They ran up north-east through the wheat field that covered the land between the village and the southern edge of High Wood. Nobody was following them, but they were moving fast - in case somebody got interested in two teenagers who’d chosen to damage public property instead of using the regular path that was much longer. On his long slim limbs, Chase was faster than Annabel, even though he carried a huge rucksack filled to the edges with something that definitely looked heavy. He was energized and psyched up, but he hadn’t even mentioned the reason that was making him so confident. Annabel’s questions were answered briefly or weren’t answered at all. From all she could make out she understood that their final destination, if nothing changed, would be a town nearby Brook county, the capital city of Renezar kingdom where they both lived. On the way there they were going to visit a few towns, villages and cities and perform in the streets.
“What is it we need in that county?” she asked, but Chase only smiled to her over his shoulder.
“You’ll see. I can’t tell you now.”
He’s so mysterious. Not the best man to trust, isn’t he, Annabel? And yet, here we are.
Annabel still wasn’t sure if she’d made a right decision. She thought that Chase might be her chance to get home and find her family, to earn some money and live as a free human being, not depending on somebody’s wishes or personal needs. In case the boy wasn't what he appeared to be, Annabel considered it possible to run from him and find a way home on her own. She had no idea how she would do that, but she hoped to be good at improvising.
They didn’t stop to rest until dawn, and at the end of the day Annabel’s legs felt so sore that she thought she would just fall next to an old tree trunk and stay there for the whole night. Thanks to Heaven and all gods, there was a small town called Hentenoof higher up their path where Chase said they will stay for a few days. He also said that it would be safe for them if they worked quickly and remembered to be attentive. Annabel watched him talk to a tavern keeper who found them two separate rooms (it turned out to be fairly problematic) and promised breakfasts, dinners and suppers for extra payment. The town was small, but looked busy even when the night fell upon it. People were carrying something around, walking, talking, and nobody paid much attention to some stranger travellers. In Renezar, there lived pretty simple men, and in her thoughts Annabel was grateful for that. Otherwise, she and Chase would have been in a much bigger trouble.
“Sleep well tonight,” said Chase as they headed to the staircase and his backpacks were given to a houseboy. “Tomorrow you start learning. I will go out to buy some stuff.”
“Wait, wait,” Annabel frowned and turned to him, “learning? Learning what?”
“Magic.” Chase winked at her and strode to the exit, hurriedly adding over his shoulder, “Don't stay too late, Annabel.”
Because of all events that had happened in the last few hours, and because of the big amount of running and jogging, Annabel literally didn't have any energy to stay late that night. She slept soundly until Chase woke her up in the early morning. They had a humble breakfast down in the inn, then Chase took Annabel for a walk.
The town was pretty. It wasn’t very rich, but people who inhabited it looked quite happy and satisfied with what they had. Streets, alleys, flowerbeds, houses - all was modest, definitely old, but clean and well-maintained. Homely, it was, Annabel would say, for the entire town made her think about her parents and their tiny house near the meadow, full of light and comfort.
“We’ll perform there,” Chase paused and pointed his finger at the cobblestone territory that looked like main town square, but just as minimalistic as everything around.
“Tomorrow. Today is all about watching.”
Annabel stopped shortly. “Watching?”
Chase turned to her with a questioning look and nodded, biting his lower lip.
"I thought I am to learn how to perform street magic.”
“You are learning right now. You see, the very first tip you need before you show people some magic tricks, you have to know the people. Your audience is everywhere around you, so watch it, explore it, feel it. You will know what exactly to show if you are observant enough, and you’ll be able to hook the audience when it comes to the performance itself. Usually magicians like me spend weeks or even months on this, but you have only a day, so try to be watchful and don’t waste our time.”
Annabel snorted and shook her head in exasperation. This boy was much stranger than she expected. They continued walking past the square, but now Annabel was much more attentive than before.
“It’s some kind of your motto, isn’t it?” she asked without looking at Chase, keeping her eyes on an old woman who was carrying two baskets with potatoes - potential audience, one might say.
“What exactly do you mean? I have a lot of mottos.”
“‘Don’t waste our time’. This one’s your favorite.”
“Well,” Chase shrugged and looked around casually, “I must admit that it is. It’s more about not wasting my time, but since we work as a team, I do my best to care about you as well.”
They spent the entire day walking and watching the town, visiting some shops, gazing at forest and hills landscapes, talking to the residents, and though Annabel saw many people during those hours, she wasn’t sure if she had comprehended the audience as Chase had told her she must. Chase seemed to be experienced, while she didn’t know how to connect everything she was seeing and noticing. Lots of personalities, and even more possible ways to impress them, given that Chase had a huge collection of tricks just as he claimed he did. If that was true, of course.
