December 20th, 1618.

“Um… Mother?” Cah’le ventured as she and Yaovi wandered through the Cat’s tunnels to their residence on Green Skull Island. “If I might be so forward… could we not examine the souls of those poor unfortunate inmates who Kyiahlnah killed?”

“Hm?” Yaovi raised an eyebrow, “How so? To what end?”

“I…” Cah’le paused, then ordered her thoughts, and said, “To see what they saw in their final moments. So that we might see if Kyiahlnah did indeed leave us a message that Miss Calvert is refusing to tell us.”

“To answer your question, if I’d collected their souls directly on the scene, I might have been able to do that with the others present, but since their souls were already departed?” Yaovi smiled at her apprentice, “Well, that’s why we are returning home to view the Well of Souls, is it not?”

“I suppose so, yes,” Cah’le nodded, dropping her formal address for a more informal way of speaking, “So I asked what we were going to do, then, didn’t I? I figured it out?”

“Yep,” Yaovi nodded, smiling as they exited the tunnels into their homestead’s back yard. The tunnel door disappeared as soon as they exited. “You’ll become a worthy successor before too long now, I suspect.”

‘I’m worried that I’m not.’ “But I’ve got so much to learn still,” Cah’le protested as they approached the massive waterfall behind their residence. More specifically, their destination was the massive pool that gathered at the fall’s base.

Very few people knew it was where Yaovi kept her Well of Souls, waiting for rebirth.

Cah’le watched as her Teacher- her Mother, once upon a time, many centuries ago- knelled to the pool’s surface, and cast her scrying spell- trying to gather up those souls that had recently died and bring them to the surface.

“Oh, my dear, I wish that was true,” Yaovi mused with a sad tone of voice. “Even I, upon centuries and centuries of self study, could still be caught off guard. Why, when I first met Hecate-” She stopped as a few small glowing orbs reached the surface of the pool. “No. That can’t be right.”

“What is it?” Cah’le asked.

“There are too few souls here. The most recent being a man who drowned after crashing his chest into a steel beam and bashing his head against a rock wall, a woman who had a heart attack in a hospital, a man who died of moon rock poisoning, and a-” Yaovi stopped as she plucked the last orb from the bunch and opened its final moments to view them directly. “A dragon woman… a Lawyer who died of incineration.” A quick chant later, and the Orb began to play the final moments.

Cah’le couldn’t see what her mistress saw, but she could hear the painful echoes of Kyiahlnah’s words echoing from the orb pulsing idly in Yaovi’s hands.

“-d, I’m here to get you to deliver a message for me.” Kyiahlnah spoke.

“What kind of message?” Caria’s voice spoke, “And to whom?”

“The whom is the Reaper herself, who I imagine you’ll be seeing very shortly.” Cah’le saw Yaovi’s deathly pale skin pale even further in fear. “As to what the Message is, that answers your first question. The message is… ‘I See Your Bet, and Raise…’

“Raise what?” Caria asked, though it was muted beneath Yaovi asking the same question. “Raise What?

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” And then there was roaring fire and the memory abruptly ended as Yaovi dropped the Soul orb back into the well.

“M-mom? Ma’am?? Is everything alright?” Cah’le stepped forwards to place a hand on the Reaper’s shoulder… and found it trembling in fear.

“She couldn’t…” Yaovi whispered. “How could she?”

“What is it?” Cah’le asked, growing nervous herself.

“She… She reaped the souls of those inmates,” Yaovi turned her head to meet her apprentice’s concerned gaze- and for the first time in the girl’s present life, Cah’le saw fear in the Reaper’s perfectly normal green eyes- all cloudy murkiness having been brushed away by the terror that was swelling within her own soul. “They never arrived here. She’s Circumvented MY SYSTEM!

Terror struck at Cah’le’s heart as well in that moment, and both turned to look at the waterfall that was meant to deliver the souls of the recently departed to them. “What did Kyiahlnah mean?” Cah’le asked. “What did she raise against us?”

“She-” Yaovi gulped. “I think she’s raising an army of spirits.”


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