Last chapter: The great battle was fought and largely lost by our heroes. But how?
Great trespasses were revealed, infiltrations of evil into our group's ranks.
The three adults bounced off the forest’s barrier and were struck to the ground.
“No!” Sunny cried, feeling them be wrenched from her. She Beamed to the tree line and erected another Shield around the group. The girl didn’t have the strength to Beam everyone out without help of the potions, but they all needed to be holding onto Jessica in some way to get past her talismans. “W-wake up, Tae, please,” she whispered as time and the demons bore down on them.
Taeyeon, already fighting violently against being unconscious any longer, gasped to alertness.
“T-Taeyeonie, help me get everyone’s hands o-o-on Si- Mommy and Ban-Banish us to just outside the forest. It’s only a few inches; you can do it. ...Please; you gotta!” Sunny’s pale face scared her charge. “Th-th-then I’ll-”
The orangey-blonde nodded sharply, not wanting to hear her dear friend’s voice sound so faint. She helped arrange the limbs of the other witches as quickly as she could. Hearing dark chuckles and seeing burning lights in the distance, she suddenly whipped her head around to concentrate on the nearest talisman to try and Conjure it into her hand.
The last remaining Guardian of their group followed her line of sight. “No, don’t!”
“Why not? It’ll be quicker!” Taeyeon cried.
“It’ll also let the demons out when you break the circle! They can’t get out! We can’t-”
“Let’s not waste our magic!” The older girl unexpectedly felt some relief crash over her head. The whiplash had cleared it a little.
“Sica-ah got my, my fam- people through the forcefield this way...” She demonstrated as she rolled Mr. Choi to safety using Jessica’s hands between her own and the man’s back. Then she paused, more memories flashing into her mind.
“Tae, stop! Wh-” Sunny pulled her charge back from throttling whom appeared to be Mrs. Park.
“Sh-she’s one of them! Ji-Jiyeonie, showed me... Jiyeonie,” Taeyeon choked on the name of her murdered baby sister.
Fireballs shrieked like missiles over their heads before ricocheting backwards.
“Let’s use magic after all,” The older girl tossed one of Jessica’s arms beyond the edge of the forest. She then Banished herself and her companions across the line. When she faltered, Sunny’s Beams took over.
They let go of Seol-mon at the last second.
The demon, having been feinting unconsciousness the whole time in order to escape the forest, curled its host’s fingers around the sleeve of Mr. Im’s sweater before the group could leave it behind.
Taeyeon collapsed on top of Jessica once they crossed the threshold of the forest but did not lose consciousness.
Her Guardian followed her but did black out.
Seol-mon continued playing possum but didn’t fool the other witch one bit.
The girl eased her Guardian aside. Focusing every fiber in her being on the athame that Soo-mon had used to kill Yuri, Mr. Kim, Chaerin, and Mrs. Hwang with, Taeyeon brought it to her own hand. Then she stabbed Seol-mon with it.
Sunny disappeared instantly.
Mr. Choi bolted awake a few seconds later. “Seolhee!” he cried at the sight of his sister’s burning, bleeding chest. “What did you do?” his cries and hands shook Taeyeon, who was kneeling over the woman and looking stunned.
“I-I had to; she- ...she’s- ...It’s a demon.” The girl’s ears were deaf to her victim’s cries.
“Heal me, Oppa!” redirected pleas, choking on blood, whispered. “He-Help... please.”
“It’s a trick!” The orangey-blonde tried to yank her friend’s father away from the dying woman. She let go only of him to wrench the athame from flesh and bone to stab again, deeper.
Mr. Choi knocked Taeyeon aside before she could plunge the knife back into Seolhee and poured Healing potions onto his sister’s wounds.
They stopped bleeding and smoking but did not yet close.
Smiling gratefully, the woman reached for Taeyeon instead and squeezed her wrist even as the girl tried to pull away.
Images flashed in the younger witch’s head once more. They showed more clearly how Seolhee had been possessed without ever having her soul sent from her body.
The demon who had commandeered everything but her mind took great pleasure in her anguish at watching all that it was doing with her own hands, unable to stop it or warn anyone of her condition. It has also screamed and gone up in flames the moment Taeyeon stabbed it, vanquished for good.
“Where’s Sunny?” the shaking girl choked.
“The government hall,” Mr. Choi’s mouth spoke without conscious thought. “You stabbed a fellow good witch, with a demonic weapon. I-it’s against the law, evil. Soonkyu’ll’ve been recalled to the Gauger...”
