Excerpt for Witchpoint by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Witchpoint by JG Hampton, smashwords edition 2016, Witchpoint by JG Hampton

Respect the time of the author by paying for the e-book before downloading; e-books make great gifts, but do remember to pay for them before downloading. Enjoy other books by the author: Confession of a Former Fairy Godmother, The Secret in the Garden, Diary of a Wimpy Czarovitch, Haunted Tales, Halls and Toys, Pinkalotta Pipsqueak in “Bullies for You,” Polygamy was it Worth Dying For? Abraham Lincoln and His Sons, Abraham and Mary in Love, Abraham’s Princess, The Bog Queen’s Mile High Pie Fly, Charlotte and the Humongous Bat, Charlotte and the Ice Cream Factory, Charlotte and the Easter Rabbit, Thomas Edison Reinvents Himself, The Bedtime Game, The Snow Queen’s Life and Times and Three Ornery Blind Mice, and Abraham’s Princess.

Prologue

Clementine Archibald, eight years old, was studying in the school library at Witchpoint Academy with Pierce Youngblood, who was a year older when he whispered: “Your Grandmother eats children. That’s why she started this academy; so she could trap unwitting children and put them in the deep freeze; perhaps she intends to eat you, too.” The girl gave him the evil eye and he just shrugged his shoulders. “She may be able to fool you, but she’ll never fool me.” His dark eyes met her blue ones with that knowing look. Making his point further he held up a volume. “Look at this book she authored. Clementine glanced at the cover of a red book he was holding. The title was: “The Preparation of Children” by Crystal Archibald, Ph.D.

“What do you think?” he asked poking her unpleasantly in the arm. “Oh, don’t be silly. That’s not a cookbook. Grandmother is a leading educator of children. You attend one of the best private academies in the United States.”

“She’s a witch who eats children just like in the story about Hansel and Gretel. Several students disappeared forever last semester. Why isn’t the book Hansel and Gretel by the Grimm’s brothers in the library?

“That’s pure nonsense. Several students were expelled because of their lack of work.” said Clementine in her grandmother’s defense.” She tried to stare him down, but Clementine had to blink first.

“Oh, don’t be so obtuse, Clementine. She says we’re eating Buffalo meat, but what’s she eating? It’s nice fat children no doubt. Mark my words. If I disappear this semester, I’ve left a paper trail with enough evidence to indict your grandmother and her feckless brother.” Clementine got up from the table sauntering out into the hall. Her heart was beating rapidly. Pierce was always able to get her goat. Of course his suppositions were ridiculous or were they? She had never read Hansel and Gretel and ordered an illustrated version of Grimm’s Fairytales on line at Amazon.com that afternoon.

When it came in the mail in a brown paper wrapper; she found it one of the most intriguing books she had ever read. It opened up a veritable can of worms for the young girl to investigate.

Chapter One – The Family Business

Clementine, who had just turned eight, felt the sun on her brow as she looked out of the window of the third story turret and gazed at the dozens of pink lilies and the purple wisteria blossoms that draped the old wooden bridge.

A sudden gust of wind moved the petals and disturbed the surface of the water. Grandmother had long admired Monet’s water lily pond and so had copied one at her estate. She couldn’t but help feeling happy and beautiful in this exotic water garden.

Clementine loved living here at Rooks Hall, her grandmother’s home. It was similar in architecture to the Biltmore Estate near the Smoky Mountains, but it had been created entirely by magic. At least the magic that gold coins produced – American workmen had built it. Her grandmother was the High Witch of Newton, Utah. She had emigrated from England when she was a young woman after her education was completed. At the time she had felt that sorcery in England emphasized too much of the dark arts and she felt that happiness made for a strong body. She always had and always would cherish this philosophy of life. Loving her life, she was contented. Both of them cherished each other and made each other happy. Clementine weekly wrote letters and frequent e-mails to her parents who were touring China, but was thoroughly content living with her dear Grandmother. Clementine even looked like a small replica of her grandmother, but with honey blond hair. She was more than a chip off the old block. They appreciated the same dry humor.

Crystal Archibald, the grandmother, had married and raised her son while teaching private lessons to students in America who showed remarkable skills in the magical arts at the academy she had created called “Witchpoint.” Her son and his wife were both involved in worldwide investigations, mysteries and magic and were often missing in action as parents – leaving Clementine with her grandmother, the headmistress, for months at a time. Her parents had so many responsibilities. Right now they were in Peking and wouldn’t be home until Christmas vacation.

Where was Grandmother? Something was moving in the middle of the Elizabethan maze. There she spied her trimming the hedge around the sun dial with her large metal clippers. She was wearing her red lab coat with the pocket embroidered lavishly with a black W which was her customary outfit. Looking like a red woodpecker with her gray curls, distinguished nose and cheerful smile, she waved up at the window at her granddaughter when she sensed that she was being watched. Her large brimmed sunhat made her look much younger than her fifty-six years. Maybe there was time to sneak in her grandmother’s bedroom and help herself to some of her grandmother’s magic elixir. She’d seen grandmother use it twice before and she thought she knew the magic incantation that made it work. Sometimes it wasn’t easy being the granddaughter of a world famous sorceress.

Last January, Rosalind Dupont, one of the older girls had been disciplined by grandmother because she was always yelling out the answers without raising her hand and being called on. Out of spite, Rosalind had turned her wand towards Clementine and before she could protect herself her nose began growing. She’d had to wear that immense nose for a week before the spell wore off.

With a dab of grandmother’s new elixir placed on a handkerchief and worn in her pocket, the spell would have bounced back to Rosalind and she would have been the one wearing the huge snout. Rosalind had been expelled for a month and had written Clementine an apology, but Clementine always wondered if her nose had really returned to its own natural size. She wasn’t going to take any chances this year.

