The music for this chapter https://open.spotify.com/playlist/17e3n8o4RI2d6lqsPk7uZC?si=d581949a1af14cdc
(I will put a copy pastable version in the comments)
Although it was only 5 pm, it was already dark outside, and the chapel was lighted with dimmed artificial light and the candles in candelabras that were always present in a place of prayer. To make sure we had sufficient light to see our scores, Frank had arranged for small lights to be attached to our music stands. This would have been brilliant, but why on earth did mine have to flicker each time the volume rose? The lamp was probably not screwed in properly.
It's not that we could not play with such a minor issue, but it was a distraction, and getting distracted is the last thing a conductor wants. Luckily, so far, I managed to pull us through but during the famous Waltz “An der schönen blauen Donau”, my music stand looked like a nightclub playing techno just after the music exploded. Safe to say, it was irritating beyond measure. So, the second the waltz was finished, I decided to try and fix it.
The lamp seemed to be screwed in right. The second I touched the wire though, the lamp exploded, and I felt a hard painful pulse go through my entire body. My muscles cramped up before I got tossed across the room.
I opened my eyes and everything around me was dark. I knew this place. This was limbo, but somehow it felt different. I felt like I was experiencing everything I ever felt at the same time as I saw my memories flash before my eyes like a movie. I do not know how long this period lasted, but this blissful was interrupted by a painful sting in my chest and the movie immediately stopped.
I was stuck and could not move anymore and in front of me stood Nastya’s father with his hand full of dark energy penetrating through my chest.
“Did you really think I was going to fall for that obvious trap? I put one of my own instead and it seemed like I won.”
Another surge of pain went through me. As I screamed out, I could see that outside time had kept moving. I noticed Nastya was looking at me in tears. Was I dead?
“It seems like you noticed. Tell me where they are, and I will let you go back.”
There was no way in hell that I was going to betray Lise. She took my place once before. Not again.
Another painful surge went through me. I felt myself growing weak. I felt I was not going to last long.
“You won’t have long to decide. Just give in and tell me so I can take care of those two.”
Another type of shock started to go through me. I felt like someone was pulling at me to come. In the window, I noticed Nastya and Tine were giving me CPR, but the time had slowed down to an excruciatingly slow pace.
“I guess, I’ll just absorb you to fight them when the time comes. If you won’t speak, I guess I will have no choice but to target Nastya.”
“You leave her alone.”
“You alone have the power to do so.”
I could see him move closer and the dark power in his hands intensify.
“I can’t betray Lise and Rosalinde.”
“Then we are done talking.”
I could see him lift his hand while speaking some weird language. It must be some kind of spell, and the darkness started to engulf me. I felt like my presence was slowly fading away, all impressions growing softer with every passing second.
“You really wanted to see me so bad that you decided to attack my master?” Rosalinde’s words were followed by a large pink blast and all the darkness that was engulfing me was blasted away in a single strike. I fell to the ground powerless to move.
Lise ran toward me and crouched next to me and put her hand on my heart. My entire skin was cracked with remnants of that dark stuff still lingering on those cracks, but slowly I felt the energy return to me and the cracks seemed to close. “We’ll take it from here.” Lise said confidently. Lise was always the one saving me.
“Impossible. I made sure she lost that stupid pin.” Sergei shouted irritated. I could hear the fear in his voice.
“Thank your daughter. She was so kind to return it.” Rosalinde said with a smirk.
Sergei looked at the window, where Nastya was giving me CPR. “I see. So, it is like that…”
He started to go berserk and started throwing the black stuff at Rosalinde who slowly walked forward without ever being touched.
“It is not what I would have preferred, but I promised your daughter I would give you a chance for redemption. I can get you out of your wraith contract at her side. What do you say?”
“That would mean I would have to give up on my beloved one. I will never give up on her!”
“You made your choice. But know that you aren’t the only wraith in this room and there is no way that a reckless fledgling like you is going to stand up to my 200 years of gathering strength.”
Rosalinde’s eyes turned black and suddenly a large black blast was unleashed, and Sergei got engulfed from head to toe. He screamed out in agony as he slowly faded away. In the end, only a faint light remained that slowly moved toward Rosalinde. The second it touched her, her eyes turned back to normal.
“You should have allowed me to do that from the start. I told you he was too far gone. You cannot help everyone you meet.”
She walked toward me and said, “Now choose.”
“I had not expected this situation to occur. But now that you are on this side, you can either go back to her or stay here with Lise. But whatever decision you make will be permanent. Lise won’t be here anymore if you go back. Either way, Lise helped you find your happiness again. She fulfilled her promise, so this is the end of our pact.”
I looked Lise in the eye and then I looked at Nastya who was crying over my promise that I would not leave her alone. I noticed that Aunt Christina was being comforted by Inge, and Sara was being held back by Axelle. Even Frank had tears in his eyes.
I put my hand on Lise’s cheek, and I kissed her. While our lips touched every last little bit of our feelings connected. We both knew in that instant that this would be goodbye. I knew I could no longer let go of all the connections I still had among the living.
Aunt Christina, who took care of me. Sara and Axelle, my best friend and her girlfriend. Tine and Annie, even Aleksei and Frank… But most importantly, Nastya. Not that our time had not been precious, but I realized that in this moment, the person most important to me, was no longer Lise and that I was no longer the most important person to her. I had changed, my world had changed, and so had Lise.
“I loved you. I will never forget you.”
These were the last words we said to each other. More was not needed. All the rest we already exchanged during that kiss.
I felt myself swirl through a bright tunnel and heard the Nastya say the words “Please stay. Can’t you see that I love you!”
My eyes opened as a deep breath filled my lungs and my heart sprang into motion again. The only thing I could see was Nastya hovering over me.
“I love you too. I don’t think I would have made it back without you.”
Nastya started crying and hugged me. With a lot of effort, I managed to lift my hand and caress her hair. She lifted her head back and our eyes locked onto each other. Her head closed into mine and closed my eyes before our lips touched.
When our kiss ended, she whispered “I was so scared I lost you,” before grabbing me really tight. Right then and there, I knew I had made the right choice.