EVOLUTION OF THE TRANCE WITCH

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Chapter 7 Return to Althalos

Chapter 7

Return to Althalos

Althalos had made a fire. It was sunset, and just beyond the ridge of

the rolling hills, there it had painted out a beautiful scene of colors upon nature’s canvas. He rubbed his hands together warming them. From within the shadows arose the silhouette of Annamarie and Latonya; moving towards him with haste as if getting away from something that

they did not know they were fleeing from. He drew up his cape over his shoulder as they brought with their growing proximity a gust of cold biting air, and plopped down on both sides of him.

Annamarie drew a cold stare to him, and he noticed also in her expression there was fear. Not fear of him, but of the unknown of him. What had they found at the ruins of his academy that had made her see through such eyes of distrust and terror!

“There was a spirit there that has followed us here. It could be here at this very moment.”

But it wasn’t here.... he could sense nothing... did they not sense other presences from other worlds; other reaches of the utmost of heaven and hell...?

“Did you hear me, it has followed us here!” Annamarie was irritated with his calm reaction to this. Was he mad?

He remembered attending school, unsurprisingly given his rejection on the principle that there were school rules to abide by. He was a rambunctious youth.

His mind began to crack with lightning as clouds rapidly rolled in overhead. This continued succession until he saw something in Annamarie’s eyes that really attracted his curiosity. The storm was stagnant and promised to be nothing more than a pleasant cloud covered

night. He took Annamarie’s hand and looked at her with sincerity and assurance that what she felt or found out there was not there with them at that very moment. “There is nothing here to harm us. I do not sense any presence near. Do you not sense a presence when one appears?

Do you know how to do this?”

Annamarie was shocked! More at his hand being on hers than this hidden wisdom he had revealed to her. “No. I do not know how to do this. I can not sense more than another of my kind, that is it.”

“You mean, you can sense my presence, but not one of the afterlife or of the dead?”

“If a presence is dead how can you sense it?” Latonya declared, provoking him to explain.

“Maybe my word choice is not the best, but I am trying to say that can you sense that a spirit is of this world or of another?”

“Is the spirit, one of this world?” Annamarie pressed him; more interested in this information than actually being able to learn to sense this spirit herself.”
 “I will teach you if you like. I will

teach you how to sense spirits near and far. You can find spirits on the other side of the world if you’d like. This is a practice that has been done throughout generations of magic wielders. It is so humans can contact their loved ones that have passed. Us practicers of magic can channel the spirit into our bodies and briefly be possessed by the spirit; and the spirit can talk through us to their loved ones. It is an ancient practice and can be mastered with time.”

“A possession, you mean like when Latonya is possessed by the devil?”

Latonya retorted. “It is not the devil who possesses I! I can prove it, I can show you! The Book of Darkness, I found it... it has no affect on me. I hear not the voices... It can not be the devil who possesses me, if the darkness does not speak to me, even though I am touching its very pages.”

“You found the Book of Darkness?” Althalos shot out at her along with an encouraging stare for her to continue.

“Yes, I have seen it, I have touched it, and this jewel around my neck is the key to unlock it.”

“All that is evil and of the treacherous dark magic, is within those pages... it is not you that chooses it, but it that chooses you.” Althalos stood up and gestured for both Annamarie and Latonya to come in near to him and take his hands. I will show you what it is like to sense a spirit. Close your eyes and concentrate on that which is not of the air but is in it, that which is not of this earth, but has once lived on it. That which is not bound to time, but is drifting through it.... that is what connects us to the spirits so we can find them.... sense them. Sense what is there, but what is not here in the now.... that is being able to sense a presence of another time or dimension.”

Althalos tilted up his head and found a presence, not the one which had followed Annamarie and Latonya here, or so they claimed, but a presence of a deceased ancient. A woman of the academy... a teacher he most fancied.

“Do you feel her?”

“What am I suppose to feel?” Annamarie was sorely confused, and frustrated, but kept her eyes shut hoping to soon feel something.

