In the year 1563, Mary, Queen of Scots, passed Scotland's Witchcraft Act. The act not only made witchcraft illegal, but to consult with or defend a witch was also illegal. And so the witch hunts began.
By the time the act was repealed in 1736, around 4000 ordinary people had been accused, tortured, convicted and executed. They were all innocent.
Or were they?
When Peggy Stuart learned that she shared her name with a notorious witch from the witch trials of the late 1600s, she felt the need to find out more information. Little did she know that her actions would lead to the resurrection of the witch, who has lain dormant for over 300 years waiting for the day she would be released to once again unleash her powers on an unsuspecting world.
Finding that modern weapons are useless and unable to control the witch, drastic action is considered by the government to try to stop her. Peggy and her partner, Matt Taylor, a historian at the local university and an expert in mythology, must work together to try to discover the truth behind what really happened during the witch trials. Only then can they find a way to stop the witch and avoid the catastrophic event being planned by the authorities.
Their investigation leads them to shocking discoveries about the past, and the present, which will forever change the world as we know it and thrust them into a new life where they must fight to preserve and protect.
Read an excerpt:
PrologueAbout the Author:
1693 – Scotland
As the flames of the fire began to rise closer to Peigi Stuart’s bound body, she did not fear the death that awaited her. She knew it would only be her physical body that would perish, her spirit would live on. In time, she would restore her body and once again return to seek justice and revenge. “Burn, witch,” she heard a man shout from the watching crowd. She turned to stare in the direction of the voice and saw a middle-aged man dressed in what could only be described as rags. Seeing her stare at him, he quickly moved back into the group of people behind him in an attempt to get out of sight.
‘Pathetic mortals,’ she thought. If her hands had not been bound she would have shattered his neck with the flick of her wrist, as well as the necks of those around him. In the small town perched close to the cliff top overlooking the sea, everyone had come to watch the witch burn. They had lived in fear of her arrival for a number of years, knowing it was only time before she reached the small collection of houses behind a stone wall they called home. They were a farming community and from the stories they had heard about the approaching witch, they knew their meager defenses would offer no obstacle to her. Their only hope had been that she would pass through the town without causing any destruction as long as no one tried to prevent her from doing so. The local minister however had different ideas. Unknown to the towns folk he had intended to try to capture the witch, a risky move given her power, but the plan was successful and as she was being taken to the waiting fire, the towns folk had felt a renewed level of confidence and had come to watch, partly for entertainment but also to make sure that the witch was really dead. Until such time as she was dead, the crowd remained cautious. Peigi turned her stare to the rest of the crowd and laughed to herself at how excited they were to watch someone burn. She could think of far more imaginative ways to kill.
Seeing her clothes catch fire, they all started to cheer and roar but she just continued to watch them. She felt no pain as her flesh began to blister, though she did know it was a sign that the time when she would need to separate her spirit from her body was approaching. She had always known this moment could come before her work was complete and was well prepared with a spell that would keep her spirit safe and hidden. When the time was right, she would return to walk the earth again and finish what she started. She began to chant. As she did so, her eyes fell on the priest who was looking on as she burned. He was in his late fifties and was a portly man with thinning hair. He stood out from the others due to the quality of clothing he wore, which were far superior to that of those around him. He was the one who had lured her into a trap that morning. She had entered the town, situated to the south east of the city of Edinburgh silently, just as she had entered every other town and village during her journey. The locals were of no interest to her and she had no intention to engage with them. Her senses would have told her if she was in the right place; otherwise, she would simply pass through. Some villagers in the past had chosen to stand in her path. She did not have time to waste and so she dealt with them quickly and severely. A message had to be sent not to obstruct her, and it seemed to have worked. Her brutality, however, had attracted the attention of the authorities in Edinburgh. It did not cause her any problems; the forces they sent to try to capture her were no match for her. They were merely an annoyance. But, this priest was different. He knew her, and knew what she was. She had not expected to see him again and this had given him the upper hand. The trap he had set was simple, but effective.
He had placed an item that he knew would attract her attention in a barn on the outskirts of the building and marked symbols within the barn that would temporarily prevent her from using her magic. She had unsuspectingly walked straight into it the trap and before she had the chance to realize what was happening, several men had leapt from their hiding places and bound her in ropes. With her hands tightly restrained, even once she was away from the effects of the symbols, she could not use her magic.
Within two hours, she was burning. She had been given no trial and no opportunity to respond to the allegations against her. But no need, she was guilty. Most of the poor women convicted and burnt as witches were innocent. That is why they were so easy to capture, torture, and convict. They had no powers. But, the priest knew things were different with her. She was a witch. She had powers. That was why it took them over two years to capture her and why he was taking no chances in delaying matters with a trial. Her hatred for him was deep and even as she stood bound facing an imminent death, she could sense he still feared her.
He stood smiling but seeing her stare at him as she chanted; the priest’s smile was replaced with a look of terror. “She’s cursing me,” he cried, but no one heard him over the noise of the crowd. As much as she would have liked to place a curse on him, with her body still bound she was unable to direct spells at others. But she was amused that he thought he had been cursed. He would carry that fear for the rest of his miserable life.
The flames rose to completely engulf her body and she heard the crowd roar for a final time. But her chant was finished, her soul would be safely contained where it could not be found or harmed, and where she could wait before rising once more.
Over thirty years of reading horror novels and real life ghost stories, along with researching all things supernatural and visiting numerous reportedly haunted locations, has to have an effect on anybody’s mind! Welcome to the macabre mind of Greg Stewart. A mix of traditional supernatural beings, brought into the modern world with plenty of twists and turns along the way. For more information, to view the author’s photographs and to read the author’s blog, visit: http://gstewartauthor.com
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