As Elijah sat at the kitchen table reading from the Bible loaned to him by the sorcerer, Blaze looked through all his documentation, feverishly searching among his piles of books and binders, racking his brain for sources that might help. Though he didn’t want to be spiritually contaminated by O’Dare’s collection, Elijah discontinued his futile search in the Scriptures, gently cradling the cat inside his coat, and stood in the doorway leading to Blaze’s study, watching the sorcerer in his search.
Blaze O’Dare’s study was almost as messy as his living room and kitchen. There were bookcases along on all four walls, but there were as many volumes stacked precariously on top of the cases and lying all over the floor. Elijah’s twenty-twenty vision enabled him to discern at a glance volumes of books on incantations and spells as well as books on various herbs and chemicals that witches used. Without looking back at his newfound ally, Blaze continued searching his archives until he found one familiar looking book lying amidst the clutter: The Directory of North American Witches. Elijah noticed two other books Blaze had set aside lying on the floor with worn covers, which he could not yet discern.
“Oh, don’t tell me,” Elijah managed wryly, “a witches telephone directory.”
“Let your fingers do the walking,” Blaze replied in a singsong voice.
Handing it to the preacher and then reaching back to pick up the other two books (one large, densely scrolled volume and a smaller black book with unreadable Gothic lettering on the jacket), he led them back into the kitchen and placed the three books next to the Bible Elijah had laid on the table. Under normal circumstances the preacher would consider this an act of defilement, and he still bristled at the placement.
“What’re those other books about?” His voice now dripped with suspicion. “I don’t want to be involved in anything blasphemous or sacrilegious. Let’s keep this above board!”
“Just references, reverend,” Blaze opened one of them up and displayed it to Elijah. “This one is a comprehensive digest of all the spells that can be broken by counter-spells. The smaller volume is a sort of “who’s who” in magic and sorcery. There’s nothing really blasphemous or purposely sacrilegious about these books.”
Elijah remained silent, while stroking the cat inside his coat.
“I’ll have to search these books awhile,” Blaze smiled wanly at the preacher, a tired resolve in his eyes and voice.
“And I’ll make us some coffee,” Elijah volunteered, walking back down the hall and scanning the disheveled kitchen for something resembling a coffee pot.
When the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the small kitchen, a familiar nostalgia swept over Elijah as he sat reading the Scriptures to himself. Once, before hitting the skids, this aroma would be the first important stimuli reaching his senses in the morning. His wife Karen, who would leave the house earlier than him, worked as an accountant uptown and would already be dressed, breakfasted, and sipping her first cup of coffee when he staggered into the kitchen. Their daughter Nancy would be in her high chair finishing her breakfast, her chubby legs protruding from a brightly colored dress. Her tiny feet would be clad in shiny shoes and frilly socks. A grin on her heart-shaped face and twinkle in her blue eyes belied the caterwauling she would make each time her mother dropped her off at preschool. Elijah would never forgive himself for being so irritable that morning. He had been up until the early morning hours grading essay papers and, at the very moment when he was gazing into his loving wife’s eyes for the last time, he had been grumbling about how much he hated his teaching job at the high school. Instead of asking Karen how their daughter was doing in preschool or wishing her a good day as she removed the bubbly golden-haired child from her high chair and stood her on the floor, he sat there looking blankly at his steaming cup of coffee, fleetingly watching her, briefcase in hand, escort Nancy out of the kitchen to vanish forever from his earthly life.
Karen had never been baptized. Thanks to her parents’ agnostic frame of minds, Nancy had never been christened and was, therefore, unbaptized too. Their small family had never set foot into a church or opened the large Bible his folks had given to them on their wedding day. He regretted more than anything in his life that he had deprived them, through his ignorance, of a religious foundation in their lives. Thanks to a drunken driver text-messaging on his cell phone as he ran a red light, he would never have the chance. After those darkest of days, the memories were dimmed in alcohol and drugs, until one bleak morning he opened his family Bible and began reading it at last.
Responding to the sorcerer’s voice, he awakened from his reverie, a page from the New Testament looming into view as Blaze commented on something he had just found in one of his books. Tracing his finger down to Revelations 3:20, he found one of his favorite verses:
my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and
will sup with him, and he with me.
