A guide for young wytche.., p.1
A Guide for Young Wytches, p.1Jon Jacks
A Guide for Young Wytches
Other New Adult and Children’s books by Jon Jacks
The Caught – The Rules – Chapter One – The Changes – Sleeping Ugly
The Barking Detective Agency – The Healing – The Lost Fairy Tale
A Horse for a Kingdom – Charity – The Most Beautiful Things (Now includes The Last Train)
The Dream Swallowers – Nyx; Granddaughter of the Night – Jonah and the Alligator
Glastonbury Sirens – Dr Jekyll’s Maid – The 500-Year Circus – The Desire: Class of 666
P – The Endless Game – DoriaN A – Wyrd Girl – The Wicker Slippers
Heartache High (Vol I) – Heartache High: The Primer (Vol II) – Heartache High: The Wakening (Vol III)
Miss Terry Charm, Merry Kris Mouse & The Silver Egg – The Last Angel – Eve of the Serpent
Seecrets – The Cull – Dragonsapien – The Boy in White Linen – Porcelain Princess – Freaking Freak
Died Blondes – Queen of all the Knowing World – The Truth About Fairies – Lowlife
Elm of False Dreams – God of the 4th Sun
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To open your heart to love or align yourself to your spiritual development, create a talisman of Hawthorn (May Tree, or White Thorn).
A Guide for Young Wytches
The way Richard had described it, I was expecting a much more foreboding castle.
It must be a quite magical place to live in. It was far more like one of those fairytale-like castles rich German princes had built in the nineteenth century, rather than Richard’s ‘impregnable fortress’.
Certainly, it was positioned seemingly precariously on a hard-to-access peak in the mountains. Its walls, too, were sheer and massive. It would have blended seamlessly into the rock, were it not for a covering of sparkling white paint.
Snow was falling now, giving the whole scene the appearance of a beautifully constructed snow-globe.
Even my taxi driver whistled in appreciation at the castle’s majesty, despite his assurances earlier that he had often made this journey.
He did, however, seem to understand the complicated procedures for entering the castle. He waited patiently while a drawbridge slowly lowered into place, politely informing the man who answered the entryphone that, yes, this was an approved visit.
Smoothly swinging into the large courtyard lying beyond the drawbridge’s twin towers, the driver pulled up before the long, winding flight of steps running up towards the castle’s main doors.
I’d expected people to be there to greet me, yet the door was closed. Many of the nearby windows were even shuttered.
As I stepped from the taxi, I felt a little anxious.
Had I made a mistake? Had I come on the wrong day? Perhaps I’d even arrived at the wrong castle?
As I settled the bill with the driver, however, and he unloaded my suitcase from the back of his car, the huge, double doors at last opened.
‘Sorry, I need to rush back,’ the driver apologised in his harshly accented yet otherwise amazingly good English.
‘Before the snow gets worse and blocks me in,’ he hurriedly added as he quickly slipped back into his seat.
The taxi was already disappearing across the drawbridge into the swiftly stirring snow as an elegantly slim woman imperiously descended the steps.
As she drew ever closer, she glowered at me evermore intensely.
‘And you are…?’ she demanded sternly.
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A Guide for Young Wytches
Maybe I should have been angry with the driver for leaving me with my heavy suitcase to drag up the steps; but having seen the narrow passes we’d travelled through, I could well understand his urgency to get back down into the far-off valley. The increasingly vigorous snowstorm would soon make everything impassable.
Besides, like me the driver had probably expected such a huge castle to be serviced by a staff of ever-helpful servants. Staff who saw it as their only aim in life to please and ensure the total wellbeing of the castle’s guests.
Instead, the only person I’d seen here was this amazingly unfriendly woman. She did nothing more than sneer at me as I struggled with my case.
She had glared resentfully at the rapidly vanishing taxi, as if contemplating calling it back and ordering it to immediately whisk me back down towards the valley’s sole and lonely town. It was too far gone for the driver to hear her, however; so she’d taken to asking me unnerving questions instead.
‘What are you doing here? Don’t you realise you have to be invited to the castle?’
‘Richard invited me; Richard Leon. He said he lived here – that he owned the castle!’
Even as I made my reply, I abruptly realised how unlikely all this sounded.
That a boy so young owned such a magnificent castle.
That he would just invite me on a whim to stay here; a girl he had met on holiday and known only for one afternoon, one evening.
That any girl who knew so little about a boy would accept such an unlikely invitation. Especially when there was no written agreement, bar an address scrawled across a handy envelope.
Had I been taken in by a boy simply trying to impress me with false tales of a fortune and great, ancient estates?
Yet when I’d mentioned Richard’s name, the woman thankfully hadn’t stared at me as if she had no idea whom I could be referring to.
Even so, she had stared at me as if she thought such a scenario was highly unlikely.
