All my demons cast a spell,
the souls of dusk rising from the ashes,
so the Book of Shadows tell,
"The weak will always obey the Master."
The Spell- Kamelot
I wasn't shocked when I went to my father's study and found that he wasn't there. I didn't know why he called me there. It infuriated me when he ordered me there and then was never there when he said he would be.
I clenched my teeth and shook my head, my fist clenched tightly around the note written in his sloppy handwriting that demanded to see me at once. A note. Now, that angered me. He sends his own son a note that commands me to him, or tells one of our workers to pass on the message. Meanwhile, I live in the same house he does. Regardless that it was a very large house, he was just too lazy to actually come and talk to me face-to-face.
Whatever. I didn't care. Or at least, I didn't like to think that it bothered me that my own father didn't like speaking to me. I hated him. He hated me back though, so it made us even. It was, however, his obligation as a father—despite how bad he was at that role—to speak to me every now and then. When that time came about, whenever he fancied it, he would send me his little love letters, inviting me to his study, where he would inevitably try to make me feel pity for him that he has to have a son like me.
Oh, shove it.
My father's study was very large. It was a circled room, bookshelves that just about touched the ceiling lined all the walls. There were antique tables he never sat at, but they were covered with papers and things he claimed important. The shelves and the most prestige collection of the oldest books, classic stories, bibles in all the languages, and the complete history of the entire world since the beginning of time. There were a mess of books all over the floor, barely a place to step in some areas. This was a very pretty, comfortable room to be in when it was neat—and when my father wasn't in it, of course—but when it was like this, all I could think was, "How dare he chastise me for the way my room is kept?"
I went over to his desk, the biggest desk in the room with the most clutter on it. His chair was large, padded with comfortable black leather, with armrests, five wheels supporting the stand, and it could spin all the way around on its stand. He shuddered at the thought of anyone but him making themselves comfortable in it. So, naturally, I plopped myself down into it with sigh. It was as comfortable as it looked. To go further, I crossed my ankles and perched my feet up on his desk as I leaned back in the chair.
I wondered what my father could possibly want to talk about this time. School, my clothes, my attitude…there was just so much he could criticize. It's not like I'm saying there's nothing about me to criticize either, I was not a tidy and in-line child with a suit and tie and perfect scores in school. If I had to say it myself, there was much to criticize. He just doesn't have to, which is what makes it highly irritating.
I began to drum my fingers impatiently on the desk. I was tired already, and the waiting was making me want to go to sleep. I had already been there for a while. I wanted my father to come in so we could get on with whatever it was. I wanted to see his reaction when he saw me in his chair, soiling his precious mahogany desk with my muddy boots. I looked at the clock on the wall, then at my wristwatch to see if the time was correct.
I exhaled sharply and stood up, knocking a few things off the desk and not bothering to pick them up. As I was waiting, I took the time to look around. I scanned the many papers on his desk, all nonsense that desperately needed organization. I walked by the plentiful bookshelves, letting my fingers caress the spines of the old books. I took some at random; Shakespeare, Emily Brontë, John Locke, Voltaire, Jean Bodel…works in English, French, Latin….
I put them back where they were—a thing my father didn't seem to know how to do. With another glance at my watch, I shook my head and put my hands behind my back as I continued to saunter around. Just as I decided I was ready to leave there, a book fell from one the shelves I was walking by.
I was able to jump back just in time. If I didn't move, it would have definitely hit me. Instead, it landed right at my feet. It was a large book, and thick with many pages, covered with hard black leather that had an intricate twisting pattern to it. I looked at the peculiar book's cover curiously. The letters on the cover were carved in, in plain lettering. "Niger Veneficus," it read.
"Black Magic?" I whispered to myself.
I looked up at the spot where the book fell out of. I saw it at once, the only empty space in the tightly packed shelf, all the way at the top. I looked back at the book. I was hesitant as I reached down to pick it up. It was a strange thing. How did the book fall? It was also an odd coincidence that it came close to knocking me out. Overall, it gave off a bad aura. The entire atmosphere of the room was suddenly darker as I looked upon it. When I touched it, an intense jolt was sent through my entire arm, like an electric shock. I gasped and ripped my hand away. It hurt like an electric shock, but the book couldn't have just electrocuted me.
After a bit of deliberation, I picked the book up. This time there was no painful shock, so I passed off the previous happening easily. I went across the room and retrieved the ladder, rolling it over to the bookshelf the black book belonged to. With the book in my hands, I climbed the ladder up to the top with the intention putting the book back. When I reached its place though, I found something such more interesting.
There was a lever on the wall. One single switch, small enough to be easily concealed by the big book. It was old looking, covered with cobwebs. When I spotted it, I nearly dropped the book and lost my balance. The shock was lost quickly as I recalled something my father once told me when I was smaller. He had warned me not to wander on my own in places I didn't know, because the house was old and full of secret passage ways.
So where did this lead to? I was instantly curious about it. I wondered if my father already knew about it. The thought of being the first to discover it though was very appealing.
Without another thought, I grabbed the lever and pulled it down. It was a little rusty, a little hard to move. It must not have been pulled before, or at least not pulled regularly, otherwise it would have moved more smoothly. I heard the sound of a sliding wall that stunned me for a second, and honestly made me a bit frightened to look. I quickly put the black book back in the space where it resumed its duty of hiding the lever. I fumbled to get down the ladder as fast as I could, then scooted the ladder back to its original place. Lastly, I turned towards the far wall and saw that opened up like a door.
