Chapter 1 - A Strange Family

The chilly winter breeze blew on Audery's face making her tuck further into her green wool cloak, her father bought her for her birthday. The snow covered cobblestone streets were practically empty of the people who lived in the little village called Shetland as Audery made her way to the bakery to fetch a loaf of bread. Maybe she would make a quick stop at the library since she was out.

"Hello, Audery," The baker said, as she entered the shop, "What can I get for you?"

"Good morning, Mr. Brown. I need a loaf of bread and a pound of flower, I'm all out." After she paid for the items, she waved her hand and they vanished.

Although Audery was a quiet, caring, and sweet girl, she was different from the rest of the citizens of Shetland, just like her family. They could move objects with their minds. Hold conversations with out uttering a word. They could even talk to animals. Yes, they were a very strange family. Outcasts of the village, but not completely shunned. All were incredible healers. For that reason, the village had a need for the family. Of course, some villagers welcomed them with open arms.

As Audery entered the library, the smell of old books and somebody wearing too much cologne, filled her nostrils. 'Not him, why is he here, he hates books,' Audery thought to herself.

Anthony, the town hero, praised for his athleticism and hunting skills. His father was the Lord of Shetland. He was only a few years older than Audery. It's not that he wasn't attractive, but Audery wasn't interested in a spoiled rich boy who would only give her gifts. She wanted somebody to love her for who she is, not for her thin, pale frame, her bright green eyes, surrounded by long wavy blonde hair. Besides, who would want her? She was a witch, as well as her family. They were the ones who sung to the land, and the trees. They were the ones who cared for the animals. They were the caretakers, and the healers. Yet, they weren't accepted. Perhaps that was the price for having such a special gift.

Slowly making her way to the desk to see what the new shipment was, Audery was stopped when a tall man stepped out from behind a book case. It was Anthony. His long, sandy brown hair was tied back reveling blue eyes and the smooth creamy skin on his face. His muscles were noticeable even though the thick wool coat he wore.

"Hello, Audery," Anthony said in a deep voice, blocking her path.

"Good morning," Audery replied, avoiding eye contact. Her emerald eyes focused on the desk ahead.

He ran a hand through her waist length blonde hair. "You look beautiful today," he cooed.

Audery suppressed a shudder, "Thank you," she said in a low voice, "I have to go."

"But you just got here."

"Yes, well I… I.." Audery could not think of an excuse.

"Anthony, will you stop harassing my customers?" the old book keeper said loudly.

"Sorry Mr. Knight," Anthony said sweetly. Then whispered in Audery's ear, "I'll be seeing you later," he kissed her cheek and left the shop.

"I'm sorry, Audery, but I couldn't kick him out for any reason," Mr. Knight said.

"It's alright, when I do try to avoid him, he always finds me, even if he has to knock on my door," Audery replied.

The old librarian laughed. His brown eyes wrinkling, his ear length gray hair swaying as his body vibrated.

"So, did you get the new shipment?" Audery asked, hopefully.

"Is it Thursday?" he smiled.

"Yes," she smiled back.

"Then I got the shipment," he said pulling out a stack of books.

Audery sorted through the tittles and pulled out the two that most appealed to her. "I'll start with these," she said, calling in money.

"Actually, Peggy's been sick. If you could make her a brew, that would be payment enough," the librarian spoke timidly.

Audery smiled, "I had a feeling, she's been pretty sick lately."

"Yes, since she caught that terrible flu a couple of weeks ago, she hasn't been the same."

Audery smiled and called in a small bag of mixed herbs, "Just mix a teaspoon with a cup of hot water, just like tea, but don't add sugar, you'll get the opposite effect. Do it once a day, until the herbs are gone. If there's no change, let me know and I'll come and take a look at her," Audery explained while vanishing the books.

"Thank you. I don't understand how you do that," The old man said.

"I've told you, it's like carrying an invisible bag, but instead of using physical strength, I use my powers. Besides, it's a good way to carry heavy things, while keeping your hands free. You only have to be careful not to drain your powers," Audery laughed.

"Perhaps it's because I don't understand your powers."

"I'll stop by next Monday and see how Mrs. Knight is doing."

"Thank you, Audery."

Flipping her hood over her head, Audery stepped out into the snow covered streets.

The walk home was difficult due to the cold wind that just picked up, and the falling snow making visibility minimal. The sound of horses neighing angrily startled Audery. She barely had time to throw herself into the snow bank before the pounding hooves and buggy galloped by at a neck-breaking speed.

