The light in the house was quickly fading, causing Mother’s precious antiques to cast looming shapes around the still living room. I was suspicious of each dark corner and unusual shadow I spied. One might assume that it was my diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia that caused me to feel and think this way, but I would adamantly argue that it was the events of that afternoon that sparked my fear. The atmosphere in the house was oppressive and made breathing strenuous as the sinister presence lurking in the shadows observed, evaluated, and waited for the current situation in the house to change, but what then? What would transpire? I knew that I was the sole party at fault; that it was I alone that had shifted the outcome of events, and because of my actions there would be dire consequences experienced by all, but I had no glimmer of understanding of what those might be. I was certain that the answer could be found within the stillness of the lingering shadows.
It had been close to three hours since I had pulled Aunt Rachel from the energetic cyclone that had entrapped her, a vortex to another plane of existence, I suspected. However she had not yet regained consciousness, which was concerning. She lay motionless where Mr. Stokes and I had placed her on the sofa in the same room where six months prior the local police detectives had questioned me about my hospital visit with Josh Keyes. I currently sat in the Queen Anne chair that had been occupied by Detective Moore, while next to me Mr. Stokes sat in the matching chair where Detective Walker sat. Both of us were staring at Aunt Rachel, waiting for her to awaken, just as our accompanying shadows were.
I was feeling tense and restless. There must be something I could do, some action to be taken to alleviate the feeling of anxiety I was experiencing. I considered taking an additional dose of my prescription or having a healthy portion of my father’s whiskey, but decided that being alert in case Aunt Rachel regained consciousness was the best option. I glanced over at my tutor and studied his silhouette; his protruding nose and jutting chin gave him the appearance of nobility, while his slouch contradicted the suggestion.
I had so many questions for him that demanded immediate answers, but I wasn’t certain where to begin and how to approach him with most of them. I was annoyed with him for possessing more occult knowledge than I assumed and for his refusal to share with me when I was clear about my desire to learn about it. I coveted the knowledge he possessed, but recognized that my usual sarcastic approach to anything of significance that I deserved to have needed to be tempered in order to convince him that it was a benefit to share this secret knowledge with me.
As I silently contemplated my tactic, Mr. Stokes pushed up his sleeve so he had a clear view of his wristwatch. He slowly inhaled through his nose and exaggerated his exhale as he stood from his seat.
“It appears that we are going to have to do something about Rachel,” he explained, as he glanced from her body back to me. “It doesn’t seem as if she is able to return to us on her own.”
I watched him without saying a word.
“I think,” he clasped his hands in front of him as he spoke. His voice was flat and without emotion as if he was presenting me with a lesson. “That it would be prudent for us to first boost her energetic vibration with our own, which should strengthen it and simultaneously act as a beacon drawing her back to the physical plane.”
I approached the sofa and scrutinized Aunt Rachel’s face. There was no indicator of pain, but there was no sign of peace either. There was an absence of expression in her gentle feminine features. I saw nothing. It was as if she were hollow, that her body was an empty husk lying on the sofa even though her chest rhythmically rose and fell. I was confused and though I didn’t want to admit it to Mr. Stokes or to myself – I was fucking scared.
“I don’t understand. I don’t know how to boost her vibration with my own,” I confessed, feeling foolish and helpless. “I don’t know what you expect me to do.”
“Of course you don’t,” he spat, glaring at me. His demeanor had shifted abruptly; my words had flipped a switch inside of him. “You’re impulsive and undisciplined, Angie. You think you know so much, but in reality you know very little.” He pointed his index finger at my chest, “And it is your ignorance and bravado that may have cost your Aunt Rachel her life.”
His words stung.
Maybe Aunt Rachel’s death was the consequence of my actions, the cost that Syn said I would have to pay for what she perceived as my “grave mistake”, but was what I saw as a necessary action. If there had been a chance that I could have saved my aunt then I was obligated to take it and I would find a way to bring her back to us. I cannot believe that I was meant to do nothing and if I were in the same situation I would do something again. Did Syn believe that I would just allow Aunt Rachel to be sucked into the Astral Realm like Ryan, or Josh, or Mr. Morrell had been? While those men, those tormentors deserved to be punished, Aunt Rachel did not deserve that same fate. She was kind and supportive; nothing like them.
I stood silently. I had no response for Mr. Stokes who smugly glared at me as I stifled the urge to scream and scratch his eyes out.
