**Authors notes: Hello readers! I wasn't expecting this story to go on as long as it has. Originally it was going to be a short story with several parts, yet as I keep writing it has slowly been evolving to a greater story. I hope you have been enjoying it so far and that it hasn't been too much of a wait in between chapters. I am planning to release a weekly update of this until the end of December, where I believe it may come finally to an end. Thank you all for the comments, follows, and likes! It means so much to me and gives me more confidence to continue to write. Enjoy part 10 and we will see you again next week!**
Several messages were passed and a few questions were asked, Drina was beginning to handle the flow much better than at the start. It had taken a bit longer at the beginning, and once the people present gained confidence in her ability, they began to participate quickly. It was much harder for Drina to focus on the living, making her assistance with the staff easier to handle. All she had to do was relay between the dead and the living like a telegram. Only once did someone ask for a specific ghost was she left unanswered, leaving the guest disheartened. Drina could not please everyone, and no matter her power, there was no forcing a spirit to come forth. There was, however, a small miscalculation in performance. The more she was able to relay the messages from the other world, the more spirits began to crowd around her.
Expanding more energy to silence them only seemed to anger them more. Unsure of how much longer she could keep up the unrest from the realm of the dead, she released the image of the ghost whom she had relayed the message to the crowd. Closing her eyes she had to catch her breath, taking a moment to collect her ether and take an assessment. Gauging her soul well, she could still go for a few more hours before she would run out of energy to continue. On the other hand, the intensity of the ghosts on the other side of the wall had become worrisome. Something was wrong. Opening her eyes once more she scanned the spirits as they slammed and bashed against the barrier. There was no way she could decipher them without wasting more energy than it was worth.
With a nod, she decided. Addressing her audience, she cleared her throat. “The thinning of the veil is drawing near to its closure. The spirits are weary, and so I will only take one last request from the living.”
With a wave of vocal disappointment, the people seemed to understand as some began to sit down. A tall gypsy man from the festival began to make his way to the last person when a woman stood up angrily and yelled.
“What about Marcus Vis’tacer!!”
Drina focused on the women as best as she could, irritated at the demand. Had she done something personally to upset this person, or was it just a general displacement of her emotions? The crowd stilled in silence, staring at the women. The name seemed to have meant something to the locals, as a man on the other side of the room stood up. He was not as angry as the woman, yet his stance was one in unity. He looked about his fellow townsfolk, then up towards Drina.
The simple act of him yelling the name triggered a chain reaction as several people began to stand and yell, chanting the name of this person. Drina saw as the staff trying to calm them to no avail, the rising energy soon to turn violent. Raising a hand towards the people, she waited until they quieted down. With a curious tone in her voice, she addressed them. “You all wish for me to call this person? I have no issue in honoring this request, all I ask is why?”
The woman who had first called spoke stepped forward towards the stage, the crowd around her parting to help her. Drina narrowed her eyes as she cupped her hands towards her in a plea.
“Ma’dam, my boy. He was taken. Missing. Please, ask my boy where he is.”
Drina gasped lightly, her jaw slack as she scanned the crowd of both the living and the dead around her. Even at the mention of the boy's name, the ghosts stood glaring with hollow eyes. Was this the reason for their discord? Sighing heavily, she nodded. Drina was a vessel and her duty was to do as the people asked. This was enough for everyone to return to their seats, including the woman as she sat along with several others in the front. Sudden nerves got the best of Drina now that she could not disappoint. Looking through the crowd, she spotted her Ocan. What if she failed and could not reach him? Would they be safe if the crowd became restless? Catching Lulu’s arm around Ocan, she pulled her in closer to her as Drina shifted eye contact with her. She held her with a stern knowing look, nodding as if answering her doubt. Ocan would be safe with her, no matter what. Even Hestar reached out and pulled close into the two of them.
There was nothing to be done, Drina must honor the women’s request. Looking at the sigils on her hand, she flooded them with power to check their potency. Still glowing with a dim aura, she took a steady even inhale. Determined, she focused back on the wall of waiting undead.
“Marcus Vis’tacer, I call you. Come.”
An unearthly chorus joined her as she made her command. The spirits stood unmoving. Again, she tried to call him, the eerie chorus of voices stronger.
“I call you, Marcus Vis’tacer. Show yourself!”
The air stilled around Drina while the ghosts dissipated one by one before her. It was startling to see the last image of their wicked smiles before the light began to dim. The gray colorless world through her eyes became smokey with black creeping clouds that began to seep through the walls of the room. It filled the room quickly, leaving her alone in the protective sphere she had created. Drina’s heart raced with fear while she looked about. Unable to see the crowd, she worried that it had happened outside of the spirit world and into the living. Pushing to her feet, she pierced her eyes through the wall, reaching out to touch it. A sudden slam of a monstrous black fist hit the wall just before her, causing her to jump. Afraid to move outside her protection circle, she sprawled her hands to activate her sigils. Whatever this beast was, it was no longer safe.
