The Waterfall

Timeline: April 19th, 2005

The Appalachian Mountains might have been the “easier” mountain in North America to climb, but that didn’t mean the going wasn’t difficult. The morning that found Honoré, Lyla and Ramial back on the Trail was wet, muddy, and consequently slippery. There was more than one occasion where the group had to wade through hip-deep water, carrying packs over their heads, to make it to the opposite side and pick up the marked trail again. It meant that they were covered in mud, sweaty from the exertion, and mosquitos and less pleasant bugs were already making a feast of them.

The fact they were starting in Maine also meant that the initial challenges were steep mountains in rugged country in rather cool weather. All in all, it was a difficult start for their journey. By early afternoon Lyla had already requested they stop at the next clear stream or rest area to wash up and change into spare clothes. They’d already have to find a place to launder what they’d been wearing in the morning.

Honoré found the going difficult, unused to the physical exertion required. She was glad when Lyla asked to stop. It meant she didn’t have to. She frowned. That was a rather uncharitable thought. “How far do you two usually travel in a day?” she asked, thinking that maybe they’d have some luck and they’d find somewhere nice to stop, and soon.

Lyla smiled thinly. “Depends on how easy the going is. I’m afraid I don’t have the endurance that Ramiel has. I usually slow him down by making him stop a lot.”

A devilish smile slid across his face. “I can always go longer than Lyla!” He shot a glance at Lyla as he said it, but his attention returned forward. “You can pick where we stop this time Lya, but next time, it is my choice when and where.”

Lyla laughed lightly. “Then you’d better choose wisely, smart man.” When Honoré looked back at her, for she was walking last in line at the moment, she saw the bright smile Lyla wore. The banter between them seemed a sort of hobby for them, a way to while away the time spent on the trail, although it did seem like there might be a bit more serious underlying their back-and-forth than mere jest.

Honoré looked between her traveling companions. “Don’t I get to have a say in all this?” Her voice was soft and hesitant.

“Nope,” Lyla told her with a straight face. But after a moment she patted Honoré’s shoulder. “I’m kidding. Actually if you really are tired, we could stop.”

Ramiel stopped in his tracks and turned to face them both. “I don’t care who chooses. Just decide. Stop or go?”

“I am tired,” Honoré said, “and Hamilton would like a chance to get properly clean, but I think I can hold out for a place like what Lyla suggested. A rest area or a clear stream and somewhere to sit.”

Lyla noted that Ramiel was becoming irritated with their complaints and remained quiet.

Over the next hour, the group encountered the next stream near their path. However, it was but a trickle that would be difficult to get into their filtration canteens, much less do anything like wash with it. It seemed they were too high up on the mountain to have anything substantial.

It wasn’t until near sunset when they heard the gentle shushing roar of a small waterfall coming from somewhere off the trail, downhill from where they presently walked. Since it didn’t sound far away, it immediately had the group’s attention.

“Oh!” Lyla said excitedly. “We could have a shower!” She pushed ahead through the brush in her excitement.

But while Honoré and Lyla heard only the gentle rushing of falling water, Ramiel heard something else; a woman’s voice singing. It was too faint for him to make out the words, however.

Honoré followed close on Lyla’s heels, more out of a desire to see the waterfall than actually use it. Hamilton! Do you think there might be some fish in the creek near the waterfall?

She felt movement in her pack as something shifted. Fish, you say? I don’t know, perhaps if it is more than simply a trickle, Miss.

Ramiel’s expression became a distant one as his thoughts danced with the image of walking in on a woman bathing in the rushing water. He only hesitated for a moment then turned to Honore, excitement in his eyes. “After you.”

They both quickly caught up with Lyla, who’d stopped at a small brook that burbled away from a waterfall that fell from a small ledge of about 15 feet. She had stopped out of range of the splash and knelt upon a large, bare boulder as she searched through her pack for a towel, soap and other supplies.

The waterfall itself was also small, but more than enough water fell to provide a thorough, if chilly, shower. Water even pooled a bit at the base providing a shallow bathing area.

As Ramiel approached, he noticed the voice suddenly disappeared.

There was disappointment on his face as he approached the water near Lyla. I thought I heard a woman singing. The others were quickly getting ready to clean up, and they would probably want some privacy, so Ramiel decided not to follow his urge to watch and instead started to look around to see if he could find out where the girl had wandered off to so quickly.

Honoré carefully set her backpack down and opened it to let Hamilton get out. The thought of a bath, even if it was in cold water, was a powerful one. “This is such a beautiful place.” She looked around, wondering if any spirits called this place home.

Lyla had found what she was looking for and had a bundle in her hands as she stood up. She looked around. “I guess,” she said to Honoré. “But right now I just want to be clean.”

She turned to Ramiel beside her. “Will you set up the camp? The sun is setting so I’m guessing it will be dark by the time we finish cleaning up.”

Ramiel hadn’t caught sight of the mysterious singer. He put the camp together without saying word. I must have imagined I heard a girl then. With all this rock around I bet I can find an isolated pool, maybe warm some water and take a warm bath. Leave the cold showers for when they are really needed.

After a good search he did find a few small places where water had pooled but they weren’t big enough to sit in and have anything like a bath.

Meanwhile, Lyla had stripped out of her clothes and took a shower. The water was cold so she moved quickly and hoped that Ramiel had the fire going. “Come on in,” she told Honoré through chattering teeth. “It’s as cold as you’d expect but not freezing. You’ll want to move quickly.”

Lyla quickly used some bio-degradable some to work up a little lather and rub herself clean. She put it on a nearby rock for Honoré to use, then worked on washing her hair.

With a last look in the direction Ramiel had disappeared in, Honoré took off her clothes and got into the water. “Better not splash Hamilton,” she said, “he doesn’t like getting wet.” She grabbed the soap, lathered her hands, and turned her back to Lyla as she started to clean herself.

Lyla just smiled and put the shampoo down while she rinsed her hair.

Honoré’s pack began moving slightly where she left it, until Hamilton’s head popped out. He crept out of the bag he’d been riding in all afternoon — much to Honoré’s surprise — and hopped on a rock where he could have a nice view of the damp, chilled young women. He stared at them with that feline, innocent mischief only cats can have. He was immediately bored, of course, and decided to get a drink of water instead.

You’re soiling all the clean water, he accused Honoré. I’m going up on top to have a drink without getting a mouthful of smelly suds. If I get eaten by an owl because of this, it’s all your fault. Try not to feel guilty.

With that he faked a disdainful sneeze and disappeared into the brush on his way up the steep incline.

Lyla and Honoré were bundled up in some clean, warm clothes and huddled by the fire in hopes their hair would dry soon when Ramiel appeared. He’d done a good job of setting up the camp, as always.