Quickly running down the hall to grandmother’s bedroom, she tiptoed in. Clementine would have to silence Grandmother’s magic mirror—the one who always told on her, or she’d be caught and tattled on. She grabbed a green knitted throw that lay at the foot of the canopy bed and tossed it quickly over the mirror.

“What’s happening!” shrieked the mirror, but the girl knew she was safe and she’d caught the mirror unaware. Over on the vanity along with the old woman’s favorite scents was the bottle of potion. Grandmother was uncanny and thoroughly bewitching creating magical formulas that no other sorcerers had created. The products of the patents sold at Witchmart made a small fortune for her every year. Clementine decided to take half of the contents of the bottle. It smelled like lavender and something that she couldn’t name- similar to licorice or was it sassafras? Clementine hurried to the kitchen to meet her granny. The stunning, cheery witch came in through the back gate and walked slowly into the gray stone kitchen.

“Since summer break is almost over, child, let’s have a picnic in the walled garden. I’ll make some sandwiches and we’ll eat on the wrought iron bench under the apple tree. The hostas are larger and greener than I’ve ever seen them. The humming birds are darting in and out of the roses and the lilies; it’s a perfectly lovely time of year,” said grandmother.

“Grandmother, I had the same idea and I already made tuna sandwiches for us with lots of pickles, potato chips, and some of your fizzy black cherry soda.” The picnic was as delightful as they imagined it would be with humming birds darting about the orange tubed shaped blossoms of trumpeter’s vine. The perfume of the roses filled the air along with the almost overpowering smell of the pink spotted lilies.

“It’s a perfectly lovely time of year,” said grandmother helping herself to a second sandwich. After they finished eating the old woman said: “Clementine, darling, I’ve got something for you that I think you’re old enough to need and take care of. It’s a protective charm that‘s made especially for our family members, so don’t give it away to just anyone. Wear it under your blouse next to your skin. I’m getting

Older and I’m not as quick as I used to be and sometimes things get by me. I’ll feel much better knowing you’re wearing this token.”

Clementine held up the charm and gazed at the tiny gold figure. It was a small fairy with filigree wings. She couldn’t help but kiss the tiny creature as she dangled the chain between her fingers. She put her arms around her granny’s plump old body and gave her a delicious hug.

“It’s perfect. I’ll always wear it,” said the girl.

“I worry about some of the older girls bullying you and so I’m also giving you a pair of my magic slippers. They’re green satin and look quite ordinary, but they’ll let you move around without making a sound. They’re for the times when you need to speak with me without letting the other girls know. I wonder if it isn’t time to send you away to another magical institution. However, I know that you wouldn’t learn as much anywhere else and I would miss you terribly. Perhaps I’m being selfish.”

Just then a bird about the size of a raven landed on grandmother’s shoulder. It had metallic blue feathers with a white breast and a white blaze on its tail. It was granny’s Delalande’s Coucal. She’d seen it in a museum in Philadelphia and had to have it. Of course it had been stuffed and was the last of its’ kind, but one of grandmother’s formulas was able to revive it.

“Crackers, where have you been?” Gently she patted the bird on its’ back and gave it a bit of her sandwich.

“Grandmother, there is something I need you to do for me before the other girls arrive. There is a girl, Anne Logan, whose hair is two inches longer than mine; I want to have the longest hair in the academy. I want mine to reach down to my knees.”

“Clementine, we Archibalds have always prided ourselves in our long beautiful blonde hair so tomorrow when you wake up you’ll have not only the longest hair, but the shiniest too without having to resort to using coconut oil. I used to feel exactly the same way when I was your age. We’re quite alike. I’ll take care of that little matter. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need, or that I’ve overlooked. It’s too bad that my own hair has gone gunmetal gray and has lost its’ wave; I do so enjoy brushing yours.” Clementine smiled broadly at this delicious compliment.

“Now let’s run along to the aviary and feed our pets. I plan on having a perfect day.” Grandmother had her own unique zoo of rare or extinct birds and animal specimens on her ranch in Newton. As a young woman she had fallen in love with Lord Rottnchild who had been enormously wealthy and owned his own lucrative museum in London. Being eccentric and extremely introverted he had refused to marry her after three years of being engaged. Afterwards when she recognized the futility of their relationship, she sued him for breach of promise, and half of his museum’s contents became hers. It almost ruined the autocrat, but it had been her making. With the proceeds of her civil suit, she bought her one hundred acre ranch and opened up an academy to teach witchcraft in the United States. Besides being a witch she was extremely interested in all species of animals. She was a knowledgeable zoologist and an entomologist.

“Let’s start with the buffalo. Our herd needs culling and it’s time to set up our supply of buffalo burger for the year. Cook would like a well-stocked freezer of buffalo steaks and burger. It’s better for people than beefsteak because it’s leaner and I think it tastes better; As long as I have this healthy herd I never have to worry about the American Bison becoming extinct, but that’s what I thought about the passenger pigeon and look what happened to them. There were so many of them once that the sky would darken when they flew over. People used them for target practice, poisoned some of them and ate them in pigeon pie until they became extinct. I read a book once stating that pigeon pie was Brigham Young’s favorite breakfast.

“Hearing about that makes me sad,” said Clementine. “I’m glad that buffalo meat is so popular in the cafeteria with the students. Buffalo burgers seem to be all the rage. It certainly helps my bottom line and your inheritance, darling.”

