Chapter Ten: The Castle Ghost
"Syl and the rest aren't back yet."
Nancy poked her head around the door of the King's Room, slipping inside and holding the door open for her companion to follow. "Maybe they had better luck tracking Jesta than we did, huh?"
"Maybe." Copper turned her torch beam on her watch. "But it's almost been an hour, so they'll be back up here soon, I reckon. With any luck, us traipsing around the castle will put anyone off the idea of playing saboteurs now. It really makes me angry that Jesta would do something like this. Firstly, she barely knows us, and hating us because Rose and the rest are friends of ours is really childish. Secondly, after what she did to Zoe I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I didn't think she could stoop as low as this. We're here for a charity purpose, after all - it's not just publicity for us. There are patients in this area who need that new hospital ward badly, and the castle is a big part of local tourism. She's trying to spite both simply because she can't stand us."
"Stefana with an English accent." Nancy rolled her eyes. "At least she doesn't have a fixation with my brother, though. It's bad enough you have the meddling of one numbskull in that department."
"True." Copper sighed. "I love Aaron dearly, Nance - you know that I do. But sometimes I wonder why he can't see through that girl."
"He's practically made a career of being dense when it comes to girls." Nancy grimaced. "As far back as I can remember. I mean, he didn't realise that you liked him, in the beginning. He didn't realise that Mack wanted to get back together with him until I pretty much told him as much, and he can't tell that Stefana's fawning is more than just friendship on her part." She shuddered. "Thank God he's only interested in you, though. I couldn't bear the idea of Stefana being my brother's chick. Not even temporarily!"
"Well, she won't be." Copper laughed. "She's missed the boat on that one. Besides, I don't know if she really loves him so much as it's another way of getting at Jewel. She knows it bothers us - me especially - that she spends so much time hanging out with him. I'm half convinced that that's all it's about. Spiting Jewel."
"Wouldn't surprise me." Nancy sighed. "That girl has two interests in life. Diablo, and hurting us."
"I don't like to dislike people, but she makes it hard." Copper agreed. "And now it seems we're going to be subjected to the same kind of harassment by Jesta when we're in England. How big are the musical stakes going to get? I mean, is it too much to ask for a quiet life sometimes?"
"Beats me." Nancy moved over to the window. "I tell you something. I know Sadie was spooked, but I guess I'm starting to see a little of that magic you were talking about earlier. It's real peaceful up here - with just the owls outside. Back in LA there's traffic and drunks and whatever else around at night. Here there's just the odd vehicle, an occasional train...and the owls. It's sort of nice. Don't you think?"
"It's different." Copper came to join her. "I'm glad you can see it now." She grinned. "Eventful as it's been, I quite like being here."
Nancy opened her mouth to reply, then she paused, frowning.
"Someone's on the parapet." She said grimly. "I guess Syl and the rest didn't track Jesta down after all - look."
"Where?" Copper turned. "What am I looking at?"
"Over there." Nancy indicated the slim form dressed in a simple gown, the moonlight glinting off her silvery hair as she stood at the edge of the parapet, staring out into the darkness. "Can you see her?"
"That isn't Jesta." Copper frowned. "The girl has pretty distinctive hair. We'd be able to tell that from here."
"My bet is that that," Nancy jabbed a finger in the figure's direction, "is Jesta's idea of a ghost, for our benefit. We knew she wasn't going to give up so easily, and isn't that where Tessa said that silly idiot of a girl jumped from, way back in whenever year it was?"
"1403." Copper murmured. "Yes, you're right. Very convenient, considering what Syl saw. I think you're right."
"Well, if that's the case, how about we go down to the parapet ourselves and scare whoever she hired?" Nancy said darkly. "Jewel aren't wimps, after all!"
As if at the sound of Nancy's voice, the figure turned her head towards the tower window, a pair of mournful blue eyes meeting the gazes of the two Jewels. She held out a hand to them, and took a step forward. Then, a cloud passed over the moon, plunging the castle grounds into darkness. The figure seemed to stand out, almost glowing against the black sky, and the musicians watched as she pressed her hands together, as if in prayer. Then, solemnly, she crossed herself, and took a final step forward, off the edge of the parapet and disappearing into nothing.