The camp was about twenty feet from the water. The two tents had been placed about five feet apart from each other with the doors facing the water. The fire was located in between the two about five feet away from doors. Far enough away to give some heat but not endanger the tents. He had dug a small trench around the outside of the tents in case it rained, to allow the water to drain around the tents instead of onto them.

Lyla watched his approach. “Thank you for setting up camp Ramiel,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for years and I don’t know why but I just can’t seem to pitch a tent that will stand up in a breeze much less a rainy night.

“Are you going to shower now?” It was a valid question. Night had fallen and it would be dark at the waterfall. “Maybe you want to bring the lantern?”

Ramiel was tired as well and it seemed to be the cause of his bad mood. He was looking forward to having a little time alone.

“It would be helpful to be able to see.” He looked at Lyla, then Honoré before taking the lantern. ” If you need anything come get me, or scream, either will work.”

Lyla reached out and put her hand over his wrist. “And if you need…?”

He leaned in and whispered in her ear. ” There are many things I need, but some can never be mentioned.”

“Who needs words?” Lyla asked softly. She had a look in her eyes that he hadn’t seen since that day, the one before the zombie attacked. “Go get clean and come back to me.”

Ramiel silently left for his bath. Reaching the waters edge, he shed his clothes and waded out into the pool of cold water as though is were a warm bath.

Honoré watched the byplay between Ramiel and Lyla, and felt like a third wheel. She looked away, out into the darkness. Hamilton, where are you?

Here, Miss! came the near-instant reply. Where ever “here” was certainly wasn’t clear. But the little fellow was hard to spot at night so he made his location more obvious by standing up on his hind legs and putting his front paws softly on her knees.

Lyla had been staring after Ramiel. He was long gone now. “We’ve never done it, you know,” she said suddenly. “We’ve never had sex with each other. But we both want to so badly.” She turned to look at Honoré. “Isn’t that the strangest thing?”

Honoré picked Hamilton up and cuddled him to her chest, her fingers scritching him under his chin at the spot he liked best. “Well,” she said, uncomfortable at the thoughts running through her head. “That’s not so strange.”

She paused for a moment, and decided to throw caution to the wind. “If the two of you were brother and sister, well, it’d be kind of gross. And you look like you’re twins. But if you’re not, I just don’t understand…” Her voice trailed off and she averted her eyes, looking into the fire to avoid looking at Lyla.

“Ramiel is the only brother I’ve ever known,” Lyla said. “And he and his mom, my only family. I always called Melisande, his mother, Mom because she’s the one that raised me. Mom told me that my real mother died when I was born so I never knew here. But she and Melisande were always close so Melisande took me in and raised me as her own daughter. It was probably very hard. Ramiel and I were born within just a couple weeks of each other, and she had to raise us both by herself.

“When Mom was killed by the Dark Man, it was Ramiel and I that found her body and set out on this quest. You already know that part. But what you might not know is that Ramiel is really a very smart guy. Good in school, handsome as hell, strong, all of that. He had a great future in front of him. I was… more of a bad influence.

“Mom worked as a maid for a rich family. They were pretty hard on her I guess, but I hung out with their daughter, Elizabeth. She was kind of a rebel. From her, I found out that I could use sex to get just about anything I wanted. I also learned through her mistakes that if you play with fire like that, sometimes you get burned. She got pregnant in high school and was ostracized by her family. Sent to boarding school. So, I’m real careful about it, though it didn’t really stop me doing whatever I wanted to do.

“While Ramiel was learning practical things, I was learning how to cheat and steal on the streets. But we were both proud of what we could do and shared everything. After we hit the road to look for the Dark Man, he continued to let me do whatever I liked and honestly, I can be very difficult to say ‘no’ to. I always know what to say to get my way.” She said it as a statement of fact, not a boast. “And, he picked up on how to satisfy his own libido. His is just as over-developed as mine is, you know. He can make any woman swoon with a look or a touch. I’d like to take some of the credit for that.”

And apparently she did. Lyla continued, “But one thing is that we’ve always wanted each other. I’ve known it from when we were just kids, but I never told him I wanted him back. Pretty unfair, huh? But that’s life. I haven’t let him do anything serious with me because I’m afraid that if I do, I might just become one of the many other girls he’s had. Or worse, that he might just be like all the other guys I’ve had.

“But tonight, I just want to say screw that. I really do. I know what he thinks of me. I know what he wants. But what I don’t know is what he will think of me after.”

“I don’t know what to say. I…” Honoré bit down on her lower lip, and fought back tears. “Oh god, I HATE my parents. I don’t remember if I’ve ever been with a man. And if I have, why? Did he care for me? Did my parents just sell me to the highest bidder? You’re worried about how Ramiel will think about you. I don’t even know what to think about myself!” She felt that simmering, seething pool of rage deep inside start to fight its way out.

Honoré hugged Hamilton closer, trying very hard not to squish him, as she tried to keep herself from losing control of her temper.

“Hey.” Lyla reached out and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay now. We’re doing something about that business together. And I’m sorry I dumped all that on you. I don’t have people I can talk to about that but it’s just not your problem, so I really am sorry.”

Lyla’s kindness just made Honoré snap. She stood up, dumping Hamilton unceremoniously onto the ground. “I don’t want your pity!” She stormed off, trying to find a focus for her rage. “I don’t want anyone’s pity! I got that at the hospital. I got that, and loathing, from the people I met when I was trying to find Ramiel.”

She pulled up short, nearly walking into a tree. “God damn it.” Honoré kicked the tree. “I hate this. Most of my damn life has been stolen from me.” Kick. “Nobody believes I can’t remember.” Harder kick. “Everyone thinks I’m crazy.”

Honoré started pounding on the tree trunk, swearing and using every filthy word she knew – and many she didn’t realize she knew. She didn’t care she was starting to hurt her hands. All she cared about was that she wanted – no, she needed – to hurt someone for all the hurt she’d gone through.

Ramiel walked through the dark with the lantern in his hand. The sound of the waterfall guided him the short distance there and he found a rock to set it on. The oil burner shed enough yellow light to illuminate the immediate area now that his eyes were used to it.

He’d just taken his shirt off when he saw her; a translucent woman apparently using the waterfall to bathe in as well. The seemed suddenly much deep her, as it came up to her hips. Only a short while ago, it seemed only deep enough to cover one’s ankles. The woman there seemed to not notice his presence. That when he heard her song.

It was certain that this was the same voice he heard before. She hummed to herself a strange and unfamiliar tune that seemed an lullaby of some kind. He could see her naked form, or rather the upper part of her body that was above the waterline. Even though he could see right through her, she seemed to glow slightly. Whoever she was, she was very beautiful, yet also very distinctive. He knew immediately from her feature that she must have a strong Amerindian background.

