Morgaine and Raven [The Chronicles of Morgaine the Witch #3] [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Joe Vadalma
eBook Category: Fantasy/Romance
eBook Description: Morgaine's centuries long love for Michael the immortal knight reaches a dramatic turning point in this third installment in this popular new series that features romance, the occult, magic, witchcraft and alchemy. The series is "A fine, original new work of dark fantasy," raves Horror Sagas. Raven Lenore, a tough young former cop, private investigator and Wiccan, must investigate the mysterious disappearance of renown psychic, Michael Ellul, by his wife Melody, an attractive, moneyed middle-aged woman. Questioning the couple's friends Raven stumbles on a fantastic tale about the suicide of Michael's associate, Morgaine Fabiano, which involves black magic, demon summoning and ritual human sacrifice. She also learns that a Father McGuillicutty also committed suicide on the Ellul's estate, and discovers a daguerreotype from the nineteenth century in which one of the people has a strong resemblance to Michael, the missing psychic. Jack Westcott, a computer scientist, dismisses the notion of supernatural happenings, but informs Raven that the missing Michael studied alchemists such as Doctor Dee to find out the secret of eternal youth. Soon, what started out as an ordinary missing persons investigation turns into a dangerous game against mysterious demonic forces. In the course of the investigation, Raven encounters gunmen, a decomposed corpse, a computer printout that claims that Doctor Frankenstein was a real person, a pagan chapel with a bloody altar surrounded by human bones. What Raven doesn't realize is that even if she survives, it is a case that will leave a multitude of loose ends and unanswered questions. [Introduces Raven of the author's Raven Lenore, Psychic Investigator series] Cover art: Sami Hursey
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner Editions
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2012
"But I thought all witches were wicked," said the girl, who was half frightened at facing a real witch.
"Oh no, that is a great mistake. There were only four witches in all the Land of Oz, and two of them, those who live in the North and South, are good witches..."
L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz
My name is Raven Lenore, and I'm a witch -- although I prefer the term Wiccan. I'm not old; at least I don't think twenty-seven could be considered old. Also, I'm not ugly, in fact I've been complimented on my good looks and figure by many a man. I'm not wicked either, or at least no more wicked than most sexually active women my age. Witchcraft is not what most people think. It's an earth religion, a linking of the human soul with the life force of nature, both on this planet and in the stars and space beyond. I meet with my coven periodically to raise my energy and commune with natural forces. I honor the old Goddesses and Gods as symbols of immanent nature.
Among the goddesses that I pay homage to is Hecate, goddess of the dark moon, the underworld and magic. Hecate is often pictured riding in a chariot pulled by dragons and is the goddess of witchcraft. We've named our coven after her, The Mystery Coven of Hecate. Among Her other aspects, Hecate is the guardian of crossroads. Little did I know that the evening of our meeting would indeed be a crossroads for me. Appropriate coincidence or prophetic omen? Only Hecate knows. For whatever mysterious reason that goddesses do what they do, She chose me to experience events that changed my life dramatically.
It was a blustery night in early March. The moon was new and dark; the sky sparkled with a myriad stars. I roared up on my Harley to my friend Rachel's home to honor, with others of our coven, Hecate. Earlier that day the Tarot had foretold that I was about to enter a period of change and danger. I dismissed this with amusement and forgot its warning. Other times the cards had reported the same and nothing drastic had happened. Thus, I climbed the steps of Rachel's porch without the faintest premonition that I was about to embark on a journey of terrible trials and emotional trauma. My only thought was to escape the brisk March wind that chilled me to the bone.
I lifted the skirt of my ceremonial robe to avoid dragging it through the dregs of dirty leftover snow and tapped the door three times, then five, the secret signal that would let Rachel know that a member of our coven was at her door.
After I entered, Rachel embraced me. "Welcome Raven. May Hecate find you well."
The house was dark except for the flickering light of candles set in a circle on the living room floor. They surrounded a thurible in which lay a glowing hot coal. In the gloom the women in various positions on the floor were mere shadows. Their raised hands in greeting, the warm air and the spicy odor of incense comforted me after the bitter cold outdoors.
"And may She find you in fine health and good spirits," I replied as I hugged my friend. "Is everyone here?"
"Yes, you're the last to arrive."
"Sorry I'm late. Heavy traffic leaving the city," I said as I removed my leather jacket and motorcycle helmet.
"No problem. We were about to begin."
