Remembered Kisses: Chapter 6: Five Witches
The Day is Done was busy that night, but Sam’s favorite booth was open. He settled into the corner, sitting gingerly. Marcus's poultice had worked wonders, but he was still tender. He caught Eileen's gaze, she nodded in greeting, and he turned to watch the crowd.
He noticed some familiar faces from the college, including the five girls gathered at one of the central tables -- all of them ritual thaumaturgy students. One of them, a dark-haired woman with steely eyes, was sipping at one of David’s brews. Kendra was at her side, eating animatedly. There was a blonde one, curvy and pretty, with her hair done in a fishtail braid, complimenting both her graceful swan neck, and her strong shoulders. Long dreamcatcher-style earrings dangled from her ears. A dark-skinned girl with short hair was holding the red-headed girl's hand, and they were sharing a chocolate milkshake.
“It sounds... safer? From what David tells me, you mostly run around blowing things up.”
“Yeah, but Sam?”
“You’d look funny in one of those shapeless black dresses.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Really damn funny.” She winked again. “Enjoy your sandwich.”
The quad was bright and sunny the next afternoon; only a few wispy patches of fog still lingered on the College's campus. A half-dozen students in long sleeved workout shirts and exercise pants took up one of the corners. Sam recognized the steely-eyed girl from the bar; she was shorter than he remembered, and her long black hair was tied back in a severe braid that accentuated the sculpted definition of her neck and shoulders. Kendra was next to her, stretching out her shoulders. They both held blunted longswords that flashed in the daylight. A large man approached them, also dressed to work out, but his sword was longer than than either of the girls were tall. They all acknowledged each other and then put on fencing masks.
In an instant she was on him, swinging her sword in a savage horizontal arc. The man somehow got his own in the way, and with a twist of his arms dealt her a resounding ‘pop’ on the mask. She staggered back. Sam could hear her cursing from where he sat, but when she took off her mask, there was a rueful grin on her face. “I’ll get you next time, John,” she said.
“You took the vor quickly that time, Pallas,” he replied, pulling off his own mask. “But you lost true-time when you moved your hips too quickly. Gave yourself away.”
Kendra slowly got up, and she was smiling, too. “You tossed me like a rag-doll! Thanks for the lesson!”
He laughed. “You hesitated before you struck, and your shoulders gave away your plan. It happens.”
“An important lesson to us all, I’m sure,” Sam said at last as he approached, helping Kendra the rest of the way to her feet. “I heard there was a weekly weapons practice out here. But I didn’t expect to see one of our young witches out here getting tossed around.”
“Two of them, professor,” said the dark haired woman, who held out a hand to Sam. Her accent was classic middle-American, with just a hint of the Mediterranean on it, and her eyes were a unique shade of grey that gave Sam a brief pause as he took her hand.
“Grey-eyed Pallas,” he murmured. “Fancy that.”
Kendra chided her. “Don’t be so salty, Pallas. The professor here is a good man. He’s Marcus’s teacher.”
Sam turned to the woman, watching her again, trying to understand that glint in her eye. “Well,” he said. “I hope I pass examination. By the stars, I would hate to disappoint your grey-eyed gaze.”
“Agreed,” she replied simply, with the ghost of a smile. She looked back at Kendra. “Kendra. Our lesson here is finished for the day. Remember our meeting tonight. It is your turn to bring the sage.”
“Well, Good. Pallas is the leader of our coven. She looks out for us. That’s why I’m here. She thinks I need to learn to protect myself better.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m fine, though.”
“Are you a student in the college?” Sam asked, surprised. “I’m not sure how I could have missed you.”
“You couldn't have. I’m pretty big; not sure if you noticed. No, I’m in the art department. I leave the finger-waving to you types. Never been my style or my gift.” He patted Kendra on the shoulder. “But you did a good job today, believe it or not. It takes guts to come at guy like me head on, and more to get back up after a toss like that. Good job.” He nodded at Sam. “Professor. Another time. I'm going to catch a shower.”
Sam whistled, watching John leave. “You've got a fascinating collection of friends, Kendra. Are all the women in your coven so… fierce?”
She laughed, smiling brightly, and walked with him.
“I’m kind of surprised to see you in my class, honestly,” he said.
“I mean, you’re part of Pallas’s coven, aren’t you? This class is a little… academic, for most flavors of witchcraft.”
“I was hoping for some tutoring,” she squeaked. “Maybe a few private lessons? Help me catch up?”