He was drawn to her, he had to know what she felt like, maybe it was the music not unlike that of a siren, or perhaps it was just a need to be touched or held. He waded out to her. “Hello…”

The moment he entered the water and started toward her, he eyes flew open wide. Her mouth opened in a scream but he heard no sound. The ghost-woman jerked as if struck and she stumbled back, toward the far bank. Her eyes held terror and then filled with wrath as she looked at him. Suddenly Ramiel felt himself under attack! Scratches and bites appeared on his body and despite the ethereal nature of the woman, the injuries felt completely real! The woman’s lips continued to move, but the ghost made no sound at all.

The sharp pain of tearing flesh snapped him out of his fantasy. His voice boomed with irratation, as he yelled. “WHAT THE FUCK LADY!” Ramiel tried to grab her shoulders only for his hands to pass right through her. His eyes widened as he realized he would not be able to affect her, what ever she was. He began to back away from her out of the water.

He heard the patter of footsteps as Lyla and Honoré ran to the waterfall.

The silent woman seemed in a panic. She rose from her place at the shore and battered him with her fists, knocking him down in the water.

When the women arrived the water seemed far deeper than when they bathed, but far more importantly they saw an ethereal figure of a woman attacking Ramiel and knocking him down in the water.

“Ramiel!!” Lyla screamed upon reaching the water’s edge. The terrifying reality of a ghost physically attacking him made her panic. “Get out of the water! Hurry!!”

“Stop! Stop it!” Honoré yelled at the ghost. Oh, what can I do? I can’t talk to ghosts like this. But we have to get him out of the water! Darn, why couldn’t it have been a spirit? She ran for the edge of the bank, intent on helping Ramiel.

Ramiel dove under the water, hoping that he would be clear of her long enough to reach the shore. He emerged from the water , flipping his hair out of his face. He stood near Lyla and Honore, water tracing every contour of his nude form. He seemed not to care that he was showing them more than they needed to see, he was concentrating on the glowing girl that was intent on harming him.

The Amerindian ghost watched him for a moment with terrible anguish twisting her face, then faded away.

Lyla reached for Ramiel. “Are you okay? Did she hurt you?”

Ramiel stood there and let her see him, but he stepped out of reach of her touch. I do not need for her to see how much her touch effects me, not like this.

He traced the scratch marks with hs fingers and grimaced. ” I’ve had worse.” Wether he cared that he was nude or not was not apparent, though for someone who was swimming in a cold lake it certainly did not appear that way. In fact it was obvious that he definatly had bragging rights. Ramiel ringed his hair out and dried off with his towel. He took his time as he did so, pulling his briefs into place, and sliding his black jeans back on. He looked over to see Lyla looking at him.

Lyla’s eyes were filled with concern — and something else more akin to desire as she examined his nude form with open admiration.

He looked at her and Honore. “Either of you know what that was?”

“It’s a ghost,” she said distractedly. “I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere. I’m going to need your help.” Honoré turned and ran as fast as she could to the campsite. She dug around in her backpack, and pulled out what looked like an old man’s toiletry bag from the 1940’s. Clutching it to her chest like a child carrying a beloved toy, she grabbed her jacket and returned to the waterfall.

By then, Lyla had crowded close to Ramiel, though he had his pants on again. It looked like she was examining his injuries.

Hamilton, I’m going to try to contact the ghost through a seance. Will you help me? For Honoré, the best help Hamilton always provided was to curl up in her lap, acting as a kind of anchor for her.

I shall guard you with my life, Miss, he assured her.

Honoré looked at Lyla and Ramiel. “I’m going to talk to the ghost. You know, have a seance. It’ll work better if we can all form a circle, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.” She glanced at the waterfall and the pool. “I’m hoping she won’t be too pissed and decide to take whatever it was that got her all worked up out on me.” She flexed her hands, which were already swelling from the damage she’d done by taking her frustrations out on the tree.

She spread her jacket out on the ground and sat on it, and Hamilton jumped into her lap.

 Edge Images Hamilton

Lyla turned, distracted from Ramiel, and nodded. “Yes. I’ll help.” She walked over to Honoré, sat down, and gently too her hand. She held her other hand out to Ramiel. “Join us?”

Ramiel was more upset than he was before, but he knew he had no choice here so he went over to her and sat down.

Honoré watched Ramiel for a moment, then reached for her bag. She took out three small white candles, and a 7/11 lighter and set them on the ground in front of her. “I need the two of you to close your eyes, and try to clear your minds of any negative or hostile thoughts. We want the ghost to want to talk to us, not to be afraid or want to harm us.”

She closed her eyes and cleared her mind as she always did when dealing with spirits, thinking it wouldn’t hurt. When she was centered, she opened her eyes and looked at her companions. “I’m going to give you both a candle. Visualize peaceful thoughts. Friendly and welcoming thoughts. Like the candle is a gift for a loved one. Or the kind of candle you’d leave burning in your window, to help guide your loved ones back home to you. When you’ve got them, imagine putting them into the the candle, kind of like pouring water into a glass. When you’ve done that, stand your candle up at the center point between the four of us.”

Lyla had cleared her mind of anything negative and tried to let her worries ease out of her body and mind. Now, candle in hand, she looked at Ramiel with clear, dark eyes and placed the candle in the space between the triangle they made sitting together. Then she looked to Honoré and nodded; she was ready.

Ramiel rolled his eyes as he repeated the actions taken by Lyla. He knew this would be a joke; it would just attack him again anyway. But none the less he tried to think of the happy times with his mother, when he and Lyla were young. Tried to let go of the anger, to feel the warmth of childhood seep into every pore. Then when he was as calm as he could get at this point, he put the candle down in place.

Honoré imagined the smoke coming up from the candle to be peaceful, extending like a hand towards the ghost woman, inviting her to come speak with them. She concentrated on that image, and willed a part of herself into the candle to carry the message to the ghost.

With a smile, she put the candle in the grass and waited for the others. When all three candles were there, she carefully lit them with her lighter then dropped the lighter back into her kit. “Now we join hands.” She held her hands out to Ramiel and Lyla.

Lyla took her hand in her own warm grip and offered her other hand to Ramiel. He took her hand. He was fighting to let go of his anger, and it took him a little while, though he was only calm on the surface.

“It’s time to see if she’s willing to talk with us. If she is, when she appears you may feel a slight pain somewhere in your body, or feel a sudden chill, or hear a rapping noise. Try not to be startled or scared. Hamilton will warn me if something’s going wrong.

“So, now I need you to close your eyes, breathe in slowly through your nose and out your mouth. We need to close our eyes, and try to clear our minds of everything but ourselves and our senses. Open yourself up to the world around you and let it heighten your awareness, not of each other, but of other things.” She paused for a moment, then continued. “Please begin.”

