Day 36: The Curtain's Edge
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)
Chapters: 36 of 100
Rating: Overall Rating Sup13+ (adult theme; horror elements that might be too scary for children under 13; bad language)
Dates: Begun September 2006. Some material is based on previously written stories from 2003-2005. This chapter was written in May 2010.
Word Count: 3,864
Summary: Cheyenne listens in as Rowan and Alexandra have a conversation with the Daughters of Heptamera about whether or not they should take the life of Quinn Kirkland.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Beta Thanks: Thanks to Sammie for beta'ing this chapter!
Fanfic Challenges: Fits 50_darkfics Prompt #36 Never and coclaim100 Prompt #36 Holidays.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Rekka for translating the Japanese for me!
X-over with the TV series Supernatural. Set pre-series, during Sam's years at Stanford. Also a x-over with the (1974) TV series "Little House on the Prairie."
Since she was a child, Cheyenne had been convinced that the sprawling mansion in which she lived was haunted. There was the wailing, and the whisps of ghostly smoke moving down the hallway, only half-glimpsed. And then there was the faint singing in the German language, a male voice drifting through the house, for which she could never find a source. Of course, there were the things that had happened in the psychomantium as well...
Now, Cheyenne knew a little more about those convictions.
She recognized the ghost of Alexandra from her self-portraits, with the lace hood and the eyes of Cheyenne's own mother. But to actually see her, rampaging through the vault like an angry, spoiled child... Cheyenne's eyes were wide with shock. The red curtains that covered the TV had also been installed on every other wall, so the paintings and extra rooms lined up there could be hidden if need be. Cheyenne took advantage of the ruckus Alexandra was making to reach out, grab hold of the nearest curtain, and pull it closed over the open door of the painting storage room. Then she opened it just a crack, standing in the doorway and peering out, so she could watch what would happen next.
Within a short time, Cheyenne could hear voices outside the vault door. Alexandra wailed, "Rooooooowaaaaaaaaaan!" again, not caring who may be out there to hear her. She wondered briefly how Rosalita would react; Cheyenne and the maid had spoken about the "ghosts" of this house before, but this - this was different. Loud, and frightening. The door came open and Rowan rushed in, with Tristan behind him. Rosalita was outside, trying to talk her way into the vault as well, but the two men kept her out.
"But Mr. Bloodworth, there's something you don't understand - "
"We can handle it, Rosalita." Tristan gently moved her back, then shut the door to the vault. Both men looked at Alexandra with wide, shellshocked eyes.
"Alexandra, what's the matter?! Someone will hear you!" Rowan cried.
"Could it be your sister you're worried about?" Alexandra said, her voice shrill with hysteria. "It's about time she did hear me, Rowan. I found her!"
Rowan had just begun to notice the damage she'd done, pieces of glass and broken lamps littering the floor. "Who? You found who?"
Alexandra pointed with a thin finger to the painting on the wall. For Quinn. Danica with her mirror eyes looked out at them from the ornate frame. "The Destroyer!"
Unaware of what they were talking about, Cheyenne observed Tristan's mannerisms to see how much he might know. He showed no sign that he did not comprehend what Alexandra meant. So he had been keeping some bizarre truth from her too? What was going on?
But then, Cheyenne was aware that Tristan knew more than what he seemed to know, wasn't she? Always in the background. The observer. She remembered when their cousin came to live with them. At first, it had just been holiday visits. The child of Aunt Trish, their father's sister, a single mother who enjoyed hopping the globe with her boyfriend, whoever that was at the time. Even after she'd been steady with one man for years, Aunt Trish still insisted on leaving her son with them, saying that he needed a more stable home than she could provide. Cheyenne remembered Christmases, and Thanksgivings, and Easters spent with her blond, handsome cousin, always possessing those striking European features even when he was a boy. The visits had turned into entire summers spent hiking Yosemite with Tristan and her brother, even after Mom had died. Tristan had been the one to teach her how to rock climb, years before the agoraphobia had hit. Eventually, Aunt Trish had just stopped coming to get him, and he had finished his schooling in California.
Cheyenne remembered the doors to the psychomantium room being flung open and seeing Tristan standing there, his chest and broad shoulders heaving, eyes wide and mouth open in shock in reaction to the screaming of his cousins, and how he had stood up to Bill Bloodworth when he declared that there would be no more experiments in this room, not over his dead body. He'd been only seventeen then.
But how much did Tristan know about "The Destroyer" and the other cryptic things that Alexandra was saying?
"What do you mean, you found The Destroyer?" Rowan asked.
"Her! This girl!" The ghost pointed to the painting again. "She has finally shown her face!"
"Where'd you see her?"
"Among the cursed in Boston." Alexandra now indicated the television behind the curtain, referring to the countdowns on its screen.
"She's been cursed?"
"No! She and the cursed were conducting a séance to contact Mysteria. It attracted my attention." Her face twisting into a mass of fury, Alexandra finished, "I know who Mysteria is now."
