The Ward Matriarchy - Chapter 3

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The Ward Matriarchy - Chapter 3

  1. 1. Welcome to my legacy!Last time, Abiona finally gave birth to a girl to carry out thewitch lineage. Francis and Diana grew up to teenagers,spending a lot of their childhood annoying one another. Dianastarted to snoop around, so Abiona told her they would oneday share a secret and our founder became an elder.
  2. 2. The day after Diana had grown into a teenager, she satto eat lunch with Francis, after school.“So, how was your birthday?” he asked. 
  3. 3. “Oh, it was quiet, I guess. Nothing like your party,” thegirl added with a sigh. She was disappointed. Hermother had told her nothing about the secret.“Yes, my birthday was quite the celebration. But afterall, I am the Ward heir.” 
  4. 4. “What it that supposed to mean?”“Well, Im a boy and boys inherit. Thats the way thingsare, you know that,” Francis said, with a smug grin. 
  5. 5. “Dont you remember that Papa was the one to takeMamas name? Who tells you I wont be the Wardheir?” asked Diana, briskly.Francis had never thought about that. But his sisterwas right, of course. Why couldnt his family be like allthe other ones? 
  6. 6. “Im the oldest,” he stubbornly pursued.“Believe what you want. But Im telling you, you couldbe surprised.” Diana had no idea if she was gettingahead of herself, but she had a feeling the secret hermother was supposed to tell her would give her someanswers. 
  7. 7. Hoping to prove to his parents what a good heir hewould make, Francis spent a lot of time doing hishomework. It was paying off as he was at the top of hisclass.Master Hickey, at the apothecary, was also verypleased with his work. Francis found it hard to alwaysbe told what to do, but he knew it would benefit him inthe long run so he never complained. 
  8. 8. Abiona knew how hard her son was working and shetook every opportunity to congratulate him.“Francis, I met Master Hickey, the other day, in town.He had nothing but praises for you,” she happily toldhim. “Do you like working for him?” 
  9. 9. “I do, Mama,” he nodded. “He is demanding andsometimes I dont really understand why he wantsthings done a certain way, but I do as he says anduntil now, he has been a good boss to me.” 
  10. 10. “Im glad to know that and to see that you arebecoming a mature young man, darling.” She had toadmit to herself that, as Francis was growing up, shehad doubted if he would ever be able to take ordersfrom others. “Im sure that this will help you in yourcareer.”Francis could only agree with his mother. 
  11. 11. The teenager was not succeeding in every aspects ofhis life, though. One day, he invited a girl from hisclass back home.He thought she was pretty in her own way and he toldher so, but she did not react as he had expected. 
  12. 12. So, Francis chose to focus on learning as much as hecould before leaving for university.While Diana painted, he would practice playing theviolin, as he realized he really liked the instrumentafter his first try, all these years ago. 
  13. 13. “I thought you said the sound of violin made your nosebleed,” Diana would tease him. “No,” he replied, “you playing it did.”“Do you think you are better than I am?”“Maybe not yet,” he admitted, “but I will try to be. Itwould help me get a scholarship.” 
  14. 14. As for Diana, she was starting to wonder if she hadimagined the conversation with her mother, as a child.What if she had actually dreamed it all? What if therewas no secret? That it was really just something shewished for so much that she made it up? 
  15. 15. After all, if there was a secret, why had her mothersaid nothing about it, yet? She was old enough now,she had never told anyone about it and she had madesure to be nicer to people around her, even if it wasnot easy at times.Diana was starting to become very frustrated by it all. 
  16. 16. Abiona could see it, too. If she had not told Dianaabout her powers, it was simply because she did notknow which words to use.She couldnt think about anything else, yet shecouldnt find the right way to tell Diana about whatthey were. 
  17. 17. After all, she had only learned about it by accident,while reading her mothers journal.“Thats it!” she exclaimed. “Im going to ask Diana toread the journal. It will break the ice and then, I cantell her what Ive found out,” she told herself. 
