Alexis stayed at the Potters another night, but every time she walked down the stairs there were more friends to meet. The way people came and go, the friendships the Potters had with so many of the magical world – it made Alexis homesick. The next morning she called Kaylee who had just returned to London and agreed to pick her up. Lilly and the rest of her family tried to persuade her to stay another night, but Alexis had enough of family gatherings and wanted to be alone. The Kurai seishin hadn’t left its new home in the park. Alexis feared what would happen if it became strong enough to enter the Potter’s house. They had all been so generous to her she didn’t want any harm to come to them.
Alexis waited just inside the front doors of the Potter’s residence until she saw Kaylee’s Focus drive down the block. She gave Lilly a hug and thanked her family for their warm accommodations before racing down the steps before Kaylee drove past. Alexis hopped into the car, Lilly’s face still in the window watching her leave. As expected, the dark spirit noticed her departure and followed the car.
“Did you have a good christmas?” Kaylee asked in a bright and cheery tone.
“Yeah, fine.” Alexis replied, her eyes watching the spirit’s dark form follow them.
“You didn’t want to stay longer?”
“Lilly’s nice and all, and her family was great and it was fun, but…”
“Too many people, and not your family.”
“You’re just like Crow.” Kaylee sighed as the two talked about what they would like for diner.
The following day Alexis locked herself up in her room and counted all of her ofadu’s and talismans. Would they be enough? The spirit resettled itself outside of the Torn Scroll, roaming around the block but never leaving Alexis’ senses. It seemed whatever protection Crow put into his home kept the creature at bay, but for how long? She had become its target, the longer she waited to do anything, the stronger it would become.
Laying her arrows along her bed, Alexis paired each with a talisman, tying them to the shafts. Uncle Tetsu told her stories of their family who fought against demons and spirits. The arrow heads back then used to be pure and untainted, just the metal tips could be enough to purify any beast. These days finding such arrowheads was near impossible. Alexis’ only chance now were the paper talismans.
The week continued with the Dragon’s scroll preparing itself for the upcoming New Years Eve bash. It was one of the largest parties in London. Tickets had sold out since November. The staff were busy counting inventory, ordering supplies and working their butts off to make sure the event went on without a hitch. Alexis waited for word from Harry Potter. A phone call, or owl, something to tell her they had dealt with the foul spirit for her. But each morning, she would wake up and look outside the oval window. There it would be, waiting, watching, causing more pain and suffering to unsuspecting muggles. Disappointment filled Alexis’ soul. She had hoped Mr. Potter would have done something by now. Her last chance of staying out of this fight failed, it was now up to her, Alexis Rune future Shrine Maiden to defeat the Kurai seishen.
The laws on underage wizardry kept getting in Alexis’ way. She had no idea if her talismans would count as magic or if her reasons would be justified. The last thing she wanted was to be banned for any magic school for the rest of her life. It was a risk, a huge one for the teenager to overcome. She debated ever angle of her plan, even considered running back to Kyoto if she was expelled. Alexis knew she would never live with herself is she stood by and did nothing. It was her duty to stand up to the spirit and fight it head on.
New Years Eve was the date Alexis decided to confront the spirit. Minky, Kaylee and Jason would all be too busy in the Dragon’s Scroll to notice her. The streets would be over crowded as well, allowing her to slip out and away. Crow was her only pitfall, but he had yet to return from his vacation down south. She waited on the steps by the front door. Her bow leaned up against the wall next to her along with a quiver full of arrows. Twenty arrows – that was all she had, twenty chances to get it right.
Alexis watched the hallway clock, it was past ten-thirty and the party downstairs was reaching its peak. With a deep breath and a silent prayer for courage, Alexis grabbed her quiver and bow and opened the front door. Frost lined the tips of the roofs and sidewalks with small specks of snow falling to the ground. The sound level of the music downstairs increased by ten the moment she was outside. There was a line of people on the steps down that wrapped itself down the block. Alexis merged herself with the line and crowds working her way towards the end of the block. All of London seemed to be out that night, pushing by on their way to the next pub or party.
Dressed in a thick wool sweater and black winter vest, Alexis still felt the chill as she walked. She wore cut off mitts to help her aim, but already felt the tips of her fingers grow numb. Alexis ignored the cold and focused her senses on the spirit. It was lurking nearby, in a shadow or alleyway. Invisible to everyone else around her.
“You’ve been snacking.” Alexis spoke to herself, pausing at the corner. It had grown, even though she could not see the beast, she could sense its strength. She was frightened enough, sensing the increase power of the spirit made her more nervous. “Stay calm – you can do this Rune.” Alexis said, once more to herself. She took a deep breath and tried to sense where it was hiding. Her head whipped to the right, finding the trail. Alexis’ eyes narrowed on the direction just in the same moment a hand clasped her shoulder. Instinct took over. She twirled around using her bow as a staff to hit the side of the body behind her.