I adjusted my black robe and touched the scabbard in which my athame, or ritual knife, rested. Women widened the circle to allow me to squat down among them. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I nodded to several dimly lit faces. All were familiar, except one. I assumed that she was a prospective member of the coven.
Rachel started the ceremony by staining our palms and soles of our feet with henna. I noticed that the newcomer waved her away. When Rachel finished this ritual, she raised her arms, gazed at the ceiling and said, "Tonight we do praise and honor the goddess Hecate, protectress of flocks, sailors and witches. The dark mother, sender of night visions. Most lovely one, distant one, silver-footed queen of night."
In reply, the rest of us called, "Who, who," in the manner of owls, as the night-calling owl is Hecate's messenger.
After Rachel sprinkled incense on the thurible, which smelled of sandalwood, cypress and peppermint, she lit a torch, Hecate's symbol, held it aloft, and said the following invocation:
"Hail great Hecate! Goddess of the Moon,
Goddess of witches in the dancing ring,
To thee all roads must lead us, late or soon
The end, and start, of all our wandering,
Thou offerest the neverending choice
Left, right, or onward; every path is thine.
O great Hecate, let us hear thy voice!
Lighter of darkness, give us a sign!"
We responded with more "who, who's." This ended the ceremonial part of our gathering. Rachel turned on the lights, doused the torch and thurible and blew out the candles. She and two other women went to the kitchen and brought out goodies, little cakes, pretzels and potato chips, cauliflower and broccoli florets for the diet conscious, snack crackers, hors d'oeuvre, dip, beer, wine and soda.
Except that we wore black robes, carried athames and participated in a ceremony at the beginning, our meetings are not much different than any gathering of women friends. We get together for an evening of spirituality, conversation, gossip and nibbling. We talk about our diets, the latest sales at Wal-Mart, our boy friends, husbands and our children, those of us who have them, as well as arcane subjects such as spiritual growth, magic, psychic healing and the occult. But, even non-witches discuss these subjects.
That evening I sat on Rachel's worn sofa near the bowl of chips with a Molsen in one hand yakking with a group about a recently enacted law and its effect on women. After a few minutes, however, Rachel tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "There's someone I'd like you to meet."
I excused myself and followed her into the kitchen. The stranger leaned against the counter sipping a glass of white wine. Her hair was streaked with gray, and she had laugh lines around her eyes and mouth, but was otherwise extremely attractive, well put together and expensively dressed. I imagined that when she was younger she was a real heart breaker, a gal who men fawned over. I guessed her age as late forties, early fifties, and the wife or girl friend of a man who was loaded. I soon learned that my hunches were correct.
"Raven, I'd like you to meet Melody Ellul. Melody, my friend, Raven Lenore."
As I shook her hand, I thought, Ellul? Could this woman be any relation to the famous astrologer and psychic who disappeared a couple of years ago? "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Ms. Ellul. Are you interested in joining our coven?"
"Melody, please. And I'm happy to meet you, although I feel as though I already know you. We had a mutual acquaintance, Morgaine Fabiano. She spoke of you often. As far as joining your coven ... well, I'm a Catholic..."
"Oh, we have Christian members. Nothing about Wicca precludes a belief in your Christian god, as long as you can accept our Pagan ones as well. You knew Morgaine Fabiano?"
"Yes. I was present at her passing. It was a terrible tragedy. But I suppose it was her fate."
I gaped at her. Morgaine had been my friend. Although she was older than me, it was I who introduced her to The Craft. Although she was a bit on the wild side and unpredictable, I admired her greatly, maybe because she and I were a lot alike. I lost touch with her after she became involved with Michael Ellul. Later I learned that she had committed suicide. That's what startled me about Melody's words. I wondered what the hell she meant when she said that she was present at Morgaine's passing. And that remark about it being her fate; was this woman such a fatalist that she believed that the taking of one's own life was beyond the person's control?
"Are you saying that you saw her die?"
The Ellul woman crossed herself. "I'm afraid so. It was a horrible moment that I'll never forget."
"Couldn't you stop her? Wasn't there anything you could do?"
She shook her head. "Not under the circumstances. But please, Raven, I'd prefer not to discuss it right now. If you like, some day I'll tell you the whole awful story."
"Okay. But I'm holding you that. Smoke?" I took out a pack of Camel Wides and offered her one.
