Chapter XXV


All matter is composed of energetic geometric shapes. The earth has been identified as a dodecahedron; a polyhedron with twelve flat pentagonal faces with three meeting at each vertex. It has twenty vertices, thirty edges, and one hundred sixty diagonals. The edges or ley lines that comprise the earth dodecahedron creates the same geometric pattern of energy that has existed since the time the earth was created; this energy field is known as the World Energy Grid. It is due to the natural energetic correspondences between the earth and all other matter which manifests the energetic interchange at specific prominent points of the earth dodecahedron. It is at the intersecting points of the ley lines that hold powerful electro-magnetic forces and where natural portals appear around the globe. Ancient structures that humanity has built in numerous places on the earth were erected at these specific locations to amplify the earth’s energy field, and by creating specific shapes such as mounds, henges, megaliths, obelisks, and pyramids, humanity has the ability to magnify, channel, and manipulate that natural power, allowing for the creation of portals that may not have been already present.

According to the multiverse theory of Quantum Mechanics, whenever there is an energy emission from a higher plane of existence to a lower plane, that energy emission would create a vortex or portal, or as suggested by Theoretical and Particle Physics, a wormhole, that could be used to connect the two separate points in space-time, or one plane of existence to another. This bridge could connect extremely long distances such as a million light years or a short distance such as a few miles; it could even connect different points in time. These portals would act like a tunnel with two ends, each at separate points in space-time. The signs that such a portal is present on earth are numerous: strange vapors, unusual cloud materializations, odd rock formations, mutated animals, strange electromagnetic phenomenon such as: disrupted cellphone services, radio frequency failure, and compass malfunction.

As I stood in the foyer of our house, I exhaled, pushing all extraneous concerns from my mind and eased into the vibration of the sounds hidden within the air current that was swirling around our bodies. It was an exercise that I was familiar with as I had done it numerous times before. While maintaining the physical connection I had established earlier with Aunt Rachel, by holding her hands in my own, I reached out to her and sought to energetically connect with her; I reached out for her with my own spirit, the essence of who I was and easily found resonance with her as well as the eccentric melody that was vibrationally present and became acutely aware of the murmurs shrouded within the sound. The familiar whispers became clear to me. Usually when I heard them, they were a comfort with their unwavering encouragement and support as I forced and trapped the energetic vibrations of my tormentors like Ryan, Josh, and Peter Morrell, to The Astral Plane, but in this moment the voices brought me only fear. It was concerning to me that those whom I had come to know as my kin were now bringing me distress.

If Aunt Rachel was hearing and listening to these voices, those whom were whispering within the usual melody of sound, and if she followed what they were instructing her to do, she would become one without a corporeal form and would no longer be anchored to the physical plane. She would be an easy thing to be manipulated and possessed by any stronger energetic vibration. These whispers were attempting to coax Aunt Rachel’s essence to move in unison with the flow of the peculiar sounds originating from the air current that surrounded us. Our ancestors, if that is who they truly were, wanted her to fall into entrainment with a plane of existence beyond the Physical, beyond the Astral, somewhere I did not recognize from my experiences or studies. I couldn’t allow this to happen. I needed Aunt Rachel in my life. I wanted her here with me not trapped in some other dimensional plane. What the fuck was going on here?

I gently and cautiously, energetically pulled at her, but encountered a slight resistance. They wouldn’t let her go. They wanted her with them, but I was determined to change that. I would stop them, if I could. Aunt Rachel didn’t belong with them. She wasn’t dead. It wasn’t her time. I didn’t understand why they were doing this and honestly it didn’t matter to me. I intuitively believed that the living blood bond I had with my aunt, a connection that these disembodied ancestors didn’t have with her, must hold some sort of power that I could use to tether her to me and ultimately the Physical Plane. I carefully crawled my hands up her arms, never physically letting her go in fear that they would snatch her away, until I had drawn her body against mine. When she was close enough to me, I kissed her lips, licking the blood that had covered them. Her nose bleed hadn’t stopped and continuously leaked onto her blouse and skirt creating a morbid crimson pattern that looked like a Rorschach inkblot. I kissed her chin, taking more of her copper tasting blood into my mouth to be sure that I had consumed enough to strengthen the blood bond we shared. My mind flashed with an image of my cousin, Christian, as a profound feeling of sorrow weighed upon me. This was something important for my Aunt Rachel, something that lead to this current situation she was experiencing, but I didn’t have the time to contemplate it. I cleared my thoughts of the visions and energetically yanked at Aunt Rachel, but the resistance I initially felt had become stronger. The haunting voices continued to caress my psyche persuading me to release the psychic embrace, promising me an influx of power if I did. The easily distinguishable voice of Syn rose above the chorus of the others and gently, but sternly, encouraged me to cease my continuing efforts to free Aunt Rachel from the grasp of the dissonant melody.

I was confused. Why would Syn instruct me to abandon the one person in my family who respected me? I didn’t understand, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to consider her reasons. I could feel and see that Aunt Rachel’s body was vibrating in unity with the sound of the dissonant melody of the air current that surrounded us. Her body slowly rose from the floor and she levitated a foot above the tile. I psychically called her name as I pulled at her essence, hoping that at any moment she would be freed. I felt the slightest yielding in the resistance, which encouraged me to yank harder. The more I worked at freeing Aunt Rachel the more adamant Syn became with her demands of me to heed her bidding, and when I ignored her, she began to berate and reprimand me, but I refused to relent, and instead, harnessed the power I held within my own veins, the same power that Syn herself had bestowed upon my family bloodline.

I reached within myself finding the center of my power and fused my own essence with my aunt’s, binding us, making us one person, one energetic entity so that instead of having to pull Aunt Rachel free, I could force us free. Since I was already in resonance with the curious melody that encompassed our physical bodies, I began siphoning and spindling its energy within me. The energy was living; it tingled like electricity and vibrated like the strings of a cello when stroked with a bow. It was warm like the rays of the August sun and moved through me like a shot of my Dad’s favorite brandy. The more energy I drew into me, the more hold the ancestor’s had on Aunt Rachel diminished and the force of the whirlwind surrounding us steadily decreased. The whispers and vibration faded until there were gone. I carefully severed Aunt Rachel’s essence from my own, allowing her energetic vibration to become stronger, less ethereal and more physical as her feet came to rest upon the tiles of the foyer. Her eyes closed as the weight of her body caused both her and I to collapse onto the floor.

I heard Mr. Stokes calling my name and his face appeared in front of me as I closed my eyes, the blackness slithered around me, enveloping me uncomfortably so that I could not respond to him.

A loud screech pierced my brain as I heard her voice echo, “You’ve made a grave mistake, my young Valkyrie, and you will pay dearly.”