I couldn't help but gasp at it. I snapped myself out of my gawking and ran over to it, sliding my fingers into the crack in the wall and having to use all my strength to pull it open all the way. I stood in front of a dark tunnel, a cold draft swirling around me and seeming to seep into my bones. My fists clenched at my sides, and I mentally scolded myself for acting like such a coward.
I turned so I could do a quick sweep of the room with my eyes, making sure I was still alone. Satisfied with that, I whipped my lighter out of my pocket and started up the little flame. I took my first step into the darkness, turning with my lighter held out in front of me, the tiny flame illuminating more than I thought it would. I found a handle on the inside stone wall of the secret door and I pulled the door tightly shut, hearing it lock in place, closing myself in. Cautiously, I began to make my way farther into the tunnel and down a spiraling staircase.
I was lead down into an even darker room. My lighter didn't help much down there, it must have been a big room. It was freezing, but there was no draft like I had felt going down the stairs. It smelt purely awful, like old rotting and things burning. I felt for the wall, found it, and held my light up to it. There were inscriptions on the wall, all in Latin. One carving stood out to me. It said, "Penetro hic , quod nunquam reverto." Enter here, and never return.
It gave me chills, goose bumps raising on my arms. I felt against the rough, icy stones of the wall to see if I could find anything. I did. I found a few torches on the wall, which I put the lighter to, lighting up the room with a golden color. I set fire to two torches, leaving the room dim but bright enough that I didn't need my lighter anymore.
I felt like I couldn't breathe when I got a look at the room. The floor was stone, littered with writings of Latin nonsense and poetry and sketches that depicted things I've never seen, symbols and random letters like a mathematical equation, and huge star in the middle of it that had a burnt out candle in each point of the star.
At the end of the room was the most horrifying thing. It was like an altar. There was a book, open, on a stand. On either side of the stand was a candelabra, and in front of the stand was a coffin. Laying across the ground, it was like a sarcophagus of gold.
I nearly screamed, trying to keep out of my mind the sickening thought that there might be a person inside the coffin. I looked around frantically, searching for an exit. I noticed a thin crack in a piece of the wall, so I flicked my lighter back open, put out the blaze of the torches, and rushed towards the wall. I braced my shoulder against it and shoved, slowly moving the wall in. I stepped on the other side and shut it again.
My heart was racing, pounding furiously and as heavy as a brick in my chest. I tried to control my breathing as I spun around the tiny room, discovering there wasn't anywhere to go. There were no stairs like I expected, instead there was only some stone steps built into the wall like a ladder going up. I held my lighter higher as I looked up, but I couldn't see how far the tunnel went up.
I swore quietly and snapped my lighter shut, replacing it in my pocket and wiping my clammy hands on my pants before grabbing hold of the stone ladder. Slowly and carefully, with all my concentration, I starting moving upwards. I paused for a little bit, not knowing how high up I was and not wanting to know. I closed my eyes and took deep breaths before moving again. I worried where this was going to take me to, but I was glad to be out of that other room.
I stopped climbing when I stopped feeling the ladder stones. I couldn't go any higher. I clutched myself to the wall tightly as I squeezed my eyes shut and reached above my head, feeling the stones for something else. I pushed against the bricks, trying to find a way out. Finally, I found the perfect spot that moved back when I pushed. It was a thinner wall, I opened it easily with one hand. I then grabbed the floor of the room and pulled myself up onto it, scrambling into the room and kicking the door shut behind me.
I laid on the floor, staring up at the white ceiling and breathing heavily. I was so thankful to be alive in that moment. It didn't even occur to me where I might have been. As it happened, I was in someone's bedroom. I didn't realize my surroundings at all until I heard a girl's shriek.
I sat up in surprise, quickly shoving myself back against the wall and banging my elbow back into the wall painfully in the process. When I looked up, I locked eyes with Emily, one of the maids. Her mother had been working at the house for a long time, before either of us were born, so that's why she lived at the house too. She was about my age, a year younger I think. She had curly, dark brown hair and crystal blue eyes. And…she was in the middle of dressing.
I cried out like she did and averted my gaze at once, covering my eyes as she desperately tried to cover herself.
"I am so sorry, Emily!" I exclaimed. I couldn't have been more embarrassed. "Please. Really. I am very sorry."
"Wait," she said. There was a lot of noise, and then she said, "Okay. I'm decent."
I carefully took my hand away and peaked up at her. She was now wearing a robe of light pink silk, falling off her shoulders as she tried to tie the fabric around her waist. I sighed with relief and pulled myself to my feet.
I put my hand to my face as I walked over to her, still humiliated. Not as much as she was, I'm sure. "I'm sorry," I quietly repeated.
"Where did you come from?" she asked, looking to the wall.
"Don't worry about it," I said with a dismissive way of my hand. "The house is full of secret passages, you know. You can find yourself easily caught up in. I was stupid enough to get caught up in that. Listen," I said sternly, "do not ever go down there. If you ever find a passage like that, do not go into it. Understand?"
She nodded. "Yes, but—"
"No," I said, holding up my hand to stop her. "Don't go in them, and don't venture on your own. I'm telling you the truth when I say it's far too dangerous."
She nodded again. "Okay."
"Oh, and one more thing," I said before I left, grabbing the tops of her arms lightly. "Please, don't tell anyone about this," I begged. "Not a living soul. Especially not anyone in this house, and particularly not my father. You understand? This must remain a secret. My father cannot know about this."
She looked even more shocked than before, and her gaze dropped to the floor. "Maybe I can keep this a secret from people. But from your father?"
"Yes!" I said. "Please. He can't know."
She sighed. "Alright. I promise I'll try."
In the relief of the moment, I took her into my arms and hugged her. "Thank you."
She nodded, agreeable but not seeming happy about it.
"Sorry again," I said before leaving.
