Chapter 33: Phantom
"The last familiar has finally revealed itself," says the grey-haired witch after tossing rune-etched bones onto the wooden table. The room was like a dungeon. Actually, it had been one some time ago. The witch had claimed it as hers. Dark and dank dungeons were her favorite workspace; it set the right sort of ambience when working with bones. It had withered body parts hanging from the ceiling, dried herbs, skulls galore, an array of medieval torture devices, and a little goldfish in a bowl.
She draws out a pointed pendulum, rolling out an intricate map of circles, lines, and symbols. She hovers over it, concentrating and letting it swing in a wide circle around the map. Eventually it spirals and pinpoints a specific intersection of lines and curves. The witch hums in thought, examining the intersection closely.
Sitting in a chair on the other side of the table was another witch, one significantly younger and significantly less interested in the procedure. She snaps her gum as she waits for the older witch, who tosses the bones again to double check something.
"I don't know why you use those old things," snorts Sloth, picking her nails. "It's so outdated. Why don't you just use the freaking GPS with a locator spell?"
"I rather trust my bones than pixels," replies Pride hotly, scooping up the weathered, yellowed pieces and dropping them into a velvet drawstring pouch. "You new age witches just don't take the time to appreciate the age old arts-"
"Oh blah, blah, blah, why bother learning to read medieval chicken scratch and decipher maps of cosmic crosshairs when we have insta-spells and mapquest?" scoffs Sloth, putting her stiletto-strapped feet onto the table.
"Because, darling," comments Pride, knocking her feet off with a swift smack and carefully dusting off the map with the end of her grey braid. "You take away electricity, and everything goes in the shitter. That is what people don't understand. Take away that, and normal humans are nothing more than monkeys with rocks and sticks."
Sloth pouted, rubbing her ankle. "Well, duh, but it's much more convenient!"
"And witches who rely on technology for their magic will be down to rocks and sticks too. But we'll know how to use them for more than throwing and making them sharp and pointy," said a stern voice.
They both look up to see Vanity walk in, black hair tightly coiled into a bun, her demon following closely and obediently.
"The last familiar can be tracked, shall we send someone?" Pride asks, flicking her long grey hair behind her shoulder. Vanity grins, her lips sharp and red.
"Send Alexander," said Vanity, nodding to her demon. The demon grins. But then he notices the fish bowl and stalks over, tilting his head curiously.
"Do you know where it is exactly?" asks the woman, stepping up to the table.
The older witch turns back to her map, holding up her pendulum again. It returns to the spot it pointed to before and Pride grunts after a few moments.
"The Bonne manor," she grumbles. "Built like a fortress. How are we supposed to get in there?"
"We don't," growls Vanity. "We wait until it comes out."
"But that might take forever!" whined Sloth. "I want world domination now!"
"Hush, child," warns the older witch. "Impatience is not going to get it any closer. And we aren't dominating the world, child."
"We aren't?" she asks confusedly. "But aren't we getting those whatchamacallit to take control of all magic?"
Vanity and Pride look at each other as if they both now regretted recruiting younger witches into the Widows.
"...but you're dead. That's your grave. Dimitri killed you," I say, unable to get my mind around it really. Biko just patiently waits for me to stop floundering with my words, smiling softly. Toulouse looks between me, Biko, and the grave, unsure what to think.
"I can explain everything, but we are pressed for time," he tells me, voice oddly void of any speech impediment like familiars normally have.
"...I don't get it, who are you?" Toulouse asks, holding up his hand to interject. "Are you a zombie?"
That drew a laugh from Biko, light and sweet.
"No, no, Toulouse, not a zombie," he says gently.
"...well, now that I think about it, I guess not. You aren't trying to eat me...and you can still communicate without groaning..." muses Toulouse, tapping his chin. Biko laughs again, eyes sparkling with delight as he walks towards us, a little wobbly. I catch him when he stumbles and he frowns a bit.
"Sorry, this body is somewhat new to me still...I'll get the hang of it soon," he murmured, righting himself. "Not to mention I can't really see. Usually I'm given a body where only one eye is completely blind..."
"So you're really the Biko?" I question as he tucks his hair back and behind his ears.
"Yes, I am. Or, I was. I suppose I still technically am, since my soul is constant..." he taps his lip in thought before shaking his head. "But that does not matter right now. What does matter is helping out the others."
"Others?" Tou pipes in.
"Yes, the others," Biko says with a nod. "They do not know what they are getting into."
"You mean Shasta and the others?" I elaborate. He nods curtly. "Yes, but time is of the essence, I can't explain everything right now, so you'll just have to trust me."
"Well, er, considering you're suppose to be dead," he drawl. "I don't exactly know what to think right now."
"I can tell you one thing, and that is that I need to tell the truth about how I died," he blew a soft sigh, shaking his head. "Oh Nikko...jumping to conclusions so easily..."
Toulouse and I just stare before Biko notices our obvious confusion. He smiles softly at the both of us before looking specifically at me.
"You might want to eat your voice, dear," he says softly. "Magic is so much stronger when you have your natural voice, not a golem voice."
I blink a couple times, wondering what he's talking about. He gestures to my pocket and I finally realize he means the little orb Dimitri returned to me. I take it out, the colors swirling in it that look like the sky on a cloud scattered day. I would have never imagined my voice being this color. Then again, I never imagined my voice having physical form.
"There's no time like the present, Dawn," chirps the should-be-dead familiar.
I look to him and Toulouse with a frown before going to pop it into my mouth. Much like the first time, it feels like a bubble popping when it hits the back of my throat. Like an icy intake of outdoor air after being in a warm house, my throat freezes all the way down to my lungs. I reach for my neck but then remember the last time and drop my hand. Let it work through my system….finally the cold stopped and I started coughing. I keep coughing and hacking and this time something actually comes out.
My blue-green golem voice clinks across the ground. But around the third bounce it suddenly pops and the voice wafts into the air like smoke. The mist fizzles with a soft whisper of all the voices I added into it. Biko looks to me with a soft smile.
"Very good, now try it out dear," he says in that gentle voice of his.
"….what do I say?" Seriously, that's all I can think of. But sure enough, I no longer have that strangely accented tone, but my normal…boring…voice. Biko chuckles.
"That's good enough. Just need to know it works and it's yours. Dimitri has quite a collection now I suppose, can't have the wrong voice."
To be continued.
A/N: I am well aware that I write in the present tense (or try to) rather than the past tense like I have for the whole story before this. When I go back and rewrite/edit this, I'm changing it all to present, because it's easier for me to write in. ONLY THE FIRST PART OF THE CHAPTER, I WANTED TO UPDATE.
I'm at the Anime Expo right now. I couldn't update the whole chapter like I said because there wasn't free internet. LOOK FOR ME IF YOU'RE HERE! (I'm dressed as Harvest Moon's Karen or the Harvest Goddess.)
Holy shit, I have 1000 reviews! EGADS! I feel so unworthy since I'm so mean to you guys regarding updates...seriously...college is kicking my ass. And quite honestly I've forgotten most of the plot up to this point. I don't outline or plot ahead, really, which is why this story is meandering so badly. I'm going to majorly edit this. MAJORLY. Half of it is getting hacked, I'm sure of it. There's a lot of scenes that were just fillery fun that I don't need.