Chapter 1: Haunts That Want to Know You
“Are you trying to kill us?! Do you even know the difference between a child’s femur and an adult’s humerus?” The tall witch yelled at her apprentice.
“Umm yes?” said the beginner witch, her black velvet dress, short chestnut brown hair and black pointed hat made her look a lot more experienced than she really was.
“Remind me later that I am to send you to cram school to refresh your knowledge of the human body,” grunted the elder witch, “Honestly, you must learn these things if you want to survive Styx.”
“Yes ma’am,” The young girl said rushing to put back the kids’ femur and grab a humerus bone. Styx sighed to herself as she made her way back over to the steaming cauldron in front of her advisor. In all honesty, Styx knew all 206 bones in the human body and how there can be variations on that number depending on genetic diseases. But under the amount of pressure there was for her to do right for her family it was making it quite difficult to not make stupid mistakes.
“Now listen here, child. I may seem like a young spritely witch but I don’t got a lot of years left in me. So, you need to learn all that you can or face dire consequences as this town's sole witch.” The words rang in Styx’s memory as she broke the humerus in her hands and tossed it into the bubbling stew. She watched on as the green sluggish slime turned into a sky-blue hue and began puffing out little sparkle infested smoke bubbles.
“Styx, you must pay closer attention to ingredients. I understand potion making isn’t your strong suit but you must try harder,” The elder witch huffed as she moved to sit down in an old wooden rocker while she let the potion brew. Styx looked from the puffs of smoke down to her bare feet.
“Yes, Auntie Bell.” She whispered turning away from the cauldron and beginning to head towards the door.
“Tomorrow we will be practicing casting spells...Perhaps we will even look for a familiar for you as well.” Auntie Bell said calmly in hopes to alleviate some of Styx’s stress and ensure her that she was not disappointed in her. However, Styx just turned her head slightly in acknowledgement and stepped away, exciting the small cottage that lay on the outskirts of town. Outside she balanced on the edge of the back porch looking toward her own small shed. Sundown was approaching and she knew that she only had a few more minutes to enjoy the luxury of daylight before being thrown into the world of darkness. Styx hopped down from the porch and strolled casually to her home.
“Who in their right mind would name a child sticks?” A disembodied voice said behind Styx. She just kept her head up and continued walking toward the shack. This kind of thing happened often, she was used to the voice but she wasn’t quite in the mood for it today.
“My parents didn’t give me that name. And I told you to leave me alone,” She said dryly hoping the other would leave. No such luck today, just as most days for Styx.
“If your parents didn’t give it to ya, then who did?” The annoying girl's voice rang behind her.
Styx just walked to her door turned around to face the floating nuisance and said, “Bugger off.” She spun away opened her door and upon entering her home slammed it behind her before the ghost could enter. Styx sighed leaning against the door, she took a minute to compose herself before lighting a few candles and throwing herself on her bed.
“You know doors don’t work on me, right?” The floating apparition of a girl said as she sat 25 centimeters above Styx’s dresser. Styx couldn’t stop herself from groaning in annoyance, she could have sworn she charged and activated her sigil correctly to keep out her new “friend” but apparently not. This was the third time this week and she had yet to find something to help her keep the ghost out.
As if the ghost could read Styx’s mind she said, “I’ll leave you alone if you tell me about your name.” A pause and then “And listen to me talk a little bit about myself too of course. Fair is fair.” The ghost’s words dripped with the essence of a spoiled manipulative brat, but if it meant Styx could get some alone time she would agree to pretty much anything.
“Fine!” Styx whisper shouted pushing herself up and into a sitting position on her bead facing the ghost. “Where do you want me to start?” she snapped.
“Whoa, no need to be so rude.” The ghost girl said flipping what could only be assumed from her overall dull colored appearance to be blonde hair.
'How classic,’ thought Styx, ‘this girl is most likely one of the rich girls who died a few years back and is accusing me of being rude. You would think realizing you're dead would change how you acted a little at least.’ Styx crossed her arms and stared down the ghost.
“Why don’t you start with why you live out in this creepy old cabin instead of with that nice old lady, and then tell me how you got your name.” The specter said with a smile, crossing her legs causing her pale pink dress to shift up exposing her high pale socks and knees. Styx shifted her gaze away from the ghost’s legs and up to her eyes.
“Well for starters that nice old lady has a name,” Styx started. “Her name is Aunt Bell, I call her Auntie Bell. She is not actually related to me in anyway. She is teaching me how to be a real witch so I can take over as town witch when she passes.”
“A real witch? I thought witches were born with their powers,” The ghost said interrupting Styx.
Styx rolled her eyes, “I am a real witch. I was born with powers, she’s just teaching me how to control them better and to cast spells and make potions.”
“So why don’t you live with her in there then?” The ghost shifted and floated down to actually sit on Styx’s dresser.
“The house will become mine once she passes. But a witch in training isn’t allowed to stay in the same residents as the master. We can, however, be on the same property within 50 yards of each other place of stay.” Styx said dryly. No one ever was truly curious about witch rituals and rights, so why would this ghost be any different.