  18. 18. When she saw Diana enter the room, she decided tostay at the table. Jake was outside, taking care of thegarden and Francis was with Master Hickey. She knewshe could talk freely. 
  19. 19. Diana was wondering what her mother wanted. Even ifshe had started to think there was actually no secretand that Abiona had told her that just so she would benice, a part of her still hoped it was all true. Shecouldnt help but feel excited as she sat down. 
  20. 20. “Sweetheart,” Abby started, taking a breath, “do youremember, when you were little, I told you to stopsnooping around?”“I do, Mama. And Ive kept my promise, you knowthat.” 
  21. 21. “Yes and I thank you for that. Dont you worry, Ivenoticed that your character and attitude have changedfor the better since you were a child.”“You have?” Diana was happy. She never thought hermother had paid attention. 
  22. 22. “Of course, my darling,” Abiona smiled. “And you mustalso remember I told you we would share a secret, youand I, right? You must be getting quite upset about menot saying anything even though youve grown.”“I... I am,” Diana admitted as she blushed. Shecertainly didnt think her frustration was so obvious. 
  23. 23. “Its all right, sweetheart. I can understand. I was oncein the same situation,” Abby reassured her. She nowhad her daughter’s full attention.“You see, shortly after my father died, I found out thatmy mother, whom I named you after, kept a journal. Iread it and discovered some very interesting things.And now, I would like you to read it.” 
  24. 24. “A journal?” said Diana, disappointed. Was that all itwas? The big secret was some old ladys writings?“Just read it. We will talk about it when you are done.And make sure no one else but you sees it,” addedAbiona seriously before giving the book to the girl. 
  25. 25. As soon as she had a chance, Diana sat down to readthe journal. At first, she didnt see what was so specialabout it. The old Diana, her grandmother, only wroteabout her daily life as a young wife and mother.Thats when Diana read something that startled her.She kept on reading and it dawned on her what the bigsecret was. 
  26. 26. Diana couldnt believe her eyes. Her mother was notkidding when she said she had a secret! She couldntwait to talk about it with her!She stayed up most of the night, reading the journalfrom cover to cover, too excited to even think aboutsleep. Finally, something was happening to her! 
  27. 27. The next morning, Diana had finished to readeverything. She was eager to talk about it with hermother, but she couldnt find her anywhere.“Papa,” she asked Jake when she saw him, “have youseen Mama?” 
  28. 28. “Abiona is at work, sweetheart.”“Oh,” replied Diana, disappointed.“Is something the matter?” Jake looked concerned. 
  29. 29. “No, no, dont worry, Papa,” said Diana. She knew shecouldnt tell anything to her father. Apparently, Abionahad managed to keep their nature a secret, so shecouldnt be the one to let him know. “I just need to talkto her about something.”“Are you sure its nothing I can help you with?” 
  30. 30. “Yes, Im sure. But thank you, Papa, I appreciate it.”“Alright. Your mother should be back this evening,”Jake added. He knew some things were betweenmothers and daughters and was not offended Dianadid not want to tell him what was on her mind. 
  31. 31. The moment Abiona was home, Diana went to see herand told her she had finished reading the journal.Abby insisted on sitting down to talk.“So, now you know,” Abiona began.“I think so... but is it true, Mama?” asked Diana, stillamazed by it all. 
  32. 32. “Yes, it is, darling. When I first read my mothersjournal, I couldnt believe she could be a witch, either.But then, I came to Shelterwoods and I met anotherwitch. You might remember her, my friend, LindaWilson.”“Shes a witch, too?” 
  33. 33. “Thats right. And shes the one who told me what thejournal didnt explain.”“Will she tell me, now?”“No, there is no need for that, Diana. Im your mother,its my job to do that. She only helped me because Ididnt have a mother myself.” 
  34. 34. “That must have been hard, Mama,” the teenagerwhispered. She couldnt imagine not having parents.“Yes, well, its been a long time. Im just happy to beable to tell you what you should know.”“Is there more?” 