Honoré closed her eyes and began to follow her own advice. When she felt she was ready, she spoke. “Please say the following words with me: Lady of the Waterfall, we ask you to commune with us and move among us.”

All was quiet for a long moment but then the three all began feeling something, as if someone was watching them. It made the hairs on the back of their necks rise and gave them a chilly shiver that had nothing to do with cool air. Then, Ramiel’s candle slowly rose into the air, spinning slightly, before settling back down again on the ground.

Why me? was all that Ramile could think as he struggled to remain calm.

The fact this feeling was familiar was even weirder to Honoré, but she quickly pushed it out of her mind. “Are you the ghost we saw in the water? Please answer lift the candle once to indicate no, and twice to indicate yes.”

Two candles then lifted off the ground and spun slowly in the air. They hovered near Honoré and began to spin faster. Hamilton stood up on her laugh and stared intently at the display and his hackles rose. Then suddenly the candles dropped to the ground, with the flames guttering out on the way.

Honoré felt a strange presence begin to enter her.

Her eyes widened. “She wants to use me as a host.” She fought against it for a moment. What if the ghost refused to leave? No, she thought. I have to take this chance. “I will let her,” she said, and allowed the presence inside.

Honoré immediately collapsed forward, then wrenched backward. Lyla and Ramiel didn’t let go of her hands so she didn’t fall. Then a strange, unearthly voice came from Honoré’s lips.

“I am Alawa,” she said. Her voice was accented, but her English was clear.

“Okay Alawa, what’s your deal? Why did you attack me!” He could not keep the irratation out of his vioce.

The ghost paused and Honoré’s eyes continued to stare blankly forward. “You…” she said slowly, “speak English very well for a Frenchman.”

Lyla gave Ramiel a perplexed look and shrugged.

Ramiel returned her look,shrugged then returned focus to the lady in Honore. “I speak English well because I am NOT a Frenchman. I was born here, in America. Who exactly do you think I am?”

Again the ghost paused, as if confused. “You are not the Frenchman who assaulted me? Where? then where has he gone?” She sounded very shaken now, and upset. “My brave! My love will come to me! He will kill the Frenchman!” The last came as a shout.

Ramiel could see that this was hurting Honore, so he calmed himself hoping the ghost would as well. “I am sorry, but no I am not this one who attacked you. Tell us what happened and maybe we can help you.”

“Ohawa is my brave. I was to be his. He went on a raid against the French with English allies and I was to wait here for him. But a Frenchman, a man who murdered animals only for their skins, found me as I bathed at the falls,” the ghost said. Her voice was far away and difficult to hear, but Lyla and Ramiel could still make out the word. “I wanted to be pure for Ohawa, for I promised that he would be the one to make me a woman. “

Distress again entered her voice. “But the Frenchman! He… he stole that from us! I cannot be pure for only Ohawa now!” she wailed. “My Ohawa… he has not returned. It is because I am no longer pure,” she said with great sorrow. “All I can do is wait and hope he will forgive me…”

Ramiel was not sure what to do now. How does he help here when there is no way? ” We will find a way to help you. Be calm, nothing was your fault, you have been very loyal to your Ohawa, who is looking for you I am sure. I bet he is waiting to hold you n his arms once more.”

Ramiel looked at Lyla. “We need Honoré back now.”

“Yes,” said the ghost. “She grows… weak. Please,” she said as her voice began to fade away, “help…”

And then Honoré found herself back in herself. She was weak and exhausted and didn’t know what had transpired. It was as if she’d been pushed out of her body. She could see what was going on, but she couldn’t hear what anyone was saying.

“Rey?” Lyla gently squeezed her hand to get the woozy girl’s attention. “Are you back with us?”

“Yeah,” Rey said, her speech a bit slurred, but it soon cleared. “What did you find out?”

Ramiel sighed as he stood up. “That we might be screwed, but at least she might not attack me any more. She thought I was a frenchamn that attacked her and violated her. She is upset that her brave Ohawa has not returned, and thinks it is because she is not pure anymore. Well maybe it is because he is dead!”

He stretched his arms and began pulling his shirt over his head, smoothing it down into place over his chest. Without hesitation he unzipped his pants, tucked the shirt in and put everything back into place. Fully dressed he sat down again.

“So what do we do with her? I do not think she realizes that the Frenchman killed her. He fucking raped her! He hurt enough that she died from it, and doesn’t know it.”

“So what now?” He was clearly aggitated, he was speaking as he does only with those he truly cares for. Something Honoré had not quite noticed yet, something that it had taken time for even Lyla to discover. Ramiel for some strange reason only used contractions around those he truly trusted and cared for. That was one of the ways Lyla knew if he was showing true emotion or not; his speech changed.

Lyla wasn’t sure she liked that Ramiel was getting worked up over some silly dead bint that didn’t even know she was dead. She was also none too happy that this whole thing, she was pretty sure, put an end to her plans for the evening. “Well, we could just say forget it and and move on. That ghost is a mess and I know one thing; it’s not my problem.”

“It could very well become your problem,” Honoré said. “How many guys has she hurt, reliving that attack?” She shook her head. “We can’t just leave, especially if she asked for help. We need to find some way to convince her to move on.” She didn’t think telling them about the potential vindictiveness of ghosts would be a good idea quite yet.

Ramiel was quiet for a moment. “I don’t care about the others she has hurt, I don’t know them. But unfortunately she did ask for help and that I can not walk away from.”

He looked at Honoré. “So how do we help her? I did not tell her she was dead because I did not want to give her more reason to hurt me.”

Lyla simply shrugged.

Excuse me, Miss, Hamilton interrupted. But perhaps I might be of some assistance in this matter?

I was just about to ask you, she said, giving him a quick scritch between the ears.

Ghosts are always attached to the material world via some form of anchor. Remove the anchor, and the ghost must move on, he said as if speaking to a class. Of course, there are many kinds of anchor, and it can even take the form of people the ghost cared about when it was alive. In this case, it is most probably that there is something here of great emotional significance to the ghost that holds her here. It could be just about anything, really, but the point is if you destroy it completely enough that it no longer holds meaning for the ghost any longer, then she must move on. This is often the easiest way to get a ghost to move on.

The second way is to help it fulfill whatever it feels was left undone. The reason it is still here is because there is an emotional attachment, some purpose left unfulfilled.

So, you now know two ways to handle ghosts. Achieving either will be difficult because you can’t directly interact with the ghost. Only a psychic with the proper skills can do that.

“There’s generally two different reasons why ghosts hand around. There’s something tying them here, or there’s a job they’ve left undone. Hamilton says there’s two different ways we can help her,” Rey said. “Something of great emotional significance to her is in or around the waterfall. If we find it and destroy it, it should release her. He says that’s probably the easiest thing to do. The other option is to fulfill whatever task is holding her back. I suspect that would be to kill the Frenchman.”

