Stories of ghostly possession are, more often that not, wishful thinking. It’s easier, somehow, for people to think a spirit of the dead has taken control of someone than to acknowledge that the “possessed” person has some real psychological and/or physiological issues and needs proper care and treatment.
That’s mostly the case. Then there are the times when a dream lord needs to speak to everyone in the room and no one can see her because she caught a slight case of “the dead”.
“Could you ask Healer Grida if it would be ok for me to speak through her?” I asked Kari, who was the only one who could see and hear me at the moment.
“Oh, uh, sure. Why her though?” Kari asked.
“I think I can help her get her magics back. At least if I can figure out how one of my friends managed a knowledge transfer when she was like this.” I said.
“One of your friends is a ghost?”, Kari said.
Grida and the rest of the people in the room were look at her with expressions that asked if she’d cracked and if so just how far from reality she’d fallen.
“You meet all kinds of people in my line of work.” I told her with a smile.
Given that Kari had met demons, Prelates and was talking to a ghost herself, that didn’t strain her disbelief much, so she shrugged and turn to Healer Grida.
“Jin’s here. She’s a ghost and she’d like to speak through you. She says she might be able to give you your magic back.” Kari explained.
“Can you be sure it’s her?” Grida asked.
Kari looked at me closely.
“Yes. Definitely.” she said, her meta-awareness letting her see who I really was.
“As she wishes then.” Grida said. Despite her verbal agreement though I saw her tense up, expecting an attack.
I focused for a moment and let a sensation of calm wash over me. Once I was centered I stepped forward, placed my ghostly hand on Grida’s forehead and then spun into her, falling into the darkness of her mind.
“Hello!” I called out in a cheerful voice.
“Priestess Jin?” Healer Grida’s voice boomed out from every point around me.
“Yep, sorry to intrude like this. Ran into a small problem with a holy sword that wanted to be where my torso was.” I said.
“You really are dead? Why hasn’t your soul gone to join the Dominions?” Grida asked.
“I have a few things I need to take care of here still.”
“The Holy Throne?” she guessed.
“Yeah. I’m…let’s call it ‘mildly annoyed’ with him now.” I said.
“And Kari said you could restore my magics?” Grida asked.
“I think so. Pastor Peracles too. You lost your spells because you were an acolyte of the Holy Throne, the same as I’d been. When we prayed we used the words the Holy Throne had approved, we told the Dominions the stories the Holy Throne had created. That distance, the separation from the Dominions, that was never how it had to be. The Holy Throne made it easier to ‘get it right’, to cast spells that had exactly the effects you expected them too, but the cost for that was that you never really communed with the Dominions yourself.” I explained.
“I don’t understand how else it can be.” Grida said.
“Let me show you.” I requested.
“Please do.” she agreed.
From the dark corners of her mind, I stepped forward and into her awareness. I took control of her body and spoke with her voice. Her spirit was still attuned to the Dominions, the church couldn’t take that away from her. I looked at the connections within her, expecting to find the Sixth Dominion the strongest with it’s focus on healing. Instead it was the First Dominion to which her heart was most closely attuned. The Dominion of Language and Communication and, most importantly for her, of Love.
“Speak with me.” I told her and began to sing. It wasn’t a prayer, not an official one, but it was a song that resonated with Grida to the core. The words of the song spoke of love lost and love found, of journeys and perils, of separation and love’s return.
When I restored my connection to the First Dominion, I’d told Kari the story of the first time I’d embraced Way. That was my example of what communication and love meant. With Grida, I didn’t need that. The song we sung spoke to both of us clearly. It wasn’t a prayer but the First Dominion’s magic in it was undeniable. The words Grida carried in her heart, the ones that I sung with her, reached out in longing for her love, calling him to her side.
“I’ve always said you had a rare gift. It’s shame you didn’t become a minstrel.” Colten said, as he entered the Under Chapel at a dead run. He smiled and put his hands on his knees to catch his breath.
He looked into Grida’s eyes and she met his gaze. They’d played a tentative game with each other for so many years, both knowing but never admitting to themselves how they felt. The spectres of their lost loves had lingered over them too, giving each the excuse to not risk what they had. They were incredibly brave people, but no one is brave about everything.
The song had been a love spell, but not one that compelled emotions. Instead it revealed them. Under the magic of the spell, both of them knew and couldn’t hide from the knowledge of how they felt or how the other felt about them. It wasn’t a “kind” spell. The truth isn’t always what we hope it will be and illusions can be very comforting. Sometimes though fortune smiles on you and, in Grida and Colten’s case, neither could help but smile back.
I grinned at Grida’s bashful feelings and nudged her towards Colten to get the ball rolling. The magical awareness would fade, the revelation could retreat behind delusions if they still wished it to. Grida could have fought me to make that so. Certainly once I stepped out of her body and relinquished all control to her she didn’t have to keep walking forward. Grasping Colten in a rib breaking hug was all her too. As was the liplock she put on him.
There wasn’t going to be any going back as far as she was concerned.
Once the two came up for air, Helena offered a polite round of applause and a smile that promised endless needling once the situation wasn’t so dire. She might have started on the teasing then, but her husband arrive at the same frantic run that Colten had. Spill over from the love spell perhaps, since Brayson had eyes only for her for a moment after he arrived.
“You’re never going to believe what happened!” Brayson said, panting.
“A black dragon the size of a small castle cuddled up with your troops and devoured every last one of the Prelate’s army that was attacking you?” Colten guessed.
Brayson looked around the room in shock, as though everyone else was in the joke but him. Their smiles, which had been brought on by Grida and Colten’s display of affection did nothing to help with his confusion.