Rowan and Tristan looked at each other. "You know the identity of Mysteria, too?"
"Yes. She's been working against us, as you know. Trying to help the cursed, to keep us from reviving the ones that had gone dormant. When she answered the call of the cursed ones, Samara was watching them. And she came to get me."
Tristan leaned on the back of one of the couches, arms crossed; this struck Cheyenne because of how odd it was for him to stand and address a ghost so casually. How many times had these two stood and talked with Alexandra like this over the years? "Samara saw something special in their contact with Mysteria?"
"Yes. Mysteria said that the questioners were related to her."
The two men stared at the ghost, then at each other. "Holy... shit," Rowan exclaimed under his breath. "That means Mysteria was once alive, not just a spirit. She was once human."
Nodding, Alexandra said, "Mysteria is my daughter, Phaedra."
Rowan and Tristan again looked at one another, gaping, trying to take it all in. "No wonder she hid her identity from you. That was for, what? Over two hundred years? My God." Rowan, a hand over his mouth, walked the vault, figuring it all out. "We should have known. We should have realized that it was Phaedra who was fighting you and the girls every step of the way." He turned back to Alexandra. "After all... you're the one who killed her."
A chill swept through Cheyenne's body. Alexandra Baptiste had murdered her own daughter? How awful.
"Yes. You're right. I should have known. But in the end, I thought all of that had ended when Phaedra died." She let out a long, ghostly sigh. It sounded like wind moving down the length of a pipe. "I didn't think she would go on betraying her own flesh and blood. Not for this long, at any rate."
"So, if the people holding the séance are related to Phaedra..." Tristan followed the train of thought to its shocking conclusion. "...then they are also related to you."
"And to us." He pointed to himself and Rowan.
Cheyenne gripped the curtain hiding her face tight in her hand. For the first time, she did not feel pride at being related to a semi-famous painter from the 1700's.
Alexandra added, "Very distantly, but there is a relation." Obviously shaken, she drew her shawl around her.
"Then the people who are fated to destroy you and Sasha... and the curse you enacted..."
Alexandra continued, "...and Suzette and Sophie... and Cheyenne... are their own flesh and blood."
Another intense chill swept up Cheyenne's back, hard enough to make her legs feel wobbly. What did she have to do with what they were discussing? This crazy talk about curses? The passages she had managed to translate from the Grimoire... were they really referring to her?
"Children of my child... Phaedra's descendants." Again, Alexandra sighed, but this time it came out more as a wail of pain. Of betrayal. "There have been hundreds of years of descendants, but still, our own family fights against us. It will never end."
Determined, Rowan shook his head. "No. We can find a way to end this prophecy." He gestured toward the painting. "Who are these people who held the séance?"
"I don't know their names. Only Samara and her sister know that." She looked toward the hidden television. "They are secretive, you know."
"I know. All of these girls have their own agenda. But maybe..." Rowan went to a cabinet, the one in which he kept his conjuring supplies. It was barred against entry with a strong padlock. "...maybe we can convince them to tell us."
Rowan, Tristan, and Alexandra were focused on the cabinet, so they did not see what Cheyenne saw as she peered around the red curtain at the other side of the vault. The curtain that hid the television moved, as if someone brushed up against it, and then two girls walked from around the curtain into the main part of the vault. They were both filthy and wet, with their long black hair hiding their faces. Bare feet, white dresses, one clearly older and taller than the other. The older one's dress streaked with blood. She was the one who spoke first. "That won't be necessary," Charlotte said.
"We're here," Samara added.
The two girls occasionally faded in and out, like a snowy television picture. They were ghosts, Cheyenne surmised. More ghosts.
They all turned from the cabinet to see that the girls they wanted to call on had already arrived. Perhaps they'd been listening in the whole time. "Hello, Samara and Charlotte. I'm glad you came," Rowan said. "We need to speak with you."
"We already know," Samara replied. Ah, so they had been listening. "You found The Destroyer."
"Samara recognized her as soon as she entered the picture."
Surprised, Rowan asked, "How long have you known?"
"All day," the child answered, with no hint of regret at having kept the secret for so many hours.
"Why didn't you tell us?!" cried Alexandra.
Charlotte moved behind Samara, putting her hands on her shoulders. "We wanted to watch her for a while first. To understand how such a fragile, mundane girl could ever destroy all of Heptamera's daughters."
"You wanted to play with her first," Tristan cut in.
Raising her head a little, Charlotte seemed to be grinning. "Perhaps."
"We had no idea she could be related to you," added Samara. The sarcastic edge in her voice betrayed the fact that she must be smiling too, mischievously. As much as the daughters of Heptamera worked together, they also worked in their own little circles.
"I don't think she's as frightening as she's supposed to be. This Destroyer." Charlotte snickered to herself, but they could all hear it.