For a moment, neither Copper nor Nancy spoke. Then Nancy bit her lip, staring out across the castle grounds as they were once more flooded by moonlight.
"You know, I have to hand it to her." She said softly. "If I hadn't have known that Jesta was here and that this whole thing was a set-up for our benefit, even I might have believed in that ghost."
"I'm glad that Syl saw her." Copper shivered. "What do you think? An illusion? Maybe a hologram or some kind of projected image?"
"Must have been." Nancy nodded. "Definitely not anyone dressed up, because of the way she stepped off the edge like that. But dammit, Jesta did her homework."
"What do you mean?"
A fresh voice came from the doorway of the King's Room and the two girls turned to see Topaz watching them, Sadie in tow. "Have you seen Jesta?"
"Forget Jesta - where's Syl?" Nancy demanded. "I thought we were sticking together!"
"We can't find her." Sadie bit her lip. "We stumbled into Jesta and Syl took off after her. We heard a creak and a yell, but then nothing at all. We've hunted all around the castle and we came up here in the hope she might have come back here on her own. Evidently not."
"Sadie has her torch." Topaz added. "I suggested we came back to find you either way - four pairs of eyes are better than two."
"Well, Jesta was just on the parapet." Copper said. "Or somewhere not far away from it - maybe over in that tower?" She pointed out of the window. "Perhaps that's also where Syl is. Though if so, she must be some way behind her."
"How come?" Sadie came to peer out at the darkness.
"We saw Jesta's idea of a ghost." Nancy explained. "Somehow she projected it onto the parapet."
"That's not possible." Sadie shook her head.
"No, Nancy's right." Copper replied. "We think she must have got hold of some kind of holographic device - I don't know what. It was dead realistic, though."
Sadie glanced at Topaz, then reached into her pocket, pulling out the small black box and running her fingers idly over it's surface.
"Was it anything like this?" She murmured, pressing the loose panel once again. The room was bathed in a soft silvery glow as the hologram took form before them. Copper stared.
"Where did that come from?" She demanded.
"Jesta dropped it when Syl went for her." Topaz said gravely. "She stopped to try and recover it, but Syl must've intervened. Sadie found it with Syl's torch."
"That...isn't the ghost we saw." For the first time since the girls had arrived at the castle, there was an uneven note in Nancy's voice, and glancing at her, Sadie could see that the songwriter was pale. "Copper, I don't suppose you think that...?"
"Did we see a real ghost?" Copper's dark eyes were big with fear and confusion. "Could we have done? Is...is there really a ghost at Bainbrook Castle, after all?"
"Ooh, don't." Sadie shivered, switching off the projection and returning the box to her pocket. "I've just convinced myself that there's nothing spooky about this castle!"
"What did this ghost do?" Topaz asked. "And where abouts was she?"
"Over there, on the parapet." Nancy pointed, a note of uncertainty in her voice. "Just by the...the third or fourth slab of stone. She was just standing there, staring out across the grounds as if..." she shook her head. "No, this is crazy. It can't have been a ghost! It can't!"
"She turned to look at us, and she looked so sad." Copper remembered softly. "Her eyes...they were full of tears and...and they were strange, somehow. Blue eyes, but it was like you could see so deep into them and into her. Like somehow you knew that her whole world had fallen down around her. She...sort of turned towards us - I don't know if to look at us or at something she thought was there. Then she put her hands together as if in prayer and...just walked. After that, she vanished."
"Creepy." Topaz breathed. Sadie swallowed hard.
"In the guidebook it mentions how people have reported seeing the ghost here after dark, praying and then walking off the parapet." She said unsteadily. "I didn't mention it earlier, because I didn't think that, you know, it was a real ghost. But...but if you both saw it, and...it wasn't Jesta's projection..."
"It must have been the ghost." Copper finished. She shivered. "What time is it?"
