Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Into the Light by Calisa Rhose


Into the Light

          Wendy Parson placed a hand over her pounding heart. If the crystals were right, Ren was in the ostentatious manor in front of her. She ogled the rock and mortar building in awe and a touch of fear. After all, this wasthe infamous Dracula’s castle and he would be the party host with his built in ghost, or so rumors claimed.

     Wendy wondered how true it was that Cupid’s ghost haunted those great halls within. Why not? She herself was a direct descendant of the modern-day cartooned Wendy the good witch. If people only knew the cute little witch in red that befriended Casper was actually real, would they believe it? Probably not. Perhaps Cupid’s ghost was only a wild rumor.

     Wendy lifted her skirt and made her way in, following a group of party-goers through the wide doors, immediately swept into the euphoric atmosphere. “Here goes nothing.”

     No sense guessing when she had a hand delivered invitation from Dracula to see firsthand. She wasn’t sure why the vampire wanted her there…probably to take a juicy bite. She almost hadn’t gone but the scrys called, so here she was, fighting a shiver of eerie anticipation.

     After ten long years she hoped to see her beloved once again. The fury that had driven her for so long tried to surface but she pushed it away. 
She needed answers. Why had Ren left, broken her heart without a word?

     Her goal was clear. Find Ren and get what she needed, then make him pay. That was the necessary order of this night. And pay, he would.

     If her magic cooperated.

     Igor greeted guests, his arms piled high with coats and hats nearly burying his head, making his hunched back seem more prominent than she suspected it actually was. Wendy added her cape with a sympathetic smile for the misshapen man.

     A footman offered drinks and she accepted a glass of something red. Not blood, thankfully, by its sweet aroma. Wendy mingled, slowly taking in each face one by one. After an hour she had not recognized a single face. Finding somewhere to conduct a little spell was critical. She gazed around and side-stepped another guest, then bumped into someone else.

     “Sorry,” a voice mumbled from behind.

     “Excuse me.” Her arm brushed the person again. Confused, she turned to move out of the way, but there was no one near her. The closest patron stood a good five feet from her. “Odd.”
* * * *
     Rengal Fisher stepped to one side as the lady whirled, an apology uttered from those lovely red lips. His darling, Wendy. The love of his heart. Once upon a time. In a time before the evil Tessa revealed her jealousy. Her malevolent intent as obvious as the bold white streak in Wendy’s raven locks.

     Ren studied the vision before him and his heart cracked open. How he’d missed her. Yes. She was his love. He’d recognize that unpigmented strip of hair anywhere. The scrys had spoken to her just as the gypsy promised they would.
     
     But now that Wendy stood before him, he hadn’t a clue how to reach out to her. She would never accept him as he was, as Tessa had cursed him to live. How could Wendy take him back when she couldn’t even see him? She’d probably believe it was some kind of cruel trick.
     
     Not that he’d blame her.

     Ren watched her swing one way then other trying to find the source of her apparent confusion. Wishing he could speak her name, knowing he shouldn’t until he had a face for her to see. Ren spun and bolted into the cold night.
     
     He’d been a fool to think the Harvest Moon Ball was the time or place to reclaim her. But having come this far…he stumbled to a standstill, gasping for air, and glared angrily back at the mansion.

     Suddenly, just talking to her seemed lame. He needed a better strategy. The pain, or perhaps anger on her face each time she suspected she’d seen him was unbearable. Of course every man she secretly stalked wasn’t him. He’d watched from a discreet distance. Had witnessed the hope, the deep anger that followed, and then the despair at her repeated mistakes.

    The pain of her emotions ate into Ren’s very soul. Still, he couldn’t give away his secret. Not yet. For ten years he’d been torn. Had Tessa’s words been truth or cloaked with another black lie? Had Wendy truly asked her cousin to curse Ren into nothingness, leaving him to walk the earth as a ghost?

     Not a ghost, for even spirits could be seen by those who believed. He was an invisible man without a ghost of a chance at happiness. He’d only drawn Wendy to Transylvania to see her one last time before taking his own life, ending both their misery. She wouldn’t even know he was there, that he’d smelled her lavender scent, touched her silky hair as she passed by. She would return to America none the wiser, if not a little less hopeful of ever seeing him again.

