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A few weeks had passed since their visit to the deserted estate. Vera had been to every shop about occult she knew, searching for an ouija board with even a faint glow to it, indicating it could be genuine and useful to her. Finally, she had found something, in a tiny, dusty, dark shop in a dubious neighborhood. The shop was named « The Shimmering Crystal » and claimed to sell and buy things from otherworldly places and rare antics. The place itself was a huge mess of various objects of many different kinds, stored on shelves mostly. There was a forked twig next to a mummy foot, an Aztec idol (a fake, she was sure) sat next to an orb with some kind of myst within, rare books piled like they were worth nothing were assaulted by dust, an you could even buy an Indian blowpipe with allegedly poisoned darts.The shop owner’s eyes had shone in anticipation when Vera, in her very noticeable cloak, had entered the stocked room. He had come to her, not bothering hiding his excitement, and asked what she sought in his humble shop. Vera had explained to him she needed a ouija board that actually worked, and she would knew it if he tried to defraud her. He nodded, acknowledging the fact that she was no ordinary occult fanatic, and took her to the part of the shop where the rarest items were kept, behind a thick curtain, in a storage room only lighted by the dim rays coming from the moucharabiehs. Vera couldn’t believe her eyes. Many objects were glowing, glistering or glimmering in there. Some very faintly, some more obviously so. Golden sparkles, white glowing runes, there were real magic in this place. She truly hoped the merchant didn’t sell those to anyone. He quickly explained he kept this part of the shop hidden to the public, and only let the true practitioners of Magic in it. Assuredly, he had some of them amongst his clients. His name was Mussah, and he was, as Vera was about to discover, regularly visited by Sorcerers. Mages, however, seldom came, for he had only a few books and gems. He was no librarian nor jeweler. Vera saw, in the middle of a jumble of magical things which might not have been stored together, a ouidja board, faintly marked by some remains of gold magic, like a cover of dust barely noticeable. It was wood carved and very old. She touched it, and saw the planchette casually displayed aside. It was heart shaped, and glowed more strongly, as if it had been touched more by aetheric Magic. It was a pity Vera couldn’t afford more than the ouija board, for she saw many a thing which awakened her interest. But she hadn’t thought to bring things for sale, so she would have to content herself with the board. She paid it a small fortune, and noted in her memory the location of the shop, for a future visit.

When Vera arrived to the Fairy Circus camp a day later, she found that Antef’s tent was now surrounded by potted plants, in which she recognized some of the rare species the boy had tried to pick with their roots intact. He had been busy, and he was really good at this. Rare plants were now growing in his pots, under his tender care. For some, he had placed a glass box around them to protect them from cold weather. Other he had let out. When Fluffy saw Vera, she immediately went to fetch Antef, who came out of the tent with gardening tools in his belt, and thick gloves on his hands. He greeted Vera with a warm smile. « I was hoping you would come », he said. She smiled at him and asked if he was up for another visit to the Estate. The boy was more than enthusiastic. He picked a large scuttle inside his tent, kept all his gardening tools, and nodded. « Let’s go, then », Vera said, very pleased with the boy’s reaction. They walked to the Estate, chattering about the place, how it was a wonder, how it should be tended to. Antef seemed particularly devoted to give a new life to the garden. He wanted it to be clean, if not as magnificent as it once was. Vera told him he could muse into the garden, but he had to wait for her to do something before he could garden. Antef raised a brow at such a mysterious statement, but he knew better than to ask. He had, of course, noticed the rather large square parcel Vera was carrying under her arm. She hadn’t mentioned it, so he thought it was probably not a business she wanted to share with him. He was happy enough to go back to the garden, and was grateful to her for that opportunity. He didn’t want to ruin it with asking too much questions.

After a while, they arrived to the Estate. Footsteps in the wild herbs showed that it had been visited since their last incursion. Antef frowned, and casted an interrogative look at Vera. She shrugged. She had no idea about this. She hoped whoever had been there was gone, and nobody would have scared the ghost away. The older Woodwife waved her companion to follow, as she ventured in the formerly well kept alleys of the garden. Once she was sure there was nobody here, she sent Antef to find a scythe or a sickle to cut the lawn. He should find one either in the glasshouse supplies, or in the garden keeper house. Antef nodded, and went his way, while Vera cautiously approached the front door of the manor. She noticed the door had been forced open, and footsteps everywhere proved that quite a big group had been there recently. She was sorry for the poor ghost who had to tolerate trespassers all the time.

