Mac found himself once again in Enid's curio shop with the red door. He paced as he told her his the tale, arms gesturing wildly. He explained the visit from the Native American Oracle and that the Ghost Lords had sent an Eidolon to attack. He explained the Oracle had died and that the Gamen had taken he, Bree, and Rodrigo in to hide them from the Ghost Lords.
"Now love, settle down. It was destroyed, yes? Nothin's goin' to get ya here in the shop. Now just sit down and don't fuss. I need a minute to think." He reluctantly took a seat in an overstuffed armchair and it was Enid's turn to pace. She clicked her tongue against her teeth.
"What should we do?"
"You should hush and let me think, moppet." Mac frowned, but kept his silence. After a few minutes she stopped pacing. "All right, love. I don't think the Ghost Lords were comin' after you an' Bree. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Enid, it was horrible. I'm not sure I'm ready to take chances with this."
"Fine, love. The Gamen know what they're doing. They can take the risk that the Council Dictum won't interpret hiding you as a violation of the Covenant."
"Well, fine. Whatever. I think Covenant is an antiquated piece of bullshit!" Mac spat.
"Love, I never said any different. However, rules must be followed."
"I don't think the Ghost Lords are following the rules. In fact, stealing all the souls of the dead on Dia de los Muertos seems pretty against the rules."
"What do you mean, moppet?"
"That's what Rod and Bree are worried about, but don't worry, Enid. They're going to stop them."
"They're going to-" he was interrupted by the electronic chirp of his cell phone. "Hang on." He fished the mobile telephone put of pocket and looked at the screen. "I've got to take this. It's my Mom." Enid threw up here arms as Mac answered the call. "Hello."
"Darling! It's Mom."
"I know, Mom. What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong. Does a mother need a reason to call her son?"
"Um, she does when she's in Madrid."
"Oh , I'm not in Spain. Your father was supposed to have emailed you. We're back early. Surprise!"
"Now Mackenzie, don't be like that. We have some wonderful gifts for you. Are you free for dinner?"
"No." Enid shot Mac an impatient look. "Look Mom, things are real busy right and right now isn't a good time to talk. I'll give you a call at the end of week. I promise."
"All right Mackenzie, fine, but you'd better not forget. You don't want an angry mother on your hands!" She laughed. "I love you, Mackenzie."
"I love you, too, Mom. I'll call you in a couple of days." Mac snapped the cell phone shut and pocketed it. "Sorry about that. Now, Bree and Rodrigo are going to stop the Ghost Lords. I'm not sure about the details, but Rod figured it all out after talking with his grandmother."
"Come along Mac, we've got to go."
"Where? I'm not going to try and stop them."
"No, no. There isn't time for that, love. We've got to go and break the Covenant ourselves."
"Come on, let's go!" Enid waved him ahead of her and they left the store.
"Initiate Ferris, please take a seat." Duncan sat before Eleanor, Grand Lady of the Ghost Lords. "I know that you are distressed, and that you have many questions. Archan was updated me on what has come to pass and first off I want to assure you the Bree Montgomery is still very much among the living, as are you old roommates. It would seem that an enemy of ours was at your apartment when he was dispatched and that is why your old place of living was found in such disarray."
"Your Reverend Lady, you're certain she's alive?" Duncan asked, placing his palms together and then brought his hands to in front of his mouth.
"Yes, Duncan. I am certain." She reached a hand across her desk and grasped his arm. "I know that is a difficult time and that there are factions within this city that disagree, but I can assure you that Ghost Lords are no longer after Bree for recruitment. We do not wish her harm, but she has formed her own faction and as such, we cannot help her. Or even interfere. To do so would violate the Covenant. As long our enemies do not convince her to attack us, she has nothing to fear from the Ghost Lords."
"Fear, Your Reverend Lady? I really don't understand this. I thought we were the good guys?"
"We are, Duncan. The Ghost Lords are here to help spirits along. We can also perform resurrection, under the right circumstances. We are guides and protectors. There are awful things in the spirit world and well guide souls safely to the other side. Even though our leader has taken some unconventional steps, we are masters of death and what lies beyond it. Our call is a noble one."