“Tell me what you’ve got. I’ll correct you if needed,” he told her as they returned to their tavern in the late evening, tired and hungry.
“Not that I’ve got a lot,” Annabel mumbled and fell on the first chair that caught her eye, feeling her arms and legs melt and flow down onto the floor. With a loud sigh, she put herself together and started, feeling Chase’s waiting gaze focused on her.
"Well, in this town people are… they… They live a quiet life, do simple things and seem to be fine with what they have. I'm not sure, but… I think it'll be enough to show them a couple of basic tricks with coins or flowers or something to impress them. They hardly have seen any magic at all and possibly don't even believe in it."
Chase was listening to her while scrupulously wiping the dirt off his garnet red coat, and when Annabel finished, he sat back in his chair and took out a small notebook covered in brown leather from an inner pocket.
"So, am I right?" Annabel asked, watching him as he was turning the pages.
Chase looked up at the ceiling and hummed thoughtfully, "Mmm… Honestly? No."
Annabel closed her eyes and felt that almighty 'I-don't-care' state suddenly overwhelm her. "Just what I was hoping for."
"Actually, you’ve got the first part right, but failed the conclusion. And missed the details."
A waitress came closer and offered them tea before their supper was ready. When she left, and while nobody was listening, Chase bent forwards and rested his elbows on the table, preparing to give Annabel a lesson.
"People in this town do live a simple life, quiet and modest, but there's even more than that," he said in a teaching tone. "They aren't just alright with what they have, they are conservative and homestuck. Have you noticed all those facilities they've provided for themselves? Cafés, taverns, shops of different kinds, school, even a sort of hospital and alchemist's shop down the main street. Usually only big cities have all this, but it is here because these people don't want to leave their comfort zone, and I could even bet my left hand on that most of them have never been outside town limits and haven't heard of many things people usually hear of. Unless, of course, their alchemist often expatiates about faraway lands' mysteries and wonders while selling people herbs and teas, but that's hardly possible. That's why the best performance for them is... exotics."
Annabel's eyebrows jumped in surprise. "Like Karyllian snake dancers? Don't tell me you have one in your backpack."
"No, more like esoteric shaman magic that you’ve been taught by an ancient wild tribe of the Mistwood island... after you got lost in the ocean, fought with tigers for dear life, ate poisonous fruit, almost died and… I don't know, something else, probably, but you get it. Make a legend for people to believe in - they've never had a chance to check if you say the truth, anyway. Then show them some tricks to impress, invite into a shaman ritual to scare, pretend to be talking with spirits of a wild island, hypnotize a man to make it look like he sees the spirits, too, - to persuade, and your mission is completed. Take the money, grab the stuff and leave without another look back."
"Let me guess," Annabel mumbled, "all that is our performance plan for tomorrow?"
"Well, in fact, yes. It is."
"Hypnotizing a man? Seriously?"
"Hmm.” Annabel made a small sip of tea and looked directly at Chase. “You know, you begin to scare me."
The next morning they began planning the details. To Annabel’s surprise and relief, Chase turned out to be a very patient teacher. He spent a few hours explaining her the task, giving her instructions, ordering his items and stuff, checking if they worked well. It was shortly after midday or so when he finally said they were ready to go. Annabel was nervous. She was thinking, what if she would miss the right moment and hinder the performance? Or do something wrong, despite all Chase’s efforts? She’d never been a magician’s assistant before, she wasn’t experienced. Or what if everything was worse than Annabel hoped? Chase could be a liar, a trickster... a traitor…
“Hey, are you coming?”
Suddenly his light voice broke into Annabel’s thoughts and brought her back to reality. When she looked up at him, he smiled and nodded at the door.
“Yes, yes. Sorry. I’m a bit…”
Annabel sighed, “Worried is a better word.”
“It’s normal for beginners. Passes after first five minutes. Or gets much worse and makes you shake like a leaf in a wind, and then you faint. Come on, magic’s waiting.”
For Annabel it was still a mystery how Chase was going to attract people in the square and draw their attention to what he would be doing, but Chase seemed very self-confident and strode directly to the place he considered the best for his performance. Right in the middle of the square, next to a small stone fountain, he placed his backpacks on the cobblestones and took out five short fire holders that turned out to be folded in two. While Annabel was unfolding them and putting them in places around Chase, he brushed his hair backwards and made a short ponytail using a thin green ribbon, then sat down on the floor, painted two red lines under his eyes with something that looked like paste, and finally took out a flute.
