"Normal!" Zea grunted.
What she wanted to say was, 'Given the number of ghosts we're dealing with and the fact that not all the ghosts came from this particular location, compounded with the damage the circle's already taken in the fire and various collapses and the fact that we still haven't rested properly since earlier problems along the road and you're not even a ritualist, things are going quite well and you shouldn't worry a bit as this is all perfectly normal.'
One word was the best she could do.
With one last wrenching twist, the circle broke and sent a wave of shadow-aligned mana out over the crowded ghosts. The connection through Zea's aura had been broken, but by now they had taken in enough power that Zeke could still see them. At least he couldn't hear them anymore. Zea dropped to her knees, and tiny charred flakes of wood drifted down to the storey below from the impact of her weight. With her black-skinned hands pressed over her ears. Little drops of blood from the ceiling fell onto her skin, sliding downward.The voices consolidated, words forming from some collective yearning among them.
Family. We can be a family.
She shook her head, no more than a brief twist of her neck.
Come with us. Both of you. It's why you came. Ours.
Under the ocean of voices, Zea couldn't hear herself whisper. Her own voice was silent to her ears but she knew that to them it rang like thunder. She wasn't interested in being their family, she certainly couldn't allow them Zeke. She really hoped he couldn't hear them. "Leave him alone. You lost yours." Her fingernails dug into the wood under her palms, smearing the blood on the floor. "Don't you take mine."
Wordless guilt. The pure guilt of a child who hated himself for being worthy of anger.
She took a deep, rasping breath. "Go. Go find yours."
They recoiled. It hadn't occurred to them, but it was true. Their parents were gone, but now they were gone, too. Maybe they would... go the same place? See them again? Not be alone?
They exploded outwards, each determined to set his or her own path home. They formed a wave of darkness sweeping through the forest, a flood of lingering death, but there was intent. There was hope. Each was caught by a figure only Zea could see, and one by one they disappeared.
Zea didn't feel herself hit the floor, and she couldn't hear the wood cracking under her. This room had been through a lot, and hopefully they'd be able to get out without too much hassle. The easy way would just be to fall through, and Zea wasn't even sure she cared. Too tired to worry about trivial details like her body breaking on the rubble below. So minor. How could anyone possibly bother with such nuisances.
Everything was quiet after the voices had gone, and it was hard to focus on any sound at all. The difference was so stark Zea felt as if she'd suddenly gone deaf. Absently she noticed that there was no more blood dripping from the attic ceiling. That was good. Blood stained terribly. But they were both wearing black; it might not be so bad. Her thoughts wandered aimlessly along these paths. She couldn't seem to focus on anything important, or at all. Zeke's hat wasn't black. Such a shame. They'd have to wash it immediately, or he would need a new one.