Chapter 23: In between
Max: No,no,no,no Sky!
I yell out as I watch her slip through my grasp down into the ash. In a split second she’s gone and the black hole that swallowed her is sealed. I pound the concrete with my fists, calling for her. Still in my beast the concrete cracks, but reveals no remains of a passage.
Oblivious to the people surrounding me I continue my rage taking out a nearby tree with my fist. Sending the splintered pieces flying in all directions. Lifting broken concrete and flinging it effortlessly over everyone’s heads. Suddenly I feel myself tire. My mind becomes a fog as my legs cave beneath me and I fall to the ground weeping as a human.
Kylee places a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me. I shrug her efforts away feeling an indescribable loss. My heart constricts in my chest as I grasp for breath, but without her I cannot breathe. Without her I cannot exist. My only sliver of hope comes from the thought of the other night when
she sent herself to the in between and came back. It could happen again? Couldn’t it?
Without a word I shift to my full wolf racing for home. It’s faster than the truck this way.
When I arrive I switch, reaching for the door. Closing my eyes I take a deep steady breath, desperately holding on to that sliver of hope. The house is dark and quiet. A part of me was expecting Luna to greet me since she too had disappeared from the garden before I left, but it was empty. Even though the mystic room was dark I reached for the beads with shaky hands, letting out the breath I had been holding as the pain of defeat hit like a sledgehammer to my chest and I collapse in a chair at the table.
As if being brought back to life I sit up sucking in a deep breath. When my eyes finally clear I find myself in familiar woods. There’s a thin layer of mist blanketing the ground that seems to move parting a path as I stand. Ahead in the distant clearing I see the ivy covered cottage. With a gasp of realization and pitted fear I cautiously make my way to my grandmother Celia's cottage in the in between.
The door creaks open, but no one is there. It looks as though it’s been vacant for some time. Through the layers of cobwebs and dust I sift through the shelves and drawers looking for something, anything. Coming up with nothing I head for the bedroom door. Celia sits on the side of the bed away from me dressed in all black. She’s looking down at something clutched in her hands, rocking and whispering.
I kneel down in front of her clasping her hands in mine. She stops whispering looking up at me with ghostly sad eyes.
Celia: It wasn’t supposed to be this way. How can a mother grieve for both her children twice.
Sky: What do you mean?
I ask with great confusion, giving her hands a squeeze.
Celia: It’s my punishment. Hades is punishing me for turning his children against him. You shouldn’t be here Sky. He’s looking for you.
Sky: Celia what did you mean when you said you’re grieving for your children twice. Where’s Daniel?
Celia: Hades took him.
Sky: And my mother, have you seen her?
Celia: No, I never have, which mean she’s never been, but I felt her die again. When you......
She gasps and flinches as if seeing me for the first time.
Celia: Sky you shouldn’t be here. He’s coming for you.
Sky: Who grandma?
Celia: Hades. He has my children, now he wants you.
She opens her hands revealing a small piece of broken metal.
Celia: This is what remains of the last titan dagger.
She hands me the metal and smiles.
Sky: I don’t understand. Luna defeated Hades and Willow defeated Daniel. I’ve defeated the witch demon. Shouldn’t everything be back to normal now?
Celia: Of flesh and blood in the in between it is you who holds the key.
Sky: But how? It’s only been a few minutes since the demon dragged me with her down here and I don’t recall any injuries.
Celia: Seconds are days, days are weeks, and months are years now that Hades is here.
Take this dagger follow the moon free your mother and uncle too.
I take the dagger and watch in horror as Celia's eyes turn black. Black ash rises around her.
Daniel: Stab her with the dagger now!
Daniel appears in the doorway with a woman behind him that I can’t see. Without a second thought I stab the demon through Celia. The black ash swirls onto the blade that now looks like a full size dagger with a wolf head carved into the handle.
Daniel holds a hand out for the dagger. I toss it to him as he turns speaking an ancient language and plunges the dagger into the woman’s chest. Daniel catches her in his arms as she falls, gradually lowering her to the ground. A white light begins to glow where the dagger remains in her chest spreading through her body. I run to her other side watching as her life is restored bringing color back to her once grey skin. Her lips turn plump and pink, her eyes change from black to golden brown and her black hair bounces in waves of gold.
She looks at Daniel with fear while backing away.
I whisper. She looks at me with sadness and then guilt before returning an angry glare at Daniel.
Daniel: I know I could never ask you for your forgiveness. But, please know how sorry I am for all that I have done. With this I now release you.
She looks back to me as if asking for my forgiveness for being the one to bring me here and killing my mother. I close my eyes in an attempt to block the tears as I nod to her. She returns a faint smile and touches Daniel's arm as she fades. The dagger drops with a clank.