He looked up into the sorcerer’s haggard face, which did not match his dauntless spirit, wondering again how and why he, a man of God, was in this godless man’s home.
“What? ... What did you say?” he asked, blinking as if he had just nodded off to sleep.
“It appears as if this spell requires a white witch of extraordinary powers,” Blaze was explaining as Elijah jerked awake. “For each witch listed in this directory, there are probably ten more not listed. It is not a comprehensive list, just a sampler of North American witches, who volunteered their telephone numbers and addresses. In this smaller black book I found the names of several master witches and sorcerers, with far greater powers than myself, who could perform such a rite, but most of them are listed in the registry—the large scrolled volume here—as deceased. The other three, who are still alive, are not living in the United States.”
The preacher shook his head vehemently at what the sorcerer had said. “I’m going to continue searching the Scriptures for something that will help,” he promised dubiously, repulsed by the whole idea of using witchcraft instead of God.
“There is one more practitioner that may assist us greatly. You may even approve of this one,” Blaze pointed to a page in the scrolled book. “According to the great Wizard Hildebrand, a witch powerful enough to change mortals into animals is almost always possessed by a satanic presence that controls her powers.”
“What does that mean to us?” Elijah asked, with a shudder. “Are we now talking about an exorcism instead of an incantation?”
It somehow seemed less terrible to Elijah, and yet it invoked a painful memory in his mind.
“Do you believe in demon possession?” Blaze searched the preacher’s face. “…. I’m not sure that I do. Everyone that I’ve seen who claimed to be possessed by demons were possessed by drugs.”
“I’ve seen drug induced demons with my own eyes,” Elijah nodded, recalling the young man he had once tried to save.
He had, he explained to Blaze, failed miserably in his attempt to exorcise the young man of his demon and only succeeded in getting himself scratched and bitten by the man and spending several days going back and forth to the clinic as he awaited the results of the young man’s autopsy to rule out rabies. All he had gotten out of the attempt were a tetanus shot, twenty-four stitches, and an additional test to rule out contamination with HIV. He had felt fortunate that he had gotten off with only small scars on his neck and wrist, but he never again attempted to exorcise his fellow derelicts of demons again. The small apartment downtown he had made his home and spiritual headquarters had his favorite passages from the Bible hung at various locations on the walls. A new one, after his ordeal with the possessed man, was the verses from Saint Matthew recounting Jesus Christ’s cleansing of the man of unclean spirits, a reminder of Elijah’s spiritual limitations.
“The rite of exorcism,” Blaze explained with a tolerant smile, “is best performed by a priest, not a Protestant minister. And for this demon, who Hildebrand calls the Shape-Changer Spirit, a demon responsible for this type of witches power, we will need a defrocked priest, who also dabbles in what you call the black arts.”
“What? Now that is blasphemy.” Elijah jumped up from his chair. “I will have nothing to do with a reprobate priest. In the first place he’s a Catholic!”
“Ah hah! Then, in addition to being narrow-minded, you’re also prejudiced,” Blaze sighed, shaking his head. “Not only do you not like witches and sorcerers, but you don’t like Catholics as well. I was once a Catholic, preacher. Our friend Irma is one too. Yet I have a Protestant Bible—the King James Version at that. What do you have against Catholics Mister Gray? Are they not Christians, like yourself?”
Elijah noted that the sorcerer had demoted him now. Not only was it Mister O’Dare, but it was Mister Gray too.
“I’m not prejudice against Catholics,” Elijah replied defensively, “I just don’t agree with their theology. Everything in their religion revolves around praying to saints instead of praying directly to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
“Well, the fact is we need an ex-Catholic priest, who is now a practicing wizard and still communicates with God,” Blaze explained, turning to his registry and searching the index for just such a man.
“But that’s a contradiction in terms,” Elijah frowned, setting the Bible aside. “You can’t have a man of God, priest or otherwise, worshipping the natural forces and still communicating with God. In short, you cannot serve two masters at the same time.”
“Don’t worry Elijah,” Blaze looked up briefly from his search, “this seems outrageous to me too. I may never have been a very good Catholic, but I can’t imagine God listening to such a man.”
“You’re a Catholic and you’re a sorcerer,” Elijah offered, a note of sarcasm creeping into his voice. “You certainly have enough books on the subject. Why can’t you just do it yourself?”
