It was both slowly and steadily that Ms Bling rose higher and higher upwards. As she rose, she realised that she was not entirely sure how exactly she was ‘flying’.
It took some time for her to figure out how to flap her newly acquired wings. She tried to propel herself with a breaststroke movement. However, it was when she rolled her shoulders forwards that her wings flapped harder. By rolling her shoulders back the beautiful wings slowed their beating.
Ms V knew she ought to be more than terrified at what was happening to her. But something in the voices echoing above soothed her, made her feel completely at ease. She dared to look below her; Sebastian was now a tiny figure waving up at her from the ground, a look of pride set firmly on his face.
It felt like an age before Ms V finally arrived at her mysterious destination, touching down on a circle of stone that seemed to be floating high up in the nothingness.
Around her were six stone columns all towering even higher, reaching up towards the sky. As if sensing her arrival the columns begun to sink slowly downwards, bringing the figures that stood upon them into her line of sight.
She could see them stood firmly atop five of the columns but she couldn’t determine their exact form: they were like glowing white spirits that appeared to be constantly ebbing and flowing in and out of existence. Looking at each one in turn she noticed that one of the columns stood empty.
She frowned apprehensively as she looked at it, unsure if this space was meant for her. Ms V wondered whether or not she should move towards the empty pillar. Was she supposed to claim her place or wait for an invitation? Ms V began to panic, fearing that she had made a mistake at such a crucial stage. ‘Here I am,’ she thought, ‘my one chance to show the powers that I am the right one for this path and I land in the wrong place. This could only happen to me!’
An uncomfortable silence served to amplify the confusion that Ms V was feeling. It was some time before one of the figures began to speak.
‘Welcome, Ms Bling,’ the voice said. ‘I know you must have a million questions for us to answer. I will start by telling you that this is the Hall of Souls, a place filled with magic as well as mystery.’
Ms V looked around, ‘Yes,’ she thought, ‘this place does feel different.’
‘We are the powers that be, Ms V: the five guardians of all that is right and virtuous in the universe. We maintain the vital balance that keeps people safe and away from harm. Each one of us has a unique set of skills and knowledge; by bringing all of this together, we create harmony for all.’
Ms V looked towards the empty space, wondering what to do. ‘Why the empty spot? Is it for me?’ she said, carefully selecting her words so as not to look stupid.
‘Alas, that is the column of our fallen one,’ the speaker said, turning a stare towards the vacant space. ‘They decided against a life of unity and peace, desiring something much more. They are no longer a part of our group I am afraid, Ms V, and as well as this, they are the reason you are now here.’
At this point, Ms V sensed she should not press the matter any further. Asking frivolous questions of these powerful beings could result in her being reprimanded and never knowing about her true path. Despite the questions running through her mind, Ms V decided that being quiet and listening was the right option. But her silence did not deter the being, who seemed to sense the thoughts within her mind.
‘It was a long time ago that the fallen one left us. He was an important and powerful part of our plan. But he turned away from the path-’ before he could finish his sentence another one of the entities spoke.
‘That is enough for now, let’s not frighten the child. In fact, we must first determine that she is indeed the one...’
It was this comment that brought the other entities to life. They all muttered amongst themselves in agreement and raised their arms out to the side, linking themselves together. The five distinct entities that stood before her began to swirl in a giddying dance, faster and faster, blurring into one another; they rapidly distilled into a single figure, formed of a continuously writhing, cloudy substance.
It was with one voice that this combined entity spoke to Ms V. However, she could still sense differing personalities and tones behind the words.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ said the voice quietly, ‘close your eyes and open your mind to us. Let us feel your essence.’
Ms V felt tongue-tied, and simply nodded her head in agreement, although the slow and uncertain motion she did this with only betrayed her nervousness and mistrust of what it was she was agreeing to. The entity continued to expand outward until all she could see was mist encompassing her. Ms V thought that this must be how it feels to be inside a cloud.
The mist thickened and swirled around her body, almost caressing her. It felt moist and cold as it touched her skin, tickling her and making the hairs on her arms and the back of her neck stand on end.
Then the mist entered her; it seeped in through her nostrils and mouth, feeling fresh and cool. Ms V thought she must welcome this, allow the mist to fill her from within, but she felt a sense of foreboding, something ominous.
The mist that was collecting within her felt dark, turning her cold from the inside. She began to struggle to breathe; somewhere deep inside her a voice was crying out, almost screaming for them to stop.
The screaming inside became louder and louder, almost deafening, building in pressure. Before she knew it she was opening her mouth to release the sound, and she was surprised to find that it was emanating not from her throat, but from deep within.
‘How can this be?’ she thought to herself. The columns around her began to shake violently. A power rippling from her that was now affecting solid rock! She did not understand it. The entity surrounding her began to feel different. It was almost as if it was afraid of the power within her.
The scream continued to get even louder and as it did, the columns around her started to crumble.
A voice came from the nothingness, belonging in some form to the mist itself.
‘MAKE IT STOP!’ the voice cried. “Please, make it stop! It’s deafening… AHHHHHHH!’
But the voice inside Ms V did not stop; it continued to rise in volume until it felt as if it would explode from her. The mist began to leave her body and she could hear the voices whispering around her.
‘You can scream as much as you like, we tasted her. You can’t protect her forever. We know she is not ready and we are coming, coming for her and coming for you!’
Ms V had no idea what was happening around her. Who were the voices talking to? She had been sure that when she reached the Hall of Souls she was supposed to feel enlightened by the powers that be. Instead she was perched on a floating stone platform with ethereal wings on her back and an inner cry that was not her own. To add to her confusion the place around her was collapsing and the powers that be had abandoned her, not before making threats and screaming out in fear. As soon as the entity was gone, Ms V let out a sigh of relief. She was alone and she could breathe again. All was calm once more, as if whatever had just happened, hadn’t.
She turned her back and looked down to try to locate Sebastian.
In a split second the air changed again, became charged with something she wasn’t sure she liked. A dark, black entity materialised in front of her, bathed seemingly in a cloak and with glaring, fiery red eyes staring deep into her.
‘We will have you!’ It snarled. Teeth flashed in the light, sharp and pointed. ‘You will be ours. We promise you that!’
Just as quickly as it had appeared, it suddenly vanished, leaving Ms V alone and confused.