Grandmother called down to the garage for her beige two toned 1960 Fleetwood Cadillac and when it was delivered Clementine sat beside her on the comfortable front seat. The car was one of her favorite cars. She loved its long lines and feminine fins on the back of the car. Her favorite thing was the automatic windows that rolled up and down at the touch of a button. She liked pretending that she was a movie star whenever she rode in it. When she rolled down the automatic windows there was only air flowing between the front and the back of the car with no steel obstruction anywhere on the doors. It was luxurious beyond compare in her opinion. There were definite advantages to having witches in the family- They drove the coolest cars which never wore out or broke down. She’d push the automatic button and the antennae would move up in the air and she’d turn on her favorite radio station. Her grandmother had promised her that when she turned sixteen she could have her pick of the twenty cars she owned to drive. She would choose this one because she couldn’t help but laugh whenever she drove in it. Pure joy flowed through her veins the minute she sat on the velveteen seats. It had automatic steering, brakes and a huge powerful 600 horsepower engine and air conditioning. Car manufacturers just didn’t make cars like this anymore. It was the longest chassis that Cadillac had ever designed. The inside was a comfy as her grandmother’s parlor. People stared at them, cheering and honking their horns whenever they took it out for a spin. More than a few people yelled out: “That’s quite a boat!” Grandmother always had the biggest grin on her face the minute she hopped onto the driver’s seat; she always had to worry about bugs flying in her mouth because she couldn’t help but smile as she drove this fantastic automobile. They were able to load four bales of hay into the large trunk.

When they reached the corrals, tame buffalo calves wandered up to the electric wired fence and ate out of their hands. The bulls stayed far away in the distance.

“Clementine, just think that huge herds of these creatures used to cover the Great Plains of North America and they were shot until they almost became extinct. I vowed that I would never let that happened as long as I had a magical bone in my body. I’ve always kept at least one hundred head of the beasts and I love every one of them,” murmured grandmother. After spending two hours numbering the herd and choosing the weakest of the bulls for meat they needed a change of scenery.

“Let’s go to the Aviary and feed the Great Auks,” said Clementine. She loved seeing their pear shaped eggs and feeding the rare birds sardines. “Croak, croak,” she heard as the pair waddled over to her. They resembled large penguins, but they weren’t. She threw some strong smelling mackerel in the pond and the couple dived in and swam gracefully downwards. This was another survival project that grandmother was working on. Great Auks had been extinct for more than seventy-five years, but fortunately she discovered a nesting pair on an uninhabited island during one of her vacations. The eggs were expected to hatch momentarily and grandmother wanted to be there when they did. It was important that the hatchlings imprint on her as well as the mother Auk. She was excited about this imprinting as she was about the Auks themselves. With determination, she vowed to save them from extinction.

Chills ran down her spine and she hugged her arms around herself. Next, they visited a species of rare hummingbirds that were extremely tiny. Clementine had been delighted to find out that they were really birds because they were more the size of house flies. Their eggs were smaller than jelly beans and were exceedingly fragile. Of all of the birds in their aviary, these tiny birds were her favorite. She felt proud that her grandmother was interested in saving endangered species. Several disappeared forever each year throughout the world.

Finally the two of them made it to the unicorn paddock. Grandmother’s white unicorn pawed the dry dust and whinnied recognizing her violet scent. “Now don’t let Ulysses sense that you’re frightened or you’ll never be able to ride him.” Clementine listened carefully thrilled that her grandmother might let her ride her prized unicorn someday. “See that two year old mare with a bluish tinge to her skin tone over in the corner? That’s the one I’m thinking of taming for you, dear. She’s one of Ulysses’ foals.”

“Oh, grandmother, she’s beautiful!”

“JAMES!” Grandmother yelled to the cowboy who was exercising one of the older unicorns in the pasture. “Can you bridle the one in the corner? The white mare with the long flowing tail, the one with the intelligent face; the one watching us so warily which definitely won’t want to be caught.” James had to chase her around the property, but finally he lassoed her and brought her to them.

“Princess Zara would be a good name for her,” said Clementine her eyes sparkling with joy in her blue eyes as she stretched out her hand and rubbed the long horn. “I think that would be a fitting name for her, because she does come from royal stock,” said her grandmother. “I imported them from England.

“We’ve got two weeks to train her before the academy starts. Twenty students are registered to board. I wish I could say that it was my teaching abilities that draw so many students, but I know that the unicorns are a popular drawing point. We’re the only school in the world that offers the care and training of unicorns.”

“Oh, grandmother, you know that Witchpoint has the strictest standards of any school of wizardry in the world. All students must pass the entrance exam and especially the I.Q. requirement. I even had to take the tests as you well know, grandmother.



“Oh grandmother, you know that Witchpoint has the strictest standards of any school of wizardry in the world. All students must pass the entrance exam and especially the I.Q. requirements. I even had to take the tests as you well know, grandmother. Luckily I passed and so did my friend Gwendolyn.”

“I’m glad that I’ve already been through all that, because I’m not certain that I would have been admitted if I had to pass them now. It’s all computerized. We’re the main North American preparatory facility for the gifted wizards, sorcerers and witches, but I admit I really work the students hard; I need to be proud of my graduates.” Grandmother preened when she said this.

“Before dinner, let’s stop by the green house. I’ve some herbs that I need to steep in brine for some of my potions and I’ve got to get a supply of lamb’s ears and lady’s mantle for lotions and homesickness drops.” Clementine always felt so useful around her grandmother. She filled all of the pharmacy bottles whenever they were low and kept track of the hatchings of the praying mantises, the ladybugs and the other useful insects which grandmother used in her lessons and for sale to local farmers. Madame Archibald as she was called by her students used every inch of her hundred acre ranch, “Blue Skies” wisely and profitably.

