Graciela slammed the front door to her house with enough force that Alistair was sure it’d crack the door frame. Bolting up from his seat, Dionysus rushed to the door. “Trouble in paradise?”
“You could say that,” Alistair replied with a nervous smile. “It’s good to see you again, Dionysus.”
“Likewise, sir.” Dionysus slightly bowed his head. “The boys are in the other room playing video games. Er, nothing violent of course. Just some puzzle games I convinces them they couldn’t beat my score in. I should go check on them, actually.”
“I can,” Alistair offered. “I think Graciela wants to talk to you.” He gave her a knowing look. She had told him the reason she needed to go home so badly was because she wanted to ask the elven man something about what Leon’s professor had told him. Alistair stalked off into the other room to check on Waverly and Gregg while Dionysus motioned for Graciela to take a seat beside him on the couch.
“How was the party?” Dionysus asked. “Not anything you expected?”
“No,” Graciela mumbled. “It was everything I had expected from Leon. I found out that he didn’t talk to me for 5 years on purpose while he was talking to my supposed best friend, Braylen, the whole time.”
“I’m sorry sweetie,” Dionysus said with a frown. “Perhaps there was a good reason?”
“I don’t care.” Graciela waved the man’s words away. Dionysus could tell that she most certainly did care, but this was something Graciela needed to sort out herself when she was ready. “I have other things to worry about right now. I met with someone today who teaches Leon at the boarding school. Her name is Sophina and she thinks she can help me.”
Dionysus’ words seem to hitch in his throat for a minute. “Sophina…what does she look like? Teal hair, beautiful coral eyes, soft hands?”
“I wasn’t paying attention to her hands, you weirdo.” Graciela lowered her eyes. “But yes, the hair and eyes seem to match the description. You said you were alive for many centuries, she claims to have been too and knew about Timothy Gray.”
“Well yes, Sophina and Timmy were good friends. Timothy was bed ridden for most of his life and Sophina was escaping her past. So naturally the two seemed to link up quite easily. She had stories to tell and he was welcoming when she needed a friend.” Despite the edge of sadness to his voice, Dionysus was smiling. “She was there when Elora passed her judgement on us. I haven’t seen her since that night, so I can’t speak to the validity of her claims of being able to help you but I’d like to believe she’s still the same girl looking for justice.”
“Centuries could change a person. I know 5 years did.” Graciela lightly kicked her feet up. “Sophina mentioned arcane history and that we could study it to see how to combat the world;s descent into pure darkness. Seems kind of cinematic and over the top if you ask me.”
“Well what does the voice say? I’m sure whoever or whatever it belongs to must have an opinion. There’s no way to commune in secret.”
“I think it’s a wonderful idea to see what that human thinks she can do and I’d like to see it up close. But be very mindful that the world can only be saved by the inevitable. You must do what you were chosen to do, little lamb.”
“The voice thinks it’s a good idea but it’s taunting me saying Sophina can’t stop the fate of the world,” Graciela said, shutting her eyes. “I don’t much trust this voice anyway. It’s not sneering at me like the last one, but I have no reason to trust it.”
“Do you have reason to mistrust it?” Dionysus asked. “When you were younger you were always afraid of the darkness, but that doesn’t seem to be as debilitating anymore. It could very well be that the voice who’s talking to you doesn’t belong to the darkness. It could be that the voice talking to Lapis Sikes didn’t either, because he was a seer being fed the future. Timmy was the vessel for the darkness…” Dionysus placed a hand on his chin. “Timothy didn’t tell me about any voices, the darkness hurt him in other ways.”
“The elven man is so smart, isn’t he? No, I’m not the darkness. That pest left you because it had found an opening in another dimension. While it was gone, I slid into the hole that resides in your heart. I can leave if I so choose, but you can’t force me.”
“The voice, it’s saying it’s not the darkness and you’re right!” Graciela cried, eyes widening. “They say that they can leave if they want to, but they don’t.”
