• "Where did Mira go off to?"

    I inhaled a deep breath and closed the heavy leather-bound volume I was reading. It snapped shut with an audible and dramatic thump and I raised my narrowed eyes to acknowledge the voice. A slender woman with short deep red hair met my gaze with slits of cold, unfeeling eyes.

    "Why should I know, Cynthia?" I replied flatly, clicking my long dark nails together in obvious annoyance.

    She huffed an exasperated sigh and shook her head slowly. "She's been gone for a long time and it's starting to get late." She frowned. "Plus I thought you were supposed to be in charge of everyone."

    I know she did not intend it, but I detected the notes of raw jealousy lacing her tone and a small smile tugged at the corners of my lips.

    "I have been around for at least a century or two more than the rest of you." I smiled richly. "Age gifts a person with a degree of wisdom that ripens with decades past. None of you are really fit to lead an entire coven anyway, but that's beside the point." I added coldly.

    I watched her mouth open to fire a hot, mindless retort that was characteristic of her, but we were both interrupted by the sound of a door exploding open and the obvious struggling of something. Cynthia turned and I rose from my chair. We hurried briskly from the sitting room to the marble tiled hallway and finally to the entrance of the ancient home.

    Mira stood in the doorway, flecks of blood sprinkled across her pale skin. She was bent over, clutching the hair of a writhing man with the most defiant, disgusted look I had ever seen. He obviously appeared stronger than the tall thin woman holding him down, but I already knew that stronger forces were on Mira's side.

    Two more women hurried to the front door, lured in by the slam of the door and desperate panting and growling of the man.

    "What the hell is this?" Cynthia cried as Mira somewhat threw the man aside. He laid on his back, glowering fiercely at the five women surrounding him. Mira shot Cynthia a cold glance and smoothed out her thick chestnut colored hair. "He followed me around all night at the bar. When I was walking home he decided to try and attack me. Dragged me into an alley and tried to bring me down." She spat.

    The woman beside me drew a hand to her mouth with a small gasp. "You're all right, aren't you?"

    Mira nodded, but the splattered blood over her hands and black dress testified to a fight. Somehow though I had a stirring feeling that the blood didn't belong to Mira.

    "That's not even the half of it though girls." Mira continued, a growing look of disgust forming on her face. She bent over the flinching, enraged man and threw open the inside of his coat. A silver emblem twisted into the shape of a crown glinted back at the rest of us. Rage swelled within the pits of each of our stomach.

    "A witch hunter!" I hissed furiously. I stooped low and took the man's jaw in my hand roughly. He struggled against an invisible force pinning him to the ground, but was unable to move even slightly.

    "Who sent you?"

    He remained silent, channeling his inner hatred through his burning eyes. I was nudged aside by a stout blonde woman with large round glasses. She pulled something out from within the folds of her long black shirt and produced a vial. She opened it and without a second of hesitation threw the contents into the face of the man. The man uttered a painful yelp and screwed his eyelids tightly against the acidic burning of the potion.

    "Thank you Thalia." I said absently, clutching the man's jaw in my hand once more. Large red sores were beginning to form around his eyes and nose, blistering and purple.

    "Who sent you?" I repeated. The man struggled for a second but was obviously weak against the compelling effects of the potion of truth.

    "Nobody! I'm a rogue hunter. I just track and eliminate anyone I can get my hands on!" He spat, breathing heavily. My eyes flitted up to Thalia and she nodded sagely. He must've been telling the truth. I dropped his jaw and his head fell to the hard tile. I rose and turned to the collection of four witches around me.

    "What are we supposed to do now?" A witch with long platinum hair piped, wringing her fingers nervously.

    "We can't just let him go, Stella." Cynthia hissed, her eyes burning passionately.

    "You're right." I mused. "We'll just have to kill him."

    "He's from out of town, I don't think anyone will miss him for awhile." Mira added. The struggling witch hunter was beginning to pale and beads of sweat peppered his skin.

    "Good. It's decided then!" I smiled sarcastically, knowing that anyone else's contradicting opinion would do little to change the verdict. I bent over, tucking my raven black hair behind my ears. The man uttered a series of panicked groans as I neared him, dropping to my knees beside him.

    "Sweet dreams." I hissed, closing a single hand around his neck. I felt a familiar warmth snake through my veins, up from my chest, down my arm, and finally laced around my fingers. The heat grew more and more intense and I could feel the man struggling beneath my touch. Finally, a let a single small word roll off my tongue and a slow stream of flames sank from the flesh of my palm to the inside of his neck. He let out a strangled cry as fire engulfed him from the inside. The process was quick and clean and the result was the unusually hot body of a dead man with huge black bruises covering almost every inch of his skin.

    A stood back up and clapped my hands together with a degree of finality. "Glad that's settled." I smiled. I stepped over the body, drawing up the length of my black dress and turned to face the four other witches watching with solemn interest. "I'll need this body taken care of. Mira, be a dear and drag him out to the back?"

    Mira nodded and bent down to wrap her arms around the still chest of the corpse. I then turned to Thalia. "Do you have anything in your lab that'll help him decompose faster? I can't stand the smell lingering around and the gardenias out back really need some good fertilizer fast."

    Thalia nodded and smiled. "I have something derived from the poison of a lion fish that'll easily melt the flesh off the bones." She replied, turning towards the direction of her lab. I nodded as she walked away and turned to the two remaining women.

    "You two can go to bed, I'll get the mess up off the floor." Cynthia and Stella nodded, and left as if nothing of significance ever happened. I picked up a mop from the kitchen and began erasing the red smudges off of the tile, thinking lazily of what book I should read before bed.