“Yes, I see her...” Latonya spoke in a soft whisper.

“Do you feel her?” Althalos questioned as he drew his head down to stare at Latonya in amazement. Her head tilted back and her eyes shut searchingly in the unknown.

“Yes I feel her, she is cold and far far away... not in a place, but far far away in time. I can’t hold onto her, she wants to leave...”

“Latonya drew her head down and opened her eyes to find Althalos gazing back at her unexpectedly, suspicious of her but also amazed.

“That is the thing about her... she always does...”

“What do you mean she always does?”

“I mean, she never wants to come out completely. She is a fleeing spirit. She is not in drifting, but in eternal sleep... and you could sense her, you could really see her... never before have I witnessed such a quick success of being able to channel a spirit. You’ve done

this before...”

“No I have not.”

“You must have.” Althalos put out his other hand gesturing for her to place her other hand in it.

“Let me see what spirits have been visiting you.”

Latonya was confused. Had spirits visited her before? That was impossible. She would surely know if she had sensed an unearthly form or presence before.

“Are you saying my sister has been able to see ghosts this whole time?” Annamarie was more confused than any of them. She did not like the idea of the preternatural visitations. That maybe these wraiths, spirits, have been floating along with them all this time. And may be

doing so now, if only she could sense them.

Althalos closed his eyes and went soaring through a high place, far above the stars, and drifted there; floating along within his thoughts. His body remained on the earth below... but his intellect had traveled. It was then when he had come to the very place of where it all began. He saw through Latonya’s eyes. Annamarie speaking something about their mother being ill. And on the filthy ground of a small cell this old woman had laid, half alive and delirious with

fever.

He saw Latonya look on across the other side of the dungeon and felt her grip on the bars. But then suddenly... he did not feel that he was looking through Latonya’s eyes anymore, but a man’s... an ancient man, not of this world, but still of the dead. The bars flew out and impaled the vampires that chasen to gather a few plump blood-bags to their liking. Annamarie had looked up at this Latonya... that had transformed into a man... no, it was fuzzy, but it was all coming clear to him now.... she had transformed into a soulless black-eyed monster.

Althalos opened his eyes and hurried back away from her quickly letting go of her hands. “You... you, I saw you. I saw what you had become. This is far beyond me. I do not know what monster has possessed you, but it is of evil, and it is trying to come through you as a portal. It wants you Latonya. It wants to take over your body and live again.”

Annamarie gave her sister a horrified glare, and shriek at the disturbing unknown of this monster that had possessed her; she said slowly. “Latonya... whether a spirit or the devil himself... I will not lose you.”

“You do not understand Annamarie...” Althalos said, warding off her misguided understandings of the situation.

“Your sister is not only able to sense spirits, or channel them… but harbor them... give them a home in her body to become more than just a brief visitation... I fear for you Latonya... this is nothing I’ve ever known before... the spirit could completely kick you out and take possession of your body if he chose to.--” “Chose to?” Annamarie interrupted.

“Yes, this man is out to take over your body and make it his own.”

“A man?” Latonya grew weary on this... would she have been more comfortable believing it was the devil who was after her soul rather than a spirit after her body...

“I felt a man... it was you at first... I was there in the dungeon looking through your eyes.... and then all of the sudden you were gone and I was looking through the eyes of a man. A man that possessed you... but that is not all.... his appearance had come through you.”

“Your eyes were a horrid sight.” Annamarie said.

“I saw you Annamarie.... the look on your face made me curious to see through your eyes... and when I did. I regretted doing so.”

“Your hair had turned white on the less terrifying part... but most terrifying were the eyes. They eyes that were once your pleasant green had become black and empty of all humanity. This man who possessed you is more than a man... but has to be of a sorcery that even I am not permitted to speak. For if I speak of it... he might just come to us now, and take you from us. Know this, whatever is in store for you Latonya... it is of no good and no salvation. Nothing will keep you from being taken by this spirit again.”

“There has to be another amulet. There has to!” Annamarie’s voice stiffened.

