'Surely they're not expecting you to go in today?', Jane protested, when Damian received a text from one of the secretaries at the auction house, 'We've just laid them to rest. The auction house can wait for another day or two'
'It's also about me, Jane', Damian took both her hands in his and placed a kiss on them,' If I sit here and do nothing, I'll drown in my misery'
'If you go to work, you'll drown yourself in there too, and that's worse'
Damian couldn't help but smile at how right she was. He had indeed planned on working to keep his mind off of the pain and loss. 'I need a distraction, Jane'
'I'll be your distraction!, 'Jane said turning his face towards her. She felt his hand caress her stomach, 'Both of us… You need a bit of time to yourself, alright?'. 'Alright', he sighed, then kissed her long and deep. 'I love you Jane, I mean it. Get used to me saying it, because I will do so every day; just so you don't forget'
'I won't forget', Jane caressed his face. 'All the same, I'll still tell you', he smiled, 'I'll approve some documents per mail and tell Vanessa to close the auction house for the next few days… then I'm all yours'
'Okay, but don't be long'
Jane went downstairs to make them something to eat 'cause their baby was starving. From upstairs Damian could hear her rummaging through his kitchen cabinets. It took an entire day to clean up his rampage, but everything was back in place again. His laptop's battery was dead, so he had to use the computer downstairs. There were 30 messages waiting for him. Some from the auction house, others labeled with condolences. He wrote a letter to the overall manager about keeping the auction house closed for a bit longer and gave a 'go for it' on various request. Bundling all the condolences emails together, he replied with a simple thank you for their sympathies. What more did they expect him to say?
After all that was done, he leaned back in his chair and stared at the screen. There were a few emails from Rinka at the bottom. Ones he knew now he would never delete… Moving his mouse over to the screen to sign out, a new message popped up in his inbox and he froze. It was a mail from Rinka send to his box today at this very moment. He called for Jane; screamed actually and she hurried from the kitchen with a glass of orange juice in her hand. 'What is it? What happened?', she said stopping right next to him. She swallowed hard when she read the date of the mail; wondering how it was possible. Then it came to her that you could sent mails at a later date. Her coworker Kaite taught her. She watched Damian as he continued staring at the screen and leaned over to open the mail for him. There was a video attached to it—
'Hey D, and Jane, thank you for opening the mail for him. I had this vision, so I know that he wouldn't. Oh Deeeeeee', she squealed, stretching the first letter of his name, 'I know the good news and I promise I didn't see what happened before you found out. You guys were naked and sleeping under the covers, so I can guess, but I'm glad my vision skipped that part. Isn't it wonderful??? YOU, a daddy! And I remember you doubting my vision,' Rinka stuck her nose in the air and turned her head, 'Okay, sure I said Julie, because I didn't know she was a twin, but still, I was right!'
'Mom! Come say hi to D and Jane'
Damian squeezed Jane's hand tighter when his mother came into view. 'Are you video chatting with him? Where is he?'
'No, it's not a chat, I'm recording something for him- oh and mom, Jane is PREGNANT', she squealed again.
'What?', Jean frowned, 'I'm going to be a grandmother? I'm too young to be a grandmother'
'No you're not mom, only your appearance is—what are you doing?'
'Isn't it obvious? I'm calling him. Congratulations are still a thing, Rin'
'No, don't! He doesn't know. I saw it in a vision, that's why I'm making him a video. I'll schedule it to be send AFTER he finds out'
'Oh, well in that case', Jean leaned into the camera, 'Damian, honey, congratulations and thanks a lot for making me a young grandma'
'Jane's gonna be there too', Rinka chipped in.
'Okay, Jane, darling! You have no idea how happy I am that you're in his life. I couldn't have wished for better. He's smiling all the time now and there isn't a day he doesn't mention you at least once. If I wasn't sure you were a witch, I know it now. You've positively bewitched my son'
Jane's eyes filled at the sentiment and she smiled at the screen.
'And now you're giving him the most precious gift there is. You have no idea how happy you have both made me. I love you guys!', Jean blew a kiss to the screen and then moved out of view. 'I'm gonna start on dinner Rin, so finish your video and come down'
Rinka, like Jane, was equally touched by her mother's words and just nodded. A soon as the door closed, she turned her head back to the screen. Wiping a tear of her cheek she smiled and tilted her head a bit to the left.
That's the Rinka they knew, Jane thought as she wiped away tears of her own. But Rinka's cute smile vanished after that and her face turned very serious.
