Warning: TMI, it’s about time for a history lesson. Also, longer chapter.
In front of Nikolas’ home
No one’s POV
“Before we go in, I have some rules to establish.” Nikolas stated, turning to face his three friends.
Even though Nikolas had strongly insisted there only be two, to the point of turning Salandra away from the conversation.
But Niko hadn’t felt like he’d had much choice when Lucas saw them gathering after school.
He pulled out all this guilt trip about feeling excluded from the group lately since the police thing, and of feeling oppressed at home because his mom is pregnant, and a lot of general complaining that ended with Nikolas reluctantly agreeing just to shut him up.
“Rules? Really?” Lucas groaned.
“I’m risking a lot here. I don’t want my pa to find out about the basement before I’m done scavenging the place. So first rule, no talking about it. Second rule, don’t talk about it. Third rule, don’t. talk. About. It.”
“You did watch Fight Club you liar.” Veronica snorted.
“I might’ve.” Niko smirked.
“I hate you guys. I can’t watch it yet, I’m not old enough.” Lucas muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, and neither are we.” Veronica shot back as I rolled my eyes.
“I thought it was kind of meh.” Elvis shrugged.
“Shut up, Elvis, we don’t want to know your opinion. It was awesome, end of story.” Niko snapped playfully.
“Hey! My brother is in a coma!”
“Wwooooowww.” Veronica gave Elvis wide eyes.
“Forget I said anything.” Elvis muttered.
“Yeah, ok. I’m serious though. No talking about it. And follow my lead. Act like we’re going to play video games. The secret entrance is in the downstairs bathroom. Let’s hope he’s upstairs or else it’ll get a little tricky.”
“This sounds more risky than breaking into the police station.” Veronica raised her eyebrows with a teasing smile.
“It is. My papa can absolutely not get suspicious.”
“Got it sir!” Veronica saluted.
“Let’s just go already!” Elvis insisted.
Luckily for them, Edmund was nowhere in sight. They tiptoed inside the house as Nikolas checked around real quick for any sign of life. He found some in the living room in the form of his sister watching the news.
When she saw Nikolas, she bounced to her feet.
“Niko! I just saw something on the news. You know that bank that got robbed that you got caught in? Well it got robbed again…”
Nikita trailed off. “I see you brought some friends…” She said in a tone that worried Nikolas.
“No no no don’t go screaming and alerting pa-”
Nikita slapped her brother across the head. “Who do you think I am? Seriously.” She muttered before sighing.
“Really Niko, what part of grounded do you not understand?”
“I’m grounded, they’re not. As long as I stay home right?” Nikolas asked with a half-shrug.
Nikita grimaced. “Yeah like pa is going to go for that loophole.”
“Pa won’t even notice. We’re just going to head downstairs and then they’ll head back out in like half an hour.”
“Only half an hour? Not a big basement-” Veronica mumbled in the background before Elvis poked her into silence.
“What’s so interesting about our basement anyways?” Nikita asked, finally sparking some interest in the matter.
“Bugs.” Niko quickly replied. “All kinds of old ancient bugs. Creepy crawlies.”
It took her a few seconds, but eventually her face scrunched up in disgust. “Ew. Okay, but if dad asks I’m telling him.”
“Okay, awesome bye.” Niko exclaimed, motioning for his friends to follow him as they made their sweet escape into the bathroom.
Nikita knew better, obviously there were more than just bugs. But she remembered how hard Niko had worked to try and get the door open, and so far nothing bad had happened, so she thought she could let Nikolas have his fun for now.
And really, what kind of horrible thing could possibly be in that basement?
Edmund, having finished cleaning up the yard a bit, came back inside.
“Has Nikolas come back from school yet?” Edmund asked, checking the time.
“Yup.” Nikita replied with a smile. “He went up to his room. Probably to sulk.”
Edmund hmmed before heading into the kitchen, to see what could be made for supper.
Nikolas didn’t know how lucky he was to have Nikita as his sister.
Even though Nikolas told them not to scream or make any loud noises or whatever, Lucas still let out a short screech when Niko opened the basement doors. Still, with his hand over Lucas’ mouth to shut him up, Nikolas didn’t blame him. The monster thing was a pretty shocking sight.
Once everyone had gotten over the monster in a pot, examining it, commenting on how lame and boring it was, they spread off into different directions.
Nikolas stayed in front of the monster just a little bit longer. If he let his imagination wander…it was smiling at him as it snored away. A smirk, a silent laugh, a reminder that the only reason he felt safe there and then was because of its unconscious state.
