A/N – For those who haven’t seen it yet, there was a non-canon chapter focusing on what it would have been like if Morgan/Gaia had remained loyal to Arthur back in the day. You can find it available for everyone right here
With the speech out of the way, it was finally time for the big event. Every room, every place where we were all gathering for this, had a few people in charge of keeping things within the room in order and making sure everybody stayed on task until the main business was done. In our case, those people were Professor Dare, Hisao, and a couple others. They were at the front of the room, just under the large main monitor, with a couple large metal boxes at their sides. Meanwhile, on the screen, Athena had come to the front to start talking. She told everyone to hold two hands, or other relevant appendage(s), together out in front of ourselves and to be ready to hold something. As we all did so, Dare, Hisao, and the other adults at the front of the room (and the rest in the rooms beyond ours) tapped their boxes, setting off some sort of spell that sent the contents out to all of us. Abruptly, there was an almost perfectly clear crystal about the size of a grapefruit in my hands. It felt very slightly warm to the touch.
I knew what this was. We all did, basically. It had been explained over and over, particularly for the past few days. The crystals were tied to the big spell. We, or everyone who was capable of it, were going to push a little of our own energy into them. When the people in the main spell room pulled the trigger, so to speak, it would first lash out to grab onto the power we were putting into the crystals, then sort of… use those as a stepping stone to spread through and affect everyone here. That was how we could have people affected by the spell who weren’t actually physically on the station, like those at the Atherby camp, the Eden’s Garden people, Wonderland, or those on the colony worlds. It spread and amplified through the crystals.
Meanwhile, those who couldn’t use magic, like Asenath, had their own special orbs with what amounted to bits of themselves in it. In Senny’s case, that meant a few pieces of her hair, a couple pieces of fingernail, and a bit of blood and saliva. Kind of gross, but hardly the worst I’d seen. And necessary for the spell to latch onto her properly since it couldn’t connect to her magic.
Really, not that she needed it, given the fact that she was technically a hybrid and thus… well, a hearty good luck to any hostile Seosten who thought possessing her was a good idea. But she wanted to be included. Besides, stopping any Seosten from even accidentally possessing her and going kablooey was probably a good idea when it came to the whole truce thing. And on top of all that, we didn’t know what would happen if a ghost Seosten like Kushiel tried possessing a hybrid. We had no idea if she would actually kablooey or not. If we just assumed she would and didn’t give Senny protection, I was pretty sure it would come back to bite us in the ass. That just seemed like our luck. So we weren’t even going to flirt with taking that sort of chance.
Following Athena’s instructions, we all carefully pushed our own magical energy into the orbs. It really wasn’t very hard at all. They had intentionally been created in a way that made it so they would gently pull the energy they needed from us once we got it started. Sort of like siphoning gas from a car with a hose. At least, that was the analogy that my father gave when we explained it to him. Which kind of made me want to know more about his teenage years, honestly. Maybe I could ask Grandmaria and Popser when they showed up… with Puriel.
Yeah, nope, I tried to make it all casual in my own head like that, but it didn’t work. That whole situation was still completely fucking crazy. I couldn’t believe my grandparents were basically hanging out with Zeus and Hercules (the latter of whom had been their best friend for decades), and coming back to Earth on the Olympus spaceship! This–that was–it–yeah. It was nuts. Every time I thought I could maybe sneak a thought about it through my head as if it was something mundane, my brain started blowing a whistle like a cliche old British police officer and made me come back and recite what I had just said again so it could stare at me incredulously.
Okay, it was possible that my own metaphor to myself had gotten away from me somewhat. The point was, the situation with my grandparents was absurd, and I still hadn’t quite come to terms with it. Maybe it would be easier once I could actually see them.
In any case, I had filled my own little crystal as much as I needed to. Nearby, I could see the others doing the same. That included April, December, and May, along with the other Seosten. Of course they wanted to be included in this, to feel like they were a part of it. Well, that and the Seosten here who weren’t affected by SPS might have thought making themselves immune to being accidentally possessed by those who were was a good idea.