Yes, I thought. This must remain a secret until I figure out what to make of it. What was that room?
I was aimlessly walking the streets, my hands stuck in my pockets and my head down, when I heard my name being called behind me. I was so deep in my thoughts that I didn't recognize the voice of the person who had been my best friend since I could ever remember.
"'Ey, Jaimie!" Stuart called. "Hold up, will you?"
I paused and turned, waiting for him to catch up. As I took in his appearance, I was prompted to check the time on my wristwatch. His hair was a mess from running and he was wearing his uniform, carrying his books under one arm. School had just ended. I lost track of the time, I had been out all day.
When he reached me, I bumped his shoulder with mine as we started walking together. "So how was class?"
He gave me an exhausted look and he began undoing his tie and taking his shirt out of his pants, opening up the top two buttons. "Jaimie, has there been a week yet where you've been to classes every day? The headmaster is furious! On a warpath, I tell you. When he gets his hands on you…boy, are you in for it now!"
"Tell 'em he can take it up with my father," I muttered. "I already know my numbers and my A B C's, Stuart." I shrugged. "School doesn't interest me, especially not the way that one is run."
He glared at me. "Oh, and really? It's just entirely fun to me, what's your problem with it?"
I snorted. "Stuart, if you please, I'm not in the mood to be talking in circles today. I have more oppressing matters on my mind." I sighed as I wiped my face. I had hardly gotten any sleep the night before, I was about ready to drop.
"Yeah," he whispered in my ear. "I'd say. Take a gander at that, would you?"
He jerked his chin in the direction he wanted me to look, and I saw them. The group of people that were ultimately the terror of the London streets. They went to school even less than I did, they had a criminal record, and they lived to start trouble. It was a group of five lads altogether, led by one who was supposed to be the brains of their little team. That one went by the name of Rob. I've hated him for as long as I could remember. He saw me, smiled at me as he and his group approached me. I rolled my eyes.
"I don't have time for this," I said.
"Too late now," Stuart said, looking equally annoyed.
He was right though. They had already spotted us, so it was too late to jump. I was in a very poor mood, and I hoped Rob didn't have too much to say. He couldn't hardly say much anyway, as uneducated as he was. I could only give him one thing, he was pretty sufficient in knowing how to talk himself out of a situation.
"Oi, Jaimason," he called out as he almost reached us, opening his arms in a friendly gesture.
I scowled at him.
"We haven't talked in a while, mate. How have you been?"
I ripped my arm away from his hand, glaring. "Get out of my face, mate," I spit at him. "Don't you call me that."
"What—your name?" he asked acidly, but then his face melted into a mask of faux apology. "Sorry, Jaimie-boy. Didn't mean to offend. You've sure gotten more messed up since last time. Got a fag?"
"I don't bloody smoke," I said viciously. What a group of absolute cretins!
"How's your mother?" he said in return, smiling cruelly and knowingly.
My breath caught before I could help myself, my eyes widening before I could control my expression. He and his friends laughed mercilessly. Stuart put a hand on my shoulder in a calming gesture.
My hands tightened into fists, and I clenched my teeth. "You're winding me up, Rob. If you've come here to challenge me, come on then. Give it a go, if you think you can."
"Leave it, Jaimie," Stuart said. "He's not man enough."
Rob laughed with his friends, but it was a forced laugh, I could see that. In his dark eyes, rage was swirling like a hurricane. When the laughing silenced, he threw a punch straight for my face like a flash of lightning.
I saw it coming first though. I gasped and dodged it, stepping to the side and back, nearly knocking Stuart to the ground as I tried to keep him out of Rob's reach. Before I knew it, people had made a circle around us, observing the fight. I could actually hear people making bets.
As much as I hated this boy, I didn't want to take a swing at him. It was easy to elude his blows, but I really had no intention of fighting him to begin with and I still didn't want to. When I ducked to evade his swing, I knocked him off his feet.
"Spot on!" I heard Stuart shout from the crowd.
I jumped up and stepped back away from Rob, waiting for him to get up. I was suddenly grabbed from behind, my arms being secured by two of Rob's friends. I screamed and tried to break away from their grasp, but the two of them together were stronger than me. Rob was quick to get back on his feet and deliver a heavy blow to my gut. All the air was sucked from me, my legs turning to jelly under me. I was released and I fell right to the pavement, wrapping my arms around my abdomen and panting for breath. I looked up just in time to see Rob getting ready to kick me, but Stuart came out of nowhere and jumped on him, attacking brutishly.
"That's a foul move!" he shouted furiously.
I was stuck watching in awe as he brought Rob to the ground under his blows. I even laughed a little as I staggered to my feet. When I got a hold of myself, I turned and socked one of the boys behind me right across the face. He fell to the ground, dazed, not knowing what hit him. The other one jumped into fight me, getting in a single lucky punch and knocking me back into Stuart. We both went down, but got right back up. He was going back to Rob, but I grabbed him and stopped him. He looked at me questioningly, and I nodded to a few policemen weaving their way through the crowd and trying to disperse it.
Stuart and I relaxed, sharing a look of apprehension. Rob got up and angrily pounded at his clothes, wiping off the dirt. His criminal followers took their places behind him. Stuart picked my black scarf off the ground and wiped it clean before handing it to me. I thanked him and hung it around my neck.
"All right, all right!" one of the cops called loudly, waving his hands at the crowds. "I want this lot to clear immediately. There's nothing to see here. You folks ought to move on. Go on."
"Jaimason, you're a dead man when I get my hands on you," Rob threatened over the commotion of the people disbanding.
"Get lost!" I told him.
