xxxxv. Ghosts Of The New London Ripjoys
In French’s Forest legend, women were once brought to the Witchling Isle by the radical New London Ripjoys—vampires from the city who used the Forest for their occult rituals and ceremonial witch executions. They reveled in all bloodlust.
The Ripjoys hung women from the Old Blacktree to see which were human—and which were witch. It was their way to be sure they killed only those deserving.
If a woman died, then she was human after all—and the Ripjoys would cut her down out of their respect—saluting as she plummeted to the pool far below.
If she did not die, however, even from her broken neck—but rather pulled and writhed at her noose to get free—then they knew that she was a witch after all.
They would cut her down, spitting on her as she plunged below—to churn and burn alive underwater, for they well knew no witch ever survived the Payne.
Seven often came to Witchling Isle to escape Faye’s menacing love—where he would hide out on a ledge that ran under the Blacktree—protected by falling water on three sides of the precipice. The river water shielded him from the Silverskin.
He had often sensed the presence of all those dead ‘witches’—when he visited those parts. Now was no different, as he felt a veil of heaviness descend over them the closer they floated to the falls, as the river carried them along toward the edge.
He could feel the faces of the New London Ripjoys searing across his consciousness—provoking his vampire instincts—urging him to string Eva up from the Blacktree. Deep-seated genetics implored him to ensure she was no witch.
But he just shook those urges off. He had encountered them before, though never so strongly—and he had learned that it was all but a feat of the mind to ward off their influences. He could do it.
The eternal feud between vampires and witches was legendary in those parts, but Seven was no true vampire—and he knew for a fact that Eva was no true witch. Their half-breed natures so ruled.
As they approached the sandy tip of the watershed―Eva closed her eyes—just when Seven spotted the Hellfawn stalking along the far shore. It was as if She only appeared when Eva was not then looking.
The skies cracked and lightning came raining down—striking the Hellfawn’s antlers—lighting Her up in a brilliant flash that scintillated in the air all around Her. She was electrified by the sky, amplified.
“What?” Eva said―eyes fluttering open―but only smoke now remained where the Hellfawn had just there stood.
“Out of the water! Now!” Seven ordered. He had no time to explain, but just mobilize them to get out to safety.
They climbed up the shore, just as more lightning crashed into the Payne, electrifying the river, nearly killing them.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)