Chapter Two – Madame’s Methodology

The day for the arrival of the students had finally come. The Witchpointers had an unusual way of traveling to the academy. A rectangular package was sent to each student at the end of summer. Enclosed in each was a miniaturized hot air balloon. When the balloon was placed on the student’s front or back lawn it slowly inflated. Each balloon was designed differently, but they all had “Witchpoint” written across the top of them in fluorescent letters- in case the student had to travel by night. No effort was performed by the student as the balloons were all magically programmed by madame for their trips.

Madame Crystal Archibald had calculated that this was a much safer way to journey than by plane or car. The bright balloons were an excellent way of advertising for the school. The balloons landed on the school’s football field and the back pasture next to the unicorn paddock. It was a glorious sight when they were all set down in the fields. It looked like a large patchwork quilt.

After unloading, the balloons began deflating and were stored for next season. The incoming students were lead into the front parlor for their welcoming by the headmistress and her staff. Then the students were shown to the two dormitories to unpack their belongings. Clementine slept in the small bed next to Gwendolyn in the girl’s dorm when school was in session rather than in her bedroom next to her grandmother’s when school was not in session. Her granny had conveniently duplicated everything for her using magic.

The next day lessons began. The first class was on personal powers and accessing them. Grandmother had a unique way of determining which students had the most magical power. Cook put magical examining powder in their scrambled eggs on the first day of every semester. Whenever the students thought about magic and tried out spells they turned blue according to their natural magical abilities. Then all grandmother had to do was line them up in the order of their blueness. Sometimes unexpected results happened: for instance, Clementine was as blue as a blueberry while Gwendolyn, her friend, only had a tinge of blue on her fingers. Madame Crystal’s top students: Artemis Clinger and Lydia Spears were almost as blue as Clementine. She expected them to be blue because they had been discovered by this exacting method years ago. Young Michael Tuttle who was in with the eight year olds glowed a metallic blue from head to foot was a natural wizard who descended from a long line of wizards. Now these very blue students would be given the most challenging of the mystical lessons because they were ready and capable of moving faster than the others. This blue testing was the only sorting process that Madame Crystal used in her ranking and it was infallible. The blueness wore off the next day, but by then the students had been placed in their proper learning group. Crystal remembered that in her childhood days in England, she had to wait while the other kids caught up with her and was proud of her magical American method of selection which was guaranteed to be accurate.

The second hour lessons were on insects, specifically praying mantises. Students put on helmets with visors on the front. This was only to keep the insects from flying in their faces as they entered the huge conservatory. Praying mantises were essential to witches and wizards. They were vital defenders of their herbs, eating the pests; the pests that would have destroyed their precious rare plants, the main ingredients of their potions and they had been doing this for ages.

A legend handed down through the ages in witches circles was that praying mantises had been victims of a crazed witch who cast a spell on them; supposedly this was the reason for their ugliness. Because of this magic factor they were vital in beauty spells as well as love potions.

“Students your assignment is to research which color of camouflage works best for Preying Mantises as far as catching prey unaware. Be prepared to use one in a spell tomorrow.

Chapter Three – The Way to Revolution

Things did not always go smoothly for Madame and her students. As an experienced educator she knew what was best for each student in determining the outcome of the learning process. However occasionally she would come across strong willed students who thought they knew best. One case in point was Pierce Youngblood. Blessed with a photographic memory - learning was too easy for him. Madame wanted to even the score so that his poor social skills would be improved consequently she was exceptionally strict with him during the first semester refusing to give him straight excellences in everything. Of course this discipline caused an immediate power struggle with the naive gifted sorcerer.

Madame had told him: ”If you think you can get A’s this easily you won’t try to pay attention.” His mother and father had punished him for the low grades he’d received despite his explanation which was hardly fair causing him extreme frustration, but life is not fair. The thing that he wanted most of all in the world right now was to get even with Madame Crystal. He was ill tempered, having a very short fuse. A brattier boy never lived In Clementine’s opinion since he teased her incessantly. Once he passed mean notes about her in lecture hall making certain that she’d be able to read the cruel things he’d written about her to his friends and see the ugly caricatures of her that he’d drawn to go along with the remarks.

Pierce passed all of the other unicorns including Artemis’ and headed for the finish line. When he thought that no one was looking, he took out a small silver whistle. Humans couldn’t hear the shrill sound, but the unicorns could and they began screaming and bucking their riders off. Pierce began talking to his transformation partner who was in on the secret. “Did you see how temperamental the unicorns were? Their alarming reaction was better than I thought it would be,” he said snidely. The noise which humans can’t hear must hurt their ears.

Madame was frantically trying to calm down the animals and the students. This dangerous behavior had never happened since the beginning of the North American unicorn herd. Madame Archibald had a signal which the unicorns learned while young colts which meant stop and now she gave the signal with all her might. Crystal raced to help those students who were in danger of being hurt. Grabbing two of the youngest ones, she put them on the back of Ulysses behind her and galloped off to help other children calm their animals.

Uncle Dolphus was looking out of the kitchen window of the mansion when he saw the fracas. Jumping on his giant flying clearwing butterfly, he raced to help his sister. His favorite mode of transportation was by clearwing because he much preferred the giant butterflies to broomsticks. He considered the insects an upgrade and a modern mode of travel in comparison to the archaic mode of broomstick travel. The wings of the insects were clear like glass and often people on the ground never noticed his approach.

“Crystal, I don’t sense any black magic, but something has certainly upset the unicorns. All of the steeds appeared frightened with the exception of Pierce Youngblood’s mount, so he is my first suspect. I’ll be watching him and you do the same,” said Uncle Dolphus calmly trying to maintain his composure. Panic would only make the situation worse.

Pierce avoided everyone for the rest of the afternoon and he was as good as gold being polite and courteous to Clementine whenever he ran into her which was very unusual. Clementine wondered what was up and suspected that he was up to no good.