But as she reached for it, Rachel cried, "Not in my house. If you must, it's out in the cold with you."
"Oh, I'm sorry Rachel." I started to put the pack away.
Melody said, "I could really use one. I don't mind going out on the porch. We can talk while we ruin our lungs and freeze our buns."
I was curious as to what this rich woman wanted from me, since she had no interest in joining our coven. "Okay."
I grabbed my jacket, and Melody took an expensive fur from the closet. We lit up out on the porch. "Melody, are you related to Michael Ellul, the astrologer?"
"He's my husband. He's who I came here to see you about."
"I believe the papers said that he'd disappeared under mysterious circumstances. That was a while ago."
"It's been two years, and the police have come up empty handed. I didn't know where to turn until I remembered what Morgaine told me about you. She said that you were a detective with the NYPD. When I contacted the police department, however, they said that you had quit the force to become a private investigator. Morgaine thought highly of you, described you as 'investigatively gifted.' I want to hire you to find my husband."
I inhaled a deep breath of smoke and blew it out. So that was it. My boy friend Keith and I are in the PI business. To tell the truth, it wasn't doing well. Solving the disappearance of a famous astrologer could give us the publicity we needed to get our business off the ground. "What about the police? Have they given up?"
"They say not, but I don't see any evidence of activity on their part. They think that he left of his own accord, which may be true. Nevertheless, I want to find him."
"What do you think about his disappearance? Do you accept the police's theory, or do you think he was kidnapped or met with foul play?"
She shrugged. "I really don't know. I went to work one morning, kissed him goodbye and that's the last I saw of him. It was as though he'd simply vanished off the face of the earth."
She flipped her cigarette into the darkness, took out a hanky and dabbed at her eyes.
"I don't want to upset you," I said, tossing my own butt into the dirty snow, "but if I take your case, I have to know; had you been quarreling just previous to his disappearance?"
"No. Everything's was fine between us."
"Any suspicions about him cheating?"
"No. If he had been having an affair, I would've sensed something."
They all say that, I thought. "I see. Okay, we'll probably take the case. You know, PIs don't come cheap."
She smiled at me. "No worry on that score. Michael left me well off. I simply want to find out where he is and whether he's alive."
I handed her our agency card. "Call me at your convenience, and we'll get together to discuss the details of your husband's disappearance. I'll need to pry into your private life somewhat."
She shook my offered hand. "Thank you, Raven. You may be my last chance to find him."
"I hope I don't disappoint you."
As I rode my Harley back to the city, I mentally went over our conversation. There seemed to be a lot the Ellul woman hadn't told me, but if we took her case, I figured I could pry the truth out of her. For one thing, I didn't buy her story about why she chose me. I wondered just exactly what her relation to Morgaine really was. They seemed like opposites. I was also curious about the facts behind Morgaine's death? I had a premonition, that there was more to the case than finding a missing husband -- a lot more. Oh how right I was. If I had only known. Anyway, I knew Keith would be happy when he learned that she was loaded. I was sure he'd want to set our fee high. And why not? She seemed rich enough.
* * * *
It was late by the time I returned to my apartment. Keith, my boy friend and partner, was dozing in front of the tube. The basketball game he'd been watching had long since been over, and a twenty-year-old western was on. It made little difference as he was dead to the world, snoring loudly in fits and spurts.
I tiptoed in, quietly hung up my jacket and placed my helmet on the closet shelf. I gazed at him for a moment. He's a real hunk. He had bulging pecks that showed quite clearly through his thin T-shirt, and his forearms were like other men's thighs. He isn't always too swift in the brain department, however. But that was all right; it made it easier for me to manipulate him into doing whatever I wanted, while he thought he was in charge.
I put water on to boil, took two cups from the cupboard and spooned sugar and instant coffee in one and herbal tea in the other. When the water was hot, I brought the cups into the living room and shook Keith awake.
"Hey big boy, I've got news."
He snorted, rubbed his eyes and mumbled, "That's the way, Shak. A three-pointer. Huh?" His eyes clicked open, and he gave me a wild stare which slowly faded into a broad smile. "Hi, Raven. How was your witch meeting? Did you girls raise the devil?"
Keith does not believe in witchcraft or anything that smacks of the paranormal. No, that's not quite correct. He says quote, "All that new age stuff is crap" and makes fun of my friends and me. On the other hand, I know he checks his horoscope in the paper, and sometimes asks me to interpret his dreams. Since we started living together, I've taught him to be tolerant of witchcraft and the arcane arts. He'd better if he wants to keep me as a girl friend.