Chapter XXIV

My mind was pleasantly overloaded with an overwhelming amount of intriguing information that I felt as if I was intellectually lost within an intricate symphony. Just like the opening sonata, my questions formed, shifted, and then faded only to be immediately replaced by a more complicated movement. I was lost in the wondrous implications that hummed in my imagination, but was unable to be sustained within relative reality, so remained purely fantasy. Perhaps the diaries that Mr. Stokes had mentioned earlier that afternoon would provide me with the necessary data required to resolve this personal dilemma. He had assured me that after my parents had returned from their trip, he would bring me to meet the woman who was currently in possession of the diaries and that I would be able to read the documented accounts pertaining to Abigail Williams, my ancestor, myself. The prospect of such an experience excited me to such a point that I could barely contain my enthusiasm. I barely was able to focus the rest of the afternoon as we finished our weekly lessons. If I had been able, I would have found a way to see the diaries that very evening and it frustrated me that I was behooved to someone else’s will, and that because of him, I was required to wait.

Following our usual routine I watched my tutor pack his textbook and iPad into his leather messenger bag as he explained my weekend homework assignment. I acknowledged him with a nod, promising that I would have the assignment done, as I casually walked around the table to join him on the opposite side before escorting him to the front door. We had only taken a few steps into the foyer when I became aware of my Aunt Rachel’s presence; she was standing silently in the middle of the foyer, her overnight bags laid abandoned by front door, which stood agape. She stood facing us, but looked beyond us; her eyes focused on something unseen by Mr. Stokes and me. Her jaw hung opened, as if she had just been surprised by what she had observed, but the rest of her facial expression did not confirm the same conclusion, instead it suggested that she was curious by what she saw. Though the air was usually still in the house, her long floral skirt danced around her ankles while the sleeves of her bohemian style blouse fluttered around her wrists and her wavy, chestnut colored hair moved around her head and shoulders as if she were floating in a pool of water though she stood firmly on the tiles of the foyer.

I had difficultly comprehending the image my eyes were conveying to my brain; the scene was surreal. I glanced over to Mr. Stokes who was standing beside me, hoping for some practical explanation as he was usually realistic and logical about weird or unusual things, but he, too, was seemingly mesmerized by the strange scene before us. Though, I must admit that his expression was confusing to me; he seemed to be troubled and irate. What was making him angry? If I had been more prepared, more focused on the moment and less preoccupied by the idea of reading the diaries, I would have seen the portent for what it was, but in my distracted state I was oblivious and would later experience the consequences of my temporary ignorance. My curiosity was peaked even further as I watched a trickle of blood flow from my aunt’s right nostril onto the pristine foyer floor. I took few tentative steps toward her not knowing what else to do, but feeling as if something should be done.

“Aunt Rachel?” I called as I reached out my hands, intending to grasp hers, which hung limply by her sides. This was seriously freaky. This whole situation felt like something out of a horror movie.

Mr. Stokes roughly grabbed my left arm, causing me to stumble backward. “Angie, don’t!”

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, scowling at him then glancing back to the only woman in my family who actually acknowledged and valued me as an individual with unique ideas and thoughts. “I have to do something. She’s my aunt. I can’t just stand here staring at her.”

“You have no idea what you are getting involved with here. That, right there,” he said, pointing to my aunt with his free hand, while glaring at me, clearly hoping to convey how serious the situation was with not only his words but his facial expression, “is a power vastly beyond you, beyond anything you might have inadvertently experienced.” He paused before he continued. “It isn’t simple telepathy, Angie. It’s beyond those immature abilities. Don’t fuck with it. Leave it alone. Let this play out as it should.”

“What?!” I snapped. I felt as if my brain was going to explode. What was Mr. Stokes saying? Power beyond me, beyond what I might have inadvertently experienced?  Really? If he only knew what I was capable of, what I had already done in my relatively short lifetime.  And how did he know what was happening here with Aunt Rachel? Obviously there was more to him than he was offering. Did he possess something as unique as I did, is that how he was able to know what I was thinking just hours ago? Was he implying that it had been telepathy that we had experienced? I would have to question him about these things at a more opportune time, now wasn’t that time. Now I had to do something about Aunt Rachel. I yanked my arm away from him, turned, and approached her.

 “Aunt Ra –, ” my words were jerked out of my throat as my entire body was sucked towards her as if she was a vacuum hose and I was dirt to be cleaned from the carpet. I reached for her hands and held them in my own. The air around us slowly spiraled creating the breeze that I had seen flirting with her clothing and hair; it was now doing the same with my own. I looked for the origin of this whirlwind, but saw that the environment outside our immediate area had become distorted as if I was looking at it under water. I quickly abandoned the search for the source of the air current and focused on my aunt, whose eyes remained fixated on something beyond the strange barrier. I was concerned that she was already somewhere beyond my reach, that perhaps Mr. Stokes’ warning was accurate, but I had to at least try to do something, she was my aunt and I loved her.

The air swirled around us constantly moving, disorientating me.

Round and round.

Encircling the two of us.

Separating us from the rest of the world.

Whirling faster and faster.

Continuously spiraling.

Creating a rhythmic air current that vibrated.

I inhaled deeply, centering myself as I looked into Aunt Rachel’s eyes, intent on communicating with her, but though I tried to speak I was unable to make a sound. As soon as I pushed a word from my larynx it was snatched from my throat by some unseen force. I easily imagined that I was Ariel and that it was Ursula’s glowing magickal hand that had invaded my throat and stolen my voice. And that’s when I heard them … the calliope of sounds … similar to music, but organic in nature, melodic though distinctively different from any music I had ever previously heard.


Something about this experience felt vaguely familiar. Was it a dream I had? Or déjà vu?

No, neither of those, but something … something …

And it was at that moment when my understanding of the situation became clear. Raw fear ripped through my entire body as my mind screamed the word my mouth was unable to utter.



Chapter XXIII

Telepathy, as coined by the French psychical researcher Fredric W. H. Myers, is the innate psychic phenomena by which communication occurs between minds of humans, without the use of the usual sensory channels of communication such as speech or body language. It is the direct transference of thoughts, ideas, feelings, sensations, and mental images from one individual (the sender) to another (the receiver). Telepathy is considered a form of extra-sensory perception (ESP) and is often connected to other various paranormal phenomena such as precognition, clairvoyance, and empathy, but it is often difficult to determine whether information is communicated through telepathy or clairvoyance as they are the same psychic function manifested in different ways.

Telepathy is about energetic frequency and the ability to recognize and align with another person’s frequency. Although this is an innate ability all human beings possess it is not usually developed in everyone because as humans were created for life in the physical realm or the third dimension where we attain information through physical senses such as: touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound then is translated by the mind. Though the human mind is a physical organ it is more than that, it is an evolved physical matrix for a psychic entity of electrical and quantum impulses. This entity has the innate ability to receive and influence the temporary changes in the energy from other minds, therefore it is understood that telepathy is a natural function of the mind as it is energetically or psychically connected to all other minds which transcends our perceived concepts of time and space.

