," she says, and waits for another witch to pick up the north-facing candle before Uma goes about lighting it with her wand, raising her voice so that all can hear: "Watchtowers of the North, I summon you now to this sacred place. Guard this circle." The wick of the candle catches flame, and Uma's wand moves clockwise to the next candle. "Watchtowers of the East," she intones, and the incantation is repeated until the candles facing all four directions have been lit. She then lights the final candle, placing it in the center of the table. "It is done," she announces.

Alvina || Bianca spoke the words and passed the wards with an air of confidence that she belonged here. The incense rouses a primordial connection with the other bodies that moved through the fog and into the shared space. Their hearts and minds were tethered with magic and purpose. Like Minded individuals aiming to change the world. Her knee length black curls spiral as she walks, silent wind chimes announcing her arrival to the dying trees and forest surrounding. Her asymmetrical skirt, inky navy and ragged, trail through the wet leaves alongside her ebony cloaktails. Both grasp hungrily at her bare feet and ankles. Gold catlike eyes sweep the scene inquisitively, partaking of no conversation or food offered at the table nearby. She was not familiar with most. Valrae though. The red witch had a reputation that spoke very highly of her, her belief and determination for witches across Lithrydel. When Valrae calls for the ritual to begin, Bianca moves forward, picking up the correct candle from the folding table and advancing to the northern point within the circle of power. Uma’s calls to summon the Watchtowers of the North, Bianca turns and holds out her candle to Uma, which the older woman lights. As the wick ignites, a small plume of smoke rises to momentarily take the silhouetted shape of a dragon before dispersing. Already, she can feel it. The warm draw of Fire that she beckons, along with the other witches in the circle, to protect those gathered for the cause.

Lanara | The journey to the island was made in haste, though not without taking every precaution to make certain she wasn’t followed. Ever since the attack on her familiar, which led to the retriever’s sudden death, the witch wasn’t taking any chances. Lana had met with Valrae, disguised as Sarah Grace, a few weeks prior and she had been informed that her name was on a particular list, which would result in her own untimely demise. It went from chatting with a friend over lunch… To becoming one of the hunted. Things went from bad to worse, as the pair tried to assault the male bearing the symbol of the silver war hammer, likely one of Cramer’s henchmen, as he slaughtered Lana’s beloved canine companion. If there was one way to get beneath the brunette’s skin, it was to hurt one of her pets. That reason alone is why she walks in complete solitude, when in the past, she was rarely, if ever, seen without a traveling companion. Lana didn’t want to endanger another of her familiars. She arrives with a purpose, her black slippers making faint scuffling noises against the forest floor, as she walks through the heavy fog. Beneath the deep purple robe, she wears a simple black dress, which ends at the middle of her calf. A pewter and peridot pentacle adorns her slender neck, which has been tucked neatly beneath the collar of her robe, and her long locks fall pin-straight, to the middle of her back. The moon casts its faint glow on her pretty face, and one would easily know who she is, as she didn’t feel the need for a glamour spell. Not on this evening, amongst the chosen that were destined to meet, as they all shared the same beliefs, and studied the same craft. In a sense, it’s like coming home, as she lifts her arms, and locks eyes with the crone, “I tread the path with perfect love and perfect trust.” Wine stained lips curve into a silken smile as she inhales the scent of sage, as she’s cleansed, before she steps into the clearing and looks around at those gathered.

Lanara | A curt nod is given to those that catch her eye, followed by a warm smile to those that she knows above the level of acquaintance, as she walks over to the sturdy table in the center and eyes the offerings that have been placed for the God and Goddess. Dipping her hand into her robes, Lana pulls out a black swan feather, an extremely rare item, used to signify the element of air, as well as color representation of a time of transition and rest. The feather is daintily laid upon the table, and she moves out of the way to let Joanie set up as she sees fits. A tingling on the triquatra brand on her inner left wrist alerts the elf that her sister is near, and she scans the crowd, before locking eyes with Talyara. The younger sibling is given a quick wave, before Lana pulls Valrae in for a tight hug, and given a whisper of, “Blessed Be! Thank you for calling this meeting.” As the pretty blonde passes by to mingle with others, Lana stands alone, her chocolate hues resting briefly on each person present, as though committing their faces to memory. Minutes later, the evening fully begins as Uma appears and aims to call the circle, lighting the candles and calling the elements and their power. As if on cue, when the watchtower of the east is called, Lanara moves to that position, and closes her eyes, palms stretched out in front of her body. Strengthening the element of Air, the witch hums softly, and a gentle breeze would pass through the area, blending with the magic being cast by Uma and Valrae.

