Cassie stood up suddenly and walked forward. "She may not be stronger than you on her own, but together we are."
Jake and Zane looked at each other and shrugged. Cassie wasn't supposed to do that. Yet they all waited, hidden in the shadows, to see what would happen.
"What are you doing here? Following me?" Kate asked.
"Yes, I was worried about you." Cassie said.
John snorted, "how nice a family reunion. Where's the skull?"
"You have it. I know all about you possessing Adam. I came here for Kate."
"You're lying," John said. "But that's okay. She doesn't believe you either. Why you continue to be with those weak witches and not embrace your Balcoin blood family, I don't understand."
Cassie frowned, "what does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything. Both you and Kate are being stupid and weak. Kate's addicted to drugs and you refused to see the truth." John paused, "Jacob come get Kate."
A man came out of the building and tried to grab Kate, John was distracted by Cassie and forgot to disable Kate. The man went flying across the yard into a building, thanks to Kate's magic. He didn't get up again. John laughed at his carelessness and called the other guy out.
This man was an overweight ex-body builder. "What do you need Callum?"
"The girl on the ground, take her inside and tie her up good," John said.
"Sure," the man replied. He was about to toss Kate over his shoulder, when Cassie tossed him instead. It knocked him unconscious.
John got angry, frustrated with having to deal with such trivial things. He had a skull to find and a world to conquer. "You think you're protecting your friends, but they're weak. They've proven that over and over to you. But it's in their genetics no matter what you do."
Cassie was stalling, so that Chris, Ben, Adam, and Diana could circle around and come up behind John. This would give an advantage of surprise. Jake, Zane, Faye and Melissa would come forward when she gave the signal. They were all close enough to hear the exchange between John and Cassie. Zane possessed a bat that flew over the trees and confirmed everyone was in position. It swooped over the yard and disappeared into the night. That was Cassie's cue that everyone was ready.
But she wasn't, she was trying to give John one last chance. "Why do you think Balcoin blood is going to make a difference with mental strength?"
John had enough. "You want truth and proof? Well here it is. Ethan's jealousy over Amelia choosing me, caused him to help the witch hunters and lie to his circle. He wanted to keep Amelia all to himself and instead drove her away from all of us. And then when I came back to rescue you from those same witch hunters, he stabs me in an attempt to kill me. He knows he's weak, why do you think he's a drunk and he ran away, abandoning his son."
John paused a minute, as he saw that Kate was trying to get away. He said something under his breath and she fell, not moving, the bicycle landing tangled in her body. Then he continued. "Your grandmother Jane held so much hate for me for Amelia running away, that she tried to kill me, when I went over to have tea and have a truce. What she should have done, was listened to her daughter and not alienate her when she needed help. And who could forget the Armstrongs. Jake's dad wanted to live a normal life as he called it, so badly that he sacrificed his wife and his own life for it. Royce was so weak he went crazy after they died. He abandoned his grandsons."
Cassie backed up a few steps closer to where the other's were. John didn't notice, he just continued unleashing everything he knew about her friend's families.
"Melissa's self absorbed father, denied who and what he was. Sophie Ann turned to me. I declined her advances initially, but she was persistent. She cheated repeatedly on her husband because she craved love so badly. She wanted someone to accept her as a witch. You're friend Melissa is the exact same, even more so, always staying with boyfriends that treat her badly. She took this crap to fit in." John walked over to Kate's unconscious body and took away the Devil's Spirit. He opened the baggie and dumped the powder onto the ground. "Diana is as blindly self- righteous as her mother was. Elizabeth was so insecure of herself, that she had to always be better than her best friend Amelia. That's why she married Charles the lawyer. Diana told you he killed your mother, to bring you back home to form the circle. Didn't you ever ask why?"
Cassie nodded that she had not, so John enlightened her. "He was so hungry for power and he had a plot with Dawn to use your bound circle to help them get their magic back. Once it's stripped it's gone for good, unless a sway is used. Charles was so easily manipulated by Dawn that he held Nick Armstrong, possessed by demons, under water until Nick drowned. He was so worried about getting caught that they left, before the process was done. But they didn't stop there. In their search for Dawn's family crystal, they killed Faye's grandfather and then Charles hid the body in the water. The idiots didn't do that right either and you found the body. But the best part about Charles is that in his need to get his revenge and blame me for everything, he killed Jane. It wasn't witch hunters, he did it. And he lied to everyone about it all. Yet after all that murder, he still said that I'm the monster."
Diana was crying, tears streaming down her face, how could her father have done all those terrible things? Adam grabbed her hand and squeezed it. She smiled sadly at him. Ben rubbed her back gently, also showing his support. They looked over at Cassie and saw that she was visibly shaken. But John wasn't done.