Lyla looked at Ramiel but her expression was very cool. He recognized it at her “poker face”, the one she used when she didn’t want anyone to know what she was thinking or feeling. “Well, that’s not going to happen. But it sounded to me like she was really upset not because she was raped and killed, but because she feels like she failed Oha–whatsisname.” She shrugged. “It was, me, I’d would feel ashamed and shattered because I couldn’t be what I wanted to be for the man I loved. Then I’d be so angry and so full of hate that I’d want the one who made me feel so bad about myself to suffer they way I suffered.” Lyla looked away from Rey and stared at the fire.

“But in the end, that’s not what I’d want. I’d just want to feel like a whole person again, to be told in a convincing way that I didn’t have to be ashamed of what happened, that he still loved me and it would all be okay. Then I think I could move on.”

Lyla looked into Ramiel’s face then, with that same, hooded look in her eyes. “Don’t you think so?”

“Well, we could see if Ohawa would answer if we called on him through another seance,” Rey said thoughtfully, “but for him to interact with Alawa, he’d need a host, someone to channel him, so to speak. I doubt he’d want a female body. And then we’d need to call Alawa again, and she’d need a host, and doing that is really strenuous.”

“Yes,” said Lyla. “She spoke through you only about half a minute and it looked like it nearly exhausted you completely.”

Ramiel sighed, he had no idea what was bothering Lyla. “So plan A is out of the picture. I am in no way going to die for her. But I suppose if we can get ahold of Ohawa I can be his body. But I seriously doubt it will work, so I would not mind looking around the waterfall while you rest up Honoré. I can see what I can find, and Lyla you can help me. Though there is only one thing that I can think if that a naked woman would leave behind that is of any importance.”

“And what would that be?” Rey asked. She yawned, and picked Hamilton up to give him a kiss on the top of his head and scratched him under his chin.

Ramiel almost rolled his eyes. “You are kidding me right, you don’t know?” He stood and retrieved a soda from his bag. “Think about it, you are naked, and showering, would you have anything with you that is important enough to keep you here, anything other than your body?”
Honoré just shook her head and shrugged.

“You want a soda? ” He asked Honoré as moved to his bag and took out two more. He paused for a moment, then gave one drink to each of the girls.

“That is my guess anyway so Lyla will be helpful in finding it.”

“So,” Lyla asked, “you want me to find her body?”

Rey looked at the can in her hand, a puzzled expression on her face, but the situation with the ghost was more pressing. “How do you do find people anyway?” she asked Lyla. “Is it their aura or something you search for?”

Lyla gave her a penetrating glance, as if she was piercing Rey’s very soul with a look. It was extremely unnerving. But then the moment passed.

“Hm,” Lyla considered thoughtfully. “Finding people I’ve met and know is actually not very hard for me. I don’t know why exactly it works, but I just clear my mind and concentrate. Like searching for the Dark Man. I can clear my mind and sometimes I can see what is happening in the place he is. Actually, he’s the most difficult and challenging being I’ve ever tried to track. It’s usually child’s play for me to track someone I know any time I like. And I can watch what’s happening pretty much as long as I want.”

She emitted an evil giggle. “I learned the most amazing things and discovered the most interesting secrets when I was younger.” Lyla winked at Honoré. “Of course, I’ve always been very secretive about my ability. There are all kinds of people would could profit enormously by having access to that kind of gift.”

It occurred to Honoré that Lyla was taking a huge risk even just speaking of it to her. On the other hand, now that she knew Lyla’s secret, what were the odds Lyla would ever let her out of her “sight” again? She certainly was capable of knowing where to find Honoré in the event of betrayal. Not that that was a problem, but it was a frightening concept.

No, when one thought about it, it was a terrifying concept. It meant that Lyla could, at will, spy upon CEOs, senators, politicians, presidents, intelligence agents. Anyone. Anytime. If she knew where to look, there was no secret on earth that theoretically, Lyla Clairborne could not learn.

Then again, was it all that much different than the use of hidden microphones and other electronic surveillance equipment? It just happened to be a natural ability for Lyla. Except apparently there was no way to stop Lyla, as opposed to electronics.

“I have lots of secrets,” Lyla said with an evil smile. “But that doesn’t mean I know how to find things. Material items resonate differently than people do, but I did develop a technique for that, too. It’s just dowsing, but I have a natural knack for it. I take a pair of bent wires in my hands, concentrate on what it is I want to find, and they point the way. It’s not easy, and it takes some time, but it usually works. This is how I might find the Alawa’s bones. If they are still here.”

“Do you think you could find a ghost’s anchor, if it was something like a necklace, by focusing on the essence of that person?” Rey asked. “If Ohawa had given Alawa some kind of gift, Alawa might have tucked it somewhere safe, like in a crack in the rocks. Whatever her anchor is, it’s probably going to have some kind of signature.”

Ramiel looked as though his mood just got worse. He stood and began heading for the woods. “Well I will leave you to find the anchor, or whatever, get me when you need me.” With that he took a bottle out of the supply bag, clearly alcohol of some sort, and walked off into the woods.

Lyla paused long enough to stare at Ramiel’s retreating back. “Well, I sure am not going to stumble around the woods to find him. I might be able to see things from afar, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to trip on a rock I couldn’t see and break my neck in a fall down the mountainside.”

She turned her attention back to Rey. “Anyway, you were saying something about finding a necklace or something. I’m not sure if I can if I’m not certain the item exists. I was think — or rather hoping — that her bones might be around there somewhere. I don’t know if that’s what she’s hanging onto, but maybe there’s something like a necklace like you mentioned near them?”

Lyla dug in her pack until she found two thick, bent wires. “And you’re right,” she sighed. “If we could do something about this and we just walked away from it instead, then if that ghost hurt anybody else it really would be our fault.” Exhibiting a slight wince of guilt in her face, Lyla admitted, “I’ve done much worse than that in my life, of course. But I’m not proud of that fact. So let’s you and me go see what we can find.”

“You’re not the only one who’s not proud of themselves.” Rey stood, keeping Hamilton cradled in her arms. “Would ‘the gift Ohawa gave to Alawa be a specific enough to dowse for it?”

“I’m not sure,” Lyla admitted. “I could try. The effort is a bit exhausting for me, though. Are you sure about your feeling that he might have given her something?”

Rey shook her head. “No, I’m not. I’m only trying to think of all the options. It’s just… I’d much rather tear a necklace apart than destroy someone’s bones, no matter how old they are.”

Lyla nodded. “Yeah. Especially since we know there is someone still there that might still care what happens to her remains.” She found Ramiel’s lantern and lit it, then picked up her dowsing tools.

“Do you mind carrying the lantern? I’ll give this a try. It usually takes quite a bit of work, so we should expect to be at this for quite a while,” she warned Rey.

