Miduvit slipped away from the boat silently, picking his way along the planks slowly. She had to dodge the watchful eye of her older sister – by waiting until she was preoccupied with someone else first – and then she met up with her circle of friends.
They were planning to infiltrate a really old house rumored to be haunted. The building was so ancient, it was closed off with a high fence and signs with warnings on them, but they had made a gap to get through a couple days ago.
It was early afternoon and the sky was clear blue. Everything looked too bright and simple to be a bad day.
Her friends waved to her as she walked up. They were sitting on the ground, talking, as they waited. There were four other people here: Lux the otter, Puzzle the sphynx cat, Cleptia the hawk, and Dar’vani the wombat.
Miduvit stood with her hands on her hips and looked up at the large structure. The foundation had missing stones, and paint had flaked off the rotted wood of the walls. The windows stood absent of any glass, long since shattered or dropped away.
Looking at the hole in the fence, it looked tight. She wondered if Dar’vani would have trouble fitting through.
“Well, are we going in or not? You’re not a ‘fraidy rat are you?” Puzzle asked.
Miduvit didn’t reply to her taunting. She liked her, but she could be annoying too.
Lux squeezed through the opening easily, and Dar’vani didn’t have much trouble, despite his bulk, as she had predicted. Cleptia and Puzzle just flew over the fence. Miduvit stared up at them, then ducked down to crawl through the gap.
“Why didn’t you just let us fly over too with your thing?”
Puzzle looked offended. “It’s mine. I wouldn’t give it to just anybody.”
The grey frog shrugged. She didn’t really care either way. Actually, she wasn’t sure why she was starting something. She might have still been a little angry at Puzzle’s teasing earlier.
“You let me try it,” Cleptia protested.
“How is it different?”
“Just drop it, okay?”
Lux stopped short of breaching the threshold. Dar’vani creeped up behind him and tapped him on the back. He startled and jumped into the air.
“Scared?” he asked.
“It’s just really dark in there,” Lux said. “that’s all. Do we have some kind of light? Did anyone remember to bring one?
Miduvit leaned over to look further inside. He was right; the blackness inside was incredibly thick, like the sunlight overhead couldn’t pierce through it.
“I’ve got a torch,” the hawk said, already preparing it. She struck the flint against the ground,, over the flammable wick. It lit up with a hiss.
They strolled inside.
The house looked even bigger inside. The glow from the windows didn’t come inside much either. The torch looked small in the pool of visible light around it. White slices illuminated her friends around her. They clustered together closely.
Lux was the last one to follow.
There was a light in front of them. Everyone froze and stopped walking.
Cleptia lifted the torch higher.
The other light lifted as well.
“Wh-w?” someone stammered.
Miduvit realized what it was first.
“It’s a mirror!”
She let out her breath in a rueful laugh. They had been so ready for something foreign, they had scared themselves.
Other joined in, chuckling or muttering.
Then something in the mirror moved. No one was moving.
“Moons,” someone swore.
Someone pulled at her arm. She snatched it away, alarmed.
“Let’s go…” Lux pleaded, “I knew this was a bad idea… ”
Miduvit froze as a transparent figure moved through the house. She could trace its path by the fact it was the only thing clearly apparent in the darkness inside. The strange sound of strings, with no instrument around to play them, filled her ears.
“D-does anyone else see that?”
“Yeah,” Puzzle whispered. All her bravado was gone now.
As it came closer, the details became clearer. It was a tall and imposing lady clad in impossibly fancy robes, a graceful giraffe. She wasn’t fully formed and the grey frog could see the details of old furniture right through her as she passed through them.
Someone squealed in fear.
“Stop,” Puzzle snarled.
“Wait. Doesn’t that look like the person in our books? The pictures?”
That made absolutely no sense. She tore her eyes away to look at the timid otter.
“Wait,” Dar’vani yelled. “That… the person who worked on mana. I forgot … um… Seolin. Doesn’t it look like her?”
Everyone looked closer. Watched the figure go through a series of events: bending down, lifting hands as if sifting through water, raising them, then turning around and walking. Vanishing. Repeating the same thing again.
“It does,” Cleptia offered tentatively in a quavering voice.
“So she’s doing a ritual here?”
“Looks like it.”
Puzzle suddenly ran forward at the material body, leaping at it as if attacking.
“No!” Miduvit cried.
Everyone stopped. Waiting.
Nothing happened though.
Puzzle laughed in both delight and relief as she landed harmlessly. “See, it’s not there! There’s nothing real here!”
She waved her hands through the spectral figure as it went through the motions again.
“It’s like a flipbook repeating over and over,” Lux observed. “It’s not right that it’s not there. There is something still there obviously. I think it’s a mana echo.”
Dar’vani looked at Lux. “A what now?”
“Mana echo. It’s what it sounds like: it’s when a powerful force imprints a lingering reproduction of that event. I wonder when it first happened? It must have been very very powerful to still be here. What time was Seolin alive?”
“Five hundred years ago or something,” the hawk guessed.
The sphynx cat shook her head. “Longer than that.”
“Does it matter?” Miduvit demanded. “Okay, we solved the mystery. Now what?”
Cleptia waved the torch toward the door. “I’ve had enough excitement for tonight. We’ve got a good story out of it so let’s head back before someone notices us.”
They left the building to explore the rest for another day.