Last chapter: The group recouped after the major battle, burying their dead, tending to their injured, and trying not to fall apart.
Jessica, Tiffany, Taeyeon, Sunny, Chaerin, Minji, Mrs. Park, Bom, and Mr. Im would return to the Guild to rid it of evil. Rather than going through the tunnel that the demons obviously knew about now and in which they could more easily be cornered, the nine opted to go through the Gate. They said their goodbyes in the cabin’s basement in order to not be distracted at the forest’s edge. Never again would they use a portal within their own protections.
One of the talismans had been turned into an amulet while the rest remained as they were.
Jessica led the group almost happily in her silent fury. When they got to the forest’s edge, where demons were waiting for them with grins reflecting her own, she said, “Let me go first. And don’t put a Shield up, Guardians. I don’t want to bust it, and I want to do this alone.”
“But-” Several mouths shut at the determination and confidence in her face.
She turned her back on them. As soon as her hands crossed the barrier, great bolts of lighting shot from them. She took out the two demons closest to her immediately.
Five more charged forward, but her charge was stronger.
Using the idea from Minji’s portent, she sent out even stronger bolts of Lightning but let them separate into tendrils.
Every Hellion of the second wave was destroyed before they could send out their own attacks. Seven demons had fallen in seconds; the rest retreated in panic.
“Aw!” She pouted. “Come back. I’ve barely gotten started.” With a shrug she turned around to face her companions, who had shock written all over their faces.
“What happened? Put your fingers in a socket?” she teased them. “Come on.”
The group followed in silence.
Of course, that didn’t last long for one of them. Bounding over to her charge, Tiffany covered her in a big hug. “See? Easy! I knew you could do it, Jessi.” Still, she pulled all of Jessica back into the forest.
Taeyeon had something to say, the brunette could feel it. “Hey.” The orangey-blonde smiled weakly. “Perhaps we ought to send the kids back, huh? You obviously don’t need a Boost.”
“I agree!” Jessica grinned with flinty eyes. “Bye-bye, Babies.”
All for it as well, Bom shoved her maknaes backwards. “Stay here like I told you back in the cabin.” Her eyes blazed when they tried to get past her.
“We’re going,” Chaerin said with her quiet authority. “Our place is with you; it is our duty.”
“In case you didn’t notice, transportation was a problem last time, and you only have two other Guardians on this mission trip.
“We have transportation potions!” Bom shouted. “Umma, Samcheon, and I made lots! And we have healing potions! We... we don’t need you!” the woman screamed at the youngest witch in particular, knowing she was hitting a very sensitive spot for the girl.
Minji collapsed to the grass with her hands over her face, sobbing. “Unnie, please don’t say that!”
Glaring at her unnie, Chaerin quickly bent over to tend to her charge.
Bom threw Taeyeon over her shoulder as had often done to Dara, grabbed her mother’s hand, and made a break for the boundary. The amulet around her neck glowed but permitted the trio passage.
Sunny hesitated only a second before following them. She blew a kiss to her half-sister but left her behind. “If they try to follow us, Taeyeonie, then Banish them,” she stage-whispered so that everyone could hear her.
Jessica and Tiffany were already out in the clearing. They pulled the white-blonde and Mr. Im across the boundary.
Then the seven were gone.
The group sprinted across the great meadow to the border of the Guild.
Jessica used her Wind to send demons spiraling through the air and some well-placed sparks to disarm the protections on the realm’s entrance. Then she gave the talismans to Tiffany to hang over the unmanned Gate.
Sunny was ushered into the Guild first, followed by Jessica’s uncle and the other witches.
“No one in or out but us.” The blonde grinned once more. “We finish this now.”
Only one of the demons she had blown away didn’t know not to follow her. It was vanquished quickly by the talismans when it tried to cross them.
“Thank you for the volunteer. Kisses!” She blew fake kisses at the rest of the Hellions who were glaring at her and sent them toppling once more. “Meh, you aren’t worth the energy it’d take to electrocute you. But if you’re dying for a shock, feel free to come and get me like your buddy tried.”
“Jessi!” Tiffany pushed her shoulder, nervous.
