Chapter 43: Temptation
Ethan smiled invitingly at Andrea. She took another step back. Perhaps it was a trick of the dim light, but something unpleasant appeared to be lurking behind his expression. It was less a smile than baring his teeth. Andrea realized that her nerves were still on edge after the melee in the church, but she did not want to dismiss the weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. No good ever came from ignoring her gut feelings. It suddenly dawned on Andrea what was bothering her. The exaggerated smile and sly look in his eyes was the same way Ethan looked at marks, right before he relieved them of their cash.
“C’mon step through the mirror.”
“I can’t leave Janet. She’s got a fever.”
“All the more reason for her to stay behind. She’s in good hands with Marko. He’ll take good care of her.”
“But where would we go?”
“Anywhere we want. I just made a big score.”
Ethan held up the most beautiful gold ring Andrea had ever seen was nestled in his palm. He offered it to her. Andrea held out her left hand. Ethan’s hands reached out from the mirror. He was placing the ring in her palm, when Janet stepped from behind a stack of crates and startled them. She stayed back, cloaked in darkness. Andrea saw only her silhouette.
“What’s going on here?”
“Oh, you startled me sis. Ethan was just inviting me…I mean us…”
“No, you had it right the first time I’m sure. There’s no love lost between he and I. So you were just going to take off and leave me in a lurch for the umpteenth time?”
“You’ve got it all wrong. I would never leave you when you’re sick. He was showing me something. You gotta see what Ethan can do. It’s amazing.”
“Whatever it is can’t possibly be half as exciting as you’re making it out to be.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I’m saying that I don’t like that wild look in your eyes. You know how manic you get when you’re off your meds.”
“I really wish you’d stop blaming my mental health, every time we have a difference of opinion.”
“It’s more than that and you know it Andrea. Here we are trapped with a gang of Mukesh’s men literally trying to break down the door and you’re back here acting like you’re at a party and Ethan is doing parlour tricks.”
“It’s much more than a parlour trick. He can manifest things out of thin air! He can get us out of here and take us someplace…don’t look at me like that Janet. Look, if you don’t wanna go with him just say the word…”
“I don’t want to go with Ethan.”
“Even though as you pointed out, we’re trapped in here?”
“I would rather stand and fight with the others. They saved us. What about Marko and all the things he’s done for us, asking for nothing in return? It wouldn’t be right to abandon them.”
“Fine…sorry Ethan, my sister doesn’t want to go with you. I guess I’m stuck here. Ethan, let go of my hand. I said we’re not going. What are you doing?”
Andrea tried for a third time and failed to pull her hand free. Janet rushed forward and then stopped.
“Andrea, tha..that’s not Ethan,” Janet sputtered.
“What are you talking about? You think I don’t know my own friend?”
“Something has been bothering me and I just realized what it is. His eyes are the wrong color.”
Janet ran to her sister’s aid, but she was weak in her compromised state. Andrea’s arm disappeared into the mirror, sending ripples across the otherwise smooth surface. Janet was so intent on rescuing her sister that she leaned close to the glass and almost failed to see Ethan’s free hand swipe at the talisman around her neck. Janet jerked backwards, throwing herself off-balance and she fell to the floor.
Andrea pulled back forcefully and Ethan’s hand extended out of the mirror up to his wrist. There was a loud crash and the sisters looked up in time to see shards of the mirror raining to the floor. They scooted backwards with their faces turned away. Jagathy emerged from the gloom and helped them to their feet.
“Sorry about that ladies. I had to destroy that portal, before Mukesh came through.”
“Portal? You mean that mirror was…”
“A gateway between dimensions. Mukesh was using it to try to take a hostage.”
Andrea shook her head in disbelief, “I was talking to Ethan. He even touched my hand.”
“It was a glamour spell. My guess is that you were thinking about Ethan or dreaming about him. That’s how the spell works. It affects the senses, so he was able to make you see and feel what you wanted, in order to lure you to him.”
Janet snapped her fingers, ” That explains why his eyes were the wrong color. You always swear they’re hazel, when they’re really just light brown.”
“But Ethan gave me a ring,” Andrea stubbornly insisted. She opened her palm and was mystified to find it empty. Jagathy’s revelation finally sunk in. Andrea felt foolish. How had she been fooled so easily? Janet was weak with fever and she still had sense enough not to fall for Mukesh’s trick. Andrea had almost allowed herself to be snatched. They heard footsteps behind them and Marko appeared.
“I heard glass breaking. Is everybody okay?”
“We’re fine, I was just being stupid again.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Mukesh is a very powerful spell practitioner,” Jagathy soothed.
“So, why doesn’t he just blast that door down?”
“It’s hard to explain. Mukesh is highly intelligent… a little too intelligent. It causes him to over think things sometimes. He knows if he were in our position, then he would seal the door with magic or set up a trap for anyone who broke down the door. I knew he would make that assumption, which would buy us some time, so I opted to conserve my energy. Being electrocuted took a lot out of me.”
The trio followed Marko back toward their resting places. They rounded the corner and Marko suddenly thrust out a restraining arm. They paused, looking at him quizzically. He pointed towards the door. Dirty gray smoke was puffing underneath it. They spent an indecisive moment staring. It took them a moment to notice that the warrior posted at the door had fallen asleep. In a flash, the smoke snaked its way around his body. Marko shouted, but it was too late.
The smoke flowed into the warrior’s nostrils, causing him to cough forcefully. He awoke looking confused and alarmed. His hands went to his throat, tearing at his collar. For a terrifying moment, he couldn’t catch his breath and seemed on the verge of collapse. The warrior’s eyes opened and his eyeballs slowly rolled back up into his head. They could see only the whites of his eyes. He swayed unsteadily. Marko rushed forward to catch him. Rather than pass out, the warrior suddenly reached down and pulled a knife from a sheath strapped to his ankle. More smoke rolled in underneath the door, spreading out over the floor around them.
“What’s happening,” shouted Janet.
“It’s a possession spell. He’s under Mukesh’s control. Quick, we’ve got to wake the others,” Jagathy warned.