Talyara walks into the clearing donning a long black, flowing skirt and a tunic to match. The fabric of her sleeves clung to her body from shoulder to elbows before billowing out as it neared her wrists. Taly’s mess of curls was tamed in an elaborate display of braids that wrapped around her crown and a few baby’s breath had been weaved in for the occasion. The witch opts to go barefoot (the better to feel the vibrations of the earth), leaving her boots outside of the ritual space obscured in a bush. Occasionally, Taly halts her steps for a brief moment of rest as her leg jarred walking on the uneven surface, her hip dislocation clearly still causing her discomfort; however, she refused to use a crutch at an event such as this. Her large, doe-like eyes reflect the pale moon as she approaches the circle, allowing her person and the bundle of gerbera daisies she held in her arms, to be cleansed and smudged of all negative and residual energies. As the elder witch clad in black robes poses the question, Taly catches their eye and repeats, “I tread the path with perfect love and perfect trust.” Upon admittance, the elf moves towards the sturdy oak table where she places the bouquet as an offering to the God and Goddess, making sure the flowers remain off to the side so they wouldn’t be cumbersome to any work that needed to be done there. Only then would she return to the outer circle, flicking her gaze to the others who had been invited, occasionally offering a smile or a nod when a familiar face is recognized. Lanara, is, of course, noticed almost immediately and treated with a waggle of her fingers. When it seems everyone has arrived and Valrae stands in the center of the clearing, Taly focuses on her fellow witch and loses a small smile echoing her greeting of “blessed be” in a voice barely above a whisper. As Uma begins to call the circle, Talyara would move to the northern position, and stand there to aid her magical powers to the call of the element of Earth.

Callum || It’d been some time that Callum had travelled through this forest. Not since the day he got his bismuth skull. Thankfully this time around he had Meri, and was soon to be joined with the others. It didn’t mean that his skin wasn’t crawling though, every inch of his flesh feeling as though he had vines creeping across it. The pull of the skull inside its enchanted metal box within his satchel was strong here--just as strong as it’d been on that fateful day and just as strong as it had been when Valrae was resurrected. He’d pass through the incense when they arrived, spoke the words that needed to be spoken, but remained nearby the witch, waiting for everyone that would arrive to do so and pass through just as he had. The fog within the area may have dissipated, but around them in the treeline it grew stronger. Somatic gestures were made by the former storm mage-now herb witch, strengthening the fog with his magic when everyone was present, creating a barrier to hide them from view. It caged them in on all sides, nearly threatening to mask the moons as well, but not quite--they needed their light, of course. His outfit was his typical; black pants and shoes, a green long-sleeve shirt, and a black silk waistcoat and tie adorned his form. The other witches seemed to have an idea about what to wear, but… well… Cal was still lost when it came to some of the witch-related things. He’d remain quiet, occasionally look at Meri with furrowed brows, and fiddled with the key that opened the box the bismuth skull was located in as it dangled around his wrist like a charm bracelet, awaiting for Uma to begin and direct them to what they should be doing. When the watchtower of the west is called, Cal would take his place there, much like the others would with their own corresponding elements.

Meri could not make heads or tails of any cleansing that she was subject to upon entering. She herself was not a witch and did not practice many of the beliefs that the others did -- she was only here because she counted a number of these witches as her friend and one of them as fiance. Even if Meri was ultimately welcomed in this scene, she could not help but feel like there were some who would rather not have her present. All that did was make Meri want to shrink away into the shadows until the ceremony had passed. In earnestness, Meri probably would not have come if she had the realization that some of the more traditional witches preferred to keep non-witches away. Meri just found some place out of the way of everyone while they did their thing. If somewhere through the course of this, she could find some way of use to the group when it came to recent developments with Henry Cramer, she would. Otherwise, she'd just stand around feeling like the outsider that she was.

Astrid was not one of the first witches present at the gathering, and trailed in at the last moment. She welcomed the scent of the incense has it wafted over her skin, and inhaled deeply to take the burning scents deep into her lungs. The words needed to be spoken were, and she smiled softly to all those gathered. Uma’s call to arms was registered, but nothing drew Astrid forward to claim a place in the summoning of elements. Instead, she lingered back with the other witches, and grasped the hands of her kin with warm squeezes of greeting.