“You’re not listening Elijah,” Blaze sighed with disgust. “I explained to you my limitations. We need a white witch or priest who is a wizard or sorcerer. Mortimer Hildebrand and his spiritual predecessors claim they can fight such a witch. According to my registry, the only one living who fits that bill is Hildebrand, himself, and I doubt if he’s even alive. Besides he will need all sorts of paraphernalia that I don’t possess.” “Time is running out for our little friend.” He pointed to the cat. “Hildebrand believed that men and women who were transformed into animals, especially cats, would lose their humanity completely if the spell was not broken within a few weeks after being cast.”
“It can’t be hopeless!” Elijah cried, pulling out Irma lovingly and stoking her fur. “We can’t let Lucifer prevail!”
“I know, I know,” he said, patting the preacher’s arm, “but it may come down to working with a super-witch or wizard. What else do we have?”
“I just don’t know,” Elijah sighed, setting the purring cat down. “…. Maybe we could use my computer to surf the web.”
“Yes, that’s a possibility,” Blaze nodded thoughtfully, “but I’m not certain that witches or wizard directories will be found on the web.”
Irma immediately hopped back onto the sink to stare reflectively into the toaster. This time she looked past the strange-looking cat into her thoughts and recent past. A memory was surfacing in her mind. Suddenly, the words to India’s spell came flowing back to her. By the time India had bewitched her, the rush of adrenalin in Irma’s system had sobered her up. Memories of the incantation India uttered in the circle of lights, however, were still sluggish, because Irma’s drunken state of mind.
“Meow!” She cried out. “Meowow! Meeeeeeeeow!
“What’s wrong Kitty?” Blaze asked with acute interest. Elijah wondered if she might not be ill.
Scampering down to the floor and then leaping up to a small table below a telephone on the wall, she searched for a way to communicate directly again. Newspapers, magazines, and assorted junk greeted her eyes, but nothing for communication. What she longed for was a computer. Everyone in this day and age had some form of computer. This sorcerer lives in the Stone Age! Thought Irma, looking angrily around the room.
“She just wants to communicate,” Blaze concluded, standing back and watching her sniff and poke around. Elijah sighed with relief and was encouraged by what he saw. Losing patience with Irma’s antics, however, both men tried to help her in her quest.
“You want pen and paper?” Blaze asked pulling these items out of his coat.
“Get real sorcerer,” she turned and hissed, “I can’t hold a pen! My paws are my brushes; and I made a mess of that! We need to work on association.” “Here,” she meowed, as a magazine tumbled onto the floor to expose telephone directories beneath.
“I see! You want to look up a number, right Irma?” Blaze slapped his forehead. “That’s so obvious. Why didn’t I think of that?”
He immediately picked up both the white and yellow pages and carried them to the table, with Irma scampering ahead.
“No-no, you dumb shit,” she spat, humping her back, and clawing at his foot, “I want to do association and point at pictures. I want the yellow pages, not that other book!”
By the time he had set the directories down, she was already trying to rifle through the yellow pages with her paws and nose.
“Wait, let her show us, herself,” Elijah suggested, waving Blaze away.
“She won’t know how to spell Hildebrand,” Blaze argued impatiently, reaching for the white pages now.
“Sssssssssss!” spat Irma. “Back off, this is my search!”
“You don’t really think she would be looking for that name in the telephone directory?” Elijah asked with disbelief. “You’re reaching for straws Blaze!”
“Very well,” the sorcerer backed away from the snarling cat, “but we need the white pages now.”
But Irma was not looking for Hildebrand. She was busily pointing at words in various portions of the yellow pages to express herself. The result, after selecting the corresponding pages for By (Buyer’s Guide to Automobiles) and powers (Power Tools) up to the last words in India’s spell almost wore her out.
Unfortunately, however, what she had wanted to convey “By the powers that are and the powers that be, a rat you once were and a cat you now be,” was translated on Blaze’s note pad as nothing but gibberish.
“Buy power tools, rat eradication, and cat grooming… what does that mean Irma?” Elijah asked delicately, patting the spent feline as she lie panting on her side.
“You two are a matched set.” She looked up bleakly at the men. “... Bring on this super-witch or wizard. But he’s gonna need the spell and incantation. Better yet he’s gonna have to kill the bitch!”
