All Hallows Eve
1302 October 31
He remembered Alpin’s warning the night before. Harboring such thoughts, Bret wanted to stay in a sober mood. But could he? All Hallows Eve—his birthday—and the new wine all awaited him. He imagined the wizard was at his cottage studying his divination, and natural magick of the heavens and earth.
Alpin’s voice went through Bret’s mind now. “Beware, on this night, the veil between the physical world and spiritual world will be at its thinnest.” Bret felt the presence of someone, then heard the man’s voice again. “‘Tis known among the ancients that on the night of Samhain, the dead walks through the veil to enter our world.” Alpin said, appearing magically beside Bret.
Josephus walked up, carrying two silver goblets, a small platter of pastry, and two skins of sack draped over his shoulder. He handed Bret a goblet. “Why all this talk of the dead, Magick Man? Have the spirits got you restless on this eve?" He bit into a strawberry tart with his strong white teeth and stood chewing the soft fruit and pastry, while Bret reached for the other tart.
Bret laughed as best he could, while chewing the delicious pastry. He reached for the skin of sack to pour some wine. “’Tis nothing here to concern spirits. Nay, Magick Man. The dead have no business here,” he said, with confidence.
“Agreed my knight—but demons and devils do! Indeed they do! They are always busy, going about to stir things up, wicked things,” the wizard said, looking up into the sky. He pointed to the the heavens with his staff, causing the blue crystal ball at the tip to light up suddenly. Roman, his dog stood barking loudly.
“Aye, a sign from the Merlin! See before you now, a sign of great trepidation!” Bret and Josephus looked up into the sky at the wizard’s request, and saw only the first star of the night breaking through the dim sky to reveal its tiny light. “’Tis the first star wizard. Nothing more,” Bret assured him, reaching for another pastry. “Nay, Sir Knight. ‘Tis the last star of the night appearing as the first. ‘Tis not Phosphorus, the evening star. Nay, this is the last star to appear on the night sky—and lo there!” The wizard took a breath. “The Dog Star, Sirius, moves beside it now. Can you not see this?” he asked, with wonder. “Oh, dear me, the whole land of Egypt will be out of order this night.”
The wizard’s eyes grew big with wonder, and his voice trembled. “This night is hexed, and I fear this whole village is cursed.” Alpin the Wizard, turned swiftly and clutched his staff tightly. “I must make haste to the cottage to act upon me alchemy. I fear the witch Zarelda is behind this,” he said walking away. “Oh, indeed she is.”
“By the Greek gods!” Josephus declared, with his mouth full of pastry.
“Fear not,” Bret assured the anxious man. “Alpin loves to be surrounded by his written works and chemical mixtures.” Bret laughed now. “’Twill make his evening more exciting.”
But when Bret turned slowly to face the tiny twinkling stars, he felt a sudden knot tighten inside his gut. What was Zarelda up to now? he wondered. Nevertheless, she was not that powerful. Bret doubted she could handle more than a few simple love potions, if any, or could she?
Josephus spoke as if he could read his kinsman’s mind. “Remember that night at Zarelda’s cottage? A demon, in the form of some dark spirit was summoned up.”