“There is... but not here... far away from here. There is a place we must never go... and never speak of... for it is a place known as hell on earth.”

“What do you speak of... a place that is hell on earth?”

“There was one of these back at the vampire castle. I could sense it. It was deeper within the castle walls underground... and it was being worn by an ancient. I saw him there on a throne. These brief images of the surrounding area when I visited Latonya’s memories was enough for me to learn of the ways of these demons. They aren’t very careful, these vampires... they feel they are invincible and that is where we have an advantage.”

“They are invincible.” Latonya said.

“No. They would like you to believe that, but vampires have more weaknesses than what they let on.”

“They can not resist human blood. With the right distractions and tactics we can break into the castle, take its king by force and retrieve the amulet.”

“You are so sure of this plan. By all means share it with us, down to the last detail.” Annamarie sat down, and Althalos did the same in telling all what they need to do, and where in the castle the king resides.

He drew out the map grabbing a stick and making marks in the dirt. He told them that they would need a human as bait, and what better humans to use than the ones right there right now. Themselves.

“You want for me to just waltz on in there with nothing to protect myself and trust that you will destroy all the vampires before they reach me?”

“Latonya... we have not known each other long, yes, this is true, you have to trust me rather than know that I will do as I say by all loyalty of a long companionship we have not had... so you will have to trust me.”

Annamarie began to feel protective of her sister. “Why Latonya and not me?” she would say such a thing; she out of all people should know why though. But Althalos explained, for her thrown-off-judgement was not of logic, but of her bond with her younger sister.

“Latonya can not use magic. You can. I can. Latonya is the most logical choice for us to use as baiting these vampires, while we destroy them. We are practicers of the same ilk, magic. Along with my skill and strength in magic, and yours also, we will destroy these fiends. And we will do it with little to no effort. Latonya will be the main distraction, while you and I go unnoticed and shielded, blocking out the scent of our blood by magic. They will never be expecting this. I have wandered into the chambers of this castle as if I was there. As if I was more than just briefly there in a memory… given to me from the memories of one who has not even set foot in such parts of the castle before; this knowledge is mine, and I will share it with you Latonya... as well as you Annamarie, as soon as we finish discussing the main focus at hand.... the plan.”

The vampires have no guards up in the watchtowers of the castle. They are arrogant and presume that if anything dare enter the castle, they would sense its blood and be able to overpower it; destroy it easily. But with my magic to shield the scent of our blood, we will

enter the castle by watchtower first, and make our way down from there. Hidden under cloaks and disguised with the scent of a vampire; which is no scent at all... We can walk right passed them all if we would like. But to reach the leader of the coven we must breach the underground and take it over, by wiping out every vampire there, and barricading the ones above, out. Once we are underground that will be easy. For the only entrance to the underground is also the exit. I can cast a spell to keep them out. A holy line that will not allow them to pass. You have to use this kind of barricade, for a physical barricade is easily broken through by a vampire.

The castle was illuminated with glowing torches. In the library of any vampire, there are many volumes that exemplify a long and rich history and bloodline. Althalos had already had a glimpse into the darker realms of these undead demons, but had he suffered from any form of lost identity, he would also be consumed by the darkness and fuel his bizarre imaginings. This is why the vampires clung so tightly to their history... to not lose their identity. Collecting sentimental things was important to them where it was not important to him. He was human... he had been alive through the centuries as they have though. Why did he survive the dissatisfaction of living thousands and thousands of years and just hoping to drift away from it all in death, but death would not happen; not naturally for these unnatural fiends. Why had he not felt this dread of being alive so long. Maybe it was because he had been locked in the ground such a lengthy time that to be free was to be alive again, and as long as he had freedom, it didn’t matter what would become of him in the passing of time. Althalos moved swiftly as if through hundreds of years of travel and extensive knowledge. He was powerful. More powerful than he let on. That is why the Book of Darkness chose you Althalos... because you promised to be the perfect tool to ensure that finally the reign of the dark magic realms would be unleashed. But you were stopped before you even began to start what marvelous and wonderful domination and eternal servitude of all magic users to the dark craft; you were cut down, transformed into a harmless and easily defeated prisoner.

