11. The Dead

Russen meows harshly as I stuff the last few items into the suitcase, brushing a whisp of brown hair that lingers before my face.

"Shh! Russen!" I hiss as she curls her black body around my legs. Grabbing the bag, I run quickly from the room, Russen lingering by my heel.

I pause, trying to stifle an anxious cry, as I drop the bag by my feet. Dropping to my knees, I feel the hot tears fall down my face. Scrunching my fist up, I pound it angrily against the bag.

A hand falls on my shoulder as a familiar sickly stench of smoke reaches my nostrils. "Hey dear". It's Celia.

I glance up, as the blonde ringlets bounce into my face "Why so glum?" I wipe away the tears again stifling another moan.

"It's Arion" I stammer, picking up Russen and wiping my face through her black coat. She raised an eyebrow quizzingly, sitting down beside me.

"Go on". She filtered her fingers through her pockets as she fondled another smoker, twisting it between her fingers before she set it alight. She inhaled deeply, sucking up the curling whisps of smoke, rocking back against the door, and playing with the frayed ends of her jeans.

"He…" I pause staring at Russen "I have to go!" I jump up quickly, leaving Celia leaning against the door frame, as I thunder down the stairs, leaving both bag and door open. I look back, pondering wether to go back, as I stop half way down the flight of the stairs.

"S'ok darl, I'll close it for you" Celia muttered back as she closed the bag pushing it back through the open door, however she continued to sit there, still sucking at the smoker.

The tinkle of Russen's bell jingles beside me, as I jump down the last few steps.

Come to think about it, this place is more of a refuge than a school. A random thought! I push it to the back of my head as I run quickly back out of the door.

Scooping up Russen, I glanced angrily around. "Well Russen" I whispered, squeezing past the last few crowds of people clustering the passages, and breaking into the huge hall. She looked up to me purring, as she lifted a paw, contentedly to her mouth and licked it gingerly, cleaning a patch of white dust.

Opening the door at the end of the hall, I run swiftly down the steps, sprinting in front of the many lines of cars at the main road. The park looms ahead, as I drop Russen beside me, running to the spot that Arion last stood.

Looking around frantically, I searched for some opening which Mabrid had receded through. My eyes peel through the trees, glancing frustratedly. Where was it? Where was it?!

With an impatient groan I fling my hands to the air before me.

No.

Nothing.

Russen rubs against me loyally. She's always there for me. Through my irritation I bend down and stroke her, as she purrs happily, her sharp whiskers pricked forward as she rubs against my jean legs.

A soft yowl escapes her mouth as her eyes suddenly divert to something in the bushes. Her ears prick to attention, as she hesitates in her purring, her tail flicking in some annoyance. A paw flexes forward, her golden eyes still focused on the object that had caught her attention.

I watch to where she's looking, dropping to my knees, I squat beside her. "Russen?" a hiss is released as she darts forward, launching onto her back legs and boxing the air with her paws. A short yowl bends from her throat as she drops back down, before jumping again onto her hinds and slashing at the scarlet sky.

If cats could smile, she would have done so at this moment, a reckless victory to what she seemed to have fought. I raise an eyebrow. "Yes…" I glance around, reaching again to the air before me.

An opening.

My hand reaches into a seemingly cold environment, as a small gust of wind scoops around my body. With a shudder, I feel the edges, yes. A barrier.

Climbing through, I lift Russen up, pulling myself through into this 'other' climate.

The sky is dark, and a cold rain pelts against my skin. I draw my arms around my body, cradling myself against the sleek drops.

Cold.

A high wind picks up, its ghostly groans shrieking through the barely visible witch trees. Their long stalks scarring high against the blackness, their long ebonite fingers stretching to the small disk shaped moon.

I find my eyes tracing their outlines, but strangely enough, I'm not scared. The pallid glow of the moon through the long branches stretches an eerie flickering, as the rain continues in a diagonal motion.

I draw my jumper tighter around my shoulders, pulling the hood over my already damp hair. Russen yowls beside me, as I stoop down to pick her up. Her fur is on end, and her coat damp, but her two glowing eyes show little fear.

