CHAPTER 1

I woke up in a pool of sunlight, sleepily opening my eyes, I watched as the beams of light played across the old stone walls of my bedroom. Soft birdsong and waves gently lapping against the shore combined to form the best wake up soundtrack a woman could ask for.


I live in a spacious stone cottage 30kms away from the closest village, Fiume Blu, which boasts a delightfully small population of 8000. My closest neighbour is over 10 minutes away by car and over 2 steep hills if you hiked directly between us.

I am surrounded by vibrant greenery on three sides, with the fourth side framing the crystal-clear blue waters of a large inland saltwater lake. A small white sand cove lies 20 meters from the eastern corner stone of the cottage.  The cove is a delightful spot to swim now that the season is getting warmer. I did get some good skating in over winter and have been told the fishing is good all year round.


A newly refurbished greenhouse on the right opens onto my rambling semi-wild garden. In both the greenhouse and the garden, I have planted a small army’s worth of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs for medicinal, recreational and gourmet purposes. My semi-organised garden effortlessly flows into an old orchard which in turn merges quietly into the large cedars, hemlocks, pines, firs and oaks of the ancient woods that surround my home. The verdant forest covering the surrounding mountains spans out for hundreds of acres beyond my lands.


Brambles of blackberries and raspberries and various wild roses grace my home in a riot of colour, and my pantry with a rich stock of jams and preserves. I converted the attic into my bedroom and added a large solarium style bathing chamber on the side closest to the lake. The house proper is large and airy and holds a large open plan living area and kitchen. On the opposite side of the cottage to the solarium I have added a large library. For symmetrical and aesthetic purposes, the library and solarium are the same size and shape. Both were constructed of reinforced glass, although the solarium is 80% glass whilst the library is only 50% glass. The library tower has less to create the perfect balance of natural light without overexposing the 1000s of books I own to excessive sunlight and inadvertently damaging them.​


I expanded the house proper to slightly over twice its original size. I used the same materials as the original building which is river stone hewn from cliffs just over the other side of the cove. The walls were built with bare river stone and mortar. The floors are laid with reclaimed oak floorboards I found in a shop in the village, which sells old building materials that still have use left in them. The thick boards were worn smooth from wear and feel simply wonderful on bare feet.



The entire top floor is my bedroom, en suite and walk in wardrobe. A large king bed, bright floral linens and an old French style padded headboard and side table set take up one side. I stripped the op-shop score down to bare wood, which I painted warm-white. I replaced the headboard’s padding and re-covered it with a simple hemp clothe using the same fabric to cover buttons to complete the project. The ceiling on either side slopes down from the roof apex, creating a triangle shaped room. I installed a pair of French doors and small balcony giving me a view out over both the forest and athe lake to open the space up.  A large fireplace sits to the left of my bed between the French doors and the wall.


A large chest rests at the end of my bed which holds my extra linen and a thick knitted blue blanket I’ve had since I was 5. The wool used is half as thick as my forearm, the weight adds an extra layer of comfort during winter. An added bonus: the abstractly large size makes my soul snuggly(er).


A matching set of French doors open into my walk-in wardrobe. Although I replaced the glass in this set with wooden panels painted the same simple white.

My clothes, shoes and assorted paraphernalia are arranged along the right-hand side of my room. The clothes racks are made from reclaimed industrial steel pipes, secured to the ceiling with thick sailing rope (thank you Pinterest). My clothes were hung up coordinated by colour beginning with white on the left, through to red on the right. I built shelves to store my shoes and bags with a similar colour system although after taking note I seem to have a definite preference for old leather bags.


A simple wooden staircase leads down to the living area. It is partially obscured by balustrading across the room from the bed. Trailing vines of jasmine wind around the framework from the potted plants downstairs. Their gentle fragrance delicately spreading through the room.


Rolling out of bed was hard. The warm blanket nest I had created in my sleep, fit me perfectly. However, the thought of a hot coffee overcame the inclination to sleep in.


Before we go any further I would like to introduce myself, I am Bramble Thorne, supernatural being of, as yet, indeterminate species. Doctor, coffee enthusiast and obsessive reader.


What now you may ask? How can one be “supernatural” without knowing which flavour? Fun story, settle in.


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.... Just kidding, just over 30 years ago in Scotland I was found by a trio of sisters on the shores of Loch Morar, a screaming babe barely 6 months old (they were guestimating). The sisters had been in Scotland on a working holiday learning new spells from the ancient druid who lived within the Sgurr na Cirche. 



The three sisters had been following a group of distressed kelpie mares who led them to me. Surprisingly tiny for the amount of noise I was making, a bundle of pure joy (kidding, chaos is a more accurate description). The sisters stayed in Scotland for several more months trying to locate my family. No one came forward so, after consulting with the closet coven the sisters officially adopted me and became my aunts. My beautiful, wonderful, warm hearted (if slightly sinister at mostly appropriate times) new family brought me home with them to New York City. I spent the first 21 years of my life in the crazy crowded, loud, packed full of noisy, oblivious humans and thankfully very few other “supes”. The din and close living quarters are often overwhelming to human sense. Now imagine if those 5 sense were heightened tenfold, and then another twofold. That is what a non-human supe deals with. Unlike witches who are human at their core, but unlike most humans whose bloodlines forgot magic existed or chose to believe it was "evil" witch bloodlines never forgot and never turned their backs on the old way. Thus they retained their natural connection to the magicks.


As I grew up we started trying to figure out what/who I am. As a baby they discovered I could “breathe” underwater, I don’t know if breathe is the correct term. But this came in handy as I was able to sleep underwater when the outside noises became too overwhelming. At 3 we discovered an affinity for fire when my eldest aunt’s best friend, Kata, was a Jinn whose familiar, a Phoenix (Nix) would curl up around me whenever they’d visit overnight to sleep. Aunt Kata said Nix usually preferred to sleep in lit fires in our realm so we figured I had some connection to that element as well.


When I turned 13 they discovered overnight I was part Lykae, after I wrecked the living room during my first turn, it also explained why I suffered severe headaches from the noise of an overpopulated metropolis. At least it helped us figure out my actual age. Sleeping underwater at night helped me tolerate the noise, the local Luna also helped me learn to filter out surrounding hubbub to focus on a few voices or sounds at a time. When I turned 21 I grew translucent wings, twice my size, which slipped out  when I lost my grip and fell whilst climbing up some cliffs in Canada.


I left home at 18 to study medicine in England after which I travelled and worked for a few years. On my 26 birthday I woke up in a dragon form. SO that was fun. We had been staying with family friends (same coven) in Portofino. I accidentally knocked out a wall. Oh and yes the concept of accidents and I are closely intertwined.


Last year on a whim I threw a dart at a map and it landed on coordinates of where my little cottage is. So here I am. On the exact spot where a random dart throw led me.

 

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