I sensed Winter’s rage. His fists clenched and his body went rigid. I was right there with him but I had to stay in control. I had to find out what Mazza had done and if he was the person we were looking for.
‘So what did you do?’ I asked. I spoke softly because if I tried anything above a whisper I had the feeling it would sound like a strangled scream of fury.
‘I wanted to protect her. If I could stop him, I thought maybe I could find something that would keep her safe. This is my second series with Enchantment. Last time one of the contestants sprinkled some herbs around their beds to keep them safe at night. I thought I could do the same.’
I frowned. ‘I don’t remember that.’
‘Nothing happened. He sprinkled the herbs and then slept like a baby. It didn’t make the cut.’
I sighed. ‘So you thought it was an effective protection spell?’
‘Yes. I copied exactly what he did except in larger quantities.’
‘Let me guess,’ Winter said through gritted teeth. ‘Mandrake, cinquefoil and prickly ash bark.’
Mazza blinked. ‘How did you know?’
‘We found it all around the first set.’
‘Oh.’ Mazza deflated even further. ‘It didn’t work anyway.’
‘Funny that,’ Winter muttered.
‘I’m not a witch. I don’t have any magic at all.’ He ran a hand through his hair. ‘But I thought that if I did what he had done, then it might be okay.’ He threw Winter an accusing look. ‘At least I tried!’
I offered a soothing nod. ‘You did.’ I gave him a moment’s pause to gather himself together then my voice hardened. ‘But this still doesn’t explain the scent of blood.’
‘Bellows wouldn’t stop what he was doing. I had to take action. I thought if I could scare him I could make him stop. I was going to saw through his staff so that it snapped when he put his weight on it but I knew that wouldn’t be enough. I didn’t have a clue what to do. Until I found the sheep.’
‘Where was it?’
Mazza obviously didn’t want to answer. He scuffed the ground with his toe and demurred. ‘It doesn’t really matter.’
I leaned forward until I was almost nose to nose with him. ‘We’ll decide what matters. Where did you find the sheep?’
‘By the cemetery,’ he mumbled. He pulled away from me.
I didn’t move. He could only mean the one at the bottom of Dead Man’s Hill. ‘Before or after Benjamin Alberts was killed?’
‘After,’ he whispered. ‘Armstrong wanted me to go and scout out the area. He wanted to do a challenge amongst the graves. You know, to make it spooky or something. He didn’t want anyone to know because he thought they might be annoyed that he was still thinking about using that place after what happened. I found the sheep there. I don’t know what had happened to it. It was lying on its side and there was a wound in its stomach. Maybe a wild animal had got to it. I was going to get a vet but my phone kept cutting out. Bad reception or something. I knew that by the time I got to town and found someone it would probably be too late. With all that blood all over the place I just…’ His voice dropped and he hung his head. ‘I collected as much of the blood as I could and then I hit the sheep over the head and put it out of its misery.’
I felt a bit ill – and it wasn’t just because I was still recovering from being hit by a zombie-targeted spell.
‘You used the blood to paint Bellows’ trailer.’
He nodded. ‘When he went to make-up, I snuck in through the back window. After what happened to Benjamin, I didn’t want anyone to think someone else had died so I put some sheep wool onto the fence so they’d know it wasn’t human blood. I was going to leave more wool inside but there wasn’t time. I was only going to draw the pentagram but I panicked when the door opened. I thought that Bellows had returned. When I looked at him, I knew I was staring at the face of pure evil. His eyes turned bright green, like some kind of crazed monster. He had horns growing out of his head.’
Mazza’s voice dropped to a horrified whisper. ‘Horns.’ He shook himself. ‘As soon as he saw me, he attacked. The blood went everywhere. I hit him over the head and ran. The next thing I knew, Marcus was coming out of the trailer and screaming.’ Mazza looked confused. ‘I don’t know where he came from or what happened to Bellows. He looked normal the next time I saw him.’ His eyes were wide. ‘But he’s the devil.’
Mazza obviously meant that last part literally. Okaaaay. Winter opened his mouth to ask another question but I already had everything I needed and I forestalled him. ‘You do realise what you did was wrong?’
Mazza looked away. ‘Yes,’ he mumbled unconvincingly.
‘Mazza, you killed a defenceless animal instead of getting help for it.’
‘It was dying anyway.’
‘Unless you’re a trained veterinarian, you don’t know that. You tried to use magical herbs, which could have had any number of dire consequences on any or all of the crew members. And that’s without even getting into what you did in Bellows’ trailer.’
‘He attacked me! He turned into a monster! Besides, it worked. He stopped going after Amy. He stopped harassing all the female crew members. I stopped him from doing all that because I scared him when no one else was going to do anything!’
Brutus let out what could only be described as a loud snort. I’d almost forgotten he was there. I raised an eyebrow in his direction and he pouted.
‘Was that you?’ I enquired. ‘Did you stop Trevor Bellows from harassing Amy?’
‘I am cat.’
I stared at him. Apparently that was all the answer I was going to get. I suppose Brutus felt he’d made his point.
‘What?’ Mazza shrieked. ‘The cat didn’t do a thing! I stopped Bellows. Alright, he tried it on again last night when he was out here before the vote. He grabbed Amy and that’s when she lost her necklace. But she said he let her go before he did anything. He was obviously scared what would happen if he continued. I made him feel like that. No one else.’ He thumped his chest. ‘Me.’
Brutus snorted again. He picked himself up and walked a few metres away, pawing at the ground. Then he dipped his head for a brief moment before looking up with a quiet purr – and a delicate gold necklace dangling from his mouth.
‘Good job, Bruty baby.’
‘It was me!’ Mazza said, continuing to protest. ‘I’m the hero! Not a bloody cat!’
Winter rolled his eyes. ‘Grow up.’
‘We need to find Trevor Bellows,’ I told him. ‘Everything seems to centre around him.’
Winter’s brow furrowed. ‘But…’
‘Let’s just see what he has to say.’
He nodded. ‘Fine.’ He walked over and hooked his arm through mine. ‘Let me help you. I’ve borrowed that bike again. We’ll be back in Tomintoul in no time.’
I smiled weakly. ‘Great.’
Brutus ran lightly over to us, springing up onto my shoulders and coiling his tail round my neck.
‘You could have told me what was going on,’ I scolded him.
‘Hey!’ Mazza shouted. ‘What about me? I need a lift back to Tomintoul as well.’
Both Winter and I ignored him and carried on walking. I was pretty certain, however, that Brutus stuck out his tongue.
I let Winter drive the bike while I took the opportunity to lean against his back. It was slightly uncomfortable with Brutus wedged between us but it might have been the only opportunity I was going to get to be close to Winter again.
When we reached the edge of the town, I tapped him on the shoulder to make him pull up. He flipped his visor and peered at me. His sapphire eyes were soft and concerned and, just for a beat, I doubted myself. All I really wanted to do was stay by his side.
‘I don’t feel well,’ I said.
His concern turned to alarm. ‘What is it?’
I shook my head. ‘I don’t know. The after-effects of that spell are still hitting me really hard. I feel woozy. I think I might pass out.’ I looked away. ‘Maybe you were right and I should have stayed in the trailer until I felt completely better.’