Unexpected Inspiration: The Future Trio & Bottled Spirits


Meet the future trio! Chantrell, Ametrine, and Gilly are the three main characters from the next trilogy in the Unexpected Inspiration series. These three dorks share a love of music, a love of performing, and a love of... well, they have various levels of enthusiasm about ghost hunting. (Ametrine insisted that be corrected.)


Here's a short bio about each, from top row to bottom, before you meet them in their first story.
  • Chantrell: A walking musical disaster. Chell is fearless and full of mischief, living her life loudly and colorfully to make up for years spent in near-isolation due to an arcane illness. She's currently learning how to use her sound/music magic and is all about experimenting with this.
  • Ametrine: A nonbinary acrobat and dancer. I introduced him as a kid a few weeks ago and in his trilogy he's grown up. He's part of the carnival troupe in the capital city and works as one of Sapphire's Saboteurs when he's not being dragged into Gilly's haunted adventures.
  • Gilly: A cheerful medium and magician. Her magic involves being able to interact with ghosts and she's made it her life's goal to free as many of them as she can. It also lets her vanish objects, so she uses this along with juggling as her sleight of hand magician act. While easily the chattiest character in the series, she's unable to vocalize, so she talks using sign language.

Unexpected Inspiration Short Story - "Bottled Spirits"

Ametrine dripped into his apartment, leaving his hula hoops by the door and a puddle at his feet. He'd wanted to get some practice in before the storm hit, but that plan had washed away along with his makeup. He pulled his hair out of his eyes to wring it out-- and stared at his living room. The floor was clear. Not clean, the place could never be called clean, but all of Gilly's collection was pushed up against the walls and piled onto furniture in haphazard piles. For the first time since Gilly had moved in three years ago with her possessed possessions, there was space to move across the floor. Soaking wet as he was, he was not about to miss this opportunity to practice indoors. His hand was on his favorite hoop when he noticed one object that wasn’t pushed aside. A glass bottle, half full of a murky liquid, sat in the exact center of the room.

Oh no.

It was possible Chell had left it there this morning in her hurry to make it to her music lesson on time. It could simply be a bottle of cold coffee or tea, although the label wasn't a brand the three of them drank. It could, but it probably wasn’t. Ametrine had lived with Gilly long enough to assume something more sinister than a breakfast drink filled that bottle.

He put the hoop down with the rest of his performance gear and crept forward on shoes that squeaked against the tiled floor. Right now he’d give just about anything to have Chell’s weaving to mask the noise, or at least have the carpet they'd had before she decided to cover the floor in rainbow stones. He stopped and eyed the bottle again. So far no change. Surely if it was what he assumed it was, it would at least be bubbling by now in reaction to his approach. He slid off his shoes and cautiously advanced a few steps farther. Still it sat there in all its deceptive bottle-y glory.

If it hadn’t noticed his footsqueaks, maybe it wouldn’t notice his voice. As loudly as he dared, he called out to his roommate-turned best friend-turned whatever this thing was they had going. "Gil? You home?"

She had no way of answering from a distance, so he waited to see if she'd appear in the hallway. When there was no sign of her or the hug she usually greeted him with, he guessed that she was out. And if she wasn't here, that probably meant the bottle wasn't what paranoia and experience told him it was. She wouldn't just leave something like that out without telling him. His first thought must then be correct. She and Chell had cleared the room for him and left this bottle out for him to clean up. No surprise there. With a sigh, he reached down to pick up the forgotten trash.

The same moment it flew out of his hand, Chell’s voice reverberated off the walls in a cacophony of speech and sound. "Don't touch it!"

Ametrine flinched back and threw his hands over his ears at the force of her weaving. When had she learned to mimic a tuba? He ducked his head as the echoing wave of noise returned, narrowly avoiding being brained by the bottle on its return swoop. As he threw himself to the ground, Gilly charged in, wielding a fishing net like this was the most natural thing in the world to be doing on a Ceadurn afternoon. Why did they even have a fishing net? The closest any of them got to marine life was seafood dinner.

While Ametrine silently bemoaned his choice of friends and their choice of possessions, Gilly chased the airborne bottle across the room, clambering over chairs and leaping over storage boxes filled with previously-inhabited baubles. Once Gilly had it cornered, Chell dashed over from the safety of the hall and helped Ametrine to his feet. She said something he couldn’t hear, so he pointed to his ears. This had her saying something else, which, knowing Chell, was most likely a string of colorful curses. She placed her hands on either side of his head and closed her eyes. He wasn't sure what this was for until a vibration rippled from her touch, into his head, and through his body. Ah, so it was one of her arcane hums. Gradually the ringing in his ears subsided as Chell’s weaving settled over him like a comfortable and familiar blanket.