As Elijah brought Irma a bowel of water and then sat watching her doze, Blaze idly scanned through the white pages, instead of the yellow pages, until he did a double-take and moved his finger back up the page.
“Wait a minute,” he cried out, startling Elijah and awakening Irma from her nap. “I thought it might be possible, but not really probable. Mortimer Hildebrand was listed in the index as living in our town. But I didn’t think I’d find him in this book. I didn’t even believe he was alive!”
“Are you telling me you found him in the white pages?” Elijah asked in disbelief. “Are you certain that it’s the same Mortimer Hildebrand, who’s a priest?”
“There’s only one way to find out!” Blaze jumped up and ran for the phone.
“You did good!” said Elijah, scuffing Irma’s neck.
In addition to not having a cell phone or computer, Blaze had only a rustic landline on his kitchen wall. After misdialing and then finally hearing the ringing of Hildebrand’s phone, Blaze held his breath. Elijah prayed quietly to himself, as Irma sat up anxiously on the table, meowing softly under her breath. Blaze gasped as he heard the man’s frothy baritone voice.
“Mortimer Hildebrand here,” he announced simply.
“The Mortimer Hildebrand,” Blaze asked breathlessly, “The very same Mortimer Hildebrand who is a defrocked priest and Great Wizard of the Christian Occultists?”
“You are very cruel to remind me of that young man,” Mortimer replied coldly into the receiver. “I’m in retirement now anyhow. How did you get my number? I thought it was unlisted. Are you a reporter or some kind of nut?”
The sorcerer came straight to the point. “I have a woman who has been turned into a cat.”
Click went the phone.
“Did he hang up?” Elijah rose up anxiously. “Call the son-of-a-bitch back!”
“Oh dear,” the sorcerer groaned, “I hate talking on the phone.”
“I don’t believe it. Let me do it, myself,” the preacher motioned for him to step out of the way. “I used to be a teacher, and I spent many hours talking to parents on the phone.”
“Well, this is not a parent,” Blaze offered him the receiver, “this cranky old man was once a great wizard.”
“I’ll use my cell phone.” Elijah said, reaching into his pocket. “To me he’s just another heretic. You’ve got to use a little tact with someone like that.”
Blaze called out the number for him. After stumbling with the dialing combination a moment, Elijah cleared his throat and motioned for Blaze to set down. With the cell phone pressed against his ear, Elijah received Irma on his lap, stroking her with his free hand. She was purring loudly as Mortimer answered the phone.
“Mortimer Hildebrand,” he announced again, causing Elijah to blanch.
“I’m Reverend Elijah Gray,” the preacher deliberately used the Catholic term for minister. “After performing several tests upon what appeared to be common alley cat, we believe she was once a woman before being bewitched.”
This time the receiver was slammed into its cradle.
“So much for your telephone voice,” Blaze exhaled deeply. “We’ll just have to drive over there cold!”
“But there’s no address listed after his name,” Elijah observed after pinpointing his number again. “We have to get him on the phone!”
“Meeeeeeeowwww!” Irma said, pawing the phone.
“You want to talk to him kitty?” Blaze smiled wanly. “How cute! But he’ll think it’s another crank call!”
“And why not?” Elijah lifted up the receiver. “After hearing her attempt to talk as she did to us and then listening to my two-bits, he might soften this time.”
“We have nothing to lose,” Blaze nodded to Elijah. “Give’em hell Irma!”
As soon as Elijah had dialed the number and positioned the phone next to one of Irma’s fox-like ears, Mortimer Hildebrand’s voice blasted into his receiver: “Now see here you psychopathic moron, I value my peace and quiet. I’ve served my church all my life. Now I just want to be left alone!”
“Meeeeeeeowwww. Me-me-me-me. Mo-mo-mo. Meow-wow-wow!” Irma tried every combination she knew. In the background Elijah was hollering “She’s trying to talk. Just ask her a question: one meow for yes and two meows for no.”
“All right kitty-cat,” Mortimer spat with great sarcasm. “Are you a reporter?”
“Meow-meow.” she said pertly.
“Are you a nut?” his voice softened.
“Meow-meow.” she again replied
“Were you once a woman?” Mortimer voice constricted now.
“Meoowww!” Irma replied brokenly this time.
“I believe she’s actually weeping,” Elijah offered from the background. “…. Can you help her sir?” He asked earnestly after a pause. “Can we bring her over tonight?”
