For the next two hours, the three Gypsies slowly set about setting up camp on the crossroads, pitching two tents while Opal painted the appropriate words in a circle around the large stone (after a thorough brushing to rid of any sand or grit, of course), her bottled ink sinking into the stone as if it were water over the dry dirt. The mixture of Latin and Greek lettering, beseeching the elements and the spirits of the underworld for service, took time to mark. The “ink”, a mixture of Opal’s blood mixed with that of a young bull, would coagulate if she let it sit too long, forcing her to stir the small jar every few minutes as she read over the pages, making sure not a single brushstroke was off.
As the sun set in the distance, Terrance pulled the bundle of kindling from beneath the wagon, bringing it over to the stone just as Opal sprinkled the silver dust in a circle around it, settling it in the remaining blood to dry around the beginnings of a campfire.
“Thank you, Papa,” Opal said. She loved him dearly, despite the fact he never stood up to his wife or defended Opal. He patted her hand and walked back to the wagon as Martha came over.
Martha inspected each piece of kindling, the rosewood all soaked in tainted holy water before having the names of the fallen angels engraved upon their surface. All in all, six hundred and sixty-six pieces of foot long wood were arranged into a small star on the mysterious stone, all within the circle of glistening blood, now dried from the heat of the evening.
“Go gather Shylock,” Martha ordered Opal as she began her prayers to the spirits. “His role is soon to be played out.”
Opal nodded and walked to the wagon, climbing into the back to gather the skull. She gasped when she found the skull now resting on the bed, away from the stack of books it’d previously rested upon.
“Shylock… I won’t lie, I can’t wait to be rid of you.” Opal whispered in the darkened wagon.
The skull didn’t respond. It merely sat on the bedding, empty sockets staring at Opal with neither hope nor fear. His last words uttered had been a curse upon Opal, swearing to God that he’d kill her for her crimes.
She’d reveled in slitting his throat after slipping away from his chase into the woods, sneaking up behind him with a knife. She gathered the knife, the curved blade almost luminescent in the dim lighting, the bone handle depicting the souls of those who had been sent to Hell for their crimes. Whittled from a femur, the handle was rough due to the numerous heads facing out, all howling silently in agony as their hands reached plaintively high, all of them crawling over each other to escape the horrors beneath them, all reaching for an onyx set just atop the hilt where iron met bone.
Gathering Shylock and the knife, Opal climbed down from the wagon and walked over to her now nude parents, their bodies glistening with sweat from their labors of the day. Opal passed the knife and skull to Terrance, who looked at them with a smile.
“On the third eye,” Martha reminded him for the fourth time, tapping the middle of her forehead.
“I know Martha,” Terrance replied. His soft croak carried with it the obvious reluctance that he felt about this undertaking.
Opal quietly shed her own clothing, folding it and setting it within her tent. Her lithe frame stretched languidly, her back popping from the motion. While Terrance carved into Shylock, Opal walked over to the stack of wood, all arranged to resemble a star within the circle of blood and silver, forming a disturbing pentagram, one that would soon match Shylock’s new carving.
“Are you sure about this Mother?” Opal asked, wondering how the night would play out. “This undertaking could be our undoing, you know?”
Martha scowled at her daughter, clutching a waxy tanned book to her sagging bosom. “We need this Opal. You of all people should realize this. We’ve been over this!”
“I know, it’s just that… this will be setting our course in blood, and be binding. Nobody who shares our blood will ever truly be able to avoid the effects of this action.”
“I’ve thought it through Opal, now see to the fire before I get angry. I can barely see now that the sun has set!”
Terrance harrumphed from the shadows. “Got it. Old Shylock will prove useful yet!”
Opal’s reflexes saved her from being struck by the skull her father tossed at her. It was cold to the touch, far colder than it had been earlier; the chill soothed her hands and calmed her heart. Looking down, an angry carving of an inverted pentagram sat on Shylock’s brow.
“Alright, Shylock, time for the fire,” Opal whispered, walking over to the arranged wood and setting atop it, his perch already prepared for him. Looking back at her father, she found him at her side, holding the knife out to her.
“Just a prick will do,” he advised, patting her shoulder.
Opal nodded, taking the sharpened blade and running it over her index finger to open the skin. Red welled up from the small cut, enough for her to use it as ink once more. Painting Shylock’s pentagram, she stepped back.
“That should do,” Opal said. Kneeling down, she grabbed the flint shard they carried with them and began striking it with the iron knife, sparks leaping onto the dried wood. It only took a few strokes to create the fire.
Within minutes, the flames were reaching high enough to dance around Shylock, the circle of blood bubbling with molten silver, a tainted brown liquid from the admixture of blood. Minutes passed by as the three Romani stared into the flame before Terrance began a low song.
The song wasn’t in English and wasn’t anything ever committed to paper. It was, simply put, a song that her people, her family all knew as a calling card to their Patron spirit. Martha and Opal joined in, walking to form a triangle around the red flames.
They sang of sorrow, of loved ones lost and of crimes committed against them. They sang of power desired, and of their Patron’s continued blessing. Finally, they sang the last verse as a call to the Patron, enticing him to come and speak with them.
They all ceased their song and stared into the flames, which were suddenly growing hotter and brighter than before. Shylock, somehow a mysterious cool blue coloring despite the biting flames cooking him, twitched. Opal, standing in front of him, was the first to see the sockets fill with eyes, rolling madly about until they could stare forward.