Hint: You won't have any idea what's going on if you haven't read Parts 1-6. -m
The instant Ravigie was around the corner, I crept silently through the door and stood by the kitchen table, looking down at the brown paper package. I don't know what I expected, but I felt uneasy. Like the thing was going to jump up at me. Or Ravigie would come inside and beat me for looking at it.
I remembered the courier who had brought it, and the look he had given the shadows. Standing in the kitchen then, I knew that the man had been staring into the eyes of Ambreel.
It was the voice of the package, calling to me again. Such a nice voice, to be coming from an inanimate object. Before I could lose my nerve, my fingers jumped to the dirty twine knots and pulled them loose, dropping the rough strings on the floor by my bare feet. They tickled a little, being partly on my toes, but I ignored this and slipped my index finger into the wrapping and tugged.
The paper came loose almost of its own accord. My vision grew blurry with shadows and suddenly the package was open. I hadn't meant to open it so quickly, but nevermind that. I was focused now on the feeling that there was someone -- no, not someone, many people -- in the room behind me. I turned slowly.
There were six of them, five of my imaginary children-friends and Ambreel. Their faces were carefully blank as they looked not at me, but at the open package on the table. The electricity of the magic reflected in their faces, making all but Ambreel look born of blue thunderclouds. The children smiled at me, but Ambreel frowned.
"I don't believe this is as good of an idea as you believe it to be," he said as he stepped out of the circle of children and came to stand by my side. He put his hand on my shoulder and I realized with a jolt that this was not my imagination's Ambreel. He was the real one. I could feel his blood beating in his hand. The roughness of his touch surprised me.
"You can't tell me what to do," I said. I glanced at the children. They looked more...real than I remembered.
Ambreel followed my gaze. "I found them wandering out towards the village. I thought maybe you needed to see your work for what it was."
"My work?" I looked up at him with eyebrows pressed together.
"You created them, Tessa. They are yours," Ambreel said, motioning back to the children. They smiled and waved at me as a child waves hello to their friend. "They are real," he added. I don't think I was showing him the level of understanding that he had hoped for.
Yet I did still not understand what he was telling me -- that my imaginary friends had lungs and noses that worked and ten toes and even minds that worked, too. Perhaps I didn't want to understand. It's an awful lot for a child to take in. Magic, omnipotency, responsibility. I didn't want to think about it, so I reached for the package on the table. Even though the paper was gone, it was still wrapped. The inner wrapping was fine white cloth. I spun and spun and spun it over itself, until the cloth was lying in a small pile at my feet, like a cloud.
The children crowded around me, awed and curious.
I was holding a necklace. It was not strange to me; I had seen it somewhere before. But I could not remember where. Ambreel's hand twitched on my shoulder.
"Do you know what this is?" he asked me.
I peered at the necklace. It was made of fine, delicate silver wire wound around white and blue precious stones. Even in the dim light of inside the house, the gems glittered of their own accord. I turned it over in my hands and could almost feel the light running along my skin.
"It was my mother's," I said. Of this, I was sure. I considered it a moment, then opened the clasp and began to put it around my neck.
"No!" Ravigie was at the door, bowling through the children and reaching for the necklace. She even managed to glare fully at Ambreel on her way through.
Ambreel smiled at her, nodded, and turned back to me. "The necklace is your mother's."
The clasp's tiny lever fell into place, securing the necklace around my neck. I felt electric. Power was surging through every inch of me; I could see the jumps of blue light as they ran up and down my arms.
Ravigie began to cry, and the children looked on me with awe. No one said a word. They were all waiting to see what I would do, or what I would say.
The necklace's power flowed through me, pooling in my open hands. I gazed at it, my mouth wide open. All of the creating, the imagining, the magic I had done -- none of it compared to this feeling of elation. I was--
I flew through the doorway -- yes, flew -- as fast as I could toward that voice. The children and Ravigie and Ambreel followed me, and we were a small village out in front of the little house. A woman was laying in the dirt of the road, eyes black with fresh bruises, limbs tied with makeshift bandages. Her jaw was swollen on one side, and her clothes were torn and ragged.