My parents left for their weeklong vacation on a Friday morning while I was sitting at the desk in the library listening to Mr. Stokes give me a lecture on the historical events that took place in Massachusetts in 1692. They created such a commotion in the foyer with their Louis Vuitton luggage that Mr. Stokes was forced to stop talking. He and I watched them through the opened library door. My Dad casually waved at us as he slung the strap of the duffle bag over his shoulder and with his other hand grabbed the handle of the biggest upright, rolling it behind him as he walked towards the front door. Mother blew me a kiss as she clutched her cosmetic satchel and the smaller upright. I returned their farewells, noting to myself their annoyance and aggravation only slightly hidden beneath the phony smiles they presented to us. A trip to the Bahamas was going to “fix” this? I shook my head in complete disbelief. My parents were clearly in serious denial about the state of their relationship.

With the sound of the front door closing, I redirected my attention back to my tutor who had removed his glasses and was carefully slipping them into the front pocket of his light blue button up shirt. The middle finger of his left hand had instinctively found the scar on his forehead and began massaging it. I was curious about his scar the moment I first saw it, but refrained from questioning him, but now, as I sat there gazing at him, waiting for him to continue with his lecture I pondered the circumstances surrounding it’s appearance on his face. How long ago had he acquired the injury? Did it still caused him pain?

“Perhaps someday I will share that story with you,” he smirked, as he sat on the edge of the desk. His hand now joined his other as they clasped and rested on his right thigh.

How did he know I was contemplating his scar? Was I so blatantly staring at it or did he attain the knowledge of my inquiry by some other means? These silent questions must have been readable in my expression because he chuckled with a slight nod.

“As entertaining as that story is, I must redirect your inquest back to the historical events of 1692. I find that it is pertinent to share some information with you that not only pertains to the events I’ve been discussing, but to your own family as well, specifically your father’s ancestors,” he explained in a tone that I had not heard prior from him. It was solemn with a hint of … was that fear?

My ancestors? This was wonderful! This was the type of information I was craving ever since I had purchased the books from that pagan shop in Bridgeboro, but how much information would he be able to share with me since he was not of my family bloodline? Was this going to be accurate material or pure speculation and conjecture? How had he attained this information? Did he read it in books? If so, what ones? Were there even any books about my family? How had he gathered this information?

He cleared his throat before he began. “You must understand that some of what I am going to tell you may be difficult for you to believe, but I am asking you to listen with an open mind and take time to contemplate even the slightest possibility that there is some truth to the stories. These are stories and rumor; nothing can be verified as there are no factual records to consult when it comes to your family history.”

I nodded. His words were becoming more intriguing as he spoke. To be honest with you though, I couldn’t have imagined anything that he might have told me that would have been difficult for me to believe. I had personally experienced the unbelievable for most of my childhood and because of those peculiar events that no one else dared believed to be true, I was ultimately diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and earned myself prescriptions for Cymbalta and Klonopin. I was excited with the consideration that he had stories of events that were more fantastical than what I had experienced firsthand.

“Your father’s family has a historical reputation that many people are still, to this very day, greatly influenced by,” Mr. Stokes explained. He pursed his lips and tilted his head, as he continued, “And not necessarily influenced in a positive or productive way.”

“Really?” I was impressed. “Dad always tells me that our family bloodline carries clout,” I said, recalling my father’s claim, one which I dismissed because it really had no bearing on my teenaged life.

Mr. Stokes agreed. “It does, but it holds much more than influence, Angie.” He paused as he leaned closer to me. He seemed to be studying my response or lack thereof, staring me directly in the eye, searching for something, perhaps some silent understanding of the words he left unspoken. I held his gaze without blinking, determined not to give away any hint of my own unusual experiences until after he had finished with what he had to share with me. He pulled himself back, adjusting his posture so that he was straight once more as he continued, “There were strange events that transpired in Salem Village during the years 1691 to 1697, many of which were not recorded in court documents because they were not submitted as evidence during the trails, however they were written about in the rare personal diaries of those who were educated at that time. Other accounts were passed on orally from generation to generation as cautionary tales about the Williams family.”

“Are you suggesting that my father is right? That our family is descended from the Williams of Salem?”

“I’m not just suggesting it, Angie. I am confirming it.”

Huh. I assumed that my father was just boasting, trying to impress the important people of the community and state that he and Mother invited to the parties that they hosted around the holidays. I never considered that his words could be truth, but I was beginning to think that this information would be useful to me or at least would illuminate some things about who my ancestors were and what they and Syn may want from me.

“Why did the people feel it was necessary to warn others about my family? I don’t understand,” I paused for a moment trying to comprehend the motives behind the actions. Was it possible that my ancestor’s powers were truly that intimating?  “Did it have anything to do with what was going on with the witch trails or was there something else going on at that time in the village?”

“They believed that it was Abigail Williams who caused the unpleasant events and circumstances that befell Salem, that it wasn’t the people she accused that were witches,” he emphatically explained. “It was her. She was the problem. She was the one that bewitched herself, her cousin, Betty Parris, Ann Putnam, Mary Walcott, Mercy Lewis, and the other afflicted girls; that she was the cause for the failing crops, the stillbirths and conjured the spirits. The families of the condemned were justifiably concerned of outright accusing her in fear of the retribution she would bring upon them. You must understand that they witnessed their own kin being imprisoned, tortured, and executed all due to the simple point of her index finger in their direction.”

I was in awe. I had never once considered that it was the infamous Abigail Williams that was my direct ancestor from Salem. I had assumed that the women of my bloodline that spoke to me from the darkness and verified the claims that I, along with the other females of my family, who had acknowledged and accepted their birthright as human agents of Syn were humble, unassuming pagan folk who had been the falsely accused by the Puritans. Oh, I had visited Salem once when I was younger. Our elementary school class had gone on a field trip and I recalled thinking that it was amusing that Abigail had the same surname as I did, but then Williams is not an uncommon name in New England; I had met other students with the same last name who were not of my family. This connection with Abigail, such a pivotal individual in the historical events of Salem, Massachusetts, well, this was a significant revelation.

“Was it witchcraft?”

Mr. Stokes frowned and shook his head with a shrug. “The accounts recorded in the diaries and orally passed down insist it was; that Abigail was an authentic witch who had made a blood pact with The Devil in order to gain extraordinary powers, but historical essays deny such a claim and instead portray her as a simple repressed young girl who suffered from child abuse, epilepsy, mental illness or a disease brought on by eating fungus infected rye.”

I sat in silence for a moment, overwhelmed with the amount of information Mr. Stokes had shared with me and what implications it had. I felt kindred with Abigail Williams that I hadn’t before and hadn’t felt with anyone else including my family in my life until that very moment. I wanted to know more about her. I needed to know more, but would Mr. Stokes be able to provide me with anything more?

“The diaries, do you have them?”

“I do not,” he deliberately stood from his perch on the desk and walked to the bay windows gazing out at Mother’s garden.