She sat cross-legged in front of the door, just outside the house, and waited for the expected sparkle of gold to show. She waited a while, then she saw it, and knew she wasn’t alone. She said in a good-mannered voice : « Hello? I’ve come to talk with you, if you will allow me. I don’t mean to trespass. My young friend is taking care of your lawn, since you don’t seem able to do it yourself. I’ve brought a board so we can try and talk with each other. If you please? ». She placed the bord in front of her, on the threshold, and waited. For a moment, nothing happened at all. Then, all the sudden, the arrow pointed to the question mark. She had the ghost attention. She smiled. « I’m Vera Vintersdotter. What’s your name? » she asked. Slowly, with a stream of moving sparkles, the arrow moved, spelling a name. « Asa Badner ». She was now very excited. « Good Day, Mister Badner. Can I ask you when you did pass? The estate seems to be long abandonned », she tried. The arrow didn’t move. Even when she waited, the ghost didn’t answer her question. She was disappointed but, hey, maybe he didn’t even know the answer. She hoped he hadn’t left. « Sorry. Is it okay if we tend to your garden? » she tried, hoping for a better reaction. The ouija board glowed anew. The arrow pointed to the « yes » answer. Good. He wasn’t hostile to their presence as long as they didn’t disturb him. She was a bit wary about her next question, but did really want to know the answer, so she asked it anyway.

« How did you die? Why do you stay there? » she asked in a deceivingly firm voice. All the sudden, the temperature dropped significantly. She saw a kind of energy burst, aetheric sparkles going crazy for a second. Oh, no. She had angered a ghost. She was about to run for her life, for she could feel the anger, but, unexpectedly, the planchette began to move briskly and fast, spelling new words. « BETRAYED » was the first one, spelled with abrupt jerks of the planchette. Then, he spelled a word even scarier. « BEHEADED ». Vera paled. She had expected something less grisly. She was about to say something about her being sorry, when the planchette moved again, in an jerky way. « GO AWAY » was what the ghost spelled. She was very upset. She had meant to be friendly, not to wound even more a ghost who had obviously a lot to cope with. In a weak voice, she asked: « Do you still give us your permission to garden a bit, make your flowerbeds more pleasant? ». No answer. She was afraid the ghost might attack her because of her previous question, and she was about to give up, take the board, Antef, and leave, when the planchette spelled a new word: « fine. », but the ghost was still displeased, she could tell. So she picked up the board, the planchette, and said while getting away from the house: « I’m really sorry, Mister Badner. I shouldn’t have asked such rude questions. I will leave you alone, now, and go to the garden with my friend », then she regained the safety of the garden, away from the sparkles, the cold and the anger.

Vera found out that Antef had cleaned up a lot of the lawn during her little experience, and he had formed a haystack on a corner of the garden, with all the herbs he had cut. She told him he could tend to the flower beds if he liked, and when he enthusiastically said he would, she told him she would be in the glasshouse with Arion, letting her familiar out for a while under the relative safety of the remaining glass roof. Antef took all the pretty wild flowers he could find, and arranged them inside the flowerbeds, to mimic as closely as possible a well kept garden, while avoiding a too quick destruction of his work by time, because he only picked beautiful flowers which needed no attention at all, and grew themselves. At least it would stay pretty for a while.

When the afternoon was almost over, Vera picked Antef and headed home, escorting the boy to the Circus camp. He was all excited about this garden he had - even so briefly and illusory - brought back to life, but all Vera could think about was this conversation with a ghost. She had spoken to a dead man. Of course, she hadn’t gone far, and he seemed very touchy about the reason for his death. This taught her not to ask how a ghost had died. It was, obviously, a sensitive spot, and she blamed herself for having failed to figure it out by herself. She only hoped Asa the ghost wouldn’t turn into something more dangerous. Was it even possible? A whole new world of questions had opened to her. She would read about that, and question people. Maybe religious people had their own opinion, while Woodwife wisdom taught otherwise, and maybe Aether users told another tale altogether. While waving goodbye to a very happy Antef, she wondered what Aïsha would have thought of that. She immediately regretted this thought. What if Aïsha had become a ghost and she had never known? It was too much for her. She turned her hood down on her face to hide the infinite sadness which had begun to invade her on her way home.
Vera and Antef are from the :iconwoodwives:'s group and played by me. 
Antef was designed by :iconxaotl:, who owns Asa Badner and the Badner estate. She gave me the answers you can read from Asa on the ouija board. 
This is a sequel of my previous text, which was a prompt entry : nefermeritaset.deviantart.com/…
The traces of someone else's passage are a reference to :icononi-neko:'s entry, which you can read here: oni-neko.deviantart.com/art/St…
:icononi-neko:
Oni-Neko Featured By Owner May 6, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
This is an exciting sequel! And shows the differences between the respect the Woodwives show and the general lack of it shown by the theater folk who were basically being tourists. 
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:iconnefermeritaset:
Nefermeritaset Featured By Owner May 6, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Absolutely. I bet Arty regrets going there with them, she would rather have them far away from the place! But she tried to protect them, it fits her good nature.
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