"Fine. Better than fine. A woman came who wants to hire us to find her husband."
"Oh yeah." He was not impressed. "One of your witch friends? Did she drive him out of the house with stinky brews in her cauldron?"
I smacked him on the shoulder with my fist hard enough to hurt. "Ouch. Raven!"
"No. The client knew Morgaine, but isn't into The Craft herself. You remember Morgaine."
"Yeah. She was that friend of yours who committed suicide."
"Yes, and I could never figure it. Well, this client -- her name is Melody Ellul -- is rich. We could ask big bucks to locate her husband."
He sat up straight. The mention of money, which has been kind of scarce lately, had gotten his attention. "Ellul. Ellul. The name sounds familiar."
"The missing husband is Michael Ellul, the astrologer and psychic."
"Okay. Now I know where I saw that name. In the Enquirer. According to article I read, he vanished without a trace two years ago. At first, the police theorized that he was murdered by his wife. Our prospective client stood to inherit millions which made her the chief suspect. But the cops could never prove nothing. Not even that he was dead. To add to the mystery, years before he disappeared, two people committed suicide at his estate, Morgaine and a priest. That was a scandal too. Rumor had it that Ellul was running a devil worshipping cult."
"Jesus Keith, you know more about this case than I do. Is that rag still around?" I never read those supermarket tabloids, but Keith is a faithful fan of the Enquirer.
"Geez no, Raven. I put it in with the papers to be recycled. The trash guy picked them up Monday."
"That's all right. We'll find one somewhere."
We talked about the case and how to handle it for a long time before going to bed.
The next morning I called Melody to tell her that we'd take the case. She agreed to drop by at one o'clock. Our office is only a spare room with a desk, bookshelves, a computer and little else. We entertain clients in our living room. My hope was that what we could make enough off of Melody's case to allow us to rent a downtown office and pay for advertising. With luck, our PI business could become a profitable concern.
Keith and I met in the army. When our enlistments were up, I joined the NYPD, and Keith opened a Karate school. Keith never made much from his school, and I got disgusted with my superior and quit. Since I was familiar with police work, I talked Keith into going into the PI business with me. At first he was hesitant, but with his Karate school not bringing in enough to pay the rent and my nagging, he agreed to give it a whirl. He supplies the muscle, and I, the brains. Our investigations up to the point where I met Melody had been mostly for lawyers in custody, divorce and accident cases. They paid enough to put bread on the table with a little -- a very little -- left over for entertainment, transportation and our hobbies -- my witchcraft, Keith's martial arts and body building.
After Keith and I cleaned up the joint, Keith left to go to his Karate session. I prepared our standard contract, thirty dollars an hour plus expenses, and placed a tape recorder on the coffee table. When Melody arrived, I told her to make herself comfortable and served her tea. Before I asked her any questions about the case, we discussed the contract.
"It seems to me," she said, "that you're charging too little. There's two of you, right? That's only fifteen dollars an hour each. You could make that much working in a grocery store."
I grinned. "Well Melody, our business is just getting off the ground. Once we get a reputation, don't worry, we'll raise our fees. That's why I'm happy to have you as a client. Because of your husband's fame, it'll be quite a feather in our caps if we find him, especially since the police were unsuccessful."
"I understand." After she signed the contract, she took an envelope from her purse and handed it to me. "This is an advance to get you started."
I opened the envelope and whistled. Inside were ten crisp one hundred dollar bills. "Thank you. Let me write out a receipt." I started to rise. She made a gesture that I should remain seated.
"I don't need a receipt. I trust you."
I raised my eyebrows but said nothing. Either she was very naive, was so loaded that a thousand dollars meant nothing to her, or there was more to this case than a missing husband. The correct answer, of course, was "all of the above."
I turned on the tape recorder. "Melody, I'd like to record our conversation so that I don't forget anything. Note taking is a pain. Is that all right?"
"Sure, go ahead," she said without hesitation, a sign that she intended to be truthful.
"Now what can you tell me about your husband's disappearance?"
"Only what I said at your meeting. I went to work one day. When I came home, he was gone. That was the last I saw of him. Mind if I smoke?"
