It was two days since I'd glimpsed Mathis' real form.
Since I realized what he was. And I couldn't seem to get his terrifyingly handsome physique out of my mind. Watching his body stepping into the burbling water was a vivid recollection.
Finally, unable to withstand the secret anymore, I went to the town Mayor, Adrian Marx. And I confided in him what I'd seen and what Mathis really was, what he'd done to me.
Adrian had been a close friend of my father's for years. I knew him well.
And he knows me. He'll know it's true.
But after I'd confided everything, clutching my arms across my chest and rubbing my biceps to work some heat back into them, Adrian launched to his feet.
"This is blasphemy! Everyone knows the magistrate is an upstanding citizen! What you're saying is utter falsehood. Stuff that could get someone killed!"
He scoffed. Beginning to pace.
"A warlock. They don't exist!" Adrian tossed his hands in agitation. "Everyone knows they're a myth conjured by witches in vengeance! Only women can foster the dark arts!"
"Mr. Marx!" I leapt to my feet to meet him. "What I'm saying is sheer fact."
Adrian stopped to give me a pensive study. His second chin near bobbing in outrage. His sagging cheeks flushed purple. He rubbed his ample belly as though all the exertion of his pacing had given him an appetite. "If there's any possibility of this being true, he must speak for himself against these accusations."
My eyes widened. "You're going to tell him!"
"Of course! If he were a partisan of the dark arts he would be held to atone as much as any witch in Drimidan!"
Mayor Marx slapped on a wide brimmed black hat and his cloak. Handing me my blue one.
"Wh-where are we-we going?"
"Up to WitchFall."
I swallowed. But before I could formulate a rational complaint, Mayor Marx had bundled me into his carriage, and it was rattling down the road toward the hill. With every roll of the wheels, I felt like my gut was dropping further into my feet.
I envisioned that wrathful look on Mathis' face while he'd fondled me, writhed against me. So close to intruding into my body.
I heard his haunting voice whispering to me in my dreams. And I was terrified of what he'd do when the Mayor confronted him about being a Warlock. I needed the Mayor to believe me.
To lock up Mathis in the WitchFall dungeons.
Before I'd had time to fully process what was happening, Mayor Marx was hauling me before Magistrate Mathis who sat at the head of his expansive Dining Hall table. Spread with a red and gold embroidered cloth.
His butler had ushered us in.
Mathis sat behind that massive table, hunkered in that chair looking every inch the official at his leisure.
But now I could see past his disguise. I'd seen that those green eyes were not bleary at all but dark and alert. I knew rich waving black hair was tethered beneath that powdered wig. And I knew those tanned sinewed hands which had been all over me were now calmly crossed along his middle.
"What do we have here?" Mathis queried. Voice toneless.
"She states you're a warlock."
I jerked at the abruptness of Mayor Marx's statement.
He couldn't have approached it with a bit more subtlety?
"That so?" Mathis asked, face unreadable as he rose from his chair and crossed the room in several long strides.
I took a step back, but the Mayor's grip on my upper arm held me in place.
And Mathis caught my lower jaw and began tilting my face for inspection.
I whooshed in a quick breath. Fully understanding that this was his way of reminding me of his warning. It's exactly how he'd grabbed me in the woods.
Holding me by my jaw.
"What have you to say for yourself?" Mayor Marx asked him.
"She's possessed clearly." Mathis drawled. "Look at her. She's sweating, her pupils are dilated, she's clearly been bespelled."
"Bespelled?" The mayor reared back.
"That's why she's talking nonsense. A witch has cursed her. Willed her tongue to be their voice."
"Who would do such a thing!" The Mayor was now looking at me as though I were a sullied creature.
"It's not true!" I cried. "He's the dark creature. Not another!"
"See?" Mathis looked at the Mayor. "The tongue of the witch speaking through her."
"Who would do that?"
"Who has she been in close contact with the last three days?"
"She's only ever with Udora Lance." The Mayor sputtered in shock.
A fact which everyone knows. My blue eyes flew to Mathis horrified. I tilted my head and began to shake it. Suddenly realizing his game.
A moment too late.
"Then it's clearly she." Mathis said coldly. "Bring her to me and I'll inspect her for witchery."
"Udora Lance? But she's a good girl!"
"I dearly hope so. Bring her to me."
Shaking his head in stunned reverie, the mayor began to turn and head back for the door.
A sudden grip on my other wrist had me twisting back around to meet Mathis' green gaze. Inches from mine. His disguise falling away to reveal the darkly tanned features of a much younger man.
I warned you. He said into my mind. His voice echoing between my ears.
I began to tremble in his grip.
The Mayor was brought to a sudden stop because I could go no further with Mathis' iron grip on my other arm.
"What are you about Girl?" The Mayor snapped at me. Wondering why I'd stopped.
"You can't take her with you." Mathis said quickly.
The Mayor's head swiveled to look at him.
"If she were to come face to face with the witch who's spell she's under, the witch could make her harm herself or you."
Mayor Marx's double chin bobbed in horror.
"You must leave her here with me."
"No!" I shrieked.
"See..." Mathis gestured to me. "The witch wants you to bring her."
"I understand." Mayor Marx nodded solemnly. Shaking loose of my grip on his sleeve.
"Don't go. Stay! Leave Udora alone!" I pleaded as I caught his cloak. "Don't leave me here!"
Mathis rounded me. Keeping a hand on my arm as he moved between the Mayor and I. He caught my wrist in one hand and Marx's cloak in the other, to rip it free of my grip.
"Go," Mathis told him. "Bring me the witch. Quickly. I'll know if it is she."