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Her mother hadn't been overly happy to see her off on her trip to Moscow. She said it was unsafe. The city would be in turmoil. But her mother didn't know she could take care of herself. She couldn't do much but a big bar of earth to the head would be just as effective as using a tire iron. Ilesha had really wanted to see the monument for herself.

The plane trip was boring - more than half the day spent in a seat. But it was better than sitting at home watching it unfold on her wallet. This way she could see the power for herself. Earth and metal called to her. It was a part of her.

Ilesha promised her mother she'd be safe. She'd all everyday. And she'd call when she landed. Which she had done and when she found her hotel in Moscow. Her mother kept her on the phone for a good thirty minutes before Ilesha could hear her father yelling into the ether that she had to go now. He hung up the call without ceremony. Ilesha received an apology in text from him. She'd smiled happily at it and replied in kind.

Ilesha's hotel was not near the Kremlin - she couldn't afford that kind of ritzy place. But every map said you could get to the kremlin from nearly any road into the city. The language nearly everyone spoke on the street as she walked up one of the broadways was English. If it weren't for the cooler weather and the slightly odd looking outfits, Ilesha could have imagined she was back home in New York. She received a few strange looks as she walked with a determination to the center of Moscow.

She saw the Red Square come into view. There were crowds still even days later and Ilesha had to fight her way forward so she could get up into the open area itself. There were tons of cameras, tourists galore, probably more than normal. Ilesha knew she was one of them.

Ilesha started humming and the flow of power came easily as she let the earth call to her. It sang in a muted sounds. She knew it was a melody only she could hear. But the closer she got to the huge arch the more it sang to her, but she couldn't see anything residual left over. It was like a huge lump of rock. She knew it had been shaped with her power - it was the only explanation.

Ilesha frowned as the disappointment of her trip came crashing in. How did he do this? What was the power he wielded if not like her own? Ilesha sat down on a bench facing away from the perfect display of earthly powers and focused her attention on other possibilities of how it could be done.
Benches were hard to come by these days around the Red Square. The block was often filled with tourists, Claire included on occasion, but after the event, the few benches that existed were coveted spots. God forbid you get up to find a bathroom!

Claire fought her way into one such seat before sunrise once she left Kallisti for the night.So far today, the budding seductress twice convinced young, impressionable, foolish boys to save her seat while she went inside GUM or bring her food from a nearby vendor. Despite going nearly twenty-four hours without sleep, still she sat and observed.

She stretched arms overhead to lessen the dull ache in her back. Long, unadorned legs prickled in the cool air as she still wore the black, beaded dress from her night at the club. She wasn't terribly uncomfortable, though. The midnight plum fur wrapped around her shoulders saw to that. In fact, as the day wore on, she let the shrug slip from her shoulders and the sun warm her skin.

A new girl sat nearby, but facing away from the spectacle of the Red Square rather than face it. Claire had watched her meander up to the Archway, then leave it, face downtrodden.

Curious as to the reaction, Claire leaned backward to speak to the girl's profile. Dark-skinned, tan, young. She was pretty, and would be much more glamorous with an easy makeover.

"Disappointed? Or not what you were expecting?"
Ilesha started humming and was about to pull the power of the earth to her again when a voice broke Ilesha from her revelry. She hadn't even started contemplating the possibilities.

"A little of both actually."
Ilesha turned towards the woman asking questions of her. "I thought it would feel different."
She'd always been able to feel reminantes of her work before, but this she couldn't feel a thing. But she'd never actually met someone else who could do what she did. Maybe you couldn't feel others. "It's a powerful display. So much power...."
Ilesha's words trailed off into a whisper.

The Ascendancy must be truly powerful. A god? She didn't think so - gods don't walk the earth as humans. "What do you think of the archway?"
All day Claire observed the many expressions of those come to see the Arch with their own eyes. When Claire first craned her neck upwards at its base, she was filled with the same awe and wonder as everyone else. Nobody she noticed left disappointed.

This girl thought it might feel different. What a unique choice of words. Feeling it. Was that a tactile sentiment? Or supernatural one? Was she a witch like Oriena? Marvelous if so!

"Oh I love it. I think it's beautiful. The colors and the statues are incredible. I only wish I had been here when he made it. I've probably watched the recordings twenty times."

Her voice trailed off, pensive. Light beckoned like the sunshine tickling her skin. She didn't submit to it yet, instead she got up and rounded the bench to sit next to the newcomer, glaring at a tourist who thought to beat her to it. One point at the seat she vacated instead redirected them to her previous spot.