     Then again, if Wendy had set him up after that horrible argument Tessa had engineered so long ago…was she really as miserable as him? He found it hard to accept that she’d believed he’d ever touch her wicked witch of a cousin. That she could take Tessa’s word over his.

     Unless…
* * * *
     Another look around and Wendy decided to scry again. Using magic crystals was the unobtrusive way to search without being discovered. Perhaps she’d been mistaken? It wouldn’t be the first time. Magic seemed to have it in for her, never working right. Well, not “never” since there was that time nine years ago when she put that wart on Tessa’s nose. That was fun. Her evil cousin still hadn’t managed to override and remove the growth. It hadn’t taught the witch to keep her nose out of Wendy’s affairs though.

     Accepting another drink to replace the now-warm first one, she forced a smile as she wended her way through the raucous crowd. She’d barely avoided a nasty pass from Dracula and was searching for somewhere quiet to scry. If only the tingling in her chest would go away.

     Strange. About the time the vicious vampire nuzzled her neck, in the pretense of smelling her perfume, a sharp pain struck in her chest and spread like fire, pleasantly warm but slightly uncomfortable. It had finally eased into an annoying, almost pleasurable sizzle she tried to ignore. Dracula had also moved on without biting.

     Finding a quiet room to work in, she surveyed the dark corners, making sure she was alone. A cluster of black candles on a center table was the only light in the chilly room. Perfect. She reached into the air and retrieved her bag and set it on a stool. Lying out a silk scarf, she then set travel-size crystal ball in the center of the white cloth.

     "If he’s near, spare my heart,
     Reveal my love, if he’s far.
     Show me now whom I seek,
    Rengal Fisher, as I speak."

     Instant thick fog gathered within the crystal. Swirling, dancing before her eyes.

     The mist seemed confused, clearing here, then there around the inner globe. “Wonderful. Just dandy.” Of course magic failed her. Nothing new about that. Despair gripped her.

          At last the mist parted and cleared to reveal a room. The room she stood in right then. “Stupid ball. I know where I am.” She lifted the ball and shook it like an etch-a-sketch to clear it, then shoved it back into her bag and shook the bag. With a toss into the air,  the bag it faded to nothing. Of course inane magic cooperated. She spun toward the door to return to the party, then stalled.

          Before her, the mist from the crystal ball seemed to have escaped into the room, swirled in a hazy smoke. She blinked and rubbed her eyes, shook her head and still the mist drifted.

          With a gasp she watched as the outline of a man came into shimmering view. “Ren?” She was barely able to whisper as her throat constricted. The form altered and the mist dissipated. “That was weird.” And not Ren. “Stupid magic.”

          “My love.”

          The voice was faint and disembodied, eerie. Fighting off a shiver as the room suddenly chilled more, she wrenched open the door and slammed it behind her as sounds of the party consumed her, heat soaking into her. “I have nothing to feel remorse for. He left. I never should have come here.”

          She passed the wide French doors leading out to a patio as one door swung open and closed again. No one was there. Maybe it was Cupid. She was a ghost, right? Wendy stared at the door, waiting to see if it would open again. Minutes passed. Nothing.

          Determined to get out of the mansion as quickly as she could, Wendy searched for the cloak closet where Igor had stashed her cape. Coming back around to the grand ballroom she glanced back at the door to see a beautiful dark-haired woman in a long green gown hurry through. She pulled the door tight but it opened again only a minute later.

          A tall man stepped through and met her gaze instantly. Wendy glanced around and back to him. What there was of him. Wendy saw only a face—most of a face—hidden behind a black mask.

          Dark blue eyes peered through the mask at her. Familiar eyes. But there was nothing above or below the mask. No hair, no legs or feet, no hands. No body. And when he turned fully toward her…no lower part of a face. Where the three-quartered mask ended, so did he. He was nothing more than a floating mask.

          Except for the hazy mist outlining his invisible body. She trembled as recognition settled over her with the force of a hammer. He took a first step toward her.
* * * *
          Several witches had tried and none could reverse the spell set on him by Tessa. Hope was a dream. Ren had fought the urge to call to Wendy in that dark room he’d followed her into. But he’d failed. He’d given in and cried out with his very heart and she’d heard him.