“Would you like to study with me this afternoon, Clementine?” I could use some help with my spelling. You always get perfect scores on your spelling chants,” He was acting too congenial and was nonchalantly sticking his hands in the pocket of his red robe trying to be casual.

“Yes, I would,” said the girl quickly. “With two great minds working together, we can finish in no time and then we can do something fun like race our unicorns.”

Chapter Four – Uncle Dolphus becomes a Hero

One of the favorite professors at the school was Uncle Dolphus. He had been christened Adolphus after the German Leader, but changed his name after the defeat of the mastermind and his killing death camps became known throughout the world. Of course the professors at the academy could be counted on one hand if one didn’t include the two mermaids who taught swimming. Dolphus would have been popular in any circumstance; he was the headmistresses’ brother who had been educated in the best schools in Germany and Switzerland. He was exceedingly knowledgeable about the dark arts which his sister preferred to ignore. Several of his professors had been students before Hitler’s Third Reich and had been educated by some of the greatest scientists in the world. Knowing full well how the dark arts could be used to conquer the world, he was determined to use them for goodness to make up for that era when evil controlled the world.

In appearance the bachelor resembled Albert Einstein with his wild hair and socks that didn’t match, or a mad scientist, but having a pleasant personality, he enjoyed making his student’s laugh in class. In fact he considered his teaching a failure if his students didn’t laugh at least twice during his hour with them knowing that it aided their memory retention.

Today his students were training their commodious coats. These coats were designed by the students and were worn by them instilling bravery in them. They simply could not be worn by cowards. This presented a problem because sometimes kids as well as adults were cowards. Then Professor Archibald would have to use his magic wand to coax the coats down from the ceiling and the students who were cowardly would have to drink a bravado potion before donning them.

“Clementine and Gwendolyn would you both come to the front of the room wearing your commodious coats, please,” asked the professor. Gwendolyn and Clementine’s coats were made from bird feathers-they were the same cloaks made for the kings and queens of Hawaii in the last century. Of course the birds that the feathers were harvested from were extinct now and the girls had cut one of the large cloaks into two capes that fit them after the headmistress had performed a duplicating spell so that she had one for herself. Grandmother had approved of this because she hated to see anything wasted Madame Crystal Archibald collected magical items from all over the world. She snapped these capes up quickly while she was vacationing in Hawaii. No one else at the auction house could afford them. Crystal had to come up with a small fortune for the cape. She’d paid the Hawaiians in gold dollars. She was expecting her granddaughter and Gwendolyn to have extra powers from the extinct bird cloaks. She wasn’t disappointed.

Dolphus told his sister the next evening at dinner, ”You should have seen how quickly the young witches transformed to magical beasts in the commodious coats. They were the smoothest spells I’ve ever seen. With those bird cloaks they will become great witches. I only wish that I could find one for myself.” The coats had been stored in the attic in trunks for sixty years but were aired before the academy began. The girls had to make their own velveteen linings and ties so they wouldn’t fall off, but the bird feather cloaks proved extra potent magically due to the power of the extinct birds – it had something to do with harnessing the four directions of the earth and the magnetic pole.

Clementine and Gwendolyn both resembled large birds since their cloaks also had matching hoods. Walking like a penguin with her feet straight out, Gwendolyn made the class laugh. Nervously they prepared for the showdown between the two girls testing their courage.

“Girls, each of you eat a fortune cookie and let the magic do the rest,” requested Professor Dolphus.

“May the best girl win!” The two hugged each other and the show down began. The professor let each of them pick from a crystal bowl of fortune cookies. Genetically encoded in each cookie recipe was a formula for a magical or an extinct beast. Clementine’s recipe was for a vicious venicut, an exceptionally dangerous beast with razor sharp teeth and claws. Its’ body was like a lion but its’ head was like a lizard.

Gwendolyn’s genetic cookie code was for a medium sized dragon. Professor blew a whistle and the girls began eating their cookies. In less time than it takes to blink an eye they became dangerous growling creatures. The classroom was silent except for some reflexive screams heard from several students.

The dragon flew with its bared teeth into the throat of the vicious venicut and in no time at all the venicut was bleeding to death on the floor while the dragon singed its flesh. Professor Dolphus blew his whistle and the battle was over. “I must intervene since I do not want my brave niece to bleed to death. The only thing remaining to do was the reading of the fortunes. Uncle Dolphus read them out loud in a voice dripping with sarcasm. “Gwendolyn’s fortune states: “Victory is yours. Wear it in good health!” Clementine’s reads: “Stay home in bed. Do not venture forth.” Amid loud guffawing and hollering, the professor waved his wand and the gore disappeared which made him something of a hero. Two small girls were once again standing at the front of the room in their bird robes.

“Are there two more volunteers?” Time flew by rapidly as a ferocious gryphon and a mud colored helphantus appeared. Artemis Clinger and Lydia Spears battled it out to the end until the professor declared it a draw. Luckily there were more brave students than cowardly ones and the observant students learned how to be stoic in the face of danger.

Pierce Youngblood was called on next along with Michael Tuttle. Their geometric patched leather commodious coats went on easily, but both appeared nervous as they munched on their fortune cookies. Soon standing before the trembling audience appeared a one eyed Cyclops with muscle bound arms and sharp crooked teeth along with a growling hungry liger. There had only been one liger that had been artificially reproduced in the world at Hogle Zoo. Long ago it had died and the academy now used a clone of it in its demonstrations because Madame was interested in the characteristics of a lion-tiger offspring, but knew the creatures themselves were as sterile as mules. Ligers never occurred in nature unless humans or magic interfered.

