Reverent Sacrifice

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

This is another short chapter where Jefferson makes his first real breakthrough. It takes place immediately after the previous one. Things pick up after this cliffhanger and we get to meet the real Jefferson, not just the Hatter that the curse created.

Chapter 7 (v.1) - Chapter 7

Submitted: February 27, 2017

Reads: 45

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Submitted: February 27, 2017

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When Christine awoke she was alone, the room was still dark and she couldn't tell what time it was. Sitting up she looked around to see if the Hatter was somewhere in the room and found nothing. She slid off the bed and rubbed the remains of sleep from her eyes. She walked to the large window and saw that it was raining again. The sky was darker than it had been her first few days in the castle and the chill of the rain seemed to seep through the glass even though the sound of the drops pelting it could not. She shivered and lit a few candles to light her room as she got dressed in a warm lilac-colored dress that covered her arms with long puffed sleeves and hung down to her feet, dragging the slightest bit along the ground as she walked. She had been wearing nothing but pants for the last few weeks and felt like that day should have a dress. She combed through her curly hair in sections while looking into the vanity mirror of her room. She remembered it having been covered with dust and, having seen the magical looking glass the Hatter had, thought that perhaps it was the same way. She put her comb down and leaned forward with both hands on the vanity table. "What do you do, hm?" she asked it. "Can you show me things?"
 
The glass did not react.
 
"Can you show me where someone is?"
 
Again, nothing.
 
She pursed her lips and straightened, looking it over one last time before going out into the hall and toward the kitchen. It was dead quiet and very dark, but she knew her way around by now and needed not summon a light to guide her. She glanced at the paintings decorating the walls and saw their frames looked more worn than before. For the most part, the castle was in decent condition excluding the West Wing. It was clearly not maintained but how could it be with so little occupants able to contribute to its upkeep. She made tea for herself and found a few cookies in a jar. As she was pouring herself a cup, several candles illuminating the room for her, she heard footsteps approaching. She looked up and saw the Hatter in the doorway, watching her. She smiled at him. "Are you hungry? Would you like some tea?" She put the pot down when her cup was full.
 
"Tea...Just one cup. A clean cup," he said, shuffling in to sit in a chair next to the island counter. He folded his hands on the smooth stone and looked down at them until she placed a cup down for him. He blew on it and took a long sip, his eyes remaining fixed on the counter.
 
She dipped a cookie into hers and ate it, sipping after. The candles began to dim and as she was refreshing them, he spoke.
 
"I'm going to try again." He sounded not as sure of himself as he sounded resolute. His lips were thin and in a grim line when she returned to her cup. "I have to make it work..If not, she'll die.." he mused into his tea.

"She?" Christine asked, keeping her voice low and level.

His eyes flicked up to meet hers, head still tilted down to his cup. "She's trapped here too.." He swallowed and his voice shook with his next words. "My daughter.."

Her eyes widened and she straightened up from where she had been leaning on the counter.

"You have a daughter?"

He gave her a sad smile. "If I don't get it to work she'll die and if she does then I'll die." He sounded like he was on the verge of sobbing.

 
"Wait, what do you mean? Is that part of the curse? How do you know that?"
 
"They told me and now she's going to die if I don't make it work," he repeated, sounding angrier. "They knew I wouldn't be able to do it..A hat without magic is just a hat.." He shook his head and downed the rest of his tea, not caring for how hot it was. "It has to work..I'm going to make it work for her," he said into his empty cup.
 
"You can and you will," she reassured him. "Do you want my help?"
 
"I can make it work. I can do it.." He took his cup, dropped it in the basin with the other used dishes, and walked out with his back bowed.
 
 
Two more days of darkness and rain passed after that, and Christine opted to study on her own again; the Hatter was nowhere to be found but it didn't worry her as much as it had before. She didn't try any new spells, she had done so many before she still felt drained, but she read more on portal magic and magical objects. She had one of her own, after all. The white-gold necklace she always wore was forged in fire that was conjured at the time of her birth. The long chain was supposed to be unbreakable, holding the crescent moon attached to it in the center of her chest. Sparkling white stars decorated the chain, and in moonlight or darkness the whole thing always appeared to glow. Early on, her father had cast a protection spell upon it that kept some purely evil magic from harming her. In her early studies back home, she had learned to channel spells through it. Those spells had focused intentions, they had incantations and no plants, but they were still different from what she had been doing lately; they had prayers. She twisted the chain around her fingers and wished that she could find a way to help.
 
She was carrying a book to the table when a blast of magic so powerful it nearly knocked her off of her feet surged through the castle. She looked around and could feel the source was nearby. She ran to the opening in the tower's wall that led deep into the mountain. A bloodcurdling scream shot ice through her and sent her sprinting into the tunnel, an orb of light flying in front of her. She dove down the stairs and through the chamber that opened to the other tunnels. As she drew closer, the scream became a wail that made the inside of her chest clench almost painfully. She found the source to be the Hatter who was curled into himself on the ground with several open books around him. She recognized them as being spell books regarding portal magic, and as her gaze returned to him, she could see the faintest bit of purple smoke being absorbed into his skin.
 
His shrieking rang through the tunnels and if he was forming any words they couldn't be understood in the least. His hands clawed at his head and hair, his poorly made hat having been discarded somewhere unknown. She could have sworn he was trying to rip his own head in two. Tears poured down his cheeks and soaked into the tie around his neck as he gasped for air.
 
When she tried to touch him he screamed louder and scrambled away, eventually folding himself up in the corner furthest away from her and the books.
 
Her stomach turned and she slid to the ground, pulling one of the books into her lap and reading what had caused his current condition. The spell he had tried was no longer in the book, the ink having been part of using it in the first place. She wracked her brain for what the now empty pages contained before. All of the books had a theme in common; breaking barriers. That’s what portals were, the breaking of barriers between worlds. Whatever the spell was, it had to have something to do with that. It struck her then what possibly could have come of the spell. The barriers in his mind could have been broken instead of the ones in around his hat or the castle itself.
 
She looked over to where he was still shaking and panting, his voice hoarse and now only able to produce broken sobs of anguish. She could feel from where she was more than a couple of yards away that he had magic in him. It was far more prominent than it had been before. Coming off of the hat was the same and she gathered the books, marking the pages with folds, so she could return to them later on. By then, he had gone completely limp, almost lifeless in appearance, on the floor.
 
Quietly walking over to him, she crouched down and checked his pulse. Just touching him allowed her to feel the new energy crackling beneath his skin. He seemed stable enough and she carefully picked him up, walking back through the tunnels with her light in front of them.
 
She brought him to her room and laid him down, wiping the tears from his face and covering him in a couple of blankets. Raindrops continued to pelt her window as she waited by the bed in one of the chairs the room had to offer.  His expression was no longer that of torment, but something else had most definitely changed. This wasn't the Hatter anymore. Who she was helping now was unknown to her. Would this newfound magic of his be able to break the curse? She couldn't know until he woke. And so she waited patiently to meet the new cursed man of the castle.


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