Chapter Fourteen

Several hours later, Natalie twisted and turned in her bed. She could not sleep after the sudden realization.

Ava had not understood much of what she had said and Natalie did not blame her. For one, Ava did not quite understand the concept of magic existing yet. Unlike Natalie, she had never done it herself – she had never drawn magic out of her own body and soul, and the ground and everything around her. She had not been even close to that feeling of wanting to let go in the midst of the blinding power she wielded.

Natalie had.

She tried to tell herself that she had gotten it wrong, that the idea was both silly and impossible – but she could not. In her heart, she knew she was right. The Chaos Ramon had referred to was the chaos Natalie had felt at his Mithridates.

It still brought the question why Natalie’s death would result in Chaos’ rising but that was something to be answered later. First, Natalie had to figure out a way to stop Chaos from rising at all, meaning figuring out a way to stay alive and well ahead of Ramon. However, with two best friends who could not wield magic, it would not be problematic for Ramon to simply kidnap one of them again. In fact, Ramon could probably just kidnap her if he really wanted to. Natalie would not be as lucky as she had been the first time – he had far more power than her.

Finally, Natalie turned her light on, grabbed a pen and paper, and began writing everything down. She had to stop several times to figure out a way to make it coherent. During one of these stops, she zoned out enough for the ghost writer to take control.

‘You are troubled.’

Natalie’s heart skipped a beat. The ghost writer was back! She did not know whether to be happy or worried about this – or perhaps she ought to feel annoyed, because the ghost writer would simply give her new cryptic messages.

‘What did you mean by ‘double’?’

Natalie could almost hear the chuckle in the answer.

‘Now, now, calm down.’

Natalie took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself. It did not work.

The ghost writer wrote another sentence: ‘What is the matter tonight?’

Natalie bit her lip. How could she say what was on her mind in a short, understandable sentence? She re-read what she had already written – despite her efforts, the words still did not make much sense.

In the end, she wrote, ‘What do you know about Chaos?’

It took a little longer before the ghost writer answered, perhaps because Natalie felt so tense she could not relax her body, or perhaps because it the question was one the ghost writer did not want to answer. Natalie did not know which one – unlike with real people, she did not have the chance to look at and read the other person in this case.

‘It is the most potent magic there is. It is raw power.’

Despite her conviction that she had been right, Natalie still had to gasp. Thinking it had been one thing but reading it, being told of it by someone else, was quite another.

‘Can it be raised?’

This time, the answer did not take long. Yes.

Natalie swallowed. It would have been so nice if the answer had been no.


It took almost a minute before the answer came. By then, Natalie had started to wonder if the ghost writer had once again abandoned her.

‘The way that comes to mind is a ritual that needs a strong host, a blood sacrifice and a special ritual.’

Natalie shuddered. Blood sacrifice – that did not sound pleasant at all. But a host, Natalie thought. Who would be a host? Who would willingly take in that kind of magic?

The answer was simple: a lot of people. Natalie did not doubt that there were many who would willingly let their bodies be taken over by the strongest force on the planet. Ramon would not have a hard time finding someone who would do it, though it might be harder for him to find a strong one.

Perhaps he intended to be the host himself. It would not surprise Natalie – he struck her as the power-hungry type.

Natalie wrote, ‘Has Chaos been raised before?’

This time, Natalie did not get an answer. She stared at the piece of paper before her for several long minutes as her eyelids started to droop but there was nothing. Finally, Natalie turned off the light and she fell asleep before she had the time to put away the paper and pen.

When morning came, Natalie felt horribly tired. She could barely keep her eyes open as she walked to school.

Ava whistled when she saw her. “You look like hell.”

Natalie rolled her eyes and wished for the day to be over. “Thanks.”

“I’m guessing the new look has something to do with you pretty much hanging up on me yesterday?” Ava asked. “I’m getting kind of used to that. Do you always do that?”

Natalie blushed. She had forgotten that she had done it back on her birthday as well.

“No,” she said. “Not really.”

“Oh, so it’s just me then?” Ava asked, pretending to be offended.