Chapter Five – Surprise Attack

BZZZZZ! The buzzer rang for the end of class and everyone wandered into the next laboratory for Divination. Students began polishing their crystal balls, clarifying their pools of water and attaching their mist makers to the taps to enable them to perfect their scrying skills. At the front of the classroom on the board was a huge crystal mirror and a pleasant but eery face was forming on the glass. Madame Archibald came in accompanied by her familiar, Crackers, her Delande’s Coucal, her beautiful blue bird that was riding on her shoulder. She waited quietly as the image in the mirror became clearer and then s suddenly she screamed as recognition dawned on her. “Oh no!” Quickly she chanted the words: “Abracadabra, arbadacabra, cadabrada,” three times and grabbed her oak wand waving it over the mirror.

Clementine froze sensing danger. What was happening? Crackers made a loud squawk and began flying madly around the room as if her tail was on fire. Smoke began flowing out of the magic mirror and a large crack appeared in the top left hand corner spreading downwards.

Artemis and Lydia, the oldest and most experienced students, immediately detected black magic and surrounded Madame Crystal with their oak wands facing outwards. Clementine began to feel sick to her stomach and covered her eyes grabbing for Gwendolyn’s hand. Grandmother’s eyes turned a pale yellow and her hat – an old fashioned pointed one covered in stars fell off her head. There in the mirror appeared an ugly wrinkled, withered face. It had a sharp chin and two bulging eyes. Shaggy gray eyebrows covered the heavily lined forehead and there was no part in the middle above the dark eyes in the male face.

“It can’t be! He’s dead!” exclaimed Madame. But in her heart she knew it was her old nemesis – Sir Horatio Rottnchild, her former fiancé, the only wizard she truly feared. The ancient jealous sorcerer wanted her magic and didn’t care if he killed her. Quickly she covered the mirror with an opaque cloth and said, “Students, I want everyone to grab your oak wands, don’t bother if yours are made of rosewood, Chinese elm, or alder; they’ll be of absolutely of no use when faced with the black magic of Sir Rottnchild. Only English oak with suffice. Point your wands towards the mirror and chant Vivienne’s circle: Circle of light, circle of might, surround this mirror with hope and sight.” An electrical crackle filled the air and the mirror burst into a thousand tiny pieces shattering about the room.

“We’re almost too late; Thank heaven that he was not able to materialize through the glass. I had no idea that he was still seeking my powers. He always was a control freak; I thought he’d accepted his defeat decades ago. I must be more diligent in the future. Since I don’t teach magic that is harmful, I don’t expect it from others, but there are wizards on the earth that use darkness and unfortunately Sir Rottnchild is one of those.” Madame took a handkerchief out of the pocket of her red lab coat and mopped her brow with a shaky hand.

“Today I was saved from a spell that might have affected my feelings. The brute has tried over and over again to conjure love where there is no love, because he wants me in his power. Students, no power is as strong as love,” said Madame Crystal.

Just then Professor Archibald walked in through the door. He looked like he had been in an explosion. His clothes were torn and his red lab coat was covered in black soot; strands of his remaining hair had been singed on his balding head.

“Dolphus, what happened?” Her bewildered brother could do nothing but stare unblinking at her as if he were not quite conscious. Obvious to her was that he was suffering from a concussion or the effects of badly performed magic.

“Class, you are dismissed until tomorrow,” As if a dam was bursting everyone cleared out of the classroom quickly and she ran to aid her wounded brother.

“A healing potion is needed at once, Clementine. There is one on my sink in my bathroom in a navy blue bottle. Run quickly and fetch it.” Clementine and Gwendolyn took the spiral stairway up to the third floor rather than the grand staircase off the parlor and quickly slid back down it in less than a moment with the precious elixir.

Madame Archibald made her brother lie down on a chaise longue she conjured up for him along with a paisley pillow for his head. The poor man began shaking uncontrollably. Crystal poured the contents of the bottle into his mouth and he began to revive.

“What happened Dolphus?”

“I was grading incantation spells when a mist filled my room and I felt that I was being watched just before a great explosion sent me flying around the room. The lab is in shambles.

“It was Sir Rottnchild trying to time travel here, but he must not have been able to materialize in the mirror, so he tried your room. Luckily I had performed a counter spell on the mirror in case he tried something like this. I thought the old boy had given up. Now I know that he is still bent on revenge.”

Said Clementine her voice full of fear : “Grandmother, the magic mirror in your bedroom is also shattered in pieces all over the floor.”

“Saint’s shrouds! Those are my two favorite magic tools and now they’ve been destroyed. C’est la vie! At least he didn’t gain control of any of us which was his obvious intention. Lucky that I had the foresight to give the two of you a fairy charm to protect you or you both might have been killed from the looks of the damage done my mirrors.”

Later that evening Madame Archibald arranged for a calming carbohydrate filled dinner of macaroni and cheese in order to soothe traumatized nerves. Not only hers, but the students as well. What a great actress she would have been as she acted as if nothing alarming had happened. She had the dining room set with her best china, tablecloths, and silverware and had hot rolls filling the bread baskets along with huge jars of berry jam. No one was commanded to eat their veggies that night for good reason. Soft calming violin music played in the background. Her crystal goblets were filled with a delicious herb drink guaranteed to calm disturbed psyches. Soon the students were as calm as soporific bunnies. English trifle was served for dessert with lots of whipped cream.

Madame, dressed in her very best red robe and matching turban asked scintillating questions of the students around her and they responded intelligently as she hoped to distract the worriers. The damaged mirrors had been replaced by two ancient ones with ornate oak frames that had been brought over by Dolphus from Transylvania which were rumored to have belonged to a powerful magician. Everything appeared to be back to normal and of course calming e-mails to parents had been sent. However, there was one place they overlooked – that was Clementine’s gold fish bowl which was by the side of her bed. Had they looked there they would have seen a tiny red octopus waving its arms about chanting.

