The Barrier: Case Four- Chapter Seven

Riley broke into a grin and ran into Daniel’s arms, causing him to exclaim a little when she hit him. They both felt a bit of a jolt, but the need for comfort overruled it for Riley. He quickly pulled her in tightly, though already feeling the dangers in this place, he was glad they called him. He glanced up at Ethan with an apologetic look and wasn’t surprised to see the man sigh and look away.

“I want you to put this on,” Daniel said, finally pulling back a little. He put a silver rosary over her head with what looked like a long thin strip of paper woven through the beads. “It’s not going to be the best protection, but it should help a bit. This one is nasty.”

“You noticed already?”

“Kind of hard not to,” Daniel said sadly.

Ethan watched the exchange closely. He noticed the dismay in Daniel’s eyes and that the man seemed reluctant to fully let Riley go.

“I am glad you are here. I need to do some work, try to help Emily more,” Riley said, squeezing his shoulders a bit and pulling from his arms. The mild background buzzing of pain was starting to rise, and she wasn’t sure why Daniel was drawing it out so long either. “What’s the plan for food, by the way?”

“I will make breakfast if someone will help,” Ethan said.

“I can assist with that,” Daniel answered with a smile.

When the two were alone, Ethan turned to Daniel. “What’s wrong?”

“She is in grave danger.”

“We know.”

“Do you? Really? He is not only dangerous but set on her,” Daniel replied sadly.

Ethan sighed. “We need a plan, and Riley is fairly convinced she will not be able to get anything from him to help with an exorcism. I fear her doubts may prevent her ability to do so if it were actually possible.”

“How long has he been here? He is rather old, I think.”

“Since the early 1900s from what she can get a handle on, but he did not start here.”

“He’s been slow going and focused on gaining power. Riley is a hell of a prize.”

“She is not a damn prize,” Ethan snapped.

“Not to you or me, but to something like him yes. How powerful is she Ethan?”

“I do not know.”

“That is not an answer.”

“But it is the truth. We have no bloody idea. Timm, her trainer, cannot complete her tests. I do not know how powerful she is, only that she is damned powerful.”

“And newly awakened and only mildly trained,” Daniel said. “This is a very dangerous situation Ethan.”

“He is also making her question whether or not she can trust her trainer and me. She and I have had a few issues, so it is not all that hard for him to do.”

Daniel let out a defeated sigh. “I will need to speak to Josh and Gabrielle at length so we can attempt to come up with a plan. I believe only something that will combine our powers will be effective in this instance. I will also look into whether or not we can perform an exorcism without his name. We may need to go more with the notion of a banishment or something along those lines. The more ideas we have, the better I will feel.”

“I think that is the best course as well.” The two began making breakfast when Ethan finally spoke. “Why did you keep holding on to her?”

“Misguided belief that someone with priest training would be enough to keep him away from her. The world would be a sad place without her.”

“Why are you so attached to her already?”

“How long did it take you?”

Ethan huffed but continued to work on breakfast with Daniel in silence. When they were nearly completion Riley, Josh, and Miller walked in.

“It smells like you guys can whip up a mean breakfast,” Riley quipped. She felt better with Daniel here and wanted to enjoy whatever moments she had, not feeling complete despair.

“Only with the right motivation,” Daniel winked, handing her a plate.

“Shameless,” Riley said with a chuckle.

Miller walked to Ethan and gave his arm a gentle squeeze. Daniel noticed Riley’s face fall a little at the action, so quickly worked to redirect her again as they sat to eat.

“Tell me what you know Riley.”

“Grace was his first victim, at least as far as this house is concerned. His name, origins, how old he is, almost anything that you would need to exorcise a shade he is keeping closely guarded. He seemed to let Grace show me what happened to her.”

“Show you?”

“I fell asleep, and she showed me a series of memories like a dream.”

“That is incredibly rare, Riley.”

“So I have been told. I experienced something somewhat similar but nothing to this extent, and the first time was triggered by touching the spirit.”

“We will have to talk about that more later. Can you describe how he took her?”

“I can, why?”

“It might give me some clues as to what kind of shade he is, the more information I have, the better.”

“Okay,” Riley said with a deep sigh. She pushed the rest of her food away and relayed what she had seen in her dream and Grace’s memories.

“Are you okay?” Daniel asked when she finished her story.

“No,” Riley answered bluntly.

