Nubbins and Kebab circled around each other (snarling) a bit more before finally deciding to just get tangled up and see what happens; Nubs happened more quickly than he’d anticipated, but that’s okay, Kebab was cool about it.
They agreed more practice was in order.
Desh did a fake death thing with the help of her baby’s (surprise!) great grandma, who may or may not have been spied on by Kumya, but definitely seems like she got some kinda game up her metaphorical sleeves!
For a hot minute there, Artemis considered what she might do to sort this shit out by herself, but when it’s time to throw in the towel and admit you stumbled into a huge fucking mess, it’s time, okay; no shame in calling a plumber when your pipes burst and the basement is turning into an unauthorized gross swimming pool.
And wow, was it Goddess damned time for a plumber….or at least, a witch.
Documenting the creepy-as-hell phenomenon proved to be a bit of a challenge, since the damn thing refused to photograph.
Whatever, not like she could stroll on out of there with the massive portrait tucked under her arm; the witches were just going to have to take her word for it, or come see for themselves.
“Or maybe I’m going fucking crazy.”
Could be; better not take any chances though.
“And it’s not like the damn thing was a painting, either, okay? It’s like a photograph on a weird, swirly background, and I tried to take a pic with my phone, but that was a huge nope.”
“A simulacrum…” Primrose started muttering to herself almost instantly, which was normally not a good thing, but Artemis found herself tingling with relief.
“Invisible to human technology; it must be soul-related magics…” Belladonna’s addendum didn’t help to ease the creepy-factor, but hell, if this sorted shit out, Artie was happy to stand there and listen to them mumble about it all damn day.
“Sooo, did you guys just get back from a weird costume party or something?” She asked the constantly over-subdued changeling guy.
“We did not.”
“Oh, okay, that clears it up,” Balsam-fucking-robot-cat ftw.
“My dear, was there any sort of discharge on the simulacrum, or in the general vicinity?” Bella interrupted, “and if so, what was the consistency, texture, and colour?”
“Sorry, no, nothing like that; everything looked pretty much the same since the last time me and Oly were in there to set up the candles–”
“The candles?” Bella interrupted, “why were you and Oly setting up candles?”
Primrose inhaled sharply, “oh dear…”
“Er, well–okay, so when I was a kid, I saw my grandma’s ghost standing in front of the portrait, and then later, when dad disappeared I sort of became a bit preoccupied with talking to her,” saying it out loud sounded way dumber than it had in her head, “I mean, ghosts know stuff, right? I thought maybe she could tell me what happened to him…”
“DID YOU TRY AND RESURRECT YOUR GRANDMOTHER?!”
“Dude, what? No!” His little spaz moment caught her off guard, “I just wanted to summon her, or something, to talk.”
Immediately the robot-cat-guy started weeping, “um, are you…okay?”
“Don’t mind him, my dear; it’s the hormones,” Primrose sighed, “do continue.”
“Okay, well, I tried for a long time on my own and failed repeatedly, even after looking at all my dad’s old books,” she paused to take a steadying breath, “um…so then I borrowed one of Madam Blackthorne’s books–”
“Excuse me?” Snapped the ginger witch, “you borrowed one of my–”
“Oh…hexes!” Added Primrose, “let me guess…necromancy?”
“Yeah…sorry about that,” in for a penny, right? “But then, of course, I couldn’t read it, so I called Oly over and surprise, surprise–”
“Oly was able to translate it for you,” Bella finished for her, “tell me something, did the two of you read any of book out loud in the presence of the artifact where you saw your grandmother?”
“This is an unmitigated disaster; Oly should have know better!”
“When one lacks instruction in necromancy, even on a very basic ‘how not to summon spirits accidentally’ level, I don’t see how they can be held accountable–”
“Are you saying this is my fault? Oly, as you’ve so often repeated to me, is your Heir, not mine!”
“Was, was my Heir…”
“It’s my fault, okay? All of this shit, everything,” Artemis interjected, “I’m the one who stole the book, and recruited Oly, and started this whole mess.”
