Cold… So cold…
Her hands shake as she stumbles through the snow. The chill cuts right through her thin coat, and the snow soaks through her flimsy boots. She squints against the biting wind, her frost-bitten hands almost numb as she tries every door on the street, each unmoving latch another disappointment.
Her eyes drift closed as she reaches for another door.
The last door… So cold… Tired…
It opens. She manages to open her eyes, stumbling into the building. A rack of candles burns against the far wall, and she rushes to it, holding her hands out to it. She winces as the numbness fades from her hands, stinging pain replacing it.
A small door beside the rack begins to rattle. She ducks under the rack, staring at the door. It only rattles softly. The latch doesn’t move, and the rattling doesn’t intensify.
She creeps toward it, curiosity overcoming her fear. A trembling hand reaches for the latch. She pulls it open quickly, before her resolve can abandon her.
The small room is empty. It’s small, and stone, with nothing but a pit in the middle. She crawls forward through the small door, peering over the edge of the pit.
Who… are you?
She squeaks and scoots away from the pit, her back pressing against the door. Why is the door shut? She didn’t shut it…
Who are you?
Hundreds of voices, clamoring in her head, the same question, over and over. They hurt… The voices hurt!
“Clarissa!” she gasps out, clutching her temples.
The voices stop. Then they begin again, quieter. They don’t hurt her.
Clarissa… Mistress Clarissa. Help us!
She trembles, looking down into the pit. “Us…? Who… who’s there?”
We are lost, Mistress. You can save us!
A glow appears, deep in the pit, a bright blue flecked with deep purple, almost black. It rises up, swirling towards her. Clarissa scrambles back against the wall again, her heart racing.
The glow rushes over her, seeping into her skin. She shudders, feeling exposed, feeling violated. So many minds pressing against hers, so many voices in her head, make them stop!
“Mistress Clarissa.” A different voice. One voice, speaking for the swarm. “You can help us.”
“Help you?” Don’t talk to yourself, people already think you’re crazy.
“We can hear your thoughts, Mistress. You don’t need to speak.”
She swallows hard. How can I help you?
“We’re trapped here, miss. Here on this plane of existence. We can’t move on.”
Why? What can I do?
“Find our life energy, Mistress. Set it free! Our consciousnesses are trapped here, our energy trapped elsewhere. You have to carry us to our energy, and release it.”
Clarissa shivers. But I can’t… I can’t do anything. I can’t travel, I have no money…
A dark feeling passes through her, as though she can feel a smirk. “We can give you power, Mistress.”
Pain lances through her arm, and she gasps as she’s pulled to her feet. The glow returns, coalescing in her hand. She watches, helpless, as it extends into a long, thin whip. Her arm jerks, and the whip wraps around the door latch, and a second jerk pulls the door out of the wall.
She stares down at her hand as the glow fades. “What the… what did… what?”
“We have power, miss. We will help you. And you will help us.”