          She was searching, calling to him and he shouldn’t have answered. Not until he could be seen and be able to convince her of his presence, to tell her he’d left in desperation to save them both. Whether saving them meant staying apart, or proving they belonged together, he couldn’t be certain. Not until he knew Wendy hadn’t sent Tessa after him. Ten years and it had been hopeless.

     Until he’d met up with the seer on the balcony, a woman running from demons of her own. Her soul mate was a wounded man as well. He’d understood Ren’s plight and graciously offered the magical mask. Ren knew it was working because Wendy stood not ten feet from him, staring through him…literally. Yet, she recognized him. It was in her hazel gaze.

     “Ren?"

     She whispered his name and a jolt shot through the short distance to pierce Ren’s chest like an electric charge. Not that she’d know, but he grabbed his chest and winced at the shocking pain his name on her lips caused.

     “Wendy.” He prayed she hadn’t had a part in her wicked cousin’s deed. 
     “Tell me it was a lie.”

     “What? Are…is it truly you?”

     “It is. A good man gave me this magic mask so you could see me.”

     “Why? What happened? Please tell me. Why did you leave?”

     Did she really not know? “Tessa said you’d sent her after me, that you believed we, she and I…had betrayed you.”

     Wendy moved closer and reached a hand out and cupped his face. Life filled him for the first time in all these years. “I never knew. She did this to you?”

     “She cursed me.”

     “I came here to get revenge. To make you pay for breaking my heart. Why haven’t you found someone to undo it and return to me?”

     Ren wanted to laugh. Did she actually think he’d gone merrily on with his life? Given up without a fight? “Five powerful witches couldn’t undo Tessa’s magic.”

     Wendy pressed her bow-shaped lips together in the determination he recalled in her spirit. “Well, I can.”
Ren smiled. He remembered her magic. How sweet her confidence in her powers was. Could it be possible she had finally mastered her wayward magic? “Set me free, my love.”

     She nodded and led Ren back into the dark room. “I came here looking for you not long ago. I swear I heard your voice. Was it you?”

     “Yes. I was afraid to reveal myself. I didn’t want to scare you off, so I let you leave.”

     “Now it makes sense. My calling mist showed you to me, or your outline, but I couldn’t see you so I thought the magic was misbehaving as usual.” She laughed then. The sound was magic to his lost soul.

     It had always been one of the things he’d loved about his little witch. Her ability to laugh at herself was amazing in a sorceress with her familial background of extreme powers. “Perhaps you’d like to take your time and say a prayer that something will work this time? I don’t relish the idea of being a frog for the next ten years.”

     “Look at the bright side, Ren. If my magic doesn’t work—at least no one will see you hopping around.” Wendy grinned with pure wicked mischief and held out her hands.

     “Not funny, my favorite little witch.”

     Her bag appeared in her hands. It impressed him that one thing had never failed since she’d learned how to vanish and retrieve the mystical bag from thin air. She dug in and pulled out a red candle and a batch of sage and lavender. He knew the routine. Cleanse the room first. She had skipped that step earlier in her haste. She suddenly seemed nervous and the emotion transferred to him. If she was worried…

     “Okay. Do you remember any of the words Tessa said that day?”

     He’d never forgotten them. “Poof of proof, go insane Forever aloof, time to wane.”

     Wendy arranged the candle on a silk scarf as he spoke and lit it. When he stopped speaking she turned to face him. “What else?”

     Wasn’t that enough? “That’s it.”

     “Are you certain?”

     “Positive.”

     “She said ‘go insane and time to wane?’”

     “Yes. Why?”

     “Because…if I know Tessa,” she grimaced. “And I do all too well, she did nothing more than put an insanity spell on everyone you come into contact with. What I mean is, you aren’t invisible. Others just can’t see you.”

     “Isn’t that the same thing? Wouldn’t I at least be able to see myself?” Her theory didn’t make sense.

     “You’d think so, but no. Tessa likes to complicate spells. That’s why no one has been able to undo it. The spell isn’t on you, but on everyone including you, that lays eyes on you. I mean, she just made it impossible for us to see you, but you’re really here. We…just can’t see you. Oh, Ren, if only you’d come to me years ago. I know it makes no sense, but I know how to undo what my terrible cousin has done.”

