Jayden remained nearby during the meeting between Ara and Mazen. Once Mazen stepped away and as much as Jayden wanted to run to her, he waited because she needed time.
The sound of her voice when Mazen first appeared, it was then Jayden realized he never asked her what it was like to regain a past as she stood by Mazen who remembered her not.
It is done, Jayden. You can come out now.
Did it work just as you predicted, he returned after your plead?
Yes, he did.
What does it mean?
It is possible, there are parts of Maze still in him. He used to tease about how when I asked him to do something, he knew I was serious when I used the word please. I called for him four times, it was until I said please, he returned at once.
His memory, did it work?
It was not that easy. Hardly do I have the power to manipulate memory, but learning I had to be sent to my death, or close to it, to regain my memory, I did something similar to him.
But he cannot be destroyed
I took a risk that depended on him destroying an innocent life in exchange for his memory. I saw the hunger in him and I knew he would not control himself. I was certain he would come at me, but he pulled away.
What do we do now?
We wait for Mazen to return. Hurting him like this, it is not what I wanted for Madeleine’s father. He is out there, alone and all memory of a past returned as abruptly as it was taken. When I went through it, four years had passed since I was ripped out of time and placed here. It has been three centuries for him.
What was it like for you to go through that at once?
It was as if being torn apart from the inside and taken back to what it felt like when I first learned Madeleine was taken from us. I did not want to continue…but then Mazen used a phrase he used regularly in the past. He had a habit of calling Madeleine “little fox” it was his way of showing affection for her. When I pulled him into the other realm, he used a similar phrase with me. It was then I believed there were traces of Maze present in him.
You have been correct about him so far, do you believe he will return?
It took me one year to recover. It is uncertain how long it will take him but I want to believe he will return, if anything he might still want the ability to roam in sunlight.
This entire time I have said I am not her but I have been wrong.
Everything she experienced is in me now. It has been one year and a half for some memory consolidation to take place and now I understand.
I am still her but a different, changed, version of the Ara Frost Maze once knew.
It is clear you are different from what I once knew you to be, I can hear it when you speak to him or about him…I would imagine Mazen’s will to persist in a cage for three centuries will help him recover from this just as well. I would have made the same choice as Mazen if it meant seeing my family once again.
I never thanked you.
For being by my side this entire time. I could not have done this without you.
It is here a witch weeps.
Several months had passed. Rose had lead Mazen to the place above the tavern, her apartment.
She’d never witnessed a Drinker drop to his knees or experience the pain she’d seen in his eyes.
Drinkers had no need for sleep yet Mazen’s bouts of delirium transitioned him in and out of consciousness. There were times when he seemed alert and he would repeat the phrase: “little fox, where have they taken you” and then he seemed to experience seizures. Other times he would say over and over again the name “Ara” and then seize again.
Little Fox…where are you…the Bishops…Ara…Bishop…Frost…
he…did it…to find you.
There were brief windows when Mazen was conscious, it was then out of concern for her own safety Rose had given him a glass of whiskey with a small dose of hemlock. Time in the city had taught her that hemlock temporarily renders Drinkers useless. She’d used it on one of the most powerful Drinkers allowing her enough time to escape.
After what she’d witnessed happen to Holly, it was here she would protect herself.
But in the end, hemlock seemed to silence Mazen’s mind instead.
On the sixth month, as seizures decrease, memories become less muddled…
Maze, you shouldn’t be here.
I want to see them Prue. I will not leave until I know what she’s done with them.
She can’t see you here.
I want my family back.
Please, leave now before Candice sees you.
Mazen Frost. You are not welcomed here anymore.
Where are they?
Far away from this place. Where Ara is free to choose her kind.
She made her choice six years ago.
She has forgotten all about her misguided choices. You might as well do the same.
Ara would never willingly choose to forget. What have you done?
Let me explain in terms a human can understand, Ara was sent as far from this time as you could imagine. Her mind is free of you and that half breed of yours. You will never exist in the same space or time as either of them.
You mean your granddaughter.
That child should never have been born.
What an awful thing to say. Are you devoid of all compassion for your own flesh and blood that you would tear them apart?
Ara must choose her own kind, we are merely helping her along.
Do you even know the significance of that cross you bear? Have you forgotten the cornerstone of the religious witches to perform magic for good and not harm?
There comes a time our coven must make sacrifices. Sending Ara three hundred years in the future was our ultimate sacrifice. I do not expect you to understand.
Prue, how can you of all people go along in doing more harm than good?
This is why witches will never escape persecution from humankind. Ara, your daughter, understood this and she made her choice. I will find her. I will find them both.
Best you leave now before we show you similar compassion.
You awful, hateful woman. I will find a way and when I do, I will ensure you never wear that cross again.
Threats from a human, they bear no weight, have you any idea who you would be up against?
I know exactly what I must do.
Maze, what have you done?
Braeden. I’m here for Candice.
Don’t do this…how…how long have you been this way?