I was profoundly disappointed. “Oh, well that just sucks.”

“But,” Mr. Stokes continued with his back towards me. “I know the woman who does.”

Instead of feeling elation with the prospect of reading the diaries for myself, I was earnestly annoyed with my tutor. Was he intentionally baiting me? What was his deal? Was he getting off on taunting me like this with the diaries? Any other day I would have enjoyed this verbal parlay, but not today. The information he had just shared with me was momentous and the accounts in those diaries were far too significant to banter about. I stared intently at his back, feeling my annoyance shift into anger. I felt my blood pumping within my heart and flowing through the veins and arteries in my body, becoming imbued with the melody of my frustration and anger. Once he turned around my gaze would fix upon his, allowing the malicious fascination which had reached a crescendo seep into his soul.

Mr. Stokes slowly turned from the windows to face me; his expression held only considerable remorse. He had bowed his head slightly as not to look me in the eyes as he spoke, “Forgive me, Angie. I apologize. I shouldn’t have baited you with the diaries. I have no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive, and I don’t find any sort of pleasure in taunting you with such significant information. You are absolutely correct; the information I just shared with you is momentous and the accounts in those diaries are far too significant to banter about.”

What the fuck?!

Chapter XXII

Last night at dinner, while the three of us were sitting at the dinner table feasting on Mother’s Tarragon Poached Salmon, my parents informed me of their joint decision to work on and resuscitate their dying marriage. They had mutually agreed that to do so successfully they were required to be alone, to be somewhere that neither of them could be easily influenced by outside sources such as work colleagues, friends, or family members. So my Dad had made a reservation for them to spend a week in the Bahamas and had made arrangement with Aunt Rachel and my cousin, Christian, to stay at the house with me while they were away. They explained that they had contacted my brother, Daniel and asked if he would be able to come home for the week to stay with me, but he was unable to leave campus; his demanding schedule and commitment to the summer camp program that the school offered didn’t allow him time for trips home that summer.

It was a challenge for me to stifle a mocking laugh that had lurched from inside my gut. His “demanding schedule”? Really? Were they serious? Did they honestly believe his weak excuse for not coming home? It was evident to me that neither of them followed Daniel on any social media platform because it was clear, at least to me, by his numerous photos and status messages that he was having a very exciting and busy summer so far, socializing with numerous peers and by my own deduction was not even staying on campus this summer. There was no way he was involved or had a commitment with the summer camp program that his school was offering. He had posted plenty of photos of himself holding a variety of alcoholic drinks, Narraganset Beer being his beverage of choice, with a diverse menagerie of girls in countless poses all in social settings that were noticeably not his school campus. He appeared to have a freedom that contradicted the information my parents shared with me, but I wasn’t going to point out the blatant inconsistency. I understood why Daniel didn’t want to spend the week at home even if my parents were in denial or just plain ignorant about it. It wasn’t just because he wouldn’t be surrounded by pretty girls hanging all over him or by the never-ending flow of beer; it was because he didn’t want to spend the week alone with me.

I sadly realized that not only were my brother and I estranged; we were just two very dissimilar people. My personal interests were not Daniel’s and his were not mine. (I dislike large crowds of people and alcohol does nothing for me except make me nauseous.) It was almost as if we were raised in two different households by two different set of parents, which I found to be more than just a tad disturbing. Was it possible that one of us was actually adopted? Daniel was named after Caroline’s father, but I was unsure of who I was named after, if I was named after anyone at all. Is it beyond reasonable consideration to think that perhaps Caroline and Edward were not my biological parents? Could I be the daughter of someone else? Perhaps there weren’t any other members of the Williams’ family who possessed the same abilities as I did. Maybe I was abandoned and left in a cardboard box on the porch of my pseudoparents because I was so powerful at birth and the unusual facts about my beginnings was kept from me for all these years because it could inevitably endanger those around me. Conceivably my feelings of alienation were because I honestly didn’t belong in the Williams clan, these people weren’t my tribe and their ancestors weren’t mine. The answers that I was seeking from them, they couldn’t provide because I simply didn’t belong.

“Am I adopted?” The question flew out of my mouth before I could capture it and regret settled in as soon as I heard my own voice utter the words in the silent pause of the ongoing dinner conversation.

“What?” Mother carefully placed the silver fork she was using onto the table next to her plate and blotted her painted mouth with her cloth napkin. “Why are you asking, Angie?”

Dad was obviously annoyed. With his hand he waved off Mother’s question and glared in my direction. “What does that have to do with what we’ve been discussing here, right now?” He vigorously jammed his index finger against the surface of the oak table as he spoke, emphasizing every other word. He paused, waiting for my response, to which I gave none. I stayed silent which clearly irritated him even more. I winced at the volume of his voice as he continued his tirade. “Have you heard nothing we’ve been explaining to you, Angie? Are you aware that we are informing you about a very serious situation that will affect your future in this family? Are you listening to what we are saying to you? Are you comprehending what’s happening here? Or are you off in your own fantasy world as usual?”

Mother glanced from Dad to me in silence. When I didn’t respond to his bullying, he purposefully dropped his fork onto the table so that it created a loud thud and grabbed his beer glass draining it of the dark ale it had been holding. When the glass was empty he forcefully placed it on the table with a thump; the white foam slowly slid down the inside of the thick glass from the rim to the bottom. Dad was clearly agitated, but I understood that his reaction to my question wasn’t solely in response to my inquiry. I wasn’t the original catalyst that sparked his passionate anger. He had redirected his feelings of inadequacy that Mother’s indiscretion with Peter Morrell had stirred within him to me, an easier target and origin of some of his overall life’s frustrations. I silently wondered if their vacation to the Bahamas was truly a shared decision or if Mother was manipulating the situation so that Dad had no choice but to agree with what she had proposed.

“Edward,” Mother warned, focusing her gaze on Dad as she lifted the crystal water glass to her lips and sipped.

He grunted, stood from his chair, set his napkin on the table, and grabbed his beer glass. “I’m getting myself another ale.” With his free hand he gestured to Mother and me. “Do either of you need anything from the kitchen?”

“No, thank you, Edward,” Mother responded, gently replacing her glass to its place off to the right of her dinner plate.

I shook my head uneasy with Dad’s seemingly quick change of demeanor. He left the dining room quietly as Mother smiled weakly at me.

“Don’t take your father’s behavior so personally, Angie. He’s under a tremendous amount of stress at work lately because of what’s been happening over these last few weeks. He’s had to take on more clients and well, you know, with what’s happened with Mr. Morrell,” she paused as a subtle shadow of remorse appeared. She quickly waved her hand in front of her face as if to wipe away the lingering shadow. “Any way, I’m certain that when we return from the Bahamas everything will be back to normal.”