And again, we didn’t know how the whole ghost Kushiel thing worked. That was a whole big bag of… poisonous scorpions (worms were entirely too tame and harmless of an example) to think about. We were taking every precaution we could, which yes, had included sending out a station-wide announcement about the fact that there was a malevolent ghost Seosten running around who was able to possess people. None of us had any desire to end up getting bitten in the ass just because we didn’t actually share information.
By that point, the next stage of the spell was ready, having pulled all the energy it needed through the orbs. The air around us seemed to be electric, crackling with power throughout the station and beyond. This spell was bigger than I could even imagine, its web of magic threading far beyond my comprehension. It felt as though the slightest spark would create an inferno that would wipe us from existence, as the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Then even more of my hair, along with the others around me. It was like touching the Van de Graaf generator ball thing at the museum to make your hair stand on end. Except in this case, the energy was all around us.
As planned, words appeared on the screen. Words that we had all already learned about, and some practically (or literally) learned by heart. But seeing them now was important, particularly for the timing, as we all began to speak them aloud by following the bouncing ball that moved along the letters (like watching karaoke videos). All of the people in this room. All of the people in the other rooms. All of the people on the other colony worlds shown on the monitors. The residents of Wonderland. And all of the Eden’s Garden rebels. Everyone, thousands of people, all linked through the crystal orbs that tied fragments of the spell energy together. All of us speaking the words of the same spell, our voices becoming its steady, thrumming heartbeat. In the distance, we could all feel the physical aspect of the spell that had been drawn so painstakingly over these past months. We could see the rising power on that half of the main monitor, as the various lines of runes and intricate spellwork began to glow with an assortment of colors.
There was more magical power in this moment than I had ever thought I would experience. This was it, the culmination of everything Liesje had put her life toward, the thing her descendants had been hounded across the planet for and that her husband had been imprisoned for centuries to prevent. The spell those loyalist, hardline Seosten had been so desperate to prevent. They could stop it no longer. In the end, though late by so many years and far too many ruined lives, Liesje’s spell was here.
The words of the spell came slightly faster with each passing moment. But never too fast to read. That itself might have been impossible, given we were all in what amounted to a magical trance. I barely saw the words, yet I knew them. We all did. We spoke in one voice, the words of the spell seeming to twist through the air. I could feel them, almost as well as I could feel the floor beneath my feet. The power of the spell seemed to almost give physical form to the words being spoken, chanted aloud.
Logically, I knew time was passing. A fair bit of it, actually. I had known ahead of time that this spell wouldn’t be over quick. Not even this part of it. Yet, despite academically knowing that we had been doing this for a while, I didn’t really feel it. Hard as it was to believe or truly understand, it was as though the spell itself was warping time around us so that what was actually over an hour of chanting seemed to take only a few seconds. Yet those few seconds were still over an hour. They were moments, seconds, minutes, days, centuries. Chanting that spell took a thousand lifetimes and a mere instant, simultaneously.
It was confusing. It was absurd. It was contradictory. But it was the best way I could even hope to describe what was happening. The spell took no time, and it took all of the time in the universe, all at once. I had been chanting for all of my existence. Or was that the spell itself I was feeling?
I, Felicity, had been standing in this room and chanting for one hour.
I, the spell itself, had existed for mere moments. All of reality was new.
I, the power behind the spell, had existed since the dawn of creation. I had seen the rise and fall of countless civilizations. Eons upon eons had come and gone while my power filled the universe, pieces of myself being twisted, colored, used by those beings who entirely failed to grasp the full extent of what I was. Ants crawling through the sand, each believing the shapes they built their mounds into were some grand achievement. Yet the water rose inevitably toward them, wiping away the tiny dot of their work from the surface of a beach many thousands of miles long. I was magic. I was power. I was the energy which tied all universes in all reality together. They shaped me in their corner, but that shape would not hold, and their work would be as nothing.
Spells were transient. Magic was forever.