She was right; an hour later they were still at it, trying to find something that Alawa might have left behind or be attached to. Fortunately, there was some hope as Lyla was sure they were making progress despite seemingly criss-crossing the waterfall area a half dozen times. In addition, it was helpful that they were no longer being harassed by an upset ghost.

I stumble through the enveloping darkness, tripping over rock and limb. Feh, right. Ramiel removed a small LED flashlight from his back pocket, then walked far enough to have some privacy yet still remained within earshot. If they scream I need to be able to hear them.

Reaching a large tree with a fallen one nearby, he sat down on the log, lit a cigerettte, and turned out the flashlight while the crisp blue light of the moon filtered through the tree tops lit the area. He held the bottle in front of him — aged scotch — then unscrewed the cap and took a drink.

How do I protect her? I knew she was able to see things, not like that. If it got out, if they knew. FUCK! His fist impacted the tree with a heavy thud, and a tiny cracking sound of bark falling to the ground.

I won’t let anyone take her from me, I’ll kill them if they try. I know of ways, as long as I get a chance. I don’t know if I can protect her, I couldn’t protect Mom. His fist collided with the tree a few more times, then he sat on the ground, leaned back against the fallen tree, and drank the equivelent of a few more shots.

All I can do is try, I have to keep her safe, she is the only thing that matters. Nothing else comes close.

His thoughts drifted with the smoke from his clove cigs as it was carried away into the night.

Nearly an hour later he returned to camp and looked for the girls. It wasn’t hard to see, by the light of the lantern some two score strides away, that they had gone back to the waterfall so he made his way after them.

It was exhausting work, but Lyla wasn’t going to waste the effort she’d already put into it by giving up so long as she knew she was still getting something. She was concentrating so hard that she barely looked up when Ramiel returned to them. She hadn’t been able to hold much of a conversation with Rey while she worked, so the two were silent when he approached them.

Honoré was holding up the lantern for Lyla to see and after an hour, that got to be pretty hard work, too. Ramiel could see his foster sister holding the wires she used for dowsing. They were slowly turning to and fro in her grip as she turned, took a step, and waited to see. It looked like she was trying to triangulate something.

He’d seen her do it before. It usually took maybe an hour or so for her to get a “lock” on something, but it must be taking longer this time.

Ramiel leaned in next to Honore, he smelled faintly of cloves. “You find it yet?” he whispered in her ear.

Rey shook her head. “Not yet. She said finding a person’s a lot easier than finding an object.” She changed hands she was holding the lantern with. “She’s narrowed it down somewhat, but she told me finding things is a lot harder than finding people.”

Hamilton, if it is Alawa’s bones we find, do we have to destroy them? Could interring them properly, burying them or something and saying some nice words, be enough to help her move on?

Hamilton responded after a moment’s thought. It’s possible, Miss, but if you check your history books you’ll find that different tribes had different funeral practices. Many preferred cremation. Others tried to preserve the things most precious to the person in life by placing them with their bodies when they were laid to rest in shallow graves or mounds. If we knew more about Alawa’s tribe, then we might begin to guess.

Ramiel took the lantern from her, and held it out for Lyla. He had a pretty good buzz going, but managed to keep the lantern nominally steady. “So what do we do if this does not work. I mean she was upset that she was un-pure, you can not exactly undue that, really. So how do you make it better. I’m not going to have to make out with a ghost right, that might be too kinky for me, maybe.”

Rey smiled slightly. “No, I don’t think you’ll have to make out with a ghost. The dead can’t interact directly with the living. They’d need a host, like Alawa needed to in order to talk to you. If that’s what required, then Ohawa – if we can call him to us – can use you as a host, and Alawa use Lyla as a host, and they can talk, with me supervising and making sure nothing goes wrong. I don’t think anything will go too far, though. I mean, you can’t have full blown sex in thirty seconds, can you?” She flushed slightly.

“I’m hoping that Alawa might be able to help us, though, send her on. If we could find out about her tribe’s funerary practices, we could perform a funeral as best we could, and that might help send her on her way. I’d really rather not just destroy her bones. That’d be really disrespectful. We [b]could[/b] try and see if Ohawa would answer my call. If he comes, he can talk to Alawa through you, and maybe Lyla could act as her host this time. If we can’t do that, find some other way to convince Alawa to move on. Failing that, we have to figure out some way to force her to move in.”

Honoré shook her head. “So many if’s.” She paused for a moment, then looked up at Ramiel. “Um… How did you manage to be carrying cold soda without a cooler or ice?”

Continuing to whisper in her ear so he did not disturb Lyla. “The answer to your first question is, if it is done right it can take hours. The second is that I didn’t carry cold soda in my pack.” He smiled for the first time that night.

She blushed slightly, but chose to ignore his first comment. “Then how did the cans get cold?”

“Ok but it is a secret.” He winked at her, tehn took her hands in is. They were warm and strong, then slowly they began to cool off. At first it was like when you get nervous and your hands get cold but then after a few moments his hands began to feel like ice. He let go of Honorés hands before they got too cold. He smiled at her. “What can I say, I am good with my hands.”

“Wow,” Honoré said, rubbing her hands together to get some warmth back into them. “That’s…” She was going to say cool, but that would have been far too punny. “That’s neat.” She smiled.

“I can do that with just about anything, and even without touching it. I don’t think Lyla realizes she has never had a warm soda around me. Sigh I am so unappreciated at times.

“So now we just wait for her I guess then we get this over with and move on.”

“Maybe one of us could get something to eat ready.” Rey flushed. “Well, you probably ought to get something ready. I’m about as helpless as Lyla when it comes to camping.”

It was another couple hours before the dowsing was completed. Ramiel had gone to prepare something to eat while Lyla continued to work and Honoré provided the light for her.

The last half hour of searching with the dowsing rod hand Lyla tromping all over the area of the waterfall and stream until she finally found what they had been looking for. Thankfully, it turned out not to be a skeleton or other human remains; they had apparently washed away and disappeared long ago. What Lyla actually found, after digging under rocks and in the sandy silt of the stream bed, was an bone comb. Despite its age, it had been mostly preserved, buried in the silt as it had been. Most of the delicate tines were still in place and while it seemed crude by today’s standards, it surely must have taken great effort to make by a people equipped only with stone tools. It was even decorated with carved swirls that seemed to depict the animal from which the bone had come; a deer.

It might have been any native artifact found in the wilds of America. But Lyla was absolutely certain this comb had belonged to Alawa.

The three of them returned to the campfire to enjoy the meal that Ramiel had cooked up before pondering their next move.

Honoré looked at the comb again with admiration. “It’s so beautiful.” She reached out and gave Hamilton a long stroke along his back. I wonder, she said to the cat, if we can help Alawa move on without destroying it. This really belongs in a museum. She portioned out a small amount of her dinner onto a plate for her familiar.