Who knew what it would do if it woke up?
What would it take to wake it?
He wondered what its skin felt like. He wondered if it would wake up if he touched it.
“What are these?” Lucas asked from behind the monster, reaching to touch some kind of crystal plants but recoiling as if he was afraid their crispy dark leaves were infected.
“I don’t know.” Nikolas said, approaching Lucas and the four plants. The crystals glowed very faintly, looking barely alive, if the plants were alive at all.
“Computer won’t open.” Elvis groaned, slapping the keyboard impatiently. The group had managed to get a few of the lamps open, and Elvis had thought maybe he could find some juicy info on the computer, but clearly that wasn’t meant to be.
“I’m sure if you slap it again it’ll start working.” Nikolas teased.
“What do you think I’ve been doing?”
“I love the artwork on this wall. Who made this basement?” Veronica asked, lounging on the surgical looking table.
Nikolas wandered over, poking at the dusty gun on the small table. “The werewolf who lived here before probably. Got killed in this house you know.”
“Freaky.” Veronica muttered. “But he must’ve been some weird dude. What is this? An operating space? Look all these surgical tools!”
“Well he was a murderer with four victims on his record. Who knows what he did to them.” Nikolas said with a nonchalant shrug.
“Are you insinuating he did experiments on them?” Veronica sat up looking aghast.
“Look at that thing!” Niko exclaimed, gesturing at the monster behind him. “I wouldn’t be surprised. They never did find their bodies.”
“Geez, is it horror story time?” Lucas asked, still hesitant to touch anything dead looking aka everything.
Elvis crouched down in front of a plant, after replugging the computer three times. “Are these the jellybean plants you were talking about?” He asked, plucking a few beans. They dissolved into dust and drifted to the ground. “Oh yeah dead alright.”
“Jellybeans don’t grow from trees. Or have I been lied to?” Veronica said, coming over to check out the first reason everyone was here.
“I don’t think these are your normal jellybeans.” Nikolas said, taking out his treasure and comparing it. There really wasn’t much doubt anymore. The bean he had in his hand was from a tree similar to this. “I don’t think it tastes like a jellybean either.”
But if it’s a jellybean you’re not supposed to eat…what are you supposed to do with it?
Nikolas remembered the little note that had come with his treasure: Have fun gardening
The answer seemed pretty obvious.
“I’m going to plant it.” Niko said, turning the bean in his fingers.
“Oooh gardening! Let’s take one of those pots!”
The four grabbed one of the rusted pots lined up against the wall in the back. They recycled the dirt from the dead plants and Niko buried his treasure.
“Should we water it?” Lucas asked.
“It’s a plant. Obviously.” Veronica said. “I saw a water bottle near the surgery tools.” She said, heading the small cabinet.
“How old is that?” Elvis asked as Veronica came back with a dusty bottle.
“Doesn’t matter. Water doesn’t expire.” Nikolas said, grabbing the water bottle and emptying it on the mound of dirt.
“Is it actually going to grow?” Veronica asked, staring at the dirt as if she was waiting for a sprout to appear right there and then.
“I’ll come check it from time to time. Since the other ones were here it probably doesn’t need sunlight…” Nikolas noticed.
“But they’re dead.” Elvis said.
“Probably because they weren’t watered. Anyway, nothing more we can do for now. You guys better head back.” Nikolas said as he checked his watch.
No reason to prolong the risk – supper might be ready soon.
“Veronica stop pushing me!” Elvis hissed as the four teens crowded in the small bathroom.
“Well then move! I have no space to breathe!” Veronica hissed back pushing him into Niko.
Nikolas whipped around and shushed them. “This is not being subtle guys. Shut up and follow my lead.” He said, one hand on the knob. Still glaring a warning at his friends, he slowly opened the door to avoid any creaks.
Edmund had just been about to open the door – because that was some suspicious noise he’d heard – when Nikolas himself had opened it for him.
Four teens in a bathroom, that was definitely suspicious.
Sensing the situation would escalate quickly in what might be a scary way, Veronica, Lucas and Elvis made their way past Edmund with a few muffled Hellos before going out the door.
Nikolas was alone with his father and he really wanted to close the door again.
“Want to explain to me what’s going on?” Edmund asked, once he’d dragged Nikolas out of the bathroom.
“Not really.” Nikolas replied with an angry pout. This was it. It was done for. Everything he’d worked so hard to achieve wouldn’t mean anything! It was his basement and they were going to take it from him.
“Nikolas Whitelight this is getting ridiculous.”
“It’s not my fault you keep grounding me for stupid things!”