I nodded indicating that I heard her and understood what she was trying to convey, but not because I agreed with her. Was she attempting to persuade me or herself? She picked up her fork and continued with eating. I studied her expression with confusion and disbelief. Did she really think that a week vacation in the Bahamas was going to fix everything in her marriage? In Dad’s life? With our family? I watched her coral-colored lips part so that the fork full of green beans could find its way into her mouth. The silver metal tongs easily slid back out with a soft tug of her hand. She glanced at me as she chewed the vegetables and smiled, briefly patting my hand that rested on the table near my own fork, reassuring me of whatever she felt I needed comforting about.

I contemplated why she hadn’t responded to my original question and why it had sparked such an emotional response from Dad. Was Mother ignoring my query in hopes that I would forget I had asked? I wondered if I had even spoken the words aloud. Maybe I had just considered doing so within my own mind and hadn’t vocalized my concern with an actual question. Had I even spoken at all during dinner? Did I utter words aloud or had I only imagined that I had?

“Am I adopted?” I asked the woman sitting with me at the dining room table, who I had known as Mother for all the years I could remember.

I made a mental note that: yes, this time I knew for certain I had clearly articulated my question. Was her reluctance to respond because I was adopted and neither parent wanted to discuss it? What was so disturbing about the circumstances of my adoption that they denied it and never wanted to discuss it with me? My curiosity was evolving into something greater, something darker, more turbulent.

Mother swallowed the green beans, placed her fork gingerly on the table, and took a quick drink of water before responding to me.

She looked me directly in the eyes as she replied aware that her response was meaningful, “No, Angie, you are not adopted.”

“Is Daniel?”

She shook her head. “No. Neither of you are adopted. You are both our biological children. You know, when you were younger the resemblance you had to your Aunt Rachel when she was the same age was uncanny. You could have easily been mistaken for twins. There are some old family photos in the big album that I keep on the bookshelf near the fireplace in the living room. If you’re curious you should dig them out and look through them.”

I was overwhelmingly disappointed with her reply. I had been convinced that I was adopted and the idea had brought me hope of finding someone else who I could relate to, someone who could understand the  lonely life I was living, and the elation my abilities bestowed upon me, but with her reasonable words Mother demolished that hope. I picked up my fork and stabbed the piece of salmon that sat untouched on my own dinner plate.

Chapter XXI

In ancient Norse mythology, the Valkyrie, “Chooser of the Slain”, was originally a group of nine sinister spirits of slaughter, corpse goddesses, and dark angels of death who soared over battle fields like birds of prey and were represented in carvings as carrion-eating ravens. The original Valkyries were purely immortal beings who possessed the power of malicious magick, which they used to cause the death of the warriors they did not favor; while others guarded the lives and ships of those dear to them. They would intimately weave the fates of mortal men with the loom, weaving victory and defeat with the intestines of slain warriors for their thread, severed heads for weights, and swords and arrows for beaters, all the while chanting their intentions with ominous delight. They possessed the art of the war-fetter, which allowed them to bind a warrior with terror, or release a favored warrior from those same bonds. In this capacity, the Valkyrie were worshiped as demigoddesses and offered sacrifices. There were also references made to mortal Valkyries, who were beautiful, young maidens, possessing supernatural powers and armed with helmet, spear, and shield, while riding winged horses onto the battle fields. Freyja, the Norse goddess of love and beauty, was often depicted as their chieftain. Although the Valkyries were most often portrayed as battle maidens, they were not warriors.

Between the third and eleventh centuries, the perception of the Valkyries changed and they became associated with Odin, The All Father of the Norse pantheon, whom they served as bodyguards and messengers. They would dispense out warriors’ fate in his name, but their primary role was to select the most heroic of slain warriors to become the deathless Einherjar, the soldiers who would fight at Odin’s side during Ragnarok, the final battle between the gods and the giants. The Valkyrie escorted the new Einherjar across Bifröst, the rainbow bridge that linked Midgard to Asgard, and on into the great hall of Valhalla and Fólkvangr, the home of Freyja, where the Valkyrie served the Einherjar fine foods, such as wild boar, and sacred wine made from honey. They would remain the Einherjar’s servants until Ragnarok.

Mortals in Midgard witnessed the Valkyrie’s flickering armor and streaming light from their spears whenever Odin sent them out. In the Middle Ages, Scandinavians believed the northern lights were the Valkyries flying across the night sky.

“Good afternoon, Angie,” the man smiled, nonchalantly peeking around me into the foyer clearing searching for someone other than the person who answered the door. What the hell was this guy doing here? There was clearly no logical way that he thought my Dad was home, I mean, since he worked at the same place with the man, so what was he doing here, at our house? I scrutinized his casual appearance: denim jeans, blue V-neck sweater, white collar shirt, and tweed jacket. He was not wearing a business suit, which had to mean that he was not coming from the office. Okay, so I will give him the benefit of doubt, maybe he didn’t know whether Dad was home, but the intense focus he had on the interior of the foyer was a bit unsettling.

“Hello, Mr. Morrell. If you’re looking for my Dad, he’s not home,” I volunteered, addressing his blatant voyeurism. He’s at work where you should be, I added in my head.

“I’m not here to see your father,” he clarified, removing his sun glasses and placing them into the interior front pocket of his jacket.

What? I was momentarily confused. I must have misheard him; he did tend to mumble slightly when he spoke. It sounded as if he said that he wasn’t here to see my Dad.

“I’m sorry; did you say that you’re not here to see my Father?” I asked, wanting to be certain that I accurately heard him. It was possible that my medication was screwing around with my hearing, sometimes I had strange side effects and diminished hearing wouldn’t be the worst I had experienced.

He nodded. “Yes, that’s what I said.”

I wished that Mr. Stokes hadn’t left because I was annoyed with Mr. Morrell and he had only been standing there for a matter of seconds; his clothes irritated me, his body language bothered me, and the way he was looking at me with lecherous arrogance aggravated me. “Then why are you here?”

Smiling, he slipped his hands into his trouser pockets as realization hit me like a hammer. Seriously? Fuck me! No, this was not happening.

“Is your mother home?”

“No. No, she’s not.”

“But that’s her car, isn’t it?” he asked, cocking his head to the side and gesturing to the blue Cadillac coupe parked in our driveway. “Please tell her that I am here to see her.”

This was not acceptable. While I was fully aware that Mother and I didn’t have a happy or even functional mother-daughter relationship, she was still the only mother I had even when she was being an idiot and I wouldn’t allow Mr. Morrell’s actions or hers to fuck up our family. I may complain about the distance between us or the lack of connection, but I’ve come to rely on my family just as it was. No one was going to change it; not Mother and certainly not this shady character standing before me smirking at me, visually fondling my breasts.

“Come in,” I said, stepping out of the way, as I pulled open the front door wide enough for Mother’s visitor to step into the foyer. I felt him staring at my butt as I lead him to the living room. I pointed to the sofa that was situated across from the pair of Queen Anne chairs. “Have a seat. I’ll let her know that you’re here.”