“Yes, of course,” the priest responded hoarsely, obviously taken back. “Have you got a pencil? I’ll give you my address.”
“Here, Blaze, give me a pencil,” Elijah snapped his fingers impatiently.
Handing him a pad and pen, Blaze watched as Elijah very expertly jotted down the address, thanked the priest, and then hung up the phone. Rising up excitedly and rattling his car keys, Blaze stared with a wild surmise straight ahead, still not believing everything that had happened tonight. Elijah had a grim look on his freckled face that seemed more like resignation now.
“All my life,” Blaze said dreamily, “I’ve wanted to meet someone like that, and all this time he’s been living right across town.”
“Come on,” Elijah motioned impatiently again, scooping up the cat, “let’s get this over with. I hope this is not another disappointment for Irma. I can’t believe we’re turning to a defrocked priest.”
“Where’s your faith?” chimed the sorcerer gleefully. “Why don’t you take my Bible along.”
“Yes,” nodded the preacher obligingly, picking up the book, “my faith has always been here in the Scriptures. But this flies in the face of everything I believe!”
As Blaze opened the passenger door for Elijah and motioned him to crawl in, the preacher uttered a hasty prayer, “Lord give me the wisdom to know whether I am doing the right thing.” The silence that followed in his soul seemed to be answer enough, and yet Elijah knew that this man was trying to undo a terrible deed. Mortimer Hildebrand was yet another player in God’s mysterious plan. How could the Lord’s hand not be there too? Could it be that God, who was somehow in league with a practitioner of magic and the occult, was also aligned with a heretic priest?
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” He finally asked Blaze, as the automobile sped quickly through town.
“What?” The sorcerer asked in disbelief. “…. I thought we settled this nonsense. What kind of question is that?”
“A very simple question,” Elijah answered, staring into the darkness outside of the car. “Do you worship Christ or do you worship the Devil? You claim that you’re a sorcerer…. Perhaps that title needs redefining for me.”
“In the first place,” Blaze responded thoughtfully, “not all sorcerers or witches are evil. Some of us do good works in the world. Look at Mortimer Hildebrand: he still claims to be a priest!”
“You’re avoiding the questions,” Elijah said, shaking his head and biting his lip. “Do you worship Satan? You must have some kind of livelihood. What exactly do you do?”
“I am not a devil-worshipper or practitioner of black magic,” Blaze tried to explain. “I practice white magic, not black magic. I am aligned with the positive forces of nature and your god.”
“Tsk-tsk, such candy-coated words:” Elijah could not help being sarcastic “positive forces of nature and your god, not God, but your god. Please humor me, my newfound friend. Who are you working for, the Lord God Jehovah or the Lord Satan, and what exactly do you do?”
“I was trying to explain to you,” Blaze grew irritated now. “I work with nature. Through ancient Druidic formulas and Wicca incantations, I am able to probe the mysteries of life and, when I am very lucky, harness these forces to change men’s destinies.”
“Luck, now it’s luck, is it? You cannot answer me directly, can you Blaze?… Because it’s true,” Elijah pointed accusingly at him, “you don’t worship God. You don’t pray to achieve your ends. Instead you mix potions together, mumble imprecations, and wave you hands in the air.” “You can’t serve two masters mister O’Dare,” he cried out at the sorcerer again. “You either work for God or you work for Satan. There’s no twilight zone or never-never world between. Please answer me directly to give my mind peace: who do you work for, and do you pray for you ends or merely cast spells?”
“I worship God… sometimes,” Blaze answered lamely. “I pray… in a different way than you. But why do you need absolutes? Isn’t it enough that we’re on the same side?”
“The same side? That’s what I’m trying to establish,” Elijah snapped irritably. “The fact is I’m beginning to actually like you. But we can’t be on the same side unless we have the same boss!”
“All right, I don’t worship the Devil. I believe in God. I occasionally pray to Jesus,” Blaze replied obligingly again, as he looked into his rearview mirror. “Nature’s a manifestation of God, is it not? No? You don’t agree? What do you want me to say?” he asked in exasperation as Elijah shook his head.
For a moment the sorcerer thought he saw a flashing red light in his rearview mirror.
“The truth!” demanded Elijah, folding his arms.
