Eighteen 6-07 (Heretical Edge 2)

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There is a summary at the bottom of this chapter for those interested, though Fossor does not directly appear. 

Finally, my mother managed to speak. “Be careful,” she said quietly, yet urgently. “If you–” Then she stopped, putting a finger to her lips while her gaze snapped over toward the door. A second later, her hand was against my face as she spoke quietly. “Keep your head down. We’ll find a way out of this, Lissy. I… I’ll get you out of here, I promise.” 

Right, yeah. Someone was close enough to overhear us, or just paying attention through some kind of spying magic. Either way, we couldn’t talk about Rahanvael. But Mom knew that anyone who was eavesdropping wouldn’t believe we were just talking about innocent things, thus saying what she did. It was an understandable thing for the two of us to be whispering about. 

Before I could say anything myself, the door opened and that tall, purple ghost with the long beard and red eyes appeared. Ahmose. The one with the torture-touch. Part of me still thought it was kind of surprising that Fossor kept a ghost around who had his own name and apparent personality. But then, I had Rahanvael, who had apparently maintained her own personality and thoughts throughout multiple millennia. So I supposed that it wasn’t exactly unthinkable. Even if it was odd because, well, Fossor.

Either way, Ahmose floated through the open door. Which, I was pretty sure, was only something he did to be… polite? That sounded wrong. But I wasn’t sure why else he would bother with the door. Maybe it had to do with the same thing that made him keep his name? Maybe he tried to hang onto as many huma–errr, living things as possible. That was… curious.

While I was thinking of my way through that, Ahmose glided over in front of us. His voice was stiff. “You will both proceed to the dining area for breakfast. Lord Fossor will not be joining you. After you eat, you will then both make your way to the arena where the lord is waiting.” His crimson eyes burned a little more brightly as the ghost focused on me. “Young Miss Chambers will be tested.” 

Right. Yeah, I’d known something like that was coming, of course. Fossor wanted to see what I could do, while also making me… making me kill people I had no real reason to. Just to show how much control he had over me and my mother, because he was a gigantic fucking piece of shit. And, of course, if I refused… well, bad things would happen. And the people he wanted me to kill would die anyway. So I was just in a fantastic position all around. Go, Team Flick. We’re doing great.

“Thank you, Ahmose,” Mom said quietly and politely. I shot a quick glance toward her, curious. But she didn’t seem cowed or anything. Given the pain touch the ghost had, I’d been… worried. But if anything, my mother seemed genuinely grateful. She gave the tall, menacing spirit figure a nod before looking at me. “Let’s go, Felicity. I suppose it wouldn’t do to keep our… host waiting.” 

Ahmose turned away, then vanished into nothingness without actually moving. With a shrug toward my mother, I passed through the area he’d been standing in and walked with her. 

On the way, I hesitated before reaching out with the necromantic senses that I’d been trying to develop. I felt… traces of ghosts. Which made sense. But I didn’t feel anything immediate. Just to check, I focused inward, trying to concentrate on the thought of Fossor’s sister. Rahanvael? Are you there? 

Unlike with Tabbris, I didn’t get a verbal answer. She wasn’t possessing me. Instead, I felt an acknowledgment and confirmation. It was hard to really explain the specifics of. It was just a certainty that she had answered me without her actually answering. She was there. But she wasn’t going to risk actually speaking or appearing. Which was fair enough, given the situation.

I wasn’t sure how much she knew or had been keeping track of things, so I informed her quickly and silently about my mother knowing about her. Then I asked if she sensed any of Fossor’s ghosts hanging around or secretly watching. The response that came back was negative. 

Thanks, I started before hesitating. Um. Can you tell the difference between ghosts that I’m consciously aware of and ghosts I don’t know about? Again, there was a positive feeling of confirmation. Okay, if you sense any ghosts I don’t know about lurking around, could you poke me about it? 

Another sense of agreement came, along with a belated and hesitant sort of… reassurance. I wasn’t sure I had the feeling exactly right, but that was the gist of it. She was trying to make me feel better about the whole situation, like an emotional… pat on the back, essentially. I did my best to send the same sort of feeling back that way, but it probably didn’t come out right. Hopefully, she’d at least get the gist. 