For his part, Hamilton had a cat’s perception of “things” not being all that important. It was people that really become attached to worldly possessions. The small familiar trotted over to the offered food and began greedily gobbling it down.

“Maybe I should try to see if Ohawa will come to my call,” Honoré said, more to herself than anyone else as she tried to work out what they needed to do next. “If he does, then he can use Ramiel as a host.”

She glanced at Lyla, then back at her plate. “I may need to be the host of Alawa again. Lyla’s tired. She can be the observer. If Ohawa can’t or won’t come, we’ll need to try and convince Alawa to move on. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll have to destroy the comb.”

“It’s all right,” Lyla assured her. “I’m not tired, just mentally a little taxed. It was all the concentration. If anything, I’m probably more open as a conduit for ghosts than before. I think you know better about what’s going on with this ghost thing that the rest of us. If anyone needs to be there to ask the right questions and do the right thing, it’s you. Not me.”

The dinner was not too bad for a campfire meal, Ramiel usually kept things simple while on the trail, catching fish where he could, and cooking them up in the campfire. Taking a cleaned fish, stuffing it with the right herbs, some butter, and dowsing it with lemon juice he wrapped them up in foil and shoved them into the fire. A separate envelope of foil had held potatoes, and yet another had corn on the cob.

It was simple and fast to make so long as he could catch some trout, and luckily he had. He was cleaning up from dinner as they spoke.

“I suppose if you are going to try this then do it it before I change my mind,” he told them.

Rey nodded. “We’ll start like we did before,” she said, setting herself up as before, but this time putting the comb in the center of their tiny circle. “But we’ll try to call Ohawa. If he’s the one who made the comb, then it might help him hear us, if he’s still around. If he hasn’t answered in about half an hour, then we’ll move on to plan B, which will be to try and convince Alawa to move on and find him.

“Ramiel, could you make the comb cold enough that it would shatter into lots of little pieces when struck?” she asked.

Before replying he shot a glance at Lyla. “Yeah, but all you need is to hit it hard enough.”

“True,” Honoré said. “If Alawa’s not willing to move on, and we don’t manage to destroy it in a single blow, she might decide to get nasty and attack. The more damage we can do to it very quickly, the more likely we’ll be able to set her free.”

Ramiel put in, “I agree then, if this does not work then I will freeze it, then shatter it as you say. Let’s get this show on the road then.”

With Lyla on her left and Ramiel on her right, Honoré began concentrating on her ritual to call the ghost of Ohawa, hoping he was not so far away that he could not hear her. For a good ten, long minutes, there were no signs other than Honoré’s insistent calls to the long-vanished spirit. Yet, when she finished, she could see the veil between this world and the Shadow Realm was becoming quite thin between the three of them. If he could hear the call and was willing, surely he was there now.

Honoré then worked to call forth Alawa again. This wasn’t as hard but it took the same level of concentration. At last, a candle rose to signal Alawa’s presence.

“So…” Lyla whispered. She felt the chilly sensation of supernatural presence. “What do we do next?”

“Ramiel, you need say “Ohawa, beloved of Alawa, I invite you to speak through me,” Rey said. “Lyla, you say “Alawa, ghost of the waterfall, I invite you to speak through me”. If the ghosts are willing, you’ll both feel a presence, and maybe some pressure. It’s hard to describe. Whatever you do, don’t fight it. It’ll only stress you out and make this take longer. We don’t have much time once things start. If it works, you’ll find yourself kind of out of your body, watching everything that’s going on. You won’t be able to hear anything, just see what’s going on. Once they’re done talking, they’ll leave. If they refuse, I’ll make them leave.” I hope.

Ramiel relaxed and made himslef open for the ghost. “Ohawa, beloved of Alawa, I invite you to speak through my body.”

Lyla did the same. “Alawa, ghost of the waterfall, I invite you to speak through me,” she whispered.

The reaction was nearly simultaneous. Lyla’s eyes rolled back and her body went rigid. Meanwhile Ramiel’s demeanor changed to become more alert with a razor sharp, almost predatory look about him. He peered at Honoré with narrowed eyes.

His voice held an eerie, powerful echo. “Why have you called me here, white-skin?”

Lyla gasped. “Ohawa? Is that you my love?”

His head snapped back toward Lyla, whose voice had become that of Alawa. “You! I know you.”

“It is I,” she replied with a whispery edge. “It is Alawa. I waited for you.”

“Foolish woman! Why did you not do as you were told!”

“No, but I did! I waited! It was the French that killed me. I can still be yours!” she pleaded.

“Worthless Huron. I should have killed you with the rest of your tribe!” Ramiel/Ohawa moved close to Lyla. “You were barely fit to take back with me. Then, when the French came and killed my people, you were not even there to help fight them off! Everyone was killed or taken. Did you not hear their screams? Did you not hear their muskets?”

Lyla seemed to slump forward. “No, Ohawa. I heard nothing. I only wanted to be clean and pure for you. And then the Frenchman…” She sobbed and said some very long, mournful monologue in what sounded like French, which Alawa knew better than English or even the Iroquois tongue her betrothed spoke natively.

Finally, Ramiel stood up, his face contorted with anger. He said something sharply in French and Alawa stopped speaking that language.

“Please forgive me,” she said. “I can still be yours, and then I can go with you and be a part of your tribe in heaven. Please, do not leave me here,” she begged. “Take this body as if it were my own. Take it now!”

Lyla then slumped over, exhausted by channeling the ghost-woman. Ramiel picked her up by her shoulders and looked at her. Slowly his hard, angry expression changed. “Yes,” he said, though the ghost was gone from Lyla’s body. “I will take you now.”

“No, you will not,” Honoré said, her voice firm. “That is not Alawa, and the body of the woman is not Alawa’s to give.” She stood, well aware that should things take a turn for the worst, there was little she could do. Shoot, shoot. I was so stupid, forgetting rule number 1 – make sure the ghost that arrives is indeed the ghost that you wanted to summon! Keep him talking, she thought. Come on, Ramiel. Fight back!

“Your time here is done. Leave Ramiel’s body and return to the Shadow Realm from when I called you.”

Oh Hamilton, I think I goofed big time. How can I force that ghost to leave Ramiel?

Hamilton responded with confidence. I know of several ways in fact. One is to simply wait it out. The ghost will get tired and leave. If the ghost was anchored to something here then we might have a continuing problem but unless it has anchored to Ramiel, it’s likely it will retreat back to the otherworld.

Ramiel advanced on Lyla’s unconscious for, a lurid grin imprinted across his face. Hamilton tried to hurry his answer along.