"But why recruit me? Why was Bree so important, Your Reverend Lady?"
"Well, Bree is capable of being a receptacle for certain energies, as am I. When I was missing, the Ghost Lords need her to receive these energies so we could put right something that went wrong a long time ago."
"What happened, Your Reverend Lady?"
"You're just an initiate. Let's just say we made a mistake. Now we have a chance to free something that should never have become trapped."
"I see, Your Reverend Lady. And now you're going to do instead of Bree?"
"Yes. And you know what? Once we've dealt with all of this, I'll help you find Bree and we can explain everything to her and see if can't straighten this whole mess out. I think you've got a chance, just as I think if you work hard you can become a successful Ghost Lord."
"Thank you. I can't explain how much this means to me, Your Reverend Lady."
"Never you mind about all that. Now, run along Duncan, but remember that if you have any questions, just come find me.
"Thank you." He left her office. Once the door was closed she stood up and turned to the mirror on the wall behind her desk.
"You're such a liar. You know as well as he that something is very wrong here." She turned back to her desk and opened a drawer. She pulled a candle out and placed on the desk. She snapped her fingers and the wick lit. "It's time to remember everything. Time to face whatever it was that made runaway in the first place. I'm glad Francis was thoughtful enough to have retrieved my things from the diner. As the candle burned, she was flooded with memories and began to cry. After twenty minutes, the flame died. She wiped the tears on her cheeks with the sleeves of her robe.
Oh Enid, you took such a risk that I'd do the right thing. She thought. Then the Grand Lady of the Ghost Lords began to perform a ritual.
Bree, Rod, and Ant stood in front of what most would consider a morbid fountain. The fountain is a large reflecting pool with small spouts around the edges. The center holds a large statue of a skeletal woman in a large Victorian style dress and a wide brimmed hat trimmed with flowers and feathers.
"La Calavera de la Catrina," Rod said. "She's a big part of the spirit behind the Day of the Dead. One of the most common symbols now, at least according to my Abuelita. I figure, that if I can use the statue in the fountain to someone awaken the spirit of La Catrina, she'll be enraged at what the Ghost Lords are doing and will stop them."
"You mean, she's kind of like Zeitgeist?" Ant asked.
"Maybe. I don't know. I'm flying by instinct here."
"We all are," Bree jumped in. "We should do this. If the spirits are being captured by the Ghost Lords, we have to stop them."
"Agreed." Rod said. He then sat on the edge of the fountain, removed his shoes and socks and then rolled up his pant legs. Bree had done the same. They waded out to the statue. Rod placed his hands one the stone trim of the statue's dress. Bree stood behind him and place her hands on his shoulders. They both closed their eyes. Ant glanced about, serving as lookout. Ant kept switching back from looking for police to his friends, who had began to tremble. A moment later, he was staring eyes wide and mouth agape. Bree and Rodrigo were being knocked over into the fountain as the statute's arms moved to lift the hem of her dress. The statue of La Calavera de la Catrina then stepped into the water. Rod found his footing and shouted out to the statue.
"La Catrina!" She stopped and turned her head down and to the side. "Please, you must help our people. The statue tilted her head. "Of course!" He then began to speak in Spanish. Ant climbed into the fountain to help Bree up. By this time, several people had gathered around the statue; others had run in fear.
"What's he saying?" she asked the blue-haired Gamen as he assisted her."
"Well, my Spanish is rough, but I think he's telling her about the Ghost Lords and what they are up to. Fuck, I can't believe this worked."
"It took a lot out of me," Bree said, leaning on Ant for support. "What else is he saying?"
"I can't really make it out; he's speaking too fast for me." Then suddenly, the statue launched into the air. This elicited a few "ohs" and "ahs" from the crowd, but mostly screaming and swearing. Rod turned to his friends.
"I hope she's off to deal with them. I don't even know if she can talk?"
"Let's get out of the fountain," Ant suggested. The three began walking through the water; the crowd was staring at them. And they were collecting their shoes and socks, Diasuke pressed through the near-hysterical crowd.
"What happened here?" he demanded. Ant, Bree, and Rodrigo just stared at him. He stepped closer to them. "My elder sensed a large surge of energy here. There are a lot of upset people and unless I my memory is faulty, there used to be a statue in the middle of this fountain."