“Well…it was white, but yes. How in the deepest hells did you know that? Grida, was this your doing?” Brayson asked.
“Not at all. I suspect we have a friendly ghost to thank.” Grida said.
“Wasn’t me. Those were all Kari’s doing.” I said, and then remembered only Kari could hear me since I’d left Grida’s body.
“Dragons? I summoned dragons?” Kari said.
“Friendly ones from the sound of it. What did you tell them to do?” I asked via dream speech so the others wouldn’t think she was going completely crazy. Along with the words I sent the image of the huge black dragon that had fought with (and saved) Colten’s forces on the beach.
“I asked them to save the people I knew. But they were monsters. I…I was really mad, and I wanted to destroy the people who hurt you. I know you said there’d be a price to pay but I didn’t care.” It was as much a confession as an explanation.
“And look what you did.” I replied, my dream voice stern. “You saved the town, beat the Prelates and managed to keep those two lovebirds alive long enough for them to finally hook up.”
“I don’t understand though…” Kari began.
“It’s not always wrong to get mad. You had really good cause there. Admittedly you also got pretty lucky but that balances against the bad luck of being in this situation in the first place. In the future you’ll want to be more careful, but this time summoning giant monsters turned out to be an excellent idea! It should also show you that what’s hidden inside you isn’t as horrible as you might be afraid of.” I said.
“So are we safe?” Pastor Peracles asked.
“Looks like we might be, for a little while at least.” Colten said. He and Grida had taken a seat on one of the benches together. They weren’t sitting as close as Helena and Brayson were but Grida’s dark skinned hand and Colten’s swarthy one were very quietly wrapped together.
I stepped back into Grida’s mind.
“Again, sorry to intrude, but we need to work out what we’re going to do next and I think you can make it so I don’t have to go nuts because none of you can hear me.” I said.
“What do have in mind?” Grida asked.
“Maybe not anymore singing but if we can get the rest of your magic back, I can imagine an illusion spell that will let the others see and hear me. If you’re willing to work as the conduit that is?”
“Certainly!” she agreed.
Grida didn’t need much help figuring out the spell I had in mind. Experience counted for something there, and in truth she had a good imagination too. I was right to have been worried that she might awaken as a dream walker too. In fact, I was still worried about it but something told me she’d be able to navigate the perils that arose just fine if that occurred.
I helped her get connected to the rest of her Dominions and then explained what I had in mind. As she worked out the illusion spell I’d described, I took the time to bring Pastor Peracles back to his magics too. He’d connected to only three of the Dominions so it went faster but I could tell that the connections were strong ones. He was a good healer, and a good communicator.
I’d just finished reconnecting him when Grida announced she was ready. I stepped into her mind and instead of the dark corners I found an imaginary room waiting for me. In it sat all of the people in the Under Chapel. In the Under Chapel, Grida’s illusion conjured forth a vision of me that the rest could all see and hear!
“Hiya folks!” I said, testing the spell.
“Priestess Jin! You really are deceased?” Maak exclaimed. He’d been quiet till now but apparently the sight of my ghost was shocking enough to rouse him to speak.
“Think of it as attacking the problem from a different angle.” I told him. “I’m still here to help. I’m just a bit more limited in what I can offer than I was.”
“It’s my fault.” Kari said.
I rolled my eyes.
“Nope. It’s the Emissary’s fault. And mine. His for stabbing me in the back. Mine for underestimating him. The truth is I got careless, I’m used to having Way around to cover a certain amount of my sloppiness. If it helps you can think of me as ‘dead-ish’. I’m not just a ghost but for the moment it’s easiest if I basically pretend I am.”
“Easiest for who?” Brayson asked.
“Your world. I’m trying to be careful that I don’t break any important parts of it.”
“But you still want to destroy the Holy Throne?” Helena asked.
“Ok, any important parts that haven’t really annoyed me.” I said, revising my earlier statement. “Also, I’m pretty sure that the Holy Throne is already badly broken, so that’s more like clean up.”
“What’s our next step then? There will be another attack, and it won’t be just three airships.” Helena asked.
“Maybe it’s time to leave the town.” Colten suggested, weariness and concern in his voice.
“I don’t think that’ll help. The Emissary isn’t going to leave anyone in this town alive. He’s convinced I’ve contaminated you and for some reason he’s terrified of that.” I said.
“We can’t fight the entire empire.” Colten said.
“We may not have to.” I said.
“Not if we kill the Emissary.” Helena said. She twirled one of her rune daggers for emphasis.
“I’m not sure he can be killed. Not like that anyways. What I had in mind was finding someone to stand with us.” I said
“Who would do that?” Pastor Peracles asked.
“The Goblin King.” I said.
“Why would he do that?” Brayson asked.
“He asked to see me. Whatever he needs me for, I suspect he’d be willing to agree that defending this town is a reasonable price for my help.”
“There’s going to be a small problem with that isn’t there?” Colten said, gesturing to my ghostly form.
“That does complicate things. I’ll need to take some folks with me, if you’re willing?” I asked.
“Who?” Grida asked.
“Kari and Sir Maak. The terms of our meeting was that I would bring my knight and one other. I’ll need Kari for the talents she’s developed and I believe the Goblin King will be attended by Sir Gahn.” I explained.
“Sir Maak is still…” Grida started to say but was cut-off by Maak rising from his recovery bed.
“There is no force on this world that will keep me from standing by your side.” he declared. That would have been noble and charming except I knew exactly what it translated to; there was no force on this world that would keep him from Sir Gahn.
“What do we do if the Holy Throne’s next attack comes before you return?” Helena asked.
“Get word to us if you can. Pastor Peracles has his magics back. He should be able to communicate with us. If not? Say my name and hope for the best.” I told them.