'D…', her voice faltered, 'I'm sorry'
She turned her head and her body shuddered as she fought of more tears. 'I didn't make this video to congratulate you on the happy news, because I know that's not how you're feeling right now. If you're watching this, it means I'm no longer with you'
Damian got up immediately and walked towards entrance hall; looking out the front-door. He couldn't bring up the strength to watch the next part. Listening would be hard enough, but her tears have always been too much for him. Jane sat down on the chair he had previously occupied as Rinka continued.
'I know what you're thinking D- If I knew this was going to happen, why didn't I do anything to prevent it or leave… I thought about it D, I really did. Even to call you so that we'd be stronger together. But in the end I knew it would hurt more people if I saved myself and that's something I couldn't live with- I'm sorry. I know I should've talked to you sooner, but I also knew you wouldn't let me do what was necessary, so I didn't. You love me too much to see it that the choice I've made was the right thing to do.
'Who killed you Rin?', Damian whispered.
'You know I won't tell you that. It'll cloud your judgment in a situation that has nothing to do with my killers. Know that my death was a product of this coming war and that, you, helping to stop it will give me peace. That's all you need to know…
Jane… Seek out the High Witches Council. They can help you greatly', Rinka sighed and reacted to her mother calling her from outside her door.
'I love you both so much and I'll never stop doing so. Take care of my brother Jane and of course my little one', she smiled one last time and winked before turning off the camera.
'High Witches Council, that's what she said, yes'
'I've never heard of such a thing', Julie frowned.
'That's because you can't summon the High Witches Council', Rosalie said. 'They're the witches with ancient time-magic. Basically the caretakers of magic all over. Their magic is so strong and powerful that it is greatly desired. To protect themselves, they've created an alternative plane to live on; One that no one can access'
'We still have to try Grams! If they're so difficult to find, why would she mention it?'
'You have to draw a door and recite the summoning spell to take you to the other plane. The problem lies in the fact that none of us can say the spell… only a ghost can'
'A ghost? A real ghost? Why?'
'Because they aren't tied to this place anymore', Damian answered getting up. 'We'll have to summon a ghost then'
'Wait, isn't summoning a ghost or spirit dark magic?, Jane asked looking at Rosalie.
'It has a notorious reputation, but it's not dark magic. More along the lines of dangerous magic. The user needs to have a great deal of magical power to be able to pull it off, because it drains you to an inch of your life. A lot of ignorant witches have died not heeding the warning and right now neither of you is strong enough to pull it off. Damian, maybe, but I won't take that change. With all of you together, you might be, but Jane, you might lose the child'
Jane's hand lifted up towards her stomach in reflex and Damian followed her movement. 'No…', he whispered and shook his head. 'NO!', he said firmly. This was important, but so was his child. They could have others, but this was a human being and he wasn't going to sacrifice an innocent child for the greater good. 'I'm not going to sacrifice… no!'
'Easy Damian, no one is suggesting we sacrifice anyone. It's just a mention of the risk involved if she does it. But no need; I'll do it!', Rosalie said.
'But Grams, are you sure you're strong enough?', Jane worried.
'Don't insult me child. I'm a hundred and ten years old. Been a practicing witch since I was sixteen. Surely I should have enough magic to do it', she scoffed, 'Now be a dear and put the ingredients for the summoning in the cauldron. Julie, remove the carpet over there; there's a drawn circle underneath it and Damian, can you please hand me 4 white candles. They're in the top drawer of that bookcase over there, thank you!'
'Yes, can you place them along the lines of the circle? They should form a perfect cross'
Damian did exactly as Rosalie instructed and magically lit them before helping Jane to chop the ingredients for the summoning. One after the other they were dropped into the cauldron and before long, the brew was ready.
'Okay then', Rosalie said wheeling herself to the magic circle, 'Now pour it into the circle…'
'On the floor you mean?'
'If it is done right, Julie, it shouldn't be a problem… but yes, you'll be the one cleaning it up if it isn't'
'I had a feeling', she murmured. With Jane being pregnant and unable to do the heavy housework it had fallen to her and let's just say she had a newfound respect for Jane being able to do all that. Damian helped her pour the contents of the cauldron into the circle and, to her relieve, it evaporated before even touching the floorboards; leaving nothing but a curtain of steam that rose up to the ceiling.
'I guess it worked', she whispered and Rosalie started the chant.
