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titel-schutz > Witch Water > Part 17
He was about to admit that he had a slight curiosity about the topic when something on the wall was suddenly hara.s.sing his attention. Some pictures hung there, mostly photographs but one was a portrait that seemed as old as those at the hotel. Fanshawe's eyes seemed to bloom at the image within the old carved frame. It was a clean-shaven, stark-eyed man in a Colonial hat. The man looked sullen and unexpectant, and had an overly large jaw.

Fanshawe pulled his hand out of Let.i.tia's, jumped up, and strode to the painting. "Hey, this is Callister Rood, isn't it?"

"Yeah, and why on earth would you..." Was she somehow fatigued by his sudden separation from her hand during the reading? "Oh, you must be staying at the Wraxall Inn."

"That's right. I saw the painting of Rood over there. Abbie and Mr. Wraxall claim he was a warlock who worked for Jacob Wraxall."

Her eyes grew enthused. "So you are a student of the occult. But since when?"

"Since, well, a few days ago, I guess, but I wouldn't call myself a student. It's just kind of interesting to me."

"Hmm. Well. Callister Rood was a fledgling, not a genuine warlock. And it was more than merely the occult they were interested in. It was deviltry."

Deviltry. "I remember that word on Wraxall's grave. It was one of the crimes he was charged with, right?"

"And found very guilty of, yes. The premeditated solicitation of the devil, to incur favor by making oblation, homage, and sacrifice to Lucifer, which, when practiced with faith, results in future actions in which the devil personally a.s.sists. This was what Wraxall, and in a sense, Rood as well, were up to. But Wraxall was the true sorcerer. Rood was his underling, and the muscle for Wraxall's dirty-work." Let.i.tia popped her brows. "There was a lot of dirty work, trust me."

Confused, Fanshawe looked back at Rood's likeness in murky oil paint. "But why is his picture hanging on your wall?"

Now that the palm-reading session was in stasis, Let.i.tia slouched back on the couch. Fanshawe remained standing when she began, "I don't know how much of the story you got from the Baxters, but back then no one in town would've suspected Wraxall of having anything to do with the devil wors.h.i.+p-"

Fanshawe remembered the explanation. "Because everybody loved him, right? He paid for the town's improvements and loaned money to the locals."

"Exactly. In fact, Wraxall's character was so unimpeachable that the townspeople didn't suspect him of heresy even after Evanore was executed."

"Execution by barreling," Fanshawe added.

"Yeah. Pretty groaty folks back then. But Wraxall himself built most of the town. He even built the church. He never missed a Sunday service except for a few times he was traveling abroad. Anyway, Evanore was caught red-handed with her coven, performing a conjuration, a ritual that required the use of the blood from newborn babies. So that was the end of her."

"Right," Fanshawe recalled.

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