I almost forgot to write this! Phew! For the second week in a row, I got my More Odds than Ends Week 38 prompt from Leigh Kimmel. Her prompts are sometimes difficult to weave into an ongoing story, but they always provide a great mind-stretching exercise. Leigh’s prompt to me was: Appearance of an ancient god in a lonely and archaic place—prob. temple ruin. Atmosphere of beauty rather than horror. Subtle handling—presence revealed by faint sound or shadow. Landscape changes? Seen by child? Impossible to reach or identify locale again? I added it into the ongoing Cursebreaker story.
The drive back to Jack and Monica’s house was quick. Nikolas seemed disappointed that it had ended so soon. He obviously enjoyed riding in the car.
“We’ll have to go back to the haunted house anyway. We need to figure out what exactly is going on there before we can come up with a way to deal with it,” Jack commented, pulling into the driveway and seeing Nikolas’ disappointed expression. Nikolas’ face immediately brightened.
“That was quite…exhilarating,” the Viking said with a wide smile. “I look forward to doing it again.”
Greg laughed. “Too bad we don’t have time to take you to a go-kart track!”
They all climbed out of the car and Monica led the way up to the front porch. When she opened the door, the three dogs shoved past her and headed into the kitchen.
“Guys, it’s only been a couple of hours. You’ll get more food later,” she called after them.
The humans settled into the living room and were eventually joined by the dogs, who managed to look resigned to the lack of mid-morning treats.
Jack turned to Nikolas. “Okay. What can you tell us about the entity that is controlling the house and the spirits in it? And, is it controlling Armina Grove and Camilia Sharpe, the witches who are putting people in dolls?”
Nikolas rubbed his hands on his thighs. “I am not sure. It is only recently…since the land was first built on, that I started to really pay attention to what was happening there. Before that I was simply existing. I was angry at being sacrificed and that anger was my focus.”
“Well, yeah. That would make me angry too,” Greg sympathized. Nikolas glanced up and gave him a small nod.
“At first I feel like the entity just…existed. Like us…the spirits, I mean. It wasn’t evil, but it wasn’t good. It just was. Then, for a little while, I felt…something else. Very brief. Something good. The house had not yet been built. That place was still very isolated. None of the living in that area ever came through. But I felt it. Like a small breeze on a warm day. Just a passing touch of beauty. I never felt it again…” Nikolas stopped talking.
Jack let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding. Based on sounds, he knew that Greg and Monica did the same. Nikolas looked up at the three of them, took a breath and continued with his story.
“It was then that I emerged from my anger and…I suppose you could call it stasis. I began to take notice of the entity that held me in thrall. I think that at first, I believed I could simply drift off, but I shortly realized that the entity was holding me there. It was holding all the spirits in that place. When the first house was built, the entity began to get angry. I guess it thought that its territory was being invaded. It started doing things that were evil. It caused some of the spirits to attack those living in the house, and thus the living, in a frenzy of fear, killed each other. When the second family built a new house and moved in, the entity did the same thing. This time, I was able to blunt the force of the spirit attack and the family managed to escape with their lives,” Nikolas paused again and rubbed his hands across his face.
“This is difficult. I feel a sort of compulsion to remain silent…to keep the secrets of the house…” he trailed off.
Monica stood up. “We all need a drink. Nikolas, since you are among the living today, I am assuming that you can eat and drink?”
“Yes, I can,” the Viking nodded.
Monica went into the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with tea, her go-to comfort drink. Everybody accepted a mug gratefully. The atmosphere in the living room seemed to be colder than normal.
Wrapping both hands around his mug, Nikolas resumed his story. “After that, the entity became even more active, but at the same time, more subtle. I believe that is when it managed to gain control of the two witches. They were using the back area to grow their herbs. It was open, unused, and provided a lot of space.”
“And, it was free land,” Jack muttered.
“Yes,” Nikolas smiled. “It was free in that sense, but it did come at a cost. The entity managed to get two of the spirits to possess the witches. That is when they came back under the pretense of buying the house. Once they went inside the house, the entity itself was able to exert complete control. I believe that is when they started attacking their customers and cursing them into dolls.”
“But, what does it gain by having two witches put magic-workers into dolls?” Greg was puzzled.
“Dead magic-workers and no way to counter whatever it wants to do,” Monica replied bluntly. “It just didn’t count on Jack’s ability to break curses, and it didn’t realize that the magic-workers would still be able to think in doll form.”
“You’re probably right,” Jack said slowly. “But why only magic-workers with dogs? And, why the mafia-like hit on Caitlin Blackwell?” He reached down to give Captain a pat on the head. Hearing his late owner’s name, the German shepherd gave a small whine and rested his chin on Jack’s leg.
Monica was staring into the depths of her mug of tea.
“Nikolas…do you think that the good you felt…whatever that may be…is still around? You said you won the day’s lottery…the chance to spend the day among the living. What is that? It’s awfully convenient that you won on the day we most needed to find answers,” Monica stared at the Viking.
Nikolas’ eyes widened. “I did win the lottery…I didn’t think about that. I’ve never felt that…beauty…peace…again. Are you suggesting it, whatever it was, is still around and might have fixed the lottery in my favor? To help you?”
“I’m suggesting we have way more information than we know what to do with,” Monica glanced over at Jack. “I think you need to call those magic-workers who were in dolls back and get them all over here, including my brother. Some of them aren’t telling everything. I don’t blame them, look at what happened to Caitlin Blackwell. But we all, them included, need all the information they have,” she frowned at Jack.
Jack was reminded once again of one of the many reasons he loved his wife. She had an amazing ability to put information together and immediately see the heart of a problem.
“You’re right, sweetheart. Very right.” He looked over at Greg. “I think you should stay here for a couple more days just to be safe. Nikolas,” he turned to the Viking, “I’m going to get a device that will let you record your story, all of it. I should have done that from the beginning. Hopefully the recording will last after your day here.”
Greg clapped his hands together once. “Let’s get going!”
My prompt was: The metal rose sculpture on the end table turned into a real rose. It went to ‘nother Mike.
Please join us over at More Odds Than Ends for our weekly fun with prompts. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it stretches your creative muscles!