"Sure. Have one of mine?" I shoved my pack toward her. With great delicacy, she removed one, tapped it on the table and placed it between her lips. I took out another, lit hers and my own. "What I mean is was there any evidence of foul play? Was your house broken into? Any sign of a struggle? Do you think anyone had been in the house besides him?"
She blew out a cloud of blue smoke. "No, none of that. I'm sure that he left of his own accord. If he wasn't alone, he was with someone he knew. One of our cars was gone. Later, the police found it at Kennedy airport in the long-term parking lot. It was after that, that they lost interest in the case."
"I see. That places a different complexion on things. We'll check the airline records. I'm surprised the police didn't do that."
"Perhaps they did. At the time, the NYPD wasn't telling me much about what they were doing." She smiled wanly. "Up until they found the car, they were sure that I'd murdered him for the insurance and his assets. After that, they probably figured he went away for reasons of his own."
"Prior to his disappearance, did he give you any indication that he was about to leave?"
"No, but he left a note."
"A note? Did you show it to the police?"
"Yes, but after one look, they laughed and said, 'How do we know you didn't write this yourself?' I have it here. I've read it over many times, but still don't understand it."
She handed me a worn and smudged folded sheet of paper from her purse. I opened it carefully to keep it from falling apart. It read, "Dearest Melody, I'm on a mission to find Doctor Dee's formula for the fifth element. If I fail, have a good life. I love you more than life itself, but cannot bring myself to watch you grow old and die. Michael."
"It's kind of cryptic," I said. "Before I ask you about it, may I make a copy?"
She nodded, and I went into our office to make duplicates. When I returned, I gave her back the original and one copy. I placed another copy in front of me.
"Do you know what he means when he says he can't bring himself to watch you grow old and die?"
She rolled her eyes. "You're probably going to think that Michael is mad or a fraud. I don't believe either is the true case..." She hesitated. "...But he has an obsession, a delusion, fantasy -- whatever you want to call it -- that he's practically immortal."
"What do you think of his claim?"
She shrugged. "As we grew older, he did retain his youthful appearance ... and I've experienced some very strange things while I was living with Michael."
"Who's Doctor Dee?"
She grinned. "A sixteenth century alchemist."
Of course. I had read about Doctor Dee and Edward Kelly in a book about the history of the occult. "And this fifth element is an imaginary substance that alchemists claimed existed? Like phlogiston or the philosopher's stone?"
"I wouldn't know. My husband was into all that occult stuff; I'm not. But I just remembered something he once said." She rubbed her head, mussing her carefully coiffured gray-streaked brunette mop. "I wonder why I hadn't thought of this until now."
"He told me that he'd learned that Doctor Dee had a secret journal that was never published and that he'd made a discovery concerning its location. Likely as not, at the time I only half listened. When he talked about the occult, I pretended to be interested to please him, but my mind would wander."
"That might be an important clue. He might have gone to wherever he thought he could find this alchemist's secret journal."
"You could be right. Already I'm glad I hired you."
"Thanks. Now I'll need to get more personal. Since his disappearance, have you noticed any withdrawals from any savings, checking or business accounts that you owned jointly?"
"No. And I keep careful tabs on everything, go over everything my accountant does. Besides, I can't imagine Michael ever lacking for money."
I persisted. "How about credit card accounts? Any purchases or cash withdrawals not by you?"
"No." Her forehead creased in thought. "There's one thing. Soon after Michael disappeared, someone got into our safe deposit box. When I asked the bank about it, they showed me my signature. The handwriting was unfamiliar. Apparently, the woman -- it had to be a woman -- also had fake ID."
"Go on. What was missing?"
"Not much. No stocks or bonds or money or any other negotiable paper. Just computer diskettes."
"I see. What was on the diskettes?"
"I have no idea. Michael put them there. I only saw them once."
"Were they labeled?"
"Yes, as I recall, just a single word; Asmodeus. Probably a code whose meaning only Michael knew."
I asked a few more questions, but nothing she said after that seemed significant. Finally, I asked her for a list of all her husband's friends and acquaintances, with their addresses and phone numbers if she knew them. She promised to make a list from his address book and fax it to me.
"Last night you said you were present when my friend Morgaine committed suicide and that someday you would tell me the circumstances. Would you do that now?"
She screwed up her face into a pained expression. "I suppose you deserve to know. It may even bear on Michael's disappearance." She lit another cigarette off the butt of the one she had been smoking and drank the dregs of her tea. She held up the cup and asked, "Do you have anything stronger than tea?"