I didn’t have time to wonder too much about that, or to talk anymore with my ghost companion. Because in the next moment, Mom and I passed through the door to reach the dining room, which had already been laid out for breakfast. There was a veritable brunch buffet scattered across the table, and it smelled incredible. Which sucked, because the thought of dead things making the food made me think that it should’ve smelled bad. But then I remembered that the food at Crossroads had been fine for all the time that Chef Escalan had been a zombie, and that just made me depressed again. Poor Chef Escalan, even if I’d never really known him while he was alive. It was still just… just another example of Fossor being a giant piece of shit. Another life he destroyed. God damn it. 

Apparently I froze as those thoughts rushed through me, because I suddenly felt Mom’s hand squeeze my shoulder while she looked at me with obvious concern. “Felicity,” she whispered, “do you want to take a plate and sit out on the patio? There normally isn’t a problem with that.” In other words, Fossor normally allowed her to do that. I could read between the lines of her words. She’d spent so much time trapped here in this house, had been his prisoner for so long… the thought just pissed me off again. I had to calm down, had to make myself calm down. 

“Sure,” I managed, looking to her with a hesitant smile that I knew didn’t reach my eyes. I knew because her answering smile didn’t reach her eyes either. We were play-acting, each trying to make the other feel better about this. I could tell Mom was thinking about dark times in this palatial house, even as she did her best to shield me from those memories. Even now, after more than a decade of being separated, I couldn’t actually… fully relax with my own mother because of this whole evil, dark, horrific situation we were in. And the fact that we were in it while standing in a brightly lit, beautifully decorated dining room full of incredibly delicious food just made the whole thing so much worse. It was like being at a carnival run by a serial killer. No matter how bright and fun everything looked, you’d know better. Just like we knew, no matter how good the food smelled, no matter what this place looked like, it was a prison run by one of the most evil, sociopathic pieces of shit who had ever set foot on this planet.

But I pushed that aside. Because I had to. Because there was no other choice. I would shove the horror and the revulsion away and focus on surviving one more minute, one more hour, one more day in this place. However long it took to get the hell out of here with my mother. I would make it work. I had my mom. I had a secret weapon in the form of Rahanvael. I could do this. I just had to make it through breakfast first. And then, of course, the arena. 

With somewhat shaking hands, I filled a plate. Mom hovered over me. When I started to leave with only a couple things, she shook her head and stopped me. “You’ll be fighting,” she reminded me in a quiet voice that was somehow both resigned and firm. “You need energy. Don’t worry about things being too fattening or heavy, regeneration will take care of that. Just get things that will give you energy. Fill up. I know it’ll be hard. You won’t want to keep it down, but do it anyway. You understand? Do it anyway. Eat.” 

She knew. She’d been through all this. She made herself eat to survive, to have the energy to fight no matter how horrible doing so made her feel and no matter how disgusting she found the whole situation. She forced it down, and now she was telling me to do the same thing. Because it was all she could do. She couldn’t protect me from going out there. She couldn’t force Fossor not to put me in his sick fucking arena. All my mother could do was make sure I was as ready as possible for it. And that meant making me eat, no matter how bad it felt to do so. 

So, I nodded and filled my plate better. Taking as much as possible, I ignored every thought in the back of my mind about how the food was made, where it had come from, the man responsible for it being here, everything. I shoved it down in the deep dark hole and buried it. 

Then I walked out of the dining room behind my mother, the two of us taking our plates and glasses of juice out onto the quiet patio overlooking one of the gardens. A ghost at the door appeared and stared at us as we approached, but faded when Mom paid no attention to him. 

“He’ll report that we’re out here,” she informed me while setting a plate on the table. “But as long as you don’t try to go past the wall there, none of them should bother you.” The wall she was referring to had to be two or three football fields away from the patio. 

“I guess you don’t know where we are, exactly?” I asked curiously while pulling out one of the chairs to sit down with my own plate. Part of it was simple conversation, of course. But I was also very curious. “I have… I have a power to sense how far away places that I know about are, but I can’t sense anything now. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re nowhere near Earth, or…” 

“We’re on Earth,” Mom assured me. “Fossor uses so many protection spells to hide the location of this place, that’s probably screwing up your Blemmye power. He’s a bit paranoid about it.” 