“Great. Thank you, honey,” Mr. Morrell said, touching my lower back as he passed by me and into the living room. Confidently and without hesitation, he walked over to the corner bar and helped himself to a glass of my Dad’s eighteen year old Scotch Whiskey.

“I’m not your honey,” I stated flatly from the threshold of the living room.

Chuckling, he turned to me, holding the crystal glass filled with alcohol, and took a long slug. “Lighten up, Angie. I think you might need to find something to help you relax a little. You’re always so serious.”

“Oh really? What might help me relax, Mr. Morrell?” What was he going to advise? I’m sure it wasn’t going to be something as innocent as meditation. Was he going to offer me some of my Dad’s expensive whiskey? Or suggest I take a hot bath, preferably with him? I was curious as to how far he was willing to go with this situation. Unfortunately I could tell by the bulge in his trousers that he was raring to venture rather far with someone. “I’m sure a man like you has some ideas he is willing to share with someone as stern as me.”

He drained the rest of the glass and poured himself another. What a freeloader!

“Yeah, I have a few ideas I could share with you,” he walked over to the sofa and sat down, inviting me to sit next to him with a pat of the cushion. “Let me share them with you.”

I refrained from joining him on the sofa, but took a few steps into the room so that I could see more than the back of his head. “Do you like music, Mr. Morrell?” I asked. My fingertips traced the edge of the MP3 player that I had concealed in the pocket of my cardigan sweater. The hard plastic triggered my heart to beat just a bit faster than usual. The wires of the ear buds twisted around my hands like baby garden snakes.

“Call me Peter,” he urged as he waved his hand in the air in front of him, the whiskey beginning to affect his gross motor skills. “Mr. Morrell is too formal.”

“Okay. Peter,” embracing the intimacy he suggested. “Do you like music?”

Smirking, he held the glass of whiskey just inches from his mouth, the same lust dancing across his face that I had witnessed on Ryan Fuller a few weeks prior. “I do.”

“So, do I.” I really did love music probably more than the average person. I mean, how many others had the connection and felt the power to create and destroy as I did when listening to a composition? Music brought me great joy and was my constant companion regardless of my many unusual behaviors that seemed to be an issue for people. Music never deceived me or broke a promise. “Do you think it might help me relax?”

He took a gulp of the amber alcohol and wiped his mouth with the back of the hand holding the glass. “Yes, I do.”

“I could play something for you,” I offered. “Or maybe I should go get Mother.”

“I think that you,” he pointed to me then to himself, “and I should listen to something together before you get her.”

Of course he did, this man was beyond redemption. I walked over to the sofa as I removed the MP3 player from my pocket along with the two sets of earbuds. I crawled onto Mr. Morrell’s lap straddling him so that we were positioned face to face. I was aware that he probably perceived my actions as an attempt to seduce him, however in reality it was simply a strategic move for me to ensure that the ear pods were fitted in his ears correctly. I took the glass from his hand and placed it on a coaster on the coffee table and placed the second set of earbuds in my own ears as he rested his hands on my hips. I could feel how much he was excited by this turn of events, but I knew he really wasn’t prepared for what was about to transpire.

“Let me play this for you …” I said as I chose a piece titled The Shadow’s Bride.

The piano set the rhythm that began us on the unforgettable experience we were about to share. I leaned my body against his torso as the cello began to play, their notes vibrating in our ears. He firmly gripped my hips, subtly rubbing me against him as his gaze became distant. I pushed his head against the back of the sofa and gently placed my left hand over his eyes encouraging him to close them. He did so without struggle, the whiskey had removed any resistance, becoming my liquid accomplice. He inhaled deeply, settling into a steady breath. I carefully stood, removing myself from his lap and creating a spatial distance between our energetic vibrational bodies. His hands gently fell from my hips to the cushion and rested palms up. He was intoxicated not only from the whiskey he had consumed, but from the melodic soundwaves that caressed his body, which had now become still as if he were asleep.

I inhaled deeply, closing my own eyes and eased into the notes of the piano. I found resonance with the sounds as the familiar whisper became clearer to me. The soft haunting notes of the cello caressed my psyche along with murmurs of encouragement from Syn, the goddess of my ancestors. Her voice mingled with the piano and cello, washing over me, instructing me, guiding me, allowing me to harness the power held within my veins. I slowly opened my eyes as Mr. Morrell’s physical body slowly levitated above the sofa. Like a lover, the music seduced him, creating a resonance within him, coaxing his essence to move in unison with it. I smiled and raised my arms preparing to begin the required gestures. I effortlessly guided him through a complicated dance, a series of movements with turns and dips. The volume steadily decreased causing his energetic frequency to visibly become weaker, less physical and more ethereal; fading it seemed, into nothingness.

I closed my eyes as the calmness enveloped me, cradling me in the depths of profound satisfaction. I removed the ear pods from my ears and retrieved the abandoned set from the sofa cushion. No one will change my family. No one will fuck up what I have, even if it is dysfunctional. I won’t allow it.

Chapter XX

Clairaudience is a field of parapsychology meaning clear hearing. It is a form of extra-sensory perception wherein an individual acquires information in thought form by auditory means from another realm. It is considered a form of channeling and is one of the four major ways to receive intuitive information, the other three being: clairvoyance, clairsentience, and claircognizance. The manifestation of clairaudience begins with a change in ear pressure accompanied by ringing, popping or buzzing noises. This psychic ability can appear in an individual at any time during their life; some individuals are aware and attuned with the ability at birth, others take years to discover they possess it and may have been using it without realization, while some may not comprehend they were clairaudient until moments before their death.

Some psychics may be required to attain a controlled altered state of consciousness, such as achieved through meditation, in order to access their clairaudient abilities while others will experience it while in a mundane conscious state. When under duress or experiencing an emergency situation, the ability may be inadvertently accessed as this is a time when all other physical senses are heightened and prepared for impending danger. Human beings are always connected to the other realms however their focus is usually keenly aligned on the physical with a disinterest in the non-physical. It is within these other realms of existence that the beings speaking to the clairaudient originate from: the dead, ancestors, spirit guides, angels, demons, deities, avatars, disincarnate entities, astral noise (static), or aliens.

The information and messages that the psychic receives are not only words, but are phrases, music, and evocative sounds originating outside the normal scope of awareness. Sometimes the voices and sounds are clear, other times they are muffled, but clear distinctions can be made by determining the frequency signature, as each being has its own note or vibration. Just as with telepathy, the messages are most commonly heard internally, inside the psychic’s own head and in the psychic’s own voice thus making it problematic to discern if it is the psychic’s own thoughts or a foreign entity’s message. This is not to say that the messages may not be given externally or in another unique sounding voice because that is also a possibility.