"Getting late." Topaz glanced at her watch. "And we ought to find Syl. Ghost or no ghost, it's not that that's trying to drive us out of Bainbrook Castle."
"Topaz is right." Nancy pulled herself together. "If that was the castle ghost, well, she's just a ghost and she's not going to hurt us. Jesta, on the other hand, is more than capable of causing trouble for us, unless we track her down. Maybe she's already caused trouble for Syl, and we have to see this night out together!"
She grabbed her torch up from her sleeping bag, a determined expression crossing her face. "So I vote we all four go and find her."
"What if we run into the ghost?" Sadie asked trepidantly.
"Then we ask her if she's seen Syl." Topaz suggested dryly, and despite herself Sadie laughed.
"All right. I guess you guys are right, and Jesta is more of a threat to us than the ghost is." She acknowledged. "So long as we don't run into her, I guess I'll be okay."
"She's just a tortured soul, that's all." Copper said sadly. "A real life tragic heroine, who couldn't face life without the man she loved. I wish we knew her name...it seems so much sadder that nobody knows what to call her."
"Her name isn't important, Copper." Topaz slipped an arm in the drummer's. "She's not ever likely to be forgotten, and nor is the man who died fighting for whatever cause he believed in round here. She - and he - are a part of local history and local tradition."
"And wherever they are, they're together." Nancy murmured.
"Nance?" Sadie shot her companion a startled glance, and Nancy blushed.
"I know...I don't really believe in a lot of that stuff." She admitted. "But...I guess that, well, if there's such a thing as a ghost - and dammit, I know what I saw, even if I don't want to let myself believe in it - then there's such a thing as a spirit existing after death. And if that's true, well..." She shrugged. "Who knows, huh?"
She grimaced. "Enough with the deep and meaningful garbage, though. Jewel are one down, and the sooner we get moving, the better!"
* * * * * * * *
"I give up."
Sylva sighed, dropping back down against the scorched bench with a shake of her head. "It's no good, Jesta. There aren't any loose bricks, no false doors, nothing. I don't know how we got in here, but it doesn't look like we're getting out any time soon."
"Speak for yourself." Jesta snapped bitterly, grabbing her lighter off her foe and scrambling to her feet. "I am not staying in here with that damn creature for anyone! I'm getting out of here - whatever you do!"
"Well, you tell me what you plan to do about it!" Sylva put her hands on her hips. "I told you. There isn't any door!"
"We could dig our way out." Jesta kicked at the cobbled floor. "These stones could be prised up, you know."
"Vandalise the castle?" Sylva raised an eyebrow. "Jewel are supposed to be here in aid of restoring it, not the other way about! Besides, what do you suppose we dig with? Our hands? I don't know about you but I am not going to ruin my nails scuffing about in dirt because you're scared of a rat!"
"You didn't exactly like him either." Jesta snapped back. "And what do you suggest? We stay here till we're skeletons, huh? Great plan, Sylva! Let me guess - you must be the brainy Jewel. Am I right?"
"You'll be eating that lighter if you carry on." Sylva returned. She frowned, putting her hands on her hips. "I honestly don't get it, though. We must've come in somehow - so there must be an opening somewhere. There's no window, no door...what gives with this place?"
"Maybe you're looking in the wrong place, Jewel." Jesta raised her dark eyes to the ceiling, lifting the fading lighter flame to illuminate the upper portion of the room. "Look! Up there!"
"What am I looking at?" Sylva demanded.
"Oh, open your eyes!" Jesta was frustrated. "There's wood! Wood means a door - doesn't it?"
"You mean we fell through a trap-door of some kind to get down here?" Sylva frowned. "How, though? Tessa took us all round the castle earlier, and there wasn't anywhere she told us not to walk."
"I don't know how. I just know what I see." Jesta retorted. "Now we just have to get up there."
"Easier said than done." Sylva glanced around her, pursing her lips. "We've a half burnt bench and a ladder which looks like it hasn't been used since eighteen sixty. It's rotten half way through anyhow - we can't put weight on that else it'll break and we'll break our necks."