‘Well you can’t stay!’ she snapped. ‘I’ve no idea what he was thinking, inviting you here! We’ll have to phone the hire firm, recall your taxi.’
‘But can’t I at least see Richard to–’
She cut me short with a glower.
Behind the doors there lay a surprisingly vast entrance hall, with yet another set of steps gracefully rising up to the next level.
The whole scene, however, was dominated by a towering Christmas tree. It was so huge I felt sure that it must have been taken from amongst the forests of darkly-packed firs we’d passed on our way up here.
At least, the unfriendly woman had realised that I would undoubtedly freeze to death if I’d been left outside.
So, instead, she left me here in this looming hall, were I would merely freeze off my toes.
I had wondered why such an otherwise expensively attired and elegantly poised woman was wearing boots rather than preposterously high heels, until I felt the freezing draughts swirling everywhere throughout the hall.
All the sounds around me echoed hollowly. The woman’s footsteps dully clopped on the stone as she left the hall and strode off into one of the many rooms leading off from it.
She left the door to the room open, no doubt so I could hear as she picked up a phone and angrily demanded that the taxi turn around to pick me up and take me away.
Despite my sour mood – my fury with Richard for his useless invite, my sense of irredeemable stupidity for innocently acting on it – I was entranced by the sparkling glory of the Christmas tree.
It had been painstakingly and lovingly decorated in a staggeringly beautiful style, with all manner of glistening decoration hanging from it.
I refuse to use the term ‘bauble’ when it comes to a Christmas tree’s decorations. Where I come from, we still use the ancient term wassail cups, or wassail balls, recalling when actual cups of welcoming and celebration would be hung throughout the tree.
I find it a far more fitting description of the deliciously intricate and thoughtfully designed ornaments of glass, wood or ceramics that a Christmas tree is so carefully strewn with.
The tree was clothed in classical style, with garlands, crackers, toys and gifts scattered throughout branches already dripping with balls of brightly coloured glass, and tipped with pure white candles.
Even so, I had a strange sense that there was something missing, despite my uncertainty as to what it could possibly be that made me regard this stunningly beautiful tree in this oddly unnerving way.
It took me quite a while of study for me to finally realise why this apparently perfect tree gave me this feeling of incompleteness; it lacked a star, a fairy, or perhaps one of those almost Oriental-style ornaments that are normally used to grace a tree’s top as a final, finishing flourish.
In this case, however, I was certain that it actually lacked none of these – for what it truly lacked was an angel, one that had been used for generations: and its absence was a cause of great worry to the castle.
How could I be so sure that the tree lacked an angel, rather than a fairy or a star?
How, even more amazingly – perhaps ridiculously – could I be sure that the angel’s disappearance was a source of anguish?
Well, of course, I couldn’t be sure at all.
And yet…I had a deep sense of unease, a feeling that all this was indeed the case. To the extent that I resolved to ask the sour-faced woman, on her return, if the tree was usually topped by an angel. No matter how rude or stupid she took me to be.
There was the clack of footsteps on stone once more, the sound – I presumed – of the woman returning from making her phone call. (I had already discovered that cellphones refused to work out here when I had tried to use mine to notify the castle of my imminent arrival.) Yet there was also the squeak of a door on the floor just above me, the more laboured footsteps of a second person heading – it seemed to me – towards the top of the stairs.
‘Your taxi refuses to return!’ the woman snapped irately as she stormed into the room. ‘Some nonsense about the snow being too bad for– Richard! What are you doing out of your room?’
Her furious glare was now directed towards the very top of the winding stairs rather than at me. Following her gaze, I gasped as a sadly dishevelled figure, hunched over metallic crutches, exhaustedly staggered towards the stairs’ uppermost step.
It was Richard.
But a Richard I hardly recognised; because he was undoubtedly incredibly ill.
I dashed up the stairs, frightened that Richard might fall. He looked so dazed, so unsteady on his feet.
Behind me, I could hear that the woman had also broken into a run, no doubt as concerned as I was that he might uncontrollably slip forward too much at any moment.
‘Richard, Richard!’ I cried out anxiously as I ran towards him. ‘What’s happened to you?’
I slipped my arms around him as gently yet firmly as I could, supporting him as I pulled him back from the step’s edge.
‘What’s happened to him?’ The woman frowned in irate puzzlement as she helped move Richard clear of the top of the stairs. ‘He’s been ill for years, you silly girl!’
So even though I haven’t asked about the missing angel, this obnoxious woman still manages to find a reason to call me stupid.
‘That’s not possible–’
‘I’m afraid Lisa’s right!’
It’s Richard’s rasping chuckle, not the woman’s retort, that interrupts my protest.