Clairaudience and mental illness, though both may superficially appear similar, are in fact different. While they both consist of hearing voices either internally or externally there are no other shared characteristics. Clairaudient psychics learn to control the voices they hear and the voices tend to be sporadic, concise, and direct. The tone is usually kind, rational, and compassionate while providing answers, insight, and rational advice about a current situation that the individual is engaged in. The messages will encourage spiritual growth without harmful behavior. While the voices heard by those suffering from mental illness tend to be uncontrollable, constant, verbose, and meandering. The tone is usually irate, irrational, and callous, providing nothing, but confusion, paranoia, despair, and illogical thinking about the individual, their life circumstances and their fears. The messages will often encourage harmful behaviors and facilitate spiritual stagnation.

Mr. Stokes had been my tutor for close to a year and in my opinion he had been the one most qualified to instruct me. Believe me when I tell you that it is no small accomplishment for him to still be in the position as my private tutor; there have been a slew of others who have failed in their attempts to do what Mr. Stokes is currently flourishing at. There was one tutor, a woman named Miss Penniman, who came highly recommended by Mother’s acquaintance, a professor at Johnson and Wales University, who quit after only spending two hours with me. Yes, I admit Miss Penniman was a rare occurrence, the average amount of time holding the position as my teacher, prior to Mr. Stokes, had been a week. And you are absolutely correct in thinking that it is a challenge for my parents to find someone who has the ability to not only academically instruct me, but who can also skillfully and efficiently deal with what may be perceived as abnormal and often morbid behaviors. Mr. Stokes apparently has the mandatory talent, which is wonderful because I actually like the man. He is well educated with a wide spectrum of knowledge ranging from mathematics to philosophy; in addition I find him most amusing with his idiosyncrasies and social awkwardness, so I do my best to restrain my own freakish behaviors. I believe that I intellectually challenge him and he seems impressed with the quality of questions I ask concerning his lectures. We have come to a mutual place of respect and no matter how bizarre my behavior has been, he has never been rattled and has always responded calmly and unemotionally, which I find most intriguing.

When I was in the eighth grade my parents were forced to remove me from public school, at the compelling recommendation of the school superintendent after a rather violent episode that transpired upon our return to class following Christmas vacation. At that time Mother, with a business degree from Cornell University, had recently been promoted at her job with Taylor Foods, a local food distributor. She was actively climbing the corporate ladder, finally having the freedom to focus on establishing a successful career for herself without the constant worry of being an attentive mother. Daniel and I were independent and mature enough to tend to the basic of our needs, but unfortunately once the school recommended that I be removed, she was obligated to quit her job and stay home with me, while the family’s financial responsibility was carried solely on Father’s shoulders. My Dad never faltered in his obligation and we proceeded to live the life we were accustomed without noticing the shift in the family income. Our family wasn’t considered wealthy, however we weren’t destitute either. Father graduated two years prior to Mother from Columbia University with a degree in finance and it took him less than a month after graduation to find an entry level analyst position with a local Fortune 500 company and less than a year to be promoted to senior analyst. However it required him to spend a significant amount of personal time and energy on work; this practice established a routine for Father, enabling him to become more focused on his career and less focused on his family, which over the years never changed, though Mother’s life was drastically altered once my behaviors became less than appealing to the teachers and principal of my middle school.

My parents are surrounded by many people, but I’m not certain as to how many of them, if any, are truly people they trust or would consider their friends. I know Mother’s social circle has grown over the last few months. She has been elected by the members of her women’s group to be their unofficial leader and with that has gained some powerful influence over our community; while my Father’s social interactions have vanished. With the exception of regular visits from Aunt Rachel, he doesn’t seem to have anyone resembling a friend. Peter Morrell, a colleague of Dad’s, and what I assumed was his friend for close to a year, abruptly stopped coming by the house. Whether or not Dad continually met him elsewhere I can’t be sure, but it was clear to me that the dynamic between them had changed. I attributed the shift to an argument I overheard on New Year’s Day between my parents. Dad accused Mother of engaging in some inappropriate behavior with Mr. Morrell at the party he and his wife had hosted the night before in their home. Mother adamantly denied the allegation, calling it outrageous, pointing out that Dad had been intoxicated and must have misinterpreted what he saw, but Dad didn’t agree. Perhaps it was the lack of time that my parents spent together that had destroyed any sense of intimacy that they once shared or maybe they had just fallen out of love with each other, but for whatever the reason, it was clear to any observer that their marriage was faltering. I often wondered how much of it could be ascribed to me.

Mother had found sanctuary amidst the chaos of life, within her favorite flower, the dahlia, of which she had numerous different species blooming in the backyard. Her gardens were not only a hobby, they were her obsession. She would often spend hours pruning, watering, and nurturing the plants, ensuring that her gardens were the most spectacular in the neighborhood. Come spring she would spend more hours with her flowers than she would with people, even her weekly social club meetings would be held outside under the garden gazebo so that she could admire them while socializing with the women. Over the years numerous photographers visited our home to capture the beauty of Mother’s dahlias, their images prominently featured in Country Gardens. She took pride in that fact and kept numerous copies of the magazines conspicuously placed on the various coffee tables in different rooms of the house. At times when Mother angered me with her foolish rules or threatened punishment for what she perceived to be my inappropriate behavior, I would fantasize about pouring gallons of white vinegar throughout her precious flower gardens and it brought me just a touch of satisfaction when I envisioned just how devastating that experience would be for her.

As I listened to Mr. Stokes’ lecture on contemporary realism, my focus shifted from the scar on his forehead near his hairline, to the image of Mother tending her dahlias. I watched her through the library windows as Mr. Stokes’ voice droned, lulling me, seducing me, to the border of a trance. The chime of the doorbell echoed through the house, startling me back to the present moment and stopping Mr. Stokes’ midsentence.

“I suppose we can stop here for today,” my tutor explained, as he began packing his textbook and iPad into his leather messenger bag. “You have your assignment, which I expect to be completed by Friday. If you have questions, email me.”

“I will,” I said, closing the spiral notebook I had been taking random notes in. I was pleased that the lessons for the day were over; I didn’t think I could have endured listening to any more about Neil Welliver and his paintings. I casually walked around the table to escort my teacher to the front door as was our usual routine. Serenity was our typical companion as we walked through the foyer, but today something had the old man jittery, as if he had something awkward or important to share, but he was uncomfortable broaching the subject with me.

“Angie.” Mr. Stokes stopped as he said my name and turned to face me, looking me directly in the eye, which wasn’t difficult since we were almost the same height. “I know what you think of me, at least what your impression of me is, so I hope you take a moment to consider what I am about to share with you.”

The doorbell chimed once more. With his statement, Mr. Stokes enticed my interest even more than he usually did with his unemotional responses to my own sometimes peculiar conduct. I couldn’t imagine what he was going to say, but the quivering within me indicated that it was going to be something poignant. Perhaps he would say something insightful that would provide me with ideas to contemplate during the rest of the week. I had been suffering boredom as of late and would thoroughly enjoy a hefty intellectual distraction, preferably something dealing with the occult. I watched my tutor’s face contort into a flurry of expressions as he seemed to consider the best way to vocalize his thoughts.