'Spirit on the other side
I call you forth, heed my cry
To cross the plains of worlds divine
And settle here in circle mine…'
Once… Twice… Three times. To Damian, Jane and Julie it looked as if the spell wasn't working, because nothing visible happened. But Rosalie already felt her power waning with every chant. She wasn't kidding when she said it would drain a person to the inch of their life and maybe even she underestimated it a bit. She stopped chanting abruptly and coughed. Jane was at her side immediately. 'Grams?' Rosalie tried to tell her she was fine, but another cough overwhelmed her. She wasn't fine; she was exhausted. 'S-spirit...o-on...'. 'NO!', Jane yelled, 'That is enough! Damian, can you help me carry her to her room; she needs to rest'
There was no question in Damian's mind and he didn't hesitate. He picked Rosalie up out of the wheelchair and, with Jane behind him carrying the wheelchair, carried her down the stairs. Julie stayed behind to keep an eye on the candles. A fire in the attic was the last thing they needed and there was still the issue of the twirling smoke inside the magic circle. It didn't show signs of stopping and for a minute Julie wondered what she should do. The circle drew its power from the candles, so blowing them out seemed like the best thing. The ritual couldn't be completed today, so there was no need for the circle to stay active. She blew them out one by one. It was working... The twirling smoke was steadily losing speed and practically stood still by the time she reached the last candle. There... they were all out now.
Julie turned around with the candles in hand to return them to their drawer when she felt a certain pull. It came from the circle and was getting stronger. The circle should have been deactivated, but here it was sucking her in. Julie dropped the candles and moved to the far side of the attic. Even from there she could feel the strong pull. 'What is happening? Jane!!', she yelled grabbing onto the corner table. Her feet weren't even on the ground anymore. 'Jane, HELP', she screamed as she held on for dear life. She could hear their footsteps coming up the stairs, but they stopped just outside the room. Stuff was flying around all getting sucked into the clouded mist.
'Hold on Julie, please hold on', Jane tried to enter the room, but Damian held her back. 'You'll get sucked in yourself' His feet were slipping as well and he pulled her back behind the wall. 'Damian, what are you... I have to help my sister! She'll die!'Julie screamed again and Jane looked round the corner to see her lose her grip and slide on the floor towards the circle. 'JU-LIEEEE'. Jane wrung out of Damian's hold and entered the room; sliding one foot after the other. She shielded her eyes from the splinters of a shattered drawer. 'Julieeee', she screamed and tripped over an end-table. Without anything to hold onto, even she got pulled towards the circle. Both sisters were now sliding on the floor. Damian took a firm stance and started calling on his own power. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees and powdered snow erupted from Damian's fingers in a white beam that went straight for the circle. It hit in full force only minutes before Julie reached the chalk line of the circle. It's power was greater than any of them had anticipated. The magic circle absorbed Damian's ice and exploded sending all of them flying into the closest wall.
Damian lifted his hand to the back of his head and rubbed the sore spot. Good, it wasn't bleeding. He walked over to Jane to see if she was okay. There didn't seem anything wrong other than that she was unconscious. A swooshing sound made Damian look up and as the smoke cleared in the middle of the circle, the silhouette of a woman appeared.
'Who are you? Why am I here?'
Damian just stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do or to say? 'A summoning circle…' she said looking down at her feet. Taking in her surroundings she once again focused on Damian and Jane, who stirred in his arms, and asked once more why she was here. Damian helped Jane as she staggered to her feet. He froze when the silhouette became solid and he recognized her. It was Rinka…
'Rin? Is that you?'
'Rin?', the woman repeated confused. 'Oh, I see now. I have the face of someone you knew. I apologize if that upsets you'
'You're not my sister?'
'I'm afraid not. I am an entity, most commonly called spirit or ghost. We entities take the form of someone we know is known to the summoner to put them at ease. We have the necessary memories to do so, but seeing as to how I don't have any of you… you are not the summoner'
'GET OUT OF MY SISTER', Damian raged seeing SOMETHING in the embodiment of his sister.
'I apologize for not having memories to put you at ease, but I did not choose this form. We do not choose our forms. We appear as we are meant to… If you have summoned your sister and she did not appear, she is no longer on this plane and has ferried on'
Jane held onto Damian with his eyes still glued on the entity and whispered softly words in his ear to think about something else and be strong. They were doing this because Rinka asked them to. It was uncomfortable being in the same room with an entity that looked like- but wasn't Rinka with their grief still present, but they needed something of it. If it left, this would all be for nothing…
Damian clenched his fists and stepped away from Jane's hold. He swallowed hard and took a breath. He wasn't calm… very far from it and as long as that was here he wouldn't be able to. 'Can you help us?', he asked through gritted teeth.
'What is it you require of me?'
'A spell. We need… ask you to read a spell for us. It requires someone that isn't tied to the human plane', Julie cut in, having heard everything when she came to. It was hard for her as well to see Rinka when she woke up, but when her mind registered this wasn't her, she dialed her feelings down a little.
