Witch Trial, 2024

Chapter Four

If you haven’t read the other chapters up to this point in the story, start HERE!


What the hell was Rachel doing? We had formed an alliance with the man she had tried to kill. Mr. Cruz’s intentions were unclear, despite how hard I pushed him to think about it. We had to be careful, but I didn’t trust him enough to let Rachel know that. Luckily, I at least knew that mind-reading was a one-way action, so all I needed was for Rachel to read mine. It was worth a try.

Read Lily’s mind” was the idea I planted in Rachel’s head. She looked back at me, giving me a weird look. A look that said something along the lines of “Did you just do that?” and told me that my idea had worked. I nodded quickly and began thinking of the message I wanted her to see.

Mr. Cruz can’t read minds,” I thought for Rachel, “We could do this instead of telepathy as a workaround.” Rachel nodded, approving of the idea.

You don’t trust him,” I thought. No doubt a thought from Rachel. “Not entirely,” I responded.

I would say that I’ll prove you wrong, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m right either,” she thought. “We’ll just have to wait and see.

How do you know he can’t read your mind, Rachel?” I asked.

No, he can’t read minds, but he’s pretty good at blocking them. He’ll block the mind-reading as best as he can.

Yeah,” I agreed. “I experienced that myself.

At a nearby street corner, Mr. Cruz bade us farewell and we went our separate ways. He walked away down the sidewalk, while Rachel and I simply morphed into birds and flew away. Mr. Cruz’s presence faded as we flew away. He was off the network. I let Rachel know about this, but she shrugged it off. A quick mind-check revealed fear, unease, uncertainty.

“You’re nervous,” I guessed. “What’s on your mind?”


A nervous glance towards me.

More silence.

“I’m not sure,” she admitted. We landed on a rooftop, high up enough that we wouldn’t be seen, and made ourselves human again.

“We need to be careful with that Cruz guy,” I warned, as I shook out the last of my feathers. “I’m not sure what it was, but I sensed something… off, about him.” She nodded in agreement. Was that a nod that said “I understand,” or a nod that said, “I sensed it too”? And if it was the latter, how much of her power was she hiding? We sat in silence for a while. I was starting to fall asleep when Rachel suddenly spoke up.

“I… need to tell you something,” she said, with some hesitation in her voice. She was fighting herself to get these words out.

“Take your time,” I assured her.

“When I was at the Citadel,” she started. “I saw Mr. Cruz.”

“Did he see you?”

“No, I was out of sight. I went in through a window, and he was walking through when I came in.”

“Does that mean…?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what he was doing in there.”

Cruz was there. He must have been involved, somehow. Was he searching for a weak point? Was he intercepting Rachel? Each answer left me with more questions.

“Why didn’t you tell me that?” I asked.

“Maybe I want to keep some things to myself,” she said. “Either way, I think he knows I took the staff.”

It was all coming together, against us. The council wanted the staff back, and us dead.

And Mr. Cruz had watched Rachel commit a crime against the government.

“We’ll figure things out,” I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. The feathers starting to sprout on my arm gave away my rising stress levels. I quickly willed them away before Rachel noticed. “We just need to be careful around Mr. Cruz. We don’t know his motives, his intentions, or almost anything about him.”

“I can figure that out,” Rachel told me. “I had access to the Council Archives when I was an assassin. I can get in, I think.”

“But you’re not going to,” I assumed. Her face darkened, as she assumed the form of her younger self.

“Rachel,” I asked. “You aren’t gonna try to get in, right?”

“I have to.” And with that, she planted one of her old hooks on the edge of the building and jumped.

“Rachel!” I called after her. “Rachel! It’s not gonna work, Rachel!” But she was gone. I looked up to see a dove flapping its way toward the Archives, in the heart of the city. I cursed under my breath.


The Archives were huge, It would take a century to search every floor. Each floor had archives that lasted five years, and they were in thousands of volumes. We used to go into the archives in the Citadel to search for information about Rachel’s targets or even just the outside world. Now, I had to go into the archives to find Rachel.

I ran to the elevator, ignoring the scattered feathers that now littered the lobby. The elevator’s doors opened with a jolt, and I jumped in.

“Two,” the elevator informed me. The doors closed behind me, and I started to feel uneasy. I went to press the button for floor twenty-three, but I stopped myself before I could press it. How could I, when I had no idea what was waiting for me on floor twenty-three?

“It’s worth a shot,” I muttered, pressing the button.

I waited, and the elevator dinged with floor twenty-three’s arrival.

“Doors open on your right,” the elevator notified me. I sprinted out of the elevator before the doors had fully opened. There wasn’t any time for that. I had to find Rachel. As I ran, I noted that this floor was empty, even for a higher floor of a building that keeps expanding. At the rate at which they’re adding new information to the archives, the building will eventually leave the atmosphere. I couldn’t sense Rachel’s presence, which didn’t help my stress levels. Perhaps she was concealing herself? I kept running.

I wasn’t even close to the middle of the floor when I looked ahead to find… a security checkpoint? A (probably) underpaid, but well-dressed young man stood waiting for me.

“Identification, please,” He mumbled, bored and distracted.

“Ohhh, sorry,” I replied. “I don’t work for the Council.”

His eyes narrowed, as he looked up from whatever he was doing on his phone. “Then could you state your business, ma’am?”

Ma’am. This guy had some attitude. Nobody called me that.

“I’m looking for… a friend of mine,” I explained. “Could you just direct me to the Archives?”

“You’re twenty floors too far down,” he laughed. “The first forty or so floors are just offices, and Council chambers.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said. He muttered something under his breath in response, as I ran back to the elevator.

When I got in, I pressed the button to go back to the lobby.

I had wasted enough time here.