“Your father’s family has a historical reputation that …” The doorbell flooded the foyer with its musical sound cutting Mr. Stokes midsentence. Annoyed and exasperated, I walked to the front door, grabbed its handle and opened it wide enough to receive the visitor standing on the other side of it. I was surprised to be greeted by the appearance of my father’s work colleague, Mr. Peter Morrell.

Mr. Stokes cleared his throat as he approached us from behind. “I will see you, Friday, Angie.” He politely nodded at Mr. Morrell who was waiting patiently to be allowed entry into our home.

Chapter XIX

Nordic Runes are written letters that were used by the Norse people before the adoption of the Latin alphabet. The symbols used are eternal and powerful forces of the cosmos. The letters or runes allow an individual to access, interact with, and influence the great forces that they symbolize therefore when the Norse god, Odin sought the runes he wasn’t merely attempting to acquire a set of symbols, but was uncovering an extraordinary potent system of magick.

At the center of the cosmos stands the great tree Yggdrasil. It grows out of the Well of Urd, a pool whose fathomless depths hold the most powerful forces and beings in the cosmos including the Norns, three maidens who exert more influence over the course of destiny than any other being in the cosmos. One of the ways they do this is by carving runes into Yggdrasil’s trunk. These symbols carry the intentions of the symbols that were written throughout the tree, thus affecting everything in the Nine Worlds.

Odin envying the power of the Norns became determined to gain the power for himself. Since the runes only revealed themselves to those who proved themselves worthy of such fearful insights, Odin hung himself from a branch of Yggdrasil, pierced himself with his own spear, and peered into the Well of Urd calling to the runes. He hung from the tree for nine days and nights without the aid of any other gods, and without even a sip of water. At the end of the ninth night, he perceived shapes in the depths of the Well of Urd. The runes had accepted his sacrifice and revealed not only their forms but also the secrets that were held within them. Odin is the one who imparted the runes to the first human beings.

I recognized the ancient symbols immediately when I spotted them carved in the inside lid of the wooden box that sat on the third shelf in the tall glass case near the entrance of the shop. Elizabeth, the shop owner and I stood before the display peering inside at the variety of unique items.

On the top shelf sat two statues; one was of a bronze figure sitting on a cube with odd engraved glyphs covering it and the other was an angel like figure standing with wings spread opened. The first statue appeared to be a human form, a man covered in scales with long, narrow wings on his back and claws where his hands and feet should have been, but the strangest characteristic of the statue was that the bald head reminded me of an octopus. The second sculpture, the angel like form was made of a bright yellow resin and wore a hooded robe that covered its face and feet. It was rather a beautiful unsettling piece of art.

The second shelf held numerous daggers and knives of various blade lengths all with ornamental hilts, some had gems fixed to the handles while others had strange symbols carved into the blade itself. Some of the knives had matching sheathes while others without a sheath were displayed on a black velvet mat. A small handwritten sign indicated that these were all ‘Ritual blades’; whatever that meant.

Elizabeth pointed to a sphere sitting in the wooden box I had first spied when we approached the case. It sat on the shelf below the blades with the lid opened so the familiar symbols were clearly visible. The sphere seemed to be made of opaque glass though it looked iridescent with slightly shifting colors, but I wasn’t sure if it was my own perception or an illusion created by the lighting inside the display case.

“What is it?” I asked, mesmerized by the unusual object.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve tried to do research on it but I came up with nothing. I even brought it to the local college’s anthropology department to see if they could identify it but they were at a loss too.”

“Weird,” I commented without taking my eyes off the object. “Do you know what it’s made of?”

“No. Maybe quartz crystal but I can’t be positive. It has some strange characteristics, nothing I’ve ever seen in any other crystal or stone. And granted I don’t claim to be an expert on rocks but I do know enough to know that this sphere,” she explained pointing to the object in the case. “Is unique.”

“Like how? What sort of strange characteristics?” I didn’t know the first thing about crystals or stones but this thing was becoming more interesting to me the more she talked about it. What the hell was it?

“Well,” she paused, crossing her arms and gazing into the case with me. “I’ve had a few people try and purchase it from me and …”

“What?” I cut her off. The way she said the word ‘try’ was odd. I turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow. “What do you mean ‘try and buy it’?” This lady had to be joking; either that or she was doing her best to hype up the sphere so I would spend my own money on it. She probably tagged it at an exorbitant price and it was undoubtedly just made of common glass. Though I had to admit to myself that she did seem genuine but wasn’t that the key to a successful con? Maybe she wasn’t as genuine as I first thought. Maybe she was a simple charlatan. I mean look at this place. I’m sure there was a bottle of Snake Oil somewhere on one of these shelves.

“Yeah, try and buy it. But,” she shrugged, “They ended up returning it to me the very next morning. They couldn’t wait to give it back. Each time the customer was already waiting outside my shop in their car for me to open so they could return it.” She held up fingers of her right hand. “Three different people at three different times and each of them had the same complaint.” She paused. “They said that it was too loud.”

“Too loud?” I laughed. “Too loud?”

“I know,” she nodded. “It makes no sense to me either. They said that it would hum and buzz all night keeping them awake and giving them a headache,” she explained. “I don’t know. I’ve never heard it make a sound and I’ve had it in the shop now for over two years.”

I turned back to the display case and pointed to the lid of the box. “Are those Runes on the inside of the lid?” I honestly didn’t know much about the symbols but I knew what they looked like. I had seen them in a few places: books, movies, documentaries, and other television series but I didn’t know what those particular ones were, what they meant, or what their purpose was.

“You have a good eye,” Elizabeth smiled. “Yes, they are. Othilia, Dagaz, Laguz, and Ansuz.”

“What do they mean? Why would someone carve them into the lid of that box?” I wondered aloud.

“Well, the first Rune, Othilia represents an heritance, and Dagaz means transformation, Laguz in that reversed position warns about overreaching or exceeding your own abilities and the last one, Ansuz in that position refers to Loki, the trickster from the Nose pantheon of gods.” She paused in thought. “I guess someone could have been leaving a message about the sphere. Reminding someone that it was their inheritance and when they received it, they would also undergo some sort of transformation. There seems to be a warning about not using it beyond their limits or Loki would manifest in their life.”

I wanted that sphere. I felt as if it was calling to me, that it was mine. I was overwhelmed by the amount of things that I was finding here in the shop, things that seemed to be meant for me to find and purchase. Was it possible that I was lead here, perhaps by my ancestors, by Syn, to discover more about myself and about my birthright and my role as Syn’s human agent in Midgard?

“But that’s my interpretation. Someone else might get a different meaning from the Runes. Would you like me to take it out of the case so you can see it up close?” Elizabeth asked me.

I nodded. “Yes, I would.”