“Yes, it’s just you.” She rolled her eyes. “I realized something when I was talking to you and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

“And what was that?”

“I think I know what Ramon is looking to raise by spilling my blood – and I don’t think it’s for the good of human kind.”

Ava made a face. “He doesn’t strike me as the good-of-human-kind type of person. So what is it?”

Natalie did not know how to explain it well to someone who knew even less about magic than herself. Finally, she said, “It’s magic. The rawest, purest and most powerful form there is.”

Ava looked confused, as Natalie had expected. “But how do you raise magic – I’ve seen you do magic, is that the same thing?”

“I don’t know!” Natalie said, frustrated. “I just— I know it’s what he’s going to do but I don’t understand it. Apparently, it needs a host and a blood sacrifice—”

“How do you know that?” Ava interrupted her. “I thought you figured this out on your own?”

The bell rang and Natalie did not know whether to be relieved or annoyed.

“I did, sort of,” she said. “It’s complicated and weird – but I promise I’ll tell you when we have more time – okay?”

Ava did not look happy with her answer but nodded. “Fine. I’ll see you in math.”

The hours passed slowly enough for Natalie to wonder if someone had poured super glue onto the clock. She slept through her classes – even math because Cecily would not look at her more than just briefly. Still polite as ever, but Cecily was obviously unhappy – and Natalie thought it easier to sleep than to try to solve it. Mrs. Miller seemed happy enough that the three did not chat all the way through class.

Tired thoughts lingered in her mind. Had Chaos been raised before? What would the ghost writer – who seemed to know a lot about magic – have answered? It seemed likely that, given the knowledge of the existence of Chaos and the possibility to raise it, it had been done. She imagined that power-hungry Wielders existed and Natalie did not know enough about magic to completely rule out the possibility.


Such a fitting name for it – Natalie imagined it could wreck true havoc.

At lunch, Cecily had vanished into thin air. Natalie did not worry too much about it – if she had been angry with someone, she would not have wanted to sit around and eat lunch with them either. She and Ava ate the contents of their lunch boxes in relative silence. Natalie watched the surrounding students lazily and Ava watched her curiously.

“What?” Natalie asked.

“You’re off in space somewhere.”

Natalie sighed but did not say anything. It was true – her sleepiness combined with the jumbled thoughts made her drift off again and again no matter how she tried to concentrate.

“Are you going to tell me how you found out more about that pure-and-oh-so-powerful magic?”

Natalie frowned. “After school’s out. My place?”

Ava agreed to this and Natalie merely hoped she could stay awake for long enough. Watching her sleep would not be helpful for Ava.

Cecily did not show up in art when Natalie got there later that afternoon. Natalie tried to sign it off to her feeling a bit worse for wear and leaving, as she sometimes did. Mr. Cordell had come to the school to pick her up several times in the last three weeks, when Cecily had felt too tired or sick to stay. Natalie tried not to worry – she would be back tomorrow – but a small ball of anxiousness settled in the pit of her stomach, no matter how she tried to stop it.

Ava and Natalie walked home, to a quiet house. Richard and Emmanuella had not yet come home from their respective jobs.

“Nice place,” Ava said.

Natalie shrugged. She thought neither here nor there about their new house. It did not quite feel like home yet. She was not entirely sure it ever would.

Natalie’s thrashing during the night had left her bed a mess, and she made a quick attempt at making it look better. She picked up the paper she had been writing on and skimmed through her notes. Most were intelligible but she still understood what she meant with ‘Chaos’ written in large letters and around it, words like ‘Ramon’, ‘Cecily/Ava kidnapped’ and ‘raising’ were written. Below that, she had written the conversation with the ghost writer.

“You haven’t thought about putting a poster or something on the walls?” Ava asked, looking around. “It’s kind of bare.”

“I haven’t had time, between moving here and being kidnapped and learning about magic and all.”

Ava chuckled. “You need to prioritize.”

“Yeah, that’s how I solve this Ramon-problem,” Natalie said with a smile and roll of her eyes, “I prioritize him away.”

Natalie handed Ava the piece of paper. Ava read it and frowned.