  35. 35. “You can say that. The journal doesnt say everything.You see, the Ward women have been witches forgenerations. They were once a very powerful lineage.Im afraid that I have not lived up to our heritage,personally. But now, its your turn, Diana. As my onlydaughter, you will carry out our name and our secret,”Abiona announced.“I will?” Diana had thought about it all night long andwas expecting something like that, but it was still sosurprising. 
  36. 36. “Of course. And I am certain you will be a great witch.You have the gene, all you need to do is work and youwill certainly become very powerful.”“Ill do my best, Mama,” Diana promised. She felt veryproud, but also nervous. She hoped she could handlethe challenge.“Im not worried.” 
  37. 37. Then, Abiona stood up and asked Diana to follow her.They stood in front of the bookcase.“You were right, you know, sweetheart, when youthought something was hidden in this bookshelf.Actually, its not hiding in it, but behind it.” 
  38. 38. She encouraged her daughter to take out one of thebooks. When she did, much to her surprise, thebookcase swung open, bringing Diana in a green room.There, the young girl saw what seemed to be agrimoire, as well as a cauldron. She was speechless. 
  39. 39. “This is so amazing,” she tought. “Look at that!” Sheexamined the book with great interest, wonderingwhen she would have the chance to study all the spellsit must contain.When she came out of the secret room, Abiona waswaiting for her. 
  40. 40. “Are those things yours?” she asked her mother.“Yes. But soon, you will have your very own spell bookand cauldron.”“When?” Diana was impatient to start her new life. 
  41. 41. “Soon. In the meantime, remember that no one mustknow about this. Not your father, not your brother.And you cannot tell your husband, when you getmarried.”“I understand, Mama.”“It will also be your responsibility to carry the lineage,just like it was mine. You will have a daughter andteach her everything you will learn during yourlifetime.” 
  42. 42. “I know its important, Mama, and you can trust me. Iwill take this very seriously.”Abiona was very proud of Diana. She also felt relieved.She had finally managed to tell the truth and she knewher daughter would be true to her word. She hadtaken the news better than expected, really. 
  43. 43. Later, Diana snuck out. She simply couldn’t sleep,there were so many things going through her mind.Looking at the stars, she thought about the meaning ofwhat her mother had said, about how it would changeher life. 
  44. 44. “I knew there was something different about us…about me!” she told herself.She was imagining everything she would be able to do,once she started to learn about magic. The possibilitieswere endless. 
  45. 45. Abiona had said that she had never fully developed herpowers, being too busy with her job and her family.“Well, that is not going to happen to me,” Dianapromised. “I will make magic my priority.” 
  46. 46. Laying beside Jake, a few nights later, Abiona wasstarting to wonder if she had been right to keep herpowers a secret.Jake could always see when his wife had something onher mind.“Abby, tell me.” 
  47. 47. “I’m sorry, what?” she said, emerging from herthoughts.“You have something to tell me, don’t you? Is it aboutDiana?” 
  48. 48. “Um…” she hesitated. How could he know? She hadbeen very careful to speak only when she was sure hewas outside or fast asleep. And she had not spent anytime in her secret room, lately. “What do you mean?”“She seemed worried about something, the other day,when she came to me. But she only wanted to talkabout it with you,” he continued. “Is it a boy?” 
  49. 49. “Oh!” Abiona was relieved. Jake knew nothing! “Um,well, yes it was something to do with a lad in her class.You know, girl talk,” she shrugged.“That’s what I thought. I guess a mother knows moreabout these things than a father,” he laughed.“I guess so.” 
  50. 50. Abiona felt guilty about lying to Jake. He had been sounderstanding about everything, their whole lifetogether. She really wished she could tell him thetruth. But she also remembered how harsh Lindacould be. Like when she almost threatened her, beforeshe had a girl.No, it was best to keep everything as it was. And bytelling Jake, she would have to tell Francis, too. Andthat was sure to be a disaster. 