"Do not underestimate her. The prophecy came from Heptamera himself," Alexandra reminded them.
"Fate can be defied," Samara said.
"That's a very advanced concept for such a little girl," said Tristan. And then, "I mean no disrespect."
"It's something Charlotte always says," Samara explained. She added nothing in reply to his second comment.
"Fine. Fine." Moving, no, floating around the couch, Alexandra got closer to the two sisters. "If we are going to defeat this girl before she has the chance to amass her army, then we must come up with a plan."
"Amass her army," Charlotte repeated, laughing. "She's just a regular girl. Going to college, getting engaged, doing all of the normal things we never got to do. She has no army."
"It is as I said." Alexandra indicated the painting. "We already know she teams up with the Winchesters. You should not underestimate her."
Who were the Winchesters, Cheyenne wondered. There was no one named Winchester in that painting, as far as Cheyenne knew.
"We aren't afraid of them either." A little bit of Samara's face peeked out from behind her hair. She was smiling, like the devil. "Are you?"
Lowering her head, Alexandra sighed quietly, moving back around the couch. "What I am afraid of is fate. If this girl accomplishes what destiny says she can, then you will also have reason to run for cover."
Charlotte began to laugh again, mocking her words.
Rowan tried to approach it from another angle. "I understand that you two aren't frightened of The Destroyer. I fully respect that. But my sister could be in danger here. Just tell me this girl's name and let me handle it how I see fit."
Again, she was brought up. Cheyenne wanted to whip the curtain aside and demand that they all explain to her what they were talking about, but she would listen a bit longer first.
"You're so dramatic, Rowan," laughed Charlotte. "I'm sure if Alexandra just hangs around their apartment a bit longer, she can get the girl's name herself. But I'll tell you anyway. The Destroyer's name is Danica Kirkland. She had not been cursed, although it may be only a matter of time before she watches the tape. Danica knows several of the people who did watch it; that's why they performed the séance. Mysteria has appeared in several of their dreams in an attempt to help them, so they wanted to contact her." She added, "One of the cursed ones is Danica Kirkland's brother."
Everyone reeled, except for Cheyenne, who had no idea what this meant. "One of the boys you cursed is the brother of The Destroyer?"
"You catch on fast."
"Then you have to remove the curse on him," Rowan demanded. "This must be what pisses her off enough to come after all of you. You can't kill The Destroyer's brother!"
"You don't tell us what to do," Samara replied, her voice full of venom. She sounded like a cross between a defiant child and a hissing snake.
Alexandra pleaded with them, "But surely, you must see the wheel turning! This is what starts our destruction! It has to be!"
"I see nothing! If we back away now, it will only show weakness!" Charlotte declared. "If Samara removes this curse, Danica Kirkland will think we are afraid of her. Besides, just about every one of the cursed ones from Boston are associated with this girl. You aren't suggesting that Samara release all of them?"
Tristan had to admit, "She has a point."
Now Rowan sighed. "This isn't an easy decision. Either way, we could be shooting off our own foot."
"What decision? It's already been made." Pretending to think it over, Charlotte added, "We might have considered letting this one go if he wasn't so cute, but Samara and I often trade off. If I see a soul she has collected that I like, I might ask for it, and she does the same. I give her my mother figures and she gives me her pretty boys. We still have that deal in place, don't we, Samara?"
Samara nodded, giggling.
"I want this one. I want The Destroyer's brother in my well."
"Like a trophy," Rowan said, and ran a hand through his hair, a trembling hand.
"I don't think this is only up to you." Alexandra put her hands together, imploring them, "Please put off your final decision until we hear from the others. This concerns them too."
Samara looked up at Charlotte. Charlotte nodded. "Okay," Samara replied, shrugging.
"Do I need...?" Rowan indicated the tools in his cabinet.
Shaking her head, Charlotte looked toward the drawn curtain on the left side of the vault. "They've been listening the whole time."
Cheyenne nearly held her breath as the ghosts of several women and girls slinked out from behind the curtains. They were all filthy and wet, their hair covering their faces. One had blonde hair, another red, but the rest, their hair was dark. They moved in an alien manner, like broken dolls, jerking their arms and shoulders in ways that made Cheyenne feel unsettled. When the right curtain jiggled in her hand, she looked down the tunnel of space between the curtain and the wall and gasped at what she saw. A raven-haired ghost girl came toward her. Cheyenne stepped back with a heavy shudder and hid in the storage room until the girl had passed, but not before turning and looking right at her. At least, Cheyenne assumed she was looking at her; it was hard to tell with all that dark hair in her face. After this long, disturbing pause, the girl moved on around the curtain's edge.
Cheyenne returned to her clandestine position to watch what the girls would do next.
Rowan addressed the one who looked the oldest, the redhead. "Serena."
Serena lowered her head in a brief nod.
He turned to another one. "Scarlett Nancy."
