“Powers? Gifts? Magic?” Elizabeth spoke. It appeared her sisters could not utter a word through their terror. “Good witches? What of the stories of evil?” She shook her head and rushed on before her father could answer. “No, this is nonsense. It defies logic. Science proves magic does not exist.”
Mr. Bennet smirked. “Does this seem real?”
He held out his hand, and a flame appeared. Elizabeth’s eyes went wide. Her sisters gasped.
“You may touch it.” He motioned for his wife to hold her hand over it for a moment. She then displayed her unblemished hand. “Try it,” he suggested to his daughters.
Tentatively, Elizabeth reached out a hand. She felt no heat or discomfort. Giving her father a skeptical look, she pulled away from her sisters and walked a few steps until she had gathered some sticks and leaves. Placing them over the flame in her father’s hand, Elizabeth marveled that the fire consumed them but had not harmed flesh.
“You can do it too, Lizzy,” Mr. Bennet said. “Hold out your hand and focus. Think about unleashing the burning you feel under your skin.”
Surprised to hear her father had known the sensations she had been feeling, Elizabeth met his eyes. Unclenching a palm, she extended her hand out and thought about forcing the fiery prickles coursing through her body outward. A flame jumped from her hand, reaching over a foot high. Startled, Elizabeth and her sisters shrieked. The flame sputtered out.
“And that is somehow used for good?” Elizabeth asked.
Mr. Bennet nodded. “You have always had a fiery temper, Lizzy. Our powers are harder to control when our emotions are overwrought. Likewise, Kate often feels she has experienced things before, and Jane can sympathize with nearly anyone.
“There is good and evil in this world, tended to by witches fighting for either side. It was a curse from the dark side which brought illness here five years ago. A family of great female witches had been prophesied about. Three sisters would have the powers of empathy, fire, and premonition.”
Mr. Morland, who Elizabeth had nearly forgotten about, floated around to stand beside his earthly wife, confirmed what Elizabeth knew instinctively. “That family was the Bennets of Longbourn.”
Mr. Bennet paused at his daughters’ gasp. Seeing none had fainted, he continued the tale. “We did not know how the prophecy would be fulfilled. No family name was included in the prophecy.”
Elizabeth’s dead mother joined them. “I grew nervous as each successive daughter exhibited more traits to fulfill the prophecy. When Mary began having premonitions, we advocated the High Council of Witches for protection. A traitor was amongst them. Instead of having protection, your youngest sisters and I met our demise.”
The two Mrs. Bennets stood next to each other now, hand in hand. The former Mrs. Morland spoke. “Kate was so upset over her powers that her father and I bound them just before we visited Hertfordshire. When Mrs. Bennet and her daughters succumbed to their sickness, we were visited by the High Minister. She said Kate’s powers were not well known in the community and were sufficiently cloaked from Caligo — that is the name of the evil warlock who wishes to kill the Bewitched Sisters. The power of the gift lies in the three women forming bonds of sisterly love and unity, not in a bloodline. It was suggested Kate could take Mary Bennet’s place.”
Kate gasped. “Father, you were never ill? You sacrificed yourself so Mama could marry Mr. Bennet?” Kate exclaimed. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“It was for the greater good. I have never been too far from our family. I did not die from what took Mrs. Bennet and her daughters, but I did suffer from a lingering illness with no known cure. We merely sped up my demise.”
Kate continued to blubber. The young ladies stood still, shocked in wonder.
Elizabeth seemed to be the first to gain her equilibrium. Her mind was racing, and she was the first to speak. “Why are we being told this now?”
“Because now,” her mother said, “it is necessary for you three to use your powers to defeat the darkness returning to Hertfordshire. General Tilney’s return to Netherfield was the signal that Caligo has returned to complete his mission.”
“What is that?” Elizabeth asked. She was eager to know everything she could about this new world.
Mr. Bennet was the most knowledgeable and therefore answered. “We do not know entirely. The Bewitching Sisters were prophesied as guardians of the Kingdom of Magic and of Great Britain. He must mean harm to one or both of them.”
“And he dwells in General Tilney?” Kate asked in a trembling voice and huddled closer to Jane as her eyes searched the woods.
Elizabeth guessed she was wondering how far they were from Netherfield and if he might be overhearing all of this.
Mr. Bennet answered again, “No, the General is a trusted council member. It is he who put the enchantment on Netherfield, as Longbourn’s closest neighbors. Should the spirit of darkness return, the house will be readied for occupancy again.”
“What has changed? What would trigger such a thing?” Elizabeth questioned.
“We do not know,” said Mr. Morland. “We have limited time for visitation this night. We could only appear long enough to explain the history to you and join your living parents in unbinding your powers.” The parents soon surrounded the girls and said a chant returning their powers and memories of magic.
“We must go, but I would caution you girls that enemies often enjoy hiding behind a friendly face. Now, we trust the love which has brought you this far will last as you work together to vanquish this evil,” the deceased Mrs. Bennet said. “Know you have our love.”
After tender embraces, the ghostly parents vanished, and Mr. Bennet led his family back to the house.