'We're summoning the High Witches Council. Can you do that?'
'I can and I shall. It has a high success rate and an even higher fail rate. If nothing happens it is not because of anything on my part. The High Witches Council can only be found if they want to be found. Let us hope they find you worthy enough and all the consequences of the summoning aren't in vain. Place the spell on the floor in front of me and draw a door on the wall'
Jane looked for the spell in the, now even more messed up attic, and Julie searched for some chalk to draw the door with. She found a small piece in a corner and drew a door big enough for a person to pass through. The entity started to slowly and articulately read the words as soon as Julie finished drawing. Afraid this summoning would be as dangerous as the last, Damian pulled both Jane and Julie out of the room and they stood in the hallway. He kept the door halfway open to still be able to see what was happening inside. If summoning a ghost was as dangerous as they just witnessed… what would summoning the leaders of the entire witch community bring with it?
Damian looked at the copy of the spell he had made prior to bringing it here and noticed there was a part of the description at the bottom that he hadn't read yet. Turns out the spell wasn't for summoning the council here, but for the door to them. He was confused about the chalk door at first, but now he knew the reason for it. He cautiously took a step back inside the room to be able to see the chalk door. With every word the entity spoke the chalk cut into the wall and little by little a real door started to appear. But other than that, the spell didn't show signs of danger and he felt it safe enough to go back inside the room.
'It is done', the entity said when Jane and Julie came in after Damian. Sure enough, there was a solid door where once a chalk one was drawn. 'That's it?', Julie asked, 'A door?'
'Just a door, yes. Summoning their door is easy. It's going through it that's the trick. If the council wants to be found, it leads to them. If not… you get that!', she answered when Damian opened the door. There was nothing on the other side, just the wall. He closed the door again. Slammed it to be more specific. 'So this was all for nothing? Trying the limit to your grandmother's power to summon a ghost. The summoning started a whirlwind that almost sucked the two of you in before exploding and sending us all flying. All for them to decide we're not worthy enough of their presence? This could not be what Rinka foresaw', Damian raged and muttered.
Jane decided to hear out the entity to see if there wasn't anything else they could try and apart from the council's willingness if there was something they missed. Damian continued pacing back and forth and Julie was fascinated by the magic of the door. She ran her fingers along the seams and silently praised the many faces of magic. It was still unbelievable there was really a door there, made of actual wood. She knocked twice to be sure it was really made of wood. 'The spell literally cut the door out of the wall', she whispered, when her hand reached the floor and she felt sawdust….and a small gust of wind.
'Did you hear that?'
The entity turned her head towards Julie in the midst of talking to Jane. 'What is it?'
Julie pressed her ear against the door and listened. 'I could swear I heard… a bird'. Before any of the others could react to that, she grabbed the doorknob and opened the door.
The sound Julie heard wasn't just a bird, but forest sounds. Birds, bees, apes; everything you would hear in the early morning when on a camping trip. Down to the flowing water of a river stream and faintly that of a waterfall. The only thing wrong with what she was hearing was what she was actually looking at. 'Jane, are you seeing this?'
'Yeah, I hear a forest, but wow…'
It was as if they were on top of the highest point of a high-rise, ready to step off the ledge… ready to fly. Clouds everywhere and the clear blue sky. The clouds seemed to make up the floor and Greek style pillars were floating in the air in what seemed to be the makings of a circle. Julie tried to look around the corner of the door, but was stopped by Damian reaction. 'What are you two talking about? I don't see anything'
The twins looked from the door to Damian and back. 'You don't see the clouds and the floating pillars?'
'What floating pillars?'
'I see them as well', the entity smiled, 'It means the spell worked and the council has answered your call. Yours and yours alone. Go now, both of you! It might not be there for long'
'What? No, I'm coming with you', Damian said.
Jane turned around and embraced him. 'You can't'
'Do you see anything?', she asked him, gesturing towards the open doorway. It was all right there, bright and white. She could even feel the breeze… 'No, I don't! Which is why, I don't think you should go. Neither of you. This looks more and more like a trap. No one knows what the council looks like, so---'
'No one knows what to expect. And that this isn't it. Do you think Rinka would lead us into a trap?'
'No, she wouldn't, but it's still a risk. And it's not just you any more Jane'
'I know, but this is all we've got to go on. If this is the real thing and we miss it… we don't have the power to summon another ghost to do this again. They might not even let us in'
Damian knew she was right. And if they were the only ones that could see it, he obviously wasn't meant to, but it was still hard to let her go. 'I promise I'll be careful'
She hugged him again and together with Julie walked through the door.