"But who could blame Charles for being so weak, since his mother betrayed the elders and her family, when she helped me unleash your dark magic in hope of getting more for herself. She'd always been greedy for more, so when I asked her to kill you to steal the dark magic, she jumped at the chance."
This Cassie spoke out, "wait, what? Kate was working with you?" She didn't let John answer, they were rhetorical questions. "Diana's grandmother knew killing me would unleash my dark magic. She never wanted to help me." Cassie stated, not really asking a question.
"I saved the weakest for last. Faye is just like her mother, obsessed with power. Dawn tries to manipulate men all the time, just like Faye, to get what she wants. When it backfires, she makes someone else take the blame for her mistakes. Dawn wanted my dark magic so much, she practically jumped me. We had sex so many times I can't even remember how many. She wanted to have a baby with me, but it never happened. Your mother's death, Dawn knew about it as she was partners in crime with Charles. She coached Charles on how to drown Nick. You have to admire her determination to get what she wants. She helped kill Faye's grandfather. Then together with Charles and the crystal, they hypnotized Jane so she wouldn't remember visiting him. Dawn's poker face was always the best; lying straight to her daughter's face about Henry's death… priceless."
Cassie wanted to deny everything John had just said. She wanted to believe it was all lies, but deep down she knew it was truth, it all fit too well together. All the questions about her mother's and Jane's deaths were answered. She retorted, "greed, hate, jealousy they are in all of us. You're greed for power is why you're in Callum's body and your own body is gone. Those emotions are in all of us, Balcoin or not. It's how we handle situations and those emotions that define how strong we are. Blood has nothing to do with it. You're own hate, has robbed you of love and getting to know your own children. You want to manipulate us all, not love your children and teach them to be strong." She paused a moment and then said the words that brought the others out of the shadows to join up with her. "It's time to end this."
As shaken as her circle was, they still remained united with her. Unlike their parents, they saw John for what he was. They would stand and fight together, not run away and hide. Kate too, had regained consciousness and didn't run away. She watched to see what would happen.
"You're a master manipulator. I'm sure that Charles killing my mother and grandmother, just made it easier so you wouldn't have to do it yourself. I see you for what you are; an evil virus." Cassie said.
John realized in that moment, if he didn't sacrifice Cassie, he'd loose control of the situation and the skull would forever be out of his reach. He used his Balcoin connection to inflict pain in all his children. Everyone of them fell to their knees, except Cassie. She struggled through the pain, to stay standing. Her nose began to bleed. Jake went to her and held her up. John saw a way to make Cassie obey. He'd kill Jake and Adam if she didn't side with him.
John refocused his power on Jake first. This weakened his hold on his children, who slowly stood back up. "Your going to regret challenging me." He focused a fire blast at Jake.
Cassie put her body in front of Jake to protect him. Kate saw this and screamed. She launched herself between Cassie and John. The killer blast hit Kate full force, knocking her into Cassie and Jake. It wasn't the person John had planned to kill, but this sacrifice would do.
"Look what you did Cassie, you killed your own sister," John sneered.
Zane finally spoke, "this is all on you John." He helped Diana, Ben and Chris get behind Cassie and then they all held hands.
"Hiding behind your sister. I never thought I would see the day that you were scared," John taunted.
"Standing behind your family, is something you never did," Zane said back. He was buying time for Jake and Cassie's friends to join hands. When he saw them all linked to Cassie, he took her other hand.
They began their chanting, channeling their power into Cassie. When John realized what was happening, he pulled out Callum's gun and began to fire at Cassie. Zane was the only one strong enough to continue channelling and stop the bullets from hitting his sister. His right hand was holding Cassie's left hand. Jake's group was on the other side holding on to her arm. So with Zane's left hand he directed a magic blast at the bullets. It worked, the bullets stopped in mid air and fell to the ground.
"You can't kill me, I'll just jump bodies again." John said, frantically trying to buy time. It was too late when he realized a barrier was around him, preventing the body jump. He focused all his power on Cassie, to stop her. He'd kill her to save himself.
When Cassie couldn't hold in the magic anymore, she pushed it out and focused on Callum's body, but also on John's spirit. The energy was so magnified that it was like a laser beam of power that shot out of her hand. Her hand burst into white flame, but it didn't burn her. Callum's body exploded, forcing John's spirit out. That's when the rest of the power destroyed John and all of his essence. He no longer existed in any form or in any plane.
"We did it!" Melissa said, letting go of the hands she was holding.
"Eew, there are bits of Callum's flesh all over us," Faye said gagging.
As everyone let go of each other, Cassie began to fall to the ground unconscious. Zane and Jake caught her. They saw that blood poured from her nose. "We need to get her to a hospital," Zane said. Jake picked up Cassie after giving Zane his truck keys. They left in a hurry.
