top of page
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Chapter Thirty-Two

The Raresight Between Worlds

I take in the ruins of a Paris that has once been magnificent. As I gaze out at the rubble, I wonder whether we’ve fast-forwarded the world, skipped ahead to some dystopian fate, or if this Paris is... elsewhere.

The air tastes different here. Singed. Sooty, and thick.

“How did we get here?”

“Where is here?

“The portal,” Soren answers the twins with a deep frown, as confused as I am.

“It brought all of us?” I realize. “What about the room?”

He shakes his head as if the slight shuffling of his thoughts will surface an answer. But there’s no answer to be found. Warily, I watch the knife still clenched at his side. That grasp has taken on a different purpose, and with us so exposed here in the middle of the decimated street, I can’t begrudge the reason that brought about his hold on it.

Our colors are still dancing around us, fainter here in this strange daylight that seems to gnaw at the things around it. The sun is a looming, brilliant orb and the sky has a sheen to it, as though it’s sweating. As though the sun has seen what’s happened here, and it’s nervous.

I don’t like it. I don’t like how quiet it is—like Stillwood.

Unnaturally quiet.

We stand in the middle of the road, a complete anomaly, our essences swirling, our black clothing stark against the scenery. Anyone could spot us. Peering up into the windows, I can see they’re a haze of dust and fingerprints. No one seems to be watching, no one waiting.

“What happened in this world?” Tuesday whispers, awe and terror coloring her tone.

“Ah,” a cheery voice calls. It’s husky, thick with the gravel of age.

I swivel on my feet, seeking its source.

The old woman is easy enough to spot as she shambles over the hacked-up bits of rock and glass that litter the pavement, her long wooden cane tapping rhythmically across the cobblestone. She wears a wide, off-white blanket like a shawl over her hunched shoulders, and I wonder if it’s camouflage. The woman blends in with the scenery almost perfectly. “As expected,” she grunts, waving us over to her.

I hesitate. “Who are you?”

“This is not your world, so I should be asking that of you. Come now, before you’re all found.” She wriggles her wrinkled hand at us urgently. “I can sense your souls don’t belong from a thousand miles away,” she rasps. “There are many revenants in this world, none of which you wish to meet. Hurry now, your essences are exposed, and there are vultures about.”

She clucks her tongue as she nears, eyes roaming over us. I see now that they’re nearly fully white, the film of cataracts turning them to milky glass. Suddenly, the old woman’s gaze veers sharply to Soren, who looks—for the first time in recorded history, possibly—awkward and almost guilty.

“What have you been doing, foolish witchlings? Such rash solutions.”

She turns and hobbles along, and I get a distinct impression that we’re meant to follow now or lose our opportunity. I take the first step, and then the next, until slowly, the others trail along behind me.

I cast a glance at Soren, who draws nearer to me, his eyes focused on the tottering body of our guide a few paces ahead. We share a silent understanding, pass an unspoken theory between us.

“The Raresight between worlds,” he mutters, giving words to my thoughts.

“You think it’s her?”

He gives the subtlest of shrugs, and something in my gut rings with a yes, quickly followed by a hollow, but how?

We turn a corner and the view slices across all of Paris—or what remains of it. I see straight across what looks like the entire city, buildings reduced to rubble. It’s like a forest that someone has taken an ax to haphazardly, in a maddened rage. A sharp, jagged edge cleaves into the sky at the horizon, and my stomach wrenches. This black fist of twisted iron is what’s left of the Eiffel Tower.

Dusk is settling. It’s the time of day when the Eiffel should be wrapped up in its own golden glow, twinkling against a sinking sun. And here, the sun seems as if it might be dying—the sky is leached of color, its light dull and hazy as if even the air has been turned to dust.

What remains of storefronts are smashed in, boarded up, graffitied. We drag our feet behind our mysterious tour guide, anxiety tugging at us. Tuesday pauses in front of a dark red mark stretching gaudily across one of the façades, and cocks her head to the side, gazing up. I come to stand beside her with equal curiosity.

It’s some sort of rune—a long ovoid that tapers to a sharp point at the base, great swells of wings on either side, and swirling limbs curling out from the middle. In the center are crude lines, and a massive drag of red that looks like a large, unblinking pupil. Something about the shape is familiar, but with the mark painted in what appears to be crusting blood, I don’t want to stick around long enough to figure out why.

“Come on, Tu,” Tomorrow nudges her sister, ushering her away with a sort of frightened reverence. I exchange one last frown with the rune, and it glares back.

“It’s an inverted Fleur-de-Lis, I think,” Sab muses quietly. “We should keep moving. This place gives me the creeps.”

“Do you think we can trust her?” I nod ahead at the woman as we trudge along, her feet and cane crunching over glass, tapping a path forward through the crumpled papers littering the cobblestone. Perceptive despite her ancientness, I see her head arc back just enough to know she’s caught our words.

Soren, who’s playing the part of the vigilant watchdog behind us, swings down around us to grab a grotty wad of paper. He folds back the crumpled edges. It’s torn down the middle, ink smeared.

