~ February 1692 ~
It was day eighty-nine of a long journey across the oceans. His mother wouldn’t admit the purpose, but the young boy was smart for his age. He knew they were running. The witchcraft hysteria spreading across the lands had them packing family heirlooms and boarding the wooden charter. Destination: the Americas.
“Such a good and brave wee lad,” she whispered with trembling voice in his ear, revealing her own bravery had almost reached its limits.
The long days aboard the rickety vessel had exceeded those planned, with freezing temperatures and starvation taking a heavy toll. Mother and son had both heard whispered ideas of mutiny. If they didn’t reach land soon, violence was inevitable.
Eryk Hillin, known as Ernest Holly according to the boat charter, could see his mother’s weariness. It had taken him far too long to realize she was giving him her rations. Now, maintaining the miniscule spell to hide their belongings, the safety spell for proximity alert, and the bearded disguise to hide her beauty, were becoming difficult for her to sustain. Several times throughout the day, he saw subtle changes as her face threatened to shift back to her feminine features.
Elizabeth Hillin pulled her son close, beckoning the dream spirit to bring her rest while also keeping vigil. It was unfortunate that complete exhaustion struck at that very moment, as starving men surrounding the pair began their fight for vessel control. She could see the bloodthirsty quest in her dreamlike state, but her physical body would not respond in attention. The only power that remained was tightening her vice-like grip around the small being, the living physical proof she had done at least one thing right in the world.
“Wake up, wake up!” whispered the boy with urgency.
I cannot, my beautiful boy.
Eryk recognized the barely visible spectral light surrounding them as the whisper reached his ears. His mother had often sent him secret messages in this manner, although none so despairing.
Hide the charmed canvas bag under your coat, strap it to your shoulder. You must cast the miniscule spell yourself, just as I taught you, to keep all concealed. Do it now, my son.
Still within her vice grip, the boy struggled to follow her instructions, his eyes beginning to fight the emotional pain.
Do not cry, my boy. You have never shed a tear and will not do so now. Be joyful, for your adventure is just beginning. Now hurry!
Ignoring the chaos surrounding them, he focused only on his mother and her instructions.
Put your hand under my shirt and upon the family crystal. Should my manly disguise fade, you must break the chain and hold it to your own heart.
Wide-eyed, with his left hand gripping the gem, the boy unsuccessfully searched his mind for additional lessons, spells to protect his sleeping mother.
Do not fret, my boy. It is not within your power or mine to save this shell. Follow the plan and head south, you will know when you arrive. Perform the ceremony I taught you… separate and sacred, never together. Promise me.
Be careful. Hide your gifts and only use them as you must. They hunt our kin there too. Be brave, my son.
“I promise, but please don’t leave me,” he beckoned softly.
I will always be with you. I will always be with you.
Her final words continued to ring in his ears as he sat curled in his mother’s lap, his hand clutching the family crystal. The wooden vessel, now being torn apart by desperate men, also suffered a battering as the seas began to roll with great might. The slanting of the deck and resulting gravitational force elicited the fall of a man, his sword plunging with no forgiveness into the woman who could not wake.
A blinding light erupted from the source, the last remnants of the safety enchantment. It pushed the young boy and family shield to safety; his mother simultaneously transforming back into her breathtaking feminine form.
No one noticed the presence of magic, or the stricken young boy who had ripped open his own shirt to follow his mother’s directive. For a long-awaited announcement caused drawn swords to stop swinging in midair, and all eyes to shift upwards towards the spire and pointing finger. Screams of anger and anguish turned into cheers of revelry and celebration as the tower scout yelled.
“Land! Land ahead!”
Coming to Kindle and Amazon : Summer 2021