We were all ourselves. We were all the spell. We were all magic itself. We existed in this second and in every second that there had ever been. Nothing would ever exist beyond this spell. Nothing had ever existed. Everything existed. The world, the galaxy, the universe stretched into infinity and yet we saw beyond that. We felt all that had ever been felt. We knew all. We saw all. We were power beyond imagining.
The words stopped. Our voices came to a halt. A supernatural silence, the likes of which had not been experienced within the universe since the very first forms of life began to form, fell over the room. Over the station. Over everyone and everywhere.
We had done our part. We had done all that we possibly could. The spell was ninety-nine point nine percent done. It had our words, our power, everything that we could give it. To finish it, a single word remained to be spoken. That word was the trigger, and it could only be spoken by one person. The person whose wife had begun this whole thing so long ago. He, more than anyone else, deserved to be the one who finished this. This moment belonged to him.
And, in that moment of silence, Dries spoke the final word of the spell his wife had begun all those years earlier. A single Latin word. The word meaning forever, always, eternal.
It wasn’t an explosion of power. It was more like a flood, as though we were standing in the path of a dam that had burst. The ‘water’ spilling forth, carrying away everything in its path, was magic itself. It was the spell, erupting from every corner of the station, from every orb in our hands, from the seams of reality. It washed over us, filled us up and became a blinding force that wiped away not only our vision, but every sense we had. For those brief few moments, we could not see, hear, feel, smell, or even taste anything. We existed within a void. If building up the spell had connected us to everything, triggering it left us, if only for a brief time, alone in a way that I could never hope to describe. We were cut off, floating in nothing. Existence was empty. The spell had taken everything and, for one terrifying second, I pondered the possibility that this nothing would continue. Had we failed? Had we, rather than creating a spell to protect everyone from the Seosten, simply managed to sentence ourselves to a lifetime of existence within a sensory deprivation nightmare? Would these brief moments be all that we knew for the rest of time?
No. The emptiness lasted only for a handful of seconds. And then all of our senses came rushing back. I could see. I could hear. I could feel, taste, and smell.
I was on my knees, where I had fallen at some point. As was everyone around me. We had all fallen, catching ourselves automatically. Every crystal orb we had once held was gone, shattered and turned to dust by the spell. The last remnants of the magical energy we had triggered could be sensed throughout the room, gradually dissipating in that moment, like water fading through the cracks. It had swept through everything, carried our very souls with it through the universe and left us feeling simultaneously more and less than we likely would ever feel again. And now it was gone.
No. It wasn’t gone. It was there, or a piece of it at the very least. I could feel that piece deep inside me if I focused on it. It had attached itself to me, this spell that we had all spoken into existence. It was there, waiting to perform the one duty it would have for all of time. It would stop any Seosten from possessing me unless I gave my permission. And that same protection extended to every member of the Rebellion. It would force all Seosten everywhere to be given intentional permission before they would be physically able to possess any of us.
Needless to say, it took some time to recover from being part of a spell like that. Raising my head as my breath came in short gasps, I looked to see Avalon sitting there, her own gaze on the floor. Her hands were clasped tightly, her lips moving as she whispered.
Liesje. She was speaking to… to Liesje’s ghost. Not really, of course. The woman wasn’t here. It would be more accurate to say that Avalon was speaking to her memory. Her voice was quiet, a whispered promise that her work was not all for nothing, that Avalon and the rest of us would use her work to free countless enslaved beings throughout the universe. An oath that, however her life might have ended, her work would continue through us. We would ensure that Liesje’s name and efforts were known. The Seosten had spent centuries attempting to crush the woman and her descendants out of all existence and thought. Now? Now they, and everyone they had hooked the yoke of eternal servitude to, would know who Liesje was, and what she had done.
The woman had died many centuries ago. But what she had accomplished would free countless individuals. It would, quite literally, change the course of the universe.
