Chapter 8: Walking the Web

Samantha wiped her eyes, then sat up straight. “Even if you can’t see the threads tomorrow, you should be able to feel them.”

Smooth threads indicated silver; thick, braided threads were the time ones. Matthew would hold her right foot. Time travel was dangerous. Laura had to stay alert. Once they started, it would take almost a full day to arrive five hundred years in the future.

Her guide would be on her left. They would reach their hands up together, she with her left and her guide with her right, and grab the next knot. Then they would use their opposite hands. She had to keep pace with her guide. She couldn’t stop, no matter how exhausted she became. If she did, her guide might lose track of her. She’d be stuck until one of them managed to find her.

If it happens, absolutely don’t panic. Do not pull on any silver threads. Step out of the web and wait. You will still be in the cave. Don’t leave it. Just in case, I’ll give you a flashlight to carry, and a little food. There’s a stream for water. I’ll show you where it is tomorrow.”

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If you feel a diagonal thread or a hole, reach slightly along a silver thread, then up a golden one, then back exactly the same amount along the silver thread, so you don’t get lost. Don’t linger there whatever you do. Find your guide’s hand as soon as you can. We will do a practice trip in the morning, going a short distance back in time and then returning.”

Samantha cast a sleep spell on Laura and David. When they woke, they were greeted by full sun, and a new witch. He noticed them opening their eyes and came over to their pallet.

I’m Robert,” he introduced himself. “You’re safe now. Lady Margaret cast a binding spell about two hours ago.”

Binding spell?” Laura asked. She wondered if she still dreamed. Then the past two days came back to her. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.

Your uncle can’t do any magic until it wears off. He must not have expected it, or he could have stopped her. I arrived just in time to watch the bindings wrap around him. I cast another spell that sent him and his companions along the space web to his house.”

What?” Laura shook her head. Maybe she was still dreaming.

The binding spell should hold until tomorrow evening.”

Which means we can all go outside for some fresh air,” Padma said, coming alongside him and squatting down to say good morning to David. “Get up, you sleepy heads, and have breakfast. We made eggs.”

Laura stood and pulled her outer dress over her shift. She saw her arms and gasped. They radiated all of the colors of the rainbow. She started to put her shoes on, but her feet glowed a beautiful rose. She stared in awe at them. She moved her hands through the air, mesmerized by the patterns they left. Sparks flew out of her fingertips.

Looks like someone is turning into a witch before her time,” Padma said. “Since we have an extra day, we’d better teach you a few tricks before you burn us up.”

Laura put her hands in her armpits. “I didn’t realize.”

It’s okay. Come and eat.”

After breakfast they started Laura’s lesson. At first she couldn’t feel the web. “You have to call it to you,” they explained. She tried again and again, until it appeared under her hands. It felt like the softest gossamer. She ran it back and forth in her fingers, until she could tell the difference between time and space threads. They cast simple spells. She felt for them in the warp and weave.

By the time they readied themselves for a practice time walk, the sun had reached its zenith. “Good thing we have another day,” Yannis said in his skeptical voice. “We’ve all forgotten how long it takes to learn this.”

It’s harder when you can’t see it,” Padma said.

Yannis grimaced, clearly unhappy to be saddled with the task of taking three non-witches through time. They ignored him. Samantha and Laura picked up flat stones to put in their pockets. These would go against their breasts, to guide them back to this exact moment. Then Samantha nodded and Laura reached for the web. She found a thick thread and grabbed tightly, her heart pounding. Samantha grabbed one beside her, and they began working their way backwards in time. Laura remembered what she’d been told about counting knots. They went seventeen knots, just enough to arrive before Laura’s conception, and let go. Laura looked across to see her teacher smiling at her.

Very good,” Samantha said. “Let’s return.”

They placed their flat stones in little pouches designed to hang so that the stone touched the skin in front of their hearts through a hole. They wrapped a strip of cloth around their chests to further bind the stone on their breasts. They set their intention and climbed onto the web. When they popped off, the others clapped.

We did it?” Laura asked, amazed. She hadn’t believed she could until she arrived back here.

You melted and then you unmelted,” her brother said, his eyes huge.

Good girl,” Padma said. “Now try it with Matthew.”

They practiced all afternoon until Laura admitted to extreme fatigue.

That’s why we couldn’t just go back and forth to the future for help,” Padma said. “It uses up too much magic and energy.”

They trooped back into the cave and reset the protective barrier. Samantha showed everyone the underground spring and the stream it fed. “This cave has three more large rooms,” she explained, “but they’re very dark and don’t have good air flow.”

They settled down to eat and drink. “Rest a little, and then we’ll teach you to control some of that magic.”

Despite total exhaustion, Laura couldn’t stay still. Her skin itched and made crackling noises. Her dress puffed out around her, then caught fire. The witches laughed and threw water on her to quench it. “Never seen anything like this,” they all said. She rose into the air and bounced around. She squealed.

Come down here,” Samantha said. “The first lesson is to visualize what you want. You want your feet on the ground. See them there and will it, just like you willed yourself to feel the web.”

Laura closed her eyes. But she couldn’t do it. She liked flying. Before she knew it, she swooped around the cave, doing loop-de-loops.

Laura,” she heard. “Sometimes we have to do something other than what we want. Try seeing yourself standing on the ground.”

She tried again, and this time she landed softly next to David.

That’s better. Now get rid of the fireworks and the colored lights.”

She tamed them a little, but they kept returning.

You need breathwork,” Padma said, softly. “Yannis here is the master of that. He will teach you.”

She cringed at the thought of dealing with Yannis. She didn’t like his gruff manner.

But, as if he could read her thoughts, he gently reassured her that she would enjoy his lesson. He showed her how to follow her breath, then how to capture it just as it filled her lungs and use it to control her magic. She found it difficult, but it grew easier once he had her do it with him.

  1. Chapter 8 : Walking The Web | Ann Stanley

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