“Can you play it?” the girl asked as she turned to him, raising an eyebrow. For all she’d known, it was a Karyllian kind of instrument, and it sounded wonderful. One of the adult slaves in The Garden had it and had even played it a couple of times before a watcher took it off and threw away like rubbish. Hardly a few people in Renezar ever knew how to hold that flute, not to mention making sounds out of it. But Chase’s eyebrows jumped twice meaningfully, and he started playing without a word.
The music produced by the flute was fantastic. Annabel felt like diving into a world of fairy-tales, in a world of Karyllian magic and wonders, snake dancers, legendary panther riders, deep and dangerous rainforests, hunters with bows and wild tribe shamans with their huts all decorated with skins and bones. The tune was difficult to memorize, even a sort of disarranged, but very beautiful. In a few minutes, Annabel noticed that some people who were walking past them had chosen to stop and listen. A strange boy with red paintings on his face and a wondrously sounding instrument in their quiet, conservative town had quickly drawn their attention.
“They are watching now,” Annabel whispered to Chase, for he couldn’t see people with his eyes closed. The boy slowly stopped playing and stood up. Still not looking at anyone, he started making some weird movements with his hands and speaking a language Annabel didn’t know. She guessed the language was fictional, but it didn’t change the fact that it sounded scary and interesting for the audience. By the time Chase’s voice was exceedingly high, about twenty or twenty five people had gathered around him and Annabel, looking at Chase with their eyes wide open and their bodies frozen in excitement. Annabel noticed that her heart was still, too, and waited for what would happen next, even though she had known it already.
Chase, his arms thrown out, stopped in the middle of the circle and looked into the sky, now mysteriously silent, obviously preparing himself for a speech.
“Have you ever wondered, people of Hentenoof,” he said slowly, “what lives outside your town borders? What lives far over those mountains, or over seas and oceans, on the islands unseen by a human being and avoided by sailors, deep in forests where no sunlight penetrates through branches, and in dark abandoned caves?”
His voice, full of tension and secrecy, had an interesting effect on people around. They started whispering something to each other, smiling, mumbling, shivering.
“Have you ever asked yourself,” Chase continued, rising his tone, “how the ancient magic looks like and what it does to people?” At those words, he stretched out a hand, in which Annabel put a burning torch. Chase raised it in a gentle swing and said, “Because I have.”
He took out a flask with a strong-smelling liquid, made a quick sip, then put the torch close to his face and breathed the liquid out, bending towards the fire holders. People jumped back in fear and excitement, even Annabel made a cautious step aside as a huge fire flow suddenly blazed in the air right in front of them, lightning the fire holders and sending powerful heat into people’s faces. Chase looked like a dragon from those fairy-tale illustrations put in the books where knights fought with monsters and rescued poor princesses, and where impossible things could become all real. Some women screamed and turned away from the flames, but nobody left the square, nobody wanted to miss all those wonders Chase had prepared for them. The boy’s impression was totally unconcerned. He handed the torch back to Annabel and turned his painted face to the frozen audience.
“It was a dark foggy day on the ocean,” he said slowly, “when the remnants of the ship that I was travelling by was washed ashore after a powerful storm. Our captain and half of the team were lying dead on the beach, and those of us who were still alive found themselves on a land full of wonders and secrets, inhabited by people who knew things we couldn’t even imagine. We fought with the wild animals to survive, I even had to kill a huge tiger in order to save my own skin. We ate plants that made us sick, that made us vomit our guts out. We were poisoned by spiders and snakes, and many of us died of despair or killed themselves, being sure that they would not last long anyway. But I am here right now, talking to you, telling you all this, because once I met the wild tribe of residents, they saved my life, and their shaman... shared his biggest secrets with me.”
Chase put his hands in his pocket and took out a clenched fist, blue powder on his knuckles and on the tips of his fingers. One brief movement - and the powder was sent to fly above the fires; every fire exploded and turned blue as if following Chase’s magical order. The people oohed curiously and started whispering again, and now Annabel was sure Chase certainly had the audience’s attention until the very end.
“This blue flame you see is not just an ordinary flame. The shaman taught me to use its power for different things: for healing wounds or diseases, for casting spells of luck or misfortune… and also for doing forbidden things - for talking with spirits.”
While Chase was entertaining the people around him, Annabel was doing her job. She took a piece of red chalk and started drawing a thick line inside the circle formed by fire holders. Above her head, Chase’s voice was still speaking.
