The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 28

The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 28

The flames roared and crackled with evil intent, as if the fire had a will of its own. Its scorching heat brought Cassie, blistering, to her knees. She was coughing and couldn’t catch her breath, soon to completely lose herself to its all- consuming power. Scarlett looked her over one last time.

“Good-bye, Cassie,” she said. “It was nice knowing you.” Cassie’s face burned from the sweltering heat. This must be what hell would feel like, she thought, this never-ending torture by fire. Cut off from her mother, and her friends, and Adam, Cassie was dying alone. And here was Scarlett, the stronger daughter, the wicked sister, and the last living face Cassie would look upon before her death.

But she couldn’t give up. She forced herself to her feet and got as close to Scarlett as the flames would allow. The Tools had darkened to a sinister sheen on Scarlett’s body.

Black John is in her, Cassie thought.

But he is also in me.

Scarlett seemed to notice a change in Cassie’s eyes. It was enough to cause her to back away.

“He is in me,” Cassie said, aloud this time, and it powered up some secret recess within her, like an emergency generator that kicks on in a blackout.

Scarlett continued backing away, through the flames, toward the exit. The fire protection spell was still working for her, but she was suddenly afraid.

The power of fire, Cassie thought. The power of fire is in me.

And then something cracked open somewhere deep inside Cassie’s chest, that dark space she’d never accessed before. It frightened her, the burst of energy she felt as the word left her lips. “Burn!” she commanded.

And Scarlett did. Midway through the flames on her way to the door, she screamed as brutally as Cassie had heard in her nightmare. No longer was she protected from the fire, no longer could she step safely from the burning house to the cool air outside.

Scarlett jumped back from the door, furiously batting out the flames from her clothes. Then she turned to Cassie. “I thought you were good,” she said.

Cassie stood tall, newly energized. “Likewise.” Cassie could feel something churning deep within her gut. It rose up her throat like black bile and escaped her mouth as a scream that caused the kitchen faucet to rupture into a geyser. Then the walls shook, and every pipe within them burst, spurting cold water across the room in diagonal torrents. The fire was extinguished within seconds.

Scarlett drew away, shocked by this turn of events, but she had her own commands at her disposal as well as the Master Tools to enhance her power. “Fragilis!” she shouted, thrusting her open palms at Cassie.

It was a Latin spell Cassie didn’t understand, but it made her drop to the floor like all the energy had been drained out her drop to the floor like all the energy had been drained out of her. Her body felt heavy, and the room began to spin.

She couldn’t even lift her head.

“Sentis infirma.” Scarlett directed her charged fingers to Cassie’s head and then her heart.

Cassie became so feeble and tired, woozy to the point of faintness, she was sure she was dying.

This is it, Cassie thought. Scarlett is just too strong.

She’d lost.

She wished that she could see Adam at that moment, to have his be the last face she looked upon before going to her death. She remembered the chalcedony rose in her pocket and limply felt for it. It took all the energy she had left to work it into her hand. She squeezed it as tightly as her fingers would allow and imagined Adam’s strong, loving face with such concentration that she swore he actually appeared. The smoke cleared, and Adam’s dark red hair seemed to her so close and real, she believed she could see its every highlight. This must be what dying was.

Cassie was too weak to smile, but she was grateful her final wish had come true.

It took a second for Cassie to realize that Adam was actually in the house standing over her. It really was him. He took her face into his hands and called out her name. She felt herself falling in and out of consciousness. Like in her nightmares and visions, her sight was both cloudy and vivid at the same time, a disordered, mystifying confusion. But the connection between her and Adam in this heightened moment was intense. The silver cord that hummed between them materialized, brighter and more pronounced than Cassie had ever seen it before. It appeared so lifelike, she swore she could reach out and touch it with her fingertips.

Her chest overfilled with love as she followed the cord’s path from Adam’s heart to her own. But then as she looked closer, she noticed something strange. There were two silver cords. One was reaching from Adam to her, and the other was reaching from Adam to Scarlett.

In a flash, both cords were gone. Just like that. Cassie wasn’t even sure Adam saw it.