Needless to say, I cuddle her body against my chest, as she digs her claws tightly into my shoulders, burying her head beneath the hood of my jumper. I undo the zip, pulling the two parts of material around her and re-zipping them up.

My arms cradle her weight as I look around; a clearing is notably obvious ahead of me, so naturally that's where I find my feet taking me.

Another shriek of the wind screams through the trees, as I cuddle myself tighter, bowing my head to the pelting rain, stopping it from flying into my face, blurring the surroundings into a watery haze.

I stumble blindly into the white spot light, and the rain seemingly disappears, falling almost metres above the ground, and stopping, concaving around the remaining spherical light like water falling around an upturned dish.

I raise an eyebrow, in some wonder, looking to the pelting rain around me. An eerie laughing echoes as I turn suddenly, shivering beneath my damp clothes. "Hello?"

I glance around again as a blue whisp of smoke plays in the white light, as a rod of lightning flashes above. I watch it as three more smoke trails circle, into they grey exceeding larger until four human like creatures hovered above the ground.

My eyes lock to theirs, as I try to decipher what I am seeing. Ghosts. I hold my hand in front of me, yet I don't summon a spell. "Don't come any closer!" I yell over the drumming of the rain "I'm warning you".

The four ghosts looked at each other, raising their eyebrows simultaneously, flying suddenly forward, swooping around me in a pale mist. A loud laughter rings around me as a sly chanting rambles around me.

"Run mortal, flee mortal, pray for your future mortal, die mortal, hide mortal-"

"Stop!" I yell as their chanting fell silent. The three pompous figures slithered before me, staring at me in confusion. "Uhh….." I look around again, still holding my hand before me, as I concentrate on the deep golden glow which swims beneath my palm.

"Immortal…" comes a hushed whisper from the four uncomfortable ghosts as they shifted before me. Their smoky forms twisting as they debated what to do. My eyes scan the area briefly, four tombstones stand, their small stone heads peering into the moonlight. Five more stand behind, shrouded in the darkness. I narrow my eyes suspiciously.

"I…" I again pause, what do I say to, well, dead guys?

And yet again, why are they listening to me…?

"What…" I begin but the one, a rather chubby looking man, well dressed with both a bow tie and long coat interrupted

"What are we? Ghosts" he replied, answering the question I was about to ask.

"Who-" I stuttered but again the ghost interrupted

"Who are we? I'm Sir Nicholas" he replied pompously glancing to his companions. A thin tall spirit, wiry haired with a long moustache that hung grotesquely from his face looked up from beneath his wide brimmed hat.

"Bloody Bill" the tall ghost spoke up, looking to the slim ghost beside him

"They call me Ned" he muttered, an angry distant expression faded onto his face.

"Maggie" she spat through crooked teeth, her hair, tied back tightly.

I stutter, still looking at them in bewilderment, what an odd bunch.

"Are you all…?" I begin again backing slightly away from the advancing spirits.

"Criminals. Yes. Or at least we were" Sir Nicholas spoke up, pulling a clock from his pocket and reading the time "ten past one…" he announced proudly.

Bloody Bill raised an eyebrow, removing the pleated strand of straw which hung from his jaw. "You blithering fool!" he spat, swinging a hand at Sir Nicholas, who promptly stared back at him as the hand swished through his head.

I look to the other two, as Ned seemingly glances to the moon. "Three minutes, three minutes…" he wrung his hands nervously, his blue form illuminated in the glow of the moon.

"What's three minutes?" I ask I notice the concern growing on his face.

"Till they come" his eyes began to roll, as he rubbed a hand over a gaping cut in his neck. I stepped back again at the sight, clutching Russen tightly against my chest.

The cut protruded deeply into the neck, the flesh on either side of it was white, yet there was no blood, only the skeletal spine severed and splintering through the skins surface at an odd angle.

"Eugh!" I jump backwards again, tearing my eyes from the wound

"Why do you think they call me Ned?" he spat "Nearly Entirely Dead. Three times assonated, for what!?" he began to fume as he paced angrily, hovering still inches above the ground. "For what?! I'll tell you what…" I begin to back off, slipping out of the white circle.

