The group all assembled in the library with drinks, Kostova sitting next to Sydney having formed an instant bonding of being the new kids on the block. Victor sat next to Anna behind Isabella and Watson; the two seem very comfortable knowing that they were the groups outcasts but still an unspoken member of the new alliance growing between the six friends.
Eidolon stood in front of the group, and for the first time, Caroline was able to look at him thoroughly. He was an attractive man, striking in his features. Not with Watson’s ease, but more of a murky shadow of a person who held many secrets behind his violet eyes. He was the image of a modern-day Edgar Allen Poe, and Caroline wondered what had happened to him to cause such pain. Moll walked up to stand next to him, the picture of a colonial witch with a long flowing hand-spun dress, a crisp white apron, a tired face with exciting blue eyes that reminded Kostova of a crisp spring creek flowing from an iceberg. She was small, slightly overweight, with thick gray hair pulled back in a loose braid. She was the type of woman who would always meet her grandchildren with fresh baked cookies and be the first to chastise lousy behavior in the same token. Kostova wanted to sit down with her, have tea, and hear all of her stories.
“My name is Moll Pitcher, not to be confused with Molly Pitcher, a Revolutionary War hero and has her own Putter Spoon. It is a lovely spoon of an attractive young lady, but as you can see- that is not the person who is standing in front of you.”
The group chuckled, leaning in not miss a word.
“The story I want to tell you starts with a man named Edward Diamond, a retired ship captain, who was known as the ‘Wizard Diamond’ by the people in his area. He was notorious for aiding ships on their journey home into the bay of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Stories said that he would walk to the graveyard on top of the highest hill on stormy nights, beating on the markers and guiding the ships through the hostile waters. ‘Captain Smith- Stem the Tide, 4 knots to the left, slow and steady will see you home’. Several members of the crew, when safely tucked into the local pub warmed by the fire and their drinks, would tell the tale of hearing the Wizard’s instructions for safe passage through the winds and rains.
This ability was not limited to just the Wizard. His young grand-daughter also had manifested the power and became one of the most famous, and almost unheard of in modern age, clairvoyants in American history. Her talents lay in a different realm, where the Wizard could see the future in action; she was able to determine the fate of a voyage before the ship even left the port. This talent did not help foster friendships; as you can imagine, locals were scared of the young girl and her ability to see into the future if she focused hard enough on a person. Her parents, aware of this gift and the troubles that could arise, always kept the family on the community’s fringes. Lonely and removed was her life, except when her grandfather would come to visit her.
The young girl had believed that this ability was a curse and not a gift. Shadows of events would cloud her mind, voices of men and women that she never met filled her ears, screams of the dying tormented her soul. She aged quicker than the rest of the children, gray hair showing well before turning 16 in her thick brown hair. Her eyes which were once a brilliant color of the sea, blues, and greens, turned into an icy stare in one year. Her parents feared for her life and her soul until her grandfather taught her how to use the sight. He trained her to close her mind while in town, understand feelings in her fingers when premeditation was forthcoming, but above all, he taught her how to read and write. The grandfather knew, against the wishes of her parents, that education was vital to not only the young lady but in his mind- to the future of the new world.
‘Why Grandfather? Why am I cursed with this sight?’ One evening, she had asked her grandfather as they sat at the graveyard to rest after a particularly nasty storm. He had brought her to watch him as he guided the safe passage of three vessels into the port. They carried a particularly interesting cargo of whiskey and pigs, which the town was very much in need of.
‘It is not a curse, but an ability.’ the grandfather had told her. ‘We are the decedents of an English soothsayer and prophetess that was known as Mother Shipton. She was born to a 15-year-old girl, Agatha, who was an unfortunate, desolated orphan that was left to care for herself with no family or friends’ support. One frigid night, she laid in a cave starved and powerless to die. As she called out to the Gods for release, the Devil showed. Unable to resist his charms, the two of them had an affair that resulted in a child being conceived. The child was born in that very cave during a violent thunderstorm. A hideous child with a hunchback, crooked legs, and a large crooked nose. A child that only a mother could love. Agatha named her Ursula, meaning ‘little she-bear.”
For years, they lived alone in the forest, surviving only what the land provided for them. The townspeople knew, oh they knew, but they did not intervene, so intense was the fear of the young mother and her child. However, they were surviving and slowly learning how to live happily together.
