Ephraim Godwin and the Sins of the Past part 12 - chapters 32-34
Ephraim reached out and caught the arm of a boy as he ran by the three. The boy pulled up, trying to free himself from Ephraim's grip.
"Easy, lad," Ephraim said producing a tanner. The boy froze, his eyes locked on the coin. Ephraim released his hold now that he had the boy's attention. "I need you to go to Station House 6 and deliver a message to Inspector Kimbell. Can you do that?"
The boy nodded and held out his hand. Ephraim produced a pad from his coat pocket and scribbled down a message before handing the paper and coin to the boy.
"Now, I've told the inspector to double that coin if you can get this message there quickly, so no stops."
The boy nodded and rushed off. Ephraim's gaze followed him until he turned the corner.
"Well, hopefully, the good Inspector will send someone to guard Devitt while we are gone. I also informed him we were headed to the country in case something happens."
Zona nodded and waived to her driver who pulled the carriage over to them. She showed the man the directions Devitt had shared and once the man nodded, the three entered the carriage.
"So, Ephraim spoke of a dream," Livingstone said once the carriage started rolling.
"Yes, a very telling dream. If my brother was still alive, I believe we would know everything now, but alas we are held back by my meager knowledge," Zona said offering a sad smile.
"I highly doubt that," Ephraim said as he leaned forward. "But is there a way to find out more or are we stuck with what we witnessed?"
Zona nodded, "I think so, but it is dangerous without a proper link."
Livingstone leaned back and wondered aloud, "Did you not create a link with Ephraim?"
Zona's cheeks colored as she offered a slight nod. Ephraim let loose a loud sigh and joined Livingstone with his back to the bench.
"Yes...but it is too new, too unformed to be a sure thing. I'd say we have a fifty-fifty chance."
Livingstone nodded and glanced at Ephraim. When their eyes met, Livingstone gestured toward Zona with his head. Ephraim glared at the man before turning his attention to Zona.
"To whom is the danger?"
"The anchor, which would be you in this case. If anything happened to me than you, as the anchor, would bear the consequence."
"Well then, make sure nothing happens, and we will be right as rain," Ephraim said with an encouraging smile, although his insides squirmed with worry.
"Is it something we can do on the ride up to Stanbury's?" Livingstone asked.
Zona nodded, and reached out to take Ephraim's hand. The heat from her palm radiated through her glove and flowed into Ephraim, traveling through his hand, up his arm, and to his chest. He stared at her unblinking eyes and waited for some explanation. His worry and unease melted away after a moment, and she released his hand.
"There, that should help," she said so quietly, it may have been to herself. "If I appear to be in distress, you must allow me to continue until five minutes have passed. Anything after that will affect...the anchor."
Livingstone produced his pocket watch and flipped it open. He nodded to the two and sat back. Ephraim sighed and studied Zona as her eyes closed. The carriage rocked over every bump and hole in the road, but she showed no signs of movement save her chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm.
The carriage continued in silence until Ephraim believed he could take no more and opened his mouth to question Zona. As his lips parted, every hair on his body began to rise. Static energy covered him head to toe, and Ephraim wondered if he was beginning to glow from the charge.
A small gasp left Zona and his attention returned to her face. He prayed this not only worked but that they both remained safe.
Zona sat in a field of wildflowers. Her head pounded from the journey, and she wondered how successful she might be if the pain didn't subside soon. She closed her eyes and laid back in the tall, colorful field. She remembered visiting a field like this as a little girl; her brother leading her through the forest to the flowers, so they could enjoy the lovely spring weather.
Her heart ached at the thought of her brother, and she found herself wishing for his return again. Truth be told, this wasn't the first time her brother had died, but for some unknown reason, it seemed to be the last. The pounding in her head subsided enough, so she sat back up.
"Hello, little flower," a voice said behind her. A smile split her face as she spun around, leaping to her feet. Her brother stood a few feet away, and she raced towards him, arms outstretched.
As she reached him, she moved to offer a hug but stumbled through his figure. Unable to regain her balance in time, she tumbled to the ground. Rolling over, she offered her brother a glare.
"You could have warned me," she said as she stood, dusting off imaginary dirt.
"True, but you should have known," he said with a stern voice. He held her stare for a moment, before looking away and letting her win the stare down. She let out a huff and stepped to his shimmery outline.
"I guess I just got overwhelmed. I've missed you," she said, tentatively reaching out. Her hand met his form but traveled through with no resistance.
"And I, you, little flower, but we have little time," Zachariah said his voice becoming thin and reedy. "I've been holding my form here, waiting in hopes you would attempt to contact me, but my strength is weakening since I am no longer tethered to a physical form."
"What?" Zona asked, surprised to hear this news. "They stole your body, but how were they able to sever your spiritual binding?"
"A power greater than anything we've ever faced is loose, and it has deemed my interference as dangerous, and so I was removed from the board. But that is our advantage because in truth you've always held the power between the pair of us."
Zona shook her head and opened her mouth to protest. Zachariah placed his finger over her lips, somehow able to stop before passing through her face. A spark of energy popped from his form to her lips, and she yelped in surprise.
"I have always found my strength in you, my anchor," Zachariah said with a sad smile. "As you now must find in yours."
Zona's cheeks colored as she wondered if Zachariah knew who she chose for that task. As she stared at her brother, she noticed his form begin to shimmer and fade. He was no longer solid looking, but a more phantom or ghost from a Dickens's tale.
"What is happening?" she cried, stepping closer.