Rain immediately falls against my shoulders as I step gingerly back inside the white disk. "Sure, I killed people-" he ranted, throwing his hands up "but I did it nicely see, poisoned them, strangled…quick deaths!" his eyes narrowed as he again began to pace before me "I hung for two days under a tree, I was meant to be-headed, except the blade missed my neck…" he again turned showing the gaping sliver. I cringed at the sight of it.

Gosh! It was hideous!

"Then…" his eyes flashed red "they're here". His rantings fell silent, as the circle expanded, covering the final five tombstones in the white light.

There was silence, as they froze, their eyes watching as smoke descended from the stones. My eyes follow their gaze, as five ghosts swirled in a mass of blue smoke from their graves. There was silence as they straightened themselves out.

"Ahh" one exclaimed, moving forward, fingers flexing as he narrowed me. "Fresh meat!" a sly grin crept over his face. I held my hand forward summoning the golden spell to grow brighter.

Laughter crept from his mouth, as his brows narrowed. "Magic won't save you here!" he spat as I released the golden light, letting it to shoot forward, except it got within a few metres of the ghosts and diminished.

I stepped backwards as the five ghosts advanced, I noticed with three of them, obvious missing limbs. One, a male with a long beard and three fingers on his left hand, wrapped his fingers tirelessly around my neck. I gulp, my eyes widening.

Heck. That was stupid.

Eyes lean in closer, as I shiver in their presence, their icy forms brushing harshly against my skin. "Not so smart now are we?!" laughed the lead, swooping closely around me. Russen hissed from my chest, but buried herself father into my jumper.

Some help you are!

I glance back up, stepping again out of the light. Laughing rings around me, as loud screeching echoes around me. Blinded by the spray of the rain in my eyes I stumble back, slipping and falling into the puddles gathered on the ground.

The ghosts pursue, their hands outstretched, swooping closer, wrapping their forms around me, as I ran, running quickly around the sphere of light, and darting into the forest of witch trees.

Laughing echoes behind me, as I run faster, trying to flee from the pursuing spirits. With a slight quaking wail I drop to my knees in exhaustion; Russen slipping from beneath my jersey into the gathering water.

She looks up at me, disgusted, with an expression of 'how could you!' but I barely notice, as I catch my breath, which I now battle to obtain. I find myself rasping, sucking desperately at the air, but inhaling only water.

Spluttering, I gaze about in fear as the ghosts circle me, their forms mixing to a Smokey form around me. Watching them, I try to make out their forms, as the circle gets darker, and more definite. If I believed in fairies, and if it was made out of mushrooms, I might be able to say it looked like a fairy ring, but no, this was different.

Like a smoke cage enclosing me, yet, the smoke seemed obviously solid. Standing tiredly, I swipe my hand through it, only to bring it back towards me in complete numbness.

What to do now? The obvious would be to remain where I was until morning came, but the harder option would be to run through the ring, thus giving it the property that it wasn't solid; as I had just discovered.

Trembling, I hesitate on the spot, my rain pelted hair sticking icily to both my neck and shoulders. Growling at myself, I pivot on the spot, scooping up Russen and again turning, searching for the best way out.

The spirits move faster, as a continual echoing laughter builds up around me. Running, I jar against the barrier of the smoke, re-bounding shallowly to the other side, landing, where I had stood moments before, numbly.

'That worked' I mutter under my breath. A chilling howl resounded behind me, as I twisted to see four blue figures coming towards oh me.

Oh dear god! Not more!

I outstretch my hand again "escaviour!" I yell. Funny, I have never heard of this spell before. Oh well.

An eerie lavender light trickles from beneath my hand, falling to the ground in long purple strands. Some help that was. I glance again in some wonder, why I had yelled that spell was completely beyond me.

The purple coils hardened, standing proudly from the ground. My fingers twist around them before I register what I am doing. A quick release of my hand sends the bars flying jaggedly towards the still circling spirits.

Silence.

Everything moves in slow motion, as I duck quickly, turning my back from whence I had thrown the purple dagger, shielding my head with my hands.