The blonde girl was short, probably teenaged, and dressed in the same old-fashioned clothes as Serena. The petticoats, the tights, the high-button shoes, hair that had once been done up in ringlet curls but now hung loose, curls almost destroyed. The style of the 1800's.
She craned her head around to look at him now. No verbal response, just a slight head nod. The dress she wore was a little too theatrical to be simply old-fashioned; Cheyenne wondered why she'd been wearing it when she died, if that was the case.
"And of course, Sasha."
The smallest girl, the youngest, hovered near Alexandra, a finger in her mouth. She nodded, then took hold of her mother's cloak and hung onto it.
"Where are the others? Are they coming?"
"They're busy right now," Charlotte explained, a bit of sarcasm in her tone. "Some just can't be bothered with your frightening little Destroyer."
Samara giggled. So did Scarlett Nancy.
"Well..." Unsure, Rowan cleared his throat. "So you heard?"
The girls nodded to indicate they had been listening in, as Charlotte said.
"You have a decision to make. And I need you to think long and hard on this, because it could mean your demise. The Destroyer has been found." He pointed to the painting of Danica and the Winchesters. "Her name is Danica Kirkland. Over two hundred years ago, Heptamera prophesized that this girl, with the help of a carefully selected team, would destroy you all. No more afterlife. No more curses. No more revenge for how your lives were unfairly ended before their time. All, gone." Now, he nodded toward Samara to designate that he was talking about her. "She has cursed Danica Kirkland's brother. If nothing is done, he will die Thursday night, after midnight. Some of us think this will be our fatal mistake. The death could incense Danica against not only Samara, but all of you. But Charlotte and Samara think that to show him mercy would be a sign of weakness.
"They have agreed to listen to your opinions. So, what do you think? Should we show mercy?"
Sasha looked up at her mother, then back at Rowan, and nodded her head, her first finger still squarely in her mouth.
"My daughter thinks we should let this girl's brother go. What of you, Scarlett?"
Scarlett, who had been known by her middle name Nancy for most of her life, shook her head. Her wet curls bobbed loosely against her shoulders. "No. No mercy," she replied, voice intense with anger. "The girl doesn't scare me."
The Japanese girl spoke in her native language, but they knew her answer from the language of fury her body spoke. "Nasake wa iranaiwa," she said. "Korose."
"She said no mercy," Tristan told them; he was the only one of them who had visited Japan before. He had learned enough to understand what Sadako had said. "And that he should die."
Alexandra shuddered openly. The tide was turning. "What about you, Serena? Surely you can see this is madness."
But not even Serena was on her side. "I'm sorry, Alexandra. It would be a show of weakness. This girl, The Destroyer, needs to understand what she's up against. It would be our way of showing her how dangerous it would be to take us on. Not even her brother is safe." To show she was with the others, Serena added, "No mercy."
Alexandra lowered her head. "This is madness," she repeated. "I'm going to talk to the others. Maybe they can convince you not to do this thing." She continued, looking up and staring straight at Samara and Charlotte. "There's still time to change your mind."
"You'd be wasting your breath, Alexandra." Charlotte turned her eye toward the curtain, the one that hid Cheyenne inside the storage room. After a moment, Samara looked that way too. "Don't you want your sister's vote in this too, Rowan?"
Both he and Cheyenne were startled; she took a step back. "What are you talking about?" Rowan asked.
"You've kept the truth from her for her entire life as your father did before you, but now that your great Destroyer has shown her face, don't you think it's time she knew?"
"I did everything I could to show my mommy I loved her. She still rejected me because I wasn't really hers," Samara added. "She said she didn't love me any different than if I was her own blood child. It was a lie. You have no reason to treat your sister like that. You have a blood connection to her, through your mommy."
"But not your daddy," Charlotte finished.
Cheyenne gasped. Rowan heard the sound, and looked toward the curtain with a stricken expression. "Cheyenne?"
Found out, Cheyenne pushed the curtain aside and stepped out of the storage room. The metal rings that held the curtain up made a harsh scraping sound as they moved along the rod; Rowan started in reaction, oversensitive to any noise at this crucial moment. Tristan pounded a fist against his leg. He had never wanted her to find out this way. The two siblings stared at each other, saying nothing for several long moments.
"What do they mean, Rowan?" Cheyenne asked. Her voice shook with anger and threatening tears.
Alexandra answered for him. "Heptamera is your father."
Rowan looked at Charlotte and Samara from across the room. "You... evil... bitches..." he hissed out.
Charlotte grinned from under her hair. "Did you think she would never know?"
"GET OUT!" he suddenly yelled. Tristan and Cheyenne jumped, and Sasha cowered against her mother's skirt.
"Rowan..." Alexandra began.
He turned to her. "I need to have a conversation with my sister. A private conversation. Only Tristan can stay. The rest of you, leave." Rowan looked at Charlotte and Samara again. "Especially you two."
Before they disappeared like the picture on a staticy television, both girls giggled. The other Daughters left as well, and finally, Alexandra and Sasha.