“But! But, I-”
His hand tried to steady her though it was terribly unstable itself. “It’s o...” The Gauger is dead. All the Guar- The demons! “Oh, God! Call her to you!”
“She passed out!” Taeyeon realized the same thing he did, and that her powers were down. “We have to save her!”
“We have no way to get in!” The man searched the sky as if he could find a hidden passageway in it.
“We could use Fa- the tunnel!”
The dazed man thought that was impossible; none of them had Transportation powers. Then he scrabbled for the potions on his hip which were no longer there.
Taeyeon screamed, clutching at her heart and falling over. “They killed her! Sunny! Sunny!” She spasmed with tears until she lost consciousness once more.
Jessica awoke to broken sobbing all around her. Blinking her eyes languidly, she took in the scene with static in her ears and before her eyes.
The distortion faded very slowly.
Brother and sister were clinging to each other in crushing grief. They were the sole survivors of their family of eleven.
Her brain processed someone else holding onto her and weeping heavily as well. Hand distractedly lifting to the man’s hair to card through it in comfort, she wondered why her uncle was crying too. She didn’t know that she and he were the only ones left of their family of nine.
Nor did she know that there were no more Lees.
Taeyeon sat apart from everyone else, staring into space and completely alone.
A long time later, one of the five witches got up.
“Taeyeonie?” Jessica whimpered, reaching for the older girl though she herself could not stand for all the sorrow bearing down on her.
“I’m sorry, Sica-ah,” her lover mumbled emptily. Then she tried to Disappear literally and figuratively from Jessica’s life. Thrown forward violently, the girl hit the hard ground, seizing and sparking.
“You’re not leaving me!” the youngest witch screamed. She did not even have enough emotion left over to be horrified at what she had just done. “If you think I can’t see you-”
“Let me go, Sica-ah! What more do I have to live for?” the smallest member of the group screamed, pounding the earth as she finally cried.
Jessica crawled on top of Taeyeon and hugged her as tightly as she possibly could. “You’re not leaving me!” she wailed again. “...Please; please,” she pleaded nearly inaudibly when her voice gave out on her.
“Let me go,” the smaller girl begged just as softly. “Please.”
“Then kill me! Kill me now, Sica-yah! Please... I- I failed her, all of them, you. I...”
“Yes,” Mr. Im suddenly crouched in front of his niece and smiled somewhat manically at her. “Kill us all.”
Behind him, Mrs. Park and Mr. Choi nodded almost serenely. “Please, Honey.”
Jessica charged up her Electricity to fulfill their request. “Taeyeonie?” she murmured, running her hands through and over silky, orangey-blond hair, “I can see all that you saw, holding you like this. Your ...Your sister gave you her powers just like my family did for me. ...Don’t you want to...”
“No.” The older witch’s teeth nearly shattered from how hard she was gritting them.
The visions playing in the backgrounds of both girls’ heads stopped.
Still, the blonde’s insides screamed at her. “But Soojungie wanted me to fight...”
Mr. Im knelt by his niece’s side. “Honey, you tried. Your sister, she wouldn’t fault you for this. No one would, or does! ...We did our best. Sometimes—” he shook with sobs— “Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to...”
“You’ve never been a quitter, Uncle...” Jessica bit her lip.
“I’d never lost everything before either! ...Please, I just want to be with them.”
“But ...my family died fighting... s-so did yours, and...” Jessica jumped, staring at her own arm. It felt like she was being tugged by unseen hands. “Soojungie?” she whispered.
The sensation heightened.
“Soojungie, if that’s you, I’m sorry. ...I’m so sorry.” Tears overtook her thin voice. Breath tickled against Jessica’s ear as she felt whispers in her heart rather than her ear. “...The others are really dead? Even the- the ones that were at the portal?” she asked after a long moment.
“The demons just ripped through it, Honey. K-killed the little girls before- before we could do anything...”
“Yuri and Hyeyeon?” her voice quivered.
“Yes!” the man cried. “My child; my beautiful child!” He reached for Taeyeon. “...And your-”
The blonde’s eyes flashed. “But Yuri-ah died in the basement and there is no Hyeyeon.” She keened, wanting to zap him with all the Electricity in her body but held it in. “I will kill you! All of you!”
The Glamour faded out and left her real uncle still pulling her up by the arm.