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Hartman House - Book 1 of The Hartman House Saga

Published July 2015

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Imagine a house that is a safe haven from witch hunters and werewolf or vampire slayers. Where any mystical being could live, safe from the threat of the outside world. The Hartman family were themselves witches and had always tried their best to protect their own, and to protect other magical beings as well. To do so they built a large mansion on the edge of New Orleans and spelled it to conceal any magic.

The spell on the house also kept the wolves from needing to turn on full moons. And kept the vampires from needing to feed on human blood. With such powerful allies living among them, they could create search and rescue teams to help bring in those who were being hunted.

And with so many successful rescues in recent times, the leaders of Hartman House needed to find the secret to the spell over the house. The same spell whose secret had died with the last of the Hartman’s fifteen years earlier.

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Prologue

 

 

 

And they were running.  Again.  They had thought this new location would be more private; it was definitely more secluded being on the other side of a long lake and back inside the dense trees and scrub of the forest.  They had planned it carefully.  So how did they know?

Maybe they had taken too long to decide on the location.  They'd visited the place a couple of times before they performed any rituals there.  Too many times. They usually chose places at random.  Maybe someone had tracked them.  Someone had to have tracked them!

All these thoughts ran through Rodelle's head as they ran.  She and her best friend had been hiding from these hunters for months now, and this was the closest they had gotten.  It was way too close.

“Wait, stop!”  Laren whispered harshly at her, as she came to a halt and hunched forward, hands on knees, to catch her breath.  “I don't have a good feeling about going that way.”

“Well we don't have much of a choice, they are closing in on us from behind and I can feel them off to the sides.  If we go straight up this way we will eventually hit a mountain trail and we can find one of our caves to stay in for the night.”  Rodelle grabbed Laren's hand and got her moving again.

A howl from behind them had the girls exchanging very surprised glances.  Laren had calmed all the hunting animals in town.  Horses refused to be ridden after them, and dogs and hounds refused to hunt them.  For them to have tracking hounds meant they had called on some outside help.

Rodelle paused, turned and crouched down to place her hand just above the ground.

“Obscura” She whispered, and flung her hand towards the way they had come.  Any prints they had left vanished and a small fog rose to obscure any other signs of their passing in the dark.

“Come on.”  She rose and the two of them began running again.

As the sounds behind them became confused the girls smiled at each other and slowed to a walk to catch their breaths.

Rodelle stopped suddenly as she patted at her pockets to make sure she hadn't lost anything.  

“Why are you stopping?  We need to keep going!”  Laren whisper-yelled to her.

“I think I lost my scrying crystal, the quartz.  That's the oldest one I have!”  Rodelle turned back a few steps looking towards the ground, searching for the crystal.

“Come on, please.  We will make another one soon, I promise.  Let's just get out of these woods fast.”  Laren turned and began briskly walking again.

“Ok, ok... sorry.  I shouldn't have brought that one with me anyway.  I know better than to bring my more potent things to a practice.”  She turned around to see her friend walking away and she stepped forward to follow.  She just began to jog to catch up when she saw her friends eyes get real big and then disappear altogether.  

The ground had opened up under Laren and she had fallen through.

“Oh no.  Oh no oh no oh no.”  Rodelle dropped to the ground and crawled over to the edge, peeking over.  What she saw there tore her heart into pieces.  

Laren's body was staring straight up at the midnight sky, unseeing and unblinking.  The hole was deep and filled with large wooden stakes.  Two of these had driven themselves through Laren's neck and lower abdomen.

Shaking and sobbing uncontrollably, Rodelle stared at her friends face for only a moment before scooting away from the hole in denial.  She wrapped her arms around her knees and sat there sobbing silently.  Until she got angry.

Rising, she turned towards the path they had just run up.  She slowly walked back the way they had come, fishing in her pocket for... something.  She had to have something that would work.

They had always lived on the code “Harm none and do as ye will.”  But these men who hunted them, they lived by a different code.  Religious nuts who lived by quoting the bible to scare people into following them; to frighten folk into hunting innocent people.  Well she had a quote for them, then.

An Eye for an Eye.

By the time she could see the hunters the wind had whipped up around her, picking up debris and causing it to circle around her viciously.  The hunters all turned their eyes toward her, too stunned to say anything.  She opened her hand to see what she had found in her pocket to use.  It was a malachite arrowhead.  Laren had given it to her when they first met.  Fitting.

She held her hand out just a small ways from her chest and waved her other hand over it while chanting.

“Sagitta cor quaerentium.  Minimus erit reus sanguinis!”  She thrust her hand forward, palm up and the arrow head flew away from her hand and into the crowd of witch hunters.  It dove straight through missing all the older men in the front of the group and drove right into the chest of a young man in the back.  

Time suddenly slowed and she saw everything in crystal clear detail.  The young man’s surprised face was handsome, dark haired and green eyed.  As the light started going out of those eyes he slowly made to drop the reins of the horses he was leading.  He had no weapons, not even a knife.  He had several canteens of water strapped to his belt.  And around his neck was a leather thong, holding a silver ring with the inscription “Everlee”.  

His life had not been hers to take.  He was promised to another.  He was not really even a part of this group of hunters.  

Rodelle realized all this in a split second, while time was still slowed.  She gasped in a sob, realizing what she had done in haste and anger.

Suddenly a dark form dropped down beside her.  The person was tall and his face was hidden in the shadows of his cloaks' hood.  He was not a hunter, she knew that immediately.

“You must leave here before they track you down next.  You cannot keep relying on spur of the moment magic to get you away.”  The tall man had a smooth, deep voice.  

“I have nowhere to go.”  Rodelle whispered, still staring at the handsome young man.

“Yes you do.  You just don't know of it.  I can take you there.  A haven, for those of us that normal people could never understand.”  The figure stretched out his hand to her, palm up.  His hand passed right through the debris that was still circling her.  

She looked over at him, surprised that he didn't disturb the barrier.  Darkness clung to his whole body.  Looking straight at him was like looking into the depths of a cave.  Or a pit.  Rodelle closed her eyes and bit down on that memory.

With a tear rolling down her cheek, she asked him “Are you sure I will be safe?  Will others there be safe from me?”  She opened her eyes and looked back towards the group of hunters, and the young man, who had not yet fallen to the ground.  

“I can promise you, it's as safe as you want it to be.”  His hand was still stretched out when she looked back to him.

He pushed back his hood, letting his face be seen.  She was sure only she could see it, that only she could see him and that the hunters could not.  He was very fair in face, no wrinkles.  Yet his short black hair was striped with silver at the temples.  His eyes were silver to match the patches of hair.  She felt no compulsion toward him, he was not using any magic on her.  He was offering her an escape.

Shedding another tear for her lost friend and for the life of the boy who did not even realize he was dead yet, she reached out her hand and took the strangers'.

He closed his hand around hers and pulled her from the debris cloud circling around her and into his embrace.

Time sped up again.

The debris stopped as she moved from it and fell to the ground, revealing the empty space that she no longer occupied.  The hunter’s faces betrayed looks that were confused by her disappearance.  The young man finished his fall backwards, dead in that instant.  Breaking his promise to his Everlee, and breaking Rodelle's heart for the second time that night.

Then the darkness enveloped her in a soothing warmth and she became blissfully unaware.