The Place Where it all Began: Chapter 5 FINAL


The Place Where it all Began, Chapter 5

Julia Akre, Reporter

The last and final installation of The Marian Pheonix‘s short novella series. The mysterious build-up of the story came to a climax as family secrets are revealed, connections are deepened and the dark shadows lurking in the background show their true colors.

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 2

Chapter 1


She examined the room again. Everyone was in the same position as she was. On the ground, their faces edged in pain. She instinctively looked for Jonathan, the only one she couldn’t account for. The room was dimly lit now. She looked for the fire of the Torch.

“Um, I could use some help over here!” Jonathan said. Her body protested as she moved, no doubt new bruises were starting to form. She turned around and saw one of the monsters stalking him. It was the fox-shaped one from earlier she realized. She didn’t feel the same scared feeling as the last time she was so close to it.

It began circling him, sniffing the ground, slowly getting closer, he waved the Lighter, the fire was low, and he pushed himself off the ground, tinkering with the small dial. She guessed he was trying to get more fire to come out.

“Hold on!” it was Amila. She ran over to him, holding her wrist close to her chest. She stood between him and the beast. It looked confused at this new development. It sniffed deeper. Amila began singing.

Quite now as the day is done

The stars have come calling us to rest.

I tell you, my love,

Nothing more to do as the moonlight comes. 

Elizabeth pushed herself to her feet, watching it consciously. It looked intently at Amila as she sang. Elizabeth gasped without thinking. She knew the song. Her Grandmother sang it to her when she was young.

It slowly began to look around the room and the interest in the song vanished, examining everyone there. Its eyes found hers. She stumbled back, there it was, but stronger than any other time in the past. The hair-prickling chill invaded her whole body. The same feeling as before.

It moved closer.

“Hello,” she said, her voice a quivering whisper. She cleared it. “Amila, what do I do?”

“Josephine, sing with me!” Amila said. Inching closer to the monster.

Cough cough, “What?” Josephine said.

“For whatever reason, they respond to the song, the solo you did! That was for this purpose.”

The beast began to growl at Amila, then Josephine. Before turning back to Elizabeth. Its face lost its harsh lines of hostility when it looked at her.

“I’ll do it,” she said,  her voice seeming to echo off the walls. Everyone was silent and looked at her intently. She ignored them, she never broke eye contact with the fox, its white eyes stark against the midnight-black smoky fur.

Shadows of old watch over the night

Elizabeth sang the song as she remembered it. The same way her grandmother did it.

Creeping and walking, their claws keeping those sleeping safely. 

She hadn’t heard these words in such a long time. Still, she could never forget them. They belong to her grandmother, her guardian, and her caretaker.

She kept watching the shadow creature. It kept moving closer, however, she didn’t notice any of the predatory maneuvers anymore. It just looked curious about her. The white eyes began looking more and more like small moons glowing.

Never let one catch you awake 

She felt the hot stinging tears come, pooling in her eyes. They came too fast for her to keep them back, pushing them deep down. She had discovered her Grandmother’s secret but what is this all about? Why! Why did the monster respond to her grandmother’s lullaby?

Last it might take 

You. bring you to a place far away.

She tried to keep her voice steady. But to no avail. She cried out the last two verses. When it was over she covered her face, trying to keep her cries as silent as possible. It only caused her whole body to shake.

Amila spoke first, her voice a breathy panic, “Elizabeth!”

Elizabeth lowered her hands only to find the shadow fox sadly approaching her. It made a soft weak whimper, she tensed but it only rubbed its head across her legs. It was comforting her, she realized, shocked. She looked up at her party. Everyone was just as confused. She looked down at the beast. Its moon-white eyes looked up at her, she saw herself in them. Her pain, the hole left behind by her grandmother. It understood, somehow it knew too. She was dead. Elizabeth reached down, her hand disappearing within its fur of shadows. It was rougher than she thought it would be. Fascinating.

“What happened to her?” she asked it. It leaned into her thigh before walking off.

Again she looked at those around her. Clara had her hands pressed against her mouth, at some point during the exchange she got farther away and now stood behind Josephine, who was staring at Elizebeth, a hand on her hip. Shocked and impressed.