  51. 51. Thinking about her son made her realize somethingelse.“Ill have to find a way to let Francis know that hissister is going to be carrying out our name,” shethought, as Jake rose to go take care of the garden.She was not looking forward to that conversation. 
  52. 52. Not long after, it was Jake’s turn to become an elder.His family and friends were happy to come celebratethe event with him and Abby. 
  53. 53. Jake thought about his life so far and had absolutelyno regrets about anything. He had a loving wife andsmart children. He could only hope that Francis andDiana would both give him many grandchildren to carefor. 
  54. 54. “You see, sweetie,” he told Abiona, “now Im just likeyou!”“Yes, you are. We make a mighty fine pair of elders,dont we?” she giggled.“We sure do! The best there is! Lets just hope wepassed on our good genes to Diana and Francis,” hejoked. 
  55. 55. Meanwhile, Diana had started to read through herbrand new spell book. As promised, Abiona had givenit to her soon after their conversation and hid it withhers in the secret room.What Diana was learning kept surprising her. All thatknowledge, all those spells! How was she going toremember everything? 
  56. 56. More particularly, some spells seemed to be differentfrom the others. They were written in very black ink ondarker pages than the others.Diana decided she would ask her mother about them. 
  57. 57. “Really, sweetheart, I have no idea,” Abiona answeredwhen she finally found a quiet moment to talk to herabout it. “To be honest, I havent had that much timeto read my own book. Ive been so busy witheverything else.” 
  58. 58. “But, Mama,” continued Diana, “it might be somethingimportant!”“You might be right. Ill tell you what, maybe you couldtalk with Mrs. Wilson about it. If anyone knowsanything about those spells, it would be her.” 
  59. 59. “Cant you ask her to come over?”“Alright, but it will have to wait for a day when yourfather and brother are in town. We cant have themoverhear something by accident.” 
  60. 60. And so, a few weeks later, Diana finally had a chanceto talk to Linda about what she had read.“Thank you, Mrs. Wilson, for accepting to come over,”Diana began. 
  61. 61. Diana had never met someone as old as the woman.Maybe being a powerful witch could make you livelonger? She would have to ask her, but not today. Shehad other things on her mind.“Not at all, its a pleasure, my child. Im happy to knowyou are aware of your powers, now. Go ahead, tell mewhat I can do for you exactly.” 
  62. 62. “Ive been reading the spell book my mother gave meand I found some very intriguing spells. I was justwondering what they were,” she continued as theyboth sat.“I see what you mean, but to be honest, Im not sure Ishould tell you,” frowned Mrs. Wilson.“Why not?” 
  63. 63. “You see, Diana, there are two sides to magic. I choseto be on the side of the light. I chose to do good aroundme with my powers. But not everyone is like me.”Diana was listening intensely. Mrs. Wilson was tellingher what she had suspected all along. 
  64. 64. “There are other witches,” the old woman continued.“At some point, I don’t really know why, they decidedthat they wanted to practice another kind of magic.Dark magic,” she added in a whisper.Linda could see that the young girl was fascinated bywhat she was saying. She had to be careful about howshe would present things. 
  65. 65. “Now, Diana, I know that dark magic can seemappealing. But trust me, it is not. When one choosesthat path, the sacrifices that have to be made aretremendous. It affects every aspects of their life.”“But Mrs. Wilson, if a witch is careful and uses adarker spell because it is absolutely needed…” 
  66. 66. Linda did not let Diana finish her sentence.“Child, there are no good reasons to use dark magic,ever!” she said, becoming agitated. “And remember therules of witchcraft! You must have read them by now.Everything you do will come back to you three times. Iwould suggest you think about that before getting intothings you don’t completely understand.” 
  67. 67. Diana felt like Mrs. Wilson was treating her as if shewas still a little girl. What she had read in the journaland in her spell book did not seem so dangerous.“But…”“You are still young, Diana. You still need to learn alot. Please, trust me on this. Stay away from thosespells,” the older witch added before standing up toleave. 