“I’ve examined every pool of water on the ranch and even inspected the rain ducts on my roof and haven’t seen a sign of an octopus, Sir Rottnchild’s disguise and favorite familiar. I sense that Lord Rottnchild is watching us just waiting for me to let my guard down.”

After dinner the forty-five students were divided into teams and were taken down into the basement for games of howling. This was similar to bowling, but real fairies were used as pins and howling consisted of the students using vocal vibrations instead of arm movements and balls to knock down the fairies. Earplugs were supplied for all. The mermaids had actually invented this game as a means of fine tuning students developing sonar skills and they played this fascinating sport under water in the swimming pool, also.

The fairies were common garden fairies that volunteered and loved the action because it helped them keep dexterous and on their toes safe from owls which were their natural enemies. It was amusing to see the fairies jump or fly out of the way of the howls. Very seldom were they hit now. In the beginning they were nicked so often that fairy dust would fill the room sprinkling and energizing the players. Occasionally when the fairies were out of sorts and refused to play then old fashioned nine pins were provided, but the games were not nearly as exciting. The fairy queen took this sport very seriously and only allowed the most agile specimens of her people to participate. Being race conscious, she was almost as proud of her genes as Madame Archibald was of her howlers. Video recordings of the events were sold of the tournaments and the tapes were sold throughout America. Madame provided two scholarships per year at the academy from the proceeds for indigent families of talented magicians.

Chapter Six – The Wonder of Water

Thursday afternoons were spent in the Olympic sized swimming pool. It was heated by geothermal ponds and emptied every afternoon so chlorine and other chemicals were not used. The water was just the right temperature and the Witchpoint swim team usually out performed any team in the western region. Having two experienced swim masters which just happened to be mermaids helped. Pearl and Shelly were fabulous educators. Pearl was known for her swimming speed and Shelly taught the students how to hold their breath for long periods of time under water. Pupils looked sharp in their red swimming trunks or one piece suits with a large W on them.

Clementine was a born natural in the water despite being a witch. She could do the dead man’s float, the breast stroke, the butterfly, etc. and could hold her breath for eight minutes. Her grandmother was especially proud of her because she herself had never been able to feel comfortable in the water ever since she saw one witch shrivel up when a pail full was thrown at her in a movie. Luckily this erroneous information happened to be an old wives’ tale. Her granddaughter had no fear of the water believing it to be the most magical substance on earth.

Michael Tuttle, her classmate, handsome with dark hair and a quick sense of humor was also gifted in the water, he could swim like a fish blessed with an excellent technique: He always pointed his toes and held his breath like he were a seal.

“Clementine, I double dare you at diving.”

“I’ll do anything you can, Smartie,” she said with a broad grin answering his challenge. Michael was a fearless diver capable of performing a triple somersault in the air and then he could do it backwards, also. “Look out below!” said Clementine bombing in to the water. When the two mermaids blew their conch shells calling everyone to practice, most team members were excited to be there except for the very youngest students. Shelly, the mermaid with golden hair would give them rides on her back down to the bottom of the pool and helped them breathe under water until they could do it on their own. Sometimes when they blew their conch shells the water would fill up with glowing fish. “Dive and swim close to these fish and watch what happens. The children would luminesce as they swam around the glowing creatures. This was very effective in the night and the lights of the pool were turned off. It was almost magical.

Madame Crystal had promised the Witchpoint Academy swim team members that if they came out first in the western region, she would personally fund a trip for them to the Pacific Ocean where the mermaids would show them their underwater grottoes. Madame Archibald was looking forward to this and had ordered several swimming suits of red stretch lycra that made her appear younger and slimmer with their red lycra skirts which made her look like a red water lily in the water. Red and white swim shoes covered her feet and she always wore a red swimming cap and water wings since she didn’t really know how to swim properly anyway.

Usually Madame floated around the pool during the lessons or watched from the lifeguard tower with her whistle. Shelly would race Artemis who was allowed to wear rubber swim fins to counteract for not having been born with a fish tail. Shelly always won, but Artemis was definitely gaining on her. “Ah ha!” Next time you will win Artemis,” she said gurgling under the water. Grandmother made certain that all of her students learned to swim because most of the ingredients for potions for spells and medicine came from the red and green seaweed that grew in the ocean. She even had to harvest some of her own seaweed when she wasn’t too busy running the academy. She considered it vital for all future witches to know how to swim.

“I’ll meet you down at the bottom of the pool,” said Michael to Clementine one day.

“Okay!” said Clementine pushing off leading the way. The two had been choreographing a water ballet and were planning their own free style program for a night time competition while colored lights lit up the pool.

“Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we dived through hoops lit by fire and placed on the water?”

“We have learned some incendiary spells that would work,” said Michael. The young swimmer snapped his finger and torches of flame lit the oval. They were alone in the pool since Pearl and Shelly had gone home through the tunnel connecting them to their underwater cave at the Newton Reservoir. Red headed Shelly was having her cod fillets since teaching always made her feel famished.

No sooner had the pair completed their dives than the water in the deep end began to grow murky. A large fleshy head armed with eight legs appeared above Clementine resembling a parachute. A huge eye was staring at her from above; then the creature dropped down enveloping her. A silent scream left her throat; she was paralyzed with fear.

Michael, feeling helpless, swam to the top of the water and ran yelling for help. As soon as the tentacles approached her, Clementine automatically grasped her fairy charm. The giant octopus was secreting a liquid which in most instances would sedate its prey, but a strange thing started happening. An electric clear bubble encapsulated the girl and the creature was shocked whenever it tried to touch her. Its birdlike beak failed to puncture the bubble, and its tentacles were unable to grasp hold of it. Fifteen minutes passed as the one sided battle continued. Soon the octopus grew tired and it was unable to do anything but float on the top of the pool.