His lips twisted into a sneer, eyes glaring daggers at me. He looked like he was about to come at me again, but one of his friends said, "Rob, let's go. Bobby heading this way." I gave them a two finger salute as they left, and Stuart mimicked me.
"Not so fast, you two," one of the policemen said, directed to Stuart and I as we tried to escape. "Ah, young Mr. King," he said in recognition. "No pleasant surprise to see you on these streets. Causing trouble again, aren't you?"
I scowled slightly, trying not to get angry with the man. That wouldn't help my situation. "Sir," I said bitterly, "again, you're chasing the wrong man. If you're going to do your duty as a policeman you should chase down the ones that ran that way."
He narrowed his eyes at me. "Now, King, I'm going to let that on slide only because I don't want trouble from your father. He's a good man, and you watch your mouth or I might ring him later."
I didn't respond, other than an arched eyebrow that challenged him.
"Pray one of these days I don't arrest you under Her Majesty's Pleasure," he threatened with a sneer. "You're with the wrong lot, lad," he said to Stuart. Taking in the appearance of his school uniform, he remarked, "You're not getting any education around this one."
Stuart laughed. "Then maybe we should all be a little more daft." The man reeled with shock as I laughed, Stuart grabbing my arm and turning me, mumbling, "Come on."
"Brilliant," I said, still sniggering a little. "I meant to find you earlier. I have something to show you. Back to my house!"
"Is it something I'll want to see?"
My tone turned suddenly serious. "Oh, believe me, you want to see."
"Brace yourself, mate," I warned.
Stuart looked up at me and rolled his eyes. "If your father…."
I carefully moved the black book out of the shelf, then stopped, confused by the tingling sensation through my hands when I held it. I shook my head, forcing a smile and glancing down at Stuart before saying, "Catch!" and throwing the book down at him. He screamed avoided it, and it hit the floor with a loud bang. "Are you mental!" he shouted back at me.
I pulled the lever on the wall and climbed down the ladder, watching Stuart's reaction to the wall opening up for us. I told indifferently to grab the book and follow, which he did when he brought himself out of his frozen shocked state.
Again, I shoved the stone wall open, shuddering as the cold chill hit me, taking my breath away. The memories from the day before came flooding back, making an uneasy feeling grow in the pit of my stomach. I flicked open my lighter, swallowing hard, and invited Stuart into the darkness.
"How did you ever find this place?"
I held my lighter up to Stuart's face so I could observe his gobsmacked expression. I raised an eyebrow questioningly. It wasn't exactly the response I was thinking. "Total fluke," I answered. "The book practically jumped out at me, and I found this place. I never knew anything of it. This room is something…." I couldn't find quite the accurate word to describe it.
I lit the torches in the room. I heard Stuart gasp, "Bloody hell." I also lit the candelabra by the gold coffin. "Whatcha make of it?" I asked.
He looked around, his eyes narrowing, scrutinizing everything he could. I could practically see his mind working fervently to come up with something. "This is smashing."
"Quite," I muttered.
"Brilliant. Though…I'm not sure what to make of it. It's so…mysterious, dark. So old, like centuries old work down here. What do all these things mean?"
"'Confess in the darkness, repent in the light'," I translated the Latin words on the stone that he fingered.
"So poetic," he mocked.
"Ah, don't do that," I warned. "I feel like something's gonna strike you dead if you try to scorn anything down here."
He chuckled though, unaware that I was very serious. "What about this?" he said, jabbing a finger at another inscription. "What does this one say?"
"'Let'…," I gulped, balling my hands into fists to keep them from trembling. "'Let the living die to live again.'"
"'Burn, burn, burn, and let the blood end all magic strife.'"
"No more," I said. I had meant my voice to be forceful but instead it was meek, almost pleading with him.
He turned to me, taking in my mood for the first time, and nodded solemnly. He stuck his hands in his pockets and began to saunter around, pondering again it would seem.
"I know this symbol," he abruptly said, quietly, as if to himself. He was starting down at the drawing of the five-pointed star. "It's called a Pentacle."
Pentacle, I thought. I hadn't known what in the world it was. I cautiously stopped into the middle of it, looking down at it, examining the fading chalk lines and burn candles. As I bent down to touch one of the candles, all five that sat one on each star point lit up, a bright flame of fire appearing from nowhere on the burnt wicks. I gasped and fell backwards, scrambling out of the middle of the Pentacle. Stuart looked shocked as well, taking a step back.
I looked at the black book that Stuart set down on the floor. As if it was alive, it moved itself from the wall to the middle of the floor in a flash. Then we watched in horror as the book opened itself and the pages started turning in a blur of motion before it stopped dead on one of the pages.
"It could've been the wind," Stuart said quickly. "There's a bit of a draft down here."
"The wind moved that heavy book across the floor?"
Not getting off the floor, I hurried over to the book and took it into my hands, setting it on my lap and examining the page it was left on. There was a picture of the star, as well as an upside-down picture of it and one that had a circle around it. "Pentagram," I said. "It's called a Pentagram. Another word for Pentacle, it would seem. It says it's…it's…."
"What?" Stuart demanded, impatient, a bit of hysteria in his tone. He strode over to me, more frustrated when he saw he couldn't understand the Latin words.
"The book say the Pentagram is a religious symbol but could be and was used for more sinister reasoning. It's used to perform magic. Used by witches. It's an evil thing that channels black magic, Stuart."
He looked away, scoffing. "What rubbish, Jaimie. What does it really say?"
I glared at him. "Rubbish! You wanker! I'm not lying!"
He rolled his eyes.
"Jaimie." I heard a voice saying my name, making me stop. It wasn't Stuart, nor my father. It was no voice I recognized. It was blatantly the voice of a little girl.