“Nikolas you tried to break into a police station.”
“That was a one time thing! And it was for a good reason! But next time I’ll know better. I’ll just ask for information.” Nikolas countered.
“You went to Dealer’s avenue on your own and nearly got yourself killed.” Edmund continued.
“No it was just a few scrapes and bruises-” It had hurt, a lot, but he was fine now!
“Grounding you is for your own good. You need to think about the consequences of your actions.” Edmund snapped, making Nikolas flinch.
“I do think before I act.”
“Not about what you should be thinking.”
“You don’t understand! It’s more than me just getting in trouble. I’m helping people!” Nikolas tried to counter weakly.
“You’re going about it the wrong way.”
“You don’t understand!” There is no other way. Because people see him as too young. And because it’s forbidden to do things like climb on roofs or sneak into police stations.
“Then explain it to me!”
“There are too many things to explain and you’re obviously too concentrated on grounding me. You wouldn’t be able to get it.” Nikolas said, in a low angry voice before stomping away to his room.
See, he was thinking before doing, or else he might’ve done something really stupid – like try to punch his own father.
Edmund took in a deep long breath as he heard Niko’s loud footsteps go up the stairs.
He needed to calm down and deal with this calmly.
He glanced behind him at his daughter, who simply gave him a slightly apologetic shrug.
He was calm enough. And he was really done with Nikolas’ attitude.
He went up to his son’s room and knocked on the door. “Nikolas.”
“No, go away pa.” He answered stubbornly.
“Nikolas open the door.”
“No! GO away!”
Stop being a baby and open the damn door! Edmund nearly shouted angrily.
He wanted to punch the door. He was not calm.
Calm down, he told himself. It had been decades since he’d last lost his temper. He’d worked hard to find other ways to deal with his problems. There’d been a time in his life where violence was the only answer he knew, but he hadn’t been proud of that. It wasn’t the time to lose control – especially not when it came to Nikolas and his stubbornness. It would just make things worse.
He was getting tired of this.
Xavier, are you done yet?
Stepping off the plane, I could feel the nostalgia, the calm and the stillness of the place stick to my face along with the humidity. Twinbrook didn’t welcome me with open arms. Its inhabitants regarded me with distant shrugs, not used to receiving tourists, but not caring enough to be curious about me.
Walking through its streets was odd. The town felt out of place, in its own little bubble of time. Maybe it was just the fog descending around me or the unnerving silence, but the roads felt old and weary. Tired of the commotion outside, of the conflicts and the drama.
Good thing I found what I was looking for quickly.
My ancestor’s home. My great grandmother’s birthplace. It felt imposing albeit its average size. As if it was determined to stand tall among the faltering decaying houses and the weeds mingling with its porch.
There was a proud feeling to be had looking at it.
It was old and ancient, and if I didn’t know better, it was eager to help.
After so many weeks of searching, it felt like I might finally find the solution. A way to protect Edmund from me. After all, there was a time where supernaturals were as strong as I am. Surely the same problem would’ve arisen at some point back then.
I made my way past the grass clinging to my legs and forced the front door open with a worrying aarrr.
For an empty house it sure felt awfully full. As if it was completely crowded with ghosts – not ghosts. Imprints? No.
Tragedy, joy, desperation and hope. I wonder who my ancestors were…I wonder what they did, and what they had to go through themselves, for this house to radiate this desolate nostalgia.
The house was empty, there was no point dilly dallying among broken memories. I headed straight for the suspicious door, which I had no doubt led to this secret basement.
Still I couldn’t help casting another look around. This place had housed two white-eyeds. I could sense it, because it had also been the deathbed of those two white-eyeds.
Real white-eyeds of course. Kevil was a white-eyed there wasn’t a doubt about that. But I’m referring to before there was suddenly hundreds of white-eyeds everywhere at once. I’m referring to a time where there was only one. A pure white-eyed.
The lights in the basement were burnt out. I had to light them up with my magic to see the thousands of books lined up against the walls.
Yes. This was the spot. I’d find my answer here.
In the basement of my powerful witch ancestor.
Time was of the essence and I immediately set about going through the books. A large section of the books was entirely dedicated to history, things like The Chronicles of Death, and they were ordered on how old the information was.
It didn’t take me nearly as long to go through them, and I ended up actually finding it. THE book I was searching for. It looked a bit like a crude medical book, the title long since scratched away. Most of it seemed pretty primitive talking about symptoms that resembled that of mosquito bites or ulcers with improvised remedies for each. But there was a section entitled Life magic: mutations.