Part 2: Trusted Few

Valrae welcomes Meri with as much enthusiasm as any witch. She’d found the old crone’s traditions needless here, when Meri and others who were not witches but loved them were also in danger as well as valuable allies. Lana was given a return hug, perhaps a second or two longer than normal because the witch was feeling her nerves rise… But with Cal securing the area with the aid of fog and Taly, Meri, Astrid and even Uma and Joanie all present she managed to find her center. It was good to have her friends here. With the circle cast, power pulsed through the chilled air and filled the clearing with new warmth. As each candle was lit a glimmering silver cord of light stretched between the witches until the circle was clearly outlined with powerful magic. Surrounded in potent magic and those who had once gathered in a similar circle to return her life, Valrae felt as if she were standing on the precipice of history. Everything they needed to form a coven, one powerful enough to rival even the legends of witch history, was here in this clearing on this night. With the candle for spirit gripped tightly in both hands, the light of the small flame cast dancing shadows over the witch’s face. “Most of you already know why we’ve gathered here. All of you know of the man calling himself Cramer and the book he’s written calling for the continued persecution of our people,”

Valrae || Again her voice rang clear around those who had gathered. “He’s gathered followers. He’s written a guide to hunting us. He’s written lists that name us all, everyone gathered here this tonight.” She waits for the alarmed whispering to die. “But I will not be hunted again and I believe that together we can stand united against this Cramer and his hunters…. And that we could not only survive but fight back and win.” With one hand Valrae makes a sweeping gesture to the shimmering circle of power the keepers have called forth. “Like the spell we’ve cast tonight, the strongest power can be commanded when we work as one. I lived and died fighting the persecution of our people once. I watched helplessly as our rights, our humanity was stripped of us. We waited, we tried peace and reason, and then we fell apart. I will not make the same mistakes.” Valrae has been avoiding Uma’s gaze now, unsure of the other woman’s reaction to her call to action. Could she agree to mobilize against Cramer when he’d been careful to exercise only his freedom of speech in Cenril? “Some of you will leave here tonight and run. You’ll collect your things, your family, and you’ll flee… Some of you will try peace and tolerance. But for those of you who will fight for our way of life? We must unite or die.”

Lanara listens intently to the heartfelt speech of Valrae, her eyes brimming with tears as those words hit close to home. Their kind had been hunted for years, and it never once touched their doorstep in these lands… At least not until the atrocities in Larket. The red witch had burned at the stake, dozens were murdered, and many more were tortured and enslaved. They all had sat idly by, watching it happen, running in fear, and Lanara had done her part by flip-flopping the heart of the infamous witch killer, Eirik. But it was too little, and too late, as the majority of the damage had been done. Thankfully, those that waited in silence were doing far more than waiting. They were plotting. Searching for the skulls. Risking their lives to have one of their own returned to the land of the living. Lana had assisted in the retrieval of two of the skulls, and she’d been at the resurrection when Valrae had risen from the otherside, and once again joined this realm. All of their kind had been forever changed that day, for better and for worse. The strength of their shared magic, along with months of intense planning, had led to their success. Yet, it also reminded them that they would forever be kept in the dark, feared, misunderstood, and a mar on society, just for having a certain set of beliefs. Lana blinks back tears as Valrae finishes with a strong statement, one which the witch wholeheartedly agrees with, to unite. Unable to keep quiet, she clears her throat, and several turn their heads to see what she has to say, while watching a rogue tear spill onto her cheek. “I have a few words to add…”