Amila was less so. She looked to be… angry. Jonathan who was still behind her, run a hand through his hair. He was watching where the fox was going.

She followed his gaze, it was walking off, out of the glow of the Lighter’s fire. She took the first move to follow it. Jonathan followed her, his torch being the only way to keep track of the monster. She heard the scuffle of shoes as the rest followed.

“You doing ok?” Jonathan asked, quietly. Despite his best efforts to stay inconspicuous, she guessed from the rest of the group, it was to no avail. His voice ricochets off the walls. She didn’t doubt that everyone could hear them.

“No. actually. That was the song my grandmother sang to me. I don’t understand why that is the song these monsters respond to. All I can think of right now is that my Grandmother had something to do with creating these things but why would she do that? What are they used for? Who wants them?”

“We’ll find out. I want to know too. The shadow fox creature seemed to become more relaxed the more emotion you sang with. It was remarkable to see.”

“Thanks.” was all she said. The compliment was not something she heard very often. She did do a remarkable thing she supposed, but wasn’t it really her grandmother’s song, she just memorized it?

Time seemed to be sucked out and taken into the darkness surrounding them. Elizabeth lost track of how long they walked as time seemed to meld together.

At some point in following the silent beast, a large door came into view. Elizabeth craned her neck back to get a better look at the large wooden door. Fire and smoke tendrils had been carved along the border. On the door was a painted forest, and in the foreground was a hooded lady, her hands outstretched to a variety of smoking monsters. Her face was completely covered. Her long gown flowed in an invisible wind. The monsters all looked up at her. Coming to her as if she was their master.

The fox looked at Elizabeth the sensation of the stare drew her attention back to the matter at hand. Its solum eyes gave her a sense of clarity. Her mind calmed, her body grew steady, and she reached forward. The decorative brass handle was cold to the touch. With one final look down at the fox she pushed the door open.

“What are you doing?” Amila hissed.

Elizabeth said nothing as all her strength was used on the door, the metal hinges squeaked a terrible sound as it opened.

“Do you really think this is a good idea?” Jonathan said, peering over her shoulder.

“No…” Elizabeth admitted and stepped into the room.

It was dimly lit inside, the place seemed as though a tornado had gone through. Papers were scattered all throughout the room. Wooden chairs and desks were shattered on the ground. In the center of it, all was a large glass window. The frame that was encasing the glass was plain. Simple and unscathed. In complete contrast to the rest of the room which was in utter chaos.

The frame seemed to glow a pale bright blue.

The fox appeared beside her. Elizabeth jumped, startled by its presence. It looked at the glass. It’s head down.

“Look at this,” Jonathan said, holding a price of paper. Elizabeth had not realized the rest of the group was already in the room and looking around. She shook herself and walked over to Jonathan. The fox lay down, still looking at the glass.

“What is it?” she asked.

“It’s the lyrics of the song you sang. I guess it was true that whoever did all this uses the song to control the monster, just like how you did.”

“But why was I able to? and why was it the same song that my grandmother sang to me?”

“Elizabeth, what is your grandmother’s maiden name,” Amila said.

“Um,” her stomach twisted, and her palms became sweaty. “August Westworth. My grandmother had a higher title than my grandfather so he took her name to have higher status.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. She’s the author of this document.”

“And what’s the document?”

“‘Testing was successful. The gate opened after many nights of testing. The song theory is correct. After reaching the specific notes progression and with the right incantation the door opened to the Nightingmist realm. The beasts are like nothing we have ever seen. They are smoky wisp-like creatures. They have a mass to them, unclear what their bodies look like. We start infusing with earthly creatures immediately.’” Amila read. “she was a part of the program that made these things.” she said so matter of factly but how could this be? her grandmother’s name should not be on that paper.

“There’s more. it seems to be from a later date.” Clear said, “After some losses, the trials were a success. The Nightingmist creatures have been fused with earthy creatures such as a cat, a dog, two raccoons, and a fox. They respond well to the same song that opened the door. I’ve had to sing to them many times to calm them down as the process was invasive. They are slippery creatures, being able to phase into and out through shadows. The lab has been extensively lit to avoid any shadow.” 