"Sure, do you like brandy?"
"That would be great. It was such a horrible tragedy, I need something to even speak of it."
I went and filled a tumbler with brandy. She gulped down half of the glass in one swallow.
"As a witch you must believe in the supernatural?" she asked.
"Somewhat. I keep an open mind to such things, although I know that there are a lot of frauds and kooks around."
"What about demon possession ... and black magic?"
I shrugged. I never bought into all that Satanist crap.
"Well, the story of Morgaine's death concerns both. You can believe what I say or not, but the events I am about to tell you about happened exactly as I am going to relate them to you. I was an eyewitness and an unwilling participant in a way. Something as horrible as what happened to Morgaine stays in your memory forever." Her hand with the glass trembled, spilling some liquor. "Of course, I could've been hallucinating or having a particularly lucid nightmare. On the other hand, Morgaine is dead by her own hand."
She told me a tale so incredible that I had to believe that she made it up or read it in some horror novel.
* * * *
AN INCREDIBLE TALE
I listened with rapt attention to Melody Ellul's story about Morgaine's death, with growing horror and disbelief. I wondered whether our new client was a victim of a weird delusion, a teller of fantastic stories for attention or under the influence of a powerful hallucinatory drug at the time of the occurrences she described. In her cultured soft voice and a matter-of-fact manner, she narrated events that at the time seemed to me obviously impossible and absurd. Here's a verbatim transcript of the tape recording I made of our conversation.
Melody: First I must tell you that I have recurring nightmares about what happened. As a result, sometimes it's difficult for me to separate my dreams from the reality. All I can say is that I'll try to describe the awful events as I believe they occurred -- what I actually recall of them. I must warn you though, the supernatural was involved.
Raven: As I said before, as a witch, I'm a believer in the paranormal. If there are occult elements, I'll take them as fact.
M. Ha, ha. Occult elements? If only that was all there was to it. I'm talking about black magic.
R. Well, I can't say that I believe in actual black magic, but if you say that's what occurred, I'll keep an open mind. Please go on.
M. First, I must tell you about my relationship with Morgaine. Before I met Michael, Morgaine and he had a brief affair. They broke up, but remained friends and business partners. At least that was what Michael always told me was his view of their relationship. The truth, though was that Morgaine remained in love with him. And I believe Michael was well aware of it. She, along with other friends of Michael's, lived on his estate in Woodstock, New York. Do you know where Woodstock is?
R. Yes, I've been there. I attended the 1994 Woodstock Concert in Saugerties. I and a couple of my friends went there a couple of times when we got bored. It's a quaint little town. You say that Morgaine and your husband's other friends lived on an estate. Did you and Michael also live there?
M. For a couple of years after we got married. After Morgaine's death, we moved away. The place brought back too many painful memories.
R. These other people who lived on the estate, can you give me their names and current residences. I may want to question them concerning your husband.
M. I'll fax you a list. I don't know whether the addresses and phone numbers I have are current though. I haven't been in contact with any of them since Michael vanished. They were his friends, not mine. I think that they, like the police, believed that I was somehow responsible for Michael's disappearance.
R. Who lives on the estate now?
M. No one. I tried to sell it, but it's a white elephant. I couldn't get anywhere near it's true worth. Besides, developers would've torn the lovely old place down and subdivided it or built a mall on the property. I didn't want anything like that to happen to the old place. Michael and I had it boarded up. We hired an agent who sees to maintaining it.
R. I see. Please continue telling me about Morgaine's death.
M. Yes, where was I? Well, not only was Morgaine still in love with Michael and terribly jealous of our relationship, but she claimed that she could command powers from the other world. In other words, do black magic. Until I witnessed the events that I'm going to describe to you, I always figured that this was a romantic notion that she told everyone to make herself seem mysterious and desirable. After what happened though, I believe she may have been telling the literal truth. She performed black magic.
From the first time that Michael brought me to Moonwood, she did everything in her power to break us up. First she told me terrible lies about Michael. When I refused to believe them, she played nasty little tricks. At first this rattled me, but once I was confident of Michael's love, I ignored her. Finally, her obsession grew so strong that she did something terrible -- which I won't go into -- and Michael threw her out and severed all ties with her, including business ones.
