and I pretended it was the cold rain splashing against my face. I gathered up my will and continued to call the spirits to me. These were the native peoples of the region’s history: average height, a range of skin from ruddy dark to paler tones, though all had dark brown or black hair.
The wardrobes varied as well, no doubt representing the many thousand years of peoples that settled the area: a historian’s wet dream. Weapons, clothing, and decorations all varied amongst the spirits, though more richly decorated than I suspected was true of them in life. Perhaps they carried their burial items with them in the afterlife.
My focus waned as I stared at the hundreds of spirits circling us, more appearing with each breath. None were the Viking spirits, however. How did I screw that up? Why didn’t they come? I’d called them, too.
Pain like I’ve never experienced gripped my soul. I fell to one knee, clutching myself, fruitless against the cutting, scratching, stabbing that shook me.
“Rachel!” Jeremy exclaimed and dropped down next to me. “What’s wrong?”
“I am what’s wrong,” a voice said in English. Not Newfie English, but the Queen’s English.
Jeremy helped me to my feet, though I still had to lean against him to remain upright. The spirits, both normal and flesh, parted the way. An old woman walked towards us. Her hair was grey and hung loosely over her shoulders. Two thin braids, richly decorated with leather, shells, and bone, framed her face. The old spirit leaned against a wooden walking stick.
With each of her steps, my muscles clenched. I shook from the psychic pressure her presence caused. After this night, I would need weeks to recover from being near this spirit, provided I survived with my brain still intact.
“Little one,” she said, her voice musical. “I’ve been waiting to meet you.”
This wasn’t just a normal spirit. Before me stood the most powerful one I’d ever encountered—and she knew me.
I gulped. “You speak English.”
The spirit smiled. “Yes. I learned it when they came to Newfoundland,” she said, pronouncing it the local way—”Newf-in-land.”
“So you aren’t very old then.” That didn’t match the aura of power that emanated from her.
“No, little one. I learned the language thousands of years after my death. I am one of the wise women, the shaman that continues to guide her people even once the body has passed into the next existence.”
I trembled and Jeremy held me closer.
“What’s going on?” he whispered.
“To summarize,” the spirit said, now turning to smile to Jeremy, “the little caster disobeyed his elders and resurrected spirits who have no mind or purpose of their own.” She narrowed her eyes at Jeremy before turning back to me. “Little caller, is this the man whose name you curse when you speak to your ancestors? The one who is blind to your affection and you left us to try to forget?” She sized Jeremy up. “He is rather tall.”
Heat rose in my cheeks. Stupid know-it-all spirits. “I am here to put the shades back to rest. Manny is a child and did not understand what he was doing when he called on the spirits for help.”
“Then the little caster should not have been so careless. Do not his elders follow the book with the rule to obey one’s parents?”
“This is a demon,” growled David and he began chanting the Lord’s Prayer.
“Shut up,” I whispered back. “Don’t piss the spirit off.”
“No,” the spirit said, laughter bubbling in her raspy voice, “do not.”
Her laughter scratched across the surface of my soul. I could see Jeremy staring at me in my peripheral vision, but I ignored him. The spirit was trying to distract me. She was doing a good job, too.
“Great spirit,” I said, steadying my voice, even though Jeremy’s strong arms were all that kept me vertical, “please return to your rest. I apologize for the insult of waking you.”
“Oh, there is no insult,” the