That had to be a mistake, a hallucination. It was impossible to decipher what was real anymore and what was her imagination.

“Cassie.” Adam still had her face in his hands. “Stay with me, Cassie. Stay awake.”

She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes and turned to see all of them there – Diana and the rest of the Circle.

They had Scarlett surrounded.

“Give us the Master Tools,” Diana said. “And we won’t have to hurt you.”

“I’d like to see you try.” Scarlett laughed.

Diana stood motionless. It took a moment for her to realize she couldn’t do magic, but once she did, Scarlett hurled her hands at her. “Praestrangulo,” she said.

Instantly Diana clutched her throat with both hands and dropped to her knees, struggling to breathe.

“She’s suffocating!” Adam jumped to his feet, and Cassie cried out, but she was still too weak stop him. He charged toward Scarlett, chanting, “Earth my body, water my blood.”

Faye and the others fell in behind him. “Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath, and fire my spirit!” Cassie screamed, “It won’t work!” But none of them would listen, or maybe her screaming was only as loud as a whisper. She couldn’t tell.

“Caecitas!” Scarlett fanned her hand at the group.

Adam cried out first. “I can’t see,” he said. And then, one by one, each of them shrieked, covering their eyes. Scarlett had blinded them.

Diana was writhing on the floor, turning blue and coughing. Cassie had no strength, but she had to do something. The darkness was in her; she couldn’t be afraid to reach down into it. Even if it killed her, it was the only way to save her friends.

It took all her might to climb to her feet.

Scarlett, seeing her get up, grabbed her bags and ran for the door.

Cassie pushed with her mind and let loose a debilitating cry. “Scarlett!”

She searched her soul for the words, the darkest most debilitating spell she could think of, but Scarlett was out the door and gone within seconds.

“Magicae negrae conversam,” Cassie said feebly. Those were the words that came to her after Scarlett had escaped.

Diana gasped and inhaled. Adam blinked his eyes back to sight. Slowly, everyone regained their senses. Cassie’s strength returned, and she went to Adam and held him.

There were scratches where he’d been clawing at his eyelids.

“Did you just undo Scarlett’s spells?” he asked.

Cassie nodded, and then she looked at the sooty, sweaty faces of her friends who’d risked their lives to save her. How could she ever apologize enough for what they’d just been through?

“I was wrong about Scarlett,” she said. “But I guess you figured that out by now.”

The tint of suffocation still hadn’t fully left Diana’s face.

“What just happened?” she asked. “Scarlett was untouchable.”

“You were right that she’s evil,” Cassie said, hardly able to look Diana in the eye. “She was doing black magic. She said that was the only magic that would work here. That’s why none of you could cast spells.”

“But then how did you – ?” Diana stopped herself mid-question, when the answer occurred to her.

Cassie looked down. She could hear Faye walk a circle around the burnt-out room, her boots crackling upon the ruined floor with each step.

“I knew it all along,” Faye said. “Cassie has black magic in her.”

It was true. There was no use denying it, as much as Cassie wanted to.

Cassie searched Adam’s face for a reaction, terrified of what it might be.

But Adam’s eyes filled with tears, and he pulled Cassie in toward his chest. “I’m so glad you’re okay,” he said.

Cassie didn’t feel like she deserved his comforting, and tried to break free from his arms.

Adam squeezed her tighter. “You just saved our lives,” he said.

“I almost cost you your lives,” Cassie said, no longer able to stop herself from crying. “All of this is my fault. All of it, and I am so sorry.”

Diana placed her hand on Cassie’s back. “We’re all in this together,” she said. “And we’re all okay. That’s what matters.”

Cassie began to sob into Adam’s chest. “But I want to be good.”

“You are good.” Diana hugged Cassie from behind, sandwiching her between herself and Adam. “You can’t start doubting that.”

“Scarlett is the evil one,” Adam said. “Not you.” Cassie appreciated their support. They meant well, and she knew that, but the truth was, none of them could be sure what the ability to perform black magic meant for Cassie.

Faye smiled at her like a new discovery. “How does it feel?” she asked.

“I just feel like going home,” Cassie said.