Raising her gaze to meet my own, as though she could sense me looking at her, Avalon stared for a moment. Our eyes locked, and I felt the peace that had risen within the other girl. Oh, it wasn’t total peace, of course. She still had Gaia to worry about, to say nothing of all of the other big and little things going on. But this single thing, that had been such a big part of her life, and the lives of everyone in her family, for so long was finally complete. It was done. The spell was finished, active, and there was nothing the Seosten could do about it.
Centuries after being betrayed, hunted, and murdered, Liesje had finally, in the end, triumphed.
Before I really knew what was happening, I was already moving, shuffling across the floor to pull Avalon into a tight embrace. She half-lunged at me just as I got there, and we both fell to the side together. My arms were around her, my lips finding hers. We kissed, and everything else melted away for that moment. There were others around us doing much the same with their own loved ones, but I barely noted their existence. All that mattered, all there was right then, was Avalon. My Valley. I kissed her, I felt the relief that had swept through her, the joy that this spell was finally complete. Mixed, of course, with a bit of sadness that Gaia wasn’t here to experience it with us. But overall joy. She was happy, right in that moment, for the culmination of her ancestor’s work. Not to mention the utter failure of the Seosten in putting a stop to it even after all these years. And I could not have been happier for her, and for all of Liesje’s family.
Finally, we pulled back a bit, and she leaned up to whisper in my ear. “I love you, Felicity.”
As a tingle ran through me, I put one hand on either side of her face, touching my forehead to hers. “I love you, Avalon,” I murmured. At this exact moment, this was all that mattered. There was so much more to do, so many other problems to deal with. But they could wait. Right now, Liesje’s spell was in place. That was what mattered.
A voice filled the room. It was Athena, speaking from the monitor as she addressed everyone. “The spell has taken hold. By all of our tests, it is stable and performing as expected. From this day forth, our people will never be enslaved, by force or by subterfuge. We will stand against tyranny and create a better way for all to follow. Thank you, all of you, for everything you have done to contribute to this moment. There is far more work to do in the future. But that will come soon enough. For now, enjoy yourselves. You have certainly earned it.”
By that point, I was on my feet, pulling Avalon up. All around us, others were rising. Piles of incredible, delicious-looking food had appeared on the main tables, while music began to play throughout the room. Everywhere I turned my gaze, I could see people with relieved, ecstatic smiles. Everyone was talking at once, hugging one another, embracing loved ones and friends alike. Some were jumping up and down, or even just tilting their heads back and screaming in joy. An air of relief, of triumph, of victory filled the room. No, not just the room. The entire station and beyond. The web of the spell’s power might have faded away from how it had previously connected all of us, but it had been replaced with a tangible feeling of accomplishment, which would take much longer to wane.
The others were there. Shiori embraced me, her lips finding mine even as Aylen tugged Avalon to her. They kissed, before the rest of the team and our friends took their turn for a hug. We laughed, shouted back and forth at one another, embraced, and felt the joy of the moment swell through the room. I brought my sharks out, one at a time, so they could experience it. People were eating, dancing, cheering. I sent one of my sharks (Jabberjaw) through the room above everyone’s heads, and other figures joined in, a mixture of actual people with various flying abilities and summoned/magical creatures. A pixie (not Namythiet) flew up through the bubble of water and planted a kiss on Jabberjaw’s nose. He was more than a little confused, but seemed happy enough to be a part of things.
Looking toward Avalon, who was holding Aylen close against herself, I smiled. “How does it feel?” I asked, raising my voice a bit to be heard above the sound of everyone’s celebration.
She, in turn, considered the question for a moment before answering. “It feels right. It feels like… it’s about time.” Her own smile rose to a beaming radiance. “It feels pretty good.”
“Liesje would be proud of you,” I informed her, then thought of the rest of that family. Those who had survived and those who hadn’t. “She’d be proud of all of you.”
Still holding onto Aylen, Avalon reached a hand out to touch my face. I raised my own hand to brush her fingers, interlocking them as we smiled at one another.
The work was done. After all that time and work, the spell was finally active.
Now it was time to celebrate.