“Is this supposed to mean anything?” she asked. “And what’s this, a conversation with yourself?”

Natalie dropped down on her bed. “No. Do you promise you won’t freak again if I tell you?”

Ava glanced at her, an odd expression in her eyes. Then she shrugged and said, “I’ll try my best not to.”

“Good enough, I suppose,” sighed Natalie.  She took a deep breath – how was she supposed to explain this? It had been hard enough to tell Cecily, who had already known more about magic than Natalie to start with. “Sometimes, a ghost or something takes over my arm and writes things.”

Ava stared at her. A nervous giggle escaped but then she was silent. When a full minute of silence, during which Ava alternated between staring at the paper and at Natalie, Natalie asked,


Ava shook her head. “Yes, right, sorry. Ghost?”

She did not sound as though she believed it.

“I think so, yes,” Natalie said. “Something takes control of my hand and writes these things when I zone out.”

“Right. You get if this is a bit—much, even when I’ve seen magic? I mean ghosts – that’s a whole different thing.”

Natalie supposed it was. She had not given that part much thought – with everything else, the idea of ghosts existing had not been much of a concern. She did not even know if it was a ghost – she had been convinced that Ramon had been behind it, but now she thought it could be pretty much anything. However, telling Ava that it could be anything would have been an even wider concept to present to Ava and as such, she had chosen to go with the ghost theory. After all, she did think of the writer as ‘the ghost writer’.

Finally, Ava said, “Fine. If magic exists, then I suppose ghosts can exist too. Perhaps. Maybe. But that still doesn’t explain why this one is telling you about – Chaos, is it?”

She read through the notes on the paper.

“Yes, Chaos,” Natalie said. “I don’t know why it knows anything about it. It just does and I’m glad, because that means I can find out more about it.”

“And you’re sure it’s not just some bad guy feeding you bad information?”

Natalie shrugged and sighed. “I don’t know. I hope not. I thought it might be Ramon but I’m don’t think it is anymore. This person is too helpful. He’s just—evil.”

Ava shook her head suddenly. “This is just too much,” she said. “Ghosts and magic and teleportation and healing and—I think I’m going insane. Perhaps I’m in an asylum just imagining all this and the doctors are pumping my body full of meds.”

Natalie gave her a sympathetic look. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Ava said. “It’s not your fault. Well, you told me so that’s your fault, but it’s existence, if it exists, isn’t really your fault and if I’m simply going mad, then that’s no ones fault but my own.”

At this, Natalie had to chuckle. “I suppose it isn’t.”

Ava smiled at her. “I am glad I became friends with you, Bathroom Girl.”

“Ditto. And just so you know, I’d just had my first ghost writer experience when I met you in the bathroom. I freaked out completely.”

“It’s good to know that even the mighty Wielder gets freaked out.”

“I wasn’t a Wielder back then,” Natalie said. “That was when this whole mess started, on my birthday.”

Ava raised an eyebrow. “That’s some timing, to start on your birthday of all days.”

Natalie frowned suddenly – she had not thought of this. It was odd that it had all started then, on the day she turned fifteen. In the span of that one day, she had had the first ghost lines written, she had received her mother’s necklace – which had soon been stolen by Ramon – and she had gotten the letter from her grandmother. Was there a reason it had all happened on her birthday?

“It is weird,” she said, looking up at Ava as though she had the answers.

The phone’s shrill ringing interrupted their thoughts. Natalie grabbed the phone. Her thoughts still lingering on her birthday and everything that had happened, Natalie picked up the phone.

When she hung up, her face was ashen white and all thoughts of the last few weeks had gone out the window. Her hand shook as she placed the phone back on the desk.

“What is it?” asked Ava worriedly. “Who was that?”

Natalie swallowed. “That was Mr. Cordell, Cecily’s dad. Cecily is in the hospital again.”

“Oh no,” Ava said. “Is it bad?”

Natalie nodded slowly and her own voice suddenly felt very foreign, thick with tears and sadness. “Her dad says she fainted when they were at home – and now she won’t wake up.

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