“I understand,” Daniel replied and went over the information in his mind. “So he feeds on some spirits but keeps the others for some purpose. He is building towards a ritual, I imagine to give him more power. The other spirits, can you tell me anything about them?”

“No, I can hardly distinguish one from the other. It’s like being surrounded by static almost. Just a constant motion and filled with various degrees and types of emotion.”

Ethan, Miller, and Daniel all processed this information.

“Why can I sense Grace so clearly?”

“I can’t say for sure, but I am guessing since she was his first, she is treated a bit differently,” Daniel replied. “Which, by the way, gives us some idea of the timeline. He had to have taken his first in the spirit world close enough to his death.”

“Why different?” Riley asked.

“A first is a powerful thing. It would have started his shift from spirit to shade. He will likely keep her, almost like a trophy, even once this ritual is done. He wants her near and around as a reminder of his shift and a reminder of his power. But honoring her so much means he doesn’t have as much control because he’s allowed her to retain more of herself. It is a means to torment her, but it serves to weaken his control over her.”

“I can use her to help get more information possibly?”

“If my speculation is correct. It is at least worth a try, although I can’t advise you in a specific way to do this.”

Miller looked at Riley as the conversation started to wind down and realized that Riley was already starting to feel the effects of the spirits. “I could use some sleep, Riley would you like to get a nap in? I know dealing with spirits being at you constantly can be exhausting.”

“I feel bad I’ve hardly been awake for a few hours.”

“We will all understand, sleep will help you. Let’s go,” Miller said, standing up. Josh also left with them as he had been up most of the night. Emily was awake when they got back and ready to get back at it, and she and Mike walked down the hall.

Riley couldn’t believe how exhausted she already was. She had gotten a lot of sleep the night before and really had only been up a few hours. Still, she felt like she had run a marathon and didn’t take long to fall asleep.

A few hours later, Riley assumed, she woke up to an empty room. “They left me?” was her first thought, and she had to stop herself from panicking. She walked into the hallway and moved quickly towards the base only to find nobody there, no equipment or supplies either. “What is happening?” Riley’s mind began to race.

She ran outside and began to call out for everybody only to hear that horrible voice again laughing at her. “You will be all alone soon enough; I wouldn’t remain too attached to them,” the shade whispered to her, and once again, he formed in front of her. The sense of dread from before and the overwhelming stench started to take over.

She quickly reminded herself what Timm had told her and fought against the feeling. They didn’t leave her, wouldn’t. Riley woke again with a gasp.

“Are you okay?” Miller asked.

“Bad dream.”

Miller looked like she wanted to say more but didn’t.

Riley quickly brushed her teeth and pulled up her hair because she wanted to get back to the base and around as much of the group as she could. The feeling of dread and abandonment was not leaving her. She kept reminding herself over and over that the team would not leave her, but it was harder to convince herself.

“Hey, you’re back,” Emily said with a smile when Riley walked in. “I am having a bit more luck with the research, so you should go over what I found and see if it checks out for you at all.”

“I also think I have some good news,” Daniel said with a smile. “If I could have your rosary for a bit.” He took it from Riley, and he, Josh, and Gabrielle began to chant over it. “I think we found a good combination of wards that won’t cancel each other out. That combined with the nature of the rosary itself and the written prayer I wove through it should offer some protection. It is not perfect, but it should help, might want to keep it for future cases too.”

“Can you make one for everybody when this case is over?” Ethan asked. The lack of defensive protection the team had was starting to trouble him.

“Yes, and I think that would be a wise idea,” Daniel agreed with the other two nodding.

Riley was having difficulty feeling positive, though, even with the rosary. What if they did leave her. They could get themselves to safety if she was alone here.

“You are new, I wouldn’t want to die for someone I barely knew…,” The shade’s voice rang out in Riley’s head.

“Go away,” Riley answered.

“But things are progressing so well, you are close to far gone enough.”

“Leave me alone,” Riley’s voice began to rise.

“So many good reasons to be angry and hurt. I did not realize my influence would be so effective.”

Riley stood and felt something in her starting to bubble. “Back the hell off!” She yelled and pushed her feelings out from within.

The shade disappeared, and everybody felt themselves shoved back a little as though hit with a slight wave. Riley looked down at her hands which were shaking, and felt a headache.

“What was that?” Josh asked.

Riley looked confused and shook her head.

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