Shaking his head, Zachariah sighed before speaking. "It is as I feared. I have been too long away from my body. I am making the trip to the other side. We may still speak from time to time if the circle is right and you learn to channel better."
"But I have not gained the answer I seek. What are we facing?"
Zachariah's form was no longer visible, but his voice hung on the wind as it blew through the flowers and around Zona's body.
"You are well aware of what you face. You saw the dark god crawl from the earth and enter the African in the name of vengeance. But it's not vengeance the dark one wants, no it wants something it hasn't had for centuries. It wants control of our world, and to do so it will start with the souls it fears the most. This dark god is from a time before the light and will plunge us back to the darkness if possible. You must stop him, and to do that you must stop me."
The last word, whispered by the breeze, sent a shiver down Zona's back. Whatever does he mean?
Ephraim stared at Zona. She had been mostly quiet the entire time, a few groans and mumbled words but nothing concerning. Livingstone exchanged a glance with him at first but since then, the two men only studied Zona. The hairs on his body began to relax almost instantly, and as the time passed, the warm feeling of connection he had with her faded.
He hoped that meant nothing, but he couldn't be sure. As the last strand of warmth left his body, Zona's eyes opened. She blinked a few times and leaned forward.
"Any issues while I was away?" she asked with a grin. Livingstone shook his head.
Ephraim shrugged, "You were away?"
Livingstone snorted and rolled his eyes so Zona could see. "Terribly droll, but we need to make a plan. Were you able to learn anything?"
Zona frowned before shaking her head. "Nothing we didn't already know. He was weak from waiting and was only able to speak of what Ephraim and I dreamt of. Although..."
She trailed off and turned her attention to the window. For a moment Ephraim waited, allowing the tension to build. Finally, he could wait no more.
"And?" he demanded. Zona swung her head back, staring at the two men.
"He ended our time with the statement, 'you must stop him, and to do that you must stop me'; which makes no sense as he faded from our world at the end of our time together."
The carriage pulled to a stop and Ephraim hurried out, his back aching from the long ride. He didn't understand much of Zona's story, so he figured it best to remain quiet and wait. All would be made clear at some point he hoped. Until then, they still needed to protect Stanbury and his family.
Ephraim held out his hand and helped Zona from the carriage before Livingstone followed. He held his doctor's bag, in case they were too late. The three turned their attention to the house. Zona gasped, and Livingstone glanced at Ephraim to gauge his reaction.
Ephraim thought about stepping forward and stopped, frozen in place. The house was enormous, the biggest house he'd seen in London or the surrounding area not owned by the Royal family. The drive circled in front of the property, and around a magnificent water fountain. The driver had stopped on the edge of the road before the turn to the property.
"Why did you stop here?" Livingstone called out to the man.
"'Orses refused to move," he said in a shaky voice. His forearms shook from the effort of keeping the horses from running away.
"I see," Ephraim said his attention still on the fountain. It appeared carved from marble and the shiny white stone was smudged with dark blotches all over. The figure was of a man, but instead of legs, this person had tentacles flowing out from the waist. In his hands was a baby which he held to the heavens, and his face was etched in such a way to convey utter despair. "This seems like an odd statue for the country."
Livingstone nodded his agreement and the two men moved towards the fountain. Zona followed a step back, muttering something in a language Ephraim did not recognize. As they moved closer, it became clear the smudges were blood, fresh enough to still be running in places.
"Are we too late?" Ephraim whispered, hurrying the last few steps. In the water floated a young woman. Her body bloated and deformed. Ephraim reached to pull her out when Zona grabbed his shoulder pulling him away.
"Don't" she hissed and motioned for the doctor to move back as well. She stepped to the side of the well and picked up a walking stick lying in the grass. She slipped the end under the woman's waist and braced the stick on the marble side. Zona pushed on her end until the stick flipped the woman over.
Ephraim's stomach rolled as he stared at the swollen, misshapen face of a woman. The skin was black and blue, and her lips were three times the normal size. Her eyes were swollen shut, and a long jagged scratch went from her hairline to her chin. It was no larger than one a house cat might make, but the angry red color of the wound seemed to pulse in the daylight. A large hole, in the middle of her breasts, appeared to be made by something exploding out from her body.
"How..." Livingstone asked without finishing the question. He stared at the damage and glanced at Ephraim with a look of true disbelief. "I've seen something like this once, but it was in Africa years ago. A man fell into a pit of vipers, and after multiple bites, his body swelled until almost bursting."
"And that is why I stopped you," Zona said dropping the stick. The tip smoldered where it touched the body. "She was killed with a dark magic. We will need to be very careful. Whoever did this just needed to scratch her to get this effect."
Zona turned to the house and marched forward. Ephraim stood still for a moment before rushing to join her. Livingstone followed behind with a huff.
"Exactly what did that, if I may ask?" Ephraim said as he slid next to Zona.
"I won't know for sure until I see it but a weapon has been cursed with dark magic. It is a blade that houses the soul of a wicked man; a man so vile that a mere scratch of the weapon can cause the victim to die in such a horrible way. Such an act requires a few things, a person strong in magic, the soul of the corrupt, and a deity willing to grant such power to a mortal. It comes at a heavy price. I just wonder what it might be," Zona said as she marched up the stairs.
The front door stood open and Zona took a step back, bumping into Ephraim as he moved to see inside the house. Livingstone muttered something unintelligent before turning to the side and vomiting. Ephraim's stomach tightened as he stared at a level of violence he hadn't witnessed since returning from the war.
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