Gabrielle grabbed Riley’s head to keep her from hurting herself and yelled out. “Someone grab her body, but do not hold her tightly.”
“What is happening?” Mike questioned desperately.
“I am guessing she is having a reaction to everything that just happened,” Gabrielle answered, still focused on Riley while Daniel began to chant a little over her.
“Is she have a seizure?” Emily asked.
“Not really. It looks similar, but while seizures have physical causes, this is more related to her abilities and connection with the spirit world. Her body is not used to this much power, and so many spirits connecting with her, she is reacting to it. It is similar to what happened to Tracy last case.”
“Damn it,” Ethan said as he walked back in from hearing the shouting.
Everybody sighed in relief when Riley stopped moving and slowly relaxed. “We need to move her to one of the bedrooms,” Gabrielle said relaxing.
Josh lifted her up, and the group moved together when Gabrielle turned to them. “Stop, I need space, and the base needs to be watched. Caroline can come with us, I need the rest of you to stay here.”
Everybody looked like they wanted to protest, but understood and gave it up. When they got her on one of the beds, Gabrielle looked over Riley worriedly. “We need to get her to a hospital.”
“That is a death sentence for her,” Miller replied.
“I assumed, but I just worry about her.”
“Despite how bad it looked, I don’t think he was doing that much to her. Also, a little overload like that is completely understandable. She’s been through a lot in a short period, and we just dumped more on her,” Miller assured Gabrielle. “I will return to the base, you two should be more capable of protecting her.”
“Call an escort,” Josh called after her.
“It will be faster to just go,” Miller said over her shoulder.
When she got back to the base, everybody jumped up. “What’s happening?” Emily asked nervously.
“She is sleeping, I believe she had an overload. She is going to be trouble.”
“You just want to get rid of her,” Emily bit back.
“You misunderstand. It would be irresponsible to send her away. She will be a great help to the team, but she will be trouble, is all.”
“Is she going to die?” Emily asked.
“Don’t be silly,” Miller scoffed. “We have his name now, and I believe that Josh and Gabrielle were already working on a plan with you Daniel?”
“Yes. I didn’t want to hide it, but I felt it was best Riley not know, considering how tied to her this shade is attempting to get. I have to admit I am a bit more worried about her safety now that she’s provoked him.”
“So we work harder to keep her safe,” Miller said back. She turned to Ethan, who seemed zoned out entirely.
Emily walked closer. “He’s shutting down,” she whispered to Miller.
“Not surprising. He has a lot to lose this time.”
“You just said I was being silly.”
“He is too,” Miller said with a shrug. Miller walked over to Ethan and squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t give up.”
Ethan could only nod in reply, but went back to staring at nothing. Everybody else sighed and got back to work. It wasn’t long until Josh joined them, saying Gabrielle felt comfortable watching over Riley alone.
Ethan finally came back to himself, reminding everybody to stop traveling to and from alone. They apologized but focused on work.
Daniel kept researching, and sometime in the early evening, he clapped his hands together loudly. He quickly moved his computer over to Ethan, who read what the man had found and sighed heavily. They would need some time to prepare, but they might have finally found a ritual that would work. It would not destroy the shade, but it would permanently remove his power then they could banish him to some corner of the world where he shouldn’t come in contact with people or other non-banished spirits. If he managed to make his way back, the power ritual should prevent him from doing much in the way of harm though.
Several hours later, Riley felt like she was hearing something call to her. A new voice, it wasn’t the shade, and it wasn’t Grace. Maybe one of the other spirits was coming into their own enough to reach out, Riley thought to herself.
“Riley, I know how you can save them,” it called to her again.
Riley jerked up at that. Something in her was screaming to ignore the voice, but she pushed it aside. “You do?” she called out softly.
“Yes, come to me.”
“You know where.”
Riley’s brows furrowed at that. Did she? Her instincts were yelling at her to wake someone to come with her, but she felt the pull again. Why would it want her alone, she thought to herself, and then a wave of something passed over her. She felt disconnected from herself a bit and stood. When she got to the hall, she moved away from the base towards one of the side exits, leaving the lodge. When she reached the edge of the large porch, she hesitated. This wasn’t right, was it? A wave of nausea passed over her at that, and so she kept moving forward.