That is until the Abbot of Beverly heard the story of the two living on the outside of the town, and the rumors of the Devils influence on their abilities to see into the future and talk to the animals of the forest. She was spiritually bounded to bring them into the confines of God’s influence and forgiveness for their apparent sins. She searched the woods for months with no luck until a farmer complained of missing honey from some of his pods. She assumed that it was the mysterious mother and child and had someone waiting off in the distance, watching and waiting in the trees’ darkness.
They waited for two weeks and finally saw a young woman holding the hand of a small child. They watched in horror as the child limped and swayed, trying to walk the uneven terrain as her mother gently supported her with her strength and encouraging words. They watched until the two arrived at the bee pod and were astonished by what they heard.
“There you go, Ursula. Just talk to them. Be gentle, be kind, and ask them if we may partake in their gift.” Agatha said to the child
The small child nodded and started to sing, a low and mournful song sounding like a nightingale on a spring evening. The bees, listening to Ursula, calmed down and settled into the borders of their wooden box. The mother walked over to the lid and pulled out a giant honeycomb, and placed it into a bag at her waist.
“Well done, Ursula.” She said, walking back to her daughter. “Now, thank them for their gift.”
Ursula’s tone shifted to a joyful sound, a song of thanksgiving and appreciation. The bees, accepting of their gratitude, started on their daily tasks, and the women walked away safely. The intruders waiting in the cover of darkness followed them to the cave and then returned to the Abbot to report what they witnessed and heard. They gave a detailed description of the cave location, and with that information, sealed the fate of the small family. The Abbot, unwilling to have a mistress of the devil in her jurisdiction, quickly went to the cave with several local men and removed them in a blaze of confusion and terror. The Abbot separated mother and child, sending Agatha to a Convent and Ursula to a foster family in the local town. Mother and child would never see each other again.”
Moll, shuddering the sorrow of her story off, took a large drink, and handed her cup to Eidolon for a refill, and looked at Kostova with a friendly smile.
“Keep them flowing, young sir! And make sure the coffee is on; I do believe that we have a few in our midst that may prefer something with a jolt.” Kostova smiled at her as she held her still-filled glass of whiskey. “And can I have a chair by the fire, please? These old bones are feeling a bit chilled.” Eidolon brought her a new glass, and Winston settled her next to the fire with a blanket. When she was settled, Moll started her story up again.
“Ursula grew up in the town, expanding the knowledge that her mother had given about the benefits from the land. Her knowledge of plants and herbs led her to become an irreplaceable resource as an herbalist within the community. When she was 24 years old, she met a local carpenter, Toby, who she married. Ursula was the happiest she had ever been; she had been able to attain to gain the one thing she wanted more than anything in life- a family of her own. And for two years, all seemed right in the world. They were poor, but they were happy.
But tragedy never seemed far away in Ursula’s world, and two years after her marriage to Toby, he was dead. Widowed and deprived of a family once again, Ursula was subjected to whispers and rumors from the townspeople that she was responsible losing her husband. Ursula fled the town, returning to the only place that she had felt safe and protected from the outside world- she went back to the cave. There she grieved for the life that kept slipping through her fingers. It was during these dark days that Ursula found that she had the sight. While walking the forest, she would see visions of the past. In her dreams, stories of the future. These visions were of people that she knew or had only heard of; some were of people that she knew whose story had yet to begin.
Her reputation as a healer would not leave her in peace in that dark cave; people would travel from across three counties to come for her expertise in healing. Over time, it was rumored that Ursula could also see the future. But Ursula was clever; she understood that individuals only wanted to hear what they wanted their future to be. She also understood that she had already been marked twice, once by the Devil and then by the death of her husband. Ursula would not place her life into their hands. So, she told them what they needed to hear, and the rest she wrote down in a small book hidden far away from prying eyes.
Each generation has had one member of the family who inherited the abilities of our ancestor. As their abilities grew, so does the book. Full of secrets of the past and untold events of the future. The individual is tasked to guard the Book of the Veiled, ensuring it that it never falls into the hands of the general public and is safely passed on to their predecessor.” Moll looked down into her drink, swirling the melting ice with the dark amber liquid, tears forming in her eyes. “The book has been stolen. My family is at peril. Events of our past can be rewritten; the future could be changed. I need you to find the Book of the Veiled.”