“She’s never going to let us go,” Chantia stated moodily. Mia hummed in agreement, not even bothering to grace her sister with a response.
“I mean,” Chantia continued, “it’s like she thinks the moment we set foot outside the house, something terrible will happen to us. She’s never even allowed me to visit any of my friends’ houses!”Mia hummed again, tilting her head slightly. “That’s your own fault,” she pointed out. “If you didn’t have the habit to disappear at odd times – like, during the Full Moon – she would most likely have been more lenient,” Mia stated before giving Chantia a pointed glare. “With both of us.”
Chantia sighed heavily and pulled her leg closer to her chest with a scowl on her face.
“That was Charlotte’s fault,” Chantia argued. “She said she wanted to show me something and the next moment we were standing in front of her house.”
Mia stared levelly at Chantia, her eyebrow lifted almost imperceptibly, causing the older girl to fidget slightly.
“What? It’s true!” Chantia insisted, uncomfortable at the stare. “She really did that!”
“Of course,” Mia murmured, agreeing patronizingly with her sister.
Chantia scowled at Mia.
“Fine, don’t believe me,” Chantia dared the young genius, whose only response was to lift her other eyebrow as well.
“I don’t disbelieve you,” Mia disagreed. “I just don’t see how knowing that will get Mom to let us go. When it was just an afternoon she didn’t mind, but she won’t let us be gone the entire day. Not without adult supervision, in any case.”
Chantia pouted slightly, knowing the younger girl was right.
“We could just tell her we’re going to visit a friend,” she suggested. “There will be adults present, just not…living ones.”
“She’ll want names and numbers,” Mia pointed out.
“So we’ll give her some,” Chantia replied. “We can tell her we’re going to…say, Joy’s house.”
Mia shook her head. “Not going to work,” she disagreed. “She’ll most likely call Joy’s mother to confirm that we’re really there,” she pointed out. The girls fell into silence as they both thought about the problem.
“I’ve got an idea,” Chantia said slowly after a minute or two. “We can tell her we’re going to visit Joy. I’ll call Joy and ask her to cover us, so that if Mom calls them, Joy can tell her that we went to the park or something,” Chantia suggested. “Joy is already in high school, so I’m pretty sure Mom won’t have a problem with that.”
Mia hummed contemplatively, considering the idea. “It can work,” she agreed before climbing off the bed and straightening her PJ’s. “Call Joy; I’ll talk to Mom.”
Chantia flashed her sister a grin and watched the younger girl leave the room before she called her best friend.
“Hey Joy, it’s me, Chantia. Listen, I have a huge favour to ask…”
Downstairs, Mia found Evelyn in the kitchen, busy with her weekly cleaning routine. Evelyn gave Mia a warm smile and turned her full attention to the girl, leaving the counter she was cleaning alone.
“Good morning, Mia,” Evelyn greeted her charge warmly. “Did you sleep well?” Mia assured Evelyn that she had, thank you, but that there was actually something else she wanted to talk about.
“Oh,” Evelyn replied, slightly amused by Mia’s tone. “Well then, what is it?”
“Can Chantia and I go with Joy to the park? I’ve never officially met her, and Chantia’s complaining that they haven’t seen each other in forever and…” Mia shrugged slightly,” we’d really like to get out of here,” the girl confessed petulantly.
Evelyn bit her lip softly in thought. Joy was Teresa’s daughter and the girl was already in high school, so she couldn’t really see any harm in letting the girls go with the teen.
“Okay,” she consented. “Just make sure you’re back before dark and keep out of trouble. And don’t give Joy too much grief,” she ordered sternly. Mia gave Evelyn one of her rare moments of emotion, smiling and hugging the woman.
“Thank you!” With that, Mia broke the hug and bounded up the stairs again to the room she shared with Chantia. Evelyn just smiled after her, ignoring the part of her mind that provided all kinds of horrible situations the girls could get caught up in. Sunset Valley was safe. Her kids would be safe.
Minutes later, the girls were dressed and ready for their big adventure. They both hugged their mother goodbye before leaving the house all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Of course, the girls had no intention of actually going to the park, so after some time of cycling, they finally arrived at the ghosts’ house. The house on the hill was just as creepily ominous as it had always been, but something felt different to Mia than the last time she had visited the house with Chantia.
A golden figure sitting demurely by the tree caught Mia’s eye, causing her to smile slightly. The girl humming so peacefully by the tree was golden and transparent, so she had to be a ghost. That meant that Mia’s theories had been correct. Her potion would allow her to interact with ghosts.
The ghost looked up at their approach, her eyes widening slightly.
“You’re here,” she stated with a slight hint of hesitation in her voice. Her voice was just as beautiful as Mia remembered.
“Yep,” Chantia agreed cheerfully. “You asked us to come today, remember?”
The ghost smiled at Chantia’s cheerful tone and relaxed slightly.
“I did, yes,” Charlotte agreed with a soft smile. “I promised to answer your questions. But, are you really sure you want to know? It’s a very long tale, and it might change the way you view the world forever.”
Charlotte fidgeted slightly with her hands, clearly uncomfortable with the topic. Mia smiled slightly, trying to comfort the ghost.