“I warned you that you had no idea what you were getting involved with, and that this,” he spread his arms out wide, “was beyond you, but as usual, you shrugged it off without any genuine consideration.” He kneeled next to the sofa and gently smoothed back the few stray strands of Aunt Rachel’s hair with the fingers of his left hand. He continued without looking at me. “You think that you know better than I do, but Angie, you simply don’t. You’re young and immature, as I once was.” He stood to face me, placed a hand upon each of my shoulders, and gazed directly into my eyes as he spoke. “Please understand that these are not personal judgments I have about you, they are simple facts. You’ve not seen and experienced the things that I have; things that are beyond the capability of mere words, and because of your lack of experience you don’t possess the same wisdom as I. And until then,” he dropped his arms. “I urge you to listen and heed my warnings. After all,” he smiled with a shrug. “That’s why I am here.”
I frowned. Bullshit. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know me at all. No one did. Lack of experience? Whatever. He didn’t know what kind of experiences I’ve had during my lifetime. In physical years I might be only sixteen, but I was more experienced than he realized. He may have impressive knowledge of the occult, but I found it difficult to believe that he ever trapped someone on the Astral Plane as I had and it was clear that he wasn’t a human agent, a Valkyrie of Syn here, in Midgard, as I was, nor did he hear the same voices of the ancestors that I did, the women of my bloodline, the bloodline that Abigail Williams, the infamous witch of Salem begat back hundreds of years ago. He didn’t realize how powerful I was. He wasn’t aware of the maturity of my power or what I was capable of. He couldn’t, because I hadn’t revealed it to anyone; well, anyone who was still around to share with him what they knew about me. I would listen to his warnings as he suggested because I realize now that he had more knowledge than I first believed, but I would heed his warnings when I believed they were practical, otherwise I’d follow my own intuition.
I walked over to stand closer to the sofa. “So, how do we boost her energetic vibration? Why would that help her?”
He motioned for me to stand at her feet as he stood near her head. “We are going to place our hands on her shoulders and ankles and channel our own energy into her body. As we do this our energy should force her vibrational frequency back to a denser range allowing the layers of her being to rejoin. The power of that shift should send out a burst of energy that will ripple through the planes, creating a flare of sorts, and allowing her layers to realign and become denser and more physical.”
“Her layers?” My mind grabbed on to the information I had read just months ago in Sacred Magick. What he was explaining made sense to me. “Are you referring to doyens?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “Good. You’re familiar with the concept.”
“Your Aunt Rachel has become separated. Her doyens were unnaturally severed, so now, laying here on the sofa,” he gestured to her body. “Are her first, second, and third layers, while her others are elsewhere.”
“How can you be sure?” I asked. I was concerned that a part of her spirit was gone and we wouldn’t be able to rejoin it, leaving her lost.
“I’m not sure, but since the fourth doyen is considered a being’s desire and she seems to possess none of it, I’d say that layer of her being is absent. Wouldn’t you?”
I nodded. “Are the missing parts of her spirit trapped on the Astral Plane? Is that where the vortex led?”
“It did lead to the Astral Plane, but I don’t think that’s where her doyens are,” he explained. “When you stepped into the portal to pull her out, you distorted the frequency and disrupted the transition process. I don’t believe her spirit ever made it to the Astral.”
“So where is she? Where did the other parts of her spirit go?” I inhaled deeply, hoping to calm the panic I felt rising inside of me. I briefly considered what I learned reading from Sacred Magick about the occult realms of existence. If Aunt Rachel wasn’t on the Astral Plane, then where was she? What were the possibilities? Then the answer occurred to me. “She’s on the Elemental Plane.”
“Yes, that would be my best guess.”
“Best guess?” The man was infuriating. With all his occult knowledge he was making guesses about the location of my aunt’s missing layers of her spirit? “This really isn’t a time for guesses, Mr. Stokes. We need answers, not guesses.”
“Yes, I agree, but it was you,” he pointed his index finger at me. “Who decided to get involved in something beyond your understanding so here we are, relying on best guesses instead of solid answers.”
I didn’t want to admit it, but he was right. Aunt Rachel’s present condition was a direct result of my actions, but at least her body was here and we had something of a chance, even if it was slight, to rejoin her doyens. If I hadn’t intervened, nothing of her would have remained. She would have been gone completely; spirit, mind, and body.