“Well, what do you want from Graciela to free her from you then?” Dionysus asked, grabbing hold of the girl’s shoulders like it would make a huge difference. “Enough games, if you tell her she might just give it to you.”
“I want you to do what you’re supposed to do, Graciela. Reset the balance of light and darkness in your world. I don’t know how many more people need to tell you what you have to do.”
Graciela placed a hand on her heart. “It says I need to do my job. I have to follow my ancestor, Timothy Gray, and be the vessel that brings the darkness into the underworld. Is that right, voice?”
“Now you’re getting it.”
“You should just speak plainly!” Graciela cried, throwing her arms up into the air. “You always have to make this some kind of guessing game.”
“We’re dealing with higher powers here,” Dionysus muttered, shutting his eyes tightly and leaning back into the couch. “That’s why you’re never going to get a plain answer. If it’s similar to my situation though, you can present the voice with the answer yourself and they can confirm or deny it. Perhaps you should go to that Academy and see if there’s any information on how to venture into the underworld. That never was my area of expertise.”
“I’m sorry Dio but I can’t absorb any darkness into me and take it into the depths of hell! How does that even work?” Graciela cried. “Let me guess, I have to figure it out on my own! This is so dumb.”
“Graciela, if I may?” Alistair asked, walking into the room. “You said the underworld, right? Callen might be able to help you. He once told me that fairies with white wings can activate the entrance to the underworld. He’s been there before but it was because he had a calling. I’m not sure how that works.”
“You’re entertaining this idea, grandpa?” Graciela asked. “Really?”
“It’s worth exploring,” Alistair said. “If only for the information. I don’t want you down there, trust me. Callen lost the love of his life in the underworld. Being a vessel doesn’t sound like it bodes well for you. But if we have information we can possibly stop it.”
“True,” Dionysus replied. “I can go with you to that boarding school if you’d like. Think of me as your chaperone. Your parents might not be able to leave Fortitude because of your siblings but I certainly can and I know a lot about what can hurt you and what can’t.”
“I’ll venture even farther,” Alistair said. “Braylen should also go. He has a connection to the whole thing as well. Everyone should learn how to make sense of things and how to protect themselves if push comes to shove.”
Dionysus clapped his hands together. “Think of it like an adventure with your cool uncle Dio. You have my word that I will not let you die under my watch. I promise, Graciela, and I never go back on my promises.”
“Okay,” Graciela said with a nod. “I’ll go to the academy, but I want to learn. That’s it.” She gulped and walked to the stairs. “I’m packing before I change my mind. Leon is only here for the night.”
“H-ey!” Dionysus called out after her, his face growing red. “I’m not going to tell your mother on my own. She’ll kill me.”
“You want me to change my mind, don’t you?” Graciela cried, turning back on her heels to glare at Dionysus.
“No…” He laughed nervously. “Go pack. Al here will call everyone and tell them the news.”
Thinking about anything but her purpose in life would make Graciela change her mind about her decision. Dionysus, Sophina and this voice told her she was destined to become a vessel for the darkness and frankly she thought it sounded ridiculous.
Though, she couldn’t deny the longer nights that had been coming around Fortitude recently and the sudden resurgence of her family’s ancestry. Things were strange, but when had they not been? Her family had been hunted by an evil vampire when they were in Moonlight Falls. They moved to a safe haven in a pocket dimension, and then found themselves in a supernatural town that hadn’t let newcomers enter in ages.
If anything, Graciela had only wanted to learn more about magic to take care of her family. A silly fight with Leon and the distance from her family wouldn’t stop her. She wanted to be strong like her mother and grandfather.
Because if something did happen, she wanted to be ready. This voice inside of her wasn’t going to go anywhere. If she wanted to make a change, it needed to be of her own accord.
Would it be scary? Hell yeah. Was she going to do it anyway? Hell yeah.