Ch 42 - A promise

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When they arrived at the boundary marker, Rhianna felt Kasubia's flank shiver under her hand.

The stone was smooth, with no trace of the spiral patterns left. Gretch had told her about the soul merge, and she had noted Kasubia's obvious discomfort about it, but chalked it up to Kasubia's usual drama.

Now the horse's anxiety infected her, or there was something in the atmosphere around the stone that was making her feel on edge.

Rhianna knelt at the stone, both marker of the threshold between the world of human and the world of Fae, and grave stone to her sister, her twin, who'd died before she'd even been named. The sister Rhianna had replaced.

Guilt seemed like the appropriate emotion, or sadness—and she did feel them, but it was muffled, almost like she felt when she was stuck behind the mask. And Gretch now literally shared a soul with her long lost sister. How should that make her feel? She didn't even begin to know.

Instead of happiness or sadness, Kasubia's anxiety tickled at her brain. She didn't have the mask to blame this time. This was all her.

Her finger traced a spiral that wasn't there, on the stone. Even though there was no hint at where those grooves had been, and she'd only seen it a few times, she knew then like the lines on her palm.

"Kasubia." She hated to ask, but did it anyway. "Why does it feel so wrong?"

The clamor of the horses thoughts galloped into her mind.

As Kasubia began to dance feverishly, Jenny laid herself flat on her back and slid off. Gretch grabbed her hand and pulled her away.

Rhianna stood and took a few steps toward the horse, one hand out, gentle, soothing. When she was close enough she pressed her forehead on the horse's bristly cheek. "Shhh. Calm down. It'll all work out for the best." She'd spoken the words thousands of times when her mother had been having 'episodes', but never realized how calming it was on her own heart.

Kasubia shuddered one more time and then centered her thoughts. Not a curse, but a seal. Keeping Grayson inside.

"But I saw him outside several times."

Only short. Outside he was weakened, and almost powerless. He always had to return. Kasubia bowed her head.

The realization hit home. The stone had been the foundation of the wall that kept Grayson from carrying out his plans for the human world, plans which may include Rhianna or her mom, or the next foolish young girl to get caught up in his mysterious air.

This whole time she had been running from the scene of that inky black lake, and the scene of her grandmother's death, thinking once she crossed this boundary she would be safe. Crossing meant nothing now.

"What are we going to do?"

Jenny's brow crinkled with confusion, but Gretch's eyes were wide. Rhianna forgot that she could hear Kasubia's thoughts now too.

"Um... Maybe there is a spell to unmerge souls? I could check the book..." Uncertainty looked strange on Gretch's face.

Rhianna wouldn't be surprised if she'd never been uncertain a day in her life. Or maybe she'd just worn her mask very well.

"I think you can't unring a bell, sister. And maybe I don't want you too." She liked having someone to call sister.

"What are we going to do then?"

"About what?" Jenny asked.

"About us not being able to lock the door on Grayson's jail anymore," Gretch snapped.

Jenny shrank back.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to...I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at myself." Gretch put her face in her hands. "The librarian led me right to that spell. We already know that these stupid Fae are split into factions. What if she is on his side?"

Jenny sank to the ground and started rocking, not soothed by her friends apology at all.

Rhianna rushed to her side, and Gretch crouched on the other. The both hugged their friend and rubbed her back, speaking comforting words like she'd just done for Kasubia. Of course, Jenny hadn't just reacted to Gretch's tone, she'd been Grayson's captive.

"Don't worry, Jenny." Rhianna said. "I am going to stop this once and for all.

Gretch looked at her over Jenny's rounded back and made eyes at her, translating roughly to: WTF?

Rhianna made yes back at her thinking, just let me do this, and don't try to stop me. At least some of that got through because Gretch frowned and shook her head slowly. Rhianna wished they could speak to each other like Kasubia did, this would be so much easier. She didn't want to upset Jenny any more than they had.

Out loud she said, "Gretch you take Jenny back to safety. I will make sure he doesn't come after us."

"But how will you do that, Rhianna?" Gretch said through gritted teeth, keeping her voice level. "Maybe we should call Brighid and ask her to do it?"

"I think this one is up to me."

Jenny sat up again, wiping her nose. "I just want to go home."

Gretch managed a tense smile. "I would prefer if we all went home—"

"So would I. But don't worry, I will be right behind you guys." She rubbed Jenny's arm.

Jenny turned to Rhianna and Gretch glowered again from behind her.

"Promise, Rhianna," Jenny said, suddenly full of conviction. "You are part Fae. A promise from a fairy is a kind of magic, right? Swear that you will come back."

"I swear I will come back." Strangely enough, a kind of vibration shook the air around her. "And I swear you will never have to worry about Grayson again."

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