Prologue

          She sat on the unforgiving, wooden stool the tavern keeper gave her. After standing for hours and answering the same questions repeatedly, the magistrate granted this reprieve due to her condition. It appeared that the entirety of Salem Village was present in the tavern for the third day of her trial. The day began at the meetinghouse, but when it became apparent that the room couldn’t possibly hold another person, they adjourned to this place.

          “Elizabeth Proctor, who enticed thee to sign the devil’s book?”

          With a breath, nausea rolled through her again. With her pregnancy, the smells of yeast, fermentation, and noxious body odor made her stomach flip. Her salivary glands stung as they overworked, and Elizabeth had to swallow a few times to keep from retching. Magistrate Sewall took the tears in her eyes and delay in answering as a sign that she considered confessing.

          He waved his bound and tattered copy of the Malleus Maleficarum so close to her that she could smell the vellum. The fifteenth-century document, also known as the Hammer of Witches, had been used to put more than twenty other people to death in Salem alone. It looked as though the Hammer were about to come down on her as well. She wished she could wipe the moisture where Sewall’s spit hit her face when he said, “Speak the name!”

          “I signed no book, sir and I have no name to speak.” To the side of the room, several young girls began to writhe and cry out. Serves her right for night killing Mercy Lewis when she had the chance, she thought.

          “She pinches us, sir!”

          “That hurts! Make her stop, please!”

          Elizabeth hoped from her seat that this would soon be over. She needed water to drink and hot coals beneath her feet. Both had been denied her since the beginning, two days ago. Despite all the people and body heat in the room, she could still see her breath as she exhaled.

          “Enough!” the magistrate said.

          At his outburst, the girls ceased their outrageous behavior. Elizabeth scoffed inwardly. If she were causing them harm, they would know it. Her face grew hot, and she sensed the energy rise from her belly and then down her arms. Taking deep breaths, she attempted to calm the feelings before her true power came to light. She wasn’t angry at the magistrate’s outburst, or her trial. She felt disconsolate about her husband

          While Elizabeth spent the last fortnight locked behind an iron door that was so heavy it took two men to open, the magistrate found John guilty of witchcraft in his own prosecution. When Elizabeth arrived at the meeting house that morning, she learned of her husband’s hanging on Gallows Hill.

          She wondered how he could be so reckless. She did not understand why he let them do it. If he wanted, John had the power to raze Salem to the ground with unimaginable destruction. Elizabeth would not be so weak. Should these mortals find against her and try something foolish enough as to hang her, they would have to rename the village Sodom when she was finished. The Puritans would not wait long for fire and brimstone.

          The magistrate stumbled exhaustedly to two other village elders. Together, they would decide her fate. They sat at a small table wearing their black robes and white powdered wigs. For having left England with the purpose of leaving behind old ways, they held them with white knuckles now that they were free of the King’s influence.

          After a long while, they magistrate rose again from the table. The other two men would not meet her eye. She knew what would come next. With a grim-faced expression, he stood before her, his back to the large crowd. They salivated like rabid dogs with anticipation of her demise. Hangings had become entertainment in Salem. Death for sport.

          “Elizabeth Proctor, wife of John Proctor, you are found guilty of witchcraft, consorting with the devil, sodomy, and lewdness.”

          The crowd gasped and guffawed. It appeared that even for a crime such as witchcraft, finding a pregnant woman guilty of a hanging offense was too much. Perhaps Elizabeth had not given the townspeople enough credit.

          “For these crimes, you are to be taken from whence you came, then to your place of execution.”

          But Elizabeth did not live to one-hundred and forty by being an ignorant knave. No, this ended here. Again, the power arose from her core. Impossibly, the moment before the words to finish them all touched her tongue, her power receded. She had lost control of it, though it still coursed through her body. Eyes down, Elizabeth gasped at the heat she felt from within her womb. The baby began to control its mothers’ power.

          The magistrate watched as Elizabeth bowed her head to her unborn child. The devil’s child they all suspected. “Impossible!” he yelled as Elizabeth’s bindings fell away and she rose from her seat. Hovering several inches above the ground, her head falls back, and the room was filled with sunlight. But, the sunlight was coming from Elizabeth. It poured from her eyes, ears, and mouth.

          When she focused again on him and the crowd, they cowered before her omnipotence. Her unseeing eyes scanned the faces of each person in the room, though none dared to return her glance. A voice, but not her voice came from this God-like creature.

          “People of Salem, this has gone too long. Damnum memoria. Non fecit haec est!”

          The ancient Latin was the only sound that could be heard above the ragged breathing as every single, unconscious body hit the ground. Elizabeth floated back down, both feet landing on the warped and creaky wood. She did a quick check of her power. It answered her call as it always does. Placing her hand onto her belly, she spoke to her daughter.

          “You will be a powerful witch. I am proud of you.”

          Elizabeth walked a twisting path through the room, not caring if she stepped on a hand or foot. Looking back on her townspeople one last time, she stepped more carefully as to avoid the snow and slush in the road. The sun was almost set when she made it to her home.

          It was not only a home, though. It was, as the Puritans found out, the meeting place for New World coven. She was greeted with astonished faces. They were sure she was to be found guilty. With authority she was used to using, she spoke to the group.

          “Come. It is time to leave this place.”

          “Where will we go?” asked Tituba, expectant at the prospect of the journey. She was tired of hiding when everyone thought she was dead.

          “North, I think. I hear New York is hospitable for those such as us.”

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