Daniel rises taking a step back from it as if he’s afraid or forcing himself not to take it. He turns his head slightly towards me keeping his eyes down. You must destroy it once and for all.
Without question or hesitation I flick out my fingers releasing a spark that ignites the dagger turning it to ash.
Sky: Where’s Celia?
Daniel: She made a deal with the devil.
I stare at him unsure how to respond, stumped on what to ask? He chuckles faintly.
Daniel: Turns out Hades never stopped loving Celia and apparently they’ve been rekindling that love since she’s been here, but she made herself the guardian of the in between making sure the souls that come through go to where they need to. Helping those that become trapped. Searching for those who never came.
Sky: My mom.
Sky: So what is the deal she made with him.
Daniel: She would spend eternity with him in the underworld if he allowed you to go back after helping me free Elizabeth.
Sky: But what about all the stuff the demon rambled when I thought she was Celia. Saying I needed to free you and my mom from Hades.
Daniel: A demon that absorbed many souls over decades trapped in the in between is like Yoda but crazier, with multiple personalities. They are themselves like a riddle.
Daniel holds out his hand to me.
I take it as he leads us outside where everything seems too perfect, like a dream or a painting. The tall green grass and cloud filled sky brings to me a memory of when I was a child with my mother in a meadow. It was one of the few happy memories I have of her as we pointed out the different animal shaped clouds and laughed as we laid in the tall grass.
Daniel stops and looks at me with slightly watery eyes.
Daniel: How did you do that?
Sky: Do what?
Daniel: Show me that memory. You have no idea how thankful I am for that.
I smile and shake my head while shrugging my shoulders.
Sky: Normally I can draw out other people's memories allowing them to remember. I’ve never shared one of mine before.
He pats my hand and closes his eyes like he’s trying to memorize all of it.
Sky: Did you ever fall in love.
He shakes his head and sighs.
Daniel: I was too consumed by my vengeance to allow such a luxury in life.
Sky: That’s sad uncle.
Daniel: It's not that I never knew love. There have been two people in this world that stole my heart in different ways.
He stops and turns to me, placing a hand on my cheek.
Daniel: I love you and your mother. It wasn’t enough to save her, but I will do everything in my power to keep you safe.
Sky: You said with my blood I could......
He holds his hand up stopping me from finishing what I was about to say.
Daniel: I am where I belong. With every soul I can save I get to repent. As long as I am here I can keep an eye on you while keeping an eye on those below.
I know he’s done terrible things, but this man before me is not the man of vengeance that he once was. He is my family.
He lifts my chin with a smile.
Daniel: Do not fret about me child, I plan on dropping in on you often. Besides I won’t be alone.
With confusion I watch as he turns his head and lifts his chin towards the forest's edge. To my shock I see Luna trotting towards us.
Sky: Why is she here?
I look at Daniel with a sadness of knowing, but not wanting to know. Her being here meant she was dead. Not my Luna. Then other memories from when I was young began running through my mind. As if suddenly opening my eyes for the first time. I see my mom standing before me. I cannot help the shaky breaths nor hold back the tears of utter joy as I take it all in.
Her burgundy hair flows off to one side. Her pale blue eyes sparkle in my reflection. She is a hair shorter and smaller all around, but everything else is like looking in a mirror all the way down to the detail of our hair and to what side it lays.
When she reaches up, touching my cheek with her loving smile, I fall apart. Collapsing like a bawling baby into her arms. In her warm embrace she shares with me a glimpse into her own memories. The night she died my father holds her in his arms.
Lilly: She is the key. Protect her at all costs.
With her dying breath my father draws her last spark of light magic containing it into a small round vial. Time fast-forwards to the day I left for Maple Falls. My father stands in my room placing the vial in my suitcase and casts a spell. Through Luna's eyes I am looking at myself after having the red thong removed from her head.
Sky: That's why you’ve never visited. You where always with us.
Lilly: I promised I would always be with you.
I hug her tightly letting the tears flow.
Lilly: You’ve grown to be such a beautiful strong woman Sky. I am so proud of you.
She pulls back wiping the tears from my face.
Lilly: Max is one lucky wolf.
Sky: I think I’m the lucky one.
She reaches out taking Daniel's hand pulling him into the hug.
Lilly: It’s time for you to return. They have missed you gravely.
Sky: But it’s only been like an hour. Can’t I stay a little longer, you just got here.
She shakes her head.
Daniel kisses my forehead and steps back.
Daniel: Thank you.
Sky: For what.
Daniel: For giving me a chance.
I give him a warm genuine smile.
Lilly: We will always be with you Sky.
She gives me one last hug before stepping back with my uncle as black ash swirls around me and I am again consumed by darkness.