“No child,” Belladonna said quietly, “this is not your fault; the responsibility for magical goings on in The Woulding falls on the shoulders of it’s guardians, do you understand?”
“And it is likely we have already paid the price for our complacency in blood…” Primrose added softly.
“Ah, yes,” agreed the other witch, after a moment, “I see what you mean.”
“Well I don’t, what–?”
“It is likely, Artemis, that the incident in my kitchen was the doing of this creature who has possessed your sister’s body; spirits are known to be mercurial, at best, when given the run of living realm…and this spirit would be very old–” she paused and drew in a sharp breath, “–very, corrupted by death.”
The young woman’s bowels turned to water as her brain made the connection. Selene. It was Selene all along…well, her body?
Oly wouldn’t have seen it coming, there’s no way!
A fresh pang of grief assaulted her, as the horror of it sunk in.
“Oh, Goddess! It’s JUST SO AWFUL!” Wailed the unstable man-cat as he lunged for Artie.
“Calliope will need to be told–” Primrose stated calmly, completely oblivious to the changeling weeping all over her guest.
“I am her mother, I will do it,” Bella’s reply was stiff, “if there is a messenger to be shot for this, it will be me.”
Artie let the witches squabble over the bones, while the were-cat-dude blew snot all over her comfiest sweater…it didn’t fucking matter; this, all of this, was her own fault, and she knew it.
‘I can never make amends for this, Oly.’
Did this mean her sister was dead too? All those shitty movies, about people paying too high a price for dabbling in magic, were right all along…
Didn’t see it coming, that’s for sure; holy crap, why would you though? Like, maybe Selene would’ve been upset…okay, 10/10 Selene would’ve been upset…but we’re talking wailing into her pillow, taking long sad walks on the beach, and maybe bleaching her hair for a ‘fresh look’ kind of coping, okay?
The hell she’d be all ‘stabbity, stabbity’; not her style.
So, no, didn’t see that shit coming…quite a pickle, though, right?
That first stab must’ve poked a hole in something pretty damned important, because the shock of it was enough to knock a poor shmuck right the hell over into a puddle of their own blood.
There was so much blood…why was there so much blood? Also, shoes; completely ruined, those were limited edition 2017 Air Jordans, ok; that shit doesn’t grow on trees!
Anyway, all those people in films who get stabbed or shot or something not fun like that? You know, the ones who just get back up and keep on fighting a villain, or save an orphanage or whatever…BULLSHIT. That’s what.
The shock alone; you better believe that crap means business!
The dying part wasn’t so bad, Oly reckoned; the feeling of life slowly seeping away was kinda soft, actually; peaceful, or something…no pain, really, well except for the pain of having ruined collector’s edition shoes of course.
Fuck that shit.
So maybe it was on purpose a little bit, or maybe just some sort of knee-jerk (soul-jerk?) reaction to being ventilated against one’s will, either way you slice it (ehehe…too soon?), the magic took over and hit that eject button but hard.
Where the crap was this?
And more importantly, what the crap was this outfit?
Oh, ‘ha ha’, death, I see what you did there; very punny.
At least the Jordan’s were okay. Or did this mean they died too? Damn.
Anyway, once you get launched out of your body, any moderately well educated witch (and maybe especially a Dreamwalker), could figure out what’s up.
The tricky part, is what do you do about it?
Well, you don’t linger, that’s for damn sure; as pretty as the bluffs were, beyond the veil, the one thing you should never do is linger…folks who lingered could lose their way.
“Eye on the prize, Oly,” get oriented, make a plan, “shit, Artie’s going to be so pissed.”
She wasn’t though; she was sad. Really, really sad.
“I didn’t know you felt this way about me kid, well, I guess I should have though, because I–”
“Artemis, are you awake?”
“Holy fuckasaurus hex…what the crap is that?!”
The scent of blood and decay lingered in the air around it, but the thing seemed weirdly concerned about Artie…or at least like it wasn’t about to whip out the murder.
It had the feel of a parasite of some kind, or…a thief? Something like that; best guess, considering the amount of attention paid during ‘nasty magical crap’ lessons.
