An evocation is an event in which a necromancer calls or summons a spirit (it is also used in many belief systems and mythologies for any act in which spirits, demons, gods or any other supernatural agents are called.)
I know from my readers that Evie is a favorite character in the Daughter of Ravenswood series. She is a reluctant spirit at first. When Judy summons her in the cemetery, all Evie remembers is the pain of living. Pain so awful, she took her own life.
Judy is a reluctant necromancer. She didn’t realise how the act of summoning a spirit might affect the spirit. It’s an exciting game at first. When her mentor Purah takes her to Winterhurst cemetery to do her first ever practice of necromancy, she chooses a simple grave for a woman her own age. But when she sees how badly the spirit is hurting, all she wants to do is send her back to peace.
I heard my name again, this time clearly inside my head. I hurled myself to my feet and pulled open the window.
With one of his distinctive cruk-cruk calls, the raven hopped into the room, shook his feathers, and perched on the chest of drawers. Do you still intend to help Evelyn?
How could I have forgotten? I sucked in my breath. “Of course. Raven—”
It’s time you learned how to address me. My name is Nightwing. I will wait for you under the hawthorn tree. His wings touched my face, and he flew back to the window.
I grabbed my satchel and staff and pulled my coat around me, then tiptoed down the stairs past the silent kitchen to the back door of the inn. Latched but not locked, it opened silently into the dark night. Nightwing paced on the back fence under ice-tipped branches. Frosty air filled my lungs, and I shuddered out a rough cough. Something rustled in the bushes. I froze. The zombie could be anywhere.
Nightwing flapped to the ground in front of me. Hold out your arm. I’ll guide you to Evelyn.
I held my left arm at shoulder height. Nightwing flapped to my forearm. We both wobbled when he landed, but he held onto my coat sleeve and I steadied my arm at my waist.
“Will I be able to do it?” I whispered.
“The power frightens me.” Saying it aloud somehow quantified my fear. Responsibility weighed like a yoke across my shoulders. “What if the zombie comes back?”
He was nowhere near the cemetery when I checked a few moments ago.
I lifted my arm so the top of Nightwing’s head nestled under my chin. His closeness strengthened my resolve.
A flutter climbed in my chest. I pushed it away. “Afraid or not, I must put her back to where she was before I dragged her out.”
Nightwing clucked his beak against my chin. The shadowy world between life and death is a dangerous place, but there is as much life in death as there is death in life.
Another cough racked through my lungs.
Nightwing clucked like a mother hen. It was a funny sound coming from a raven. Collect syrup from the chemist tomorrow. You can’t afford to get ill.
I snugged my hood tighter around my head and the collar over my mouth. At the cemetery gates, clouds parted and the moon gave us a little light. I followed Nightwing from headstone to headstone until we found Evelyn’s grave.
He perched on top of the grave marker. Trust yourself.
I harrumphed loudly, but somehow those two words comforted me. I grounded and centered myself, made a small circle in the air with my Athame, and called to Evelyn.
She formed out of the air itself rather than rising from the ground like the first time. Nightwing strutted around the edge of my circle, his sharp eyes on the lookout for any danger. Evelyn solidified and screamed a long, piercing wail that cut through me and echoed around in my head. She tried to claw her way close to me and lashed out with fierce kicks, all the time wailing and screeching. I knew no one but me could hear it, yet it still rubbed my nerves raw. After a few minutes, she crumpled to the ground exhausted.
I bent forward and reached one hand toward her. “Evelyn, I’m sorry.”
She screamed again. “I hate you, I hate you.”
“I’m here to send you back to the dead.”
She pulled herself to her feet and launched herself at me, but her arms thrashed about wildly and she fell to her knees sobbing.
My stomach knotted. “I don’t blame you for hating me.”
“What would you know about hate?” She spat out the words.
“I didn’t know how much pain you were in until it was too late. I want to help you.”
The mist swirled angrily around her mouth. “I don’t need any more of your help.” Her eyes opened wide. “You’re here to send me back. I don’t wish to go back.”
I threw a pleading look at Nightwing. Now what was I to do? “Why don’t you want to go back? You’re in so much pain here.”
She crumpled into the ground. “I wanted him and then I wanted death. At the very end, I wanted to live for her sake.” She cradled her stomach, and then looked at her wrists. “But my blood had already seeped out.”