Her eyes wide and searching, Cheyenne shifted her weight from one foot to the other, nervous, shocked, panting with the effort of containing her anger. "Is what they said true? Is Dad... really not my father?"
it won't stop
The Ringu series is (c) 1998 The Ring/The Spiral Production Group. It is based on the novels by Koji Suzuki. My fanfic is more based on ideas presented in the films, which were created by director Hideo Nakata and screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi.
The motion picture The Ring is (c) 2002 DreamWorks Pictures. The title "She Just Wanted to Be Heard" comes from a line of dialogue spoken by Rachel Keller in this movie. The motion picture The Ring Two is (c) 2005 DreamWorks Pictures. This fanfic is heavily inspired by ideas presented in the American movies, which were directed by Gore Verbinski and Hideo Nakata and written by Ehren Kruger.
I do not know if the prequel, The Ring 3, will have any bearing on this story or not until I see it.
Supernatural is (c) 2005 Kripke Enterprises, Wonderland, & Warner Brothers/The CW Television.
Little House on the Prairie (TV Series) is (c) 1974 NBC Enterprises and Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
Everything else is (c) Demented Stuff.
She Just Wanted to Be Heard
Day 37: The End of Forever
Part of Story Arc 1: Counterclockwise
A "The Ring/Ringu" Fanfic
by Laurel (Sailorhathor)
Chapters: 37 of 100
Rating: Overall Rating Sup13+ (adult theme; horror elements that might be too scary for children under 13; bad language)
Dates: Begun September 2006. Some material is based on previously written stories from 2003-2005. This chapter was written in June 2010.
Word Count: 3,553
Summary: The biggest secrets of the Bloodworth family are finally revealed to Cheyenne.
Warning: Contains spoilers for the entire Ringu and The Ring series.
Beta Thanks: Thanks to Sammie for beta'ing this chapter!
Fanfic Challenges: Fits 50_darkfics Prompt #37 Forever and coclaim100 Prompt #37 Champagne.
Author's Notes: X-over with the TV series Supernatural. Set pre-series, during Sam's years at Stanford.
Rowan knew this moment would come one day. The moment he had to tell his sister the truth of how she was born.
He just didn't think it would happen this way, so abruptly, out of nowhere. Forced into it.
"Chey," he began, "this isn't an easy thing for me to say..."
"So it's true?"
Rowan swallowed hard, taking a long pause. "Yes. Yes, it's true. Heptamera bore children of human women, and you are one of them."
A bewildered look on her face, her fists balled at her sides, Cheyenne went to the curtain and angrily whipped it aside to reveal the painting of Heptamera on the wall. The scaly face of a sea serpent stared back at them. "What the hell are you saying?" She hit the painting with her open palm. "That's a sea creature. A monster. A myth. How can I be its child?" Cheyenne smacked herself in the chest. "I'm a human being."
"Only half human," Tristan said. His voice came out choked; he hated saying these things to her because he had often questioned the possibility himself.
Rowan tried to explain the things he had read in Alexandra's journal, the things she had told him herself. "Heptamera wanted an heir on land, so he mated with a human woman while she swam in the Mediterranean Sea. That woman was Alexandra Baptiste. Since then, Heptamera has taken to the oceans and mated several more times, producing more children. You are one of them."
After listening to all this, Cheyenne began to laugh, the sound bordering on hysterical. The passages she had read in the Grimoire pointed to this possibility, she had read them herself, but she didn't want to believe it. "You're both crazy. How can you believe this?" She showed them her arms. "Do you see any scales? Is my blood green? Maybe I should go jump in the bathtub and see if I sprout gills; would that make you happy?"
"Cheyenne, I know it's unbelievable. I hardly believed it myself when Alexandra first told me, but it's true. Haven't you ever wondered where your powers came from? The thing with the photographic plates?"
"So you have to be a sea serpent to have psychic abilities?"
"But you can do more." Rowan approached this subject as carefully as possible, knowing that Cheyenne didn't talk about it. "What happened to the doctor during the experiments."
She leveled a hard look at him. "You want to stop that line of thinking right there, Rowan."
"What about what happened in the psychomantium that last day?"
Tristan spoke up again. "Don't do this to her, Rowan."
"Fine. Fine, Cheyenne. You don't want to face it, don't face it." He made a show of cleaning up the glass on the floor, retrieving a small wastebasket. "I never wanted you to know anyway."
Cheyenne, for her own part, changed the subject. She went over to the painting For Quinn and stood in front of it. "What was that about this painting? About this girl being The Destroyer, and something about a family named Winchester?"
Getting on his knees to pick up the pieces of the ashtray, Rowan asked her, "Who do you think those men are, in the painting?"
Cheyenne touched the painted image of Sam Winchester. "This is our grandfather, Matthias Christaller. Grandma Suzette's husband." Then she touched the image of Dean Winchester. "And this is his brother, Hans."
