Welcome to The Hollow where the unusual is usual.
Dark clouds swirled in gray skies as Sarah Osborne laid in an awkward position atop a bundle of hay. She whispered a silent spell evoking a power that would temporarily keep her allergies at bay while she attempted a more complicated and potent incantation. The spell would either heal her... or kill her.
She glanced over at Nicholas. He was so unassuming. No normal person would know by looking at him that he was a vampire. Only luck kept him from turning demonic like most of the other blood suckers. He told her once that because he didn't want to be turned that he retained his mortal soul.
Sarah wasn't so sure.
She'd done her own research over the years. Nicholas de Charme was practically a saint back in 500 A.D. In fact, she wasn't so sure he wasn't the true Saint Nicholas, but her theory had yet to pan out. One day she would make it stick.
What other reason was there? He was a saint unexpectedly turned sinner. Maybe that was how he entered her house uninvited. He was pure where good in an evil form. She was certain of it, even if she couldn't prove it.
"Sarah? Sarah?" Nicholas screamed and shouted her name, only now did she realize how loudly he was doing it. "Answer me, dammit!"
"I'm still alive," Sarah whispered, all the time wondering how long she would be able to hold on.
"Thank God." He expelled a breath he didn't know he was holding. "You're still with me."
"You can't get rid of me that easily, de Charme." Sarah's voice was weak, her pain evident.
"You fell fifteen feet!" Nicholas announced sternly.
"And I was caught by this wagon-load of hay. I'll be all right."
Sarah tried to get a better look at Nicholas' face, but he was masked in the shadows destiny had forced him to hide in. Little by little his face became blurry until she couldn't see anything at all. Sarah's head slipped to the side. She was unconscious.
"Sarah, stay with me!" Nicholas screamed. "Sarah! SARAH!!"
Cora Laskey thought Lincoln Merlin and Lane Larson had lost it. She wasn't any more enchanted than the next person. She looked at them skeptically.
"What makes you think I'm the one?" Cora was very scientific about things. If she didn't get proof that something was true. She didn't believe it.
"The prophesy told of your coming. The one who would bring good to the Hollow." Lane told her simply.
Cora was not buying it. "The prophesy may have told of someone coming, but that someone isn't me!" She sighed and leaned against the wall. "Right now, I'd rather be with my brother, David, than here with the two of you."
Before Linc or Lane could say anything more, Cora disappeared.
Maurice sat nose to nose with David.
"What seems to be your biggest problem?" the cat asked.
"Oh, I don't know," David roared with his mind. "It might have something to do with my turning into STONE!"
David was able to utter one more syllable then suddenly he lost all form of speech. Maurice sat and stared in wonder. "Whoops," he said. "I waited too long to say the incantation. Oh, well, another day, another dead person."
Maurice jumped down from David's shoulder and wandered back toward town. Maybe someone would come back and let the poor boy out of his stone coffin. Or maybe they wouldn't and then the saintly Nicholas would never find out how he accidently let a mortal stay too long in Morgan's stone prison. But it was no skin off his nose, the kid was only a mortal, after all.
Few residents of the Hollow ever saw the real Merlin from Camelot. Sure there was Merlin's ancestor Lincoln, the sometimes trustworthy magician, but even he could not conjure the spells the grand wizard of medieval times could. He no longer held onto mortal form, since his husk had been shed centuries ago. He was only an astral essence now, a shadow of what had once been.
"Nicholas." The word drifted to him as if on the wind.
"Merlin?" Nicholas knew that voice, knew who was calling him.
A blue blur of energy appeared drawing him into its radiance. Suddenly, Nicholas found himself transported to a plane of existence where few ever returned.
"Hello, my boy," Merlin said somewhat in jest since Nicholas was actually centuries older than the wizard himself.
"Why have you called me here?"
Merlin could sense Nicholas' fury. But soon that flame would dim and the man with more even sensibilities would replace him once again. Merlin knew the rage was only the demon's attempt to free itself from the prison of Nicholas' nobility.
"My summoning is two-fold. It was not the wish of the Powers that Sarah Osborne die. She has more things to do and accomplish in her lifetime."
Nicholas merely nodded as if he too knew the fate of Sarah Osborne.
"The key is midnight," Merlin said cryptically. "There is a witching hour when many things are possible, even this."
The aged vampire knew not to question Merlin. He would only be allowed to spend a short time in this dimension before he was banished once again.
"The second thing?"
"Patience, my young knight, is a virtue." Melin sat back and tapped his fingers together. "Years ago you were given a reprieve from your vampire state. Twenty-four hours to be a mortal man again."
"I remember. It seems like only yesterday."
"You and Katherine came together at that time."
"We made love, yes," Nicholas said. "What does this have to do with anything?"
Merlin continued as if Nicholas hadn't interrupted him. "The next day Katherine was gone from us. Taken out of the Hollow and far away. During this time she bore you a child. A child with great power that will help you fight against the darkness."
"A child?" The word felt foreign on his tongue. Never had he thought it possible that he could have a son or a daughter. He had given up that dream when he became cursed by the darkness."
"She will need training. She doesn't know what she truly is – a prophesy becoming flesh. She doesn't believe, Nicholas. You must make her believe."
"A girl?" he said in awe. "I have a daughter?"
"Yes, and she will be very confused. She doesn't believe in spirits or ghosts or anything that lives in this dark realm. Train her well, young knight and you will be victorious once again.
Ella Morris ran until she could run no more. Somehow, someway, she had evaded Jack and been released from the prison of his shadowy flesh. She shivered in remembrance.
Up ahead she saw Maurice standing near Morgan's statue... only for some reason the statue now looked male.
"Okay, fur ball. What is going on?" Ella asked with accusation in her voice.
"It wasn't my fault." Maurice bounded away from her but Ella magically brought him back.
"Spill it, catnip breath."
"The boy. I found him trapped in Morgan's statue. I could hear his thoughts. And you know how I always wonder if spells are exact to the minute? Well, I was wondering...."
"You were wondering if the kid croaked and then you said the incantation if he would live again?"
"Well, I wouldn't have put it that horrifically, but basically... yes."
"You idiot!" Ella boomed. "He's surely dead now."
Ella said the incantation and then pulled the astral form of David Laskey out of the statue.
"Whoa, that was so weird," David said. He watched as a woman with a bashed in skull walked past him. "Let me guess, it's Halloween, right?"
Ella sighed and turned toward Maurice. "I hate when you do this. The last dead person who could see me stuck around for 6 weeks."
David hadn't noticed before but they were at the edge of a graveyard. A few people sat on grave stones looking strangely gruesome, and staring at him with sunken and sullen expressions.
"This is too weird. Please tell me you're seeing what I'm seeing." David finally noticed that his hand wasn't quite solid any longer. It shimmered in the moonlight.
"Well, it depends, what are you seeing?" Maurice asked.