The ghost girl quirked an eyebrow up and asked, “How did you get your name?”
Styx looked down and then back up towards the ghost. “It’s been so long I don’t remember my real name to be honest with you.” She said folding her hands in her lap.
“A long time ago when I was living with my family my imaginary friends began to seem too real to my parents. My family thought I was crazy. They called Auntie Bell to come see me and she told them I was special. I was around only three or four at this time and was declared to be the next witch of the town. Auntie Bell said that my special ‘gift’ was to see and communicate with the dead. So, she thought if she gave me a name that referred to the river of the dead like in the ancient Greek works that it would make my gift stronger.” Styx sighed and chanced a glance up to see the ghost girl watching her with awe in her dead eyes.
“What?” Styx said flatly after a few moments of semi awkward silence, mostly on her side of things. The other girl just turned her head to the side as a small smile crept across her features.
“And here all this time I thought your parents were evil for giving to such an odd name.” The girl sat up quickly and flew in front of Styx make the dark-haired girl lean back on her bed. “You’re much more interesting than I gave you credit for. From here on out I will no longer make it my sole purpose for the rest of my life to haunt you, now I will be your friend.” Styx’s heartbeat picked up speed, not just from the thought of having to deal with this brat for what seems to be forever but to also have another person’s face and lips so close to hers. Styx being the introvert with personal space issues could already tell she was going to have the worst life ever.
Chapter 2: What Back Story?
Styx sat on her bed with her back against the wall in the small cabin she could claim as hers, watching as the ghost in front of her sat on her bed barely even making a dent in the blankets smiling like she had just won 1 million flen.
“So… Didn’t you say you were going to tell me about yourself?” Styx said leaning as far back into her wall as possible. The ghost girl tilted her head in confusion for a moment before smiling again.
“Oh right! I completely forgot,” The girl said waving it off and laughing. Styx could feel her insides telling her this girl was not right in the head or at least not the type of person Styx was used to and like being around.
“Right, well to start off my name's Luna. I have blonde hair, blue eyes with darks circles around the outside. I’m 17 years old and have no idea how I died.” The ghost girl, now Luna, said. “But I’m much more interested in you now. What exactly are the color of your eyes? They are so peculiar.” Luna said leaning forward into Styx’s personal space again. Styx leaned to the side and moved away from Luna, causing the girl to sit back and frown at her.
“They’re some weird shade of brown, I don’t know.” Styx could feel her shoulders were tense and tried to distract herself. “Umm so you don’t know how you died?” She tried looking up at Luna. Even though she was dead Luna was taller than Styx by a few centimeters, about fifteen, and she was more slender than Styx but not as curvy.
“Oohh that doesn’t really matter,” the girl said sitting in front of Styx once again invading the witch’s personal space. “I think I was murdered, but who knows. It's all a bit of a blur.” Luna smiled charmingly at Styx. This however got Styx thinking, from what she knew about the limited information on specters, was that if a ghost couldn’t remember or didn’t know or refused to accept what happened to them then they couldn’t pass on.
“Don’t you want to know what happened to you?” She said cautiously leaning slightly away from the ghost. Luna sat back and seemed to contemplate her question for all of 3 seconds.
“Maybe.” She shrugged. “Is me not knowing a bad thing?” She asked Styx sounding very genuinely concerned. Styx went on to explain what she knew from all of 2 books on specters written by other witches.
“So, what you’re telling me, is that I should probably find out who killed me because trust me. Considering where I’m from whoever killed me has probably killed more people.” Luna said.
“What? Where are you from?” Styx exclaimed, now concerned for the well beings of complete strangers.
“I’m from like the most corrupt town in the Eros Kingdom, Eros.” Luna said as if it were no big deal. Styx has only heard of things about the capital Eros, it's a dirty place where the poor are treated like dirt and the wealthy siphon anything and everything from the innocent and their fellow rich.
“So, let's get back to you. You are just so interesting,” Luna said propping her elbow on her knee and leaning her chin against it. Styx shook her head a little, she was utterly shocked how quickly Luna can dismiss their conversation.
“Um no? We need to save innocent people if we can. We can’t just let who ever murdered you walk free!” Styx said leaning forward moving her hands with her words for emphasis.
“Aww Styx, do you care about me?” Luan said leaning her face and bring it only a few centimeters away from Styx.
“No,” Styx said sitting up straight, “I just don’t think murderers should walk free.” Styx crossed her arms over her chest thinking about how she could catch the person who killed her new friend. Friend? In the short half hour of their discussion Styx had started to consider the annoying spoiled ghost her friend. She of course was used to ghosts becoming her friends because of her gift, but they usually were just there to ask her for help or for her to listen to their story so they could move on. However, Luna was different than the other ghosts. She seemed more interested in Styx than she did about how she died of even to talk about herself. What an odd new person to pick Styx to haunt and then befriend.