Of course he was. Because if anyone actually found this place, wherever it was, Fossor would have what amounted to an entire combined Seosten-Heretic-Gehenna-Whoever-The-Hell-Else-He’d-Pissed-Off Force coming to kick his ass all the way back to his own planet. He was powerful, but not powerful enough to fight off everyone who wanted a piece of him all at once. Maybe they couldn’t kill him because of his ability to shove damage off onto his planet of hostages, but they could sure as hell restrain him with enough people. He relied pretty heavily on choosing the battlefields and when to fight. He needed this place to remain a secret, a safe sanctuary for himself. 

With a sigh, I picked up my fork, staring at the food for a moment as I worked up the nerve to start shoveling it in. Quietly, I murmured, “Here’s hoping I can actually keep this stuff down. 

“Because I don’t think stepping into that arena and throwing up would really work as an intimidation tactic.” 


Entirely too quickly, breakfast was over, and we were heading for the arena. I honestly wasn’t sure which I was looking forward to less in the next few minutes, my first fight in Fossor’s stupid arena, or whatever evil little psychological torture he had in mind that was going to be my ‘birthday present.’ He’d promised it would be something good, so I could only imagine just how terrible ‘good’ in his mind meant. A lot of dark, horrible possibilities had flashed their way through my head every time the thought popped up, but I kept pushing them down, praying that whatever he was going to give me wasn’t as bad as my imagination. Because my imagination was being pretty damn horrific every time I gave it a chance. Stupid imagination. It was so fired right now.  

Mom was giving me advice the whole way there as the two of us walked through the vast, winding corridors. Mostly it amounted to telling me not to hold back, and to shove my guilt about the whole thing down until the fight was over. She promised we would talk it out, that she would be there for me when it was done and I could feel as bad as I wanted to. But for now, for this moment, I had to deal with surviving. She reminded me that it was Fossor’s fault that these people had to die, not mine, and that this was a tab he was running up. A tab that would be collected someday. Her voice was hard as she said those words, making me wonder just how high the cost already was on her end. How many people had he forced her to kill over the years? How full was the box that she had been shoving her own guilt into? Would it burst? 

I also wasn’t sure how she was dealing with the news that I had Fossor’s millenia-dead sister attached to me, wanting to help take her brother down. We hadn’t really had much of a chance to talk about that before our day had started. Obviously, she wasn’t going to say anything about it while we were out here, and seemed to trust the whole situation enough that she hadn’t immediately started an exorcism or whatever. But time would tell just how that was going to go. All I knew was that even with both of us together, we needed an edge that Fossor wasn’t ready for. And Rahanvael was that edge. We just had to find the best possible way to use that, because we’d only get one shot. Fossor would only be surprised by his sister’s presence once. It had to count. 

Promising my mother that I wouldn’t let myself freeze up during this fight (even as part of me worried if I was telling the truth), I had just asked if she had any idea what I would be fighting, when we descended a short flight of stairs to reach a cement tunnel. There were two double doors ahead of us, but before we went further, my mother took my arm and squeezed it. Her voice was quiet. “He’s been keeping me in the dark about what… or who he’s throwing at you right now,” she informed me. “But whatever happens, keep moving, keep your guard up, and try to end it as soon as you can. Don’t let them get into your head, Felicity, because some will try.” 

Right, don’t let them into my head. The question was, how would they manage it if I was already so far into my head myself that there wasn’t any room left for anyone else? My tactics were genius. Or was that strategy? I always got the two mixed. Regardless, I was brilliant. 

To that end, I took my mother’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “Mom,” I assured her quietly, “I… I don’t want to say I’ll be fine, cuz no one’s that optimistic. But I’ll deal with it. We’ll deal with it.” 

The two of us embraced tightly, standing there like that for a few long seconds. Mom held me close, tenderly brushing my hair before whispering, “I love you, Felicity. You are as brave and brilliant as I could ever have wished for. You are a wonderful young woman. All I wanted throughout this was to give you a chance to grow up, and you have. You have grown up so beautifully. Your father is an amazing man, and you are a remarkable young woman. Everything I’ve heard, everything you’ve said, it makes me so proud of you.” 

My mother was proud of me. My mother had told me she was proud of me. Was… was Fossor’s little arena fight here going to involve needing to fly? Because I was pretty sure I could right then. 

Yeah, I knew that things were about to come crashing down. But I enjoyed the moment for what it was. In a minute, I was going to have to go into that arena, see what Fossor wanted me to fight to the death against, and find out just what kind of present he had for me. So yes, I knew things would turn bad again very soon. Let them. Let that horrible thing come when it did. I couldn’t stop it, and I had this moment right now with my mother and I was going to enjoy it for another few seconds, damn it.