"You see, that was another deception," Rowan explained, a bitter laugh escaping him. "That is actually Sam Winchester and his brother, Dean. They just look like our grandfather and his brother, so we let you think they were."
Cheyenne was dumbfounded. "What?"
Rowan made that frustrated, bitter sound again. He hated being pushed into this situation. "You know that Matthias Christaller was born in 1930, right?"
Looking insulted, she responded, "Of course."
"How old does he look in that painting?"
Cheyenne looked at Sam Winchester in the work of art. "About 25 or so."
"Which would make it 1955." Glaring at her inquisitively, Rowan asked, "Does that man in the painting look like he's from 1955?"
Cheyenne said nothing, examining the painting closely.
Tristan added, "Look at his clothes. His hairstyle."
She whirled around at him, snapping, "No, no, of course not. It's all far too modern." Cheyenne looked from one man to the other. "Why do these Winchester men look like our relatives?"
"Because they are their reincarnations." Standing up, Rowan crossed to the painting. "Sam Winchester is the reincarnation of our grandfather, Matthias Christaller, and his brother Dean the reincarnation of Hans."
None of this made any sense to her. "Why?"
"I don't know," Rowan shrugged. He touched the painting, on the girl's skirt. "This girl has been fated to be the one who will destroy all of Heptamera's children. Alexandra predicted it in this painting, but she has never known the year. When Matthias and Hans came along, she was convinced they would be the ones to team up with this girl and kill everyone. But it didn't happen. With the birth of Dean and Sam Winchester, now it makes sense."
"But... wait a minute... Alexandra said that Grandma Suzette and her sister were two of these children, the daughters of Heptamera."
She looked up at Sam Winchester, who mirrored her grandfather's features in every way. "Grandpa Matthias loved her. There's no question that he loved our grandmother."
"Exactly. This painting isn't about him."
Cheyenne brought up a question that seemed obvious to her. "Then how do we know these are Dean and Sam Winchester?"
Both Rowan and Tristan gave that some thought, glancing at each other.
She continued, "Maybe there is some pattern here, but not the one you expect."
Rowan shook his head. "No, no. I see where you're going with this, I do, but that is Dean and Sam Winchester. I know it because it's no coincidence that we found The Destroyer now. It's coming. The day of reckoning is coming." He smacked the painting on Dean Winchester's side. It made a hollow thumping sound, like cardboard rattling in the wind. "This is why you need to know what's going on, Cheyenne. Maybe I was wrong to keep it from you for so long. But these people are all alive, right now, out there somewhere. It would be very easy for them to come together." Her brother got right in her face, backing her against the wall as he spoke. "You've got to face this thing, Chey, because they're coming. Did you see those ghosts that came in here? They've all been murdered. In each story, someone threw them or chased them into a well and they died down there, Cheyenne. It is fated that this is going to happen to every Daughter fathered by Heptamera. Every one."
Cheyenne gasped, glaring at her brother with wide eyes.
"Each one of those girls has come back a bitter, angry, vengeful ghost and she has killed in the name of her grudge. They're all mad, Cheyenne. Completely and utterly mad. And people like the Winchesters and this girl Danica think they are monsters. They kill monsters, Cheyenne." Rowan took her by the shoulders. "If you don't accept this and try to figure out some way to stop it, it will happen to you, too."
A beat of silence and Cheyenne's face contorted into a twisted mass of anger, shoving him away. She stared at her brother, still breathing hard with the emotional intensity of everything they had discussed. "This is crazy," she repeated.
Tristan lowered his head in defeat.
Cheyenne declared, "I will not prepare for things that don't concern me," and left the vault, the door standing open.
The two men said nothing for several long seconds. "You weren't very subtle," Tristan criticized.
Shaking his head, Rowan began, "How do you be subtle with - "
Cheyenne came back in. She didn't say anything to her brother or cousin, marching straight to the storage room and coming out with the painting she'd been looking for, the one of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite. The only thing she said to them was, "I'm putting this up in my living room," before flouncing back out of the room.
Neither man objected; honestly, they wouldn't have told her she couldn't do anything at that moment.
Rosalita wasn't positive what had happened between the siblings in the last ten minutes. The only thing she was sure of after seeing the look on Miss Bloodworth's face as she marched back out of that vault was that someone had opened a Pandora's box of family secrets in there.
An hour later, Rowan found a bottle of champagne missing from the rack in the big refrigerator. It was shortly after that he heard the glass breaking in his sister's wing of the house. By the time he and Tristan got there, Cheyenne had locked herself in her rooms and there were several picture frames on the floor in the hallway, knocked carelessly off the wall. The glass from their frames was strewn all over the hardwood. Both men quickly noticed that Cheyenne had targeted only the photos of herself with Bill Bloodworth, the man she had grown up thinking was her father.
"Let's give her some time," Tristan said. Rowan looked at the floor, but nodded his agreement. "She's had a big shock tonight. She needs some time to digest this."