It didn’t seem to notice Oly, which meant what exactly? It was fully in the living realm. Right? Probably. Got itself a nice, shiny body to inhabit…but whose?
Someone who could just waltz into Artie’s bedroom and start blabbering away without arousing suspicion. Orrr…kill an Oly without anyone suspecting them?
She wasn’t that hard to find, actually, when you knew you were supposed to be looking for her…
…but even though they were both beyond the veil, Selene couldn’t hear her friend.
“There are rules, Dreamwalker; you know this.”
A Gatekeeper; well, crap, this was one tight little mind-prison.
Oly wasn’t the biggest fan of rules, but the hell if that parasite-shade-thief thing was gonna win.
“Not on my watch.”
They were both getting out of here, no matter what…
…even if it required some kind of hella weird way of breaking in.
“You cannot keep me in here, worms!” Roared ‘Selene’.
“How are you keeping her in there, anyways? Can’t she just climb out through that gap in the top?”
“A rather ingenious holding spell, if I do say so myself.”
“Well, I hope it’s really good one, because she some kind of mad…”
“It will suffice for a time, never you worry dear; we should have our resolution to this issue well before it runs it’s course.”
“So do we know what she…it…is, yet? Like, is it really my grandma, or…?”
“Yes, but also, no,” Bella got a super creepy look on her face, “spirits are complicated, you see, and the older the spirit, the more complicated it becomes.”
“They are bits and pieces of mortal self spread thin over layers of thought and feeling and obsession, melded with shades of the primordial…and other assorted junk that floats around in the planes of the otherworlds.”
“Normally I’d probably find that pretty awesome, but right now I just want my sister back,” maybe it was all the feels packed into this short span of time, but Artie was feeling pretty damn drained, “we can get her back, right?”
“Theoretically,” Primrose replied in a pretty shady tone, “anything is possible.”
“You will never succeed, witch; I will see the inside of your skulls before the day is through!” Hissed ‘Selene’.
“Well, whatever it is that needs doing, maybe we should do it soon, because she’s getting a little hyper in there, and the two of you look like you’ve got magic lady boners or something.”
“Oh, they cannot begin yet; we haven’t sorted out a way to assess it’s possession, well unless you do not care if the host dies in the process–”
“You know I do, cat-boy, so don’t even go there, capisce?” Why did everyone else get to take a brain-holiday to crazy town, while she had to be the sane person in the room?
“Do not trouble yourself, Artemis, we will take excellent care of your sister’s vessel–”
“See? That shit right there!” Artemis snapped at them, “that creepy, witchy crap; it’s not her damn ‘vessel’, it’s her body, ok? Just–pretend you’re not a herd of weirdos for two minutes and tell me what the plan is.”
“Peace, daughter of Athena,” Prim with the grandiose word vomit.
“Always in such a hurry, these mortals!” She chuckled, like a damn weirdo, “is your sister a repressed and horrified bystander, able to do naught but watch? Has she been flung from her vessel–er, body, entirely, adrift in the otherworlds? Or perhaps she’s tucked away in some small corner of her own mind, slumbering peacefully…”
“You will never know, maggot,” hissed the creature, “you will have to rip this body apart piece by piece to find her.”
Primrose chuckled, “well, if you leave us no other choice, my dear–”
“To be honest, I’d rather see her dead than possessed,” Artemis threw in, just so these nutjobs understood what the end of the line looked like.
“Would it make any difference in your hateful little hearts to know that I am with child? You would not only be killing Selene, you see, but her and Perseus’s unborn babe as well,” the smile on that thing sent creepy shivers up Artie’s spine, “why Prim–was that not your son?!”
Why did it feel like she was stuck in a big old ‘And then!’ saga? At least that little tidbit of info wiped the smirks off of the witches’ faces…
You didn’t think she’d try an solve it all by her lonesome, didya? 😀
Kudos to Oly for making lemonade out of some damn mouldy lemons! In case it wasn’t clear, they peaced out of their body before it died, and are therefore not actually dead, just doing epic Dreamwalker stuff.
Perseus, who is not a Dreamwalker, is truly dead; my condolences to any secret Perseus fans out there /hugs.