I slowly rose to my feet, feeling compelled. I didn't feel the book slip from my hands, but I heard it hit the floor with a thump. My gaze was fixed on the gold coffin. My legs starting moving me towards it, my mind unconscious.
"Jaimie. Jaimie. Jaimie."
"Jaimie!" Stuart exclaimed, stunned with my behavior. I didn't glance at him. I only kept moving towards the voice that beckoned me.
"Jaimie, Jaimie, Jaimie."
I laid my hands on the coffin, and an intense electrical shock was sent jolting through me. My mouth fell open, but I couldn't draw in a breath for a gasp. I felt myself falling, everything turning black.
I sat up, still feeling like a was in a trance. I was still in the same room, sitting in the middle of the Pentagram, facing the coffin.
Sitting on the coffin was a little girl. Her black hair was long down her back in a single plait. Her skin was pale, and she looked a little too thin to be healthy, but she was cute. She had deep hazel eyes, the same as mine. She was in a white nightdress with white slippers, her ankles crossed as she swung her legs back and forth. She smiled at me sweetly, her eyes wide and innocent.
"Ducky!" she cried. "So happy you could join me." Her voice was very childlike, high but golden. The same voice that was beckoning to me before I….
Glancing around, I hesitantly got to my feet. I couldn't find Stuart anywhere. There was only me and this child. This was the child I heard saying my name before I blacked out.
"Where am I?"
"Silly, you're asleep," she said, laughing. "Unconscious, rather. Well, I must admit that I helped bring you to this state, but believe me when I say it's dreadfully important. You will talk with me for a bit, won't you, ducky?"
I eyed her suspiciously, not understanding. Cautiously, I approached her. She didn't move, only smiled more encouragingly. I raised my hand to her, and her little hand went up slowly and her palm touched mine, interlacing her fingers with mine. I flinched. Her skin was an cold as ice, and it had a strange feeling to it. It felt like touching solid smoke.
"What are you?" I whispered, staring out our hands in awe.
"I'm a ghost!" she said, almost proudly. "Not alive. Dead. But fear me not. And please don't think I'm not real just because I'm not alive, because I'm very much real. Anyhoo, let's skip that science, shall we? Unfortunately, I can't offer you any friendlier a subject, unless you have one?"
"A ghost," I repeated. I laughed, putting my hand to my face. "A bloody ghost."
She ripped her hand away from mine, but then stood up on the coffin and threw herself at me. I gasped and caught her, and she closed her arms around my neck and pressed her cold lips to the skin of my throat.
"Not just any old ghost, Jaimie. I'm your little sister!"
For a while I didn't say anything, then I exploded into another round of laughter. I was laughing so hard that she was shaking in my arms. She pouted at me.
"Why is that so amusing?"
"I've gone totally mad! That's what so amusing. I don't have a sister, little ghost. This is a dream or I've gone mad. Either would be fine with me!"
"Oh, ducky," she said, sad and disappointed. She pulled herself tighter to me, and my laughing stopped at that second. "I thought I could handle this, but it hurts me so much that you don't know. I'm your little sister. You would have loved me, Jaimie, I just know you would have. Your mother is my mother."
"My mother is dead," I said sharply, cutting her off.
She cringed away from me for a second, and I regretting my lashing out at her. "No, Jaimie, no," she said softly. "She was murdered. And so was I."
I nearly dropped her. "What are you saying? How can that…be? M-murdered by who?"
She shook her head and put her little fingers to my lips in a silencing motion. "I can't tell. You have to figure it out on your own. You have to do it all almost all on your own. I can only offer you one thing."
"What's that?" I mouthed, being unable to form words.
"Don't trust our father. He's a bad man, Jaimie."
"Ha!" I scoffed, interrupting her again. "You invaded my mind to tell me something I already know? How—"
"It's more than you think," she said sternly. "It goes far beyond your petty differences. He works with evil, Jaimie. Evil. I don't wish to see you hurt. And I won't stand for your loved ones hurt. Be careful. Oh, and one more thing; Don't ever open the coffin."
I simply nodded.
She smiled and kissed my lips. "Good. Your friend is about to have a heart attack. It's time for you to wake up."
I drew in a sharp breath as I sat up quick enough to make me dizzy. I was back exactly where I remember, lying in the Pentagram in front of the coffin. Stuart was kneeling next to me, relieved now that I was awake.
"Are you trying to kill me?" he said angrily. "Trying to frighten me like that! Just what the hell happened anyway?"
"I need to get out of here," I said abruptly. "I need to get out now."
He stared at me, confused, as I got to my feet and gathered the black book in my arms, putting out the candelabra flames. "Are you sure?" he said. "Now? I mean, we just got down here. We haven't figured out anything—"
"And we're not obligated to," I said coldly. "Let's go."
"Alright," he agreed, sighing.
"This way," I said after putting out all the torches. This time I left the stone door open a bit, so we could get out the way we went in instead of intruding into Emily's room again. I lead him out quickly, wasting no time to shove the stone back into it's place and replaced the book on the shelf. I don't ever want to touch that book again, I thought with a shiver.
"Let's go somewhere," I told Stuart, already heading towards the door. "Anywhere. Anywhere you want—just anywhere but here."
He agreed, hurrying up to me. Just as I was about to grab the door, my father—of all people—barged into the room, stopping dead when he spotted me. Luck, I thought. That's my luck.
His eyes narrowed at me at once, glinting with anger. "What are you doing here?" he asked evenly.
I mockingly saluted him. "Father. I was just helping Stuart with a history project for school," I lied smoothly, "and there was a book I thought would help us."
