“That was a really weird day,” Ophelia said as they walked back through the park. She paused as she spotted the boy she’d seen the creature attach itself to earlier walking ahead of them. The creature was still coiled around him. “Oh it’s that boy.”
“Eh? What boy?” Sera asked.
“Long story and I doubt that you’d believe it. Let’s just say I won’t be surprised if he…” She broke off as he stopped and grabbed a tree for support before sliding to the ground. “Too late, he already has.”
“Shit! How did you know?” Sera asked. Ophelia ignored her. She was too busy listening to the voice in her head instead.
Do you want to help him, Ophelia?
Ophelia looked around for the source and spotted a small silver fireball hovering nearby.
I can tell you how to do it, it said.
“Of course I want to help! What do you take me for!” she snapped.
“Who are you talking to?” Sera had knelt down beside the boy and was checking his pulse. She pulled out her phone. “I’ll call an ambulance.”
“I’m talking to her.” Ophelia nodded towards the fireball. Somehow it didn’t phase her to be talking to an intelligent telepathic fireball. It probably should.
“Ophelia, are you feeling okay? There’s no one-” Sera broke off as the fireball seemed to solidify and sharpen. “Where did that come from?”
“You can see me now, Seraphina? But I’m not fully-”
“Excuse me!” Ophelia interrupted sharply. “How do I help him?”
“Oh, yes,” it said. “Concentrate on your desire to fight it.”
“Huh? I don’t understand.” Ophelia stared at it. The fireball had no features but she got the sense it was staring back. “Okay, okay, I’ll try.”
Ophelia took a deep breath and without knowing why lifted her hands to her heart. She pulled all of her worry and concern for the unconscious boy into herself and wished really hard that she could help him.
Red light burst from between her fingers and swirled around her before overwhelming her senses. It cleared after a long moment and she looked down to find herself glowing with the same red light. She lifted one hand and stared at it.
“What the hell! This is bloody freaky!”
“Could you please stop with the commentary and deal with the Lost One?” the fireball said.
“Er, yeah, right…” Ophelia turned towards the shadow creature which was still hovering over the boy and looking straight at her. It was still semi-transparent but seemed to be solidifying. “Um… what do I do?”
“Listen to your heart and let the crystal guide you. You’ll know what to do,” it replied. “Or so they tell me… Anyway, listen to me if all else fails, but it should know better than I do.”
“Uh,” Sera interrupted, “what’s going on and what the hell is that thing?” She pointed at the now solid monster. “Where did it come from?” Even as she spoke, it dived at Ophelia.
Ophelia jumped clear over Sera and the kid to get out of the way. “Cool!” She pivoted to face her opponent again and raised her hands towards her heart again. Her fingers closed around something warm and hard hovering just in front of her chest. She knew without looking that it was the crystal that the fireball had mentioned. “That thing is what’s making the boys collapse, Sera,” she said. “Apparently I’ve got to deal with it.” The monster twisted in the air to face her then froze at it saw the crystal. “Oh!” She stepped back as it rippled and its hands shifted and developed wicked sickle-like claws.
“The Key!â€ It dived at her again. â€œDie and take our prison with you!”