Lanara | The witch lifts her hand to gently tug the pentacle from beneath her robe, so the silver five-pointed star is visible to all. The moonlight spills through the trees, enters the clearing, and as though the Goddess were with them on this evening, illuminates the face and chest of the brunette. The sparkling symbol of their faith calls for the full attention of those gathered, and she waits for everyone to hush, to turn their heads, and to gaze upon the object she gently traces with her pointer finger. “We have all lost loved ones, and we all have hidden our true identity at one time or another. This is –not- the time to hide in the shadows and wait for our last stand. It’s not the time to react without planning, or to fly solo and play the part of a hero… However, it is a time to come together… Much like the pentacle that I wear… Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit… All united, and are circled with perfect love, and perfect trust. Like we all are tonight… But we need to do more than once in a while meetings where we warn each other of danger. I lost my dog to the hands of one of Cramer’s men, and I will be damned if I lose my sister, or another friend. I’m –proud- of my heritage! As you all should be, too… And so… Knowing that there is strength in numbers, knowing that a union will bring us all sorts of positive things, like the sharing and training of our craft, the research necessary to issue an attack of our own, and the security that we aren’t alone in our efforts… That we will all make sacrifices, we all will share in the triumphs… By the pentacle…” Lana locks eyes with Valrae, as another tear slips onto her cheek, “By the pentacle, I call for the starting of a Coven.” Murmurs run through the crowd, before Talyara chimes in, “I second Lanara’s call for the starting of a Coven!”

Astrid did not know all of the witches present, though most were recognizable. Some had been her neighbors in Larket before the internment camp, and few others were fast friends collected thereafter. Valrae was a women Astrid would follow into death if the need arose, and so when Lanara stepped forward to call the gathering of a coven, her words mirrorings those of Valrae just seconds before, Astrid nodded in solidarity. “I refuse to run, and I refuse to hide. Not again.”

Callum felt rather out of place, despite the fact that he was ‘one of them’. Valrae would make her speech and it drew a frown to Cal’s lips. He hadn’t experienced any of that persecution until now. He hadn’t been a witch until a few months ago. He couldn’t even trace his lineage, for anything that didn’t perish in the burning of Catal did so in the destruction of Lionel O’Connor’s home in Frostmaw. Valrae had been very welcoming of him as a witch, much like she had been on non-witches, but even with this encouragement, he couldn’t help but perhaps feel a bit of judgement from the older witches that were still left or even the younger ones that he now shared a circle with. It may have been in his own mind, but even so, with the things that Valrae had told him about how sexist female witches could be, it’d created a bit of complex somewhere in the recesses of his mind. He stared at the ground, listening as Lanara soon chimed in, her words making him feel worse. The sound of rain soon started to pitter-patter around the outskirts of the fog that guarded witches, wanting to rain on their parade, but it wouldn’t be allowed to do so thanks to the fog that was so thick it could be cut with a knife. A coven? He dwelled on the thought of being joined together with the rest of them, officially, and it made his frown worse. What if he screwed up a ritual? What if he’d never be able to match them at their level? Astrid spoke, and then it came time for him to say something, and he did his best to hide his worries with a vague smile (which really wasn’t his best at all for the silver-tongued man that he was), and merely said, “You know Meri and I won’t hide.” Except… hiding is what he’d always been good at. Staying in the shadows to keep himself out of trouble had always been the thing to do and now it suddenly was not. It was not and he was lost. Callum Erikk Rochester was not a fighter, even if his anger made it seem like he was at times.

Hudson | Joanie's face - normally set in a puckish expression of older woman merriment, with tonight being no exception as she takes pleasure in consorting with her fellow witches - goes drawn at the mention of Cramer. Uma, who had been serious to begin with, stays that way but bows her head, likewise avoiding Valrae's gaze. These words are the butcher's knife to the mayor, who can practically feel how some here might be thinking criticisms in their hearts about how last time she had folded under pressure and sought to call off Valrae's resurrection. It shames her. It's not what she had wanted to do, but it had been what she had had to do. She hopes that it won't happen again. She hopes that her attending this tonight with Joanie can begin to rebuild the trust that was shattered that day. She is about to speak up to say something to this effect, but Lanara begins to talk and Uma is humbled by it. Did this attack occur in Cenril? How could such an evil have sprouted in a place that has always been strong because of its tolerance and diversity? Talyara voices her support, and others follow. "Let's form the coven," says Uma, glancing to Joanie, who nods. "We're stronger together," the older, red-haired witch lends her support, "Whatever happened, was able to happen because we weren't organized. That stops now." With a glance toward Valrae, Uma briefly picks up her wand once more, commences the process of dispelling the circle, starting with the center candle, the one she had lit last. The mayor approaches Valrae and, taking the woman's head in her hands, kisses her on the forehead like she would a daughter. It's the closest she will get to a public apology. "We're not running."

