Emily ran her hand over the dusky green cover. It made her fingers tingle again. Intrigued, she opened the cover and found what should have been the title page was blank. Very faintly in the corner she could see someone had written a name in ornate script. Emily studied it closely and made out a few letters… it definitely looked like it started with an ‘A’, then a ‘v’, followed by another ‘a’. Emily moved her lips slightly as she whispered the name—Avalynn.
She turned over a few more pages and found that the text appeared to have been handwritten. What most intrigued her were the pictures, drawings really. The first was a sketch of five women sitting on the ground around a fire. Their hair was drawn in wild pencil lines but the unmistakable curves of their bodies were sketched with great attention to detail. Their arms were raised above their heads and as she looked at the drawing she could have sworn they were moving and the women appeared to be chanting. Emily could even see the pencil lines glisten with moisture and she could smell the aroma of incense burning on the fire.
She looked further through the book. Every now and then there was a heading and some more writing, but the pictures were so astounding and enticing. Another one showed a young woman tied to the ground, her arms and legs spread like the points of a star. Emily thought perhaps she was a virgin sacrifice judging by the way she was clothed in white compared with the dark dresses of the other women.
As she studied the drawing, Emily realised that her own breath was short. She imagined herself as the young woman in the drawing. Emily began to feel hot and lightheaded. She felt like she was about to faint.
Images of witches danced across the page. A scent of wild pansies drifted through the air. Emily tried to concentrate but her mind was getting hazy and the images blurred on the page. She felt a strange desire as her eyes remained fixed on the drawing, a pull so strong she could picture herself there, tied on the ground with the women chanting, the aroma of flowers in the summer moonlight filling her lungs, until she could feel herself dissolving, blurring the lines between the girl in bed and the one tied to the ground, until she was no longer sure which one was the real person, the real Emily.
Emily quickly put the book down.
I need some fresh air.
She moved toward the edge of the bed but as she stood her legs wobbled and she fell back down. Then the room began to spin wildly and she closed her eyes as she laid her head on the pillow. A wave of fear washed over her body.
When she opened her eyes, Emily found herself tied to the ground and surrounded by five women dressed in black. The air was thick with mugwort.
‘Come, child. Join us.’