R. Is this when she became distraught and took her own life?
M. No. I'm coming to that part. It was a year later. After Michael broke it off all ties with Morgaine, he and I moved to Manhattan, but we did not close up Moonwood because his friends still lived there. Months later, we returned for a visit. The moment we walked in the door, strange things began to happen. I believe that someone, perhaps a friend of Morgaine's, had slipped a hallucinatory drug in our wine, which might account for the bazaar occurrences that I recall. But well -- everything I experienced seemed absolutely real.
The first unusual thing was that although we were tired from our drive up from the city, we each had an uncontrollable desire to make love. We practically tore each other's clothes off. Now comes the part that I'm not sure of. Maybe it was something that happened only in my nightmares -- or maybe it was a drug-induced hallucination -- I suspected that Morgaine somehow spiked our drinks -- but it all seemed so real -- even now. While we made love, our souls, auras, minds, whatever you want to call the essence of who we are, exchanged bodies.
R. Exchanged bodies? What do you mean?
M. I mean our personas literally exchanged bodies. My mind was in Michael's body; his in mine. At first, we were simply astonished, not particularly frightened by this. For a short time, it seemed funny in a way. Right away Michael suspected that Morgaine was responsible. I recall him saying, "Black magic. Morgaine is using sorcery."
R. Your husband witnessed all this? That kind of rules out your having a hallucination or recalling a vivid nightmare, doesn't it?
M. Perhaps. He would never talk about it afterwards. Whenever I'd bring it up, he'd say that it was too painful. "Let sleeping dogs lie," he'd say.
R. What happened after your auras exchanged bodies?
M. While we discussed what to do, the lights went out and claw-like hands grabbed us and dragged us away. At that point my memory gets fuzzy. Perhaps I fainted. The next thing I recall is being tied to a chair in the cellar. The things that grabbed us must've been demons summoned by Morgaine.
Look, am I upsetting you by the things I'm saying about her? I know she was a friend of yours. I don't think she meant to be a bad person. It's simply that she was so obsessed with Michael that she'd do anything to get him back -- even deal with the devil.
R. That's all right. You have your view of her; I have mine. I haven't seen her for a long time, not since before she met your husband. Maybe she had changed from the Morgaine I knew.
(At this point in the interview, I remember thinking, as wild as Morgaine is, I could see her trying to raise up the devil. Nevertheless, although I believe in things that are beyond the understanding of our present-day science, at the time I didn't really think that Morgaine or anyone else could do black magic or raise demons.)
R. May I ask you question though? These demons, did you see them? What did they look like?
M. No, I didn't see them. When the lights came on in the cellar, Morgaine was there by herself. She was dressed in a manner similar to the way you were dressed at Rachel's the night we met.
R. In the ceremonial robes of the craft.
M. Yes, her robe was black with a silver cord around the waist. She carried a dagger.
R. A ritual dagger. We call them athemes.
M. I see. I also recall that she wore a long chain with a five-pointed star pendent on it.
R. A symbol of witchcraft. Of course, some people say that it's the symbol of the devil.
M. Well, she threatened me with the dagger. Although I was still in Michael's body, she knew who I was and said she was going to sacrifice me to a demon. When Michael talked her out of that, Michael and I were returned to our own bodies. Later she performed a horrible ritual to summon this demon.
R. Did she refer to the demon by name?
M. Let me think now. Yes. As I recall, it was Asmodeus.
R. Asmodeus? You're sure? The same name as on the label of those missing diskettes?
M. You're right, it was. I never connected the diskettes with the demon before. Again, what I'm going to tell you next, you're not going to believe. As I said, maybe I'm only recalling my nightmares or a hallucination. As God is my witness, I saw her conjure up the demon. (At this point, Melody made the sign of the cross.) Oh Jesus and Mary, I wish could believe that it was only a nightmare. I can't say what it really looked like, my mind seems to avoid that, only that it was a hellish creature. I have an impression that it was huge, its head or heads -- it seemed to have more than one -- almost touched the ceiling, which in our cellar are over ten feet high. Morgaine bowed down to it and approached me with the knife. I believe her first intention was to sacrifice me to the monster. She held the dagger above my breast and chanted in Latin. Before she finished, the creature from hell spoke. Oh God Almighty ... (Melody made the sign of the cross again.) ... its voice was horrible and loud, thunderous you might say. I don't know what it said, but she turned the knife around and plunged it into her own heart. At that moment, the demon disappeared into a sulfurous chasm that opened up in the floor for a few moments. And ... and, I swear I saw Morgaine's ghost follow it into the depths.