Elizabeth looked back at the fox sitting down on the cold stone. She searched the dark area again. She noticed glass shattered on the ground. Wires and tubes strone about. Something very tragic took place here. Her world mirrored the mass. Her mind was on the utter rack.

“Where are the other animals?” Josephine said.

“Where indeed.” Madam Carville’s voice came from the entrance. Everyone gasped in horror to see her leaning on the door frame. She was alone. Her tall intimidating features were no longer held. She looked small and defeated. “I tried to keep you all away. Tried to hide this horrid history from you students.” she pushed off the wall. Elizabeth looked back at the fox, but it was gone! It had hidden away now that Madam Carville was here. She reached down and picked up a piece of paper, her arms crossed over her stomach. Her head hung low.

“What happened here?” Amile’s voice was cold. She moved in front of Elizabeth, hiding her from Madam Carville. “Why is it a mess?”

“The experiment failed. The infusion of the earthly animals and the Nightingmistwas a disaster. After we thought we had cracked the code, we brought it in light so they could not easily escape. We were doing nothing but killing them slowly. They were animals trapped in a corner and attacked.” she dropped the paper, it softly sifted to the ground. “I do not know why that fox did not attack you. What did you do to it?” She looked over at Amila and at Elizabeth behind her.

“How did you open the portal?” Elizabeth walked past Amila. Appreciative of her stepsister but being protected was not what she wanted. This was not what she wanted to know. Not what she wanted to see, but even still… this made all too much sense. Her grandmother’s elusive behavior, her quiet side that would hide in her eyes every time Elizabeth asked about this school. “What made August so unhappy here?”

Madam Carville winced. “No one but her can open the portal. She was the one that found the right notes to make it open. She was the one that these beasts responded to.” Her voice rose as she spoke, and emotion began clouding her words. “She was so unhappy when those monsters went out of control and killed every researcher here. Every student that was assisting, every professor that was helping. They went crazy and either destroyed themselves or ran away! Wreaking havoc on who knows what! And you want to know what your grandmother did? August went rogue and would not help us find them. She distanced herself and destroyed her attachment to this palace exempt from what was in this room. She never stepped in here again. We’ve been desperately trying to find someone who could sing like her but everyone has been so disappointing.”

“Is that why you kidnapped me?” Clare said. Rushing to the forefront, “Is that what you were trying to do? See if I could open the gate to whatever? Because you messed up you up routed my life-!” Jonathan dashed forward gripping her waist and pulled her back.

“And what a disappointment you were. Josephine was going to be the next test subject. Her performance was Magnifique.” Madam Carville said, as though the almost attack was nothing but a brush of wind.

Elizabeth swiped away the pain and tears welling up. “Get out.”

“What?” Madam Carville said. More shocked than anything. Her anger was overshadowed.

“I said, get out. You’ve done enough damage. It’s time someone cleaned up your mess.”

“Elizabeth?” Jonathan said quietly.

“What are you going to do?” Madam Carville said.

Elizabeth looked over at Jonathan, giving him a hard look, and said, “guard me?” Something in his eyes shifted, and he nodded. Clare seems to understand her request as her body relaxed, Jonathan let her go, and the two girls made eye contact. A wave of understanding of what Elizabeth was going to do passed over her face. Clare looked grave but nodded all the same.

“Elizabeth, what are you doing to do?” Madam Carville’s concern grew with every word. But now was not the time to worry about her.

Elizabeth looked over into the corner of the room where she had seen two small eyes peering at her. They flickered back at the glass. The border simmered the cool blue. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do. The fox stepped out of its little hiding spot.

Madam Carville made a large gasp, but it only looked at Elizabeth.  She began to hum the melody of the lullaby. Trying to coax it out. As though it had all the answers hidden in its smoky fur. It stepped closer and Elizabeth slipped into the words. Just like her grandmother sang it.

Quite now as the day is done 

The fox walked over to her. It looked at its glass longing. Sitting down, its tail swished back and forth, filling the space with smoke,

The stars have come calling us to rest.

I tell you, my love,

Nothing more to do as the moonlight comes. 

The glass shimmered and the gate to the shadow and moonlight realm opened.