  68. 68. Going to bed, that night, Diana was thinking about theconversation she had with her mother’s friend.“As if I can’t see the difference between a fun spell anda dangerous one!” she hissed. “She was almostthreatening me!” 
  69. 69. She also had read the rules about spells coming back,but she was not taking them seriously. “They are justlike bedtime stories. Old witches probably made themup to scare the young ones. That way, they made surewe would never become as powerful as them!” 
  70. 70. Diana was really annoyed with Mrs. Wilson. Ifanything, their talk made her want to learn moreabout dark magic. Before, it was simply curiosity. Butseeing Linda get so defensive triggered something inher.“I’m sure she didn’t tell me everything. She’s hidingsomething,” she thought as she promised herself tofind out what is was. 
  71. 71. A few weeks later, Abiona was enjoying an afternoon ofpainting while Jake read.“Sweetheart, have you noticed how hard Francis hasbeen working in school and with Master Hickey?” Jakeasked her.“I have and I’ve congratulated him on it.” 
  72. 72. “So did I. He’s really impressing me. I guess he’ll beleaving for university, soon.”“Probably,” Abiona replied. Jake must have beenthinking about the future of their children as much asshe had. “I hope his good grades can help him get afew scholarships.” 
  73. 73. “I’m sure it will,” said Jake, confidently.Abiona knew this was the perfect time to tell herhusband about Diana being the heiress. She hoped hewould support her decision. 
  74. 74. “Jake, I’ve been thinking. And although Francis hasmatured greatly in the last few years, I still want Dianato be the one to come back and live with us when shegraduates from university. I want her to inherit ourhouse,” she said in one breath. “I would like our hometo be passed on from mothers to daughters, for manygenerations.” 
  75. 75. “I know,” Jake simply replied.“You know?”“Yes, Abby. I figured that out long ago,” he winked.“But, how…?” 
  76. 76. “I just know you well, I suppose. And I agree with you,too. I think it’s a wonderful idea. Francis will do greaton his own, I’m sure of it.”Once again, Abiona felt gratitude for being married toJake.“Now, we just have to tell him. It won’t be easy; he’sexpecting to be our heir, being a boy and everything. Idon’t know who put those ideas in his head,” shesighed. 
  77. 77. “Why don’t you let me talk to him?”“You would do that?” Abby asked.“Of course,” Jake answered, looking at his wifelovingly. 
  78. 78. And so, soon after, Jake took Francis fishing. Hethought they could bond that way. He also hoped hewould be able to gently break the news to his son. 
  79. 79. Francis was wondering why his father was suddenlyinterested in fishing. But, at the same time, he knewhe would soon be leaving for university and thoughtJake wanted to take every opportunity to spend timewith him.After all, Shelter Academy was not so close; he wouldnot be able to visit often once there. 
  80. 80. “This is nice, isn’t it?” Jake began.“Yes, it is. I’m not sure I will catch anything, though.”“Ha! Trust yourself, son! Look at me! I didnt think Iwould either and look!” 
  81. 81. Jake wondered how exactly he was going to say whathe needed to. He knew Francis had a temper andcould overreact if he did not use the right words.“So, have you been thinking about university?” 
  82. 82. “Yes, I have, Papa. I applied for a few scholarships, lastweek. I’m waiting to hear from the Academy in the nextmonth, or so.”“I’m proud of you, Francis. You’re a hard worker.” 
  83. 83. “Thanks, Papa.” It meant a lot to Francis to hear that.As much as he wanted to impress Master Hickey, healso wished to make his parents happy. “But it’s onlynormal, really. I want to be a good heir to you andMama.” 
  84. 84. Jake suddenly realized how much his son wanted toinherit from their house. The next few minutes werenot going to be fun. But he also knew he had to do it.He couldn’t let Francis have false hopes.“Well,” he said after clearing his throat, “about that, Ido have something to tell you.” 