"We awakened it," Rod offered.
"What!" Diasuke shouted. "Ant, you should have known better. Hell, you all should have. You cannot just animate statues in the middle of Santa Maria!"
"Let's not have this conversation here," Bree said. She pushed her way through the crowd and three men followed her. She ducked down and alley.
"Now look Diasuke," she continued, "We are doing what has to be done to stop the Ghost Lords."
"This has to do with their gathering, then?" he asked.
"Wait. Diasuke, where are they gathered?" Rod asked in return.
"On Sunset ridge, above the old cemetery. But what does bringing a statue to life have to do with the Ghost Lords? I-" he stopped short as the Ant touched the other two and they blinked out of existence.
Daphne Nolan's expensive high-heeled shoes clicked on the marble tiles of City Hall. Dressed in a top designer's suit she strode through the lobby, clearly with a purpose in mind. However, she quickly altered her course when she saw an older gentleman come out of a door down the hall. She hurried in his direction.
"Lawrence!" she called. He stopped and turned towards her. She waved and smiled and she closed the distance. "Oh, I wasn't expecting to see you here, Lawrence. What a wonderful coincidence. And it saves me the trouble of finding you later."
"Aren't you supposed to be in Madrid?"
"I came back. I've heard. Jack Dandelion is going make a motion to the Council that action should be taken against the Ghost Lords. That's madness. Lawrence. You have to tell me if there is going to be civil war in Santa Maria."
"Daphne, you shouldn't concern yourself with these things. You shouldn't even remember them."
"Well, it's not my fault your little spell failed to remove my memories of your little occult world once my two terms as mayor came to an end. I still have friends in your world and if things are going to get ugly, I want to know so I get my husband and my son the hell out of here. Come now, Lawrence. You're the Steward of the Council Dictum, you can't pretend you don't know what is going on."
"It won't be that easy. I see your friends have failed to tell you something important about what has been happening while you were in Spain."
"What are you talking about, Lawrence?"
"Your son. He's neck deep in what's going on."
"What the hell!" She smacked him on the shoulder. "Unacceptable! How in the Hell did Mackenzie get involved in your very secret and very dangerous world?"
"We shouldn't talk here. Let's go for a walk, Daphne." The two walked out of City Hall.
As they appeared on Sunset Ridge, Ant and Rod tried to keep Bree standing, but her dead weight pulled her down onto the grass. She was unconscious.
"Damn. I forgot she doesn't skip well," said Ant.
"That's not our big problem," Rod said, pointing to ahead to just a few yards ahead of them. What they saw left them both awestruck.
The La Catrina Statue was mired in ghosts, stone arms waving about, trying to strike at the ghosts swirling about the statue. Several large claret globes of light rested on the ground, smaller spirits being sucked into them. Also on the ground, several robes figures were shooting beams of reddish-purple light at the statue.
"Damn. She's losing." Ant said. Rodrigo was off like a shot. He tackled one of the Ghost Lords, the beam coming from that Ghost Lord's hands went wild and the Rod and he fell to the ground. The beam struck, and sent flying, another Ghost Lord. Ant was now on the move, heading towards Rod. The Ghost Lords were now aware of their presence, and one broke off from the assault on the statue. The hood of the Ghost Lord's robe fell back, revealing a dark haired woman. She drew a long dagger from within her robes as se ran towards Rod, who was now struggling with the Ghost Lord he attacked. Ant put himself between the charging enemy and Rod.
"Skip!" he heard from behind him. He turned and there was Bree, kneeling and shouting.
"Skip! Fuckin' Skip" Ant dove for Rod and invoked his gift of the Gamen and the two winked out. As they did, Bree screamed and stretched out her arms. The air rippled before her, arcing out in a fan of invisible energy. Ghosts dissipated as it struck them; several ghosts went and swirled the Ghost Lords, trying to protect them. When the distorted wave stuck the living statue, it exploded. Stone and dust sprayed everywhere, sending Ghost Lords and Bree flying.
To be continued...
Story by James M. Sullivan, Copyright 2007
Image by Rory Clark, Stopped Motion Photography, Copyright 2007