I'd never done this spell before, so how did I know the effects?

The sky blazed red as an unbearable hear scaffolded behind me, a shrieking cry, and a loud bang, then everything dropped to a hushed whisper. Complete silence, only the still pounding rain, and the smouldering smoke.

What just happened?

Standing I look around in confusion, I am all alone. Holding Russen tightly, I run quickly from the forest and the beam of moonlight, my legs feeling abnormally shaky.

A thicket of thorns arise before me, as I stop glancing up in disbelief. How was I meant to work my way through them!? And WHERE was Arion?

Groaning I stare in utmost disbelief, everything I had known had begun to change.

Yes, I was well aware of it, but now it just hit me; smack-bang in the face like someone had just whacked me with a cricket bat.

Why am I such a fool!?

My eyes turn to the diminishing blue orb behind me, as I decide wether to run or hide. The thorns seemed the best options, as I turned, running again like a deer in a cars lights. Thorns tore over my body in ever direction, skimming like daggers through both shirt and skin.

Although the pain burned, the sight of a faint light at the end was welcoming and as I pushed through the remaining thorns, my blood trickled hands wrapped around the final branch.

Screw the thorns!

Russen hissed as I dropped her, allowing her to wind herself around the remaining bows. As I slipped through the last grey stalks, I collapsed wearily onto the grass in front of me.

Dappled with moonlight the grass maintained strange colours and shadows, as I pressed my hands against the dew covered blades, pulling myself again into a sitting position.

Why is everything so hard?!

Russen sits beside me, her tongue scraping over the briars and thorns tangled in her fur, yet she does it with a contented purr, as if she knows something that I do not.

I run a stinging hand through her fur, as I glance cowardly at my arms. The once blue jumper now ripped and stained a deep red, as it filters between both blood, flesh and material.

Perhaps the average child would scream in terror, puke at the sight of their scarred body but not I. In fact, strangely enough I seem to like the mottled effect of the red against white… pretty.

A light flashes over the grounds as I pull myself quickly to my feet, darting back into the thorns behind me. The small beam of light continues to scan over the grounds as distilled voices murmur in the background.

Sinking to my knees, I lean back against a thorny stalk, perhaps…perhaps I; I pause. No, no need for thoughts like that.

I stay pressed against the stalk as footsteps pad around the coppice of thorns. A husky voice hisses into a radio phone as his hollow eyes examine the soil beneath his feet for any sources.

A shallow laugh rasped from his throat as he squatted, eyes dropping to a foot indentment in the damp earth. "Ahah!" he jeered as he switched a few buttons on the walky-talky, spinning a small button and speaking in a hurried gibberish "Woodtogreenwoodtogreen" a blurred reply answered

"Yes?"

"Found it." He replied, catching his breath as he pressed the button repeatedly. "Footstep" eyes scanned the ground, as a fingertip touched the soil "male- suspect on the run". There was a buzzing on the other end, as I find myself watching from the shadows.

There was silence before the man on the other end spoke again "found…what?" a slight grunt was dismissed on the man's behalf at his partner's stupidity.

"Footstep"

"Yes yes I heard dammit!" The voice sneered back

"But you-" his voice trailed off

"Stop delaying Wood!" a man yelled as the withdrawing sound of a disconnection hummed over the now silent atmosphere.

The footsteps get closer, the crunching of leaves determining how close they are. I inhale my breath, sinking back further against the tree.

The wilted thorns burry themselves into my back as I gasp, sucking in the air quickly, and freezing immediately where I am.

The guard draws closer, as the beam flashes centimetres from where I cower, its golden beam touching the stalk beside me as it continues to scan over the remaining ones, the guards obviously searching for something.

Arion perhaps?

I shiver at the thought, waiting for the light to move off. Exhaling deeply I move back through the thorns, again scraping at my skin, but I'm careful this time, moving slowly, silently.

Crack.

A twig breaks beside me. Turning a black silhouette not far off, steps back behind the thorns. My eyes dart around, there isn't exactly anywhere to hide or run to. The figure approaches, as I spin wildly before thrusting my hand before me.