She gave him a quick peck on the cheek, but her apology was interrupted when Gilly barreled into the two of them. She’d hooked the bottle into the net and was being dragged across the room, her toes just brushing the floor. They lunged at the same time, Chell catching hold of the pole below Gilly’s hands and Ametrine grabbing hold of Gilly’s waist.

Ametrine blew a strand of hair out of his face and tightened his grip on Gilly. The three of them combined did little to slow the progression of the bottle. If only this thing truly had been leftover breakfast trash! “What’s going on? Why didn't you knock this one out?”

Normally Gilly was able to soothe the more violent spirits before it got to this point. She couldn’t answer with her hands busy, so Chell did it for her. “Whatever’s in there tricked her into thinking it was tame. As soon as we--”

The bottle yanked, dragging all three off the floor for a terrifying split second. Once they were back on the ground, Chell repositioned her hands above Gilly’s and finished her thought in a quick breath. “As soon as we closed the door, it pushed everything away-- including us-- and claimed the room for itself. We’d just found the net in the back of her closet when you came in.”

Oh. So they hadn’t cleared the space so he could practice. He’d be more bummed out about that if he wasn’t so worried about what they were going to do about the spirit in the bottle. It wasn’t as though Gilly could throw her weaving at it from a distance and release it that way. Throwing, though, that might be the answer. He was an acrobat. If he could throw himself… “Gil, you need it on the ground to free it, right?”

Gilly nodded in a distracted way while Chell grinned at him. “Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

This was something he’d vowed to never ever ever do again so long as he lived. Once had been enough, especially when it had happened dangerously close to the edge of a roof, but their choices were limited. Either they'd be dragged around their home for who knew how long or the spirit would grow angrier and they'd wish it was only pulling them along. At least this time there was nowhere for him to fall.

He took a deep breath and let go of Gilly’s waist. “Launch me.”

Chell let out a wild laugh that morphed into something akin to drumbeats. Another deep breath, then Ametrine stepped into her arcane pulsation and was hurled up towards the ceiling with a horrifying lurch to his stomach. He scrambled to catch the bottle as he flew past and tucked it close to his chest as he fell. He did not want this thing to smash before Gilly was ready.

Chell’s weaving caught him just before he hit the floor, but as soon as his knees touched the ground, the shove coming from within the bottle knocked him onto his butt. Gilly knelt next to him and he remained sprawled in this not-so-dignified position to keep the bottle steady for her. She placed her hands over his. As the chill of her weaving passed through his hands and into the bottle, a shadow blocked out the light. His heart nearly leaped into his throat before he realized it was Chell standing over them with the net in her hands and fire in her eyes. He couldn’t help smiling despite everything. The three of them could handle this.

The thing inside stopped struggling at the same time the liquid began to clear. Once it looked no more noxious than water, Gilly popped the lid with her thumb. A steam-like presence billowed out and filled their corner of the room with a fog that hung close to the floor. Ametrine closed his eyes, afraid it would try to hurt him because of that whole tackling business. It wouldn’t be the first time a spirit reacted badly to being helped and it definitely wouldn't be the last. When nothing happened, he opened one eye, then the other. The bottle was completely empty with no soul in sight. Gilly had set it free.

He collapsed onto his back and let the bottle roll away. Ghost hunting was a terrible occupation with nothing to show for it besides bruises and bad dreams. What had he been thinking when he let himself be roped into this? “The next time you bring home a spirit in a bottle, can it please just be wine?”

Gilly flopped onto the floor next to him. Now that her hands were empty and she could talk, she signed, “You bring home more than enough whine for all of us.”

With snicker, Chell nudged herself between them, tickling Ametrine's nose with her wild, rainbow-colored hair. She looped one arm through Gilly’s to leave her hands free to talk and took Ametrine’s hand with the other. He wasn’t sure where the net had vanished off to and frankly he didn’t care. Maybe he would take up fishing if it meant not having to use it to catch destructive drinkware.

Gilly propped herself up on her elbow to ask, "Since the spirit cleaned the room, do you want us to leave it like this until the rain stops?"

Ametrine pulled her over a giggling Chell and into a tight hug. These two were what made all the ghost nonsense worth it.

(There were moodboard themes recently of "future" and "haunted" and this inspired me to write a short story about these characters to go along with the board. I'm not likely to be starting these books for a few more years since I'm still working on the first quartet, but I may write more short stories about this ghost hunting trio.)

CONVERSATION

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