As Rosalita had gone home for the night, they set about getting a broom to clean up the glass.
Inside her locked rooms, Cheyenne picked up the bottle of champagne and took another swig of it while examining the painting she had just hung on the wall over the mantle. She tilted her head. Was it hung straight? It was hard to tell when one was half drunk. Cheyenne decided it wasn't quite straight and went to nudge the bottom right corner just a hair, just a little bit.
She ignored the ghost hovering close to her fireplace. "I know what you must be going through, Cheyenne," said Alexandra.
"Don't use that soothing mother hen voice on me," she retorted, nudging the painting. Suddenly thinking of a scene that was in every episode of Scooby Doo, Cheyenne wondered if she should be running the other way, screaming "A gh-gh-gh-ghooooost!", and that made her snicker.
Alexandra looked up at the painting. "It doesn't shake you even a little, that I painted that scene over 200 years before it happened?"
"I try not to think about it." Cheyenne, remembering the many days she spent looking at those beautiful falls, holding her mother's hand, added, "But thank you."
Cheyenne took a seat on her couch with the bottle of champagne and just gazed up at the painting in silence. Alexandra took advantage of the quiet, trying to get the girl to talk to her. "It must seem unbelievable, that you could be the child of a mythical creature."
"Really fucking unbelievable, yeah. No less unbelievable than sitting here talking to a ghost, but..."
Alexandra made no comment on the joke. "For weeks after my encounter with Heptamera, I couldn't believe it either. But you don't have to believe it all at once. Over time, if you think about it, you'll see the signs from the past. They will add up." The ghost moved around the second couch to be a little closer to Cheyenne. "We can prove it to you, you know. Bit by bit, we can help you see that it's true."
Thinking then of the passages she had read in Alexandra's book, Cheyenne said, "I've been reading your Grimoire. Rowan doesn't know about it because I snuck it out of his room." She took a deep breath before continuing. "Did you write about me in that book?"
Alexandra nodded. "There will be a daughter born in the late 20th century who will be named for a tribe of savages, and also cities, and she will see and project things for all to view, like the ones who came before her. Her bloodline has borne and will bear Heptamera several wives, as he savors the return. But the one who pretends to be her mortal father will hurt her, and allow others to hurt her, and study her, and it will make her suffer. One of the outsiders will stir her heart, and the song will stir her anger, and we may lose her to them. He will encourage her to tear it all down, and she will." Before finishing the passage, she took a dramatic pause. "She will bring it all down to spite them."
Cheyenne took another deep breath, but this one was audibly shaky. "What does it mean?"
"We don't know. Yet."
"Does Heptamera know?"
Hm. So the girl's interest was growing. "No. He just receives the prophetic words; he does not always know to what they refer."
"Huh." Cheyenne went back to staring at the painting.
Not wanting to lose her, Alexandra went on talking. "I don't want you to be frightened by what I'm about to say, but Heptamera is very interested in you and what you may be capable of."
"Really?" Cheyenne drank from the champagne bottle. When she lowered it, she asked, "And why is that?"
"Because of all the Daughters of Heptamera who are currently living, you are the purest."
That revelation was so dumbfounding that Cheyenne could not speak for several seconds. "The... purest? What the hell are you talking about?"
Alexandra explained it as gently as she could, but there wasn't really a subtle way to go about it. "Your grandmother Suzette was a child of Heptamera. She was half human, half divine serpent. Her child and your mother, Lillian, was born of a human father. Heptamera was unable to coax Suzette Christaller away from her husband and produce another heir. That resulted in your mother being only one-fourth divine serpent."
"Uh, okay." Cheyenne rolled her eyes. "I'm keeping up so far."
"Your brother was born from the union of Lillian and her husband, Bill Bloodworth, so he is only one-eighth divine serpent. But you... you were born of Lillian Bloodworth and Heptamera. When you mix someone who is one-fourth divine and a creature that is all divine, you get a child who is five-eighths divine serpent. Roughly sixty-three percent. That is you, Cheyenne."
Again, she could not speak at first. "What you... you're telling me is... I am more than halfway toward being a seamonster."
"Divine serpent," Alexandra tried to correct, but in a gentle tone.
"Pffft." Not looking at her, Cheyenne took a few gulps from the champagne bottle. "You're insane," she said, and hiccuped.
Alexandra did not respond to the insult; instead, she mused, "If you and Heptamera had a child, it would be more than eighty-one percent divine."
To that, Cheyenne just laughed. "Like that's ever happening. What are you nutsoes trying to do, inbreed yourselves into a hideous human-seamonster hybrid?"
"No." Alexandra only smiled at her with a bit of mischief. "Heptamera hopes to breed with his Daughters until he has a mate who is almost one-hundred percent divine."
Cheyenne laughed again, much harder. "Oh my God, you're crazy! That sounds like something you got out of a cheesy B-movie. The Serpent that Ate Chicago."