"Don't move!" I hiss as the figure stops, dropping back a few steps.

"Mav?" came a gasp, as I recognise the accent, the voice is hollow and frail and the bird on his shoulder caws in recognition.

"Arion!" I run forward as he steps closer, I dodge another few stalks throwing myself into his arms. "I'm sorry!" I smother a cry "I thought you were gone!"

Wow! Where did that came from!?

Arion spluttered as I withdrew gazing at him in concern. "Arion, are you okay?" He puts up a hand to silence me, as I slip a hand beneath his arm "come" I whisper as I lead him from the thorns, pushing him before me until he collapsed onto the dirt at the other side.

Kneeling, I dropped beside him as he lay on his black, clutching his head with both hands, and breathing deeply. We didn't speak, we just watched each other.

After a few uneasy moments he looked up "Mav" he whispered finding his voice "are you okay?" I chuckled at his sincerity "fine" I smile, indicating for him to stay quite. My eyes continue to wash over the ground, the guards wouldn't take long in finding us.

After a moment or two, he sat up, brushing both hands over his eyes. He released a loud sigh, and pulled himself up, looking sharply about. His eyes drove to the sky as he placed his fingers to his mouth, releasing a shrill whistle.

"Rasso!" he hissed as the bird screamed back it's reply, talons extended as his claws dug into his shoulders once again, returning from his short spurt on energy.

"This way" I mutter pulling him by the hand back through the thicket of trees. He winces slightly, as I glance to his blood stained hand. I raise an eyebrow finding his gaze, but he doesn't return it, instead he drops his gaze, pushing a hand through his hair as he brushes the water from his dripping locks.

Shivering, I tried to ignore the goose bumps which rise over my arms, my clothes clinging damply to my body as the rain still continues to pour. A small meow calls upwards as stumbling; I bend down to pick up the black body again.

Poor little cat.

She doesn't like water.

I feel Arion's gaze upon my arms, but I ignore it, drawing my arms further from his sight. I feel his hand touch my arm gingerly, wrapping his fingers around the skin. I wince slightly as I stop, his hands touch the shredded edges of the sleeve, tapering his fingers around the torn strands.

He drops both arms around my shoulders from behind, grabbing me in a bear hug.. "You're cold" he whispers, moving to my side and drawing an arm around my shoulders.

My how observant Arion!

Sometimes I could thump the boy.

I allow him to 'hug' me as such, as I bury my face further into Russen's cold fur. A wind continues to wind around my body as I lean deeper into Arion. The same spot-light of moon light glows in front of me.

Arion makes a move to go towards it, but I pull him back suddenly. "Don't" I whisper, pulling back onto the unearthly track. A low wailing swirls as I glance hesitantly around.

Arion groans as Rasso releases an echoing screech "What now?"

"Just keep walking" I mutter, pulling his arm from around my shoulder. I exhale sharply, tugging at my t-shirt uneasily. The thin material is ripped in several places, and I notice, half-heartedly, the white material is stained red.

My legs feel heavy and weary, probably the effect of both fear and fright. I cringe slightly as the white light seemingly shifts on the ground beside me. "How strange…" Arion mutters, his eyes tracing the edges of the beam.

"Please Arion!" I beg facing him pleadingly "please keep walking!". He raises an eyebrow, but stops in his tracks.

"Why so scared Mav?" he asks his eyes again turning to the spotlight. He reminds me of a moth being attracted to a light. How ironic.

I look to him, now becoming desperate, my mouth drawn in a firm line. I repeat it again, stifling another shiver.

"Geesh Mav" Arion sighs, taking a step suddenly into the light. His eyes open suddenly as he steps into the white dome, he glances around in some confusion as he notices the rain falling around him.

His words are muffled in the ashen light as I watch, paralysed to where I stand. Russen's chest moves quickly against mine, as I draw the jacket again up my chest, wrapping my arms tighter around her and my sides.

You fool Arion.

I watch as he wanders around, stirring me with slight tauntings. Instead I glower back at him, watching him in upheld anger. Why did I bother coming to find him? Because he always came when I was in trouble.