I vaguely remembered James randomly elaborating on some Life magic theory a white-eyed had once given him a history lesson about. It was about to become useful.
From I could understand and remember: the gist of it was that everyone had a certain amount of magic, be they natural or not, and that was called life magic. It wasn’t usable and it’s only purpose was to keep us alive. Now supernaturals had a portion of their life magic that was usable, and that was known as usable magic. Contrary to the other one, this one was easily replenishable.
This is what the Weapon – the young girl I mean – sapped. I suppose it’s in the process of emptying the usable magic and tapping into the life magic that she forces someone to become a natural. I have a feeling she went straight to my life magic when she lost control.
The book listed a bunch of odd mutations resulting from the cross between supernaturals and naturals. Most didn’t really seem plausible, but one in particular caught my eye. It elaborated on our capacity to recycle life magic. It theorized that life magic was extremely difficult and tedious to refill, but exchanges could be made. And that, in actuality, exchanges were made every day. Every time you interacted with someone, you exchanged a bit of life magic. Purebloods (humans with no supernatural blood in their lineage) were known to have a strong affinity in that regard, due to their larger amount of life magic. There are even records of naturals developing powers by being in the presence of supernaturals for an extended amount of time. It’s theorized that the constant exchange of life magic might have resulted in the exchange of usable magic at one point between a supernatural and a natural. And in some rare cases it would’ve caused a change in the natural themselves, making some of their life magic become usable. This amount of usable magic was very small however and resulted more often in the capacity to see ghosts, sense danger, or anything that related to an extra sense. Very rarely these were known to be passed down genetically – and if they did it was in a different form altogether.
However, the genetic mixing of supernaturals and naturals sometimes resulted in mutations. Most of them are harmless and are never noticed, but there’s one in particular that causes a lot of problem. Some naturals are born with a problem in their capacity to exchange and recycle magic. When it comes to the exchange of life magic there is little to no problem due to the similarities. It is in the exchange of usable magic and life magic that problems arise. Since there is a relatively significant probability of a supernatural exchanging usable magic instead of life magic, any prolonged exposure will lead to problems. The natural in question is incapable of recognizing the type of magic and ends up rejecting it which results in not an exchange of magic, but of only a loss of life magic on the natural’s part. The gradual loss of life magic was generally quicker than it could replenish itself. Life magic takes years to replenish, whilst usable magic is usually under a few months. Life magic being the essence that keeps one alive, the loss of a large quantity of it typically led to organ failure.
The most recommended remedy was to isolate the natural from any supernatural activity for several decades.
Another solution, for those who can afford it is to mix the following:
I turned the page to see an enormous list of ingredients of all sorts of weird things that needed to be enchanted or sprinkled with fairy dust or the like.
A list. A recipe. A recipe for a cure.
I took a picture. I memorized it. I tore out the page. There was no way I was losing this.
I called Erin and told her to take out a piece of paper and write out every single ingredient I listed out. And then I asked her if she could make this and if she thought it would work.
The book had described my problem too perfectly. I had a really good feeling about this. This was it. This was what I’d been looking for.
Erin was a little pissed, but a lot relieved that I’d finally found what I was looking for. I grinned when she told me she couldn’t see anything toxic with the mixing of these ingredients. And I grinned even more when she elaborated on how much this was going to cost her and how she was going to need my help for half of these.
I was ready to leave. I was ready to head back home.
But one of the bookcases was calling to me. Well… in a way I could sense there was something to it. That behind it there was a staircase that led further down.
Down to another small area lined with books. And in this area there’d be three bookcases that each held their own secret, with their own little rooms.
All three led to three different kinds of prisons.
And in one of these three was something important.
Oh I could feel it radiating from here – the importance of it. It felt ancient, beyond ancient, and it felt dangerous. It felt like the gateway to a lot of troubles.
And a lot of death.
But I could also feel the spell my ancestor had cast on the bookcase in front of me. An extremely strong spell that only let Whitelight blood pass. But the Whitelight family had grown since then, we were a lot, and I didn’t know all of us. I didn’t trust all of us.
I couldn’t take away her spell, or replace it, but I could update it. So I updated it the only way the spell allowed me too.
I made it so my blood would be able to pass. James wouldn’t be able to go through here. My siblings wouldn’t. My grandparents wouldn’t. Only me.
And my children.
But that’s exactly why I put up a second spell of my own creation, on the basement door. It wasn’t meant to stop, because the information here could still be useful, no, it was meant to test.
But hopefully my children will never need to come here.
Foreshadowing excuse me what nooooo