"School?" he asked doubtfully. "You're helping him with school? You don't even attend school yourself."
I could feel my face starting to heat as he walked by me to his desk. He had a way of getting under my skin and really making my blood boil, I had to give him credit for that. One of his maybe politician traits, I suppose. He was in a high position in Parliament, a rich man, hated and adored. Dangerous. The ghost girl—my little sister, as she claimed—her words came back to me: He works with evil, Jaimie.
"Perhaps I should leave," Stuart whispered to me.
I shook my head. He gave me a look that pronounced his discomfort but didn't say anything. I left him to approach my father as he wrestled with papers on his desk.
"Where were you yesterday evening?" he asked me carefully, his eyes already accusing.
"I could ask you the same," I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
"What?" he questioned, quietly but with rage, as he straightened up.
I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a wade of paper, unraveling it to reveal his note. I matched his glare as I slammed it down onto his desk.
"You have it and you didn't come."
"No!" I barked. "I was here. You were not."
He mimicked my position, bracing the palms of his hands against the desk and staring into my eyes with the same disgust as always. I hated looking into those misty blue eyes of his, they were always like ice, hard and cold. "I was here!" he said. "You ignorant, arrogant child! I taught you to be punctual—golden rule to a good impression, isn't it?—but you're just too contemptuous to do anything I ask!"
"Of what importance was it anyway?" I hissed.
"Ah!" He threw his hands up. He quickly swept up a few papers from the desk, straightening the pile in his hands. "You will be here tonight, and then you'll hear it. Nothing's important is it, Jaimason? Your moral is frivolousness."
"That's not my name," I said vehemently. Countless times I've said that. "My name is Jaimie."
He raised his eyebrows. "Your name is Jaimason, it's what your mother named you."
"Mother called me Jaimie!" I hated when he spoke about my mother. He didn't love her like I did. When she died, I never saw him shed a single tear, nor did I even catch a glint of a tear in his eye.
He ignored me, passing by me and idly pouring himself a glass of hard cider, finally looking up at me when he took a sip. After a minute, he looked at Stuart, breaking the silence.
"You're a good lad, aren't you?" he said quietly. "You go to school every day, and you listen to your father? Can't you teach Jaimason a thing or two if you're his mate?"
My hands clench at my sides, my teeth clinking together. In that moment I saw red, and in the same moment my father's glass shattered in his hand. He gasped and hopped back in surprise, looking as horrified as stunned, as we all were. Stuart—poor fool—didn't have a clue about anything that was going on. All the chaos froze when my father locked eyes with me, and a smile that held a thousand secrets slowly spread across his face.
I felt like I was hit with something, a giant jolt of energy rushing straight through my body at the same time he smirked. I didn't have time to recover from it before I heard his voice in my mind. Like he was speaking to me telepathically.
Confess in the darkness, repent in the light.
The little girl stared at me crossly with her large hazel eyes, standing on my bed in the same white attire. "Jaimie, this is your fault."
I stretched as I relaxed into my chair, setting my feet up on my desk. "It's not the first time I've heard those words, love."
"You waited too long," she said, stamping a foot down. "You were supposed to take my advice and do something, not dismiss it. Maybe father's right about you on one account…."
My eyes narrowed at her. "Listen here, little ghost. Why don't you just tell me what you want? Why do you all have to be so mysterious and foreboding—and non-helpful, not to mention!—but you always want something from the living? I think you're a bunch of greedy good-for-nothings.
"I've already said, Jaimie, I can't say anything more. There's a spell on me, you need to break it. That's what prevents me from helping you."
"What to you mean, spell? You mean like magic?"
She didn't respond. I sighed and got up, going over to her to pick her up into my arms, cradling her to my chest as I sat on the bed.
"Is this another dream?"
"Are you telling me the truth, that you're my little sister?"
Again she nodded. "I know you wouldn't remember me. I was hardly two years old, and you were seven. When you're a ghost you're free though, so I matured as a ghost rather than a human."
"Seven?" I mused. "I was seven when my—our—mother died."
"I have to go," she said brusquely. "Please, help me. Trust me, you know how. You just need to remember."
"Emily!" I called desperately, banging lightly against her door. "Please…." I thought she might be ignoring me, but I needed very badly to speak with her. She was the only one who knew of the secret passage in her room and I wanted to tell her everything else I knew; she was the only one I could confide in. I knocked a little harder. "Emily!"
"Excuse me, sir?"
I spun around, startled at the voice, and faced Emily's mother. She looked a little frightened, eying me suspiciously. I greeted her good day as pleasantly as I could, offering a smile as I inched my way away from Emily's bedroom.
"I haven't seen Emily all morning," she told me, answering my unspoken question. Then her eyes narrowed. "But, young lad, she's been talking an awful lot about you lately, and I don't know how I feel about that." Her tone was warning.
I nodded politely. "I understand. Of course."
She sighed faintly. "Your father is in his library. He sent me for you. He requests your presence at once."
I shook my head as I walked past her. "Of course he does," I muttered darkly. I thanked her and headed to my father's study, unwillingly. The only reason I went was because I had questions for him. My sister's description of him was becoming a more and more apt one.
In his study, I did not find him. However, I did find the stone wall wide open to the dark stairwell. The black book, when I looked, was not on the shelf. And there were golden lights glowing from down the stairs. Someone was down there.
I went to investigate, unknowingly waltzing myself straight into a trap. The stone wall shut and locked behind me before I could help it. I was forced forward, knowing my only way out would be up through Emily's room.
In the room downstairs, my father stood in the middle of the Pentagram, the black book open in his hands. Every candle and torch was lit with a flickering flame, creating dancing shadows all around the room. Before I could question anything, I saw the girl at my father's feet. She was laying on the ground, unmoving, and at first I didn't know who she was but quickly recognized the curly hair that covered her face.