Or, apparently we were done. Because I sensed clothes and armor approaching from the same way we had come. Looking that way, I saw two heavily armored figures (my stolen necromancy power belatedly recognizing them as zombies) move up to the top of the stairs. They stared down at us pointedly, making a low growling sound that was clearly an order to keep moving. 

So, we did. Mom gave the two zombies a brief glance before turning back to the double doors. 

I really hoped she was right. Otherwise, this was going to be a very short turn in the arena. 

On the other hand, wouldn’t Fossor be pretty embarrassed if he went through all this trouble to grab me and I ended up getting killed five minutes into the first arena? 

Fucking hilarious. 



Flick and her mother are interrupted before Joselyn can say anything about Rahanvael. Joselyn does not seem to hate Ahmose the torture ghost when he shows himself for that. Flick has breakfast with her mother out on the balcony, where Joselyn tells her that they are on Earth but there are too many protection spells for Flick’s power to tell her exactly where. With her mother giving her advice, they go to the arena to find out what Fossor wants her to fight and what Flick’s ‘birthday present’ is.


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Eighteen 6-02 (Heretical Edge 2)

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A/N – As before, there is a brief summary at the bottom of the chapter for those who do not wish to read details here. 

The room I had awoken in may have been a dungeon, but beyond that first doorway was what looked like a literal palace. We were in a corridor that ran to the left and right. Straight ahead, the wall was white and lined with enormous windows overlooking a beautiful garden full of exotic flowers, with a small footpath that led down to what looked like a crystal clear lake with very pretty and exotic-looking multicolored duck and geese-like birds peacefully floating on it. 

The floor under my feet was gleaming white marble, with intricate blue and silver swirling patterns throughout that were almost hypnotic. Those silver-blue patterns actually glowed a bit in the areas that I stepped on, extending out a few feet ahead and fading behind me a couple seconds after my foot lifted away from that particular spot. If you were walking down the corridor in the middle of the night, the floor would continually light the way without any assistance.

Slyly, Fossor remarked, “It makes reaching the bathroom without a flashlight so much easier.” As he said it, the man stepped over, raising a hand as though to touch my shoulder. 

Obviously, I wasn’t going to have that. Twisting away, I took a quick couple steps backward, facing him. “Touch me,” I snapped, “And I swear to God one of us is gonna fucking die.” 

Fossor, in turn, gave me the kind of look a vaguely amused father-figure might at a particularly obstinate child. “Hmmm, you know, I think that you and I might have to make sure you understand the definition of necromancer if you’re going to keep throwing those kinds of words around as if they’re an actual threat. Honestly, what were they teaching you in that school?” 

My mouth opened to snap a retort, before I glanced down to see the man standing on the marble floor. Belatedly, I muttered, “Ashes. You’re not standing on ashes.” 

I wasn’t looking at him, but I still heard the smile in his voice. “Yes, well, the land this building stands on was torn from my own world. The building itself was created with materials from that planet. Between that and some very extensive spellwork, I am able to walk comfortably in this place that I call home. This place that all three of us will call home for quite some time.” 

Oh God, there was so much I wanted to say. Bile rose to my throat, while sharp, vindictive words were right on the tip of my tongue. But what could I say? I was here. I’d had a year to prepare for this and Fossor had completely undercut all of my preparations just by cheating. I was in his house and I had… I had nothing. I didn’t have Tabbris, I didn’t have Dare, I didn’t have Avalon or Shiori or anyone. My mom. My mother was here, but she’d had ten years to find a way to escape and couldn’t do it. The two of us were trapped here and… and I honestly didn’t know how we would get out of it. I felt lost and afraid, and so very alone. I was moments away from being face to face with my mother again and yet I had never felt so far away from her. 

Because I’d failed. Everything I’d tried, every thought I’d had, every moment I’d been given, and I had utterly and completely failed. Fossor won. He tricked us. He cheated, for what that mattered, and he got me here. And now… now I had no idea what I was going to do.

Wait, wait, I could do one thing. Maybe Tabbris’s connection to me was broken, but I had Seosten powers too. And even if the time travel had broken the link I had to the last person I possessed (that random thug in Vegas, I thought?) I  should still be able to connect to my own default recall anchor: my father. 