Save all your hopes and dreams and ambitions, you are free now... to do with what your gift is by your fated destiny. The Book of Darkness would want it no other way. It is always the powerful that suffer. Having exceptional gifts is a marvelous curse. Creature of Darkness, do not be torn down, because those who envy and hate your power. Pour out your heart and let those who have no power feel the burden you carry by having it... for they might flee from power and control because of the undesirable exchange that comes along with it.

No doubt Annamarie and Latonya did fear him. He could sense it. They both feared and trusted him though... what an odd match of their rational and understandable, and completely right and entitled behavior.

The castle walls were sleek and damp by the low clouds hiding the evidence of their breach. They were aided with magic. Althalos spoke in a rapid chant and captured them all up, rising to the top of the deserted watchtower. The wood of the ceiling was broken, and the chamber of it was a dirty and temperamental one; one wrong move and the structure would shift out of place, giving away their position. They continued throughout the rest of the fraudulent mess and came to the path at the top of the castle walls, walking swiftly in a straight line, hidden under the mystery of their hooded garments.

Over the ledge, a stone tumbled down, ricocheting off the surface of the wall as they rushed on passed and beyond, down into the glory of the castle and its many rooms and halls, and vast stone steps leading down on both sides of the large main room where they had now arrived.

Around the curve of them they climbed and came to the red carpet in the center of both the opposite arches of steps; bending in a half circle, being the significant point of focus of everything in the room. Suits of armor stood on the wall as they came up the red carpet and continued along the hall there now. There were others ahead... for the first time they would come near the vampires. On sheer foot they moved onward in hopes to pass by these demons, unnoticed, but then one of them spoke to them. “Where are you going? You can’t go in there, he

is feeding right now.” He? Was this where the leader of the coven resided... Althalos knew the answer to that. He should not draw attention to themselves just yet. “Yes, sorry but I have an urgent message and must speak to Gorrus our leader. He will be fine with it, do not worry for me and his wrath... he is expecting this message.” Smooth... they wouldn’t be inspecting further of him... they sensed that Althalos was in a rush by his expression... there had to be a reason for his urgent persona. They let him go on with what he needed to do so desperately. There were no more questions, but a dismissal, and the vampires went on down behind them, and around the corner, and now down the arch of the steps where the red carpet ended. Latonya felt a bit disturbed how Althalos seemed to blend in these hallways as if he had been here a thousand times before, but at the same time was reassured that he knew what he was doing, and his plan would be carried out with just as little effort as with tricking those vampires

back there.

Down again another flight of stairs, and there through the doors, they barged into a high ceiling chamber with an ancient greek pavilion appearance; finding the coven leader feeding on the flesh of a young succulent child. What a disgusting abomination to destroy something so pure and innocent. It sickened Althalos. He immediately sealed the entrance with the magic barrier, and heating his hand with a burning blue and purple flame, he threw the flame at the vampire. The vampire turned up his eyes and then vanished in a blur. “Foolish, foolish...” A voice whispered and echoed through the void.

Suddenly a ruckus emerged from the surrounding walls and shook the grand display of a chalice and candles that adorned the large rectangular table with its rich golden fringed red cloth.

From up in the eaves of the high ceiling appeared more of these demons, crawling down the walls and leaping to the ground. Latonya scurried in towards the other two and darted her head back and forth to the fiends closing in.

Althalos threw a burning sphere that shot through each of the nearing vampires searing a hole through them as if it were a chain reaction. Latonya stood frozen in fear as Althalos looked to Annamarie, knowing that their plans of a surprise attack had failed and she joined him in the fight between vampire and practicers of magic. Althalos formed a protective shield over Latonya as a vampire came flinging off the wall straight for her! He destroyed the demon and then acted to ensure that Latonya would remain unharmed in a protective shield of safety.

