Dragos glared at the two men who had seemed to make themselves at home in Cassius’ mansion. Asher rolled his eyes, preparing for the bout he was about to get. “Is this some sort of slumber party?” Dragos asked with a long drawl. “I have no time for this. Stop inviting me to come talk to you.”
“You’ve got nothing but time,” Dionysus replied as he looked through the lens of the telescope.
“What are you looking to find in the daytime?” Asher asked, ignoring Dragos. “There aren’t any stars out.”
“There doesn’t have to be any,” Dionysus explained. “I just want to see the sky. Back in our dimension it wasn’t so clear. There was always something obstructing my view. Rather, someone.” He adjusted the telescope. “Now things are clear but….I miss the obstruction. I don’t think I’ll ever truly hate her. She gave me the most important thing.”
“A child,” Dragos said incredulously. “She gave you a child and you’re thrilled about that.”
“For once I agree with him,” Asher replied, gazing out of the window. How the hell wasn’t that an obstruction for Dionysus? “A child is extra weight.”
“Knox has grown up considerably. He isn’t a child anymore. And my blood will never be a burden. The two of you don’t know anything about a love like this. I will do anything for my son. Which is why I finally understand why Mason does what he does.”
“That crackpot with the green hair? I don’t care one way or another with him,” Dragos replied.
“I know Mason quite well,” Asher admitted. “He likes to stir up trouble with my master. The two have a love hate relationship.”
“I don’t care to discuss that man or your master, whoever he may be,” Dragos replied.
“The ruler of the underworld is one you may never have to bid to, but he is powerful yet,” Asher replied, standing up. “I don’t care for your complaints, Dragos. I’ll catch you later Dionysus.”
It was in the hallway that Asher ran into Graciela. He pitied the poor girl for not having any of her memory. That meant that she hadn’t recalled him, or any of the moments they had shared together. A pity, because he was quite fond of the girl and her harmless machinations.
She looked quite frazzled, stepping back as he came into view. “Are you okay?” He asked, outstretching a hand.
She stepped backwards. “I..uh…no.” He frowned, remembering that she didn’t remember him. This would be hard. “Don’t stare at me!” She said quickly. “I don’t know you. I don’t know Briella, I don’t know Dragos…” Her eyes darted from every corner of the room. “I…I didn’t do anything!” He knew from the look on her face that she was listening to the darkness again.
“Tell it to stop,” Asher replied calmly.
“What?” She mumbled.
“The voice. The darkness. Just tell it omittamus,” Asher replied. “It means to pass over. If you will it away, it’ll disappear. You have to be confident. It can’t hurt you if you don’t let it.”
“Omittamus?” Graciela mumbled. “Ok. I can try that.”
She tried the phrase a few times but ultimately frowned. “It’s mocking me now.”
Asher furrowed his brow. “It’s not receding?” Then, he hit his forehead with his palm. “Of course it would e stronger now without the boy around.”
“The boy?” He could see it in her face that she knew who he was talking about. She placed a hand on her heart. “Do you mean Leon?”
“The boy from your childhood, you do remember him right?” Asher asked carefully.
“Of course I do,” Graciela replied. “I remember us being kids, and him leaving. I don’t remember much after that.” But she still looked a bit perturbed. “The uh…thing you told me to say, has it worked before?”
“It used to work for you all the time,” Asher replied. “But it seems you need your light. Has Briella told you anything about your past? You two were very close.”
“She refuses to,” Graciela replied to the man. “You seem like you know a lot about me. Can’t you tell me?”
“Of course,” Asher replied. “You have the right to know about your own life. What do you want to know? I can’t fill in everything. We’ve met only a few years ago.”
“Anything is okay,” Gracciela replied softly. She squinted in what Asher could tell was pain. “I…I’m okay.”
“What’s happening?” Asher demanded. “Please tell me. I can help.”
“It says you can’t,” Graciela mumbled, trying to steady herself. “Since when could the darkness make me sick? Why does it hurt?”
“No no!” Asher reached over to grab Graciela’s limp body as she passed out. What was happening? Graciela was right. Since when had the darkness been able to physically harm the vampiress? Better yet, why wasn’t he able to commune with it? He had been able to sense it’s presence in the past. Was it the absence of the boy, or was it the new dimension they were in? He hoisted Graciela against his body and began to walk with her body to the nearest empty room. He placed her on the bed and headed for Dionysus’ room. He needed to watch the girl while Asher went to speak with Briella.
After he made sure his friend was alright and safely under Dionysus’ care, Asher stumbled into Briella’s room without even a knock. “Graciela…? oh, it’s you,” She replied seeing Asher.
“Me?” Asher asked. “I should be displeased to see you! What is this I hear about you keeping Graciela in the dark? She deserves to know about her past.”