Alvina || Bianca closes her eyes as the power moves around them, the silver chords binding them visibly. She clings to her candle, the flickering flame illuminating her sun kissed face and hands. The thickening fog serves to place them on a plane all their own. Lanara’s summoned wind ripples through her long hair. The others in the circle receive a small smile before the blonde absorbs her full attention again. It feels momentous, this moment with Valrae’s voice ringing out over the fear and confusion that ripples through the small gathering. Their names were on the list. Witch hunters were searching for them, individually. It does not surprise the witch that her name was scribbled alongside the others gathered. Peace and reason, in her opinion, were the tools of those who thrived in hope. Hope that people would do the right thing. The kind thing. The rational, bleeding heart sort of thing. Bianca had lived long enough to know that people only did what they liked. Fueled by fear, deep seeded selfish desires, or worst of all; indifference. Her topaz eyes, filled with the battling heat of fire and cool blues of the moon, search the crowd for familiar faces. She’d also attended the rally, saw many of those gathered there as well. They would now be allies in a war, Bianca thought somberly, and it wouldn’t do for them to be strangers. Her stainless lips part to echo her agreement. They should fight! Their enemies fight! Have fought, for ages now, to bring about their ruin and extinction. Next, Lanara speaks up, sharing her personal struggles and opinions about their suffering and what the witches of the world need most; each other. A coven. A group for them to move and work and fight together. She flings out her own voice in agreement again! Support for the ideas of those more bound in the community than she. “Let us fight together!” Her tone sombers. “We have suffered long enough.”

Meri :: Anyone who knows Meri knows she'd take fight over flight, but her voice is not heard in this discussion. Cal spoke her opinion correctly. But by the time they reach this subject the blonde's feet have carried further to the perimeter of the space the potentially newly forming coven is holding their meeting in and thus she is not chiming in herself. She did not stray so far that Cal would lose sight of her, he would still be able to easily locate her by the time this meeting is over....but it gave all of the witches more distance from herself. Her form was probably a shadow in the mists, and she has strayed far enough that it's getting harder to make out some of what they are saying. Meri would shove her hands into the back pockets of her pants while pretending she was on some sort of guard duty for the meeting. She did not at any point move so far that if things went south she would not be able to dart quickly back to the aid of the witches.

Part 3: A Secret Circle

Valrae had met Lanara’s gaze with fire and pride in her emerald eyes. She listened to her craft sister speak supporting words of power, brandish her pentacle as a shining beacon of hope, and felt her heart sing so fiercely with love and power that her chest burned. She was beaten only by Talyara when she raised her voice in agreeance. There would people who ran, those who would turn their backs on the coven that would rise from this night, but far fewer would after Lanara’s speech. Astrid, Bianca, Callum and the other’s show of unity similarly filled her with a sense of unity and hope… Yet Valrae couldn’t help but sense the hesitation in her apprentice. For a moment a frown darkened her candle lit features, passing like a shadow over the moon. She’d not been tending his need for a mentor as well as she should and the knowledge of that rested heavily in her heart. She’d need to speak with him privately soon. Uma closes the circle and Valrae is similarly humbled by the matronly kiss placed upon her forehead. Tears swell but do not fall. It’d been rude to blindside her this way, she knew. She’d not done so with the intention of snubbing her for following Hudson’s orders, Valrae of all people understood how difficult Uma’s situation had been. Her eyes sparkle with unshed tears and gratitude. “We unite then. Under the light of the next full moons we will gather and elect a High Priestess.” Those that chose to stay echoed agreeances. When the circle is finally dispelled, what Valrae considered the heart of their secret circle was free to disperse and mingle with the rest of the crowd and leave.

Astrid stepped toward Valrae as soon as the circle fell and their secret business concluded. A proud smile lingered on her lips, and she reached up to press a sisterly kiss to the other blonde’s cheek. Minor words of excitement and pride were murmured to the Red witch, and then Astrid stepped back to mingle with others that decided to remain. After a while, she would take her leave and return to Cenril.