The voice kept assuring her that she would be able to save them, and the pull was strong. Riley didn’t notice that she was moving deeper into the woods or that they were getting more dense. She didn’t look for markers to help her get out. No, she stayed determined and focused on the tug. Every time she paused, another wave would hit her and push her back to total focus on the voice.
When she got to a clearing, she could see a tall tree standing before her with a soft glow around it surrounded by leaves. It was the first time she noticed how truly dark the woods were, and how deep in she was. This gave her pause again. Why would it call to her out here, the shade was connected to the lodge, was he not? Surely nothing out here could stop him.
“It can though, empath,” the voice called again.
Something felt wrong. “You’re lying.”
“No, I am not. You are so close to saving them, please,” the voice pleaded again.
Something about the leaves felt wrong, being out here was wrong, all of this Riley kept telling herself. Still, the tree seemed to call to her like a siren song, and she finally submitted. She was surprised how solid the ground felt beneath her because it hadn’t seemed that way, but she made it to the base of the tree and noticed something carved in. It felt familiar, but she didn’t know how. Then Riley sucked in a harsh breath as she turned around. This was not good, she had just walked into a trap.
Mike jerked out of bed and rushed to the hallway. He saw Riley disappear out of one of the doors and paused. He should get Ethan or Josh to help him, he thought to himself.
“Why? Because they would be better for her?” a voice called to him.
No, Mike thought, I would be fine for her, but they know more about this world, he was just a camera guy. Mike moved to turn around and grab one of the other men.
“It’s because you are afraid. Isn’t that the first thing they told her about you? You are a coward, no wonder she wants Ethan and not you,” the voice laughed.
Mike felt himself become overtaken by rage and jealousy. He had never felt something like this before, and a small voice told him it was odd. That voice drowned in his anger, and he knew he needed to go after her. He was just as worthy as the other guys. He wasn’t a coward damn it. Ethan kept things from her, why the hell was he worthy of her?
Mike began moving after her. He was surprised how far behind he was, and didn’t stop to think about the fact that he was being guided by some unknown force. He just kept moving quickly after her into the woods. It took him a while, but eventually, he found Riley at the base of a tree looking a bit panicked.
Riley was so mad at herself. How could she let herself get into this situation? She wasn’t sure what to do, only that she knew she should not cross back the way she came. If she went around the tree, she would risk being more lost, she also didn’t know how far around it was trapped. Riley resigned herself to wait until morning, though that made her nervous.
“Riley?” Mike called out to her.
“Mike,” Riley was shocked to see him, he was just on the other side of the trap. “Don’t move!”
Mike was confused but stopped even though something kept telling him that he had to go to her. That he had to prove he wasn’t afraid.
“What are you doing out here?”
“I came to get you,” he said in a proud manner.
Riley narrowed her eyes then sucked in a deep breath. The shade was guiding him just as it had her. “Thank you,” she said and gave him a gentle smile. “You should go back, leave a trail, get the others to come get me.”
“No!” Mike said, taking another step forward. “Why won’t you let me help you?”
“Because it’s a trap Mike.”
“That’s bull!” He yelled, and Riley flinched a little. “You just think I am a coward, weak.”
“No Mike, you know better than that. I think you are incredibly brave. You are scared, and still you help the team, you haven’t complained once this whole case. There is nothing cowardly about you.”
Mike paused at this. A voice reminded him that she would let someone else help her though. “You want Ethan to save you,” he growled.
“That’s not true, and you know it deep down. Think, really think, stop listening to whatever is telling you otherwise. This has nothing to do with Ethan.”
“It has everything to do with Ethan, it always does! He’s not afraid, he has more knowledge, he’s the boss, but he’s not worthy of you Riley! I am! I will help you,” he said, taking another step forward.
Before Riley had a chance to stop him, they both felt the ground give way underneath them. She heard Mike yell out and a sickening snap when she hit the ground. A wave of pain and nausea passed over her, and a loud ringing filled Riley’s ears.
“Stay awake Riley!” She vaguely heard Grace call to her, but all Riley could do was groan and then passed out.
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