“In the tribe, they believe that after death souls go to a world of spirits that looks pretty like the our world, they become vagabonds and can be called to visit us here.”
Finished with red chalk, Annabel found a small bag filled with gravel and formed a few small piles all along the red line, then did the same with yellow dirt and poppy seeds, poured some liquid from Chase’s flask onto gravel piles and ignited them.
“When coming back from the other side, spirits also bring knowledges and secrets that we, humans, cannot and will never possess while walking on earth, unless the ghosts are eager to share them with us. Would you like to know those secrets? Would you like the wandering souls to share them with you and give you the power you wouldn’t find anywhere else?” People around Chase started whispering and nodding hastily. “Wonderful,” the boy’s lips curved into a foxy smile. He turned to Annabel and took a small tambourine with strange ornaments painted on its surface. “Prepare yourself, for you’ll be diving into a great, ancient ritual only shown to those who don’t fear to risk their lives and crave for secrets of the other world!”
After this, Chase started drumming the tambourine, making a deep scary pom-pom-pom sound; the bells attached to the drum rattled and jingled as he shook it, lifting it above his head and then swinging it down again; as Chase raised the tambourine and shook it above the blue fires, they hissed angrily and turned villainous green.
He was turning round and round himself, inside the burning red circle that Annabel had made, creating a tune and crying out strange words that were supposed to be a spell or a mantra of some kind. People around him leaned in, watching curiously and expecting something extraordinary (even more extra than before) to happen.
“Oh great and all-seeing spirits!” Chase cried out all of a sudden. “Those who watch us from above! Please honour us with your presence, tell us your secrets, show us the wonder. We are blind, so make us see, oh spirits! Give us your knowledge, give us your wisdom! We all beg you!”
All that ominous speech, followed by weird movements and tambourine’s jingling, didn’t surprise Annabel, because she and Chase had talked the plan through before the performance and she’d been prepared for everything; yet, it made her feel very uncomfortable. She realized that somewhere deep inside her she believed Chase, and wanted to believe that he could summon real ghosts, though he’d told her it wasn’t true. He could only summon imagination in people’s minds, but anything they would imagine wasn’t actually realistic. Still, his voice planted a seed of fear in Annabel’s heart, and she couldn’t help but watch the boy continue the show.
People in the square started looking around and whispering to each other, much more scared to see the spirits than Annabel. Chase moved on; rising the drum and lowering it again very slowly, he shook it, creating a soft rattling sound. Then the time of ghosts came. Chase’s eyes tracked an invisible target and stopped somewhere above and behind the crowd, they became big and round like two emeralds, and his breathing became faster.
“Oh…” he exhaled. “Oh spirit of this land!”
His voice was shaky, tears of sincere gratitude were shining in his eyes. As one, people turned to where he was looking, but, of course, saw nothing. Their curious and scared gazes were immediately turned back to Chase, and the boy was acting brilliantly: he fell down to his knees, bowing to an invisible creature, then suddenly sprang to his feet again and came closer to people, still looking at nothing. He mixed with the crowd, touched men’s and women’s backs and shoulders, turning them around, pointing his finger into empty space. “Look, people! Look! There he is, our dearest guest, look! His skin is glowing, like a polished gem, his hair flows like if being underwater. So beautiful, magnificent in his magical might! ”
There was still nothing above the audience, but people kept on tracking Chase’s happy gaze and, hopeful, or rather naive, tried to see what the boy wanted them to see. His gentle touch on their arms encouraged them to believe him, but Annabel could notice doubt on a few faces.
“Oh the great spirit of Hentenoof, we thank you for coming! Please, be kind to us, show us the benevolence of your visit!”
As Chase said that, the evil green fires in the holders hissed and slowly turned mild blue again, dangerous sparkles stopped coming from them. The flames were now calm and low, as if someone has ordered them to settle down.
“Oh spirit!” Chase exclaimed with joy in his voice. “Our gratefulness to you is infinite! Can the secrets of your world be sh-”
“Hey,” someone in the crowd shouted, “hey, we see no ghosts! There’s nothin’ there!”
“Yeah!” another man agreed. “Are you trying to deceive us, lad?”
Chase’s panicking glance twitched from an empty space above people’s heads to the men who were challenging Chase’s true magic and the spirit’s true existence.