Uncle Dolphus was the first one to reach the scene. Looking at the blue ringed creature he knew that it was deadly poisonous to any living thing. His first thought was to immediately make it smaller. Using a crystal which always hung around his neck on a chain he pointed it towards the huge creature saying: “Shrinkulua, sciacic.” The octopus began to grow smaller, and Professor Archibald encapsulated it with a plastic bubble of its’ own. With a small pool vacuum he sucked the octopus up. It could no longer hurt anyone or anything. Clementine was able to roll across the top of the water in her own bubble to the shallow end where her uncle helped her out of her life saving cocoon.

“Oh, Uncle Dolph, I have never been so frightened in my life,” said Clementine clinging to him fiercely. Immediately they closed and drained the pool. When Grandma heard what happened she called the mermaids on their telephone and asked them: “Did you by any chance have a Science lesson planned using an octopus? She really knew in advance that they hadn’t, but she was just making certain – thinking that they might not have known that this species of octopus was poisonous. Of course the two mermaids knew very well that it was deadly and they certainly hadn’t planted the octopus in the pool. Grandmother thanked them again for being such excellent teachers.

Grandmother would have to perform an animales spell on the shrunken octopus and see if the creature was a transformation or if it was in its natural state. She began shaking with fear when she thought of the former possibility. The octopus would be put in the salt water aquarium in her outer office until she could see to the matter. She couldn’t afford to cancel the rest of the classes for the afternoon. After the disaster last week parents might start pulling their children out of the academy.

“Clementine, dear, you may take the rest of the afternoon off if you wish.”

“Holy moly!” I’d actually rather be in class with a crowd around me than alone by myself, Grandmother.” She moved her chair closer to Artemis and kept grasping her fairy necklace in her hand.

“Thank you for having enough foresight to give me this fairy token, grandmother. I wouldn’t have survived the attack without it. The octopus was spitting poison in the water, but the bubble protected me because of the fairy charm,” said the girl with a quiver in her voice; obvious to the old woman was that her granddaughter was shell shocked.

“I never realized the danger that surrounded us. It’s hard to deduce that I had such an enemy; imagine I was once betrothed to marry the fiend; I thought he was an ocean away, but believe me I’m aware now.” She hugged Clementine her with a ferocity she’d never experienced.

Chapter Seven – Music Lessons

Madame Crystal Archibald walked to the music room where all types of music from various countries was taught and performed. This semester she was teaching the manufacture and playing of the magic harp. She’d purchased a used instrument in London years ago. It had belonged to a giant, but the giant had met an untimely death and the amazing harp had come on the market at Sotheby’s by a widow. She was concerned that she had purchased a stolen harp, but it was so lovely that she disguised it somewhat and used it in her music course since it was truly wondrous.

“Students, making a harp may seem like an impossible task, but it isn’t if we take baby steps. The first thing we must do is create the base of the harp; then we’ll sculpt the bust in wax and use the lost wax technique to replace the wax with metal of your choosing. Jewelry is made using the same method so you’ll actually be able to use this procedure throughout your lives for various objects. However carving your figurine is still an option, but remember, wood is subject to termites in some climes. However, some beautiful ship heads were carved in former centuries and there are ways now to preserve wood for long term usage. I’ll let you visualize your instrument’s structure. It can be created of almost any material such as metal, plastic, ivory, gold, silver, fabric, etc., ad infinitum. The choices are yours, but remember, you’ll want to make it practical and long wearing.” The students shut their eyes and visualized different products and then drew rough drafts of their designs in their sketch books.

“Artemis, would you please display and demonstrate your harp that you made last year?” asked the head mistress addressing the skinny fifth year student. He held up aluminum V shaped apparatus. “I used the lightest weight metal I could find because I knew I would want it with me. I realized that the only time I would have free time to listen to the harp would be at night. Look at the strings; they’re made of the webs from black widow spiders because of their durability. I researched the fact that spiders listened to the wind blowing through their webs so I thought I’d try them. Putting several web lengths together created strings of incredible strength and unusual sound he’d discovered from the notebooks of the scientist who had imported the poisonous spiders to the United States; the deranged magician had hoped to make durable socks from the webs.

“Plunnnnngggg!” The sound reverberated around the room as he plucked the instrument. There was a faint metallic type of resonance. The aluminum figurine plucked the strings delicately. Her tiny nose and lips were like those of an angel. “It’s one of the most unusual harps that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to,” said Madame earnestly as she patted Artemis proudly on the back.

“Next, I’m going to have you listen to one made of ivory which came from the tusks of an Asian elephant.” It had been extensively hand carved so that it was not as heavy as it appeared and was a priceless work of art. The woman’s torso was carved out of one of the tusks and her eyes had been inset with blue sapphires. Dimples carved in the cheeks made the face of the bust exquisite; her eyes had been inset with blue sapphires. Her arms were particularly shapely and well sculpted.

“Of course one can no longer use real ivory anymore since elephants are on the endangered species list, but one can conjure up a similar type of product with a duplication spell.” Clementine’s harp was going to be made of gold since she wanted hers to be an investment as well as beautiful; she decided against silver since she didn’t enjoy polishing her grandmother’s silverware when it tarnished. After much thought, she’d decided to make its strings of both nylon and steel.

“Gwendolyn, I am going to make a bust of you, because you’re my lovely best friend. You’re not only loyal and true, but you’re definitely a keeper. May the two of us grow old together and nothing ever separate us.”


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