“You know what happened the first time,” Briella cried. “We can’t have a repeat.”
“The darkness is stronger now. She needs to know so she knows what she’s up against. It’s not right to bar her from her own past,” Asher argued. “You’re not going to tell her about anything at all?”
“She is my sister in law!” Briella squeezed her hand into a fist. “I care about what happens to her. Graciela will be upset, and the darkness will prey on that.”
“She’s already upset,” Asher replied. “Do you know how scared she must be? She hasn’t been around as long as you or me. I know that you want to protect her, but this isn’t the way.”
“Don’t you dare come in here and demand of me,” Briella said angrily. “I know Graciela better than you do.”
“You don’t!” Asher exclaimed. “You really don’t. You weren’t there when the attack happened. You weren’t there when she would cry herself to sleep because the voice wouldn’t stop. You weren’t even there when she needed someone to talk to. Your whole life was wrapped around that boy and now that he isn’t here with us, you pretend like you give a shit about his sister.”
“Get the hell out of my face, you cretin. Waltzing in, and trying to be her prince charming. You know you cannot fill that role. Graciela and I were best friends! I was her friend before….you know what? Forget it.”
“I want her journal,” Asher demanded, ignoring Briella’s remark. “Now. I know she took notes whenever something important happened. I need it.”
“Why would I have that?”
“You’re the only one who would have it! Don’t lie to me!” He held his hand out.
“I refuse.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“That’s not a good idea,” Asher replied angrily. He took a step closer to Briella. “You bleed the same cursed blood that I do. Except I know how to eliminate yours.”
“You talk a big game,” Briella replied. “And that councilman will not allow you to lay a hand on me.”
“You’re easily replaced. Anyone can be a dimension watcher. Look at the idiot Audric.” Asher cracked his knuckles. “There’s a special place in the underworld for someone like you.”
Briella winced as he spoke. “Fine. You may have the book, but Gracie must not read it all at once. Only in portions and she must be supervised in case she has an adverse reaction. Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“You would be pissed if it was kept from you,” Asher said, withdrawing from his proximity to the girl. “I’m not trying to hurt her. You know that.”
“Yes. I do.” She dropped her arms to her side. “I ask that you stop if she is hurt.”
“She’ll be okay.”
Asher was relieved to see Graciela sitting up when he went to check on her. She was even smiling. “Everything okay in here?”
“She’s good now,” Dionysus replied. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Graciela replied. “Much better. The voice, I think it was angry at you.”
“It would be,” Asher replied. “I know all of it’s secrets. Or, at least I did. COmes with the territory.”
“What territory?” Graciela asked.
Asher sat down with the others. “I am an agent of the underworld. When someone dies, their soul transcends to another place. This is shared amongst every dimension and because it is so massive, each dimension has their own agent that handles the specified area.”
“You mean…you talk to dead people?” She asked innocently.
“Something like that. I make sure they get their final wishes, and I see to it that they leave their dimension peacefully. But I’m here now, so I have no knowledge what is going on in the underworld.”
“If the underworld is connected to each dimension,” Dionysus began. “Can’t we get to our old one through there?”
“It’s dangerous for Gracie,” Asher replied. “It’s where the darkness is the strongest. If she were to have a light with her. Rather, a seer strong enough, she could indeed pass over to her world. I don’t believe the council has sealed the dimension from the underworld. Because that would mean that no one is able to die.”
“Caleb is a contact seer!” Graciela exclaimed.
“He’s a mere human,” Asher replied. “Who just obtained his powers not too long ago. He wouldn’t be able to shield you. The boy, Leon was it? He was hardly able to do it the first time. Caleb can not do it. Besides, a contact seer is not the same as an illuminator. But you are n to something. I’d just need a way back. I haven’t been able to get a signal from my master.”
“It’s starting to look like we’ll have to do as that Cassius man says,” Dionysus replied. “Which is what, populating this dimension?”
“Something like that,” Asher mumbled. “Oh, by the way, Graciela. I have your diary.”
“My what?” She noticed the book in his hand.
“Because of the darkness,” Asher said. “You wrote things down so that it couldn’t tell you that what had happened to you was fake, a lie or that someone didn’t mean to say it. Briella had it. It should be a pretty comprehensive tale of what your past was like.”
Graciela’s eyes lit up. “Really!” She reached for it but Asher pulled it back.
“I promised a little at a time,” Asher said sternly. “Some today, some tomorrow and I need to be here when you read it.”
“Why is everyone so afraid?” She asked.
“Read the book,” Dionysus said. “You’ll find out. Get some more rest before you read it, yeah? Asher will make you some food and I’ll carry you to the next room if you can’t stand.” Dionysus stood to stretch out his muscles. “Come on. A day at a time, Gracie.” You can do it.”