“Let’s go,” Mr. Im, similarly pale, urged his companions.
Once they got past the Gate, the view beyond it supernaturally changed. Dark clouds hung in the air as a distant field burned. What the group could see of the land between it and them looked like a war zone.
“No!” 2Ny’s cries resounded; the two had been unable to fully believe Mr. Im about the utter annihilation that the failed missions faced last time. Their homes were up in smoke, completely empty and hollow.
JeTi briefly flashed back to the Jung house and their own cabin while they stood frozen.
The older two of the pair came back to herself first. “Hmm, I feel like exercising my other powers again. Ohhh, little target practices,” Jessica sung. “Thank you!” She gestured to the first demon who came running.
It Blazed up immediately, surrounding itself in a fire that formed a sort of Shield.
The witch covered it in earth until its flames were completely extinguished and then drowned it in water. “Well, that was fun.”
Again, the rest of her group stared at her.
“Feel free to join in at any time, Guys!” She raised her eyebrows at them.
“We’re wasting our time with these ones,” Mrs. Park spoke. “If what your mother told me is correct—” she indicated Tiffany— “then we need to go to the Gathering Point.”
“So, which way do we go?” Taeyeon looked around in increasing anxiety.
Many more demons were closing in on them but kept a wary distance back too.
“I know the way!” Sunny almost smiled before her eyes filled with tears again. “Harabeoji used to... bring me to ‘work’ sometimes.”
“Lead the way, Little Love.” Jessica relaxed her macho stance and attitude to pull her dear friend close and nuzzle their foreheads together.
Suddenly smacking the witch’s cheek with a kiss, Sunny took off to the left.
Mr. Im used his power to redirect the Fireballs shot at them toward their originators while 2Ny covered the group in a thin Shield.
Bom and her mother fought at the edges of it too.
Sunny sent up her full Shield as soon as the group crossed the threshold of the destroyed government building.
Nothing happened. The Gathering Point was even darker and quieter than the rest of the building was. Flickering lights cast an eerie glow, and evil seemed to emanate from the walls. Hushed whispers echoed across the floor.
Almost everyone shivered.
Jessica rolled her eyes and put a hand to a wall to power the place with electricity. That not working, she looked to Sunny in uncertainty.
The younger girl shrugged and then froze.
In their midst, bright lights suddenly circled and glowed like fireflies.
“Wait!” The Guardian grabbed Jessica’s wrists and threw her Lightning bolts off-course.
Chaerin and Minji appeared before them.
“I told you, our place is with you,” the other white-blonde said with a hard tone of voice. “We made another replica of your talismans.” Chaerin pulled one on a string from under her blouse.
Jessica wordlessly assessed the pair.
“He was my grandfather too...” Chaerin’s confidence uncharacteristically faltered before solidifying again. “So I too am next in line to complete the Gathering legacy. This isn’t a trick. I watched your conversation with him, remember?”
“Unnie, wait!” Minji held up her hands in a mirror image of Taeyeon. “Instead of Banishing us, Banish them out of here so we can see them all and fight them together. ...Please!”
“No!” Fireballs shot from various points near the walls toward the group.
Sunny’s Shield widened to include the newcomers.
“Send it out again, like with the Gathering,” Jessica whispered to her, adding a layer of electricity over the Shield.
Grinning, Sunny charged up.
Taeyeon added a layer of Banishment over both.
With their combined powers, and Minji Boosting the others through a sort of group hug, their force exploded outward.
The Banishment became unnecessary; the entire government hall exploded.
Great flames and shockwaves spread outward, sending bodies in its wake.
Mrs. Park fell on top of her daughter while Mr. Im used his body to cover them both.
Once the initial force had rocked through the Guild and dissipated, the three witches got to their feet, trying to see their companions through the smoke.
The other part of their group came toward them under cover of a pink bubble.
Mr. Im almost collapsed in relief.
“Keep fighting!” his niece cried. “Look out!”
The pink Shield, overextended when its maker tried to include the other three people within it again, fizzled and disappeared.
Sunny’s still needed to recharge, and Chaerin’s could only cover herself and Minji.