Once again, it was like he’d read my mind, seeing my face. Fossor cleared his throat. “Ahh, just in case any ideas are popping into that pretty little head, you should know that one of the spells I connected to you when you showed up in that room happens to be a monitoring spell linked to your mother. See, if that spell detects that you’ve used either version of the Seosten recall ability, physical or mental, it’ll end your mother’s life. There’s similar things on her end to keep her here at the price of your life. But by all means, if either of you want to sacrifice the other…” 

My voice was low as I mumbled a quiet, “Just take me to my mother already, asshole.” Everything. He thought of everything.

The words had barely left my mouth before a ghost appeared in front of me. This one looked different than the others. It was taller, and more of a purple color instead of grayish-blue or silver. He had a long beard, with eyes that were pure red. As I looked up at him, his hand reached out to touch my face. Instantly, pain beyond anything I could possibly have prepared for coursed through my body. A scream tore its way out of my throat, and I fell to both knees, catching myself on my hands just before I would have face-planted against the marble floor. 

It only lasted for an instant, but that instant was enough. Every part of my body was torn through with blinding agony for that brief moment, until I knelt there staring at the glowing floor and panting heavily. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t even think beyond the memory of that agony.

The strange purple ghost with the red eyes spoke in a voice that rumbled up and down the hall. “In this place, you will show respect to the host. Or you will be appropriately punished.” 

I didn’t respond to that. I wouldn’t have been able to make my mouth work properly even if I could have thought straight enough to have words. Which was probably for the best, because I doubted that anything that would have come to mind would have satisfied the monstrous torturer ghost. I probably just would have ended up being… touched again. In a way, being put through so much agony (however briefly) that I couldn’t think saved me from even more pain. 

Yeah, lucky me. As it was, I just knelt there, breathing in and out in long, gasping shudders. Meanwhile, Fossor waved a hand and the strange ghost disappeared, before casually announcing, “You’ll have to forgive Ahmose. He tends to be somewhat… eager to prove his loyalty and earn favor. Although, on the other hand, perhaps you should take some lesson from that.” His voice lowered a bit, almost like he was confiding. “It may serve you well in this life.”

It took everything in me not to say something in that moment that probably would have brought Ahmose right back out again. I stared at the floor and caught my breath before pushing myself to my feet while ignoring the hand that the Necromancer had extended to me. With a grunt, I got up, biting my lip before forcing out the words, “I thought we were going to see my mom.” 

Fossor gave an amused chuckle before stepping past me. He started to walk down the glowing corridor without looking back. He wasn’t worried about literally putting his back to me and walking away. Probably because he had so many spells and ghosts and who knew what else in this place watching my every move that they’d take me to the ground before I finished taking even one step toward him with the intent of attacking the sick bastard. I wasn’t even the slightest bit of a threat to him. Not out on the street, and definitely not right here in his own home that he’d had literal centuries to prepare to withstand assault from people much stronger than me. So yeah, I couldn’t exactly blame him for not being worried about me. 

But it still pissed me off. 

With a low sigh, I forced myself to follow after him. I needed time. I needed… I needed to think. I was tired, lost, afraid, and… and just… alone. I wanted to see my mother, even considering how ashamed I was that I had been trapped here. So, I trailed after the monstrous necromancer as he led me through the corridor, past more doors that led who knew where. I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have the chance to find out. Eventually, we reached a much wider circular foyer-type room. To the right were several curved sliding glass doors leading to a patio, while a circular staircase led up to the left. Fossor went that way, ascending the stairs with a quick flick of his fingers as though beckoning me to keep following. Much as I hated all of this, I did so. 

Ascending two stories, past another corridor similar to the one we had just been in, we reached a wide open area at the top. This was some kind of entertainment area. The floor was carpeted, with plush couches and chairs surrounding a massive television and… video games? Yeah, Fossor had a bunch of video game systems laid out in front of the television, with shelves of movies and the games themselves lining the nearby wall. 

Was this Ammon’s area? I wondered that briefly, before my eyes moved past the games and furniture to yet another sliding glass door leading to another balcony. And on that balcony, I saw… my mother. She was there, wearing dark green pants and a black turtleneck while faced away from us as she gripped the railing and gazed out over the vast grounds of this place. 

Seeing her there, even from behind, I felt my heart drop into my stomach. The bitter shame and disgust that had lurked in the back of my mind roared to the forefront, and I… I almost didn’t want to see her after all. What was I going to say? What could I say? She had spent ten years being this bastard’s slave just to keep me safe, and I let him take me that easily. When I looked into her eyes, how much disappointment would I see there? 