Ben and Chris had gone to Kate and confirmed she was dead. Diana came over and hugged them both. "We'll take care of Kate, burry her beside Cassie's Grandmother Jane." She took charge, like she once had. "We'll take my dad's car. Melissa you take Cassie's. You and Adam stay with Faye until we call. We've all been through a lot, don't confront anyone tonight."
Everyone nodded and followed her lead. After Faye, Adam and Melissa left. Diana turned to Ben and Chris. "I want to make sure John is completely gone. Hold my hands and we can use our Balcoin blood to search for his essence."
They joined hands and chanted with her. They felt nothing. "It's done," Chris said.
Ben picked up Kate, tears streaming down his face. He didn't care if Chris thought he was weak. But when he looked at Chris, he could see unshed tears in his eyes too. Diana drove them to the cemetery. They used magic to dig out the dirt. Together they lowered Kate's body down. Then magic replaced the earth.
"Kate, she was messed up, but was our blood sister. Even though she didn't always make the right choices, her loyalty saved us in the end. Rest now sister, be free and happy," Chris said gently.
Ben choked out, "I loved you Kate…. good-bye."
Diana used the magic that was all around them, the magic of the earth to call to the owls. Hundreds of them came, big and small. They landed all around them, mostly on Kate's grave. Before launching back up into the air, they all hooted. It was a natural chorus. A song that haunted and yet filled you with peace. Then all the owls took flight and disappeared.
"Let's go check on our other sister. Diana, do you know what hospital they went to?" Chris asked.
She nodded, "lets go. I texted the others, that Kate's buried and that I'll let them know what's happening at the hospital."
Cassie opened her eyes and saw a bright light, which slowly expanded and then lessened. What she saw next made her realize she had to be dead. "Mom? Is this Heaven?"
Amelia smiled, "no Cassie this is not Heaven. It is the in-between, where a witch's spirit stays when it has unfinished business."
"Oh. I missed you so much mom! So much has happened, I have lots to tell you." Cassie hugged her mother.
"I've been by your side the whole time. I'm sorry John hurt you so much," Amelia said.
"It's okay, he can't hurt anyone anymore."
"He wasn't always so evil. In the beginning John still had light in him. Love created you, not evil."
"Okay mom, whatever you say. Is Grandma here too?" Cassie asked hopefully.
Amelia shook her head, "I told her I would wait for you. I made her go on. You can't stay either."
"I want to be with you," Cassie insisted.
"It's not your time yet. You have to go back," Amelia said.
"What if I don't want to?"
Cassie's mother rolled her eyes. "Why does everyone say that? You don't have a choice, no one does. I love you Cassie and I will be here waiting when it is your time. Stay strong honey."
The light began to fade away and Cassie felt like she was falling through the air. She shouted out, "MOM!" Then darkness consumed her, but not the evil kind.
She head voices around her, two she recognized. "Jake? Zane?"
"We're both here Cassie, you're fine. The doctor said you should just open your eyes," Jake said.
Cassie did, but still didn't see clearly. "Um why are you guys so blurry? What's wrong with me?"
Jake looked at Zane, they could here the panic building in her voice. Zane went to get the doctor, while Jake tried to keep Cassie calm. "After we took out John, you became unconscious. Zane and I took you to the hospital. You've been here two days now." He held her hand.
"Is everyone else okay?"
"Yes. Zane and I sent everyone home." Jake explained and then added. "Cassie I'm going to let your hand go, because the doctor is here to look at your eyes."
"Don't leave me!" Cassie exclaimed.
The doctor took control. "The two young men who brought you into the hospital are still in the room. I'm Doctor Thompson. Now I want you to close your eyes. My fingers will open them, okay Cassie?"
Jake and Zane watched the doctor do as he had explained. A light was shined into her eyes. The doctor frowned and then spoke. "You're eyes are fine Cassie. You'll see fine when you're ready." The doctor nodded at Zane to follow him. Once they were outside the doctor said, "your sister is fine. Stress is why she can't see. We'll keep her one more night for observation, then she can go home. It's up to her now."
"Thank you doctor. Is it okay if Jake and I stay with her overnight?" Zane asked.
Dr. Thompson grinned, "would it make a difference if I said no?"
Zane shook his head.
"Fine you two can stay overnight, but you stay out of the nurse's way and keep the noise down. I will clear it with security."
Zane nodded in agreement and shook the doctor's hand. Then he went back into the room. "We can take you home tomorrow. Jake and I have permission to stay the night with you."
Jake sat in a chair beside the bed. "What's the last thing you remember?"
"Callum's body exploding and John's existence being destroyed," Cassie recalled.