  85. 85. Francis was not worried, he kept looking at the pond.What could his father have to say that would affecthim that much?“Francis, this isn’t easy for me to say. But, you have toknow that your mother and I decided that Diana wouldbe the one to inherit the house.” 
  86. 86. Francis thought for a second he didn’t hear properly.“I – I’m sorry, what?”“Abiona was the first to settle in Shelterwoods and wewish for the house to be handed over to the Wardwomen,” Jake continue, trying to sound calm, butfirm. 
  87. 87. Francis finally realized what his father was saying. Hefelt rage rising in his chest. How could that be? He wasthe oldest son! Why wasn’t he the heir? He feltcompletely cheated.“Are you serious? You are chosing Diana?” he blurtedout.“I’m sorry, son. I know you were hoping…” 
  88. 88. “You don’t know anything!” Francis yelled. “This familyis ridiculous! I’ll be the laughing stock of the wholecounty! The only first born male without a heritage!”“Please, don’t take it like that. We know you wouldhave made a wonderful heir. But this is just not howthings are,” Jake added, shaking his head slowly. 
  89. 89. “Nonsense! If you thought I was so great, if you lovedme, you would not make me a joke for everyone!”“You are saying things you don’t really mean. Ofcourse, we love you,” said Jake, softly. “This hasnothing to do with it.” 
  90. 90. Francis chose not to answer, shutting his father out.He was furious. He needed to be by himself for a while.“Alright. I’m going back home. I’ll leave you to yourthoughts,” Jake concluded. He knew Francis often losthis temper when faced with something unexpected.But once he wouldve had time to mull things over, hewould probably see the situation more clearly. 
  91. 91. Francis didn’t even look at his father. He simply putanother worm on his line and threw it in the pond,trying to make sense of it all.“Diana was right, in the end,” he said through grittedteeth. 
  92. 92. The next day, Diana asked Francis to come with her toOld Shelterton. She could tell something was on hismind. He hadn’t said a word since he came back fromfishing.At first, Francis didn’t want to go, but then he thoughtit might help him clear his mind. He just didn’t wantDiana to gloat because he had been wrong. 
  93. 93. “Alright, tell me,” Diana finally said, as they sat at thetown square café.“Tell you what?” pouted Francis. He was still in a verybad mood. 
  94. 94. “What makes you angry.”“I’m not angry!”“Francis! You’re my brother, I’ve known you forever. Ican see when something is bothering you,” she toldhim, raising her eyebrows. 
  95. 95. Her brother sighed before speaking.“You want to know why I’m mad? It will make you veryhappy,” he said in a sarcastic tone. “Our dear parentshave decided I’m not good enough to inherit the familyhouse after university.” 
  96. 96. “Oh, that.”“You knew?” Francis asked, surprised. Seeing Diana’sface he could tell that she did. “Great, I’m the last oneto learn about, it appears. Wonderful.”“Come on, Francis, don’t be like that.” 
  97. 97. “And how should I be, exactly? Papa and Mama choseyou, of course it’s easy for you.”“It’s not that they chose me. It’s just me because I’m agirl. It had nothing to do with personality orintelligence, you know,” Diana tried to comfort herbrother. It was not something she was used to do. Shenormally spent more time mocking him. 
  98. 98. “That’s what Papa said, too.”“It’s true. You were just unlucky to be born a boy,that’s all. You can’t be perfect like me,” she winked.Francis had a small smile for the first time. It wascertainly odd to think being a male could be unlucky!“It still hurts.” 
  99. 99. “I can understand that,” Diana said. “So, what are yougoing to do?”“It was almost time for me to leave for ShelterAcademy, anyways. I guess I will simply go a bitearlier.”“You know what? I bet you will meet the finest girlthere and that she will be very happy she won’t have todeal with the complete family, once you’re married,”joked his sister. 
