* * *
This site was more difficult to uncover than the first. He could have never found it if he’d been forced to rely on knowledge of the land. No, trees were too quick and mobile to stay put over a time as long as his absence. It was only the magic that showed him where he had to go; the ripple of energy coursing through the air and culminating in a single area. The magic was eager, anxious really. It had been gathering for millennia and now the time for it to be used was nearly at hand. Tension in the air guided him as surely as a compass. It would only increase when the magic was freed. Before the night was through, the magic in the air would be so thick even a being of flesh could swim through it.
Hairs on his borrowed body rose as he stood at the site. Beneath the earth, it hummed at a frequency only the dead could hear. Soon it wouldn’t have to beg for release. He would clear the dirt and grass from atop it and let the magic roar forth. Once the second site was active, that woman would be a far more manageable threat. She still nagged at his mind, her presence like a smear of shit across the grand tapestry of their inevitable success. It took all of his self-control not to try and go after her, but he contained himself. This was why he had chosen as The Emissary of the ritual, why his blood was spilled apart from the others: because he had always been the one most focused on the larger goal. Purging that woman was a priority, it just wasn’t the highest priority.
Already filthy hands dove into the ground, pulling up as much sediment as possible. It was slow work, the roots of the trees that had grown around his goal hampered the digging, but he pressed on. When this was done, there were two left, and only one of them was particularly difficult. This would be the turning point. This would make him unstoppable.
This was the beginning of the end.
* * *
It wasn’t until they were in the SUV, buckled up, and moving down the narrow camp trails toward the forest that Velt thought to wonder how capable a driver she’d agreed to let chauffer her. Or how much said driver had consumed. The inciting incident for the sudden onset of worry was when Kay manage to knock over a small firepit that was been constructed close to the road. To her credit, the clay it was fashioned from was dark and hard to see at night. To her discredit, when one did forty on roads not made for vehicles, accidents were going to happen.
“Whoopsie.” Kay jerked the wheel and got back on the proper path, leaving the shattered remains in her wake. “Damn things just sneak up on you.”
“Mmm.” Velt gripped the handle of her door and rested her other hand on the latch to her seatbelt. If the need presented itself, she could unbuckle herself and leap to freedom in one motion. “Maybe you could slow this down a bit?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were on a clock trying to prevent the mother-fucking apocalypse.”
“Crashing won’t get us there any earlier,” Velt snapped.
“Look ghost-girl, you worry about the exorcism or voo-doo or whatever shit it is you bring to the table, and let me deal with driving. I’ve been steering through backwoods and broken roads since I was seven, I think I can drive through a fucking campground.” Kay punctuated her sentence by turning the wheel at the last moment, narrowly missing the rotted out corner of a nearby cabin.
“Why on earth would a seven year old be driving that kind of terrain?”
“The kind living in a farming community two hours from anything resembling a real town. Kids had to pitch in too, and sometimes that meant driving to run errands the adults were too busy for.” Kay slammed the gas for an instant, forcing the SUV to jump over a small mound. “It’s a shithole of a boring life, and it’s why I got the hell out of there as soon as I could.”
“Really? To me it sounds rather… peaceful.” Velt was surprised at how wistful her voice came out, she’d only meant to try and soothe Kay’s temper while they were on the road. Yet the truth, once finally given an avenue of release, charged at the opportunity to be heard. “My whole has always been just, well, this. Angry spirits, impossible missions, and I think this will be my third life-ending apocalypse to stop. Makes a farm seem not so bad.”
“Then go live on one,” Kay replied. She sounded calmer than before, even if the apparent recklessness of her driving hadn’t slackened. “You can do that, you know. Just decide to live the life you want. Or are you some chosen one or some shit that has to keep doing all this stuff.”