"Well after that you collapsed, Zane and I caught you. Blood was pouring out of your nose and you were unconscious. We took you to this hospital. Diana had Melissa take your car back to your house. Faye and Adam followed her. Diana, Ben and Chris buried Kate beside your Grandmother. Then they all went to her house and have been there ever since. They came yesterday to see how you were, but the doctor kicked everyone out except for Zane and I."
Cassie sat up, "Kate's dead… I thought…no."
Zane hugged her. "She died saving you and Jake. Don't take that away from her. She made a lot of mistakes, but in the end the right choice prevailed."
"I'm sorry she died because of me," Cassie said sadly.
"She died because of John's selfishness and greed for power. Not because of you. You were the sister she always wanted. You showed her that she had light inside, not just darkness. Just like you showed me." Zane motioned to Jake to put his hand on Cassie's head. He did the same with his right hand. "We'll use a little magic and clear your eyes."
After they were done, Cassie opened her eyes again. Blinked rapidly and then looked first at Jake and then at Zane. "Hi," she said softly. She hugged Zane and kissed Jake. The kiss was so long that Zane turned around to give them some privacy. Finally she said, "I'm thirsty and hungry."
"I'll go check what's edible at the hospital cafeteria," Zane offered.
"Could you get me a coke with a straw?" Cassie asked.
"Sure, I'll be back in a bit."
After he left, Cassie asked if Zane had inquired about the skull. Jake said that he hadn't. They were both more concerned about her. Then they talked about what she'd seen while unconscious. Zane came back with a chicken salad sandwich and three cokes. Jake left to go to the washroom and call Diana to fill everyone in on how Cassie was. That gave Zane some time alone with Cassie.
"Zane there's something I need to tell you," Cassie said.
He waited then asked, "is it about the skull?"
"Yes. Six families from the original witches that came from Europe, had crystals. These crystals once combined created a skull. The skull amplifies the user's power. When Diana and I originally tried to kill John, it's because he flooded the skull with his dark magic. He was using it to kill all witches that didn't have Balcoin blood. He tried to kill me too, when I tried to stop him. So to make a long story short, he had manipulated all our parents with magic to make them pregnant, to ensure he could control my original circle to help him find the crystals. Then he made sure he'd have six children born around the same time, to create a Balcoin circle. He would use us to kill even the elders and then take over the world." Cassie took a sip of her coke, then continued. "When I first met you, I was worried that you'd take the skull and be just like John wanted. But then you saved me and I knew that John was wrong about you. Jake and I have been working on a way to split the skull back into individual crystals. I think all together that we can do it. Crystals on their own are strong too. Will you help me do it?"
Zane thought about what his half sister had just told him. In the past he would have lied to her and then tried to get the skull for himself. But ever since Cassie had saved him from that transport truck, he'd changed. He still wanted to learn more and gain power, but not against Cassie. "I'll help you. Thanks for being honest. I pledged myself to you in the past, when you get out of here, I'll do it again with blood. Then you'll never have to doubt me, or me you. Deal?"
"Deal." She spit in her hand and then held it out to him. He scrunched his nose, but spit in his own hand and then grabbed her's and shook it.
The rest of the night they talked about the kinds of magic they knew how to use. Zane promised to teach Jake how to shape shift. Cassie declined learning that talent, when she heard that it was very painful. They'd teach each other to be better at witchcraft, while figuring out a way to break the skull into individual crystals.
Cassie yawned, "I've been sleeping two days straight, but I'm tired. Jake will you sleep beside me?"
"Sure move over," he said.
"Nice, that means I can put my feet on your chair and stretch out." Zane manoeuvred the chairs closer together.
"We ordered TV, so let's see what's on."
Not five minutes into watching the Vampire Diaries, when Cassie fell asleep. Zane changed the channel to football and Jake thanked him. "Don't get me wrong, the chicks on that TV show are hot, but football's better."
"Agreed. But I miss the beer and chips," Zane grinned.
Jake smirked. "We should have a guys night. Sports, booze, take out and munchies."
"Now that sounds like a relaxing night," Zane agreed.
"Once Cassie's settled back at her house, we'll set it up. It'll be nice to do something normal for once," Jake sighed.
"Now you sound like Diana."
"I think we'll all get back on track now. She stepped up and took care of things like she use to, when Cassie couldn't. A circle meeting is what we need, to regroup."
"Jake, how much of John's rant about those people, like Dawn, was true?"
He shrugged, "probably all of it. That's another thing we need to handle when out of here. I'm so sick of adults lying and having secrets. My Grandpa Royce might be semi-crazy, but he gave us truth when we asked him."
"Learning the dynamics of your circle, is going to be a challenge."
Jake looked at Zane and said, " it's not just my circle anymore, it's our circle."