Authors: Felicia Starr
“GRAM, I REALLY wish you were here! I don’t understand what’s going on. What’s happening to me? Why am I here?”
Patience… I almost forgot. I was with her just before Ziona attacked me. I’m not completely sure what she was talking about; I guess I really didn’t give her much of a chance to explain. If, in fact, that was real, then I needed to get back to her somehow.
If I tried to do the astral thing again, where would I need to go to find her? Maybe she would be waiting back at the coffee shop. I could try to go to The Flea and look there. It was all just so crazy—not to mention the creepy thought that someone was watching me.
Sitting on the floor, I wrapped my arms around my legs and rested my head just between my knees. I would look like I was either sleeping or crying. I didn’t want them to have any idea I was able to have contact with the outside world.
Sinking into my pose, I focused on my breathing. I assumed I managed to find my way out to the astral plane the last time I meditated. In and out, slow and calm. I could feel the gentle vibrations of my breath flowing through my body. A tingling sensation in my hair sent a chill down my body and created a weightless sensation. Allowing my breath to lift me from myself, I was ready to find my only ally.
For a moment I focused my thoughts on Patience. I pictured all the times I saw her at the flea market and what she looked like in her astral form. I thought about the way she winked at me when one of Axel’s stories went on too long.
Like the wind, I was suddenly on my way. My body, or my spirit, was moving so fast, past what I wasn’t sure. It was like traveling through a moving fog that seemed to shimmer.
My astral self came to a halt and the shimmering fog lifted around me. I found myself standing in a kitchen that I’d never seen before. It had a rustic farmhouse quality. The walls lacked the usual cabinetry. Instead, there were shelves lined with mismatched dishes and a variety of jars filled with what appeared to be herbs and spices. Herbs hung from the ceiling to dry. It reminded me of the way Gram kept our kitchens.
The worn-out and overused round table was tucked away in the corner by the herbs, littered with stacks of books. Some looked on the newer side. Many were worn and I could tell the pages yellowed from age. All the books were bound with leather. Some were tied shut with ropes and fabrics, while others had locks on the side. There were a few small jars of what looked like ink on the shelf next to the table.
A loud whistling sound had me whipping around to find the teapot calling for its owner. A woman with many years around her eyes walked in to turn off the flame. Her hair was the greyest of ash wrapped up in a bun. She couldn’t have been much more than five foot four inches tall, although she may have stood taller in her younger days.
Her eyes gazed in my direction and her cheeks raised her eyes into a slight squint. There was warmth radiating from her smile. “Ah, child, we have been waiting for you.” With a shift in her stance, she hollered out in her raspy, tired voice. “Patience, come on in here, love.” I couldn’t quite distinguish her accent, but she had a faint brogue.
I moved in closer to her. “You can see me?”
“My child, I see many things. Of the many things I see, I cannot touch on what your sight will be. We have much to talk about. I hope your time is not—” Her train of thought was interrupted by Patience coming to lay a hand on her shoulder.
“Phaela, is she here?”
With a nod from Phaela, she explained, “I must enter the astral plane. I am going to my chair. Let Axel know not to disturb me.”
With that, Patience disappeared from sight, only to return as the younger, perkier version of herself. I was still in awe of her beauty. She shimmered so much I could see right through her. Phaela acknowledged her entry with a smile and poured herself a cup of tea before sitting at the crowded table.
I wondered if I could sit down too. I just followed Patience’s lead and drifted in closer to Phaela.
“So you can see us both?” Before she could answer, I turned to Patience. “You can’t see me unless you’re in astral form?”
“Easy dear, we will try to explain as much as we can. I was beginning to tell you some of what you need to know at the coffee shop earlier. I cannot imagine what made you dash away. I went in after you, but you just vanished. What happened?” She questioned. “Are you okay in your physical body?”
“I thought I saw someone I know, sort of. But then I got knocked back into my body. Literally, some woman gave me quite a beating. I’m as okay as I can be,” I answered.
“It was like she was marking her territory. She definitely wants me to be afraid of her, which is working. But I’m quick enough to notice her trying to manipulate me into maybe trusting her. She came back with a candy bar for me, as if she was doing me a favor.”
“Kasha, I know you have a lot of questions and they are increasing quickly. I should probably start by explaining a little bit about your bloodline. You are a Uni, a unique and very rare breed of human. Your bloodline is unlike the rest of humanity. There is something that allows your kind to both mate and be turned by supernatural beings. The offspring of your kind can result in a hybrid, supernaturally unique, or a normal human child.
“Your grandmother wasn’t sure what traits, if any, might have attached to your blood. She hoped you were as human as they come. Most of the people in your family have been strictly human. I guess that’s part of why she didn’t tell you.
“Mage dreamt of a normal life for you. I know she planned to tell you everything one day, especially if you decided to have children. She never expected to be gone so soon.”
“So, am I human or not?” My confusion was turning to anger.
“You are human. You will always be, in part, human. Yet there is a very good possibility you are something exceptionally unique. Your mother hid your birth and changed your birth date so no one could link you to any of the prophecies she believed could have been about you. Your abilities are starting to surface, and they are signs of what has been told.” Patience came in closer and the intensity in her eyes was hard to miss.
“What prophesies?” I rudely questioned her.
“No one really knows to what extent your powers will grow. You most likely will have a rare and enhanced gift of sight. You can already astral project without training, and you can speak with the dead. The thing is no one knows who or what your father is. Well, maybe your mother knew, but you know it’s not like we can ask her. So it’s hard to guesstimate not knowing if he was a human or of a supernatural breed.”