"Emily!" I cried, throwing myself at her, completely ignoring my father's warning of, "Don't touch her."
I fell to my knees next to her, turning her onto her back and gently pushing her hair away from her face. I murmured her name and shook her lightly, getting no response.
"What did you do to her?" I demanded in fury.
"Just a mild sleeping spell," my father said dismissively. "She isn't dead, you needn't worry about that. You're here now…and the party can finally begin."
"What do you think you're doing?" I stood up, stepping towards him and forcing him to move back. "What is this? I demand to know what's going on this instant."
"Alright," he said, slamming the book shut in his hands. He pointed to Emily. "I found this little wench prying around down here, where she had no business to be. She's seen too much of this, Jaimie. She needs to be dealt with."
I stood between him and Emily protectively. "What do you mean dealt with?" I spit, seething. "What is this that she's seen too much of?"
He smiled. "Well, Jaimie, you already know. You just don't remember. You don't remember how talented you are, how powerful. And how powerful you can be, Jaimie! You've been down here quite frequently, haven't you? You must have seen some power. The Book of Shadows already told me of all your meetings."
"What?" I hissed, looking at him, then the book.
"I know you can feel the power in this book, Jaimie. It's because it rightfully belongs to you now, as soon as you take a hold of your power." He took a tentative step towards me, which I matched with a step back. He froze. "Jaimie, you are my son, despite whatever you think of our relationship. But you're of the proper age now…. You've only lived this long because I know your potential! Listen to me, boy! You were born with potential! You could rule the world if you wanted to."
I shook my head. "I don't know what you're saying. You're mad!"
"Don't you ever say that!" he roared. "Do you know that our type used to be burned alive?"
My eyes widened.
"Our family and friends, Jaimie. The only few in the world that shared our gift. They were dragged away from their homes, their family. They were dragged through the street with people shouting insults at them, excited for an execution. They were tied to a stake in the middle of their own village, and fire was set to them. They were slowly burned alive. Our family. You should still be able to hear those haunting screams."
My head was suddenly filled with shrill cries, horrible screaming that only made you think of the worst agony that could make screams like that. I could smell burning flesh and smoke was chocking my lungs. I found that I also was screaming. "Stop, stop, STOP!" I shouted, pressing my hands to my skull and fighting my keep my knees from giving out under me.
It stopped suddenly, but the haunting memories were still lingering in my head. My father watched me smugly, enjoying my pain. "Yes, Jaimie, that was my power that caused that," I heard his voice in my head. I gasped.
"You can read my mind?"
"Yes, I can. I always could. And you were always capable of reading mine, or anyone else's."
The ghost of my little sister appeared beside me, tugging on my jacket. I was still trying to catch my breath. "Remember, Jaimie," she said, her voice ringing out like bells. "You need to remember."
"Remember what?" I yelled.
My father's eyebrows pulled together in confusion at my outburst. It occurred to me that he couldn't see her.
"What did you do to my little sister?" I cried out, vicious tears beginning to stream down my face. "What happened to her? What did you do to me?"
"Your sister!" he growled, his eyes on fire. He hastily stalked over to the gold coffin and kicked off the cover. It slid heavily to the floor, cracking loudly against it.
"No!" my sister cried, but it was too late. I already saw what was in the coffin. It was her. It was her body, perfectly preserved. She was only a little girl, two years old as she told me, but the resemblance was undeniable. It was her. Laying next to her was the body of my mother, just as I remembered her before she died. If the both of them were not so white I could believe they were alive, only sleeping.
I stumbled forward without thinking, putting my hands to the sides of my mother's face. As soon as I touched her, memories jolted through my mind, a thousand a second. Mother hugging me after I came back from school, making me breakfast, pushing me on a swing. Her sitting by the window, holding a little baby in her arms. Mother singing me to sleep. Then there was me playing with book that levitated in the air on its own, and mother screaming when the window abruptly shattered to bits caused by my own doing even though I hadn't touched it. Me setting fire to a candle without a match, and making the flickering flame bend to my will. My father telling me I had a gift, and mother didn't understand. My father telling me mother was dead.
I gasped, my eyes snapping open as I was blown back from the coffin by some force. "I remember," I murmured, my voice dead.
"Remember these two," my father said bitterly, opening the door to reveal Stuart and Rob, dragging them out and throwing them onto the ground. Their hands and feet were bound, and both of them wore gags in their mouths. "Here's your pitiful friend, and here's the little imbecile that's always tormenting you. Isn't that right?"
"What are you doing with all these people?" I demanded.
"Now, let me make you a bargain," he proposed calmly. "You kill these two"—he inclined his head towards Stuart and Rob—"and I'll let the little girl out of her sleep. If not, I kill the girl, and let these two go. Think carefully. The choice is yours."
"No, Jaimie!" my sister screamed. "You can't kill them! Save them!"
"You killed my sister, didn't you?" I asked my father quietly. "You murdered her! Didn't you!"
"Annaleigh, you're little sister. Yes! I killed her! I killed your mother as well! I killed them for I higher purpose. They did not possess the gift of magic like you and I, Jaimie. I needed their lives to feed my own power. It was essential. Just as you'll need these two lives for your own use."
"I can't kill them!"
"Let the living die to live again"
"No, Jaimie," Annaleigh whispered beside me. "Use your magic. You can do it. You're stronger than he is. He's afraid of you. He knows how strong you are, he's just pretending to have as much power as he wants."
"I can't kill them," I repeated firmly.
"Kill just the imbecile then," he said indifferently.
