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“Liam, who are they? Them, over there…” Bradley whispered to his older brother as he raised his hand to point a finger at two robed women turning the corner ahead of them. “Why are they wearing sheets?” His hand was abruptly smacked down by his brother.
“Be quiet, and have some decency! You know not to point at people…,” Liam snapped at his younger brother, still grasping his hand. He pulled him closer as he noticed one of the witches give the two boys a small glance as they turned the corner.
“But, Liam…. Who are they?” Bradley questioned louder.
“Hush, let’s get back to the house,” Liam snapped again. He knew it was a bad idea to take him a different route home from school for once, but he couldn’t help himself in the old town sometimes.
“But what about…” His gaze still stuck on the corner of the building where the robed women had turned, his voice eventually faded. “Okay.” Bradley wiggled his hand free from his older brother’s grip and they continued walking side by side.
Liam was not particularly fond of his brother, especially during moments like these. As two Humans living in a city that used to be home to multiple covens and other Mystics spread throughout the city, this happened often. Their parents always warned Liam to never walk into the parts where the most Mystics lived, but he couldn’t help himself. Those parts of the city were his favorite--they were just so much more interesting than the Humans’ side.
The practices within the covens remained a secret until around the 1800s, when health in magic made its introduction to the human world and helped to ease the presence of magical beings onto the human race. Even though they’ve now been around for centuries amongst them, it was hard to explain to his younger brother about the existence of witches and other Mystics, as his family was quite conservative and disregards the world of magic altogether. But Liam is quite the opposite. He is intrigued by the Mystics, despite his family attempting to hide the reality of them from him as much as possible as a child. He studied magic in secret and knows much about the existence of the Mystics; he was simply fascinated. His parents never realized how hard it would be to do this, considering they had to live in the same world as them.
Liam thought back to the look on the witch’s face as she turned the corner; she was a good distance away but he knew she heard his brother, even at a whisper. He couldn’t decipher that stare. He figured it was just the look all witches give when a finger is pointed at them or if they’re asked the universal question of little brothers everywhere, “what are you?” He forced himself to believe this was it, but he still had his doubts.
They turned a corner and began walking down their street. Liam admired the homes of the common city witches; many had herb gardens in the windows or had a jar sitting out for the coming rain that night. He gazed for a moment at the burns mark covering the outside windows and front door of a fire witch’s home. In his neighborhood, witches were more common than other Mystics, but Liam was not quite sure why. He believed that an old coven was located somewhere nearby, but he hadn’t fact checked it yet.
Bradley wasn’t so fascinated as his brother was. He kept yanking his hand, nagging to Liam about how slow he was. Bradley was only met with the dismissive wave of the hand and a sigh each time. Eventually, they made it to their house--not near as charming as the others. As soon as they were inside, Liam headed straight upstairs to his room as Bradley walked into the kitchen to announce to his mom they were home.
Landing on the bed with a frustrated grunt, he began to think back to the young robed witch they saw in the street. He still couldn’t quite put a finger on the feeling he got from the look she gave him; it wasn’t uneasy, but it wasn’t exactly comforting, either.
He sat up and sighed, sliding his shoes off. He listened as each hit the hardwood floor, one thunk at a time. He looked up at the music posters covering the walls of his bedroom. His parents had walked into his room millions of times without even realizing that over half of them were Mystics. He laughed at the thought of how clueless they were.
He got up and walked over to his computer, pulling up his music and playing it softly in the hopes that no one downstairs would hear it. He then trudged over to his window and watched the first raindrops fall as the overcast sky began to deepen into the charcoal color of night, lights of the small local shops in town bouncing off the clouds. He watched as a multitude of witches and other Mystics began to close up their windows, leaving the one or two windowsills containing their gardens or jars open. A weather witch that lived down the street caught his eye as she stepped out of her home and made her way to the outskirts of town. He pondered where she goes and what she does every time it stormed. The small, dimly lit windows of each house began to diminish through the raindrops gathering on the window pane.
Liam watched as a group of raindrops formed a small stream that trailed down the glass. He let it guide his gaze until it collided with a shape in the window. He looked past the stream and into the street at the figure who was a blob on the sidewalk in the rain that began to come down harder. He squinted, trying to make out the shape before realizing it was just their trash can.
He closed his eyes and straightened his hunched back, hearing joints crack and pop like his favorite cereal. He let out a deep breath and looked out the window one more time as he noticed something shifting in his sight. He leaned forward into the window again, his nose pressed against the pane as he focused back on the trash can again; this time, though, he realized once more that it wasn’t his trash can that he had seen.
Someone stood at the edge of the road, hunched over in a cloak and standing completely still. Liam then noticed them beginning to turn at such a slow speed that it caused him the same agitation as getting stuck behind a clueless ninth grader in the high school hallway. Eventually Liam could see the entire side of the person’s hood, and the long, twisted, crooked horns spiraling out from the front of it. He could see items dangling from them and the person’s hair, but couldn’t make out what they were. No telling, there were countless Mystics that draped themselves in all sorts of items.
Liam took a breath, realizing that the person standing in the street before him had taken up all of his focus. He backed away from the window, his face contorted in thought, before pressing his forehead against the cool glass once again to continue watching this odd figure. He caught them just as they finished turning to completely face his house, but just as the they did so, he disappeared in a flash of brown flames.
Liam thought nothing of the person except for they were just another creeper, ones that pop in the neighborhood every now and then to scare some of the Humans that lived there. Harmless.
Eileen Kailer was the one to wake Liam the next morning, her raucous yet riveting voice cutting through his early morning dreams. He leaned over, barely half of his body in his bed, as he reached for the speaker on his night stand. Eileen’s gruff vocals were cut off in an instant by the slam of Liam’s hand on the power button. He sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and smoothing out the muss of his hair in one streak. He laid back down in bed, examining the ceiling as he listened to the the remnants of last night’s storm fade off in the distance.