Breaking from my stone-like state I move quickly to the edge of the sphere. "Arion" I try a calmer approach, much like a mother bargaining with a young child. "Arion, we have to get back…" his eyes turn to mine as Rasso swoops from his shoulders, loitering on the milky floor.

"They're gone Mav" Arion whispered, turning to the gravestones and touching them icily. I narrow my eyebrows…they what? How did…? What…?!

He moves from the light, again moving into the falling rain, a smug look written all over his face. "Come Rasso" be beckons, calling the great bird from his scavenging.

A crack sounds behind us, and a shadow darts quickly back into the trees.

"The guards" I cry, as I start to run. I can hear his breathing growing steadier beside me, as the sound of hoof beats pound behind us. "I HATE YOU" I scream at Arion as the cloaked rider kicks the black beast beneath him on. Eyes wild, nasals flared, the horse, pelted of death galloped behind, the guard, holding a weapon to his chin.

From the corner of my eye, I watched the weapon brought to his eye and aimed, apparently so did Arion, as I soon find myself thrown to the ground. For a moment I gasp, finding the air knocked immediately from my lungs. Russen sprawls from my grip jumping agilely from my grip and darting quickly from our fallen bodies.

Gaping, I struggle for my breath as the sound of the gun shots sound behind. In a wild freight, I find myself rising suddenly to my feet, turning and facing the galloping creature. Everything plays in slow motion as a bolt of blackness shoots from beneath my palm.

A piercing scream.

The horse rears, its blood shot eyes widening in fear. The blackness spreads to the rider, swirling around him as the horse rears up again, tossing his head in fright. A gun shot sounds again, as the horse turns suddenly, throwing the rider off balance, before galloping in the other direction.

The bronze bullet swirls closer, spinning in a perfect vortex. My eyes follow it as it spins closer. The darkness still swirls beneath my hands, as I watch the retreating figure.

"Look out!" the words rebound from Arion's mouth as my attention turns again to the bullet. In that final second, I feel the impact as its bronze body pelts through my stomach.

Silence. Everything speeds up again as I double over, but strangely enough there is little pain. I turn to see a small hole imbedded in a tree trunk behind me.

I'm alive.

I open my mouth to object…what just happened? The last trail of the spell fades from beneath my hand as I look quickly to Arion. He stands there, wide eyed, mouth open in shock.

"M-m-m-av?" he quakes, running forward " did I…did you..?" he spluttered but his words are stopped again as his eyes blink repeatedly. "What did…?" he paused again, touching my shoulder hesitantly "are you…? Dead?" he choked back a gasp as he heard the words roll from his mouth.

Still in a shocked silence, I find myself shaking my head. My hand falls over a small pool of blood now spilling into the jumper's fabrics. I stop shaking my head, only to find my entire body shaking. My vision is blurred again, my whole body heavy.

We need to get out.

"Arion!" I mutter, dropping to my knees " the exit". He looks up gravely, for a minute, glancing to a small opening before him. Grabbing my hand he pulls me up, running to the small opening looking out over the grass. Climbing out quickly, he pulls me out after him as we fall, heavy headed onto the grass on the other side.

"The spell" he whispered after a minute or two, as I again regain control over my unsteady body. "Death's Kiss…" a worried expression rises on his face. "Mav, that spell…that spell saved your life." I turn looking to him, puzzled. Inviting him to again explain.

"The bullet passed right through you, and for a moment you became opaque… Mav don't get me wrong, but you shouldn't be doing that sort of...magic" his voice dropped lower as he said this, as he pulled himself slowly to his feet.

"Mav…" I glanced up, pulling myself wryly to my feet "Let's not say anything about this…." I followed obediently, yet my mind swam. How was I doing these sort of spells with no practice? And why somehow where they all related to dark magic?


humdedum. Perhaps my longer chapter. Could have kept it going...but i have other things to bring into it. A fairly 'interesting' chapter if i might say. If you don't understand it, then dont worry too much, it doesn't have that much of a relevance to the story line...but basically just imagine a beam of light and once entering u become enclosed within a dome. get? Thanxs my readers, mystic earth thanxs as well.

-greMlin