I looked into Rob's dark eyes. For the first time, I wasn't looking at him with hate. It was more pity I felt for him. "No," I declared. "I will not take anyone's life."
My father shook his head in disappointment. "Shame. I thought this would be an easy choice for you, Jaimie. If you can't choose," he said, opening the Book of Shadows, "then I will. And you've just condemned them all."
Stuart somehow was able to get free of his gag. "Jaimie!" he shouted. "Don't let him do it! Fight!"
"Silence, you!" my father said, and with a single wave of his hand, Rob and Stuart were both thrown back against the wall and pinned there in the air.
"The book!" Annaleigh said to me. "Get the book. He can't do anything without the book."
I lunged forward at my father, knocking him to the ground and sending the book flying out of his hands. My father kicked me, successfully getting in a blow to my shoulder and he was able to scramble out of my grip. The book flew back into his hands on it's own. Immediately, he started reading the book's Latin spells out loud, fast and increasing in volume. A dark purple glow came from the pages of the book, making an archway of purple light throw the air and flowing into Emily's body.
"Jaimie, hurry!" Annaleigh cried in distress.
I once again tackled my father, this time seizing the book. It moved in my hands like it was alive, fighting me and trying to wrestle its way out of my grip. I held it tighter and it electrocuted me, yet I still didn't let go. I pushed out my own magic, forcing it to submit. It laid still for a second then the pages began frantically flipping on their own, stopping on a page that I started reading off of at once. The book glowed a dark blue.
"NO!" my father roared. "What are you doing? You fool, you'll kill me!"
That's the idea, I thought.
As I read, a dark blue glow formed around my father. He was on his knees, gasping for breath, his hands clasped on his own throat. The blue light, my own magic, was sucking the power and life out of him.
"Stop, stop!" he cried continuously, weaker each time. His body was aging, a year each second. He was getting thinner and thinner until he was bone skinny, his skin wrinkling over his bones, his hair turning white. He crumpled to the floor in a broken pile, his skin stretching tighter over his bones that wouldn't stop shrinking. The blue aura engulfed him. When it finally lifted, dissipating in the air, all that was left of my father was a pile of ashes.
I looked at Stuart and Rob who fell from the wall, and the ropes around their hands and feet untied themselves and wriggled away like snakes. I crawled over to Emily, taking her into my arms. Her skin was white and cold.
"Emily? Please wake up. Please." I kept repeating this, shaking her every now and then. I could feel the tears wetting my face. "Emily? Oh, God, Emily."
Stuart came over quickly, dragging the book with him. Annaleigh knelt on the other side of me, near Emily's head. Rob cautiously came over.
"There must be something in this book, Jaimie," Stuart said, turning the pages. "Look. Something's got to help you."
I doubted it, but I was willing to try anything. I barely touched the book when I opened to the right page for me, a spell that had a questionable caution to it. If it was not done right, I could kill myself.
I read out the spell, putting all my concentration into it. My blue magic grew around us both, taking energy from us and mixing it. Some of my own soul was being put into Emily's body. I kissed her lips, and her lips warmed under mine, coming to life to kiss me back. I pulled away in surprise, meeting the gaze of Emily's tired sapphire eyes.
She smiled weakly. "Jaimie?"
I hugged her close. "Thank God you're alright."
Annaleigh touched my shoulder. I looked at her, smiling at the sight of her smiling and those innocent eyes. "Well done, ducky. You did it. You beat him and saved us all."
"Couldn't have done it without you," I said. "I love you."
Emily gasped. "Jaimie…I love you also!" she squealed, pressing herself to me to forcefully that she pushed me back on the ground, falling on top of me. We all laughed.
"I love you also," Annaleigh whispered. "And don't worry, ducky, I'll be visiting you often."
"It's been one hell of a week," Stuart said, sighing in relief as he dropped onto a couch.
"Bang on," I said.
Stuart, Rob, Emily, me…everyone was fine now. My father's ashes had been swept up and disposed of, and my mother's preserved body in the coffin and been brought up from that desolate room. I didn't know what story I was going to tell everybody, but I'd come up with something. I was also going to give my mother a proper funeral. I had a feeling things would settle down after that.
Rob approached me slowly, his hands in his pockets, looking down. He sighed. "I just wanted to thank you…Jaimie. And I swear I won't tell no one your secret, so don't worry."
"I appreciate that," I said sincerely. "Perhaps now we can settle childish differences?"
He nodded. "I think so."
We shook hands, and I was genuinely glad about it. The rivalry was getting old. He left, and I knew our next meeting on the street would be on much better terms, which made me smile to think about.
Emily jabbed me in the side with her finger, making me jump. She was smirking. "You've a new mate," she said sweetly.
I rolled my eyes, taking her into my arms and kissing her. "Acquaintance, more like. Don't be silly, love."
"You like him," she said. "You're going to be best friends."
"Oi!" Stuart called. "What am I?"
"Sorry, mate," I said. "You know I'll always like you more than Rob."
He nodded in approval.
"There's one more thing I'd like to do though," I said, speaking mostly to myself.
I took the Book of Shadow into my hands which at once came to life at my touch. I thought about what I wanted to do, and the book, connected to my thoughts, provided me with a spell. Standing in front of the stone passageway, I slowly moved my hand in front of it, feeling the hard, rough surface of the stone even though I wasn't touching it. As I read out the spell, I moved my hand over the crevices of the door, sealing it with rock. The door would never again be able to be opened.
© Kelsi Merkel
Thank you so much for reading! I really hope you guys enjoyed it! leave me a review and let me know what you thought of it! is there a way i can improve it? definitely let me know if there was somthing you didn't like about it!