Lanara bows her head and closes her eyes, forcing the rest of her tears to remain unshed. Relief washes over her form, as the others all agree to form a coven, and she’s filled with hope for the first time in weeks. Tanner’s expressive green eyes bore into her soul, his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth, and his tail wagging wildly in excitement, as though he felt they were taking a step in the right direction. Opening her eyes, reality returns as all that looks back at her is the forest floor, but a faint smile inches its way to her face. The retriever may have died in her arms, but he would forever be alive in her memory and her heart. His death wasn’t in vain, as it had sparked her to come to this circle, to speak her mind, and in a way, he had led towards the forming of the coven. Lifting her head, Lana sees that Joanie is once again near her, and she gently nudges her while replying to the earlier comment, “We will have to plan a celebration party soon, I think?” A knowing smile passes between the crone and the maiden, before Lana moves to give Uma and Valrae each a parting hug and thanks them both for arranging this meeting. Callum and Meri are offered a wave, and she mentally vows to pay them a visit in the near future, to see how the puppies were faring, and to assist with the man’s magic, in any way she was able. The others that had voted in favor of the coven were given smiles, on her way to collect her little sister, though Lana doesn’t go out of her way to issue a formal introduction. The witch was spent after her show of raw emotion, and she wanted to head back to Sage Forest. Talyara and Lanara link arms and exit the clearing, whispering to each other about their excitement of the soon-to-be coven, and for the first time in a while, they felt as if they truly belonged.

Callum was definitely hesitant and it showed as he shifted his attention down to his own candle. The flame flickered in the breeze while the circle was closed and he’d soon blow out the wax object he held. Placing it on the table where it’d been before, he’d make his way over to Meri, the rain beyond the fog still not letting up. In fact, it worsened somewhat. He felt awful and that woman of his would likely be able to connect the dots between his mood and the falling droplets. “Let’s go home,” he’d say quietly, though depending on how they felt when they got to the port town to the south, they would probably just utilize The Row’s super secret hideout instead and take the next ship to Cenril in the morning. A wave would be offered, first to Lanara, and then one to Valrae, before he said to Meri, “Sorry.” For the rain, of course. They’d not prepared for a storm. He’d do his best to keep the blonde free of rainfall as they left, but he didn’t have the heart to keep it off of himself right now.

Meri caught Lanara's wave as the witch is on her way out with her sister and responds by giving her a wave right back. Meri can connect those dots. The rain had suddenly started without much warning and that was usually a good sign to her that Callum was not in the best of spirits. The blonde took hold of his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. It would not lift his mood, she knew this, and while she wanted to know what was on his mind...? She would not ask. Not yet, she would wait until they had traveled some distance before trying to pick his brain and feel out what he was thinking. For now, she'd just offer him a sad smile of her own, "It's fine. I don't mind the rain." Well she did, when it meant that Cal was not in the best of spirits. She wanted to see him happy. What she was saying was that he did not need to spend the efforts on keeping it off her, at least. They could walk home in the rain together, that would be just fine.

Hudson | Her part in the ceremony done, Uma falls back with the others to nod. Hopefully the next time they gather, they'll know more about their enemy. Their numbers, their tactics, what they truly want. She feels grave, thinking about such hate taking root in her city. Was it because she was mayor? Had she galvanized this thing that now put others in danger? Surely not. Surely they should look to Larket for the blame, and yet... While Uma broods, Joanie is lively. She lifts her eyebrows in response to Lanara. "If you invite all the young men you know, I'll secure some funding," she says with an enigmatic older lady's merriment. She follows Lanara's lead in embracing Valrae, waiting her turn. "I knew when I met you that you were special. I am so glad your story is not finished, honey," she says, cupping Valrae's cheek. She draws away to recover Uma, whom she knows will be eager to head home as she has a young child. "Broomstick race?" teases Joanie as they head out, managing to coax a laugh out of the mayor yet.

Alvina || Bianca stared down at her snuffed candle and waits for the small clusters of people to form and move around the circle of trees. She waits out Astrid, who approaches Val first and foremost. She watches as Callum and Meri depart, as Lanara and Talyara take the same path out. Once there is space enough, the witch will pass close to Valrae and take up her hands. “Inspiring, as ever.” She smiles sweetly, matron like affection blooming in her demeanour. “I’m Bianca.” A proper introduction at last. “And I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to be part of this. It’s...absolutely terrifying to think there’s a list of names out there for these scum to hunt…” She nearly says ‘like dogs’ but after Lanara’s story it feels in bad taste. “I won’t keep you, I just had to say hello. I look forward to working with you in the future.” A pause and her expression changes, as if some awareness had just sparked to life with her touch. Her tender smile returns and she withdraws her hands to offer the Red witch a small bow, skirt tails gathered in her palms. “I must say, you are positively glowing this evening. Farewell.”