“You don’t have to tell us, you know,” she assured the ghost calmly. “We’d like answers, but if it makes you uncomfortable, you really don’t have to force yourself.”
The ghost looked at Mia in surprise, her eyes wide open in shock. “You can see me? How?” Charlotte asked incredulously. Mia smiled reassuringly at the ghost before she described the potion she had invented and the additional effects she believed the potion had. To her greatest surprise and joy, Charlotte was able to follow her without problem and even offered her own theories and suggestions.
“You’re really clever, you know,” Mia told the ghost. “You’re the only one who has managed to follow me without any problems.”
Charlotte smiled knowingly at the young genius. “I know and understand your frustration,” the ghost admitted. “When I was still alive, I was considered a genius as well. My family expected many great things from me, but, well, I didn’t quite get the chance to prove them right or wrong.”
A slightly uncomfortable silence fell around them as the conversation took a morbid turn.
Charlotte shook her head and smiled at the two living girls. “But that is in the past,” she declared. “You came here with questions, and I promised I’d provide answers. So come with me,” the ghost ordered and started walking towards the lake beside the ghosts’ house, the two girls following obediently. “It’s a very, very long story, so we might as well make ourselves comfortable.”
“So, what do you want to know?” Charlotte asked once they had arrived at the lake and settled down on the grass surrounding the lake.
Mia wasted no time to ask her questions. “What happens when a person dies?” Mia asked curiously. “Some of the theories I’ve read about state that people just cease to exist after they die. I know this is a lie, because you’re dead, but you still clearly exist. Other theories state that some kind of monster comes at the time of death to reap a person’s soul and send them off to an afterlife. So what is the truth?”
Charlotte hummed thoughtfully and picked at the grass in front of her. “That’s actually a very complex question,” she admitted. “Death and the afterlife aren’t quite as clear-cut as they are in the stories,” the ghost said and leaned back in thought, supporting her weight with her arms. “To really understand what happens, you have to know more about the way the entire universe works,” she explained.
Mia perked up at the admission. “You’re saying there’s a specific way the universe works? How is that possible? And why isn’t there more information available on it?”
Charlotte laughed, genuinely amused by Mia’s question. “Again, the answer is fairly complex,” she said with a smile. “But yes, there is a specific way the universe works. You won’t be able to understand any of my answers if I don’t explain the mechanics of the universe, so I think I’ll start with that,” the ghost decided and started with her story.
You see, our universe is based on balance. For every birth there must be a death and for every creation there must be a destruction. For every good act, there must be a sinister one and for every smile given there must be a tear shed. The principle of antithesis. But in reality, the universe is in a constant strive for chaos. That is simply an inherent part of the universe, since the universe is driven by the creatures inhabiting her, and they are driven by emotion.
Therefore, a being with the sole purpose of counteracting this chaos and keeping the universe in balance exists. The Keeper of Balance has to keep the world in balance. The only way it could manage to do so at the beginning was by creating different parallel worlds; each of them a reflection of another in at least one aspect.
“At least one aspect? What do you mean by that?” Chantia asked for clarification. Charlotte inclined her head in acknowledgement of the question before trying to clarify her statement.
For example, say a world exists where no humans live on, only animals. This world is also constantly in summer. Now, several reflection worlds could exist to counteract this world. A world could exist that only contains humans, and no animals. Or a world could exist that contains only animals, but is constantly in winter. Then another world could exist that is its direct reflection, meaning that only humans live on that world and the world is constantly in winter. So the worlds are all reflections of one another in one aspect – the type of creatures inhabiting it – or another – the season of the world. This is the principle all of the worlds work on; or at least, should work on.
In reality though, the universe hasn’t been in true balance for a very long time. While the principle of the reflected worlds is sound in theory, in practice it is not so. This is because the reflections caused an infinite amount of worlds to exist that are all connected and because they are all connected, exchange between them is possible. Usually this is not such a big problem, because the exchange that can happen is very limited and can therefore be prevented by the Keeper. But, on nights of the Full Moon, this exchange can be quite significant.
“Why?” Mia asked curiously. “What makes full moon so special? And exactly what is exchanged between the worlds?”
“I was getting to that,” Charlotte mildly reprimanded and continued her explanation.
When I’m talking about Full Moon, I don’t mean the physical celestial event. It is involved yes, but what I’m actually talking about is the exchange of magic that occurs during the celestial event. You see, in this universe, there exist magical worlds and their non-magical reflections. For reasons not truly understood, the magic surrounding magical worlds are stronger during the celestial event of full moon. On these nights, the magic is so strong that it creates bridges to their worlds’ non-magical reflections, causing the magic to enter the non-magical worlds. This event – this crossing over of magic – is what is known as Full Moon. When these bridges form, the magic is so strong that objects and even people can cross over to the different worlds.