  100. 100. “Yes, I suppose that’s one of the good sides of it. I willget to have my own home and do as I please in it. Youwon’t!” he laughed.Diana sighed and raised her shoulders.“Nothing’s perfect,” she smiled. “Now, we should go.The sky is clouding up.” 
  101. 101. As they started walking towards home, Francisthought about what was awaiting him in college. All ofa sudden, all doors were open. He could do whateverhe wanted, there were no boundaries.He would make his life as perfect as it could be.“I’ll start my own traditions, my own heritage,” he toldhimself. 
  102. 102. So, as soon as he heard back about his scholarships,Francis packed his belongings and left for ShelterAcademy. He was satisfied. He had received threedifferent grants. His hard work had paid off.He also left Master Hickey’s apothecary with greatreferences. That would certainly prove to be helpful inthe future. 
  103. 103. Jake and Abiona were sad to see him leave like that.Francis had remained cold towards them ever sinceJake had talked to him. They understood hisdisappointment, but hoped their relationship with himwould not be strained for too long. 
  104. 104. Abiona and Jake both felt Francis’ absence at home.“It’s strange, not hearing anyone bicker, isn’t it,honey?” Abby whispered to her husband, as they wereenjoying each other’s company. 
  105. 105. “It sure is. I think Diana doesn’t quite know what to dowith herself,” Jake laughed.“I hope he’s settled in all right,” the worried motheradded.“I’m sure he’s fine, Abby,” Jake reassured her. “Francishas always been a resourceful boy and I have no doubthis university experience will be a success on alllevels.” 
  106. 106. “You’re right. I just wish he would write to let us knowhow everything is,” she sighed.“Give it time. His pride was hurt. He will lick hiswounds and, in time, all will be forgotten.”“Do you really think so?” 
  107. 107. “I’m sure of it,” Jake stated. “I know my son. Now comehere, my sweet wife.”She abandoned herself to Jake’s embrace. Abionaknew that everything he had said made a lot of sense.She would simply have to be patient and trust thatthey had raised Francis as not to become a bitter man. 
  108. 108. The couple took advantage of the free time they had.They did not have the opportunity often.Abby was still working very hard to reach her dream ofowning the Old Shelterton Herald and Jake was busierthan ever with his garden. 
  109. 109. In fact, he had recently built a small barn on theirproperty where he was selling his produce. Thingswere going well and he was quickly gaining customers.The word was spreading that he had the best tomatoesin Shelterwoods. 
  110. 110. Meanwhile, Diana had other things on her mind.Even though she was saddened by Francis’ departurefor university, she also knew that it had been coming.It was not really a surprise. 
  111. 111. What was surprising, however, was what Mrs. Wilsonhad said, or rather had not said. She had insisted somuch about how Diana should not learn anythingabout dark magic…Diana was still convinced that she had not told hereverything she knew and was more determined thanever to find out more. Her mother didn’t knowanything and if Mrs. Wilson wasn’t willing to help her,she would find someone who would. 
  112. 112. In the past weeks, Diana had continued her researchand had discovered that the name of a place nearWoodvale was mentioned frequently when dark magicwas concerned.Making sure her parents didn’t notice, she decided togo and see what exactly was this Beldam Manor was. 
  113. 113. Upon arriving, Diana immediately noticed that thehouse seemed empty. All of sudden, she wasn’t so surethis was a good idea. The place was so eery!“No,” she thought, “I have made it this far. I have tokeep going.” 
  114. 114. Besides, she could feel that she was getting close tofinally getting some answers. By the look of the manor,dark magic was surely practiced here.Diana shivered as she passed the tall dark gates.“Why do I always have such brilliant ideas?” she askedherself, sarcastic. But still, she kept walking. 
  115. 115. Soon, she reached the door. She bravely pushed it andit opened slightly, giving her enough space to enter.“Wow,” Diana whispered as she looked at the wideblack hall. This was not what she had expected.She could see something glowing in the distance andso, she stepped forward. She could feel the excitementovertaking her, fighting the fear away. 
