Reverent Sacrifice

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

In this short chapter, things begin to shift. Jefferson is beginning to listen to Christine and she is even more hellbent on freeing him. She tries more spells and goes to him yet again.

Chapter 5 (v.1) - Chapter 5

Submitted: February 17, 2017

Reads: 25

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Submitted: February 17, 2017

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Now even more determined than before to destroy this curse's hold on the castle, and the Hatter in particular, Christine put herself to work again. She remembered that Jefferson had been an infamous portal jumper. Despite him being gone for a decade an a half, his legends were still all over the mainland kingdoms and she had heard much about him in taverns. His hat was his way of moving between magical realms.

 
She searched for books on the topic and quickly figured out that his mountain of hats were his failed attempts at making another magical one to get him out of this horrid place. She read about portal magic and found that if the portal itself was made weak then travel was impossible. Barriers, however, would not impede one.
 
His magic and that of the hat had been growing weaker and weaker for seventeen years, no wonder he couldn't get out. The hat needed a boost of some kind. One of the books spoke about magical objects being tied to their owners. The magic he and the hat had were connected. She smiled to herself as she took down notes and thought that she could finally be moving in the right direction.

Next, she looked for information regarding the effects of certain curses. It couldn't be affecting the castle the same way it could be affecting a human being. She found that the spell used may have been just barriers. Barriers around the castle and barriers in the mind. She was sure that memories could not ever be truly destroyed, so the next logical conclusion had to be that those of the Hatter were blocked from his access. She knew from how he reacted to her referencing his previous life that on some level he was aware that something must be missing. Barriers can be broken; with that in mind, she left the books open where they were and left the tower.

She walked to the entrance of the West Wing and took a deep breath. She had not liked being trapped her first time there and she did not want to repeat the experience but it was necessary if she was to progress in her efforts to help, so she ran in. It didn't take her long to get to the entrance of the Hatter's room and she pushed the massive doors open.

She walked inside and spotted him crouching and looking at something on the wall. She walked closer, carefully stepping over the hats on the floor, and saw that it was a large looking glass. It looked plain enough, no images embroidered its smooth silver frame. The glass was pristine and showed images so clearly it seemed as though one could step right through it.

Upon hearing her approach, he quickly stood and let go of the frame. Fog swirled in the image of the room it showed before fading and showing his reflection.

"I need to talk to you," she said, stopping about ten feet away from him. She assumed by now that he didn't like being in close proximity with her.

He swallowed and shook his head. "No. I'm not here. You can't talk to me," he quickly replied. His face pinched with pain and he pressed his hand to the side of his head. "I..I can't..go back. I can't go back to then because I'm here now and I'm not here." He began shaking his head again, pressing his hand harder. "I can't get it to work and it's making me not be here and I can't I-"

"You were trying to use the spells in the tower. I saw the books you left out a couple of weeks ago," she cut him off, speaking quietly and keeping her voice level.

His expression then shifted from pain to frustrated sadness and he clenched his fist, the hand against the side of his head dropped. "I can't read them. I could do it but I can't read them! I can't get it to work if I can't read them.." His hands shook and he swallowed again.

"I can read them. I can read them all. If you want me to teach you how, I can. We could get it to work together." She took a small step closer, hoping that she would be able to bridge the gap.

He looked up at her, meeting her eyes. "You can?" He took a hesitant step closer to her. "You can get it to work?"

"I can try. There has to be a way. Will you let me help you, Jefferson?" She slowly raised her hand and held it out to him.

He tensed slightly, looking at her hand before reaching out and taking it. His grip was tight and the old bandages wrapped around his hand scratched her skin. He stepped closer to her until there was almost no space between them, the hand holding hers began to tremble. "You can really get it to work?" Fearful hope was in his face now.

"I think I can. I'm so sorry for what's been done to you. I promise I'll make this right somehow," she said softly, trying to ignore the knot forming in her stomach. Her mentor's admonitions echoed in her mind, telling her to not make promises she couldn't keep, to not bite off more than she could chew, to not stand on unsteady ground.

His hesitation was clear even though he seemed no longer physically repelled by her. His eyes slowly dragged from her feet up to her face and he was squeezing her hand even tighter. It seemed almost like he couldn't believe she was there. He swallowed once more and when he spoke his voice was hushed and cracking with fear. "Show me how. Show me how to make it work," he paused, his eyes glossing over with tears. "Please.."

She held his gaze until then and she could see how scared he was, how hopeful she was making him, how desperate he had grown at that point. Failure was not an option. She turned around, squeezing his hand reassuringly and led him to the door.

"I know the way out," he said from behind her, walking forward and tugging her along as he turned down hallways and passed through rooms. He moved too fast for her to memorize his route, so she let herself be pulled.

They walked up the steps of the spells library's tower with her in front. The Hatter still hadn't let go of her hand or really loosened his grip, but she didn't care much for it until they arrived at the table. "May I have my hand?" she asked.

He released her immediately, moving back almost as if he'd been burned by her. "I want to read. I want it to work," he said, staring at the open books.

"I'll help you. Come over here." She picked up one of the thinner, less yellowed books.

Having to explain rules that were completely different from what she had learned before she could form proper sentences proved to be a bit of a challenge, especially when the Hatter got hung up on one particular thing and she had to repeat herself over and over. She didn't allow frustration to grow in her, however. It was in no way his fault that he had to start from scratch. If the old stories were true, he had considerable power himself, even if he had no access to it yet.

Hours passed and she taught him different signs, how to read simple spells, and ways of casting them that she knew of. He was visibly captivated by what she was teaching him, but didn’t speak. He proved to be good at listening, though and as she went on, Christine felt that maybe she was getting through to him. Something new was there at that moment.

As the night grew older, he must have felt he had seen enough or became overwhelmed because when she was getting another book, she turned to the table where he had been and found him gone. She looked around and couldn't find him anywhere in the tower. He hadn't made a single sound and his magic at that point was so weak there was no trail for her to follow. She looked down at the dusty book in her hands and sighed. She left it closed on the table and retired for the night.


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