“Oh great spirit,” he said hastily, eager to soothe the ghost, and ran back to his red chalk circle, “don’t be angry at these folks, they know nothing of what they say! People,” the boy looked the men directly in their eyes, “oh people, do you think if you see nothing, then there’s truly nothing? Do you think invisible things can’t be real? Believe me, they can, indeed they can!”
“But how do you see it?” a woman asked, her voice hesitant, yet close to believing. Annabel noticed that the woman was looking back from time to time, scared or, perhaps, hopeful to see the great spirit of the land.
“I see it because I’ve been taught to and have been given the power that lets me see,” Chase answered. “In the deep and dark woods of Mistwood, with a tribe as my new family, I had no choice but to resemble their culture, otherwise I would have endangered myself, appear to be an enemy.”
“How are we supposed to see the spirit with our own eyes?”
Chase looked away and cocked his head to one side, as if listening to a distant tune. People were murmuring, throwing glances at the boy, and at the space where the spirit was supposed to be floating, in obvious disbelief, but Annabel didn’t worry about Chase. He knew what he was doing.
“The spirit of this town says that his name was Kranoire. He was a worker at the old bell tower that was once destroyed in order to be replaced with a new one. The man fell down from it, an unfortunate, awful accident. Since then, he was wandering around the town, not able to let go off the place where he’d spent his entire life. True loyalty, Kranoire, true it is…”
Chase turned his head to people and lifted both hands in a wide gesture. “Dear people,” he said, “this man, your invisible, secret neighbour and guardian, he offers one of you to be told about the wonders of the other world. Only one of you, the bravest one, will be given the power that I once possessed, be able to see Kranoire, hear his voice, and then tell everyone else that the spirit of the man is truly here, watching us, listening to us. Who will take the chance and trust me their mind, so that I will be the go-between and, with the help of magic, make them see?”
No one was eager to risk their mind, though. Men and women were only exchanging glances, not sure what to do, but definitely curious of what must happen. Annabel began to worry. That was the part of which Chase hadn’t spoken to her, of which he said nothing in the morning. He kept his best secrets to himself, promising to tell everything after the performance. She wasn’t ready to what he intended to do, so when a stranger from the crowd raised his hand, offering himself for the experimental ritual, Annabel was surprised.
“Come here, sir,” said the magician, friendly waving to the man, welcoming him to join Chase inside the red chalk circle. The man was a peasant, just like anyone in the square, but as he talked, all other people stepped aside with respect and acknowledgement in their eyes. Annabel couldn’t know if the man was any important for them, but hoped that he was - it would be the only possible chance for Chase to gain people’s trust.
Chase was as confident as before. He turned his side to the audience and positioned the man before himself, then placed one hand on the man’s shoulder, and another - on his head. Chase’s thumb touched the centre of the man’s forehead.
“What is your name, sir?” Chase asked him.
“Réno. Réno Devinne.”
“Look me in the eyes, mister Devinne, and don’t turn away,” Chase instructed him.
The man shifted uncomfortably and asked, “What are you going to do?”
“Just be calm.”
The magician fixed his eyes on the man, and his lips started moving silently, only making quiet whispering sounds. He kept Réno Devinne in front of him, and the man was calm at first, just as he had been told, but as seconds were passing by, he was getting more and more uneasy. People around them were watching carefully, anticipating something astonishing to happen to their neighbour. For some time, Chase and mister Devinne stood there, moveless, Chase’s voice rising high, his language becoming more and more bizarre, and people around getting more and more excited.
“Now the spirit is able to exchange information with you!” Chase declaimed, closing his eyes and bending his head backwards. “You are now able to read his thoughts and see what he sees. Tell us, sir,” the magician lay his hands on the man’s shoulders and looked him directly in the eyes, “now tell us what you see.”
The man appeared to be struck by fear. Frozen, without even a smallest motion, and pale, like a lump of ice, he was looking at Chase… or rather through him, as if watching something beyond this world, as if seeing something that no one else could see, and this made Annabel shiver.
“Tell us, do you see a man, tall and big, with his head covered in silver, his face and hands wrinkled. his eyes kind, yet empty and colorless? Do you see him?”
The man nodded very slowly, and the entire crowd aahed, immediately starting to turn around, excited to see the ghost.
“What is the spirit of Kranoire showing you?” Chase asked, stepping back from mister Devinne.
“I see the other world,” the man said, his voice dull, “with its sky as dark as night, and its grass covered in snow. Kranoire is floating in the air, far from earth. He is a kind man. He’s smiling.”