“My father! What do you mean what he is? I’m sorry, this is very overwhelming and very farfetched. I don’t know what to make of what you’re saying. This all sounds too crazy.”
Phaela lowered her mug to the table. “Let us try to stay focused on the now. It is important that we start trying to find a way to get you out of there. Do you have any indication of where you are located?”
“No, not really. I think I’m still here in New Mexico. The air is cool and arid. Other than that, I have no clue. I’m in a small room that’s nearly pitch black. The last thing I remember was walking out of the coffee shop and then I woke up in the dark. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why I haven’t freaked out yet. Gram said something about my amulet helping to keep me grounded.”
“Sweetheart, can you describe the amulet to us?” Phaela reached for a book from a pile under the table.
“Yeah, of course I can.” Reaching up to my neck for my pendant, I felt nothing. Well, I sort of felt myself, but no necklace. I looked down at my hands for the first time. A silver hand that had a slight blue shimmer didn’t seem to belong to me, but it did. My eyes continued to gaze down my body. I wasn’t wearing the same smelly, dirty clothes; in fact, I wasn’t wearing any.
Both ladies noticed my realization and waved away my thoughts. I looked up to speak, and Phaela smiled at me. “Not to worry, dear. No one can see you but us right now. You will learn to adjust your projection. Now, how about that amulet, hmmm?”
“Yeah, uh, why wouldn’t my grandmother ever tell me this was possible? Well, she did always tell me anything is possible. I just think I took it as more of a saying than a reality.”
“That woman lived and died for you, Kasha. She had her reasons I’m sure.”
Patience came closer and rested her hand on my ethereal shoulder. I could feel the warmth and the love that coursed through her being. I knew she meant every word she said. In my depths, I felt I could trust her.
“You will learn all you want when the time is right. For now, we must stay focused on educating you on the basic facts and getting you out of that prison.” Patience lowered her head.
I gazed down at her hand and gave her a quick nod. “My necklace is an amulet made of silver. There’s a piece of petrified wood at the center surrounded by five stones and etchings all around it. There is some writing or design on the back, but it’s too worn for me to tell what it says. Why do you want to know?”
Opening a book, Phaela flipped the pages franticly. “Your grandmother may have given you a relic or spelled the piece herself. There are many attributes and metaphysical properties to different types of metals and stones. When combined in different ways and with the addition of ancient text or spells, they can have any number of effects on people. We can try to help you determine what her intentions were.”
Phaela picked up a pencil and began to sketch something on a piece of paper. She drew a symbol that was similar to a star but had rounded edges. “Is this the shape of your pendant?”
Patience and Phaela looked at each other and then back at me.
“What is it?” I questioned anxiously.
Phaela continued to sketch. Her hand moved feverishly across the paper. The lines began to look familiar. The shapes and symbols that were etched onto the amulet began to take shape.
“Yes, that’s it… what wraps around the stones. How do you know? Where did my grandmother get this necklace?”
“Where she got it is a great question, but not relevant right now. The petrified wood in the necklace is probably a lot of what is keeping you from
, as you put it. When dipped in certain tonics, it helps stabilize emotions. It can impart a calming effect on survival-based fears. It is helping keep you grounded in the moment and not so much on the what ifs.” Phaela dropped her pencil on the floor. She leaned under the table to pick it up before she continued her explanation.
“The shape of the piece represents the five points. Different cultures in the supernatural realm believe in different points. Because of the magical background that your grandmother came from, it probably represents earth, water, air, fire, and spirit. The shape is sometimes referred to as the goddess pentacle. You should know that no one has ever been able to wield all of the elements. Many have attempted. The stones possess their own unique properties that will help to enhance your connection to the elements.”
Patience interjected. “There are few that know this amulet exists. I have read about it in some of my family’s books. There are rumors, of course, but there are always rumors. People have hunted for many a charm such as this one, only to find nothing but heartache and unfulfilled fantasies in their searches.”
“Okay, but what does any of that mean? What am I supposed to do with it?”
Phaela stood up to deposit her mug in the sink. “It isn’t so much what you need to do with it as it is that you just need to wear it. It is there to protect you and help you connect with the elements when the time is right. I don’t know what was carved onto the back of the amulet. Perhaps it was part of a spell. I will help Patience keep researching the books to find out what else the amulet is meant to do for you. There are always secrets hidden within the stones.”
I shifted my gaze to Patience as she addressed me. “There are many possible reasons that they have taken you. It would help if we knew who they are. Do you know the name of the woman that came to you? Is she the only one? Did she mention anyone else by name?”
“She told me I would call her Ziona and she just kept referring to a
. I wish I knew more.” The tone in my voice took on more of an edge.
The endless questions that I had no answers for haunted me. I hated not knowing what was going on. Gram always told me knowledge is power and my lack of answers left me feeling weak and vulnerable.
“More research for us, sister.” Patience eyeballed Phaela before turning to me. “What I need you to do is, after this Ziona person or anyone else comes to you, try to follow them.”
I tilted my head and arched a brow in confusion.
“You need to focus quickly on her. Think about everything you know about her: her smell, her sound, or just the way she looks. Focus on the core of her and you should be able to stay connected enough to follow her.” Patience waved her boney finger at me. “Be careful, though. They may have others like Phaela that can see those that project. Go now, before they realize what you’re doing.”