Brushing the snow off her cloak, Audery slowly stood up. Her eyes widened in realization; this road only led to the cottage she shared with her father. The carriage was coming from that direction.

"Papa," she whispered, then ran as fast as she could down the lane.

She came to a halt, just outside the garden fence. The smell of fear filled the air around her. Not her father's fear, but the fear of the men who trespassed on her home. Audery cautiously walked up the path that lead to the tiny front stoop. The heavy wooden door was knocked off it's hinges, probably by the villagers trying to invade her home. It was now hanging relentlessly on the side of the stone cottage, her ancestors built over 500 years ago, when they first came to Shetland.

Reluctantly, Audery made her way inside the cabin, using her powers to fix the door. She turned to take in the sight. The cottage looked like a tornado had hit it. The lamps were thrown against the wall, laying shattered on the floor. The stuffing in the couch was ripped out. In the kitchen, pots and pans were thrown about. All of the dishes were smashed. The silverware was strewn on the floor. The solid oak table, her great grandfather built, was overturned.

The sound of a horse neighing, and the pounding of hooves brought Audery back to reality. She ran outside to see the Shire horse, her family owned, rearing, bucking and carrying on. His brown fur rippled in annoyance. His black mane and tail whipped around with his movements. A white blaze ran down his nose beginning between his eyes. The white feathers over his hooves danced with his legs.

"Windstrom, what happened?" she asked the distraught stallion.

*They took him,* Windstrom's teenage sounding voice shouted in her head.

"Where?" she asked frantically.

*I heard some of the villagers saying something about a council and a decision.*

Although it was already below freezing outside, the stallion felt the cold rage, coming from Audery, twist down his spine. "Take me to him," she said in a deadly calm.

The stallion slowly walked up to Audery and crouched down so she could climb on the horse's back. Once she had a firm seat, and a tight grip on his mane, Windstrom took off at a gallop.

Audery was used to riding with no tack, but the frantic leaps of the huge horse, kept throwing her off balance. "I know were in a hurry, but go easy, your going to throw me off."

*I'm sorry, I'm just worried.*

"Don't worry, I'll get him back, I always do."

They finally reached the huge stone building that made Shetland's courthouse. Ice formed on the newly shoveled walkway as Audery made her way up the steps. The solid wood doors flew open as she made her way to an open court room.

"What's the meaning of this?" Audery said loudly, so the judge could hear her.

"The meaning of what?" he answered smugly.

"Of taking my father."

"Your family has soiled our village for long enough -"

"Soiled!" Audery shouted, interrupting the judge. By now everything in the room was frosted, and most of the villagers were shivering. "How can you cay 'soiled' when it was my mother who healed your wife's leg all those years ago? She would have lost it if one of your so-called doctors took care of it. And you, Mr. McHarvey," she pointed to one of the villagers in the front row, "Your goat would have died if my father didn't cure her colic. You wouldn't have any milk or cheese to sell. All of you, my family has in some way helped you. We sing to the land and make right what you destroy. We are the only reason why you prosper, and you have the nerve to call us filth!"

"Audery," Bellowed a man's voice. It sounded frightened.

Audery turned to her father, his black hair was windblown. His dull green eyes had a look of horror. His plain wool clothes were tattered. Audery couldn't tell if he was shaking from cold of from fear of his own flesh and blood.

"I'm sorry, Papa, but enough is enough," she said to him, then turned back to the judge, "You have no grounds to hold him. Let him go."

"Only if you both leave Shetland for good," the judge said.

"Our family has been here over 500 years. One hundred years before the village settled here. As far as we're concerned, you're the ones who have tainted our land."

"Audery, please stop," Louis, pleaded with his distraught daughter.

"This is our home! We have done nothing wrong. We have a much right as they do to live here," Audery shouted.

"Audery, leash your temper, before you freeze everybody to death," Louis scolded

"I want them to feel my anger, to feel how they have hurt us," Audery said.

"See they are a danger to everybody," one of the villagers shouted.

"A man with a bow is dangerous. Because I have a different weapon, it makes me worse?" Audery retorted.

The judge bowed his head, "She is right, her family has done nothing wrong. They have done everything in their power to help us. We have no right to make them leave their home." Protests from the villagers erupted, but the judge banged his gravel. "The meeting is adjourned. Louis Winterford, you may go," the judge shouted.

The villagers left the room, talking and grumbling among themselves. All except a stranger, who remained in the shadows, unnoticed as he had done many times before, watching and waiting for his moment.