Now, to come back to your question about death and the afterlife: our own world is a reflection of several others. One of the aspects of this world is that only the Living can live on it. So, naturally, a world exists that only the Dead can live on. Once a person has died, his or her soul will separate from the body and will need to cross over to the world of the Dead. On normal nights, there isn’t enough magic in the air to allow the Dead to cross over, so the Keeper usually collects those souls and send them off to the world of the Dead. On Full Moon nights though, there is enough magic, so the Keeper doesn’t come to collect the Dead, as it doesn’t have any need to. The Dead are able to cross over on their own.
Mia frowned slightly at Charlotte’s words.
“You make it sound like crossing over is compulsory,” the younger girl confessed.Charlotte tipped her head back, staring at the cloudless sky above her.
It is, actually. We don’t belong in this world anymore, so when we don’t cross over after a certain amount of time, we start to…lose ourselves. We become mere shades of our previous selves, normally driven only by the emotion that caused us to linger in this world. These shades are what is known as the Damned. We all know this is a possibility of happening to anyone who doesn’t cross over immediately, but sometimes…
The long-dead girl shrugged.…sometimes we just don’t care. We each have our own reasons for lingering, and to us, these reasons are more than enough to risk becoming one of the Damned.
Chantia swallowed slightly. Charlotte was one of her best friends, so the thought that the ghost might disappear was more than enough to cause a lump to appear in her throat.“Do the Damned....ever regain themselves?” Chantia asked hesitantly. “I mean, if one of you guys were to ‘lose yourself’, would you ever…” She made a vague gesture with her hand, trying to convey what she was trying to say without actually speaking.
Charlotte shook her head with a sad smile on her face.
“No,” she confessed. “Once a person has become a Damned, that person cannot become whole again. Or at least, if there is a method, I do not know what it is.”
“Why do they ‘lose themselves’?” Mia interjected curiously. “Is there an actual reason?”
Charlotte shrugged again. “There are many theories,” she admitted, “but nobody really knows. Personally, I think it’s due to a combination of energies and magicks that aren’t compatible with each other. The world of the Dead is actually a magical world, so when we die we ourselves become magical. This world isn’t magical though, so the non-magical energy from this world tries to eradicate the magic, so…”
“So it’s the energy of this world that causes the change?” Mia asked and leaned forward eagerly. “But if that’s the case, won’t…” She launched into a highly technical conversation with Charlotte that went completely over Chantia’s head.
“Uhm, guys, can we get back on subject please?” Chantia interrupted the two genius’ conversation after several minutes. “You might have the answers you wanted, but I still haven’t,” she protested with a small pout.
Mia gave her a level stare, unimpressed by being interrupted, while Charlotte smiled apologetically at Chantia.
“Oh, sorry,” the ghost apologized. “What did you want to know?”
“How does the Song fit into all this?” Chantia asked, her brows furrowed in confusion. “You told me way back when that I was exposed to the Song when I was vulnerable, which is why I am able to see you guys. But I really can’t see how it fits in with the tale you just told us.”
Charlotte smiled at Chantia, clearly slightly amused.
I told you that exchange of magic is possible between the worlds, but that the magic is so weak on normal nights that the Keeper is able to prevent it from leaking over at all. The truth is though, the Keeper doesn’t prevent it. I don’t know why, but I guess the magic that leaks over into this world is so insignificant that the Keeper simply doesn’t see the need to prevent it from crossing over.
Anyway, what the Song actually is is the magic that crosses over to this world. You and Mia are denizens of a mundane, non-magical world, so the magic shouldn’t really affect you, but as we all know this isn’t the case with you two. You Chantia, was exposed to the magic when it was at its strongest and you at your most vulnerable, that is when you were born, with the result that the magic latched onto you and gave you the ability to use it to a very small extent, while Mia of course used her potion to obtain the same effect. But even though Mia can see us now, she will never be able to hear the Song like you do. Your brain is able to detect the magic surrounding you, but it doesn’t know what it is, so it translates the magic into sound. With Mia though, her brain isn’t able to detect the magic, so nothing is translated, with the result that she will never be able to hear the Song.
Chantia frowned slightly. “That’s really a pity,” she admitted. “The Song is so beautiful.”
“It is very beautiful,” Charlotte agreed with a smile, “but even I haven’t heard it in a very long time. So you really have no idea how blessed you are to be able to hear it. Now, is there anything else you wanted to know?”
The two living girls shook their heads, satisfied by the answers. Charlotte smiled happily at their silence.
“In that case, let’s do about something else,” the ghost suggested. “Tell me, what do you think about…”
And cut! That took way too long to write. Sorry about the load of dialogue and information, but it really is important for the story to make sense. So, that is basically the way the world in my legacy works. I hope everything is clear, but if it isn’t, feel free to ask! I rewrote this a couple of times to have the info make more sense, but I’m not sure if I succeeded.
I must say though, I am hyped for the next generation to start. That is where this overflow of information is really going to play a role, so I really want it to start. But since dearest Chantia still has to finish school and get through puberty, I guess I’ll just have to wait >_<.
Oh yeah, another thing: you might’ve noticed that Mia refer to Evelyn as her mother and to Chantia as her sister, while in reality they’re actually her aunt and cousin. The reason for this is that Evelyn actually did adopt Mia, so Evelyn and Chantia are Mia’s mother and sister – adoptive, but family nonetheless.