“Newspaper,” he gestures.

Sabbath peers over his bicep, muttering the string of blurred French to herself.

...continue to terrorize the masses, humans living in unprotected shelters, day by day, the dead...” Soren translates, pausing.

“What about the dead?”

“Who’s terrorizing?”

“It doesn’t say,” Soren answers both of us, turning the paper over in his hand.

“Probably whoever left that bloody mark on the wall.”

“I have a bad feeling,” Sabbath whispers, the words emptying into the void of silence. It’s as though we’re the only people left in the world.

She moves on ahead and I stay behind a second with Soren, glaring at him. The wisps of black ensconcing him have dulled like everything else, though I think this is more due to our time running out.

Running out on a spell we didn’t finish. A spell that took months to prepare. A spell that required Soren to kill himself.

I set my expression angrily with the reminder. “Don’t you ever do that again.” The words roil with exposed emotion, my eyes roving his inscrutable face. “Lie like that.”

To me. About hurting yourself. Ever again.

His jaw slackens and his blue eyes waver just above my head for a moment, and I wish he would say something. Instead, he folds his arms into each other, body bowing inward with a furtive glance toward me, and then he continues to trek on. I spare a quick look over my shoulder and reluctantly hang close to his trailing footsteps.

Finally, we come upon a little house incongruous with the tight streets, wedged in the middle of a block. It’s burrowed back between a hedge with an overflowing garden that obscures the bright purple door, until the old woman nears and the ivy peels away without a touch. I’m a character from a fairytale, who should be wary of entering into the witch’s lair. Instead, I feel grateful as the door opens and the smell of sage whips through, gentle crystal chimes whispering on an invisible breeze.

We follow her inside into a brightly colored, eclectic home. Gilded crown molding, an abundance of plants. Crystals laid out on the table, glinting as they catch the fading sun through the front window. It’s charming Parisian aristocracy with a considerable helping of witching whimsy.

As I step over the threshold, I feel my magic snag and thrum. There is a powerful protection spell over this place.

The woman ambles through the narrow corridors, leading us into a tight but comfortable living room.

“Pippa?” I ask, now that we’re inside. “Pippa Loxley?”

“Well, who else would I be, dear?”

I open my mouth to respond, but it hangs slack. I don’t have an answer.

In the silence, she turns slowly, eyes roaming over my face. I can’t imagine how she could possibly see me through those cataracts, but her eyes take inventory of my face as if she can. “Kathrynn?” she says.

“No.” My voice cracks, making the word come out a whisper. I clear the quiver from my throat. “I’m Mika. Michlynn—”

“Ah. For a moment I couldn’t remember which witch I was!” Pippa offers a self-indulgent laugh. “The last time I saw Kat, she was expecting you, though I suspect she didn’t know it yet. Here you are, then, her daughter!”

I’m used to hearing my mother’s name along with the word “daughter,” and steeping in shame at the sound of it. This time, the two words hang awkwardly in the air together, and the disgust that should be in Pippa’s voice sounds more like pride.

A devious smile curls onto her lips, her white eyes sparkling. She reaches her hand out to me, and after a moment of reluctance, I allow her grip to crush my hand. Her skin is paper-thin, like a sheet of parchment that’s been crumpled and uncrumpled too many times, but the bones underneath it are frighteningly strong.

“How did you find us?” I ask.

“Dear, you don’t think I know how to be exactly where I’m needed, at exactly the right time? Come, settle in. I’ll put the kettle on.” Pippa flicks a hand toward the kettle and it begins to hum, then she settles into a large striped armchair that groans under her weight. “The grave sent you, then. Always good to be cautious, in case one of you dies.”

Tuesday’s eyes grow wide, but I think Pippa’s talking about herself. I have the feeling that this is a different Paris—not our Paris. A different Pippa, too.

“The grave... sent us?” Soren frowns, trying to piece it together.

“Don’t be dull, boy. The grave, the rune. It was spelled. Touch it, and it times your next transport to meet me. What else would it be for?”

“Where are we?” Tuesday pipes up.

Glancing at her, Pippa clears her throat. “Andromeda. Rather, what is left of it. Not much, admittedly.”

I share a look over my shoulder with Soren. Andromeda.

Pippa beckons us to sit, and we each wedge ourselves into the plushier nooks and crannies of the small room. I sit across from Pippa next to a tea cart. Soren stands behind my chair, Tuesday scrunches up on the floor.

“What’s Andromeda?” Sabbath asks slowly.

“Andromeda is one dimension in the multiverse. You belong to Fayrstar.”

“Excuse me…” Tomorrow’s voice is drenched with skepticism. “We’re in an alternate dimension?

“But this world—” Tu snaps her mouth shut, the horrors and desecration we’ve seen just outside of Pippa’s home too much for her to call attention to.

“It does not take much to get off track, does it? One death here, one dictator there. Evil, greed, selfishness. They can burn down a world far quicker than many realize.”