Preparing to dispel the entire ritual in order to break the connection completely, a small cry stopped her. Whipping her head with bewilderment, she dropped her hands. Again the beast’s hand slammed into the wall, causing Drina to shutter in pain. The force of the hit zapped the inside of her body, yet the small cry grew stronger as it called out again. At first, the beast had thrown her off, making her think Marcus had become a tainted spirit that grew corrupt with discontent. The small cry shattered that thought as it cut through the realms of both the living and the dead. How was it possible that someone who was dead could reach out in the real world as well? It dawned on her all at once as she called out towards the boy. He was still alive.
Her voice was strained with surprise and concern, no longer shrouded with the ghostly presence. Calling to him had brought a small bead of light off in the distance, directing her to where he was still being held. Under her breath, Drina stood stunned. “Oh god, He’s still alive. That must be where he is.”
There wasn’t much time to react as the beast roared loudly at her. The sounds of the cry sent tendrils of pain throughout her ear and deep within her mind. Covering her ears, she yelped at the sudden attack. The beast furiously began to pound against the barrier with both its claws. The electric shock pulsed several times, dropping her to her knees. With a cough, she spat out blood onto the stage. The sight of her own blood terrified Drina. If she didn’t stop this beast, it would break from the veil and into the real world. Glancing up towards the wall, she saw the glinting eyes of the beast as it crushed down on the protection shield she set up. Rolling from her knees to her bottom, she quickly dipped her finger in her blood and began to mark her arm, drawing symbols to connect to the sigils.
In a last-ditch attempt to strengthen her barrier, she focused all her energy on her hands. The red paint and blood began to glow brightly, sending her ether flow in a rush to the sphere around her. The cracks began to meld, fixing the damage that had now been dealt. Without hesitation, she then began to break the connection of her energy from her eyes and ears. It should have been simple enough to disconnect, yet as she tried there was no change. Whatever presence involved had her forcibly connected, unable to break sever her flowing ether. Confirming her suspicions, the beast began to chuckle. Drina’s eyes widened, her body trembling with fear. This spirit was bound to Marcus’s soul, and by calling him she had leeched herself to it. Unless she found Marcus, there was no breaking the bond.
The beast lifted it’s paws, slamming it against the barrier once more. Amping up the shield in anticipation, Drina’s powers weren’t enough to stop it from shattering several cracks throughout the sphere. Keeping as much focus as she could, she cried out from the pain while still holding her hands out towards the walls. Tears fell from her eyes, as she glared with hatred towards the beast. She would rather die than let him break free from the plane of the dead. The beast lifted its paws for another attack, and as Drina released more energy into the wall, a small black shadow howled with a leap into the circle unhindered. With a startled cry out, Drina pulled her feet away from the hellhound that stood in front of her. Laughing with overwhelming joy, she held her energy into the wall as the mutt growled at the beast.
This had been the first time she had ever seen one outside of its physical form. Black charred skin covered its entire body, bulging layers of charred skin protruded over its eye sockets. The hound’s teeth came out from the sides of the jaw, oversized and jagged. Saliva dripped constantly from its teeth, tearing holes in the realm as it sucked the energy from whatever it touched. This was how it ate from the soul well of its owners, and the fact that it stood protecting her meant that it was a stray from its master. Drina was grateful nonetheless as the mutt began to bark back at the beast. Smirking, Drina tilted her head cockily at the beast. The task it was trying to accomplish was hindered, meaning this battle was over. Slowly it withdrew from the wall fading into the black shadowy smoke. With a sigh of relief, Drina dropped her arms to her lap to rest. The hound then turned around to sit in front of her.
The spiritual form of the dog was horrifying, even more so as it stuck its face closer to hers to check on her. With its slimy snake-like tongue, it slithered along its teeth hungrily. Right, Drina thought, it wanted payment. Raising a brow at the mutt, she reached out to pet it on the head, a way of her agreeing to its terms. Hastily it began to lick her face. Drina hated the feeling as it lapped its chilling tongue against her cheek and eyelids. The more it ate, the clearer the room had become as the haze depleted and the audience had fully returned to her sight. Everyone had stood up at this point, watching with confusion and fear as the staff stood in a line across the stage to block anyone from approaching. Drina looked about the stage to see the candles had blown out and the puddle of her blood had been real. Pushing the furry mutt away, she quickly stood up to use the last of her sight. The small shimmer of light where Marcus could be seen in her remaining spiritual eye. Turning back to the crowd she shouted over them.
“What lies in the southeast from here? Forest? Farmland?
A young lad spoke up here as everyone silenced in shock.
“There is an old distillery a ways away from here.”
Locking eyes with the lad, she needed to act quickly. whatever she woke up was now on its way to finish the boy. “Take me. Marcus is still alive.”