Abdiel had finally settled the others, then himself, as I sat on the edge of my bed back at The Crystal Harp. I took the liberty of ordering wine. The bartender looked askance at me because of my age, but decided the coin was worth the risk. Unlike The Dregs, lawmen spot checked places like these under the King’s orders to demand ‘fees and taxes’.
Slavers, however, were perfectly respectable; the king left them alone. No one wanted to be on their bad side. They were known to kidnap family members from those who’d ‘reform’ them.
“Leave me tomorrow. I need to think of a way to work with Tyrel.”
The longer we stay with you, the more difficult the leaving will become. And we risk ourselves as well; he is not the only Canceler, and they roam. Another might chance upon us not realizing Tyrel was already here. He’ll be punished if they find that out.
He sent me a vision, unwelcome, of Tyrel naked, spread in the air, and beaten with barbed whips, blood spattering with every strike as his head lolled forward, and crows danced and plucked at the scraps of him already torn.
I retched, but fortunately wasn’t hungry. “Don’t send me those unless I ask for them!”
Silence. His response whenever he wasn’t sure what he’d done wrong, or when he knew it.
I regained my composure, ragged as it was, and sleep was a wanderer with lodging in view.
“Once again, you might have told me that earlier.”
We are newly bound, Tina, in new circumstances. It is not a light task Hannah set for you. Make no mistake, we are maleficent spirits, and she wielded great power over us. She asked me to aid you in the transition, but you are young.
If you are not worthy of the task, we will set ourselves free. I will not tell you more than you need to know because this is a challenge by our predators.They are the only beings that could cause our ‘death.’
“You’re already dead, are you not?”
Not as you die. It is more a dissolution. We feel it pull on us whenever you are in his presence. The others cling to me as I root myself in Hannah’s power within you,but it is taxing, and if we leave you now before you have it all, the pain might drive you mad. It will feel like a tearing of your insides.
. I showed you the Cancelers, and told you of their power. We have none over them other than what you might devise, but neither do we have the luxury of time for you to create a spell.
I took a moment to consider what he’d just told me. I was tired, and afraid, and but for Gran’s power protecting me, they would have slipped my own worthless attempts to bind them and shed blood all over the land.
“So let me ask you this: is the quest to destroy them Gran’s gift to you for helping me?
You may deem it such. It is here revenge on the Traitor’s Guild as well. As for Tyrel, there may be another way.
There was no happy compromise to this.
“And what is that way, Abdiel?”
You are strong enough now. Speak with Hannah.
The thought of seeing Gran again, in any form, set off in me a fireball of emotions.
At the core of it though, despite what I would have liked, was the necessity. In an odd way, it was good of Abdiel to remind me the spirits I contained were dark in nature and purpose.
Abdiel guided me through the ceremony, and the wandering sleep walked past and on into the night.
But for the shining eyes, she was as she’d been in life; deceptively plain, like a snake of late autumn colored scales in a pile of late autumn leaves, sepia in tone.
“My child. I’d hoped you had no need to disturb my rest.”
“I’m sorry, Gran. Abdiel and I are still…adjusting.”
“What is it you need from me, dear?”
“There’s a Canceler here. We’ve met more than once. He says it’s his job to kill me, but I made him a proposal. I just don’t know how to make it work without taking his life.”
“He made his mission clear. You can do no less.”
“At the moment, we have a truce. He can lead me to where the Traitors hide, or at least get me started.”
“That will save time. And what will you do for him?”
“We haven’t talked about that, yet. How do I stop him from weakening us as we travel?”
“In a familiar.”
“They won’t weaken?”
“The familiar’s designed for it.”
“What kind? You never had one.”
She smiled. “I never needed one.”
That stung a little. “What kind, then? A cat?”
“Whatever you choose, Tina.
“Something I can cage then?”
Gran nodded. “That will suffice.” She began to fade. “I must rest now.”
“Thank you, Gran. I miss you.” I wanted to cry, but didn’t.
“As I miss you, dear. Guard yourself.” She was gone.
I went to bed, turning over my last thought: What do I choose?
I slept, and even in their own fear of Tyrel, the bad, dark, evil spirits let me.