"I understand your skepticism. Maybe one day, you'll feel differently." Watching her take another swig from the bottle, Alexandra thought she must cut to the chase before Cheyenne was so drunk she could no longer comprehend anything she was saying. "As I said, I can prove it to you. You have abilities beyond what we have seen before. The other Daughters have been only half divine. You are more."
"Well, if you don't believe me, then submit to a test I have devised. Maybe you will prove us all wrong." Alexandra leaned over, closer to her. "What have you got to lose?"
Squinting her eyes, Cheyenne thought it over, the lip of the champagne bottle only inches from her mouth. "A test? What kind of test?"
"If what you say is right, then nothing will happen. All you have to do is follow my instructions."
"Hm." Cheyenne drank from the bottle. "Okay." Hiccup. "I'll take your test. Just tell me when."
"Let me prepare first. I'll let you know when we're ready."
Raising the bottle in a salute, Cheyenne nodded once and then continued drinking.
"You really should go easier on that champagne, dear. You'll regret it in the morning." On her way to the door, Alexandra suddenly turned back, leaned down, and said in Cheyenne's ear, "Heptamera really wasn't trying to hurt you that last day in the psychomantium, Cheyenne. He only got a bit overeager to... see what you were capable of."
The anger seethed in her so hard and so fast that Cheyenne had already launched the champagne bottle at the door before Alexandra had fully left the room. The ghost melted through the door as the bottle shattered against it, spraying champagne out like an exploding firecracker.
Left alone with her thoughts, Cheyenne allowed herself to think what would happen if this whole Heptamera thing was real. Apparently, the creature wanted his "curse" to go on forever, or at least until he had his "pure" mate, which could take several generations and hundreds of years. Was any of that fair to her and his other Daughters? What say did they have in their own births?
He will encourage her to tear it all down, and she will. She will bring it all down to spite them.
Perhaps her place in this whole thing was to bring forever to an end.
"Your sister has agreed to my tests."
Rowan looked up from where he was flipping through the paintings in the storage room, trying to figure out which one his sister had taken. He'd only seen it from the back. "What, Alexandra?"
The ghost put her hand over his. "She took the one of Bridal Veil Falls."
Rowan remembered that painting. "Oh."
"It's now hanging over her fireplace."
"Well... I guess that one is okay for her to display. It's not like we need it for..."
"Agreed. Let her have it. It will keep her happy."
With a nod, Rowan began putting some of the white sheets back over the rows of paintings.
Tristan had been out in the vault sweeping up glass, but upon hearing Alexandra's voice, came to the door. "What is it, Alexandra?"
"I came to tell you that I got Cheyenne to agree to my tests."
Rowan, surprised with this development, blurted, "How did you do that?"
"I just talked to her." Alexandra smiled. It was a predatory smile, with squinted eyes. "I told her she has abilities beyond compare because she is the purest living Daughter. Cheyenne still will not accept she is a child of Heptamera, so she is interested in proving me wrong. I challenged her. If she doesn't have these amazing abilities, then nothing will happen. If she does..."
Grinning as well, Tristan finished her thought. "Either way, we win."
"Yes. And Cheyenne will accept her destiny."
Tristan caught his cousin's troubled eye; Rowan was clearly disturbed with the various possible outcomes. "I don't want to traumatize my sister. But, if she doesn't accept this... the Winchesters and their team will kill her."
"This entire ordeal has been traumatizing for all of us. Trust me, Rowan. Your sister will be better off once she realizes that everything she has denied is the truth."
Again, Tristan grinned. The idea of Cheyenne using her powers against those who would persecute and murder her... he liked that thought.
"If we're going to do this, then we must prepare," Rowan said with a sigh. "It's your plan, Alexandra. What now?"
She went to a row of paintings that had not yet been covered and began flipping through them without touching them, miming with her finger just above the paintings while she used the power of her mind to make them move. "I have been preparing for this for a while, Rowan. There are others who have been fated to join The Destroyer and the Winchesters in their quest to end the reign of Heptamera. You know of them."
Rowan nodded. "Yes."
"We're going to use this test to take care of more of them, one way or another. Ah, here." Alexandra indicated a painting, hovering her long ghostly finger over it. Tristan stepped into the storage room and pulled the painting out so they could all see it. "I have been working for months to bring us a bargaining chip. They are almost here. And then we'll take another member of this team of murderers out of the running."
The men looked at the painting. "Ohhh. I see," Rowan said in recognition.
"It's one of your works that has never been reproduced in any of the books written about you," Tristan stated, a little confused.
"Exactly." Alexandra snickered and covered her mouth. "So even if they research us, they won't see this coming."
Everyone looked at the painting. It was a portrait of Lassiter McNeal and his deceased wife, Diane.
The title was The Psychic and the Exorcist.
"One down," Alexandra tittered, "one to go."
it won't stop