  116. 116. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dark-skinned womanappeared. Diana was startled. She did not know thatthe color of your skin could be green. Was she a darkwitch?“Hum,” she thought, “that could be a drawback…” Shedefinitely did not want to have green skin! “ I guess it’stime to find out about that and about all the rest.” 
  117. 117. “Hello,” Diana called as she reached the woman whodid not even look at her.Determined, the girl climbed the few steps and facedthe witch who finally noticed her.“And what are you doing here, exactly?” 
  118. 118. “I’m D – ” Diana began.“I know who you are, Miss Diana of the Ward lineagewe all thought had disappeared,” the woman harshlysaid, startling Diana. “What I’m wondering is why you,of a neutral witchcraft tradition, are doing here, inBeldam Manor?” 
  119. 119. Diana took a few seconds to collect herself. This wasnot the kind of conversation she had been hoping for.She had to make that woman understand that she wasnot interested in doing simple spells all her life.“May – May I ask for your name, Madam?” shehesitantly asked. 
  120. 120. The witch burst out laughing. “Well, aren’t you a boldone! How refreshing!” She stopped laughing. “I’mBelinda Cox, the atrociously evil witch, at yourservice!”Diana raised her eyebrows at the title. Maybe she wasgetting into something bigger than she could handle…but then again, she wanted to know about thosespells. 
  121. 121. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Cox. I’ve actually comebecause I have questions about some of the things Iread in my spell book. I asked Mrs. Linda Wilson, butshe wouldn’t tell me anything. In fact, she advised meto stay away from those writings,” Diana said in onebreath. 
  122. 122. “Humph! That does not surprise me at all! Linda canbe so conservative!” the witch said. She looked atDiana, impressed. “I take it you did not like heradvice?”“I want to learn all I can about my powers. I don’t wantto be limited!” Diana exclaimed. 
  123. 123. “Oh, how I understand you! You remind me of myselfwhen I was your age! And because of that, I will helpyou.”Diana was overwhelmed. “Really?”“Yes. What do you want to know?” 
  124. 124. And so, Diana asked every question she could think ofabout the spells she had read. Belinda was more thanhappy to give her detailed answers. It was not oftenthat such a promising young witch showed interest inthe dark side of magic. 
  125. 125. “Most of all,” the woman said as Diana tried toremember every word, “don’t be afraid to defy yourfamily’s traditions. Real supremacy can only beobtained by learning the most powerful spells andthose are the ones only the dark arts can teach you.” 
  126. 126. In the end, Diana only had one subject she still hadn’tdared to enquire about. She knew she would have toleave soon, so she gathered her courage and askedMrs. Cox.“There is one last thing I’m wondering about…”“Go ahead, Diana. I will answer as truthfully as I can.” 
  127. 127. “Well, I… If I… Will my skin turn green?” she finallymanaged to burst out.Once again, Belinda laughed. “Oh, child! You aremarvellous! I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time!”“So… it won’t?”“Well, I can’t promise you anything, but if it does,you’ll be powerful enough to turn it back, do notworry.” 
  128. 128. With that, Diana said her goodbyes and left the manor.As she walked away, she thought about everythingMrs. Cox had said, mostly about her lineage beingtraditionally neutral. 
  129. 129. “I will have to keep my research to myself, I suppose,”she sighed. “Mama would not like to see me learn darkspells. She would probably tell Mrs. Wilson about it,too.”But Diana was willing to do all it would take to reachthe potential she knew she had. “So be it, then.” 
  130. 130. Well, this is it for now, guys! Once again, thank you forreading, I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Pleasecomment on boolprop :)Will Francis forgive his parents? What will happen tohim in Shelter Academy? Will Diana keep going on thedark path of magic or will she see the light?
  131. 131. Credits:Jake Ward: Jake Gyllenhal, by Udontknow on Modthesims Many thanks to all the wonderful CC creators on allaboutstyle.com and on modthesims!!

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