     “How?”

     Wendy smiled, and his heart surged. “She did it to me one time. After you left. She now sports a lovely wart on her perfect nose that plastic surgery can’t erase no matter how many times she has it taken off.”

     “Remind me not to cross you, my darling. Can we do this now?” The thought of his gentle Wendy pulling such vindictive magic on her ridiculously vain cousin made Ren realize what a dangerous foe she could be, and was glad she was on his side.

     “Absolutely. Stare into this.” Wendy held out a small object.

     He took the little square mirror and it faded to nothing. As expected. And he saw nothing, as expected. He hadn’t seen his reflection in ten years. Wendy laughed as he set the mirror down so it would reappear on the table. She lifted it to set it on a statue.

     “See if you can see into it now. Imagine yourself in it and don’t look away. Focus only on seeing you in there. Oh, are you wearing anything? Other than the mask, I mean.” Wendy touched the mask and frowned. “This has dark magic in it. I’ll need you to take it off before I start.”

     “I was warned it was bad. But the mask has served its purpose. I’m wearing clothes, not that we can see them. Once I put anything on it disappears too.”

     “Hmm. That’s the spell.” Wendy waved the sage around murmuring quietly for a moment. Next she pointed at the mirror and grabbed the blood red opal hanging around her neck. “Step into the light as it comes and look in there.”

     He obeyed, moving closer to her as the opal began to lighten in her grasp. The light grew to encompass them both. He turned his attention to the mirror, unable to ignore the doubt creeping in after so many failed attempts to heal him of this curse, but still hopeful.

     The opal glowed red as light escaped to brighten the room, and he imagined she released the stone to allow its brilliance to shine. I believe in Wendy. No matter what happens, I know she means well.
* * * *
     Wendy put the sage aside and shut her eyes as she sent a prayer for guidance and direction to the elements. With a breath of courage she began to recite the spell Tessa had put on Ren. It figured her cousin would use such a cheesy one for her dubious doings.

     "Poof of proof, go insane.
     Forever aloof, time to wane.
     Lapse in time, insanity restored.
     Forever ends, wane no more.”

     Three times she chanted the words, not daring to check on Ren. Failure was not an option. Yet, her magic had let her down so many times she was afraid this would be no different. It wasn’t that she didn’t know the right words, but they didn’t seem to go to the right corners of the wind. Or at least that was her reasoning. Wendy really didn’t know why her spells rarely worked.

     After a slow count to ten she inhaled deeply. It was now or never. Before she opened her eyes warm hands touched her shoulders. Then look, she did, and tears welled. “Oh!” Spinning, she stared into the most beautiful blue eyes. Tears filled and trickled from them and she reached and touched the moisture on his cheeks. Cheeks she could see, touch. “It worked. Ren, I see you!”

     “I see me too,” he whispered staring at his hands. “You did it, Wendy.”

     “I’m so glad. I love you so much. I’ve missed you.” Wendy didn’t fight the tears on her face as she smoothed her hands along his rough jaws. It seemed incredible he was here, in her arms again.

     “I’ve never loved another as I love you. Thank you, my Darling.”

     “Come home with me.” She had a certain cousin to go see.

     “Forever.”
* * * *


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11 comments:

  1. Revenge is so sweet, Calisa! LOL And so is your story. Love Ren and Wendy and I'm so glad they found their HEA. Oh, and nice twist on the "invisibility" spell! :-)

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  2. Thanks, Silver! I'm pleased the way this one turned out. :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathy. It's better since your help!

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  4. Wonderful story, Calisa. Really enjoyed it.

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  5. This is so good! I love the way you made Wendy 'real' and that you hooked her up with the invisible man. :-) Too cool!

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    1. I've always liked Wendy so this was perfect. :)

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  6. What a neat story :) Love that HEA. Barb Bettis

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  7. Thank you so much for this story, Calisa. A couple of my favorite things were the wart on Tessa's nose that taught her to stay out of Wendy's business, and the fact that Wendy had a portable crystal ball! How fun and creative.

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