The Casting Room

The Casting Room (S03E12)

Tess had been staring intently at the fireplace and for a moment thought she saw a small plume of smoke, or ash, puffed out through the fire screen.

Someone there? She asked psychically but got no reply.

She looked back at Sam and Rhianna or, Heckle and Jeckle, as she’d come to think of them, were cackling like a couple of old chooks. Tess looked back at the fireplace but couldn’t make out what was behind the screen but knew someone, or something, was there.

If you can hear me, she said, transmitting on all frequencies. They want my power, and they wanna know where Millie is. They took the bones—Oh, please, someone be there—I’ll try to find where they hid them.

Looking back at Sam and Rhianna, Tess adjusted herself on the uncomfortable wooden chair she’d been bound to.

Taking a deep breath, she said, “Seeing as you’ve got me all to yourselves, what do you intend to do with me?”

Heckle and Jeckle stopped their laughter, spun on their heels, and glared at her.

“Shall I?” Sam asked Rhianna.

“You may,” Sam said.

“We’re gonna steal your magic—”

“Then we’re gonna throw you into the Ether,” Sam said, with an excitement verging on madness.

“But if I have no magic,” Tess said, “why would the Ether allow it?”

“What?” Rhianna asked.

“If I am not a witch,” Tess said again, “then I won’t belong to the Ether anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Sam asked, a look of confusion passing between them.

“You’ll have my magic,” Tess continued, “so I’ll no longer be supernatural… the Ether would never allow a mere mortal enter such a magical realm.”

Tess wasn’t certain if it was true or not, but hoped they didn’t know either. While Heckle and Jeckle stood dumbfounded, Tess twisted her wrists, attempting to loosen her binds, but they were bound with spelled cord. Unaware she was oozing with untapped magic, Tess thought she’d found a loose loop in the cord and twisted and wriggled her wrists to loosening them.

It worked. Tess could feel some circulation rush into her hands.

It’d been a long time since she’d practiced magic, so even Sam and Rhianna had no clue about how powerful Tess actually was. In fact, Tess was so powerful her aura was beaming a startling blue and no-one, not Sam or Rhianna, not even Tess, could see it. Her power filled the spaces around her, always had, and that’s why Tess never knew about the extent of her own abilities.

When coming into her powers, her mother’s oppression stunted her growth as a witch, and the traumatic death of her friend, Aster, Grace’s daughter, pushed her will or want to practice magic into some deep dark hole somewhere.

Grace could always see Tess’s potential and when she became the Ether, all was revealed. Tess was their saviour, she just had to believe it.

It was her daughters who were the catalyst for her acceptance, and practice, of the craft after twenty years. Saving the twins and all the other witches trapped in the Ether, even without practice, she was able to slip straight back into it. Grace was right. Tess was more powerful than any other witch in the coven, any other witch she’d crossed paths with. Though after her initial battle for her girls, Tess took small steps to her realisation and finally fearless acceptance, of her power.

Now she was being threatened that it would be taken from her, and they were using her daughters to do it. The room had an intensity that filled the air like gelatine in a glass bowl. It was keeping her off balance and was having a detrimental effect on her thoughts.

Got to have a bit magic still, Tess thought, but her worry about breaking through their spell, and Sam and Rhianna hearing her, confined her to small thoughts. Though, this blinded her to the greater picture.

Rhianna and Sam were still looking at each other. Tess knew they weren’t the brightest bulbs in the socket, but it was all a bit too much, so continued her attempts to baffle them with logic.

“Excuse me?” Tess said.

“What!” Sam snapped.

“If I am not a witch, will the Ether let you throw me in there?” she asked again. “It might just spit me back out again somewhere else, then I’d be free to hunt you down and take my power back… and you know, if you kill me, my powers will automatically go to my daughters.”

“True,” Rhianna said, “but it won’t be here, and you won’t have any power.”

“Yes,” Tess said and smiled, “but what’s stopping me coming back here and taking back my power and throwing you both out in front of a car this time?”

The Ghouls went quiet. Tess knew they were trying to find a way around it. Knew they’d have to kill her to have any opportunity to get, let alone, keep her power.

If it saves my girls, Tess thought, knowing she was willing to do whatever it took.

“We’ll kill you,” Rhianna said, and Tess worried they’d read her mind, though she didn’t need to worry.

“But if you kill me, how will you get my powers?”

“What?” Rhianna asked.

“Well, I don’t know how you intend to take my powers,” Tess said. “I have no idea how to pass them on to someone else—didn’t even know I had any power before—so how will you take them?”

Tess stopped to take a breath and give them some time to think? Maybe think, though from what Tess could gleam, they weren’t big thinkers. They were completely bamboozled, and Tess had one last trick up her sleeve.

“And, what’s to say that when I die, even if you do manage to take my power,” Tess continued, “because it’s mine, that the power won’t automatically be inherited by Millie?”

“What?” Rhianna asked, sounding more confused than ever.

Tess used the time to focus on the fireplace. With access to even a small portion of her powers, she started boring a hole through their spell.

“What do we do?” Sam was asking.

“Don’t know,” Rhianna said, pacing the room. “She’s right though. What if the power is inherited by someone in her family? Doesn’t need to be Millie. Could be any one of ‘em.”

“You mean, Sandra, don’t you?” Sam asked.

“I mean Millie the elder,” Rhianna said, and Tess saw a spark of fear flash through her eyes. “Tess’s closest to Mill’s, and she’s powerful enough.”

“She’d be able to get in here,” Sam said, her panic evident.

The more they panicked, the less they focused on the spell holding Tess. Tess had almost bored a hole into the fireplace. Thought she could hear the ladies upstairs.

Mill’s? She said and felt a deep relief when her sister responded.

Tess looked to make sure the girls hadn’t heard. When satisfied, she fortified the walls of the hole so she could talk with Millie without fear of their conversation leaking into the room.

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