The walls... great walls of stone leading up infested with vampires crawling like ants, thousands upon thousands. Latonya scanned over all of them and then looked to their leader who stood mockingly by the red, gold-fringed-clothed table. A ringing came to her ears... and

then, from inside the protective shield around her she felt there was someone or something in there with her as well. She felt heavy headed and dimmed as a sparkling gleam from the candlelight reflected upon something around the vampire leader’s neck. She strained to keep her eyes open, but was unable to do so. She stressed to move to signal her sister that something was wrong with her... but she could not. Her eyes closed and she felt the room melt around her, everything warping together. She heard an icy echo of faint words, but they were as

blurred as her sense of this warping room; and even though her eyes were closed, she could feel the room was mixing, swirling around her as if they were open and she saw this happening. The walls like lava drained down and poured into the floor, over the candle holders, over the chairs, over the rug and over the vampires, sinking their faces into the influence of it all.

Annamarie twirled around and blasted a cold blue fiery light at two attacking vampires head on. It froze them instantly, covering over their form and she swung around and broke them into millions of little fragments.

Althalos stopped and looked at her, her eyes sensing his lingering; and she glanced back at his. There were more coming.

Suddenly all the vampires dropping down from the walls and arched ceiling were blown away by a blasting force, coming from neither Annamarie nor Althalos. It was from Latonya. They looked to Latonya and realized she had transformed. Her hair was white. White as the

pale tone that had come over Annamarie’s face to see her sister like this again. She swallowed a hard swallow and watched as the vampires turned to ashes and blew away with an unnatural wind that could only have been created from either the blast or invisible fire of some kind... or an occurrence created from the purest presence of evil. The devil himself! Was he there with them now... to not only collect Latonya, but all of his children. These vampire demons.

Althalos drew forth to Latonya and took hold of her arm. From under her hood rose a face. An evil and soulless face covered in charcoal grey scales with two big marble eyes, as black as the heart that must be within this creature. Althalos believed now how Annamarie could

only see this creature before him to be the devil’s child. Latonya flung him off of her and he went sliding back over the rug, collecting it up in a bundle until he hit the great doors behind. Annamarie noticed that she was not through with him... Latonya was coming around for another attack, but this time on them both. She drew up her hands and her hair stood on end as if pulled up by a supernaturally intense static electricity. Her motion was silvery and the blinking black eyes saw nothing of them but insects in her way. She blasted the invisible warping fire of the same thing she had done to the vampires and it came rippling towards them like a crashing wave! Annamarie grabbed hold of Althalos and spoke in a rapid whisper opening a portal and

escaping through just in time before the deadly but silent blast had reached them.

Latonya turned to face the table with the red, gold fringed cloth and neared to it, not touching a single step to the floor, but hovering over it. She stopped at the three stone steps leading up the this grand display of luxury and decadence, and drew her hand up, fingers

out as if reaching to retrieve something. There on the ground was the amulet... the amulet which once it touched her hand it disintegrated, and was destroyed just as the last one.

Latonya’s feet met the floor and her hair turned back to honey blonde and her skin returned to that of a human complexion. She opened her eyes and was confused as to what had happened. Silence all around her. Not a vampire demon nor her sister or Althalos in sight. What had she done. She bent to the floor resting on her knees crying, face in her hands. Then something happened. Something frightening, but also relieving. The ghostly presence that she had felt with her inside the protective shield was there with her now. It moved over to her with an ethereal whisper that filled up the room like a choir. Then something unexpected, something she would not think to be possible; this ghost appeared as a solid form in front of her; and in this form of a man, it spoke to her.

“I know what it is that burdens you. For it has burdened me during the time I had walked with the living.”

Latonya was baffled, intrigued and shocked, but somehow felt safe.

“This curse of the devil?”

“It is a curse. And if you don’t do something about it, you will destroy everything around you that you hold dear.”

“Please, tell me what I can do to stop it!?”

“You can not stop it... but you can control it with my help.”

“Will you help me?”

“Yes, but you have to do everything I say, and exactly how I say it.”

“I will do anything...”

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