The airs about Cain still wavered some, and would have vexed an ordinary seeker.
The four crones who abided there had never seen an intruder during their lifetimes, and, coming and going as they chose, they caught game and harvested what fruits the forest had to offer.
Elfeena had camped upon her stump since mid afternoon, and now the slant of late sunrays made long silhouettes on the greens of the pasture. In heightened alertness, she spied the coven’s four come trooping out for their morning chores. She did not move, for she wanted them to discover her. This did not take long, as her whiteness was in stark contrast with the darkening trees .
One of the crones was surely their leader, shown out by her stature, her age, and her habit of command as she moved about her work. Of a sudden, she spotted Elfeena, dropped her rake, stamped her foot, and let out a scream of alarm. The others rushed to her side and stood abreast, blinking in the half-light.
Elfeena, sitting until this moment, now stood and began her slow approach. Appearing as a bent old woman, she leaned upon Gryndal’s staff. “STOP!” said the tall crone.
“What are you, and what do you do here? This is forbidden ground.” But, the small and stooped creature walked on, head bowed as if in supplication. Thinking it was either deaf or quite brazen, the mother of Cain signalled her brood to join hands. All was silent until they began the feverish uttering of a seldom used but long-practiced spell of banishment. One of separation, with no return. They feared indeed the touch of this creature, and would not lay hands upon it.
Having stopped just a few paces away from the Sisters, Elfeena stood erect, and each beheld the other. Her round eyes seemed to grow larger as she studied her adversaries. Fear, hesitation, and confusion were betrayed in their faces. Their spell was left spinning in the crackling air. Head Mother spoke once more in a wavering voice. “Who are you? What is your name, pale one? What is your purpose? Know that I have hexed you, and soon you will be banished from this earth. Your staff says you are from Gryndal, but they do not wear raven’s wings, and they do not suffer such things as you.”
Elfeena gave a short and unsettling laugh. “Yes, I have a name, dark one, but I will not suffer such things as you to know it.” Reaching into her gown, she brought forth a small thing of gold. “I bear another token. You will know it, as it was in your employ.” Looking quickly to her cronies, the Mother said “and what is this to you?”
“You have done the unforgiveable to one that has my blood. She lies now in a death fever. LISTEN NOW” And her voice rang suddenly within their minds. “Today we will have two reversals. Take ye this thing in your hand, and put upon it your voiding spell.” The Mother, shaking with a desire for control, nevertheless reached out her hand. Taking the medallion, she bowed her head and muttered so none could hear. Returning it to Elfeena, she said “It is done. I care not for your mother, and I see that you stand here as proof of her contract with the Devil. Now go!”
“I said that we would have two reversals today. Take ye the second one.”
A witch’s spell stays not unused for long. The four Sisters doubled up, as if from a gut punch, and began their lament, for now they knew that their cruel spell had been set upon them instead, at the behest of this queer and vexing creature. As if guided by a puppeteer, they started their long walk of fate, each to a compass point, their pinched faces looking back, looking back on the author of their misfortune.
Upon Elfeena’s return, Merylyn was still walking through forests of fever. Drenched in sweat, she had become even more thin and delirious. Henna had only been able to try and cool her and to give her drink.
Rather than come to her mother directly, Elfeena gave the token to Gran, asking her to bestow it. And Gran came and put it into Merylyn’s hand. The sleep talking trailed off and was quieted. “My Meryl” said Gran as the breathing slowed and became deeper. Elfeena came into the room and saw her mother’s eyes open in recognition. “More cold cloths!’ said Gran. Merylyn began to cry as she saw her daughter, raven-winged and road weary.
Elfeena bent down by her ear, and said these things:
Mother! You will be healed tonight. By tomorrow, your strength will begin to come. Then, we are to go, Mother.
“To go? Where, child?”
Oh, Mother! We have many meetings! You know who I am. We meet the Others!