Pippa stares across the room at Soren and then snaps her gaze back to me before I’ve even spoken. I swallow, my throat thick.

“We were looking for you,” I say. “We thought you might have answers.”

“I have many,” Pippa agrees. “Though the topic is certainly of relevance. First, you must tell me, what has become of Kat Carrow?”

My lips feel dry. I lick them as I wait for the right words to come, looking helplessly at Sabbath. She blurs in front of me and I blink, surprised to find my eyes wet.

I’ve cried for my mother a grand total of four times in my life. Once, when I watched her die. Again, when I learned why she needed to. The third time was when her enchantment rose up unexpectedly in front of me, and the fourth time is right now, with this sagely old woman who seems to have known and cared for her. I’ve never known anyone to speak my mother’s name with kindness, and to hear hope in Pippa Loxley’s voice makes my eyes well with the reassurance that my mom must have been worthy of it.

Sabbath purses her lips at me, brows quaking slightly with empathy. She doesn’t know how to help my mouth say the truth, either.

“Kat Carrow is dead.” Soren steps out from behind my chair, taking a seat on a lively looking ottoman. Words that I would’ve expected to be clipped and brash hold none of the animosity they deserved to. He doesn’t look me in the eye, but he rests a hand briefly on my forearm.

I stare at it for a moment through my blurred vision, and then his hand is gone as quickly as the tears.

Pippa frowns with this news but doesn’t seem surprised. She looks down, fidgeting with the fabric of her long dress. “I had hoped she might escape this fate.”

“You were close,” I realize, “with her. My mom.”

“Oh, yes. Yes, Kat visited me for many years.” Pippa’s voice is raspy as her unseeing eyes glaze over with the memory. “These are the answers you seek, then? About your mother?”

I nod, forgetting the blind need words. Yet, Pippa doesn’t seem to need any indication of my response.

“What would you like to know?”

“Anything,” I say, the word falling from my mouth. “Everything.”

I know there are more important questions, but they’ve sunk to the bottom of my mind like a rock in the ocean.

“How did you know her?” Soren prompts.

Pippa’s eyes flit to him, and then she lets out a soft sigh. “When Kathrynn was just about your age, she began coming here. She had a confidence and vitality about her, that girl. Quite aggressively stubborn, too.”

My eyes catch on Sabbath, who’s giving me a knowing smirk.

“She had joined with a society at Burnbright—what was it, the Knights? They have gone by many names throughout the centuries, difficult to keep track. My family has been linked to their cause for, oh, nearly as long as they’ve existed, I suppose. As you likely realize, traveling between dimensions is a dangerous business. Quite dangerous. But my family concocted a potion that allowed for witches of one dimension to exist properly in another, so we were vital.”

My gut twists as one piece of the puzzle clicks into place. That’s how Soren knows about the potion. His father must have passed it down to him from his time spent in Andromeda.

“Kat was like a daughter to me,” Pippa muses. “She came to me for nearly a decade. I am disappointed to hear she has passed.”

“Pandora Carrow murdered the High Council. Most of the witching world is glad that she’s dead,” Tomorrow declares.

I stiffen at these words, and Tuesday shoots me an apologetic look.

Pippa lifts her hands gingerly. “Pandora, Kathrynn, TomKat, ahh.” She releases a haggard breath. “We can call her by any name we like. What’s done is done. To me, she was only ever Kat. It’s regrettable that her fate was meant to replicate between ‘verses, but that is often the way of things.”

Nik frowns. “Replicate?”

“Oh, Pandora Carrow killed the High Council in Andromeda, too. Our Kat watched her Andromedean-self wreak havoc when our timeline skewed. She knew what she was capable of, and what fate was winding her up for in Fayrstar. One way or another, magic finds a way of driving us all to the brink.”

“In our world, she went mad,” I say, tingles crawling up my spine.

“Oh, yes. Pandora Carrow was quite mad.”

“I’m sorry—” Tomorrow interrupts abruptly, sounding more accusatory than I would’ve liked. “It’s great that we want to talk about your mom and all that, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that somehow, we’ve magically been transported to a different version of our world, and it’s been decimated.”

“Yes, what happened here?” Sabbath asks, her gaze lurking toward the window where the last rays of the sun glimmer through the shifting silhouettes of ivy leaves. Apparently, the explanation is quite a long one, if Pippa’s soft exhale is any indication.

There’s a moment of silence as we all think back on the things we saw, until the kettle’s low whistle veers to a sudden, hollow shriek. I jump.

“Bit of tea?” Pippa offers. The teapot on the cart next to me soars into the air, teacups lifting from their station to hover in front of each of us.

The others pluck their cups from mid-air and settle in as the pot makes its magical rounds, seeming endlessly full of a dark, earthy tea. Pippa clasps her own cup between her hands, the steam dancing in front of her face as she begins.

OH BOY, I swear I try to behave but then I'm like, "Whoops, guess now there are parallel dimensions in my magic story." Is this a twist you were expecting?!

xx Jessa


Copyright © 2019 Jessa Lucas

All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

bottom of page