“Nah, nothing like that. Fate can be a dick at times, but he doesn’t dictate people’s entire lives. That would actually defeat the point. I’m the reason I can’t go live on that farm, or get a real job, or just try and be normal. I give it a whirl every few years, when I think I’ve finally had enough and it’s time to buck all this shit.” Velt glanced out the window, noticing the miniature army of quasi-spirits amassed on the island. “The supernatural world doesn’t need me, not me in particular anyway, but I need it. Going normal always seems like a great idea, then I’m climbing the walls within a week. I try sticking it out with sheer stubbornness, but it’s only a matter of time until someone brings a job or case and I’m using their need as justification to jump back in.”
“That is some amazingly self-defeating shit,” Kay said. “And that’s coming from a girl who makes bad decisions like babies make turds.”
Velt laughed at that analogy, a brief spark of genuine surprise and mirth. “Well, sooner or later I’ll try again. Maybe that will be the time it sticks.”
“Maybe. I’d recommend going somewhere tropical to detox from the spooky world. A nice beach with all-inclusive drinks and muscular waiters. Auggie’s sister hit a nice spot last year that she loved, if we make it through this I’ll get the name of the place for you,” Kay offered.
“I might just take you up on that,” Velt said. “It’s been too long since my last vacation.”
“If you ask nicely, I might just tag along. I promise to bring plenty of fun and at least three different kinds of alcohol that’s illegal in the states.” Kay slowed down at last as they neared the forest’s edge. “Pretty sure this is as far as I can take you.”
“This is plenty. Hopefully I can run that bastard down before he gets the second ritual finished.” Velt reached into the back and pulled out her duffel bag, slinging it over her shoulder as she unbuckled her seatbelt.
“If you don’t mine me asking, what’s in the bag? I mean, it’s a ghost. Even if you have some weird magic to affect them, I don’t know gear would help you.”
Velt hesitated for a moment before replying. Technically, what she knew wasn’t a secret, it just wasn’t well disseminated information. As a community, mediums tried to limit the number of people who knew about the weaknesses of spirits. While some were dangerous, the vast majority were simply confused or scared, so the less people who knew how to hurt one meant the less people could overreact to an innocent attempt at communication. Still, Velt liked Kay. The wild-eyed woman with the tangled hair struck her as a kindred soul, and with the amount of danger they’d be facing tonight it seemed wrong to leave her defenseless. If it went badly… well, Velt had never really been all that popular in the medium community anyway. She supposed one more reason for them to dislike her wouldn’t make that much a difference.
“Do you have any liquor with you?” Velt asked.
“What are you, a cop?”
“Yeah, I brought a half-bottle in case it got boring putting the cameras up.” Kay reached down to the SUV’s side-door storage and pulled out her travel-booze to illustrate.
“Good.” Velt took a moment to dig in her duffel bag and produced one of her spare lighters. “Take this. If things get bad with a spirit, I mean really bad, spit the liquor through the lighter at it. Fire hurt them as much as a normal person, if not more.”
“Seriously. Fire is pure life, endless devouring. There’s almost nothing in this world it can’t hurt. But you realize I just told you to perform a carnie trick in a high-danger situation, so only do that if there’s no other choice.”
“Thanks for the tip.” Kay leaned over and grabbed Velt in a hug before the other woman had a chance to resist. “And good luck out there. Try to be safe, I don’t want to call off our beach trip.”
Velt stiffened for a moment at the embraced, then gave Kay a quick squeeze of her own. “You too. Let’s get through the night without adding any more spirits to the world.” With that, she took her bag and exited the vehicle.
Kay threw the SUV and backed away, narrowly avoiding two sapling as she careened her way into turning around. The vehicle headed off, taking the headlights with it and leaving Velt in darkness. For most in her situation, such a thing would have been terrifying, but was most comfortable in the darkness. This was her world, and monsters were her people.
Velt headed into the forest, where only the barest trickles of moonlight broke through the canopy. Within ten steps, the darkness had swallowed her whole.
- End chapter here. Next Chapter will a three-way action scene split. Velt hunting for The Emissary, Kay getting in trouble, and Topher/Auggie trying to coordinate with the three.
-Need to do a Ghost Trio scene as well so that we can get Irwin insight.
-Second site has to go active before Kay’s trouble, remember to set that up properly.
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