“What the bloody hell!” Zack Rowle shouted, falling to the ground.
“Don’t sneak up on me!” Alexis shouted back, surprised and shock at her reaction. “What are you doing here?” She demanded, offering him a hand.
“You said your uncle owns the Dragon’s Scroll, so when I heard my brothers were coming tonight, I sort of stowaway…”
“Stowaway, how?” Alexis asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Sort of jumping into the floo powder right after them… it was pretty reckless of me. Vince just about chewed my head off when he saw I followed them through. Said something like being sliced in two… I dunno. But I managed to get a peek of the club before the bouncers tossed me out. It is amazing! I can’t wait to be of aged.” Alexis looked back to the club’s entrance. She could always drop Zack back at her place, but one look in his eyes told her he would not be shoved aside for the second time that night.
“So, what’s your plan? Wait out here until you’re brothers are done parting?”
“Yeah, I didn’t think that far ahead… but I knew you’d be around.”
Alexis sighed and continued on her way, she was closing in on the spirit. She needed an opening, a place free of witnesses to confront it.
“So, since I bumped into you, why not we have our own party tonight?” Zack said with a grin, keeping up with Alexis’s steps.
“I’m busy.” She stated.
“Well, I can see that. What’s with the bow and arrows? Costume party? Are you Katniss? Or a female version of Hawkeye?”
Alexis smiled. “You’re mother is a pure blood witch, and you just named two very muggle pop culture icons earned you some points. I’m going after an evil spirit.”
Zack tripped, but managed to re-balanced himself before he hit the pavement for the second time that night. “When you say going after…?”
“I’m going to purify it.”
“Right. Still not following you.”
The two took a left at the next corner. It was a little less busy, but not isolated. Alexis knew little of the city, but remembered a few parks were nearby. There were trees in a couple of them which should help block vision of anyone who pass by.
“Ever since I’ve got off the train at King’s Cross, there’s been a dark aura trailing me. A Kurai seishin. I found out it feeds on the pain, fear and misfortune of others. It’s been growing this past week, but still following me. I need to stop it before it hurts others.” Alexis explained.
“This sounds like something the Auroras should be doing.” Zack said, hesitantly.
“I’ve already told one, and nothing has been done. They don’t sense it, and can’t see it. I’m the only one who cares and willing to do something.”
“And what makes you think you can take care of it?”
“Because this is what I’ve been training for my entire life. Part of a Shrine Priestesses job is to purify evil spirits, demons and protect others.”
“So, you’ve done this before?” Zack asked, sounded a little more enthusiastic.
“Well… not exactly.” Alexis said with a blush and moved her eyes away from Zack’s face. “But I’ve studied it, and I’ve got a lot of talismans to help us deal with it. It should take one hit straight on…”
“But you can’t use magic outside of Hogwarts!”
“I know. I’ll be shooting my arrows, it’s the talismans attach to the shafts that have the magic and will be doing most of the work.”
“It sounds like you’re walking a fine line here.”
“I know.” Alxis stopped, the park was in front of them, deserted. “Last chance Zack, you can turn back now and have nothing to do with it. I’m positive this thing is only after me, it should leave you alone, but I don’t know for how long if you keep following me.”
Zack pulled out his wand, Alexis realized she hadn’t even brought her’s for back up. Maybe having Zack around could prove useful. “Okay I’m in, but if we get caught, I’m blaming this all on you.”
“Fine.” Alexis said with a smile and and moved to the opening gates of the park. A metal fence framed the park. In the dim light of a nearby street lamp, Alexis could only see three gates tot he park. “Paste these up on the other gate pillars. I don’t want our dark spirit to run away when it realizes what’s going on.” She told Zack, handing him a few of the talismans.
“Ah, what are these? And how do I paste them up without magic?”
“Like this.” Alexis said with a huff, she took one and pressed it against inside the stone frame of the park’s gate. Sliding her hand down, the piece of paper stuck to the stone.
“How did you do that?” Zack asked, amazed.
“The writing you see on the paper. That’s a protection spell, paired in a doorframe creates a barrier of positive energy, it can either deflect dark energies and spirits or trap them. Through the writing, magic from the creator is passed into the ink, and onto the paper. Once it’s pressed onto a surface it should stay there unless someone peals it off. But no spirit can do that.” Alexis paused. “Get it?”
“I think so…” Zack said, turning to the other side of the entrance way to press the talisman against the stone. His gave a look of amazement when it stuck just as Alexis’. “It worked! That’s so cool.”
“Now, go do the other one, but wait on the third until I give you the signal. We want the spirit to be trapped in with us, not on the other side.”
“Right.” Zack took off into the darkness while Alexis moved towards the centre. She hoped as she notched her first arrow that this spirit was not the intelligent kind.