"We didn't break 'em coming in...a pity, in your case." Jesta said cuttingly. "It can't be that sheer a drop."
"No...we just fell on something soft." Sylva grabbed the lighter, turning it's flickering light onto the corner of their prison. She bent down, running her hands over the ground. "Feels like fabric...and rope. Or something like rope."
"Lemme see that." Jesta was down at her side in an instant, pushing the bundles of rags aside in her hunt for the rope. She snorted. "Rope, huh? Funny rope, Sylva! Made out of metal?"
"Okay, so chains. Through the fabric it wasn't easy to tell." Sylva snapped. "But anyhow, it's not like we need to worry about that. Look. There are hooks on the wall here...and here. If we were to use the fabric to strengthen the ladder, we could hook it to the wall and get up to the trap door - surely?"
Jesta narrowed her gaze, as if turning over the idea in her mind, but at length she shrugged.
"I guess you're right." She admitted, in tones which revealed her resentment that her foe had had the idea first. She scooped up a handful of the dusty cloth. "What do you suppose these things are, anyhow? Blankets? Old clothes? They're covered in cobwebs!"
"God knows." Sylva shrugged. "And right now I'm more fussed about getting out of here."
She pulled the ladder from the corner, eying it's weaknesses carefully and then grabbing her own bundle of fabric, carefully winding it around the perishing wood. For half an hour they worked in silence, ever conscious that the fuel in Jesta's lighter could run out on them at any moment, and plunge them into darkness once more. At length they were finished, and Sylva stood back, eying the result of their hard work with some apprehension.
"Do you suppose it'll hold?" She asked.
"It had bloody better." Jesta snapped. "Look, if you're too scared to go up it, I'm not! I want out of here and I want it now!"
Before Sylva could stop her, her rival had mounted the bottom of the ladder, and, very slowly she began to climb. As she reached halfway, her lighter fuel finally ran out, and the feeble flame flickered and died. Sylva gritted her teeth. If the ladder gave way, Jesta would probably fall to her death, and if by some fluke she escaped, their only hope of getting out would have gone.
The sound of Jesta climbing seemed to go on forever, then Sylva heard a shriek.
"I'm at the top!" The British girl announced. "And it is a trapdoor! I was right - so there!"
"Oh, very mature!" Sylva found irritation once more overwhelming any anxiety she had felt. "Just get the damn thing open, will you? I want to come up too, preferably before I die of old age!"
"Like I care if you get out or not!" Was the retort, but there was the sound of a loud groan and Sylva was aware of air circulating within the musty room.
"I'm out!" Jesta exclaimed.
"Good for you!" Sylva snapped back, grabbing at the bottom of the ladder and, with her heart in her throat, beginning her own climb. She did not know if Jesta had already fled into the darkness, ready to cause Jewel more problems, but right at that moment she did not care. Her only concern was getting out of the dank, dusty room and getting out in one piece.
It seemed a long climb before she was within arm's reach of the trapdoor, and, relieved, she put her hand out to grab the wooden frame, gripping it tightly.
As she did so, however, the ladder finally gave up the ghost and, with a searing crack, the rung Sylva was standing on gave way beneath her, the remains of the ladder tumbling away to the hard cobbled floor below. Sylva let out a shriek of terror, reaching a flailing hand out to secure her grip on the trap door opening, but she had no way to pull herself out. Her grip began to slip on the smooth oak surface, and she shrieked once more for help, hoping and praying that one of her friends could hear her, before she too fell to the hard cobblestones that lay below.
NO SUCH THING AS GHOSTS
Chapter One: Flight To England
Chapter Two: A TV Welcome
Chapter Three: Avril
Chapter Four: A Rival
Chapter Five: Sadie's Family
Chapter Six: Suspicions
Chapter Seven: Bainbrook Castle
Chapter Eight: Jesta's Game
Chapter Nine: Trapped!
Chapter Ten: The Castle Ghost
Chapter Eleven: To The Rescue
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!