She’d committed suicide. Pregnant and afraid. Perhaps all alone. My heartbeat slowed to the plod of heavy sympathy. Her silence scared me more than her screeching. I broke my circle, strode to her, and wrapped my arms around the mist. The cold pierced me, like icicles going through my skin and deep into my body, but I held onto her. I pushed out the positive energy from inside me and wrapped it around her.
“What are you doing?” Evelyn moaned. “What are you? What are you doing to me?”
The moon disappeared behind clouds making it almost impossible to see anything. Whispering from other graves slipped past my defenses. Nightwing lifted into the air. A rod of ice ran down my spine. Did he mean to leave me?
He flew around my head cawing softly and the ice melted, get back inside your circle and close it.
Evelyn hung in front of me like gossamer threads, but as long as I wrapped my energy around her, she had some substance. I dragged her into the circle drawn next to her grave. She lay whimpering on the hard earth at my feet, her knees curled into her chest. I closed the circle and pulled it tight around us.
“We’ll be okay here. Nothing can get in.” I forced confidence into my voice.
Small tremors in the earth around us sent shivers up my legs, and I dropped to my knees next to Evelyn, one arm thrown protectively around her shoulders.
“Why did you pick me?” she asked between sobs.
I lent closer to Evelyn’s trembling body and stroked her hair. “Why don’t you want to go back to peace?”
“I killed my unborn baby.” Her voice took on a steely edge. “I don’t deserve any peace.”
She must have been truly desperate. “I can’t leave you haunting the cemetery.”
She gripped my arm with misty fingers and fresh shards of cold. “I won’t hurt anyone, I promise.”
“But there’s no point in staying. Nothing will bring your baby back.” I bit my lip as soon as the words left my mouth.
She grabbed fistfuls of her hair. “I must atone for my sins.”
I glanced at Nightwing. I didn’t want to violate her again by forcing her to do my will. “I don’t know what to do.”
Evelyn climbed to her knees and gripped my arms. “You can help me. You said you would.”
I tried to cover her icy hands with mine. My palms seemed to sink into hers. “Help you how?”
Nightwing bobbed his head. All you can do is trust your instincts, Judy.
I dropped my chin to my chest. Everyone deserves a second chance. Evelyn released my arms and crumpled back on her legs. Her body shook with silent sobs.
When I lifted my head, I looked straight ahead. On the night I raised Evelyn’s spirit, I knew they all wanted something from me. Some a listening ear, others comfort. For others, I held a greater duty.
Nightwing bobbed in front of me. You are not responsible for her actions or her guilt.
“No,” I murmured, “but I have the power to do something about it.”
“What are you going to do with me?” Evelyn’s voice shook.
“I’m taking you back to the inn.”
Her eyes widened. “What will you do to me there?”
“Work out how to help you.”
She stood unsteadily. “Do you mean that?”
“I don’t know how easy it will be for you to leave the cemetery.”
You may need to force her through the gates, Nightwing said.
I shut down the circle. Without my energy, Evelyn returned to a more misty form.
“Ready?” I asked her.
She wrung her hands but nodded.
The ground tingled under my feet when I walked across graves. Nightwing flew in circles around us. Evelyn’s wails grew desperate, but I kept my steps even and strong.
With every step, I commanded Evelyn to follow me. The link between us stretched, and she hugged the ground. At the cemetery gate, I almost relented.
Nightwing landed on the road, his head on one side, his eye locked on mine. Finish what you have begun.
I stepped through the gates, and the ties binding her to the cemetery broke. When we reached the back door of the inn, Nightwing soared into the sky. The door was still unlatched. I squeezed my eyes shut for a few seconds and tension eased out of my shoulders. Evelyn hugged my back and I crept up the stairs to my room. When we reached my room, she let go and looked at the room wide-eyed as if in this world for the first time.
“I’m not sure that was a wise thing to do,” Purah’s voice said.
Evie is a little older than Judy, born 100 years earlier into a very different time and situation. Judy has considerable power and compassion with the dead and undead but is rather naive in the ways of the world; Evie is world weary after a lifetime in service even though she was only a year or so older than Judy when she committed suicide. They have a lot in common though and quickly become friends.