How many lives have you taken?
I didn’t choose this to become a savage or to harm the innocent. I haven’t forgotten who I am nor why I did this in the first. Where is Candice?
Please you can’t hurt us all.
I’m not here for you, just Candice.
Please just wait for me in the dormitory…I will return and we will sort this out.
You’re alert. At least it helped stop you from calling for them.
Calling for who?
Your family. I didn’t think Drinkers were capable of having one.
What do you mean “it” stopped me from calling? You give me something?
The hemlock, it had an unintended consequence, in your favor, it seems.
You’ve been poisoning me?
Please, you’re immortal and after what you did to Holly, I’d be a fool to have you here at full capacity. Besides, you’ve got a much bigger issue than a little hemlock in your whiskey.
You called for your wife and daughter several times over. A Drinker with a family, how is that even possible? How is a half-breed fox, also your daughter?
Mazen stops speaking and responding to Rose. He makes his way to the bed once again. Rose realizes there’s much more than the effect of the hemlock. She wonders if it is possible for the atrophied organ of a Drinker to ache.
A few days had gone by since Rose last gave Mazen a dose of hemlock. She’d heard him stirring about on the bed, and knew he was alert again.
How much time has passed?
You realize the effect is lessening.
How did you know what it would do?
As I said I’ve been around enough Drinkers, to know better.
What is it you think you know about me?
For one, your biology, the hunger it never leaves you. Hemlock seems to be the only thing to suppress your abilities and with it the hunger. Your kind have proven over and over again to be opportunistic, if ever you act in such a way that may seem out of kindness, it’s merely because it coincides with getting whatever it is you are after. You can imagine my surprise in hearing you anxiously call for a wife and daughter. How does an undead produce offspring?
What else did you hear me say while you were poisoning me?
Mostly you calling for your wife and daughter. Ara and Madeleine Frost. Your kind are meant to exist an eternity alone, unless of course you are like those in the City who find it beneficial to hunt together. But judging by your behavior you are far more accustomed to being on your own.
Why would you have me in your home?
It’s in my best interest to have you as an ally than the opposite. I’d imagine you’d want to set your daughter free from the other Drinkers. There are others I care about still imprisoned, just as Madeleine.
Rose took every opportunity she had to mention the words wife and daughter, and to mention the names Ara and Madeleine. It was obvious it had an effect on Mazen. She was uncertain what that effect was, but ultimately Mazen took a seat where he stood as if he was unable to walk the short distance to the nearest chair.
Rose proceeded to explain to Mazen how she escaped the hold from one of the most powerful Drinkers she’d crossed.
Upon hearing the name, Braeden Bonaventure, it was here Mazen made the connection.
It was the same Braeden, his maker.
Have you any idea the risk you are taking by allowing me into your home?
It’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore the craving as the hemlock wears off. You’ll want to prepare more of it, if you don’t want to end up like Holly.
It was in the cold tone of his voice and the image of what he’d done to Holly, that made Rose shudder, she immediately rises and makes her way to the kitchen table to prepare another dose.
the organ which once pulsated
was life-sustaining, just as the song
of the black-capped catbird
carries life onto its darkness
the heart now atrophied
and caged, within the body
undead, an inescapable outcome
it is the song, no longer recognizable
An Eternity Alone
It was nearing nine months since Mazen’s past returned. Though Rose had continued to give him hemlock, as he’d asked, she believed he was using its effects to silence whatever was in his mind.
For the last couple of days, Rose reduced the amount of hemlock and instead of whiskey she’d begun to give him blood taken from the local hospital.
Mazen knows once the effect of the hemlock fades the images return. He’d be reminded of everything: the man he was in the past, the Bishops, Madeleine but mostly reminded of her.
That recognizable voice; the numerous times she’d spoken his name during the past life they shared. The same name, she’d spoken the last time he’d seen her.
The hemlock helped control the images but it also prevented him from reading the minds of others. Now he was beginning to regain all abilities.
I am sorry.
Ara had continued to call for Mazen.
Each time she was left frozen, unable to move and forced to exist in the painful emptiness created from what she may have confused with hope. Mazen was unreachable.
She believed he would have returned by now to defeat the Bishops and collect on their agreement. Although she had made plans in case he did not return, she was completely unprepared for the moment when she called his name and the only thing looking back at her was an undead version of Maze.
She had to find strength to move forward, without him.
Ara, do you think he has heard you?
I do not know, anymore.
Do you think he will return?
I do not know. If he has heard me, he is not responding.
It has been nine months.
We will have to do this without him.
Yes, bring them back, one by one. Just as we talked about.
Should we wait—
I do not know how much longer I can continue to call for him when he is unresponsive. I have to remember why I am doing this, Madeleine.
After all this, it will have to be just the two of us. Are you prepared for it?
What choice have we got?
Mazen, we can’t continue this way. I need to find the Red Fox and return to the City to free what is left of the foxes.
Right. You don’t remember.