I froze. Standing there, staring at her back, I couldn’t bring myself to move another step. A thick lump had formed in my throat, and it was all I could do not to sink to my knees in utter despair. This moment, more than any other, was when the true futility of this entire situation came to me. I was empty. I had nothing. What was I? What chance did I have to accomplish anything now? 

In the midst of my moment of anguish and self-doubt, I abruptly realized that I wasn’t staring at my mother’s back anymore. She had turned around. She was looking at me. Our eyes met, and the next thing I knew, she was in front of me, teleporting across the room to end up right there. 

The heavy pit in my stomach, the dark hole in my heart, the ugly whispers in the back of my mind, all expected her to demand to know why I hadn’t tried harder, why I didn’t use the year I’d had more effectively, why I wasn’t smart enough to guess that Fossor would try something like this. I expected her to say all the things I’d been assaulting myself with since the moment I’d ended up here. I deserved it. I–

“My Felicity.” My mother said those two words, before both of her arms enveloped me. She pulled me close, clutching me against herself. And in that moment… I thought nothing. All of my recriminations disappeared. Everything I’d been saying to myself since the moment I’d seen Fossor, every bit of doubt, fear, and self-accusation faded in an instant. All of it was gone, replaced in that moment by only one thing, a single overriding thought above and beyond everything else. 

“Mom!” The word, almost more sob than actual vocalization, tore its way out of me, before my arms were suddenly wrapped around her just as tightly as she was hugging me. The tears that came then were different from the ones that I’d been on the verge of since arriving here. Ten years. A decade apart, most of which had been spent hating my mother for supposedly abandoning my father and me. Ten years of loss, of being separated from the woman I had spent my early childhood idolizing. A decade of being adrift, of having my beacon and anchor torn away. Thousands of nights of wondering, worrying, unfairly hating, of burying feelings and wishes beneath a hard shell of bitterness. A shell that had spent these past months cracking apart with the realization of just what my mother had truly sacrificed for me. 

I didn’t care where I was. I didn’t care what else happened. In that moment, in that second, nothing else mattered. My feelings, my thoughts, my universe centered around only one thing. 

My mother was here. My mom was hugging me. 

I was seven years old, the night after my mother disappeared. 

It was two months later, the day I’d found my father crying over Mom’s sweatshirt and had viciously torn and cut apart my stuffed raccoon, Taddy. 

I was eight, seeing the newly elected sheriff sworn in, the moment the full understanding that my mother was never coming back had truly hit me. The night I had told my father I hated the name Felicity and to always call me Flick. 

I was nine, Christmas morning just shortly after midnight when I’d heard a sound and snuck out to find my father wrapping presents as he watched an old home video of him and Mom setting up the Christmas tree for the first time after they’d been married. The curtain of tears had blinded my eyes as I peeked around that corner and saw him touch Mom’s face on the television screen.

Ten years old, I was at Miranda’s house, staring at the mother’s day cards that had been set out on the table. My small hand reached out to brush over the words my best friend had scrawled in her sloppy, barely legible handwriting about hoping her mom would have a great day and could they please make more cookies together? 

I was eleven, sitting in the ER clutching my injured leg and whimpering while my father filled out forms with the nurse. My eyes drifted over to see another girl almost the same age as me, tightly holding her own mother’s hand as she too waited to be seen by a doctor. 

I was standing in the school bathroom stall at twelve years old, tears streaming down my face as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to do with my first period. What was I supposed to do with my underwear? Who could I talk to? Was the… the stuff supposed to be kind of brownish? I thought it was red. Was it really blood? Should there be more? 

Thirteen. I was alone. Miranda had just left, taken away by her family’s move. Everyone left. Nobody stayed. Everyone always left. I was in my room, staring at a picture I’d hidden in my dresser of Mom and me at the beach. In a fit of rage and grief, I broke the picture, slamming it over and over again into the dresser before pitching it away and collapsing into a ball in the corner. 

Fourteen years old, I was walking home from the first day of high school when a couple idiots caught up and started taunting me about how my mother couldn’t hack it as a sheriff and took off to be a slut for some rich guy. I didn’t defend her. I… didn’t defend her. 