‘I’m so glad,’ he continued hurriedly, before either this Lisa or I could speak, ‘you could come, though, aahh…’
He gasps, as if in agony. Yet I feel certain that this is just his way of covering up his failure to recall my name.
He stares, wide-eyed, into my own eyes. It could be a look of pain. Yet there’s a pleading glow to those eyes, as if he’s hoping to convey a silent request to play along with him.
He accompanied the look with a tight grip to the top of my hand, seemingly all part once again of an overall message that we’re involved in a conspiracy that has to be hidden from Lisa.
‘How did you invite her?’ Lisa demanded sternly. ‘Was it the internet again? Do we have to start tracking your use of that too, Richard?’
Tracking? Is he a prisoner here?
But how could he be? I saw him only two weeks back, holidaying in Corfu.
Yet if he’s been this ill, and for years too – then just how could that be possible?
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A Guide for Young Wytches
Richard was too ill to walk unaided.
He was no longer using his crutches to help him walk. He required the support of both Lisa and myself to carefully guide him back towards the open door leading off the landing. It appeared to be his room.
On this level, I could look directly out across the top of the Christmas tree. From here it was even plainer that something was missing, something to literally top everything off.
The uppermost branches appeared surprisingly bare, even physically naked, without some form of elaborate dressing enabling it all to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the tree.
As I turned back to helping Richard, I caught once again a knowing glint in his eyes, as if he had caught me staring at this blank space of the otherwise remarkably beautiful tree.
I could have been imagining it, yet I flattered myself I sensed within him that same, strange anxiety over the angel’s disappearance. That intense feeling that its absence was regarded as some form of ill omen for the castle
Within the room we entered, there was a gloriously large bed, with elaborately wrought ends. The bed clothes had been thrown back, the sheets badly crumpled as if the result of a restless sleep.
We gently eased Richard into the bed. As I plumped up the numerous pillows behind him, enabling him to sit up in bed, Lisa reached for an embroidered bellpull – but Richard raised a hand, stopping her from pulling down on it.
‘No, Lisa – I don’t need a maid, thank you.’
Lisa grimaced, the expression of someone unconvinced that this was a wise move.
The mention of the maid at least reassured me that this vast castle did, after all, have a staff to maintain and run it: though if the numbers of staff were adequate to running it, of course, I still remained unsure.
‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ Richard insisted with a poor attempt at a reassuring smile. ‘I’d just like a little time to talk to…’
As he’d spoken, Richard had once again had that pleading glint in his eyes; a plea to me to help him recall my name.
‘Oh, I’m Danny – Daniella – Oaten,’ I said breezily to Lisa, turning to her
Lisa stared at my hand as if it were the filthiest, most untouchable thing she had ever set her eyes on.
‘There’s no need for introductions, young lady: we’ll have you out of here and back down in the town as soon as we can!’
Richard chuckled once more. But it was harsh and rasping yet again, like someone fighting for breath.
‘Lisa, that’s hardly a way to treat an invited guest,’ he declared, gently admonishing her. ‘I bet you haven’t even offered poor Danny any refreshment after a long journey here, have you?’
No, she hadn’t, I realised. I realised, too, that I was hungry and, in particular, thirsty. It had been a long journey here.
‘I’ll call the maid…’ Lisa sighed wearily, with no trace of embarrassment
Richard waved a hand, stopped her from reaching once more for the bellpull.
‘The maid brought up more than I can manage on my own only a few moments ago.'
With another wave of his hand, he indicated a nearby table topped with a massive silver tray full of sandwiches, slivers of cake, and an untouched cup standing alongside a still-steaming teapot.
‘Is tea okay for you Danny?’ he asked, grinning crookedly when I nodded my approval. ‘Strange: I normally order coffee, rather than tea.’
‘She can eat downstairs, Richard! You need some sleep to–’
‘Lisa! Please – I’ve had more than enough sleep, thank you!’
He briefly paused, as if considering something, then quickly continued with a slightly ashamed tone.
‘Although – what am I thinking? Of course, you do need to talk to the maid, Lisa! Danny will need a room preparing for–’
‘A room?’ Lisa was aghast. ‘She’s not intending to stay that long!’
She sort of glowered my way, as if expecting me to back her up on this assertion.
Richard grinned, obviously highly amused by Lisa’s reaction.
‘You must forgive Lisa,’ he said to me. ‘She means well; she thinks my illness is down to visitors, even though I never have any here!’
‘You’re not well enough to see anyone!’ she pointed out.
‘Well, now I’ve invited Danny – how long was it for, two weeks? – I’ll be seeing a lot of her!’
‘Two weeks!’ Lisa’s eyes opened wide in horror.
I managed to keep my urge to smile in check. The original invite had originally been for one week, not two.
I still remained unsure why Richard still seemed unable to recall either our earlier meeting, or his invitation to visit him here; perhaps it was something to do with his illness.
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