I know where your savior is and I will take you to him.
You influenced me.
You proved to be quite curious about my whereabouts.
You will help me find him?
Nothing has changed, and it’s not to help you. I’ll take you to him, to collect on a promise made.
What about your daughter?
I have little interest in the City or in helping you free the rest of your kind. I’ll take you to the mutt. Consider it an acknowledgment for having me here. I would like more time, to think things through.
How much more time?
A few months.
Several weeks had passed since Ara stopped calling for Mazen. She and Jayden knew where every item for the resurrection spell was located. They had spent most of their time preparing for this moment.
Jayden understood it was something that would ultimately happen but the worry of what would replace the energy stolen to bring the Bishops back never left him. Not knowing what Ara would sacrifice was unnerving.
Ara worried as well, but it was concern over ending up not being able to search for Madeleine. In the event that something would prevent her, Jayden agreed to search for her in the City. Though he held Ara would be well enough to search and find her own daughter.
How long do we have until you are able to cast the spell?
Until the Harvest Moon, it has been about 15 days since the last full moon, which means we have approximately 12 more days to go.
I have never found time more profound…as I do now…so, Mazen confirmed Madeleine is in the City?
How did he find out?
It is uncertain.
What did you mean by time?
Since we met, I have felt as if we have been at the mercy of time. Held up by obstacles without end. A battle against events that took place three centuries in the past yet you continue to hold steadfast. The reality that we are on the brink of ending this plan, of which we have no idea the price you will pay…now we find ourselves at the mercy of twelve days.
Practicing the resurrection spell for days on end without rest cannot be good.
I cannot think of resting right now.
With one week before the Harvest Moon, you can afford to rest. Besides, you said it yourself, there is a great amount of energy needed for this type of spell.
With very little rest, Ara continued to focus on the spell. There were few days left before the next full moon. There was nothing Jayden could do to help her, it was something only she could do.
Have you decided who to bring back first?
Which one was she?
The youngest. The one with the ability to control minds and manipulate memories.
Right, that one. Why her?
She was the least experienced of the Bishops.
She was experienced enough to wipe entire memories at a time and insert false ones.
From what Prue said, it was all at the hand of Candice. Fiona would do whatever Candice asked of her.
One by one, it is how you will bring each of them back?
If Mazen were here, it would be more advantageous to bring them all back at once, rather than staggering the consequences for casting such a spell. But the two of us, alone, do not stand a chance against the four of them. Candice alone can do more harm than Fiona, Gale and Charlotte combined. Then there is his blood and its power to heal. Also part of the reason he would have been useful here…I am feeling tired, maybe I should get some rest for today.
And so, the Harvest Moon…
Into the darkness of the Bishop’s magic, a Frost goes.
She who rests in stone,
hear my call,
restore flesh and bone,
tread through death’s door
and return among the living
where she will stand once more.
A strong wind sweeps through the center of the church causing the candles to flicker, then immediately they are each extinguished as Fiona’s body is made corporeal.
Stand up, Fiona.
She predicted you’d do this. She tried to warn us.
Prue. She said she’d foreseen you doing this ungodly thing and much worse.
Prue went on and on about how far you’d go to find your way again. Candice being Candice, would have none of it.
In the end Prue went along with everything.
Not exactly, your mother grew tired of Prue’s objections, asked me to silence her and make her do as she asked. It was beyond Prue’s control.
Prue warned us you’d be the end of all witches and foxes alike in your attempt to find them once again.
You mean my family.
Yes, your chosen family. You disowned your true family. “More Frost than Bishop” was the last thing you said to us, until now.
You expect to take us down one by one, for what purpose?
To break the curse between Jayden and I.
Curse, is that what you call it.
It was never what we wanted.
That is not true…for Jayden. It’s irrelevant now, you know what happens once you destroy us?
Then you also know, I would never willingly relinquish my powers to you.
I figured as much.
Resurrecting five Bishop witches and taking something which does not belong to you, or is not passed down to you, it’s a dangerous risk.
Four, there are four of you. Prue made her choice when she decided to do what was right.
Destroying each of us you take on our powers but also any pain caused as if it were your own.
Prue, I did not experience that with her.
She never willingly did anything to you or your family and I would assume she volunteered her power to you on her final death. Mazen what he did for you…fighting against his undead biology. He had more will than the five of us put together. He never lost who he was, until I gave him false memories and he was made to believe he’d become a murdering savage. Candice intended for him to be in a cage for an eternity and he knew it. Are you prepared to take on every moment he experienced as I took everything from him?
Ara, are you ready?
And just as they had with Prue, Jayden sent flames, Fiona was burned alive and Ara cast a binding spell to confine Fiona to her grave for an eternity. Immediately Ara felt Fiona’s powers take over her…what would follow were the consequences to restore balance…
Every memory taken from Mazen was now in Ara’s mind…
And to restore balance down a witch goes…
Where the hell are you Mazen! She needs you now.