“The truth? What is truth? There are many truths?… Here,” Blaze began fumbling with a chain around his neck, “do you wish to see my crucifix? I used to be a Roman Catholic before they excommunicated me. Will that help convince you that I’m on your side?”
“Yes,… perhaps,” the preacher nodded reluctantly, watching nervously as the sorcerer pulled it out, “I’d like to see it, but it matters very much which way its positioned. Careful sorcerer! I’m protected by the Holy Spirit. I’m an emissary of God!”
At that point, Irma attempted to communicate with him again and beseech the narrow-minded preacher to work with the sorcerer and keep his mind open for what lie ahead. “Listen to him, you pompous fool,” she wanted to say. “This is my only chance. I don’t want to be trapped in a cat’s body the rest of my life!”
“There,” Blaze said finally, holding the crucifix up to the light inside the car, “right-side up, you’ll note, and the genuine article. Are you satisfied now? Would you like to see the small icon of the Madonna and Saint Christopher medals I keep in the glove compartment of my car. I remember the words to the Rosary too. You want me to quote that too?”
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, blessed be the fruit of your womb…” he chanted in a loud voice.
“No, no, stop it, I’m not a Catholic,” Elijah explained with a tired sigh, “but it’s sacrilegious to use holy relics as good luck charms. Already you have committed blasphemy by calling on the forces of nature…. What is a small piece of metal forged in the likeness of Christ on the Cross matter to someone like you?”
“Right!” Blaze forced himself to smile. “Can I take this as a tacit form of acceptance by you? Wouldn’t my skin be burned by the touch of a cross if I were in league with the Devil? Let us work together to solve this momentous puzzle, eh! Think of it Elijah, ‘we have a cat who is under a witches spell.’ Is this not the greatest test of our professional lives?”
Elijah responded more graciously than he felt: “It’s like you said; we’re on the same side.”
The small reorganized world in which he carried but a small candle in the dark, was changing suddenly for him. As the automobile entered the tinsel and fluorescent quarters of Uptown where Mortimer Hildebrand lived, he wondered if his faith would ever be the same. Perhaps it would require redefining, but he refused to believe it would change his life. He would still continue to work for the Lord during his free time. He had come a long way since winding up on the skids. Now, to save one small black cat, he was plunging onward to do battle with the Evil One again, but this time on a grander scale—against the very incarnation of evil in a Christian’s mind: a witch, collaborating with a sorcerer and defrocked priest to achieve his ends!
For Irma Fresco, whose humanity was disappearing each hour, the world had begun transforming from a world of vision to a world of scents. Scent is the main identifier for felines such as herself. The preacher and the sorcerer were therefore separate constellations of odors that she could already distinguish from each other in the dark. Unfortunately, Irma had not yet gained the feline’s tolerance of foul odors, so the smells bombarding her delicate nostrils were still offensive, especially since neither of these men bathed regularly and the inside of Blaze’s station wagon smelled of all manner of roots, dried insects, and herbs.
She couldn’t talk and she couldn’t see images in the same way she saw them before. Due to her small size, everything was gigantic and awe-inspiring to her. She had been forced to cling to shadows, those screens of darkness she had normally shunned as a two-legged woman, and thanks to India Crowley, her one-time friend, her life had shrank down to a twilight world of scent and touch and a visual nightmare of looming terror and threats. But that was changing. Now she was being rescued by two of those smelly giants from the human world: one man representing natural forces and one man representing God. A third rescuer, a priest, a member of Irma’s own Catholic faith, now promised to offer help. Perhaps, if nothing else, her shattered faith might be restored.
Irma, like Sam Burns, who had suffered her same fate, wanted to believe that it would take the power of prayer as well as supernatural powers to break the spell. What was the point of life if it could be altered only by incantations and spells and if faith and good deeds meant nothing against the blind forces of magic and the occult? A great dread and loneliness filled her when she remembered that her own prayers hadn’t benefited her in the least. If she had known that Sam Burns and other young adults at Shadowbrook Arms had been bewitched, she might have felt even greater despair. Why were the forces of light so impotent against the forces of darkness? Why had India Crowley, by simply following the ancient formulas in the black arts, been allowed by a Christian god to turn her into a cat? Somehow, in some way, she promised herself, these mortal men were going to help her. If no one else, she would believe in them!