Annabel saw some women hug themselves tight; she herself wished she had a cape or something to wrap herself with to hide her goosebumps. Chase was doing things she could not comprehend, and it made her nervous, just as it did to all people in the square. Chase, on the contrary, was absolutely calm, as if nothing unusual was happening.
“Now,” he began, “ask Kranoire to show you more. Ask him to push the boundaries and take you to the faraway journey to where all spirits live. Ask him.”
Mister Devinne nodded shortly and moved his lips silently as if talking to someone, but no sound escaped his mouth. For a few second, nothing was happening, but then the man’s legs wobbled, and his body, with balance lost, started falling. Chase reacted immediately and caught mister Devinne before the man hit the floor. The entire crowd jumped and cried in awe, some people leaned in to see if mister Devinne was alright, but he seemed to be losing his conscience.
“Sir, tell us what happened!” Chase asked him, but instead of replying, the man looked in the sky and shuddered, his breathing became faster and harder, his eyes were big like coins. He scared the death out of everyone, and Annabel was not an exception - she was worried for the poor guy who had volunteered himself for who knows what venture and now was suffering from who knows what consequences.
“There are worlds!” mister Devinne whispered, grasping Chase’s hand. In his voice and in the way he was looking in the sky, Annabel could see fear, but she could see honest excitement, too. “Many, many different universes, much more than we could ever imagine! Oh Heavens! Heavens!”
The man was breathing deeply, his eyes still panicking, but now it seemed like he wasn’t seeing anything anymore, the spirit of Kranoire had let him go.
Chase helped mister Devinne up and held him so the man would not fall, pulled down to earth by his own shock. Annabel sprang forward to support mister Devinne, but Chase stopped her with his hand and with a meaningful glance that was telling her to stay away from the scene. Confused, Annabel stepped aside and couldn't help but watch other people take care of mister Devinne: he was led to the nearest bench to sit and rest from his sudden experience.
“What have I told you, people? What have I told you?” Chase was smiling, like a child, and hugging men, women, old and young, almost crying, not able to hold his genuine, almost childish feelings. “Wasn’t I right? Wasn’t I?”
Everyone was looking at him with respect now, with the all-fearing recognition of his power, absolutely and entirely assured it was true. They smiled back at him, shook his hand, and listened carefully to what he had to say as if he was the oldest and the wisest member of their town’s society. Chase, in is turn, got back to the shaman circle again and perked his head proudly up, his face a little bit red of tears, but his green eyes still confident and full of triumph; as he spoke, his voice was unsteady, but he stubbornly ignored it.
"Beware, Hentenoof residents!” he cried out. “The spirits are around you. Even if you are not seeing them, even if you tend not to believe in them, they are present in your life, and if you are polite with them, they will be your guardians and helpers in all troubles."
Annabel wasn't listening to him, but looking at mister Réno Devinne who was still sitting on the bench with his hand on his chest, clasping his tunic in a fist, deadly pale and almost motionless. She didn't notice Chase turn his head to her and give her another meaningful glance - he waited her to take a hat and go among people to collect the money they were supposed to give to the spirits, as they have planned. The boy coughed, bringing Annabel back to reality. She realized she was faraway in her thoughts and nearly missed the moment, but quickly recovered: she took a big brown hat with wide brims from one of the backpacks and started moving slowly along the halfmoon row formed by the crowd, smiling as sweetly as she could.
"Spirits were living humans, too, just as we are now," Chase kept on speaking. "We must understand that they still crave for what they can't have in their worlds of the dead. Shall we show our respect to them by giving away a part of what we ourselves possess and value more? By sacrificing money to the ghosts as to our protectors and teachers who give us wisdom? By paying them for their assistance and favours?"
As one, all at the same moment Hentenoof residents started taking out the coins they had in their pockets or bags, and throwing them into the hat Annabel held before them. Coin by coin, there soon formed a silver-and-iron pile that jingled lightly as Annabel moved. She did her best not to open her mouth in a surprised ‘O’ as more and more money was falling, literally, in her own hands. She couldn’t understand the way Chase made people so eagerly follow his orders, but she decided to ask him after the performance was finished and people were back home.
“Thank you for joining me in a dangerous, yet galvanic ritual of summoning old Kranoire’s spirit!” the boy said to his audience. “Thank you! I promise to bring this money to the right place where it would be properly sacrificed to him and other guardians of this town. I assure you that the spirits will be grateful to all of you! Heavens and all gods bless you, dear people!”
At this, Chase bowed low to the crowd, earning loud applauses, and straightened his back again, proudly smiling.
Spirits were gone, residents - excited, money - collected, magician - satisfied.
The show was done.