I was fifteen, doing research online for a school project about the history of Laramie Falls when I saw her face. My mother. It was an article about her disappearance, and how she had never been found after taking off with an unidentified guy from out-of-town. Her eyes, staring out at me as I sat in the school computer lab, bitter and hateful words spilling from my lips before I quickly closed the article and covered my face with my hands. 

Sixteen. I was sixteen, teasing Scott about being a deputy sheriff and how he could help me catch all these bad guys. We walked past the desk… her desk, the one I’d sat on top of as a child all those times while I watched my mother do her work. 

Years, so many years. So much lost time. So many bitter memories and thoughts of what might have been. I saw it all. It washed over me in that moment, the images, sounds, smells, the taste of my own tears and hateful words. I experienced every moment.

And none of it mattered. Because my mother was here. I was holding her. She was holding me, her grip so tight I thought she might never let go. And that was fine, because I never wanted to let go of her either. 

“Mom,” I choked out, my body shuddering heavily. I was crying, unable and unwilling to control it. “I love you. I love you, Mom. Mom, I love you, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I love you.” 

I wasn’t saying it for eighteen-year-old Flick. I was saying it for sixteen year old Flick, fifteen, fourteen, all the way down to seven-year-old me. I was saying it for all of me, for every single second I’d lost, for every moment that had been torn away from us, for every time I could have said it throughout those lost years. 

“Baby, my sweet baby. My Lissy.” Mom’s voice shook just as much, her own body shaking as she clung to me. “I love you, Felicity. I never wanted to hurt you. I never wanted–” 

“I know, Mom.” I bobbed my head quickly, not wanting to waste time on those kinds of words. Pulling my head back without letting go, I stared at her, our gazes meeting. “Mom, I know. I love you. I love you.” 

We stayed like that for another few minutes, neither of us letting go. We said a few things, but what was actually said didn’t matter. The only thing that did matter was that I had my mom. I was there with my mother. 

Finally, Fossor spoke up. I’d… honestly almost forgotten he was there. “You see? I knew this reunion was the right thing. Joselyn, come with me. We have a few things to discuss. You can visit with our girl in a little bit. I’ll have her escorted to her room in the meantime.” 

Mom clearly didn’t want to. But in the end, she gave me a very tight squeeze, kissing my forehead and promising we would catch up. It was obvious that neither of us had the power to challenge Fossor, especially right then. And she didn’t want to get me in trouble by acting out. Now that I was here, Fossor could still hold my physical safety over her head to coerce her into following orders. 

So, Mom started off with him. He said something in her ear as she passed, and I saw the way she tensed up. But she said nothing, simply starting down the stairs. 

Fossor started to leave with her, but paused at the top of the stairs to look back at me. “You will be safe here, Felicity,” he promised. “So long as you follow the rules and listen to my instructions. I believe you’ll find that we can be a very happy family together.” With that, he turned to leave. 

“I’m going to beat you.” 

I muttered the words under my breath. Still, I knew Fossor had heard me. He stopped with one foot on the stairs, slowly turning around to face me. His eyebrows were raised when I looked up to him, repeating myself as I met his gaze. “I… am going… to beat you. Not right now. Not today. But, I promise, there will come a moment when you look at me and realize that you’ve lost everything. You’ll look at me and you’ll know that everything you had is gone, that you have failed, and that you are going to die. You’ll look at me then, in the moment before you are wiped off the boots of history like the stain that you are, and you’ll realize that right here, right now, is when you truly fucked up. Because I have spent the past year being distracted by every single threat and problem that wanted to throw itself in my way. I have been on the other side of the universe. Every single time I wanted to focus on you, something else got in my way, some other threat who thought they were going to beat me down. But now, you won. You brought me here. Congratulations. You have my full and undivided attention. 

“And before this is over, I’m going to make you wish you never found my mother that day.” 



Led out into the hallway, Flick thinks of using her Seosten Recall to either get back to her father or at least contact him. Fossor informs her that there is a spell linking her to her mother that will detect if she does either of those things and kill her mother in retaliation, as well as one linked from her mother to her that will kill Flick if her mother leaves. She insults Fossor and is given intense pain from one of Fossor’s ghosts before being led to her mother. They reunite, Flick is very emotional about her memories while hugging her mother. After Joselyn is told by Fossor to go with him to do something while her daughter is left alone for the moment, Flick informs Fossor that because her full attention is now on him without any distractions, she is going to beat him.

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