Jessica tackled Tiffany just as a demonic Fireball whizzed over their heads. When the younger girl tried to stand up straight, the older was reminded immediately of Soojung and forced her Guardian to the floor. “Don’t you fucking dare!” she hissed.
The brunette froze, surprised by the foul language before relaxing in understanding a second later. “I’m okay, J- I mean; it’s okay!” Her face paled further when she caught sight of something Jessica did not. She swiftly rolled her charge under herself before leaping up once more.
The blonde’s heart stopped. When it restarted, part of it was missing.
“Jessi, I really would protect you. You know that, right? I’d never let anything hurt you.” Tiffany’s voice was a soft whisper for once in the dimming light...
“Stephanie! Stephanie! Y-you’re dying! Don’t! Stop it; please!” Jessica begged the younger girl...
Tiffany rocketed down the hall. “I’m going hoooome!” ...
“You will still need a new Guardian.” The Top Dog grinned wider...
Jessica’s eyes snapped open and she tossed aside everyone who was on her. “Put your Shield up when I tell you,” she choked. “No excuses. You rested long enough in Sulli’s dream world, Soonkyu.”
Choking back sobs as well, Sunny nodded.
The demons put up their Fire Shields as the grins melted from their faces; the entire atmosphere within the Guild had changed.
Jessica threw her hands outward and put every single one of them under premature graves with a wave of dirt. Then she thrust her hands straight up toward the Heavens, shooting Lightning up after them.
“What are you doing?” Bom howled.
The sky darkened. Smoke from the ruins turned the clouds black, and they all almost magnetized toward each other and Jessica’s Electricity.
“That.” Once she was sure she had generated enough of a storm, Jessica moved her fingers as if playing an accordion, causing Wind and Lightning to swirl in front of herself. “Give me your Fire,” she gritted through her teeth without sparing a glance in Bom’s direction.
Faintly, nervously, the older witch complied.
“You’re going to have to do better than that.” The emotion in the blonde’s voice was hard to place. “Don’t you dare move. Stay where you are!” it then commanded Minji. “We’ll get to you later. Chaerin, help your sister with the Shield. 1-2-3, go!” With an almighty shove, Jessica unleashed a flaming, Charged tornado on the Guild.
Demons that had and hadn’t yet escaped the earth joined it in the Burning, Ionized Wind while Sunny’s Shield faithfully covered her group mates.
“Alright, well, since Bom can’t be much help, and we’ll need Minji later, Grow me some trees, Mrs. Park... Do it!”
The woman numbly complied, still stuck in her awe.
One hand still guiding the tornado, Jessica used her other to shoot Electricity into the grove and set them aflame. Then it sent more Wind to help join the fire with the vortex.
Bom jolted back to attention and added more flames to it too.
Within minutes, the entire Guild seemed to be reduced to nothing.
“Chaerinie, give Samcheon your amulet so that he can deactivate the talismans; help him. When that’s done, bring them to me,” the blonde then directed her lover. “Get up off her, stop your damn sniveling, and do as I tell you, Taeyeonie! Conjure every last demon standing guard outside the Guild so that we can go home. Minji, now it’s your turn. Help her. Keep giving me those trees, Auntie, and Sunny, keep the Shield up. We’ll use the potions to get us home. Give me everything you got.”
Her orders were obeyed without her supervision.
Jessica then turned her back on the storm, picked up Tiffany, and walked resolutely toward the Gate.
The rest of the group followed, someone looking out each way as they went.
There wasn’t much need. Every last demon on the Guardian plane had been vanquished. The few outside of the Guild soon joined those dead within it.
“Hold her! H-hold her!” the blonde allowed an emotion other than anger into her voice.
Sobbing, shaking, SunYeon took her limp brunette from her.
Jessica turned around one last time to dissipate the tornado. Impatient, she threw dirt onto it once it was small enough to contain. The last thing she did was cause it to rain.
A great downpour fell onto the Guild to put out all remaining fires as tears finally fell down her face.
Her own inner fire extinguished, she then slumped unconscious into her uncle’s arms. She was sent to the Healing plane upon returning to the cabin and stayed there for many days.