"What do you mean you thought it would feel different?"

Ilesha nodded at the admission of viewing the spectacle so many times. She'd done the same on the flight over. "I wish I could have seen it as well. It's one reason why I'm here."

But it was the question that made Ilesha wince a little inside. Magic was real. The Ascendancy had prove it here for everyone to see. He'd transformed the building into this glorious peice of work. But was she ready for someone to know the truth. Ilesha decided that yes it was probably okay.

Ilesha started humming under her breath - it wasn't anything pretty or even a tune anyone would know - it was like the earth sang to her and she could hear it and she weilded it with ease. The power slipped around her and Ilesha picked up a lose pebble on the ground and held it between two fingers and watched as it shifted and melted in her hand. It was nothing miracuolous. "I thought it would feel like what I do. I wanted to see... feel the power. I can feel the residue of mine. But there is nothing there. I'm just confused."
As the girl explained, a coy smile grew across Claire's lips. The girl didn't explicitly state it, but she was one of them! Like Oriena, Tony, Elias and herself. What fortune. How many were there in the city?

She had a good point, however. Claire's eyes drifted toward the arch, contemplating the lack of residue she expected as well. Tony had never performed anything so elaborate before, she Claire wondered if the depth of power only needed to be vaster before it was felt. Not true.

The sensation of another witch working her magic immediately drew Claire's eye. The pebble, grew soft and bulbous, and Claire smiled. "You're a witch!"
Tongue pressed between her teeth with excitement, Claire embraced the light until it blossomed her skin with warmth. Not a lot, but enough to glow.

She thrust a hand out from beneath the fur shawl, "I'm Claire."
Ilesha gasped when the three words came out of the other woman's mouth. She was not a witch. She was about to say that but the other woman started to glow with the power. Glow! Literally glow.

What the fuck.

She missed the woman's introduction but saw the prooffered and and took it. "Ilesha. But I'm not a witch. At least no witch I've ever heard of."
Granted the only witches she really knew were not even magical in nature. She was not evil either.

But what was she. She wasn't a wizard or a mage or anything so silly as that. But they all used magic. No Ilesha was none of those things. She just sang to the earth and it obeyed.

Ilesha sighed. "Though I'm not sure I have a term for it either. You are the first I've met like this. I mean in person."
She laughed softly. She'd not met Ascendancy but she saw what the man had done - it stood right behind her. "You don't seem surprised to know of others like .... us. Have you met others?"
It was a common misunderstanding. Claire herself had preconceived notions of witchcraft before joining Jun's coven. Tony also alleged they weren't witches (or warlocks in his case), but Claire knew no other way to think of it. So why bother coming up with another explanation and simply accept the fate?

"Don't worry. To be a witch isn't like the movies. I don't even own a pointy hat."
Her smile was playful. She was still excited to meet someone new. Oriena was fun, but the other woman needed to loosen up some.

"We study and worship, or manipulate, the elements. Like earth. That seems to be your favorite,"
her eyes fell to the pebble. "A spell of Air is one of the easiest to cast. It was my first, anyway. I was able to snuff out a candleflame."

She certainly knew other witches. "There are many witches. Since coming to Moscow, I've met more than almost all the time I lived in Brooklyn. But don't worry, we aren't a coven. Mine were all killed by the people the Ascendancy described."
Her tone darkened, eyes hardening with lust for vengence, "the Atharim."
Ilesha laughed. "It takes me traveling halfway across the world to find a 'witch' who comes from Brooklyn."

But here humor was lost at the mention of the killing squads of these Atharim. "I am sorry for your loss. I can't imagine having to go through that alone. Is that why you came to Moscow?"
Ilesha hoped she wasn't prying.

The words still sounding foregin on her tongue but Ilesha had to ask anyway. "Is there a coven here to learn from?"

Why she came to Moscow? Her eyes slid in the direction of the newly erected monument. She came because of her vision rather than the deaths of her coven. Claire wasn't secretive, though. Playful and flirty yes, but not secretive.

"I came because I saw a vision of Moscow. I'm psychic too."

She shrugged. "As far as I understand, my sight isn't related to being a witch."

She offered Ilesha a digital card with Kallisti's logo and address. "I work here if you want to find me again. I can introduce you to some other girls."
Her eyes looked up and down Ilesha. "It's kind of a dressy place, though. If you come in the front, you might wear something else. The flashier the better."
Said with love of course.

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