Another way is to attack the possessed person with a blessed item such as a cross, holy water, or perhaps even a blessed sword. This will actually directly affect the ghost, not the possessed victim. He paused, then, Oops, we don’t have one of those.

Then the only way to stop him now is to render him unconscious, Hamilton concluded. In short, you need to take him out your way.

The possessed Ramiel had, by this time, undone the button on Lyla’s pants and was yanking them off of her.

My way? Why is my way always the one that involves fighting?! Honoré ran up behind Ramiel.

Actually, your way involves opposable digits — and a rock, Hamilton clarified.

Honoré took a deep breath, picked up the rock next to her. She ran over to Ramiel, putting everything she had into hitting him on the head with the rock – and hoping she’d knock him out and not kill him instead.

Now that he had yanked her pants free, the ghost in control of Ramiel was focused solely on ripping her panties off and taking her. He didn’t notice Rey’s approach or her rock until it crashed into his head. He grunted in surprise as he tried to focus his eyes upon Rey through the fresh haze of new pain.

He lashed out viciously, aiming a punch at Rey’s neck. Rey attempted to pull back out of the way of the blow and narrowly avoided having her throat crushed. But the impact still hurt and caused her to choke.

“God dammit!” she tried to swear, her anger at the situation taking over. She swung at him again, as hard as she could. “Go down and stay down!”

He tried to block her next swing and managed to catch most of it on his forearm, but the rest delivered a glancing blow to his temple. Ramiel toppled and fell.

Rey, still enraged, leapt on top of him and continued to pummel the fallen man with a rock. Blood sprayed as she broke skin and bone as from her unaimed, berserk attack. But when she realized what she was doing, the anger fled in time for horror to take its place.

She dropped the rock and backed away. Oh god, Hamilton, what have I done? Her first instinct was to flee, but she couldn’t abandon them, even if it meant they’d hate her forever. She went running for the first aid kit. Can you help him? Please?

Very well, Miss. He walked over to Ramiel and sniffed at his injuries a bit, then went back and curled up by the fire. He’ll be fine, but I’m tired now. Wake me up if anything interesting happens.

Rey came to a stop in front of Ramiel, her eyes wide, and then moved on to help Lyla. She knelt next to the unconscious woman, her back to Ramiel to hide the haunted look (and the remnants of the horror she felt) on her face from him.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” Rey said, perhaps a bit too forcefully, her voice hoarse from the injury to her throat. “Lyla’s exhausted, like I was, from hosting Alawa. She should be okay by morning.”

Ramiel was not satisfied with that answer, he had heard voices like that before, hell he had had that voice before. He moved her hair out of the way so he cold examine her throat. The all to familiar pink tint had begun to form.

“How did this happen, Rey?” Ramiel was persistent this time. He grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. His mood changed when he noticed that Lyla had half her clothes torn from her.

“WHAT IS GOING ON!”

Rey cringed and tried to twist away from him. “Please, don’t hit me. Ohawa and Alawa wanted to get frisky. I thought you wouldn’t want that to happen, not with the ghosts in control. That the two of you would want to be you, be in charge, when… I.. I stopped it before anything more than her clothes….” She started to sob. “I’m so sorry. Nothing happened to Lyla, I swear….”

Ramiel let go of her quickly when she asked not to be hit. “I wouldn’t hit you! But this…” He moved over to Lyla and for a brief moment his eyes shimmered as though tears were beginning to well in his eyes. He took his shirt off and covered her as best he could. “This does not look like getting a little frisky Rey. Is she ok?”

“Why won’t you believe me?” Rey asked, trying to control her crying. “She’s going to be fine. Nothing happened to her.” She backed away a few steps, leaving the first aid kit where it was. “Ohawa ripped her panties off, then was too busy trying to kill me to do anything else.” Rey involuntarily put a hand up to her throat.

The realization washed over him in a wave. If Ohawa was intent on taking her, then he would have only stopped if there was something else worth giving his attention to. If he is wounded then that is because she attacked him to defend Lyla. His expression softened, and he stood and went to Honoré. He moved quickly and wrapped her in his arms, holding her gently. “I am sorry to frighten you, but I am very protective of her, even from myself. Thank you for protecting her, you did well if you were able to stop me.”

He pulled her in close, holding her near him. “I am even worse when it comes to the subject of rape. Some things never go away.”

“Yeah.” Rey stayed stiff in his arms, unused to the physical contact and still upset about what she’d done, and looked up at him. “I got lucky,” she admitted with a sniffle. “I hurt you pretty bad, trying to get you to stop, but Hamilton healed you.” She glanced over at Lyla. “Can… Can you heat some water? Your clothes probably a little worse for wear, and ought to be at the least rinsed out so the blood stains don’t set. And I’ll need help moving Lyla back over to her tent so I can clean her up too and get her dressed again. Some of the blood from your shirt might have got on her when you covered her up.”

As he spoke his voice was soft and calm. “You could’ve killed me to protect her.” He stepped away from Honore, brushing the hair form her eyes. “You did well, no worries. A problem arose, and you took care of it.”

Ramiel swiftly moved to Lyla and picked her up in his arms.” Don’t worry about the shirt, I have others. Just get her cleaned up. The bag is in the tent; hers is on the side farthest from the door.”

Moving through into the tent he layed her gently down on her sleeping bag, and quickly exited to make room for Honore. Lyla smiled, and made a soft, comfortable sound. That indicated she was sleeping normally, no longer passed out. “The cleaning supplies are in the outer pocket on the right. I will have some warm water in just a moment.

“Don’t trouble yourself over this, I am fine, she is fine. Let’s just get her better and then get rid of some ghosts. I don’t care if I have to search out an Old Priest and a Young Priest. We are getting rid of them.

“And when this is all over I still have that bottle of Scotch.”

He heated the water and poured it into a small bowl, setting it just outside the door for Honore.

Lyla awoke just after Honoré finished getting her dressed. Perhaps the struggle of getting her into those tight jeans disturbed her enough to rouse her. She looked tired but sat up and smiled at Honoré. Then, without a word, she crawled back out of the tent.

Rey, unsure of what to say, followed her out of the tent.

She paused by the fire to give Ramiel a kiss on the cheek. Then she picked up a rock — the very bloodied stone Honoré had used on Ramiel, and smashed the bone comb. She kept hitting it until there was naught but powder with hard, persistent hammering. Then, satisfied at last, she turned around and said, “There. All done.”

She kissed Ramiel on the cheek again, then crawled past Rey back into the tent and laid down again.

Ramiel looked at Honore, a bit suprised. “Will that do it? Are they both gone?”

Rey nodded. “I think so. I don’t sense anything, and the destruction of Alawa’s comb should release her and let her move on. With no body to possess, there’s nothing to keep him here either.” Or at least that’s what she hoped.

“Then get some rest.”

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